Sweet Dreams Are Made of This 'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house/ All the children were flipping out from the sugar high they got at the third annual Gingerbread Architecture Extravaganza. Junior architects ages 1 to 10 can build their dream creations from gummy bears, gumdrops, and graham crackers, scarfing down any evidence of construction errors as they go. Parents can stand back, smile benevolently, and remind themselves that Christmas comes but once a year. The party begins at 11 a.m. at the Bay Area Discovery Museum at Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds, Sausalito. Admission is $6-7 plus a $2 materials fee, and kids must be accompanied by an adult; call 487-4398.
Castro Christmas The Gay Men's Chorus Christmas Eve concert usually begins around 10 in the morning, with the customary plugging-in of the giant generator powering the show's festive stage lights. This year's show, "Home for the Holidays," officially begins later in the afternoon with ensembles and small groups from the chorus serenading the long lines of listeners waiting to get into the theater, where organist Don Thompson pounds out carols on the mighty Wurlitzer as everyone finds a seat. New to this year's concert is a brass ensemble, which will be playing excerpts from John Williams' original score for Home Alone and a fanfare written by SFGMC Artistic Director Stan Hill. The chorus, backed by veteran accompanist Richard Rogers, takes over with traditional songs like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" along with newer works like "Hallelujah" from the Quincy Jones show A Soulful Celebration: "It rocks," says Hill. "It just gets down." The concert closes out with "Seasons of Love" from the Broadway hit Rent. Shows begin at 5, 7, and 9 p.m. at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro (at Market), S.F. Admission is $10; call 863-4472. The concert is general seating -- audiences are advised to arrive early before each show.
Hands-On Hanukkah The candles on the menorah won't be the only thing glowing at "Being Jewish on Christmas," a daylong family celebration. The computer screens in the hands-on Jewish CD-ROM Computer Lab and the Jewish Film Festival videos screening both ought to give off a nice glimmer of their own. Tom Herz and the Saralie Pennington Jewish Minstrels kick off the day's live entertainment, followed by performances from the Jewish Folk Chorus, storyteller Joel Ben Izzy relating Jewish folk tales, and Judy Frankel singing the 14th-century "Songs of the Sephardim." The third night of the Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony begins at 4:40 p.m. and the exhibit "L'Chaim! A Kiddush Cup Invitational" will be open for viewing. Free refreshments will be served throughout the day. The event begins at 11 a.m. at the Jewish Museum, 121 Steuart (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$5 (families who arrive with representatives from three generations get in free); call 543-2090, ext. 212.
Rep Sheet Unless you work nights and weekends, today is one of those rare weekdays you can spend an afternoon at the movies with total impunity. If holiday blockbusters like Titanic or Flubber don't appeal, look to your local repertory houses for left-of-center selections. Wallace and Gromit, the amusing model-animation characters featured in several adventures of a man and his wiseacre dog, are the stars of "The Best of Aardman Animation," which concludes its run at 2, 4, 6, and 8 p.m. at the Roxie, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $3-6.50; call 863-1087. Ron Fricke's lush, Sufi-inspired travelogue Baraka screens at 2, 4:15, 7:15, and 9:30 p.m. at the Red Vic, 1727 Haight (at Clayton), S.F. Admission is $4.50-6; call 668-3994. Director Sally Potter (Orlando) concocts a stormy relationship between a filmmaker and a dancer in The Tango Lesson, which screens at 2, 4:30, 7, and 9:20 p.m. at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro (at Market), S.F. Admission is $6.50; call 621-6120. The sweetly comic tale of a Japanese businessman who takes ballroom dance lessons surreptitiously, Shall We Dance?, screens at 2, 4:30, and 7 p.m. at the Lark Theater, 549 Magnolia (at Dougherty), Larkspur. Admission is $4-6; call 383-5256. And lastly, Jackie Chan demonstrates true holiday spirit as an inebriated brawler in Drunken Master, which screens at 3:35 and 7:30 p.m. (also, Operation Condor screens at 1:45, 5:45, and 9:40 p.m.) at the UC Theater, 2036 University (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Admission is $6.50; call (510) 843-FILM.
Have You a Little Faerie in Your Home? Usher in the new year with a parade of biblical heroes, jugglers, arms dealers, and other questionable characters as the Tennessee-based Eggplant Faerie Players stage their cross-country touring production of Next Year in Sodom. The players take on multiple roles and use nutty costumes and props in this circus-style musical comedy about a gay couple whose Seder celebration with Mom commences with the usual housekeeping and cooking chores but concludes with a series of unexpected visitors knocking at the front door. The troupe took the show with them last year on their radical faerie pilgrimage to the Middle East, where the gay love scene they performed on Israeli national television didn't exactly go over well. But the company isn't known for shying from controversy; its first show, Person Livid With AIDS, was based on the members' own lives and experience with the disease, and played throughout the Deep South. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday and Sunday) at 848 Community Space, 848 Divisadero (at Fulton), S.F. Admission is $10; call 922-2385.
Oh, What a Knight Guests wearing their best holiday armor, their most festive corsets, their gayest hoop skirts, or any combination of those, will be gliding around the floor at an event called, after Keats, La Belle Daunce Sans Merci. (Daunce is apparently Old French for "danse.") It's a costume ball that allows for Arthurian garb up through pre-Raphaelite-inspired eveningwear and Victorian frippery. The Divertimento Dance Orchestra will be playing ancient airs and dances arranged by 19th-century composers for Victorian dancing, done to reflect King Arthur's court as seen through Victorian eyes. The ball was organized by the Period Events and Entertainments Re-Creation Society, whose past galas have included the Mostly Mozart Amadeus Ball and the Jane Austen Fete. The revelry begins at 7 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 100 N. Ellsworth, San Mateo. Admission is $10-15; call (510) 522-1731.
Quick With the Quickness A group of Oakland kids and a panel of scientific experts will join forces at a double Dutch rope-jumping demonstration to offer an in-depth look at the aesthetics and physics of the sport. While the kids show off their fancy footwork and the accompanying repertoire of rhymes, staff scientists will explain the complex ele-ments of leverage, motion, and force at work. The demos begin at 1 and 3 p.m., with a screening of Pick Up Your Feet: The Double Dutch Show, Skip Blumberg's 1981 documentary on young double Dutch jump-ropers in New York City, at 2 p.m., at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Bay), S.F. Admission is free with museum admission (free-$7); call 563-7337.
Groovie, Baby, Yeah! KUSF's "Groovie Movie Soundtracks" weekly radio show spotlights the best soundtrack reissues of 1997, spinning movie music so good (or so bad it's good) that it deserves just one more chance. There's the early disco grooviness of Foxy Brown and The Mack, the swinging grooviness of Henry Mancini's The Party, the go-go grooviness of Russ Meyer movies, the crime-fighting grooviness of 1960s-era Batman, and other ultimately groovy selections. If you don't listen now, you may never hear the theme from Lady in Cement. The show airs at 7 p.m. on KUSF-FM 90.3.
Bang a Drum Master taiko drum player Shonosuke Okura, the headmaster of the Okura School in Otsuzumi, Japan, has a thing for motorcycles; he found a way to combine his love of music and the open road by organizing the Tour of Peace, in which 50 international motorcyclists traveled around Japan and gave concerts for the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Okura has performed for the Dalai Lama and the pope, and now he'll play for San Francisco in a traditional noh music concert for taiko drum, followed by a demonstration session in which he'll show audience members how to play the drum and then invite them to play along with him. The program begins at 8 p.m. at Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Alabama), S.F. Admission is $8; call 621-7978.
There's No Moon Out Tonight In the immortal words of Steve Martin, a day without sunshine is like ... night. It would follow, then, that a night without moonlight is like ... dark. A No-Moon Walk to Point Bonita reveals the Marin Headlands in a whole new light, or rather, without light, other than the glow of lanterns and the twinkle of the stars. Outdoor adventurers walk a half-mile down a gradual slope, through a pedestrian tunnel, and over a suspension bridge to the Point Bonita Lighthouse, where they are rewarded with views of the city skyline at night. The No-Moon Walk is one of several guided walking tours the National Park Service leads through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Walkers are advised to wear warm clothes and sturdy shoes, and meet docent Mike Heiner at 5 p.m. at the Point Bonita trailhead, Field Road, Marin Headlands. Admission is free but reservations are required; call 331-1540.
Gray Matter In Swimming to Cambodia, theatrical raconteur Spalding Gray told us of his adventures in that country while he was waiting around on the set of The Killing Fields, in which he played a bit part. In Monster in a Box, he described how his travels from L.A. to the former Soviet Union kept interrupting his efforts to write a biographical novel. Now, in It's a Slippery Slope, Gray explains how he stemmed a tide of midlife crises -- like turning 52, the age of his mother when she committed suicide -- by taking up the potentially fatal sport of skiing. This is Gray's 15th monologue, and by rights audiences ought to be tired of hearing him talk about himself by now, but Gray is a master of the sly observation and the memorable anecdote, which must be what keeps us coming back. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and continues through Jan. 4) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $15-35; call 749-2228.