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April 2010 Archives

Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

OPEN:
Dodo -- The popular breakfast spot is back, taking over the Dino's Morgan Inn space on weekends.
The Piggery -- The former Cordis Brothers Supper Club turns into a BBQ sports bar in Lakeview.
Fountainhead -- Expect better-than-bar food options from the menu of this gastropub on the border of Lincoln Square and North Center, and a quality beer list headed by Phil Kuhl, of Sheffield's "Beer School" fame.
Pizzeria Serio -- Get NY-style thin-crust at this 150-seat Roscoe Village spot.
Be Le Cafe -- This sister spot to Ba Le Sandwiches & Deli (just a storefront north) offers the same Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) in a more modern space.
Floriole Cafe & Bakery -- The Green City Market fixture opens up a new, two-floor spot in Lincoln Park. Don't miss the macarons.
Crepes A Latte -- This North Center cafe offers...you guessed it, crepes and lattes.
Wrigleyville Wild Wings -- The former Fly Me To the Moon has morphed into this wings-and-beer bar in the heart of Cubs territory.
Taco Fuego -- Want a foot-long burrito? This Lakeview/Roscoe Village spot is where to get it.


CLOSED:
Joe's Cafe -- You'll have to go elsewhere for jibaritos in Berwyn.
Los Tamales -- Small Mexican shop in Cicero is no more.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

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Stomp
Through Sunday at Bank of America Theatre; $20-$65; get tickets here
The famous dance rhythm show in which found objects become percussion instruments tours to Chicago. The eight-member troupe uses everything – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, lighters, you name it – and promises some new surprises this time around. Hedy Weiss recommends.

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SCORES World FoosCup
6:30-10 p.m. at Small Bar (Lincoln Park); $20-$25
You may not make the World Cup, but you can compete in the FoosCup, a test of foosball skills taking place at Smallbar tonight. Register as an individual or as a team of two and you'll play at least three games while raising money for American SCORES Chicago's programming for urban youth. The registration fee includes two drinks, appetizers and $1 off drafts of Two Brothers brews.


Mark Hummel & the Blues Survivors feat. Rusty Zinn

9:30 p.m. at Buddy Guy's Legends; $10
There are those who have huffed and puffed their way into harp blues history, and then there's California-based (with all-star Chicago ties) Mark Hummel, who swaggered his way on in, fashionably late to the party with the uber-chill vibe of a lounge act. He lets his instrument swing, and breathe; with the help of backing band the Blues Survivors, the resulting music burns and never lets up. His latest effort, "Retro-Active," dropped late April, is a bit heavy on the swing with Hummel dedicating a bit more time to his singing.

FashionChicago 2010
5-9 p.m. at 233 W. Huron; $15-$25
Love to shop? This exclusive evening of deals from 25 of Chicago's top fashion designers is a perfect fit. You'll enjoy X-Rated Fusion cocktails, Hobnob wines, hors d'oeuvres from Nacional 27 and RA Sushi and more as your browse selections from the likes of Zamrie, Borris Powell, K. Amato Designs, Blake Standard, Paoo and more in an 8,000-square-foot gallery space. VIP tickets ($25) include a goodie bag, and must be reserved in advance.

Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

As a reporter, I don't usually have much trouble meeting and chatting up strangers. I've done this in some odd places, including on a walk to the Daley Center, brunch at the Bongo Room, even at a crosswalk in Lincoln Park. But there are some places in and around the city that inspire me to talk to people not for work, but for pleasure. Here are some splendidly romantic places that I have always thought would make for a great "How/Where Did You Meet" story, or just a great date:

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Myopic Books
For some reason, this Wicker Park bookstore feels like it should be the setting of an indie romantic comedy. Maybe it's the intense library-book smells, but I feel like I'm in a Norah Jones music video (circa early 2000s) when sitting on the vintage couch or looking out the windows on the upper level. The wood floors and seemingly never-ending shelves of books and cases of stairs (OK, just three, but I somehow always feel disoriented when I'm there!) make the place soothing, as does the resident cat, Leonard, who struts around like he owns the place. The selection of books is outstanding, the prices are reasonable and the staff is friendly (and cute). You really do feel like you can lounge around, browse and smile at strangers with similar tastes. Spend a rainy afternoon here (the cell phone ban ensures you CAN get reading done!) and you'll find that reading truly is sexy.

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Lincoln Park Zoo
Unless you are dating a tin man or tin woman, the cuddly animals at this free, year-round zoo will automatically impress. The greenery, ice cream, carousel ride, and adorable children will stir up fond memories and, perhaps inspire thoughts about (gulp) your future kids. In general, this is the kind of date that guarantees a physically fun time, even if you're with a dud. And how can you go wrong with a petting zoo?

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The Brown Line
I have professed my love for the beautiful skyline views on the Brown Line before. What's the appeal? The mixed bag of people and the occasional awkward jolt from the moving train gliding to the backdrop of the Hancock Tower and skyline -- and the crazy idea that you and The One could end up in the same train car at the same time; it's all very romantic in a "love at first sight" or (but hopefully not) "Craigslist Missed Connections" kinda way.

Thanks to movies like "Iron Man" and "Kick Ass," interest in comic books has skyrocketed among the masses. For many people, though, comics are a way of life, and the independent stores they shop at depend on their repeat business. This weekend's Free Comic Book Day is a way to introduce the rest of us to the wonders of these stores -- and as the name implies, everyone gets a complimentary comic just for checking 'em out.

Curious? Check out the list of comics, then hit one of these participating Chicago stores on Saturday:

Brainstorm , 1648 W. North, (773) 384-8721
Vigilante Press, 1931 W. Chicago, (312) 423-6774
Graham Crackers Comics (Lincoln Park), 2562 N. Clark, (773) 665-2010
Chicago Comics, 3244 N. Clark, (773) 528-1983
Challengers, 1845 N. Western, (773) 278-0155
G-Mart Comics, 2641 N. Kedzie, (773) 384-0400

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JC Brooks had a great time during his last visit to The Shrine. (photo: Roper Fuentes via MySpace)


JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound

9 p.m. at The Shrine; $5
This soul group's been getting better and better with every performance, and with a new single ("Get It Together" b/w "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart") and dedicated touring schedule, which includes Ravinia and Taste of Chicago, the future looks even brighter. If you want to catch the act now before it hits the bigger venues, this show could be your best bet. Early arrival is recommended as opener Rita J has been on a tear since releasing her debut album, "Artist Workshop."

Baskin-Robbins 31-Cent Scoop Night
5-10 p.m.
Unless you're lactose-intolerant, there's pretty much no better way to power through the middle of the week than with some ice cream. This creamery behemoth makes it easy with its fourth-annual cheap-scoop promotion. Gluttony is discouraged, sort of; there's a limit of three scoops per person. Find a location near you.

Not For Tourists Chicago Book Launch
7-10 p.m. at Sheffield's; free
We know you get pretty much all the facts you need about the city right here...but it can't hurt to be over-informed in this age of information -- especially when that knowledge comes with a free beer. The Not For Tourists Guide celebrates its 8th book launch (and its new iPhone app) with a party at Sheffield's, with all attendees getting a free copy and a Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale (while supplies last). Make sure to print this voucher before you go.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Aldino’s
Italian-themed restaurant and market focuses on local flavors.

Off the Beaten Path: Nicksons Eatery
Regional American fare in downtown La Grange.

Weekly Treat: Half-price wine tonight at 42n Latitude
Lincoln Square bar has cheap bottles of vino after 5 p.m.

Man We're Crazy About: The Purple Pig
Wine and cheese (and pork) for the Michigan Avenue tourist -- and foodie -- crowd.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

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Where the action will be on Arbor Day.

Arbor Day (April 30) may be the Jan Brady to Earth Day's Marcia (kids, you can substitute Snooki and J-WOWW, respectively), but that's no reason to ignore another chance to help the planet.

This Saturday's Tree Spree at Northside College Prep's Joy Garden (5501 N. Kedzie) should give you ample encouragement. The free celebration includes tree planting, live music from the Bon Mots, food from Heartland Cafe, kids' activities and even a peek at the school's new $800,000 solar panel project. Head on over from noon-4 p.m.

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Jonsi Birgisson will make the Vic seem like a different world tonight. (photo: sigur-ros.co.uk)

Jonsi
7:30 p.m. at Vic Theatre; $34
The swelling maestro of Iceland's Sigur Ros – that band that will make your girlfriend cry with joy – Jonsi Birgisson eschews his native tongue on his first solo foray, Go, singing most songs in English. Though the songs are epically sprawled and ethereal like those of his band, some new freedoms emerge in this new setting. The flute and organic electronic builds by co-arranger, Nico Muhly, paired with Birgisson's angelic hum, will likely make your plants grow. Also playing tomorrow.

Talib Kweli, DJ Hi-Tek
9 p.m. at House of Blues; $28
After a string of subpar performances, MC Talib Kweli looks to rebound by reuniting with superproducer Hi-Tek (together they're known as Reflection Eternal). Expect lots of throwback tracks from the duo's 2000 album, "Train of Thought" (including the classic "The Blast") as well as from their upcoming follow-up, "Revolutions Per Minute."

AXE Twisted Humor Tour
8 p.m. at Park West; $10 ($5 for students)
Need a laugh tonight, but can't get into the always-packed Moth StorySLAM at Martyrs'? Try this comedy showcase presented by humor site Funny or Die. Performers include Nick Kroll (of F/X's "The League"), Whitney Cummings ("Chelsea Lately"), Donald Glover ("Community") and Chelsea Peretti (TruTV's "The Smoking Gun Presents").

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Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

There are few things I can brag about confidently. My cooking is one of them, so let me be the first to preach: "The way to a man's (or woman's!) heart is through his (or her!) stomach."

Cooking for your date not only shows you are thoughtful and skilled, it also (hopefully) results in a delicious, economical meal both of you can enjoy.

RICH MAN: Try a "Hands On" cooking class with The Chopping Block, which includes one-and-a-half hours of instruction and cooking, followed by the actual meal in full! Price varies from $65 to $85 with wine, depending on the cuisine, which varies to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Choose from Italian basics to a Julia Child-themed course, and even ones dedicated to cupcake, cheese and sushi-making. With a professional instructor, it will be hard to go wrong. Classes are small enough -- no more than 20 participants -- not to feel intimidating, but big enough to feel like a social event. Here's a schedule.

POOR MAN: Anyone who can read can cook. So buy a cookbook. Let your date pick a recipe. Do the prep work (that means grocery shopping). and voila! You've got a homemade (and reusable!) date for a super-low price. And if things are really working out, here are some couples' cookbook titles to consider:


In a time when establishments are closing left and right, lasting even a year is a big deal.

That's why District Bar is going all out in celebrating its first birthday, debuting a new menu and offering some awesome specials all week long.

First off, there's the "All-in" Lunch. Through Thursday, you can get a sandwich and soup or salad for $10 (tax and tip included) between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Pairings include Caprese soup and a chicken artichoke sandwich (Monday), elotes corn soup and a quesadilla (Tuesday), a Caesar salad and a seared ahi tuna sandwich (Wednesday) and a baby wedge salad and a Chicago cheese steak (Thursday).

If you're a later diner, stop by after 6 p.m. today through Wednesday for 20 percent off all new menu items, including vanilla shrimp ceviche and a Duck Dog. to get the deal, you'll need to bring in a candle. Bring your Blackhawks gear, too, as District is a popular place to watch the hockey playoffs.

3 Things To Do Today

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A Hip-Hop Aesop: Jazzed, Bopped and Beat-Boxed
10 a.m. and noon at eta Creative Arts Foundation; $5-$6
Turn off the Lil' Wayne and turn to this new spin on ten classic Aesop fables, which offers morality plays with a hip-hop beat. Fables include "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", "The Tortoise and The Hare", "The Bee and Jupiter" and many more. Recommended for grades K-8.

Jakob Dylan and Three Legs
7:30 p.m. at Park West; $25
We'd hesitate to recommend going to see the former Wallflowers' frontman (and Bob Dylan's son), if not for two reasons: his backup singers, Neko Case and Kelly Hogan. These semi-local alt-country luminaries add some major cred to the proceedings. Don't expect to hear "One Headlight," but do expect lots of cuts from Dylan's new album, appropriately titled "Women and Country."

Rock 'n' Bowl Comedy Showl
9:30 p.m. at Diversey River Bowl; $5
Bowl a few frames and enjoy sets from local comedians Irving Typs, Jeff Hansen and Marty DeRosa at this Logan Square alley. Dave Odd hosts, and 25-cent wings and $2 bottles of PBR are available to make the laughs come a little easier.


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This could be you on Saturday. (photo: Hop Cast)

Dark Lord Day
10 a.m. Saturday at Three Floyds Brewing; free
Even if you didn't snag one of the coveted "golden tickets," which give you the right to purchase bottles of the rare Dark Lord Imperial Stout, it's worth heading down to Munster, Ind., for this all-day party including tons of other awesome beers, live music and more.

Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

OPEN:
Floriole Cafe & Bakery -- The Green City Market fixture opens up a new, two-floor spot in Lincoln Park. Don't miss the macarons.
The Shady Lady -- This punk-themed bar takes over the former Garrett Ripley's space in River North.
Flo & Santos -- Get pizza and pierogi at this Italian/Polish spot in the South Loop.


CLOSED:
Lincoln Restaurant -- No, not the diner with Abe's huge mug outside and the comedy club inside. The Korean eatery, further north on Lincoln.
Crobar -- The popular club spun its final record last weekend.


Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Attention, picnicking music lovers! Tickets to all Ravinia shows -- including the Swell Season, Vince Gill and Nelly Furtado -- are now on sale at Ravinia.org.

Can't decide? Check out some top pop acts and review Centerstage's picks for the best festival debuts.

3 Things To Do Today

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Ensemble Lipzodes: Shakespeare & the Bassano Family
12:15 p.m. at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park (enclosed stage); free
Looking for something different to do during your lunch hour? This Early Music Festival event should do the trick. Inspired by the relationship between the Bard and the family of instrument makers and performers, this concert will include sonnets and quotations from "The Merchant of Venice."

Earth Day Dinner

5-10 p.m. at Markethouse; $49
Looking for a tasty way to celebrate the day? This eco-friendly restaurant in the Doubletree Hotel in Streeterville will offer a five-course, candlelit dinner including spring pea soup with morel mushroom, La Quercia and mint; nut- and spice-crusted yellowfin with pickled kumquats, hearts of palm and blood orange; salad with apricots, shaved fennel, Marcona almonds, endive and white balsamic vinaigrette; a Dietzler Farms filet with spring onions, morel mushroom and red wine sauce; and warm butterscotch bread pudding with coffee toffee ice cream. Find more Earth Day events.

Bordeaux MatchMaking
7:30-9:30 p.m. at Y Bar; free
What's your top criteria in finding a match? Height? Hair color? Level of education? How about taste in wine? This free event (part of a national tour) asks participants to fill out an online survey about the kind of wines they like, using those results to pair up people with similar tastes. You'll enjoy complimentary samples and hors d'oeuvres...and who knows, maybe you'll meet the palate of your dreams!

Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman is still working on finding the recipe for success in his day job -- but this weekend's TrueFlavors Celebrity Cook-Off will require more immediate achievement.

The annual event, which takes place from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at the Chopping Block in the Merchandise Mart, gives teams 35 minutes to prepare a three-course meal using secret ingredients revealed just before the contest. Other "celebrity" participants include Casey Thompson and Dale Levitski from Top Chef and Food Network personality, Sunny Anderson. Want to be there to witness the action (and maybe even get in on it via live auction)? You can buy a $150 ticket here. Proceeds benefit TrueChild.

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Charlotte Gainsbourg
8 p.m. at Park West; $30
Daughter of the iconic French musician Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte has mostly stayed out of her father's shadow by opting for English vocals and keeping songwriting company with artists like Air and Jarvis Cocker for 2006's 5:55. Most recently, she collaborated with Beck on last year's IRM, and while his ramshackle funk and baroque strings provide the backbone of the record (Beck did the songwriting, arrangement and production), it's Gainsbourg's brooding vocals that make it magical.

Audrey Niffenegger
6-8 p.m. at Columbia College Chicago Library (624 S. Michigan 3rd Floor North); free
The author, artist and Columbia faculty member -- you know, the woman behind The Time Traveler's Wife -- will be speak with fellow faculty member Ron Falzone about her success. If you're lucky enough to be a Friend of the Library (it costs), you'll enjoy a private reception with her from 5-6 p.m.

Dating for Nerds Earth Date
7-10 p.m. at Holiday Club; $20 in advance, $25 at the door
Care about the planet -- but care more about getting a date? You can handle both during this third annual eco-themed event, which includes rounds of board games and themed trivia, an organic chocolate tasting, a green fashion show, giveaways and more. A Rain organic vodka eco-tini is included in the ticket price. Tonight is for gay singles; heteros should keep Thursday night free. Find more Earth Day events.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Benny’s Chop House
River North steak house is a cut above the rest.

Off the Beaten Path: Basils Greek Dining
Aurora gets an authentic Greek restaurant in a building that looks like a Greco-Roman temple.

Weekly Treat: Wednesday is vino night at Lincoln Station
Popular Lincoln Park bar takes half off all wines tomorrow night.

Man We're Crazy About: Kitchen Sink Cafe
The old Pause Café finds new life as this comfy Edgewater coffee shop.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

3 Things To Do Today

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thumb_12faghag.jpg1, 2, 3...Fag! performs at IO Theater tonight.

Chicago Improv Festival
You've got several funny options to choose from tonight. The sentimentalist in us recommends "1 World on 1 Stage" (8 p.m. at ComedySportz Theatre; $12); though there's a good chance some of the international acts scheduled for this special event won't actually make it to the stage due to travel delays caused by that pesky Icelandic volcano, the ones that do deserve to perform to a packed house. If you prefer to support local acts, 1, 2, 3...Fag! brings together strong character work and a wacky, campy sense of humor at IO Theater (8 p.m.; $12). Visit Centerstage for the top picks of the week.

Raekwon
9 p.m. at Wild Hare; $25-$65
On his 1995 solo debut, "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx," the rapper continued a strong series of Wu-Tang Clan-related projects that essentially flipped hip-hop inside-out with blunted street philosophies, obscure martial arts references and bugged-out narratives. After a few less than impressive follow-ups, last year's long-awaited sequel was just what Raekwon needed. He'll be celebrating 420, a major contributor to his career -- and you can celebrate with him backstage while noshing on some chicken wings if you pay the $65 VIP price.

Whisky Throwdown
7 p.m. at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro; $10
If you didn't know, this week is Whisky Week in Chicago, culminating in Friday's Whiskyfest at the Hyatt Regency. Can't wait 'til then? Head to this North Center bar for this party filled with events like "Name That Dram" and "Whisky Bingo." Prizes include tickets to Whiskyfest and more.



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Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

As a writer, I value verbal displays of affection above all others. I particularly love written gestures: letters, postcards, emails and text messages. Even a witty Facebook comment can do the trick.

That said, a very grand gesture involving words is the best one-two punch I can think of. The Hollywood version usually involves some sort of oral rant (see the New Year's Eve party scene in "When Harry Met Sally"), but there are other options, depending on your budget.

Rich Man: Skywriting! Sure, it costs at least $1,995 for a single message (not including the aircraft fees), can last as little as five to 10 minutes depending on wind, and you usually only get about 12 letters, but dang, how romantic would that be? Your declaration of love, "written in the clouds" -- it really doesn't get sweeter than that. All you have to do, besides shell out a few (or several) months of rent, is just get outside. Picnic basket, wine, really anything else would be optional. Try Advertising Aerial if you can afford it.

NOTE: I never said the Rich Man ideas would be practical. In fact, they aren't supposed to be. A girl can dream.

Poor Man: Chicago is now warming up and coming back to life, as evidenced by the folks crowding our beautiful lakefront. Plan a date, any date, outside, and you'll be on the right romantic track. For bonus points, prepare a Harry-like rant regarding your one true boo. Even if you can't afford to put it in the clouds, you can still write it in the sand of the Lake Michigan beaches.Take some pictures for a homemade, post-date card and you'll be flying high.

Check out more warm-weather date ideas on Centerstage.

foxyTann2006.jpgFoxy Tann was one of many great performers at WCBF. (photo: Michael Albov)

Read on for a rousing response to this weekend's Windy City Burlesque Fest, via Centerstage Chicago's Sarah Terez Rosenblum.

During my time as Centerstage's Theater Listings Manager, I’ve grown increasingly cranky about burlesque. Seems every third e-mail to land in my inbox has a subject line like “Titty Titty Boom Boom,” or, less creatively, “Tits and Ass.” It’s getting so I can’t discern press releases from spam, I don’t know what to huffily delete and what to post. More than that, I’ve found burlesque’s trendy nostalgia depressing, symptomatic of a culture driven to mine decades-old entertainment, rather than generate anything significant and new.

But last weekend, I attended the 2010 Windy City Burlesque Fest and realized I’m a hypocrite.

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Ever since seeing Gypsy at age 10, I wanted to be a classy stripper. But Natalie Wood was dead, and who knew if such a thing existed? Still, in sixth grade I wore fishnets to gym class, at 19 I played a stripper (sans class, however) in a terrible low-budget film. At the audition, I was the only woman with a choreographed routine; all the others just took off their shirts and wriggled. Amateurs, I thought. But that’s what stripping is, deadpan undulations, cocaine and a blow job on the side. Not so, burlesque, which brings me to WCBF 2010.

Attending the 8 p.m. Friday performance, I was poised for an evening of awkward dancing punctuated by the occasional breast, but found myself instantly riveted. From Foxy Tann’s audacious blend of comedy and coochie to the tightly choreographed mincing of Chicago’s own Vaudezilla, the show was heavy on innuendo, light on actual skin.

Dazzled by the performers’ homemade yet flawless ensembles, jazzed by their creative music choices and flabbergasted by their unique routines, I was forced to confront the true source of my burlesque aversion. I was jealous. After resigning myself to a featherless, sequin-less life in flats, after years of subliminating my desires through compulsive, sometimes simultaneous viewings of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and "Coyote Ugly," to find that all around me women were moonlighting, even making a living shaking what their mama (or their plastic surgeon) gave them, was indeed a bitter pill to swallow. Better to grouse and grudgingly list Nuts and Cherries’ events than to admit they were doing what I still believed I couldn’t.

Well, no more. I’ve been perusing websites, and even though the acts which both performed and taught during the weekend-long fest have gone home to Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco and the like, Chicago fairly bursts with performers and teachers. Natalie Wood may be dead, but thanks to WCBF2010, my childhood dream has been reborn!

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Did you love "Kick-Ass"? The superhero film (and the comics that inspired it) might not even exist if not for pulp fiction. No, not the Quentin Tarantino film -- the unique form of American literature characterized by hardboiled writing and lurid cover art.

If you're unfamiliar with this style, you owe it to yourself to check out this weekend's 10th annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. The huge event includes over 100 vendor tables, art displays, pulp inspired-films and more (including a tribute to venerable magazine Adventure). Check it out Friday (noon-midnight; $25), Saturday (9 a.m.-midnight; $25) and Sunday (9 a.m.-4 p.m.; $15), $35 for all three days.

Taste It Mondays with Charles Smith
Rockit Wrigleyville; RSVP to info@rockitwrigley.com
The rock-star winemaker will be on hand to chat and taste with oenophiles during this installment of Rockit's weekly vino celebration. You'll be able to sample a few of his wines (Boom Boom Syrah, Velvet Devil Merlot and Kung Fu Girl Riesling) and partake of the half-off special all night long (the featured wines will be available next Monday, too).

Too Much LADY Makes the Baby Go Blind
8 p.m. at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater; $25
The Neo-Futurists' famed comedy show switches things up tonight with an all-female performance, featuring ladies from the troupe's past and present -- like Heather Riordan, Diana Slickman and Megan Mercier. There'll also be a post-show roundtable ("Ladies In Your Face") hosted by Sean Benjamin and Steve Mosqueda.

Hot Chip
8 p.m. at Riviera Theatre
Scorned by the hardcore electropop community for ditching its industrial edge (despite the fact that the band was nerding out to "C-A-S-I-O" cheers and Batman references all the while), Hot Chip literally sold its soul with this year's One Life Stand. Vocalist Alexis Taylor called it the band's warmest record to date, all awash in downtempo crooners like "Slush" and "Brothers." That said, the Mercury Prize-shortlisted Englishmen still know how to command a dance floor.

Ever thought you could be on the "Amazing Race," but worried about what effect a trek around the world might have on your relationship with your partner (not to mention your job)? You can experience the rush without the extended commitment during the River North Sleep Around Challenge on Thursday, May 6.

Teams of four (you can sign up as a team or individually), will begin a tour around the neighborhood, solving puzzles, answering quizzes, taking pictures and touring hotels. Prizes include an overnight stay in a King suite at the Amalfi Hotel, four tickets to a hit show from Broadway in Chicago and an American Girl overnight package from Embassy Suites Chicago. Participating hotels, many of which are offering special rates for the night, include the dana hotel and spa, Hotel Felix and the new Hotel Palomar, and Martini Park will host an after-party at 8:30 p.m. Registration starts at 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza ($35 per individual, $135 for a team of four). For more information, visit rivernorthassociation.com.


87262472.jpgDancers Anna Fur Laxis and Kittne Deville enjoy the WCBF opening party. (photo: Twitpic)

Windy City Burlesque Fest
Friday-Saturday at Greenhouse Theater Center; get tickets
It's a virtual who's-who of the burlesque scene as more than 70 performers take the stage at this inaugural event. Headliners include Kitten DeVille, Anna Fur Laxis, Foxy Tann and Kellita. There will also be classes/workshops on Saturday.

iPhone users are, in many ways, a different breed from the rest of us. At times, it seems they speak a different language, one full of apps and maps and everything else that comes along with owning the game-changing smartphone (including the crappy AT&T service). For a while, they were even eating better than everyone else, thanks to the limited availability of the Foodie app, which offers exclusive deals at dozens of Chicago restaurants.

Well, good news, non-Apple lemmings: the folks behind Foodie just launched a website which includes all the deals available to iPhone customers, now open to anyone with an internet connection (assuming you jump on the offers quickly enough) for free! Check it out, make some reservations, and hit the restaurant with your head held high. You're just as good as any iPhone owner -- at least when it comes to dining out.

The title says it all.

Bring a reusable mug to any Starbucks location and they'll fill it up with coffee, for free.

Find other Tax Day Deals on Centerstage .

lola-air-guitar.jpgUnfortunately, babies can't enter tonight's contest. (photo: TracesofRock)

U.S. Air Guitar Championships -- Chicago Regional
9 p.m. at Metro; $15
Whether you think this is an awesome idea or just a silly gimmick, you've gotta admit that the idea of watching some dudes (and dudettes) fake-rock out to classic guitar riffs will make for an entertaining evening. Want to get on stage yourself? There may be some spots left. Tonight's event will be hosted by Bjorn Turoque and judged by Hot Lixx Hulahan and Team Bayside High. KISS tribute band Slutter will perform.

Windy City Burlesque Fest opening night party
10 p.m. at Blue Bayou; free
Though the real fest doesn't get started until tomorrow (there'll be shows on Friday and Saturday at Greenhouse Theater Center), you can get a sneak peek with two free performances (10 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.) from some of the country's top burlesque artists tonight.

Do Division Launch Party
5:30-7:30 p.m. at Evil Olive; free
Celebrate the launch of the do-division.com website (celebrating all things West Division Street) with some free wine and food in Wicker Park. There are sure to be goodies from area businesses.

Don't forget, today's tax day! Check out Centerstage's list of tax-relief specials at Chicago-area businesses.

Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

Here's a round up of the 10 best, worst and most hilarious verbal exchanges I've been blessed to witness/be a part of lately:

"You don't look like a girl who smokes. It just -- just makes ya look uneducated." -- Following a bit of flirtation inside the bar, an ex-smoker is approached by the same suitor while giving in to a cigarette outside of the Boundary.

"Look at him, he's got that weird ass hair, and [a] gap tooth and you, you've got a nice smile." -- A declaration of adoration by a man to a woman his friend is seeing. Let's just call it TUI (talking under the influence).

"He's not lying. We're all married, so we're not hitting on you, but you are without a doubt the prettiest woman. (Looks around) By. Far." -- A group of married med students backing up their single friend's claim to a woman at Gamekeepers.

"You're, like, perfect. You talk like a white girl, but you still have that sexy Asian body." --The "friend" (in this case, an ignorant Texas Republican) of a girlfriend's date (taking one for the team) at Wicker Park Tavern. YIKES!

"I usually don't think Asian girls are hot, but..." -- In the midst of St. Paddy's Day fun.

"I don't know how anyone dates without booze really." -- My unromantic friend, Rusty.

"She likes her space and time, whereas I'd just like her to be over all the time." -- Rusty, again, but this time gushing about an unaffectionate woman he likes.

"I'm old, can I sit next to you???" --Said to a 20-something woman approached by a man in his 40s while dining on the free pizzas at Crocodile.

Woman: "I'm going on a boy-detox".
Man: "I'm going to OD on chicks."
--Best friends recounting their weekend of dating and mating.

"I was really looking forward to this when you said 'later tator.'" -- At a first-date brunch at Feast following a week of flirty emails.

Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

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Accanto - Logan Square gets another upscale Italian spot, in the space adjacent to Lucky Vito's.

Al Primo Canto - The Brazilian all-you-can-eat palace opens a second Chicago location in River North.

Ciao Napoli Pizzeria - Expect fine Italian dining in the former Abril spot in Logan Square.

Clarke's Diner (Wicker Park) - Another location of the popular diner opens on Damen.

Vintage 338 - This quaint Lincoln Park cafe offers a variety of southern European street food, including items from Green City Market. But the real star is the wine list, which focuses on Spanish, Italian and French offerings.

Sports Corner - The previously torn-down Sports Corner gets new life on Addison and Sheffield, just steps from Wrigley Field. The three-story homage to all things baseball (and Cubs) will clear out after the games are over for a huge dance party.

The Temple Bar - Sip a pint and wallow in the Irish-ness of this Lakeview spot (the former Fearon's), which got its name from an area in Dublin.

Dos Gringos Trailer Park - The party scene in Wrigleyville gets a Mexican flavor at this colorful new bar in the old Houndstooth Saloon spot. Expect the shots of tequila to flow before and after Cubs games, as the motto here is "Where Wrigleyville meets Cancun."

Got Spaghetti? - A husband-and-wife duo asks the age-old pasta question in Gladstone Park.

Aripos - This Oak Park restaurant specializing in arepas (homemade bread split open and filled with meats and veggies - is set to open this week.


CLOSED:
Green Dolphin Street/Orvieto - The venerable on-the-river club/restaurant abruptly closed its doors this week, just months after reconcepting. -- We were half-right on this one. The restaurant and jazz club is closed, but the club life lives on, including the popular Boom Boom Room Mondays.

Cafe Avanti - The Lakeview cafe closes to make way for a French wine bar.

El Gato Negro - The popular transexual hangout has closed due in part to a "neverending onslaught of abuse and economic hardship," according to its website.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Soup and bread. A simple concept, but who knew it would be so popular? The weekly fundraising event has had a great run at the Hideout, but it looks like tonight's installment will be its last.

As if that weren't enough reason to check it out, here's another: Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's will be one of several soup chefsa special guest tonight. There will also be pie to close things out on a sweet note. The food is free as always, though a donation hat will be passed, this time to benefit Ravenswood Community Services. 5:30-8 p.m.

"Man, 'The Bounty Hunter' looks like it took about a day to make."

Ok, hotshot, think you can do better? You've got 24 hours. Today's the last day to register your team for the Chicago Film Race, which begins on Friday. You'll be emailed a theme and a surprise element (like a prop or action that must be included in the film) at 10 p.m., and then will have a day to create an original short film no longer than four minutes. All completed films will be shown to the public on April 22 at the Portage Theater, with the winners in line to compete for thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. The fee is $139 per team ($10 off with code FILMRACER); register at filmracing.com.

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J Rocc
9 p.m. at The Shrine; $10
To see this legend spin is to witness an amazing display of skill, with the only problem occurring when you're trying to decide if you want to watch him mix or dance your butt off (it's a win-win situation). Early arrival is highly recommended, as prior to J. there will be a screening for one of Mochilla's (B+ and Eric Coleman) newest projects, "Timeless Suite for Ma Dukes," a performance honoring the music of the late J-Dilla. The screening is an event within itself as the doc. features a 60-piece orchestra (directed by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson) playing the music of Dilla. B+ and Eric will be spinning as well.

"Top Chef Masters" viewing party
8-10 p.m. at C-View
You're gonna watch some of the country's best toques battle it out anyway (especially since it's back to a much more viewer-friendly 9 p.m. airtime), so why not do it with one of those chefs? Competitor Marcus Samelsson, owner of C-House restaurant, will be on hand for a meet-and-greet before and during the show. Get there early for the special $39 prix-fixe dinner menu featuring Samuelsson's cuisine (available every Wednesday evening); you'll enjoy pickled herring with tomato cabbage chutney and warm toast, grilled salmon with sour tomato broth and spiced farro and chocolate banana bread pudding with fromage blanc ice cream and hazelnuts.

Hephaestus: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale
7:30 p.m. at Goodman Theatre; $20-$70
It's Greek mythology as a one-ring circus. This remount, a perennial Lookingglass hit, uses the story of Hephaestus (Smith, Ugmo, Olyumpian exile) to string together top-notch acts from aerialists to hoopers. The plot isn't as graceful as the performers are, but who cares? Just sit back, look up and watch the gods fly.

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Well, that didn't take long.

Following its successful opening-night performance, "Billy Elliott the Musical" has announced the release of a second block of tickets for shows through October 24 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. That means you have 250,000 more chances to witness the production that Hedy Weiss called "gorgeous" (and superior to the Broadway version). Buy tickets here.

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Get excited, sots...it's pub crawl season!

Now that the weather's warming up, the progressive parties are coming out in full force, beginning with last weekend's second annual Snuggie Pub Crawl. If you're looking for something a little less, um, fuzzy, how 'bout the Zombie Pub Crawl, which returns from the dead on Saturday, April 24?

For $20, you'll enjoy drinks specials at bars throughout Andersonville, including Simon's, Mary's Attic, @mosphere, In Fine Spirits and more from 2:30-8 p.m., all while dressed as an extra from "Thriller." Folks got pretty into it last year, so don't skimp on the makeup.

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The Ghosts of Treasure Island
10:30 a.m. at Vittum Theater; $12-$17
Playwright Eric Schmiedl has adapted Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 classic of pirates and buried treasure,for contemporary young audiences. The play features most of the book's major characters and plot twists, and adds a band of rowdy, rockin' pirates to the mix.The play provides yet another version of the coming-of-age tale, full of bold characters, mysterious atmosphere and some moral commentary for young audiences.

Craft Beer Bodega
6-8 p.m. at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba; $25 (plus tax and tip)
Goose Island and several other breweries will offer tastings of over 30 handcrafted beers to go along with this Lincoln Park tapas restaurant's paella and appetizers like short rib sandwiches with caramelized onions and horseradish cream, manchego croquettas with fig jam and beer-battered asparagus with goat cheese.

Dead Meadow
9:30 p.m. at Empty Bottle; $12
This heavy yet not overhanded hard rock trio is known for its intense live show, featuring psychedelic dream scenarios. Come see what all the fuss is about. Fun fact (according to Wikipedia): vocalist/guitarist Jason Simon is the nephew of 'The Wire' creator David Simon. No wonder he's so intense.

chicagochinatown.jpgGateway to Chinatown (photo: Albert Yau)

Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

By Thursday, you all will have filed your income taxes (hopefully), so I've written this week's dating ideas for the very, very poor man -- two dates for under $30!

Most of us probably know there's a lot of good eatin' down in Chinatown (OK, so I might be a little biased), but what you may not know about is, well, everything else offered in Chinatown.

Not to worry. Last season's Bachelor Jake was fairly ignorant, too, as evidenced by his lame tour of San Francisco's Chinatown with runner-up Tenley last season, when he uttered what I'd call the least sophisticated sentence ever said by a commercial pilot: "We're exploring San Francisco, Chinatown. It's amazing. You feel like you're in a foreign country."

The Poor Man: For $30, get a private one-hour walking tour of the 'hood, courtesy of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. You learn a bit of history about Chinatown and Chicago, and it's smart, cultured and a spectacle for the eyes -- everything you hope your date will be.They can even arrange a meal for you afterwards if you aren't familiar with the area's cuisine.

The Really Poor Man: So you're really, really, really poor? Yeah, me too. Try having a night in and, for about $5 bucks, bake a batch of fortune cookies together instead! It's cheesy but also laid-back and cute -- everything I hope my dates will be.

Here's a recipe I like.

Cubs home opener. Conan's return to TV. Oprah kerfuffle. Yep, it's just another manic Monday 'round these parts.

Manic could also describe the frenzied work of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago over the past 25 years, as it's fought the good fight against a debilitating disease. You can help toast the Foundation's work at Not Just Song and Dance, its exclusive spring gala, which returns after a four-year hiatus on May 1 at the Hilton Chicago. For $500, you'll enjoy drinks, a four-course dinner, dancing and a special performance by '80s pop stars The Bangles. Find all the details and register at aidschicago.org.


3 Things To Do Today

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Cubs Home Opener
1:20 p.m. at Wrigley Field
Now, we're not saying you should try to get tickets to the game this soon before the first pitch (to do so you'd probably have to pay a good portion of Alfonso Soriano's salary), but there are other ways to get in the spirit. You can check out live radio broadcasts at Yak-Zies (WXRT) and the new Sports Corner (WSCR) like $4.50 Blue Cubs on the Rocks and $3 Bud Light bottles at Stretch Run and $3 True Blue Cubbyritas at Trader Todd's (plus ticket giveaways all day long, including a pair for today's game). And if you do already have tickets, head to Ann Sather on Belmont to fuel up; all breakfast entrees are just $6.50 'til game time for ticket-holders only. Find all Wrigleyville specials on Centerstage.

Boom Boom Room
10 p.m. at Green Dolphin Street; $20
Green Dolphin may have changed over the years (have you noticed the Big Ten flags out front?) but this weekly house-music event will remind you that some things have stayed the same. Enjoy spinning from DJs Michael Serafini, Uncle Milty, Just Joey and Diz.

Chekhov Kegstand
7:30 p.m. at Gorilla Tango Theatre; $12
While the differences are many, there are some profound similarities between the characters in Anton Chekhov's plays and college students: fear of the future, an inability to act, and a love for drinking vodka. Lots and lots of vodka. This is the idea for Bryan Cohen's flawed but promising new play, "Chekhov Kegstand," and for all the things that don't work, it's still better than a play called "Chekhov Kegstand" has any right to be.

It's supposed to be 70 degrees on Saturday. What better way to celebrate than with a pastry party?

Logan Square Kitchen, which hosts fledgling bakers as well as private events, hosts a Spring Pastry Market tomorrow from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Several of the city's sweets purveyors will be on hand with goodies for purchase, including City Provisions, FIG Catering, Fritz Pastry, Rich Chocolates & Candies and others. See the full list and RSVP here.

Well, the rumors were true...Big Boi of Outkast is among the final (we think) additions to this year's Pitchfork Music Festival lineup. But there were also a whole lot of other big names announced last night, including Swedish pop star Robyn, art-rockers Liars, Montreal indie standouts Wolf Parade and many others. The full list is below, and single-day tickets ($40) are still available for all three days of the fest.


Friday July 16
Modest Mouse
Broken Social Scene
Robyn
Liars
El-P
The Tallest Man on Earth
Sharon Van Etten

Saturday July 17
LCD Soundsystem
Panda Bear
Wolf Parade
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Raekwon
Titus Andronicus
Why?
Delorean
Real Estate
Bear in Heaven
Free Energy
The Smith Westerns
Dâm-Funk
Kurt Vile
Freddie Gibbs
jj
Netherfriends

Sunday July 18
Pavement
Big Boi
Major Lazer
St. Vincent
Lightning Bolt
Beach House
Girls
Sleigh Bells
Neon Indian
Cass McCombs
Here We Go Magic
Surfer Blood
Local Natives
Washed Out
Best Coast
CAVE
Allá

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This guy's definitely entering. (photo via)

Back in middle school, we liked to get creative at the soda fountain, mixing together a little bit of every drink 'til we found just the right combination, which we called Skittles (original, right?).

We're guessing you'll need to put a little more thought into your entry for the first-ever Star of the Bar competition, a nationwide search for the country's most creative mixologist presented by the International Wine,Spirits & Beer Event at the National Restaurant Association show.

Think you've got what it takes? Submit a 90-second video of yourself preparing an original signature cocktail (utilizing at least one Bacardi product), plus a written recipe, by April 26. The six most creative, entertaining entrants (as voted on by users) will get to compete at the IWSB event on May 23 in Chicago, with the eventual winner getting his or her cocktail featured on both the Rockit Bar & Grill menu and in American Airlines American Way magazine. Oh yeah, and $5,000. That'll buy a heck of a lot of fountain drinks.


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102nd Annual Next Year Day
8 p.m. Saturday at Harry Caray's Tavern; $10-$15; get tickets
Party with the folks at satirical newspaper The Heckler as they celebrate another year of Cubs futility. There will be great prizes -- including tickets to Monday's home opener at Wrigley -- and music from JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, as well as Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander's band, Del Crustaceans. Past parties have seen appearances by Bill Murray and Ronnie Woo-Woo, among others.

For once, the Pitchfork Music Festival is taking its cue from Lollapalooza, instead of the other way around; the fest is announcing new lineup additions in the form of coded messages on its Facebook page. The latest, as noted by Time Out Chicago, appears to be Big Boi of Outkast (code: 816 801). Stay tuned for other announcements.

Can you believe super-sexy club Sound Bar has been around for six years now? Honestly, it feels more like 10 to us, but that could just be because of too much exposure to disco balls.

In any case, the club's throwing a weekend-long party to celebrate, with a bash featuring DJ Sander Van Doom, DJ Nordjs and DJ DannyBoy on Friday ($5 shots will be available) and an Asian-themed Zen Party on Saturday featuring live entertainment, Geisha Girls in milk baths and a Chinese New Year dragon performance. You'll have to be a VIP to get the special naked sushi presentation.


wcgISemifinals2009MichaelMcBride.jpgMichael McBride sings during the 2009 WCGI Semi-Finals. (via michaelscottmcbride.com)

Windy City Gay Idol
8 p.m. (7 p.m. signup) at The Glenwood; $10 to sing, $5 for spectators
The popular singing competition kicks off its 8th year with the first of many preliminary events around town. At each event, the top vote-getter will take home $100 cash, and the top two will advance to the semi-finals (June 5 at Sidetrack) and a chance at the grand prize of $1,000 cash, a pair of airline tickets, Ravinia tickets and more. A then-unknown Lady Gaga made the Finals in 2008, so you never know who you might come across.

Jean Grae
9 p.m. at The Shrine; $10
Lyrical practitioner Jean Grae is known primarily for two things: her turbulent career involving semi-retirement, and her ability to effortlessly shred a mic. The former was due to her being fed up with the business side of hip-hop (and her album being leaked preemptively), while the latter sustained her passion well past the initial retirement phase and into her 2008 album, "Jeanius" (produced by 9th Wonder). On that project, particularly on "My Story," Jean vented her frustrations in one motion; lyrically bobbing and weaving through 9th's beats and countering his soulful samples with her precise, multisyllabic jabs and poignant hooks. Two years later fans are still waiting for her new album, "Cake or Death," to drop. If you can't wait any longer, head over to the Shrine for a live showcase.

UPDATE: Jean Grae is apparently not happening tonight. Go see The xx at Lincoln Hall instead.

Pierre Thomas Homecoming Party

10 p.m. at The Fifty/50; no cover
Lansing native Thomas, fresh off a Super Bowl win as a member of the New Orleans Saints, comes to Wicker Park after tonight's White Sox game, at which he'll be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. He'll likely bring along a few of his sports pals at this party, which will feature $3 bottles of Stella Artois, $5 Ultimat vodka drinks and $4 Pama "Tossed Fruit Salad" shots.

A wise man once said, "Time does not exist."

We're betting that guy's out of a job now. If you're like most people, time is very real, and you wish you had a little more of it each day. Well, Real Simple magazine claims that it can provide just that. In honor of the mag's 10th anniversary, managing editor Kristin van Ogtrop hosts "15 Minutes and You're Done," from noon-7 p.m. (wait, that's not 15 minutes!) Friday at Union Station. The interactive event will feature stations and demonstrations from various Chicago celebrities (including Bachelorette Jillian Harris, NBC's Ginger Zee and others) on how women can simplify their lives. Even if you're not buying that, you might as well stop by for the free lunch, available from noon-2 p.m. Find more details here.

The event is part of a weeklong anniversary celebration, which also includes a 10-percent discount at participating retailers at The 900 Shops, and special lunch ($20.10) and dinner ($40.10) deals at the following restaurants through Friday:

Aja
Bistro 110
C-House
David Burke’s Primehouse
Epic (dinner only)
Fulton’s on the River
Markethouse (dinner only)
Mercadito
Rebar (dinner only)
Rockit Bar & Grill
sola (dinner only)

Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

In high school, clubs existed to make a big place feel smaller, feed your interest, keep you busy and let you meet people with whom you might not otherwise cross paths.

For the modern adult, Meetup.com recreates those little communities we never appreciated in school (shout-outs to my former debate team and Spanish club). And, as I recently discovered, it serves as the perfect (and free!) place to meet other singles.

Whether you are generically single or looking for a more specific crowd (such as lesbians, Christians or African-Americans), Meetup's got it all. The catch-all "Chicago Singles" group alone has 750 members and hosts an event at least once a month, including wine tastings, parties, and even professional matchmakers.

I attended a recent Meetup at NV Penthouse Lounge, which included a free first drink, no cover, pretty views of the skyline and around 100 singles.

Here are 3 things I noted:


  • Do not attend these things alone. I saw several people going solo, which I guess makes sense since it is a "singles event." But treating it like one only highlights awkwardness. It's best to just relax like you would at the bar and bring an equally single friend. I brought my best research assistant/girlfriend.
  • It's the biggest mixed bag you'll ever encounter. You'll literally find people of all ages, colors, shapes and sizes -- some you are attracted to and others not so much. Dating is always a crapshoot, so don't expect a singles event to magically conjure up a room full of the men or women of your dreams.
  • Take advantage of the venue. I usually frequent dive bars, so this fancy rooftop "lounge" was definitely out of my comfort zone -- but because it was free, there was no harm in trying it out. The beautiful view and expensive drinks may not have convinced me of the merits of a dress code and a cover charge (except maybe at Carol's Pub for the live country music on Saturdays), but it was worthwhile to experience the scene for a night.

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Henry Rollins
8 p.m. at Vic Theatre; $26.50
Talk about an enigma. The burly Rollins has been a punk-rock frontman, a stand-up comedian, a spoken-word artist and much more during his eclectic, always entertaining career. Tonight's show will be a fully seated, spoken performance, so be sure to get your head-banging in at home.

90 Years of Ravi Shankar
6 p.m. at Chicago Cultural Center; free
In recognition of Ravi Shankar's birthday and the official launch date of his personal record label, East Meets West Music, the Chicago Cultural Center hosts an evening of film and music dedicated to the legendary Indian sitar master. The evening will begin with the 2002 documentary screening of "Ravi Shankar: Between Two Worlds."

Performance Anxiety
8 p.m. at Gallery 400
This Chicago-premiere screening features a 50-minute collection of short video performances focused on cultural identity -- including issues of gender, race, class, sexuality and on- and off-line existence. Participating artists include Rochelle Feinstein, Kate Gilmore, James Murray, Jeroen Nelemans, Greg Stimac and Stacia Yeapanis.

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Here are some recent Chicago restaurant openings and closings.

OPEN:
Blue Star Wine Bar - Enjoy wine, microbrews, cheese and a full menu of Mediterranean cuisine (kabobs, paninis, flatbreads) at this wine bar in the former Ark Cafe space in Noble Square.
Delhi 6 Cafe - Indian and fusion dishes rule the menu at this coffeehouse in North Center, which has an outdoor patio and hosts Bollywood movie nights.
Just Turkey - This South Side spot opens its second location, serving up BBQ classics made with turkey instead of pork and beef.
Benny's Prime Chop House - The oft-delayed River North upscale steakhouse is finally ready to wow you.
Dolce Casa - The former Ventrella's Caffe has been renovated to create this Lincoln Square spot.


CLOSED:
Va Pensiero - Evanstonites are already mourning the departure of this fine Italian establishment.
Fearon's Pub - The Lakeview Irish bar has closed to make way for...another Lakeview Irish bar. The Temple Bar opens on April 9.
Elliott's Dairy - The Harwood Heights spot has already inspired a Facebook page calling for its return.
Old Town Brasserie - The French restaurant has new owners as of Sunday, and they're making some changes.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.


Cadbury Creme Eggs. Marshmallow Peeps. Ham. Easter is not exactly the healthiest of holidays, meaning you're probably well on your way to derailing all the good you did during your Lent-inspired abstinence.

That's why YouSwoop.com's Wellness Week -- the first of what will be many themed weeks of deals for the site -- comes at a great time. Each day through Sunday, you'll find a different body-focused promotion, from a coupon for heart-healthy sushi to a four-week detox workshop. Check out the full list after the jump.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Club Blujazz
Wicker Park live music lounge specializes in … blues and jazz.

Off the Beaten Path: Mr. Daniels
Find all your Polish favorites in this Portage Park café.

Weekly Treat: Buck-a-beer tomorrow at Cuna
Lakeview lounge offers domestic bottles for just $1 on Wednesdays.

Man We're Crazy About: Tao Ran Ju Restaurant
One-of-a-kind dishes in Chinatown.

For more Chicago bar and restaurant news, sign up for the Crumb newsletter.

Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

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Like candles and soft music, wine has undoubtedly earned its rep for setting the mood.

For the romance-challenged, it may be tempting to present your date with the ever-efficient whiskey -- but really, there is nothing dreamy about a bottle of Wild Turkey.

What is dreamy? A winery. Even more dreamy? A weekend bed-and-breakfast getaway at a winery. Among my most very unromantic friends is Rusty, who put it this simply: "Wine is nothing to write home about, but a winery itself is really pretty -- just like a bar except a much nicer setting."

What would the Bachelor do? Well if it's last season's Jake, it includes laying out in a beautiful California winery, drinking and playing spin the bottle with Gia the swimsuit model.

The Bachelor: Try booking a night in the French Suite of the Lynfred Winery Bed & Breakfast, where $360 (April-July; $385 August-December) buys you fresh flowers, cheese trays, two premium wine tastings, a private winery tour of the oldest and largest winery in the state, and a gourmet breakfast the next morning for you and your boo. All super romantic and just 40 minutes away in west suburban Roselle. Heck, bring the Wild Turkey if you really insist.

The Poor Man: Celebrate (cheaply) at the Chicago Wine Club's next wine and microbrew tasting on Wednesday, April 14 at Blue Star Wine Bar. For just $30 bucks, you'll get unlimited tastings of over 25 wines and 10 microbrews, light appetizers and a tasting diary.

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DAS EFX
9 p.m. Tuesday at The Shrine; $10
Known by many for the classic 1992 album "Dead Serious," this Brooklyn-born duo (Drayz and Skoob) pioneered the "-iggedy" suffix which came to be used throughout rap (The most iconic is still probably "Chiggedy check yo self before you wriggedy-wreck yo self," from the 1993 single "Check Yo Self" with Ice Cube).

Tony Kushner
7:30 p.m. at Mandel Hall (University of Chicago); $20 ($5 for students w/ valid ID)
The "Angels In America" playwright stops by U of C for an intimate chat with Charles Newell, the Artistic Director of Court Theatre, in this latest edition of Artspeaks. Kushner's latest work, a translation and adaptation of Pierre Corneille's "The Illusion," is being performed at the Court through April 11.

Dogfloydapalooza 2
9 p.m.-2 a.m. at Bottom Lounge; $20
Prep for this week's Craft Brewers Conference with this second-annual party featuring the brews of Delaware's Dogfish Head and Munster's Three Floyds. There will be 10 special beers on draft in the Bottom Lounge's second-floor Volcano Room, and music provided by Andre Williams with the Goldstars (9:30 p.m.) and Jon Langford and The Cashed Jonnies (11 p.m.). Admission price includes your first pint.

If you haven't already registered for this week's Craft Brewers Conference (April 7-10 at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers), you're pretty much out of luck, although a few events do remain open according to the website.

But who needs to sit through a bunch of boring meetings when you can enjoy the craft where it counts -- in a bar! Several of the city's favorite brewpubs and restaurants are offering special deals this week in honor of so many beer enthusiasts being in town. Here's what we've found so far:

Avec will be taking reservations for Tuesday's five-course beer dinner including selections from Brasserie Dubuisson and Vanberg & Dewulf (dining begins at 3:30 p.m.; $50 for food, $25 for pairings).

Longman & Eagle hosts a five-course dinner with pairings from Stone Brewing Co. on Tuesday, with brewery CEO Greg Koch on hand from 5-6:30 p.m. to answer questions. The $55 pairing menu will be available alongside the regular menu all night long.

The Publican celebrates with a week full of events, including a four-course Two Brothers beer dinner (5:30-10:30 p.m. tonight); late-night (10:30 p.m.-1 a.m.) beer specials on Wednesday (Dogfish Head, Stone, Three Floyds) and Thursday (Allagash, Avery, The Lost Abbey); and a beer dinner with pairings from New Holland and New Belgium from 5:30-10:30 p.m. on Friday.

Quenchers Saloon will offer brews from Shelton Brothers (6 p.m. Tuesday), Urthel (7 p.m. Wednesday) and Lion, Plank, Belgoo and Cucapa (4-7 p.m. Friday).

The Map Room has a full week of tasting events featuring Duvel (tonight, 5 p.m.), New Belgium (Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.), Capital Brewery (Wednesday, 5 p.m.), Flossmoor Station (Thursday, 5 p.m.) and Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Friday, 5 p.m.). Brewmasters will be attending many of the events.

Jake Melnick’s offers Lagunitas' Chicago Fusion brew from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, and all Metropolitan beers on Friday from 6-9 p.m.

Small Bar's Division Street location will host a rare beer tasting event beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday; brews include Boulder Oak Aged Mojo IPA, Bear Republic Porter, Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti and more. Or head to the newer Fullerton location for a similar event including Moylan's Old Blarney Barleywine, Two Brothers Oak Aged Bare Tree and more. Lagunitas Fusion Ale will also be available during the conference.

Deleece Grill Pub hosts a four-course dinner ($50) with beer pairings from Hoppin' Frog Brewery on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Brasserie Jo's four-course menu (4-9 p.m. Thursday; $49) includes beers from Ommegang and Duvel.

Rodan pairs with Surly Brewing Co. for a four-course dinner on Thursday (7 p.m.; $50).

Hopleaf hosts Fritz Maytag from Anchor Brewing Co. on Friday at 6 p.m. The free event includes tastings of beer, cheese, spirits and wine.

Two Brothers notes all its various events here

Still haven't cracked the coded Lollapalooza lineup? All your questions will be answered tonight at the official announcement party at Wicker Park's Debonair Social Club.

Several of this year's artists will be DJing, and a few lucky guests will win tickets to the fest (raffle sign-up runs from 10-11 p.m. only).

chipublibdesign.jpg

Baseball fans aren't the only ones celebrating Opening Day today. April 5 also marks the first day of the second annual ChiPubLib.org Design Contest. You have from now through May 16 to create a library-inspired posted design using the URL.

The winner, chosen by a panel of judges from among 30 finalists, will get his or her design featured in the Chicago Public Library's citywide campaign. (A "People's Choice" winner will also get a printed, framed poster.) What are you waiting for? Get started now.


Small Black, Washed Out, Pictureplane
9:30 p.m. at Empty Bottle; $8
Batched in a thickening haze of skuzzy, Casio-threaded pop, Small Black, Washed Out and Pictureplane are all a reaction to 2009's chillwave boom, when twenty-somethings seemed to collectively raid their parents' attics, retreat to their bedrooms and have solo dance parties. Now this stuff is starting to get a bit more club-friendly, with drum machines kicked up a notch (Small Black), key plunks tweaked with industrial effects (Pictureplane) and even some near-funky bass lines (Washed Out). Consider it a night in voyeur grooves, as they all bring the bedroom to the stage.

J. Bradley reads from Dodging Traffic
7 p.m. at Quimby's; free
The acclaimed poet has been called "the Veruca Salt of the literary chocolate factory," and his new, childhood-influenced collection is likely to gain him a lot of new fans. Readings at Quimby's are always a good time, so stop by and then grab some curry at Zen Noodles next door.

Black Violet Act III
7 p.m. at Chicago Cultural Center; free
The third and final act in this multimedia collaboration between chamber group Fifth House Ensemble and artist Ezra Claytan Daniels debuts at this downtown performance. Follow the continuing adventures of a black cat living in Plague-stricken London. There will also be a performance on Thursday, April 8 at SPACE in Evanston (8 p.m., $15-$25).

3 Things We Love About ... Saturday

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Starting the day the Parisian way:
Nous t’adorons, the prix-fixe brunch at Paris in Chicago, 3310 N. Halsted. Just $15.95. Call (773) 883-7288 for information.

Time to get the 10-speed up to speed:
Humboldt Park on the West Side hosts a bicycle-repair workshop today from noon-6 p.m. Repairs are do-it-yourself, but an instructor from West Town Bikes will walk you through your tune-up. Suggested donation is $10. Call (773) 772-6523 for more information.

We don’t have a clue about why we’re planning to stay up so late tonight...
Oh, wait. Yes, we do. The midnight movie at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, is the 1985 comedy “Clue,” based on he board game. Tickets are $9.25. Call (773)
871-6604 for more information or visit www.musicboxtheatre.com.

Amidst all the April Fool's jokes yesterday, there was at least one totally serious shocker: the Lakeshore Theater, which has played host to a wide range of comedy acts (and some musical artists) over the past several years, will be shutting its doors next weekend. “There’s simply no money available to fund forward looking initiatives," said co-owner Chris Ritter in a press release.

The news means that there are just four shows left at the theater, so make your plans now for:

"Chasing Robert" screening (7:30 p.m. tonight; free)
The Best Church of God (1 p.m. Sunday; free)
Justin Nozuka (7:30 p.m. Monday; $18)
Jim Jefferies (7:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m. April 9-10; $25)

A day like today has us thinking about strolling through the streets...all the better if it's with a few glasses of wine under our belts.

That's the idea behind next week's Lincoln Square Wine Stroll, a progressive party with stops at several different neighborhood businesses for hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Stops include Provenance Food & Wine, Pizza D.O.C., Bad Dog Tavern, DANK Haus, Bistro Campagne, La Bocca della Verita, Cafe Selmarie and more (your trip will include four businesses). The only potential drawback? The forecast does call for isolated thunderstorms and a high of 59 degrees.But since when is the weather predicted accurately?

The fun runs from 7-9:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 8, and tickets cost $40. To reserve a spot, call (773) 728-3890.

littledragon.jpgLittle Dragon comes to Chicago for only the third time tonight.(photo: Seek via MySpace)

Little Dragon
9 p.m.at
Lincoln Hall; $12
The last time Little Dragon came through Chicago was for a free show celebrating the 15-year anniversary of the Double Door, only the group's second appearance here (the other being at the Kinetic Playground). Yukimi Nagano blew the crowd away with a blistering performance, one that involved her beating the living hell out of a Japanese shoko gong. The night brought out a diverse group — from hip-hop heads to indie-rock hipsters — and it really captured the heart of Chicago (I'm guessing because Little Dragon's sound draws heavy comparisons to Chicago house). Since then Little Dragon has kept busy with a number of projects including a forthcoming full-length and a guest appearance on the new Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach. Lincoln Hall should be the perfect venue to get acquainted (if you haven't already) with the darlings from Gothenburg, Sweden.
More Thursday music including Spoon, Black Lips, Bonobo

Pillow Fight Club
9 p.m. Thursday at Joe's Bar; $15-$25
The name pretty much says it all: These burlesque beauties are bad to the bone, but use the fluffiest of weapons to do battle. Any suggestion that PFC bouts are not fierce athletic competitions, but choreographed, costumed pose-fests of girl-on-girl action is entirely spurious, and will be met with a pillowy smackdown.

Story Club
8 p.m. at Uncommon Ground
This new open-mic event offers slots to five writers/perfomrers, who can display their storytelling prowess on stage. In addition to the 5-8 minute sketches/comedy routines/readings, there will be featured performances from Fred Reuland and Jennifer Peepas.

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