In case you forgot, the holiday are pretty much here. Which means it's time for The Santaland Diaries, the Christmas edition of Bar Flies, and a holiday lights tour. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times' calendar.
The Santaland Diaries
One of satirist David Sedaris’ greatest literary hits is The Santaland Diaries, an essay that dryly documented his time working as a holiday elf inside Macy’s. It’s been adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello, bringing visual flair to a tale that has been told sonically on NPR and in prose for 25 years.
At its heart, the story explores the complexities that come with Christmas. Toby Yatso, the director of Phoenix Theatre’s Santaland production, explains why Sedaris’ work endures:
“Even though the holidays can mean merriment, joy, community, reverence, happy memories, and an abundance of love and celebration for many, for others it can mean stress, frustration, stinging nostalgia, unmet expectations, crippling loneliness, and exhaustion.”
Laugh along starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 14, at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell Road. Tickets are $40 to $58. For more information, visit David Sedaris’ website. Jason Keil
Whether it’s stuffing your face with leftovers while lounging on the couch in pajamas or meeting up with friends for a catch-up brunch, the holidays are food-centric. Phoenix New Times’ monthly reading series, Bar Flies, gets into the seasonal spirit with its annual Eating Christmas edition. Hear storytellers Melissa Campana, Melissa Dunmore, Katie Johnson, Kent Nicholas, and Sarah Ventre share personal accounts of holiday experiences with food at the core. Kevin Vaughn-Brubaker will provide the tunes.
Stories start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 14, at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. Tickets to the 21-and-over event are $5. Bring canned food items to donate and you might win a pair of tickets to the Tacolandia festival in January. Visit the Valley Bar website for details. Amy Young
Arizona Coyotes v. Tampa Bay Lightning
“Power Rankings” are the sportswriter’s ultimate clickbait: effective, yet ultimately meaningless. Turns out, avid sports fans find the inconsequential placement of their favorite team on someone’s arbitrary list far too enticing to resist. That is, unless your team isn’t moving.
Not that anyone is caught unaware, but the Arizona Coyotes are pretty much a permanent fixture at the bottom of every NHL power ranking in the nation, which — silver lining — gives fans one less time-waster to scroll through. Nevertheless, catching the Yotes (who are awful on paper but show promise on the ice) in action is hardly a waste of time. Arizona hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning at Glendale’s Gila River Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 14. Tickets are $13 and up. Visit the Coyotes website or call 623-772-3800 for details. Rob Kroehler
When holiday shopping and traffic become draining, a place to air your grievances is pretty crucial. Enter Festivus, the nontraditional “holiday” made popular by the TV show Seinfeld. The Phoenix Public Market hosts an annual version of the celebration. Phoestivus commemorates the occasion with a Hipster Santa, baby goats dressed as reindeer, an airing of grievances, a yeti sighting, comical holiday stories from local storytellers, a feats of strength challenge, and a giant Phoestivus pole.
More than 130 food and craft vendors will sell locally made products, and 15 food trucks and stands will serve up tamales, burritos, and empanadas. The celebration takes place from 5 to 10 p.m. on two Thursdays, December 14 and 21, at 721 North Central Avenue. For more information, visit the Phoestivus website. Laura Latzko
When you’re a failure as a novelist and you’re also bad at murdering, you’re not going to be in an episode of Columbo. But you are likely to be a character in Poe-ssessed!, a brand-new play by Ron Peer. Sure, it sounds super-sweet to have Edgar Allan Poe return from the dead to collaborate with you, but for Eric, it’s nothing but problems.
Now & Then Creative Company takes its name from a two-pronged commitment to both development of new works and appreciation of classics (recently, Medea). The company presents a reading of Peer’s script at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 15, on the Metro Arts Institute campus at 1700 North Seventh Avenue, #100. Admission is $10. Visit the Now & Then Creative Company website, or call 908-616-7211 for more details. Julie Peterson
Kristin and Emmett’s Excellent T-Shirt Adventures
Mix some art with your cocktails as Tempe Center for the Arts presents Kristin and Emmett’s Excellent T-Shirt Adventures. The adults-only gathering happens from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 15, at The Gallery at TCA, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway. It’s a bring-your-own-T-shirt affair.
The evening includes live music, happy hour, and a maker workshop with Kristin Bauer and Emmett Potter. They’re featured in an art show called “Tempe Xhibition: celebrating ten years,” which continues through January 6, 2018. It celebrates nearly 20 Tempe artists, including Mark Klett, Melissa Martinez, and Emily Ritter.
Bauer and Potter will help attendees create T-shirts using what Bauer calls a “quick simple processes of assemblage with found text and shapes.” Compelling texts, shapes, and color infuse each artist’s work, so be sure to explore it while you’re there. The exhibition and workshop are free. Cocktails will be available for purchase. Visit the city of Tempe website. Lynn Trimble
Christmas Lights Tour
In neighborhoods all over the Valley, houses have been bedazzled for the holidays. You probably want to see them, but let’s face it, that’s not so easy to take it all in when you’re behind the wheel. Join the Christmas Lights Tour, hosted by local history buff Marshall Shore, for a fun group outing to see these lit houses.
Shore gives us the rundown: “We’ll board a big yellow school bus to embark on an adventure that includes some of the best Christmas light displays in Arizona.” He notes that there’s also trivia and a goodie bag that has a kazoo or instrument so that you can participate in caroling. “Even if you don’t want to sing, you can use your instrument to hum along.”
This tour will run from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, December 15, starting and ending at the Clarendon Hotel and Spa, 401 West Clarendon Avenue. Admission is $30. Visit the Facebook event page. Amy Young
Irish Celebration of Tea
Caffeine entered Western culture when newly invented clocks and schedules torpedoed the practice of drinking beer all day because the water was bad. The stimulating beverages merit endless study. Start at Irish Celebration of Tea on the third Saturday of each month (except for a couple in the depth of summer). Tea and soda bread are served; much history, etiquette, and technique are imparted; and you’ll break that habit of calling a repast “high tea” when it isn’t.
Wet your whistle at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 North Central Avenue, on Saturday, December 16, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Admission is $25. Register by Thursday, December 14, at the Irish Cultural Center website or 602-258-0109. Julie Peterson
Club ’90s Selena Night
Celebrate all things Selena when the Club ’90s Selena Night dance party takes over The Van Buren, 403 West Van Buren Street.
The party will run from 9:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 16, and it’ll feature the Queen of Tejano’s hits from the ’90s. Because duh. Tickets to this 21-and-over event range from $12 to $15, and are available via the Van Buren website. Lindsay Roberts
Hansel and Gretel
Arizona Opera brings some family fun to Phoenix with a performance of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Based on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, this stage production follows the two siblings whose legendary love of sweets lures them to a witch who wants them to stay for (and become) dinner.
But concerned parents shouldn’t be worried about the opera’s dark plot, as it’s been adapted for a young audience. When the lights go up, attendees can partake in games and the building of gingerbread houses.
The kids will be all right at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 16, at Arizona Opera, 1636 North Central Avenue. Admission’s free. For more information, visit the Arizona Opera website. Jason Keil
The people behind The Unfathomable Film Freakout, which spotlights work by filmmakers who were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should, continue their Cinemania series of genre films with Miracle Mile, the 1988 Cold War classic in which Anthony Edwards’ world is forever changed when he answers a pay phone. That’s normally a terrible idea in a movie, but he’s motivated by what we’ll call waitress ex machina.
Despite pre-CGI effects and heavy-handed metaphors, Miracle Mile maintains a rating of 7 on IMDB — genuinely impressive. Tangerine Dream provided the soundtrack for the flick, which screens at 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 16, at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. Admission is $9. Visit the FilmBar website. Julie Peterson
If you only know Sam Sykes from his absurd Twitter feed or his manic Batsu games at Phoenix Comicon, you’re missing out on some fun fantasy novels. But you can get in the mix at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 16, when he will celebrate the release of his latest, God’s Last Breath, at The Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale.
God’s Last Breath wraps up Sykes’ “Bring Down Heaven” trilogy, about a group of misfit adventurers of questionable morals and damaged pasts as they inadvertently attempt to save the world from a mad god.
Sykes also will sign his new graphic novel, Brave Chef Brianna, about a young cook who pursues her dream of opening a restaurant in Monster Town.
Admission is free, but attendees are asked to purchase something on-site. God’s Last Breath is $16.99, and Brave Chef Brianna is $14.99. Call 480-942-2974 or visit the Poisoned Pen website for more information. Michael Senft
Before Disney turned Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of good, evil, and a whole lot of icicles into the new Broadway musical Frozen, Frances Smith Cohen’s transformed it into Snow Queen. It’s a 90-minute modern dance work that pits a pair of young lovers against icy forces. Spoiler alert: Love wins.
See the holiday show performed by Center Dance Ensemble on Sunday, December 17, at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. Tickets for the 2 and 5 p.m. performances are $28 for adults. The cast includes Amber Robins and Nicole Olson, plus dozens of charming children. Visit the Herberger Theater website. Lynn Trimble
Arizona State University v. Vanderbilt University
The ASU men’s basketball team rattled off seven consecutive wins to start the 2017-18 season. You read that right: Forks up. The last time the Sun Devils sizzled out of the gate that hot was in 1980, when head coach Bobby Hurley was 9 years old and John Travolta’s hair was real.
Now a fiery 46-year-old, Hurley’s competitiveness has clearly made an impact on his team. Led by senior guard Tra Holder, the Devils — not those ferocious Wildcats to the south — are the toast of the Pac-12. Enjoy it while it lasts, as ASU hosts Vanderbilt at Tempe’s Wells Fargo Arena, 600 East Veterans Way, at noon on Sunday, December 17. Tickets are $12 and up. Visit the Sun Devils website or call 480-727-0000 for details. Rob Kroehler
For more than five decades, Carol Burnett has made an impression on audiences. Her half-century-spanning career has included a turn as Miss Hannigan in the 1982 musical Annie and an appearance as Sue Sylvester’s mother on Fox’s Glee. Perhaps her influence is most deeply felt as a result of The Carol Burnett Show, which ran for 11 hilarious years. The variety show broke down barriers for women in entertainment and influenced stars like Tina Fey.
All the more reason to listen up when Burnett tells show business stories and answers questions from the audience at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Street. Be glad for this time together with Burnett at 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 17. Tickets are $88 to $179. For more information, visit the Comerica Theatre website. Jason Keil
“Larry Kornegay: New Work”
Larry Kornegay, a Phoenix-based artist and designer, has a keen eye for detail. It’s evident in his paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media assemblage — plus the titles he chooses for them, from Happy Waitress to Ship Wrecked Scholars Rock. See more than 20 of his pieces in “Larry Kornegay: New Work” inside the Ottosen Gallery at Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, December 18, and free with garden admission, which is $24.95 for adults.
“This takes me back to my roots of a degree in drawing and painting, mechanical drafting, and sign painting,” Kornegay wrote in his artist statement for the show. His materials include found objects, steel, concrete, pencil, and latex paint, to name a few. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden website. Lynn Trimble
Stand-Up Comedy Class
You might know how to deliver a joke that gets the laughs, but the folks hosting Stand-Up Comedy Class at a local club emphasize that it takes a hell of a lot more than that to be a successful comedian. They’ll show you at this course, where you learn about different facets of stand-up, like improvising, dealing with hecklers, creating characters, and how to be a good host. The class includes a guest speaker — a professional, working comedian who will share what’s worked for them and what has bombed.
Your comedy education starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, December 19, at The Comedy Spot, 7117 East Third Street in Scottsdale. The class costs $20 to $25; a discounted monthly rate is available. Call 480-945-4422 or visit the Comedy Spot website. Amy Young
Garth Johnson’s eyes lit up as he approached an installation called “Porøs” one evening in late September. The curator for ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center was exploring another ASU gallery space that was transformed into a grotto-like environment, filled with elements described as “proliferating crystals, percolating rock, and moving liquids” in exhibition materials.
The exhibition was created by Neil Forrest, a Nova Scotia-based artist who “investigates ceramics, architectronics, and the relationship between micro and macro structures.” Its title is Norwegian for “porous.” Odds are, you’ve never encountered anything quite like it. See for yourself at ASU Art Museum, 51 East 10th Street, where hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 19. The exhibition continues through January 20, 2018. Visit the ASU Art Museum website. Lynn Trimble
Open Voice Latinx
Phoenix Art Museum is giving Latinx artists, community members, and staff a chance to speak up.
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On Wednesday, December 20, Open Voice Latinx puts the spotlight on community members as they give a personal tour of their art at the museum and explain what it means to them. It’s a fresh way to look at art — and it opens up dialogue about current issues.
The tour will begin at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, and there’s no charge for the museum after 3 p.m. For more information, visit the Phoenix Art Museum website. Lindsay Roberts
A Musical Memoir of the Sixties and Beyond
What happens when Paul McCartney gives you a song? Sixties singing duo Peter and Gordon turned that gift from the Beatle into a hit. “A World Without Love” was a number-one hit it more than 30 countries, back in 1964. Since then, half of that combo, Peter Asher, has gone on to produce music for a mix of artists, from Neil Diamond to 10,000 Maniacs and Morrissey.
At his one-man show, A Musical Memoir of the Sixties and Beyond, Asher will sing and reminisce about his long and intriguing history in the music business, starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 20, at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. Tickets are $38.50 to $48.50. Call 480-478-6000 or visit the Musical Instrument Museum website. Amy Young