It's hard to explain the appeal of the Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show on the grounds of the Cuneo mansion in Vernon Hills--a low-tech drive through a mile and a half of strung-light Santas and painted board figures, mostly AWOL Disney characters. Maybe it's the distinctly suburban pleasure of never leaving your automobile. A thousand cars went through the night we were there: it took 20 minutes to creep to the entrance and 30 minutes to cruise the track. The display continues to exert its quirky pull from 6 to 10 nightly through January 4 at the Cuneo Museum and Gardens, 1350 N. Milwaukee in Vernon Hills. Use the estate's back entrance, on Lakeview Parkway, north off Route 60. Admission is $7 per car; call 847-362-3042 for more.
When DePaul student Brandon Wetherbee started Foul three years ago, he didn't really know what a zine was. "I thought Rolling Stone started in some dude's bedroom and that Spin was originally just two pages about the Ramones," he told the Reader earlier this year. "In my head that's what I thought I was doing." Now the Foul empire includes a record label, a Web site, a radio show, an art zine called One Page, and "Music With Meaning," a series of concerts and spoken-word fund-raisers. Tonight at 7 Wetherbee and regular contributor Greg Smith will host a third anniversary party for the zine at the Independent Video Alliance, 7009 N. Glenwood in Chicago, with readings by a half dozen other zinesters, four bands, and a screening of Creature From Beyond Part III, a film by Western Springs band the Nix. Admission is $5 or pay what you can. See www.foulinc.com for more.
"It leaves no room for doubt. I found that very powerful," says filmmaker Joe Winston, who arranged to bring the documentary Unprecedented: The 2000 Election and its creators to the Gene Siskel Film Center in November. The Chicago premiere of the film--which, in a nutshell, makes the case that the Repub-licans stole the presidency--sold out. "We turned away at least 100 people," says Winston. "They were pissed, too." Now he's brought the 50-minute film (but not the LA-based filmmakers) back for an encore run. It's showing tonight at 7:45 and Monday, January 5, at 6 at the Film Center, 164 N. State in Chicago. Tickets are $8; call 312-846-2800 or see the movie listings for more information.
Americans getting hitched spend $60 billion a year on their nuptials, so to help them plan wisely the folks behind today's Wedding and Home Show have come up with a list of tips for couples planning on attending the expo. Chief among them: wear comfortable shoes, bring as many friends as possible, and don't forget your checkbook. It runs from 11:30 to 4 (the bridal fashion show starts at 2) at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare, 8535 W. Higgins in Chicago. Tickets are $6 in advance, $10 at the door. For more call 847-428-3320 or see www.bridalshowexpo.com.
"They started telling us their stories and we couldn't believe it," says Judith Hart of the Afghan women she met last fall. "One of the oldest teachers was a high school physics and math teacher who told us a story of how they had to teach in their homes when the Taliban shut down the schools, and how dangerous that was. A friend of her son's was killed in front of her. They didn't ask questions." The women gave Hart, the executive director of the Angels Theatre Company in Lincoln, Nebraska, and ensemble member Tammy Meneghini the raw material for the performance piece Behind Their Eyes: Stories of Afghan Women Alive and Among Us. It features three actresses (including Hart and Meneghini) telling the true stories of nine Afghan women, and has been tweaked since it premiered in Lincoln last spring--in fact, some of the subjects saw the show and helped with the rewrite. Tonight at 6 the company's throwing a benefit to raise money for the up-coming Chicago run. The suggested donation of $22 includes traditional Afghan food and music and a performance of scenes from the play. Reser-vations are required; call 312-742-8497 or see www.ticketweb.com. At 8 there'll be a screening of the 2003 documentary Afghanistan Unveiled, made by graduates of a post-Taliban training program for female journalists. The film and the discussion that follows are free and open to the public, with priority seating for benefit ticket holders. It's all at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington in Chicago. Call 312-744-6630 or see www.angelscompany.org for more information. Behind Their Eyes opens January 8 and runs through January 17 at the Storefront Theater, 66 E. Washington; for details see the theater listings.
"You know the bands that play places like Schubas, the Hideout, and the Empty Bottle? There's a parallel universe made up of comedy groups," says Hideout co-owner Tim Tuten. "They're like indie rock comedy groups." The two worlds collided two months ago when former Mount Pilot guitarist (and occasional Hideout bartender) Matt Weber launched HIP, the weekly Hideout Improv Players series. It features four teams doing a half hour of extended improv each; Weber--who's studied at both Second City and ImprovOlympic--hosts. "It's not a competition," adds Tuten. "Ours is just fun." The month of January features the teams Mammal 79, Cowlick, Giraffe Half Danger, and Bluesocket. They perform tonight (and every Monday through the 26th) at 9 at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia in Chicago. There's no cover, but you must be 21 or over. Call 773-227-4433 or see www.hideoutchicago.com for more.
The Crochet Guild of America was launched in 1994, when hundreds of aficionados gathered in Chicago to network, form special interest groups (like the one for hook collectors), and take a look at the first national juried exhibition of their work. The Rhythm of Crochet, the tenth-anniversary edition of that show, is making a stop here on a national tour. The 40 pieces in the show include White, Blue, and Tetra--abstract fiberglass mesh work by Chicagoan Yvette Kaiser Smith. It runs through February 28 at the Northwest Cultural Council and Kimball Hill Galleries, 5999 New Wilke Road, suites 307 and 308, in Rolling Meadows. Hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 3; after January 17, when there's a reception from 4 to 6, the galleries will also be open Saturday from 11 to 3. It's free; call 847-956-7966.
In 1982 Norway's Bergen Woodwind Quintet--comprising the principal woodwinds of the Bergen Philharmonic--won the French Senate's special prize for the best performance of a French composition (for their rendition of Andre Jolivet's Serenade) at the international chamber music competition in Colmar, France. Since then, their star has been steadily rising. The musicians teach at the University of Bergen's Grieg Academy and are currently visiting guest artists at the University of Minnesota. They'll give a free performance tonight at 7:30 at Northwestern University's Lutkin Hall, 700 University in Evanston. Call 847-491-5441 for more.
Landscapes are more than plants and buildings--they're also about textures and silhouettes, says assistant to the mayor Barry Burton. He'll explain in today's slide lecture, The Landscape in Winter: Case Study Chicago, in which he'll also discuss the new winter garden on the Midway Plaisance and the planters at Buckingham Fountain. It starts at 12:15 in the Chicago Architecture Foundation's lecture hall, off the atrium lobby of the Santa Fe Building, 224 S. Michigan in Chicago. It's free; call 312-922-3432, ext. 266, for more information.
"I've always loved the language and attitude of southern women--how they try to be proper women despite some of the things they had to endure," says Creola Thomas, author of the new play The Sisters From Belzoni. Set in the 1960s, in the small Mississippi town Thomas visited each summer as a child, the play focuses on four sisters coming to terms with their mother's death and their own destinies. "These sisters are all descendants of a prominent prostitute, which was not acceptable as they were growing up," says Thomas. "It's showing how you can define yourself even though your parents may have made poor choices." Sisters opens tonight at 8 and runs through February 22 at ETA Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago in Chicago. Tickets are $25, $15 for seniors and students; call 773-752-3955 or go to www.etacreativearts.org.