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May 2010 Archives

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Fuerza Bruta: Look Up
Friday-Sunday at Auditorium Theatre; $65-$80; get tickets here
This collision of music, emotion and kinetic aerial imagery resembles nothing less than a fantastic mash-up between aerial theater and a late-night dance party. Be warned: There is no seating, so you'll be on your feet right on stage for the entire hour-plus show.

Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts every Tuesday and Thursday.

If Chicago is known for anything it’s comedy (well, that and exorbitant parking meter fees). This weekend local comedian Shakir Standley aims to reinforce the city’s reputation by hosting a comedy bash at Lido’s in Oak Park.

I know. You’re thinking the last time you braved the suburbs was that ill-fated trip to IKEA when you nearly got crushed to death by a stampede of blondes in sweatpants and stilettos fighting for the last plate of meatballs. But that happened in Schaumburg and anyway it was five years ago, plus your therapist wants you to explore new things, so why not give the suburbs another try?

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Shakir, a former Second City student, says his show “mixes improv with stand-up comedy (to) keep things interesting. It can get stale to have just one person on stage.” Instead, the showcase will feature The Concordia Improv Group as well as comedians like David Drake and Cameron Esposito.

“Smart, charming and seasoned,” Esposito, according to Standley, “is someone who knows her way around a microphone.” Churning out new material since the recent release of her first comedy album, Esposito has equally positive words for her fellow performers. “You can count on strong sets from Mo Welch and Dara Katz,” she says, “two comics who really broke out in the Chicago scene this past year.”

Also on hand, freelance writer and comedy novice Alicia Eler, a surprising edition to the comedy circuit. “For most of my life,” she says, “I have been a very serious person. But when I was unexpectedly laid off, I found myself laughing at my misfortune. I finally got up the courage to go to Cole's open mic, hosted by Cameron Esposito, (and) pretty much bombed my first set.” Still, she says, Esposito and other local comedians encouraged her. “Both the stand-up and improv comedy scenes in Chicago foster strong community and are very welcoming and encouraging to newcomers.”

Standley and Eler particularly boast a unique bond. “Alicia and I met after I had just finished doing stand-up shirtless in front of an audience at Cole's, so I was on a shirtless high,” Standley says. “She was up on stage trying to rap about hummus.”

“I panicked in the middle of the rap,” says Eler.

Standley: “I was like oh Lord, this chick is dying! So I thought, what the hell, and jumped up on-stage to beatbox for her.”

Eler: “He saved my ass.”

The two have since formed Shakalicia. “It's a delicious combination of our two names,” says Eler. “We rap about food we like.”

The showcase is free and starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday. Just nobody mention meatballs.

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Ah, the good old days.

Aspiring Playboy Bunnies (and the oglers who love them), make sure to clear your schedule for the next couple of weeks.

On June 10, The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana will host the 50th Anniversary celebration of the original Playboy Clubs. Among the festivities will be the selection of a single girl to feature on www.playboyclub50.com (and have her photos submitted to Hef for consideration for Playboy magazine). Where will those girls be found? All over Chicago, of course. Here's the schedule for upcoming Bunny search events over the next two weeks (find full details here):

Friday, May 28, 9:30 p.m.: Red Ivy (call 773-472-9000 to register)
Saturday, May 29, midnight: Heat Nightclub (register at facebook.com/heatnightclub or email heatvenue@gmail.com)
Sunday, May 30, 10 p.m.: Bull & Bear (register at playboy@bullbearbar.com)
Wednesday, June 2, 8 p.m.: Meyer's Castle (1370 Joliet, Dyer, IN)
Thursday, June 3, 9 p.m.: Martini Park (register at playboybunny@martinipark.com)
Friday, June 4, 8 p.m.: Tilted Kilt, Elgin
Saturday, June 5, 10 p.m.: VLive
Saturday, June 5: Stage 151@Harrah's, 151 N. Joliet, Joliet

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Josh Rouse
8 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $20
Once upon a time, Josh Rouse was your basic -- if especially talented -- Midwestern alt-country artist. Then he moved to Spain in 2006, and became what he is today: an alt-country artist with some serious global flair. He'll be promoting his latest batch of affecting, internationally flavored tunes, "El Turista," during this show at Lincoln Hall.

I Can Hear You With My Heart
8 p.m. at Theatre Building Chicago; $0-$20
In theater, the mentally ill and the disabled are too often used for cheap drama or insensitive laughs. But what if they got a chance to tell their own stories, to be creators instead of characters? This show, devised by the Thresholds Theatre Arts Program, will give you the chance to find out. It's free, but a $20 suggested donation goes to support the program.

Addicted to Aidan
8 p.m. at J Bar
The James Hotel bar's regular Addiction Thursdays event takes on a "Sex and the City" theme tonight in support of Carrie's ex, Aidan, who makes an appearance in the new movie. The original flick will play on the big screen all night, and $6 signature cocktails will include the Scout-tini and the Nice Guy Finishes First Fizz. It pays to get there early, as the first four guests will get a "Sex and the City 2" swag bag as well as have a chance to win tickets to the movie. Check out more Sex and the City 2 parties in Chicago.

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!

The best thing about "Sex and the City" for the average single gal is knowing we'll still be having fun into our 40s -- cheers to that!

In honor of the "Sex and the City 2" movie releasing this weekend, here are my picks for the three best quotes from the show on being single (cue the Cosmos!):


  • "Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you're pretty sexy and you're taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with."
  • MIRANDA: "We were the only single people in there."
    CARRIE: "Miranda, we're the only single people anywhere."
  • "If you are single, after graduation, there isn't one occasion where people celebrate you...Hallmark doesn't make a "congratulations you didn't marry the wrong guy" card. And where's the flatware for going on vacation alone?...I'm thrilled to give you gifts to celebrate your life. I just think it stinks that single people are left out of it."

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You can heckle him, but can you spell his name?

Samardzija, Pierzynski. Manumaleuna. Byfuglien.

In recent years, Chicago sports fans have had a ton of tongue-twisting names to tackle on local rosters. So you should feel pretty confident about entering the third-annual Sports Spelling Bee, taking place at ESPN Zone (43 E. Ohio) on Thursday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. The free competition will include up to 50 particpants, who will be asked to spell the last names of local and national sports figures. The winner will get premium White Sox tickets, a VIP party at the ESPN Zone and, of course, a trophy. Think you've got what it takes? Email SportsSpellingBee@espnzone.com with your name, address, phone number, birth year and the location at which you want to participate. Then start studying your sports almanac.

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Ellen Allien
9 p.m. at Smartbar; $10-$15
German-English hybrid DJ, Ellen "Allien" Fraatz, made her name in Berlin on the crest of the IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) wave. The movement swept underground club nation with new sequencer tricks featuring sonic landscapes only a computer could dream up, yet with the right human touch, it could feel as organic as watching a plant grow, especially with the addition of Fraatz's airy coo. Her crowning achievement came in 2006 on a split with producer Apparat, dubbed "Orchestration of Bubbles," which visualized the new electronica frontier. It felt like a shotgun blast of marshmallows with its blips and swooshes, and even with two follow-up flops, we're still excited to see what she's got up her sleeve. This will be great way to follow up LCD Soundsystem's show at Metro earlier in the evening. Get in for $10 before 11 p.m. by signing up with Smartbar's text message service.

Tour of Puglia
6:30-9:30 p.m. at Macello; $6-$12
Get a taste of Italy's Puglia region with this interactive event at the West Loop ristorante. Diners can purchase a $12 "passport" which allows access to red or white wine flights and a sampling of deli meats, cheeses, olives and salads in the butcher shop-themed space. Or just go for the $6 individual pizzas, topped with your favorites.

BYOP (Bring Your Own People)
8:30 p.m. at California Clipper; free
The Guild Complex's semi-quarterly "literary cocktail party" returns tonight with plenty of noteworthy offerings. Expect readings from The Encyclopedia Show, The Reconstruction Room and Rhino Reads.


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photo: Ingrid Laas

Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts every Tuesday and Thursday.

Although I enjoy scraping vomit and self-tanner from my shoes as much as the next person, I’d never been to the Galway Arms, an Irish bar in Lincoln Park. But on Saturday, Women Thinking Free, a non-profit dedicated to bringing science, skepticism and critical thinking to women in the Midwest used the unlikely space to host Boobquake originator, Jen McCreight.

For those living on a houseboat with no internet access, a crash course in Boobquake’s brief, meteoric history: It all started with an Iranian cleric (as so many things do). Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi proclaimed “Many women who do not dress modestly…lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes.” Upon hearing the cleric’s statement, McCreight, a feminist/scientist/atheist/blogger decided to test his hypothesis.

“On Monday, April 26th,” she pledged, “I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake.”

Game on. Within days, a lark became a phenomenon. Between April 19 and May 3, McCreight’s website experienced 1,011,220 unique hits, her Facebook event page currently boasts 106,248 fans, and McCreight still hasn’t finished wading through the flurry of e-mails and friend requests.

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But back to Lincoln Park. Elbowing through a pack of Guinness-snorking bros, I followed the first pair of Chuck Taylors I spotted upstairs to a room full of what to my untrained eye looked like every philosophy major I ever got into a snarling fight with as an undergraduate. But skeptics aren’t so much philosophers as they are scientists and critical thinkers. According to Women Thinking Free’s Vice President, Jennifer Newport, women are underrepresented in the Skeptical movement, a state of affairs she told me she hopes to alter. Though I feigned familiarity, at first all I could glean about the movement was a distaste for homeopathy and psychic readings, both of which I learned at my mother’s knee. Further research took me to www.skeptic.com, where I read that “modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method…gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena.” Basically, skeptics encourage individuals to question rather than blithely believe, hence McCreight’s experiment.

You’d think after all the big words and Gen Con-looking attendees, my expectations would have been tweaked, but by the time McCreight unleashed her PowerPoint presentation, I was still expecting Diablo Cody. McCreight is more like a kid from “Glee,” awkward but endearing and brimming with confidence, perhaps the perfect recipe for a Facebook-era VIP. Turned out her lecture was designed as a series of teaching points to help Skeptics attract followers. Or as she put it, “Come for the boobs, stay for the smarts.”

While I’m certain I’d side with McCreight in most debates, listening, I felt a bit like a newly indoctrinated Hare Krishna being handed her robes. Though the group champions reasonable causes such as vaccination and the evolutionary theory, overall, there was something Kool-Aid and Nike about the vibe. But then that’s true of any subculture gathered to celebrate one of their luminaries. Even the popped-collar dudes downstairs.

The Chicago Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park may be gone (at least for this year), but that doesn't mean alfresco cinema is out the window for this summer. Plenty of movies will be shown in the city's parks all season long, beginning on June 18. The Chicago Park District just released its schedule for 2010, which includes everything from "The Goonies" and "Ghostbusters" to "The Blind Side" and "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself." Check out the full schedule here.

Say it ain't so, Bono!

U2 will be postponing all 16 of its summer concert dates, including a July 6 engagement at Soldier Field, as its lead singer recovers from emergency back surgery. Expect the Irish quartet to return sometime in 2011; keep an eye on U2.com for updates.

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photo: chibbqking.blogspot.com

Bon Appetit - A Multicultural Taste of Albany Park
6-9 p.m. at Body Worxs Fitness, 4650 N. Kedzie; $35
Get to know this diverse neighborhood through its international food. You'll sample small plates at several spots (there are 18 participating restaurants in all, including Marie's Pizza & Liquors, Mayan Sol Latin Grill, Nazareth Sweets and more.

Sam Lay
noon at Chicago Cultural Center; free
As part of a month of lunchtime teasers leading up to the Chicago Blues Festival, the Randolph Café at the Chicago Cultural Center is showcasing pillars of showmanship from Honeyboy Edwards to Barrelhouse Chuck in a series dubbed "Jazz, Blues & Beyond Tuesdays," with this week's hour dedicated to the session stickman behind some of the greatest records of all time (from Howlin' Wolf to Dylan), Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Sam Lay.

The Moth StorySLAM
8 p.m. at Martyrs'
True stories, live on stage, told (possibly) by you. The Moth's can't-miss formula gives those brave enough to put their names in the hat (and lucky enough to be chosen) an appreciative audience of several hundred. Shyer people just get a night of killer, low-key entertainment. This month, prepare your tales of that which can be exchanged for goods, services and all evil: money.

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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!

"Sex and the City 2" comes out this week! To honor such a wonderful holiday sure to be religiously celebrated by women everywhere, here are two dates meant for you and your best girlfriends.

RICH WOMAN: Enjoy one of several "Sex and the City 2" movie premier events throughout the city and suburbs. My top pick: the VIP movie party and screening hosted by Noir Woman Magazine on Thursday night. It includes a "Sexiest Shoe" contest, movie trivia, pink Cosmos, prizes and fun. The fun starts with a 7 p.m. reception followed by a 9 p.m. movie showing at the ICE Theater, 210 W. 87th. Tickets are $50 at the door or $35 in advance.

POOR WOMAN: Sure, there is some irony to catching a cheap matinee viewing of one of the most glamorous movies (the wardrobe budget was a reported $10 million) of the year, but times are tough and a movie under $10 sounds like a dream, right? Go to an early Saturday showing for the biggest bang for your buck. Cosmos not optional.

The era of the five-buck movie is over, at least at Chicago's remaining Kerasotes...er, AMC...er, Regal Cinemas.

See, back in January, Kerasotes announced that it would be selling most of its theaters to AMC. Some wondered how this would change the experience at the theaters -- most importantly, what would become of the popular Five Buck Club, which allowed registered users to attend select movies for just a Lincoln. Well, now we know.

AMC subsequently sold two Chicago locations -- City North 14 (2600 N. Western) and Webster Place (1471 W. Webster) -- to Regal Cinemas, which will not be continuing the promotion, according to an email from Tony Kerasotes to current Club members. Regal assumes operation of these cinemas tomorrow, May 25, so you may be able to sneak in one more cheap viewing if you're desperate.

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Girls, no need to book a bachelorette party in Las Vegas this summer; Sin City's biggest attraction (pun definitely intended) is on its way to Chicago. The Thunder from Down Under boys will begin their residency at Joe's Bar on Weed Street on Friday, May 28. For the next three months, you can expect three shows a weekend (8:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday), with tickets at the positively un-Vegas price of $25 ($60 if you want a three-hour open bar, which, let's face it, you probably do). Get all the details and tickets here.

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The Besnard Lakes, The Ponys
6:30 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
Spurred by husband-and-wife duo, Jace Lasek and Olga Coreas, the Besnard Lakes' sound includes lots of strings and choir-tall harmonies, plus the occasional bout of guitar fuzz. As this show will be celebrating the release of the Canadians' third effort, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, which was mixed using the same console that Led Zeppelin used for some of Physical Graffiti, you can expect some psych-rock teases, as well. The Ponys, however, are all garage scuzz, excited to kick out some new tunes they've been crafting since signing to the Matador roster.

Aftermath
7:30 p.m. at Raven Theatre; $20
Signal Ensemble rocks it out with this premiere about Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones, who, like any worthwhile musician, died mysteriously at 27. Signal specializes in a kind of hallucinatory intimacy, so if any company can make you feel what it's like to go down in a haze of smack and recriminations, it's them. With live jams from the company's versatile actors.

Commander’s Palace Guest Chef Dinner
6 p.m. at Custom House Tavern; $75
Miss out on your Jazz Fest trip this year? Tory McPhail, executive chef of the renowned Commander's Palace restaurant in New Orleans, will bring you that taste of the South you've been craving. He joins Custom House chef Aaron Deal to create a collaborative four-course dinner including modern takes on Southern cuisine along with cocktail pairings from Ransom Distilleries.


Beer + Food = Bliss

Food + Art = Alinea

Beer + Art = Pollock

Beer + Food + Art = ?

Find out the answer to that equation at the fourth annual Beerfly Alleyfight, taking place from noon-4 p.m. Saturday at the Rock Bottom Brewery. The competition, organized by the Drinking & Writing Brewery, challenges participants to create the best pairings of "homebrewed beer, home-cooked food and homegrown art"; dueling artists include Neo-Futurist Eliza Burmester and videographer Ren Valerde. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door.

Ever had trouble convincing people to come out and party with you on your birthday? Here's what you do: Invite some of the country's top DJs to your own personal bar and let the good times roll.

Ok, we know not everyone is R.J. Melman, the soon-to-be 31-year-old co-owner of HUB 51 in River North. Instead of trying to be, just head over to his birthday festivities this weekend at the bar/restaurant's subterranean lounge, SUB 51. Eclectic New York DJ M.O.S. (Friday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.) and LA hip-hop DJ Spider (Saturday, 9 p.m.-3 a.m.) will be there to help him blow out the candles in style.


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Too White Crew represents on Saturday at Lakeview Mayfest

Lakeview Mayfest
Friday-Sunday at 3100 N. Ashland Ave.; $5
Kick off the festival season with this 17th annual event, held in a big tent on Ashland. Saturday afternoon features Kids Day America, where the tent area is turned into a big playground. Sunday is the Mayfest Pet Parade, featuring contests like "Best Looking," "Largest," and "Owner Look-A-Like." At night, the music takes over, as local festival staples Too White Crew, Hairbangers Ball (Saturday) and Mike & Joe (Sunday) hit the stage.

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Chris Canas plays during the Chicago Blues Tour on Saturday.

News flash: You don't have to wait for the Chicago Blues Festival to enjoy three straight days of blues-related fun. Chicago Blues Weekend is now upon us, and while it may cost a lot more than the annual free event in Grant Park, it's still worth a gander. Here's the schedule for the next few days:

Friday: Chicago Blues Express. You'll visit three South Side clubs (Lee's Unleaded Blues, For the Good Times Lounge, Taste Entertainment Center) during this five-hour tour. A $75 ticket price includes two drinks and a download card for Chainsaw DuPont's "The Real Guitar Hero," plus shuttle transportation from Lizzie McNeill's (400 N. McClurg).

Saturday: Chicago Blues Tour. The 20th annual event includes 10 clubs and 11 performers, including Michael Coleman, Super Percy and Chainsaw DuPont, all for just $45. Lizzie McNeill's is the hub, with buses departing every 10-20 minutes from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Sunday: Maxwell Market Shuttle Tour and Blues Jam. Take a shuttle down to the famed Maxwell Street District and enjoy a 50-minute historical walking tour, shopping at the Market, a live blues jam and more during this $10 event. Downtown pickups are at Lizzie McNeill's and the Jazz Record Mart (27 E. Illinois), with departures at 9:30, 10:15 and 11 a.m.

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Miranda Kerr
5-7 p.m. at Victoria's Secret (734 N. Michigan)
The Victoria's Secret Angel spokesmodel -- and Orlando Bloom's girlfriend -- comes to our fair city to promote the new Miraculous collection and to take photos with customers/fans. This may be the closest you ever get to an underwear model, so plan accordingly.

Dan Bern
8 p.m. at Martyrs'; $20
It's been awhile since this sardonic singer-songwriter was compared to Bob Dylan, but he's still a prolific talent, penning tunes that are both witty and political (he never took those comparisons very seriously, anyway). Trivia of note: Bern wrote the bulk of the music for the 2007 parody film "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story."

The 39 Steps
7:30 p.m. at Bank of America Theatre; $20-$72
A four-man version of a classic Hitchcock flick, "The 39 Steps" wowed Broadway with its blitzkrieg pace and fringe ingenuity. The tight noir plot keeps it moving, but it's the theatrical transformations that dazzled audiences, and sent this light-footed show on a national tour. The shadow falls at the Bank of America Theatre for just two weekends, so think fast.

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!

Baseball games make for great dates. Depending on who's pitching, you get three to four hours of quality time -- including beers, snacks and plenty of people-watching. Plus with all the down time, you get a real chance to talk without missing any of the action. Now that I've convinced you, get some tickets and make sure to heed these three lessons I learned from a recent date at Wrigley Field:

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1) Pay for decent seats. They don't have to be steps away from home plate, but minimally should be on the first level outfield or right behind the plate on the second or third levels. This way, you can avoid much of the frat-tastic bunch known to frequent the area.

2) Go on a slow weeknight. The mood is way more low-key and chill than, say, during a weekend game where there will undoubtedly be violence and vomit. Plus you can afford the decent seats previously discussed.

3) Take in the ballpark and stay the whole game. Declare ahead of time you demand to stay for the whole game. Yes, it's a long time to be sitting, so be sure to take a walk around by the 4th or 5th inning. Buy a postcard at the gift shop or search for that elusive funnel cake -- the historic Wrigley Field is majestic for fans and non-fans alike.

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The Dead Weather (the rock supergroup featuring Jack White of the White Stripes, Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs) will be playing a free "pop-up" show somewhere in Chicago at 8 p.m. on Saturday night, Time Out Chicago reports.

Where? Dunno yet. But you'll be able to find that out by visiting the event's Facebook page, where information will be posted sometime on Saturday. You can also RSVP there, but the show is actually first-come, first-served, so don't think you're getting on any list.

There's still some time to RSVP to tonight's Fashion Against AIDS launch party, taking place at the Michigan Avenue H&M store (840 N. Michigan) from 7-10 p.m. Reply on the event Facebook page for your chance at an invite to an evening full of music, food and drinks...not to mention 20 percent off store purchases.

We're always keeping you posted on what to see and do in the city with our daily "3 Things" feature -- but there's so much going on, we sometimes fail to turn the spotlight on the awesome food and drink events occurring daily. Hope you saved some room, because here are a few extra helpings:

Ommegang Beer and BBQ
6-9 p.m. at Jake Melnick's Corner Tap; $25
Sample some craft Belgian-style ales (including Ommegang Witte, Hennepin, Belgian Pale Ale) along with some BBQ bites (mini brisket sandwiches, pulled pork, Memphis smoked chicken) at this all-you-can eat tasting event.

Maker's Mark Bourbon Dinner
7 p.m. at The Tasting Room; $50
Tonight's three-course meal at this West Loop hangout features pairings of bourbon cocktails with each dish. You'll begin with wattleseed-rubbed venison carpaccio with toasted pine nuts and aged balsamic vinegar (drink: Maker's Mark, Tahitian vianilla and wattleseed nectar with blood orange bitters and tupelo honey). Then comes the Pork Belly Smoker with red onion and piave au gratin and Riesling apple sauce (drink: Maker's Mark, cedar smoked key lime and fresh mint nectar, mint sprig muddle, ginger ale float). Finally, take on a bone-in ribeye served with a grilled shrimp skewer, blue cheese Maker's Mark demi-glace and crispy shallots (drink Maker's Mark, Georgia peach and tarrago nectar, honeysuckle bitters). For reservations, call (312) 942-1313.

Spring Wines
7-9 p.m. at Feast (Bucktown); $20
The Bucktown spot's final tasting of the season features spring wines like muscadet, pinot noir and zinfandel. Cleanse your palate and then enjoy some of the world-spanning cuisine that's helped the restaurant along to two (soon to be three) city locations.

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Georgia Anne Muldrow
9 p.m. at The Shrine; $7-$15
For her last album, "Kings Ballad," the enigmatic singer takes a musically ambitious approach, scaling back on the far-out philosophies in order to focus on the production end of things. Overall it's a more listener-friendly effort than previous works, and it'll likely be the album that breaks her free from the niche neo-soul market that's kept her under wraps for way too long. Also performing will be her frequent collaborator/partner, Declaime (aka Dudley Perkins) -- think of him as the Andre 3000 to her Erykah Badu. The duo will also perform a free show at Reckless Records in Wicker Park.


Little Brother

8 p.m. at Double Door; $20
In a move that disappointed many but surprised no one, Little Brother (Phonte Coleman and Rapper Big Pooh) announced that its latest album, "Leftback," will be its last. The impending breakup is bound to spark conversation over what could have been, but as it stands the albums that LB did leave behind are more than enough to seal the group's legacy as one of the greatest of all time. All is not lost for the North Carolina trio (including departed producer 9th Wonder, who won't be joining this tour) as each member has seemingly moved on to forge successful solo careers.

Conan O'Brien
7:30 p.m. at Chicago Theatre
Capitalizing on a wave of public support following his unceremonious ousting at NBC, the former "Tonight Show" host has been traveling the country, performing for sold-out crowds. Each stop has yielded at least a couple special guests, so prepare for anything (assuming you have tickets).

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Dee’s Place
Wicker Park joint offers soul food, live music and much more.

Off the Beaten Path: Laurel Mediterranean Grill
Turkish, Greek and Lebanese fare in Naperville.

Weekly Treat: Cheap beer at Kelly’s Pub
Bottles of Bud and Bud Light are just $1.50 tonight.

Man We're Crazy About: Aripos
Top-notch Venezuelan food – including specialty arepas.

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

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Them Crooked Vultures
8 p.m. at Aragon Ballroom; $46.75
When this trio blew up the Metro last August with their secret Lolla midnight after-party, the only thing people had time to think about was how kick-ass the combined powers of John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl and Josh Homme could potentially be. Sadly, the marketing turned out to be more of a kick than the record that dropped later that winter; it was wily and full of knee-forward bombast, but by no means on par with the members' famed pasts (Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age). A new record is on the way, though, and the live show is sure to remain hair-raising.

Indie Incubator Film Fest
7:30 p.m. at The Original Mother's; free
Once again, you'll enjoy two hours of independent short films from local filmmakers at this Gold Coast bar, with a dance party to follow the rest of the night. New to the festivities this year are the 'Eye-Con' Awards and the Image Union Awards.

Zepaltas Wine Tasting
6-8:30 p.m. at Bistro 110; $25
Winemaker Ryan Zepaltas comes to this restaurant just off the Magnificent Mile for a special event that includes unlimited tastings and paired appetizers and small plates. Featured wines include a 2007 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, a 2007 Rose of Pinot Noir, a 2006 Rosella's Vineyard, Santa Luci Highland Syrah 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!

Last week, I went home to Los Angeles where at least a few of my friends are in nearly decade-long relationships (one stemming from 8th grade!). Consequently, I began to wonder about fate, and whether there really is such a thing as "the one." Even Google couldn't answer that question, but it did tell me that the idea of "star-cross'd lovers" began with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet some 450 years ago. Feel free to use the couple as inspiration -- minus the whole killing yourself part, of course -- on one of these astrology-themed dates.

RICH MAN: This Thursday (and every third Thursday of the month!) is Adler After Dark, the Adler Planetarium's after-hours event. It's the only time you can look through the Doane Observatory telescope, the largest telescope in the Midwest available to the public -- not to mention a chance to enjoy cocktails and appetizers amid the museum's other great exhibits, plus live music from local bands Perseus Noble, Royce and Black Umbrella Brigade. This embarrassment of riches isn't actually that expensive; a full night of romance (6-10 p.m.) costs just $10 per person in advance, or $15 at the door.

POOR MAN: If you can't get inside the planetarium for the fun, try hanging out just outside of it, in the equally dreamy and underrated man-made peninsula of Northerly Island. It's the most serene 91 acres you'll find in the busy city. Try laying out at the 12th Street Beach -- a date so simple and perfect, you'd think it was written in the stars.

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

OPEN:
Cumin -- Finally, Wicker Park gets an Indian restaurant!
Phoenix Inn -- The Evanston favorite has risen from the ashes to serve Chinese fare once again.
Seasons 52 -- Expect fresh grill fare and plenty of wine at the first area location of this nationwide chain.
El Llano -- The Colombian restaurant gets a second location in Irving Park/Avondale.
I Dream of Falafel -- Now you can get your falafel fix on Monroe.


OPENING SOON:
Cookie Bar -- You can expect to get 18 varieties of cookies at this Lincoln Park bakery...starting tomorrow.


CLOSED:
Tizi Melloul - We may have seen the last of the $3 martini.
Cuatro -- After faking us out a few months ago, the upscale Latin spot is now closing for good.
Baja Fresh -- Sorry, fish-taco lovers...the national chain is closing all its Illinois franchises.

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.

Chicago Craft Beer Week Kickoff Party
6 p.m. at Map Room; free
Prepare for a week full of crafty fun at this fully stocked beer bar, which will host several brewers for this kick-off event. There'll also be a raffle of bottles of Stone Brewing's rare Symposium Ale at 8 p.m.

Patrick Watson
8 p.m. at Schubas
It's hard to pin down this experimental, eclectic Canadian singer-songwriter -- he's played alongside everyone from James Brown to The Cinematic Orchestra (check out his lovely cabaret-pop turn on "To Build a Home"). But if you value creativity, and enjoy artists like Andrew Bird and Nick Drake, you surely won't be bored.

The Gay American
7:30 p.m. at the side project; $10
Former New Jersey governor James McGreevey's rise and fall in this farcical docudrama, which focuses on the impact his admission of a homosexual affair had on those around him -- from his wife and daughter to his ambitious aide.

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Manifest Urban Arts Festival
All day Friday at Columbia College; free
As the Columbia school year winds down, the college takes this opportunity to showcase student projects including art, music, film screenings, readings and more. Dozens of performances will take place throughout the South Loop campus, and local hip-hop duo The Cool Kids will perform (time and place TBA, learn more here).

If you thought last month's Craft Brewers Conference was as good as it would get for Chicago beer geeks this year, think again. The first annual Chicago Craft Beer Week kicks off on Monday, with a whole lot of brew-centric events on the agenda. Too many, in fact, for us to run down here, but we'll point out a few that caught our eye (and you can check out the rest in the official schedule):

  • Monday, May 17: Kickoff Party at the Map Room. Given its already robust list of craft brews, we're betting that you'll be able to find a who's who of the craft-brewing world hanging out here to toast what should be a fun week.
  • Wednesday, May 19: Rare Chicago Beer Night at Small Bar Fullerton. If you think you're an expert in the local beer scene, you'll want to refresh your palate with these unusual brews from the likes of Three Floyds, Half Acre, Two Brothers and more.
  • Saturday, May 22: The Fourth Annual Beerfly Alleyfight at Rock Bottom Brewery. This pairing of homebrewed beer, home-cooked food and homegrown art (from the Drinking & Writing Brewery) is something to behold...and participate in. Buy tickets ($30) here.

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Girl & The Goat, Stephanie Izard's long-awaited West Loop restaurant, will finally open in June.

But if you just can't wait 'til then -- or you're not a fan of crowds -- you now have a chance to get a sneak peek at the goods a little earlier than everyone else. Izard and her cronies have begun distributing 1,000 "goat buttons" within the next week or so, each of which will have a unique number. She'll then draw 25 numbers and post them on her website on Monday, May 24. Each winner will get to bring a guest to one of the "friends and family" preview dinners at the restaurant.

Want a button? Stephanie will be handing them out at the Green City Market on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and at the 61st Market on May 22 at 11:30 a.m. You can also snag one by buying a local beer at Rootstock or one of several items (Midwest pork products, local asparagus, Milk & Honey granola, Sunshine Farms goat milk, Prairie Fruits Farm cheese, Carr Valley Applewood smoked cheddar, Half Acre beer or Three Floyds beer) at Whole Foods May 15-22. Steve Dolinsky is also giving away two tickets on his blog, too.

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The Gaslamp Killer (photo via Last.fm)

The Gaslamp Killer
10 p.m. at Smartbar; $8-$10
Ten years ago William Bensussen aka Gaslamp Killer wasn't considered a very popular DJ. In fact many would have called him a dance-floor killer, and it was a surprise, even to him, that club promoters bothered to take a chance on his bugged-out blend of psychedelic rock, hip-hop and grunge. But today, over a decade later, those promoters were proven right as GLK is now known worldwide for the same high-octane performances that began years ago in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter.

Beer Under Glass
5:30-8 p.m. at Garfield Park Conservatory; $35-$45
Seven local breweries (Argus, Goose Island, Half Acre, Hamburger Mary's, Metropolitan, Rock Bottom and Two Brothers) will be on hand to serve samples to go along with food from Marion Street Cheese Market and Green Zebra at this event at the West Side conservatory. In addition to the refreshments, attendees can enjoy a composting demonstration, chocolate tastings and a beer-growing and brewing tutorial.

Cory Doctorow
5-6:30 p.m. at Harold Washington Library Center (YOUMedia); free
The popular blogger (he's the co-editor of Boing Boing) and science-fiction writer comes to the library to discuss his latest book, For the Win, about online gaming and thievery. Copies of the books will be available for purchase, and pre-registration is required (call (312) 747-5260).

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Afternoon Tea at the Drake Hotel.(photo: chicagoceli via Flickr)

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!

Tea parties have taken on a new meaning, but once upon a time, it was a high-society affair meant to hold your stomach over until a later lavish dinner. Tea time is not sexy, per se, but it can be romantic for some and a sweet treat for all. Here's how to do it up like a real aristocrat -- or a lowly peasant.

RICH MAN: For this very Old World date, go to The Drake Hotel for Afternoon Tea. For $30 per person, you get sandwiches, pastries, fruit, bread and scones and your choice of super fancy tea in the beautifully elegant Tea Lobby. Go any day of the year between 1 and 5 p.m., with each tea time lasting an hour and a half. The "smart-casual" dress code gives you a good excuse to look extra sharp for your date and the harpist (yes, a harpist!) provides good background music. Non-tea drinkers will still be able to appreciate the atmosphere at the fanciest hotel in Chicago and the famed powder room, which was listed as finalist for America's Best Public Restroom Contest last year.

POOR MAN: Enjoy a different kind of caffeinated date this week at with a Starbucks Happy Hour. Through May 16, participating Starbucks are offering half-price Frappuccinos between 3 and 5 p.m. Note: I generally do not advise any first-date involving coupons, Groupons or 2-for-1's, but man what a deal!

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They say the Iron Man burger, a two-pound hunk of beef topped with cheddar, lettuce, onion, tomato and pickle available at The Lucky Monk through tomorrow, serves 4-6 people. We say they're underestimating the American appetite. (See The Big Mel.)

In any case, the feast on a bun costs $19.95 at this South Barrington bar/restaurant. Pair it with a growler of any house-brewed draft beer for just $5.95 with a ticket stub from "Iron Man 2" (conveniently playing at the AMC 30 Theatre next door.

Back in April, when we first alerted you about the start of the second annual ChiPubLib.org Poster Design Contest, you probably said to yourself, "That sounds awesome! Glad I've got plenty of time to submit my work." Well, not anymore, you don't. The deadline for submissions is this Sunday, May 16. So if you want to have a chance at having your poster displayed around the city, you really gotta get going. Details here.

The good news: Tickets for the 10th annual Green City Market BBQ (July 15, 6-8 p.m.), which features food and drink from some of Chicago's top chefs, including representatives from Avec, David Burke's Primehouse, Hot Chocolate, Naha, Perennial and more, go on sale today.

The bad news: They're $100 each, which is about twice the price of last year's event. Still, you will get all the gourmet refreshments you can handle for two solid hours, and help to support a worthy non-profit. It's up to you to decide whether it's worth it, but don't take too long -- the BBQ sold out fairly quickly in '09.

The outdoor market (1790 N. Clark) will be open today from 7 a.m.-1 p.m., and tickets for the BBQ will be available on-site. A special kick-off event including guided tours, a gardening workshop, chef demonstrations, tastings and more will happen Saturday from 7:30 a.m.-noon.

Check out Centerstage's full schedule of Chicago-area farmers markets.

Spring Into Funny Ha-Ha
7 p.m. at Hideout; $5 donation
AV Club maven and YA author Claire Zulkey hosts a grab-bag evening with a comic bent. Funny Ha Ha will feature readings, performances, and short films by local luminaries like Steve Gadlin ("Impress These Apes") and longstanding improv troupe Schadenfreude. At the Hideout, the warmest, coziest, hippest venue to ever be stranded in the middle of an industrial wasteland.

Murs
9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $13-$15
With his blunt, matter-of-fact demeanor, LA-based MC, Murs, has become one of the most dynamic artists around. His personality alone is enough to handle hosting duties at the always-raucous Rock The Bells and Paid Dues (a festival he also co-sponsors), and it's what keeps his name constantly circulating amongst loyal hip-hop followers. His resume includes an album with famed producer 9th Wonder ("Fornever") and a soon-to-be-released project entitled "The Melrose." His forthcoming album will be a bridge of sorts between his underground roots and his affinity for mainstream West Coast rap, which will be an unexpected (but welcome) change from what fans have heard in past years. Expect this show to explore his creative past, present and future.

Drinking In Your History
6-8 p.m. at Green Door Tavern; $25
Chicago Bar Project's Sean Parnell, author of Historic Bars of Chicago, will visit one of the oldest bars in the city for a talk about, well, historic bars. In addition to the enlightening discussion (which will take place in the bar's usually-closed speakeasy room), the admission price includes two drinks, appetizers, a copy of the book and a one-year Preservation Chicago membership.

NBC New York reports, from “a very reliable source,” that it knows the locations of Chicago super chef Grant Achatz’s two new projects, Next and Aviary.

According to their blog, Next – the upscale restaurant with rotating historical-era-influenced menus and “tickets” instead of reservations – is moving into the shuttered Follia location in the West Loop.

In a little more shocking news, the accompanying bar/lounge, Aviary, would take over Fulton Lounge, located next door.

No confirmation of these rumors, and no time table has been announced (the mega-huge blockbuster trailer for Next only says 2010). But it likely won’t be anytime in the immediate future – you know, since Fulton Lounge is still open and all.

Updates forthcoming, hopefully sooner rather than later.

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photo: the Maxwell Colette Gallery via Flickr

As Chicagoist reported yesterday, famed street artist Banksy (the creator of the hilarious new documentary, "Exit Through The Gift Shop") stopped in Chicago recently to make his mark on a wall at Randolph and Peoria in the West Loop. Check out the "Untouchables"-inspired piece while you can, and let us know if you find other Banksy work around town -- but you might want to confirm it on his website first.

Update: There may be another Banksy sighting in the Loop.

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photo: Photo Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images (via MTV.com)

EPMD
9 p.m. at The Shrine; $7-$14
If there were ever to be an unofficial CEO (or CEOs) of hip-hop, it would have to be EPMD. Sure the duo's album names (Strictly Business, Unfinished Business, Business as Usual, etc.) factor into the decision, but their resume is the bottom line; it spans 24 years, 7 albums and numerous classics. There's no questioning Erik Sermon and Parrish Smith's impact on the culture, so whenever they make it to town it should be a top priority to pay homage.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories
10 a.m. at Merle Reskin Theatre; $8
Few novelists are more theatrical than Salman Rushdie, and this tale, adapted from his award-winning children's story, brings his words to life on stage. Kids will love following Haroun to the mythical moon of Kahani, where he meets shadow warriors, mechanical flying bulls, talking fish, and water genies in his quest to recover his father's magical storytelling powers. Recommended for ages 7 and up.

Chefs' Fest
5-8 p.m. at Arlington Park Racecourse; $35
This 17th-annual foodie festival includes features 50 restaurant vendors, including L'Eiffel Bistrot & Creperie, Sweet Baby Ray's, Wildfire, Weber Grill and more, plus a performance from a barbershop quartet. Food, music and wine -- what more do you need on a Tuesday night?

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 is this month's roundup of the 10 best, worst and most hilarious verbal exchanges I've been blessed to witness/be a part of lately:

"I think I looked like I just watched my puppy get shot." -- My friend Rusty on getting dumped.

"There are plenty of fish in the sea. And I'm not the worst person in the world." -- My friend Rusty, immediately bouncing back.

"I know I could find a girl as pretty as you, but probably not as smart." -- A statement so dense, it's actually endearing.

"When a girl packs your lunch in just a pair of panties, I think you should return her Tupperware." -- Giving advice to another extremely dense man-friend.

"You wear an XS? But you're not that skinny. I mean, there are skinnier girls than you." -- On a date at Lincoln Park Zoo.

"Do you guys wanna get a drink? Wanna get a drink?" -- At the street corner in front of Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Lakeview.

"Hey can I get under [your umbrella]? I might melt in this rain. 'Cause I'm like sugar. 'Cause I'm sweet." Walking in the rain on Clark Street in Lincoln Park, a man with a foreign accent and relatively poor English attempts a very cheesy line.

"Yo im chillin thinkin about drinkin get at me " -- A text message sent by a man to a woman he just met the night before.

"Nice legs, ma." -- Walking past a group of Lincoln Park High School boys.

"Why am I single?! I'm single because I. Chose. To. Be. I like being single. I don't need a boyfriend!" -- A beer-induced feminist rant said on a third-date at Matilda. Note: Never ever ever ask a single woman "why" she is single.

The conversation about the Taste of Chicago got started earlier than usual this year, thanks to the City's announcement that suburban restaurants would be banned from participating. And just because the talk's died down (for now), it doesn't mean stomachs have stopped rumbling. If you just can't wait 'til the official event (June 25-July 6), you can catch a preview at Prudential Plaza (180 N. Stetson) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. this Tuesday and Wednesday. You'll be able to buy menu items from fest vendors from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. each day. The best news -- other than that all vendors are city-based, of course -- is that no tickets will be necessary, as all booths will accept cash.

It's no secret that local arts organization Around the Coyote has been struggling to survive for some time now. We noted ATC's battle with debt back in December. Now, we're sad to report, the battle has officially come to an end. Around the Coyote ceased operations as of Saturday, May 8, according to a press release.

Thankfully, the organization will live on in some ways, as the staff is allocating its "remaining resources, knowledge and equipment" to other local non-profits, including ThreeWalls and Chicago Artists Coalition. ThreeWalls hosts a fundraiser on May 28.

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Photo via shoutoutlouds.com

Shout Out Louds, Freelance Whales
8 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $15
It's a tired old story – scrappy indie band bangs a sound so evocatively fresh, yet fragile, for a record or two, and then some coastal producer with a record of success ruins it all by trying to take it to the next level. To producer Phil Ek's (Built To Spill, Band of Horses) credit, though, the Shout Out Louds threw a curveball with 2010's "Work," ditching the punk Swedish angst that made "The Comeback" and "Very Loud" the new go-to Nordic sound, for, well, placid themes about work. And not the fun kind of work, but the working for a paycheck kind of work. Ek does make it blossom pristine, but we'll be surprised if these new tunes get major play during this show. Meanwhile, NYC's Freelance Whales have yet to change their tune, offering a charming, almost twee blend of banjo leads, twinkling bells and off-kilter harmonies, pogo-ing somewhere between Matt & Kim and Dashboard Confessional.

Chuck Palahniuk
6 p.m. at Harold Washington Library Center; free
The always interesting author of Fight Club (among other guy-lit classics) is back with a new novel, Tell-All, a visceration of old Hollywood focused, in part, on the exploits of writer Lillian Hellman. Pre-signed copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Chicago Moves Day
11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Daley Plaza
It's time to get in shape -- Da Mare says so himself. Join other Chicagoans for this seventh-annual rally featuring workout sessions in a variety of styles, from bhangra (11:10 a.m.) to body combat (12:30 p.m.). If you can't make it downtown, head to any of the Chicago Park District's 66 fitness centers citywide, where you'll get free admission today.

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

OPEN:
Manee Thai -- The popular Thai spot rises from the ashes, returning to Avondale after a fire.
The Vault -- This "upperground lounge" above Vivo offers cocktails, personal pizzas and more in an old bank vault.
Blue Frog 22 -- Kick back and have some fun at this River North spinoff of the popular Blue Frog Bar & Grill that looks more like a basement rec room. Board games and karaoke rule this bar.
Sushi Para M -- The Sushi Para all-you-can-eat sushi empire moves into Bucktown with this new BYOB location on Milwaukee.
Deca Restaurant + Bar -- The Ritz-Carlton opened this new restaurant with brasserie-inspired cuisine.
Cloud 9 -- This Taiwanese "snow ice" spot in Lakeview serves what can be described as a mix between ice cream and shaved ice, with fresh fruit and fruit purees.

CLOSING:
Tizi Melloul -- You've only got another week to get Middle Eastern fare in a modern environment, as this River North staple closes May 15.

CLOSED:
Follia -- West Loop Italian spot had great food, but not enough crowds.
Bar Louie (Little Italy) -- Don't worry, there are plenty of other locations to visit in the area.
Paris Cafe -- The short-lived River North spot was replaced by the generically named Chicago Bar & Grill.

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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What is it about music and food that goes so well together? From IFC's 'Dinner With The Band' to Blue 13's rock 'n' roll dinners to Graham Elliot Bowles' Lollapalooza catering, the two arts have become increasingly intertwined in recent years. Whatever the reason, we've got no complaints about these multi-sensual pairings.

Next on the list: Eat to the Beat, a Sound Opinions-inspired dinner at Blackbird on May 27. The multi-course meal (no menu yet) created by chefs Paul Kahan (Blackbird) and Mindy Segal (Hot Chocolate), with wine pairings from Lush Wine and Spirits, will feature dishes inspired by the Chicago Public Radio show featuring Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot. Both critics will be in attendance, and you can be there too, for $175 (a portion of proceeds supports Chicago Public Radio). Visit the website to reserve a spot.

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Celtic Fest Chicago
Saturday and Sunday at Millennium Park; free
Come for the live entertainment (the Saw Doctors and La Botinne Souriante headline) and stay for the Men in Kilts Leg Contest at this popular fest, now in a new location. Also enjoy beer, traditional food, bagpipers and arts and crafts vendors.

After a short hiatus, the much-loved women's arts mag, Venus Zine, is back in business.

Celebrate the re-launch with new editor-in-chief Jill Russell and music editor Selena Fragassi as they preside over the first installment of After Hours at Beauty Bar on Saturday (9 p.m.-3 a.m.; $5). Frightened Rabbit will headline with a rare DJ set following its sold-out show at Metro, while Pretty Good Dance Moves and DJ Amber Waves will keep the party going all night. RSVP to events@venuszine.com for express entry.

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Stardeath and White Dwarfs show that musical talent may indeed be genetic.(photo: NewsOK)

Stardeath and White Dwarfs
9 p.m. at Subterranean; $10
Before Wayne Coyne tarnished the cred of his nephew's band with a distasteful reinterpretation of Pink Floyd's opus, "The Dark Side of the Moon," this past year (in a digital-only collaboration with the group), the Dennis Coyne-fronted Stardeath and White Dwarfs were doing a fine job of staying out of the Flaming Lips' shadow thanks to prime psych-rock freak-outs with absurdly creative names like "Springtime in Martha Stewart's Head." Take away the relationship, and you're still left with a solid new Okie crop that bridges a fine gap between psychedelia and punk. Chicago's Milk at Midnight opens.

Mortified Live
8:30 p.m. at Beat Kitchen; $12-$15
Called "a cultural phenomenon" by Newsweek, Mortified finds several writers unearthing artifacts of their teenage angst (diaries, school essays) and sharing them with strangers -- with predictably hilarious results. The Beat Kitchen performance will feature six performers.

Crisis (A Musical Game Show)
8 p.m. at Neo-Futurarium; $15
The Neo-Futurists present another rollicking thought experiencement. This time, cash plays on the table. "Crisis" will turn our financial meltdown into a sort of game-show burlesque, with audience members as contestants and real money at stake. After every show, an audience winner goes home with a significant chunk of the box office, which could make "Crisis" the hottest ticket in town.

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!

Drunken holidays are great opportunities to find a new party partner. Here's my advice on what to say (and what not to) at one of these Cinco de Mayo events.

BEST: Approach subject with a simple "Qué lindo" (or linda for women) -- which means "how cute." Easy and genuine never fails! :)

WORST: "Sombrero lindo." It means "nice sombrero."

Buena suerte!

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According to Weather.com, the forecast for next Thursday includes "isolated thunderstorms." There go your alfresco drinking plans, right? Not exactly. Instead of heading to your nearest uncovered beer garden, make plans to attend the first-ever "Beer Under Glass" event in the climate-controlled (but still leafy) environment at Garfield Park Conservatory.

Seven local breweries (Argus, Goose Island, Half Acre, Hamburger Mary's, Metropolitan, Rock Bottom and Two Brothers) will be on hand to serve samples from 5:30-8 p.m., to go along with food from Marion Street Cheese Market and Green Zebra. In addition to the refreshments, attendees can enjoy a composting demonstration, chocolate tastings and a beer-growing and brewing tutorial. The 21-plus event costs $35 in advance and $45 at the door.

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Homoticons will rock your world on Friday. (photo via MySpace)

As the Tennessee teen who was sent home from school for wearing an "I Love Lady Gay Gay" shirt can attest GLBT-friendly music is still a bit of a touchy topic in some places.

Those places don't include Chicago's Jackhammer, of course. The Rogers Park bar hosts the Flesh Hungry Dog Show again this Friday at 9 p.m., with the aim of bringing live rock and related music to the city's gay community and providing a venue for GLBT-supportive artists.

This month's installment features a three-pack of fabulousness, including the Homoticons (a "wayward triad of transgressive, transsexual trespassers"), Pieptone! (Chicago's only 'Schlager' band, which marries pop hits with the German language) and Plain Ole Delicious (an eclectic quartet offering originals and covers from ska to blues). Get tickets ($8 online, $10 at the door) and more info at fleshhungrydog.com and come ready to rock.

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Senhorita Bella Sue Devianti is sure to make your Cinco de Mayo memorable.

Cinco de Mondo
7 p.m. at Congress Theater; $15
The Congress goes all out for Cinco de Mayo tonight with Lucha Libre wrestling, burlesque performances from Lola Van Ella, Bella Sue Devianti and Gravity Plays Favorites, live music from the Del Moroccos and The Suspirios and more. Comedian Dash Bravado hosts.Find more Cinco de Mayo events on Centerstage.

Chapterhouse
9 p.m. at Vic Theatre; $16
Billing themselves as "five rail-thin longhairs from Reading, England," Chapterhouse slipped through the cracks during the early '90s, as bands like My Bloody Valentine and Jesus & Mary Chain had long cornered the shoegaze niche - and Nirvana went and silenced the fuzz with the grating angst of "Nevermind," anyway. The group's 1991 debut, "Whirlpool," would've had a
much bigger impact if it had been released just a year or two later when youth culture was ready to chill out again. The boys have reunited after a two-decade split, with their sets dripping with numbing distortion and tinny drums that cut right through it with glee.

Reading Under the Influence Fifth Anniversary
7-9 p.m. at Sheffield's; $3
The reading (and drinking) series celebrates its fifth year on Cinco de Mayo, with readings of short original works from regulars Robert Duffer, Jesse Jordan, Julia Borcherts and Amy Guth. There will also be readings of recognizable published work and trivia related to the appropriate theme of "Five."

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Accanto
Italian fine dining in Logan Square.

Off the Beaten Path: Petra Inn
Middle Eastern eatery in Lincoln Square serves up more than just hummus.

Weekly Treat: Cheap beer night at Tilli’s
Bud Light bottles are just two bucks tonight.

Man We're Crazy About: Cuna
Quality food and swanky drinks that don’t break the bank in Lakeview.

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

It wasn't too long ago that the professional kitchen was largely the domain of the male chef, with just a few exceptions. But female chefs have been making their talents felt of late, with tons of award-winning toques among their ranks. The 14th annual Girl Food Dinner at West Town Tavern, May 16, celebrates those accomplishments while benefiting a worthy cause: The Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Some of the Chicago area's top female chefs, will participate, including:


  • Karen Armijo, Gary Comer Youth Center (crispy oyster BLT)

  • Nadia Tilkian, Maijean (poached halibut in pho broth with rice noodles)

  • Jackie Shen, Red Light (pomegranate-plum glazed duck salad)

  • Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat (crisp smoked goat ravioli with green garlic jus)

  • Susan Goss, West Town Tavern (braised wagyu beef short rib with morels, black pepper grits, truffle and pickled lemon)

  • Jessie Oloroso, Black Dog Gelato (olive oil gelato sundae with caramelized almonds and sea salt)

Purchase tickets ($150) here.

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The calendar has flipped to May, which means it’s officially pub crawl season in Chicago. Here are three in the next week that should be very interesting:

Cinco de Mayo Bar Crawl
8 p.m.-midnight Wednesday, starting at Rockwood Place/Bar Celona
Mariachi bands will play until 9 p.m. at both opening bars, then trolleys will take the fiesta to Grand Central, then to Angels and Mariachis. Kiss FM (103.5) will be at Angels & Mariachis all night, including one of Kiss FM’s “Beat Freak” DJs. Drink deals include $5 Cazadores margaritas, $5 Cazadores Reposado or Blanco shots and $4 Corona bottles.

Historic Pub Crawl of Hegewisch
Wednesday, 6 p.m.
Learn all about the venerable South Side neighborhood through Landmarks Illinois, sponsors the event. It’s a great chance to learn a little about our fair city – while having a drink or three along the way. Details are scarce on locations, but we’re thinking maybe some Pudgy’s Pizza? Chicago Pita Kitchen? The Ford Assembly Plant?

Anyway, cost is $10, or free if you’re a Landmarks member. Call (312) 922-1742 or click here for more info.

Northalsted Spring Fling Pub Crawl
Saturday, May 15, 2 p.m. at Roscoe’s
Head to 11 fabulous venues throughout Boystown, with each stop offering $5 Absolute Acai cocktails and $4 Coronas. Included on the crawl: Buck’s Saloon, Cocktail, Halsted’s, Hydrate, The Lucky Horseshoe, Minibar, North End, Rehab, Roscoe’s, Scarlet and Spin.

Back to the Pub Crawl
Saturday, May 22, 1:30 p.m., throughout Wrigleyville
Go back in time with the ninth annual celebration of all things ‘80s. Your $10 entry fee gets a free T-shirt, 22-ounce cup, slap bracelet, beads and all sorts of beer specials. Performances by 2 Live Bans, Mer and Red Pop Fury keep things swingin’. Our favorite part: They’ve rented a DeLorean for photo ops outside. No word on whether Doc Brown and Marty McFly will be there, but we're pretty sure they'll be able to produce the 1.21 gigawatts necessary to keep the party going all night long.

Included in the crawl route: Bernie’s Tavern, Casey Moran’s, Sports Corner, Cubby Bear, Sluggers and John Barleycorn.

Want to see more? Check out our list of May bar crawls.

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Avenue Q
8 p.m. at Bank of America Theatre; $22.50-$67.50
No Sesame Generation kid should miss the little puppet musical that made it big. A loving parody of TV's most famous street, this tuneful, canny show is edutainment for adult(ish) life. Covering everything from the etiquette of sex noise to finding one's purpose, the nearly decade-old production retains its comic edge, and its uncanny ability to make you feel for felt.

Ozomatli
9 p.m. at House of Blues; $18-$20.50
Like Latin music? African? Hip-hop? Anything with a good beat? This octet is right up your alley. While some bands with similar melting-pot influences tend to sound a little unfocused and unoriginal, this LA group never fails to entertain. Expect this show to turn into a big party by the end of the night – just don’t try to emulate Drew Barrymore in "Never Been Kissed" and jump on stage to dance with the boys.

Midwest Independent Film Festival
6 p.m. at Landmark Century Centre Cinema; $10
The monthly event returns for its latest installment with the Chicago premiere of "Annabelle & Bear," a film about a dysfunctional family directed, co-written and executive produced by Amy Weber (who will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion). The festivities will also feature the premiere of Oh My God's music video, "Bring Yourself" (animated by Adult Swim vet Dan Bigelow). The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. following a sponsored cocktail reception and a presentation from Canon about state-of-the-art filmmaking technology. Head to Forno Diablo for the after-party.

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You'll have no trouble feeling romantic during a Chicago Horse & Carriage ride.

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!

Cinderella may not be real, but her tale of happily-ever-after -- which has forever romanticized glass slippers, handsome princes and horse-drawn carriages -- can be. Here are my suggestions for recreating a magical night, with or without a fairy-tale budget.

RICH MAN: Take a customized tour of the city with Chicago Horse & Carriage, which picks up passengers on Michigan Avenue at Pearson Street. It can be an open or enclosed carriage and goes anywhere you'd like, from Michigan Avenue to Navy Pier to a two-hour ride through Lincoln Park. Rides run $40 for 30 minutes, $60 for 45 minutes, or $80 per hour, and customized routes (ride by your work, favorite bar or "special spot") for five dollars more.The group accommodates special requests, but just make sure it is not during rush hour (4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday) and the weather is above 15 and below 90 degrees.

Also try Antique Coach and Carriage, which offers rides for $40 per half hour or $80 per hour. Have a nice dinner downtown and have that carriage pick you up for a rolling view of the city lights afterward.

POOR MAN: No money, pumpkins or mice? Pick up a two-wheeled alternative to a city tour date. The Chicago Bikeposition 2010 season started in March, offering architectural bike tours of different city neighborhoods during one weekend afternoon per month. Learn all about Chicago's famed architecture...for FREE! This month's tour, set for May 23, is of Humboldt Park.

As we reported in February, Humboldt Park gallery and performance space Quennect4 was shut down by the city earlier this year for operating without a license. The ensuing Kickstarter campaign has raised (as of today) $1,480 toward the $3,600 goal.

With just 9 days remaining, the Q4 Tribe is making a final push for funds, releasing a digital compilation with tracks from musicians who have been a part of their community. The collection will be released on Friday, May 7, with a party at Elastic Arts in Logan Square featuring the Chicago Gypsy Experiment, Rambos and Wake Up Siouxsie. The all-ages event begins at 9 p.m., with an $8 suggested donation at the door. Pay that, or make at least a $10 donation to Kickstarter, and you'll be hooked up with the compilation download code.

The full list of artists on the comp: DJ Limbs & Butter, BBU, Eyes Manouche, Curtis Evans & Our Friends Electric, Agents of Change, The Embraceables, Kenny Keys, Chandler London, Phillip Morris, Jeremy Miller, Natalie Grace, Drunken Monkee, Pugs Atomz & 6th Sense, IL Subliminal f/ Idris Goodwin, Charles Williams, Matthew Merryweather, Radius, Kore One, Shannon Vs. The Stranger, Wake Up Siouxsie, The Minneapolis Henrys, and Big Splashes. Download a complimentary track ("Djelem Djelem" by Eyes Manouche) here.

ARTropolis
11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Merchandise Mart; $20
Today's the last day to experience this three-for-one art event, featuring Art Chicago, NEXT and the Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair.

Polish Constitution Day Hash
6:30 p.m. at Czerwone Jabluszko (Red Apple); $13
Join the Chicago Hash House Harriers for this celebration that includes a four-mile run, a buffet and a keg of beer courtesy of Stanley Stawski Distributing Co. Make sure to wear something Polish!

The Pigeons
8 p.m. at Swim Cafe; $10-$15
Set in the rapidly gentrifying West Town neighborhood, this farce from Walkabout Theatre follows Martin, a man who lives in a tiny condo with dozens of dirty birds, and features run-ins with all the diverse characters of the 'hood, from starving artists to boisterous frat boys and everyone in between. Warning: This may hit too close to home for some.

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