2 FRIDAY "Jerusalem syndrome" is the term applied to what happens to visitors in the Holy City who have a religious experience and start to think they're the Messiah, or begin speaking in tongues, or run naked in the streets, all of which happen more than you might think--about 100 times a year. Such behavior usually results in a free ticket to the loony bin, and the treatment of these tourists and pilgrims is the subject of Erin Sax's 1998 documentary, The Jerusalem Syndrome. "I was interested not in uncovering if these people were truly connecting with something holy, but the criteria being used to determine this," says Sax, who will attend tonight's 8 PM screening at Columbia College's Ferguson Hall, 600 S. Michigan. The 52-minute video will also be shown Sunday night at 8--sans Sax--at Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark. Admission to both screenings is $6; call 773-293-1447.
3 SATURDAY It's traditional to make a sheep's head out of butter for Losar, the Tibetan New Year, which began February 24. Tibetans regard the sheep as an auspicious animal and in their language the words for the ovine cranium and the beginning of the year sound alike. Other traditional activities include cleaning house, eating ghutuk (a dumpling soup), visiting relatives, and drinking barley wine. The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago will celebrate the year of the iron serpent tonight at 6:30 at the American Indian Center, 1630 W. Wilson. The suggested donation is $15, which includes dinner. Reservations are required; call 773-275-7454.
4 SUNDAY The water temperature was a frigid 33 at press time, but that shouldn't put a damper on today's Polar Plunge benefit for the Special Olympics, at which a passel of folks--including school superintendent Paul Vallas, park district superintendent David Doig, and fire department commissioner James Joyce--will take a dip in Lake Michigan. The fun is open to anyone who's paid the $25 registration fee and raised at least $75 in pledges for Special Olympics Chicago. It's from 10 to 2 at North Avenue Beach, North Avenue east of Lake Shore Drive; participants are slated to plunge--or walk--in at noon. There will also be prizes for best costume and other achievements; it's free to watch. Call 312-527-3743 or see www.chicagopolarplunge.org for more information.
The first--and some say, the best--celluloid take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World was Harry Hoyt's silent 1925 offering, in which a dinosaur captured in South America (the "lost world" of the title) wreaks havoc on London. A newly restored version of the film--which has also been color tinted--will be shown tonight at Doc Films. Organist Dennis James will provide live accompaniment, playing the score he recently composed for it. It starts at 7 at the Max Palevsky Cinema in the University of Chicago's Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th (773-702-8575). Tickets are $9.
5 MONDAY "There are a lot of small museums that are underpublicized and underattended," says David McKay, coordinator of the Feet First Museum at the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. "I was trying to think of ways of drawing attention to them in a different sort of way." One of his ideas is the museum's current series of exhibits, The Foot and Leg as Art and Symbol. The latest installment is a collection of drawings, paintings, and sculpture related to the lower extremities and created by professional artists, teachers, and students at the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, the city's oldest school for representational art. The exhibit opens today and runs through the end of the month at the college's museum, 1001 N. Dearborn. It's open weekdays from 9 to 5 and admission is free. Call 312-280-2487.
6 TUESDAY After Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, members of the sardonic Toronto-based art collective General Idea, both died of AIDS-related causes in 1994, surviving member AA Bronson found himself unable to work. When he finally started up again, "all sense of irony had dropped away from me," he told MCA assistant curator Michael Rooks. "After so many deaths, irony became somehow beside the point...the work became much more personal." That work includes a large-format photograph of Partz taken a few hours after he died, and a sepia-toned portrait of Zontal that recalls images of the Holocaust. Bronson will discuss his work and life in the age of AIDS tonight as part of a panel that includes Matthias Herrmann, artist and president of Vienna's Secession, and Robert R. Riley, former curator of media arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It starts at 6 at the MCA, 220 E. Chicago, where Bronson's exhibit, "Negative Thoughts," is on display through April 22. Admission to tonight's event is free; call 312-280-2660.
7 WEDNESDAY In Scotland last summer, everyone was grooving not to Belle & Sebastian or Travis but to Paolo Conte, the eccentric, exuberant Italian cabaret star (think Burt Bacharach meets Tom Waits, with a pinch of Louis Prima). The former lawyer's career took off in Europe in the mid-1960s, but he didn't get a U.S. release until 1998's The Best of Paolo Conte. Conte makes his Chicago debut tonight at 8 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets range from $19 to $65; call 312-294-3000.
8 THURSDAY When it comes to engineering, form follows failure, says Duke University civil engineering professor Henry Petroski. "When you criticize the technology, that's how you improve it. The more we know about history, the more we know what we're doing today, and the more we know about what we will be doing in the future." Petroski, who has written nine books (including 1985's To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design), will give a free lecture tonight called Success and Failure in Engineering, in which he'll focus on bridge design. The talk will follow a reception (also free) that runs from 5:30 to 6:30 at the Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson. Reservations are required, and there's a dress code. Call 312-372-4198 for more.