Once you've wrapped up your seasonal shopping (for help, consult Jackalope Ranch's ultimate gift guide), here's how to fill in the gaps in this week's schedule.
Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin Book-Signing @ Changing Hands Bookstore The assassination of JFK was one of the most devastating events in American history, but for Secret Service agent Clint Hill it was the most devastating event of his life. Fifty years on, the man sworn to protect the Kennedys and who famously hurled himself onto the President's vehicle split-seconds after the shots rang out, tells his story in Five Days In November. Haunted by the demons of that Dallas motorcade, Hill, along with journalist Lisa McCubbin, bravely recalls the assassination as well as the tumultuous days surrounding it, events that very nearly caused his own life to unravel.
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In promotion of the book, Hill and his coauthor will visit Tempe's Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive, at 7 p.m. Monday, December 16. Sure it's a Monday, but perhaps sitting in the presence of someone whose life is inextricably linked to history will prove more rewarding than sitting on a sofa that is, fortunately, not inextricably linked to your ass. Admission is free with purchase of the book ($30). Visit www.changinghands.com or call 480-730-0205 for details. -- Rob Kroehler
Eating Christmas @ Crescent Ballroom As much as we try to pretend the holidays are about family and love and giving and stuff, we have to admit food ranks pretty high on our Christmas priorities list. It's the centerpiece of family gatherings and a vehicle through which we carry on important traditions.
In fact, we believe so strongly in the connection between the holidays and food that we'll be back for a second year of Eating Christmas, the holiday reading event hosted by New Times' food blog, Chow Bella. Local creatives and New Times writers will read their food-themed holiday stories - you might laugh, you'll probably cry, and you'll most definitely get hungry.
Eating Christmas will be at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 17. Admission to the reading is free, and canned donations will be accepted to benefit St. Mary's Food Bank. For more information call 602-716-2222 or visit www.crescentphx.com. -- Lauren Saria
The Star Wars Holiday Special @ FilmBar For filmmaker George Lucas, there's one embarrassment bigger than box office turkey Howard the Duck and prequel abomination Jar Jar Binks. FilmBar and Nerd Nite team up to unearth and laugh at The Star Wars Holiday Special on Wednesday, December 18.
The Star Wars Holiday Special, unaired since 1978, is a schlocky variety show wrapped in a muddy plot about Han Solo visiting Chewie's Wookiee family on their home planet to celebrate the Christmas-like Life Day. Among the highlights: a cartoon introducing badass Boba Fett, Bea Arthur as the singing bartender of the Mos Eisley Cantina, and Princess Leia signing to the Star Wars theme song. Chief Star Wars geek Dustin Diehl will present his thoughts, and donations will be accepted for Toys for Tots.
The Star Wars Holiday Special and toy drive is at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street, and starts at 7:30pm. Admission is $9 and more info is available at www.thefilmbarphx.com. -- Jose Gonzalez
Phoenix Poetry Slam @ Lawn Gnome Interesting fact: Performance poetry existed before your aunt posted Upworthy links to YouTube videos of soul-stirring wordsmiths. Witness poets lighting up the mic IRL on Thursday, December 19, during the Phoenix Poetry Slam.
Lawn Gnome Publishing, in addition to being a bibliophile's dream, is a true-blue home for poetry, considering its founder, Aaron Hopkins-Johnson, has traveled the world with his words. The bookstore hosts weekly meets for poets striving for connection with audience members, especially those volunteering to score their efforts. The slams through January serve as qualifying bouts to determine members of the 2014 National Poetry Slam team that will rep Phoenix. Kansas City, Missouri transplant Hattie Hayes hosts the word madness and keeps the night moving.
The Phoenix Poetry Slam spits that word-life every Thursday at 8 p.m. (poet signups are at 7:30) at 905 North Fifth Street. Admission is a suggested donation of $5, and more info is at www.facebook.com/PhoenixPoetrySlam. -- Jose Gonzalez
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Snow Queen @ Herberger Theater Center Unlike other Christmas tales, Snow Queen includes some truly scary characters: a troll, several witches, robbers, and a mirror that makes your heart freeze over. But the frightening elements haven't kept the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, first published in 1845, from becoming a part of many Valley residents' holiday traditions.
Center Dance Ensemble presents their modern dance interpretation of the story, set to music by Sergei Prokofiev. The company's magical story of good and evil features modern dance, impressive costumes and hundreds of young performers. Artistic Director Frances Smith Cohen leads the ensemble, also the resident dance company at the Herberger Theater Center, in their 25th season.
See Snow Queen at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street., runs through Sunday, December 22. Showtime Friday, December 20, is 12:10 p.m. Tickets cost $27 for weekend performances and $6 for the lunchtime one. For more information, call 602-252-8497 or visit www.centerdance.com. -- Lauren Saria