Chicago Sun-Times
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July 2010 Archives

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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.

I’m the kind to charge irritably through intersections, head down, phone to my ear, refusing to lock eyes with anyone in my periphery for fear of being asked for money, harassed, followed home. The young idealists with clip boards inquiring, “Got a minute for Greenpeace/Lake Michigan/Gay Rights?” Mentally I support them, still, I’ve been known to respond “What about broke writers, got a minute for me?” Or once, nastily, “Do I look like I have a minute, I’m on the phone!” Usually I blame the city; disconnected, overwhelming, impossible to negotiate without growing numb.

But some magical people make neighborhoods out of cities, communities from scattered passersby. Chicago artist, poet, actor and playwright Tony Fitzpatrick is one such magician. His show, This Train, which debuted at Berwyn’s 16th Street Theater, completes its short run this weekend at Steppenwolf.

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Al Green
7:30 p.m. Saturday at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino; $45-$85
Although Reverend Al Green's voice has waned a bit over the years, his last solo album, Lay It Down, proved that he still has the pipes — and charisma — to capture a listener's heart. For his set at Horseshoe Casino you can expect him to explore some of those new ventures, but rest assured, no Al Green performance is complete without a stop through some of his classic Hi Records material.

The Ruby Sunrise
7:30 p.m. through Sunday at Theater on the Lake; $17.50
In summertime, the good television is on stage. Rinne Froff's fantasia, about a female inventor and her sitcom-writing daughter, is a quick-witted story of girl genius and its casualties. The show, a remount of the Gift's immensely appealing 2009 production, plays at Theater on the Lake this weekend only. If you want to catch it, get off the couch.

Newberry Book Fair
Through Sunday at Newberry Library; free
From antiques to zoology, you'll find more than 100,000 books on every topic, most for less than $2. Get validated and you can park at 100 W. Chestnut or 100 E. Walton for $7 for up to eight hours.

Wicker Park Fest
Noon-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at Milwaukee Avenue (between North and Wood); $5
Expect a primo lineup of live music, local cuisine and art in an eclectic neighborhood. Acts this year include emo-punk pioneers Cap'n Jazz, plus Holy F*ck, The Gaslamp Killer and Local H.

Lincoln Park Arts & Music Festival
Noon Saturday-Sunday on Racine (between Fullerton and Webster); $7
See work from nearly 100 artists at this newish (second year) street fest. There are also two stages of live music, featuring Virginia rockers the Pat McGee Band (Saturday) and Louisiana accordionist extraordinaire Buckwheat Zydeco (Sunday).

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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!

Few attributes in men are universally appreciated. So while looks can be subjective, a good heart is one that can firmly be noted as a catch-all attribute of a good catch.

Tonight, ladies and gents, comes a happy hour where you can meet at least 20 variably good looking men (between 24 and 44 years old) with invariably good hearts -- all vying to win the One Man Chicago man-pageant of sorts benefiting their respective charities.

And because organizers would not immediately confirm if the men were single and available, come to J Bar, 610 N. Rush St. from 6-8 p.m. tonight to find out for yourself at a meet-and-greet happy hour with $6 "One Mantinis" and free appetizers.

Then as an informed voter, head over to their website to view profiles and cast your ballot before the big showdown on Sept. 2. He who is crowned "represents the best of the city from their perspectives of community involvement, personality, intelligence and fitness," organizers said. Thirty percent of ticket proceeds will go to the charities, which range from the Ronald McDonald House, Center on Halsted, PAWS Chicago, Catholic Charities, and Institute for Latino Progress.

Can't make it tonight? Here are three other happy hours next month (all events from 6-8 p.m.):
--Tuesday, Aug. 10 -- Rockit Wrigleyville, 3700 N. Clark St.
--Thursday, Aug. 19 -- John Allan's, 111 W. Jackson Blvd.
-- Wednesday, Aug. 25 -- Market Bar Chicago, 1113 W. Randolph St.

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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.

A former friend once met me for coffee in Andersonville. Glancing up from his dirty Chai, spiked from a flask stashed in his Chrome bag, he snarled, “It’s like Norman Rockwell threw up out there.”

This friend “lived” in Bucktown. I ensnare the word in quotations because his apartment, though hardwood-floored and sunlit, seemed inhabited by meth-addicted ferrets, impossible to do more there than subsist.

While not hip enough for everyone, Andersonville meets every need on my checklist:

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Smashing Pumpkins
8 p.m. at Metro; $100
The Pumpkins play a special benefit show for Madina Lake bassist Matthew Leone, who was hospitalized after intervening in a domestic dispute on the street. Hopefully you got lucky in the weekend raffle for tickets, because they are just about sold out. But true Pumpkins fans will find a way in, even if it means “negotiating” with one of the guys who hang out on Clark and Waveland before Metro shows. Just tell ‘em Our Town sent ya, and they’ll give you a discount. (Note: Don’t really do this.)

Mark Broussard
8 p.m. at SPACE; $30-$40
Didn’t win a raffle ticket, or just don’t want to drop a hundo on the Pumpkins? How about a more low-key show in Evanston with this soulful R&B crooner, who is touting his new album Keep Coming Back. While the album is getting rave reviews, he’s even better in person.

Bordello Artist Series
7:30 at Studio L’Amour; $60
Aspiring artists, don't miss this opportunity to draw the human form in its most alluring and sultry with this life drawing class, a more sedate version of the popular Dr. Sketchy's series. Meant to evoke a salon-soft, absinthe-tinted vibe, "Bordello" will let members of the public practice their art with stars of the neo-burlesque. This month's theme is "Scenes from a German Brothel," so remember to bring plenty of blue.

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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 is something about a breathtaking view of a city skyline that screams romance.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris and The Empire State Building in New York City have always been linked to such glory and spectacle, but let's not forget the iconic choices here in Chicago.

RICH MAN: A day at the Willis (Sears) Tower is a sure-to-be-fantastic and refreshing "Tourist in your Own City" date that 1.3 million other people visit each year.

The Skydeck and view is obviously very cool, but don't forget the exhibits about our great city, high-tech telescopes, and summer concert series on the plaza – head over this Friday from noon-1:30 p.m. for music and dance by The Boilermaker Jazz Band.

Thirty bucks gets you in the express line to the tallest(?) building in the Western Hemisphere. It also provides you the opportunity to brag about the time you saw Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin from one spot. Cool.

POOR MAN: Enjoy a possibly even better view at the other tall dark building that is part of our pretty skyline known as the John Hancock building.

For the cost of a drink as little as $7.50 (non alcoholic) or a $12 cocktail, you can head up to The Signature Lounge on the 96th floor without an admission fee. You¹ll get great views of the beachfront, Lake Michigan, and the city and, most importantly, a tasty beverage.

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Movies in the Park
The summer-long Park District series features child’s-play fantasy "Where the Wild Things Are" at Cricket Hill (Montrose and Simonds). "The Longshots," about the first girl to play Pop Warner football, plays at Union Park (Ashland and Lake). For a little international flavor, see Cuban import “El Premio Flaco” at Mozart Park (2036 N. Avers Ave). All shows are free.

Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, Bomba Estereo
6:30 p.m. at Millennium Park; free
Sultry soul singer Naomi Shelton will melt the stage with her raspy, powerful lyrics as part of the New Music Mondays series.

Hambingo
8 p.m. Hamburger Mary’s; $5 per card
This ain’t your grandmother’s bingo game. Drag queen Velicity Metropolis makes calling out bingo numbers as raunchy as possible at this adults-only game.

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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.

If Chicago Actor Mierka Girten is associated with MS, it’s by choice. Diagnosed while studying acting at DePaul, Girten hit bottom shortly after when her mother was found to have MS as well. Though the trauma drove her to attempt suicide, she emerged from a four-day coma ready not only to reclaim her life but to help others. Says Girten, “I wrote my one person play, ‘Without Wings,’ and once that was up and running, it was sort of like, well what are we gonna do with [the revenue]? We should give it to other artists.”

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Pierogi Fest
Friday-Sunday in Whiting, Ind.; free
Yes, we know Whiting, Ind. (where?) is a haul, but it's worth it just to see Mr. Pierogi, along with his friends The Pieroguettes and Miss Paczki. They perform a number of musical spoofs, including the ingenious "We're Off to Eat Pierogis" ("We're Off to See the Wizard"). There will also be plenty of family fun, a pierogi toss contest, a beer garden and an art show at this Eastern European festival.

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival
Friday-Sunday; $5
Three days of gallery exhibitions, live music and art events at multiple venues along a two-mile stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square. The long list of curated gallery shows includes names like "The Gutter Exhibition," where the only submission requirement is that work "embodies the physical or mental gutter." While you're there, you can also check out the Logan Square Farmers Market.

Taste of Lincoln Avenue
All day Saturday-Sunday in Lincoln Park; $7-$10
Five stages will host more than 40 music acts, including the Freddy Jones Band, Soul Asylum, Trippin' Billies and 7th Heaven. Also visit the Kids Carnival, which includes a giant slide, petting zoo, face painting and more. There is also a "Virgin" Wine Garden, sponsored by the Virgin family of wines.

Maseo
9 p.m. Friday at darkroom; $10-$15
Although he may be a little less visible than his counterparts, longtime DJ and music connoisseur Maseo has always been known as a DJ's DJ. His technical skills obviously hold weight, otherwise he wouldn't have been De La Soul's DJ for more than 20 years, but it's his song selection that has always made Maseo a must see for hip-hop lovers and beatheads alike. He plays an intimate show at darkroom sans De La.

I Still Love H.E.R. (atributetohiphop)
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at New Regal Theater; $15-$25
See director/star Wendell Tucker's tale of Love 1 is a respected Chicago broadcast personality who is retiring from the biz after becoming disillusioned. The long-running Chicago play makes an encore of sorts this weekend before heading to New York for a November run at Apollo Theater and later on Broadway.

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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 at Single City, we really care about the friendships that keep you sane.

So when you’re sick of trolling Match.com or your local pub for a date this weekend, consider redirecting your attention to build the platonic portion of your social calendar.

Try, for instances, MeetJoe.net, a kind of friend match-maker service.

Started by “Joe” of Roscoe Village, the service promises you one meeting with a single person or in a small group setting after a personal consultation with Joe himself, for the initial ticket price of $29 and then $29 per friendly set up thereafter.

Joe also calls ya the next day to see how the friend-date went, making the service what he calls, “the most low-risk, high-reward social opportunities” you’ll find. Citing customization, privacy, quality, service and value, Joe also describes himself to be a “personal social concierge.”

Maybe you’re current bestie is getting married and you need a new single girl in your life to go out on the town with. Maybe you’re new to the city and just want someone to eat dinner with. Maybe you’re just bored! Whatever the reason, if you are 21 and in the area, Joe wants to set you up with the friend of your dreams.

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B-52s
8 p.m. at Ravinia; $27-$50
Rock your lobster off with the popular ‘80s band, which teams with the Dirtzy Dozen Brass Band for what shapes up to be a rather raucous show at Ravinia.

Beer and Brats Party
5-8 p.m. at Chicago Marriott Downtown; $10
Join famed brewers John and Jake Leinenkugel as they pair home-made sausages with their brews, including the extra-refreshing Summer Shandy.

Carnivale University: Tequila 101
6:30 p.m. at Carnivale; $25 (RSVP required)
Learn about the origins of tequila while sipping and sampling at the popular River West Latin American spot.

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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.

So you don’t like The Indigo Girls, and you couldn’t care less about “Six Feet Under.” Say you prefer Insane Clown Posse and “Jem and the Holograms,” or maybe Shakira and “Diff’rent Strokes” are your thing. The point isn’t my vastly superior taste in music and television, but rather, the idea that all of us are passionate about something.

Now, what if you had the chance to discuss one of your passions with another? Like, you’re hanging with the Posse, playing croquet (‘cause you know they’re big into that) and you lean over to one of them, the guy with all that makeup, and you say, “Excuse me, Mr. Posse, how do you feel about ‘Jem and the Holograms?’” and he says, “Why, it’s the most exquisite animated show about shape-changing rock stars ever. But I always wondered, wasn’t Rio technically cheating on Jerrica when he was with her alter-ego, Jem?” Or you and Shakira are sharing a ham sandwich and the She-Wolf herself confides, “You know, I’m what Willis was talking about.”

I offer these totally plausible examples so you’ll understand my delight when I found myself in conversation with Indigo Girl Amy Ray about the transformative power of Alan Ball’s fantastic TV show, “Six Feet Under.” For more universally relevant Indigo Girls info, including details on Emily Salier’s long-awaited solo project and the inspiration behind the duo’s upcoming holiday album, sashay on over to the full length interview, but for those of you who appreciate the thrill of discussing one of your obsessions with another, behold:

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Chicago Sidewalk Sale
9 a.m.-3 p.m. today and tomorrow at Daley Plaza; free
Shop from dozens of local stores for clothing, jewelry and accessories as the downtown event marks its fourth year.

Classic TV Re-Runs!
7:30 p.m. at Mary’s Attic; $10
Watch live interpretations of classic TV shows at this monthly series in Uptown. This month features animation domination, including “The Simpsons,” “South Park,” “Family Guy” and “Beavis and Butthead.”

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
9 p.m. at Lincoln Hall; $12-$14
LA-based lo-fi mad scientist Ariel "Pink" Rosenberg will play just about anything (armpit, mouthed drum bits, etc.) to get the right sound – which should make a rather interesting live show. Fellow Tinsel Towner Puro Instinct and Memphis’ Magic Kids open.

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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!

Locals often lament Chicago's winter cold is utterly bone-chilling, but “the summers make up for it.”

And while the list of things to love about and in a warm Second City is endless, a visit to the beautiful Museum of Contemporary Art is a must – if only for their beautiful outdoor space on Tuesday evenings (5:30-8 p.m.) through Sept. 28.

RICH MAN: Entry to “Tuesdays on the Terrace”
hosted by our impressive neighborhood art museum – one of the world’s largest for contemporary art – is just $22 a person. It is a steal considering you are treated to a jazz concert as you enjoy an internationally themed dinner buffet prepared by Wolfgang Puck catering, which uses locally-grown produce from the MCA’s own farmer’s market.

RSVP immediately for Tuesday’s night of fun featuring Brazilian cuisine, including grilled churrasco, chimichurri swordfish, grilled eggplant, rice and tomato salad, farmers market salad and dessert.

POOR MAN: So Wolfgang’s out of your league? That’s OK, because you can still enjoy the same jazz concert on a great summer night at MCA with the cuisine of ... a county fair (still romantic!). Bring a blanket and find a spot on the garden lawn, where a few bucks will buy you something from the outdoor grill (burgers, dogs) or drinks at the cash bar on the lower terrace. And while you’re, you know, at a fantastic art museum, walk around the sculpture garden too – all of this for free!

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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.

OMG, big news: coming this weekend to Chicago, a multi-genre, all star outdoor music fest! Not the trendy farm implement one, this festival is named for a contentious biblical ex-wife! It’s under-promoted, misguidedly marketed and badly timed! It’s Lilith Fair (The Return).

Don't have your Pitchfork Music Festival tickets? The show is completely sold out, but you can still get tickets for all three days -- if you hurry.

A limited amount of leftover tickets for each day will be on sale at Union Park starting at 11 a.m. today. Cash only. Good luck!

And if you already have your tickets, check out our festival preview.

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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!

Smoking, religion, parenting are all accepted, and obvious, deal breakers.

But if you are dating in the city, sometimes it's the quieter ones that hurt your budding romances first. In the spirit of finding the mildly bumpy but everlasting road to true love, keep these deal-breakers in mind for your next first date if you are hoping it will be the last.

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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.

What will the gay daughter of an ordained Southern Baptist Minister and a deaf mother say onstage at Gorilla Tango Theater? Not a politically incorrect joke, but a legitimate question. Find the answer at comedian Lianna Carrera’s solo show, “Father, Son and The Holy Gay! or Where in the World is Jennifer Knapp?” From her debut at age four in The Deaf Choir for Jesus to her mom’s secret to dodging a speeding ticket; she’ll tell all on July 18th and 25th at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peak into Carrera’s irreverent mind.

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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!

The grand theater is not just for snooty winos and drama geeks and freaks. Often times, it is just exactly what it is --fun!

And it is a great date idea, although the key for it to work for the masses is to stick to something more low key and modern since the ballet or opera are two definitely acquired tastes. Chicago is full of these kind of gems, so here's two to consider this weekend:

RICH MAN: A good tried-and-true story is almost a guarantee for good theater. Currently playing at the Lookingglass Theater is Lookingglass Alice – a fantastic adaption of the Lewis Carroll original. The exterior looks like a castle, and the space is very small and cozy, which attendees unanimously agree there isn't a bad seat in the house. It is also centrally located next to the Water Tower Place, making for a prime opportunity to walk along the beautiful Mag Mile post or pre-date. Tickets are $32 to $64.

POOR MAN: Support your local artists by going to the Viaduct Theater to see their most current vision That Sordid Little Story – an eccentric bluegrass musical, half of which is in Spanish – by The New Colony about a prophetic concept album that takes its protagonist, Billy, on a journey through the Bible Belt. The music is enjoyable even if you aren’t a bluegrass fan in a must-see Chicago theater with a relaxed atmosphere.

The best part: There’s a bar inside so you can drink while you watch instead of just slamming and sneaking alcohol in during and from intermission. The show is funny and the show's eccentricity leads for great discussion later. $25 gets you a ticket in to the air-conditioned spectacle.

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Saved By the Bell Trivia Night
7:30 p.m. at Ginger’s Ale House; $5
Test your knowledge about Zach, Slater, Kelly, Screech and the Bayside gang at this Lakeview pub.

Dating For Nerds Trivia Night
7 p.m. at Holiday Club; $20-$25
Keeping with the trivia theme, show all the other singles how big your brains are at this mixer, which includes one free drink.

Kent Burnside
9:30 p.m. at Buddy Guy’s Legends; $10
The grandson of blues virtuoso R.L. Burnside, Kent brandishes the same, inherent master-tweak soul, of which he dubs "cotton field disco." Equipped with a five-piece band, and strung-out on lap-steel pulls, Kent digs his Americana, as well.

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Halsted Tastes Better
6 p.m.-midnight on Halsted between Belmont and Addison; $25-$30
Foodies around the city unite at this Boystown feast featuring local restaurants like HB, Chicago Diner and Ann Sather.

Caribou, Budos Band
6:30 p.m at Millennium Park; free
Experimental Canadian rockers, Caribou, perform a free show as part of the New Music Mondays series. Their synthesized and airy dance grooves will be a perfect foil to the grit and thunder brought by Afro-rock aficionados Budos Band.

Miss Wicker Park Pageant
8 p.m. at Double Door; $10
Help crown the queen of Wicker Park as a panel that includes rapper Rhymefest will choose among 10 finalists. The winner will rule the land of Wicker Park all year long (and also gets a $1,000 cash prize).

You may have noticed the Loop looks a little out-of-sorts -- well, more like a bomb went off in the center of the city.

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Get a little closer to the damage, and you'll see that the piles of blown-up pavement in front of City Hall are nothing more than sculpted blocks of foam -- it's all part of filming for the action flick 'Transformers 3.'

The third installment of the movie about vehicles that unfold into battling robots, began filming in Chicago this weekend and will continue through Aug. 23, bringing with it intermittent street closures and CTA reroutes.

LaSalle Street will be closed between Wacker Drive and Jackson until 5 a.m. Monday for the filming, which city officials estimate will inject $20 million into the local economy. The crew will leave Monday for Milwaukee, but will return to film on Michigan Avenue later in the week.

I think it goes without saying that you may want to plan a little extra commute time.

However, this is also a great opportunity to grab your friends, family and camera and check out how a huge-budget film such as 'Transformers 3' is made. Another bonus: Fans have told the Sun-Times that they've gotten up close and personal with the film's star Shia LaBeouf.

Click here to check out more photos of the filming from Saturday.

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Old St. Pat's World's Largest Block Party
Friday-Saturday at Madison & Des Plaines (Old St. Pat's Church); $40-$45
Oprah called it the place to meet your match after more than 70 couples met here and later married. If you value your book club membership, you'll go. Also, Barenaked Ladies headlines on Friday (Kris Allen and Angel Taylor will also play). The Block Party typically sells out, so get your tickets in advance. Five drinks are included with admission.

Baby Wants Candy, The Completely Improvised Full-Band Musical
Through Sunday at Theater on the Lake; $17.50
Sing a song of summer with Chicago's foremost musical improvisers. This troupe of quadruple threats have been stunning audiences for years with their ability to take a simple suggestion and spin it into a full-length book musical with more laughs, tunes, and narrative coherence than say, "Shrek." At Theatre on the Lake for just one weekend.

Boulevard Bash
Friday-Sunday at Albany & Sacramento; $5
Logan Square gets into the street fest scene with this inaugural three-day barrage of music, food and (presumably) people. Two stages will run simultaneously with acts like Waco Brothers (Friday), Smoking Popes (Saturday) and Yourself and the Air (Sunday).

Roscoe Village Burger Fest
Noon-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; $5
The former Belmont, Arts and Music fest gets a makeover into this celebration of all things burger. Nearly a dozen local restaurants will offer up their best burgers, including Bad Apple, Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, Select Cut and the Village Tap. There will also be two stages for music, featuring '90s groups 10,000 Maniacs (Saturday) and Gin Blossoms (Sunday).

Slum Village, Que Billah
9 p.m. Saturday at Double Door; $15-$30
After the passing of J Dilla in 2006 and then the passing of Baatin in 2009, it seemed like Slum Village was destined to take a fall. But after all they've been through, remaining members T3 and Elzhi have pushed forward with a new album entitled Villa Manifesto ... The LP. No one knows for sure who will be with T3 and Elzhi for the Chicago stop of their promotional tour, but you can bet they'll have more than enough to bring down the Double Door. Opening will be Que Billah, 80's Babies, Crown Nation and DJ Rude One.

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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.

Asked to name key life experiences, many cite a first kiss (mine had just gulped chocolate cake and Doritos … next), a wedding day (please, what’s the divorce rate now, 100%?), or the birth of a child (new life, big deal, let’s talk about that time I made the ultimate BLT).

All of the above is well and good (no it isn’t), but pales in comparison to my plans for Friday. At exactly 8:30 p.m. I will be reclining in Chase Park watching The Never Ending Story outdoors on the big screen. I challenge you to conjure a more profoundly perfect experience.

Growing up, I enjoyed a strict diet of public television and Hollywood musicals; my exposure to anything pop culture was almost nonexistent, so the movies I did see may have been unduly influential. However, I’d venture that even a kid whose mother didn’t play the autoharp and make her own yogurt could name one special movie that resonated, made a sweet home inside her, influencing her childhood games, and even her later life choices. For me, Flight of the Navigator came close, and I am still terrified of Disney’s Watcher in the Woods, but The Never Ending Story is mine.

Let me break it down:

3 Things To Do Today

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Road to Wrigley
7 p.m. at Wrigley Field; $5-$30
This is your chance to see a ballgame at beautiful Wrigley Field without paying Cubs prices. The Cubs’ Single-A affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs square off against the Kane County Cougars in an exhibition game that is a throwback to yesteryear, when beer didn’t cost 8 bucks. Sit in the bleachers for a mere five-spot, and grab a beer for $3.50. Plus there will be plenty of fan-friendly events, like dizzy bat races and running the bases for the kids.

The Unthanks, Noah Harris

8 p.m. at SPACE; $8-$10
The British folk group formerly known as Rachel Unthank & the Winterset makes the trip to Evanston, joined by low-key pianist/songwriter Noah Harris.

Closing night at the Aberdeen
5 p.m.-2 a.m.; cheap drinks and food all night
Send off a Wicker Park favorite as Aberdeen closes its doors and awaits its new incarnation (which should be open later this summer). Food is 25 percent off, and the new owners will offer up some of their new menu items for free.

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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There’s more to being Irish then drinking beer and wearing green. There’s also drinking ale and wearing chartreuse.

But seriously folks, from July 9-11 Chicago’s Irish American Heritage Center hosts the 25th annual Irish Fest. For its Silver Anniversary, the festival will kick it up a notch, boasting five stages featuring music, dancing and family fun, as well as a range of ethnic food and cultural exhibits.

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Erwin Helfer, Ken Saydak
8 p.m. at SPACE; $12-$20
The 72-year-old Helfer found blues while an undergrad at Tulane in New Orleans, studying classical piano. Back in Chicago, fate led him to the wife of boogie-woogie pioneer Jimmy Yancey, of which he entered the professional key-plunker world as her accompanist until her passing in '86. That led to the launching of his own record label, Red Beans, and a formidable set of years as the preeminent post-war authority, from socks-in-the-air rollick to hard-nosed electric. Setting up the evening will be fellow Chicagoan Ken Saydak, another sideman-turned-dynamo with more credits in liner notes than the blues festival this year, and just a wee heel-kick of a country heart.

Movie Night at Lincoln Hall
7 p.m.; free
Celebrate the memories of the old 3 Penny movie theater with a double feature at Lincoln Hall. Tonight’s all about Mel Brooks, with screenings of Blazing Saddles and Spaceballs. May the Schwartz be with you.

Beyond Flan: A Latin Desserts Course
6 p.m. at Fox & Obel; $35
Learn the secret to making Latin sweets like dulce de leche from Pamela Fitzpatrick and Laura Zimmerman Maye, co-authors of "Dulce: Desserts in the Latin American Tradition." Samples and wine are included, and you can also buy copies of their book.

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The Heavy

The Heavy, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound w/Ralph "Soul" Jackson
Noon Saturday at Taste of Chicago; free
The best show at this year's Taste may be at the weirdest time slot. Yes, we know it's early on a Saturday. And yes, we know it's the tourist trap otherwise known as Taste. But you won't be disappointed with these acts. UK ex-pats The Heavy blend a little bit of everything to a boisterous show, and JC Brooks and the boys bring some soul to your Saturday. Renaldo Domino, East of Edens Soul Express DJs, Mr. Greenweedz also add to the funky mix.

National 40-Ounce Week/Heckler Party
10 p.m. Friday at The Fifty/50; $9.99
Celebrate the end of National 40-Ounce Week at this Wicker Park bar by drinking $5 Mickey's 40s. If that's not enough, you can win some great Cubs swag and party with satirical sports publication The Heckler. Buy tickets early and you get a Heckler fan pass, a free 40, a shot of tequila and entry in the Wrigley rooftop raffle.

Eyes to the Skies Balloon Festival
Wednesday-Sunday at Community Park in Lisle; $5
With the city canceling its big fireworks display this year, why not head out to Lisle for some good ol' country fun. In addition to fireworks shows all weekend, check out the adjacent free carnival. And the star attraction -- hot-air balloon launches -- are just a buck a ride all weekend.

LeapFest 7
Through Saturday at Stage Left Theatre; $12-$25
It's your last chance to take the leap with this festival of five politically aware new plays. The scripts, which will be presented as workshop productions, cover everything from beauty compliance (Mia McCullough's "The Face of a Ruined Woman" to truckers' unions (Jayme McGhan's "Mother Bear"). It's the perfect way to make your summer theater experience a little less fluffy and a little more fiery.

Porn on the 4th of July
10 p.m. Saturday at Vision Nightclub; $10-$15; get tickets here
The 11th annual event is sure to start some fireworks for your holiday weekend. Porn star (and current "Entourage" babe) Sasha Grey makes an appearance, and DJ Johnny Chaos will handle the music. There will also be "entertainers" from Pink Monkey and products available from Lover's Playground.

If you're looking for a little more G-rated fireworks show, check out our handy guide to July 4 shows.

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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 June I introduced the first installment of Chicago Crush, a monthly blog post highlighting the latest object of my affection. (http://blogs.suntimes.com/ourtown/2010/06/introducing_the_crush_of_the_m.htm) This month I’m back with a gem I unearthed on the World Wide Web, the best thing to happen to passionate admirers since binoculars. [Editor’s Note: By “passionate admirers,” she means “stalkers.”] Author of the cutting and irreverent blog bitchesgottaeat.com, my new crush is truly going places, and I’ll be following her. [Editor’s Note: By “following” she means from 30 paces behind and carrying an upside-down newspaper.]

CHICAGO CRUSH OF THE MONTH:
NAME: Samantha Irby
BLOG: http://bitchesgottaeat.blogspot.com/
HOMETOWN: That sexy little bedroom community, Evanston, Illinois.
PROFESSION: Client services director at an animal hospital.
HOBBIES: Writing, reading books that make me sound smart, snuggling kittens, drinking too much too often, and vainly searching for some intelligent and hilarious hot single dudes who aren’t 100% boring.

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 conquests on the average Single Life’s Bucket List – crazy sexual escapades, dates with a millionaire and the race to see how many people you can make out with on one backpacking trip through Europe, are common items.

But it is speed dating that is perhaps among the most synonymous for such a youthful list of reckless dating and mating. And like an elderly man who checks off sky diving, speed dating is an exciting unknown that you’ve probably “always wanted to try,” although the fear of throwing up in your mouth was also omnipresent.

On a warm June evening, I had 17 mini-blind dates in under two hours thanks to an event for college educated 20- and 30-somethings that was organized by Date and Dash (www.dateanddash.com).

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