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Friday 3/1 - Thursday 3/7

MARCH

1 FRIDAY Doctors, historians, and epidemiologists agree that bad luck isn't the only reason people who are poor are also likely to be obese. Participants in this weekend's Obesity and Poverty Conference, hosted by the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago, attribute the so-called global epidemic of fat to other factors such as sleep patterns, cultural trends, and medical problems--all of which tend to affect poor people more. Keynote speakers are Dr. Robert Kushner, professor of medicine at Northwestern University and medical director of the Wellness Institute, George Mason University provost Peter Stearns, and Sander Gilman, professor of medicine and the liberal arts and sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Other speakers include cultural theorist Laura Kipnis and epidemiologist Diane S. Lauderdale. The free conference starts today at noon at the Franke Humanities Institute, 1100 E. 57th; tomorrow's session runs from 9 until 5 in the Classics Building, 1010 E. 59th, room 10. For more information call 773-702-9936.

When local filmmaker Allen Ross disappeared in 1995, it was anyone's guess where he'd gone. His life had taken some odd turns, including a sudden move to Oklahoma and a subsequent marriage to the founder of a fringe religious group. Lacking solid information, friends and family speculated: he could have run away; he could have amnesia; he could be dead. (The mystery was the subject of a 1998 Reader story titled "Where on Earth Is Allen Ross?") In July 2000 Ross's mutilated body was found buried under a house in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but who killed him and why remain unclear. Missing Allen, a documentary by Christian Bauer, Ross's friend and sometime collaborator, explores his mysterious life and death, as well as the reasons Cheyenne police have stopped investigating the case. Audience members at the film's Chicago screenings, which start tonight and continue through March 7, will be asked to sign a petition "asking the authorities in Cheyenne to put all means possible behind the investigation of the murder." Bauer will be on hand tonight for both showings, at 6:15 and 8:15, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Tickets are $8; call 312-846-2800 or visit www.siskelfilmcenter.org.

2 SATURDAY Last year more than 1,000 people showed up for the gala opening of "Insideout," an exhibit of work by administrators, preparators, security guards, and clerks at the Museum of Contemporary Art, who developed and curated the event themselves. Insideout: 2, which opens today and runs through March 22, was organized this year by building operations manager Duncan Anderson and assistant to the associate director Kimberly Aubuchon. It features site-specific work, video installations, sculpture, painting, photography, and collage by 50-odd staff members whose levels of artistic experience range from professional to hobbyist. There's a free opening reception tonight from 5 to 10 at Arena Gallery, 311 N. Sangamon; call 312-421-0212 for more information.

3 SUNDAY The fifth annual Alternative Hair Show offers a runway event that "fuses performance art and fashion" by design teams from Europe and Asia, plus a chance to party with folks who know how to turn a bad hair day into a fashion statement. The show--subtitled "An Odyssey in Hair"--is the highlight of the three-day Chicago-Midwest Beauty Show (a yearly hairdressers' convention). It's open to the public and starts at 7:30 at the Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road in Rosemont. Tickets, which benefit leukemia research, range from $70 to $100, $30 for students; the postperformance party is an additional $35 at the door. Call 800-883-7808.

4 MONDAY Once a smart-ass, dirt-poor comedian who slept in his car, David Cross got his break in 1992 when he started writing for The Ben Stiller Show. Though the Emmy-winning show aired for just a little over a year, it did get Cross together with fellow writer Bob Odenkirk. Three years later the pair had their own sketch comedy program on HBO, Mr. Show With Bob and David, a surreal production that quickly attracted a cult following. After that show's cancellation in 1998, Cross and Odenkirk wrote a movie around one of their recurring characters, Ronnie Dobbs (yet another grubby white dude with a mullet), which recently premiered at Sundance. Cross has also scored parts in Waiting for Guffman, Scary Movie 2, and Ghost World as well as various sitcom roles. Tonight at 9 PM he'll do stand-up at Metro, 3730 N. Clark. The band Ultrababyfat opens, and it's $12 ($10 in advance). Call 773-549-0203 for more information.

5 TUESDAY When Columbia College student Jason Lazarus saw a New York exhibit of photos of a nude, voluptuous woman in which the photographer appeared as voyeur, he found the whole thing pretty boring. Born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a disease that affects musculature and joint development, Lazarus thought the body issues of a "skinny, awkward boy" might spark better discussion than those of an attractive woman. So he posed nude in front of women friends and framed the shots to emphasize their reactions. Two of his prints are currently on display through March 16 as part of a free show of work by Weisman Scholarship recipients at the school's Hokin Gallery, 623 S. Wabash. Gallery hours are 10 to 5; call 312-344-7696 for more information.

6 WEDNESDAY Perhaps passage through the pearly gates is free for a reason. According to Bishop Wilton Gregory, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Gospels are more accommodating to the poor because "it is in weakness that power reaches perfection." After an ecumenical prayer service and dinner tonight, he'll lecture on The Paradox of Spiritual Power at Crossroads Center, 711 W. Monroe. The free service begins at 5:30, dinner is at 6:15, and the lecture starts at 7. Dinner and the lecture together cost $15 (reservations required); on its own the lecture is $5, with walk-ins welcome. For more information call 312-831-9350 or visit www.crossroads-center.org.

7 THURSDAY Christina Vasa, better known as Queen Christina of Sweden, was born in 1626 to a cunning military father and a hysterical, hedonistic mother, both of whom wished they'd had a son. They raised her as a prince, and she was crowned queen at age five when her father died. By the time she was 30 she'd wooed a virtuous aristocratic woman, a cosmopolitan swashbuckler, a cousin, and a Spanish general, but she claimed it was impossible for her to marry. A disciple of Descartes, she converted to Catholicism (then illegal in Sweden) in 1654, abdicated her throne, and snuck out of the country dressed as a man. She spent the next 15 years in search of another throne, first in Naples and then in Poland. She consorted with mystics and clerics, hired live-in astronomers, sponsored an archaeological dig, opened a theater and Rome's first public opera house, founded an academy for philosophy and literature, and became well-known as a patron of the arts. Today at 3 the Newberry Consort presents an open rehearsal of The Musical World of Christina of Sweden, a program of works by some of her majesty's favorite composers and musicians. It's at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Tickets are $10, $5 for students; for more information call 312-255-3700.

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