No one understands me. It's so obvious that Home for the Holidays is one of the finest motion pictures ever made, but nobody will admit it. Bad Santa runs a close second -- it's also an apt exaggeration of the truth about holidays in the United States. In fact, I enjoy proselytizing about Home for the Holidays more than I enjoy complaining about my own turkey days. Many writers are just the reverse: Nothing in the world is so exciting to them as ragging on their families.
Wintertime traditions, whatever they are in your house, are lots of fun to pick at, a fact that inspired Kevin Smokler and Melinda Adams to organize "Worst Holiday Ever," a reading and open mike night. Keith Knight, cartoonist and self-described "semi-conscious rapper," Beth Lisick, columnist, author, and diva in the rough, Wells Dunbar, and Jon Longhi are the lucky featured performers. Hear these local smarty-pantses recount tales of horror from the dinner table, and bring your own outrageous stories to share. I'm thinking it'll be like a screenplay workshop for my favorite flick. The show begins at 7 p.m. at the Canvas Gallery, 1200 Ninth Ave. (at Lincoln), S.F. Admission is free; call 504-0060 or visit www.thecanvasgallery.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Where to bag holiday goodies
I learned an important lesson one year while working at a lingerie shop. Before every gift-giving occasion, frantic men would appear seeking unmentionables for their sweeties. And when I'd ask them what size their ladies required, they'd each answer the same: "She's about your size."
Moral of the story: Most men are hopeless shoppers. They don't know the dimensions or preferences of their loved ones; they're unsure what offerings would please; they're clueless about trends. Left alone to purchase presents they're as nervous as a patient in a proctologist's office. The Urban Diversion social club counters that unease with a Men's Christmas Shopping Day, at which insecure chaps are guided through several Union Square retail outlets. Get help starting at 12:30 p.m. in front of Macy's, Geary between Powell and Stockton, S.F. Participation is free for members, $5 for guests; call 710-3246 or visit www.urbandiversion.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Hark! the herald angels sing
No matter how Scrooge-like your feelings are about the holidays, there's one annual tradition that can reduce even the most hardhearted Grinch to a blubbering, sentimental idiot: the sound of sweet voices intoning familiar carols and hymns. And what better place to hear sonorous songs than a cathedral, where exquisite acoustics and reverently gorgeous décor combine to produce an experience that gives even skeptics the chills?
Enjoy a small but tuneful group of nightingales (and admire the magnificent chandelier that was a gift from the last czar of Russia) at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir Christmas Concert starting at 2 p.m. at 1520 Green (at Van Ness), S.F. Admission is free; call 673-8565 or visit www.holy-trinity.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Kung Food Fighting
During the Emeril-meets Johnny Knoxville live cooking and comedy show that is CuliNery Tuesdays, star Scot Nery makes a meal, hosts a guest, and enacts a theme. This week, the guest is porn clown Snatchy. As for the food and the theme -- well, use your imagination. Show time is 8 p.m. at the Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $7; call 871-9699 or visit www.laughingsquid.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser