Saturday, May 24, 2008

75 things to do this summer

1. Carry a loaded squirt gun.

2. Catch fireflies and keep them overnight in a glass jar with a bit of grass and a wax-paper lid.

3. Treat yourself to an ice cream sundae at Gayety's, 3306 Ridge Rd., Lansing; the Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor, 7347 W. Madison St., Forest Park; or Homer's Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor, 1237 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette.

4. Play drums Sundays at the Point (Promontory Point) in Hyde Park.

5. Enjoy a day at 95th Street Beach.

6. See a suburban 4th of July parade. Stand when the flag goes by. Yes, every time.

7. Go to the batting cages at the Bunny Hutch in Lincolnwood as often as possible (www.nerfect.

8. Go to at least one SummerDance class and bust some crazy moves with abandon.

9. Play the ponies at Arlington Park racetrack (

10. Run flat out.

11. Visit a different city neighborhood every weekend.

12. Do Saturday morning yoga (8 a.m.) at Millennium Park (June 7-Sept. 27; 312-742-1168).

13. Kayak on the Chicago River.

14. Discover 5 great snacks in a neighborhood, by foot with friends, instead of going to Taste of Chicago.

15. Run screaming through a cold sprinkler at a Chicago park.

16. Get box seats ($12) at a Kane County Cougars game (

17. Wake at dawn, pick up the litter in your neighborhood park.

18. See at show at Theater on the Lake (June 11-Aug. 3; 312-742-7994).

19. Get up at 5:30 a.m. and row to the middle of a small, fresh- water lake and fish for bluegills, perch and crappie.

20. Nap at lunch.

21. Reinvigorate your wilted self on a sweltering afternoon with an intense Vietnamese iced coffee.

22. Plant sunflowers in your garden.

23. After a long hot day, get take-out of assorted Middle Eastern/Greek dips with plenty of crusty bread and eat them with a cold cote du rhone with a loved one. Soak your feet in a pan of cold water while eating and pretend you are on the Mediterranean.

24. Walk slower.

25. See a movie at a drive-in.

26. Challenge a chess master at North Avenue Beach.

27. Scream at a garden snake.

28. Go to Great America to check out the new Dark Knight coaster.

29. Eat a brochette of meat washed down with a Coco Rico from one of the trailers in Humboldt Park.

30. Get to Lake Michigan in time to sit and watch the sun rise. Bring a blanket and pillow if you like.

31. Sketch birds.

32. Slow dance to Sinatra's "Summer Wind" in the grass.

33. Eat a pot bin soo (shaved ice, malt, sweet red bean and fruit sundae) at a Korean cafe.

34. Visit the cemetery.

35. Take a martial arts class at Chase Park as part of the Chicago Park District's cheap, comprehensive and convenient programs (

36. Eat an arroz con leche paleta (essentially rice pudding ice cream bar) from a passing vendor.

37. Jump into Lake Michigan.

38. Arrive at Green City Market super early when it's still cool and you can find parking. Sip Intelligentsia coffee while you ponder the lovely meal you will make with your stash.

39. Go to the Drinking and Writing Festival June 14 at the Hopleaf (

40. See Cirque Shanghai at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage (June 4-Sept. 1; 312-902-1500).

41. Go to Wizard World (June 26-29) at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont and see world premiere of "Batman: Gotham Knight." (

42. See fireworks, in person.

43. Write a script for a home movie.

44. Do tai chi.

45. Swing.

46. Get a freshly shaved piragua (shaved ice) from one of the piragua vendors in Humboldt Park.

47. Go to at least one movie in the Chicago Outdoor Film Fest in Grant Park (begins July 15; www.chicagooutdoor

48. During a walk, point out poison ivy to your kids.

49. Spend a couple of hours on the beach beneath the Grosse Point Lighthouse in Evanston. Squint. Pretend you're on Nantucket.

50. Forget the sweltering heat and just groove your behind off to stellar live acts such as Girl Talk, CSS, Santogold, The National and, of course, Radiohead at Lollapalooza (Aug. 1-3).

51. Attend the first night of the Pitchfork Music Festival (June 18; See Public Enemy play "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" in its entirety, in order, start to finish.

52. Go to a good wine store, ask for their nicest rosé. Chill the bottle; drink it on a hot summer afternoon.

53. Win a carnival prize.

54. Enter the Muddy Buddy race Aug. 3 (

55. Volunteer for a day on the Red Witch Tall Ship ( Consider a life at sea.

56. Get a freshly made lemonade from one of Chicago's South Side "steak and lemonade" joints.

57. Start a long depressing book--"Bleak House," "Sister Carrie"--that will take all summer to read. Read three pages a day.

58. Camp out all night for the first screening of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (Aug. 15).

59. Picnic by Lake Marmo at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle (

60. Shoot a round of golf on one of Chicago's terrific public courses. If you don't golf, bring a friend who does and carry the clubs while he/she plays.

61. Open your eyes underwater.

62. Catch minnows in a small lake with youngsters using a net made from an old lace curtain.

63. Avoid cover bands at other block parties and instead see Ted Leo and the Pharmacists rock out the crowd (8:30 p.m. May 31) for just a $5 donation at the Do-Division Street Fest and Sidwalk Sale May 31-June 1.

64. Give a dog a bath outside.

65. Learn a few words or phrases of Japanese, like "That ball was definitely out!"

66. Eat a softshell crab. Good places to find 'em include Hugo's Frog Bar, Mario's, Prosecco, Catch 35 and Shaw's Crab House.

67. Make a white sangria with the first of the season's local peaches.

68. Ice cold tomato slices. Salt. Period.

69. Help your kid put up a lemonade stand. Vow never to pass a lemonade stand.

70. See "The Dark Knight" (July 18). Point to Chicago locations you recognize.

71. Have a Signature Sunset ice cream cone (made with merlot) at Bobtail Ice Cream (

72. Check out the Jeff Koons exhibit, running virtually the entire summer at the Museum of Contemporary Art (

73. Bike to work, at least once.

74. Take a jewelry-making class at Lill Street Art Center on North Ravenswood (

75. Take an early morning stroll along North Pier, before the shops open. It's a completely different place then.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hip fat is good, pot bellies are bad

Not all body flab is harmful -- hip fat is good but pot bellies are bad, claims a new study.

Previous studies have revealed that subcutaneous fat is merely the lesser of the two evils. Now, researchers in the United States have concluded that it could actually be positively beneficial.

A team at the Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston has found that the worst kind is actually the excess fat on the internal organs, which causes a pot belly and is known as visceral fat.

According to them, people with visceral fat are more likely to suffer from heart disease and insulin resistance, which leads to type II diabetes, than those who put on fat under their skin on their hips and thighs.

In their study, the researchers, led by C Ronald Kahn, transplanted subcutaneous fat into the bodies of some mice and visceral fat into others.

They found the laboratory mice that had received subcutaneous fat ended up with lighter, leaner bodies and less insulin resistance than the animals that got visceral fat and, crucially, those that received no fat transplant at all.

"That increased body fat has a favourable effect is something I buy into," the New Scientist quoted John Miles of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester as saying.

If subcutaneous fat also has benefits in humans, the results could explain why liposuction, which removes this fat, does not reduce diabetes or other side effects of obesity, according to the researchers.

How subcutaneous fat exerts its positive influence remains a mystery, but Kahn suspects it secretes hormones that speed up metabolism.