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By Cara Jepsen

MAY

Friday 24

Why sit around enjoying a view of Chicago's lakefront when you can speed past it on the new Seadog speedboat? A new lakefront cruise hits Lake Michigan for the first time today and promises 15 feet of sea spray shooting from the Seadog's stern, speeds of over 50 knots, and narration from Captain Rick Tobiaski. The first cruise departs at 10:30 this morning from the south side of Navy Pier at the base of the family pavilion staircase. It will run at regular intervals through September. Tickets are $16, $11 for seniors and children 3 to 11. Call 321-7600 for more.

It had already been a bad week when I noticed a strange pile of straw and dirt on the ground near the back of my house. A bird nearby chirped noisily as I examined the mess. One unbroken pale blue egg sat to the side on the asphalt. I looked up three stories to the roof of the building and wondered how long it had taken to build the elaborate nest and what the bird would do for a new home. This evening Skokie's park district offers "Nature's Architects," a campfire program that will address questions like these by examining the home-building secrets of local birds, mammals, and fish. It takes place outside in front of a fire at Emily Oaks Nature Center, 4650 Brummel, in Skokie, from 8 to 9 (the rain date is tomorrow at 8). Admission is $3 per person, $10 per family. Call 847-677-7001.

Porn star-cum-radio talk-show host Seka reinterprets Honey West's role as the Dreaded Succubus in the long-running Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, bringing a bunch of Loop listeners out of their homes and into a theater (other than the Admiral) in the process. Starting tonight at 9:30, Seka picks up three shows a week for West, whose plate is full with Tony 'n' Tony's Wedding and a show at Gentry on Halsted. Seka relieves West Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 7 at the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont. Tickets are $22 Fridays and Saturdays, $18 Sundays, $10 for students at all times. Call 327-5252 for more.

Saturday 25

The Chicago Police Department recovers hundreds and hundreds of stolen bicycles each year, but most aren't returned to their rightful owners. Why? Because they're not registered with the department. A police auction will include at least 100 unclaimed and discarded bicycles as well as such other items as radios, TVs, car tires, and computers. You can view the spoils from 8:30 to 9:50 this morning at the Washburne Trade School, 3333 W. 31st. The auction begins at 10. It's free to attend. Call 747-6358 or 737-1026 for more information.

The fourth annual Black Age of Comics Convention promises the "baddest" comic book artists, writers, and publishers working today, including Cassandra Washington, writer and publisher of Grammar Patrol, Todd Johnson, writer for Tribe, and Turtel Onli, artist and publisher. The event has the theme "promotion, production, and progression," and will feature exhibits, seminars, books, and a high school writing and drawing competition. It takes place today and tomorrow from 11 to 6 at the South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan. Tickets are $5, $3 for students. Call 684-2280 for more.

Although his work qualifies as "bad," illustrator and writer Peter Kuper won't be at that event; he'll be at Chicago Comics instead. Kuper's output includes illustrating a comic book adaptation of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, cofounding and coediting the political comics magazine World War 3, and creating his wordless Eye of the Beholder, the first comic strip to regularly appear in the New York Times. His newest work, "The System," is a three-issue series about a group of characters living in New York. He'll sign copies of it today from 2 to 5 at the store, 3244 N. Clark. It's free; call 528-1983 for more.

Musician, composer, arranger, rhythm king, and Simpsons guest star Tito Puente headlines this weekend's Viva! Chicago Latin Music Festival, which includes artists ranging from Venezuelan vocalist and musician Oscar De Leon, Mexican singer Ana Barbara, and the Guatemalan pop group La Gran Familia. The festival runs today from 11:30 to 10 and tomorrow from 11:30 to 7:30. Puente hits the stage tomorrow at 6:30. The event takes place at Grant Park, Jackson and Columbus. It's free. Call 744-3315 for more information.

La muchacha is the story of a woman caught between two cultures. She travels from her rural home to Mexico City, where she's employed as a domestic worker, meets a boy, and starts to grow up. The 20-minute video by Dora Guerra will be shown this evening as part of a program of Latina videos and poetry sponsored by Women in the Director's Chair. Also on the bill is Pochonovela: A Chicano Soap Opera, a humorous view of the telenovela by Coco Fusco, and two other videos. They'll be screened at 8 at Casa de Arte y Cultura, 1900 S. Carpenter. Tickets range from $3 to $10; call 281-4988 for more.

Sunday 26

Rockhounds and New Agers alike will be able to view and touch the minerals, gemstones, rough materials, fossils, and jewelry on display today at a gem and mineral show. There will be demonstrations of fossil preparation, wire twisting, rock polishing and carving, and lost wax casting. It runs today from 10 to 6 and tomorrow from 10 to 5 at the DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 W. Manchester, in Wheaton. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors. Call 708-668-6636 for more.

Monday 27

"We want our tax dollars used for human needs at home, not death abroad," says the flyer for the Memorial Day demonstration sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Participants will demand jobs and homes for the homeless and honor the victims who were on both sides of the conflict. Author Richard Moser will speak at the event; his book The New Winter Soldier reexamines the role of the veterans who protested the Vietnam war--including those who did so while they were serving there. It takes place from 11 to noon today at the Vietnam veterans' memorial fountain at Wacker and Wabash. It's free; 327-5756.

People of all faiths are welcome to attend the Aids Pastoral Care Network's eleventh annual Memorial Day Liturgy for Persons Affected by HIV/AIDS. The interfaith service takes place at 6:30 tonight at Saint Clement's Church, 642 W. Deming, and is followed by a reception at Saint Clement's School, 2524 N. Orchard. There's a $1 suggested donation; call 334-5333 for more.

Tuesday 28

Martha Graham once said that the body doesn't lie. Her statement has been taken to heart by the Sacred Naked Nature Girls, a Los Angeles-based theater collective that combines performance art, traditional theater, poetry, and improvisations to create work focusing on the body. Tonight the group will hold a movement-based workshop from 6 to 10 in which participants explore how a woman's body is a battleground and recorder of personal and cultural myths. The group's corresponding performance, Untitled Flesh, is a nude exploration of the boundaries between gender, race, class, and sexual identification. It will be performed at 8 on Thursday for women only and costs $12, $10 for students and seniors. (This weekend's performances will be open to both genders.) The workshop is for women only and costs $20, $15 for students and seniors. Both events take place at Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee, call 666-7737.

Wednesday 29

A woman I used to work with came in last week to show off her new baby. While my coworkers put their fingers in his fist, made faces, and stroked his fontanel, I wondered whether he had his own Web page; it seems like everyone has one, complete with pictures of their pets and other boring details about their lives. The discussion How to Make the Net Work for Your Organization will examine how to use the Internet as a business tool. The $40 workshop is held today from 8:30 to 10 at DePaul University, 1 E. Jackson, room 8805. A continental breakfast at 7:45 is included. Call 708-790-7755 to register.

Thursday 30

"Aging" Bull Jake LaMotta hits town today to sign autographs and add atmosphere to the Bismarck Palace Theater's "Thursday Night at the Fights." The famous pugilist won't be in the ring tonight, but the six bouts on the bill include a rematch between Ali-Karim Huhammad and Jesse Torres for the Illinois State Welterweight Championship. You can also eat dinner with LaMotta before the fights at Nana's Cafe, 7 W. Kinzie. The dinner is at 5 and the first bout is at 7:30 at the theater, 171 W. Randolph. Tickets are $25, $50 for ringside seats; dinner will set you back an additional $30--and you must have a fight ticket to eat. Call 708-529-0122 for tickets.

Life's minutiae can wear down even the most energetic citizen--especially when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy. Sometimes it's easier to just give up. Today's town hall meeting, sponsored by the Cook County government, is designed to help people overcome any misgivings they may have. Cook County commissioner Roberto Maldonado and county clerk David Orr will be on hand to demystify the process of obtaining birth, marriage, and death certificates and to explain how to redeem your property from tax sales, among other things. They'll also discuss the motor-voter system. It takes place this evening from 6:30 to 8:30 at Saint John Berchmans Church, 2517 W. Logan. It's free; call 395-0143 for more.

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