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Friday 12/27 - Thursday 1/9

DECEMBER

By Cara Jepsen

27 FRIDAY Self-determination, or kujichagulia, is the focus of today, the second day of Kwanzaa. The nonreligious African-American celebration teaches African history and customs by using a different principle for each of the holiday's seven days (the remaining six are unity, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith). Today the Bryant Ballet company and Jacob Carruthers from the Temple of the African Community of Chicago will appear as part of Malcolm X College's Kwanzaa: Reuniting the Village celebration. A drum call kicks off the event at noon; an African marketplace will be open till 3. It's at the college's Bruce Hayden Performing Arts Center, 1900 W. Van Buren. It's free; call 312-850-7082 for information.

28 SATURDAY It's too late for kids to register to play in this weekend's Holiday Hoops Basketball Tournament, but between games they can take a shot at winning free-throw contests and giveaways, make a tape of themselves "reporting" the sports news in a simulated TV studio, or participate in a free kids' clinic, which offers lectures, demonstrations, and drills for children 8 to 12. The event also includes a Media Celebrity Challenge, featuring former NBA and NFL players, media people, and second-string politicos such as state's attorney-elect Dick Divine and Cook County Recorder of Deeds Jesse White. The games start today and tomorrow at 9--with the clinic today at 3:30 and the celebrity challenge tomorrow at 2--in the new south building at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive. The games are free to watch. Call 312-744-3315.

29 SUNDAY Today's Afternoon With Frida Kahlo features California-based art consultant Nori Green telling stories about the Mexican artist's life based on her letters and art. The 45-minute presentation will be followed by a four-course traditional Mexican luncheon. It's at 2 at Frida's restaurant (the facade of which is a replica of Kahlo's home in Coyoacan), 2143 N. Damen. It's $40; reservations are required. Call 312-337-4327.

30 MONDAY Nelson Algren and Simone de Beauvoir are among the subjects of the photographs in the exhibit Here's Looking at You: 45 Years of Photojournalism by Art Shay. The retrospective of the former Life photographer's work includes photos of hula-hoopers, cold-war marine maneuvers on Lake Michigan, and--my favorite--a fedora'd figure rushing past one of the Art Institute lions, titled Big Tuna Passes Big Lion on Michigan Ave. It's today from 10 to 7 and runs through January 24 at the Renaissance Court Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. It's free; call 312-744-6630 for more.

31 TUESDAY Last year hundreds of people braved the cold, strapped on skates, and participated in Skate on State's Safe Night Party. This year the family-oriented, alcohol-free event boasts a live DJ, free hot beverages, contests, and free carriage rides down State Street. It's from 6 to 9 at the rink on State Street between Randolph and Washington. Admission is free (skate rentals are $3, $2 for kids). Call 312-744-3370. Later you can head over to Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, for a free midnight fireworks display. (If you don't want to leave the house, it'll be broadcast live on Channel Seven.) Call 312-595-7437.

Time is the theme of ARC Gallery's End of the Century Fundraiser. The focal point of tonight's benefit for the 23-year-old women's cooperative is a silent auction of clocks created by local artists including Susan Zimmerman, Ralph Arnold, Sandra Blanc, Margot Gottfried, and Reader staffer Hilary Abuhove. (Considering most artists' perception of time, the work is bound to be challenging.) There'll also be appearances by clarinetist Gene Coleman, percussion ensemble Jack the Dog, and performance artist Mathew Wilson. It's from 9 to 2 at the gallery, 1040 W. Huron. Admission is $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Call 312-733-2787.

JANUARY

1 WEDNESDAY Larry Lazoen on bass, Ted Takasaki on walleye, and Ron Lappin on crappie are not the latest noise band but a few of the fishing pros who'll explain how to catch the one that got away at this year's Boat, Sports, and RV Show. Visitors can test their newly acquired skills in the Huck Finn Trout Pond or see caged divers confront sharks in a 7,000-gallon aquarium. There'll also be boating seminars, a casting pond, water-ski clinics, and special appearances by three boats from James Bond movies (including the Neptune sub from For Your Eyes Only). The latest crop of boats, RVs, and related detritus will also be on display. It starts today from 11 to 9 and runs through January 5 in the east building at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive. It's $7 to get in; free for kids under 12. Call 312-946-6262.

2 THURSDAY Until recently Fete Champetre, a painting showing elegantly dressed young people listening to music in a garden, sat in storage at the Art Institute. It was believed to be the work of a follower of French master Jean Antoine Watteau until researchers working on the catalog that accompanies the exhibit New Light on Old Masters: French and British Paintings From 1600 to 1800 discovered that the piece was actually painted by Watteau. It's one of six paintings shown in the exhibit, which also includes works by Thomas Hudson, Jacques Louis David, and Benjamin West. The exhibit is open today from 10:30 to 4:30 and runs through January 23 in Gallery 142 at the Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan. The suggested donation is $7, $3.50 for students, seniors, and children. Call 312-443-3600.

JANUARY 3 through 9

We're taking a week off at the Reader. Here are some things to do in our absence:

The Elvis myth will be foisted onto yet another generation of unsuspecting youngsters at the Elvis Birthday Celebration at Kohl Children's Museum. Kids (and the kidlike) can transform themselves into the King by making blue suede shoes, sunglasses, and sideburns from fake fur and carpet samples; tie-dyed coffee filters attached to pants will serve as bell-bottoms. But the whole thing wouldn't be legit without an Elvis impersonator; this one presides over a dance contest. It's Sunday, January 5, at 2 at the museum, 165 Green Bay Road in Wilmette. It's $4. Call 847-256-6056.

Margaret Atwood's new book Alias Grace is a departure for the novelist--a piece of historical fiction based on the real-life story of Grace Marks, a 16-year-old housemaid convicted of killing her employer and his mistress in upper Canada in 1843. The murder mystery examines the nature of crime and victimization, male-female relationships, and prison life in Victorian times. Atwood discusses her work and the process of writing Monday, January 6, from 7:30 to 9 at Glenbrook South High School, 4000 W. Lake in Glenview. Tickets are $22; for $45 you can attend a postlecture reception for the author. Call 847-459-1300, ext. 139, for more.

Contrary to popular belief, buying property at a delinquent-real-estate-tax sale does not entitle the lucky bidder to kick out the deadbeat owner and move right in. Naturally, since we're dealing with the government, it's way more complicated than that. First you bid on the amount of interest you'll receive when and if the property owners redeem their taxes and pay their interest (they have two years to get around to doing it). Only after the two years are up can you file suit in circuit court to seek title to the property. Bids start at 18 percent and go down from there; the lowest bid wins. To participate, you must register ten days prior to any bid and be able to prove you can put your money where your mouth is. If all that makes sense (and you don't have a conscience), the auction starts Monday, January 6, from 8 to 3 and runs weekdays through the end of February on the second-floor corridor of the County Building, 118 N. Clark. Admission is free; call 312-443-4250.

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