Top 5 Things to Do This Week; plus, Peter Sagal’s Weekend Plans

On your holiday agenda: Thaw out with Gold Motel … rise and shine for the winter solstice … entertain out-of-town guests … plus, what the host of Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me is doing this weekend (here’s a hint: monkeys)

A scene from 'The White Reindeer'
GOLDEN HOUR Bask in the glow of Gold Motel, 12/23 at Lincoln Hall.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 12.21.11 through Tue 12.27.11:

1

pop Gold Motel
Pretty much the warmest, sunniest thing going this week: The effervescent Hush Sound alum Greta Morgan and her band of merry men play rock ’n’ roll so balmy and upbeat, you’ll swear you’re in California—wind chill be damned.
GO: 12/23 at 7. $12. Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln. lincolnhallchicago.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: Another outfit of local merry men—as in the Married Men, Scott Lucas’s backing band—presents the Second Annual Hideout Musical Hour, A Prairie Home Companion–style variety show, 12/22. Garrison Keillor not included.

2

jazz Winter Solstice Percussion Concerts
Just as they have for the past two decades, the veteran jazzmen Michael Zerang and Hamid Drake gather an impressive array of exotic instruments in a tiny second-floor room on the North Side. From there, they’ll greet the winter sunrise with an improvised program of sometimes meditative, sometimes raucous music making. And that’s 6 a.m., folks, so set the alarm.
GO: 12/21–23 at 6 a.m. $20. Links Hall, 3435 N Sheffield, Ste 207. linkshall.org

3

theatre Hannukatz the Musical
From Terry Abrahamson (Kama Sutra: The Musical) comes this new tuner, in which the titular tie-dyed hippie Hannukatz visits the dreidel-eschewing Moskowitz kids to show them the error of their ways. While Abrahamson won a Grammy for writing Muddy Waters’s “Bus Driver” and counts Joan Jett and John Lee Hooker among his collaborators, the ditties here skew more Borscht Belt than blues (“Do the Chhhh,” “Hannukah [sic] is Not the Jewish Christmas”). Oy to the world indeed.
GO: Through 12/31. $10–$25; $50 on 12/25 includes a Chinese dinner. National Pastime Theater, 4139 N Broadway. npt2.com

4

museums Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964–77
Light Years hangs through 3/11, but you know how these things go: Life gets busy, and then it’s too late. Instead of making excuses, make good use of the intraholiday lull and visit the Art Institute’s latest marquee exhibit. Light Years revisits artists—Ed Ruscha, Sigmar Polke, Gordon Matta-Clark—who integrated their own photos, rather than found images, into their avant-garde work. And for visiting family more interested in collection gems than the cutting edge: As part of the Masterpiece of the Day series, museum docents give 30-minute lectures on a different artwork (Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Mary Cassatt’s The Child’s Bath) every day through 12/31.
GO: Light Years runs through 3/11. Masterpiece of the Day runs through 12/31 at noon; no lecture 12/25. Museum open Mon–Wed, Fri–Sun 10:30–5; Thu 10:30–8. Closed 12/25, 1/1. Free (kids under 14) to $18. Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan. artinstitutechicago.org

5

film Remember the Night
File it under “Holiday Flicks Lost in It’s a Wonderful Life’s Shadow”: This 1940 classic stars Barbara Stanwyck as a down-on-her-luck shoplifter and Fred MacMurray as the prosecutor who bails her out of the clink, then falls in love with her, just in time for Christmas. Kicking off the screening is a restored print of 1956’s Fairy Princess, a seven-minute stop-motion short from the amateur Chicago filmmaker Margaret Conneely that should leave you asking, “Rudolph who?”
GO: 12/21 at 7:30. $5. Portage Theater, 4050 N Milwaukee. northwestchicagofilmsociety.org

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND

Peter Sagal, host of WBEZ and NPR's 'Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me'
Peter Sagal

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: Peter Sagal, the host of WBEZ and NPR’s Peabody Award-winning quiz show, Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me, which makes its television debut 12/23 at 7 on BBC America with panelists Alonzo Bodden, Paula Poundstone, and Nick Hancock, and—wait wait for it—the writer and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman as special guest.

“I’m Jewish. My wife is not, and Christmas is a really big deal for her. I once subjected her to a traditional Jewish Christmas: Chinese food and a Broadway show—about Nazis, no less. She was like, ‘This is the worst Christmas ever.’

“I like to travel for the holidays, but my family likes to be home and do the traditional thing, so we’ve been alternating every other year. This year is a trip. We’ll be in Costa Rica: me, my wife, and my kids, ages 13, 11, and 8. It’s causing them some distress to be away, but I’m promising them monkeys—and no offense to Grandma, but Costa Rica is way better. We’ll hike, we’ll look at volcanoes, we’ll throw people into them to placate the gods. And we’ll go surfing, baby! My littlest hasn’t tried it yet, but the rest of us love to surf, even if we’re not very good at it.

“What’s weird is, my wife is a big Christmas advocate in every way—she’ll even wear the ugly Christmas sweaters, the whole thing, top to bottom—and she’s a huge Santa advocate, and yet there’s never been a minute in which my children openly questioned the existence of Santa. One day, my oldest turned to her younger sister and said, ‘So, are you excited about Santa coming?’ and although she didn’t actually wink at me, that was kind of implied. I know my middle daughter has made the transition. The question is where my youngest daughter is. There has not been a lot of discussion around the house of how Santa will find us in Costa Rica.

“For those who are in town, go see The House’s Nutcracker. Yes, I am a member of the board—a lazy member of the board—but I’m genuinely enthusiastic about the production. We just saw it for the third time.”

FREEBIE OF THE WEEK

galleries Chicago Architecture Foundation
Led by fellow draftsman Stanley Tigerman, a group of local architects—Jeanne Gang and the late Douglas Garofalo among them—redesigned seven Chicago neighborhoods around their el stops for the CAF exhibit Design on the Edge. Stop in and gauge their success before Mayor Emanuel does the same when the plans are presented to him in the coming months.
GO: Through 7/31. Open daily 9–5, including holidays. CAF, 224 S Michigan. caf.architecture.org

 

Photography: (MAIN) Delaney Teichler; (WIDTW) © BBC

 

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