By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
FRIDAY, December 26
It isn’t just because the week between Christmas and New Year’s is notoriously slow for things to do. And it’s not because we’re feeling do-goody all of a sudden. Okay, it’s both those things. But if you give blood at the Laugh Factory Blood Drive, you’ll help save lives. You’ll also receive coupons for Clippers games (speaking of needing blood) and free Cold Stone ice cream. Also, every time you drive by the Laugh Factory, you can remember how you nearly fainted from blood loss while lying down gazing at a gigantic poster of Dane Cook. The Laugh Factory, 8001 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Fri., Dec. 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call Mika for appointment: (323) 656-1336.
SATURDAY, December 27
Now that Xmess is finally over, we can get down to the business of Kwanzaa. And since I have no idea what Kwanzaa is really about, nor have I ever met one single person who actually celebrates it, this Kwanzaa Celebration and Leon Mobley Second Annual Drum Giveaway sounds like a fine place to start telling people, “Why, yes, I celebrate Kwanzaa. Doesn’t everybody? Jeez.” Local drum legend Leon Mobley, known as a master of the djembe, hosts the event, highlighted by a performance from his group, Da Lion. Bring a can of food, or other nonperishable food item, and get in free. Kaos Network, 4343 Leimert Blvd., Leimert Park; Sat., Dec. 27; drum giveaway 4-7 p.m.; performance 7-11 p.m. (323) 296-5717.
SUNDAY, December 28
Paul Newman — who didn’t love his acting? But it has to be said that that man could wear a suit. See him rocking a three-piece Armani in The Verdict in his silver-haired ball-busting period. Then compare how extremely hot he looked in dirty white jeans on that motorcycle in Sometimes a Great Notion. Part of Paul Newman Memorial Tribute Weekend. Thank you, American Cinematheque. The Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., Dec. 28, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-FILM.
MONDAY, December 29
Buy George? Can someone tell me why George Lopez is so popular? Seriously, I really would like to know. Does he make you laugh? Please enlighten me. ’Cause he’s doing a ton of dates — way more than Kathy Griffin even. Nokia Theatre, 777 Chick Hearn Court, downtown; Fri.-Wed., Dec. 26-31, 8 p.m.; $55.50 & $79.50. (213) 763-6020.
TUESDAY, December 30
Did 2008 suck? Perhaps. The hosts behind The It Sucked! Awards, Bristol and Willow Palin, a.k.a. Dannah Feinglass and Danielle Schneider, have given the subject much thoughtful consideration, for your cut-and-paste pleasure: “2008: The year of champions. Michael Phelps won medals, Sarah Palin won our hearts, Obama won our vote, and gay marriage won ... well, not everyone can be a winner. So, let’s celebrate the winners and the losers of 2008, from the bailout to Britney, as we reflect on the moments that made us say to ourselves, ‘That sucked!’” With Neil Campbell & Paul Rust, Matt Besser, Brett Gelman, Mike Phirman, Josh Fadem, others. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; Tues., Dec. 30, 10 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702.
WEDNESDAY, December 31
Please, everyone, can we all agree that there should be no more burlesque dancing in rock clubs in 2009? If we can just pull together and make that dream a reality, our future looks brighter. Yes, we can! With any luck, “Daddy, why is Mommy still asleep?” will be the oft-repeated sentence at my house on New Year’s Day. Too bad wee ones don’t get to stay up too late and go crazy with noisemakers and countdown revelry. But they can get an early start on 2009 at Kidspace Museum’s Noon Year’s Eve. While the sun blares through Mommy’s heavy-duty sunglasses, kids can count down to 12 (noon) and enjoy streamers, sparkling cider and music. Sneak in some champagne in sippy cups — wasted tots are really funny! Kidspace Children’s Museum, 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena; Wed., Dec. 31, 11 a.m.; $9. (626) 449-9144.
If the songs of Pink Martini were given to a million people of widely varying musical tastes, it’s a sure bet fewer than .000000001 percent of the testees (ha, I said “testees”) would find anything objectionable in their mix of sounds — rock, folk, bossa nova, jazz, classical, Broadway, classy, unclassy. In fact, if all world leaders were to sit down together at a Pink Martini show, there would be no more war. Just happy feelings, unlike those bitter chicks from the It Sucked! Awards. Pink Martini will be joined by legendary otherworldly vocalist Jimmy Scott. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Wed., Dec. 31, 7 & 10:30 p.m.; $65-$195. (323) 850-2000.
“It’s painful for me to watch someone who isn’t funny. It’s horrifying to sit in the back and watch some guy who just totally sucks.” Joe Rogan is talking about whom, I wonder? His show is not a bad choice for your last outing of 2008. The Improv, 8162 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; Wed., Dec. 31, 10 p.m.; $60. ($100 includes dinner — if you dare.) (323) 651-2583.
For that special manufactured Times Square feeling — you know, mobs of people you don’t know blowing noisemakers in your face — Universal CityWalk delivers the madness. If dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe followed by virtual NASCAR racing sounds tempting, this is your scene. For CityWalk’s New Year’s Eve Bash, there will be live music by Fast Times and ’80s Rewind, plus DJs, dancing and a broadcast of the famous Times Square ball drop on the giant AstroVision screen. Warning: Don’t drink and buy Pez dispensers. Universal CityWalk, Universal City; Wed., Dec. 31, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; free (parking $5,000). (818) 622-4455.
With eight rooms offering eight different versions of “Auld Lang Syne” — including big band, country, jazz, disco, Latin — surely you’ll find one to suit your style at the Queen Mary’s Stars & Lights. This year, your ticket gets you Donna and the Lost Boys, Tony Guerrero and the Hi-Fi Quintet, the Platters (yes, those Platters), Red Loquita and much more. A balloon drop and fireworks ring in 2009. And with so many rooms to explore, you have another good option if you decide to lose your date! Queen Mary, 1126 Queen’s Hwy., Long Beach (south end of the 710 freeway); Wed., Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m.; $99.99. (562) 435-3511.
The founders of Marina del Rey continue to make good on their promise to bring fireworks to the people. And we thank them. Marina del Rey New Year’s Eve Fireworks display is a good one. Best view spots are Fisherman’s Wharf and Burton Chase Park. Get there early, and wear a diaper! Burton Chase Park: 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey;Fisherman’s Village, 13755 Fiji Way, Marina Del Rey. (310) 823-5411; Wed., Dec 31, 2007, 11:59 p.m; free. (310) 305-9545.
See Dance Clubs for much hipper, louder New Year’s Eve options.
THURSDAY, January 1
Great hangover cure: The 56th Annual First Swim of the New Year, presented by the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears, who will crown King and Queen Polar Bear. Then it’s everybody into the water! (Attention women in your late 40s — this is for you!) The club’s been around since the early ’50s, which makes this tradition the L.A. equivalent of London’s Ceremony of the Keys on Tower Bridge! Cabrillo Beach Boathouse, 3800 Stephen M. White Dr., San Pedro; Thurs., Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m. (310) 548-7554 or www.cabrillobeachpolarbears.com/index.htm. You also have The 10th Annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim. Hansen Dam Aquatic Center, 11798 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace; 8 a.m. (818) 899-3779. Also, there’s the Venice Penguin Swim Club New Year’s Dive. They dip at the more humane hour of noon. Call for location: (310) 390-5700.