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Heading into work with a smile on your face can make the day go by much faster. At 6:30 this morning Indian filmmaker turned spiritual guide and author Bhashkar Perinchery will hold a $12 "Silent Sitting," an hour-long controlled breathing exercise involving a little tea, some stretching, and a whole lot of self-awareness. Tonight at 8 he's hosting a $15 "Miracle" ("Meeting of Inner Remembrance, Awareness, and Celebrative Living Experience"), in which participants--hopefully all aware of his Vital Harmonizing Phenomenon theory of inner actualization--ask one another questions about their personal journeys. Both meetings will be at the Center for Holistic Experiencing of the Essence of Religion and Science--or CHEERS--Institute, 1540 W. Rosemont, Chicago. Perinchery is in town through June 9; call 773-764-6542 or see for more information on upcoming events.



In New Maps of Hell, a survey of science fiction, Kingsley Amis examined the way the genre liberates the imagination and tackles "those large, general, speculative questions that ordinary fiction so often avoids." He held that no sci-fi film is better than a novel, but there's a whole lot he missed after he wrote that in 1960. Today and tomorrow, the Chicago Fantastic Film Festival will feature sci-fi, horror, and fantasy movies such as The Vam-pire Lovers, Horror of Dracula, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, as well as the midwest premiere of Stuart Gordon's second ultragory reworking of an H.P. Lovecraft story, Dagon. Interspersed between screenings are panels on a variety of topics. Guests include classic horror-film vamp Ingrid Pitt, actress Joanna Cassidy, and monster portraitist Basil Gogos, whose original paintings will be up in the festival's gallery. It's all happening at Gateway Theatre, 5216 W. Lawrence in Chicago, and kicks off at 10:30 AM Friday with The Day the Earth Stood Still, introduced by one of its stars, Billy Gray. Admission is $15 for one day, $20 for two, $40 for tickets that include the Saturday night banquet, or $100 for all of the above plus a "very special convention surprise," autographed photos, and a poster. Children under ten get in free. Call 800-878-9378 or see for more information.

What better way to celebrate the temperature's long-awaited rise above 50 degrees than to shove little tufts of tinsel, wire, and yarn through a hook, sit on a boat, and get sunburned? Today the Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest, will hold an all-ages Introduction to Fly Fishing class to acquaint future fishers with methodology, equipment, technique, and bait. Gear will be supplied, but participants are encouraged to bring their own. Class runs from 9 to noon and costs $45 ($60 for couples). Space is limited and advance registration and payment is required. Call 847-234-6060 for more information.

Even if the homogenized, quick-served fare dished up at the golden arches doesn't tempt your taste buds, how often do you sit down to a meal lovingly prepared from local, high-quality ingredients? The international "slow food" movement aims to make the dinner table a place of pleasure and fraternization and encourages the use of seasonal, regional foods and sustainable agricultural practices. Tonight the Chicago Slow Food Convivium hosts its third annual Feast of the Senses, featuring tastings of food prepared by chefs from restaurants such as Tru, Spiaggia, and MK; wine and beer from midwestern vineyards and breweries; and caviar, coffee, cheese, chocolate, and other goodies. The walking tour begins at 6 at Harvest on Huron, 217 W. Huron, Chicago, and continues at other River North venues. If you need to take a breather from the gourmet gluttony, Alice Waters--the godmother of slow food--will be signing copies of her latest cookbook from 7 to 8 at Harvest on Huron. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased in advance at; call 773-645-8790 for more information.


Artist Kristen Neveu believes Solace, a sculpture garden created from over 500 tin cans decorated with found objects, will create an integrative public atmosphere of serenity and hope, "much like an arboretum provides comfort in the middle of winter." Each item in her installation is for sale for $10, and since buyers are required to remove their pieces on the spot, the shape of Neveu's garden--which'll be up through July 13 at ATC Space--will be in constant flux. The free opening reception is today at 5 at 1579 N. Milwaukee, room 352, in Chicago's Flat Iron Building; call 773-342-6777 for more information.


Speaking of gardens, in case you're lucky enough to have a yard larger than a few squares of sidewalk, today's free class will teach the basics of planning, planting, maintaining, and harvesting produce for a small household. It's part of the Chicago Public Library's "Blooming Branches" program, which is run in collaboration with the Chicago Botanic Garden and the master gardener program at the University of Illinois and also offers a class on cultivating a water garden that's more than just a kiddie pool and some potted cattails. Grow It & Eat It!--Edible Gardens starts at 6:30 at the Logan Square branch library, 3255 W. Altgeld in Chicago; call 312-744-5295 for more information.


Before 85-year-old swing violin pioneer Johnny Frigo finished middle school his formal training had ended. His mother could no longer afford the weekly lessons he'd been taking for three years, so from there he moved on to tuba, trumpet, and double bass. For the next 54 years he jumped between violin and bass: he toured with Chico Marx's dance orchestra, joined the coast guard, danced with the Duchess of Windsor, wrote and recorded tunes for countless commercials, and took an anonymous hotel job playing tables with an accordionist. At age 72, after appearing twice on the Tonight Show, he renewed his commitment to the violin and became an acclaimed soloist. He'll perform today at 12:15 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State, Chicago. It's free; call 312-747-4850 for more information.


Japanese-Americans had a rough time of it during World War II, and even those lucky enough to avoid the internment camps had to struggle with rampant racism and discrimination. Now, history's threatening to repeat itself--and not as farce. So screening an award-winning documentary on the camps and the social antagonisms and insecurities that still trouble the Japanese-American community would probably do Arab-Americans--and those who are leery of them--some good. Reeltime presents Emiko Omori's Rabbit in the Moon tonight at 7:30 in the community meeting room of the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington. It's free; call 847-866-0312 for more information.

Rich Mackin has made a career out of writing "consumer defense corporate poetry," in the form of letters asking, say, M&M/Mars what the name M&M means or providing tongue-in-cheek suggestions for food and supplement combinations beyond the basic orange-and-calcium juice blend (Viagra plus macaroni, for example, results in "testosta-roni"). He's currently promoting Dear Mr. Mackin (published by the tiny, independent Gorsky Press), a best-of drawn from his Book of Letters zine, as part of the Storytime for Deviants tour. Guerrilla poet Janaka Stuckey, Gorsky co-owner Sean Carswell, whose Glue and Ink Rebellion prompted praise from historian Howard Zinn, and Mackin will read tonight at 7:30 at the Autonomous Zone, 2129 N. Milwaukee in Chicago. There's a suggestion donation of $2 to $5; call 312-494-3456 or see for more information.


WFMT's lighthearted, conversational Words and Music program paid tribute to lyricists and songwriters overshadowed by those who performed their songs, and after two and a half years as one of the hosts, music historian Bill Sheldon has decided to teach a noncredit summer class on the topic. The Great American Songbook begins with the publication of Irving Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and ends around 1960, when "a newer, more simplified type of song became prevalent." Words and Music cohost and seasoned jazz vocalist Spider Saloff will drop by sometime during the six-week course, which will be held Thursday afternoons at 2 at the Des Plaines campus of Oakton Community College, 1600 E. Golf Rd. It's $70; advance registration required. See or call 847-635-1600 for more information.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Rick Frigo.

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