Town Crier: Places to go Christmas weekend

MONTCLARION: December 25, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope this day finds you in good cheer, enjoying the warmth of family, friends and the holiday yule log on channel 20. The yule log is especially important if it’s a “spare the air” day — but that’s a subject for another column.

If you’re like me, you’ll be looking for a way to extend Christmas through the weekend. Here are my picks for some last-minute outings:

  • The Christmas Coverlettes at the Aurora Theater in Berkeley (next to the Berkeley Rep). Playing through Dec. 27, three of the country’s best female singers — in the tradition of girl bands in the ’60s — perform songs from the Shangri-Las, the Supremes and a potpourri of Christmas favorites. Their harmonies are as sweet as a plate of holiday fudge and their costumes and choreography make this a holiday hit for the second year in a row. Find out more at
  • “A Christmas Carol” (through Dec. 27) at the ACT in San Francisco. Just stepping foot in this gilded beauty (the theater turns 100 next month) is a treat. But wait until you see the ghost of Jacob Marley rise up from Scrooge’s bed to rattle his chains. The special effects are what make this adaptation unique, along with extraordinary acting and singing. It’s a story that never grows old and seems especially poignant in these financially trying times. Visit hunt: Speaking of turning 100, San Francisco’s historic Palace Hotel sent up a balloon the other day with a valuable prize attached — a key to the presidential suite. It was a re-enactment of an event that marked the hotel’s grand reopening back in 1909. Some lucky person will find that balloon and key, perhaps caught in a tree, and turn it in for a three-day stay in one of the most luxurious hotel rooms in the city. A San Francisco treat, indeed.E-mail bag: More death-cap mushroom sightings are coming to my attention. Dr. Jim Miller says he recently spotted a new growth under some oak trees near lower Moraga Canyon. And several readers have mentioned that milk thistle is being used as an antidote in some places in the U.S. and Europe. The bottom line is, don’t let your dog root around in or near mushrooms.Around town: It’s a sideshow in front of Peet’s Coffee and Tea in Montclair these days. Regulars outside the popular coffee shop say they’ve seen a number of accidents and near-misses at the corner of Mountain Boulevard and La Salle Avenue, where the city wants to put in a stoplight. In one recent incident, an unlicensed driver struck two pedestrians, sending them to the hospital. Still, the idea of a light seems like overkill. Let’s get better signage and striping at the intersection and see if that helps.

    Despite the recent uptick in accidents and crime, the perception is that Montclair is a safe place — even for kids. On a recent Friday night, reader Robb Lazarus overheard a young boy explaining to his mother, via cell phone, why he and his friends weren’t home yet. He said “Mom, we’re not hanging out in the streets — we’re in Montclair!”

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