Christmas is for kids. I'll admit it, even though I love to put garland on my door with twinkling white lights and bright red apple ornaments. Even though I still bought some resemblance of a Christmas tree in the form of a foot-tall fern with gold trimmings to prop on my mantel so my killer kitty can't reach it, I still believe Christmas is for kids. Look at the commercials every year. Besides some car and jewelry spots, most of them have kiddies playing in snow and parents scouring toy stores to find the perfect gift for their little ones. What many grown-ups want for Christmas, however, is less commercialism and more meaning. Kwanzaa isn't much like Christmas, but the two holidays share one benefit--those kids. Even though the green, red and black stripes of Kwanzaa are very marketable, the principles of the holiday are full of direction. Kids learn unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Each day of Kwanzaa represents each ideal. "Kwanzaa is a significant cultural holiday," says Third Eye research group organizing member Marilyn Clark. "It instills basic principles for young people and family. They are the kinds of goals people should live every day." The Africare Academy will kick off the weeklong festivities on December 26 with an annual parade assembling at noon at Lincoln High School located at Malcolm X and Hatcher. Events run through January 1 and will end with the Reverend Clarence Glover and community members celebrating "The Juba," which honors ancestors using drums, history, culture and song. Call 214-696-5061 for more information. For a list of events, call 214-426-1683. --Jenice Johnson
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We once saw a coffee mug emblazoned with the words "Free Tibet," and we assumed the owner was probably the beard-and-Hacky Sack type. Then we noticed the tiny print below the slogan, "With purchase of second Tibet of equal or greater value." We remember chuckling. And maybe that's how disconnected we feel from a nation half a world away. Tom Peosay's Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion offers a glimpse of the "long-forbidden 'rooftop of the world.'" The documentary, which opened this year's Amnesty International Film Festival, focuses on the problems Tibetans have encountered living in an occupied nation under Communist Chinese rule--destruction, torture and almost total obliteration of Tibetan culture. Screenings are Friday through Sunday during The Magnolia at the Modern, 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth. Call 817-738-9215. --Michelle Martinez
Right Said Fred
Why not put the goofy lampshade and corny jokes aside this New Year's Eve and let a real pro handle the entertaining? All you'll have to do is sit back and join in the laughter as popular comedian Freddy Soto does his routine at the Addison Improv Comedy Club, 4980 Belt Line Road. There will be shows at 8 p.m. ($65 for show and dinner, $35 for the show only) and 10 p.m. ($75 show-and-dinner package). Soto, a comedy-venue veteran, has toured with The Three Amigos and wowed them on Comedy Central's Premium Blend. Now Dallas audiences get a chance to laugh along as 2003 winds down. For reservations, call 972-404-8501 or log on to www.improvclubs.com. --Carlton Stowers
Ready, Set, Draw
Cartoons for grown-ups
Much like interpretive dance and papermaking, animation is an art form that is too often ignored and misunderstood by the uncultured masses. Its impact is overshadowed by the fact that the medium is associated with a chipper dancing mouse, a violent, temperamental duck and an unintelligent, athletically incapable dog. Then Beavis and Butt-head molded the habitual vocal intonations--"heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh"--of a generation of young MTV viewers. The Simpsons is more deeply ingrained in American culture than Poe or Hawthorne. Now, lesser-known animated icons can take the screen at Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt's The Animation Show, running midnights Friday and Saturday through January 3 at the Inwood Theatre, 5458 W. Lovers Lane. Show will feature work by many Academy Award nominees, as well as Judge and Hertzfeldt themselves. An excerpt from Mars and Beyond will also be shown. Call 214-352-6040 or visit www.animationshow.com. --Mary Monigold
Gay Ol Time
This game isn't lame-o
We're not that big on bingo, to be honest. It's a little dull, a wee polite. We like our games loud and messy, and that's why GayBINGO at the Lakewood Theater sounds 10 shades of fabulous. Drag queens on roller skates, corny dogs, disco, a full bar. That's the kind of entertainment we can, um, get behind. Unlike bingo games of yore--requiring players to make straight lines--GayBINGO players make smiley faces, peace signs and "charts of Donna Summers' career." This is not your father's gay bingo night. (Or maybe it is...) The December 27 theme is "Holiday a Go-Go," so grab your feather boa and your control top and get ready to b-i-n-g-e on GayBINGO. Reservations cost $15 and include 10 lap dances, oops, lap games. They can be purchased at www.resourcecenterdallas.org. Each show starts at 6 p.m. at the Lakewood Theater, 1825 Abrams Parkway, and all benefits go to the John Thomas Gay & Lesbian Community Center. --Sarah Hepola