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January 2009 Archives

Daily Deal$: Saturday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Four Treys Tavern, 3333 N. Damen
$6 pitchers of Bud Light

Howl At The Moon, 26 W. Hubbard
$25 buckets of Corona and Corona Light

Jedynka, 5610 W. Diversey
$3 martinis

O'Donovan's, 2100 W. Irving Park
$5 Fat Marys and Milagro margaritas, $5 Imperial Pint drafts, $5 bombs, $9.95 NY strip & fries, mashed or baked potato

Vaughan's Pub, 2917 N. Sheffield
$4 raspberry vodka lemonades, $5 Jager bombs

3 Things We Love About ... Avondale

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1.  Living like Dean Martin with stiff pours and 50s kitsch at the Orbit Room.

2.  Cruising the Milwaukee Avenue strip of sausage shops in Jackowo, a k a the Polish Village.

3.  Getting cozy at Karaoke Tuesdays and Saturdays at Alice's Lounge. A dearth of seating requires you strike up a conversation with the guy next to you ("Buy me a drink?") or else get up and perform ("Make that a double.")


What are your favorite three things about Avondale?


Everyone in the Quin Kirchner Group is in other jazz bands as well, but don't think that the members won't be focused when they take the stage at Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, tonight. The quartet, which originally formed as a one-off to fill a gig at the Hungry Brain, traffics in accessible improvisational music - and no, that's not an oxymoron.

The gig's at 10 p.m., with a $10 suggested donation. The Stein/Baker/Abrams Trio also performs.

imagehistoryquin.jpgDrummer Quin Kirchner promises you his full attention on Saturday night.

One of the more progressive galleries in the city, The Finch Gallery, 2747 W. Armitage, is closing up shop tonight, as its executive director, Nicholas Freeman, prepares to move to New York City (cue Stephen Colbert-style fist-shaking). But before it's all over, Freeman's putting on one last exhibition. Tonight's event includes readings by Hans Hetrick, Jill Summers and Dave Snyder, music from Judson Claiborne, The Gunshy and Daniel Knox, and the audiovisual stylings of filmmaker Chris Hefner (the event is also a fundraiser for his first feature film, "The Pink Hotel"). And, of course, there will be some art on display, namely, Casey Murtaugh's drawings and John Atwood's photos.

It all starts around 6 p.m. and goes 'til they say it goes.

Chicago's Top 20 songs

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It's gotta be the enduring artistry of Justin Timberlake's dancing that keeps Beyonce on top, right?

Here are this week's top 20 songs based on Chicago-area radio airplay ...

Daily Deal$: Friday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Aberdeen, 1856 W. North
Half-price fish tacos, $4 bombs, $25 open bar package

Brando's, 343 S. Dearborn
$10 signature martinis, $4 domestics, $5 imports, $4 Washington apple shots

Ginger's Ale House, 3801 N. Ashland
$9 all-you-can-eat fish and chips

Inner Town Pub, 1935 W. Thomas
$2.50 PBR, free pool

one sixtyblue, 160 N. Loomis
BYOB no corkage fee

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Can you still name all five Spice Girls?


Bummed that you won't be going to tonight's screening of "Patti Smith: Dream of Life" at Northwestern's Block Cinema (it's sold out)? Us, too. But we're cheering ourselves up by looking at the awesome music movies still to show as part of the Remake/Remodel: Rock and Roll Movies series. Witness:

2/4: "Spice World" ("A Hard Day's Night for the '90s")

2/11: "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" ("Bowie at his most flamboyant and outrageous")

2/12: "Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll" ("this just might be the catchiest documentary ever made")

2/18: "DiG!" ("Jerry Springer-esque," says Brian Jonestown Massacre lead singer)

2/27: "The T.A.M.I. Show" (James Brown's best performance ever?)

3/4: "Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten" (“It’s history, criticism, philosophy and politics, played fast and loud")

3/12: "Don't Look Back" ("a defining study of celebrity as suffocation")

3/13: "Gimme Shelter" ("A thrilling glimpse into a legendary and terrifying day in rock history")

All screenings are at 8 p.m. at the Block Cinema, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston. Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $4 for students, $6 for general public, and tickets go on sale 30 minutes before showtime.

Brand-New Avenues

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If you booked a room at the Peninsula Chicago this month with the intention of spending a luxurious evening at its flagship restaurant, Avenues, you were unfortunately met with disappointment (and we feel so bad for you, Mr. or Mrs. Moneybags). Chef Curtis Duffy closed the place for January for some rest and retooling. But come Wednesday, Avenues is back - and according to MenuPages, its "spring" (a little optimistic, no?) menu is full of surprises. We're especially interested in "Consomme of it's Carcass," not least because of the grammatical error.

3 Things We Love About ... Auburn Gresham

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1.  Fresh Butterscotch-O cookies from Perfect Peace Café and Bakery.

2.  Lagniappes' cornbread, fried green tomatoes, and gumbo — in short, the best Cajun Creole cooking in Chicago.

3.  Catching the ladies of the South Shore Drill Team step to some Motown grooves at the September Renaissance Festival.


What are your favorite three things about Auburn Gresham?


Chicago musicians on Twitter

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Do you Twitter? We do (and Blip!) — but so do several of Chicago's best musicians, like these ...

Andrew Bird

Common (yo, update, dude!)

Kanye West

Who else is Twittering? Let us know.


WineStyles is serious about sharing its love of wine. The South Loop location has so many tasting events throughout the month, it's hard to fit them all in one email newsletter (thank goodness, they were able to do it). And if they're all as good as tonight's event, we'll have to check 'em out more often. The 20/20 Tasting (5:30-8 p.m.) includes samples of 20 wines for - you guessed it - $20. Plus, you get appetizers from Yolk, one of our favorite South Loop spots. David Kav provides the palate-friendly tunes.

Just take it easy on the sippin'; you may have come in with 20/20 vision, but you could leave seeing double.

Work on your pageant wave

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Ever wonder why there are so many butch guys in black leather roaming the Loop each Memorial Day weekend? That would be the International Mr. Leather contest and convention, m'dear, and if you think the recent Miss America pageant was tough (yawn), you should see how these boys, er, whip themselves up for this competition. Our own Mr. Chicago Leather for 2009 will be crowned Saturday night at Touche, 6412 N. Clark, festivities hosted by John Pendal (IML 2003) beginning at 10 p.m.


Massages, anyone?

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If you haven't come up with a Valentine's Day gift yet, or if you just need some pampering to get you through the winter, we've got a good tip. PrettyCity.com is running a $59 promotion throughout February. That means you can get services like massages, manicures, mud wraps, facials, haircuts, and even dental services for just $59 each (in some cases, you're looking at a 50-percent discount).

Participating businesses include Blueberry Moon, Veria (a four-hand massage!), Spa Space (full body mango scrub w/ neck release) and Yoga Boutique (a month of unlimited classes!). Check the Web site for the full list of locations and available services.


Hip-hop, sexual orientation and God

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The folks at UR Chicago have one more club show to recommend this weekend: Sunday's bawdy bill featuring both Yo! Majesty and Rocktapussy at the Empty Bottle. The New York Times Magazine quote: "Few acts combine rap music, pro-gay sloganeering and spiritual enlightenment quite like Yo! Majesty do. Any way you slice it, Yo! Majesty will captivate you, uplift you, and get you to move your body and mind." Sold!


The Mix: Really cool things to do

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GUNG HAY FAT CHOI!
That’s the traditional “Happy New Year!” greeting in Cantonese. Chinatown celebrates the Year of the Ox at 1 p.m. Sunday with a parade featuring a 100-foot-long dragon float and traditional Chinese dance. The parade kicks off at Wentworth Avenue and 24th Street and heads north on Wentworth to Cermak Road. For more information on the free event, call (312) 326-5320 or visit www.chicagochinatown.org. For those looking to start their Lunar New Year celebrations a day earlier, the Uptown neighborhood hosts its own parade beginning at 11:45 a.m. Saturday. Floats, bands, kung fu demonstrations and the traditional dragon and lion dances all will be on view starting at Argyle and Sheridan and continuing south to Lawrence and North on Broadway to Argyle. Call (847) 668-1387; uptownbusinesspartners.com.

More events after the jump ...


Club Hopping, Jan. 30-Feb. 5

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Any discussion of the current disco resurgence would be incomplete without a mention of Lindstrom's latest release, "Where You Go I Go Too." The album, which only has three tracks (the shortest of which is almost 11 minutes), is much more techno and electro-influenced than the catchy pop style and lyrics of, say, Hercules and Love Affair. Still, the Norwegian DJ, who rarely comes stateside (Chicago is one of three U.S. stops) won't disappoint disco and dance-music fans. Jerome Derradji and Chicago's leading lady of the nu-disco sound, SR-71, round out the lineup starting at 10 tonight at Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark. Tickets, $10 before midnight, $15 after. Call (773) 549-0203. -- Centerstagechicago.com

More club shows after the jump ...


Daily Deal$: Thursday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Hamburger Mary's, 5400 N. Clark
$2 jello shots, $3 drafts of Miller Lite, $4 well drinks

Horan's Snug, 7218 W. Madison, Forest Park
$2 domestic pints

Lucky Number Grill, 1931 N. Milwaukee
$2-$3 u-call-its

Stretch Run, 544 N. LaSalle
$3 gin drinks

Wise Fools Pub, 2270 N. Lincoln
$1 drafts of Old Style, $3 Sam Adams, $3 Jameson

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1. The Windy City Rollers Season Kick Off

6 p.m. Saturday at UIC Pavilion; $20-$40

The Windy City Rollers' fifth season commences with an all-league doubleheader: the Manic Attackers against the Double Crossers, followed by The Fury against last year's champions, the Hell's Belles. The WCR's new home at 10,000-seat UIC Pavilion ensures optimal viewing of the No. 2 nationally ranked league.

What are you doing Saturday night? You could be going to see the Heartless Bastards at Martyrs' for FREE. Chicagoist is giving away two tix to the show; the contest ends at 5 p.m., so get your entry in now.

If you're one of those people for whom Valentine's Day can't come fast enough (we don't get you) and/or you love drag shows and leather, have we got an event for you! Flirting for Disaster, presented by the Northalsted Area Merchants Association and the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, hits Hydrate next Thursday night.

The event runs from 6-9 p.m., featuring an open bar until 7:30 p.m. (drink specials thereafter), a range of appetizers from local restaurants and live entertainment, including a performance from Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club and a leather fashion show.
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Call (312) 729-6130 or visit the Web site.


Even better than the real thing

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Nevermind plays the music of Nirvana. What do you think — wig? (Photo from Nevermind MySpace)


January has been some unofficial tribute band month in Chicago's clubs. The preposterous posing culminates Friday night in a 1990s tributapalooza at the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace. The bill features the bands Nevermind (a Nirvana tribute) with the Chicago-based bands Given 2 Fly (a Pearl Jam tribute) and Angry Chair (an Alice In Chains Tribute). Doors at 8 p.m. Friday; tickets $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

Also, if you're still on a high from the Metllica shows (or if you missed them), try out this odd twist: Beatallica is part tribute band, part live music mash-up, playing the music of the Beatles and Metallica — at the same time. Songs include "Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band," "I Want to Choke Your Band" and, our favorite, "And I'm Evil," a campy take on "And I Love Her." Sounds like a trly weird outing for father and son. Doors open at 8 p.m. Saturday at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; admission is $8.

Beatallica - Hey Dude : live

Beatallica performing "Hey Dude"

Horn of plenty

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You all remember the cougar, yes? The cat was caught roaming the streets of Roscoe Village last spring, and was eventually shot, causing a fair amount of uproar in the local community. Blogs were abuzz with commentary, parents refused to let their kids play outside, zoos were boycotted (ok, not really). It was a big deal. Which is why we can't understand how we've heard next to nothing about another wild animal, a rhinoceros, residing in Chicago - and it's been here for the last 20 years.

We're talking about the Rhinoceros Theater Festival, of course, the month-plus-long showcase of untraditional performance going down through March 1 at five venues across the city. Curated by the Curious Theatre Branch, this festival offers a look at the many creative artists that make Chicago special. This year's fest includes a new addition, the Rhino Music Series at the Viaduct Theatre, featuring the likes of Michael Zerang and Maestro Subgum and the Whole. Other upcoming events include "Elvisbride: Some Prepared Remarks to Clarify the Impending Jubilation," a tonal operetta for voice, orchestra and analog television (9:30 p.m. Friday at Acme Art Works, 2215 W. North), and "Catching Out: A Hobo Play With Music" (9 p.m. Saturday at SAIC Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus). Seems kinda hard to ignore, eh?

Tickets are $12 for music, $15 for theater and $20 for special events - or you can pay what you can afford. All reservations can be made through the Viaduct Theatre box office, (773) 296-6024.

5068645-534x800.jpgReally? You could ignore this?

Daily Deal$: Wednesday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Little Jim's, 3501 N. Halsted
$3.50 premium beers

Mystic Celt, 3443 N. Southport
35-cent wings, $6 wraps with fries or salad and $8.50 steak sandwich with fries; $3.50 drafts of Peroni, $14 buckets of Miller Lite

Cat's Meow, 2700 W. Chicago
$3 Heineken, $5 Caiparinhas; $2 off quesadillas

Small Bar
, 2049 W. Division
$4 Allagash White

Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland
$3 mac 'n' cheese; $3 Guinness, Newcastle, Absolut and Jameson

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Hey Champ

Friday, January 30 at Lumen, 9 p.m.; cover TBD
Riding high off its recent tour with Lupe Fiasco and subsequent signing to his label, 1st and 15th, Hey Champ brings its fun, synth and keys-heavy dance/pop/rock music (yeah, it really is all of that) to Lumen tonight for a live performance. We think the sleek lights of Lumen and Hey Champ's futuristic (in an '80s way) sound make a perfect match. RSVP and get there early for the hosted cocktail bar from 9-10 p.m. and stay late for DJ White Shadow, who takes over the sounds after the band's performance.


Must love dogs (and kids)

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Sick of sitting at home watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show every year? Us, too (our roommates don't appreciate all the howling).

Well, there's another option: the 4th Annual "Best In Show" benefit, hosted this year at Fat Cat in Uptown. For $50 (VIP tables are $250 for four guests), you get an open bar and some adult-style treats. The event benefits the Sit, Stay and Read Organization, which helps Chicago inner-city children learn to read with the help of dogs. So head out on February 10 to watch the show and help out a good cause - you might even find some new members for your Kennel Club fantasy league. For tickets, call (773) 545-6629 or email info at sitstayread.org.

Time for a coffee break — a free one

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Are you near a Panera Bread today? Chicagoist reports they're giving out free coffee till 9 tonight — tastes of the sandwich chain's new brew — plus samples of good eats. Donate a buck, though, to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

How much do you tip a chef?

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Remember when Kramer wanted to open a pizza parlor where every customer would be able to make his own pie? Yeah, that was a bad idea. But La Madia's Chef's Table does let you get up close and personal with the pizza-making experience - and you won't have to shove your hands into a ridiculously hot oven.

Chef/owner Jonathan Fox hosts this monthly gathering, at which guests can watch him handcraft his artisan pies and enjoy wine pairings and seasonal menu items along with their slices. The event normally takes place on the first Wednesday of each month, but in February it'll actually be on Tuesday, February 3. Reserve your seat ($35 per person) now, as space is limited.

lamadia_DSCF0342-blog.jpgLeave the pizza-making to professionals like La Madia's Jonathan Fox.

Numero Group's got the Eccentric Soul Revue

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Syl Johnson performing in Grant Park, 1997. (Sun-Times file)


Lotta news lately from the Numero Group, Chicago's coolest archivists, called by Pitchfork "the best and most thoughtful reissue label in the country." First, the label — which digs up the forgotten-but-good refuse of the music industry, with a tendency toward hyperlocal aural archaeology (see their "Eccentric Soul," "Cult Cargo" and "Wayfaring Strangers" collections, for starters) — is launching a new series called Local Customs, which aims to be the pop music equivalent to Harry Smith's street-level folk anthologies. The first collection, titled "Downriver Revival" ...

"chronicles the life of producer/music historian Felton Williams. Set up in an Ecorse, MI basement, between 1967 and 1981 Williams captured the musical output of Ecorse's citizens and issued them on the Solid Rock, Compose, and Revival labels. Here are 24 of Williams' most fascinating recordings, covering gospel, group soul, garage-punk, northern, jazz, and funk. The package also includes a DVD of over 200 sound recordings from Williams' archives and a 30 minute featurette on the making of Downriver Revival."

More immediately, mark your calendars for the Numero Group's first live event: the Eccentric Soul Revue, April 4 at Park West. The concert features South Side originals such as Syl Johnson, the Notations, and Nate Evans — who still perform regularly around the world — plus Renaldo Domino, the Kaldirons and the Final Solution — who haven't been on stage in over 30 years — all backed by The Uptown Sound. Tickets are $22 and on sale through Ticketmaster, the Numero site and at the Park West box office.

Listen to some classic Syl Johnson tracks on our Blip.fm feed:

"Different Strokes"

"Is It Because I'm Black?"


Blago Superstar!

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Second City Theatricals debuts its latest show, Rod Blagojevich Superstar!, starting Tuesday. The show parodies ‘70s rock operas, most notably Jesus Christ Supestar!, only in this one Jesus and Mary Magdalene are played by Rod and Patti Blagojevich. Let the hilarity (and expletives) ensue!

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We know G-Rod’s been comparing himself to some pretty heavy historical figures of late, so Jesus isn't too much of a stretch. Bleeping golden! Our biggest question is, who will play Judas? Roland Burris? Dick Mell? Pat Fitzgerald? The possibilities are endless.

See the show for just 14 bucks Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8:30 at the Second City Theater (1616 N. Wells) starting next week.

Basking in the Glow Wine

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Need a winter pick-me-up, but live too far south for the famous glogg at Simon's Tavern? Hyde Park's Park 52 may have the remedy. Sommelier Alain Njike has created a "Glow Wine" (based on the traditional German drink, Gluhwein): a blend of wines, spices and seasonal fruit, warmed up for your imbibing pleasure.

At the high price of $15, or 36 packets of Swiss Miss, it's not an everyday indulgence. But with the days not getting any warmer, it's worth a sip.

Daily Deal$: Tuesday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Belly's, 3210 N. Lincoln
$2 domestic cans, $3 Corona, $5 margaritas; $3 chips & salsa, $2 tacos

Laristo's Night Club, 606 E. 75th
Free tacos with purchase of two drinks

Plush
, 1104 W. Madison
Half-price bottles of wine; half-price pizzas

Reggie's Music Joint, 2105 S. State
25-cent jumbo wings; $4 Jim Beam, Jack Daniels & Jameson cocktails

Restaurant Bulgaria, 4724 W. Lawrence
Two burgers and one beer for $6

It's the Soooooooooooooooooul Train!

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All aboard! Calling all Chicago passengers on the "Soul Train." If you danced on, performed on or even just enjoyed watching the legendary Chicago R&B television show on Channel 26 throughout the 1970s, you're invited to an unofficial reunion for the show this weekend.

The event — honoring Clinton Ghent, who hosted the local show after creator Don Cornelius headed to Los Angeles — promises to "recreate the atmosphere of the classic show. Ghent, who also was a choreographer for the Jackson Five and others, will receive an award, musicians will reminisce about their experiences on the show, and all attendees are invited to dance to music of the era." Though our favorite sentence from the announcement is: "There will be light refreshments and gift bags." Hmm, "Soul Train" swag, you say? The mind reels.

The boogie begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday at CAN-TV studios, 322 S. Green St., and it's free. For more information, call (773) 875-6470 or visit the event's MySpace page.


Open and closed

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Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

Open:

The Firkin & Pheasant – A sleek looking English bar on Diversey, right next to the also fairly new Counter. Set to open this week, it looks like a sports bar with a touch of class (and crappy British food).

Bull & Bear – The long-awaited “trader bar” on Wells and Hubbard opened last week and features personal tappers at select booths and a huge real-time ticker with market reports. Color us intrigued.

Klay Oven (Oak Park) – We’re assuming it will be the same quality Indian fare as the River North spot, only, you know, you have to drive to Oak Park to get it.

Bodhi Thai Bistro – They claim to be the only Thai restaurant in Berwyn. So they got that goin’ for them, which is nice.

Your Kitchen – A quaint little Avondale spot offers fully cooked takeout options or frozen meals you can take home and prepare yourself.

klayoven500.JPGWe can only hope Klay Oven in Oak Park is as good as the River North location.

Closed:

Sports Corner – What was once a staple Cubs bar just steps from the Wrigley bleachers is now a big hole after the place was demolished right around the new year. Here’s hoping they can fill the void with an Irish bar and rooftop that charges hundreds of dollars to watch the game, because God knows the neighborhood could use more of those.

Huey’s Hotdogs – Speaking of things the city has too much of, you could probably put “hot dog” stands on that list.

Skewers – Meat on a stick for cheap. The concept just seems so simple … too simple, apparently, because the Lincoln Square spot is no more.

Moon Palace – The windows of this Chinatown spot are boarded up and signs say they are closed for renovations and will re-open soon. We’ll see …

Check back here every Tuesday with more openings and closings (and snarky comments, of course).

News flash: Gays impact fashion (Fierce!)

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C'mon, the straight guys on "Project Runway" don't really have a chance. Need proof? Catch a special program profiling the history of gay fashion influence this Thursday at the Chicago History Museum. "Closets Are for Clothes" will look at the lives of gay and lesbian fashion designers, from Marc Jacobs to Christian Dior. The event also will showcase how fashion has “marked sexual identity in American culture.”

The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and exhibit viewing, followed by the program at 6:30, at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark. An after-party will be held at the Kit Kat Lounge, 3700 N. Halsted, beginning at 8. Tickets are $12, which includes general museum admission, a 20 percent discount on food at Kit Kat and $5 cocktails.

The special event is being held in conjunction with the CHM’s current exhibit “Chic Chicago: Couture Treasures from the Chicago History Museum,” running through July 26.

Vampire Weekend

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Face it: As with Harry Potter and High School Musical before it, there is no place you can go to escape "Twilight." Not even Rosemont.

Next weekend (February 6-8), our neighbor hosts Twilight Convention Chicago, a three-day celebration at the Wyndham O'Hare, featuring autograph/photo op sessions and panel discussions with film stars Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen) and Justin Chon (Eric Yorkie). There will also be a Forks Prom Party on Friday evening and a Vampire Costume Ball on Saturday - not to mention tons of merchandise on sale.

Tickets run from $15 for one event to a $425 ULTIMATE package. Visit www.flashbackweekend.com or call (847) 478-0119. The hotel will also be offering rooms for as little as $99/night.

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Fresh from the farm

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We'll spare you the annoying - if clever - song, but Daily Candy does have a good tip on one sixtyblue's five-course "Dinner with Michael" tasting menu, available for $75 at any time. That's five courses of chef Michael McDonald's really, really good contemporary American fare (you'll request the pork belly if you know what's good for you), complete with table visits from the chef himself. We've done this, and can definitely recommend it.

If the menu seems a little high-falutin' for your wallet, though, we were equally intrigued by another promotion noted on the onesixtyblue Web site. $4 signature burgers (with hand-cut fries and fried pickle (!)) and $4 craft beers (selection changes weekly) in the bar every Thursday, with a DJ starting at 6 p.m.

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Vote for Hollywood Holt's South Side video

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Hollywood Holt, despite his Cali moniker, is a South Side rapper whose video — for "Hollywood," above (he likes that word) — just hit mtvU. Like it? Tell MTV by voting here (via We Do Not Follow).

From the Crumb

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

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Just opened: Trader Vic’s
The birthplace of the Mai Tai finds a new home.

Off the Beaten Path: Tannourine
The best baklava on Kedzie Avenue.

Weekly Treat: Shot and a Beer at Bill’s Blues Bar
Get $2 PBR cans and $3 Jager shots every day at this Evanston music joint.

Man We're Crazy About: Theory
Sports rule at this classy River North hangout.

For more about what's going on this week, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

Wine BINge

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Calling all oenophiles: Bin 36 kicks off its monthly wine-tasting series, Wednesday Wine Around, this week from 6-8 p.m.. For $25, you'll get two hours of beverages selected by wine director Brian Duncan, as well as hors d'oeuvres courtesy of executive chef John Caputo.

The opening theme is "The Absolute Hottest Wines Under $20." Hopefully, there will be no "Office"-esque disputes over which wine is hottest. Get tickets on the restaurant's Web site.

Daily Deal$: Monday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Broadway Cellars, 5900 N. Broadway
$5 burgers; $5 Fat Tire


Handlebar Bar & Grill
, 2311 W. North
$1.50 pints of PBR, $3 Jim Beam

Houndstooth Saloon, 3438 N. Clark
20-cent wings w/ first beer; $10 buckets of Miller Lite, $4 Jager bombs

La Sardine, 111 N. Carpenter
Half-price bottles of wine


Paramount Room
, 415 N. Milwaukee
$1 off craft-beer drafts

Calling all Steelers fans …

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Dunlays on the Square is offering a Super Bowl party any Pittsburgh Steelers fan couldn’t resist. The Logan Square bar (owned by Pittsburgh natives) is serving up a special Steelers-centric brunch menu for its Super Bowl party on Sunday, including Roethlisbergers (named after the Steelers QB, $9), Larry “Foote” Long hot dogs ($7) and Polamalu's Pulled Pork Fries ($9), starting at 10:30 Sunday morning. The bar will also serve $2 Iron City beers (Pittsburgh brewery).

Needless to say, if you’re an Arizona Cardinals fan (and we’re not sure if there even is such a thing) this is probably not your kind of party. And if you have no idea what we're talking about, maybe you'll want to head here instead.

Check out our picks for other Super Bowl parties around town, and some tips if you’re throwing the party at your place.

Back to school

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Man, are those Lane Tech students lucky. Not only do they get a top-notch arts education, they get to walk by some impressive murals—created by the likes of Henry George Brandt—on their way to class. Now, the Chicago Cultural Center is making sure we all get that chance with “Hidden Treasures: The Lane Tech Murals.” The recently restored murals (they were created between 1909 and 1913) will be on display in the Chicago Rooms through March 1. The best part? You won’t be called away from your appreciation by some annoying bell telling you to get to class.

If you want to see Lane Tech's murals in their "natural" environment, sign up for a free tour of the school on February 7. You'll start with a viewing of the "Hidden Treasures" exhibit (check-in begins at 9:30 a.m.), then hop on a bus to the school, where artwork created between 1936 and 1942 is displayed. The tour goes until 1 p.m. Reservations are required: (312) 742-1190.

lanetechmural2.jpgOne of the Lane Tech murals on display at the Cultural Center.

(Blip!) This is the (blip!) coolest (blip!) thing ever!

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What's playing in your corner of Chicago? What awesome band did you just see? What awesome band should everyone else go see right freakin' now? Follow our Blip.fm music feed all about Chicago music — and feed it music!

What the (blip!) is Blip? It's basically a muisic Twitter. In addition to the 140 characters, you can tack on a song — which listeners can hear stream (with some amazing sound quality).

We take requests! Tune us in at blip.fm/chicagosmusic.

Bike, dance and bowl on Friday

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What's cooler than cool? If you said ice cold, you'd be wrong. It's actually biking in Chicago during the winter. A big group of crazies will be hopping on their two-wheelers this Friday to ride from Daley Plaza (by the Picasso sculpture) all the way to Lincoln Square Lanes. Yup, it's the Critical Mass Polka Ride Party, and you can join up for free - or, if you value your appendages, you can just meet up with the bikers at the bowling alley for a few games and a whole lotta polka, courtesy of The Polkaholics.

The ride starts at 5:30 p.m.; the party's at 8.

polkapromoLR.jpgThe Polkaholics

Wine pairings are soo 2008. Now, we’re all about beer with our food, and Tavern at the Park’s on the same wavelength. Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m., the restaurant overlooking Millennium Park hosts a five-course meal with beer pairings courtesy of Goose Island Beer Company. Each course is creatively named (e.g. “3-1-2 Leagues Under the Sea: seared diver scallop, house-made potato chips, 312-steamed mussels and citrus broth paired with, you guessed it, 312 Urban Wheat Ale) and the meal gets increasingly decadent as the night goes on.

$60 per person – reserve now, as there’s a 35-guest limit.

3 Things We Love About ... Armour Square

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1.Playing baseball at Armour Square Park on Sox game days and pretending the roars from U.S. Cellular Field are really for you.


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2.The Chinatown Summer Fair every July when the lion dance procession, live music, and children's activities offer a free, less crowded alternative to the Taste.


3.Drifting away to an experimental jazz set and wondering who is the mysterious topless woman painted on black velvet at Velvet Lounge.


What are your favorite three things about Armour Square?


3 Things We Love About ... Archer Heights

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1.  Scarcely walking a block without hearing Polish spokenNie rozumiem. 

2.  Watching family-friendly movies on the outdoor screen at Archer Park June through August.


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3.  $9 lunch and $10 dinner buffets at Bobak Sausage Company featuring all-you-can-eat pierogies, kielbasa, and borscht soup.


Daily Deal$: Friday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Orbit Room, 2959 N. California
$8 fish and chips, $4 Beamish

Drum & Monkey, 1435 W. Taylor
$4 drafts of Blue Moon, $3 SoCo Lime shots

Crew, 4804 N. Broadway
$3.50 pints of Goose Island Honkers, $2 cans of PBR, $9.50 fish tacos (with choice of side)

Lottie's Pub, 1925 W. Cortland
$4.50 sampler platter, $3.50 Corona

Black Duck Tavern, 1800 N. Halsted
$3 drafts of Goose Island beer

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Self-proclaimed “Whiskey Professor” Steve Cole presents a bourbon whiskey training program called Whiskey University next Saturday at Five Star Bar in Ukranian Village. Ten bucks (five for industry folks) gets you two hours with the prof, learning about the history and heritage of bourbon through tastings of Knob Creek, Baker’s and Booker’s Bourbons, among others.

The event starts at 4 p.m., and you can buy tickets at the door. We can’t wait to get our Ph.D in bourbonology, with an emphasis in partying all night.

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Five reasons the Chiditarod, the annual charitable shopping-cart race/bar crawl through Wicker Park, is way cooler than Alaska's Iditarod:

1. We've never seen a sled cross the Iditarod finish line with 25 pounds of food in it.

2. Hungry Robot costumes don't mix too well with the Alaskan tundra.

3. Sabotage!

4. Apparently, they frown upon competitors drinking during the Iditarod. We have no idea why.

5. Iditarod entry fee: $4000 Chiditarod entry fee: $30-$50. 'Nuff said.


The 4th Annual Chiditarod is on March 7; visit the Web site for details on registration, volunteering, rules and more.

3 Things We Love About ... Albany Park

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1. Eating foods from around the world (the 60625 zip code is the third most ethnically diverse in the nation), whether at Restaurant Sarajevo (Bosnian), Cho Sun Ok (Korean), Tre Kronor (Scandinavian), Pupuseria Restaurant Cuscatleco (Salvadoran), or Jaafer Sweets (Middle Eastern). It's like Epcot, only authentic!

2. Drinking Gatorade and pretending that pool counts as cardio at Marie's Golden Cue.

3. Knowing that experimental music venue Brown Rice takes its name from the 1975 album by trumpeter Don Cherry and feeling oh-so cool for it.


Animal Collective last night at Metro

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YouTube's already got video of last night's Animal Collective show at Metro (and don't you love how people still sometimes refer to it as Cabaret Metro?).

Jim DeRogatis' review of the show has been posted for a while here, complete with photo gallery.

More good stuff at Metro this weekend: the Most Dangerous Race tonight (hey, look, we posted video for this show, too!) and some serious wordplay tomorrow night in the Windy City Story Slam All-City Championships.

Chicago's Top 20 songs

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Beyonce is still lord of the "put a ring on it." Who could knock her out of the No. 1 spot?

Here are this week's top 20 songs based on Chicago-area radio airplay ...

anthonybourdain.jpgAnthony Bourdain at Borders Bookstore in Chicago in 2007. (via Flickr)

Remember last summer when the Travel Channel's darkly comic chef/philosopher, Anthony Bourdain, came to Chicago to sample some of its many culinary goodies? It wasn't all just for show. Or actually, it was. For his show, "No Reservations." And now you can finally see all his adventures: The Chicago episode airs on Monday, February 2 at 9 p.m. Central Time on the Travel Channel, featuring several area standbys like Hot Doug's, Burt's Place and more.

One of the establishments featured on the show, the Silver Palm, will be hosting a viewing party and serving its featured Three Little Piggy Sandwich (thanks for the tip, LTH Forum!). The restaurant, typically closed on Mondays, will be open from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Call (312) 666-9322 for reservations.

If we hear of other parties, we'll surely let you know. Get excited!

A great awakening

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Say what you will about Gordon Ramsay...but the abrasive chef appears to know what he's doing when it comes to saving restaurants. At least the people at La Grange's Cafe 36 seem to think so; since the restaurant's appearance on Ramsay's Fox show, "Kitchen Nightmares," last week, it's gotten a huge boost in reservations and Web site hits.

How much of the increased interest in the American bistro is due to Ramsey's efforts at revamping the Cafe 36 menu (entrees include veal medallions, braised short ribs and trout almondine) rather than mere television-induced curiosity remains to be seen, but for now, expect a table to be tough to secure.

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The Mix: Really cool things to do

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ELECTRONICA SHOWCASE
Are you a former jam-fan who's found life beyond Phish? Do you think music made with only guitars and drums is soooo last century? If so, this showcase of top electronic artists is for you. Headliners the Disco Biscuits have been creating their electro-jam fusions for years, and recently have begun to add elements of hip-hop to their serious grooves. RJD2 and Prefuse 73 know a thing or two about that genre; RJ's 2002 album, "Deadringer," is considered a modern classic for beatheads, and Prefuse's glitchy soundscapes have been rapped over by MCs like local standout Diverse. Show time is 8 p.m Saturday at the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee. Tickets, $25. Call (773) 276-1235; www.congresschicago.com.

POLITICAL HUMOR
"Flock Around Barack" and "Monster Crash" are two of the songs the musical satirists the Capitol Steps will sing to usher in the new Obama administration through Sunday at the Centre East at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. The Capitol Steps, with topical skits featuring the likes of the Supreme Court singers (pictured), was formed in 1981 when three staffers of former Sen. Charles Percy (R-Ill.) got bit by the performing bug. Tickets are $46-$48. Call (847) 673-6300; www.centreeast.org.

More things to do after the jump ...

Daily Deal$: Thursday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Paddy Long's, 1028 W. Diversey
$3.50 bottles of Corona or Pacifico, $5 jumbo Smirnoffs, $3 Jager shots

Beachwood Inn, 1415 N. Wood
$2.50 Leinenkugel

WestEnd Bar & Grill
, 1326 W. Madison
$10 pizza with unlimited toppings, $15 buckets of Goose Island

Joe E's Unforgettable Lounge, 4206 W. Irving Park
$3 32-ounce Miller High Life

Nacional 27, 325 W. Huron
$8.95 tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas, $7.95 champagne, cocktails, and wine

Club Hopping Jan. 23-29

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The shows we love in Chicago clubs this weekend ...

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CHELSEA WILLIAMS
The Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter currently makes a living playing on the street for tips and selling her homemade CDs, of which she's sold more than 40,000 copies. Her folk-pop songs and crystalline vocals deserve a bigger audience. Daphne Willis opens at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Morse Theater, 1328 Morse. Tickets, $15. Call (773) 654-5100. -- Mary Houlihan


More after the jump ...

Girls can only rock if you do

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Abigail Czajka, 10 (left), and Zoe Samila, 9, rock out during Girls Rock Chicago camp last summer. (Sun-Times file)


Last summer we wrote a series about the Girls Rock! camp in Chicago, empowering young gals through the power of rawk. The camp doesn't run itself, you know, so throw your bucks to its nonprofit sweetness during a fund-raising bill of local bands Friday night at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western. The bands are White Mystery, Radar Eyes, and Tyler Jon Tyler. It's $8 at the door, with music at 10 p.m.

You've heard of hair of the dog. Well, SushiSamba Rio's new Sunday brunch deal, beginning this weekend, serves up the whole darn pooch. Before you go crying to PETA, let us clarify - the midday meal includes no family pets on its menu, nor does it have sushi, for that matter. Food-wise, it's not quite that adventurous, though offerings like Asian pear pancakes and Kobe sliders, plus a Brazilian stew made with pork and beef and served with orange slices, sound enticing.

But what we're really excited about are the three complimentary cocktails per person. We're talking mimosas, bloody marys, caipirinhas - or just fresh-squeezed juices, if you really can't handle the hard stuff (or you're underage).

$16 per person ($8 per kid under 12) gets you one entree and the aforementioned drinks. Brunch is served 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations are recommended: (312) 595-2300.

You gotta have Faith (& Whiskey)

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Photo from 312 Dining Diva.

The 312 Dining Diva got a look inside Lincoln Park's newest lounge, Faith & Whiskey, 1365 W. Fullerton, scheduled to open on Friday (grand-opening party is set for Feb. 12).

Says the Diva: "The laid-back and budget-conscious bar — with an imposing tattooed wall logo, antler light fixtures, encased guitars behind the bar and dark, narrow edges similar to Angels & Kings — is a far cry from owner Hunter Cannon's glamorous West Loop spot Bon V, which is known for hosting celebrity events, including the wrap party for 'Public Enemies' last summer."

1. A Winter Block Party for Chicago's Hip-Hop Arts
Noon-10 p.m. Sunday at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater; free until 6 p.m. (7 p.m. discussion costs $15)
This day-long event showcases all aspects of Chicago's hip-hop culture, from music (performances from DJs Itch13 and Issues, and an open-mic showcase featuring Idris Goodwin and Poetry Slam champ Roger Bonair-Agrad) to art (Revise CMW will create a live mural, and there will be a gallery exhibition with works for sale from local artists) to politics (the day closes with a 7 p.m. ticketed discussion featuring William "Upski" Wimsatt, former graffiti artists and author of Bomb the Suburbs).

2. 23rd Annual Chicago Young Playwrights Festival
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday at Pegasus Players; $12
When it comes to new work and new playwrights, Pegasus has the newest. Now in its 23rd year, the Young Playwrights Festival is a citywide, school-based program that takes hundreds of high-school kids and causes them to create hundreds of scripts. Four are selected by judges, and are performed by Pegasus actors. Sure, the work tends to smell of adolescence, but unlike a lot of playwrights out there, these kids have an iron-clad excuse. Show up to see bright young minds, slightly older theater artists helping them along and audience members supporting an amazing educational program.

3. Disco Biscuits, RJD2, Prefuse 73
8 p.m. Saturday at the Congress Theater; $25-$49.50
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I'll take drunk dialing for 200, Alex

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Q. Where can I go to both use and kill brain cells simultaneously?

A. "Trivia Thursdays" at the Silver Cloud Bar & Grill in Bucktown — a weekly trivia contest at this retro bar. The jeopardy begins at 10 p.m. The winning team gets a $50 gift certificate to the bar. Good details here.

The Top "Top Chef" recap...

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We don't want to spoil anything for you, but if you've already watched last night's Top Chef episode, we strongly recommend reading Hungry Mag's bulleted recap, 30 Seconds on Top Chef. Somehow, Hungry's main man Michael Nagrant (an occasional freelancer for the Sun-Times, FYI) always manages to capture exactly what we're thinking during the episodes. And he doesn't play favorites; even our hometown contestant, Radhika Desai (of Wicker Park's Between Boutique Cafe and Lounge), incurs his wrath from time to time.

Looptopia is dead, long live Best of Looptopia

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No more need to jack up on coffee to make it through the dusk-till-dawn Looptopia fest of dancing, nightclubbing and street theater. The annual event is finished — but new mini-events are popping up in its place.

On the third Thursday of each month from May through September, the Chicago Loop Alliance will stage 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. celebrations at downtown hot spots, featuring popular programs from the city's past two Looptopias. "Third Thursdays: Best of Looptopia" is being announced at today's Chicago Loop Alliance annual meeting.

The Thursday events will be staged near new venues such as the Art Institute's Modern Wing, slated to open May 16; the Wit Hotel, which will open in May at 201 N. State St. with a year-round rooftop bar and restaurant; and the newly resuscitated Pritzker Park at State and Van Buren.

Ah. The thought of that makes the next six weeks of winter almost bearable. Almost.


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"Miss Lower Wacker" Steve Hickson waits backstage during the Miss Looptopia pageant during Looptopia 2007. Judge Lois Carmen D-nominator (Michael Blizzard) stands in the background with a cocktail. (Sun-Times file)


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So you've probably heard all about Chicago's Restaurant Week, happening February 20-27. If you haven't, you'd better make your reservations now; Centerstage has a list of the best deals to be had.

But did you know that the 130-restaurant bonanza is actually preceded by a smaller, but no less worthwhile affair? Think of Chicago Originals Restaurant Week as the official event's hip little brother. Like its sibling, the event includes specially priced meals for lunch ($24.09) and dinner ($29.09) at restaurants where most folks could usually afford little more than an app or two. The difference is that all the participating spots are independent, locally-owned eateries (think Cafe Matou, El Nuevo Mexicano and Prosecco). And just to prove that good things can come in small packages, there's an added bonus: you get two weeks of deals, January 25-30 and February 1-5.

Check out the Web site to view a complete list of participating restaurants and menus; not all restaurants offer both lunch and dinner every day, but some will offer you a bottle of wine for an additional $20.09. Their inferiority complex is your gain.

The anti-Super Bowl dinner

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For those who don’t plan on watching the Super Bowl next Sunday (you know who you are, both of you) Geja’s Café is the place to be. The upscale-ish Lincoln Park fondue spot is offering a special TV-less buy-one-get-one-free Premiere Dinner on Feb. 1 (Super Bowl Sunday) and Feb. 2. That’s quite a deal when you consider Geja’s 20 or so fondue dinner combinations, which range in price from around $30-$50.

And really, if you’re a Bears fan, football season ended weeks ago anyway.

To make reservations, call (773) 281-9101 or visit Geja’s website. And if you’re one of the 800 billion people planning on watching the big game, check out places to watch here, and tips for throwing your party here.

3 Things We Love About ... the Spertus Museum

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1. January’s “object of the month” is a costume trunk owned by Yiddish theater star Dina Halpern.


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Sweet potato latkes in the cafe at the Spertus Museum. (Sun-Times file)


2. The Spertus Cafe by Wolfgang Puck. The only kosher eatery in the downtown area, the cafe overlooks Grant Park and offers cupcakes that are almost too pretty to eat.

3. The new Gray Children’s Center, for children 2-12, combines Jewish storytelling and hands-on exploration.

The Spertus Museum at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 610 S. Michigan.

What are your three favorite things about the Spertus?

MGFest screens Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne

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The city's Motion Graphics Festival presses play this weekend, and tucked in the cutting-edge film event — among all the art showcases, workshops, classes, panel discussions, studio tours, theater screenings and industry mixers — are some intriguing screenings available to the public.

As part of the Ohm Multimedia Series in the Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater, 77 E. Randolph St., are these two events:
— The Chicago Motion Graphics Screening, 6:30-9 p.m. Friday: "This screening features three works, including NASA's 'Money,' Nine Inch Nails' 'Ghosts 8,' and 'LE:60 1-Minute Film Festival.' Featured artists include Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, Shepard Fairey, Chuck D of Public Enemy, and more."
— Audio-Visual Performance Showcase, 6-9 p.m. Sunday: "This event showcases VJs, visual system programmers, musicians, and DJs in a theater setting. Featured artists include Vir Unis, Stoptime341, Peter Kirn, Merkaba, Ontologist, Glen Stephani and more."

Admission is free, but seats are limited.

This is how the huskies roll

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It's a popular annual event now at the Morton Arboretum — Husky Heroes, a "dogsled spectacular." Teams of three to six dogs pull sleds while "mushers" control the teams. Our favorite fabulously florid press release line: "The burly beauties with thick fur, yelp with delight as they run, run, run!" In addition, there are demonstrations of skijoring, in which dogs pull a person on cross country skis. Heaven knows there's enough snow.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with the demonstrations occuring several times each hour in the area near the Hedge Garden at the arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, 60532, at the I-88 and Rte 53 intersection. There are also presentations about the heroism of these dogs in Alaska, as well as the chance to meet the pups up close. Admission ranges from $5 to $11.

Daily Deal$: Wednesday

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Every day, we'll be alerting you to five great food and drink deals around town, courtesy of Centerstage Chicago's comprehensive database. In this economy, you need all the help you can get, right?

Kirkwood Bar & Grill, 2934 N. Sheffield
$5 quesadillas, $5 wraps; $3.50 pints, $4 Hoosier bombs

People Lounge, 1560 N. Milwaukee
$2 PBR, $3 Miller Lite, $5 Sobieski and Svedka cocktails; $3 tapas from 5:30-7 p.m.

Corcoran's Grill & Pub, 1615 N. Wells
$3.75 Smithwick's and Blue Moon pints; 35-cent wings, $8.50 steak sandwich and fries

Zapatista, 1307 S. Wabash
$5 sangria, $3 Dos Equis, Tecate and Tecate Light

Crew, 4804 N. Broadway
Half-price appetizers 4-6 p.m.; $3.50 Blue Moon pints, $2.75 Rolling Rock bottles

This ain't no Lilith Wine Fair

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Beer aficionados (read: snobs) will want to head out to Bottom Lounge’s Dogfloydapalooza tonight to chat with Nick Floyd of Three Floyds Brewery and Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione. There will be plenty of Dogfish Head and Three Floyds brews on hand, and the Waco Brothers will provide the entertainment.

Unfortunately, in order to get a first taste of Popskull, a new creation from the two renowned brewmasters, you’ll have to head out to the Three Floyds brewery in Munster, Ind. on Thursday.

The party starts at 9 p.m. and your $10 ticket (which you can only get at the door) may or may not get you a free pint.

Dating for Nerds

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Geeky dating service Nerds at Heart presents “Dating for Nerds,” a speed dating-type event for those of us who are, shall we say, socially challenged (or, to put it a nicer way, too smart for our own good). The event, held at Thursday night at Sheffield’s, features one free cocktail (any more and the tape on your glasses might fall off), geeky prizes, ticket giveaways and more – all for just 20 bucks (25 at the door).

So, as a public service to all of those who might be interested in this event, we will now talk dirty to you in binary code:

01011001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01110011 01101111 00100000 01101000 01101111 01110100 01110100 01110100 00100001

Oooh, yeah. Does that reboot your hard drive? We thought it might.

Sign up for the event here.

Lunchtime changes

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Looks like Chicagoans are in for some changes to their midday-meal routine, per the MenuPages Blog. First, Freshii, the Canadian salad/wrap chain that added its first U.S. location here last year, plans to add 80 more in the coming years. That's a lotta toasted sunflower seeds.

If you're more of a sandwich nosher, there's news on that front, too. Your favorite homegrown toasted-sammie purveyor, Potbelly's, will be making some menu changes courtesy of new CEO Aylwin Lewis. No more "one size/price fits all," folks. You'll soon be able to get bigger, meatier, cheesier sandwiches (for an increased price, up to $4.50) as well as smaller, "skinny" varieties aimed at the diet market. Good thing, bad thing? We're not sure, but we do know that more choices will probably mean longer lines.

Terragusto times two

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According to our friends at Thrillist, come Friday, you won't have to trek it out to Roscoe Village to get your fix of freshly made pasta. That's when Terragusto, known for its delicious carbs and extended pre-meal spiels, opens a second location in Lincoln Park at 340 W. Armitage. Expect many of the same offerings, with added benefits like a short list of beer, wine and signature cocktails (it's also BYOB, don't worry) and seasonal outdoor seating. "Pope's hats" alfresco? We're so there.

Step to Skokie

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If your inauguration fever has yet to subside (one look at your 401(k) should cure it), you may want to take a trip to North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. That's where D.C.'s favorite comedy troupe, the Capitol Steps, will be performing Thursday through Sunday ($44-$48).

Before you go, check out the troupe's Web site for samples of their most recent parody tunes, including "Ain't No Surplus, Now It's Gone" and "Blagojevich" (to the tune of "If I Were a Rich Man").

3 Things We Love About ... Uptown

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1. Getting lost among the ornate mausoleums at Graceland Cemetery — the final resting place of luminaries like Joseph Medill and Jack Johnson.

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The suds are cold at Carol's Pub. (Sun-Times file)

2. Dancing with the country-western crowd at Carol's Pub, where one of the regulars might just try to steal your significant other.

3. Bulldozers! (C'mon, Target! C'mon!)


What are your favorite three things about Uptown?


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Thievery Corporation's diverse musical sets prove that the Washington, D.C. duo has little problem with travel. So the guys shouldn't find it to be much of an issue that their February 20 show has been moved from the Riviera Theatre to the Aragon Ballroom across the street, due to "overwhelming demand."

You, on the other hand, may need to adjust your plans (e.g. wear something you don't mind sweating in, as the Ballroom can get kinda muggy). Tickets are $40 - get 'em here while they last.

It looks like the end of the road for one of our favorite Lakeview sandwich shops, Winston’s Market. After some sporadic closings during the day and early evening, there’s now a sign up that says the building, at 3440 N. Southport, is for sale. The place was definitely a breath of fresh air. Aside from a menu of fresh-made sandwiches, the deli also offered salads by the pound and a large (albeit high-priced) selection of micro-brews.

But the best (and most economical) entrée on the menu was the $5 pita special, which they advertised on a sign out front that you couldn’t miss when walking down Southport. What you got for your Lincoln was a hefty chicken pile of chicken on a fresh pita, topped with fresh veggies and accompanied by a hot plate of fries.

On our last visit, the sign had been down for at least a week or so. When the cashier asked for our order, we replied, “The pita special.” He hesitated for a moment before we gave him a knowing look and a quick wink. “Ah, the pita special. Coming right up.”

Man, we're gonna miss that pita.

Boys in da Hood Internet post new trax

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As tipped by Avant/Chicago, one of our favorite Chicago mash-up duos, the Hood Internet, has posted new tracks on its Web site. Several have gone up in the last few days. The variety of styles and sounds swings wide, but the joyful creativity is constant. Good party music for a party like today.

Flower power — and Florasonic! — at the LP Conservatory

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When the cabin fever gets to you — remember the Jimmy Buffett song about shooting holes in his freezer? — there are few places to go more invigorating than the Lincoln Park Conservatory. It's warm, humid and stuffed full of blooming flowers.

For another month, it's also blooming with intriguing sounds. According to this article in Time Out Chicago, the conservatory's fern room now features (through Feb. 28) a project called Florasonic, "an unusual series of art installations coordinated by the Edgewater-based Experimental Sound Studio (ESS). The latest Florasonic project, Baltimore-based artist Jenny Gräf Sheppard’s 'Osmosymbiotic Echo,' fills the Fern Room with recorded birdsongs, electronic sounds and ultrasonic noises that only birds and insects can hear."

Take off the coat, stay a while. Wander, smell — and listen!

Chicago's foodie in chief

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Today may well be the start of a new era. But if you're still reeling from the start of the new calendar — how are those resolutions coming along, by the way? — here's a belated but interesting account of the New Year's Eve food fest at Charlie Trotters, including the great East Coast vs. West Coast oyster rivalry, yo.

Not all rappers are Animate Objects

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One of our favorite cool-n-smooth local rap acts is the Animate Objects. Wanna get beyond Common and Kanye? The Animate Objects' latest EP is available for a free download on the group's Web site. Like what hear? There's more — a full-length album, "Riding in Fast Cars With Your Momma," is available on iTunes, plus the boys will be live at 5 p.m. today on the New Music Binge show (listen at fearlessradio.com).

3 Things We Love About ... the Museum of Science & Industry

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(Sun-Times file)


1. Asking about clean coal technology down in the coal mine (main level).

2. Searching for and finding the image of the “Three Blind Mice,” a miniature of Excalibur (King Arthur’s sword) and Cinderella’s tiny glass slippers in Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle (lower level).

3. Splurging the extra $5 for the guided, on-board tour of the U-505 submarine, the only German sub on display in the United States.

Hours: 9:30-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. General admission: $13 adults, $12 seniors and $9 children ages 3-11. More information: (773) 684-1414 or www.msichicago.org.


What are your favorite three things about the Museum of Science and Industry?


3 Things We Love About ... Lincoln Square

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Bryan Ekx spares a moment to note down a strike at Lincoln Square Lanes. (CenterstageChicago.com)


1. Keeping your own score when you bowl at Lincoln Square Lanes.

2. Wondering if the location at 42n Latitude really is the absolute 42 degrees north latitude on the map.

3. The $5.50 matinees at the Davis Theater, which has Oscar-worthy movies without all the fuss.


What are your favorite three things about Lincoln Square?


2-for-1 tickets to 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'

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In Frank Capra's civic classic, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939), Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) gives us numerous goose-bumpy homilies, like this one:

"You see, boys forget what their country means by just reading 'the land of the free' in history books. Then they get to be men they forget even more. Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will. Boys ought to grow up remembering that."

If this has new meaning for you on Tuesday, head to DocFilms at the Max Palevsky Cinema in Ida Noyes Hall at the University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, for a screening of that film at 7 p.m. Tuesday — with 2-for-1 $5 admission!

Where to watch the Obama inauguration

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It'll feel a lot different than this one ... (AP file)


You have a few ways of going about watching the inauguration of President Obama on Tuesday. You can still hit the road and join the throngs in D.C. Or you can stay warm by watching it on TV here at home (where Obama's political journey began). Here's a list of the many programs — concerts, retrospectives and swearing-in coverage — scheduled around the inauguration. But if you want to get out and watch the festivities among fellow, like-minded Chicagoans, well, yes you can ... at these local watch parties and events.

There are also these events celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, observed on Monday.

The Most Dangerous Race @ Metro 1/23

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Missing out on slightly scary dance-rock ever since Chicago collective Ministry announced its "retirement" (at least until their "reunion" ...)? UR Chicago found this video of The Most Dangerous Race, a Chicago duo featuring Matt Walker — who's worked with Filter, Smashing Pumpkins, even Morrissey — playing Metro on Jan. 23 ...

3 Things We Love About ... the National Museum of Mexican Art

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1. Perusing the powerful and provocative photographs by Mexican photographer Pedro Meyer (through Feb. 1).

2. Browsing one of the best museum gift shops in Chicago.

3. Pouring over the most extensive and most complete collection of prints and other works by the late Carlos Cortez.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Admission: Free More information: (312) 738-1503 or www.nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org.


What are your three favorite things about the National Museum of Mexican Art?


3 Things We Love About ... the Art Institute of Chicago

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1. Losing yourself on a Sunday to the dots that make up Georges Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” (Gallery 226)

2. Watching the sun set on marble sculptures in the American Sculpture Garden (Rice building, lower level).


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3. Striking your own “Green Acres” pose next to Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” (Gallery 263; you know you want to!).

Hours: 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday; 10:30-8 p.m. Thursday (free admission from 5-8 p.m.), and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission: $12 adults, $7 children 12 and over, students and seniors; free for children under 12. More information: (312) 443-3600 or www.artic.edu/aic/.


What are your favorite three things about the Art Institute?


3 Things We Love About ... North Center

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1. Getting a Slinger (hash browns, eggs, two beef patties, onions and anything else you can think of, all topped with chili) at the Diner Grill.

2. The loooooong bar at the Long Room on Irving Park.

3. Anything at Smokin' Woody's with their signature BBQ sauce on it.

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Calvin Woods of Smokin' Woody's barbecue restaurant. (Sun-Times file)


What are your favorite three things about North Center?


3 Things We Love About ... Roscoe Village

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Mike Reed's People, Places & Things in a jazz jam at the Hungry Brain. (Sun-Times file)


1. The bartender's good-natured jokes whenever someone orders a watery PBR at the Hungry Brain.

2. Restoring our manhood at the Belmont Barbershop, where a game of pool and a possible beer come with your $15 haircut.

3. The fresh-made pasta at Terragusto — if you don't think having the pasta made fresh that day makes a difference, you haven't been to Terragusto.


What are your favorite three things about Roscoe Village?

3 Things We Love About ... Wicker Park

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1. Knowing which of the three La Pasadita locations on Ashland to go to for which food — and knowing when to skip all of them for some tacos al pastor at Carniceria Leon a few blocks north.

2. The top-notch indie movie selection at Brainstorm — and the nerdy-but-cool membership cards they hand out there.

3. The cross-section of cultures that congregates on summer weekends in the actual park. Nelson Algren — whose former home sits just a block away — still would find plenty to document here.


What are your favorite three things about Wicker Park?

3 Things We Love About ... the Gold Coast

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1. Pretending to be annoyed by all the Mag Mile shoppers that get in your way on the sidewalk, when really we're happy they're spending all their money in our city. Just relax with a sense of superiority because we know where we're going.

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OK, it's not so bad when the shoppers are Bono and Oprah ... (Sun-Times file)


2. The serenity of Rush and Division during the day, compared with the all-out insanity the area produces once the sun goes down.

3. Watching people at the bar through the Prohibition-era two-way mirror in the bathroom at Streeter's Tavern on Chicago.


What are your favorite three things about the Gold Coast?

Valentine's Day is in one month: Make your reservations now!

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Centerstage has a V-Day portal that should take care of you — nearby weekend getaway suggestions, some dating advice, links to personal ads if you're still shopping around and the site's listings of Chicago restaurants and more where you can cuddle over a candlelit table and whisper all those sweet nothings.

3 Things We Love About ... Wrigleyville

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1. The smell of baseball in the air on Clark Street, even when the Cubs aren't playing (or is that just beer?).

2. Playing the curve on the shuffleboard table at Toon's, one of the few shuffleboard tables in town (for the record, the rather warped table curves south — start your shot on the north end of the table).

3. Popping the cork on a bottle of wine in the summertime while waiting for a table at Tango Sur — a popular BYOB Brazilian steakhouse on Southport that doesn't take reservations.

A toast to regime change!

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Time Out has a lengthy list of inauguration parties you don't have to drive to D.C. for — ranging from actual snooty inaugural balls to an African DJ party at Edgewater's delicious Ethiopian Diamond restaurant.

Gay ol' time at open-mic contest

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Economy getting you down? Can you carry a tune? Head to Hydrate this Saturday and sing for your supper. The Chicago Gay Men's Chorus is hosting and judging an open-mic competition — winner gets $75, 2nd place gets $50. Free drinks available from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (well, for a $10 donation ... but that's 90 minutes of free booze!), the warbling starts at 9.

Cheap Trick may land pricey gig

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Don't expect to see Illinois favorite sons Cheap Trick play around here much this year — unless they bring their big new Vegas show to, say, Chicago's Symphony Center?

The rock band is apparently about to close a deal with the Las Vegas Hilton that would feature them performing the Beatles' epic album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" live with a full orchestra — throughout the year, maybe starting as early as March.

A new Taste (no human sacrifice required)

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Our favorite piece from the Field's exhibit of Aztec housewares — a rabbit vessel that stored pulque, an alcoholic beverage. Nah (hiccup!), what's up, doc?


In conjunction with the Aztec World exhibit recently opened at the Field Museum — it's way cool, focusing on how the Average Joe Aztec lived from day to day — 16 local restaurants are dishing up recipes drawn from or inspired by those ancient hearths. The event, called Taste of the Aztec World, starts Sunday and runs through the 17th — and Chicagoist got a taste of the treats to come.

Elbowing your way to the hip bars

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Brandon Pool tends bar at the Inner Town Pub, a corner bar dating back before prohibition in the city's East Village neighborhood. (File)

Whether you actually are hip or desperately wish to appear so, Centerstage has a wicked lil' round-up of allegedly hip watering holes where you can hang for either purpose.

Here's lookin' at you, Edgewater Lounge.

Listen to Andrew Bird's 'Noble Beast'

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Andrew Bird's new album is out in 13 days, but if you want to check it out now ... NPR is streaming it!

NPR also reports: "A deluxe version of the album will also be available, packaged with a second disc of instrumental works, featuring collaborations with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche and jazz bassist Todd Sickafoose."

Two museums free this month!

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Photo from Shedd Aquarium

January's a great month to hit Chicago's big museums — to get out of the cold AND because they're free!

Now through the end of the month, the Museum of Science & Industry is offering free general admission. That gets you the German submarine and the coal mine ride, plus the acres of exhibits.

The Shedd Aquarium also is giving the cash registers a break, but just next week. The aquarium's "Community Discount Days" run Jan. 10-16.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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