By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
ALL SEASON LONG
A Christmas Story.Ralphieis 9 years old, and all he wants for Christmas is a gun, specifically, a Red Ryder BB gun. Will he shoot his eye out? Enjoy Chinese Christmas dinner, leg lamps, bullies and an icicle in the eye. Learn about Jean Shepherd's oh-so-American holiday memories every weekend live on stage at the Chance Theater. Chance Theater,5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 777-3033; www.chancetheater.com. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. Through Dec. 18.
ALL SEASON LONG
Toys for Tickets to Knott's.On weekends in December, help spread the merriness and bring a toy to Knott's Merry Farm. If it's new and worth more than $10, you get in free. Handguns and knives do not count as toys, no matter how new. Gift-wrapped toys will not be accepted, because who knows when someone might try to score a free entry off a Mr. Potato Head Darth Tater posing as a Batman Begins Batmobile? Knott's Merry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 220-5200. Valid the first three weekends in December.
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. Not since vaginas found their voices has the stage been so ravaged by such furious rhetoric. In this recent holiday tradition, Dancer's a cokehead, Blitzen's a militant lesbian and of course Santa's a sexual deviant with a rapacity rarely found outside the Orange County Diocese (who, incidentally, didn't respond when contacted for this guide). Chance Theater, 5552 E. La Palma, Anaheim Hills, (714) 777-3033; www.chancetheater.com. Sat., 4 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. Through Dec. 18. $17-$20; dinner and show, $35.
A Fist Full of Christmas. The Rev. Slappy White, architect of the almost-annual A Dolt's Only Xma$ Pageant,is awaiting trial for his role in the Eradicate Texas 2005 conspiracy, so the honor of the most irreverent, tasteless look at the holiday season—next to the Bush family's White House Christmas Tree Lighting—is A Fist Full of Christmas, revived this year at Stages Theatre. It's a goofy, gleefully mindless farce about a gun-toting Santa shot out of the sky by the evil Dorrella Corvette. The best reason to see it? It marks the return to the stage of Orange County's most important contribution to American theater: Weasel Boy, half-boy, half-weasel. Stages Theatre, 400 E. Commonwealth, Fullerton, (714) 525-4484. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m. Through Dec. 18. $12.
Handel's Messiah.Sure, it's the place that put the "lie" in presidential libraries, but just hold your nose and open your ears to Handel's Messiah at the Richard Nixon Library and Truth Decay Center. An orchestra backs a choir, soloists and members of the audience in singing the choruses. Richard Nixon Library, East Room, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, (714) 996-1960. Nov. 27, 2 p.m. Free.
Candy Cane Ball.Say what you will about Newport girls, but some have to earn their debutante ball. The Assistance League and its Junior Auxiliary work their girls' well-manicured fingers to the bone, moms and daughters spending hundreds of hours serving the community just for the privilege of participating in a debutante ball. The Candy Cane Ball is one fundraiser among many—hence the $185 ticket price. Expect dinner, dancing, an auction and lots of giving women. Balboa Bay Club, 1221 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (714) 990-7124. Dec. 2, 6 p.m. $185.
A Christmas Carol. South Coast Rep scrooges up the stage with its 26th seasonal production of the Dickensian Yuletide charmer. Hal Landon Jr. ought to nail the role of Ebenezer, considering he's played the part every year since the show's inception. As far as experience goes, it doesn't get much better than this. Not counting Bill Murray's stunning performance in Scrooged, of course. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555. Opens Dec. 2. Tues.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., noon & 4 p.m.; also Thurs., Dec. 24, noon & 4 p.m. $21-$49.
Ride on Santa's Sportfisher.Starting at 5:45 p.m., Dana Point's obliging merchants display their wares while Santa and his dolphin helpers offer rides on the Dana Pride. Why dolphins, you may ask? We don't know. Santa charges only a buck per ride, though it's $3 for a photo, with proceeds benefiting Dana Hills High Pep Squad. Similar deal on Dec. 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., except this time the money benefits the El Camino Real Junior Women's Club. Seems Santa loves the ladies. East end of Dana Point Harbor between Jolly Roger and the Wind & Sea Restaurant, (949) 923-2255; www.danapointharbor.com. Dec. 2, 5-7 p.m.; Dec. 3-4, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $1-$3.
Bill Nye Book Signing. Leonardo da Vinci, author of the famous code, was the Renaissance man's renaissance man. In the 21st century we have Bill Nye. The scientist/author/comedian/engineer/inventor descends on the Discovery Science Center to sign his five books, four of which have "big" in the title. Signed books make much better gifts than, say, unsigned books. You'll also be supporting the Center, as Nye won't be signing books unless you buy them there. Show up early as book supplies are limited. Discovery Science Center, 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 542-2823. Dec. 3, 1-3 p.m.
Death Valley Borax Marathon.In order to eat enough holiday treats to satisfy a whole family of migrant workers, start exercising early in the holiday season. Warm up with a refreshing marathon through Death Valley. This year's Borax Marathon offers a full course, a half marathon or a 10K run for tiny little babies. Similarities and references to hell aside, it's a mind-numbingly gorgeous run, with temperatures not much higher than 70. It'll feel like 80, but you'll burn off more calories than a model ingests in a week. Death Valley Borax Marathon at Death Valley National Park. Register at www.athleteslounge.com. Dec. 3, 8 a.m. 10K, $25; half marathon, $35; full, $50.