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Friday 12/3 - Thursday 12/9

DECEMBER

By Cara Jepsen

3 FRIDAY Tom Mula's one-man show, Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, is becoming a holiday perennial like the one that inspired it. Based on Mula's 1995 novel it tells the Dickens classic from the point of view of Scrooge's deceased former business partner, with Mula playing the mean-spirited miser, along with Bob Cratchit and other characters. This year's production starts tonight at 8 (and runs through December 19) at the Goodman Studio Theatre, 200 S. Columbus. Tickets are $18 to $28; call 312-443-3800.

A new downtown open-mike night was started just last month by poet Nina Corwin and Michael C. Watson of WLUW 88.7 FM's Wordslingers. They call it Word Dealers, and it takes place tonight (and every Friday) at 7 at Gourmand Coffeehouse, 728 S. Dearborn. It's free. Call 312-427-2610.

4 SATURDAY Thirty years ago today Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot to death in their sleep when FBI agents and Chicago police officers broke into their house at 2337 W. Monroe and opened fire. Today from 12 to 2 the National People's Democratic Uhuru Movement will hold a candlelight vigil at the home, and later members will host an African feast and cultural celebration from 6 to 10 at Fred Hampton Uhuru House, 5409 S. Halsted. Hampton's widow (and the mother of Fred Jr., who is in prison), Akua Njeri, will speak. It's $5. Call 773-924-7072. Tomorrow the Autonomous Zone will screen the 1989 documentary The FBI's War on Black America, followed by a discussion with local filmmaker Denis Mueller and journalist Sisi Donald Mosby. It's at 2012 W. Chicago, and it's free. Call 773-486-1823.

If post-Civil War satirist Ambrose Bierce were alive today, no doubt he'd be writing scathing stories about our era's materialism, apathy, and obsession with software robber barons. In his own time Bierce was known for his realistic, no-holds-barred account of the war between the states, which he experienced firsthand until a Confederate bullet ended his fighting career. Today the Cold Chicago Company--Charles Richards, Warren Leming, and Al Wittek--will give a free performance of readings and songs based on Bierce's work called A Rich Man's War and a Poor Man's Fight. It's at 2 in the video theater of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State (312-747-4600).

Chicago Historical Society architecture curator Tim Samuelson started collecting items made by the Ronco company seven years ago after stumbling across a Popeil Donut Maker in a resale shop and being entranced by its design. He's since amassed some 50 Chop-O-, Dial-O-, and Mince-O-Matics, as well as Pocket Fishermen, Kitchen Magicians, and whatnot, all put out by the local company since it was founded in the 40s. Samuelson will have much of his collection in tow today at his presentation, The Appeal of Popeil. Afterward he'll invite audience members to try their hand at shredding potatoes on eight--count 'em, eight!--Veg-O-Matics gathered for the occasion. It starts at 3 at the Chicago Historical Society, Clark at North (312-642-4600). Museum admission is $5.

5 SUNDAY Back in 1985 I took my nephews to Lake Forest to watch the Bears scrimmage and have the team sign their Duke Junior footballs. Everyone complied with a smile--except for moody old number nine, who zoomed away on his scooter. It was elusive punky QB Jim McMahon, and he'll get his comeuppance today when anyone can demand his John Hancock from 9 to 10 at the Field Museum, Roosevelt at Lake Shore Drive (312-922-9410). He'll be there to "greet fans and talk football" as part of the exhibit "The Chicago Bears: 80 Years of Gridiron Legends," which includes a live prebroadcast on the Score (1160 AM). Admission is $7, $4 for kids (a buck less with a Bears ticket stub).

Cuban lute player Barbarito Torres, who appeared briefly in The Buena Vista Social Club, specializes in guajira, the bluesy music of his home, the rural area of Matanzas. He performs tonight at 8 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo. Tickets are $15. Call 312-362-9707.

6 MONDAY Writers Marita Golden, Alex Kotlowitz, and Phillip Lopate headline Columbia College's four-day Creative Nonfiction Writers Week, which kicks off today with students reading their work from 1 to 3 at Columbia's Residence Center, 731 S. Plymouth. From 6 to 7:30 faculty members Renee Hansen, Tom Nawrocki, and others will read in the Hokin Hall auditorium, 623 S. Wabash. The free conference continues through Thursday, when a bunch of local writers and editors will sit on a panel called "Not Just the Facts: Making Journalism Literary." It's from 1:30 to 3 at Ferguson Auditorium, 600 S. Michigan. Call 312-344-8100 for more.

7 TUESDAY 'Tis the season for updated holiday classics. Tonight's offering, The Harlem Nutcracker, showcases contemporary composer David Berger's expanded version of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's interpretation of Tchaikovsky's score. Berger will conduct the 15-piece jazz ensemble Sultans of Swing for the show's local run, which features a scene in Central Park, gospel great Robert E. Wooten and the Wooten Choral Ensemble as party guests, and young local dancers doing a hip-hop number. It opens tonight at 8 (and runs through December 12) at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, which are $20 to $44.

8 WEDNESDAY The 1894 Pullman strike, precipitated by founder George Pullman's decision to cut wages without lowering the cost of living in his south-side company town, is generally regarded as a pivotal moment in labor history. Today a group of wonks--including University of Chicago professor emeritus William J. Adelman, attorney James C. Franczek Jr., and Roberta Lynch, vice president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees International--will discuss the significance of the strike for workers and employers at a free conference called The Pullman Strike: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. It's today from 2 to 5 at the John Marshall Law School, 315 S. Plymouth. Call 312-987-1420, ext. 574, for reservations.

In his heyday architect Howard Van Doren Shaw combined the Prairie School and Arts and Crafts movements with European eclecticism to create such diverse buildings as Lake Forest's Market Square, the Goodman Theatre, and the interior of the near-south-side Second Presbyterian Church. Tonight Long Island architect Virginia Green, author of a book about Shaw's work, will lecture about his career. It's at 6 at the Graham Foundation, 4 W. Burton, and it's free. Call 312-787-4071.

9 THURSDAY The Kyoto-based performance group and arts collective Dumb Type combines dance, music, computer graphics, video, disco lights, and hospital gurneys in their latest offering, OR, a piece ostensibly about the borders between life and death. It opens tonight at 8 (and runs through Sunday) at the Museum of Contemporary Art theater, 220 E. Chicago. Tickets are $18, $15 for students and seniors. Call 312-397-4010 or see the Critic's Choice in Section Two for more information.

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