This Week's Day-By-Day Picks

Thursday, December 23

In Christmas movies, the redeeming ending is the big gift. The rest of the plot is just stocking filler. Take It's a Wonderful Life, for example: While being Christmas' most hackneyed film, it is also perhaps the saddest--until the joyful conclusion. Then there's A Christmas Story, a funny little tale that seems to be about a little boy's lust for a Red Rider BB gun but is actually about childhood, those weird adults and the importance of family. Then there's this story. The last four sentences: filler. The next: the big gift. Angelika Film Centers presents free holiday movies, plus chances to win free film passes and Angelika gear, when It's a Wonderful Life will be shown at the location in Mockingbird Station at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and A Christmas Story comes to the one in Plano at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free with a donation of an unwrapped toy, which will go to the residents of Our Children's House at Baylor locations in Dallas and Allen. Visit

Friday, December 24

Violins are distinguished instruments, so are harps, flutes, cellos and even the tiny, bird-sounding piccolo. Tubas, however, are not. Sure, some very serious classical pieces can be performed on one. But no one really looks distinguished puffing out his or her cheeks while supporting a Dr. Seuss cartoon-looking instrument. Which really just adds to the good cheer of the annual TubaChristmas concerts that take place across the country with tuba and euphonium players performing Christmas carols while donning now their gay apparel. The Dallas concert is Christmas Eve at noon in Thanks-Giving Square at the corner of Bryan Street and Pacific Avenue. Participants can register at 9 a.m., rehearse at 10 a.m. and enjoy free coffee and doughnuts before show time. Admission to the outdoor concert is free. Visit

Saturday, December 25

The Jewish Cooking in America recipe for matzoh balls includes four eggs; two tablespoons of chicken fat or vegetable oil; one-fourth of a cup of seltzer, club soda or chicken broth; one cup matzoh meal and salt and pepper to taste. The Jewish Community Center of Dallas recipe includes a ballroom at the Melrose Hotel, live music, hors d'oeuvres and lots of single Jewish people trying to find a date for New Year's Eve. The center's annual Matzah Ball is its biggest party of the year, so big that this year it's taking over the entire first floor of the hotel from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Admission is $30 for JCC members and $35 for non-members, and a hotel room can be added for $69 per night. Self-parking is free; valet is $8. The Melrose Hotel is located at 3015 Oak Lawn Ave. Call 214-739-2737.

Sunday, December 26

Until a British or Canadian group organizes a Boxing Day celebration to officially end the Christmas season, you'll have to find other ways to deal with post-holiday depression...such as learning more about Jack Ruby. Murder, trials and jail time should cleanse any palate. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza presents Jack Ruby: Voices From History, featuring artifacts such as diaries, testimonies and biographies of key characters in a portrait of the man accused of killing Lee Harvey Oswald (he actually died an innocent man after the verdict was overturned). Photographs include shots of Ruby with dancers from his Dallas nightclubs and a mug shot that shows him crying. The exhibit continues through November and is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (except Christmas Day) for free to the public at 411 Elm St. Call 214-747-6660.

Monday, December 27

Dallas doesn't think of itself as America's fourth coast (apparently Chicago already claimed the third coast) because of Galveston's beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. It's because we want to be the other other go-to place for film and television. One effort to keep Dallas' filmmakers from seeking opportunity in another coast is the Texas Filmmakers Series, a co-production of the Angelika Film Center and the Video Association of Dallas that offers screenings of works by local artists on the second and fourth Mondays each month. This month's final screening is of Deadroom, a collection of four stories each told by one of the directors (Yen Tan, James M. Johnston, Nick Prendergast and David Lowery) about lessons learned under the shadow of death. The screening is at 7 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane in Mockingbird Station, with at least one of the directors in attendance. Admission is $5.50 to $8. Call 214-428-8700.

Tuesday, December 28

Just like Scrooge thought death would prevent him from seeing his old business partner Marley again, we thought Christmas meant we were finished with A Christmas Carol. And we were both wrong. But we promise this is the last Christmas Carol--for at least 10 months. OK, maybe nine. But it's also one of the longest-running and most famous versions. Several things set apart Nebraska Theatre Caravan's A Christmas Carol: It's been touring the country seasonally since 1979, it adds music (including traditional carols such as "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Here We Come A-Wassailing") and dance without making the play into a musical, and it takes place in 1886, not 1843, when Dickens' story was set (and, if you can tell the difference, your prize is everyone's leftover fruitcake). See the Nebraska Theatre Caravan at 7:30 p.m. Monday and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Tickets are $19.50 to $34.50. Call 1-877-212-4280.

Wednesday, December 29

Few families today would fit the early- and midcentury idealism of Norman Rockwell's paintings. The American artist and creator of Rosie the Riveter covered front page after front page of The Saturday Evening Post with images of freshly scrubbed, respectable and white-skinned families in their daily lives, and the pictures were reproduced on plaques, Christmas tree ornaments, mugs and more, spreading their popularity beyond newspaper readers. But nowadays you'll see mixed families: Dad is from Kansas, Mom's from Honduras, the oldest son married a Nigerian woman he met during his semester abroad, the middle son brings home his new boyfriend and the youngest son was adopted from China. We love these newfangled clans, but it's fun to look at the old scenes. The Biblical Arts Center's Museum of Biblical Art pays tribute to Rockwell through his lithographs with The Norman Rockwell Christmas Exhibit and The Normal Rockwell Family Life Exhibit, which run through January 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) at 7500 Park Lane. Admission is $4 and includes Norman Rockwell movies, too. Call 214-691-4661.

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Shannon Sutlief