Short List: December 26 - January 2 | This Week's Top Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: December 26 - January 2


FREE EVENT: Sat., Dec. 28 – Birds

Odds are your tribe doesn't have a holiday tradition as venerable — or as feathered — as the Christmas Bird Count. This Audobon Society initiative — the world's longest-running citizen-science survey — is 114 years old, and the Audobon Society of Western Pennsylvania's participation dates to the 1950s. Across North America, tens of thousands of volunteers stake out everything from backyard bird-feeders to snowy fields to identify and count resident or wintering-over species. The results comprise "a very valuable data set" for researchers in both assessing the health of bird populations and guiding conservation efforts, says ASWP operations director Brian Shema. While this year's count period is Dec. 14-Jan. 5, each CBC "circle"— a 15-mile-wide territory — selects a single date for counting. In Pittsburgh, it's Sat., Dec. 28. You must sign up via, which includes a list of CBC leaders, probably including one in your area. If your home lies within a circle, you can simply monitor your feeder for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as you like). But beginners might prefer to join a CBC group, like the ones in North Park and Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, that includes seasoned birders doing counts in the field. Pittsburgh's CBC draws 120 or more volunteers, said Shema by phone, between peeks out his window at a dark-eyed junco. Bill O'Driscoll Sat., Dec. 28.

SPOTLIGHT: Tue., Dec. 31 — Festival

Back in 1993, the idea of marking New Year's Eve with a large-scale public arts festival was new here. But Pittsburgh took to this family-friendly, booze-free complement to house parties and bar crawls. And as in the 75 other U.S. cities using the licensed First Night format, we've stuck with it through cold, rain and snow. Now Highmark Pittsburgh First Night — which drew some 35,000 souls in 2012 — rings in its 20th new year. Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Downtown turns festival ground, with 150 performances, exhibits and activity stations at some 50 venues (almost all of them indoors, by the way). Live music is ubiquitous, from the indie folk of Broken Fences to jazz, rock, oldies and the River City Brass. There's also dance (Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Attack Theatre and kNOT Dance); comedy; demos by world yo-yo champ Mark Hayward; the new ice labyrinth at Katz Plaza; magic shows; Bricolage's immersive, interactive theater piece titled First Look: First Night; dance lessons; street performers; face-painting and other kids stuff; and art exhibits at galleries including Space and Wood Street. Film screenings include two short vintage takes on the steel industry: the acclaimed 1959 animation "Rhapsody to Steel" and 1936's "Steel Making: A Symphony of Industry." The big community-oriented FedEx Ground Parade, with marching bands, fire trucks and giant puppets, hits Penn Avenue at 8 p.m. And the musical headliner taking you to midnight is veteran soul singer Charles Bradley. You're in for the price of a First Night button, available online, by phone or at Downtown's Box Office at Theater Square or participating Giant Eagles. Some limited-capacity events require free seating vouchers, which must be acquired in person at the Box Office. Bill O'Driscoll 6 p.m.-midnight. Downtown. $8-10 (free for children under 5). 412-456-6666 or

Photo courtesy of Harlem Globetrotters

Thu., Dec. 26 – Sports

Like Santa Claus, the Harlem Globetrotters return to Pittsburgh every year around this time; also like St. Nick, they can visit several cities at once, with versions of the squad playing three other games tonight aside from the one at Consol Energy Center. But like last year's show, this contest against the perennially ill-fated Washington Generals designs in novelty: The tour incorporates online voting in which fans choose one of five wacky rules for each game. Options include: playing with two basketballs at once; five Globetrotters against six opponents; and "Make or Miss," where both teams start out two-on-two, and either team that makes a shot adds a player, while a team that misses loses one. BO 7 p.m. Downtown. $26.85-185.10.

Thu., Dec. 26 – Comedy

After the birth of his second daughter, Bill Crawford offered some advice for men: "Don't watch the actual birth. It's like watching your favorite band break up. Yeah, they might get back together, but it's never gonna have the same vibe." The Pittsburgh native and WDVE Morning Show cast member brings his regular-guy standup to another old stomping ground, the Pittsburgh Improv. Crawford, who's toured nationally, has five shows starting tonight. BO 8 p.m. Continues through Sat., Dec. 28. 166 E. Bridge St., The Waterfront, West Homestead. $20. 412-462-5233 or

Sat., Dec. 28 – Screen

Mid-century pin-up model Bettie Page's work — naughty-but-nice photos and short films in which she cheerfully modeled bikinis (or less) and indulged in light bondage — have never gone out of fashion even as Page herself disappeared from public view in 1957. Now, in Mark Mori's new documentary Bettie Page Reveals All, screening tonight and tomorrow at the Hollywood Theater, Page narrates her own life story and ponders her influence. "I was just doing my job," she demurs, "and loving every minute of it." Al Hoff 7 and 9 p.m.; also 7 p.m. Sun., Dec. 29. 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont. $7. 412-563-0368 or

Sat., Dec. 28 — Stage

Lenora Nemetz is among Pittsburgh's top gifts to Broadway. The local native was a protégé of the legendary Bob Fosse, appearing in the original Cabaret and in 1975 replacing Chita Rivera in the original Broadway production of Chicago. She's enjoyed a long career on Broadway, in touring shows and regional theater, and still draws raves, as she did for this past summer's Side by Side by Sondheim, at CLO Cabaret. Tonight, Nemetz herself is the show at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall annual benefit. The singing, dancing and patter of Lenora! Lenora Nemetz Brings Broadway to Carnegie Carnegie Hall is followed by a reception held on all three floors of this historic landmark. BO 8 p.m. 300 Beechwood Ave., Carnegie. $75-125. 412-276-3456, x13 or

Sat., Dec. 28 — Rollerskating

Down & Derby bridges the year-ending holidays with some new jack swing. New Jack Skate is this monthly roller-party's tribute to that über-'80s/early-'90s pop style blending hip hop and contemporary R&B, as exemplified by performers like Bobby Brown and producers like Teddy Riley. So if you like you some "I Wanna Sex You Up" on four wheels, tonight's Belvedere's event is probably the place to be. Your DJs are Digital Dave and DJ McFly. Rollerskates are available for rent; parachute pants are optional. BO 9 p.m.-2 a.m. 4016 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $6 ($3 skate-rental). RSVP required at

Sat., Dec. 28 — Talk

What, you're still waiting to be issued your regulation skinny jeans, your fixie and a year's supply of ironic T's? Eh, me, too. But things have gotten bad enough that tonight, the John McIntire Dangerously Live Comedy/Talk Show offers "The Hipsterization of Pittsburgh," described as "a comedic exploration of the transition between Yinzer City and Hipsterville." Besides McIntire, the panel talk at Cabaret Theater includes: mayor-elect Bill Peduto (who might not be a hipster, but has plenty of hipster support); hipster bar-owner Justin Strong; hipster entrepreneur Jia Ji; and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Samantha Bennett. BO 10:30 p.m. 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. $10 (free with same-night Cultural Trust ticket). 412-456-6666 or

Ice Skating
Photo courtesy of Citiparks

Sun., Dec. 29 – Outdoors

Outdoor ice-skating season is in full swing. Citipark's venerable Schenley Park Skating Rink (pictured) is open Sundays, and its weekly schedule includes evening adults-only sessions, college-ID discounts, and more. Meanwhile, the seasonal Downtown attraction now known as The Cal U Ice Rink at PPG Place also lets you skate around that obelisk seven days a week. (North Park and South Park have public outdoor rinks, too.) Ice-skating is affordable, it's healthy, it gets you out of the house ... and at these rinks, you don't even need to own skates. BO Schenley: 1:30-9 p.m. (times vary daily; Schenley Park; $3-4, skate rental: $2.50; 412-422-6547 or Cal U Ice Rink: Noon-8 p.m. (times vary daily; Downtown; $7-8, skate rental: $3; 412-394-3641).

Tue., Dec. 31 – Stage

Pittsburgh gets its first look at Ghost The Musical. The hit 1990 movie turned Broadway smash is on its inaugural national tour. The show, directed by Matthew Warchus, stars Steven Grant Douglas and Katie Postonik as Sam and Molly; the songs are by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard. A run of eight PNC Broadway Across America performances at Heinz Hall begins tonight. BO 7:30 p.m. Continues through Jan. 5. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $20-75. 412-392-4900 or