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Top Five Phoenix Arts and Culture Stories of the Week

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If Bob Ross were alive today, he'd be painting happy little trees all over the place in ecstatic fervor for all the arts and culture happenings in Phoenix. To help you see the forest for the trees, here's a recap of the top arts and culture stories of the week.

Must-See Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties in Metro Phoenix

It's that time of year again ... Time to raid your local thrift store or grandmother's closet in search of something completely hideous and wonderful to wear to your annual ugly Christmas sweater party.

But if your Christmas sweater is all laid out and you're at a loss for where to show it off, we have four local spots that are all geared up to embrace the tackiest piece of apparel this season has to offer.

See our list of ugly Christmas sweater parties around metro Phoenix.

--Katie Johnson

10 Favorite Strip Clubs in Metro Phoenix (NSFW)

Local strippers and the clubs that employ them have had to put up some major crap from government in past few months. In case you hadn't heard, a cadre of uptight right-wing officials and politicos (including a few members of Arizona Legislature) have been attempting to get nanny-state laws passed that would redefine nudity in strip joints and restrict how dancers get their grind on with patrons.

While legislation has stalled for the moment, it could eventually pass -- especially given the whacked nature of our nutty state government. In other words, better enjoy your constitutional right to see some skin or be on the receiving end of a lap-dance just in case it gets taken away from you. If you need assistance in picking out the perfect place, we've assembled a list of 10 of favorite strip clubs from the dozens upon dozens of flesh parlors that dot the Valley.

Have fun, but remember, no touching.

--Benjamin Leatherman

Jackalope Ranch's Gift Guide for the End of the World Prepper

While we're not convinced that the world is going to come to a Mayan flavored ending in December, it still might not be a bad idea to stock up for other civilizations crumbling eventualities.

Conveniently, the makers of the Crovel, who we've spotlighted before, have recently opened a retail location for all your survival needs. While you can still order from online catalogs, their store acts as a showroom to let you have eyes and hands on with some of their products. Think of it as an upscale surplus store.

Check out the complete gift guide for your favorite prepper.

See all of Jackalope Ranch's 2012 holiday gift guides.

--Ando Muneno

Phoenix Comicon Announces First Wave of Guests for 2013, Including J. Michael Straczynski and the Cast of Babylon 5

Nerds of the Valley who've been waiting with baited breath to learn who's headlining next year's Phoenix Comicon finally got their answer.

Organizers of the annual four-day geek extravaganza, which goes down over Memorial Day weekend, began announcing some of the special guests for the 2013 version of the 'con this week on Facebook and the news is likely to delight fans of iconic science fiction series Babylon 5.

J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of the series (as well as a prolific sci-fi and comics author in his own right), will be appearing at Phoenix Comicon, as well as a big chunk of Babylon 5's cast.

Check out the full story and see who else is going to appear at Phoenix Comicon 2013.

--Benjamin Leatherman

A Charlie Brown Christmas & Fantagraphics' New Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking are Peanuts Christmas Classics

It's easy to get bummed out by Christmas -- especially when the "holiday season," with all the crass consumerism, bad music, and awkward family gatherings, seems to kick off earlier and earlier each year.

But only the "grinchiest" can resist the charms of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Originally aired by CBS in 1965 (ABC now airs the special), the film established Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts" characters as synonymous with Christmas, capturing all the joy and lowdown of the holiday with its crude animation, mellow jazz soundtrack (courtesy of Vince Guaraldi), and decidedly traditional message.

"It's sincere," explains Peanuts historian Nat Gertler. "It's not the most beautiful, 'let's polish off every little thing' production, but it goes there; it does what it's trying to do."

Read the full story on A Charlie Brown Christmas.

--Jason P. Woodbury

Don't forget to check out Jackalope Ranch's series, 100 Creatives.

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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