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Boat Parades.The holidays bring a special sort of one-upmanship to the beach cities, namely the lavish spending by waterfront residents to light up their homes and boats for the holidays. And who can think of boat parades without cloying themes? Newport blows its load with the Centennial Celebration of Lights, leaving them hanging next year. Dana Point's California Dreamin'promises to be more fun than choking on a ham sandwich while listening to PetSounds. Huntington's Broadway Melodies betrays the interests of its organizers, the Huntington Beach Philharmonic Committee, but it also comprises an educational boat tour (and, really, learning is half the battle). Newport Beach: Parade starts at Collins Island in Newport Harbor, Newport Beach. Weekdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; weekends, 5:30-9 p.m.Dana Point: Harbor cruises depart from the east end of Dana Point Harbor, 34675 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, (949) 496-5794; www.danapointharbor.com. Dec. 9-10, 16-17. $25 for adults, $12 for children. Call for reservations.Huntington Beach: Huntington Harbor, Coast Hwy. and Warner, Huntington Beach, (714) 840-7542; www.cruiseoflights.org.Dec. 15-23. Mon.-Fri., 6, 7, & 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 & 8:30 p.m. $10-$14 adults, $8 kids.
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Lights of Nellie Gail.In Laguna Hills, you are at one with your neighbors: you read the same morning paper; your kids play the same soccer; you drink the same afternoon wines on the same sunny driveways. And once you know them, you know you must outdo them in any public display—like the holidays. Laguna's Nellie Gail Ranch area—20 miles of trails for the horsy set—is the city's prime real estate, which makes it prime territory for ostentatious holiday decorating any time after Halloween. Lights in trees, lawn displays—it all appears right about now, then disappears each night in the gloaming, then reappears when someone comes home and flips the switch. Go check it out. From the 5 freeway, exit La Paz Road and go east.?Evenings, through the holiday season.
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Sawdust Winter Fantasy. Forget that the chopped-up material on the ground is what the janitor used to sprinkle on the floor when kindergartners threw up and pretend it's snow at the Sawdust Festival's Winter Fantasy, which is pretty much like the summertime crafts extravaganza, only colder. Shop for unique gifts hawked by more than 170 artists, ooh and ahh at twinkling holiday decorations, guzzle enough nog to choke a rottweiler, and play in actual snow—not the kind that first made George W. Bush reflect on the possibility that, in America, even he might become president. Sawdust's Artists Benevolence Fund holds its semiannual Art Auction in the Healy House on Dec. 4 from noon to 3 p.m. to generate grant money for Laguna Beach artists in times of dire need. Sawdust Festival grounds, 935 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-3030. Nov. 25-27, Dec. 3-4, Dec. 10-11, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. $2-$5 (season pass, $7). Artists Benevolence Fund information, (949) 293-1322.
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Irvine Park Christmas Train.It's not the Polar Express, but the Irvine Regional Park's Christmas Train has brought children untold joy for nine years. It's got to be something about the whistle. Eager boys and girls are invited to write Santa at Santa Claus, Irvine Park Railroad, 1 Irvine Park Rd., Orange, CA 92862. (Don't forget the child's name and date of visit.) The sly elf has a ready supply of coal, so you'd better not cry, shout or pout. Irvine Regional Park, 1 Irvine Park Rd., Orange,(714) 997-3968; www.irvineparkrr.com. Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 15-23, 5-8 p.m. Park entry costs $5 on weekends, $3 weekdays; free after 5 p.m. Train rides cost $6.
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Ice Skating at Spectrum.From Nov. 4 till Jan. 16, the Irvine Spectrum offers Holiday on Ice, a.k.a. an ice rink. On Friday and Saturday nights, scratch up the ice while a DJ scratches up the records. Giant Circle Court, Irvine Spectrum Center, 71 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 753-5180. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9:15 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., 11 a.m.-12:15 a.m. Through Jan. 16. $12 for adults, $10 for kids under 11, $4 skate rental.
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Trinity Christian City International.You don't need Christmas lights when you live by Trinity Broadcasting Network's headquarters; this monstrosity of misplaced energy is decked out in tiny white lights every day of the year! For added holiday spirit, their light-up marquee reads "Happy Birthday Jesus!" as soon as the air starts smelling like fruitcake. Inside, animatronic carolers serenade baby Jesus and his entourage beneath a gilded stairway. Take a stroll through a creepy re-creation of the Via Dolorosa—the road Jesus walked to his crucifixion—on your way to a screening in their "virtual reality theater." Or dine at the Solid Rock Bistro on all-you-can-eat Tuesdays from 12:30-2 p.m. Digest your meal by the fountains in the garden, an almost holy setting that happens to be "fully equipped for television production." Almost makes you want to get born again—again! On your way home, stop by the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh Gift and Book Shop, which actually carries frankincense and myrrh but, sadly, not gold bars. Trinity Christian City International, 3150 Bear St., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5405. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 1-6 p.m.
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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.
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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.
Winterfest in Downtown Fullerton. Fullerton kicks off the shopping season with Winterfest—imported snow, a fat-bellied Santa, food and crafts booths, drawings, a free bounce house, face painting, balloons, and snacks. The obvious purpose is to draw people into the city's downtown and get them to flash their plastic in one of the many gift, collectible and variety stores or sample the food and suds at one of the more than 40 restaurants and bars. It's a daylong deal that culminates with a 5 p.m. tree-lighting ceremony. Downtown Fullerton, one block east and west of Harbor Boulevard between Chapman Avenue on the north and Santa Fe on the south. Dec. 3, noon-6 p.m.
Holiday Antique and Collectible Toy Fest.Looking to replace your vintage Sigmund & the Sea Monsters lunchbox? Look no farther than your friendly neighborhood swap meet. For two days only, entry to the Orange County Marketplace will also get you into the Toy Fest, featuring the stuff of legends for children, collectors and losers of all ages—do you think they'll have Princess Allura's Blue Voltron Lion!? Toy Fest, Orange County Marketplace at the Fairgrounds, 88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa. Dec. 3-4, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. $2; under 12, free. For booth information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roger's Gardens Ornament Signing. The holidays are the one time of year that you really want your garret/mini-mansion to look and smell its best, and for inspiration—aside from going whole hog and cooking a turkey—there is Roger's Gardens, South County's uber-nursery. Waterford master glass cutter Sean O'Donnell will be on hand from noon-3 p.m. signing Waterford crystal and ornaments. Roger's Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Rd., Corona del Mar, (949) 640-5800. Dec. 4, noon-3 p.m.
Holiday Expressions from Around the World. Orange County Museum of Art has collared "We Tell Stories," and guess what they do? Bring the kids for a live-action, interactive holiday version of It's a Small World. The museum also celebrates California's diversity-through art projects. Make a papier-mache toll road! Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 759-1122; www.ocma.net. Dec. 4, noon-4 p.m. Free.
Twilight D'Lights Boat Parade.So you don't have a yacht. Or property on the harbor. Or money for gas to drive to the beach. All you really need is a set of wheels; anything from a wheelbarrow to a horse-drawn carriage. This year, the Holiday Celebration and Boat Parade starts outside Villa Park High on Taft, makes its way out to Patrician and out to Providence via Laconia. The high school band will only march the final stretch, down Santiago to the Town Centre.Town Centre, 17855 Santiago Blvd., Villa Park, (714) 998-1500. Dec. 4, 4-8:30 p.m.
Hot Rod Toy Drive.The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum celebrates its final 2005 Twilight Cruise Night with its annual Toy Drive. The best toy of all is a reproduction of the 1929 Ford Roadster once owned by Wally Parks, 1992 inductee into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and founder of professional drag racing. It's to be presented to, of all people, the 92-year-old Wally Parks. With nitrous-charged ambulances standing by, participants hope to collect two stake trucks full of toys for disadvantaged children in Pomona Valley. Imagine the joy of the children if you gave them the '29 Ford or, better yet, the proceeds of its sale. NHRA Motorsports Museum, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Bldg. 3-A, Pomona, (909) 622-2133; www.museum.nhra.com. Dec. 7, 4:30-8 p.m.Fiesta Navidad. In high school, my biology teacher loved Christmas music so much he played a different tape every day during December. We heard the Jackson Five, the Drifters, the Ronettes and, most memorably, James Brown, whose "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto" remains America's greatest contribution to the celebration of the Nativity. Because Mr. Brennan didn't own any Spanish-language Christmas songs, he always urged his Mexican students to check out the Orange County Performing Arts Center's "Fiesta Navidad" program. Now in its 11th year, "Fiesta Navidad" features Nati Cano and Mariachi Los Camperos along with special guest Linda Ronstadt as they sing such traditional Mexican Christmas songs as . . . um, you got me there. See, all my parents ever played was the Chipmunks Christmas album. Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.ocpac.org. Dec. 7-8, 7:30 p.m. $20-$95.Pacific Symphony's Hollywood Holiday Spectacular.I like show tunes almost as much as I like actresses with enormous lung capacities. With music from Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Lifeand other Christian/socialist propaganda, our own OC pops promises a pleasant if saccharine scene at the Performing Arts Center. Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.ocpac.org. Dec. 9-10, 8 p.m. $28-$106.
La Posada Mgica.Playwright Octavio Sols first staged La Posada Mgica in 1993 as part of SCR's Hispanic Playwrights Project, an initiative that groomed influential Latino playwrights such as Pulitzer Prize-winning Nilo Cruz, Jos Rivera and Sols. I like it not so much for its Mexican spin on Dickens (in this case, a young chica regains her faith by joining a posada, a Latin American Christmas tradition that re-creates Joseph and Mary's arduous search for lodging in Bethlehem) but for its confirmation that, sometimes, affirmative action is a good thing. But SCR abruptly stopped the Hispanic Playwrights Project last year, with no further plans to nurture Latino playwrights. Enjoy La Posada Mgica, and then ask SCR to bring back the Hispanic Playwrights Project, no? South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555; www.scr.org. Dec. 9-24. Call for times. $15-$35.
Charles Phoenix's Retro Holiday Slideshow.Oh, the ways we was: 1960s photo salvager Charles Phoenix takes a break from general cultural archaeology to play the Ghost of Christmas Past with a presentation of found holiday slides from the I Love Lucy era. Phoenix's famous presentations offer kitsch hounds a heartbreaking holiday sampler—pink aluminum Christmas trees!—and offer nostalgia junkies everything but the string section and the box of tissues—remember when Grandpa had a haircut like that? And hair?—and, of course, offer wintertime-sappy red-blooded Americans a chance to reminisce about their warm-fuzzy California childhoods and maybe learn a little something along the way. Anthropology cloaked in pleather and polyester: How many times has that Christmas wish gone unfulfilled? Curtis Theater, 1 Civic Center Circle, Brea, (714) 990-7722. Dec. 9-10, 8 p.m.; Dec. 11, 2 p.m. $20-$27.
Heritage Hill Candlelight Tour.Don't ask what bagpipers have to do with our county's history. Just be prepared for them—and the carolers, hand bells, harpists and flamenco guitarists—as you stumble down the flicker-lit park paths, stoned on eggnog and blinded by the thousand or so candles lining the paths. The Amigos de la Colina host, providing cookies, cocoa and the boring kind of cider. And, yes, Virginia, there will be a Santa Claus. Heritage Hill Historical Park, 25151 Serrano Rd., Lake Forest, (949) 923-2230. Dec. 10, 5:30-9:30 p.m. $4; kids ages 3-12, $3.
Pub Crawl. There are charity events, and then there are excuses to get obliterated for charity. Case in point: the Fourth Annual Downtown Fullerton Crawl Before Christmas, an organized pub crawl with games, contests and prizes. It's a wild, drunken party—and every participant is given a discount on a cab ride home. All proceeds benefit the Fullerton Boys and Girls clubs and other local charities. Teams are almost full, but you're welcome to tag along, drink with them and try to steal their wallets—for charity, of course. Begins at the Slide Bar Caf, 122 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 420-7840. Dec. 10, 3 p.m.
Wreath Workshop. Bring an apron and shears to the Fullerton Arboretum for a crash course in wreath making. Certain abstract thinkers have discovered that the wreath, traditionally worn on the head, can actually be hung on a wall as some sort of odd display piece. The more pine cones and fake birds woven in, the better. Here's an idea: take all the Star Trek memorabilia you can find, especially anything related to the Klingon Empire, and see if instructor Makiko can help you integrate it into (wait for it) the Wreath of Khan. Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Rd., Fullerton, (714) 278-3579. Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-noon. $50.
The Virgin of Guadalupe.If your gardener seems wearier than usual on the morning of Dec. 12, cut him some slack: he probably just came from a 4 a.m. Mass honoring the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico and the New World. Better yet, join in venerating the Empress of the Americas that morning: the procession of Aztec dancers down the church aisle in honor of la morenita's indigenous heritage; the opening, melancholy trumpet notes of "La Maanitas" ("The Little Mornings"), the traditional mariachi song that Mexicans sing to welcome the sun; the harvest of flowers Mexicans place at Her altar, delivered usually by walking hundreds of feet on their knees. But salvation truly comes through the canela (cinnamon tea), atole (corn drink) and tamales that vendors hawk outside after Mass. Venerations of the Virgin of Guadalupe will occur in every Catholic church, but the best will take place at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Ana's Delhi barrio: this church is so Mexican it's the image of Guadalupe, not the crucifix, that's most prominently displayed behind the altar. Our Lady of Guadalupe, 541 E. Central Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 540-0902. Dec. 12, 4 a.m.
Winter Solstice Celebration.This is your average all-singing, all-dancing Gaia Girl celebration for girls aged 6-13, moms, grandmothers and aunts. The sweet little pagans will study seasonal change, herstory, Goddess folklore, altar building, and of course singing and dancing, with a focus on ancestor worship. Don't forget a picture of your most worshippable ancestor. Goddess Temple of Orange County, 17905 Sky Park Circle, Ste. A, Irvine, (949) 310-3226. Dec. 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $40. Register by Dec. 12.
It's a Wonderful Life. The Save the Fox people need to raise $10 million to convert the Fox Theatre, a 1920s movie palace, into the premier multicultural arts venue in North Orange County. Showing movies for free on the east wall of the building doesn't seem the best way to get there, but it does keep the Fox in the public eye. On Dec. 15, the Foxers are screening It's a Wonderful Life—also free. It's like watching a movie in your house, except you're outside with a bunch of other people freezing your ass off because you forgot your coat. Fox Fullerton, 500 N. Harbor, Fullerton, (714) 870-0069; www.foxfullerton.org. Dec. 15, 7 p.m. Free.
Santa at the Zoo. On Dec. 17, treat yourself to face painting and making gifts by hand. Watch children made up like jungle cats chase each other through the Orange County Zoo and feel your whiskers twitch. Santa will be on hand to spread the holiday cheer and field gift requests, though I doubt he'll give the animals the one gift for which they yearn: sweet freedom. Orange County Zoo, 1 Irvine Park Rd., Orange, (714) 973-6847. Dec. 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free with zoo admission ($2; children under ?2, free).
Science of Snow Show.Snow, born Darrin O'Brien, grew up in Toronto's notorious Jamaican quarter. His first breakout success, "Informer," was 1993's incomprehensible hit and spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart. What's that? Not the rapper? Never mind. Check out the Discovery Science Center's two-week run of the Science of Snow. Learn about the mythical substance, said to fall in colder climates in place of rain. Make a mockery of the intricate fractal nature of the universe by cutting your own paper snowflake. Discovery Science Center, 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 542-2823. Dec. 17-31. Call for hours. Closed Christmas Day.
Stalag 17. Ever feel like a prisoner at your family or office holiday party, forced to see people you don't really like, eat food you loathe and basically live like a prisoner of war? Here's your chance to commiserate with real prisoners. They're the cast of Stalag 17, the stage adaptation of the Academy Award-winning film starring William Holden. Watch in breathless excitement (really, the best kind of excitement) as a daring team of Allied prisoners plots a chilling 1944 Christmas Eve escape from a German POW camp. Only one problem: one of them is—gasp—a spy! Try to figure out which one. Here's a clue: he looks like Adolf Hitler dressed as a butler. Maverick Theater, 110 E. Walnut Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-7070. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. Through Dec. 23. $13-$16.
Anti-War Protests. It just so happens that the regularly scheduled anti-war demonstrations fall on Christmas Eve, meaning you can join folks in singing "peace on Earth and goodwill to man" and really mean it. Actually, the holiday-tinged protesting begins on the eve of Christmas Eve; subsequent events are held throughout the weekend—attend them all! One word about the Bristol & Anton action, however: South Coast Plaza security has been ticketing demonstrators who park in their lot—even if they've gone inside and done some Christmas shopping first; guess they want the troops to die. The next morning you can snort some sea air as you participate in the Laguna Beach Vigil for Peace in the Middle East. If you're coming from North County, pop in first at the concurrent demo that Anaheim Food Not Bombs holds in La Palma Park. Whichever one you hit first, Laguna or Anaheim, you'll want to throw your signs in the trunk afterward and drive down to San Clemente for that town's Food Not Bombs protest. Orange Coast Peace & Justice Protest at Bristol & Anton, Costa Mesa, (949) 721-1139 (Mike Mang) or (714) 956-5037 (Chuck Anderson). E-mail:email@example.com. Dec. 23, 5:30-7 p.m.; Laguna Beach Vigil for Peace in the Middle East at Main Beach, Ocean Avenue & Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 499-3190. Dec. 24, 1 p.m.; Anaheim Food Not Bombs at La Palma Park, Harbor Boulevard & La Palma Avenue, Anaheim, (714) 526-3576. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org. Dec. 24, 1 p.m.; San Clemente Food Not Bombs at Max Berg Park, 1100 Calle Puente, San Clemente, (949) 481-5478. E-mail: SCFNB@riseup.net. Dec. 24, 3 p.m.
Medieval Times.Buena Park's palace of feudal war porn celebrates the holidays with all the charm of a medieval Christmas, except for the beating to death of children in memory of King Herod, the expulsion of singers from churches (hence wandering carolers) and the offering of a boar's head to the farming goddess. Nothing says loving Christ like mail-clad towers of testosterone on horseback beating merry hell out of each other (though it's somewhat less terrifying if you're over 12 or haven't touched the sangria). Okay, fine, we admit it; it's the same damn show they do every day. But they do trim a tree, and watching professionals pretend to fight is almost as good as watching your drunken relatives actually brawl. Medieval Times, 7662 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (888) WE-JOUST. Dec. 25, 5 p.m. $47.95 for adults, $33.95 for children.
Israeli Scouts Hanukkah Candle Lighting.As pedophilia slowly becomes unfashionable, organizations such as the Catholic Church have scrambled to remain "hip" and "law-abiding." No such troubles for the Israeli Scouts of Orange County, a.k.a. Tzofim Tzabar. The leaders are senior scouts, aged 16-18, and all activities are conducted in Hebrew, including this year's Hanukkah Candle Lighting in Irvine on Christmas Day—er, I mean Dec. 25. Illuminate the house without, recite some Berakhot and kindle the light on the right, far from the company of older single men actively seeking the company of children. Merage JCC-Myers Theater, 1 Federation Way, Irvine, (949) 435-3400. Dec. 25, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Nordstrom Men's Half-Yearly.At this moment in your life the path you choose will forever determine your future: you can polish your shoes; you can pay someone to polish them for you; or you can chuck the whole mess and buy new shoes at the Men's Half-Yearly Sale at Nordstrom, beginning early Dec. 26. Prices are low—anywhere from 30 to 50 percent off—and typically, Nordstrom has at least a few pairs of the shoes you wish you had—it's your one chance to get Prada for next-to-nada. Nordstrom South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 549-8300. Dec. 26-Jan. 5.
Newport Beach Centennial Float.Newport Beach is advertising its centennial with a special Rose Parade float, for which they're soliciting volunteer float builders. Bring scissors and wear old clothes and a baseball hat (Los Angeles Angels hats at your own risk). If you're afraid of heights, stay away from the scaffolding. Look forward to hours of sniffing glue and wearing flowers in your hair. It's not all flowers; you can also comb pine bark, iron corn husks and crush coconuts! Mental note: pocket crushed coconut for pia colada purposes. For information on volunteering from Dec. 26-30, contact Teri Craig at (949) 644-3158 or visit www.newportbeach100.com.
Year-End Music Messes.Here in OC we say goodbye to the old year with a boot to its snaggly teeth. The Adolescents shove off 2005 with two nights at the Galaxy and a slew of power-punk opening bands on Dec. 29 and 30. Go twice and get one naughty night and one nice: both nights with Cadillac Tramps, and then the Crowd and Youth Brigade on Thursday and the Gears on Friday. There must be a lot of post-holiday tension to shred, because there's plenty going on that same Friday: just up the street, the Rev. Horton Heat (fresh off the sort of Christmas album traditionally used to kiss goodbye to a career) and opening pile-of-tattoos the Horrorpops will start their stand-up basses twirling at the House of Blues, part of the traditional rockabilly farewell to another year. Out with the old and in with a different kind of old! Too creaky for you? Venerable OC hardcore marauders Death By Stereo pop the rivets off Chain Reaction, a for-the-family show sort of like the relatives stopping by for the holidays, except less likely to end in a fistfight. The Adolescents and the Cadillac Tramps with Wrecking Crew, the Crowd and Youth Brigade on Dec. 29; with Firecracker 500, the Gears and Narcoleptic Youth on Dec. 30 at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor, Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600. Dec. 29-30, 8 p.m. $20;The Rev. Horton Heat and Horrorpops at the House of Blues Anaheim, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-BLUE. Dec. 30, 8 p.m. $30. All ages; Death By Stereo with Shotblue at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln, Anaheim, (714) 635-6067. Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m. $10-$12. All ages.
First Night. Oh, they're proud of their First Night in Fullerton. Sickeningly sweetly proud that this year's event, on Dec. 31, marks the Fifteenth First Night gala in the city. It's an alcohol-free New Year's Eve alternative that features live entertainment, children's activities and a midnight fireworks finale. You can't drink on the street (drag), but every bar in downtown Fullerton—and there are many—will be open, and there ain't no law saying you can't pop in for a quick snort whilst gamboling down the festive thoroughfare. One question: Why isn't it called Last Night? Downtown Fullerton, N. Pomona and E. Wilshire, Fullerton, (714) 738-6545. Dec. 31, 7 p.m.-midnighit. Free; rides and food, extra.
Dick Dale's New Year's Eve Rumble.God's chosen way to say, "Fuck ittttttttt!" and punt the past year somewhere out toward the gutter. Dale's signature guitar style (before him, surf was just another name for water hitting dirt) got wiped out by the baby boys in the Beatles, but a post-Tarantino revival warmed up his rightful place in the American pop pantheon. And now he comes out for one or two shows a year, just like a goddamn historical something-or-other should. Dick Dale with Graceland Mafia at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930; www.thecoachhouse.com. Dec. 31, 8 p.m. $35.
The Orange County Crazies.Santa Ana's own improv comedy troupe presents its annual "Orange Lang Syne" New Year's Eve performance at the Don Cribb Theater. Regular attendees may recognize alumni players Drake Doremus and Brian Spillane. In a time when press conferences are read off scripts, perhaps these Crazies are the few among us who are truly sane. Proceeds benefit the Crazies Kidprovisation Program for Children. DePietro Performance Center, 809 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 550-9890. Dec. 31, 8 p.m. $15.
Orange County New Year's Celebration.Lit, Reel Big Fish, Joan Jett, English Beat, Psychedelic Furs and Violent Femmes at the Orange County New Year's Eve Orange Drop. Times Square has balls. We got citrus. Orange County Fair & Exhibition Center, 88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, (949) 715-9215; www.ocnye.com. Dec. 31, 6 p.m.-2 a.m. $65-$125.
New Year's Eve on the Queen Mary.Drastic non-payment-of-rent-type things have darkened the waters around this vintage liner, which should add just the right note of real melancholy to this New Year's Eve event; who's to say what next year may bring? Like the girl says: if that's all there is, then let's keep dancing. The Queen Mary is in its own quiet golden age now—left to sit idly dockside—but under the dust is a rare kind of stately charm. Getting all dolled up and clinking martinis under a chandelier at a landlocked stucco box in Newport? Quel domage, but on the boat, it works. Queen Mary, 1126 Queen's Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 435-3511; www.queenmary.com. Dec. 31, 8 p.m. $119-$769. 21+.
New Year's Eve Over-Nighter.It's a cunning criminal enterprise. Simply invite parents to deposit their children with you for the evening, freeing the adults to carouse into the early hours and then stumble around the house swearing loudly whilst watching fetish pornography till the cock crows. In the morning, once the blinding headaches fade or the last line disappears into a tightly rolled Benjamin, someone will think, hey, didn't there used to be some kids around here? By the time they're desperately telling the police how the overnight camp was there just yesterday, you'll be in the Seychelles, burning through your takings from the sale of dozens of children and their sleeping bags to the South American slave trade. Horrified? You should be. That's why there's the Cypress Community Center. Cypress Community Center, 5700 Orange Ave., Cypress, (714) 229-6780. Dec. 31, 7 p.m.-9 a.m. $40.
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