An impressive array of women university presidents will discuss issues faced by female students, faculty, and school administrators as part of a two-day conference, Women in Higher Education, this weekend at the University of Chicago. Hanna Gray, Mary McPherson, Ellen Futter, and Adele Simmons--presidents, respectively, of the U. of C., Bryn Mawr, Barnard College, and the MacArthur Foundation--will have a panel discussion this afternoon at 5:30. Other discussions will track women's experiences in education from 1890 to the present, with each session addressing a different time period. It's free; sessions begin at 1 today in Ida Noyes Hall, 1219 E. 59th St.; more panels run from 9:30 to 2 tomorrow. Call 702-9192 for more info.
Wondrous Sights of Chile and Easter Island--From Guanacos to Giants of Stone is the title of a slide show and lecture tonight by the Pan American Council's Iris Lozier on a trip she took in 1990 with the Geographic Society of Chicago. It starts at 7, with refreshments and social hour to follow, in room 201 of Harold Washington College, 30 E. Lake. It's $2.50, $2 for PAC members, and $1.50 for seniors and students; more info at 463-3996.
If your two-step is a bit rusty or you need to brush up on your Cajun waltz, try the Chicago Cajun Aces' bimonthly evening of dancing and music at the International Club, 3201 N. Long. The Aces--together since 1987, and probably the only Cajun band in Chicago--include among their instruments an authentic single-row button accordion, and buzz their way through Cajun classic after Cajun classic as dancers swirl counterclockwise. The dancing's a bit harder than it looks, but come promptly at 8 and get in on some dance lessons. It's $6; call 643-5771, 549-7760, or 708-361-2321 for details.
Bits from Julia, I Spy, and The Cosby Show and interviews with the likes of Norman Lear and Steven Bochco are at the heart of Marlon Riggs's newest video, Color Adjustment, a history of race relations on TV. The Emmy-winning Riggs earned some notoriety with his previous work, Tongues Untied, controversial when it was broadcast on PBS because of its frank look at black homosexuality. (Pat Buchanan used explicit footage from the video, which was partly government funded, in a commercial attacking Bush.) The new video has its Chicago premiere tonight at the Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee; Riggs himself will be around to discuss it afterward. It starts at 8 and costs $6, $4 for gallery members. Call 666-7737 for more.
Jane Baxter Miller has a broad, mahogany voice; Kelly Kessler, her partner, twirls her own voice swimmingly around Miller's and backs up the vocals with an assertive and rumbling acoustic guitar. Together they're the Texas Rubies, a modern country duo whose repertoire ranges from "Now I Know Why Hank Drank" to "Hey Bartender" to "Homegrown Tomatoes." The Rubies are heading off to tour the south (highlight: a scheduled date at Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree in Nashville), and there's a benefit send-off performance tonight at Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport. Things get under way at 9; it's $8. Call 248-5238 for more.
Vortex's heady performance in Chicago's nightclub-hipness rivalry continues tonight with an appearance by diva Crystal Waters, who sings songs with choruses like "La de de / La de dah" and "Oo-do-weoo / Oo-ee-oo / Oo-ee Oo-ee Oo-ee"--from "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" and "Makin' Happy," respectively. Waters will hit the stage at midnight; the club's at 3631 N. Halsted. It's $7; call 975-6622 for details.
American Dream tells the story of the 1985 strike at the Hormel plant in Austin, Minnesota. The company was profitable, so workers refused management's demanded wage cuts, and director Barbara Kopple tracked families and friendships through the battle; her film won an Academy Award for best documentary in 1991, was named best documentary by the Los Angeles film critics' association, and copped a filmmaker's trophy at Sundance as well. The film shows at the Fine Arts, 418 S. Michigan, at 1 today, with commentary to follow from the director of Roosevelt University's Labor Education Program, Jack Metzgar. It's $10; make reservations at 341-3510.
Today's your last chance to see Beneath the Ice: The Art of the Fish Decoy, the Shedd Aquarium's exhibit of 225 handmade wooden decoys once used by ice fisherman. The aquarium (1200 S. Lake Shor Drive, 939-2426) is open from 9 to 6 every day; admission is $3, $2 for kids under 11 and seniors.
The latest novel from Robert Moss, author of such political potboilers as The Spike, Moscow Rules, and Monimbo, is Fire Along the Sky, about an 18th-century Anglo-Irish rogue who finds adventure in the Great Lakes region around the time of Pontiac's War. Moss will read from it in the video theater of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State, at 5:30 PM. It's free; call 747-4740 for details.
The history and dynamics of anti-Semitism in America is the subject of a series of lectures this week by Cornell prof Benjamin Ginsberg--who's also the author of the noted Politics by Other Means: The Declining Importance of Elections in America and The Consequences of Consent: Elections, Citizen Control, and Popular Acquiescence. He speaks tonight, tomorrow night, and Thursday night at 7:30 in room 310 of the University of Chicago's Swift Hall, 1025- 35 E. 58th St. Admission is free. Call 702-7740 for details.
For a year and a half, Mara Tapp has been holding court on her literate and entertaining talk show at 10 AM weekdays on WBEZ; tonight at 7:30, she'll be at the Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton in Skokie, to talk about broadcast journalism, the free dissemination of information, and National Public Radio's role in breaking the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill story. It's free. Call 708-673-7774.
Thresholds South, a long-standing south-side rehabilitation program for the mentally ill, is holding the fund-raising Bizarre Bazaar tonight, with a silent auction of art and fashions from local artists and a performance by Aaron Freeman, writer and star of the long-running Do the White Thing. The $25 admission ($20 in advance) includes dinner. It's at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, from 6 to 10. Call 472-4581 for info.
Frederic Franklin--the founding director of the National Ballet, onetime premier danseur with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and one of the leading figures in world ballet for more than six decades--will relate some of the highlights of his career in a talk at the Newberry Library tonight. Franklin danced with almost every major ballerina of his time, worked with the La Scala Opera Ballet, ABT, and a bevy of other troupes around the world, and even had a stint as artistic director of the Chicago Ballet with Ruth Page. The talk starts at 5:30; the Newberry is at 60 W. Walton. It's $8, $5 for Newberry Associates and students. Call 943-9090 for info.
Ron Kruppa, a biologist who studies birds of prey, has spent the last 14 years in the Philippines setting up a preservation program for the endangered Philippine eagle. Tonight at 7 he'll talk about that experience and about the problems of endangered species and environmentalism in third-world countries, at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski. It's free; for details, call 744-1252.
"Cohousing"--that housing style from Denmark that consists of private living units clustered around a common area where residents share dining, recreational, and day-care facilities--is the specialty of architectural consultant Kathryn McCamant; she's the coauthor of a book on the subject, and she has helped with the formation of nearly 100 cohousing groups. The Chicago Cohousing Network has arranged for McCamant to give two talks on the subject this weekend. There's a free lecture tonight at 8 at the Graham Foundation, 4 W. Burton (787-4071). Saturday there's a cohousing workshop, where McCamant will give the keynote address; it runs from 10 to 4:30 in room 605 of UIC's Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. Admission is $10-$15 for the workshop or $5 for just the talk; details at 281-4780.