Friday 16

Some of the more interesting guests on Ben Hollis’s two-year-old Wild Chicago TV show: the “rat sisters,” Samantha and Ramona, and their rats; John McSweeney, inventor of the “tiger moves” exercise routines, and his belly-dancing wife, Shalimar; psychic Joe Who; and Michelle, the Man From U.N.C.L.E. fanatic. Hollis and the aforementioned personalities will be feted tonight at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, 800 S. Wells, in An Evening With Ben Hollis; Hollis will interview them in a mock talk-show setup. Admission to the 7 PM show is $3, $2 for students, $1 for seniors and children. Call 987-1500 for reservations or information.

If you’re taller than five-foot-ten, female, over 21, and have been a member of the Paramount Tall Club of Chicago for six months or more, you’re eligible to enter the Miss Tall Chicago 1991 contest. What does winning get you? Entry in the Miss Tall International Pageant held next July in San Francisco, that’s what. The Chicago pageant is being held at the Marriott Schaumburg, 50 N. Martingale in Schaumburg. Doors open at 7 PM; the show starts at 8. For spectators, admission is $8 and dress is semiformal. Call the Paramount Tall Club at 853-0183 for more information.

In the 70s Richard Hell started in the Voidoids, made a nihilistic call to arms with the album Blank Generation, and did his time as a junkie. Since then he’s written books–Notebooks From the 70s, Soyo, and (with former Television leader Tom Verlaine) Wanna Go Out?–and he’s currently at work on a movie, The Theresa Stern Story. Now he writes poetry; his second reading ever in Chicago is at 9 tonight; he’ll also show a recent short film. Local monologuist Cheryl Trykv opens. At Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport. It’s $8. Call 248-5238.

Saturday 17

Dozens of artisans are the centerpiece of Holiday Fair ’90, a major fund-raiser for Chicago House, one of the city’s leading AIDS service organizations. (Among other things, the group houses 27 AIDS sufferers in a communal care facility.) Fifty arts-and-crafts booths, an hourly raffle, a rummage sale of secondhand goods, live music, and even Santa Claus (making a rare pre-Thanksgiving appearance) will fill out two days (noon to 6 today and tomorrow) of wild selling at the Cultural Arts Center of the Walt Disney Magnet School. It’s at 4140 N. Marine, and free. Call 248-5200 for more details.

Two books about or set in Chicago are the focus of a double book signing today in Evanston. Chicago Originals: A Cast of the City’s Colorful Characters is by Tribune reporters Kenan Heise and Edward Baumann; they’ll both be at Chicago Historical Bookworks from 1 to 4 today to talk about their work. Heise will also be signing copies of Resurrection Mary: A Ghost Story–a novelization of the well-known Chicago-area story about the ghost who has allegedly been appearing for decades on a road next to Resurrection Cemetery in Justice. Chicago Historical Bookworks is at 851 Main in Evanston. Call 708-689-6410 for info.

Tom Paxton’s dozens of records and hundreds of songs all demonstrate his fecund wit and cheerful folksinger’s humanity. He performs twice tonight–along with hammer dulcimer virtuoso John McCutcheon–at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage. Shows start at 7:30 and 10; tickets are $13, $11 for members, and $9 for seniors and children. Call 525-7793 for additional information.

Sunday 18

Veggie achievers! “Vegetarianism no longer smacks of penance or self-denial. It is definitely upbeat. Meatless meals are seen as part of an active, exuberant life-style–one that is both youthful and responsible.” So says Dr. Rudolph Ballentine in Transition to Vegetarianism, and more power to him–but a vegetarian Thanksgiving? The Chicago Vegetarian Society is proudly putting on just that. It’s the third annual Turkey-Free Thanksgiving Dinner. The affair, catered by the Chicago Diner, takes place at the North Park Village Hall, 5801 N. Pulaski. Dinner is $20, $16 for members of the society, half price for kids under 12, and free to kids under 5. Make the required reservations at 764-8349.

Monday 19

You can hobnob with Mikhail Baryshnikov and toss some dough into the needy coffers of both the MoMing Dance & Arts Center and the Auditorium Theatre Council when you buy a pricey ticket to see Baryshnikov do his stuff at the Arie Crown Theatre tonight. Baryshnikov will be dancing with the White Oak Dance Project in Mark Morris’s dances Motorcade (with music by Saint-Saens), Ten Suggestions (Tcherepnin), Going Away Party (Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys), and an untitled ballet with music by Satie. Tickets ($225 and $175) get you both the show and a postconcert cocktail reception with Himself; an anonymous donor is matching all contributions. Tickets that won’t benefit MoMing or the Auditorium can be had as well, for $75, $55, $45, and $37.50. The Arie Crown is in McCormick Place, 2300 S. Lake Shore Drive; the show starts at 7 PM. For information call 431-2397.

Tuesday 20

Performance art from the “non-college-egghead set” is how Bradley Parker-Sparrow describes his latest opus, Pure Chicago. The jazz composer-producer-musician’s latest creation is a multimedia performance piece–videos, singing, jazz, acting–featuring the Sparrow ensemble. What’s it about? “The life, attitude, and mind of a composer within Chicago and the world.” Pure Chicago debuts today at the Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, at 12:15 PM. It’s free. Call 744-8928 or 281-8510 for information.

Seventy-five years (almost to the day) after the death of songwriter, labor organizer, and martyr Joe Hill, the Guild Complex is presenting The Return of Joe Hill, a video documentary by Eric Scholl. Besides interviews, the film includes Utah Phillips, Mark Ross, Dakota Sid Clifford, and Ellen Klaver interpreting Hill’s songs. The Guild Complex (the literary annex of Guild Books) is, as usual, working out of the Edge of the Lookingglass, 62 E. 13th St. Show time is 7:30, and admission is $3. Call 939-2509 for more information.

Wednesday 21

You might think a program that promises to teach you not only “How to save your company the costs associated with grammatical and typographic error” but also “How to compose effective memos, letters, reports “by the boss’ using brief outlines” sounds like it’s run by an English-as-a-second-language institute. Instead, it’s National Seminars, Inc.’s Professional Proofreading, Editing & Writing Skills seminar today at the Marriott, 540 N. Michigan. $89 gets you seven hours of instruction, a workbook, and coffee breaks. Things get under way at 9 AM. Call National Seminars at 800-258-7246 for information.

What may be the world’s largest black velvet painting of Elvis Presley will be the centerpiece of the all-Elvis art show opening at World Tattoo gallery today, promises curator Tony Fitzpatrick. There’ll also be a look-alike contest and live music. The King–A Study of Elvis as an American Icon and His Effect on Our Culture runs through November 28; tonight’s opening party (7 PM) costs $5. World Tattoo is at 1255 S. Wabash, third floor; call 939-2222 for details.

Thursday 22

Fabulist, pedophile, and Jefferson Airplane inspirer Charles Dodgson (better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll) created one of the enduring classics of English literature, Alice in Wonderland. The book is the subject of an ongoing exhibit at the Newberry Library, which owns several first editions; the show will be supplemented by contributions from the private collection of Alice maven Joel Birenbaum, and a variety of illustrations, translations, parodies, and other Aliceiana. 125 Years of Alice in Wonderland: A Collector’s Perspective continues through January 17 in the Newberry’s Hermon Dunlap Smith Gallery. It’s free. The library, at 60 W. Walton, is open 9 to 5 Friday, Saturday, and Monday and 9 to 7:30 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Call 943-9090 for more information.