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Friday 11/28 - Thursday 12/4

NOVEMBER

By Cara Jepsen

28 FRIDAY Ever wonder why his troops dubbed Andrew Jackson "Old Hickory"? (Hint: it has nothing to do with nuts.) They thought he was strong, tough, and resilient--just like the wood of the shagbark hickory tree, which is used to make athletic equipment today. The shagbark is named for the loose, scaly bark that hangs in foot-long shingles from its trunk, and it just happens to be tree of the month at the Morton Arboretum, which marks its 75th anniversary this year. Today is 75-cent day at the preserve, which means the per-car admission is six bits instead of seven bucks. The coffee and gift shops will also have 75-cent specials. If you don't want to hike after you're finished shopping and eating, you can drive the arboretum's 11 miles of road. Grounds are open from 7 to 5; the visitor center, gift shop, and coffee shop are open from 9 to 5; and the restaurant is open from 11 to 3. It's at 4100 Route 53 in Lisle; the shagbark hickory tree is on the northwest corner of parking lot 25. Call 630-719-2400.

29 SATURDAY Environmentalists are hung up on deforestation, preserving parks, and preventing pollution. But loss of arable land is a far greater threat to our well-being, says Dwight Lowell Mather, a tax specialist and former Methodist minister who has studied the problem since he was a teenager. He'll discuss The End of the Food Supply tonight at the College of Complexes. According to the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. loses an average of 2.86 million acres of cropland a year due to urbanization, soil erosion, floods, and earthquakes. "We can't keep increasing population and decreasing farmland without having an effect," Mather says, and that effect could be devastating. He'll discuss his theories and findings at 8 at the Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln. Tuition is $3, and the restaurant would like it if you ordered something. Call 312-326-2120.

30 SUNDAY In the old days in rural Japan, baskets were used for everything from storing cooked rice to trapping eels. Hiroshima Kazuo began making baskets in 1932, when he was 17. He'd travel from village to village on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan, repairing baskets and making new ones. "Making a good basket is not a process of thinking what to do," he says. "It's more like a form of prayer." These days, however, the meticulously crafted bamboo baskets have been replaced by mass-produced plastic, and Kazuo's mountain-dwelling customers have been supplanted by Western collectors of folk art. His work is the foundation of the Field Museum's new exhibit, A Basketmaker in Rural Japan. Today Smithsonian Institution curator Louise Cort, who visited Kazuo several times in Japan, will give a lecture and show slides at 1 at the Field Museum of Natural History, Roosevelt at Lake Shore Drive. Museum admission is $7, $4 for children. Once you're inside, the lecture is free. Call 312-322-8859.

DECEMBER

1 MONDAY The number of deaths from AIDS in this country has declined in recent years, but it's still the leading cause of death among Americans 25 to 44 and for African-American women of all ages. Today, in observance of World AIDS Day--A Day Without Art, the Cultural Center will present performers and musicians every hour from 11 to 6; each free show will last 15 minutes, followed by 45 minutes of silence. Performances will include improvisational dance by the Outabounds Performance Company, traditional Latin guitar from Pablo Helguera, and a reading from Angels in America by the Equity Library Theatre. It's at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 312-744-6630. At Bonaventure House, a residence for people with AIDS at 825 W. Wellington, the public is invited to pick up a red ribbon and join residents and volunteers for refreshments and conversation from 7:30 AM to 10 AM. It's free; call 312-327-9921 for more.

2 TUESDAY Today childbirth is considered a major medical event, something that should occur in a hospital. But some believe that, barring complications, it should take place at home. Today photographer and midwife Harriette Hartigan will attempt to demystify the process when she presents Epic Woman, a free slide show on labor and birth. Afterward, there will be a discussion about childbirth choices. It starts at 7 at Conrad Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln. Call 773-334-6080.

3 WEDNESDAY While growing up in the small-town hell of Nowheresville, Illinois, I entertained a fantasy that Starsky or Hutch--whichever one I had a crush on that week--would pull up in his red Torino, break down the door, and take me away to a life of chasing criminals. I thought my daydream was unique until I read Elaine Segal's book, I Love You. In her fantasy it's the Beatles who show up in her life and change it forever after their limo breaks down in front of her suburban home. The mop tops join the family for a dinner of noodle kugel and help the adolescent protagonist deal with her disapproving father. Segal will discuss the book and sign copies tonight at 7:30 at Barnes & Noble, 1701 Sherman in Evanston. It's free. Call 847-328-0883.

4 THURSDAY The Art Institute just can't get enough of those Renoirs: the museum's current special exhibit focuses on Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and tonight they'll show French Cancan, a movie directed by Jean Renoir, the painter's son. The 1955 musical, full of color and scenes that recall French painting in the late 19th century, follows Danglard, the owner of the Moulin Rouge, as he tries to popularize the dance of the title. Of course, love also figures in the plot--this is France we're talking about! The movie will be shown tonight at 6 in the Film Center at the Art Institute, Columbus Drive and Jackson. Tickets are $6; call 312-443-3737 for more.

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