For 364 days and 22 hours out of the year, Starbucks is perfectly content charging you an arm and a leg for bad Ray Charles duet albums and frothy, fattening Frappucinos. But for two hours on Thursday, the coffee chain opens up its quick-beating caffeine-fueled heart to offer its annual "Cheer is Here" parties at all North Texas locations. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., you and yours can enjoy holiday drinks, delicious pastries and yuletide music, as well as coloring activities for the kids. Guests are encouraged to bring an unwrapped gift for the kids at Children's Medical Center in Dallas or Fort Worth's Cook Children's. Visit www.starbucks.com.
Friday, December 2
If there's anything worse than a bad stand-up comic, it's a bad stand-up comic with an acoustic guitar. While Tenacious D, Andy Kaufman and others have found success by blending music with comedy, it's definitely something that should only be left to true professionals. Otherwise, we'd have far too many "Trapped in a Closet" and "We Are the World" parodies for our own good. This Friday and Saturday, The West End Comedy Theatre welcomes Chicago's The Mike and Duane Show, featuring the musical talents of comedians Mike Ferbrache and Duane Freeman, who have previously performed at Chicago's Second City and the 2005 Dallas Comedy Festival. And while the odds are stacked against them, we're hoping their rock opera version of The Karate Kid will elicit a laugh or two and maybe even bring a tear to the eye of Pat Morita fans. Both shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. The West End Comedy Theatre is located at 603 Munger Ave., Suite 100B. Call 214-880-9990 or visit www.westendcomedy.com.
Saturday, December 3
It must be one heck of a tough time being a department-store Santa. Between the kids, the parents and smiling for 500 photos a day, it's amazing the Santa suicide rate isn't comparable to that of dentists. But the entry-level, bottom-of-the-ladder Santa gig has got to be Pet Santa. Sure, your clients can't talk, but they're more than twice as likely to bite your leg and/or urinate on it. For the next three Saturdays, some poor soul will be charged with this perilous task, posing for pictures with pets at Operation Kindness, 3201 Earhart Drive, Carrollton. Pet owners and children are also encouraged to pose with their animals, so hopefully this Santa has a pretty sturdy lap. Santa is available for pictures from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A sitting with Saint Nick costs $15, $5 for each additional photo. All dogs must be on leashes, but children are allowed to roam freely. Carriers are required for cats and other small animals. Call 972-418-PAWS or visit www.operationkindness.org.
Sunday, December 4
When I was a kid, my favorite restaurant was that most authentic of Italian establishments, the Spaghetti Warehouse. I definitely liked the food, but most of all I was fascinated by the antique arcade games. Being a Big fan, I was most enamored with the fortune-teller, who would move her wooden hand very unnaturally over a deck of tarot cards and predict your future for a token. I never felt the same way about real psychics, though, probably because they charge more than a quarter and never helped Tom Hanks land a high-powered job at a toy company. This Sunday, more than 30 professional weirdos will gather at the Holiday Inn Select at LBJ Freeway and Josey Lane for the Dallas Psychic Fair, and while they probably won't accept Spaghetti Warehouse tokens, they will offer 15-minute readings for $10, as well as a wide assortment of New Age bric-a-brac including crystals, jewelry and candles. Admission is $7. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. Call 972-241-4876.
Monday, December 5
"Lady Marmalade" has got to be one of the worst songs ever recorded. Patti LaBelle's original was bad enough, so you can imagine my shock when I first heard it was going to be re-recorded for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack back in 2001. Sure, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Li'l Kim and Mya looked pretty good in their skivvies, but somewhere during those four minutes and 24 seconds of big wigs and vocal trills, a generation lost its innocence. Living in our confusing post-"Marmalade" world, it's hard to single out one person as the evil mastermind behind it all, but I'm pretty sure it was director Baz "Sunscreen" Luhrmann. This Monday, see Exhibit A in Luhrmann's cultural trial, Moulin Rouge!, at the Angelika Film Center, 7200 Bishop Road, Plano. The screening starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Call 972-943-1300.
Tuesday, December 6
In this age of multimillion-dollar contracts and steroid investigations, it's hard to feel the same way I did as a kid, when Nolan Ryan could do damn near anything and I still got excited by a Rangers game. But there are those who still believe in America's game and the power it has to influence our youth in a positive way. This Tuesday, some of these believers will gather at the Fort Worth Convention Center, 1201 Houston St., for the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation's 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award Gala. This year, the foundation honors the "Say Hey Kid," Willie Mays, who was certainly a positive role model for a kid or two in the late '50s and '60s. Other guests include former Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda, former Rangers Bobby Valentine and Jim Sundberg and 1310 The Ticket's Mike Rhyner and Greg Williams. Individual tickets are $150. All proceeds benefit the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation. Call 817-870-2300 or visit www.bobbybragan.org.