It's that time of year again -- children's eyes glaze over with excitement, the smell of gingerbread fills the air, and you can't walk into a coffee shop without hearing yet another version of "Jingle Bells." If you're looking to wash out the taste of all that saccharine, skip the eggnog and down a shot of good, old-fashioned obscenity at Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation.
For 25 years, the perverted purveyors of this longest-running festival of its kind have been showing some of the foulest, raunchiest, and most offensive cartoons imaginable. With titles like My First Boner, Old Folks Love, How to Cope With Death, and Ninjews, this year's short films promise to be as delightfully disgusting as Santa is fat. Fest regulars No Neck Joe and Dr. Tran are also back as much-needed antidotes to Rudolph and Frosty. And it's dark in the theater, so no one has to know. Get your gross on Friday and Saturday nights through Dec. 25 at 7:30, 9:30, and midnight at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $9; call 863-7576 or visit www.spikeandmike.com (for film info) and www.victoriatheatre.org (for screening info).
-- Jack Karp
Harry Shearer plays backup
Harry Shearer has had a great career as second fiddle. As This Is Spinal Tap's bassist, Derek Smalls, he was overshadowed by Christopher Guest's amp-loving guitarist, Nigel Tufnel, and Michael McKean's temperamental lead singer, David St. Hubbins. He barely got any play during his late-'70s/early-'80s stint on Saturday Night Live. Even on The Simpsons the characters he voices (Mr. Burns, Flanders, and Principal Skinner, among others) are dwarfed in popularity by Dan Castellaneta's charming buffoon Homer. So is this eternal sidekick embittered by his status? Apparently not, since he's cheerfully playing bass tonight behind his crooning (and gorgeous) wife, Judith Owen, owner of a spectacular set of pipes and a killer rendition of Spinal Tap's "Christmas With the Devil." Andrea Guskin opens at 10 p.m. at the Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $15; call 647-2888 or visit www.makeoutroom.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
The Crucible's incredible creations
So there's only one more week till Christmas and you still haven't managed to buy any gifts. Bad Santa! Luckily, the Crucible's Gifty Arts & Crafts Sale and Winter Open House ensures that none of your loved ones gets coal in her stocking this year. Envision, for example, a Kiki Pettit fire fountain in Mom's back yard, or perhaps a Larissa L. Dahoung handbag slung over your sister-in-law's shoulder.
The holiday hijinks also include activities for kids, a live bronze pour, fire performances, and a student and faculty gallery show. Get crafty starting at 10 a.m. both days at the Crucible, 1260 Seventh St. (at Union), Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 444-0919 or visit www.thecrucible.org.
-- Jane Tunks
Punk's Not Dead
Sure, the Punk Rock Orchestra plays vintage songs in classical arrangements -- nice job on the Violent Femmes' "I Hear the Rain" -- but is the project itself punk? We don't care, because the Ork has a new rendition of "Nazi Punks Fuck Off." $lot Ma¢hine (see Page 63) opens at 9 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $16; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser