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3 Things To Do Today

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Tuesdays on the Terrace: Julia Huff
5:30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Local product Julia Huff takes the stage at the MCA to show off her nu-jazz skills. The singer, who is also an aspiring actress and model, impresses with her beauty, then dazzle with her vivacious voice.
julia-huff.jpgJulia Huff

DM Stith, Inlets, Silje Nes
7 p.m. at Andrew Rafacz Gallery
Stith has impressed with his debut LP, Heavy Ghost, with swooning bursts of piano and horns adding to his brooding mood music.Opening are two baroque pop newbies, one from Brooklyn (Inlets) and one from Norway (Silje Nes).

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

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

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

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

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Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

There are few things I can brag about confidently. My cooking is one of them, so let me be the first to preach: "The way to a man's (or woman's!) heart is through his (or her!) stomach."

Cooking for your date not only shows you are thoughtful and skilled, it also (hopefully) results in a delicious, economical meal both of you can enjoy.

RICH MAN: Try a "Hands On" cooking class with The Chopping Block, which includes one-and-a-half hours of instruction and cooking, followed by the actual meal in full! Price varies from $65 to $85 with wine, depending on the cuisine, which varies to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Choose from Italian basics to a Julia Child-themed course, and even ones dedicated to cupcake, cheese and sushi-making. With a professional instructor, it will be hard to go wrong. Classes are small enough -- no more than 20 participants -- not to feel intimidating, but big enough to feel like a social event. Here's a schedule.

POOR MAN: Anyone who can read can cook. So buy a cookbook. Let your date pick a recipe. Do the prep work (that means grocery shopping). and voila! You've got a homemade (and reusable!) date for a super-low price. And if things are really working out, here are some couples' cookbook titles to consider:


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Hometown hero Hannibal Buress holds down Zanies all week. (photo: drinkatwork.com)

Hannibal Buress
8:30 p.m. at Zanies; $23
The West Side native has come a long way from crashing open mics. Now a writer for "Saturday Night Live" and a featured performer on Comedy Central, the stand-up comedian is the toast of his hometown, so expect this five-night residency to be packed. Hannibal recently talked to the Sun-Times about his unorthodox sense of humor.

The Ruby Suns, Toro Y Moi
9 p.m. at Schubas; $10
Plucked from New Zealand to join the Sub Pop set, pop connoisseur Ryan McPhun gets wily with Kenya-sourced rhythms and chorus lines soaked up from some recent travels, though interpreted with a completely digital set-up. If you always thought Panda Bear's Person Pitch needed a bit more boogie, McPhun's got you covered. South Carolina’s Toro Y Moi, on the other hand, has been getting a lot of flak for riding the chillwave post-storm (Neon Indian, Washed Out, Memory Cassette). He's got more than lo-fi foot-dragging up his sleeve, however, teasing sets with some hip-friendly guitar jangles when the mood gets too fuzzy.

Firefighter Chili Cook-Off
6-8 p.m. at Rock Bottom Brewery; $5-$10
In honor of the release of Rock Bottom's Fire Chief Ale (available through April 4), the brewery's Chicago location hosts this 14th annual competition benefiting the Chicago Fire Department and related charities. Your admission fee gets you unlimited samples of 25 different chilis crafted by local firefighters; pay another $5 for your choice of beer in a souvenir pint glass.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Franks ‘N’ Dawgs
Upscale sausage stand in Lincoln Park.

Off the Beaten Path: Fox’s on the River
Fine dining and great scenery in Batavia.

Weekly Treat: You’re the boss at Uptown Lounge
U-Call-It for just $3 all night tonight.

Man We're Crazy About: Paris Cafe
Quaint River North cafe livens up with dancing at night.

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

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Nelson Algren Birthday Party
8 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul Cultural Center; $10
Celebrate what would have been the 101st birthday of the famed Chicago writer, whose gritty works about the city include The Man with the Golden Arm and Chicago: City on the Make. This year's fete is dedicated to the memory of Howard Zinn, who wrote the Algren-esque People's History of the United States. There will be a cash bar and door prizes at the event.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Harry Caray's (Navy Pier)
It's a tourist bonanza at the latest outpost of the popular bar.

Off the Beaten Path: Gyood!
Roscoe Village soft serve spot will deliver to you.

Weekly Treat: Chicago Chef Week is under way
Find dozens of great deals all around the city.

Man We're Crazy About: Kirkwood Bar & Grill
Lakeview sports bar caters to Hoosiers and Huskers.

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

Don't look now, but Passover's on its way. If you're looking for a way to celebrate that doesn't involve ornery uncles and overly sweet wine, Matzo Bash II: The Leftovers, going down 8 p.m.-2 a.m. on Thursday, April 1 at Martini Park, could be your answer. The event includes a sponsored cocktail reception (8-9 p.m.) with Absolut Acai, Jameson and Malibu Rum, complimentary 'Passover-style' appetizers (8-9:30 p.m.) plus a live band and DJ.

Tickets ($10) are available here, but Centerstage doesn't think you should have to pay to party. One lucky Facebook fan will get a pair of passes -- to enter, post your favorite Passover memory here by Thursday, March 25.

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Danny Chaimson will bring things back to the old school tonight at Schubas.
(photo: MySpace)

Danny Chaimson
8 p.m. at Schubas; $8
Here's how this artist was pitched to us: "Danny's kind of like a mix of Randy Newman and Dr. John, if they were raised on Snoop and Native Tongues." Need we say more? Ok, here's a little more: Chaimson's brand of Memphis soul (to be played tonight with his band, the 11th Hour) has been shaking booties all over the place of late, including at SXSW, where he garnered some positive press from the likes of Esquire and LA Weekly.

Housemade Cheese and Wine Party
6 p.m. at David Burke's Primehouse; free
Several months ago, Primehouse executive chef Rick Gresh took his team to Grassfields Farm in southwest Michigan where, among other things, they made their own cheese. That Organic Lamont Chedder is finally ready, and to celebrate, Gresh hosts this event including petite grilled cheese sandwiches, beer cheese soup and ham and cheese croquettes, paired with wines ($7/glass) by sommelier Rachael Johnson. Reservations aren't necessary, but Lactaid pills might be.

Daisy Martinez Book-Signing

5-7 p.m. at Carnivale; free
The host of the Food Network's "Viva Daisy!" comes to Carnivale to sign copies of her new cookbook, Daisy: Morning, Noon, and Night ($30). In honor of the appearance, chef Mark Mendez offers appetizer specials from the book, including blue cheese and caramelized onion empanadas, Puerto Rican chicken and pigeon pea soup, and Daisytinis.

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This could be yours...for one shining moment.

You've got another few days until you can re-indulge in the sports orgy that is March Madness, as the Sweet Sixteen doesn't begin until Thursday.

To fill the void in your life, consider Mac Madness, Rockit Bar & Grill's showcase of a comfort food classic. There's no tournament here, just a different specialty mac 'n' cheese offering each day this week (in addition to the traditional four-cheese variety). The following $12 indulgences will be available at Rockit's River North and Wrigleyville locations through Friday:

Monday
Tuna Melt Mac with Peas and Garlic Bread Crumb Crust

Tuesday
BBQ Pork and Bacon Mac with Smooth Yellow Cheddar

Wednesday

Red Wine Braised Oxtail Mac with Caramelized Onions and Bubbling Gruyere (pictured)

Thursday
Buffalo Chicken Mac with Buttermilk Blue Fondue

Friday
Crawfish and Andouille Mac with Smoked Gouda Lovin’

2008_blaneyi_PIC2.jpgThe Rovers went pretty far for this show in 2008. (via Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band)

Pipe up. By our count, the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band will be playing at 25 different bars on St. Paddy's Day. If you can keep up with their pace, you'll deserve some sort of prize. If contemporary Irish music's more your bag, try Tributosaurus -- as Van Morrison -- at FitzGerald's St. Patrick's Day Festival or the Tossers at Metro.

Eat Guinness. That's right, we said "eat." The stout is showing up in dishes around the city, including in a Guinness pizza topped with potatoes, onions and bechamel at Frasca Pizzeria and Wine Bar and Guinness-spiked beer cheese dip at Dunlays on the Square.

Take it outside. It's supposed to be in the 50s tomorrow, so you won't be freezing while roaming Rush Street at the annual Shamrock Around the Block celebration. The $3.50 Miller Lite drafts will be flowing as you dodge leprechauns on stilts, Irish pipers and more at She-nannigans, Bootleggers, The Original Mother's, Mother's Too and The Lodge. 11 a.m.-4 a m.

It's a big day in Our Town, because today marks the first installment of Single City, a mostly daily blog about the Chicago dating scene by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Take it away, Sally:

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Originally from Los Angeles –- to which I give credit for my tough attitude and street smarts -- I was a gross tomboy (unfortunately) nicknamed “Buff Girl” in middle school, before evolving into your average single twentysomething woman trying to make sense of dating in Chicago.

When I’m not covering breaking news for the Sun-Times Media Wire, I’ll be here at Single City to ask questions, get answers, discuss dating trends and date ideas, and shower you with stories of composite dating experiences that are ironic, hilarious, sweet and strange. Got a too-good-to-be-true tale that fits the description? Questions about your situation? Need a guinea pig to try out a dating adventure? Just want to chat about shady men or annoying women? Email me!



The Bachelor and the Poor Man: I'm On a Boat

If there was ever a competition for the most unrealistic vision of courtship, ABC's "The Bachelor" would definitely get a rose.

But even those who aren’t fans of the show can appreciate the unattainably lavish dates featured in each episode – even if they can’t imagine paying for them. In an effort to bring TV romance a little closer to reality, Single City is proud to present “The Bachelor and The Poor-Man,” a weekly series featuring date ideas inspired by the show, with alternatives that the average Chicagoan can afford.

The inspiration: It might still be a painful memory for Team Tenley, but the cuddling session between last season's runner-up and her (shirtless) object of affection, Jake, on a boat in St. Lucia certainly put some wind in viewers' sails.

The Bachelor: Charter a sailboat for a romantic cruise on Lake Michigan. Lakeshore Sail Charters and Go Sailing Chicago offers sailing charters for up to six people per ride. Lakeshore goes for as cheap as $125 per hour on weekdays ($155 Friday, Saturday and Sunday) with a two-hour minimum; Go Sailing offers rides as cheap as $150 per weekday hour ($170 weekends) with a three-hour minimum.

So pack a picnic dinner and bring some booze, and then just stay busy by fawning over each other at sunset. If you plan it right, you can also catch a viewing of the free Navy Pier fireworks on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Go Sailing also suggests swimming, which offers a perfect opportunity to make out nearly naked -- just like in those racy hot tub scenes.

The Poor Man: If spending that much on a date makes you a little seasick, don’t worry. You can still get the romance flowing by going to dinner at one of several Riverwalk cafes via (drum roll...) WATER TAXI! It’s no gondola ride, but it’s still much more original, romantic and scenic than the L. And while the River may lack the awe-inspiring qualities of Lake Michigan, it’s still majestic in its own right.

Take a Shoreline Water Taxi from River North (at Erie and Larrabee) down to the Michigan Avenue Bridge for as little as $2 and have a French feast at Cyrano’s Cafe & Wine Bar, grab sushi at Diosa on the River, spice things up at Lagniappe Creole Cajun Joynt or just keep it simple at O’Brien’s Riverwalk Café.

Feel like Chinese? Take the Chicago Water Taxi from Michigan Avenue down to Chinatown for your pick of authentic and fusion foods for just $4 each way.

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The Very Best
8 p.m. at Bottom Lounge; $15
It may have started as a chance encounter at a thrift shop, but after a handful of successful remixes, collaborations and a highly touted full-length, the infectiously charming trio The Very Best (Esau Mwamwaya, Johan Hugo and DJ Tron) have established themselves as darlings of the global music scene. The London-based trio tastefully mixes traditional Malawi rhythms with modern-day hip-hop beats, reggae and, well, pretty much everything else to create the sunniest Afro-pop you'll hear. If you tried to catch them in October you probably were met with a disappointing cancellation notice, but don't let that deter you from this one because Esau Mwamwaya has officially cleared his visa and has promised to deliver a show that's well worth the wait.

Cabinet of Curiosities
6 p.m. at Museum of Contemporary Art (in Puck's Cafe); free
Non-profit art gallery threewalls curates this month's edition of the variety show series. The gallery has made a name for itself by showcasing all forms of media, so expect an eclectic evening.

Vintage Magic "Uncorked"
7:30 p.m. at In Fine Spirits Lounge; $13
Magician Sean Masterson performs a variety of parlor tricks in a private room at this Andersonville wine bar. Watch him make bottles disappear before your very eyes -- while you do the same to a classic cocktail from the extensive list.


When you went out to eat today -- whether it was a quick trip to Subway or a power lunch at Bull & Bear -- you were likely given a precious gift for free, and didn't even realize your good fortune.

We're talking about clean, refreshing water, of course. According to UNICEF, nearly 900 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and 4,100 children die of water-related diseases every day. The organization's annual Tap Project is an effort to raise awareness and funding to fight such problems, coinciding with World Water Week (March 21-27). As in previous years, Chicago businesses are getting in on the act with special events and promotions. We'll add to this list as we hear about more.

  • Sunda.The River North restaurant will co-host a four-course family-style dinner on Friday, March 19 at 7 p.m. The $100 event in the upstairs private dining room will include Grey Goose cocktails, sake, wine and champagne, as well as an afterparty at the Underground.
  • Oakton Community College. The "Tap to the Rhythm" event features musical numbers from students and local residents at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 25. Tickets are $5 in advance (847-635-1900) or $7 at the door.
  • InterContinental Chicago. Throughout March, the hotel will ask guests to donate $1 or more for water they usually enjoy for free -- as will many restaurants around town.

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Out of the Blues 2
7 p.m. at House of Blues; $150
Every once in a while some of the city's finest blues icons pool their star power for a charitable cause like this one: the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, the only rape crisis center serving the Northeast Suburbs. It may seem steep at $150 a ticket, but all but $25 goes toward the charity, while the remainder is penance for Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater (pictured), Lonnie Brooks and Jimmy Dawkins, one of the last holdovers from the West Side funk explosion.

Taste of Morton Grove
5:30 p.m. at White Eagle Banquets; $40
If you like the food part of the Taste of Chicago, but not all the craziness, this suburban offering could be a good choice.The evening of samples, live and silent auctions and raffles features many participating restaurants including Catered by Design, China Chef, Dairy Queen, El Sol, Giordano's, Graziano’s, Gulliver's, Kappy's Restaurant, Maier's Bakery, Maggiano's, Melting Pot, Orchard Village, Pizano's and Wa-Pa-Ghetti's.

11:11
8 p.m. at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater; $25
Christian teens get (accidentally) high. It sounds like the set-up for a sloppy, wacky satire, or maybe some high-concept porn. But if you believe Chicago critics, the New Colony's "11:11" is a surprisingly sensitive exploration of identity and faith. Sure, it's a comedy confection of doped-up virgins, but with a lingering, meaningful aftertaste. The show closes on Saturday.

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Highlights from Centerstage Chicago's latest Crumb newsletter:

Just Opened: Gilt Bar
Indulging is way too easy at this River North gastropub.

Off the Beaten Path: Zaytune Mediterranean Grill
Middle Eastern quick service in Bridgeport.

Weekly Treat: Tonight is vodka night at Villains Bar & Grill
South Loop spot serves up all vodka drinks for just $3.

Man We're Crazy About: Second City Subs
Lincoln Park sandwich shop makes ‘em fast and fresh.

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

Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

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OPEN:
Gilt Bar - The Aigre Doux space is busy once again with this gastropub from an all-star lineup.
Second City Subs - This quick-serve sandwich spot near DePaul already feels like it's been around for years.
Ameer Kabob - Call 'em up and order inexpensive Arabian favorites for less than Sultan's Market.
Klopa Grill & Cafe - Serbian BBQ cafe serves up "good food," according to its name.
No Man's Land Pizza & Grill - Wilmette pizzeria offers New York-style slices and grilled sandwiches.

OPENING SOON:
Francesca's on Chestnut - The Italian empire expands with this Gold Coast location (in the Seneca Hotel), open any day now.

CLOSING:
Your Kitchen - You've only got a few more days to get prepared comfort food from this Albany Park spot, which closes March 1.

CLOSED:
Angelo's Taverna (we think) - Papered-over windows, disconnected phone don't bode well, but we're not totally giving up hope for this Old Town Greek eatery.
Marco Polo - Sorry, Skokie, looks like you'll have to get your fried-rice fix elsewhere.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

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Help The Boozehound help you.

Since its opening in late 2008, Drinks Over Dearborn has offered a wide variety of booze-related services, from specialty sales to tastings to classes to event hosting. That could soon be over, as the boutique shop finds itself about $50,000 in debt. In an effort to keep the dream alive, proprietor Kyle McHugh (aka The Boozehound) has started a unique fundraising campaign, 500 Benjamins or Bust. He's looking for 500 people to open $100 accounts with the store, to be charged only if the total fundraising goal is reached by March 1. It's kind of like a Groupon, except the window of opportunity lasts two weeks instead of a single day. If the goal is not reached, the store will close on March 5.

Want to make sure your money will be well spent? Check out the store's inventory here.

Thanks to Chicagoist and 312DD for alerting us to this campaign.

Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

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OPEN:
Prairie Fire - This new West Loop restaurant comes from the owners of Northbrook's Prairie Grass Cafe.
Leo's Coney Island - The lines out the door should tell you something about how much a true Coney emporium has been needed in these parts.
The Money Shot - Try to overlook the, um, descriptive name of the place and focus on the sleek look of this Rogers Park restaurant/lounge.
Rice N Roll - Get your favorite Thai, Chinese and sushi dishes at this Albany Park restaurant. As part of its grand opening, the place is offering an entree with soup and an appetizer for $5.95.
Eggsperience Cafe - This 24-hour cafe offers a full range of egg dishes, whenever you want 'em, in River North.
Rockin' Taco - Try the "Friday Night Fight": 10 tacos drowning in hot sauce, which come free if you eat the whole plate with just one drink and one napkin ($16.66 if you don't).
Rehab - The old martini lounge connected to Circuit in Boystown re-opens with a fresh new look and cocktail-heavy menu.

OPENING SOON:
Gilt Bar - Brendan Sodikoff's simple, fun restaurant in the old Aigre Doux space in River North will open later this month.

CLOSED:
Fuego Mexican Grill (Arlington Heights) - If you want your fix of margaritas and tableside guacamole, you may have to go to its Logan Square location.


Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's list of new restaurants and bars.

3 Things To Do Today

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The Residents
8 p.m. at Logan Square Auditorium; $25
Loath to interview and even more loath to reveal their identities, The Residents offer only zany, cryptic antics – appearing in giant eye masks while wearing white tuxedoes, distributing David Lynch-like video productions long before Lynch went to film school - a near 70-album oeuvre, and their elaborate live shows. Some shout genius, citing some of their work in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. Others shout absurd, citing the use of a photo of a woman fellating a small child as one of the band's first album covers. All we can shout is that they're on "The Talking Light Tour," and that should be enough to make you curious.


The Philanderer

7 p.m. at Ruth Page Center for the Arts; $10-$22
George Bernard Shaw classified this socially conscious production among his "Plays Unpleasant." But while the two-and-a-half-hour show might occasionally drag, it's far from offensive to modern sensibilities. Expect a cleverly written and charmingly performed play about the hypocrisies abounding in the relationships between the sexes. Read the full Centerstage review.

The Long Red Road Artists Talk
6-7 p.m. at Goodman Theatre; $15 ($8 for students)
WBEZ's Steve Edwards will moderate a discussion with playwright Brett C. Leonard and director Philip Seymour Hoffman about their new production, "The Long Red Road," which runs through March 21.

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