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Friday 12/7 - Thursday 12/13

DECEMBER

7 FRIDAY Folks who attend today's National Day of Peace Response are asked to bring blankets "in good condition" to donate to Afghan refugees and local homeless shelters. The first of these monthly demonstrations took place on October 7, the day the U.S. started bombing Afghanistan; tonight's action starts at 5 and will include speakers, street theater, and puppets. It's at Pritzker Park at Van Buren and State; call 312-427-2533 for more information.

In 1978, Governor Jim Thompson signed into law a bill that eliminated the Parole and Pardon Board and created the Prisoner Review Board. While the law was intended to standardize the guidelines for parole eligibility, one result, according to the Campaign in Support of C-number Prisoners, is that it's now extremely difficult for prisoners sentenced before February 1 of that year to get parole. They say the 425 such inmates left in the system--commonly known as "C-numbers"--are "model prisoners" with clean records, yet at most 4 percent of them are released each year. The group is pushing for legislation "to set a standard by which C-numbers will receive justice and fairness in the parole process." Learn more at tonight's annual fund-raising dinner, which starts at 6:30 at Brisa Tropical, 4325 W. Fullerton. Tickets are $15; to reserve a seat call 773-874-7390.

Tonight at 7:30 the Wicker Park Anti-War Committee hosts a benefit performance and open mike with local poets, musicians, writers, and others to further the group's three-pronged mission: stopping the war in Afghanistan, preventing attacks on Arab-Americans, and defending civil liberties in the homeland. It's at Center Portion, an "artists' resource space" at 28501/2 W. Fullerton; a $5 donation is requested, and refreshments will be provided. Call 773-227-7316 for more.

8 SATURDAY Unity in Chicago's workshop on Living Through Grief During the Holidays is designed to help people deal with feelings of sadness when they become overwhelming, as often happens at this time of year. The five-week nonreligious workshop will include grief education, journal writing, music, and poetry. Led by social workers Gerri Framburg and Colleen Hubbard, it's this morning from 9:30 to 11:30 at 1925 W. Thome and continues on Saturdays through January 5. There's a $10 fee for supplies plus a weekly "love offering" or donation. Preregistration is required; call 773-973-0007.

"Getting art supplies is a hard thing for the schools to do, so we wanted to create an event that would get [supplies] into their hands rather than money," says Arena Gallery owner Oklahoma Ward of tonight's Public High School Art Auction Fund-raiser. The free event features a silent auction of works by students from more than 25 area high schools, a raffle, and a live auction of pieces by Tony Fitzpatrick, Tom Huck, Wesley Kimler, Victor Skrebnesky, and Ed Paschke. Participating art supply companies will donate twice the value of the money raised in materials. In addition, Alderman Walter Burnett will speak, and a panel of art experts will select ten student works and lead a discussion of their merits. "We wanted to give something back to the city," says Ward, "because we got a lot of help starting this gallery, and the whole reason I'm in the art world is because of a teacher I had....I thought it was important to let the kids know that they could do something more, by showing [their work] in a professional setting." It all starts at 4 at the gallery, 311 N. Sangamon, with a reception and refreshments; the panel discussion is at 5:15, and the live auction is at 6. (The silent auction has been ongoing since December 1.) Call 312-421-0212 for more information.

9 SUNDAY Saint Clement Church's annual production of Handel's Messiah is unusual in that it uses the complete score and is presented in a style similar to that of the work's 1742 premiere--by candlelight and with period instruments, which produce a warm, earthy sound. "You'll hear more of a pure sound coming from the choir, rather than the larger, more romantic sound that's popular today," says choir member James Palermo, who also directs the Grant Park Music Festival. "People are usually stunned by it--the voices and the orchestra blend in a way that they don't usually hear." Performances are Saturday night at 7:30 and today at 4:30 at Saint Clement, 642 W. Deming. Tickets are $25 and $35, $20 for students and seniors. Call 773-281-0371.

10 MONDAY Each year 180,000 animals are killed by UK-based Huntingdon Life Sciences, which is one of the world's largest contract animal research labs. "At any one point there are over 70,000 animals in the HLS labs suffering a fate worse than death," say activists from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. In the U.S. the group has set its sights on Stephens, Inc., the Little Rock-based investment bank that's HLS's largest shareholder. SHAC will picket Stephens's local office today at 2; demonstrators should meet at the southeast corner of Jackson and Wacker. The action follows a two-day town meeting and workshop about HLS. For more information call 773-377-5001, ext. 8449.

11 TUESDAY Charles Dickens acted out his novels as he wrote them, and he also performed a wildly popular stage show that often concluded with his rendition of the murder scene from Oliver Twist--after which he had to be carried offstage. "It was some sort of psychodrama, a cathartic event," is how veteran British stage actor Simon Callow recently explained it to Chicago magazine. Callow portrays Dickens--a depressive genius who disliked his parents, cheated on his wife, and neglected his children--in the one-man show The Mystery of Charles Dickens, which was written by Dickens scholar Peter Ackroyd. Like Dickens's own show, it knocked 'em dead in London. Callow performs tonight at 7:30 (the show runs through December 23) at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand (312-595-5600). Tickets are $40.

12 WEDNESDAY Last year square-jawed adventure journalist Sebastian Junger spent a month in Afghanistan researching an article on Northern Alliance general Ahmad Shah Massoud. Massoud was assassinated September 9 by suicide bombers presumed to be members of al Qaeda; three days after the U.S. bombing began Junger was back in-country, following Northern Alliance soldiers on maneuvers. Now he's home again and has resumed touring behind his new collection of essays, Fire, which includes his piece on Massoud. Tonight at 6 in the Winter Garden of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State, he'll talk about his books and his experiences in Afghanistan. It's free; for more information call 312-364-0126 or 312-747-4010.

13 THURSDAY The highlight of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's weekly Lobby Hop Tour isn't the holiday decorations on display at Marshall Field's, Carson's, the Palmer House, and Symphony Center. It's the private tour of the offices of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the architectural firm behind the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower. The tour meets at 5 in the lobby of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, and ends at the CAF office, where hot chocolate and cookies will be served. It lasts 90 minutes and costs $5; call 312-922-3432.

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