This Week's Day-By-Day Picks

Thursday, December 9

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has caught the Christmas fever. Screw peace on earth and good will to men. They want bigger; they want better. And they want it now. Just Christmas isn't good enough; this year it's Christmas--around the world. Of course, bigger can be better. This year's 7-Eleven Christmas Celebration features more sets and more performers as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Chorus tackle carols and other favorites from across the globe with help from a children's choir, a handbell choir, dancers and actors, plus vibrant sets onstage, a decorated lobby and a 25-foot Christmas tree. The concert begins with "Joy to the World" then looks for it with musical visits to Germany, Spain, France, the British Isles and more through holiday songs and dances from The Nutcracker. There will even be bagpipes and a special performance on the Lay Family Concert Organ. The concert is 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through December 19 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. Tickets are $20 to $95 by visiting or by calling 214-692-0203.

Friday, December 10

We discovered that all of our favorite Christmas recipes involve liquor: eggnog, rum balls, wassail, Jack Daniel's chocolate pecan pie. What can we say? We like to put the "spirits" in holiday spirit. So PUNCH DRUnK Comedy's holiday show Nogballs sounds right up our chimney. Alcohol doesn't need to be involved as PDC is so funny that even reading a recipe for a dish called nogballs would be worth a trip to Addison, where WaterTower Theatre hosts the Dallas comedy troupe during its holiday extravaganza. This year's Christmas revue features sketches and songs with scenes such as a vomiting store Santa and mall security smackdown. Nogballs is rated XXX-mas, so only mature audiences are recommended for the adult language and situations. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. and Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. through December 20. Tickets are $10. In the Addison Theatre Centre's Studio Theatre, 15650 Addison Road. Call 972-450-6232.

Saturday, December 11

We like to imagine that the Fairmont Dallas' Holiday Junior Chefs Program is a boot camp for kids to learn how to cook a complete Christmas dinner--a crash course in becoming the elves to your Santa. Instead it's a fun event, though not completely useless, in which kids will write letters to Santa, have hot chocolate and cookies, hear Mrs. Claus read a Christmas story and make mini-gingerbread houses to take home. Kids also get a souvenir apron and chef's hat just like the Fairmont's pros wear, so they can develop their newfound culinary skills even after the program is over. The Holiday Junior Chefs Program is for kids 5 to 11 at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $40 per child, which benefits Genesis Women's Shelter. Parents can join their kids during the program to help out or just take photographs. The Fairmont Dallas is located at 1717 N. Akard St. Call the holiday hotline at 214-720-5340.

Sunday, December 12

Walking into Red Grooms' Ruckus Rodeo is like stepping into a live rodeo frozen in time then painted by Andy Warhol and Peter Max. It's garish and psychedelic, almost ridiculous, a stark contrast to the realistically human expressions on the faces of the riders, clowns, rodeo queen and spectators. A bucked rider flips in the air, while another hangs onto Butter, the bull, for his life. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth commissioned this gallery-filling installation for its 1976 exhibition The Great American Rodeo. It's been shown several times since, but the viewing of Ruckus Rodeo from December 12 through February 6 marks the first showing in the Modern's new building and coincides with Fort Worth's 2005 Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show. Admission is $4 to $6 and free for children 12 and under and museum members. MAMFW, 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth. Call 817-738-9215.

Monday, December 13

At this time of year when we're all supposed to be cheery and charitable, the characters in Peter Morris' Pro Bono Publico seem a bit Grinchish. The rest of the year, they'd probably hit close to home. Maybe too close. The play, which the Dallas Theater Center presents in staged reading form during its Fresh Ink new plays series, features Jay, a corporate lawyer who makes himself feel better by doing pro bono legal work; his wife, an uncharitable gallery owner; and her assistant--the Cindy Lou Who of the gang--who still believes that art is beauty and creativity, not commerce. Morris pulls no punches, showing the ulterior motives and naíveté behind good intentions. It's like the anti-It's a Wonderful Life. DTC performs Pro Bono Publico at 7 p.m. in Bryant Hall, adjacent to Kalita Humphreys Theater in the Dallas Theater Center at 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Call 214-522-8499.

Tuesday, December 14

Usually when someone suggests you be there with bells on, it just means to be festive and excited. You're not actually expected to sew tiny little bells on your clothing. Likewise, participants are not expected to deck their running gear with bells in order to compete in the 21st annual Starbucks Coffee Jingle Bell Run. But we think doing so will not only show you're festive and excited, but will make your fellow runners feel festive and excited as well--or maybe they'll just run faster to get away from your annoying ringing sound. Win-win, either way. The Jingle Bell Run, a nighttime race through the decorated streets of downtown Dallas that benefits Carter BloodCare, includes a one-mile fun run/walk/wag/wheel (beginning at 7 p.m.) and a timed 5K run (beginning at 7:30 p.m.). The event kicks off at 6 p.m. with a costume contest, pet pageant and admission to Santa Land, a playground for kids with cookie decorating, arts and crafts, face painting and visits with Santa. A post-run party awaits participants at the finish line. Registration is $22 per runner, plus $8 to park at the Dallas Convention Center, 650 S. Griffin St. Visit or call 817-412-5500.

Wednesday, December 15

We scanned the Dallas Opera's cast list for its production of Cinderella, trying to find out which of opera's greatest stars would portray the helpful mice who make a ball gown for Cinderella. That "Cinderelly, Cinderelly" song is our favorite, second only to the fairy godmother's big moment in "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo." Only there were no mice listed. No fairy godmother, either. Turns out Gioachino Rossini's Cinderella doesn't have the magical mice and kindly old lady so beloved in Walt Disney's version. But wait, there's more. The slipper is replaced by a bracelet, reflecting the modesty of the 1800s, when Rossini wrote his opera. This old-school version of Cinderella will be performed by Vivica Genaux and Margaret Lattimore (who share the lead role) at 7:30 p.m. December 10, 2 p.m. December 12 and 7:30 p.m. December 15 and December 18 at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Tickets are $19 to $265. Call 214-443-1000.

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Shannon Sutlief