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SEPTEMBER

26 FRIDAY "The invasion and occupation of Iraq is viewed by the people of the Middle East as an act of international terrorism, and as such it can only lead to a dangerous escalation in the cycle of violence," says International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) in response to President Bush's request for $87 billion to wrap things up in Iraq. The controversial group, the leadership of which has been linked to supporters of Kim Jong Il and Slobodan Milosevic, is using the third anniversary of the start of the second Palestinian intifada--September 28--as a rallying point for this weekend's International Days of Protest to End Occupation in Iraq, Israel, and Everywhere. Tonight at 7 the group hosts an indoor rally at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington in Chicago; featured speakers include Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilder-ness and former Georgia congressperson Cynthia McKinney. It's free, although donations to help defray expenses will be accepted; for more information call 773-878-0166.

Before singer and drummer Li'l Wally slowed down the beat and stripped down the music, polka was usually played at a fast clip by a large band that didn't interact much with the audience. Wally's emotional, horn-heavy approach spearheaded the rise of the "Chicago style" polka that was popular in the 1950s. "To me it connects with punk rock," says musician Don Hedeker, "which I love because it's a DIY thing and more about having a good time than whether you play the right notes." His band, the Polkaholics, will share the stage with the retired 73-year-old legend tonight at 9 at the Zakopane Lounge, 1734 W. Division, Chicago. There's a $5 cover; call 773-486-1559.

27 SATURDAY

The first season of the reality show Starting Over, which airs weekdays at noon on Channel 5, focuses on six women--including a twice-divorced would-be stand-up comic from Niles and a depressed young widow from Orland Park--who share a place in Uptown while struggling to turn their lives around. For season two the producers are seeking a new set of women 18 or older with some issues; in particular they're in the market for nervous brides and prospective adoptive parents. Today's casting call is from 9 to 4 at WMAQ, 454 N. Columbus. For more information see www.startingovertv.com or call 312-836-5555.

"Although in some circles it may be regarded as a negative label to say I'm a 'gay novelist,' that's what the heck I am," says Mark Ian Kendrick, a local computer networking consultant who's published a pair of gay teen novels and two gay sci-fi adventures. "My main characters are gay, I'm gay, and my target audience is gay." Kendrick will be joined by Indiana-based gay novelists Mark Roeder (author of eight books in a series called "Gay Youth Chronicles") and Josh Thomas (Murder at Willow Slough, Andy's Big Idea) at a free reading

and signing today from 2 to 4 at the Gerber/Hart Library, 1127 W. Granville in Chicago; call 773-381-8030.

28 SUNDAY

Joel Nickson, owner and chef at the Chicago institution Wishbone, takes a pass on most requests for cooking demonstrations these days, but he's making an exception for the Chicago Botanic Garden. He'll cook up a fall menu there today as part of the garden's Great Chef Series. What's on it? "Butternut squash for sure--as a side dish, a soup, or both," he says--and a cabbage slaw. The en-tree's likely to be Wishbone's famous crab cakes with lemon butter sauce: "blue crab claws and a little lump, egg yolks, cream, and red peppers. I don't deep-fry them--just lightly brown on the flat-top grill and bake in the oven." He'll demonstrate twice, at 1:30 and 2:30 PM, in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden. It's free, and so is entry to the garden, which is located at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, a half mile east of the Edens Expressway. Parking, however, is $8.75. Call 847-835-5440 for more information.

Back in the day some moving pictures were accompanied not just by live orchestras but also by live singers. Today jazz vocalist Spider Saloff will sing the original love theme from the 1927 Academy Award-winning film Wings accompanied by organist and amateur historian Jay Warren, who came across the original score several years ago. The World War I movie stars Clara Bow, Charles Rogers, and Richard Arlen; the fight scenes feature over 120 planes, and Hedda Hopper, Gary Cooper, and director (and former WWI flying ace) William Wellman make cameos. It screens at 2 at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main in Saint Charles. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Call 630-892-8136 or see www.silentfilmchicago.com for more.

29 MONDAY

Studs Terkel called it grotesque, Stanley Tigerman said it was ridiculous, and Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin most recently dubbed it an "architectural close encounter of the worst kind." The controversial $632 million renovation of Soldier Field, the stadium that first opened in 1924 has usurped McCormick Place's title as the city's most prominent "mistake on the lake." Chief architect Carlos Zapata has defended the futuristic design, telling the New York Times that "modern means changing. This is 2003, not 1920 or 1800." Today he'll take part in a panel called Taking the Field: The Future of Sports Architecture, which will also include architects Dan Meis, Bernardo Fort-Brescia, and David M. Schwarz--designers of Milwaukee's Miller Park, Atlanta's Philips Arena, and Orlando's Disney Sports Complex respectively. It's from 3 to 5 at Northwestern University's Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago in Chicago--which leaves plenty of time to catch tonight's inaugural home game (Bears vs. Packers) at the new stadium. Admission to the talk is $10; call 312-922-3432.

30 TUESDAY

The organizers of today's blanket protest against George Bush have a bunch of suggested themes for protesters to rally around: bring the troops home; provide funding for jobs, housing, health care, and education; stop the attacks on civil liberties. Bush will be in town today at noon to attend a $2,000-a-plate fund-raiser at the Sheraton Hotel. The pro-test is sponsored by a long list of lefty groups, including the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism, the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, Chicago Labor Against War, and the Chicago branch of the International Socialist Organization. They're planning to meet at 11 in front of the hotel at 301 E. North Water in Chicago. It's free. E-mail ccawr@aol.com or see www.cabn.org for more information.

OCTOBER

1 WEDNESDAY

"An info-shop on wheels, modeled on the storefront infoshops which a handful of American cities have been able to sustain" is how the folks behind the Autonomadic Bookmobile and Medicine Show describe the New Orleans-based traveling library and sideshow. In addition to books and zines from small publishers and their own Autonomedia imprint--which includes titles like Konrad Becker's Tactical Reality Dictionary, a collection of short essays

on topics such as "cyber-sociology" and "ambiguous information"--there will be demonstrations of glass walking, knife throwing, fire eating, and other tricks performed by a pair calling themselves Henceforth Flummox and Okra P. Dingle. The bookmobile rolls into town tonight at 7:30, with events inside and outside the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western in Chicago. Admission is $5, and you must be 21 to enter the bar; call 773-276-3600 or see www.autonomedia.org/bookmobile for more.

2 THURSDAY

Earlier this year, Michelle True was looking for a poetry group in the Buffalo Grove area, where she lives. The existing writers' groups seemed to be about novels or screenplays, she says, and they met in the morning. That wasn't an option for True, who like most poets has a full-time job. When she inquired at the Indian Trails Library, she learned someone had tried to get a poetry group going a few years ago, but "it never went anywhere." If True wanted to give it a whirl, though, the library would provide space. With little fanfare, the Poetic License Writer's Group held its inaugural meeting on the first Thursday of last month; True was pleased when a half-dozen people showed up. "It's more comment than critique," she says, "a place to read a poem and say 'here's what my intention or inspiration was.'" The second meeting is tonight at 6:30 at the library, 355 Schoenbeck in Wheeling. Call 847-846-3568.

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

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