It has come to this: During last week's poker game, my friend Shane and I found ourselves swapping recipes for, among other things, shrimp with grits, exotic chili and chocolate soufflés. We then donned our aprons, cinched our skirts and waited for the hubby to bring home the boss so he could get that big promotion. We're confident in announcing ourselves as men who subscribe to Gourmet, not Maxim; who dream of extravagant kitchens with 10-burner stoves and Sub-Zero refrigerators; who brag about cooking the entire Thanksgiving meal without anyone's help or meddling. If you need me, you can always find me browsing the aisles of the Greenville and Lovers Central Market between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. every Sunday; I need the space and like the quiet. I may also be at the one in Fort Worth between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. December 20 watching Christian Gerber, formerly the owner and chef of Juniper, prepping a New Year's Eve dinner consisting of Caesar salad, classic French bouillabaisse and a lemon soufflé topped with cranberry sauce. You can dine for a mere $50 and pick up a tip from Chef Christian, who will gladly advise on your holiday meal. Call Central Market at 817-377-9005. --Robert Wilonsky
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A Crackin' Good Time
Around this time of year, we always raise our anti-Christmas deflector shield. Inside the shield, there is blessed silence: no endless loop of Christmas carols. No bell ring-angel wing correlations. We're safe from reindeer-related accidents, Christmas-tree fires or choking on a candy cane. And, in here, the term "nutcracker" refers to a hammer and a clean patch of concrete. We won't usually lower the shield until Santa decorations are chucked in the clearance aisle at Target, so only something big could compel us to leave the safety of our mistletoe-free environment. Something big like a 79-foot domed screen. Something big like 20,000 watts of digital sound. If you don't have the inclination to sit through a Christmas ballet, visit the TI Founders' IMAX Theater for 40 minutes of nutcrackin' fun, with a live-action film version of the classic holiday tale of Clara and her beloved kitchen gadget (would you call a nutcracker a toy?). Dash through the snow to The Science Place, in Fair Park at 1318 Second Ave., where The IMAX Nutcracker will be playing throughout the holidays, including Christmas Eve. Admission to the IMAX Theater is $7 for adults and $6 for children and seniors. Call 214-428-5555. --Michelle Martinez
Star of Wonder
Let's face it. We get a little too wrapped up in Santa and Rudolph and gift exchanges this time of year. A trip to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History's Noble Planetarium, 1501 Montgomery St., from now through December 23 just might lend a bit of necessary perspective. Daily, it presents the legends and facts surrounding the Star of Bethlehem as well as the holiday customs of cultures from around the world. Admission is $3.50. Call 817-255-9300. --Carlton Stowers
No longer will vegans be forced to sit alone at the end of the table during turkey dinner. Now, metroplex vegans can shove it--it, of course, being a delicious and nutritious vegan meal--in the faces of their skeptical relatives after attending chef Wendy Loven's vegan holiday dishes cooking class. The class is December 20 at Whole Foods Market at 60 Dal-Rich Village in Richardson. Sign up at customer service. C'mon, vegans, it's your opportunity to show old Aunt Beatrice what's what. Call 972-699-8075. --Mary Monigold
It really is a wonderful life
Nothin' says Christmas spirit like Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman blowin' shit up. Nothin' says bonding like the sharing of Hostess Twinkie ingredients between officers of the law over radio waves. And nothin' says lovin' like Willis' John McClane and estranged wife Holly (played by Bonnie Bedelia) making amends after a Christmas Eve of mayhem and terrorism. All's well that ends well, right? Well, at least until the sequels come around. So, before the demanding relatives arrive and the turkey is thawed, the Inwood Theatre, 5458 W. Lovers Lane, offers an action-filled midnight romp with showings of Die Hard (that's right, the original "40 stories of sheer adventure!") on Friday and Saturday night. It's a little preholiday escape for those of us who need some mindless entertainment and too-easy cowboy jokes to get us ready for the upcoming craze. It's a $7.50 fight against evil, and we get a heap of clever-sounding accents and some eye candy to boot with Rickman's skinny, yet menacing portrayal of head villain Hans Gruber. And there's also the chiseled dancer's form and flowing locks of the late Alexander Godunov as his right-hand man, Karl. Willis, though his pursed lips can be ever-so-annoying, turns a classic performance combining grit, lowbrow one-liners ("Take this under advisement, jerk weed!"), physical prowess whilst being shoeless and, of course, that good ol' Americana. Maybe we were young enough to find it mesmerizing upon its original release, or maybe we're still just obsessed with Russian ballet dancers, but Die Hard has established itself as one of those flicks we'll flip to when it's on TBS as a Sunday movie and watch the entire thing. But in this situation, when given the opportunity to watch Bruce turn badass, Rickman do his own free fall and a gun-toting Godunov on the big screen before effects became mainly the tricks of pixels, we'll pass our green through the ticket window and yell..."Yippee-ki-yay!" Call 214-764-9106. --Merritt Martin