Archive for January, 2007

Enrique Gonzalez, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Hello! Yesterday I went to the Kerasotes City North 14 movie theater located near Fullerton Ave and Western. My friend told me that the theater had a special discount on Tuesdays. I dont know if every theater does this, but I remember the last time I paid $5 for a movie was back in 1993 before noon!

Well at this place, you pay the same price at any time, but remember — it’s only on Tuesdays. At first I thought they were going to show old films or something, but I was wrong. All of the pictures were new movies such as “Rocky Balboa”, “Pawns Labyrinth,” “Children Of Men,” and many others. My friend and I wanted to see “Epic.” If you saw the Chronicles of Narnia,then you probably don’t have to watch this movie. It’s funny but somehow stupid! Remember those movies made from several scenes of other movies? Well, that’s what it is!

Anyway, I thought that everyone should know about the $5 special. Check it out!

Kerasotes City North 14
(773) 394-1601
Map it Get directions

Oh, I forgot to mention — the popcorn is free!

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Going To Miami!

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

It’s pushing midnight, my plane for Miami leaves at 7 a.m. and I’m still packing. Actually, I’m on my computer writing this blog, when I should be packing. Some things never change.

I might as well get used to it, because I don’t think sleep is going to be an option over the next few days. When I first heard that the Super Bowl was going to be in Miami, my first thought wasn’t football. It was closer to something like Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. Or the Bible’s Sodom and Gomorrah. In short, “there’s gonna be a party y’all!”

In fact, it was only this week that I realized that I actually went to the Super Bowl last year. Actually, I went to Detroit to hang out during the Super Bowl, but that just proves how memorable that experience wasn’t. Miami promises to take what is already a full sensory overload to brand new level.

Sure the game will be fun, and I can’t wait to watch the Colts and the Bears — my two favorite teams — square off. But before that happens, I’ll be faithfully covering the party scene down here. I’m credentialed for several parties, including the Maxim party, which many veterans say is one of the best, plus the Penthouse party, numerous clubs in the South Beach area and whatever else we happen to run into. Stay tuned over the next few days for the pics and videos, here in this blog, and in our special Super Bowl section. Also, check out the party preview audio podcasts below.

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Amanda Hunt, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

What a night!!! January 28, 2007, Chicago recognized an array of star-studded performers who are taking the entertainment world by storm. With top nominees including Darius Brooks, Jennifer Hudson, Kanye West, Buddy Guy and so many more, who better to host this celebration then our own NBC 5, Entertainment Reporter LeAnn Trotter and Bluesman Frank Pelligrino of Kingston Mines.

Let me start by saying….toss what you heard, Chicago’s got talent! Rock stars The Saturn Project were seriously amazing, high energy artist and Classical violinist Rachel Barton Pine not only took home the award for Best Classical Entertainer but also gave one of the most breathtaking performances I have ever experienced (she twirks a violin like nobody’s business). R&B rising stars P. Coakley and Lil Mann serenaded us with their much anticipated, cognac voices and internationally known spoken word artist Malik Yusef, featuring Red Storm, brought the truth in uncut fashion.

Sidebar- in a room full of glitz and glamour, everyone was so… nice. One highlight was meeting and hearing Jazz songbird Tammy McCann– who is sweet as pie- and Latin star Nythia Riveria. Both revealed their unquestionable expertise with two powerfully versatile selections and Chicago Gospel Festival coordinator/radio host Pam Morris (second highlight encounter) along with Oprah Winfrey XM radio producer, writer and radio host Mark Ruffin were two of five gracious recipients of Awards of Honor for the evening. (Visit http://www.chicagomusicawards.com/ for a complete list of nominees and honorees.)

Music, laughter and blushing artists filled the Park West Theatre, giving crazy synergy for this 26th annual celebration. With dad as my date and the flavored finale by Reggae star Indika Band, featuring Bunny Jackson, Hugh Roy and Celoni, we truly closed out a sensational evening. See for yourself by checking out the photos below, and in the words of George Daniel, owner of George’s Music Room, “keep supporting Chicago!”

View Pictures From The Event

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Susan Noble

Tonight, I continued my search for a ‘bring your own bottle’ restaurant at which to host an ‘Open That Bottle Night’ dinner on Saturday, 24 February.

OTBN was launched in 2000 by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, wine reporters with the Wall Street Journal. Everyone seems to have a bottle of wine that they are saving for a special occasion. OTBN gives us a reason to open that bottle and share the story behind the events that make it special.

Heading west on the Kennedy, a friend and I tried Tre Kronor on Foster near Kedzie for Swedish cuisine. Metered parking on the street was abundant. We were seated promptly, though we did have a reservation and needed it.

The dining room was bright and seated about 40. I noticed a table in the front window which would be perfect for our group!

Our bottle of 2003 Franz Leth Reserve Pinot Noir was opened for us and there was no corkage fee. We ordered appetizers of carrot soup and mixed greens with goat cheese, which were very good.

For the main course, we ordered Swedish meatballs with cucumber salad and pork loin stuffed with prunes and served with red cabbage. Both orders included mashed potatoes, which were amazingly white and buttery. For dessert, we enjoyed chocolate mousse and a lemon tart. Both were delicious!

Definitely planning a second visit to try some of the salmon dishes and the pudding desserts!

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Ben Soldinger, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Who would have thought that the sleepy little town of Libertyville, Illinois would transform itself into one of the hottest districts in all of the Chicagoland area! I’ll be spending Thursday and Saturday nights in this town. Tonight, Vance ‘Guitar’ Kelly is playing at the Firkin.
(See my archive – Chicago – Home of the Blues?) . Before enjoying some Blues, I’ll be eating at one of Chicagoland’s best (and a personal favorite) restaurants, The Tavern in Libertyville. I’ve been going to this restaurant for over twenty years and the food and wine is second to NONE.

Saturday night, national act, WARRANT, is playing at a new venue called Austin’s Saloon & Eatery. The 80’s rockers are on tour to support their new cd, Born Again (great cd) and playing some of their classics, ‘Heaven’, ‘Cherry Pie’, and many others. If you like straight forward, fun rock -n- roll, then come check out the Down Boys!

Ben’s Blog Archives:

Chicago – ‘Home of the Blues?’

Wednesday Nights at Sushi Samba

Quiet Comfort Lounges

Guns N Roses

The Perfect Casual Italian Restaurant

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The Bye Week

Peggy Cassidy, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

We’re going to the Super Bowl.

I use the plural possessive “we”, as if I somehow achieved something great. I imply that I’m getting on a jet for Miami along with the team … my team. But, more accurate would be the recognition that it was the hardworking and oft-maligned team and their support staff that brought the city to this spotlight moment and, regardless of what the outcome is at the Super Bowl, these guys (and they are all guys, something I really don’t like about the NFL) have made us feel special in the middle of January in Chicago. Now that’s a trick.

I went to two Bears games this year, thanks to a friend who’s a season ticket holder. The first was a preseason game, sunny and warm and not very exciting. The last was the Seahawks game in postseason. It was cold and crowded. The fans were wild and the team was hot. I watched nearly every game in between with a group of spirited friends in one spirited bar or another.

I can’t say that I’m a wild football fan. Up until this season, my last real interest in the NFL was when the Bears last went to the Super Bowl. But, I’m a Chicagoan and most anyone who loves this town like I do is having a love affair with the Bears right now. And why not?

It’s been a swell ride, as was our trip to the World Series with the White Sox. Chicagoans, both sports fans and non-sports fans, are on top of the world again and sharing this enthusiasm brings us all together in a pretty great way.

Go Bears, and thank you!! Winning is a wonderful winter pick-me-up!

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Patrice Fletcher, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

The Goodman Theatre’s production of RADIO GOLF is the best written – and best acted – play I’ve seen in years. The last in Wilson’s 10-play cycle chronicling the African-American experience throughout the 20th century, it is also the culmination of the theatre’s 20-year relationship with Wilson, which began 21 years ago with FENCES.

RADIO GOLF is a delightful, thought-provoking portrayal of two men on the rise and on the make who are caught between old community values and new opportunities, between racism and aspirations, between ambition and integrity. The characters are richly drawn, but this expert cast inhabits them so believably, that you almost want to take them out for coffee.

Goodman set designs are nearly always wonderful, but in this show, designer David Gallo captures the past, present and future of the characters’ lives in just one, layered yet unchanging scene.

RADIO GOLF is headed for Broadway, so if you miss it, you’ll really be missing a piece of history.

RADIO GOLF runs through February 18, 2007, in the Albert Theatre. For more, go to:

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Patrice’s Archive:
Fitness on Roscoe
Theatre Review: “Vigils”

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Tony Lossano & Amy Zanglin, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Tony from NUDE HIPPO here! My birthday is next week and last night we were making plans on what to do, where to go. I’m simple. An evening at Culver’s for a Butter Burger & Custard Ice Cream Malt is enough for me. However, I told Mariana that I would leave it up to her to surprise me.

That is what I did for my co-host, Amy on her birthday…I surprised her by taking her, with a bunch of people from NUDE HIPPO to a small somewhat unknown pizza place. THE CHICAGO PIZZA AND OVEN GRINDER COMPANY, (2121 N. Clark St, Chicago, around the corner from where the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place). This has fast become my favorite place.

You would never think it from the Victorian brownstone facade, but this little place has (at least) one of the most amazing recipes, the Pizza Pot Pie.

Their website describes it best: “The Pizza Pot Pie is an individual serving, “made from scratch” with triple-raised Sicilian bread-type dough; a homemade sauce consisting of olive oil, fresh garlic, onions, green peppers, whole plum tomatoes and a special blend of cheeses; sausage made from prime Boston butts; and doorknob-size, whole, fresh mushrooms.” It is absolutely amazing. Even their Chef Salad is second to none.

They can get very busy, especially in such a tight but very comfortable space, but the experience & atmosphere is just as good as the food. There is valet service. Heck, you can even pick-up their famous Pizza Pot Pies frozen and take it home. What else could you ask for.

Amy and the gang loved it and couldn’t stop talking about it. Perhaps they will be able to top that for my birthday, but I doubt it.

E-mail me your favorite birthday spot at NudeHippo@nbc5.com

Watch more videos and read the NUDE HIPPO Blog at NBC5.com/nudehippo

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Irit SilvermanIrit Silverman NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Former American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry was already making noise on the rock scene before he rolled into Chicago Sunday. He performed a heartfelt rendition of the National Anthem for the NFC Championship game at Soldier Field. Bears fans in the stadium cheered as he belted out “the home of the brave,” while fans at home watched the close up of Chris simultaneously shedding a tear.

The next day, the singer/songwriter joined his band DAUGHTRY and performed to a packed house at the House of Blues. Between their music and fan base, it was easy to see why DAUGHTRY’s album recently debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts and quickly reached Platinum status. Despite below freezing temperatures, fans started lining up at 8am to ensure a standing room only spot in the first come first serve limited seating venue. At the first site of DAUGHTRY, fans went wild. Camera flashes lit the dark venue giving these newcomers an ambiance of a hallowed rock band.

DAUGHTRY’s music is definitely classified as Rock, but with an emotional twist. I’ve heard them compared to Bon Jovi and there are certainly some power ballad similarities and a contagious energy that makes you want to sing along. The difference is their youthful, sincere, and relatable qualities. In between songs, the band members talked and joked with fans, creating a vibe that you were watching the really talented boys next door who made it big. And these boys have definitely made it big. After the Bears game, they actually flew to New York for another concert, came back to Chicago, and went right back to the airport to catch another flight.

DAUGHTRY has serious talent and gave a very impressive performance. Expect to see these guys around for a long time to come. If you haven’t heard their music, I highly recommend checking it out: their official website is www.daughtryofficial.com.

This concert was part of the After 5 Live concert series for radio station 101.9 The Mix. The station hosts free shows every month, usually at the House of Blues. For more information on upcoming concerts, look for postings on their website www.wtmx.com.

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Body Worlds is Back!

Justin Chen, NBC5 Street Team (video)

I missed the first time Body Worlds was here so I was excited to hear that they’re back in town with a new exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. If you’re not familiar with Body Worlds, it’s an educational exhibit that helps you understand how the body works by viewing actual humans that have been preserved through a process called plastination. This process replaces the body’s fluid and fat with plastic and the result is truly amazing. There are more than 20 different whole bodies that have been cut and arranged in different ways (doing yoga, hitting a baseball, kicking a soccer ball, etc) to let you get an upfront look at the body’s inner workings.

The most important thing you’ll take away from this experience is the long-term impacts of disease and tobacco and the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. If you decide to go, I recommend buying tickets in advance online. Check out this online gallery if you want a preview.

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Shlomi Rabi, NBC5 Street Team

I began thinking about it as soon as I got home. “What is it?” I wondered. I looked in the mirror and felt complete frustration at my forgetfulness. I concentrated as hard as I could, and still, I couldn’t think of it. A total blank. I turned off my cell and my landline, and stood in front of the mirror. “Dammit! What is it???” I grew increasingly irritated as I could almost see it in front of my eyes but couldn’t remember it completely. “What was that name?!?!” I began repeating to myself, holding my hands at my temples, closing my eyes, and meditating. “Mimi?” No, didn’t sound right. “Momo?” Nope, that one either. I closed the blinds and unplugged the stereo. “Schnuck?” No, no, and no! I stuffed the cats in the linen closet and unplugged all electrical appliances. “Smelly?” No, but getting close. “I got it! I got it!!!! I yelled to myself, “I remember now! “My name is Shlomi!” Phew.

Yep, I was that drunk, but it was worth every second. Because that night I went out to Boystown newest Hot locale: Minibar. Formerly Felt, Minibar has recently expanded and doubled its space, turning one half into a lounge and the other into a restaurant, both of which turn into one giant bar after hours. The place boasts amazingly sleek decor with flattering lighting (a vital necessity come the third drink), a selection of the hippest tunes by the selected DJ of the night, a fantastic selection of drinks (the Minibar’s Margarita is a must), and most importantly, everyone’s favorite accessory: drool-worthy bartenders. At least one of those things, if not all, will make you forget your name, guaranteed.

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The Newest "It" Club

Irit SilvermanIrit Silverman NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Rockit Ranch Productions (Rockit Bar & Grill, Le Passage) have recently launched their newest nightclub: THE UNDERGROUND. Despite a discreet location kept under wraps to the public until recently, the Chicago social scene (and a few celebs) are already swarming to the new hot spot. Inside, a bomb shelter-chic decor embraces the location of the aptly named Underground. The atmosphere is simultaneously exclusive, hip, and comfortable; the type of place where you can let loose and just have a great time. The objective at Underground isn’t to pack the place, but rather to keep the experience enjoyable for the people inside. I can pretty much guarantee a line and a wait at the door, but also friendly management taking care of you while you regret not wearing a jacket to a club in January.

Check it out for yourself:
56 West Illinois, 60610

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Did you see the premiere of American Idol last night? I didn’t. Excuse me if I don’t have a lot of passion for this television phenomenon. Not trying to be a pop cultural snob or anything, it’s just never been my thing.

Despite my disdain for the show, it’s not not hard to pick up bits and pieces of information through osmosis — especially with all the “idle” chatter among co-workers.

So I had actually heard of Paris Bennett before she came in Tuesday for a podcast interview. I knew she was young (18), and I knew she lost in Season 5 of the show.

Paris is just starting a PR junket to promote the release of her new single, “Ordinary Love,” and forthcoming album, Princess P.

Previous experience had taught me to expect a huge entourage and an ego to match, but the person I met was sweet little girl who spent every spare moment texting friends (including Jennifer Hudson), and chatting with her mother. In short, a typical teenager.

I’m rooting that this genuine young lady is successful in her future career, and that she doesn’t lose her sweet nature once the trappings of success take hold.

Click here to listen to our podcast interview.

Click here to watch her appearance on an NBC5 newscast.

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JenJen Boyles, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

“Volare” is the Latin and Italian word for the verb “to fly.”

After visiting this Italian restaurant more than five times since moving to Chicago in July, all I can say about that is grab your parachute. Unassumingly situated on the corner of Grand and 2nd (circa ’97), it’s most definitely a first-class trip to heaven. Old-world Italy on a plate.

Let me begin with an admission: I’m an intensely, illogically picky eater, but please don’t let that sway you from reading on. I have a slight phobia of trying new foods (especially sauces), but last Saturday night when my friend Joy and I visited Volare yet again, I decided to broaden my palatte officially. Perhaps I’m becoming cured of this longstanding reservation?

Speaking of, any hungry soul who enters this place past 7 p.m. on any day of the week or weekend better have one — that is, their name on the list with the host or hostess, who have been known to seat patrons well past the agreed-upon time. But once you’re settled in after having a few drinks at the crowded, well-stocked bar, (I recommend the Effin cosmopolitan) strap on the goggles — you’re nearing the jump-off.

Many of the waiters and chefs at Volare came to Chicago from Italy or are of Italian decent. Stumbling over a maze of them to get to the lovely yellow bathroom across from the open-window kitchen, I tripped over a waiter making a beeline for the dining room. “I’m sorry, Bella!” he said robustly as he walked on (I kind of liked that). On my way back to the table, I met managers Simone Bergonzoni and Marco Micheli, who are usually found any given day at Volare chatting up diners and keeping the chaos to a minimum.

“I’m going to choose for you both tonight, is that alright?” Bergonzoni said in slightly broken English, with a big smile that made me more willing to trust his selections. We told him what dishes we were leaning toward, and four (I think four) cosmos later, he brought out an outstanding array of large and small plates and two bottles of red wine.

IMAGES: Click here to see what we thought of each dish.

When it was time for dessert (we’d already made up our mind before entering the restaurant — the passion fruit chocolate torte is “to die”), Bergonzoni came to the table with menus and said, “no one can ever choose a lady’s dessert.” So true — and respectable.

In summary, the pasta is firm but tender. The sauce is horizon-expanding (ha). The atmosphere is rustic and sometimes loud, and service needs some fine-tuning — but it’s as to be expected for one of those restaurants people always refer to as “one of the city’s best kept secrets”. You’ll most certainly not be disappointed in what really matters most — the heavenly victuals Volare has perfected beautifully.


(In the effort of full disclosure, my friend and I have paid for four of five meals at Volare. One meal was comped for purpose of this review. )

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Amanda Hunt, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Christmas is over and New Year’s champagne has stopped flowing. Buyer’s remorse has crept in and we won’t even discuss the fact that Valentine’s Day is around the corner and you and your beau just broke up…again. A person could really use some tender loving care – with no strings attached, of course.

Check out Chicago Touch on Division. 50 minute massages are $36 bucks! I enjoyed one of the best deep tissue treatments ever; the effects of which lasted more than 5 days. Now that is some serious TLC!

If you are tired, overworked and underpaid, (or just looking for a great way to treat yourself) see www.chicagotouch.com for special rates and directions.

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Curse of the Golden Flower

Shlomi Rabi, NBC5 Street Team

One of the perks of spending the Holidays with my family is the knowledge that there is no reason to employ common sense, reason or logic. None. They make our lives dull. So when we do get together, which happens about once a year, it never gets boring. Even at night someone is tearing up a pillow with their snores. During the day it’s an all-out fiesta. Someone will complain that they can’t find their bra (in which case all eyes turn to me), someone will start a fight over someone else using their toothbrush (again, eyes are at me), someone will suggest we see “Schindler’s List” again after breakfast (don’t look at me), someone will suggest that dinner be had at the Bingo stadium (usually me), and all of us would have gained an average of twenty pounds the first three days (especially me).

Yesterday’s movie, however, has reinstated my feelings of normalcy. Curse of the Golden Flower, directed by Zhang Yimou (think “Hero”, “House of Flying Daggers”), is the steamiest hot mess served in recent cinematic history. The movie takes place in the year 928 A.D. during China’s Tang Dynasty, and surrounds the royal family’s sensational conspiracies, secrets and bizarre love for kung fu. Chow Yun-Fat a Gong Li, both phenomenally over-the-top, share the kind of bubbling rage normally reserved for slow drivers on the Interstate. In contrast with his previous movies, Yimou has turned the volume to Extra-Loud in this movie, and in lieu of meticulously carving out a subtly devastating tale of betrayal, he has turned his performers into aggro drag queens in this loud Cirque-du-Soleil gilded spectacle . Whatever visual splendor overwhelms the viewer is gradually drowned by the vapidness of the plotline. For real, believable and juicier drama, just join me on my next vacation.

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Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat, signing their name in blood that they will never do a bad movie again.

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Deal Of The Day?

Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

I get a lot of stuff in my email everyday from PR types, pushing their various restaurants, nightclubs and other businesses around town, but this particular one caught my eye.

The James hotel (55 E. Ontario, 312-337-1000) wants to help you “seal the deal forever with that special someone.” The James PROPOSE package offers the opportunity to propose to your loved one between February 9 – 19 and receive the following services:

  • One night’s stay in The James Penthouse Loft
  • Van Cleef & Arpels Engagement Ring
  • Private dinner for two including your own personal Primehouse Chef, romantic private dining room experience and Chicago Symphony Orchestra four string quartet
  • Spa Experience for two from THE SPA.
  • One year anniversary gift from The James

All this can be had for — are you ready for this? — $50,000!

Now, I’m sure there’s some of you out there — those with fatter wallets than mine –who probably didn’t blink at that price. And yes, I understand that the engagement ring probably takes up a good chunk of that price. But $50,000 on one night? She’d better say yes!

Here’s my question to you, blog readers. Does that look like a deal? And how much SHOULD you spend on an engagement ring?

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Burly Gurly Woman Show

Shlomi Rabi, NBC5 Street Team

Every job has its perks. Working at Whole Foods keeps you healthy and self-righteous. Working at Jewel-Osco keeps you close to all the hangover medications. And if you’re Jewish, working at the animal shelter keeps you happy knowing that there are creatures that are far, far hairier than you. I work at an auction house, which means that I get to read a letter like the one I got yesterday: “Dear Shlomi, enclosed please find images of the painting inherited to me by my grandma. The painting is in a beautiful giltwood frame, signed and dated on the front. The title on the back reads ‘View of Diana’s Butte, New Hampshire’.” Hot damn. I had always wanted to know what New Hampshire looked like, especially the scenic Diana’s Butte. Now I knew. I could already see honeymoon postcards mailed to my friends reading “Living it up in Diana’s Butte!” or “Wish you were here in Diana’s Butte”, or even “What Happens in Diana’s Butte, Stays in Diana’s Butte.” Oh yes I did.

To get a much bigger laugh and to see a veritable Butte, even if not Diana’s, go HERE and purchase your ticket for Margaret Cho’s Gurlesque Burlesque show at the Vic Theatre this Saturday the 13th. The show will feature performances by Satan’s Angel, Miss Exotic World 2006 Julie Atlas Muz, Miss Indigo Blue, Alotta Boutte, and Michelle L’Amour. Look out for me. I’ll be the one holding a ginormous martini, far away from the sight of Whole-Foods employees.

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Tony Lossano & Amy Zanglin, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Amy from NUDE HIPPO here! Hey Chicago – Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda…

Last night I went to Second City to go watch and support a very good friend of mine, the very talented and funny Megan Grano.

While it was so great watching her finally get to where she deserves to be, it was a little bittersweet too because it inevitably makes me wonder where I could have gone if I had an ounce of her determination and strong will.

Megan and I used to talk about writing shows together and the difference between us was that Megan did it, and I talked about or came up with excuses as to why I couldn’t do it. Now am I even on the same talent level as Megan?? I don’t know, I never allowed myself to really see that…it’s so difficult trying to decipher when something is a goal versus a dream. I guess part of growing up is figuring out what is and isn’t worth the sacrifices that are needed to get what we think we want out life.

I always had hesitation because I lacked the focus that it takes to get into the very competitive game of improv comedy in Chicago. I really struggled, and still struggle with living the actor’s lifestyle versus a “normal” lifestyle which I grew up in, know, and am comfortable with. I like routine and security, two things that are not a part of brave way of life for actors. I always wonder what happened to the people that I see in the old Second City pictures who I don’t recognize from television and movies…where did they go??

When did they finally draw the line and decide to take their life in a different direction, and what made them finally do that?? I guess what it comes down to for me is balance; I need to balance all aspects of my life and then I’m happy. I could look at it this way; if I would’ve stuck with improv, I never would have had time for Nude Hippo: Your Chicago Show!! And I absolutely love this show and everyone involved; so when I put things into perspective like that, I feel confident in my choice. But, to bring this blog full circle; I highly recommend that you go and check out Megan Grano who is starring in her final week at Second City in it’s 93rd revue called “War! Now In It’s 4th Smash Year!” You definitely want to keep your eye on this girl; she’s going places…and I’ve been and will be supporting her the entire way…e-mail us at NudeHippo@nbc5.com.

Watch videos and read the NUDE HIPPO Blog at NBC5.com/nudehippo

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Bandera Baby

Amanda Hunt, NBC5 Street Team (Video)

Cozy, sexy, and quality… no, not your favorite nightie- Bandera Restaurant on 535 N. Michigan Avenue. The rhythm of live jazz and comfort of close costumer service makes you feel right at home, by the fire, with friends you love and an excellent kitchen staff.

This escape provides perfect dining with your lover or relaxation over an evening night cap. Any fish dish is a sure catch and the banana cream pie is unbearably delicious. When looking to make a great impression or just not be bothered with sub par service, “casually” suggest Bandera and ask for a window seat (complete with an excellent view of Nordstrom); short of having the charisma of Billy Dee – you’re in!

To make reservations call 312.644.3524 or visit http://www.hillstone.com .

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Stephen Boal, NBC5 Street Team

Hello, before I change your lives forever, I must explain something. I’m excited to be a part of the NBC5 Street Team, but when I was first asked to join, I will admit I was quite skeptical. Mr. Marcus informed me that the Street Team would be writing about things like “hitting the clubs” and “checking out the hot parties” and “going out.” These words do not apply to me. Don’t get me wrong, when Metallica or Weird Al Yankovic come to town, I’m the first one to grab tickets. But for the most part, I enjoy snuggling up with my Netflix, and my brand new 42″ Samsung DLP 720P HDTV with 2 HDMI and Component RGB inputs. So, If you’re like me, or just not heading out this weekend, I’ll be reviewing the best things to do when you’re doing nothing.

Now, on to the good stuff. I’ll make this quick. TiVo is great. But it’s soooo 2004. There are a handful of websites out there right now that will link you directly to any episode of any TV show you want. Check out this site…http://www.alluc.org/. The list of shows is pretty impressive. So if you’re sitting around Saturday night and are thinking to yourself, “You know, I really wish I could watch that episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air where Will Smith gets hustled at the pool hall….” Well my friends, now you can. Oh, and by the way, These sites are probably illegal, and they can disappear quickly…..

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Winter is the new Summer!

Erika and Monika SimmonsErika and Monika Simmons, NBC5 Street Team,

Let me start by saying “I LOVE CHICAGO”! I really do. I’ve always been one to go on and on, about the cultural advantages of living in this great city. But each winter season, my loyalty is greatly challenged by the painfully blustery temperatures. I grew up listening to my Dad complain about the weather every single winter, and I had to wonder if I would end up moving like he did. In some ways, I found myself following in his footsteps. I didn’t want to go anywhere, or do anything until it started warming up and then I’d be in love with Chicago again. I didn’t even want to dress cute until I could wear a tank top!

Well that has all changed. Winter is becoming my favorite season and it’s all because of the City of Chicago’s Top 10 Winter Delights, programming. The Winter Delights programs , commence from January 2 nd through February 28 th and include a plethora of interactive and interesting activities in 10 cultural categories.

I am certainly a fan of performances and exhibits. But the majority of my time will be spent at the Stitching Salon located at the Chicago Tourism Center (72 East Randolph Street), for knitting and craft workshops, demonstrations and family activities. The cozy, creative and inspiring atmosphere is the perfect place to learn a new craft, practice existing skills, or to just retreat to a different environment. Now, that you know where the fun is, come out to experience Chicago in a new way and shake the winter blues. See you there!

*This blog was written by Erika Simmons, but reflects the views of Monika Simmons also:-)


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Gettin’ Ready for OTBN

Susan Noble

For those of you who enjoy wine and like to plan ahead, mark your calendars for Saturday, 24 February, the date of this year’s ‘Open That Bottle Night’.

OTBN was launched in 2000 by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, wine reporters with the Wall Street Journal. Everyone seems to have a bottle of wine that they are saving for a special occasion. Well, this is it! OTBN is a reason to open that bottle and share the story behind the events that make it special.

Eating at a ‘bring your own bottle’ restaurant is a great way to enjoy this event. Last year, I met some friends at Tango Sur, a wonderful Argentinean steakhouse on Southport. Tonight, I began my quest to find a BYOB eatery at which to host this year’s event.

A friend and I dined at Las Tablas, a Colombian steakhouse on Lincoln near Wellington. Arriving about 6:30pm, we were seated immediately. Our bottle of 2005 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Sam’s Cuvee (available exclusively from Sam’s Wines and Spirits) was opened at our table and with no uncorking fee.

We enjoyed grilled calamari, chicken, octopus, pork, and shrimp, all of which were quite delicious and served with rice, roasted potato and plantain. The portions were generous and the atmosphere perfect for a group gathering.

When we left at 9:00pm, there were people standing on the exit aisle and outside on the sidewalk waiting to be seated. Definitely worth the wait!

Do you have a favorite BYOB restaurant to recommend to me?

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