pick of the week: A couple of years ago, a pair of local legends — retired football player Ben Utecht (former Minnesota Gopher, Super Bowl winner with the Indianapolis Colts) and Mick Sterling (member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, philanthropist) — got together to pay musical homage to a pair of international legends, singers Andy Williams and Bing Crosby. Their show, “An Andy and Bing Christmas,” was such a hit that venues all over the state now book it. There’s a special version coming up at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the James J. Hill Center in St. Paul. Utecht (Andy) and Sterling (Bing), joined onstage by a team of choral singers and backed by a full orchestra, are donating all the proceeds to nonprofits. Tickets are $60 and are available at jjhill.org/calendar.

 

The longest night: The winter solstice Thursday has given rise to numerous events marking the event. Many faith communities will be holding services that evening. In addition, other organizations will be hosting programs on or near the 21st, including the American Swedish Institute on Thursday (asimn.org), the Science Museum of Minnesota Thursday through Saturday (smm.org) and the Drumming the Soul Awake performance at the Minnesota Opera Center Wednesday through Friday (drummingthesoulawake.com).

 

Day by day: Granted, it’s a blatant attempt to promote a movie, but this movie has become something of a holiday classic, so let’s have some fun with it. Monday is national Answer the Telephone Like Buddy the Elf Day. For those who haven’t seen “Elf” — and you really should — this refers to a scene in which Buddy (Will Ferrell) snatches the ringing phone off the desk of his business executive father (James Caan) and announces to the caller: “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”

 

Recommended reading: With the discovery that reading and socializing can help reduce health risks, book clubs are becoming a hit in senior residences. See the report in Tuesday’s Variety.

 

JEFF STRICKLER • jeff.strickler@startribune.com