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Friday 12/22 - Thursday 1/4

DECEMBER

By Cara Jepsen

22 FRIDAY "It's taken me many years to amass a crazy collection like the one I've got," says musician and statistics professor Don Hedeker, who scours thrift stores, secondhand record shops, and corporate chain stores to add to his treasure trove of holiday music. His collection covers everything from Tiny Tim to the Dickies, including such gems as "Santa Claus" by Thee Headcoats and "Sausage and Sauerkraut for Santa" by the Pala Brothers, a Chicago-based polka band from the 1960s. Hedeker and pal Joe Wislar will spin four hours of Yuletide tunes at their annual holiday music fest tonight at 10 at Club Foot, 1824 W. Augusta. There's no cover, but you must be 21. Call 773-489-0379.

23 SATURDAY The winter solstice was actually Thursday, but the folks at Charybdis Multi-Arts Complex are marking the change of seasons this weekend with a blowout that promises pagan rituals, music, trance dancing, a drum circle, a community altar, plenty of seasonal art, and the chance to play in or on the venue's attractions, which include a 30-foot slide, basketball court, and game room. Attendees are encouraged to bring "something to pound on" and vials of water, which will be poured together "to signify that there really are no boundaries between us," says Charybdis founder Gregor Mortis. Winter Solstice: A Celebration of Life takes place Friday night and tonight at 8 at Charybdis, 4423 N. Milwaukee (773-427-9970). Admission is $10.

In January, actress Lusia Strus, whom you may know from Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind--or her throaty public radio and yogurt ad voice-overs--is going to seek her fortune in LA. But she's giving it only three months. "I have no true, deep desire to be out there, but I'm going to try it," she says. "A fate worse than death to me is being the big-breasted, cigarette-smoking, wisecracking best friend next door on a sitcom. But that's probably where I'd end up." To say farewell she's put together a full-length solo show called Too Busy to Be Famous. She's been planning to do this for a decade; she was just too busy to get around to it. She performs tonight at 10, and the show runs through January 13 at Second City, Donny's Skybox Studio, 1608 N. Wells (fourth floor). Tickets are $12; call 312-337-3992.

24 SUNDAY Comedian Caryn Bark says non-Jewish audience members usually get her jokes--they just need a couple of seconds to let them sink in. Tonight Bark will revive her 1994 one-woman show Diary of A Skokie Girl, which combines her takes on American Jewish culture, families, and food with reminiscences about growing up in the 60s. If tradition holds, she'll also hand out mandel bread. It's tonight at 7 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell in Arlington Heights. Tickets are $22.50; call 847-577-2121.

25 MONDAY "Sometimes it's busy, sometimes it isn't," says a longtime Waveland Bowl employee who's worked the Xmas shift on and off over the years. The 40 lanes are open 24/7/365, and the alley hasn't had locks on the doors since it opened in 1959. Despite the fancy new facade that went up this summer, the prices are still right. A game is $2 per person before 5; after that lanes run $15 per hour. Shoe rental is $2.50. It's at 3700 N. Western, 773-472-5900.

The best thing about seeing movies on Christmas isn't getting a leg up on the new releases, many of which open tonight. It's how easy it is to navigate the empty streets and score a parking space right in front of the theater. Among the films opening tonight is Terence Davies's House of Mirth, starring Gillian Anderson and based on the Edith Wharton novel about being female, single, and poor in turn-of-the-century New York society. It'll be shown at 1, 3:45, 6:30, and 9:15 at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport. Tickets are $8.50. Call 773-871-6604.

26 TUESDAY Umoja, or unity, is the first of the seven principles that Kwanza, which begins today, was created to celebrate. H. Mark Williams and the Cultural Messengers will riff on this and the other six--self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith--at a free music and spoken word Kwanza performance today at 12:15 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630).

27 WEDNESDAY Believe it or not, composer Galt MacDermot wrote some songs for Hair that didn't make it into the show. Some of them, along with MacDermot-scored zingers from the musicals Two Gentlemen of Verona, Dude, Via Galactica, Isabel's a Jezebel, and The Human Comedy, have made the 22-song set list for Let the Sunshine In, a salute to MacDermot and his work. It's the brainchild of former Chicagoans Eric Svejcar and Tammy Meneghini, who debuted the show in New York. Performances are tonight, tomorrow, and Friday at 8 at Davenport's Piano Bar and Cabaret, 1383 N. Milwaukee (773-278-1830). Tickets are $12.

28 THURSDAY In 1977, modern design pioneers Charles and Ray Eames made Powers of Ten, a now-classic educational film that examined ideas of time, size, and scale by zooming (by powers of ten) from an image of a sleeping man on the city's lakefront out to the edge of the universe and then back, journeying in from the man's hand to a single quark. The film, accompanied by a display of oversize stills, text, and additional material, forms the centerpiece of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum's math-oriented exhibition "3." The museum is open today from 9 to 4:30 (the exhibits will be up until January 7) at 2430 Cannon Drive in Lincoln Park (773-755-5100). Admission is $6, $4 for students and seniors, and $3 for kids.

Next week is the Reader's special fiction issue, which means there will be no Calendar--here are a few things to do when you're not reading some great stories.

Since June 1994 the Chicago Seekers, an informal group interested in discussing philosophy, has been meeting monthly. Tonight's topic, A Post X-ma$ Celebration of Intangibles as More Meaningful Than Materialism, takes book six of Plato's Republic as its start. "The whole point is to apply these abstract ideas to the betterment of our everyday lives, rather than talk about them as some useless theory," says seeker Bob Lichtenbert, who will begin the session with a brief presentation. "It's a lot to do in one meeting, but we'll give it a shot." It's from 8 to 10 on Friday, December 29, at Mitchell's restaurant, 1953 N. Clybourn. It's free; call 773-477-1744.

Most of the chants Dave Stringer leads at his kirtans (participatory ecstatic chanting events) are in Sanskrit, but he also throws in some Hindi. Between the chants he sings songs, most of which are bluesy and in English. Stringer, who plays harmonium, and his backup band will lead a kirtan Sunday, December 31, at 8 PM at Moksha Yoga, 700 N. Carpenter. Admission is $25. It'll be followed by a free satsang and meditation, which run from 10:30 to 1. Call 312-942-9642.

The money raised from the Yoga Practice to Benefit Gilda's Club Monday, January 1, will be used to purchase badly needed blocks, straps, blankets, and other props for cancer patients who take classes at the club. "Not everyone can do the poses, so we want to be able to adapt them by using props," says yoga teacher and event organizer Mary Klonowski. Six studios are participating in the yoga-thon, and the classes, which range from beginning to advanced, are $15 each. Call Gilda's Club at 312-464-9900 for exact times and locations.

Since hitting the streets exactly one year ago to capture millennial life in Chicago, the 108 photographers who contributed to the CITY 2000 documentary project have taken over 500,000 pictures. Some 300 of these go on display January 1 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630). You Are Here: Chicago in the Year 2000 will be open from noon to 5 on New Year's Day; the free exhibit continues through March 4.

Not only is it "cool" to do three one-act plays with the same setting, it's economical. "We work with a very small budget," says Equity Library Theatre Chicago's Frank Farrell. "We don't pay our actors, so we don't want to spend a lot of money on the sets. Also, the focus should be on the actors and the acting." The ELTC's latest installment of its "Greatest American Playwrights of the 20th Century" series, the Park Bench Plays, features Edward Albee's The Zoo Story, John Guare's The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year, and Israel Horovitz's Shooting Gallery--all of which take place on park benches. The show opens January 4 at 8 and runs weekends through January 28 at the Breadline Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice. Tickets are $15, $10 for students. Call 773-743-0266.

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