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Friday 17

Wesley Willis’s drawings–sort of weird but quite competent and distinctive renderings of Chicago street scenes–could be had for a pittance just a few months ago on any street corner. Now that his rock ‘n’ roll career has made him the subject of newspaper profiles and much discussion, you have to buy his work at the David Leonardis Gallery. An exhibit called New Drawings by Wesley Willis opens tonight with a free party at 6 at the gallery, 1352 N. Paulina. When the Wesley Willis Fiasco takes the stage at 9 there’s a $5 cover. Call 278-3058.

At tonight’s meeting of the Railroad Club of Chicago James Arvites gives a slide presentation on Railroads South of the Mason-Dixon Line. It’s at 7:30 in the basement of the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington. Admission is $2; call 708-251-2262.

Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer charts the swirling media overkill that obscured the dark tale of Wuornos, that rarest of all criminal oddities, a female serial killer. (She admitted killing seven men.) The film shows tonight at 8 and Sunday at 7 at Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division. Admission is $5, $2.50 for members. Call 384-5533 for more.

Saturday 18

You could spend your whole life studying Homer’s Odyssey. Or you could spend 125 simoleons getting the lowdown on the greatest action-adventure tale of them all from University of Chicago professors Amy Kass, Ingrid Rowland, and Herman Sinaiko. The seminar starts at 9:15 this morning and goes well into the evening. Tomorrow it runs from 9:30 to 1:30. Call 702-2160 for more.

The Chicago Public Library extends a helping hand to those in danger of becoming road kill on the information superhighway. A series of Saturday-afternoon classes–put on with the help of Harold Driscoll from the Chicago Computer Society–continues today at 1 with Computers: Getting Up to Speed. The free session will be held in the lower-level multipurpose room of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. Call 747-4440.

Gamers Paradise sponsors a Magic tournament today in the downstairs food court of the Century Mall, 2828 N. Clark. But don’t bring a rabbit or a top hat–just the necessary cards. Other games on the agenda include Vampire and Jyhad. It starts at 10:30 AM. Call the store at 549-1833 for more.

Like martinis, red meat, and other cliches of bourgeois life, bridge is making a comeback. And it isn’t just for housewives anymore. Those who fear being left behind by this trend should show up today at the Ramada O’Hare, 6600 N. Mannheim in Rosemont, for the Chicago Contact Bridge Association’s semiannual convention. At 1:30 they’re having a game for supernovices during which it’s OK to ask questions. The entry fee is $3. Open games for players of all levels run from 1:30 to 7:30. Call 708-673-1965.

Sunday 19

In her latest work Alzina Stone Dale, who’s written biographies of Dorothy Sayers and G.K. Chesterton, offers tours of ten Chicago neighborhoods–from Hyde Park to Lincoln Park, from Streeterville to the near west side–and identifies the mystery, gangsters, and crime connections of each. Dale talks about Mystery Writer’s Walking Guide: Chicago at 2 today at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th. It’s free. Call 684-1300 for more.

A party tonight at HotHouse fetes the publication of a western called Vast, written by the School of the Art Institute’s Doug Huston under the name Moore Lande. Huston has taken hundreds of excerpts from dated dime westerns and curried them together (with footnotes) to create an entirely new work. The theatrical troupe known as Doorika, along with members of the Cook County Theatre Department and former members of Swollen Spleens, will deliver a “performative reading” from the book, and Johnny Profit and the Glass Cowboys will provide a musical closing to the evening. Admission is $5, $2 for students. Things get under way at 8:30 at HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee. Call 409-2617.

Monday 20

Edward James Olmos is best known for his role as Lieutenant Castillo on Miami Vice and his subsequent movie work. He played the hard-driving teacher in Stand and Deliver and directed and starred in American Me. But he’s also a tireless lecturer and campaigner against gang-banging and violence. He talks and answers questions at a free event at 7:30 tonight in Northwestern’s Tech Auditorium, 2145 Sheridan in Evanston. Call 708-491-2381 for details.

Tuesday 21

Still wondering what exactly was in that mysterious briefcase in Pulp Fiction? It was probably a print of Kiss Me Deadly, the twisted 1955 Robert Aldrich noir that Quentin Tarantino was plainly tipping his hat to. In Kiss Me Deadly detective Mike Hammer, played without a smidgen of sentimentality by Ralph Meeker, gets caught up in a frantic search for a glowing substance in a heavy small box. The movie plays at 6 PM at the Film Center, Columbus Drive at Jackson. A lecture by Susan Doll follows. It’s $5. Call 443-3733.

Joe Congusti, manager of the massive Sam’s Wine Warehouse, leads a tasting tonight at the Star Bar, which adjoins Pops for Champagne, 2934 N. Sheffield. Highlights include three brandies: a Delamain cognac, a Darroze Armagnac, and a Herout calvados. It’s $18.50 and runs from 7 to 9. Reservations are suggested; call 472-7272.

Baseball fans with a taste for magical realism love W.P. Kinsella’s strange sports stories. According to the folks at Barbara’s in New Town, in his latest, The Dixon Cornbelt League, the “national pastime is always in season (and never on strike).” Kinsella talks at Barbara’s Bookstore, 3130 N. Broadway, at 7:30 tonight. It’s free. Call 477-0411 for more.

Wednesday 22

For 24 years Christo–that mad European wrapper of unlikely things (e.g. The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-1985)–has had his eye on the German Reichstag, and his quest to cloak the once and future parliament building will finally come to fruition this summer. Today he and partner Jeanne-Claude return to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the site of his first American wrapping (Wrapped Museum of Contemporary Art, 1969), to present a slide lecture and discuss the years of political lobbying it took to win approval of his plans for the Reichstag. They speak at 6 tonight in the grand ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton, 160 E. Pearson. Admission is $15; museum members, seniors, and students pay $12. Call the MCA at 280-7252 for reservations.

At Writing and Thinking at the End of an Epoch, a conference put on by Goethe-Institut Chicago and Northwestern’s TriQuarterly, writers, scholars, editors, and others will discuss how intellectuals may help shape life in the West after the collapse of the communist regimes of Eastern Europe. The free four-day event kicks off tonight at 6:30 with a discussion that features Northwestern president Henry Bienen, essayist Henryk Broder, and film director Krzysztof Zanussi; it’s at Northwestern Law School’s Lincoln Hall, 357 E. Chicago. Sessions continue from 2:30 to 6 PM Thursday and Friday and 10 AM to 2 PM Saturday at Harris Hall, 1818 Sheridan on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Other panelists include editor Elisabeth Sifton of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Ted Solotaroff of the Nation, and poet and essayist Adam Zagajewski. Call 329-0915 for details.

The Guild Complex’s weekly occupation of HotHouse continues tonight with Native American songs and poetry from activist-lecturer-poet-musician-teacher-writer James Yellowbank, a member of the Winnebago tribe from Black River Falls, Wisconsin. It’s $7, $5 for students, $2 if you’re participating in the open mike that starts things off at 7:30. HotHouse is at 1565 N. Milwaukee. Call 278-2210 for more.

Thursday 23

The closing weekend of Solopalooza, the Splinter Group’s series of one-person works, features New York performance artist Camden Toy in Seven People Have Slapped Me in the Face. Also on the bill: a new piece from Chicago’s Deb Goldstein and Lisa Buscani with her new work, Real Women. Shows are tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday at 8 at the Splinter Group Studio, 1937 W. Division. Tix are $10. Call 342-7656.