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The Comprehensive Guide to Making Money on New Year's Eve

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New Years Eve, like all grown-up holidays, gets more disappointing each year. For kids, there’s the excitement of staying up late and convincing yourself you’re drunk on sparkling apple cider. But adults must wrestle a surplus of writhing anxiety, much like that snake pit in Indiana Jones.

What will I wear? Where will I go? Will I be stranded without a cab? Will that creepy guy wearing those shoes with a slot for each toe who keeps trying to argue with me about whether The Beatles are really a rock band try to kiss me at midnight? If he doesn’t and no one else does either am I doomed to spend the rest of my life alone? What if I get alcohol poisoning? What if I’m trying to write a check in line at the grocery store tomorrow (because I’m eighty-two years old all of a sudden) and instead of writing 2011, I write 2010 and then I have to start over but I make the same mistake again, and the line is growing and the people behind me are getting angry and finally one of them loses it and tries to asphyxiate me with that bag of Doritos he’s buying to go with his Monster drink?

These are a mere sample of the fretful issues that flood the adult mind, whereas kids are mainly concerned about the Times Square ball coming loose and flying through the TV set to crush them, at least I was. But even if you’ve achieved some Zen-like stage of enlightenment and when your ipod loses battery power in the middle of a run or everything you pick up gives you a paper cut, even the cat, you just smile and sip some green tea, New Year’s Eve remains ridiculously expensive. So ha, you still need me, because that’s where this blog post comes in.

Below, please find a proven list of New Year’s Eve activates that will cost you nothing. Better, each item may even earn you a buck or $2500. Or maybe that’s just the sparkling cider talking.

1. Stuff your pockets with burritos, Plan B and those thin elastic headbands and stand on the corner of Clark and Addison. Come three a.m. sell your merchandise for $50 a pop. Men and enterprising lesbians: this may also be a way to land an out of your league sleepover buddy!

2. You know that older fellow who lurks in Edgewater doorways barking? At first I deemed his disorder involuntary, like Tourette Syndrome or an affinity for the Rachel Ray Show. However lately, I’ve been locking eyes with him instead of acting oblivious as well as observing his behavior from afar. My conclusion? He targets heedless women. So this New Year, why not dress up like Animal Care and Control and come after him with a net? Then charge him $5 for release back into the wild.

3. With tickets ranging from $145 to $2500 for a VIP table, Chicago Scene New Year’s Gala at The Drake Hotel is a perfect place to line your pockets. Just stand out front and pretend to be the doorman. Note: wear running shoes.

4. Slap a lit-up triangle on top of your car and pick up drunken revelers. Bonus: Tell them you’re the Cash Cab, then ask a series of increasingly difficult trivia questions. Every time they get an answer wrong, fine them $20.

5. Watch the New Year’s Eve scene in "When Harry Met Sally" on repeat at top volume. At intervals, wail, “Why doesn’t anything romantic ever happen to me?” and “I want an off-the-shoulder party dress!” When your husband/girlfriend/downstairs neighbor/dog begs you to stop say you will. For a price….

Photo by Patty Michels

A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

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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.

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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.


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Ah, the good old days.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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The Gaslamp Killer (photo via Last.fm)

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

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

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

3 Things To Do Today

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

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

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

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

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


1190606895beauty bar.JPGLook good while having fun at the new Beauty Bar. (photo: pinklife)

Baio, Kid Color
9 p.m. at Beauty Bar; $5
The late Sonotheque (sad face) gets its hair did Beauty Bar-style, as NYC's famed East Village salon-turned-hipster-DJ-hang plants a seed in our city. Owner Paul Devitt didn't come in cold, though, partnering with Empty Bottle owners Peter Toalson and Bruce Finkelman, who are filtering in artists like Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio (spinning records after his sold-out gig at the Riviera), teased with local disco-house fave Kid Color at this opening-night gala. As at all other Beauty Bars, martinis and manicures rule happy hour for $10.

Chicago Short Film Brigade Premiere
8:30 p.m. at Hideout; $8
The group's fourth season kicks off with a number of international short films, including entries from Canada, Peru, Germany, Russia and, um, Minnesota. We're especially pumped for the two short films by animator Al Jarnow, as well as the free popcorn and homemade pies from Sugar Kist.

Phinal Thursdays
8 p.m. at Red Kiva; free
This new event (last Thursday of each month) continues its "salute to Chicago underground hip-hop and cutting-edge urban apparel" with special appearances from rapper Reno Chinati and Black Orchard, as well as beats provided by PHLI Worldwide. Also on tap: $5 Absolut cocktails and a selection of gourmet flatbread pizza.


3 Things To Do Today

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David Morales helps Boom Boom Room celebrate tonight at Green Dolphin.

Boom Boom Room
10 p.m. at Green Dolphin Street; $10
The venerable house-music event celebrates its 19th birthday with a special installment featuring DJs David Morales and Hector Romero, in addition to residents, Diz, Uncle Milty, Just Joey and Michael Serafini. RSVP to rsvp@boomboomroomchicago.com.

Policeman's Log
9:30 p.m. at Gorilla Tango Theatre; $10
There are two sides to every story, but only one version of the truth. Pulling actual police reports from recent newspapers, the cast of "Policeman's Log" will show audiences how the incidents 'actually' happened. This fully improvised show will shine a new light on those who break the law, and those who uphold it. Tonight's performance is the final one in the run.

Get It Together Again
8 a.m.-7 p.m. at Chicago Tourism Center Gallery, 72 E. Randolph; free
This exhibition of work by local, national and international artists is organized by Chad Kouri of the Post Family and Ed Marszewki of Co-Prosperity Sphere. It includes over 25 works on paper, mixed media and installations like Adrianne Goodrich's grocery store shelves with hand-drawn products (pictured). Guests can create their own collages with provided materials (or you can bring your own).

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Louder Than A Bomb: Chicago Youth Poetry Slam Festival
Starts Friday at various locations; see the full schedule
The 10th anniversary of the two-week event kicks off this weekend with an all-day Intersections Youth Literary Conference (Friday) and viewing of the "Louder Than A Bomb" documentary (Saturday). Both events are at Columbia College's Film Row Cinema.

3 Things To Do Today

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Lupe Fiasco (with Howard Zinn, who passed away Wednesday) isn't afraid to combine music and politics.(photo: LupeFiasco.com)

Lupe Fiasco
8 p.m. at The Shrine; $30
One thing you should know by now: Don't miss a Lupe show when he's playing his hometown. This time around, he'll be teaming up with Cheryle Robinson Jackson in an effort to raise funds for her bid for the US Senate; all the proceeds of this show will go toward her campaign. He'll also likely play a lot from his anticipated new album, Lasers.

Katerina's 10th Anniversary Jazz Celebration Showcase
8 p.m. at Katerina's; $10
The eclectic music lounge (the food and drink ain't too shabby, either) celebrates a decade of sophisticated entertainment with a blowout show featuring a number of its regular jazz performers, including Petra Van Nuis, Andy Brown, Grazyna Auguscik, Rose Colella, Elaine Dame, Spider Saloff, Joanie Pallatto & Bradley Parker-Sparrow, Paul Marinaro, Juli Wood, Dean Allrick and Andreas Georgas. Classic cocktails will be on special all night.

"Lower Debt"
7:30 p.m. at Beat Kitchen; free
The Inch Worm Playreading Series hosts its latest staged reading in the upstairs room at this Roscoe Village venue, with Joshua Aaron Weinstein's tale of a white-collar worker who ends up living in a tent city. In addition to LiveWire Chicago Theatre's world-premiere performance (the play opens at the Viaduct Theatre on March 5), you'll enjoy drink specials, a raffle and silent auction and a feedback session.

Dude, we're so pumped. According to the Tribune's About Last Night blog, on January 15, Pauly D and Mike "The Situation" of MTV's love it/hate it reality show "Jersey Shore" will be at Lumen for a party that will include hair-gelling by Marianne Strokirk Salons and gift certificates to LA Tan. (So you can look just like Michael Cera!)

Update: According to Chicagoist, The Situation and Pauly D (who will spin!) will return to Chicago on February 19 with J-WOWW in tow at Joe's Bar (9 p.m., $20).

You can pretend you didn't just get excited and email your friends...but just know that we know.

Seems like everyone's doing those end-of-year and end-of-decade lists right about now, and we're nothing if not bandwagon-jumpers. But instead of telling you what we think were the coolest bars, clubs and restaurants of 2009 (or making you cast your vote), we're going to let the numbers do the talking. Before the new decade begins, we'll be giving you the lowdown on what venues Centerstage users viewed the most during the past year, along with our ideas about why each was so popular. Did your favorite make the list?

The final list: Nightclubs. (For this one, we'll let the user reviews speak for themselves. Note that most of these places are 17 or 18-plus.)

1. Nitro Dance Club
"By far the most (dare I say it) crackin lackin dance house ever."

2. Club Volkan
"It's really up to you if you are willing to risk your life for some fun."

3. Mission
"The crowd is not nearly as perverted as at Energy and not as young as Zero."

4. Club Mambo
"For an 18+ club I can honestly say it gets poppin."

5. RadioStar
"Latinas do it better on the dance floor...ME GUSTA CLUB RADIOSTAR!!!!"

6. Energy Thursday Nite Dance Club
"If you love techno or underage white girls, this club might be for you!"

7. Zero Gravity
"If you like to get down and dirty, dancing on people and all that, this is def. the place to go."

8. Rumba
"Fantastic ambience and music. Reminds me of some of our salsa spots back east."

9. Club 720
"The lame techno music is kept at a minimum."

10. Crobar
"Don't count on meeting Luciana Barroso here, it's Chicago, not Miami..."

If "Gossip Girl" wasn't THE show of 2009 (we might give that distinction to "Glee"), it was pretty darn close. It might not reach the same heights in 2010, however, in part because no one Chuck Bass has been a little too nice, and because, like any group of successful actors, the individual talents in the show's cast are beginning to become distracted by other projects. Like Leighton Meester (aka Blair Waldorf), who's attempting to turn her notoriety into some pop-chart success. Her debut single, "Somebody to Love" featuring Robin Thicke, will eventually be followed by a full album. To satisfy those fans who just can't wait, Meester will do a special New Year's Day show at Underground (10 p.m.). Can't help yourself? RSVP to VIP@rockitranch.com.

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Bargain Bernie is one of many characters you'll see at the Found Footage Fest.

Found Footage Festival
7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday at Lakeshore Theater; $12
This one-night-only show is part of a touring showcase of hilarious found video footage curated by Joe Pickett (The Onion) and Nick Prueher ("The Colbert Report"), whom we interviewed last week. Expect everything from a Milton Berle exercise tape to a 1987 video-dating reel submitted by David Cross.

"Why is tonight different from all other nights?"

That question may be easy for Jews to answer on Passover, but it's a whole different animal when it's posed on Christmas Eve. While much of the world is trimming the tree and toasting the upcoming holiday, many non-Christians find themselves passing by shuttered storefronts with nothing to do but consider which Chinese restaurant they'll be patronizing the following day.

But it doesn't have to be this way, especially not in Chicago. For the fifth straight year, the Matzo Bash is here to save the Semites from boredom. The six-hour party (8 p.m.-2 a.m.) at Enclave includes complimentary Absolut cocktails and hors d'oeuvres (via Steve's Deli) from 8-10 p.m. and live entertainment, DJs and dancing all night. And since you likely won't have to work the next day, you'll also get complimentary admission to the after-party at Cuvee.

Tickets are $25...but Centerstage is giving away 15 tickets for free! All you have to do to enter is take a brief survey to help the site serve you better. Click here by December 14. Survey's done, but we're not done giving away tickets! If you want in, become a fan of Centerstage on Facebook.

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Apparently, next week is "free concerts with hip-hop legends week" in Chicago.

We already told you about the Samsung-sponsored Jay-Z show at the House of Blues on Tuesday; now Hennessy gets into the mix with an invitation-only event featuring Common and The Roots (who will also be serving as the house band) at The Shrine on Saturday, September 12. The show will also feature rockers Elevator Fight and Colin Munroe. Want to get on the list? WGCI 107.5FM is giving away tickets this week, and you can also enter to win spots on Hennessy's Facebook page and on www.okayplayer.com.

Make sure to keep an eye out for other upcoming shows on Centerstage's music calendar. Who knows, Nas could announce a free show at Sub-T before the week is out.

3 Things We Love About ... Ukrainian Village

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1. Visiting the Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago, which has more than 1,140 artifacts including traditional folk arts, agricultural tools, artwork, musical instruments and trophies. Then there are the decorated Easter egg collection; military exhibit and library with more than 20,000 titles in English and Ukrainian languages.
The museum is at 2249 W. Superior. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday (closed Monday-Wednesday). Admission: $5 for adults; free for kids 12 and under. Call (312) 421-8020.

2. Biting into homemade Ukrainian and Polish delicatessen cuisine at the many delis found throughout the leafy neighborhood. Pierogi, potato pancakes and breaded pork cutlets are staples as well as deli meats. Kasia’s Polish Deli, 2101 W. Chicago, has it all, plus foods from other countries such as China and Italy. Call (773) 486-6163.


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Sam Prekop of The Sea and Cake performs behind the speaker stacks at the Empty Bottle. (Sun-Times file)

3. Checking out the neighborhood’s popular nightclubs. Rock, pop, punk, jazz and indie live music are always on tap at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western. The small, intimate club presents local emerging bands. Call (773) 276-3600.

HEY! YOU GOT THREE BETTER ONES?
Tell us your three favorite things about Ukrainian Village!


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