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NOVEMBER 25 - THURSDAY
It's Thanksgiving Day which means many things. One, the holiday season is officially upon us. Two, it's time to pig out and collapse on the couch in front of the tube. And three, it's time for the annual Carolinas' Carrousel Thanksgiving Parade. The parade, which begins at 1pm, is almost always fun. It draws a huge crowd (get there early) and in recent years has been a veritable culture wars battlefield. First, they made the great African-American school bands tone down their act, and this year there was a controversy over a gay chorus having a float. People! -- It's 2004! Organizers need to let go of the illusion that we're still in a Father Knows Best culture and let Charlotteans of all stripes contribute what they do best. So there. The parade starts at North Tryon and 11th, goes down Tryon to 3rd, winds around and ends up at 2nd & McDowell. For more info, go to www.carrouselparade.org. (Grooms)

NOVEMBER 26 - FRIDAY
In a resurrection that might be more in keeping with the Easter season, Actor's Gym is reborn as Classics Theatre of Charlotte, presenting A Christmas Carol instead of their usual soft-porn Shakespeare and sci-fi. All is calm, bright, and wholesome -- we presume -- as Tony Wright's new enterprise kicks off the Yuletide season at Carolina Actors Studio Theatre with Charles Dickens' evergreen parable. David Holland stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in an all-new production adapted and directed by Wright. Rodena Barr, Don MacManus, Ginger Richardson, Courtney Wright, and assorted small fry play the other characters through December 20 at 1118 Clement Avenue. Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm. Tickets are $12.50 with $10 tickets for student and seniors -- with a Pay What You Can night this Sunday. Call 704-455-8542. (Tannenbaum)

The Charlotte Checkers, the winningest pro team in town, face off against the Columbia Inferno tonight at 7pm at Cricket Arena. It's also CMS Night -- bring a new, wrapped Teddy Bear to the game and "toss" it to center ice when the Checkers score their first goal. Bears will be collected and distributed to children at the Presbyterian Hemby Hospital. Tickets, priced from $9 to $20, are available through Ticketmaster (704-552-6500 or ticketmaster.com) or at www.gocheckers.com. (Vespa)

NOVEMBER 27 - SATURDAY
A Charlotte tradition continues with the Center City Tree Lighting and Holiday Celebration at the corner of Trade and Tryon streets Bank of America Corporate Center Plaza. Before lighting up the tree, local choirs and bands will perform various musical stylings, while the kids can enjoy Santa or one of the free holiday art projects. Be on the Plaza by 7:15pm when the flips the switch and officially ushers in the holiday season. For more information, go to www.charlottecentercity.org. (Callahan)

Probably rock & roll music's second most favorite colonel after Elvis' Col. Tom Parker, Bruce Hampton continues what he started in The Aquarium Rescue Unit and the Fiji Mariners (and before that, numerous legendary Atlanta bands) with his group the Codetalkers at the Visulite Theatre tonight. Namely, jazz-inspired, neo-tropical, guitar-heavy jams that can stretch into the wee hours. Like yet another famous colonel, Hampton keeps things interesting with just the right touch of spice (and probably some herb), setting his music way apart from others of the same ilk. Tickets for the 9pm show are $10, available by calling 704-358-9200. (Davis)

Primoz Brezec and the newly acquired Keith Bogans -- two players making an early case for the NBA's Most Improved Player award -- and the rest of the Charlotte Bobcats take on upstart Al Harrington and the Atlanta Hawks tonight at 7pm at the Charlotte Coliseum. Tickets are $10-$115, available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 704-522-6500. (Davis)

NOVEMBER 28 - SUNDAY
The Carolina Panthers take on former arch-rivals the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today at 1pm at the evidently cursed Bank of America Stadium (the team has yet to win in their newly renamed digs -- is it a coincidence Condoleeza Rice attended the first game?). While not the team they once were after losing WR Keyshawn Johnson to the Dallas Cowboys and Warren Sapp to the Oakland Raiders, the Bucs do appear to be peaking at the right time thanks to the strong play of new QB Brian Griese and rookie wideout Michael Clayton. Tickets for the game are said to be sold out, but it couldn't hurt to log on to www.ticketmaster.com to be sure. (Davis)

NOVEMBER 29 - MONDAY
Russell Simmons' stable of edgy, engaged spoken-word troubadours is back in the house! Def Poetry Jam returns to Belk Theater with fresh helpings of the attitudes, observations, and emotions that drove the multitudes wild last year. The core of the group remains the same, led by Poetri, Georgia Me, Suheir Hammad, Lemon, and Black Ice. It's a Def-inite rush for a rainbow range of crusading rebels and ethnic minorities -- and anybody with a healthy curiosity about what's bugging the next generation -- peppered with anger, expletives, and even the fearful N-word. The humor is every bit as spicy. Tickets are $22-$45. Call 704-372-1000. (Tannenbaum)

NOVEMBER 30 - TUESDAY
Observe the conclusion of Indian Heritage Month and follow a panel discussion, Being Native American Today, about the Native American experience at the Levine Museum of the New South. Enjoy the exhibit We're Still Here, a light reception, and a panel of Native American representatives including Keith Brown of the Catawba Cultural Preservation Project, Gregory Richardson, chair of the NC Indian Affairs Commission, and Rosa Winfree, co-founder of Metrolina Native American Association. Frye Gaillard, author of As the Waters Flow, will moderate and sign copies of his book following the program. Admission to the event is free. Reception at 6pm and panel discussion at 7pm. Further details at 704-333-1887 or www.museumofthenew south.org (Shukla)

DECEMBER01 - WEDNESDAY
Comedian Steve Moore exercises a powerful, personal brand of comedy in his stand-up act, which comes to The Dilworth Playhouse Cafe at 9pm tonight. He uses his HIV-positive status and wry wit to educate people -- gay and straight -- about the virus, and his appearance is timely as today is World AIDS Day. Steve has been seen on TV with Ellen DeGeneres and Roseanne, has opened for Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin, and had his own HBO special, Drop Dead Gorgeous. There's a $5 cover for the show. The Dilworth Playhouse Cafe is at 1427 South Boulevard. Call 704-632-0336 for more info. (Vespa)

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