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Friday 12/19-Thursday 12/25

DECEMBER

19 FRIDAY "I've never been there and seen something that was ordinary or didn't strike me," says Other Voices executive editor Gina Frangello of Flatfile Galleries. Tonight the UIC-based fiction magazine is hosting a release party for issue 39 at the near-west-side space. The event will include readings by contributors Laura Ruby and Barbara Shoup and an exhibit of work by OV cover artists Claire Prussian, David Hernandez, Teresa Mucha, Chuck Rowling, Burt Menco, Mark DeBernardi, Sioban Lombardi, and cofounder and former executive editor Lois Hauselman--who stepped down last April in order to devote more time to writing and painting. The free party's a first for the magazine, which usually does "straightforward readings at places like the Guild Complex." It runs from 6 to 9 at Flatfile, 118 N. Peoria, and coincides with the gallery's annual art sale and the exhibit "A Global Language." For more call 312-491-1190 or 312-413-2209.

"Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang 'Cherry Ripe,' and another uncle sang 'Drake's Drum,'" wrote Dylan Thomas in A Child's Christmas in Wales. "Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed." Thomas's classic was the inspiration for a new piece by composer Gary Fry that'll be unveiled this week at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's annual family-oriented Welcome Yule! concert. Also on the bill: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Chicago Children's Choir, the Welcome Yule! dance ensemble, and a visit from Santa. Performances begin tonight at 7 and continue through Tuesday, December 23, at Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets range from $10 to $58; call 312-294-3000 or visit www.cso.org for more.

American Theater Company hopes to make its production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play--which is meant to be performed onstage with live sound effects and an ensemble of six--a holiday tradition. But though audience members are encouraged to sing "Auld Lang Syne" with the cast, artistic director Damon Kiely promises not to "clamp you to your seats and make you drink eggnog and sing carols." The show, adapted by Joe Landry from the movie's screenplay, opened Thursday, December 18, and continues through Sunday, December 21, at the ATC, 1909 W. Byron. Tonight's performance is at 8 and will be followed by nog, cookies, and caroling--if you're so inclined. The suggested donation for adults is $15 plus a canned food item (to be given to the Common Pantry), $10 for children. Call 773-929-5009 or see www.atcweb.org for more information.

20 SATURDAY "Some of the radio stations say they're playing jazz, but really play a New Age, fusion kind of jazz, as opposed to the music a station like WBEE was playing," says a spokesperson for this afternoon's panel Elements of Jazz in Chicago and the Cultural Politics of Commercial Jazz. The fate of jazz on the radio since 48-year-old Harvey-based WBEE was sold in October is just one of the topics up for discussion; also on the docket are the state of Bronzeville jazz clubs and where the local scene is headed. Musicians Aisha de Haas, Everett Greene, James Moody, and Burgess Gardner will sit on the panel. After the talk, attendees can tour the DuSable Museum of African American History's exhibit "Bronzeville: Black Chicago in Pictures 1941-1943." At 7:30 there'll be a concert by James Moody and the Burgess Gardner Orchestra featuring the vocals of Greene and de Haas (they also play at 7:30 on Friday, December 19); it's the final installment in the museum's "Thrillers of Jazz" series. The panel starts at 2 at the museum, 740 E. 56th Pl., and is free with regular admission ($3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors); tickets to the concert are $28. For more call 773-947-0600 or see www.dusablemuseum.org.

To celebrate the near completion of a life-size model of an iguanodon in 1853, sculptor Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and anatomist Richard Owen hosted a New Year's Eve dinner party in the belly of the beast, which was constructed of iron, brick, and cement. The iguanodon was part of the very first dinosaur exhibit, mounted at London's Crystal Palace exposition hall--until now the only time the "terrible lizards" have been displayed in a botanical setting. The new exhibit Giants: African Dinosaurs at the Garfield Park Conservatory, which opens today, consists of replicas of six dinosaur skeletons installed amidst the foliage, including a new species of pterosaur--an African flying reptile with a wingspan of over 16 feet--discovered in 2000 in the southern Sahara by University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno and his team. The exhibit also includes the first-ever life-size flesh model of an African pterosaur, fossils, and conceptual art created with casts of dinosaur bones. The conservatory is at 300 N. Central Park and is open today from 9 to 5; the exhibit's up through September 6, 2004. Admission is a suggested donation of $3. Call 312-746-5100 or see www.dinogiants.org for more information.

21 SUNDAY Jim Sikora's 1998 film Rock & Roll Punk tells the story of the rise and fall of a band called the Out-Patients whose members were once outpatients at an Elgin mental hospital. In a twist on the expected narrative, however, things go downhill once the perpetually stoned musicians go straight. Written and produced by former SST Records manager Joe Carducci, with appearances by indie icons David Yow, Steve Albini, John Haggerty, and Dave Pajo, the film will be shown tonight at 5 and Tuesday night at 8 (and again at 8 on Tuesday, December 30) at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Tickets are $8; call 312-846-2800 or see www.siskelfilmcenter.org for more information.

22 MONDAY Though the film was a commercial flop in 1984, French leading man Alain Delon won a Cesar award for his role in Bertrand Blier's Our Story, in which he shed his tough-guy persona to play a middle-aged alcoholic mechanic who meets a mysterious woman (Nathalie Baye) on a train. The film will be shown tonight at 6:30 and 8:45 as part of the ongoing series A Man in the Shadows: The Films of Alain Delon, which started December 13 and runs through December 23 at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton. Tickets are $7. Call 773-281-4114 or see the Critic's Choice in Movies for more.

23 TUESDAY A Little Night Music, Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning 1973 operetta about mismatched lovers, was loosely based on Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night. For this production by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, directed by Gary Griffin, a 14-piece orchestra backs a cast of Sondheim vets that includes locals Kevin Gudahl and Barbara Robertson. The show opens tonight at 7:30 and runs through February 15 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 600 E. Grand. Tickets range from $48 to $62; call 312-595-5600 or see www.chicagoshakes.com for more information.

24 WEDNESDAY There's not a lot going on today beyond last-minute shopping and mad dashes to the airport, but the nice folks at the Music Box are refusing to take the day off. The theater's 20th annual Double Feature and Christmas Sing-Along wraps up its run today with screenings of White Christmas (1 PM) and It's a Wonderful Life (4 PM); before each, Santa will lead the audience in a round of carols. Tickets are $12.50 for an individual movie, $18 for the double feature; they're available through Ticketmaster, 312-902-1500, or at the theater's box office, 3733 N. Southport. In the past, most shows have sold out; call 773-871-6604 or see the movie listings in Section Two for additional showtimes.

25 THURSDAY "Believe it or not, we fill it to capacity," says promoter Gabriel Segura of the House of Blues' annual Christmas Groove dance party, which starts tonight at 10:30--presumably after most people have dealt with the family and are ready to blow off some steam. The DJs will spin "club beats--house, hip-hop, whatever," says Segura. It's at the HOB, 329 N. Dearborn, and you must be 18 or over to attend. Tickets are $17; call 312-923-2000.

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