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Friday 3/28 - Thursday 4/3

MARCH

by Deanna Isaacs

28 FRIDAY If you stand outside Adler Planetarium at night and look low in the sky to the northwest, you won't see anything more spectacular than the Chicago skyline. Still, the folks at Adler say you can hail the faint, fuzzy comet Hale-Bopp from their plaza, and they're staying open until 9 tonight as the comet makes its closest approach to the sun. The planetarium show, "Comets Are Coming," will be presented at 5, 6, 7, and 8 PM, along with demonstrations of how to cook up your own comet with dry ice and dirt. Outside, weather permitting, astronomers with scopes will help visitors spot the elusive ball of ice, gas, and dust. The Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum is at 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and kids. The sky show is an additional $2. There is no charge for a peek through the outdoor telescopes. Call 312-922-7827 for more information and additional dates through mid-April.

A little over 200 years ago, a Spanish bishop looking for a way to enhance his Good Friday service hired Franz Joseph Haydn to write him some music. The bishop knew what he wanted: seven sonatas based on the "seven last words of Christ," plus whatever introduction and conclusion might be appropriate. The resulting work had its first performance on Good Friday 1787, with the darkened church draped in black and the bishop's sermon intoned dramatically between movements. The performance will be re-created tonight at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel by the Vermeer String Quartet, whose 1994 recording of the piece won a Grammy nomination. The bishop's part will be taken by nine theologians (including Martin Marty of the University of Chicago, also heard on the recording), delivering original short sermons based on the seven words. (Don't take it too literally; each "word" is at least a sentence.) A preperformance discussion with the musicians begins at 6:45; the performance is at 8. Admission is $10; free for youngsters under 18. The chapel is located at 5850 S. Woodlawn, on the University of Chicago campus. Call 773-702-7300 for advance tickets.

29 SATURDAY For Chicagoans, the most striking thing about the work of Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh may be its familiarity: a lot of his furniture and interiors look like they could have been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright--except that Mackintosh may have done it first. Take those decidedly non-ergonomic wooden dining chairs with the elongated backs, for example, or the penchant for restrained, geometric embellishment. In Mackintosh's case some of the embellishment was the work of his wife, Margaret Macdonald, considered at various times to be either his inspiration and support or something of an impediment. Anne Ellis will discuss one of Mackintosh and Macdonald's major collaborations--the Hill House, Helensburgh, Scotland (where she is curator)--at 3 this afternoon at the Art Institute. An exhibit of Mackintosh's work opens today and will run through June 22 at the Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan. Ellis's lecture and the exhibit are free with admission to the museum. Suggested admission is $7 for adults; $3.50 for seniors, students, and children; Tuesdays are free. Call 312-443-3600.

30 SUNDAY The Easter Bunny might want to skip this one, but for the rest of us, the International Kennel Club annual spring dog show promises to be hugely entertaining. In addition to the 2,100 bowsers, there's the chance for large-scale observation of one of humankind's most amusing quirks: the propensity to completely lose one's mind over a furry beast. Competition will be snappy as winners are picked for the best of each of 150 breeds, best of groups, and, finally, Top Dog. Doors open this morning at 8 at McCormick Place's north annex, 23rd and Martin Luther King Drive, and it wraps up about 6 this evening. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for seniors, $3 for children under 12. Call 773-237-5100 for more information.

31 MONDAY In the 70s Carol LaChapelle was a caseworker in Uptown. Later she went back to school and became a college writing teacher. Now she's put her two vocations together in a journal-writing course designed to help people plan and achieve their life goals. She'll demonstrate how to "use writing to figure things out" in a free, 90-minute introduction to her course scheduled for 7:15 tonight at Women & Children First Bookstore, 5233 N. Clark. Call 312-409-9218 to reserve a space.

APRIL

1 TUESDAY No fooling: Marcel Marceau will actually speak today at a free program at the Cultural Center. 50 Years of Genius: A Tribute to Marcel Marceau includes words from the legendary mime himself and performances by his former students. It begins at one in the Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington. Call 312-744-6630.

2 WEDNESDAY There's more to offer a vegetarian at a barbecue than tofu dogs, says Northwestern Memorial Hospital chef Dale Dooley. A former vegetarian himself, Dooley knows how to whip up meatless delights that will have the carnivores drooling. He'll demonstrate with portobello mushroom burgers and other such fare tonight at the hospital's 90-minute vegetarian cooking class. Dietitian Meena Rammohan and chef Josh Hasson will also be on hand. It starts at 6 at the hospital, Superior and Fairbanks. The fee is $10. Call 312-908-8400 for exact location and registration.

3 THURSDAY For the United States, World War II began in 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbor. For China, the war began ten years earlier, with a series of Japanese invasions. In December 1937, the Chinese capital, Nanking, fell to Japanese forces. Chicago journalist and publisher Shi Young says over the next four months they practiced rampant murder and atrocity in the city, killing 350,000 men, women, and children; raping 80,000; and maiming many more. Young and coauthor James Yin recently documented these events in a distressing (and beautifully produced) book, The Rape of Nanking. It includes souvenir atrocity photos that capture smiling perpetrators with their victims, and argues that, despite efforts to whitewash and protect them, blame can be traced all the way to Emperor Hirohito and other members of the Japanese royal family. Young will exhibit some of the photographs and discuss the book in a free presentation at 4 today at the John Marshall Law School, 315 S. Plymouth Court. Call 312-987-1420.

Choreographer Jan Erkert says her mother's bout with breast cancer inspired her to enlist a powerhouse team of Chicago talent to collaborate on a new piece. Their creation, UnWeavings, premieres this weekend as part of the Jan Erkert & Dancers spring season concert. Sculptor Laurie Wohl created the set, fashion designer Kris Cahill did costumes, and Gustavo Leone, working with vocalist Louise Cloutier and harpist Liz Cifani (who will perform), wrote the music. The curtain goes up at 7:30 tonight at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Additional performances Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3. Tickets are $16; students and seniors, $12. Call 312-902-1500 to purchase.

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