In the Spirit

THE TREE IS up, and there’s a snap in the air that says the holidays are here. It goes without saying that this should be a time of great cheer, when we go out of our way to be joyful and kind. Why, then, do I read about holiday stress seminars and angry altercations in shopping mall parking lots? Let’s all get a grip — and slow down for a few days this holiday season. Take time for toasting and carols and a concert or two. Put a wreath in the grill of your car — just to make people smile. Christmas comes but once a year. Grab the spirit.

FIREFIGHTER FRENZY: Just days after a near riot broke out at a hiring event for Oakland firefighters, the city is trying to make amends by taking the remaining applications on Jan. 12.

“I felt like I was at an ‘N Sync concert or something,” says reader Greg Saucedo, who says people were screaming and climbing on top of one another to get their papers in the hands of the one petite woman who was randomly selecting applicants. The whole thing was so unorganized; some candidates camped out for two days and still didn’t get picked.

BRRRRRR HUMBUG: Oakland’s time-honored production of “A Christmas Carol” has moved outdoors, for the first time in its 20-year history. Actually, it will be “toasty warm,” says producer Rebecca Faiola, who says the play will be inside a tent at the Oakland School of the Arts on San Pablo Avenue.

“We couldn’t return to Mills College (where the show originated),” she says, “because their theatre is full of pianos.”

But she guarantees the “big top” tent theatre will be awesome and quite romantic. Almost as if you were on the streets of London.

POLICEMAN’S BALL: Retired hills cop Taylor Miller says he’s looking forward to the big Oakland PD reunion in April. It’s being held at a casino in Sparks, and as many as 500 “uniforms” are expected.

“We’re scattered all over” says Miller. One former cop is even living on an island in Sweden. My guess is it’s just a summer home, since even the toughest Oakland cop wouldn’t opt for an arctic winter.

FREEBIE ALERT: A plethora of Prius’s is expected outside Oakland’s Parkway Theatre on Jan. 13 for the venue’s free movie “Who Killed the Electric Car.” The 1:45 p.m. showing is part of the Parkway’s Sunday Salon Series, designed to bring artists and activists (and just regular folks) together for thoughtful theatre followed by lively discussion. Beer and wine will be served.

ANIMAL TALES: When the air is filled with cackling, I know the Steller’s Jays are teasing my cat, Tonka. But reader Howard Smith has decided to tame the tormenting birds with a tasty treat of peanuts.

“I work with them and have finally gotten to the point where the blue jays eat off my lap,” he says. Smith has the time to train. At 94, he’s enjoying retirement at his Rockridge home, in the garden with his new feathered friends.


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