It seems as if several of the biggest weekend events are tonight, Thursday - "Jazz on the Menu" for music fans, and "The Raven and the Gypsy" for theater buffs. But that's just the beginning of the year 4711, if you follow the Chinese calendar.
The Chinese year starts Sunday, Feb. 10, when we enter the Year of the Snake. Yes, it sounds bad, but according to infoplease.com, "Those born in snake years are wise, charming, gregarious, introverted, generous, and smart." Like Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey and Bob Dylan. And you, if you were born in 1929, 1941, 1954, 1965, 1977, 1989 or even 2001.
Back to local news: This is the third year for the dining and jazz benefit "Jazz on the Menu," in which a percentage of the evenings' dinner trade goes to support the Healdsburg Jazz Festival's year-round education programs. Ten participating restaurants are in Healdsburg, and they as well as the musicians playing are listed on this page; there are also a couple in Geyserville. The highlight is usually the so-called "after party" at Costeaux French Bakery, tonight with jazz performances by the Noel Jewkes Quintet and Healdsburg High jazz band, free deserts and wine by the glass. Most online tickets are sold out, but there may be some at the door for $10.
The other Thursday event is the world premiere of "The Raven and the Gypsy," appropriately at the Raven Performing Arts Theater on North St. It's a documentary about the preparations for, rehearsals of and first performance of "Gypsy" at the Raven last year. Again, tickets are $10 at the door. If you know anyone who was in the Raven Players production last year, this might be their big chance for global fame; we talked with filmmaker Scott Roberts earlier this week and it sounds like a lot of fun.
Friday the Raven returns to its usual schedule for the last weekend of "The Odd Couple," with 8 p.m. performances Friday and Saturday and a Sunday matinee at 2.
Speaking of Ravens, the Film Center bids farewell to "Lincoln" tonight, making way for the new Steven Soderberg film "Side Effects" (R) with Dragoon Tatoo star Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum. Also, Best Picture nominee "Argo" (R) returns for a couple showings a day, alternating with "Zero Dark Thirty" (R) which is continuing. "The Impossible" (PG-13) about the Thailand tsunami, and the dance romance "Silver Linings Playbook" (R) also remain. Showtimes can be found on this page.
Saturday is marks the return of the Steelhead Festival, though this year the sea-going rainbow are bypassing the Healdsburg Plaza and doing the entire show up at the Lake Sonoma Visitor's Center. It's from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with multiple exhibitors and activities for all ages, music, food and beverages. The weather should be warmer, and drier, so head all the way up Dry Creek Rd. and enjoy it. It's free.
At Just for You Gallery on Plaza St., they are showing off "The Vessel Series," in which the artists Red Wolf presents "a series of works that are each unique but also provide a vehicle to be able to teach the underlying processes inherent in this art form." There's also an international Juried Art exhibition on the theme "Spring, Love, Pinot and Chocolate," which makes the Saturday evening artist reception, from 5 to 10 p.m., all the more appealing.
Two "soft holidays," if we may invent the phrase, are coming up next week: Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras. In anticipation of one of them, Amphora Winery is putting on their annual Amphoradisiac Valentine's Dinner (sounds like they're inventing phrases, too), Saturday evening starting at 5:30. Winemaker Rick Hutchinson will share his expertise, chef Martin Courtman will prepare the feast, and as the music plays you and your loved one can make moon-eyes at each other. It's $135 per person ($115 for Amphora Wine Club members), but tax and gratuity are included. Advance purchase only, here.
The other holiday is next Tuesday, Feb. 12, the early appearance of Mardi Gras. Don't know yet what's going on in town for Fat Tuesday, but we do know that this Saturday, Feb. 9, St. John's Catholic School will celebrate with a Casino Night, co-presented with the Italian Catholic Federation. "Heavy" hors d'ouevres, no-host bar, KZST emcee Brent Farris, and probably a lot of fun. Tickets are $40 general, $30 parents and ICF members. Guests 21 and over only, thanks. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at the School on Fitch St.; call 433-2758 for more information.
If you survive Thursday through Saturday, you can make it to Sunday's Healdsburg Literary Guild Poetry Valentine at the Bean Affair. From 1:30 on, 20 poets will read their romantic, sweet, and anger poems expressing love; there will be chocolate as well to ease the emotions. It's free, and open to the public.
If you know of an event that is not listed here, let us know in the comments; if you have an event in the works, make sure you create a listing in the Events section of Healdsburg Patch. How else are we to know?
Oh, and Kung Hei Fat Choi to you, too.