By Deanna Isaacs
An 18-inch King Kong terrorizes San Francisco in Special Effects, a film opening today at the Henry Crown Space Center Omnimax Theater at the Museum of Science and Industry. Produced by NOVA, the 39-minute, giant-screen picture demystifies high-tech movie thrills, including those in a Star Wars adventure that won't be released for another year. The film screens daily every 50 minutes from 10 to 4 and evenings Thursday through Sunday. Tickets include museum admission and cost $10, $8 for seniors, $5.50 for children. Call 684-1414 for evening show times and reduced admission rates. The museum is just off Lake Shore Drive at 57th Street.
Black Expo Chicago has a raft of major corporate sponsors, a baking contest, and an interactive museum exhibit for kids, but its promoters say none of that has altered its basic mission of showcasing black-owned businesses, which now get less than 5 percent of the $380 billion African-Americans spend annually. The three-day event opens today at McCormick Place, 24th and Lake Shore Drive. Hours are 10 to 9 today and Saturday, 11 to 8 Sunday. Admission is $8, $5 for seniors and teens, $3.75 for children. Three-day passes are available. Call 949-9440.
The Twin Cities to Chicago AIDS Ride may be the hip equivalent of a society benefit ball. Two thousand people registered to make the 450-mile, six-day trip (with tents, hot showers, catered meals, granola snacks, massage therapists, and plenty of smarmy hype provided). Each rider had to raise $2,300 in pledges. Those who finish will roll into Chicago this afternoon; the public is invited to give them "a hero's welcome." Closing ceremonies begin at 4 at Montrose Harbor; the riders, clad in colors-of-the-rainbow T-shirts, will appear about 5. Call 880-8812.
No one wanted night games at Wrigley Field. Now that we've got a few of them each month, they're magical. Under the lights the grass is greener, the outfield closer, the old stadium more intimate than ever. The Cubs take on the Cincinnati Reds tonight at 7:05. Tickets can be hard to come by; at our deadline there were reserved upper-deck seats available at $9 for adults and $6 for children. Wrigley Field is at Clark and Addison. Call 404-2827.
On August 15, 1812, about 100 soldiers and civilians fleeing Fort Dearborn met up with about 500 Potawatomi warriors on what is now called Prairie Avenue, says Michael Soet of the Prairie Avenue House Museums. The Potawatomies prevailed, and the event became famous as the Fort Dearborn massacre. All that blood on the ground didn't inhibit development of the neighborhood. By the Victorian era, Prairie Avenue was home to the likes of George Pullman and Marshall Field, and was reputed to be the wealthiest street in America--west of Fifth Avenue. In the early 20th century, with the advent of the automobile and more reliable bridges across the Chicago River, monied residents moved north and the area changed again, becoming Chicago's first Printer's Row. Starting today, the Prairie Avenue House Museums offer a new, one-hour walking tour focusing on the evolution of this richly historic Chicago neighborhood. Tours leave from 1800 S. Prairie at 2 and 3 this afternoon and every Sunday through October. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, free for children under seven. Call 326-1480.
Another perspective on local history will be offered from 1 to 4 today at the Mitchell Indian Museum. Paulina Begay and her family came to Chicago from the Navajo reservation in 1961, when the federal government was moving Native Americans to the cities, often with devastating results. She will talk about her experience at 2. Ten Thousand Beads for Navajo Sam, a video documentary about the relocation's toll on her husband, artist Samuel Begay, will be screened at 1:30 and 3:30. Also included are a jewelry-making demonstration by her son, also Samuel, and an exhibit of photographs shot on the reservation in the 1940s, "A Time of Transition: Navajo Life as Seen Through the Lens of DeeDee Hendry." The museum is located at Kendall College, 2408 Orrington in Evanston. Admission is $5. Call 847-866-1395 for reservations.
A short course in auto repair might be more helpful when it comes to paying the rent later on, but Chicago's award-winning Gallery 37 program will put 1,100 kids (ages 14 to 21) to work as apprentice artists this summer. Starting today, visitors to Gallery 37's State Street site (the gaping block between Washington and Randolph) can watch "on-the-job training" in progress and shop for whimsical painted benches and other one-of-a-kind creations in the on-site retail tent. Hours are 10 to 4 Monday through Saturday. There are free lessons for Saturday visitors. Call 744-8925 for more information.
A busload of excited kids from the Chicago Children's Choir leaves this week for a monthlong tour of South Africa. (Air first, then the bus.) We can get in on the fun at their farewell party at 5:30 today at Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. They'll sing a 25-minute preview concert. It's free. Call 839-8300.
When the Bicycle Museum of America suddenly lost its lease at North Pier, the Chicago Cycling Club had to scramble for a new site for its monthly meeting. The club (200 strong and looking to grow) organizes great local rides every Saturday and Sunday. They'll meet tonight at 7 at Uncommon Ground, 1214 W. Grace. The guest speaker is Chicago's bicycle coordinator, Ben Gomberg, who comes with a bounty of free bike-path maps. The meeting is free. Call 509-8093 for information. (The Bicycle Museum of America should reopen within six months, says manager Pamela Trammel. They're looking for a location with more visitor traffic and less rent.)
Direct from Ukraine to Grant Park: The 21-member Kiev Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Roman Kofman, plays an eclectic program from Rossini to modern Ukrainian composers (including Barber's Adagio for Strings, heard in the movie Platoon) at 7 tonight in Grant Park's Petrillo Music Shell. It's free. If you miss it, the orchestra will be back with a different program Thursday. Call 742-7638.
In this 30th-anniversary year of the National Organization for Women, Patricia Ireland has built a book around her own journey from airline stewardess to corporate lawyer to the president of NOW. She'll sign and discuss What Women Want at 7 tonight at Borders Books & Music, 830 N. Michigan. It's free. Call 573-0564.
While wages and prices have held fairly stable, stocks have doubled in value over the last five years. Financial adviser and former nun Norah Lex says you can get in on the action for as little as $25 a month. The one-time Sister of Mercy, who got her start helping lay teachers in Catholic schools plan for retirement, is a senior account executive with Waddell & Reed Financial Services. "In many ways, I still feel my work is a ministry," she says. Lex will present a free seminar, What Every Person Should Know About Money, tonight from 5:30 to 7:30 at DePaul University, 1 E. Jackson, room 11001. Call 248-9593 for more information.
Need a little help negotiating the noir world of film? Wish you knew a friendly agent or producer--minus the casting couch? Women in Film presents a mentor panel discussion and the chance of hooking up with someone who knows her way around. It's tonight from 6:30 to 9:30 at Enid Okla Homa Art Gallery, 220 W. Huron. The cost is $8. Call 708-415-2510 for reservations.
Factory Theater gets serious with 529 South Something, a flesh-and-blood science-fiction comic book with an all-female cast that explores (among other things) what would happen if unborn children could see their mothers' dreams. Writer/codirector Molly Brennan and her conspirators invite us to see them before they're famous in this futuristic drama, a "complete change from the wild comedies we've done before." It's tonight at 8 at 1257 W. Loyola. Tickets are $7. Call 274-1345.