by Mike Sheahan

A h, the holidays, that glorious time of year when even the scrooge-iest of us can put aside our problems and differences and bask in the warm glow of the Yuletide Log. Fresh snow hangs gently on tree limbs, one's neighbors are a bit more personable, and for a few short days it seems that there actually may be Peace on Earth. Of course, there won't be such a thing, and in another few days we'll all be back to our old behaviors such as watching Fox News and Maury Povich on TV while trying to avoid eye contact with those who live around us. In a word, things will soon be normal again. Meanwhile, enjoy the figgy pudding we all deserve it.

The holidays also bring along the obligatory office party and the annual visit from out of town relatives. The office party can certainly be lots of fun with the free booze and food, but there is also a little tension concerning who may imbibe a bit too much and irreparably damage their work-a-day reputation. At my job, I've started a pool in which people can place bets on the one person who won't do such a thing. I'm not betting on myself. As far as the visiting relatives are concerned, surely we all know what that means: loved ones on hand to provide plenty of extra cheer, a little free child care and a bathroom that is never available. My own visiting relatives will probably read this, so you should probably complete this fun list on your own.

One other thing that comes with the week leading up to the Big Day is severe desperation for the weekly entertainment columnist.

The Durango sidewalks roll up every night this week at 7 p.m. and don't unroll until well past dawn. Those in search of nighttime revelry this week may have to subsist on a diet of the lost art of Karaoke at Scoot 'n Blues or a beery trivia contest at Lady Falconburgh's. Before you run out the door, you should know that both things don't happen til Tuesday night. Yeah, it's gonna be a quiet week.

The holidays should be all about the children, though, and not grumpy, old jerks like yours truly anyway. With that in mind, here are a couple of things your kid (depending on age) will be sure to love.

Irascible youngsters will once again fill the X-Treme room at Fort Lewis College on Saturday, Dec. 20, with more fresh-faced, local punk-like talent. Several bands will play the all-ages fun, and I will always go down swinging in support of all-ages entertainment.

Every hour some teen-ager spends at an all-ages show is an hour he's not stealing my hubcaps, sniffing my glue or feeding ex-lax to my dog. Seriously, these shows are part of what keeps this kind of stuff from actually happening. Plus, the bio of one band performing claimed it cut its teeth by learning songs by Blink 182. Sheesh, I must be old. I remember when any respectable punk band started by learning Green Day tunes. The rosy-cheeked fun starts at 7 p.m. and runs until even the meanest old man's curfew, 10 p.m.

Early Stages Productions runs a theatrical collective that produces a handful of stage performances each year with young people as the cast. This week, we have the chance to witness the kids' most recent effort in the form of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Sure, we've all seen the story before from Dickens' intended version to interpretations ranging from the super "Scrooged" starring Bill Murray to last week's "Simpsons" episode but this is a story worth revisiting each year. Oh, did I mention it's a musical? Yes, yes, how much fun will it be to watch a child form of Jacob Marley dragging chains around and singing "You keeelled meeee, Scroooooge"? Shows happen at the Smiley building Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Don't worry night crawlers, New Years Eve is upon us. We'll get our town back soon. Meanwhile, I truly hope you have a joy-filled holiday.

Website of the Week: Have you ever rolled into a town like Clinton, Iowa, and wondered about the best place to grab a frosty malted beverage? Ever thought you found the best place and were grossly disappointed? Then is the ticket for you. Pubcrawler covers the entire country and provides reviews of brew pubs and watering holes everywhere. Good or bad, the surfer will learn that when in Clinton, one should visit the Upper Mississippi Brewing Co. (good beer, great service) and if in Baltimore, avoid the Ropewalk Tavern (bad service, Reagan statues). The hour I spent at the site revealed a wealth of user reviews of my favorite establishments, including reviews of some of our local hangouts. As with the best websites, your opinion is invited and encouraged.

Next Week: Another record review.

Sorry, but I don't believe in Santa.




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