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Christmas

Not in the Holiday Spirit Yet? Chanticleer Can Help.

At 8 p.m. last Saturday, in a pitch-black St. Ignatius Church, an audience of some 1,300 people sat motionless in the dark. What kept us that way was was 12 male voices, unaccompanied by anything but candlelight and including one astonishing soprano, singing 15th-century plainsong. I couldn't get a photo, of course, so the above shot (of Chanticleer rehearsing before the show) will have to do. There's something about this music that made me think, Why bother with anything else that's been composed in the last, oh, six hundred years?

What's a Jew to Do? A Schtick and a Nosh, (hold the MSG and the Baby Jesus)

A very merry Upper West Side Jewish Christmas usually meant dinner at the Hunan Balcony and a not too long line at the new Woody Allen movie.

Here in San Francisco, the city pretty near closes down on December 25 as families cocoon around a dead tree and the Jews often find themselves left out in the cold.

For those who eschew all things Christmas in favor of Hebrew delights such as egg rolls and wanton soup, “An Evening of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy’’ answers the age-old question:  "What are Jews supposed to do on  Christmas?"  Jewish Comedy on Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant is a swell solution.

Have Yourself A Downbeat Alt. Rock Christmas?

“It can’t be all cheer and happiness, there has to be some suicidal depression and family hatred and alcoholism,” Aimee Mann told the crowd at Bimbo’s Sunday night at the scene of her Third Annual Christmas show. She then launched into her “hit” of sullen melancholy, “Save Me.”

Depression, alcoholism and hatred are what you might expect from Aimee Mann, holiday cheer and jovial whimsy, not so much. But apparently she’s been doing these Christmastime variety shows all over the place and it’s a charming way to espy another side of the subdued singer songwriter.

All Aboard!

It's been one strange year for the travel industry. First, gas prices rose to an all-time high, topping out above $5 a gallon here in California. Then, they were the lowest they have been in years, but thanks in part to a recession (and perhaps a heightened awareness of the environment), people have been driving less, thus keeping the supply-and-demand factor in favor of the consumer. Air travel became increasingly more difficult, what with the ridiculous addition of fees--baggage fees, paying-for-exit-row-seat fees, purchasing-tickets-via-phone fees, sky-high fuel surcharge fees, anything the airlines could come up with really. And long-distance buses...well, who takes those anyhow? They're crowded, slow and unreliable.

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