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June 2010 Archives

3 Things To Do Today

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Canadian Tuxedo party
7 p.m. at Faith & Whiskey; free
Celebrate Canadian Independence Day (July 1) by dressing up in the classiest of Canadian attire (i.e. denim from head to toe). Drink specials include $1 Labatt Blue cans and $3 Canadian Club whiskey shots/drinks and a $100 cash prize will be awarded for the best “Canadian Tuxedo” costume. Sounds like a party, eh?

OakFest fireworks
159th and Central, Oak Forest; free
Since the city canceled the big annual July 3 show, you’ll have to get a little creative to get your fireworks fix this year. Kick off the weekend right by road tripping out to Oak Forest for this annual festival, which has an aerial display tonight and on July 4. As an added bonus, you can watch some PCW wrasslin’ tonight too.

Cindy Lauper
8:30 p.m. at House of Blues; $37.99–$43
Let me just get it out there that I may have watched a little too much of Celebrity Apprentice – even after Blago got kicked off. Whew, so happy to get that off my chest. Also, I kinda wanted the wrestling chick to win. Also, True Colors has been in my head all day. OK, I’ve said too much already …

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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 twice a week.

Dying to get up close and personal with Garrison Keillor? Yeah, me neither.

Listening to A Prairie Home Companion is like fielding an obscene phone call from your grandfather; you’d think after years in radio the man would learn to breathe through his nose. It’s not that I haven’t tried to find the funny in Keillor’s down-home humor. I went so far as to read his book, Love Me, which to my surprise and revulsion made Tropic of Capricorn seem written by Sarah Palin’s more prudish Aunt Tildy.

3 Things To Do Today

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RuPaul's Drag Race

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party
5:30 p.m. at Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club
Is there anywhere else you’d want to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race? House diva (and former contestant) Jade will make an appearance.

Joanna Connor & Lance Lewis
8:30 p.m. at Harlem Avenue Lounge, free
Slide guitar heroine Joanna Connor enlists her longtime drummer for this duet in Berwyn. Expect her to cut the frills and let her Bonnie Raitt likeness burn as bright as the judgment day guitar work that led her to both Chicago and Blind Pig Records in the late '80s.

Laugh It Up, Kid
9 p.m. at Schubas, $5
Join local funnymen Adam Burke, James Fritz and Joe Kilgallon and others as they take the stage for this joke marathon.

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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’s little explanation needed for why we all love fireworks. After all, that big, explosive, pretty, bright lights display is a cliche for chemistry for a reason. So as you plan dates for this weekend’s celebration of America’s independence, here’s hoping to seeing some fireworks in the night sky and feeling the fireworks all night long.

3 Things To Do Today

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Broadway in Chicago
6 p.m. at Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park; free
Who needs to pay Broadway prices to see Broadway acts? Get a taste of Chicago shows like Billy Elliot the Musical, Wicked, Disney's The Lion King, and Million Dollar Quartet, as well as a preview of Shrek the Musical, without spending a dime.

Huntsville, On Fillmore (feat. Nels Cline)
7:30 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
This week’s New Music Monday show brings us Huntsville, a twangy, meditative group joined on stage tonight by Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glen Kotche. They'll also tease their own more curiously erratic experimentations under the On Fillmore moniker, of which they're on their fourth record now, with bassist Darin Gray.

National 40-ounce Week
All week at the Fifty/50
The upscale Wicker Park sports bar again celebrates that ubiquitous urban favorite – the 40 – with a week of specials and events. Get a different brand of 40 every day this week for just five bucks. Today’s special: Colt 45. Like a wise man once said, It works every time.

Salt 'n' Pepa, Bell Biv Devoe, Rob Base, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh
5:30 p.m. Friday at Taste of Chicago; free
Normally we wouldn't stoop to promoting such a mainstream commercial event as Taste in this space, but just look at the lineup for the first night. Anyone growing up in the '80s or '90s couldn't pass up a chance to see all of these old-school R&B and hip-hop acts at once.

The Glorious Ones
7:30 p.m. through Sunday at Theater on the Lake; $17.50
If you get all festivaled out this weekend, head to the lake and get some culture at the Park District's weekly production. This week, BoHo Theatre rolls into town with this musical about a troupe of 16th-century traveling players.

Pride Fest
Friday-Saturday on Halsted; $7 donation
Where to begin with this fabulous weekend of gay-themed events? How about both Tiffany and Taylor Dane (among dozens of others) performing. How about drag queens as far as the eye can see. How about these cultural events going on all week. And we didn't even mention Sunday's Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade.

Crossroads Guitar Festival
All day Saturday at Toyota Park; $100
Eric Clapton brings a roster of guitar gods to Toyota Park to support his rehab facility, Crossroads Centre, in Antigua. The lineup includes Clapton, Buddy Guy, BB King, the Allman Brothers Band, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, Joao Gilberto, Robert Randolph, Sheryl Crow, Steve Winwood, ZZ Top, Keb' Mo and many more.

Green Music Fest
Noon-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at Eckhart Park; $5
Local groups like Maps and Atlases join the eclectic sounds of The Wailers, Fang Island and Cloud Cult to make this much more than your average street fest music. And an environmentally focused event where all the vendors are earth-friendly (recylced crafts and solar-powered devices will be on offer) will make you feel good about pigging out on the fest food and indulging in the craft beer tent.

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 twice a week.

Remember when Rosie O’Donnell got conned by a woman pretending to have a pregnant 14-year-old daughter…and then wrote about it? How about when Anne Heche attributed her semi-nude stroll through Fresno to childhood abuse…and then wrote about it? The impulse to confess and confide in a group as fickle and varied as the American public seems arrogant and foolish, but then Hollywood would be a post-apocalyptic wasteland were it not for arrogant fools. (Of course as a reader, I’m blameless, right? And if I gorge myself on Double Downs, KFC made me fat.)

Sweet Talk in the City

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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!

Here is June's roundup of the 10 best, worst and most hilarious verbal exchanges I've been blessed to witness:

A Night Out with RDJ

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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 twice a week.

In a recent blog, I predicted Robert Downey Jr. would accept the Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award during a black tie gala at the Ritz-Carlton. I must be psychic (or really good at receiving press releases); not only was my prophecy realized, but I got to attend.
To test my burgeoning clairvoyance, I decided to tweet the event, dubbed “An Evening with Robert Downey Jr.” in real time, using only the power of my mind. Turns out Twitter is not yet ESP-compatible; all I got for my trouble was a migraine and a vision of an unhappy whale. Please make due with this belated bullet point retelling. (Note: Times are approximate.)

3 Things To Do Today

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Tuesdays on the Terrace: Julia Huff
5:30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Local product Julia Huff takes the stage at the MCA to show off her nu-jazz skills. The singer, who is also an aspiring actress and model, impresses with her beauty, then dazzle with her vivacious voice.
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DM Stith, Inlets, Silje Nes
7 p.m. at Andrew Rafacz Gallery
Stith has impressed with his debut LP, Heavy Ghost, with swooning bursts of piano and horns adding to his brooding mood music.Opening are two baroque pop newbies, one from Brooklyn (Inlets) and one from Norway (Silje Nes).

Movies in the Park
6:30 p.m.; free
The Park District’s annual summer film festival continues today, with two shows. Check out the classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's" at Erie Park (630 N. Kingsbury St.) and Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in "The Wedding Singer" the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.). Both shows start at 6:30.

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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!

For two miles, one man after another -- six total -- stopped to help my friend Sam this weekend on the Lake Front path. Clad in a coral sundress, she was a damsel in distress when her blue Schwinn road bike’s crank fell apart and she was forced to walk the “piece of $^*&#” (her words) home.

One man, in his 40s, asked her three questions in this order: first, her name; second, if she could walk it home; third, if she was “married, single???”

Taken a-back by the straight-forwardness, immediately, I thought, biking must be sexy.

And if you, too, believe that to be a universal truth, try this week’s date ideas as soon as possible!

RICH MAN: Bicycling and charity work --makes ya look good, makes ya feel good. Have both at the Friends of the Parks’ L.A.T.E Ride on the overnight between July 10 and 11.

Register for $45 per person for this 25-mile benefit ride, where 9,000 cyclists will meet at the Buckingham Fountain at midnight Saturday-into-Sunday and bike through the skyscrapers downtown, the Lake Front by starlight, and many city neighborhoods to end with the sunrise over Lake Michigan and then an all-you-can-eat breakfast at Goose Island after (an additional $7).

All money benefits Friends of the Parks, a 34-year-old not-for-profit parks advocacy group. And I’m not gonna tell you this will be an easy ride, but event coordinators claim the the 25-miles will be all flat roads (except for bridges) and is “doable for cyclists of all levels.”

POOR MAN: Anyone who has not experienced Chicago Critical Mass must!

Thousands of bicyclist take over the streets for this free monthly bike ride across the city. There is a certain amount of rebellion (A big proverbial “Suck it!” to the motor vehicles in the Loop, some of who will honk in dismay) and a certain amount of care-free youthfulness to the event (lasts around three hours through the ups and downs of city neighborhoods). People yell “Happy Friday,” some dress up, some come shirtless, some bring boom-boxes and play Michael Jackson -- all of which will put a smile on the face of you and yours. Rain or shine on the last Friday of the month, meet them at 5:30 p.m. at Daley Plaza, Dearborn and Washington, this Friday!

Also, North Side Critical Mass (Young Lincoln Statue, 5959 N. Clark) meets every second Friday and Pilsen (Tenochtitlan Plaza, 18th and Loomis)and Wicker Park (Polish Triangle, Milwaukee and Division) meet every first Friday.

3 Things To Do Today

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Edible Audible Picnic and New Music Monday
Noon and 7:30 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
See two great shows for free today at Millennium Park. First Martin Dosh (known just as Dosh to his fans) takes the stage at noon for an Edible Audible picnic. Then, at 7:30, The Books, Via Tania play this week’s New Music Monday show. So much music for just one day. Good thing it’s the longest day of the year!

First day of summer party
11:30 a.m. at Hub 51
Celebrate the first day of summer (and the longest day of the year) with half-priced drinks off of Hub’s new cocktail menu. Our pick: Pomegranate mojitos for four bucks.

34th International American Spanish Dance Festival
10 a.m.-9 p.m. at Northeastern Illinois University; 5500 N St Louis Ave
Choose from a number of Spanish dance classes, or just come and watch, as this two-week festival put on by Ensemble Español continues. If you can’t go today, be sure to make it to the festival’s “Flamenco Passion” gala this weekend.

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Buddy Guy
7:30 p.m. Saturday at Ravinia; $22-$65
The picnic parade's in full swing over on the Ravinia lawn, with 73-years-young Buddy Guy ditching his famed purple suit and the glass of cognac he so adores at his club for a leisure get-up. Buddy loves a good special guest appearance, and he just may pop into openers JJ Grey & Mofro's set to amp up their Jacksonville, Fla., funk-swamp treatment.

Just For Laughs Chicago
Through Saturday at various locations; get tickets here
The five-day comedy show, sponsored by TBS, is back for more. This year's fest includes appearances from Aziz Ansari (Thursday at the Vic Theatre), Rob Corddry (Thursday at Park West), Cedric the Entertainer (Friday at Chicago Theatre), Patton Oswalt (Saturday at the Vic), Russell Peters (Saturday at the Rosemont Theatre), as well as a reunion of the 1979 Second City class featuring George Wendt and Tim Kazurinsky (Thursday at Second City).

Bronzeville Cultural Festival
Thursday-Saturday at Columbia College's Film Row Cinema; free
Screenings of films about African-American issues, or those made by African-Americans, which go above and beyond the stereotypical depictions found in many mainstream movies. If you prefer words to images, there's also a book fair, writer's workshops, and other literary-minded events.

Naked Girls Reading: Fang Fiction
7 p.m. Friday at Studio L'Amour; $20
If the sexual tension in the Twilight books/movies is too much for you to take, cut to the chase with this special reading from our favorite literary nudes. In addition to Twilight, the girls will read from Dracula, Nosferatu and more, all in the buff.

Highland Games and Scottish Festival
Saturday and Sunday at 31st & York Rd., Oak Brook; $10-$15 per day
The Illinois Saint Andrew Society puts on this annual festival, which features all the traditions of Scotland in one compact package: bagpipes, rugby, Scotch, Haggis, dancing and more. Take part in competitions like a Haggis Hurling Contest and Knobbly Knees Kilt Contest. And don't forget about the Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee), a traditional celebration of Celtic music and dance.

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Mikey Koffman, Whitney Mixter and Rose Garcia from The Real L Word.

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 twice a week.

Just when you thought it was safe to be a lesbian, The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken returns with a new batch of skinny, long-haired white women, but this time they’re ‘real.’

That’s right, The Real L Word premieres June 20th on Showtime, and T’s, the bar of choice for lesbians who get off on paying 13 bucks for a salad, will host the official screening. Presented by HRC Chicago, Showtime and Ketel One Oranje, the event begins at 7 p.m.

3 Things To Do Today

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Aziz Ansari: The Dangerously Delicious Tour
7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the Vic Theatre; $35
You probably recognize him from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” or as host of the recent MTV Movie Awards, but check out Ansari at his funniest with comedy troupe Human Giant (most notably the Shutterbugs series). Tonight is his second show at the Vic, part of the TBS Just For Laughs Chicago tour in town all week.

Rhymefest, Schadenfreude, The Jordan Years
9 p.m. at Martyrs; $10
After winning a 2005 Grammy for the Kanye West-performed song "Jesus Walks," Rhymefest (aka Che Smith) appeared to be the next artist from Chicago to break into the mainstream. While a superstar career hasn’t yet panned out, he’s still churning out albums like his newest, El Che. It's been a long time coming for the local legend, and this event will be your chance to show your appreciation for all the work he's put in. In addition to Rhymefest and The Jordan Years (a contemporary funk band featuring Wes Restless of The Gent$), the night will also feature guest appearances by Schadenfreude, radio DJs Eddie & Jobo and furniture gurus, the Walter E. Smithe Brothers (yes, you read that correctly).

Martinis, Manicures and Massages
7-10 p.m. at The Uptown Lounge
Grab the girls and pamper yourself with Sky Vodka specials packaged with manis and rub-downs at this Uptown hangout. There will also be $3 beer bottles and $5 bombs all night.

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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 many occasions in a person’s life where being single can become a consuming matter of fact. Sometimes to the entire world (New Year’s Eve parties, a sibling’s wedding, Italian restaurants on Valentine’s Day), and sometimes just internally. As I celebrated the anniversary of my life last weekend (hooray), I found lessons for the occasion that falls somewhere in between.

3 Things To Do Today

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The Thing with Joe McPhee
9:30 p.m. at Hideout; $10
If you haven’t seen vivacious jazz trio the Thing play live before, well, you should. This is part of the Hideout’s Immediate Sound Series.

Queer Queens of Qomedy
8 p.m. at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells St.; $22
Lesbian laugh-inducers Poppy Champlin (from HBO’s All Aboard Rosie's Family Vacation), Vicky Shaw and Sandra Valls conclude their three-night series. Although the show focuses on gay-centric themes, they promise a funny show no matter if you’re “gay, straight, bi or tri.”

The Silver Project
9 p.m. at American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St.; free
ATC celebrates its 25th anniversary with five nights of shows, spanning the past 2 ½ decades. Tonight kicks things off with themes from 1985-89. Included shows: Mission Burrito by Rolin Jones (directed by Anthony Moseley), The Science of Happiness by Naomi Iizuka (directed by Lisa Portes) and The Third Date by Justin D.M. Palmer (directed by Megan Shuchman).

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Above: 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche Devised by The New Colony; below: Spider in the Attic Devised by Jessica Hudson (Photos: Saverio Truglia)

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 twice a week.

For me, a big night equals crunchy peanut butter, threadbare leggings and season two of Lost, which I’m watching for the first time. (With the exception of that hurricane over in New Orleans, the view from 2005 is lovely, thanks for asking, and I’m sure Brad and Jen will be back together in no time.) I’m not lazy or anti-social (yes I am), but leaving the house requires shoes, the most perplexing aspect of any outfit. Flats, heels, boots dear God, my head aches, someone hand me the peanut butter.

Still, duty calls, so on Saturday, after trying on approximately 27 different pairs, I bussed to Wicker Park to check out Sketchbook X, Collabaraction’s 10th annual mixed media festival. As unenthusiastic as I am about leaving the house, I’m even less thrilled to leave my neighborhood, but Wicker Park’s Saturday night vibe seemed an extension of Sketchbook’s energetic atmosphere; impossible to imagine the event in any other setting.

Got a camera phone? You've got everything you need to participate in Saturday's Chi-Town Hunt Down (subtitle: Where the El?), the State Theatre's new scavenger hunt fundraiser. Beginning at 2 p.m. at the Bean in Millennium Park, the competition will have participants snapping photos and completing tasks throughout the city (follow along on Twitter) before ending at The Wormhole in Wicker Park at 5:30 p.m. Prizes like Six Flags tickets and restaurant gift certificates are involved, of course, but the real winner will be the theatre, which will be raising money for its "urgent, vital" productions. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 day of (cash only).


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T.J. Miller

Chicago Underground Comedy presents: Secret Big-Time Local Comedy Showcase
8 p.m. at Beat Kitchen; $15
To kick off the Just For Laughs Chicago fest, some of the city's favorite comedians will perform sets at this Roscoe Village venue, including Adam Burke, Cameron Esposito, Sean Flannery and T.J. Miller (of such films as "Cloverfield," "She's Out Of My League" and the upcoming "Gulliver's Travels").

Fiestas Puertorriquenas
4-10:30 p.m.; free
The annual celebration of Puerto Rican culture kicks off today with live music, food and drink, arts and crafts vendors and more. Stay tuned for more fun all week long.

King Khan & BBQ Show: Live at the Empty Bottle
7 p.m. at Delilah's; free
Even if you weren't there before this garage act made it semi-big (well, they played -- and killed -- at Pitchfork), you can pretend you were by watching this concert film from a 2005 show down the road at the Bottle. Make sure to load up on $2 cans of American beer.

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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!

My friend Sam once slow-danced at a park with a boy -- the music blaring from his purple hatchback -- following a sweet first date. She was instantly smitten. Who knew such a simple gesture could be so romantic? Despite the guy's less-than-heartfelt description of the moment (“You just put your hands around the girl and stand around”), I still commended him for the well-played move.

After all, dancing is a kind of unspoken vertical foreplay, one that goes beyond the awkward embraces of middle school dances and (hopefully) the grinding bar-scene variety of later years. Even if you cringe at the thought, I hope you’ll still consider taking your next date to the dance floor with this week’s outing ideas:

RICH MAN: The Fred Astaire Dance Studio is offering a two-session special for $25 for new students, which includes one private lesson and one group class or “practice party.” The 30-minute private lesson covers the basics of the foxtrot, rumba, waltz and hustle.

There are a million options in the city for couples and singles dance lessons, but let’s give some credit to this particular studio, which is owned by Jesse DeSoto, who was on Season 3 of "Dancing With the Stars." And if you don’t know Fred Astaire, you really just don’t know suave. The iconic singing/acting/dancing machine sang the original version of most romantic of all slow-dance songs, “The Way You Look Tonight.”

POOR MAN: The super-popular outdoor Chicago SummerDance is back starting Thursday! The 11-week festival -- which runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 6 to 9:30 p.m. and Sundays from 4 to 7 p.m. through August 29 -- starts with an introductory one-hour dance lesson by professional instructors followed by two hours of open dancing on a 4,600-square-foot dance floor in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park.

Swing, waltz, salsa, cha-cha and more at the largest outdoor dance festival in the country for free! Those too “shy” can rest assured that the 100,000-plus people who participate each summer are probably not focused on you, but on the mixed-bag group of people who show up, the eccentric dance floor made from recycled plastic and planted around a pretty garden, and of course the awesome live music.

School on a Saturday? Don't worry, it's more fun than it sounds.

The first-ever Chicago Learnapalooza (10 a.m.-5 p.m. at various venues in Wicker Park) will include classes on stuff like swing dancing, self-defense, French cooking, Photoshop and more, all taught by experts in that particular topic. Start your day with some self-hypnosis, then bring yourself back to reality with a butchery demo and an aerobic sword class before learning the art of art appraisal and discussing the finer points of sex. If you've had a fuller Saturday, we don't want to know about it. Details and a full schedule are available at learnapaloozachi.com.

What do you call something that weighs 5,000 pounds and can hold 216 pork shoulders, 288 whole chickens or 432 ribs? No, seriously...what do you call it?

Smoke Daddy's newest toy, a 21-foot-long, nine-foot-high and eight-foot-wide smoked trailer with four individual rotisserie smokers, is now parked next to the Wicker Park BBQ restaurant. In honor of its arrival, the team is holding a naming contest, running today through June 30. Think you've got a good title for this beast? Stop in and write down your ideas; the winning coiner will score a BBQ party for 20 people.

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The Cool Kids

The Cool Kids
noon at Millennium Park; free
Over the past three years The Cool Kids have been leading figureheads in the party-rap movement. Their rise to fame has been pretty astounding, but now that a little time has passed it's time to see if they have the creative chops to establish longevity (after all, they did call themselves "the new black version of the Beastie Boys"). If they're looking to test run some new material, midday at Millennium Park would be the perfect place to gauge reactions. It's not completely clear whether it'll be a DJ set only or a full performance, but either way you'll likely get at least some indication of where The Cool Kids are going during the hour-long set.

Tony Allen
6:30 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
You'll have time to grab some more picnic food (or, you know, work a little) before heading back to the park for the evening show, featuring pioneering Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen. Although Fela Kuti receives much of the accolades for the sound, it was Allen who served as the engineer, laying down the marathon-long percussive blueprints. To put it into perspective: if Fela is the James Brown of Afrobeat then Tony Allen is Clyde Stubblefield.

Collision Theory
7:30 p.m. at Links Hall; $10-$12
Curated by Links Hall Artistic Associates,Rachel Damon and Dan Mohr, this show offers musicians and dancers colliding in improvised performance. This final installment includes a video retrospective of the show's run, plus collaborations between Adriana Durant and Charles Rumback and Frank Rosaly and Zachary Whittenburg.

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Zoe Kravitz brings some much-needed femininity to the city on Sunday.

If the Blackhawks victory and subsequent celebrations have you a little burnt out on machismo, the second installment of Venus Zine's After Hours series on Sunday is just what you need. The female-powered event at Debonair Social Club features DJ sets by The Donnas and Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny) beginning at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door, with benefits going to Autism Speaks.

Both acts will be playing live earlier in the evening across the street at Double Door -- and you could be there for free, if you RSVP to events@venuszine.com. Five winners will be chosen to attend the show (with guests) and also meet the artists.

OPEN:
Epic Burger -- The popular, sustainable burger spot opens a second location on the south edge of Lincoln Park (in the Best Buy shopping center).
Gaztro-Wagon -- When not out roaming the streets in their new food truck (if it ever gets fully approved, that is), these naanwich-makers will be preparing food (available for takeout) at this Edgewater storefront.
Shallots Bistro -- We recently reported this gourmet kosher spot as closed, but it was actually moving to a new, permanent location in Skokie.
The Wormhole -- This '80s-themed coffeehouse has begun its time-travel adventure in Wicker Park.

CLOSING:
ESPN Zone -- The Disney-owned sports-bar chain is closing most locations around the country. June 16 is the last day for the Chicago branch.

CLOSED:
Kan Pou -- The Chonburi-influenced Thai spot in North Center has closed its doors.
Hortex 2 -- Stylish Polish cafe on Irving Park seems to have served its last pierogi (the phone is disconnected, and paper is up on the windows).


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If you watched "Top Chef Masters" this season, you know that Marcus Samuelsson has some major grilling chops. Well, come June 26 and 27, you can learn from the master during the chef's second-annual BBQ Bootcamp at C-House.

Samuelsson (the owner), executive chef Nicole Pederson and pastry chef Toni Roberts will offer demonstrations of North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee styles on the restaurant's rooftop grills, as guests enjoy Goose Island beers, specialty Bacardi cocktails and light appetizers (you'll also get to taste some of the grilled fare). The event, which runs from noon-2 p.m. each day, costs $75. Purchase tickets by callling Bridget at (312) 787-3510 or emailing bbqbootcamp@c-houserestaurant.com.

Remember when foie gras was illegal in Chicago? Seems like a long time ago. Now, not only will you find the controversial delicacy on menus all over town, but there's actually a Chicago Foie Gras Week (June 11-19) and a Foie Gras Museum opening on Friday. Ok, they're both associated with the same place (Cyrano's Bistrot & Wine Bar), but still. During the promotion, Chef Didier Durand will prepare some of his favorite foie gras dishes in addition to recreating signature appetizers from chef friends including Michael Tsonton (Hotel Sax), Mark Gross (Oceanique) and Michael Lachowicz (Restaurant Michael).

Here's are the special events in store for all you liver lovers:

Friday, June 11
- The opening of the Foie Gras Museum (basically a lot of information posted on the walls of Cyrano's).
- Guest chef Kent Kaufman

Tuesday, June 15
- Mark Caro, author of The Foie Gras Wars, makes an appearance at 6 p.m.

Thursday, June 17
-Guest chef Michael Foley

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Chicago Blues Festival
Friday-Sunday at Grant Park; free
Despite the absence of marquee names like Keith Richards and Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - both of whom have graced its stages in years past - and budget cuts that have slimmed the event down from four days to three, the fest is still the largest of its kind in the world. And it's still absolutely free. Centerstage's Blues Fest picks include Big George Brock & The House Rockers, Rev. K.M. Williams and Guitar Shorty.

Can't wait for the annual Taste of the Nation event (August 12 at Aragon Ballroom)? Get a sneak peek with tonight's preview party at SUB 51 (beneath HUB 51), featuring open bar, passed appetizers, desserts from Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate and more. Best of all, your $15 ticket purchase will go toward your Taste of the Nation ticket, so it's almost like it's free! The event runs 6-8:30 p.m.; check out the Facebook page.

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photo: Patty Michels

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 twice a week.

When we’re feeling glum, my dog and I like to dress up as James Dean and Natalie Wood and head for the planetarium. If we are in particular need of a pick-me-up, we chickie-run there on our bicycles. (You’d be surprised at how competitive the dog is; I always ditch first. But maybe that’s just 'cause her collar gets caught.) True, the Adler Planetarium is not the Griffin Observatory, but neither are the dog and I iconic movie stars. Sometimes one makes do with what one has. Well, right now, you can make do for free (which, coincidentally is what the dog does), because the Adler Planetarium is offering gratis general admission through June 11. Just leave your pistol at home, Plato.

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While there is an additional fee for special shows, the dog and I plan to enjoy Planet Explorers, a space adventure that allows children ages three to eight to investigate all aspects of space exploration. We’ll also visit the Moon, a permanent exhibition which features the restored Gemini 12 spacecraft. After that we’ll probably grab some panini at Café Galileo, at which point I’ll look deep into the dog’s eyes and, gesturing toward the majestic Chicago skyline and the boundless firmament beyond I’ll say, “Once you been up there you know you've been someplace.” That’s usually when she steals my panini, and I get mad because Natalie’s much too ladylike to ever do that. “You’re tearing me apart!” I’ll say, but only half-heartedly, since we’re both overtired. Time to call it a day. We have big weekend plans. We’re gonna put on our custom-made Rhett and Scarlet costumes and pretend Andersonville’s Midsommarfest is the burning of Atlanta. Care to join?

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The big Blackhawks parade isn't the only exciting sports-related event going on downtown tomorrow. The South African Consulate of Chicago will host a two-day World Cup festival at Daley Plaza starting on Friday, with live entertainment, contests and, of course, broadcasts of the days' major matches.

The event runs from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Daily broadcasts:

Friday, June 11
9 a.m.: South Africa vs. Mexico
1:30 p.m.: France vs. Uruguay

Saturday, June 12

9 a.m.: Nigeria vs. Argentina
1:30 p.m.: England vs. USA

This is just one of many World Cup celebrations hosted by the Consulate, including a soccer tournament and Finals watch party on July 11.

Check out Centerstage for more Chicago World Cup events.

Here's a real reason to cheer the Blackhawks' victory: free food!

Wear Blackhawks gear into any Wow Bao location today and you'll score a free meal, up to $10.


Also today: $1 subs (the first six on the menu) at Jimmy John's from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.! (via Grub Street Chicago)

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Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
6:30 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
Rebel ngoni (goat-skin sheathed string instrument) player Bassekou Kouyate is a Mali Afro-pop musician who kind of did to his country's music what Dylan did to folk with the electric guitar; he was the first ngoni player to stand up and string the instrument over his shoulder. At this free show, he'll unleash a set of his award-winning, disco-threaded tribal blues before enlisting some old Howlin' Wolf backing band musicians (Otis Taylor, Eddie Shaw and Hubert Sumlin) for a flashback jam session.

Sketchbook Festival
8 p.m. at Chopin Theatre; $25
Sketchbook: dedicated to putting the 500-channels-of-cable experience on stage since 2001. Collaboraction's flagship short play festival -- now in its 10th year -- is a hyped-up, drum-n-bass blast of multi-media theatricality. And if you're bored, even for a second, don't worry. A different experience is just a blink away. Tonight's preview performance features nine 10-minute plays by Chloe Johnston, Andy Grigg and others. The fest runs through June 27.

Day Games and Heartbreaks
8 p.m. at Pub Theater; $10
Summer is here, the lights at Wrigley are kindling, and the Red Line is filling up with suburbanites who don't know how to ride trains. Celebrate the season with "Day Games and Heartbreaks," a sketch show about that most hapless and pure-hearted of creatures: the Cubs fan. Performing at Pub Theater at Fizz Bar & Grill, where a sorrows-drowning brew is never more than a few feet away.

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!

Let it be known that I predicted Hawks in 6 from day one of the playoffs -- that said, tonight will be a major sports-fan heaven just about anywhere you go. Here are the best and worst pickup lines for this special occasion:

Best: "What do you say we drop the gloves and go at it?"

Worst: "Don't Toews me bro." (This will still get a good laugh.)

Good luck boys! Time to puck up Philly!

The Chicago edition of the World Naked Bike Ride is this Saturday. If you hadn't heard about it, don't be ashamed -- details about the event have, as always, been under wraps. The reason is that while organizers want a lot of participants in this annual protest of oil consumption, they don't want to announce to the more easily offended among us (read: police) exactly where this skin-baring event will occur.

So if you're interested, here's what you do. Go to the website and sign up for the email list. On Saturday, you'll be notified of where to go (the pre-ride gathering is from 6-9 p.m., and the ride is from 9 p.m.-midnight). A note: almost anything goes in terms of attire, but body paint is recommended (as are black ribbons to represent the Gulf oil spill).

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Chuck D will discuss blues, rap and race during the second Blues and the Spirit event.

Blues and the Spirit II
Wednesday-Thursday at Parmer Hall, Dominican University; $75
For its biannual symposium commemorating African-Americans' place in Chicago music, Dominican University hosts Public Enemy's Chuck D., as well as Dr. Karen M. Wilson and family members and friends of the late Howlin' Wolf. The event will be spread out over two nights, and include speakers, performances, awards and more.

Family Fun Festival
10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
The kid-centric event series kicks off another season today at Millennium Park, with performers Little Miss Ann and Ameba (1 p.m.). Also of note: the popular Wiggleworms sing-along (10 a.m.) and the Activity Zone featuring hands-on crafts.

Sizwe Banzi is Dead
7:30 p.m. at Court Theatre; $10-$40
Athol Fugard's collaboratively written story of a man who pretends to be dead in order to live explores identity and the political power of storytelling. This production, which closes on Sunday, features new, intimate staging by Court Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson.

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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 twice a week.

There’s no one hotter than an actor, except maybe an addict. And the only thing hotter than an addict is an addict in recovery; older, wiser, more chiseled. Well, look out Chicago, because the hottest guy to admit his life has become unmanageable is headed our way.

Best known for his work in films such as “Chaplin,” “Iron Man” and “Less Than Zero,” Robert Downey, Jr., a two time Golden Globe winner, will be presented with the Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award at the Ritz-Carlton on June 19. Unrelated, if Robert Downey, Jr. were my husband (and I’m not saying he isn’t), every time we had sex, I’d make him tell me about his six months in jail. Anyway, he’s twice been nominated for an Oscar and received the Screen Actor’s Guild award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series based on his stint on "Ally McBeal."
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Although I suggested the committee refer to the event as “A Sleepover with Robert Downey, Jr.,” it’s actually billed as “An Evening with Robert Downey, Jr.," and will be co-chaired by Ellen Sandor and Bill Marcus. During the gala, host Todd Phillips, director of “The Hangover,” will conduct a live interview with Robert. I’m hoping Phillips brings the tiger because the only thing hotter than an actor/recovered addict is an actor/recovered addict and a tiger.

With event proceeds benefiting the Gene Siskel Center's lecture series, tickets (now sold out) include cocktails and dinner as well as a raffle and live auction -- and at 400 dollars a pop, Robert himself better be on the block.

It's apparently the season for walking tours -- and this one's sure to be the funniest.

The Second City has announced the return of its Neighborhood Tour, which offers humorous exploration of Old Town courtesy of tour guide and writer Margaret Hicks. Attendees will learn about the 'hood's architecture and history, paying particular attention to the favorite haunts of Second City alumni. The tour begin and end at the theater itself, giving guests a chance to check out all the history within those walls. The roughly two-hour experience runs every Sunday (1 p.m.) and Wednesday (4 p.m.) from June 13-September 5, and tickets ($15) are available here0.

Are you one of those music fans who passed on the early-bird tickets to this summer's Lollapalooza, preferring to save your money for a single day of music? Now's the time to act. The festival has announced the full schedule for the August 6-8 event, and has released single-day tickets ($90) to the masses.

We'll have a full rundown of all the conflicts and tough decisions a little later, but here's the must-know info on which top acts are playing on which day:

Friday: Lady Gaga, The Strokes, The Black Keys, Mavis Staples
Saturday: Phoenix, Green Day, Social Distortion, Spoon, The xx
Sunday: Soundgarden, Arcade Fire, MGMT, The National, Erykah Badu

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An Evening with David Sedaris
7:30 p.m. at Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre; $35
The popular humorist returns to the Steppenwolf to read from his forthcoming book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, due to be released in October. The performance will be followed by a Q&A session and book/CD signing.

Sanctified Grumblers
8:30 p.m. at Hideout; $5
Eric Noden, best known for his resonator pickings with harpist Joe Filisko, combines forces with the late Devil in a Woodpile's Rick Sherry to scratch their jug and ragtime itch a bit deeper. Expect more kazoo and foot-drum as opposed to the stand-up bass, PBR-swilling residencies of yore.

Taste of Chicago Preview
11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington; free
Get a taste of what will be available at this year's Taste of Chicago, June 25-July 4 in Grant Park. As at the official event, admission is complimentary, but even the smallest portion of food will cost ya. The preview runs through tomorrow afternoon.

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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!

Once upon a time, a novel called The Notebook was made into a sappy yet sexy movie that left people romanticizing Alzheimer's disease and fantasizing about rowboat dates through nature. Here's how to make those dreams come true (minus the debilitating disease):

RICH MAN: Once a month, Chicago River Paddle offers a "dinner cruise" called the Moonlight Dinner Paddle. For $45 a person, you get to choose a boat and head out with your sweetheart in the early evening from the Chicago River on the Northwest Side, stopping for a riverside picnic dinner of Persian chicken skewers and grilled veggies from Noon-o-Kabab vegetarian options available, before paddling back by moonlight. The trip is around three hours long, departing at 6 p.m. Call (773) 704-2663 soon -- this month's trip is on Saturday! -- for reservations.

POOR MAN: In the perpetual search for free (or nearly free) things to do in Chicago that might remotely be romantic, I am constantly defaulting to Chicago Park District offerings. This week is no different, because beach season officially opened on May 28. While the Rich Man enjoys turtle sightings and the antique Addison Bridge, you and your cheap date can hit Kathy Osterman Beach (aka Hollywood Beach), a native dune habit and bird and butterfly sanctuary. No life preserver needed.

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The Three Little Pigs burger will have you huffin' and puffin'.

How does a burger sound for lunch today? How about a different burger every day this week? Your cardiologist may not approve, but Rockit chef James Gottwald won't tell. His restaurant's annual Burgerfest returns to both the River North and Wrigleyville locations today. In addition to the usual Rockit burger, and turkey, angus and lobster versions, Gottwald will offer a different specialty burger each day through Friday. Take a look at the menu below and take your pick. Each is $12, including fries. Shakes and root beer floats are also available for $5 each.

Monday
Three Little Pigs Burger
Ground pork patty, pulled BBQ pork, sugar-cured bacon and cheddar

Tuesday
Fruit de Mer Burger
Shrimp, scallop, salmon and lobster with tobiko caviar aioli

Wednesday
Turkey Dinner Burger
With all the fixins’, including turkey gravy and cranberry relish

Thursday
Black Angus "Oscar" Burger
Black angus beef, lump crabmeat, asparagus, with a béarnaise sauce

Friday
Chicago Style Burger
Seven traditional toppings of a Chicago-style hot dog but on a burger


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She & Him
6:30 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
It was pretty much a no-brainer that the combined powers of a popular indie singer-songwriter (M. Ward) and a popular indie actress and singer (Zooey Deschanel) would attract a strong indie audience. But She & Him is more than just a marketing ploy, as the duo's second album (the appropriately titled "Volume Two") proves with another batch of catchy, understated pop, including a great cover of NRBQ's "Ridin' in My Car." Local garage act Hollows supports at this free show.

Boom Boom Room
10 p.m. at Green Dolphin Street; $10
Nothing about Green Dolphin Street is the same -- except for its venerable club night, which has been going strong for over 15 years now. Catch DJs Just Joey, Uncle Milty, Michael Serafini and Diz at their party-rocking best tonight.

Impress These Apes
8 p.m. at ComedySportz Theatre; $10
The fifth season of this eight-week talent competition kicks off tonight, as contestants perform in a different talent challenge each week, with the goal of entertaining three hyper-intelligent apes from the future. The contestant with the most points at the end of eight weeks is crowned Least Pitiful Human.


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

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OPEN:
Pour Drinks & Eats -- Joe Parra, the general manager of this Lakeview spot, took the garden concept up a notch with moody lighting, cozy seating, flat screens and a thought-out menu of affordable fare.
FreshBerry -- Yet another frozen-yogurt chain has set up shop in Chicago, this time in Streeterville.
Donatella Mediterranean Bistro -- Donatella Majore, owner of the now-closed La Cucina di Donatella, is back for more, opening this Mediterranean-inspired spot in Evanston.
Jimmy Green's Bar & Grill -- This self-described "all-American sports bar" serves up everything from pizza to hummus in the South Loop.
City Provisions Deli -- Gourmet catering company City Provisions (headquartered just up the street) offers up gourmet sandwiches, sides and a small selection of groceries at this shop.
Ojo de Agua Taqueria -- Get tacos, burritos and quesadillas on handmade tortillas at this taqueria on the border of Bucktown and Logan Square.
Kim & Scott's Cafe Twist -- The folks behind frozen-food brand Kim and Scott's Gourmet Pretzels now have a storefront restaurant to call their own.

CLOSING:
Marche -- Got a steak frites craving? Better get there fast. The French West Loop spot plans to close its doors on June 13.

CLOSED:
Martini Park -- No more adults will be playing at this River North lounge.
Sugar Syndicate -- One third of Lincoln Square's "Sweet Collective" has come down from its sugar high.
Purple Haze – The Northwestern-themed bar didn't last long in what seems to be a cursed space in Lakeview. The new inhabitant: Beer.
Shallots Bistro -- Apparently, gourmet kosher fare wasn't for everyone.
Shrimp Walk -- The Highwood Thai spot remains open for private parties.
Viet Bistro -- The Rogers Park restaurant stayed classy 'til the end.
En*Thai*Ce -- Andersonville just lost a favorite pad see eiw purveyor.

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.

Ever wished a parking-ticket fairy would come and wipe your car's slate clean? That dream could come true tonight at Faith & Whiskey. The Lincoln Park bar's first "Parking Ticket Party" invites patrons to bring in all their outstanding tickets; one raffle winner will get a cash prize equal to the total amount, up to $1,200. Even if you aren't a scofflaw, there are still incentives, like $4 draft beers served in traffic cones, $5 Traffic Light shots, $5 Irish Car Bombs, $5 Jim Beam drinks and shots and $10 domestic pitchers.

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Mayfest Chicago
Thursday-Sunday at Lincoln and Leland; free
We're on board for any festival that celebrates its opening by tapping a keg of beer. At this traditional German fest, you can enjoy authentic food and music, including shows by the Polkaholics and Paloma. Oh, and beer. Lots of beer.

A couple updates to last week's report that the popular "Five Buck Club" would be discontinued at the newly acquired AMC/Regal Cinemas (Webster Place and City North 14):

  1. The club will actually continue until Friday, June 18. Current eligible titles include "MacGruber," "Robin Hood" and "How to Train Your Dragon."
  2. Starting June 18, the normal price for all movies, all day, any time Monday through Thursday will be $5 – no club or cards necessary. There will be an upcharge for IMAX and 3D films, and for weekday openings and holiday periods.

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Aaron Snook as Brian Jones and Simone Roos as Anita Pallenberg in "Aftermath."photo: Johnny Knight

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 twice a week.

I see a lot of plays and I hate most of them. Not because I’m a curmudgeon, but because I’m a critic. Potato pot-tah-toh, you say? God, why would you say that? First of all, it’s outmoded, done to death, and second, you’re paid to fetch me scones and tepid Earl Grey. In a pinch, to get down on all fours so I can use your back as a desk, but never to speak.

Where was I? Ah yes, the theater. With a duty to celebrate the superior and eradicate the appalling, I’m like the King’s food taster: It’s my job to vomit and die so you don’t have to. (See my review of "Girls Vs Boys".) While I spend most of my time nauseated and mumbling about the apocalyptic state of live theater, occasionally, I unearth a show that reaffirms my faith in its transformative power.

Case in point, Chicago’s surprise sensation, "Aftermath," the deceptively straightforward story of Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones' troubled life and untimely death. Although "Aftermath"’s closing weekend is sold out, Signal Ensemble Theatre will remount the play November 6 in the company’s brand-new space in North Center. Meanwhile, sate yourself with this interview with "Aftermath" playwright and Signal Co-Artistic director Ronan Marra. But first fetch my humidor, and throw another log on the fire. I fear I’ve caught a chill.

What’s your reaction to "Aftermath"’s overwhelmingly positive press?
We're all just enjoying it. You never know when something's going to hit and you just roll with it when it does.

Did you write "Aftermath" with certain ensemble members in mind?
I had been researching Jones for a while, but didn't start drafting until after I had done several shows with Aaron (Snook) and felt he'd make a great Brian. Joe (Stearns), who plays Keith and shares artistic director duties with me, is a great guitarist and that would obviously be key, plus I knew Keith would bring most of the comedy, and Joe's a guy you want for that as well. Even if I didn't initially write a part for someone, I certainly started to during in-rehearsal rewrites.

What was it like to cast?
In regards to casting the Stones and George Harrison, it was an interesting mix of choosing actors who could play their characters' respective instruments and look at least somewhat like their characters. There was a balance there. I'd accept a little less mirror image for a little more musicianship.

What’s your favorite Rolling Stones tune?
Desert island, I'd probably have to say "Sympathy for the Devil." Or "Loving Cup." Or "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Or "Gimme Shelter." Ok, I guess I can't do it.

Would Aaron Snook marry me if I asked nicely?
Really? Even with that haircut? Honestly, his fiancée (Simone Roos, who plays Anita) might have something to say about that. And don't let their onstage antics fool you. They are a perfectly happy couple.

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Hockey fans and rock fans alike can join together to cheer on the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals at Metro on Sunday. The music venue and XRT will be showing Game 5 of the Hawks’ series against the Philadelphia Flyers with a special show from Jon Fratelli. … You know, of the rock group The Fratellis. … Not ringing a bell? OK, it’s the group that sings Chelsea Dagger. … Still nothing? OK, it’s the “duh duh-duh-duh duh-duh-duh” song they play at the United Center after every Hawks goal. Ohhhhh, that guy!

The free show starts at 5 and the game is at 7. Get tickets at XRT’s web site or text HOCKEY to 5-9393.

And if you’re looking for other places to watch the Hawks in the Finals, check out our top picks.

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We can't promise it'll be pretty.

Many people dream about making it into the Guiness Book of World Records. We're betting that few of them dream of doing it by applying lipstick. But that's what Estee Lauder Global Makeup Stylist, Rick DiCecca, aims to do tomorrow afternoon at Macy's on State Street (111 N. State, 1st floor cosmetics department). From noon-1 p.m., he'll attempt to smear the stuff on at least 181 participants' lips. Can he do it? Will anyone care? Find out the answers to these and other ridiculous questions tomorrow.

In the grand Chicago tradition of combining drinking with other disciplines (see Drinking & Writing Festival, Bye Bye Liver) comes a new event for the summer: the Historic Pub Crawl. Sean Parnell, of the Chicago Bar Project and the author of Historic Bars of Chicago, will lead these tours of old local taverns, which run from 6-10 p.m. on June 24, July 15 and August 19. Tickets ($40) can be purchased at www.historicbarsofchicago.com.

The more observant (or drunk) among you might note that this is not a totally original idea, as the Chicago History Museum has been running similar tours for some time. Upcoming events include a tour of Chicagoland breweries (June 15 and 17, 6:45 p.m.; $45), an exploration of River North taverns (July 22, 6:45 p.m.; $25) and "Bars on the Banks," a trolley tour along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan (August 19, 6:45 p.m.; $30).

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Boner Petite wants to redeem itself tonight at Snubfest.


Snubfest Comedy Festival

8 p.m. at Chemically Imbalanced Theater; $10
Comedians who've been rejected from other festivals will perform at this annual event (running through Sunday), which features improvisation, sketch comedy, stand-up and even comedic music. Each night will feature a "Last Snob Standing" contest, with winning performers snagging spots on stages around the country. Tonight's performers: Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Boner Petite, Mason & Mason, A Dozen Red Roses and Unfurled.

Antibalas, The Very Best
6:30 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
It's an African celebration in the first installment of this year's Music Without Borders series. Antibalas will bring the AfroBeat-esque funk, while The Very Best (Malawi singer Esau Mwamwaya and London production duo Radioclit) will branch out to include a whole range of eclectic styles.

NBA Finals Viewing Party
8 p.m. at J Bar
Whether you're a Celtics fan, a Lakers fan or just a fan of the game, this kick-off celebration for the Finals (and the beginning of The James Hotel's "Bring LeBron James to the Bulls" campaign, running through July 1). should be a good time. There will be $6 L-Train cocktails, (Jose Cuervo, lime juice, Red Bull, Triple Sec), $3 Miller Lites and a $23 Ultimate James Combo including a 40-day dry-aged burger, fries and a beer. Oh yeah, and you can watch the game on several screens throughout the space (including a big pull-down projection screen), and enjoy giveaways all night long.

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Note: Neither of these people are likely to be found on CoffeeDate.com.


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!

Ever since I started writing a dating blog, friends and readers have sent a steady stream of story ideas my way. The most recent one was CoffeeDate.com, a website that promises easy, low-key meetups. Since it sounded up my alley, I attempted to test it out. (The key word here is attempted).

The member profile fields are mostly standard -- age, gender, looking for, height, build, smoker, five things you can't live without, about me...and APPEARANCE? I laugh to myself and look at the drop-down box. Apparently, I am to rate myself as either below average, average, attractive or very attractive. The site says the answer will not be listed once I upload a picture. Interesting.

Before I even filled out the profile, a 30-year-old man named Robert had "winked" at me (Red Flag 1). As an optimist, I reminded myself that every site has got the creepy guy that winks at everyone (Red Flag 2) and looked at his profile, which had no photo (Red Flag 3). I moved on. (Full disclosure: I'm proud to say I am a woman without a checklist. I am a woman looking for a real, sparkling connection -- something that seems awfully rare with every man I meet these days.)

As I browsed the site in hopes of a Coffee Date with a man between 25 and 30 who lived within 75 miles of my location, the website, disappointingly, reported just four options (one of which was Robert. Red Flag 4). Two had pictures. Neither of them were interesting.

I left my profile up for a week to see if that incident was just a fluke, but eventually just deleted my profile. Unfortunately, I just could not test out the service because of the lack of members.

I should have known the service was too good to be true when it said it was"100% free to use - all we ask in return is for to you visit advertised coffee venues whenever possible." The site's gotta make money somehow, but the blatant advertising just does not seem very romantic.

And actually...it's not, because if Match.com is the Starbucks of online dating, CoffeeDate.com is the run-down, mom-and-pop gas station that only sells Folgers in a paper cup. And if you're like me and looking for a man between 25 and 30 in Chicago, those paper cups are limited to less than a handful.

Off-Loop theater fans will need to update their records -- Theatre Building Chicago will now be known as Stage 773. The venerable three-theater space, home to many a transient company over the years, was sold on Friday, with Stage 773 (formerly Lukaba Productions) to become the primary tenant. The company is helmed by Brian Posen, who also runs the annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (it'll celebrate its 10th anniversary in the space in January 2011).

The theater will still rent space to outside companies, according to Theatre in Chicago.

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 twice a week.

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Crushes are my lifeblood. I always have a couple in my pocket, like baseball cards I can thumb through on long car rides or when the checkout line at Jewel stretches to the store’s rear. Unlike books, crushes aren’t mentally taxing or physically cumbersome. Unlike cell phones, crushes can’t get you pulled over or give you brain cancer. What crushes can do is lend meaning to an otherwise desultory existence. From my first crush on LeVar Burton (don’t ask) to my longest running crush on Amy Ray (don’t tell), I’ve been a vocal advocate.

But a crush object needn’t be a celebrity. In Chicago, true celebrity run-ins are rare (Vince Vaughn doesn’t count). Better to choose someone accessible. For example, right now I have crushes on a couple of waiters, the blonde teller at my bank, men who walk on the street side to protect their dates, people with more than two year’s worth of city stickers on their windshields, the dude in a wheelchair on the corner of Clark and Berwyn, several baristas, all German shepherds, and anyone wearing a chef’s hat. With so many options, nary a day passes without some sighting, so I keep a pair of night-vision goggles and some chloroform in my backseat just in case!

Apart from mounting legal fees and this ankle bracelet, my crushes have brought me nothing but pleasure. So starting today, I’ll highlight a monthly Chicago Crush, someone I’ve sucked dry and discarded decided to generously share.

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Chicago Crush of the Month

Name: A.J. Durand
Hometown: Capac, Michigan
Profession: Yoga Instructor
Hobbies: I pluck on a guitar sometimes even though I have no clue how to play, I like short stories, I have an insatiable appetite for Netflix instant viewing, I love to cook, I name my plants, I like "finding" music on the internet and making it "magically appear" on my iPod.

Why yoga?
Yoga is fun and transforms your idea of yourself. I've become a better person with practice and I wanted to help other people see how awesome they are!

You do some drag. Any performances stick out?

I once performed "New" by No Doubt by un-packaging a brand new dildo and singing into it like a microphone.

Describe your perfect day.

Really yummy breakfast, super sweaty yoga class, nap in the sun, outdoor concert, and a few too many glasses of red wine.

What yoga pose are you likely to bust out on a first date?
If I were on a date with someone who practices, my current favorite, Kapinjilasana, a crazy alien pose where you balance on one hand and one foot and bring the other foot to your head. If they didn't practice yoga I'd do my best not to scare them away.

Relationship deal-breaker?
I'm not a jealous or possessive person, you can cheat on me, that's fine, but if you don't pick up your dog's poop, I can't respect your ethics. Also, the words "I'm an actor" usually make me run for the door.

First crush?

I think all the girls my age had a sweet spot for Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Although, I have a longstanding crush on Elijah Wood, from Radio Flyer to Frodo Baggins *sigh*

Why are you crushworthy?

I have a couple tattoos which can often fool people into thinking I have some cool kid street cred, but if you like “Battlestar Galactica” and “Doctor Who” then I might just be the dork for you.

Any questions for me?

Um, is that your tent in my backyard?

AJ is proud to teach donation-based yoga classes in Wicker Park. He can be found Tuesdays/Sundays at four p.m. teaching at Yogaview Division and on Wednesdays at four p.m. at Nature Yoga Sanctuary. If you want to meet his alter ego, the one and only Ms. Reno Scarlet Couture, he will be performing in the Cardio Cabaret with the Fabulous Ladies of Fitness on July 8 at The Whistler in Logan Square.

Think you or someone you know is crushworthy? Write me at strosenblum@centerstagechicago.com, subject line Sun Times Blog Crush. You provide the nomination, I’ll provide the binoculars.


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Erykah Badu

7:30 p.m. at Chicago Theatre; $49.50-$69
When Erykah Badu released the video for her single "Window Seat," the viral world got an eyeful of just how far she was willing to go in order to convey a message. As entertaining as it was, it was a little unfortunate to see the act overshadow the song itself, and it was even more sad to see how once-loyal Badu fans jumped ship, thinking that her naked romp though Dallas was nothing more than a gimmick. But the video, which was not entirely original as it was inspired by Matt and Kim's "Lessons Learned," is in many ways indicative of the album it's featured on ("New Amerykah Part 2 (Return Of The Ankh)"). From a creative standpoint it's important to look at her past two albums as a unified body of work as opposed to two separate projects. "New Amerykah Part 1 (4th World War)" was a darker album that gave rise to an aggressive side of Erykah, while part two softened the spectrum with its sensitive lyrics and ethereal vibes, giving credence to the idea that even Badu isn't immune to the yin and yang of raw emotion. Either way, the publicity has given Erykah a larger stage than she could have ever imagined, and she looks as comfortable as ever standing atop the peaks of hip-hop's elite. N.E.R.D. and Janelle Monae provide support for what should be one of the best shows of the summer.

DJ Premier

9 p.m. at The Shrine; $10
After the passing of legendary emcee Keith Elam (aka Guru), the hip-hop community responded appropriately by paying tribute whenever and wherever possible. The outpouring of love and condolences to the Elam family was touching, but less than a month after the fact it still seems like people are mourning over the loss. To help move forward, artists like longtime friend and collaborator DJ Premier (together, the two were known as Gang Starr) have stepped up to the plate, honoring Guru with a wealth of stories as well as a tribute mixtape. Premier's set at The Shrine will be featuring some of those classic Guru/Gang Starr cuts, and overall it'll be a night to remember as The Shrine will be in the midst of celebrating its one-year anniversary.

Reading Under the Influence
7-9 p.m. at Sheffield's; $3
Things get a little risque during this month's installment of the reading series, which offers up a "Slut"-themed show. Gina Frangello (Slut Lullabies) and Zoe Zolbrod (Currency) celebrate book releases, while local writers Josh Alletto and Charlie Vlahogiannis will read work based on the theme. There'll be trivia, too.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Beer
Guess what this Lakeview bar serves?

Weekly Treat: Sake it to yourself at Izakaya Hapa
The downtown bearer of the city's latest bar trend offers half-price rice wine tonight.

Off the Beaten Path: Cafe 787
Mouth-watering surprises await at this Puerto Rican cafe on the West Side.

Man We're Crazy About: Anteprima
Outstanding octopus and perfect pasta dishes are on the menu at this friendly Andersonville eatery.

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

Rockin' Johnny Burgin
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." This week's hour is dedicated to the youngest comeback upstart on the West Side, Johnny Burgin, who'll sling the soulful tweaks and howls that originally made him a session favorite in the '80s with the Delmark set. Burgin's back after taking a decade-long break to raise his family.

Midwest Independent Film Festival
6 p.m. at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; $10-$15
The monthly festival returns with its annual Comedic Shorts Program, featuring selections from this year's Sundance and South by Southwest Film Festivals and performances from Brian Boland, Andy St. Clair, Toby Jones, Greg Hess and T.J. Miller. Filmmakers will be there to take questions after the screenings.

Everything is Terrible
9 p.m. at Hungry Brain; free
What will get you out of that post-holiday weekend funk? How about a bunch of disturbing videos relating to "Summer Fun"? Video blog Everything Is Terrible hosts this strange showcase in Roscoe Village.

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