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Friday 4/2 - Thursday 4/8

APRIL

2 FRIDAY Patrons who pony up the $50 to get into Hot Spot, tonight's preview of work by more than 200 graduating School of the Art Institute students, get first crack at buying pieces by possible future Ed Paschkes. Artists will be on hand to discuss their paintings, sculptures, installations, clothing, and more from 6 to 9 at Gallery 2, 847 W. Jackson. At 7 the student group STRUT: A Parade Theater will present I Am Tolerant, a parade featuring boxing stilt walkers, a marching band, and at least 100 other participants. Cocktails and food are included. The exhibit formally opens tomorrow, April 3, with a free reception from 6 to 8 and another parade at 7; it runs through April 16. Call 312-899-7445.

The Guild Complex's tenth annual women writers conference, Click to Enter: Women and New Media, offers more than the usual mix of writing workshops and readings. Tonight at 7:30 poet Krista Franklin and cellist Alison Chesley will present a piece on Jimi Hendrix; they'll be followed by performance artist Alexis O'Hara, who'll use a loop pedal to incorporate recorded phrases and sound samples into her poetry. Finally, science fiction and fantasy writer Larissa Lai will read from her second novel, Salt Fish Girl, the tale of a young girl living in corporate-governed 2044. It's at Catalyst Ranch, 656 W. Randolph; tickets are $15 at the door, $10 for students. Saturday's conference includes four hands-on workshops, including a session on "electronically enhanced storytelling" led by O'Hara and one on building a blog by Northwestern University librarian Claire Stewart. At the end of the day there'll be a tour of the Illinois Institute of Technology campus led by IIT architecture students. The conference runs from 10 to 3:30 at IIT's Paul V. Galvin Library, 35 W. 33rd. Admission is $75 ($40 for students) or $85 for both the Friday performances and the conference. Call 773-227-6117 or see www.guildcomplex.com.

3 SATURDAY Fans of genetically modified food say it's a viable way to grow more crops and combat plant diseases without resorting to pesticides; foes argue that we have no way of knowing the long-term effects of splicing genes willy-nilly. Meanwhile, as much as 80 percent of soybeans and 35 percent of corn grown in this country last year was genetically modified. At today's free conference, Biotechnology and the New Nature of Food, experts from both sides will talk about the ethical, scientific, and legal issues of GM food--such as how GM plants are engineered, safety regulations, and the economic impact of such crops. After the presentations, the speakers will participate in a panel discussion and answer questions. It's from 10 to 12:30 at Northwestern University's Owen L. Coon Forum, 2001 Sheridan in Evanston. The conference will also be streamed live on the Web; see www.northwestern.edu/science-outreach for information or call 847-491-5521.

If snakes creep you out, stay far away from ReptileFest and its 40,000 square feet of newts, skinks, geckos, and other cold-blooded critters. The two-day event, sponsored by the Chicago Herpetological Society, is intended to educate interested parties about the animals before they buy one as a pet. None will be for sale at the show, but attendees can touch alligators and giant snakes, crawl with tortoises in a pen, talk to vets who specialize in reptiles and amphibians, and buy books, art, and T-shirts. Feeder mice and insects, however, will be available for purchase. It's at the University of Illinois at Chicago PE building, 901 W. Roosevelt, from 10 to 5 today and tomorrow. Admission is $7, $5 for children ages 3 to 11, and free for kids under 3. Call 773-281-1800 or go to chicagoherp.org.

4 SUNDAY Forget the PAAS kit--for hundreds of years the Polish have etched beeswax patterns onto hard-boiled eggs and then dyed them in layers to create ornate, brilliantly colored eggs called pisanki. If you screw up the first few times at today's Pisanki Workshop, don't worry--you can still eat the rejects. It's from 1 to 3 at the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America social hall, 984 N. Milwaukee. Admission is $15, and you must be at least 16 to participate. Call 773-384-3352 to reserve a spot.

5 MONDAY Last December three Rwandan media executives were convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which found that the trio had used a newspaper and a radio station to incite violence against the Tutsis in 1994. The U.S. counsel for one of the defendants--who thinks the verdict is "the worst decision in the history of international justice"--and the lead prosecutor for the tribunal will appear on a panel at today's conference, Reflection and Reconstruction: Ten Years After the Rwandan Genocide. Besides considering the role of the media and others in the slaughter, the symposium will explore efforts to reconstruct civil society in Rwanda both politically and through the international justice system. The conference runs from 9 to 4:30 at Northwestern University School of Law's Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago. It's free, but registration is required; call 312-503-0396.

6 TUESDAY The swing dancing fad may have come and gone, but hard-core jumpers and jivers are still at it. Tonight beginners and experts alike can practice their moves at the dance studio Big City Swing. The recorded music will be played at a moderate tempo to accommodate those who still step on some toes. It's from 9:30 to midnight at 1012 W. Randolph, and there's a suggested donation of $4. Call 312-409-5161 for more.

7 WEDNESDAY Double Happiness: Asian-American Wedding Stories explores the evolution of Asian-American culture from the 1920s to today through the trappings of matrimony--including photos, clothing, and other objects. While recent immigrants often marry within their own cultures in traditional ceremonies, says exhibit curator Yuchia Chang, the second generation often embraces Western-style weddings, and the third generation goes all out in redefining nuptial events, from tinkering with various ethnic traditions to suit a bicultural marriage to celebrating same-sex unions. The show opens tonight with a reception from 5 to 7 at Columbia College's C33 Gallery, 33 E. Congress on the first floor, and will be up through April 30, when it'll move to the Thompson Center for a brief run from May 3 to 7. It's free; call 312-344-8213.

Local writer and editor June Skinner Sawyers has put her love for the Boss into book form with Racing in the Street: The Bruce Springsteen Reader, a compilation of more than 60 articles, essays, reviews, and even poems and fiction recently published by Penguin. "I've been a clipper most of my life, so I had a lot of articles already," she says. "It's rather eclectic, and that was my intent, to show how influential he is." The book includes writings from rock critic Lester Bangs and novelist Nick Hornby and the simultaneous cover stories that ran in Newsweek and Time after the 1975 release of Born to Run. Sawyers will speak and Bucky Halker will play Springsteen covers today at 5:30 at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Admission is $12 and includes refreshments; call 312-255-3510.

8 THURSDAY A lot of tonight's offerings at the Chicago International Documentary Film Festival sound pretty harrowing--one double bill features Death Squadrons: The French School, which exposes France's role in teaching South American military officers the torture techniques practiced in Algeria, and the self-explanatory Inside the Mind of a Suicide Bomber--but organizers have also scheduled something a little lighter. In Whose Is This Song?, described as a "comic road movie across the Balkans," filmmaker Adela Peeva travels to Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, and Bulgaria in an attempt to pinpoint the origins of a tune each claims as its own. The song morphs, country by country, into a love song or a patriotic anthem, but the melody stays the same, becoming the medium through which Peeva explores ethnic rivalries and similarities. It shows tonight at 9 at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton. Tickets are $8.50, $7 for students and seniors; festival passes are also available. Call 866-466-2787 or see the sidebar in Movies.

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