November 24, 2004 – December 1, 2004

Wednesday 24th

Over the river and through the woods: Raise your hand if you woke up this morning, bags packed with Xanax and

Beaujolais Nouveau, ready to sally forth into the familial scrum …. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, the day where you face the facts of your life around a table of people who look at you and see a turkey-you’re childless, marriage-less and maybe even jobless-and proceed to stuff you full of advice. And in the middle of the mess, your  soused Uncle Ned announces he voted for Bush and the rest of you can go to hell. But remember, it’s a time of healing, and besides-there’s only 31 days left till Christmas! For the lucky few who don’t have transportation issues to attend to and are staying in town, join a strange New York City custom and hop up to the Upper West Side to see those gargantuan helium balloons getting inflated in preparation for tomorrow’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. New inflatables this year include those adorable M&M’s, Chicken Little (our personal patron saint of neuroses) and SpongeBob SquarePants. ” I don’t know if anything square was meant to be a balloon,” said executive producer Robin Hall. “It was sort of a feat of engineering getting him off the ground.” Read: watch out for the giant sponge! Or if you’re into some escapism, throw down some sweaty bucks for the new Oliver Stone epic, Alexander, which stars Colin Farrell playing the son of Angelina Jolie and Val Kilmer. And you thought your family was screwed up. [Inflation Eve (which has nothing to do with taxes), Central Park West and Columbus Avenue between 77th and 81st streets, 3 to 10 p.m.; 212-494-4495; Alexander, http://www.moviefone.com for show times and listings.]

Thursday 25th

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Please avoid wearing any item of clothing with a turkey on it, no referring to “Gobble Day” and remember to be thankful about something. O.K.! Before pigapalooza starts in earnest, there’s still the parade. Now in its 78th year, the parade continues to delight and horrify with floats featuring old friends like Charlie (“Good grief!”) Brown, Kermit the Frog, Garfield (he’s always funny) and Grover from Sesame Street, plus new attractions like #034;Balloonicles.” “Balloonicles are propelled by vehicles instead of people,” explained Mr. Hall, who said they’re shaped kind of like Weebles ( meep). Among this year’s entertainers are the big-lunged Andrea Bocelli and American Idol’s Fantasia Barrino, the Radio City Rockettes (“Hot- diggity- dog!” says our Big-Cheese Editor); the event is hosted by the increasingly bizarro Today-show crew- Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Al Roker (who seems to be in an ongoing audition for Christian Bale’s role in The Machinist). And if that hasn’t scared you off, there’ s tons of clowns! The parade, which last year attracted almost three million people, is an enormous undertaking. “The stock answer is we start planning next year’s the day after Thanksgiving,” said Mr. Hall. “However, the truth is that it’s so big, it takes a lot longer to plan than just a year.” Mr. Hall went on to conspiratorially tell us, “There will be lots of surprises this year.” Hope it doesn’t involve that giant sponge. Next! If you forgot to reserve a turkey or you only use your oven to store sweaters, there are plenty of restaurants around town serving Thanksgiving prix fixe dinners. If you don’t mind going to a restaurant that shares a name with a man who made his career splitting watermelons, Gallagher’s Steak House offers a special “Turkey Day” (sigh) dinner with a four-course meal for 50 bucks. Or chow down at wank-mothership Marquee, hosting their first-ever “Cold Turkey” party; they’ve suspended their regular cover charge and door policy, which means you can get in without looking like a d*ckhead. [Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, starts at 78th Street and Central Park West, suggested arrival time is 6 a.m., 212-494-4495; Gallagher’s Steak House Thanksgiving Dinner, 228 West 52nd Street, noon to midnight, 212-245-5336; Cold Turkey party, Marquee, 289 10th Avenue, 10 p.m., 212-473-0202.]

Friday 26th

As turkey is to Thanksgiving, so is a credit card to the day after Thanksgiving. Today is commonly referred to as “Black Friday” because of the myth that merchants’ accounts go from the red to the black (although we think it has a nice bubonic ring to it). Getting in on the fun is the kickoff weekend of the Ninth annual Union Square Holiday Market, which “brings the spirit of the holiday season to all New Yorkers” and will be open through Christmas Eve. We’re wondering how they cleared out all the dirty hippies who’ve been using the square to protest the war and found time to set up the huts with all the handmade lamp shades, jade bracelets and crocheted tea cozies …. [Holiday Market at Union Square, south end of Union Square at 14th Street, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., http://www.urbanspace.com.

Saturday 27th

More copious spending! Slightly fancier-or at least with more umlauts and circumflexes-is the Fêtes de Noël in Bryant Park, which claims to be the “most picturesque open-air market” in the city and aims to “capture the charm and allure of the traditional European holiday market in midtown Manhattan” ( read: more expensive crap for your co-workers and cousins to regift). [Fêtes de Noël, Bryant Park, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., http://www.fetesdenoel.com.

Sunday 28th

Have you braved the crowds at the spankin’ new, much-hyped-up MoMA? We hear the lobby is huuuuuge (and that it now costs 20 bucks, harrumph). As part of their special film and media program, the museum presents Kamikaze 1989. Directed by Wolf Gremm ( growl) and staring Ranier Werner Fassbinder, Günther Kaufmann and Boy Godert (all fun and slightly terrifying names to say), the film follows “a churlish detective in search of a ticking bomb” and is set in “a future city where citizens behave outlandishly” (hmmmm). This is the first American screening of a new 35-millimeter print of the film that was originally presented at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival. Do you find Germans too intimidating? The Museum of Television and Radio has some leftover Thanksgiving classics to screen, such as A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving and a Thanksgiving-themed Friends marathon. We sure hope those wacky kids Ross and Rachel make it! [Museum of Modern Art presents Kamikaze 1989, 11 West 53rd Street, 5 p.m., http://www.moma.org; Museum of Television and Radio, 25 West 52nd Street, http://www.mtr.org.

Monday 29th

Now that the holiday weekend has drawn to a close and we’re all back to regular day-to-day misery, brace yourself-the Christmas season is bearing down on us like Tara Reid at an open-bar cocktail party. Trying to get a jump on the Rockefeller hullabaloo, Lincoln Center presents its annual “holiday tree” lighting this evening. (Quick note: Let’s call a spade a spade here-it’s a Christmas tree.) Taking place by the fountain that will always remind us of Nicolas Cage and Cher is a sleigh-load of events, including, most worryingly, a “tightrope walk between the balconies of Avery Fisher Hall and the New York State Theater” by Pedro Carrillo Sr. (don’t have too much coffee today, Pedro!) and the Big Apple Circus (weather permitting, natch). Also decking the halls will be a performance from The Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet (read: pretty lithe dancers!) and the Metropolitan Opera’s Thomas Hampson singing the classics with the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus. Exhale. The grand finale will be the actual lighting of the tree “with the help of Mickey Mouse” (what doesn’t

that rat have his big white gloves all over?). As soon as the tree is alight, there’s “Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Center,” which celebrates the Upper West Side (as if the neighborhood weren’t smug enough). “We make the neighborhood come alive,” said Monica Blum, president of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District. Lining the sidewalks this evening along Broadway, from the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to 68th Street, will be a  smorgasbord of free and wholesome activities: food samplings, ice sculptures, street performers ( meep), musical performances and, intriguingly, square dancing. “We think we’re going to attract the square-dance groupies for sure,” said Ms. Blum, explaining that Eddie Oliver from the Grand Ole Opry-which we always thought had something to do with pigs, frankly-will be in charge of the “calling.” (We don’t know, either.) Ms. Blum added that there will be bales of hay on the street. If this isn’t the sign of some sort of right-wing conspiracy, we don’t know what is. [Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Annual Holiday Tree Lighting, Josie Robertson Plaza, Columbus Avenue and 64th Street, 5:30 to 6 p.m., 212-875-5766; Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square, 58th Street and Columbus Circle to 68th Street and Broadway, 6 to 9:30 p.m., http://www.winterseve.org.

Tuesday 30th

There are a few things that are Christmas: twinkling lights, jolly fat bearded men in red suits, a cascade of ribbon and the timeless Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol. Opening tonight at the Beacon is one of this year’s incarnations, starring a motley crew we couldn’t have thunk up (and we’re betting even The Surreal Life wouldn’t touch this, either). Leading the cast is Barry Williams (known to most as that groovy cat Greg Brady), with Jeff Conaway ( Taxi and Grease), Malik Yoba ( New York Undercover) and the truly indescribable Jackée Harry ( 227). Which begs the question: Who are they going to drag out to play Tiny Tim? Doogie Howser is too old; is there a Culkin available? Anybody know what Webster is up to? Moving on to a few to-dos that aren’t quite as easy to get into: Cartier (which by now should be wrapped in a giant red bow) hosts the book party for Jamee Gregory’s New York Apartments: Private Views. The glossy book is an exercise in exquisite torture as it splashily “offers a rare glimpse into the opulent world of the Manhattan elite of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.” Great-just in case you thought your300-square-foot apartment with the folding chairs and empty refrigerator was O.K. Next! The Plaza opens its doors to a black-tie gig for the Food Allergy Ball (come dressedasapeanut!). Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se receives a lifetime achievement award (sounds like someone is trying to get a reservation at Per Se!); expected guests include environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr., Tribeca toque-master David Bouley, and Revlon poobah Ron Perelman with sexy wife Ellen Barkin. A rep for the benefit told us that there will also be “carousel horses inspired by the ones in Central Park, live ice skaters and a special performance by Lou Rawls.” And you thought this town didn’t know how to party anymore. Finally, the 71-foot, nine-ton tree (take that, Lincoln Center!) gets its jingle on in Rockefeller Center tonight. Expect lots of tinselly excitement for the 72nd annual installment of the grand lighting tradition, where the country’s most lovably screwed-up songbirds, Jessica Simpson and Hilary Duff, will perform. [ A Christmas Carol, Beacon Theater, 2124 Broadway, 7:30 p.m., 212-307-4100; Jamee Gregory’s New York Apartments: Private Views, the Cartier Mansion, 653 Fifth Avenue, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., by invitation only; Food Allergy Ball, the Plaza Hotel, 7 p.m., 212-527-5835; Rockefeller Tree lighting, Rockefeller Center, 7 to 9 p.m., http://www.wnbc.com.

Wednesday 1st

And now it’s December …. One more month till we can write this whole sucker of a year off completely. Checking in with our lady friends over at America’s Next Top Model, we fear that we’re too afraid to forecast a winner. And in a feeling very reminiscent of Fourth of July fireworks, we don’t want the finale, which will air two weeks from tonight, to ever arrive. [America’s Next Top Model, UPN, 8 p.m.]a