Toys of Christmases past and present will make up the two exhibits opening today at the Museum of Science and Industry, 57th Street at Lake Shore Drive. Antique Toys presents more than 150 toys–some dating back to 1925, many based on cartoon characters–from the collection of Chicagoan Charles Sharp. Battery Toy Town, sponsored by the Eveready battery company and Easter Seals, introduces hundreds of the newest battery-operated toys, from electronic animals to robots on wheels. (These toys will be donated to Easter Seals at the end of their tour.) Both exhibits run through January 3; admission is free. The museum is open 9:30 to 4 weekdays, 9:30 to 5:30 weekends and holidays. 684-1414 for details.
The editors of the new magazine Rough Cut are celebrating the arts two ways: (1) by filling their first issue with creative writing and articles on music and theater, and (2) by throwing an arty magazine release party from 7 to 1 tonight at the Randolph St. Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. There’ll be short films and videos, poetry readings by Rough Cut contributors, and performances by folksinger Sleepy Silver and bands Incoming Wounded and the Leeches. $5 donation requested; proceeds go toward the next issue. 871-8161, 462-2511, or 275-3590 for more.
Fourteenth-century Lithuania was one of the most powerful countries in Europe–and its last remaining pagan state. But by 1387, thanks to the efforts of the Grand Duke Vytautas, its citizens had adopted Christianity. To commemorate this religious coup, the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture (6500 S. Pulaski) offers the 600th Lithuanian Christianity Jubilee. Scholar and minister Antanas Saulitis opens the celebration with a slide lecture on the country’s religious history, 3 to 5 today. Two exhibit openings round out the jubilee: Land of Crosses: Religious Expression in 19th-Century Lithuania will show books, photos, maps, and religious artifacts representing Lithuania’s attempts to defend its religious freedom from Russian czars; and Lithuanian Historical Flags includes military, royal, and geographic banners dating back to the 13th century. The free festivities include refreshments, but seating is limited; 582-6500 for reservations and exhibit info.
Long before she started doing toilet paper commercials, Rosemary Clooney got famous crooning such hits as Come On-a My House and White Christmas. Tonight at 6:30 and 9:30, she performs with the Jake Jerger Orchestra at Centre East, 7701 N. Lincoln, Skokie. The choirs of Niles North and Niles West high schools will also accompany her. Tickets are $18-$20; reserve at 673-6300 or 902-1500.
Say kids! What time is it? It’s time for Howdy Doody’s 40th anniversary bash, noon to 5 today at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, 800 S. Wells. Howdy Doody first aired in 1947 and ran 13 seasons, which makes that perpetually red-cheeked guy middle-aged. Buffalo Bob Smith, the voice and mind of Howdy, and Roger Muir, one of the show’s original producers, will be on hand at today’s celebration, and old episodes will show continuously. The suggested donation is $3, $2 for students, and $1 for seniors and children; specifics at 987-1500. Tuesday, Buffalo Bob, the Doodyville gang, and loads o’ comedians team up to throw a party for Howdy on the two-hour TV special It’s Howdy Doody Time: A 40-Year Celebration airing at 7:30 PM on Channel 32.
Alice Ryerson, founder of the Ragdale Foundation artists’ colony, reads from her New and Selected Poems from 3 to 5 today at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St. Free; 684-1300.
Twenty singing acts–encompassing folk, blues, jazz, and more–will perform back-to-back tonight at the second annual Song-a-thon, 6 to midnight at Orphan’s, 2462 N. Lincoln. The cover is $8, with a two-drink minimum; proceeds go to the Chicago Songwriters’ Association, formed two years ago to help local talent gain national prominence. Info at 882-8308.
New York sculptor Judith Shea, a visiting artist at the School of the Art Institute, makes clothing that’s purposely unfinished and unwearable (it’s sometimes made from cast metal) in order to challenge viewers’ ideas about clothes. She’ll talk about her clothing constructions tonight at 7 at the SAIC auditorium, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Admission is $3, free for students and faculty at area colleges; details at 443-3711.
Good news for people with strong ankles: it’s skating season again. The Learning Annex offers skating lessons starting tonight and continuing the next two Mondays, December 7 and 14, at the Skatium, 9300 N. Bronx, Skokie. Classes meet 7:20 to 8:40 and cost $39.95 for all three lessons; it’s another $1 each night to rent skates. Wear appropriate clothing, including gloves. Register at 280-7575; another set of classes starts January 4. The Chicago Park District’s Grant Park skating rink at 337 E. Randolph opens tomorrow; it’ll operate 9 AM to 10 PM weekdays, 9 AM to 6:30 PM weekends. The rink and skate rental fees are $1.25 each, 75 cents for kids. 294-4790.
How do you build a building so it doesn’t fall down during an earthquake? MIT prof Robert Whitman and engineer James Harris will discuss this earthshaking–uh, complicated–subject at tonight’s dinner lecture Designing for Earthquakes, at the Marriott Hotel, 540 N. Michigan. It’s presented by the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois and local chapters of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the American Society of Civil Engineers. A cash bar opens at 5:30, dinner starts at 6:15, and the lecture follows. $25, $15 for students; info at 751-3144.
What are current public policies on AIDS? Are they appropriate? If not, how do we put new policies into effect? Today’s conference on AIDS: The Challenge to Public Policy, presented by the Comprehensive Health Council of Metropolitan Chicago, will try to answer these questions. It runs 9 to 4 at the Hyatt Regency ballroom, 151 E. Wacker. Participants will come from various legislative, medical, religious, and gay advocate groups, and Channel Nine anchorwoman Pat Harvey will moderate. Admission is $40, including lunch; for more info, call 641-0142.
Experience celebrity vicariously at the Chicago Actors Ensemble’s benefit auction and raffle, A Gala Night of the Stars, 5:30 to 9 tonight at the Green Mill Lounge, 4802 N. Broadway. Autographed items from Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, and Shirley MacLaine will be among the goodies for sale. Classical guitarist Jim Spector and blues singer Lynne Jordan will perform before the auction, and hors d’oeuvres will make the rounds. $15 gets you in and buys a raffle ticket; 274-4463 for info.
Don’t let the name of this seminar mislead you–it’s not about the evils of materialism. On the contrary, Don’t Let Your Possessions Possess You: Managing Your Valuables will tell how to determine what valuables you may already own. It’s part of Hunting for Treasures in Chicago, a series of talks from the Public Library Cultural Center, which has been collecting valuables for more than a century. Appraisers Pamela Pierrepont Bardo and Leslie Schwartz will cover insurance concerns and how to leave valuables to loved ones in your will; Schwartz, a gemologist, will also evaluate jewelry from audience members. Free, 5:30 to 7, at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 346-3278.