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Friday 18

The solstice on December 22 marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year, but at the Fiery Clockface Bookshop the celebration of winter's eve will be only one hour long, from 7 to 8 tonight. The Chicago Storytellers' Guild will offer tales of dark and light, and death and renewal, in a free program for children over 12 and adults. The bookstore is at 5311 N. Clark. For more information, call 728-4227.

At the start of the 1986 football season, when Chicago Bears quarterback cutie Mike Tomczak signed autographs at the Century mall, he was aglow with teen appeal. Even though the boyish Tomczak had barely seen action, one adolescent girl clutched a scrapbook full of clippings of Tomczak exploits to be signed by her hero. By now that scrapbook must be bulging. Tomczak hasn't forgotten his teen fans, as evidenced by tonight's grand opening at 7 of Mike T's, a chemical-free dance club for the under-21 set. The club, 160 Orland Park Place in Orland Park, will be open during the school months, Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to midnight, Sundays and holidays from 5 to 11. During the summer, the schedule will include Thursdays from 7 to midnight. Admission is $5. For more details about what's happening there, call 403-1110.

Saturday 19

If you like trivia, remember this name: Luis de Torres. It might come in handy today when the Chicago Loop Synagogue, 16 S. Clark, sponsors a Chanukah Brunch with games that include Jewish Trivial Pursuit, starting at 1. Admission is $10 and a child's gift, which will be distributed by the Ark, a Jewish social service agency. So what does Luis de Torres have to do with this? Traveling on Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the new world, he was the first European to set foot on American soil. He was a Jew. For more information, call Morene Dunn at 642-4651 or the synagogue at 346-7370.

Mike T's isn't the only new club opening this weekend. But Esoteria is for adults, complete with high energy dance music and libations. Esoteria will offer the cozy confines of a neighborhood bar up front and a high-tech neon wonderland with two dance floors in back. The fun starts at 9 at 2247 N. Lincoln Ave. There's no cover until 1988. For more information, call 549-4110.

Sunday 20

Only five shopping days until Christmas and everything's starting to look the same at Carson's and Marshall Field's? Well, the really hip people don't shop downtown. They wait for Dawn Hurwitz and her Underground Designers Christmas Bazaar, or bizarre, if you will. About 40 designers, artists, and artisans offer truly unique items (would you believe rubber dresses?) that bring some real fun to Christmas shopping. Check out their wares from noon to 7 at the Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield. There's a $1 admission. Call 989-4200 for more information.

It's too cold to hang out and chat on the patio at Axe Street Arena, the iconoclastic little loft gallery in Logan Square. However, artistic discourse will probably be hot and heavy tonight when Dennis Brittain, Jose David, Ferd Eggan, Robert Klein Engler, Gabor, M.J. Marchnight, Dwight Okita, and Max Rambal take the stage in a free poetry performance at 7. Axe Street cofounder Bertha Husband, whose exhibit "Tango--Somewhere Between Alba and Argentina" runs through January 10, will also be on hand. There'll be a cash bar, too. Axe Street Arena is at 2778 N. Milwaukee. Bertha and the gang take questions at 252-6082.

Theresa's Lounge, the south-side blues joint, was smoky and grimy during its tenure. But it was also home to some of the best blues players who ever lived, including Muddy Waters. Which is why it's become legend. B.L.U.E.S., its north-side sibling, is doing a benefit for the lounge's namesake, Theresa Needham, with an evening of live blues featuring the Sunnyland Slim Blues Band and many guests. Showtime is 9 at 2519 N. Halsted; there'll be jammin' till 1:30. The cover is $5. For more information, call 528-1012 or 549-9436 after 8.

Monday 21

Pols and pundits galore will be on hand for the Sixth Annual World's Largest Office Party, which attracts about 8,000 revelers and dispatches proceeds to the Neediest Kids Fund. The big bash, which runs from 3:30 to 9:30 tonight, is at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker. Tickets are $5 at the door or through Ticketmaster. For more information, call 565-1234.

Pagans will reclaim their right to holiday time when Panthea's Winter Solstice Celebration kicks off at 7:30. That's as it should be, says Christa Landon, a cofounder of Panthea, a religious and educational community. After all, ivy, holly, and mistletoe as symbols are all pagan leftovers. Tonight's festivities include a participatory ritual (beginning promptly at 8), pre-Christian carols, a little dancing and chanting, and decorating the big Yule tree. The free party's at 7059 N. Greenview; Christa has more Information at 334-7478.

Tuesday 22

The Yule Connection, a 24-hour hotline designed for people who are lonely or depressed during the holidays, starts today at noon and runs through midnight on January 3. Every caller is guaranteed a sympathetic listen. The number is 644-4357; hearing-impaired persons can call (TDD) 644-5510. There are no extra charges for the calls.

If you're exhausted from holiday shopping and need a break, or if you just want to wait out the rush hour before heading home, consider taking in a film this afternoon at the Film Center of the Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Today's free film study screening at 4:15 is a Buster Keaton fest featuring four shorts made between 1917 and 1923. Call 443-3733 for more information.

Chicago Bears Kevin Butler, Wilber Marshall, Steve McMichael, Mike Tomczak, and Otis Wilson will be the featured carolers at the Jingle Bear Rock, a benefit for the American Heart Association of Metropolitan Chicago's Young Hearts, at Ditka's, 223 W. Ontario, from 5 to 9. Sponsored by Compumat and Stolichnaya. Tickets are $20 each, and besides being a donation to a worthy cause, they entitle you to a chance to win a home computer. More information is available at 346-4675.

Wednesday 23

Children of Paradise is a nearly perfect film and an annual holiday treat at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton. Marcel Carne's 188-minute masterpiece, secretly shot in France between 1943 and 1945 during the Nazi occupation, is a riveting portrayal of good and evil. Standard movie prices are in effect: adults $5; members $3; 7:30. For more information, call 281-9075.

Seems like everybodys got a story to tell, but Michael Garcia has many. As a professional storyteller, he spins out tales and verse by Mark Twain, Anne Sexton, Denise Levertov, and Robert Bloch, among others. His performance, Night Writings, also features a good batch of scary ghost stories. That's tonight at 8 at the Boombala Cabaret, 2950 N. Lincoln. There's a $3 cover; more information at 477-9510.

Thursday 24

The Second Unitarian Church has a nice, unassuming way about it. Located on a tree-lined block of Barry Street, it almost gets lost amid the graystones and modest courtyard buildings. But tonight, look out for a crowd, when the church holds its annual special candlelight Chrristmas service. The service features caroling, story telling, and decorating the mitten tree--a Christmas tree loaded with mittens, gloves, and mufflers that are later donated to charity. The church is at 656 W. Barry and the service is at 7. There's more information at 944-5197.

Also tonight, WXRT sponsors CareCab, a free taxi service designed for the holiday partygoer who's done too much partying. Cabs will pick up passengers anywhere in Cook County, and take them home as long as the trip is 20 miles or less--but not to another bar. The free ride runs from 7 to 3 AM nightly through January 2. Call 677-3910 for a pickup.

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