Chris DeMento

Not unlike crack

This year's model: FIFA Soccer 09 is satisfyingly weighty and beefs up player models in contrast to FIFA 08
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FIFA SOCCER 09

(Electronic Arts; Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2 and 3, Sony PSP, Windows Vista/XP, Xbox 360)

GAMER In the midst of all this excruciatingly important election business, I strive only to be a better-terrified, proverbially neo-American Joe, asking you, "O citizen, has there ever been a more convenient time to wed distraction — by an awesome bit of footy on the Xbox 360?"

Frayed knot. Read more »

Superlist: Hot shaves

Get a close one at these barber shops
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Oh, the beard. You've seen it all over the city on all kinds of faces. It's both the Scandinavian overgrowth of a hipster on a fixie and the trimmed-up, yuppified smarm of the suit sitting next to you on the 47. The bald 43-year-old in the Ozzfest T-shirt: he wears the hell out of it in an attempt to distract attention from his retired scalp.

We love it. Eventually, though, it starts to itch or begins to rub your significant other the wrong way. Here's your answer: ooh, the hot shave. Many barbers will tell you they no longer perform this time-consuming yet important service. Read more »

Careers & Ed: The Roots of teaching

Everything Claire Kiefer needs to know about education she learned in jail
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culture@sfbg.com

The last day of class before Christmas break presents a challenge for any educator, in any class, at any school. It's usually considered completely devoid of teachable moments, a phenomenon that's chalked up (pun intended) to prevacation excitement: PlayStation daydreams, visions of sugarplum romance, and the promise of two and a half weeks of sleeping in don't exactly encourage industrious behavior.

So the popular course of action among teachers remains the party approach — some snacks, some games, a dose of holiday frivolity. Read more »

All I want for Christmas ...

Locals talk about gifts that keep on giving and the ones they wish they could've given back
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We asked some notable San Francisco personalities to recall their most memorable holiday gifts. Read on for the superlatively good, bad, and fugly (plus our recommendations for where to get the good stuff).

BRIANNA TOTH, CURATOR, COORDINATOR FOR THE CONCERT SERIES "NOISE IN MY KITCHEN"

WORST A sweater with pink elephants on it from Argentina, from my ex-boyfriend. It's the most horrific thing I've ever seen ... Read more »

Shopping for slackers

Neighborhood shortcuts for an efficient gift search
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When it comes to holiday shopping, some people are planners. These are the types who keep an eye out for potential gifts all year long, who spend long, leisurely hours trekking through shopping districts and browsing through stores for that perfect gift — in June. But most of us are the other type of shopper: the oh-my-god-it's-almost-Christmas, I-only-have-two-days-to-get-everything, it's-too-late-to-order-online kind. For these people (you know, the rest of us), we've compiled this neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to holiday shopping. Read more »

Happy Garden Restaurant

The glory of ee mein
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REVIEW Wow, this place is excellent, and even better if you can swing an off-the-menu order or two. When I visited this affordable, familial gem on Clement, there was extra tomato soup in the back, a nice little on-the-house warm-up dish that was a bit on the sweet side but afforded a friendly lesson in etymology (ketchup is taken from the Cantonese for "tomato sauce").

Lover's Shrimp seemed a suspiciously named special, against which we decided only after much debate. Read more »

Sens Restaurant

Uplifting food makes up for gloomy decor
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REVIEW My hot date and I spent about as enjoyable an hour and a half as can be spent in a brown bat cave (without doing it in a corner). I don't know what restaurant occupied this slot on the promenade level of 4 Embarcadero before Sens took it over, but whatever beast it was left Sens with a nightmare dilemma on its hands: how to exorcise California gothic spirits of stone and brown and big buck hunting and death? Sens's answer? You don't. Read more »