11 FRIDAY As director, producer, and Felix, you’re quite excited about the off-Loop, sold-out, opening night performance of the canine version of The Odd Couple. But ten minutes before curtain, when city building inspectors show up at your storefront theater complaining of orthodontist bills, do you know what percentage of the box office will make them disappear? This is just one of several potential dilemmas facing the theater folk participating in “Frankly Speaking…What Drives Our Choices?,” a role-playing panel discussion that will touch on building-code issues, development of the North Loop theater district, and maintaining a company’s artistic vision. Moderated by Alderman Ed “Free Mel Reynolds” Burke, it’s just part of day one of the League of Chicago Theatres’ Conference 2000, which begins tonight with a cocktail reception at 5:30, followed by an awards ceremony, a performance by Judy Kuhn, and a buffet supper. The conference continues tomorrow with more discussions and a trade expo at Northwestern University Law School, 375 E. Chicago. It’s $20 to attend Friday’s events, $75 for the whole weekend. Call 312-554-9800 for reservations.

12 SATURDAY How is it that so many experts continue to attract students by calling them stupid? Today, Dave “Mr. Bike” Glowacz, author of Urban Bikers’ Tricks & Tips, will conduct a four-hour course titled Bike Repair for Dummies, covering tools, flats, cleaning and lubing chains, and adjusting brakes and derailleurs. It’s $45 and starts at 10 AM in Adler Hall of Ravenswood Hospital, 4550 N. Winchester (entrance in the parking lot). Call 312-427-3325 for reservations, lunkhead.

In most places carnival is celebrated in the spring, before Lent. Here it happens in August, no doubt to maximize the possibility of a somewhat tropical climate. This afternoon’s Carifete Kickoff 2000, the city’s prelude to a larger Caribbean blowout later this month in Hyde Park, features a salsa and calypso fusion performance from the Sacal Pan Ensemble, a comparsa, or masquerade parade, and a preview of the DanceAfrica 2000 festival. It’s from 1 to 5 in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S. Michigan (rain site is the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington). It’s free. Call 312-744-6630.

This year’s annual Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video has a panel discussion on The Image of Black Women in Cinema, featuring five of the fest’s directors–Sidra Smith, Cal Ward Jr., Lee Flynn, Brian Evans, and Mad Matthewz–four of whom have made films explicitly about black women (see the sidebar in Section Two). It starts today at 2 at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute, Jackson and Columbus. It’s free. Call 312-443-3737 for more info.

13 SUNDAY The city’s fourth summer of free dance lessons in Grant Park is marked by the conspicuous absence of the Milly. The tenacious fox-trot, by contrast, has survived Y2K. Ballroom instructors Bob and Penny Urbon will give lessons in the dance, named for vaudevillian Harry Fox, today at 2, followed by live trots from the Dick Polk Orchestra in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S. Michigan. Call 312-742-4007.

14 MONDAY The sprawling, angelically lit new Williams-Sonoma store at 900 N. Michigan not only stocks $14 rosemary-scented kitchen candles, regiments of French peach nectar bottles, and three different kinds of ice cream makers, but also features a demo kitchen where Paul Katz of McCormick & Schmick’s will teach the alchemy of grilled seafood marinades tonight at 7. It’s $25–a little bit less than a set of two nonreactive cast aluminum lemon and lime presses. Call 312-587-8080 for reservations.

15 TUESDAY Mainstream media types really are only mildly interested in convention protests–unless squad cars start getting torched–preferring the inaction inside an air-conditioned convention hall to that of the quarantined protest area outside. But even if the bottles don’t fly in LA, you can still see nothing happen daily during the Independent Media Center’s coverage of protests at the DNC. Crashing the Party starts broadcasting today at 10:30 on CAN TV 19 for the benefit of those armchair anarchists whose blood boils at the sound of a rousing anti-WTO chant. Each program will be replayed later the same day at 5:30 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo. It’s free; call 312-362-9707 for more.

16 WEDNESDAY The year 1924 was a heady time for the Soviet film industry, when it seemed more than possible that a good Bolshevik engineer could build a spaceship in a single night, fly to Mars to be with the woman he loved, then lead an uprising of proles that smashes the imperialist Martian state. That Aelita: Queen of Mars has an audience today is sobering proof that the revolution’s message still resonates. The film screens tonight and tomorrow at 7, followed at 9 by Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, in the Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630). It’s free.

17 THURSDAY Many simpletons don’t realize that the containers of water positioned in Catholic church entrances are not meant for hand washing but to supply the plumbing system with tears for weeping icons. Bob O’Gorman of Loyola University and Mary Faulkner, authors of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Catholicism, will illuminate similarly blessed mysteries tonight at 7:30 at Barbara’s Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells. It’s free. Call 312-642-5044 for more info, dummy.

Women who want to work with their hands should gather at the Chicago Women in Trades orientation and career fair for tips on starting out in construction, carpentry, manufacturing, or other “nontraditional” careers. Tradeswomen, city reps, and employers will show the ropes tonight at 6 in conference room 1203 at the West Side Technical Institute, 2800 S. Western. It’s free. Call 312-942-1444.