9 Nerdy Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This December

If you’re looking for a break from wrapping your perfect presents this December, there are several ways to stimulate the mind and undo what the incessant holiday music has already done to your brain.

From robots and biological art to Jeb Stuart, Anne Rice, and David Bowie, here are nine thinking man’s activities to round out 2016.

Get Lit: Talk Writing in the Reading Room with Four Chambers Press
What could beat talking about writing in a reading room? That’s the premise of the aptly named Get Lit: Talk Writing in the Reading Room with Four Chambers Press. Seventeenth-century French salons inspired the event, which is led by Rosemarie Dombrowski. You are encouraged to drink and converse with other like-minded book lovers at the free, 21-and-over event from 7 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, December 1, at Valley Bar. Visit the Get Lit website for more.

"The Big Robot Show"
When sculpture meets science fiction, you’ve got “The Big Robot Show” – a showcase of works by local mixed-media artist Jordan-Alexander Thomas. Thomas has collected items like wood and up-cycled objects to create curious and impressive robot sculptures. Practical Art will show off these DIY droids with an artist reception from 6 to 10 p.m. on First Friday, December 2, with the exhibition running the whole month of December. Looking is free. Visit the Practical Art website for more information.

"Resilient Bodies"
Bill Dambrova’s solo show, "Resilient Bodies," displays his art inspired by biological systems – like a weird fever dream where science and art class has become one in your sophomore year of high school. For this show, the artist has selected specific works that “playfully ponder the balance of the delicate and the resilient within the biological systems of humans, animals, and plants.” The free show is open at Chartreuse gallery from December 2 to 20. The opening reception is from 6 to 10 p.m. on First Friday, December 2. Visit the Chartreuse website for further details.

Viceland @SMoCA: Pakistan
Catch screenings of Woman and States of Undress from the Viceland television channel compliments of Vice Media at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. The spotlight is on Pakistan, and special guests include Yasmin Saikia (the Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies and Professor of History at the Center for the Study of Religion & Conflict at Arizona State University) and Daniel Rothenberg (Professor of Practice at the School of Politics & Global Studies, also at ASU). The showing starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, at SMoCA. Tickets are $7 for general admission, $5 for museum members. Visit the SMoCA website.

Read on for more ways to geek out this December.

LibCon West
If it’s a pop culture convention you want, it's a pop culture convention you’ll get at LibCon West. Hosted by the Glendale Public Library, the event is primarily teen-focused (ages 12 to 18), but there will be comic-inspired vendors, food trucks, and cosplaying for all ages. Show off those tights from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 10, at the Main Library location. Visit the Facebook event for more information.

Die Hard Screening and Q&A
Scottsdale Community College’s School of Film and Theatre is screening the classic Christmas film Die Hard, which will be followed by a Q&A session with its screenwriter, Jeb Stuart. The gift of giving, indeed. Tickets range from $15 to $100, and can include a VIP reception, a chance to meet Stuart, and a raffle entry. Some proceeds go to raise funds for the school. The VIP reception is from 6 to 7 p.m., the film is from 7 to 9, and the Q&A runs from 9 to 10 on Monday, December 12, at Harkins Camelview at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Viewers must be 18 or over, while reception attendees must be 21 or older. Visit the event page for more information.

Anne Rice
Vampires were sexy in the '90s, too, and largely thanks to Anne Rice. The horror writer is on her way to Changing Hands in Tempe to discuss the latest novel in her Vampire Chronicles series, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. Purchase of the book ($28.95) gets you a spot in line for the book signing, starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, December 23. Her son Christopher Rice – also a writer and one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive – will join her. Visit the Changing Hands website for more information.

Free Play Weekend
Your favorite barcade in Mesa – The Grid: Games and Growlers for those unfamiliar – is all wrapped up in the spirit of giving, and the Free Play Weekend proves this. Give over $7 at the door and get free range of all the arcade cabinets, including Killer Queen, for free the rest of the night. Sorry, pool hustlers and pinball wizards, this does not include pool tables, pinball tables, and Virtual Reality. Free Play Weekend welcomes 21-and-over arcade players from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on the nights of Friday, December 23, and Saturday, December 24. Visit the Facebook event for further details.

Music of David Bowie
We don’t have to tell you how hard 2016 has been for music lovers, and David Bowie's death was the first major blow of this dark calendar year. If it’s any consolation, Phoenix Symphony Hall will host the Music of David Bowie – a tribute to the spacey pop star performed with vocals by Tony Vincent, the Phoenix Symphony, and a full rock band — all conducted by Martin Herman. Whether you need to hear “Space Oddity” (you will) or “Fame” (you definitely will), this one-night-only event is bound to get emotional. Tickets range from $30 to $99, with the performance starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 30. Visit the Phoenix Symphony Hall website for more information.
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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.