Piano student loves energy of ‘Nutcracker’


The Examiner asked The City’s songbirds and community chorus members to describe their favorite seasonal music and why it inspires them.

Christopher Wang, 11, piano student

Favorite music:
“March from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’”

“I learned to play on piano when I was little, and been playing it ever since. Love the energetic rhythm, especially when fanfares are repeated. Also, Tchaikovsky is my favorite composer.”



Food: Examiner restaurant writer Patricia Unterman recaps the best bites of 2010 — a year in which hot chefs surprisingly opened new eateries, offering affordable prices with the economy in mind.


Meet Your Mixologist: Visitors enjoying the Westin St. Francis hotel’s holiday decorations will also like the Clock Bar, where general manager Phillip Barcio oversees a menu of seasonal cocktails.

Harmony and hilarity: The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus presents its “Home for the Holidays” concert. Expect traditional and popular favorites and “moments hilarious.” [5, 7 and 9 p.m., Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F.]

Magic acts:
The “Magic at the Rex” show features illusion and comedy performed in a cocktail-lounge setting. Adam Sachs, Sebastian Boswell III and RJ Owens provide the feats and fun. [8 p.m., Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter St., S.F.]


A great hike

Ocean’s alive: When the sky is gunmetal gray, visit Muir Beach for a five-mile, round-trip hike that laps up gorgeous views of the Pacific. Start with a steady climb up Coastal Trail. After about three-quarters of a mile, the trail crests and then narrows, hugging bluffs and offering stunning vistas. Take a detour to Pirate’s Cove to Middle Green Gulch Trail, descending to Green Gulch Farm Zen Center and back to Muir Beach. [Visit www.WeekendSherpa.com and sign up for e-mail about getting outdoors in Northern California]


Oy sauce: Kung Pao Kosher Comedy presents “Jewish Comedy on Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant.” Wendy Liebman headlines the show this year. [6 and 9:30 p.m., New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific Ave., S.F.]

Dinner and comedy:
Oshman Family Jewish Community Center hosts its Chopshticks Dinner and Comedy Show with comedian Joel Chasnoff headlining. [7:30 p.m., 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto; tickets: www.paloaltojcc.org/chopshticks]

Circus arts

Circus cabaret: Sweet Can presents “Mittens and Mistletoe,” a holiday variety show featuring new material from the clown duet Coventry & Kaluza, plus many local circus artists. [2 and 4 p.m., Dance Mission, 3316 24th St., S.F.]


Midnight anime: “Bebop Nights,” a collection of anime from the “Cowboy Bebop” series, presents “The Best of Bebop” — a night of screenings, plus a costume contest and surprises. [11:59 p.m., Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., S.F.]


Monkey biz: Admission is free today at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Attractions include the exhibit “Curious George Saves the Day” and special performances relating to the popular monkey. [11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 736 Mission St., S.F.]

Animal world

Antlers are in: “Reindeer Romp” continues at the San Francisco Zoo through New Year’s Day. Four antlered guests — Holly, Velvet, Peppermint and Belle — are on view. [10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 1 Zoo Road, S.F.]


A great bike ride

Family Sunday in Golden Gate Park: Did Santa bring a bike? Roller skates? Enjoy those shiny new wheels in the park’s eastern end, with its 1½ miles of car-free JFK Drive. Rent bikes or skates from nearby shops or rent a four-wheeled pedal surrey (holds the whole family!) at Stow Lake. Visit the de Young Museum, the Conservatory of Flowers, the AIDS Memorial Grove or the Japanese Tea Garden — or just nap on the lawn. [Parking is available in the Music Concourse Garage, enter at Fulton Street and 10th Avenue; www.sfbike.org]


Kwanzaa celebration: The Village Project’s seven-day Kwanzaa celebration, highlighting the seven principles of Kwanzaa, begins. The focus is on Umoja (unity) today. [6 p.m., West Bay Conference Center, 1290 Fillmore St., S.F.]


Gospel musical: Lorraine Hansberry Theatre presents “Black Nativity: Joyful Noise,” its annual Christmas pageant and rousing holiday gospel musical. [4 p.m., Southside Theater, Building D, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F.]


Animated shorts: The Exploratorium hosts its Holiday Animation Film Festival, a program of short films that use pixilation, stop-motion and other methods to capture playful situations. [Noon and 2 p.m., 3601 Lyon St., S.F.]


Holiday flora: The San Francisco Botanical Garden presents “’Tis the Season for Holiday Plants,” an exhibit of plants that are an integral part of the holiday season. [10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Golden Gate Park, S.F.]

Ice skating

Ice rinks: Holiday skating is happening in Union Square and at Embarcadero Center. Ninety-minute sessions start on every even hour. [10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Post and Powell streets; and Justin Herman Plaza, Embarcadero at Market Street, S.F.]

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Car-free fun in Bayview, blooms and salsa at Union Square, outdoor films