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Black hole sun / won't you come ...

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072009eclipse.jpg

Wednesday is a big day for the ultimate shiny object: it's the longest total solar eclipse that will happen this century. Yep, no other eclipse for the next 91 years will top it.

But you can't see it.


Animation from NASA

Unless, of course, you're on a flight tonight to Shanghai or Bangkok or a tiny island in the southwestern Pacific. And many amateur and professional stargazers are doing just that.

Complete details, maps and more are available from NASA here.

It being a solar eclipse, and we being starry-eyed dopes, plenty of scary predictions are collecting around the event. The AP reports:

"Astronomers hope the eclipse will unlock clues about the sun, while an astrologer in Myanmar predicts it could usher in chaos. Some in India are advising pregnant relatives to stay indoors to follow a centuries-old tradition of avoiding the sun's invisible rays. ...

Man has been recording solar eclipses for 4,000 years, and even today they inspire a combination of fear, fascination and wonder.

One astrologer in Myanmar, also known as Burma, predicted in a magazine that the eclipse would trigger wars, instability and natural disasters for the next several months."

But, hey, relax. The true horrors of the eclipse-predicted end o' the world are still three years off ...

sonic.jpg

sonicx.jpgHey, more free food! This time it's Sonic passing out the grub in the form of a free root beer float til midnight tonight.

Add this to the growing list of companies trying to find their way to your heart - or wallet, anyway - through the stomach.

Yes, the ice cream weather still eludes us in Chicago, but a free float is a free float.

And yes, there are a few locations around the city, but you better be ready to travel for that free goodness.

Weiner War.jpg

The best food is always free food, right, Oprah?

First there was the Denny's Grand Slam Super Bowl promotion that brought a stop to the country as lines poured out of the breakfast joints.

Then you could get your caffeine on with a free Cherry Dr. Pepper.

Then we had the infamous KFC free chicken deal promised by Oprah. Or did we? That promotion seemed to be clucked up from the get-go and many fans of the talk show queen are still crying foul over their unredeemable coupons.

Then the country scored a hole-in-one thanks thanks to a pro golfer's efforts in Sand Diego to secure P.F. Chang's chicken lettuce wraps for everybody.

Even a little free chocolate to take all the hurt away, courtesy the cocoa folks at Mars.And now Oscar Mayer - a division of Northfield-based Kraft - is hopping on the Wienermobile-driven bandwagon with a coupon deal on their Web site to give away a free pack of hot dogs.

Just in time for grilling season, though in annoying fashion, you have to enter an e-mail address and a physical address - no downloading of coupons for sausages, people!

So since we're rapidly turning into a Costco sample-seeking culture, what food do you want to see on the free table next? Sadly, there's no gimmes in the beer and liquor aisles, but there must be some munchies that are begging to be gratis. Chipotle burrito? Potbelly PB&J? Free Philly cheesesteaks on the 4th?

What's got your tumbly rumbly for the hook up?

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