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I’m on my book tour, writing from a hotel in downtown Atlanta where I paid twenty bucks for a salad and my waiter told me that if you’re too nice to a stripper she’ll follow you home from the club like a ‘lost pup.’ You know what I could use right now? A personalized comedy roast.

Luckily, Cayse Llorens has my back. The brains behind CelebTango, Llorens aims to bring personalized comedy into your home (or in my case, freezing cold hotel room). While CelebTango also offers live comedy shows, Llorens says digital CelebTangos are more popular. Why?

“It’s a blast to interact with a star on the big screen,” says Llorens. “The comedian can be a headliner in L.A. who just performed at The Laugh Factory and they can step backstage and rock your party in Chicago. Your brother in D.C. can login and be a part of the fun. Oh yeah, and your sister who’s studying abroad in France can be the birthday girl you’re all there to roast. Afterwards, you can all keep a copy of the whole digital show to watch over and over or email it to grandma in Fort Lauderdale.”

Sounds great. Now can someone airlift me in a carrot that doesn’t cost 82 dollars?

Our Town What inspired you to form CelebTango?

Cayse Llorens Three of my favorite comedians performed at my birthday party in my apartment for my family and friends. The experience was magical: personal, interactive, and just an awesome new way to experience a live performance. My dad was basically heckling the comedians, but they loved it and incorporated him into the show. It was awesome, and every comedy club I went to after that left me craving the personal experience we had enjoyed at my party. I knew then that I had to share this experience with the world.

OT Why go through CelebTango when you could just go to a comedy club?

CL Imagine sitting in your living room watching a Dave Chappelle blu-ray on your 50 inch LCD T.V. Suddenly Dave comes alive and starts calling you by your name, teasing you about your abnormal fear of baby corn, and joking about the purple couch you’re sitting on. You joke back and you’re actually part of the show! Now imagine keeping an HD quality copy of the experience to share with your family and friends [so] you can show them a personal comedy experience you had with your favorite celebrity. That’s the magic of CelebTango.

OT How do your comedians customize their sets for a particular paying customer?

CL All of our customers fill out a simple questionnaire that we share with their Celeb. When the Tango happens, our comedians already know what really tickles your funny bone, what topics to be sure to include and what sensitive subjects to avoid.

OT What’s in it for the comedian?

CL It’s fun, convenient, and a great new source of income for both hilarious rising stars and world-renowned A-Listers alike. Fun because for the first time they can make a room full of people laugh until they cry through our sophisticated yet easy to use group video chat technology. Convenient because our comedians can perform a professional, celebrity-grade Tango from anywhere in the world with a laptop and high speed internet connection. New source of income because right now there are a lot of very talented comedians who basically only do 1 show a night, only on Friday and Saturday, and sacrifice a lot of opportunities across town or in another city. CelebTango empowers them to rock parties in LA, Chicago, the U.K., and Podunk Idaho all in the same night!

All photos by Patty Michels

Knit Hats
Light Breezes
Gale Winds
Loving Aunts

This is just a partial list of items I cannot abide. Why? Two words: Curly Hair.

Straight haired people don’t understand. They drive around in their convertibles, all carefree wearing knit hats through mist and wind and rain all the way to their old auntie’s cottage where they swim and she playfully tousles their hair.

At least that’s what curly haired people imagine. Meanwhile we’re wrapping silk scarves around our heads and ducking into doorways, trying to make it half a block without our curls: straitening/frizzing/poufing/insert your own screwed up curl activity.

And haircuts? I’ve been through breakups less traumatizing.

Once I asked for an inch off and ended up with my entire neck bare. “Are you kidding me? Curly hair shrinks, it shrinks,” I screamed (in my head.) “The back of my neck is private! Private do you hear me?”

Friends and family knew to avoid me after a haircut. Sometimes for months.

But that all changed when I met Rochelle Binik. Creative Director, stylist and colorist for Noel Rose Hair Studio, Rochelle is a thirty year veteran of the beauty industry but more important, she specializes in curly hair.

Our Town Why is it so hard for a curly haired person to get a good haircut?
Rochelle Binik Cutting curly hair is an art in understanding movement and texture. You need to really look at the different shapes and nuances of each persons curls. It takes a lot of practice and experimenting to get things right.

OT You’ve spent years honing your curly hair cutting techniques, can you reveal any secrets?
RB Being a great listener with a passion for curly hair is my secret weapon. Having curly hair myself I understand the unique challenges we face, whether it be products or climate. Each client gets an in-depth consultation to find out what their experience has been. I gather as much information,--good and bad--from the clients so I can achieve a great result they can reproduce daily.
OT In order to come away satisfied, what should a customer do to prepare for a haircut appointment?
RB Do your homework: find someone who is a certified curly hair specialist. Leave your fears at the door and come with an open heart. Bring in pictures of what looks great to you. You may have had a shape that you liked in the past that can help me know what works for you.


“My whole life I’ve been completely wrapped up in writing,” says jewelry designer and writer Tara Walker. “At a certain point though, I think I just longed to make something with my hands, something physical that could just be done when it was done – unlike a piece of writing which never really feels finished to me.”

Walker’s jewelry line, Lucky Whale proved just the outlet Walker craved.

“For a while,” she says, “I had a hard time seeing the connection between [writing and making jewelry] until I realized that one process frees me up for the other. I think the reason I make jewelry, in some ways, is to refresh my sanity for my writing.”

This week Lucky Whale bobs up at The Andersonville Galleria, where Walker is proud to begin showcasing her designs.

Our Town How did you come up with the name for your store?

Tara Walker Completely by accident. I have a really good friend in Denver who draws the most wonderful things without even thinking about it. One day we were at a restaurant in Denver and he started doodling on the children’s menu. One of his doodles was the whale with a shamrock in his hat. At the time I was looking for a name and a logo for my jewelry business and suddenly there it was, in front of me. There have been times when I’ve thought, weird, I have a smiling whale for a logo. But overall I think it actually fits with the playful aesthetic that I bring to my designs. 

OT What sort of things inspire your designs?

TW Right now the majority of my inspiration comes from hunting for interesting things to reuse. I don’t want to make things that are just pretty. Pretty is fine, but I want to make something surprising, something that stretches my imagination in the process. One of my favorite things to do is repurpose images from unexpected places. For instance, I found a bunch of brochures from the ‘50s at the Brown Elephant – (my favorite was about the “father of steel”) and they had these wonderful illustrations in them. The most fun thing for me is seeing something like that and imagining what it can become. 

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OT You’re a writer and your visual art often contains literary elements. Coincidence? Conscious choice?

TW A little of both. There seems to be an obsession with putting birds and butterflies on jewelry. (“Put a bird on it!”) That’s fine of course, I like birds and butterflies – but I am always looking to push myself away from the traditional aesthetic. I like books and poetry so I think it was inevitable that they end up in my jewelry. One of my favorite literature-inspired pieces features the Dorothy Parker poem Resume. The whole thing fits into a 1x2 inch pendant so it works really well. It’s a pretty gold pendant so it looks like there’s going to be a prayer or something inside it, but you look closer and suddenly it’s Dorothy Parker’s quippy “Razors pain you, rivers are damp, acids stain you, and drugs cause cramp…”


Remember Crush of the Month Lindsey Pearlman? Well, she’s a crush with a conscience. Pearlman loves animals--from the pampered pups her dog care company walks and cares for to the elephants of Thailand for which Pearlman traveled thousands of miles to donate her time. Recently she discovered that Groupon is offering a family four pack of tickets to the George Carden Circus Spectacular.

Says Pearlman, “unlike the image the public receives of circuses - filled with cotton candy, clowns, and happy performing animals - the reality behind the facade is one of torture, sadness, and pain.” 

Since the Groupon deal went up, Pearlman’s facebook feed has been a frenzied montage of anti-cruelty petitions, late night links to disturbing youtube video of mistreated elephants and descriptions of her effort to compel Groupon to discontinue their circus deal--this is a woman on a mission.

I’m turning today’s blog over to Pearlman for her take on the situation.

Pearlman on circus animals: “Circus animals are trained as babies under the constant threat and application of physical punishment.  (How else do you get a six-ton wild animal to perform painful, joint-shredding "tricks"?  Not through positive reinforcement.  Through pain and intimidation!)  Bullhooks are the most common tool to cause physical pain and punish.  When not performing, [animals] are on chains for days on end, or in transport from town to town.  These sensitive, intelligent animals are not meant for domestication. The situation has become desperate and public education is necessary to bring circuses to an end." 

Pearlman on the circus’s impact on children: “Children who watch these performances learn that it is acceptable to force another living creature to do something that is stressful, and often even painful, as long as it serves the purpose of entertainment. This mindset will carry over into their relationships with people, and it will not serve them well in life.”

Pearlman on the George Carden Circus Spectacular: “The USDA is limited in what they can monitor, but many infractions of this particular circus have been cited over the last 20 years. The elephants used in this circus are in terrible condition.  One piece of video evidence shows Bo, the star of their show, exhibiting a swaying behavior.  This behavior occurs when the elephants are unable to do what they do naturally - walk through a forest for over 30 miles a day with their family, forage, and have their social needs met."

Pearlman on Groupon: “Over 650 people purchased this deal.  I contacted Groupon immediately, and began providing information regarding the business they were promoting.  For the past six days, I have been working to convince them to remove the deal, refund the money, and take this opportunity to help these animals receive the public awareness they deserve.  Because Groupon is such a popular source of consumer interest, their voice is invaluable.  I believe this is a great opportunity for Groupon to come out of this with a boosted public image."


Interior designer Karyn Musick knows what she likes--designing livable, lovely homes which reflect the lives of their occupants. She spoke with Our Town about design trends, the horror of the 80’s and why moms need rooms of their own.

Our Town When did you first realize you wanted to work in interior design?
Karyn Musick I always had a passion for design. As a young teen, I use to love to decorate my own bedroom and I always had input with my siblings and family’s decorating projects. 

OT Why hire an interior designer?
KM It's sometimes difficult for people to envision and make complex decisions since they are emotionally and financially involved. [A designer can] consult and give professional guidelines to achieve your design goals.

OT What’s your favorite part of the design process?
KM I really enjoy working together with my clients [to] understand their goals. I love when a client tells me that they love what I've helped them to accomplish.

OT You’ve been in the business for over two decades. Is there any period in recent design history that you think back on and wonder what everyone was thinking?
KM Yes! The 80's--all of the high gloss lacquer furniture and teal and raspberry were "the" colors! I was a little young back in the 70's; however, avocado appliances would scar me today!  

OT What’s the secret to making  a room both beautiful and livable?
KM Understanding the space’s main function, then adding all of the personal elements to make it beautiful.

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OT Your “Mom Cave” contest invites moms to submit outrageous stories and photos in order to win a specially designed sanctuary just in time for Mother’s Day. What inspired the contest?
KM Often, we will visit a family home and as we are walking through each room, we will hear the lady of the home say "this is supposed to be my living room but it's a play room right now, oh and the basement, well, that's where my oldest child (i.e. husband) hangs out on Sunday's, while he's watching all of his football games.” She'll usually gasp for a breath and say, “my designated area is in the kitchen or the laundry room.” Yikes! In November, we were invited to a launch and it was held in a lovely home in Lake Forest. I believe this family had triplets. There was this beautiful schemed room on the main floor. The color scheme was done is bright and soft pinks with an elegant Settee Love Seat. The main wall had framed black and white prints of Audrey Hepburn. The bell went off that this was her "Mom-Cave!” This is what inspired our Mom Cave contest.

OT I’m “creatively cluttered” by which I mean I can’t find my floor. I’m also generally confused about how to make a home look good. Any general tips for someone like me?
KM Less is always more! Organize your clutter by putting away the things that you really don't need everyday. Keep and display the things that mean the most to you and get rid of the things that collect dust. 

To learn more about Divas N' Design visit

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez
and Facebook.


Recently the New York Times published a sort of expose about the yoga industry, an odd phrase considering yoga’s spiritual roots. Yet, as more Americans flock to the increasingly mainstream discipline, yoga has become quite the sacred cash cow, more comparable to Starbucks than say, Buddhism or my own personal spiritual practice, peanut butter-covered spoon licking.

Actually an excerpt from William J. Broad’s book, The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards, the Times piece seems to me provocative in the way of a local news story that promises to “expose the secret killer in your cheese drawer.” In other words, it’s more alarmist than educational.

You can check it out for yourself here (although if you practice yoga everyone you’ve ever met has already forwarded it to you) but beneath the sensational language and terrorizing examples of allegedly yoga-induced injuries, the article basically says the following:

1. More people are doing yoga now than before; therefore there are more injuries.
2. Some yoga teachers are either inept or, intoxicated by that potent mix of open chakras and power, push students beyond their limits.
3. Yoga students both new and experienced don’t have the balls to tell an ersatz authority figure to back the hell off and maybe while they’re at it pop a breath mint. (Yoga teachers really like garlic; it’s an antioxidant, you know.)


As someone who has practiced yoga fairly consistently for five years and was born shouting “you’re not the boss of me” you’d think I wouldn’t be susceptible to the faux dominion of some bendy chick in a Lulumon fur coat. (Lulumon does not actually make fur coats, but the yoga tanks they do produce are just about as expensive. Plus wouldn’t it be funny if yoga teachers wore fur coats?)

You’d think this, but you’d be wrong.


Over the last two decades, Soprano Victoria Holland has performed everywhere from Illinois venue Ravinia to Il Conservatorio di Parma in Italy. Though I have yet to catch one of her performances, I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from Holland’s vocal instruction. Confident, knowledgeable and down to earth, Holland revitalized my singing practice. Now she’s offering a vocal skills for adults class, designed for singers of all experience levels. The group class, a nice precursor to private voice lessons or supplement to choral singing runs for eight weeks starting November tenth.

Our Town spoke with Holland about performance, teaching, and just what’s so great about Opera.

Our Town Was singing always an ambition?
Victoria Holland Yes, an ambition but also an escape, especially during my teenage years.

OT You have a PhD in Voice and Opera Performance. Why pursue a higher degree in voice?
VH Most singers aren't fully developed or fully trained after undergrad studies alone. Plus, it's a lifelong learning process. Technique must be continually managed, your world view augmented, you're always growing and evolving. You'll never know everything so consider yourself a student ad infinum.

OT What would you say to an opera novice to catch their interest?
VH Opera hits people differently. And production quality can vary greatly. If you're new to the genre, go to the best houses, like Chicago Lyric, the MET in NYC, and Houston Grand. And choose the opera wisely, according to your interests. We all love stories. Some like love stories, others are fascinated with history, or intrigue, or mysticism. It can be overwhelming, so read about the work and the composer before seeing a production. Though sometimes it's fun to go in unprepared and allow yourself to be surprised and transported into another world. It can be helpful to see an opera in its original language and to start with your native language. For English speakers, I love Susannah by Carlisle Floyd or Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten.

OT You’re been singing for years, are pre-performance nerves a problem?
VH I get nervous in a new situation and when I perform a piece for the first time but the nerves aren't debilitating. Once as a young singer, I was singing an aria that was too difficult for me and I was so nervous I closed my eyes in the middle of the aria and didn't open them until I'd finished. Not my finest moment. Last month I was rehearsing for my first Brahms Requiem and my heart rate raced just before I sang the first orchestra rehearsal, but once I started to sing it normalized. It's the fear of the unknown. I felt fine for the performance. And I have ways to stay relaxed before going onstage.

OT Any memorable onstage moments?
VH My first professional performance was a Mozart Requiem in Memphis at age twenty. It felt so great to sing that piece with an orchestra. I thought, if I never perform again, I'll die happy.

OT What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a professional singer?
VH As in any career, go in with your eyes open. Learn how to sing clearly and beautifully and in ways that engage and affect your audiences. Enjoy any opportunity to sing and learn from the experience. Stick with it. Most singers with successful careers have been singing for decades.

OT What sort of student should take your class?
VH A student with a passion for singing, who wants to better understand how the human voice works and how to apply the knowledge. A student who wants a broader range, who desires camaraderie with other singers.

OT Why start with group lessons before pursuing private lessons?
VH I love small group lessons because if I teach four private lessons in a row to people who haven't studied with me before, much of what I say and do is repeated. Why not get us all together and share the experience? There is camaraderie and more opportunity for fun. Yeah, students get nervous singing in small groups and letting their voice be heard, but it wanes as we build trust, just as in private lessons. And small group lessons are much more affordable!


I can’t be the only one. I can’t, because it happens to all of us. No, not getting Katy Perry’s "Teenage Dream" stuck in our heads. Death. I don’t remember how I found out about death, but from the age of four on, I feared it. Not a quiet terror, but a sobbing, sleepless, wake up the neighbors who call the police because they suspect I’m being hacked to death by my parents kind of panic. Now I knew that each person, each animal and tree and--God help me-- the planet itself held within it an expiration date, I couldn’t comprehend how my friends went on playing foursquare and eating glue.

Though my death fixation lasted a decade, ultimately, through some peculiar combination of imagination and denial I managed to force my dread to the periphery of my consciousness, where it reached up to bop me over the head only every few months. Recently however, the apprehension has sidled center stage again, upstaging my usual obsessions. While it’s a relief to no longer worry that the eunuch vampire from "Let the Right One" In lives between my washer and dryer, this mortality anxiety sure is taking up a lot of my time.

While very few people join me when I run nightly down Foster street screaming, “We’re all gonna die,” I know others like me exist and it’s for you I’ve compiled this list.

Things to do in Chicago When You’re Terrified to Die


1. Attend A.J. Durand’s Queer Yoga Workshop at Yogaview.
Running every Saturday July 2-July 30 from 2:00-3:15p.m., this class is specifically geared to provide queer folks curious about yoga with a safe, supportive, and fun environment. If you’re lucky, the practice will lend you peace and clarity. If you’re like me, you’ll have to flee the room because shavasana means corpse pose.
(Note: Heterosexuals can achieve a similar state of serenity by drinking twenty beers at a Cubs game and then preventing the Clark bus from moving more than two feet at a time.)


2. Visit XOJane, the new website launched this week by 90’s alternative women’s magazine darling, Jane Pratt. If you had a subscription to "Sassy" as a teenager, the familiar names of her contributors and editors will induce a form of nostalgia, which, if you are lucky, will fill you with awe as to how far you’ve come. If you’re like me, you’ll drop to the floor moaning as if trampled by time’s grime march.


3. Come to A Taste of StoryStudio, an evening of wine, cheese, and StoryStudio classes designed to help students interested in honing their writing skills at this Chicago mainstay. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. sharp May 20. If you’re lucky, you’ll come away pleasantly buzzed and brimming with inspiration. If you’re like me, you’ll spend the night certain the end of the world is mere hours away.


4. Sample free frozen yogurt at the opening of Red Mango’s new Loyola location. The giveaway runs 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., also May 20. If you’re lucky, you’ll enjoy a delicious, low fat desert in the vicinity of an institution of higher learning. If you’re like me you’ll convince yourself it’s possible to choke to on yogurt. Or maybe freeze to death from the inside.


5. Adhere to out-of-touch-rich-celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow’s list of places to visit while in Chicago. (This item is kind of like if a genie granted you three wishes and you used one to wish for a bunch of extra wishes, because it allows me to refer readers to a slew of other Chicago options while technically not exceeding five selections. I’m very clever.) If you’re lucky, you’ll have a number of lovely dining experiences and learn how it feels to sleep on 100,000 thread count sheets. If you’re me, you won’t be able to afford any of Paltrow’s suggestions, but the smoldering envy you’ll experience just might distract you from your mortality.

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. IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by followingOur Town on Facebook and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez

Home Alone

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Mostly, I work from home. Enviable, sure, but my motto is, why dwell on the positive?
Telecommuting, from the old Latin meaning ‘three days, same clothes,’ has a whole slew of pitfalls. Just off the top of my head, I count five:

1. Listening to the dog bite her nails all day. Sounds like she’s part woodpecker.

2. Proximity to peanut butter. I’ve reformed, but not too long ago I couldn’t keep a jar in the house without eating the whole thing and having to call in sick to work the next day. Office job work, not telecommuting which is Greek for only makes contact via facebook. I limit myself to a few spoonfuls now, but I never forget that spreadable temptress is waiting.

3. Distraction via housework. Even a year ago I might have pooh-poohed this very serious issue. But when my biological clock ticks, it sounds like laundry being folded. (You have to listen carefully to hear it). I still don’t want kids, but man do I love to iron.

4. The compulsion to break for yoga. What’s ninety minutes, I think. Besides, the dog gets so caught up watching me she forgets to bite her nails.

5. Reality television. I don’t have cable, so it took me longer than most to rope this bucking bronco, but a few months back I hit some sort of tipping point. I’d been hearing the name Rachel Zoe for years, and suddenly I had to know more. Although it meant watching the show in eight-minute increments on Youtube, I made it through four seasons. Turns out, Rachel Zoe was my gateway drug. Next came the Kardashians, available on Netflix instant. (Khloe is my favorite. I’m happy to discuss.) Then, just because I could…"The Real Housewives of New York City." Before I continue, a clarification: I don’t watch TV rather than work. I do both at once. Don’t judge. I still spend a fair amount of time waltzing with my muse, but some of my writing jobs involve entering data, editing press releases, all activities that have been scientifically proven to benefit from having skinny women with New York accents shouting in the background. Cheaper to hang out with the housewives than move to New York.

It was in this way I came to learn about a Ms. Bethenny Frankel.


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


I remember like it was yesterday: five years old and raised on a steady stream of musical comedies, I walked the periphery of the Plymouth Church Gymnasium, eyes on Reed. I don’t remember ever speaking to Reed, a gorgeous biracial boy who sported cardinal red sneakers he refused to remove for nap-time.

A rebel, I thought, swaying my hips like Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot” and blinking my eyes rapidly in an effort to bat them. Between all the swaying and blinking, I lost track of Reed’s location and careened through a kickball game, smashing directly into Miss Jackie’s leg. That was okay too. I loved Miss Jackie and I was pretty sure she loved me back. Looking up I smiled coquettishly, and shook my hair like Ann Margaret in “Bye Bye Birdie.” Then I invited Miss Jackie to come home with me after preschool, but strangely she declined.

Even as a youth, the getting crushes home part eluded me. Seems so much more can be accomplished if a crush sees me in my natural environment, perhaps sleeping angelically or hacking phlegm into my hand when I can’t find the Kleenex. But aside from abduction, which my parole officer advises against, options are limited. Which is why December’s Crush may just represent the zenith of crushes; he makes house calls.

Meet Gary Zimmer, upbeat, enterprising, quirky, and Chicago’s December Crush.

Hometown: Morton Grove, IL.
Profession: Handy Man
Hobbies: If it's nerdy, it's my hobby.

Our Town Always been handy?
Gary Zimmer I've always repaired or fixed things, but I haven't always been good at it. Most of my childhood consisted of breaking and rebuilding stuff around the house and in adulthood, friends and family constantly called me to come over and install a toilet or build a shed. [After] seven years working for a small construction company, doing everything from purchasing to estimating to sales to marketing, I decided to quit my day job and start the handyman business.

OT What separates you from other services?
GZ One of my goals is to have fun. I enjoy building and fixing things, which is a good start, but I also want the people that hire me to have fun, or at the least have a positive experience. No one likes a stranger in their house who, upon leaving, [presents] them with a bill. But, maybe it's not so bad if that stranger shows up on time and seems happy. So far this appears to be working, convenient, since I'm terrible at faking it.

A couple of football specials to pass along, in case you’re looking for somewhere to watch the game tonight:

Longtime radio personality-turned podcaster Steve Dahl takes his show on the road to Trader Vic’s for Aloha Monday Nights. He’ll be hanging out with everyone at the Gold Coast bar offers up $3 domestic and import bottles, $5 Bear Bombs and a $12 Pigskin buffet.

Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap is running a season-long “coin toss” special. Each table will get a chance to flip a special Melnick’s coin to win prizes like food specials and discounts. You can also get half price Rogue bottles all night long.

Looking for more? Find plenty of NFL game-day specials here.


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:

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.

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.

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)

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.


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.

Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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