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Friday 3/12 - Thursday 3/18

MARCH

12 FRIDAY At this year's International Vintage Poster Fair, elegant ads for French cognac and Bally shoes dating from the 1890s to the 1980s are on sale alongside hundreds of propaganda posters from China's Cultural Revolution. Ah, the delicious irony of lounging on the couch watching a Simpsons rerun under a rendering of a square-jawed peasant exhorting you to "Advance victoriously while following Chairman Mao's line in literature and the arts." There's a preview tonight from 5 to 9 (the show continues Saturday from 10 to 7 and Sunday from 11 to 6) at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Admission tonight is $25 and includes wine and hors d'oeuvres plus a one-day reentry pass. For Saturday or Sunday only it's $12; for both it's $20. Call 800-856-8069 or check out www.posterfair.com.

13 SATURDAY The vague promise of warmer temperatures makes you want to cast off your winter coat and shimmy in the sun--but where? Well, there won't be any tanning opportunities at tonight's Carnaval, but the artists behind the nonprofit arts organization Collaboraction are doing their best to bring a bit of South America to the midwest. There'll be a fashion show of Brazilian bikini designs and couture from the Wicker Park vintage shops Una Mae's Freak Boutique and Lilly Vallente, plus samba dancers, Brazilian batacuda percussion, body and face painting, and a set by DJ Julio Bishop. The event is a fund-raiser for Sketchbook, Collaboraction's annual festival of short plays, art, and music, which begins later this month. Admission is $20 and includes drinks, so you must be 21 or over; tickets must be purchased in advance. It's at the MCA Warehouse, 1747 W. Hubbard. Call 312-226-9633 or go to www.collaboraction.org.

There's no telling what you'll find at the Chicago Rocks & Minerals Society's 55th Annual Silent Auction of Rocks, Minerals, Fossils, and Lapidary Treasures: "I still curse myself for letting that lapis lazuli free-form carving go for 25 bucks a couple years ago," says the society's Jeanine Mielecki. Some of the goods and gadgets will likely appeal only to the trained geologist, but ordinary rock fans may find some cool fossils, jewelry, or a good book. The show opens at 5 and tables of items will come up for bidding in random order starting at 5:30. It's at the Salvation Army-Irving Park Corps building, 4056 N. Pulaski. Admission is free; call 773-774-2054 or e-mail jaynine9@aol.com.

14 SUNDAY The tango is traditionally a nocturnal activity, but today's Afternoon Tango Tea brings it into the light of day. "Why should we imitate Buenos Aires--we're in Chicago. People like to do things during the daytime," says Charlotte Vikstrom, director of Academy V Music & Dance. The group has added an English accent to the event by offering a high tea, complete with finger sandwiches and pastries. Dancers are encouraged to dress in flapper styles, as the 20s were a great era for both the tango and tea; besides, adds Vikstrom, the short dresses are easier to dance in. Those less light on their feet are welcome to nibble and watch. It's from 4 to 7 at Marcello's Bakery & Restaurant, 645 W. North. Tickets are $30; reservations are required. Call 773-493-0666.

15 MONDAY In November Lincoln Park cooking school The Chopping Block opened a new location in Lincoln Square. Tonight chef Sara Salzinski--who's put in time at Ambria and Blackbird--will wean students from Chinese takeout by showing them how to make wonton soup, a crispy noodle pancake with vegetables, kung pao chicken, and Szechuan eggplant. The $75 class is offered from 6:30 to 9:30 at 4747 N. Lincoln; there's also an earlier session from 10 AM to 1 PM. Call 773-472-6700 to preregister. Visit www.thechoppingblock.net for a complete schedule of classes.

16 TUESDAY Digital cameras may have made it easier for the average Joe to take great photos, but capturing the fantastic images found in National Geographic requires more than a $1,000 Canon and a tripod. Swedish wildlife photographer Mattias Klum and four assistants once schlepped about 4,500 pounds of equipment into the middle of the Borneo rain forest on a 14-month mission to "capture the 'soul' of the forest and its inhabitants." Klum's more modest undertakings include traveling to southeast Asia to take photos of king cobras and visiting six countries to document people's relationships with horses for an upcoming book. He'll talk about his art and experiences today in a lecture entitled The Passion of Seeing Wildlife. It's tonight at 7:30 at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive. Tickets are $24 ($22 for museum members) and preregistration is required; call 312-665-7400.

17 WEDNESDAY Lynn Phillips's 1998 book, The Girls Report (a study commissioned by the National Council for Research on Women), sought to identify the needs and wants of girls and ways to meet them. Today she'll present an overview of her research at a panel discussion, Girls: Current Research and Issues. Three University of Illinois at Chicago faculty members will also speak: Melissa Gilliam on girls' health, Laurie Schaffner, about girls, violence, and the criminal justice system, and Annette Henry on how girls learn in school. The free discussion is from 3:30 to 5:30 today in the Cardinal Room of UIC's Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. Call 312-413-1025.

18 THURSDAY Columbia College's Eighth Annual Story Week Festival of Writers--actually ten days of author readings, panel discussions, book signings, and more--kicks off today with a conversation between John McNally, whose novel The Book of Ralph was published this month by the Free Press, and Colson Whitehead, whose most recent work, The Colossus of New York, is a collection of essays about New York City. That's at 2 and will be moderated by Mara Tapp; at 6:30 the writers will read from their work and answer questions from the audience. Both events are free and take place in the auditorium at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. Upcoming events include a presentation on book and magazine publishing by Paris Review executive editor Brigid Hughes and literary agent Stephanie von Hirschberg and a conversation between authors Jane Hamilton (Map of the World) and Lorrie Moore. Most events are free; call 312-344-7611 or 312-344-8559. See the Story Week sidebar at chicagoreader.com for a full schedule.

As any Scrabble veteran can tell you, the game can get as tense as high-stakes poker. Fittingly, local filmmaker Scott Peterson went to Las Vegas to make the 2003 documentary Scrabylon, about the 2001 World Scrabble Championship. Like the recent hit movie Spellbound, Peterson's film focuses on the personalities who populate a wordy subculture, such as professional Scrabblist Joel Sherman, nicknamed "GI" for his unending stomach complaints, and Chicagoan Marty Gabriel, who likes to psych out his opponents by drinking vinegar straight from the bottle. It'll be screened tonight at Columbia College during a break in a four-round tournament among 16 top players. The competition begins at 3:30; the film starts at 7 and will be followed by a Q and A with Gabriel. The final round will begin at 9. It's all free and takes place at the college's Hermann Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash, first floor. Call 312-344-6733.

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