This Week's Day-By-Day Picks

 Thursday, November 27
We'll let you in on a little secret. The Fort Worth Zoo is open on Thanksgiving Day from noon to 4 p.m. You can put the turkey in the oven, spend the day at the zoo and return home in time for dinner and football. No, we changed our minds. Don't go. The animals won't be there. They'll be at home with their families eating dinner and making giant dents in their sofas. Do the same. That way we'll be the only people at the zoo and we won't have to stand in line to watch the primates play at Asian Falls or stare at the sleeping koalas in the outback section. Stay home. Don't walk off that dinner. And don't do some early holiday shopping in the gift shop. The Fort Worth Zoo, 1989 Colonial Parkway off University and Interstate 30, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with shorter hours on holidays. Admission is $5.50 to $9, and parking is $5 per car. Call the information hotline at 817-871-7050.

Friday, November 28
Can I get a "Bah humbug?" You know you want to. Sure, holiday spirit is fantastic, blah blah blah, but when we see the Verizon Wireless Parade of Lights making its one-mile journey through downtown Fort Worth en route to the city Christmas tree for its grand lighting, the calculator in our head starts working. How many years' worth of our TXU bills would be covered by the power used to light thousands of lights on the 100-plus floats, marching bands, horse brigades, hot air balloons and antique cars? Sure, it's dazzling...in that how-safe-is-Texas'-power-grid kind of way. The parade kicks off at 6 p.m. on Weatherford at Lamar and travels to Houston, Sixth, Commerce, Belknap and Taylor streets, making a loop around Sundance Square, where the tree will be lit at 7:30 p.m. in the Chisholm Trail parking lot. Call 817-870-1692.

Saturday, November 29
If you're frustrated by curling ribbon that just knots and frays and plates full of asymmetrical gingerbread men, take out your holiday aggression during the Vetro Glassblowing Studio's Holiday Bash 2003. See, they give you a sledgehammer and goggles and usher you into a room with glass sculpture remnants and mistakes to smash. Or, rather, we wish they did. Instead, Holiday Bash 2003 is an all-day introduction to seasonal gift items capped off by the Truth or Consequences Auction, during which certain previously unwanted pieces are awarded to people who answer a trivia question correctly or--if they get it wrong--held for ransom while people bid to reach the reserve price. If the reserve isn't met, the piece is dropped on the floor. At least someone will get his catharsis. There will also be Texas wines and hors d'oeuvres, plus a raffle for a paperweight-making class. The fifth annual Bash is 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. with the auction at 7:30 p.m. at the studio, which is located in historic downtown Grapevine at 334 S. Barton St. Call 817-251-1668.

Ghost of a chance: Ron Campbell is the Scroogiest Scrooge in Dallas Theater Center's A Christmas Carol.
Ghost of a chance: Ron Campbell is the Scroogiest Scrooge in Dallas Theater Center's A Christmas Carol.

Sunday, November 30
It's a classic love story: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl have torrid affair. Girl is married, the mother of two and hiding the fact that she has only a few months to live. Despite the premise, Isabel Coixet's My Life Without Me manages to avoid those Lifetime movie clichés, mostly because Ann (played by Sarah Polley) makes a list of goals to accomplish before her death and begins checking them off without telling anyone why. Some are hurrah-inducing (taking a lover); others are tear-jerking (recording a message for her young daughters). But it's never schlocky or even sentimental. My Life Without Me travels to Cowtown for the Magnolia at the Modern film series at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Screenings are 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday. This film does not have the series' usual 5 p.m. Saturday show time. Tickets are $7.50, or $5.50 for museum members. Call 817-738-9215.

Monday, December 1
During October's AIDS Arm Life Walk, Erykah Badu spoke about the importance of being tested for HIV. She said she was tested once and it was positive. Thousands of runners and walkers went silent. You could hear the parking meters ticking on the street. Then Badu corrected herself: The experience was positive; the test was negative. It was 9 a.m. on a Saturday and we were wearing running shoes, so we empathized with her sleepy talk. Those who want to take her advice and get tested can do so during World AIDS Day when 97.9 The Beat's Action Jaxon hosts his annual AIDS/HIV awareness event at the station's studio in Valley View Center, 13331 Preston Road. UT Southwestern's Community Prevention and Intervention Unit will offer free private testing, counseling, brochures and staff members to answer questions. Call 214-754-5900.

Tuesday, December 2
No matter the belief system (or lack thereof), everyone has holiday traditions. Not having enough wrapping paper left on the roll for the final gift. Getting a holiday card from someone to whom you forgot to send a greeting. Taking a bag of Chips Ahoy! to the office potluck instead of homemade cookies because you were distracted by the marathon of seasonal cartoon specials on television. Those are ours. We'd probably add the Dallas Theater Center's A Christmas Carol if we weren't such a Scrooge. Every penny counts when you have three tiny stockings to fill with Whisker Lickin's cat treats. Non-Scrooges can enjoy the DTC's annual production, and this year's is extra special. The theater's popular adaptation by Preston Lane and Jonathan Moscone will be directed by former artistic director Moscone himself. Opening night is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, but previews run November 28 to November 30. The play continues through December 24 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and 3 p.m. Sundays. There will be no evening performances December 9, December 14, December 16 or December 24, but special shows will be held 3 p.m. December 20, 7:30 p.m. December 22 and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. December 24. Tickets are $25 to $45 for the shows at the Art District Theater, 2401 Flora St. Call 214-522-8499.

Wednesday, December 3
You'd need several pairs of snuggly, crocheted gloves to have enough fingers to count the number of times you've heard that Christmas story. You know, the one about the creatures stirring and a bowl full of jelly. Here's a newer one with a warning for those nonbelievers: You suck, so there. In The Polar Express, kids board a steam train bound for the North Pole on Christmas Eve to see Santa Claus before he departs to distribute presents. A boy is chosen to receive the first gift, and he picks a bell from a reindeer's saddle, only to lose it on the ride home. The next morning the bell is under the tree, wrapped and accompanied by a note from Santa himself. But only those who believe in Santa can hear the bell's tinkle; everyone else just thinks it's broken. Hear The Polar Express during story time at 10:30 a.m. at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Park, 7700 W. Northwest Highway. Call 214-739-3643.

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