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The legacy of the covert U.S.-backed removals of Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 and Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 is the focus of this weekend's conference Thwarting Democracy in Iran and Guatemala: What Lessons Have We Learned Fifty Years After the U.S. Sponsored Coups?, which started November 13 and runs through tomorrow, November 15. Today's programming goes from 9 AM to 9 PM, with keynote addresses at 7 by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and Latin-American studies scholar Suzanne Jonas, author of The Battle for Guatemala: Rebels, Death Squads, and U.S. Power. It's all at Northeastern Illinois University's Alumni Hall, 5500 N. Saint Louis in Chicago, and admission is $25, $10 for the keynote speakers only. Call 773-442-5443 or see for more information.

Eat at home and get there early remain the two best tips for enjoying the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, which finishes up a 12-day run this weekend at the Allstate Arena before moving on to Chicago's United Center. Three Ring Adventure, the interactive show that starts an hour before the main performance, is a must-see, offering first-rate clowning and the chance to get a wet, powerful smooch from Asia the elephant. The formal show, this year said to be inspired by the film Moulin Rouge but looking a lot like Cirque de Soleil, substitutes kites for floats in the parade and fills a hunk of time with Broadway-style musical numbers. Still, there's enough of the old-fashioned circus to satisfy: dogs, ponies, tigers, acrobats, and trapeze artists, plus six spinning motorcycles in the Globe of Death and a don't-try-this-at-home flaming cannon shoot. Food and souvenir prices are stiff (cotton candy is $8 at the food stands, $10 in the seats), but tickets can still be a bargain, ranging from $10.50 to $50. Performances are tonight at 7:30; Saturday, November 15, at 11:30, 3:30, and 7:30; and Sunday, November 16, at 1 and 5. The arena's at 6920 N. Mannheim in Rosemont; call 847-635-6601 for information, and 312-559-1212 for tickets.


In 1951, Wobbly and former hobo Slim Brundage used a $6,000 workers' comp settlement to open the original College of Complexes in an Old Town tavern, where he wrote on the ceiling in two-foot-high letters: "No television, no jukebox, no 26 game--just beer, booze and bull-oney." He dubbed himself the bar's janitor and brought in nightly speakers and guests ranging from Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens and United Nations delegate Archibald Carey to Ziegfeld Follies star Frances Stuart Kenyon. In between Brundage, who died in 1990, wrote at least five novels plus many short stories and plays. Today from 1 to 3 a group of speakers including former alderman Leon Despres, current C. of C. organizer Charles Paidock, poet and historian Franklin Rosemont, and artist Carlos Cortez will celebrate Brundage's 100th birthday at a free event that doubles as a College of Complexes reunion and a launch party for Rosemont's new book, The Rise & Fall of the Dil Pickle: Jazz-Age Chicago's Wildest & Most Outrageously Creative Hobohemian Nightspot. Featuring music by Ella Jenkins and Allen Schwartz, the party takes place at the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln in Chicago. Call 312-744-7616.

Artist Jennifer Karmin says her text-sound composition Aaaaaaaaaaalice, which incorporates language from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and a 1963 Japanese textbook, is based on her experience teaching English in Japan. "It was fun and frustrating to be a poet with so much knowledge of language but not be able to really communicate with the people around me," she says. She'll perform tonight at 9, along with Robb Drinkwater and Jason Soliday, as part of the Outer Ear Festival of Sound, which began November 14 and runs through Monday, November 17. Tonight's event is at Candlestick Maker, 4432 N. Kedzie in Chicago. Admission is $10; call 773-784-0449 or see the Music listings for more information.


Loyola law professor and Hyde Park institution George Anastaplo--dubbed "the Socrates of Chicago" by Leon Despres--has written 13 books, was nominated a dozen times for a Nobel Peace Prize, and is a lecturer at the University of Chicago, where he graduated at the top of his law school class. Yet the institution has never offered him a professorship, and he's never practiced law. His outsider status may have something to do with his refusal to respond yea or nay when asked whether he was a member of the Communist Party back when he took the bar exam in 1950 (he said the question was irrelevant, since the Constitution guarantees the right to organize into political parties). Anastaplo, who's also been expelled from the Soviet Union and Greece in the past for publicly criticizing their governments, will give a free talk today at 2 called If You're As Good as You Look, Why Aren't You a University of Chicago Professor? It's at the Hyde Park Historical Society, 5529 S. Lake Park in Chicago; call 773-493-1893.


"Sometimes it seems easier for [white men] to have the texts of their drivers' licenses produced than for the female or nonwhite playwright to have her best play produced," says Velina Hasu Houston. Her play Tea, about the experiences of five Japanese women who emigrated to the U.S. as war brides, appears to be an exception, as it'll be produced in January at the Loop Theater. Houston, who based the play in part on the life of her Japanese mother and her friends, will attend a free staged reading and discussion of her work tonight at 7 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington in Chicago; call 312-744-6630.


Three things you never want to see are water coming out of your electrical sockets, flames shooting out of your sock drawer, and a press release that begins, "The Bush Administration today announced revised standards for...," says lefty populist Jim Hightower in his new book, Thieves in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country and It's Time to Take It Back. "When you see that eight-word lead you just know it's going to be yet another piece of awful news, yet another revision of the rules that'll let yet another industry or specific corporation have a free hand to clobber us regular folks." Hightower will speak and sign books tonight at 7 at a benefit for Sustainable Chicago at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo in Chicago. Tickets for the event, which includes a panel discussion on environmentally friendly companies, are $25 ($30 after November 15), or $10 for students. A $100 donation also covers admission to a VIP reception at 6 featuring organic food from Frontera Grill, Thyme, and Trotters to Go. Call 630-836-1864 or e-mail for reservations.


The Bush administration's recent ban on certain late-term abortions is likely to wind up in the Supreme Court--where Roe v. Wade "hangs by a thread," according to the four national women's groups sponsoring this spring's pro-choice demonstration in D.C. There will be a local planning meeting for the April 25, 2004, March for Freedom of Choice, which organizers hope will be the largest such march on Washington ever, tonight at 5:30 at Planned Parenthood, 18 S. Michigan in Chicago, on the sixth floor. For more information call 312-592-6800 or see


Tonight at 7 film buff and former Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians official John Low will show clips of movies from Custer's Last Fight (1912) to Cheyenne Autumn (1964) to demonstrate "how Hollywood westerns contributed to the mythology of the American Indian as a savage presence in opposition to American/white 'civilization.'" His presentation, "Conquest Mythology and the American Western," is part of the lecture series Indians in the Movies and takes place at Kendall College's Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 2600 Central Park in Evanston, 847-475-1030. It's free with museum admission, which is $5, $2.50 for students, seniors, and children.

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