Bendel up, kids! Is it just us, or does increasingly waxen Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and his league of Bunny friends have a “retrospective,” oh, about every four minutes? Henri Bendel , a swish department store in midtown that we can’t afford, thank you very much ( where is our Christmas bonus? ), has a new “Bunny Boutique” selling clothing, “sexcessories,” the whole nine yards-and if you buy something, anything there today, Hef will sign a copy of his magazine’s new book, Playboy’s 50 Years: The Photographs . There will be lots of Playmates on hand, and don’t confuse them with the Bunnies or both sets of ladies will get very cross and stamp their feet …. If you can’t crash that party (strategy: blind ’em with implants!), our good friends at Budget Living magazine are throwing a soirée to celebrate their first anniversary, and a publicist is promising “goodie-filled gift bags” galore , which sure sounds super-exciting. Bonus budget-living tip: Get a vodka, like Skyy, to sponsor your party ( hic )! Meanwhile, a former social worker named Charles Cook discusses the finer points of cross-country skiing from the wild and woolly Upper West Side. We found Mr. Cook, a spry 58, munching on popcorn in his bucolic Rockland County home. “People don’t realize there are designated ski trails as close as 10 miles to Manhattan,” he said. “Cross-country [ chomp , chomp , chomp ] skiing doesn’t get a lot of publicity, even though it’s 5,000 to 6,000 years old. With downhill, you get a ride down and it’s over pretty quickly, then you spend your time waiting in line to get back up the mountain. With cross-country, the skis grip the snow so you can actually go uphill.” Easy, sir, we can feel our heart rate increasing already ….
[Hugh Hefner, Henri Bendel, 712 Fifth Avenue, 6 to 7 p.m., 212-247-1100; Budget Living party, Deep, 16 West 22nd Street, 6 to 9 p.m., 212-255-8455, ext. 28; An Introduction to Cross-Country Skiing and Winter Hiking, 7 p.m., call 845-354-3717 for address.]
Wynter, meet Summer! Turns out that Playboy thing yesterday was just a tune-up for tonight’s main event, a bouncy bash celebrating the mag’s golden anniversary, hosted by the new, darkly handsome editor , Jim Kaminski , whom we understand some staff wags are already secretly calling “Jimichanga.” Confirmed attendees include Jason Patric (career suffered “I dated Julia Roberts” curse, now rebounding nicely on Broadway); Sarah Wynter from TV’s 24 ; Casey Affleck (kind of the Scrappy Doo to brother Ben’s Scooby-and by the by, where is brother Ben these days?); young Affleck’s gal, Summer Phoenix ; and the usual smattering of Playmates … er, Bunnies … er, Playmates?
[ Playboy ‘s 50th-anniversary party, Armory, Lexington Avenue and 26th Street, 8 p.m., by invitation only.]
Tse it loud, say it proud! December is sample-sale season- which, when you get right down to it, is kind of like fantasy football for females , with women obsessively keeping track of listings, picking out shoes, making trades …. And speaking of football, were we the only ones who almost put our foot through the television set over Thanksgiving when the Horns nearly dropped the ball against A&M? But back to the girlie stuff: Posh boutique Tse has deeply marked down its cushy cashmere, including zip-front hoodies reduced to $300 and hand-knit scarves for $180. Co -zy! Among Catherine Malandrino’s frilly offerings, you’ll find mini-shorts, pleated mini-skirts guaranteed to make your paunchy editor’s pulse race, and the ever-practical corset dress priced between $49 and $399. And for all you Cinderellas out there, it’s “the more you buy, the more you save” at Stuart Weitzman, home of those so-bad-they’re-good Lucite pumps: 30 percent off first pair, 40 percent off second, 50 percent off third, etceterblah, etceterblah ….
[Tse fall sample sale, 418 West 15th Street, 212-472-7790; Catherine Malandrino, 275 West 39th Street, third floor, 212-925-6765; Stuart Weitzman, 625 Madison Avenue, 212-750-2555.]
Auster blitz! Comely author Paul Auster chugs in from the outer boroughs to read from his new 243-page novel, Oracle Night … in its entirety … by himself . That’s right. Plot of Oracle Night: A novelist wanders into a stationery shop in Cobble Hill (much-explored terrain of “hot” Brooklyn authors like Jonathan Lethem) and buys a mysterious blue notebook that threatens his marriage … sounds kind of NicholasSparks–y,actually!Mr. Auster was brooding about something or other and refused to get on the phone with us, but publicist Julie Baranes explained: “No guest readers. He will just continue until it’s finished. He didn’t want to read in a lot of different places.” How persnickety! Will there be refreshments? A bar? “No, no, no . Nothing like that.” Click!
[Paula Cooper Gallery, 521 West 21st Street, 3 to 7 p.m., 212-255-4022.]
Beatles in Billyburg: All you suckers stream out of the second half of the Paul Auster reading and head to Williamsburg, where record producer/composer Roger Greenawalt is performing 211-count ’em, 211 – Beatles songs all in one day, on the ukulele. What is it about the holidays that brings out the “marathon madness” in men? And why the Beatles? “George Harrison became a ukulele nut at the end of his life,” said Mr. Greenawalt, 42, from a place called Shabby Road Studios. “Everyone who went to George’s house left with a ukulele …. The proceeds go to Paul McCartney, because I would just spend it on food, rent and pot, but Paul McCartney is a really good person. He married a philanthropist. If we give it to him, we know he’s going to do something good with it. I betcha he gives it to the land-mine thing.” Ummm …. “Also, Dec. 8 is Dead Lennon Day, and I always feel lousy, so I thought this would make a nice tribute. It’s better than sitting around doing Ecstasy in Strawberry Fields.” Don’t give us any funny ideas. So why the uke? “I picked it up and I couldn’t live without it! It’s disreputable, hackneyed and kitschy, so I thought, ‘Great-I want to be the champion of the ridiculous!’ It’s impossible to be sad while playing the ukulele. It’s better than Paxil and better than Prozac.” Back in the ‘hattan, the James Beard House-a clearing house for singles with love handles- is throwing a gingerbread-house-decorating party: champagne and carolers from the Calhoun School, which is where all the famous musicians’ kids go and smoke weed with their teachers ….
[Paul Auster, 3 to 7 p.m., see yesterday; the Beatles Complete, Slam, 51 North First Street between Wythe and Kent, Williamsburg, noon to midnight, 718-599-9436; Gingerbread House Decorating Extravaganza, the James Beard House, 167 West 12th Street, 5 to 8 p.m., 212-627-2308.]
All hail his Diddy-ness! The-oh, why not?-irrepressible P. Diddy pulls over his fleet of black S.U.V.’s ( screeeech! ) to host CareRockSkate, one of those complicated, high-concept benefits where no one really understands what’s going on or who’s paying for what : Kids will skate, the Boys’ Choir of Harlem sings, Diddy’s Sean John Boys line will sponsor, and somehow Safe Horizon-a domestic-violence charity-will benefit …. Who you might catch attempting an axel: SpongeBob Squarepants (seriously) and actor Nick Cannon , whom we’ve never heard of, but who apparently stars in the film Love Don’t Co$t a Thing , a remake of the 1980’s Patrick Dempsey flick, Can’t Buy Me Love …. Meanwhile, power-hostess duo Cynthia Rowley (designs party frocks) and Ilene Rosenweig (writer-editor married to former New York Times Styles section writer and self-proclaimed “cad” Rick Marin, who likes the word “panties”) will share snacks and holiday tips from one of their style manuals, Swell Holiday , at Borders. When will these gals just give up and go home?
[CareRockSkate, Rockefeller Center Café, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 7 to 11 p.m., 212-206-9121; Swell Holiday , Borders, Park Avenue and 57th Street, 6:30 p.m., 212-980-6785.]
A man, a plan, Karan: Well, we swore to ourselves that we’d lay off the tasting events, but the swank holiday-party invitations aren’t exactly rolling in (hel- lo ), so …. There’s a shopping/eating fusion event at Donna Karan’s studio benefiting City Harvest, which takes leftover food from schmancy city bashes and distributes it to the needy. You can eat all you want and then buy the new wardrobe you’ll need after eating all you want; luckily, Donna is ver -ry generous with the sizing (that is, her size 4 is like everybody else’s 8). Treats teem forth from Aquavit, Guastavino’s, Judson Grill, Esca and Strip House -a steak joint, not the new downtown branch of Scores. Bring Pepto-pink is the new black!
[DKNY, 655 Madison Avenue, 6 to 8 p.m., 212-768-6241.]
All about Eartha: It’s Human Rights Day. We celebrate by letting the lone (male) intern out of the basement for a few hours …. Elsewhere, zippy blond talk-show tootsie Caroline Rhea pops up to host the Muse Awards, during which trophies of some sort will be issued to ethereal actress Emma Thompson -don’t forget to catch her flailing but brilliant performance in the HBO version of Angels in America -and unfunny “comedian” Whoopi Goldberg, among others. And in the Little Disneyland thatisTimes Square, actor JohnLithgow (Harvardgrad and Fulbright scholar-who knew?) and legendary songbird Eartha Kitt fight to flip the switch on a Christmas tree. Our money’s on Ms. Kitt, whom we caught tucking into a breakfast of eggs and spinach at home in Westin, Conn. “Eating well is important, and by ‘well’ I don’t mean gourmet,” she said. “You need lots of fruit, vegetables and protein. I don’t believe in diets, though-I believe in staying away from junk food. Junk food breeds a junk mind!” The 76-year-old climbs into a sexy black teddy each night for her role in Nine , which she took over from Chita Rivera. “That’s why I’m on my way to the gym after this. It’s never too late to burn your buns!” Will she be performing tonight? “I don’t think so, but I will if they ask! I’ll sing ‘ Santa Baby, so hurry down the chimney tonii-iiight ….’ ” We does she think of Madonna’s bastardized version? “I’m not talking about Madonna. Madonna is Madonna, Eartha Kitt is Eartha Kitt, and never the twain shall meet!” Amen, sister ….
[Muse Awards for Outstanding Vision and Achievement, New York Hilton, 1335 Sixth Avenue, 11:30 a.m., 212-838-6033; Broadway tree lighting, Duffy Square, Broadway and 46th Street, 5:15 p.m., 212-768-1560.]