December 8, 2004 – December 15, 2004

Wednesday 8th

Dame Edna returns! Somehow, it escaped our notice that last night was the start of that latke-eating, candle-lighting extravaganza known as Hanukkah (sorry, mom and dad) …. But we’re in no mood to decorate any bushes, if you know what we mean. Instead, tonight, a 25-foot spruce takes center stage in Duffy Square for a big, gay Broadway holiday-tree lighting performed by Wonderful Town giantess Brooke Shields, along with purple-haired cross-dresser Dame Edna Everage. ” She is lighting it with me,” corrected “Ms.” Everage in her distinctive contralto. “It’s a symbol, really-me and little Brooke are lighting up Broadway. What’s going to happen is, I’ll turn up and I’ll say ha-llo and it will most likely be pouring rain on the Chrissy tree. But I’m quite sure I’ll be wearing something spectacular.” We’re afraid to go to her show, Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance; don’t want to get picked on …. “No, I wouldn’t say I pick on people,” Dame Edna said. “I prefer to think of it as giving them all a wonderful career opportunity. And besides, no animal has ever suffered-I test my show on kangaroos.” Speaking of things that hop, some Observer staffers are still wondering what happened to Dame Edna’s son, Oscar, who was an intern here back in 2000 but disappeared one day after our predecessor sent him for a fruit smoothie-last we heard, he was boinking some rich British chick …. Speaking of which, don’t you love it when educational publishers get in on the smut? Oxford University Press is having a party for Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show, by some well-intentioned gal named Rachel Shteir. Dress code: black-rimmed glasses and pasties!

[Broadway Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony, Duffy Square, Broadway and 46th Street, 5:15 p.m.; Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show , the Slipper Room, 167 Orchard Street, 6 to 9 p.m., by invitation only.]

Thursday 9th

Trunk show: Sometimes the fashion “community” does something so completely unexpected and fully out of character that we have to retract every nasty thought we’d ever had about it and just submit to its magical whimsy. To wit: W magazine’s January issue will feature elephants. And no, we don’t mean one of those “plus-sized” models who are really a size eight, we mean actual elephants! Said W’s creative director, Dennis Freedman: “Bruce Weber called”-that’s this big, fancy photographer you’re supposed to know-”and said, ‘I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but …. ‘” As I always do, I said, ‘I’m game.’” The elephants are named Tai and Rosie. ” In the elephant world, they are supermodels,” said Mr. Freedman, who sent out the creatures’ measurements (theyhave106-inch waists) out to a wish list of designers and was overwhelmed with a massive response that included Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren and Dolce and Gabbana, all of whom have clearly gone quite mad. “Marc’s dress”- poplin with a ruffled organza petticoat-”is straight from the spring collection, adapted to the size of an elephant,” Mr. Freedman said, adding: “We also have some Chanel suits complete with pearl earrings.” Tonight, the magazine celebrates this loopier-than-Diana Vreelandesque extravaganza with 11 elephant-sized topiaries showcasing the designers’ creations (real elephants would’ve been far too smelly), plus cocktails and peanuts (natch). What it all benefits: Elephant Family, some Asian animal-rights organization. Meanwhile, downtown, there’s more proof the uptown set is finally beginning to subscribe to the Lower East Side hype machine: ElleGirl magazine is celebrating its ” 50 Hottest Rockers” issue down on Norfolk Street. Fun party gimmick: a “kissing and photo booth” into which young squealing ladies, no doubt wearing sparkly brooches, can jump atop the laps of the hot rockers, who will promptly offer them drugs and try to feel them up.

[ W magazine party, 545 West 22nd Street, between 10th and 11th avenues, 6 to 9 p.m., by invitation only; ElleGirl party, Angel Orensanz Foundation, Center for the Arts, 172 Norfolk Street, 8 to 11:30 p.m., by invitation only.]

Friday 10th

Cashmere if you can! Crank your Lucky editor alert up to DEFCON 4-and hell, you may as well leave it there till Dec. 24: There was a major sample sale of Inhabit sweaters; everything marked down a gazillion percent …. If the holidays make you “stressed out,” meanwhile, you’ll be wanting to hit the Metropolitan Pavilion for some spa and yoga certificates and fashionable trinkets, if you go for that sort of thing.

[Inhabit sample sale runs Dec. 7 to 9, 1441 Broadway, Suite 3101, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Fashion at the Pavillion, 125 West 18th Street, 5 to 10 p.m., http://www.metropolitanevents.com.

Saturday 11th

Lethem rips, Pixies stick: Remember Jonathan Lethem, the literary heartthrob of a hundred goggly-eyed Boerum Hill brunettes? The critics worked themselves into an honest-to-goodness fury over the National Book Critics Circle–winning Motherless Brooklyn and went equally nuts for The Fortress of Solitude (which apparently has nothing to do with our apartment)- alas, the best-seller list has not quite yet bent over and let him do his bidding …. Today, Mr. Lethem reads from the newly released paperback edition of Solitude at the Brooklyn Public Library after returning from a month-long tour of the West Coast. “I’m glad to be back-I was pining for New York,” he said. And how did our Left Coast friends find such a New York–centric book? “I think it’s an urban book,” said Mr. Lethem diplomatically (translation: He didn’t cause any earthquakes). Later, the Pixies return to New York after a 12-year absence-yes, a band so good we can forgive the fact that they hail from Boston. Expect to see all of rock royalty filling the V.I.P. section over the next week, plus some newbie players who were probably all of 7 or 8 years old when Surfer Rosa came out. Fun charity notion: bring Ashlee Simpson?

[ The Fortress of Solitude reading, the Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, 2:30 p.m., 718-230-2100; the Pixies at Hammerstein Ballroom, 34th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues, 6:30 p.m., http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Sunday 12th

Wake and bake! Alternatively: The Marijuana-Logues, the Off Broadway show now featuring Tommy Chong, one half of pothead comedic duo Cheech and Chong (our baby-sitter used to watch their movies and fall asleep drooling on the couch), is apparently still chugging along in the West Village; what hath Eve Ensler wrought? “It’s the must-see show of the century,” insisted Mr. Chong, who also appears on That 70′s Show. “Hey, in light of the world, you better go see it before Bush is able to get his hands on it.” Yes, we’re all bracing for that Big Crackdown …. Mr. Chong, by the way, recently served a nine-month prison sentence for conspiring to distribute drug paraphernalia. “I learned my lesson: Don’t sell bongs over the Internet,” he said cheerfully. He’ll appear onstage with show creators Doug Benson and Tony Camin for what Mr. Chong coyly called “a little bit of everything.” “This is the last chance to see an icon-me!” he said. Does this mean he’ll be retiring soon, we asked? “I’m going to be like Cher and do an annual farewell tour.” Without the bared buttocks, we trust ….

[ The Marijuana-Logues , the Actors' Playhouse, 100 Seventh Avenue South, between Bleecker and Christopher, 8 p.m., http://www.marijuanalogues.com.

Monday 13th

Simply the Bass: In order to get through today, you’re going to need big lung-filling breaths: David Sedaris, the man whose family is probably more eccentric than yours, will not be present for the celebrity reading tonight of his holiday collection of stories, Dinah, the Christmas Whore, as he is living overseas ( apparently combating boils). Reading in his place is a bevy of actors: the pregnant (again?) Molly Shannon, bootylicious Rosie Perez, deep-voiced Liev Schreiber and pudding-faced Alec Baldwin. All proceeds for the evening go to the Everybody Wins organization, which benefits children’s literacy programs. More from the lit league: Wallace Shawn, diminutive spawn of the great William Shawn ( The New Yorker, numskull), will read with longtime collaborator and gal pal Deborah Eisenberg at 192 Books in Chelsea this evening. Slightly dressier, and certainly with better cocktails, will be the party at the W in Times Square celebrating the publication of superstar caterer Serena Bass’ first book, Serena, Food and Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day. Listen for lot of faux and real British accents, as well as the clink of drinks concocted from the book, with names like the Smart Blonde and the Pink Bitch. “Both are me,” laughed Ms. Bass, from Los Angeles. “I’m not sure which the alter ego is, actually.” Don’cha miss the days when “entertaining” just meant room in the fridge for a six-pack and a glass jar for the deli flowers?

[David Sedaris celebrity reading, Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, 8 p.m., http://www.boxofficetickets.com; Wallace Shawn and Deborah Eisenberg reading, 192 Books, 192 10th Avenue, 7:30 p.m.; Serena Bass book party, W Hotel, Times Square, 6 to 8 p.m., by invitation only.]

Tuesday 14th

Still more booze: Everybody knows that a few drinks -O.K., maybe the entire bottle-can help one bob afloat the lurching emotional seas come holiday time. And sometimes a drinking event can even be educational …. Tonight, the Culinary Historians of New York -no relation to Les Dames D’Escoffier of last week, we think-present “Punch: A Brief History of the Monarch of Mixed Drinks ” …. If you want some good factoids about the holy marriage between alcohol and citrus fruits , this is the event for you. Samples will be served-cheers! (And keep an eye peeled for the notoriously thirsty New York Times Dining In, Dining Out section-is it just us, or does that paper seem to have more people chowing down for money than covering the war in Iraq?) ["Punch: A Brief History of the Monarch of Mixed Drinks," National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, 8 p.m., http://www.culinaryhistoriansny.org.

Wednesday 15th

We knew this day would come. What we didn’t know was that the finale of America’s Next Top Model (which is to say, the focus of our lives for the past 13 weeks, thank you very much) would land smack in the middle of the holiday season. It’s left us pondering a very modern question: Should the results of a reality show interfere with your reality? Either way, it’s all over after tonight-at which point we plan on becoming, like, complete party animals ….

[America's Next Top Model finale, UPN, 8 p.m.]