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That's a wrap

Holiday Guide: Wrap it up! Gifts for movie geeks
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art@sfbg.com

Everyone's got one — that movie-freak friend or relative who's able to hold court on everything from His Girl Friday (1940) to Next Friday (2000); dazzle the dinner table with obscure trivia and dead-on quotes; and is possessed of a memory that's never met an unconquerable round of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." What to do when this human Internet Movie Database pops up on your holiday shopping list? Read more »

Seasons eatings

Holiday Guide: Treats and tipples to tickle your holiday fancy
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culture@sfbg.com

A man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry. — Ecclesiastes 8:15

Writing about Christmas treats and festive beverages is dangerous territory. Locals are adamant about their favorite spot to score an authentic stollen, the most buttery sugar cookie, or the strongest hot toddy. Read more »

Gifts on a shoestring

Holiday Guide: Cheap and DIY ideas for personal gifts
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culture@sfbg.com

There seems to be a golden ratio of expense-to-personalization when it comes to good gift-giving: the less expensive it is, the more thoughtful it must be. Problem is, many thoughtful gifts are also time consuming. And in this economic climate, it seems both time and money are scarce. If you find yourself in this situation, it doesn't mean you have to give up on gift-giving, or maintaining your credit score. Read more »

x plus x equals xx

Two takes on tracks by the xx from the album xx
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x one: 2009 is 1989 all over again. Exhibit 89: The xx intro themselves near Fascination Street, somewhere across the city from the fine times and vanishing points where Memory Tapes currently resides. Truth be told, that year is just one of many pre-millennial ones this sneaky group taps into and renovates. Their minor key, lowercase late night musings shine darkly like Young Marble Giants circa-1979. Read more »

Pot in the kettle

Learning the finer points -- and the health benefits -- of cooking with cannabis
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culture@sfbg.com

Save for the teeny-weeny skirts and gunfights, Sandy Moriarty is like Nancy Botwin, the main character of Showtime's Weeds. To casual observers, these women may look like regular God-fearing folk, but in their circle of marijuana smokers and edibles-eaters, both are local celebrities. Read more »

Checkout time

Rolling strikes are fresh tactic in the labor struggle against hotel chains
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news@sfbg.com

Two consecutive three-day strikes by hotel workers signaled a change in strategy for local labor, which is struggling to hold on to past gains in an increasingly bitter contract dispute during this economic downturn.

Hotel employees affiliated with UNITE HERE! Local 2 walked off the job at the Grand Hyatt on Nov. 6, kicking off a 72-hour work stoppage that labor organizers said was centered on the Hyatt but aimed at more than a dozen luxury hotels staffed by Local 2 workers.

Another strike, in front of the Palace Hotel, started Nov. 10 and ended at midnight Nov. 12. Read more »

Seizing space

How Rebar and other artsy renegades reignited a movement to reclaim the urban environment
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steve@sfbg.com; molly@sfbg.com

San Francisco's streets and public spaces are undergoing a drastic transformation — and it's happening subtly, often below the radar of traditional planning processes. Much of it was triggered by the renegade actions of a few outlaw urbanists, designers, and artists.

But increasingly, their tactics and spirit are being adopted inside City Hall, and the result is starting to look like a real urban design revolution — one that harks back to a movement that was interrupted back in the 1970s.Read more »

Holiday Guide 2009

Cheap gifts, festive fetes, and traditional treats -- let's do this thing!
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Does this time of year leave you mumbling “Bah, humbug!” (or maybe “Holidays schmolidays!”)? We understand. The commercialism of this season can feel crippling, especially in an economy as dismal as this one. But here’s hoping our guide to affordable gifts, uplifting food and spirits, and festive destinations helps put some of the cheer back into a season that has potential for so much of it. And if that still doesn’t work? Buy a batch of barleywine. A few bottles in, you won’t even remember what month this is. Read more »

Appetite: Food for Thought helps Mission grads, Frescobaldi gets Luce

Food-and-drink spots, deals, events and news
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Every week, Virginia Miller of personalized itinerary service and monthly food, drink, and travel newsletter, www.theperfectspotsf.com, shares foodie news, events, and deals. Read more »

Listen to the community

Obama and the feds make progress, but officials say more AIDS help is still needed
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news@sfbg.com

The HIV/AIDS support community celebrated when President Barack Obama recently lifted the 22-year long U.S. travel ban against people infected with HIV. But officials say the federal government is still deaf to local needs and not making the best use of scarce resources.

The U.S. Conference on AIDS, held Oct. Read more »