“As a storyteller, I strive to give a voice to the voiceless. As an artist, I seek to give a perspective from a different part of life’s circle,” says Native American storyteller, puppeteer, musician, and visual artist Dayton Edmonds. “The stories I tell and the artwork I create are to gently challenge people to grow.” Edmonds, who belongs to the Caddo nation and currently lives in the Pacific northwest, learned his trade from his grandparents. He’ll tell tales tonight from 7:30 to 9 at Broadway United Methodist Church, 3344 N. Broadway in Chicago; tomorrow at the church he’ll perform for kids at 1 and discuss multiculturalism, Native American history, and Columbus Day at 7. A retired Methodist missionary, Edmonds will also preach on Sunday, October 12, at the 9:15 and 11:15 services. All events are free; call 773-348-2679 for more information.

“There are a lot of poker books out there,” says Jake Austen, “but they’re all about how to win in Vegas, and have a lot of math and stuff.” Austen, publisher of the zine Roctober and producer of the cable access show Chic-a-Go-Go, put together A Friendly Game of Poker: 52 Takes on the Neighborhood Game after the idea was tossed out by the host of his regular game–Chicago Review Press editor Yuval Taylor. The book, published by CRP last month, features contributions from 44 writers and artists on subjects ranging from appropriate poker drinks and snacks to how to kick an unwanted player out of the group to poker as a country-music metaphor. “The only way this book would help at a poker game would be as a conversation starter,” says Austen. “Or you could use it for misdirection–like bring up an interesting story so the other players don’t see that you have an inside straight.” Austen, Taylor, and contributors Dan Kelly and Starlee Kine will read tonight at 7:30 at Quimby’s, 1854 W. North, Chicago. There’ll also be music by one-man band Bud Melvin, Kenny Rogers karaoke, and a nickel poker game. It’s free; call 773-342-0910.


In August at Ravinia, classical pianist Christopher O’Riley masterfully made his way through a demanding piano rendition of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique while Basil Twist’s invisible puppeteers performed a water ballet in a 1,000-gallon tank using scarves, feathers, fishing lures, and glitter. It was a kids’ concert at Ravinia’s Bennett-Gordon Hall, complete with squalling infants, babbling toddlers, and a significant number of walkouts–none of which fazed O’Riley, who merely rolled his eyes a couple times and played on. In another Ravinia program this summer, O’Riley performed his own transcriptions of music by Radiohead; Reader critic Ted Shen, previewing O’Riley’s CD of the selections, True Love Waits, called it “a noble effort” that “points to new possibilities in the blending of classical and pop.” If you missed it, here’s another opportunity: O’Riley Plays Radiohead starts at 8 tonight at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Dr. on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Tickets are $12, $10 for seniors, and $7 for students. Call 847-467-4000.


“For too long progressives have walked fearful of their shadows, whimpering and whining about what’s wrong and fighting amongst themselves over crumbs,” says Texas-based populist Jim Hightower. “That time is over.” For the last year or so, Hightower’s been getting his message out via the Rolling Thunder Tour, which he modeled after the chautauquas–multiday festivals of music, theater, and public discourse–of the late 19th century. Speakers at today’s local installment of the tour, Countdown to 2004: Reclaiming Our Democracy, include In These Times senior editor Salim Muwakkil, Chicago Media Watch president Liane Casten, and reps from Big Vote, BuzzFlash.com, the League of Women Voters, and the Midwest Democracy Center. There’ll also be voter registration, a mock election, an open mike, and music. It runs from 11:30 AM to 8 PM at the World Folk Music Company, 1808 W. 103rd in Chicago. Tickets are $5; call 773-235-4488 or go to www.rollingthundertour.org for more information.


“Five hundred Italian grandmothers just seemed like a funny number to us,” says a spokesperson for Joe DiPietro’s stage show Over the River and Through the Woods, about a quartet of sly oldsters who try to keep their grandson from leaving town. DiPietro’s hoping to get 500 nonnas to turn out and march with him in Chicago’s 50th annual Columbus Day Parade; everyone who does will receive a free ticket to the show. He’ll be organizing marchers at 11:30 AM at Columbus and Balbo (the parade starts at 12:30) in front of floats 22B and 22C. Call 773-477-7666 for more information.


The music of gay American modernists like Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein is “the music that’s widely heard as signifying America’s land and people,” says University of Michigan music and women’s studies professor Nadine Hubbs. “It’s that simultaneously classical and populist idiom that’s invoked when the U.S. Navy or the American Beef Council…wants us to picture America in its vast, rugged beauty, and in the strength and integrity of its people.” Hubbs will elaborate today at a 3:30 lecture titled “Orchestrating National Identity: Queer Modernists’ Creation of ‘America’s Sound,'” part of Queer Origins of Modern American Culture, a series of free talks sponsored by the University of Chicago’s Lesbian and Gay Studies Project. It’s at the University of Chicago’s Classics Building, 1010 E. 59th, Chicago. For more information on the series call 773-834-4509.

From October 1 through October 7 a series of cryptic ads in the New York Times Arts section asked testy questions such as “Dear ‘Mr. President,’ what is the ‘special relationship’ between the Bushes and the Saudi royal family?” They were all taken from a chapter in Michael Moore’s new book, Dude, Where’s My Country?, in which the professional rabble-rouser claims to provide the answers. Today at noon Moore will make a rare bookstore appearance at Borders Books & Music, 150 N. State, Chicago. He’ll sign copies of the book (or any other of his works as long as you buy a copy of the new one) from noon to 2:30; the bookstore advises getting in line by 1. Call 312-606-0750 for more information. Tonight at 7 Moore will speak at Northwestern University’s McGaw Memorial Hall, 2705 Ashland in Evanston. Tickets are $10; call 847-491-2305.


Art Resources in Teaching has been providing visual-art residency programs for Chicago schoolkids since 1894. These days their artists work with some 30,000 children in 110 schools, and next year they’ll expand to the suburbs. Tonight the group is holding a fund-raiser where the speakers will be sculptor Martin Puryear (who’s working on an image of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable for the state of Illinois) and ceramic artist Ruth Duckworth, who’ll be presented with the group’s Arts in Education Award. It starts at 6 at the Art Institute’s Rubloff Auditorium, 111 S. Michigan (enter on Columbus) in Chicago. Tickets are $25 for the lecture; $150 for the lecture and the reception with the artists that follows. Call 312-332-0355 for more.


Harvard grad and former New Yorker writer Elizabeth Wurtzel was just 26 years old in 1994 when her memoir, Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, started its manic climb up the best-seller lists. (A film version is coming to a theater near you this winter.) Her next book, Bitch, a “postfeminist defense of difficult women” featuring a topless but coy cover photo of the author giving the world the finger, was not as popular. In her latest, More, Now, Again, Wurtzel tells all you could want to know and more about the addictions–cocaine, Ritalin, porn–that addled her while she was working on Bitch. (“If you have not been married to a Vietnam veteran [she hasn’t, but never mind], you don’t know how it feels to be me,” she writes, by way of explaining the depth of her feeling for heroin.) She’ll give a talk tonight at 7:30 at Harper College’s Business and Social Science Center, 1200 Algonquin in Palatine. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Call 847-925-6100 for more.