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Friday 12/24 - Thursday 1/6

DECEMBER

By Cara Jepsen

24 FRIDAY Chicago usually turns into a ghost town on Christmas Eve, so there should be plenty of parking at tonight's Retro Eve. The fund-raiser for the Jewish Children's Bureau's Therapeutic Family Day Care Center offers free food and cocktails until 10 and music by the Afrodisiacs. It's from 8 to 3 at Drink, 702 W. Fulton. The cover is $20; you must be 21. Call 312-733-7800.

25 SATURDAY In his movie Pups the British-born filmmaker who calls himself Ash explores what happens to some disenchanted teenagers who find a gun. Instead of turning on their peers, the kids take over a bank a la Dog Day Afternoon. Burt Reynolds plays an understanding FBI agent, Kurt Loder plays himself, and Leonardo DiCaprio's older brother Adam Ferrar makes his film debut. It'll be screened today and tomorrow at 1 at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton (773-281-4114). The theater is also showing Marion Vernoux's new Jules et Jim-esque flick, Love Etc., at 3, 5, 7, and 9. Admission to each film is $7.

26 SUNDAY No doubt the staff at the Field Museum knew what they were doing when they named their post-Christmas festival the Peaceable Kingdom. It's really business as usual accompanied by the sound of harps, flutes, and dulcimers wafting through the air and tai chi and yoga demonstrations. But it's better than facing the bills. It starts today and runs through December 30 at the museum, Roosevelt and Lake Shore Drive (312-922-9410). Hours are from 11 to 4, and it's free with regular admission ($7, $4 for students, seniors, and children).

27 MONDAY There's a theory among academics that the annual Modern Language Association Convention was originally scheduled for right after Christmas to give male professors an escape from whiny kids and nagging in-laws. Today the gathering offers several free forums to members of the public who are also sick of holiday cheer: "Imaging the Last Century: Film Adaptations of 19th-Century Novels" at 1:45 and "Midwestern Literature I: The Literature of Chicago" at 3. Both are at the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker. At 7:45 Noam Chomsky and Edward Said will sit on the panel called "Scholarship and Commitment" at the Sheraton Chicago Hotels and Towers, 301 E. North Water. The convention continues through Thursday. Call 312-565-4266 for details.

28 TUESDAY Local bassist Tatsu Aoki's Miyumi Project combines traditional Korean and Japanese taiko drumming with woodwind jazz. Regulars include Aoki, Mwata Bowden, Paul Kim, Patti Adachi, and Hide Yoshihashi; tonight's special guest is Robbie Hunsinger. It starts at 8 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo (312-362-9707). Admission is $8.

29 WEDNESDAY The crown jewel of the city's 12 outdoor Olympic-size skating rinks is the brand-new Warren Park facility at 6601 N. Western, which recently underwent a $1.75 million face-lift. It's open today from 9 to 11 AM and 3 to 7:30 PM, as are other city rinks, including the Midway Plaisance (59th and Woodlawn), Daley Bicentennial Plaza (337 E. Randolph), Garfield Park (100 N. Central Park), and the McFetridge Sports Center (3843 N. California). Skate rental is $3, and admission is free (except on weekends from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, when it's another $3). The skating season ends March 1. Call 312-742-7529 for locations and times.

30 THURSDAY Children complaining about their chores learn a lesson in Sky's the Limit Productions' original Kwanza fable Mama Thinks We Are Slaves. Dickens-style, they fall asleep and awaken to find themselves in the year 1829, where Ida B. Wells and Abraham Lincoln show them what slavery was really like. The play, part of the Chicago Cultural Center's Kwanza festival, starts at 12:15 in the Claudia Cassidy Theater at the center, 78 E. Washington (312-744-6630). Admission is free.

December 31--January 6

We're taking the week off at the Reader, but here are some events to keep you busy while we're gone.

Chicago writer Jeff Helgeson used Dante's The Divine Comedy as a stepping-off point for his modern coming-of-age novel, Thresholds, in which a cabbie named Virgil drives the protagonist around Rome in the waning hours of 1999. Helgeson, a playwright and occasional actor and director, will read the book in its entirety at the same time, more or less, that the novel takes place. The free marathon is from 11 AM to 4 PM Friday, December 31, at Gourmand Coffeehouse, 728 S. Dearborn (312-427-2610).

As the two-wheeler cheerleaders like to point out, bicycles are not susceptible to the Y2K bug. Nor, apparently, are their riders vulnerable to hangovers and hypothermia. On January 1 some hardy souls will assemble at 10 AM for a 20-mile New Year's Day Ride. Meet at the Waveland clock tower, Waveland Avenue and the lakefront. It's free. Call 773-278-1367 for details.

For the past four years, the Nervous Center's Home Recording Showcase has been an informal affair in which closet Albinis are encouraged to try out their homemade aural experimentation on other patrons. "Most of it is pretty out there," admits co-owner Ken Syska. They'll play some tapes Tuesday, January 4, from 8 to 2 at the coffeehouse, 4612 N. Lincoln (773-728-5010). It's free.

For those who made a New Year's resolution to get intimate with their PC, David Flynn's six-hour course on How to Build & Repair Pentium Computers should be the perfect beginning to a long, healthy relationship. Flynn runs Desktop Technology and repairs the computers at the Discovery Center, where the two-part class will be held Wednesday, January 5, and the following Wednesday. It's from 6:30 to 9:30 at 2940 N. Lincoln, and tuition is $99 plus a $21 material fee. Call 773-348-8120 to sign up.

"Andy Kaufman was a complex man and a mystery even to his closest friends," says Bruce DuMont, president of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. But journalist Bill Zehme claims he managed to "excavate the madness" of the late comedian's mind anyway. On Thursday, January 6, he'll push his new book, Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman, and discuss Latka's life with Kaufman's sister Carol and her husband, Rick, at An Evening About Andy Kaufman. The whole thing will be broadcast live at the MBC Web site, www.mbcnet.org. It's from 5:30 to 8 in the Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, and it's free. Reservations are required; call 312-629-6023.

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