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Friday 12/19 - Thursday 12/25

DECEMBER

By Cara Jepsen

19 FRIDAY Christmas may be the worst time of year to be without a job. Each month the south-side group Partners in Community Development hosts a job club for the unemployed to share their experiences of looking for work. The organization also provides job training, career counseling, and loans to foster redevelopment on the mid-south side. But all this takes money, of course, and tonight they'll raise funds at a Jazz Christmas Benefit With the Willie Pickens Trio. The playlist will include holiday tunes and sing-along numbers. It starts at 8 at the Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn. Tickets are $25 at the door, $20 in advance. Call 312-409-0214.

Tonight's Turnstyles: Underground Expo is a combination dance party, art show, and record-release event put together by Jeremy "Sole" Ross, who's mixed music all over town. The night kicks off at 8 with a free opening reception for the art exhibit; music starts at 10, and the cover then is $5. It's at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division. Call 773-276-2906.

20 SATURDAY Cardboard toilet-paper rolls, string, peanut butter, pine cones. No, they're not the ingredients for an afternoon of perverted debauchery--they're the materials that will be used to make innocent bird feeders at today's Give a Bird a Present for Christmas program at the Chicago Public Library. Kids who participate will get to take the feeders home and will receive handouts describing the habits of local fowl. It's from 11 to 3:30 in the Thomas Hughes Children's Library at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. It's free, and materials will be provided. Call 312-747-4780 for more.

21 SUNDAY In case you haven't noticed, the days have been getting shorter, and today will be the shortest of all. With sunrise at 7:14 and sunset at 4:23, we'll get just over nine hours of so-called daylight. Before clocks and computers calculated such things for us, humans measured time by examining the shadows cast on sundials or by observing the movement of the sun at monolithic structures such as Stonehenge. Today visitors to the Adler Planetarium's Sun Fest: Winter Solstice Celebration can use telescopes to view the sun setting behind that modern megalith, the Sears Tower. They can also make a pocket sundial, play with prisms, race solar cars, and, if the sun cooperates, view the surface of Ra itself through a (filtered) telescope. It's from 11 to sunset at the Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for children. Call 312-322-0304.

If you're good, Santa might bring you a Red Rider BB gun, a pony, a nice sweater, or a Barbie town house. But if you're bad, Satan might reward you with rock stardom, drugs, pornography, ill-gotten wealth, and, of course, eternal damnation. Which is preferable? You can cast your vote when you get your picture taken with one or the other at today's Santa and Satan Face-Off and Photo Op. Santa and Satan will sit side-by-side and receive visitors on their laps. At the end of the day the results will be tallied, and the loser--either Santa or Satan--will be publicly humiliated. The showdown happens between noon and 4 at Jinx Cafe, 1928 W. Division. Admission is free; it's $1 for an instant photo. Call 773-645-3667.

22 MONDAY Revelers at tonight's Ho Ho Ho-mo Headbangers Heavy Metal Holiday Babylon wouldn't be caught dead with traditional holiday eggnog, Mogen David, or Bing Crosby's "Silver Bells." Instead they favor beer bongs, Jell-O shots, and AC/DC's "Hell's Bells." Hostess Pate will preside over contests and hand out free toys, and DJ Chandra will provide the ass-kickin' sound track to the night of debauchery. This special holiday version of the monthly homo-friendly Bang Yer Head Ball will benefit A Children's Place, a support service for children affected by HIV and AIDS. It's from 7 to 11 at the Closet, 3325 N. Broadway. Canned goods and donations will be accepted in lieu of a cover. Call 773-477-8533.

23 TUESDAY Actor Lenny Baker never really made it big, but his starring role in Paul Mazursky's 1976 send-up of 50s Bohemia, Next Stop, Greenwich Village, found him working alongside up-and-comers Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Walken as well as an on-her-way-down Shelley Winters. The four friends and lovers confront such still-relevant issues as female assertiveness, suicide, self-absorption, abortion, and, of course, the hard knocks one endures trying to make it as an actor in the big, cruel city. It'll be screened tonight as part of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs' annual Festival of Lights...Camera, Action! A kosher vegetarian dinner will be served at 6:30, and the film starts at 7:30. It's in the Bederman Auditorium at the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, 618 S. Michigan. Tickets are $15. To make a reservation, call 312-663-0960.

24 WEDNESDAY Like ants scurrying to transport unwieldy bits of picnic loot back to their subterranean dwellings, humans will fill the sidewalks today, scrambling to finish their holiday shopping. The streets will be jammed with cabs, buses, and SUVs; the sounds of honking, Christmas carols, and curses will fill the air; and millions of holiday lights will shine from thousands of windows. But will anyone be calm enough to enjoy it? Those with a few minutes (or hours) to spare today can enjoy a Santa's-eye view of the holiday-induced insanity from the top of the John Hancock Center observatory. In addition to viewing the mess from above, visitors can "tour" the city and "visit" its major sites without braving the cold and crowds via its virtual-reality "Windows on Chicago" exhibit. Those who prefer to embrace the elements can investigate the open-air skywalk 1,000 feet above the street. The recently renovated (to the tune of $2.5 million) observatory is open from 9 AM to midnight every day. It's on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan. Admission is $7, $5 for seniors and children 6 to 17 (it's free for kids 5 and under). Call 888-875-8439 for more.

25 THURSDAY Today's word problem: Fifteen-year-old goth girl Janelle hates her hypocritical family and wants to ditch their lame holiday gathering ASAP. But she has to take her cheerleader cousin, Katina, with her. Thirty-three-year-old teetotaler Ricardo does not celebrate Christmas but wants to get together with a few of his like-minded friends. Fifty-year-old Sally found a new pair of blue-and-red bowling shoes under the tree this morning. They match the pair Santa brought her five-year-old grandson, Cody. Where can all these people go on a day when most businesses are closed? One possible solution: They could join the mishmash of humanity that converges on the 40 lanes of the always upbeat Waveland Bowl each December 25. It's open all day today (and every day) at 3700 N. Western. Bonus points: The snack bar and lounge are also open. And it's cheap--$2.50 per game per person and $2 to rent shoes. Call 773-472-5902.

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