23 FRIDAY Crustaceans, though known for their sensitivity and defensiveness, are also by nature caring and sympathetic, and generally have no qualms about submitting to degrading displays of physical endurance as long as it’s for a good cause. So just think of the children during A Night at the Crab Races when spectators are invited to sponsor “thoroughbred” hermit crabs for $100, or place $2 bets on a favorite. The take benefits Mercy Home for Boys and Girls’ Legacy of Miracles Fund. The first of seven races starts at 6:30 at Carmichael’s Chicago Steak House, 1052 W. Monroe. Call 312-433-0025 for reservations.

As part of a “cybersolstice out of control” a marching band of costumed mutants will shamble out of the MCA tonight into a “lab” situated in front of the museum, where a toxic spill will birth a giant, spewing, dancing blob that’ll threaten to engulf the audience. EE/Environmental Encroachment’s Third Summer Solstice performance begins at 8 and is just one of dozens of activities crammed into the fest that runs from 5:30 today until 5 PM tomorrow at the museum 220 E. Chicago. Tickets are $7; MCA members and kids under 12 get in for free. Call 312-280-2660 for more information.

24 SATURDAY Some canines can’t handle the nightmarish excesses of free chow, cheap studs, and loose bitches that accompany celebrity. Be sure yours won’t burn out on the trappings of fame before entering her/him in the third annual Seadog Mascot Search Contest. The winner will be faced with a season’s worth of free rides and all the vacuous, adoring attention a tour boat spokesdog can handle. Check-in starts at 9 this morning at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand. $20 registration fee benefits the Anti-Cruelty Society. Call 312-751-5518.

Nine workshops on everything from painting and “journaling” to surviving prostitution and teen dating violence are available for women and teenage girls at the fourth annual daylong SisterSpeak Loud and Clear: Stopping Violence Against Women and Girls conference. It’s free and it starts at 9 AM at Olive-Harvey College, 10001 S. Woodlawn. Call 312-747-9405 to register.

Isn’t everybody a little Quebecois on La Fete du Saint-Jean-Baptiste? The province’s “national” holiday is celebrated locally today at the Alliance Francaise de Chicago, 810 N. Dearborn (312-337-1070), with dancing, charcuterie, runny, raw milk oka cheese, a screening of Louis XIX, le roi des ondes (on which Edtv was based), and music by folk duo Les Crapaudes. It all starts at 11 AM and it’s $12; $5 for kids under 12.

25 SUNDAY Do you prefer your chitlins slung or unslung? If you can’t answer that question, this weekend’s Grits, Greens, and Everything in Between: The Foods of the African Diaspora and American Transformations conference can school you in the soul food fundamentals. It climaxes today at 10 AM with a pair of bus tours leaving from the Chicago Historical Society at Clark and North and cruising west-side or Bronzeville landmarks, with breaks for lunch at Edna’s or Army & Lou’s, respectively. Each tour is $35. Call 815-439-3960 for reservations.

26 MONDAY Say you’re walking through the Pik-Kwik parking lot, looking forward to a bowl of Froot Loops when a flannel-clad stranger calls you Stacey and drags you into his Impala. Do you hike up your skirt and say, “Howdy sailor”? If you’re the heroine of prolific local horror pulpstress Yvonne Navarro’s latest novel, That’s Not My Name, you bite your lip and fasten your seat belt. Navarro, author of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Willow Files–Vol. I and Red Shadows, will read from the thriller tonight at 8 as part of the Twilight Tales series upstairs at the Red Lion Restaurant & Pub, 2446 N. Lincoln (773-348-2695). Admission is $2.

27 TUESDAY They aren’t exactly Sacco and Vanzetti, but today Sarah “Tobe” Klepner and Grant Newburger of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade go to court on charges of “obstruction” and “battery” stemming from their eviction in April from 1142 N. Orleans, the coveted patch of real estate where Medgar Evers once slept and where the comrades made their stand against the demolition of public and low-income housing. The charges are bogus, they say, and they’re trying to rally courtroom supporters under the inelegant nom de guerre the Stop Urban Cleansing Two. Jury selection was yesterday and opening arguments should begin today at 9:30 in room 109 of the Fourth District Circuit Court, 1500 S. Maybrook in Maywood. Like all civil and criminal trials in this great land, it’s free. Call 773-528-5353.

While on assignment in Cuba for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, Frederic Sackrider Remington illustrated battles and atrocities of the Spanish-American War that never occurred. At the turn of the century his paintings and bronze sculptures of Wild West scenes provided an enduring, if not realistic vision of that already nostalgic present to eastern folks. He’s one of 62 artists collected in The American West: Out of Myth, Into Reality, which runs through September 17 at the Terra Museum of American Art, 664 N. Michigan. Curatorial researcher Elizabeth Kennedy leads a free gallery tour of the exhibition today at 6. Call 312-654-2255.

28 WEDNESDAY Every day nascent auteurs scheme to knock Scott Sargis on Jobs from its coveted 5 PM Sunday slot on CAN TV 21. All it takes to break into the cutthroat world of public access television is to attend one of the free orientation sessions held periodically at Chicago Access Network Television, 322 S. Green (312-738-1400). There’s one tonight at 5:45 PM.

By day she’s smooth-talking Reader receptionist Dorie Greer. By night she’s DJ Gold “D,” spinning disco, house, funk, jazz, and rare grooves. Back underground after a year and a half hiatus, she spins tonight at 9 at Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division. Cover is $3. Call 773-486-9862.

29 THURSDAY “Even a 15-minute sermon is better than no sleep at all,” cracks London-born Rabbi Barry Schechter, who has a million more where that came from. For his lecture Yiddish and Laughter, he determines the audience’s level of comprehension, then uses “as much Yiddish as they can stand.” Schechter, of Congregation Kol Emeth in Skokie, takes his act to the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln, today at 12:15. It’s umzist. Call 312-744-7616.