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Bucktown Gets Fancy

Tickle Your Fancy
Need a last minute New Year’s Eve dress? You’re in luck. Recently opened Veruca Salt Fancy (1921 N. Damen Ave.; 773-276-9888), the sister store to the more casual Veruca Salt Fun (1937 N. Damen Ave.) down the street, carries cocktail dresses, trousers, and shoes that skew, well, fancy. Find a stunning Susana Monaco black leather cocktail dress ($449) and pair it with leather opera gloves ($145), or a silver pleated mini-dress ($350), or a sparkly gray holiday dress from Collective Clothing ($69.99). Dressy favorites from Rachel Pally and Sunner mix it up with more work-appropriate attire such as the classic trouser from Raven Tailored ($212), a big, buttoned white coat from A.B.S. ($349), and gorgeous cashmere from Emma & Posh ($130 for a striped sweater.) Also find jeans with a sequin clasp from Rich & Skinny ($220), and shoes from oh . . . DEER! and Sam Edelman, such as…

Last-minute NYE Options

Unless your idea of a good New Year’s Eve involves aimless bar-hopping when cabs are scarce and clubs are overcrowded, stop dragging your feet and make your plans already. The events below still had tickets available as of late last week, and folks continue to post New Year’s Eve updates to the comments section of this blog. Get to it, people. And happy 2008…

This Week on Spike—December 27

A nice two-year-old house in northwest Elmhurst, this one sold in early December for $865,000, which is 5.9 percent below what the sellers paid in September 05.

The 2007 sale price was approximately the 2004 value (approximate because this house did not exist then; it’s a replacement of a modest ranch). That is what some real estate appraisers are now saying is appropriate–prices from three years ago. As recently as September, appraisers were telling me they were using 2005 prices.

The asking price was $924,900…

Week 32: The Great Big Cosmic Coin Toss

Sarah and I are in Napa Valley, celebrating Thanksgiving with the extended Ruby family.

Heaven.

The annual tradition goes something like this: We stuff ourselves at Carol and Tony’s gorgeous home in the Berkeley hills, then the whole family drives up to Napa where we spend the next 48 hours at a schmancy Yountville resort, digesting the meal. It’s a pretty decadent—if fleeting—ritual, and it all takes place a block from the French Laundry. Thank God someone else foots the bill.

Our room has its own fireplace and whirlpool, and you better believe we’re using every last towel and conditioner and clam-shaped soap and white terrycloth robe. There are winery tours during the day, cheese tastings by the lobby fireplace at night. Yesterday we ate gourmet chocolate chip cookies from Bouchon and saw Dennis Franz scowling throughout a street festival just outside our door…

Carol-oke Time!

Marquee is packing its bags and taking a vacation, which means no newsletter the week of Friday, December 28th (we’ve included a few events below that take place through January 3rd). Marquee returns, Champagne hangover be damned, January 4th; in the meantime, visit Last Girl Standing for more last-minute New Year’s Eve ideas.

A Little Cheese is Good for You
At least once during the holidays, it’s permissible to abandon all cynicism and surrender to unabashed seasonal cheer. Do it up big-time with the 24th annual Christmas Sing-Along and Double Feature at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.; 312-902-1500), a tradition as integral to Christmas in Chicago as Marshall Field’s windows once were. Back-to-back screenings of It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas sandwich organ-accompanied sing-along carols, with four showings a day between Friday the 21st and Sunday the 23rd, plus two showings on Christmas Eve. Tickets are…

Jokes Across America

A few months ago, Simon Goldberg and Dan Ettinger hopped on their bicycles in Oregon and started pedaling in the direction of Charleston, South Carolina. Along the way, they videotaped average people spinning their best yarns: funny jokes, dumb jokes, sex jokes, all kinds of jokes. They camped in strangers’ yards, approached anyone who looked even mildly entertaining, and filmed it all. It was an unreal experience: one of my favorite stories, which they told last night as guests of the theatre variety show The Callback, is how they got homesick in Montana over Rosh Hashanah and spent the evening cold calling names they thought “sounded Jewish.” They didn’t have much luck, but met a nice Catholic couple who put them up for the night…

Matzo Ball Menu

For Jewish singles, Christmas Eve is one serious party night. Revelry and romance! No work the next day and no family obligations! (One drawback: It’s also a night of dodging exes you met on JDate and thought you’d never see again. Good luck with that.) Whether: a) you’re looking to meet a nice Jewish boy or girl; b) you aren’t into the whole Christmas thing; or c) you just need a night off before all of the family togetherness the following day, one of these December 24th bashes, aka “matzo balls,” should suit your party needs. ‘Tis the season for schmoozing—and possibly meeting someone new to spend New Year’s with…

On the Market—A New Home in Lake View’s Instant Neighborhood

List Price: $2,275,000

The Property: Situated in a neighborhood of new, high-end homes on a parcel of land in Lake View that was, until six years ago, entirely industrial, this 11-room house has a clean-cut limestone façade, bamboo floors, steel and glass stair rails, and a super-sleek kitchen. But what really grabs the eye is the solid-core wood doors faced with a vertical-striped zebrawood veneer that are used throughout the house, providing a dark accent to an otherwise light interior.

The house has five outdoor decks on four levels, including a spacious party deck atop the garage and two more private decks on opposite sides of a third-floor den with outdoor stairs up to the rooftop. Glass walls extending out to the decks and lots of…

Techno Tapas, No Más Mas

Way to Go, Grant
Dish adds its best wishes to the growing chorus of food critics and journalists sounding the happy news that, following numerous rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation protocols, the life-threatening cancer faced by Grant Achatz (Alinea, 1723 N. Halsted St.; 312-867-0110) is in remission.

Eat the Macarena
According to John Borras, chef/owner of the three-month-old Macarena Tapas (618 S. Route 59, Naperville; 630-420-8995), Ferran Adrià, father of the techno-chef revolution, accepts exactly 48 participants from the more than 300,000 applications he receives for his annual culinary seminar in Barcelona. Borras was one of…