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Friday 12/20 - Thursday 12/26

DECEMBER

20 FRIDAY Psychotronic Film Society head Mike Flores has been collecting burlesque shorts from the 1940s and '50s since his teens. Screen tests, of a sort, for strippers, the films "were either used to help get her booked at strip clubs or were shown at [parties]," he explains. "In those days strippers had to have an act--not like now, where they just walk around naked." He'll show a couple dozen at tonight's Psychotronic XXX-Mas Show, while his wife, "Mistress of Mayhem" DJ Kat Southerland, spins blue Christmas tunes such as Blowfly's "Silver Balls" and Rudy Ray Moore's naughty take on "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." It's tonight at 8 at the Liar's Club, 1665 W. Fullerton. It's free, but you must be 21 (773-250-3004).

Since 1996 the Chicago-based peace group Voices in the Wilderness has sent nearly 50 delegations to Iraq to witness the effects of UN economic sanctions and illegally deliver medicine and other supplies. Last month the U.S. government fined the group $20,000 for exporting goods without a license, but VITW has no intention of paying up. Instead the group hopes to raise that amount and use it to purchase more medical supplies. Cocoordinator Danny Muller will speak and show recent documentary footage from Iraq at tonight's Peace Awareness Benefit; proceeds will go to VITW and the Iraq Peace Team, a group of activists living in that country who plan to stick around in the event of war. It's from 9 to 2 at the Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood (773-465-8005); the bands Ami Saraiya, Aman, and Homeland Security will play. The suggested donation is $10. For more information go to www.nonviolence.org/vitw/ or call 773-784-8065.

21 SATURDAY Kwanza starts Thursday, December 26, but this weekend WVON (1450 AM) is hosting a free pre-Kwanza celebration that'll include talks by comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory (today at 1) and recent NPR addition Tavis Smiley (tomorrow at 2). There will also be panel discussions on adoption, tactics for bridging generation gaps, and consumer support for black-owned businesses, plus workshops, spoken-word performances, food, a holiday marketplace, and a performance by students from the Betty Shabazz International Charter School. It's from 11 to 7 today and Sunday, December 22, at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.; call 773-247-6200.

For the past year a group of current and former union activists called Peace and Jobs Petitioners has been heading downtown twice a month to sing about peace, health care, and social security as they circulate an antiwar petition, which has gathered 24,000 signatures thus far and been faxed to 22 congressional representatives. This afternoon at 2 they'll be out in costume at their usual spot in front of the Sears store at State and Madison, gathering signatures and singing things like "Deck the halls with peace and jobs." For more information call 773-374-3695.

22 SUNDAY Artists Anida Yoeu Esguerra and Marlon Esguerra started the Asian American Artists Collective a year and a half ago because, says Yoeu Esguerra, "there's a long history of Asian-Americans in the arts in Chicago, but there hasn't been an organization that has unified everybody and created a community presence." The collective's current projects include YAWP (Young Asians With Power), a writing and performance program for teenagers led by Marlon Esguerra; members of the group will perform at this year's multimedia AAAC showcase, Chop Chop! The bill also includes Yoeu Esguerra's experimental performance ensemble Mango Tribe, Filipino-American theater group Pintig, visual arts collective Project A, and others. It starts at 5 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo (312-362-9707). Tickets are $10; for more see www.thecollectivechicago.org.

23 MONDAY "There are hundreds and hundreds of years of holiday music. It's just that the really popular works keep getting played because people love them so much," says Newberry Consort manager Alex Bonus. "But there are many intimate pieces that have to do with the holidays, from Italian motets to English folk songs." Countertenor Drew Minter, backed by members of the consort, will perform a selection of lesser-known baroque holiday tunes at a concert called The Rejoicing Sound tonight at 8 at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton; there's also a performance Sunday, December 22, at 3. Tickets range from $30 to $40 ($27 to $36 for seniors, $15 to $20 for students). For more information call 312-943-9090 or see www.newberry.org.

24 TUESDAY The Music Box has added another day to the run of its popular Christmas sing-along, a tradition that's now in its 19th year. "Every year it becomes a little more interactive," says programmer Brian Andreotti, especially since the success of Sing-a-Long Sound of Music. Once audiences were content to follow Santa's lead and sing carols between movies; now "they're finding new ways to interact [with] the films"--hissing, for example, when Rosemary Clooney's party pooper character appears on-screen in White Christmas. The sing-alongs started Friday, December 20, and the last one is today, between White Christmas (1 PM) and It's a Wonderful Life (4 PM) at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport. Tickets are $12.25 for one movie or $18 for the double feature. Most shows sell out; for advance tickets call 312-902-1500.

25 WEDNESDAY The Lincoln Park Zoo is open every day of the year and draws a fair number of people each Christmas, from those who don't celebrate to families walking off roast goose and figgy pudding. The grounds are open from 8 to 6 and the buildings from 10 to 4:30 today. "ZooLights"--a holiday spectacle that includes animated light displays, a laser show, carousel and train rides, ice carving, and a Santa's workshop--runs Thursdays through Sundays until January 5; admission is $8, $6 for kids ages four through twelve. The zoo's at 2200 N. Cannon (Lake Shore Drive and Fullerton) in Lincoln Park; call 312-742-2000.

26 THURSDAY In Kalpana Lajmi's 1993 film, The Mourner, a peasant (played by Dimple Kapadia) is abandoned by her alcoholic husband and alienates her son by rejecting his choice of a bride. A stoic who can't cry, she eventually befriends a professional mourner--and must unexpectedly take her place when the village landlord dies. The film, which has a hugely popular Bollywood sound track, is being shown Friday, December 20, at 8:15 and tonight at 6 as part of the Gene Siskel Film Center series "Contemporary Classics of the Indian Cinema," which wraps up this month with a December 30 screening of the 2001 epic Asoka. It's at 164 N. State, and tickets are $8. For more call 312-846-2800.

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