Sometime last spring, when the present subprime mortgage crisis was on hardly anyone's radar screen, one blip showed up at the office of Lisa Madigan, the Illinois attorney general.

Some attorneys who work in Madigan’s consumer protection division had spotted newspaper ads for mortgages that seemed too good to be true—a suspicion confirmed by the attorneys’ subsequent investigation.

One ad in the Sun-Times offered a $250,000 loan for a payment of $656 a month—but made no mention that the only way to get that deal was to take out what’s called a Payment Option Adjustable Rate Mortgage...

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December 12th - Johnnie Walker Blue and Chicago magazine hosted a tasting at Rivers in the Mercantile Exchange. Guests enjoyed Johnnie Walker and also had the opportunity to purchase an engraved bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue for the holidays. Photos by Randy Belice Read more
December 7, 2007 – The British-American Business Council’s 13th Annual British Christmas Gala was held at the exquisite Drake Hotel. Festivities included pre-dinner music by the British School of Chicago students, silent and live auctions, traditional malt whiskey tasting, dinner, dessert, and dancing. Photos by Randy Belice. Read more

In three weeks, Sarah quits her job to become a future stay-at-home mother. This may not sound terribly earth shattering; there are more than 5.4 million stay-at-home moms in America, according to the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau. (There were about 100,000 stay-at-home dads.) But Sarah is a middle school principal at a public school she built up from nothing. She went door-to-door in the toughest housing project in Chicago to recruit students—undeterred by gunfire, crack addicts, and skeptical parents...

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Kick Up Your Heels
New shoe stores are sweeping the city and a recently opened Pilsen boutique fills a West Side void. Zapatillas (1421 W. 18th St.; 312-226-4040, zapatillasinc.com), or “slipper” in Spanish, emphasizes adorable affordability, with prices ranging from $24.99 for flats up to $199.99 for boots from the brands such as Nine West, Chinese Laundry, and Madden Girl. Unlike many ballet flats that don’t allow for a bend in the foot, the ones here from Me Too ($69.99) are actually comfortable; we also liked the Anne Michelle tweed pumps ($29.99) and the trendy oxford heels ($92.99). The store also carrries a few Mexican imports such as the purple suede heel from Via Libera ($74.99) and beautiful ostrich leather boots in colors from muted tan to festive red ($169). The purse selection is also worth a look, including...

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Delays, refusals, and artful evasions: it's pretty much the theme of this past weekend's celebrity beat. Fortunately, a true LGS takes it all in stride—and still manages to turn up a few celebrity morsels. On Friday night, I chatted up Nick Rhodes and John Taylor of the seminal eighties new-wave band Duran Duran before the group's concert at the Chicago Theatre... PLUS: Lauren and Brody in town

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List Price: $5,150,000
Sale Price: $4,850,000

The Property: Although 12 years old, this brick home on the Gold Coast still gets called “new construction” by its selling agent, because it is the rare single-family home in the neighborhood that is from any later than World War I. Its exterior was designed to resemble the old-timers, but inside, “you know what’s behind the walls; the plumbing and electrical is all up to date,” says Janet Owen, the agent who represented the sellers in the sale that closed December 3rd. On top of that, because of the extra-deep lot—150 feet compared to the neighborhood’s more typical 100 feet—there is sufficient space for Read more

Was a time that doctors thought that any kind of motion in the pregnant woman could hurt the fetus. They prescribed rest and lots of it, which equated with women just sitting around for nine months, waiting. This must have seemed strange to the proverbial Chinese women who worked the fields throughout their pregnancies, pushed the baby out into a soybean plant, then went back to work. And there are 1.3 billion people in China. They're obviously not having problems giving birth.

Nowadays, Western doctors agree that exercise during pregnancy isn't dangerous; it's beneficial. Some say it makes labor shorter, eases back pain, reduces fatigue, and makes the post-natal recovery easier. The only exercise Sarah has done so far is the easiest: kegel exercises...

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Late Arrival, Early
For a stage tucked away in the ’burbs, Northlight Theatre (9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; 847-673-6300) consistently turns out must-see shows. The roster of talent behind the theatre’s Interplay series—particularly the latest show, Better Late, about a man who moves in with his ex and her new hubbyrivals any in New York. The play, written by Larry Gelbart (M.A.S.H., Tootsie) and Craig Wright (Six Feet Under, Dirty Sexy Money), doesn’t première until April, but you can get a sneak peek at a reading by John Mahoney (Frasier) and Mamet regular Mike Nussbaum at 7:30 p.m. Monday the 17th. Tickets are $15.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

• Hear the stories behind the vendors at the première of Streetwise: The Movie, a documentary by..

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As if we don't already spend enough on drinking, here comes a new record-breaking bottle, just in time for New Year's Eve: a three-liter jeroboam of 1995 Dom Pérignon, dipped in white gold, for a whopping $35,000. Only 17 such bottles will be sold in the United States; Chicago's single example will be housed at Manor—at least until some poor sucker drops the cash to impress a girl. At Tuesday's media and VIP party for the bottle's arrival...

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