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Friday 2/18 - Thursday 2/24

FEBRUARY

By Cara Jepsen

18 FRIDAY The two women to whom John Jacob Astor gave his lifeboat seat on the Titanic were from Chicago, as were the last three people to make it onto a lifeboat, a Saint Charles family traveling third class. In all, some 67 passengers had connections to this city. Their stories as well as 200 artifacts recovered from the ocean floor are part of Titanic: The Exhibition, opening today and running through September 4 at the Museum of Science and Industry, 57th and Lake Shore Drive. Hours are 9:30 to 4. Admission is $10 ($8 for children), plus regular museum admission ($7/$3.50). Call 773-684-1414, ext. 2500, for more.

Violent video games have been blamed for everything from declining attention spans to the Columbine killings. But is the problem the games or the kids--or both? Columbia College's new multimedia exhibit Play examines the role of kids' games and toys in contemporary society with digital displays of video games, a shooting-gallery game designed by students, and a collection of Star Wars action figures. Tonight's free opening reception runs from 5 to 7 at the Columbia College Art Gallery, 72 E. 11th. Call 312-663-1600, ext. 6156.

19 SATURDAY Earlier this week consumer activist Ralph Nader filed papers with the FEC, making him eligible to win the Green Party nomination for president. Though he isn't expected to speak officially about his candidacy, Nader will give the keynote speech today at 4 at Northwestern University's "Looking Into the Future of Environmentalism" conference, which runs from 10 to 5:30 at Leverone Hall, 2001 Sheridan in Evanston. Admission is $5; call 847-475-4046.

A Sunday-morning comedy performance is not a nightmare gig but part of Laugh, a 24-hour improv and sketch-comedy benefit for Gilda's Club, the cancer support center. The participants--including ImprovOlympic, the Annoyance Theatre, and Second City, as well as sponsors Comedy-Sportz and the all-female improv group Sirens--will perform today at noon, 2:30, 5, 7:30, 10, and 12:30 (and through tomorrow morning) at the TurnAround Theatre, 3209 N. Halsted. Admission to one show is $15 and each one after that is $5. A 24-hour pass goes for $50. Call 773-222-7053 for details.

Darrell Gordan raided his massive collection of historical R & B videos for a presentation called A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield. It's part of the Autonomous Zone's "Afternoon & Evening of History & Music" in honor of African-American Heritage Month, which starts with a lecture today at 3 by former Chicago Defender writer Sisi Donald Mosby called "Long Gone: Black Migration to Chicago 1900-2000, A New City Is Born." A potluck dinner runs from 5:30 to 7, followed by Gordan's tribute. He'll DJ and show more clips at the "Dusties Oldies" social that follows. The A-Zone is at 2012 W. Chicago (773-252-6019). Admission is $5 plus something for the potluck.

20 SUNDAY Today's Wacky Snacky 5K Run isn't exactly designed for hard-core runners: "snacky" refers to the junk-food party at the end of the race, and "Wacky" alludes to where the thing will take place--safe from the elements on Lower Wacker Drive. And it starts at a civilized 10 AM at Adams and Upper Wacker. The race fee is $21. Call the hot line at 773-868-3010, ext. 3.

For the truly ambivalent, the Hash House Harriers' WinterBreak Hash Run at 1:30 is a leisurely jog that includes stops at bars and a lot of socializing. It starts at Mother Hubbard's, 5 W. Hubbard, and it costs $3 to participate. Call 312-409-2337.

Northern Illinois University professor and Thoreau Society president Elizabeth Witherell--who's been studying the philosopher's work for 25 years--will give a lecture about his thoughts on winter called Illinois Landscapes. She'll speak today at 3 in the Thornhill Education Center at the Morton Arboretum, 4100 Route 53 in Lisle (630-968-0074). Admission to the arboretum is $7 per car.

21 MONDAY To research his new book, Squandering Aimlessly, NPR talk-show host David Brancaccio talked to people from Wall Street to Pasadena to get ideas on how to spend a hypothetical windfall. The results range from responsible (buying a house in Levittown) to profligate (blowing it all at the Mall of America). He'll discuss his fiscal adventures tonight at 7:30 at Barbara's Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells (312-642-5044).

22 TUESDAY The groundbreaking Good Friday accord between England and Ireland hit a bump last week when the IRA balked at giving up its weapons and Northern Ireland's self-rule was suspended. Tonight one of the primary architects of the accord, Nobel Peace Prize nominee (and former senator) George Mitchell, will discuss where things stand at a free lecture called Toward Peace in Northern Ireland. It's at 8 at Northwestern University's Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 1977 South Campus Drive. Call 847-491-5001.

23 WEDNESDAY Anti-Semitic behavior may date back to antiquity, but that doesn't mean it's history. Today Spertus College professor Dean Bell will discuss recent anti-Semitic expression at a "lunch & learn" lecture called Antisemitism: Is It Different Now? It's from 12 to 2 at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 618 S. Michigan. Admission is $15, $10 for students (and includes lunch). Call 312-322-1769 for reservations.

24 THURSDAY Dave Eggers's new "anti-memoir" details how the Lake Forest native lost both parents to cancer within five weeks of each other soon after graduating from college--and then raised his eight-year-old brother. Eggers will discuss A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius tonight at 6:30 at Quimby's, 1854 W. North (773-342-0910).

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