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Short List: Week of December 16 - 23 

Thu., Dec. 16 – Hip Hop 

Tonight's the first of two back-to-back homecoming shows at Stage AE for Pittsburgh emcee Wiz Khalifa. He's completing a long stint on the road with The Waken Baken Tour, and Khalifa's new T-shirt design gives you an idea of how it went: "Wake Up Drunk," reads the front of the shirt, and on the back, "Go To Sleep Fucked Up." It seems to be working for the dude: He's recently signed to Atlantic and his new single, "Black and Yellow," is killer. His two shows here are sold out, but that's never stopped the resourceful concert-goer. Aaron Jentzen 7 p.m. (doors open). Also 7 p.m. Fri., Dec. 17. 400 North Shore Drive, North Side. Sold out. All ages. 800-745-3000 or www.promowestlive.com

 

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Thu., Dec. 16 -- Comedy

At a time of year when you wish relatives would just act less like, you know, themselves, here's a guy best known for acting like almost everybody else. Comic and impressionist Pablo Francisco is famed for his one-man movie-trailer spoofs and wild mashups of celebrity voices. (One YouTube offering unites Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael J. Fox and Elton John in a sunglasses emporium.) The Comedy Central favorite, a veteran of four European tours, returns to the Pittsburgh Improv for six shows in four days starting tonight. Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. Shows continue through Sun., Dec. 19. 166 E. Bridge St., West Homestead (at The Waterfront). $25. 412-462-5233 or www.improv.com

 

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Thu., Dec. 16 -- Stage

Some anticipate The Second City's seasonal visit to the Pittsburgh Public Theater for the comedy sketches, whether new and topical or drawn from the legendary troupe's deep archive -- like the one (dating from the 1990s) about a young woman bringing her new boyfriend to meet her family, whose obscure ethnic customs he keeps unwittingly violating. Some theater-goers enjoy the satirical songs. But Second City is perhaps most famous for its improv, and audiences at this year's touring show, Fair & Unbalanced, will witness their share, says new cast member Kate Duffy. One improv game, "Four Square," sounds almost athletically rigorous: With audience input, a series of two-person sketches are devised, each matching one actor with a different partner; but a "director" keeps interrupting the sketches and forcing performers to pick up a different sketch where they left it off. Look for controlled mayhem from the five-person cast, which includes Duffy, Shad Kunkle, Mark Piebenga, Katie Rich and Tim Stoltenberg. The first of four shows is tonight. BO 8 p.m. Also 8 p.m. Fri., Dec. 17, and 5:30 and 9 p.m. Sat., Dec. 18. O'Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. $15-50. 412-316-1600 or www.ppt.org

 

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Sat., Dec. 18 -- Puppets

The endangered art of kids making their own fun gets a boost today Downtown, courtesy of The ToonSeum and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Veteran Sesame Street puppeteer Noel MacNeal visits the Center to show kids and their adults how to make puppets in 10 minutes, using everyday materials. (Think socks and paper bags.) From crafting finger puppets to putting on a show, MacNeal covers it all in his new book, 10-Minute Puppets, and a good deal of it in today's free, hands-on workshop. BO 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free, but registration required at 412-338-8730 or www.noelpuppets.eventbrite.com

 

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF CARA RUFENACHT, VENTURE OUTDOORS.
  • Photo courtesy of Cara Rufenacht, Venture Outdoors.

Sat., Dec. 18 -- Outdoors

Here's hoping there's snow on the ground today in Highland Park, if only for the benefit of folks at Venture Outdoors' Family Snowshoe Walkabout. If snow there is, beginners can get a taste of this unique way of perambulating. If the ground is bare, you'll still strap on the 'shoes for a tryout. Drop by anytime between noon and 3 p.m., when short guided nature hikes are also available. BO Noon-3 p.m. Highland Park (main entrance), N. Highland Avenue and Bunker Hill. Free. www.ventureoutdoors.org

 

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Sat., Dec. 18 -- Music

Finally: Irish folk music from real Irish folks! Téada is comprised of five men from far-flung locales throughout Eire; the band is all traditional instrumentation (fiddle, flute, bodhran), and not so much of the overwrought melodramatic stuff you find on PBS during pledge drives. Téada's "Irish Christmas in America" tour is taking them throughout the U.S.A. -- and to Carlow University's Antonian Theatre tonight. It's presented by the people who bring you the Pittsburgh Irish Festival. Andy Mulkerin 7:30 p.m. 3333 Fifth Ave., Oakland. $15-25. 412-422-1113 or www.pghirishfest.org

 

Sat., Dec. 18 – Benefit

Tonight at ModernFormations Gallery, area musicians, artists and more present "If Memory Serves," a benefit for the Alzheimer's Association. The event, organized by musician Joel Grimes in memory of his father, Robert, includes readings and performances by TM Eye, Onodrim, River is to Train, Nikki Allen, Ed Steck, Renee Alberts and Neighbors (which includes CP listings editor Andy Mulkerin). There's also a raffle, with prizes from local purveyors of goodness like Spak Bros., Paul's CDs, Mind Cure Records, Kirkiture, 976-PUNK Pedals and Schreckengost Inc. AJ 7 p.m. 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield. $5. 412-362-0274 or www.modernformations.com

 

Sat., Dec. 18 -- Art

Twenty-two years ago, Michael Walsh and his skateboarding pals hung out on the 200 block of East Liberty's South Highland Avenue. It was also there that Walsh experimented with the graffiti that became the basis of his artwork. Walsh eventually tuned to abstract sculpture and interior design. His signature buildings include Bloomfield's Mezzanotte Café, Point Breeze's Point Brugge Café ... and the Time Bomb clothing store, on that very block. The latest exhibit of Walsh's artwork is back on that block, too. It's at The Gallery 4, and it's called Coming Full Circle. See his new collection of three-dimensional objects drawing on a series of graffiti-inspired forms, in media including cast iron, at tonight's opening reception. BO 7-11 p.m. Exhibit continues through Jan. 28. 206 S. Highland Ave., East Liberty. Free. 412-363-5050 or www.thegallery4.us

 

Sun., Dec. 19 -- Outdoors

As the Full Cold Moon approaches, who wouldn't want the chance to hang out with some owls? The naturalists at Jennings Environmental Center have the hook-up: Tonight is their Full Moon Owl Prowl. Bundle up, strap on some boots and head out for an indoor presentation followed by a guided outdoor walk in which you just might catch sight (or sound) of one of the elusive night-predators, if you're lucky. Don't think of it as a freezing-cold hike -- think of it as a live production of America's Got Talons. AM 7 p.m. 2951 Prospect Rd., Slippery Rock. Free. 724-794-6011

 

Sun., Dec. 19 -- Words

"If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!" It's true: Scrooge got all the best lines in A Christmas Carol. Hear the rest of them -- and the rest of Dickens' classic -- at tonight's free reading in the English Nationality Room, in Pitt's Cathedral of Learning. The reading, by Poets Corner and Theatre Sans Serif, doubles as a benefit for the East End Cooperative Ministries Food Pantries. So bring a non-perishable food item, and be like Scrooge -- on his morning after, of course. BO 7 p.m. Bigelow Boulevard at Forbes, Oakland. 412-512-0589

 

Tue., Dec. 21 -- Circus

If you've ever wanted to see Father Christmas play acrobat, or one gingerbread man juggle another with his feet, here's your chance. On the heels of its parent company's Broadway hit Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, nationally touring troupe Cirque Dreams Holidaze visits Heinz Hall for some family-friendly, tinsel-spangled spectacle. Tree ornaments come to life as costumed characters -- acrobats, aerialists, singers, dancers and musicians. PNC Broadway Across America hosts eight performances, starting with tonight's. BO 7:30 p.m. Shows continues through Dec. 26. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $22-64. 412-392-4900 or www.pgharts.org

 

Wed., Dec. 22 -- Film

Animated specials are staples of the holiday season, and tonight, the folks at The ToonSeum are putting together a nice cross-section of the genre. The evening begins with a video screening of 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas, the enduring classic about a sad boy and an even sadder tree, set to Vince Guaraldi's memorable jazz soundtrack. The second feature is Berkley Breathed's A Wish for Wings That Work, a cartoon gem starring Breathed's Opus character (from the Bloom County strip) that aired for a few years back in the '90s. Capping off the night is the feature-length The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton's beautiful and creepy 1993 stop-motion. AM 6:30 p.m. 945 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Suggested donation $5. 412-232-0199 or www.toonseum.org

 

Wed., Dec. 22 -- Festival

Proving that it doesn't have to be rooted in a real holiday to be a holiday tradition, the annual Festivus show presented by local promoter Manny Theiner celebrates its sixth iteration tonight at Howlers. Festivus VI features local-via-Johnstown faves Endless Mike & the Beagle Club, along with Eighth Whale and Emily Rodgers, a holdover from past Festivus shows. Named for the holiday invented on Seinfeld, the event also features fun stuff like a Festivus pole (basically just an undecorated pole) and Seinfeld trivia. AJ 8 p.m. 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $6. 412-682-0320

click to enlarge IMAGE COURTESY OF MICHAEL WALSH
  • Image courtesy of Michael Walsh

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