Arts & Culture

We’re less than two weeks out from Christmas and sure enough, you still have no idea what to get a lot of people on your list, right?

When all else fails, books and music are usually a can’t-miss gift. Who doesn’t love a good coffee-table book? Fortunately, there are a decent number of new releases this holiday season.

Around Christmas, I turn into one of those annoying people who thinks everything is a little better just because it’s holiday time. But for a lot of people, this time of year can lead to depression and isolation. This week’s profile knows the pain of those dark days and now spends a good deal of his time helping others. He poured his story out in his autobiography, “Happiness.”

Alexander Chee is an openly gay Korean-American author, teacher and activist. He was a member of ACT UP in the late 1980s-early ’90s and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Advocate, OUT and the San Francisco Review of Books. He also penned novels “Edinburgh,” “The Queen of the Night” and, most recently, the essay collection “How To Write An Autobiographical Novel,” which includes stories about his time working with ACT UP and Queer Nation during the AIDS crisis, his first experience in drag and the writing of his semi-autobiographical first novel.

The restaurant Savona is tucked away in the shadowy hills along the Main Line — so off the beaten track that unless you know exactly where you’re heading, you may not find it.

Television is “telling more LGBTQ stories than ever,” as noted by GLAAD in its “Where We Are On TV Report 2018,” issued in October.

While this is technically accurate, the question becomes: What stories are being told and are they stories that elevate the queer community, or just stories that drop in LGBTQ characters to meet some unstated diversity quota and lure gay viewers?

STOCKING STUFFERS: The Skivvies, the scantily-clad comedy-music duo featuring Lauren Molina and out actor Nick Cearley, bring their new holiday show “I Touch My Elf” to town for what is sure t be a wild set of performances, through Dec. 8 at the Kimmel Center’s SEI Innovation Studio, 300 S. Broad St. For more information, visit www.theskivviesnyc.com.

’Tis the season to be jolly. I don’t know about you, but I love the sounds and smells of the season. I get excited the first time I see the twinkling lights go up at Dilworth Plaza and as I walk through the Christmas Village. Catching the “Charlie Brown” soundtrack as I flip through the dials also gets me in the spirit.

I even get a few flutters seeing the promos for the Nutcracker at the Academy of Music. It’s become a yearly tradition to start the season by watching the amazing dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet fly through the air with their annual spectacular performance. I’ve had the pleasure to profile many of them here in this column. This year I got some fun inside information from the ballet’s company manager, Emily Pratt.

SANTA ‘KOZ’ IS COMING TO TOWN: Out Grammy-winning saxophonist Dave Koz brings his annual holiday concert to the area, performing alongside jazz superstars Mindi Abair, Jonathan Butler and Japanese keyboardist Keiko Matsui, 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at Scottish Rite Auditorium, 315 White Horse Pike, Collingswood, N.J. For more information or tickets, call 856-858-1000.

Thekitchn.com suggests that you throw away your spices after one to four years, depending on the type, which means I’m probably about eight years behind. Luckily there’s a place that can help me restock with the freshest herbs and spices around: The Spice Rack in Chestnut Hill.

Alain Leroy Locke was born in Philadelphia in 1885. He died in New York City in 1954, the architect of the Harlem Renaissance and a figure so massive in black history that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in a speech in 1968, “We’re going to let our children know that the only philosophers that lived were not Plato and Aristotle, but W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke came through the universe.”

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