What with shopping, traveling, and family, we all can get a little crabby around the holidays. But there is one party where being crabby isn't only accepted, it's celebrated: the Red and White Fleet's "Crab Feed Cruise." Once a month during crab season, the tourist mainstay offers a special excursion featuring a menu of whole Dungeness crab, sourdough bread, and all the fixings. Cruisers can crack open crustaceans as they sail beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, along the Marin Headlands, and around Alcatraz on one of the most scenic trips in the Bay Area. And the best part is, you can leave the family on the dock. The boat leaves at noon from Pier 43 1/2 at Fisherman's Wharf, near Taylor and Jefferson, S.F. Tickets are $45, and reservations are required; call 673-2900 or visit www.redandwhite.com.
-- Jack Karp
Though few people adore winter's long, dark nights -- oh, for sunlit summertime after-dinner strolls! -- one of the season's advantages is the impressive starscape. Fall constellations like Sagittarius and Pegasus loom directly overhead, while in the east, cold-weather clusters such as Orion and Cancer are just starting to peek out. Celebrate their brilliance with Morrison Planetarium astronomer Bing Quock at the "Star Trek: Winter Skies" walk at 6 p.m. at the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, Ninth Avenue & Lincoln in Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $8-12 ($13-18 for a family of four); call 661-1316 or visit www.sfbotanicalgarden.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
O Holy Box
Caroling is a fading tradition, and that's too bad. In our opinion, it's one of the better customs associated with Christmas. Door-to-door singing does have its drawbacks, though, including cheesy songs and the terror brought on by exposing one's imperfect voice to all and sundry.
"Unsilent Night" is a happy compromise: Organizers Phil Kline and Colin Berry will hand out CDs or cassettes of seasonal sounds to anyone holding a boombox in Dolores Park tonight; the assembled mob will then stroll along the streets. As each person's box booms, the city fills with the mingling sounds of chimes, chorales, and other specially recorded noises. Think of it, say the pair, as "a two-block-long stereo system." The giveaway starts at 6:45 p.m. in Dolores Park, Dolores between 18th and 20th streets, S.F. Participation is free; call (707) 869-2778 or e-mail email@example.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser