24 FRIDAY Last year on this, the biggest shopping day of the year, there were Buy Nothing Day anticonsumerism actions in over 30 countries. In Vancouver a gold-clad Mr. Materialism thanked shoppers for their enthusiastic spending, while in Kyoto a “Zenta” Claus sat meditating in the lotus position for eight hours on the city’s busiest shopping strip. The annual protest, started eight years ago by the Vancouver-based Adbusters Media Foundation, encourages spontaneous pranking and DIY street theater by whoever wants to participate–or you can simply buy nothing. It takes place all day today, all over the city and suburbs, and it is, of course, free. For more information call 800-663-1243 or visit www.adbusters.org.

“We used to get a lot of people who were outraged and would say ‘How dare you!'” when Fur-Free Friday started 15 years ago, says Kay Sievers, director of Animal Rights Mobilization of Chicago, the local sponsor of the annual multicity antifur protest. These days, passersby occasionally join the leafleteers. “Fur has become an issue that has sunken into the public conscience. Sales are way down, but nowadays they’re selling a lot of things with fur trim.” Today’s free march–the largest such demonstration in the midwest–starts at noon at the northwest corner of State and Adams and proceeds north and east, concluding with a rally at the Water Tower, at Michigan and Chicago, around 1:30. Call 773-381-1181 for more.

25 SATURDAY The Chicago Institute for the Moving Image is devoted to sponsoring projects “that attempt to synthesize the five senses, explain phenomena associated with the nervous system, and reveal the whole of various psychological processes in their parts.” The topic of today’s Intention, Movement, Perception conference is the languages of the brain and body. Speakers include Second City founder Paul Sills, holographic theory and film history expert David Bychkov, and Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer, president of the Hebrew Seminary for the Deaf. It’s from 10 to 3 at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark. Tickets are $25 and include lunch; $5 all-day parking is available one block north. Call 847-922-0767.

In her self, published book, Graphic Violations: I Survived, Why Can’t You?, Kim Washington tells of Baby, a young victim of longterm sexual abuse. The story is based on her own experience overcoming abuse to, become an author, nurse, and poet. Washington will discuss Graphic Violations and Nursing Poems (also self-published) today at 2:30 at African American Images, 1909 W. 95th (773-445-7822). It’s free.

When his mother died of cancer 15 years ago, Roger Marquette promised her he’d devote the rest of his life to helping the poor. That’s when he started Scattered Famines, Inc., an innovative job-creation program for disabled veterans and the homeless and a support system for their children. Future goals includelaunching a cafe and a gourmet butcher shop (to be called Corn Cob). In the meantime he’s looking for volunteers for odd jobs like picking up flowers from funeral homes for SFI workers to recycle as potpourri. He’ll discuss the groups activities tonight at 8 at the College of Complexes at the Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln. Tuition is $3, plus a required purchase of food or drink. Call 312-326-2120 for more.

26 SUNDAY Lucy Lawless’s character Xena was a hit before she even had a show, first appearing in a March 1995 episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as a bloodthirsty conqueror out to get the series’ hero. A few months later a toned-down Xena, bent on helping the unfortunate rather than killing them, debuted on her own spin-off. The show’s scheduled to end next summer, and Lawless won’t be appearing today, but the annual Xena: Warrior Princess convention carries on this weekend. Today’s guest stars include Virginia Platt (Cyanne, queen of the Amazons) and William Gregory Lee (Virgil). There will also be trivia and costume contests, autograph signing, a screening of bloopers from the show, and, of course, a vending area. The convention is Saturday and today from 1 to 7 at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare, 8535 W. Higgins. Tickets are $20, $10 for kids age 7 to 12, and free for those under 7. Call 773-693-4444 for more info.

27 MONDAY Last summer the city asked 4,000 artists from a wide range-of disciplines to assess their space and technical-assistance needs. The folks at the Department of Cultural Affairs wouldn’t tell me what they found, but did say that only one out of four artists responded. The 3,000 creative types who lost the form are invited to come and throw in their two cents when the results are revealed at today’s Chicago Artists Surveyed discussion. It starts at 6 at the Randolph Cafe in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-4405), and it’s free.

28 TUESDAY Two heavyweight authors hit town for free readings tonight, and if you’re quick you can catch them both. Downtown at 6 Anna Quindlen, the lighter of the pair, will promote her new tome, A Short Guide to a Happy Life, in which she declares that life is “glorious and that you have no business taking it for granted.” She appears at the Harold Washington Library Center auditorium at 400 S. State; call 312-747-4080. On the north side Margaret Atwood, who recently won the Booker Prize for her novel The Blind Assassin, will read at 7:30 at the Swedish American Museum Center, 5211 N. Clark. It’s also free, but ticket holders who’ve purchased the novel down the street at Women & Children First (5233 N. Clark, 773-769-9299) will be seated first.

29 WEDNESDAY There will be juggling, magic, and little boys flying through the air at HotHouse tonight, when Douglas Crew (of the Midnight Circus) hosts his monthly Backyard Variety Show, a showcase of “new vaudeville” talent. Guests include magician Tevell Rose, performer Miss Foozi, the Chicago Boys Acrobatic Team, and Evelyn Weston taking requests on her musical saw. It all starts at 8 at 33 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707. Admission is $8.

30 THURSDAY “We especially want our children–all children–to remember that more democracy is always a possibility if they are willing to carry on the precious heritage with vision, courage, and compassion,” write Harvard professors Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cornel West in the introduction to their new book, The African-American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Country. In it, the pair profile 100 influential African-Americans from the past 100 years, from Booker T. Washington to Jimi Hendrix to Colin Powell, and argue that the U.S. would be a much different place without their contributions. West will discuss the book tonight at 7 in Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago’s Reynolds Club, 5706 S. University. It’s free; call 773-684-1300.