The Santa Cause Are you known for your big beer gut and your hearty chuckle? Call the Cross Cultural Family Center, quick: They've got empty red Santa suits they'd like to fill. Perhaps you're a struggling actor/dancer/musician? The Salvation Army needs soloists and groups to entertain at kettle sites and holiday programs. Budding essayist? Writer David Sedaris based The Santa Land Diaries on his stint as a holiday elf. Out-of-shape and creative people aren't the only ones in demand now that the holidays have officially arrived, and agencies listed with the Volunteer Center of San Francisco could use help in planning and executing Thanksgiving and Christmas events. Episcopal Community Services needs volunteers to prepare and serve a Thanksgiving meal to 300 homeless folks; the S.F. AIDS Foundation seeks dexterous types to wrap Christmas gifts; Meals on Wheels is looking for licensed drivers to deliver dinners; the Hearing Society of the Bay Area needs bilingual people to translate materials; the Wah Mei School hopes to find party planners to thrill kids at its Hanukkah Celebration; and so on. Some of these are one-day gigs, but if you haven't got a few hours to spare, you can donate materials, too, like food, clothing, toys, and books. Call the Volunteer Center at 982-8999 for more information on which agencies need who and what.
Don't Kolo Solo The turkey tray has been licked clean and all the nitrous has been sucked out of the Reddi Wip can: time for a brisk round of folk dancing! The 46th annual Kolo Festival, billed as "the premier Balkan folkdance festival of the West Coast" by organizers, features three days' worth of Eastern European cultural entertainment ranging from sing-alongs and folk dance classes to ethnic foods and vendors hawking costumes, accessories, and crafts. Guests are, in fact, encouraged to dress in traditional togs to lend an extra-festive air to the proceedings. Bands hail from as far away as Hungary and Greece to as near as Eugene, Ore., via Bulgaria, and if the promise of continuous live music in two rooms isn't lure enough, the Dalmatian singing must surely be. The festival opens with folk dance rounds and finger-food snacks tonight at 8 p.m. (and continues through Saturday) at the San Francisco Russian Center, 2450 Sutter (at Divisadero), S.F. Admission is $2.50-65; call (800) 730-5615.
Winging It Angels rise above the banal realm of the self-help book and take flight in Iona Pear Dance Theater's evening-length work The Mythology of Angels. The troupe, voted "Honolulu's Best Dance Company" by readers of the Honolulu Weekly, uses arresting and often meticulously detailed costumes, the music of Dead Can Dance and Peter Gabriel, and the concentrated theatrical language of butoh to transport viewers. Mythology is divided into six sections detailing various aspects of angel lore, beginning with the guardian angel treatise "There's an Angel on my doorstep ... an Angel in my heart," and continuing with "Between Two Worlds," which takes the angels depicted in Eastern and Western art and sets them in motion. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $20; call 441-3687. Angels from the piece are also expected to materialize on the streets of San Francisco Wednesday and Thursday in a couple of outdoor performances, which ought to give the busiest shopping day of the year a distinctly surreal edge.
Dear George Letters Thanks to the vigilant efforts of Spy, we now realize that well-known authors help each other out by swapping glowing book-jacket blurbs. But when The Haunted Pool author George Sand wrote a kind review of Madame Bovary author Gustave Flaubert's novel Salammbo in 1863, Flaubert's thank-you note initiated an extended, if not well-known, epistolary relationship. Sand must have enjoyed Flaubert's tale of an unhappily married woman who yearns for life beyond the provinces; Flaubert, in turn, must have appreciated the style of the elder Sand, a romantic writer who divorced her husband early on, raised her children on a writer's salary, and enjoyed a liaison with Chopin. Aurora Theater Company playwright in residence Dorothy Bryant brings the relationship between the French authors to light in Dear Master, which was first produced in 1991 and was performed at the 1994 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Dec. 14) at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (at Dana), Berkeley. Admission is $18-25; call (510) 843-4822.
Bear Affair The Teddy Bear Parade and Film Festival just couldn't be cuter unless puppies and kittens and baby harp seals were somehow involved. This is where tiny tots clutching adorable plush toys march through the PFA auditorium to the tune of "The Teddy Bears' Picnic," then snuggle down into their seats to watch animated and live-action films about bears and their animal friends. One of these, The Forgotten Toys, happens to feature actors known for distinctly unwholesome roles: Bob Hoskins (Mona Lisa) and Joanna Lumley (the boozehound party girl Patsy of Absolutely Fabulous) are the voices of a teddy bear and a rag doll who go searching for new homes after their owners cast them out in favor of new Christmas toys. Toys screens with Curious George, Happy Birthday, Moon, the story of a bear's connection to the moon, and the muddy action-adventure film A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog. Helium balloons will be doled out after the screenings, which are held at 1 and 3 p.m. (also Sunday) at the Pacific Film Archive, 2621 Durant (at College), Berkeley. Admission is $3.50; call (510) 642-1412.