This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 24

The age-old problem: What do nonbelievers do when everyone else is celebrating Christmas? Christmas Eve doesn't have to be the loneliest night of the year -- at least not if you're up for Jewish Storytelling and Chinese Food. That's the age-old solution. But where some entertainment groups have comedy shtick in a Chinese restaurant, Temple Israel in Alameda offers traditional Jewish stories (à la Sholom Aleichem, but hopefully in English for non-Yiddish speakers) told by New Yorker and "maggid extraordinaire" Arthur Strimling to go along with the Chinese goodies provided by East Ocean Chinese Restaurant in Alameda. The tab is $25 (reservations at 510-522-9355), or if you only want the stories, make a $5 donation. Temple Israel is at 3183 Mecartney Rd. in Alameda. For further info: 510-522-9355. -- Kelly Vance

THU 25

Wrap presents. Open presents. Burn CDs so you can give belated presents while simultaneously sticking it to the man. Rinse, repeat. Watch the Macy's Day parade. Call your mother. Go see Return of the King or, if you've already seen it (you beautiful nerd), go see any of the movies opening today to take advantage of your day off. There's Cheaper by the Dozen, a loose remake of Walter Lang's 1950 comedy classic of the same name, this time starring Steve Martin; Cold Mountain, the much-anticipated Civil War drama with Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renée Zellweger, and her rocker love Jack White; John Woo's Paycheck, a dodgy-sounding sci-fi thriller starring B-Fleck, Uma Thurman, and that darling Aaron Eckhart; and the live-action Peter Pan. So put down the paper, already, and enjoy the day. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 26

Contrary to popular American belief, Boxing Day -- celebrated today in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, and Canada -- has nothing to do with discarded gift boxes, nor does it have anything to do with slapping your irritating brother-in-law upside his head. It's about giving to the less fortunate, whether they be your paperboy or -girl, or the lady who begs for change by your BART stop. What any of this has to do with birds is simply beyond us, but here you have it: The Tilden Nature Area is hosting a Boxing Day Bird Walk and Fete. Starting at 9 a.m., Alan Kaplan will lead participants on an interpretive walk, looking for the wren, "the king of all birds," so that it may, perhaps, bestow the gift of song on the poor, landlocked unfortunates. The walk will be followed by traditional music and refreshments. The nature area is at the north end of Berkeley's Tilden Regional Park, a short walk from the parking lot at the north end of Central Park Drive. Registration is required, and costs $5 for residents, $7 for out-of-towners. Call 510-525-2233 for reservations. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 27

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas' Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom takes the critical cliché -- "a roller-coaster of a movie" -- and plays it literally. The second installment of Indy's adventures among the fuzzy-wuzzies also has been criticized for its racism, but we should give Chabot Space & Science Center the benefit of the doubt. When it scheduled the Harrison Ford adventure flick as part of its "Indiana Jones Film Festival," it obviously intended it as a light-hearted time-waster for kids, an alternative to being cooped up in the house on a long holiday weekend. Ford eats all sorts of disgusting foreign food and pals around with Kate Capshaw, juvie sidekick Ke Huy Quan, and the usual mess o' snakes in the 1984 hit. It plays this evening at 7:30 at Chabot (10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland).ChabotSpace.org or 510-336-7300. -- Kelly Vance

SUN 28

When you pronounce the first part of Bob le Flambeur, make sure you say "Bobe" (make it short, cut it off like your lips are hot) instead of "Bahhh-b." Next, rent a '54 Pontiac, put on your best cream-colored mohair sport coat, and slick back your hair. Better yet, dye it silver. Now you're in the mood for director Jean-Pierre Melville's 1955 gangster pic, starring Roger Duchesne as the dapper Parisian gambler who does all those cool French things, like arriving at Place Pigalle at dawn and planning a stickup of the Deauville casino. Bob screens today at 5 at Movie Classics by the Bay, a truly gorgeous place to watch old movies. It's followed at 7:15 p.m. by Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas -- which in a way is the same film as Bob, but with color, laughs, songs, sex, and lips. You'll have to pay separate admission, though ($5 per). 2700 Saratoga St., in the old Alameda Naval Air Station. Info: 510-835-6187 or AuctionsbytheBay.com -- Kelly Vance

MON 29

Putting together an extraordinary jazz band must be pretty easy when you're, oh, let's say, Yoshi's artistic director Peter Williams. Demonstrating the mighty power of networking, he brought together the Poncho Sanchez Band so that the titular specialist in Cuban, African, and Caribbean rhythms could do something unusual for his sprawled-out-over-New-Year's stint at the downtown Oakland club. Joining Sanchez through Wednesday will be Hammond B3 organist Joey DeFrancesco and former James Brown sideman Fred Wesley on funky trombone. Tonight's shows are at 8 and 10 p.m., and tickets cost $26. Yoshi's can be found in Jack London Square, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, and tickets can be purchased by calling 510-238-9200 or visiting Yoshis.com -- Stefanie Kalem

TUE 30

The Academy for Psychic Studies presents the ultimate in New Year's resolution making, How to Plant Seeds for a Prosperous New Year. Learn how to enter into a positive hypnotic state, adjusting your head so you're prime for reinvention. Now is the perfect time to manifest yourself into a better situation, whether it be love, money, or what-have-you. And it costs just $75! The academy can be found just three blocks south of the UC Berkeley campus, five blocks from downtown Berkeley BART. Call 800-642-WELL (9355) for address and directions, and visit Celestia.com for more details on the school. -- Stefanie Kalem

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