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December Arts And Culture Picks

Above: King Tuff will bring his kooky jams to San Diego this month.

To think that it’s already December is both strange and exciting. What a difference 12 months can make. Whether you’re ramping up for the end of the year, or the end of the world, why not go all out? Get more adventurous. It’s only 2012 once. Who knows what the next year holds?

The Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park's December Nights.

December Nights

There are countless ways to spend the holiday season, admiring the sparkling lights and the subtle chill in the air. Balboa Park's December Nights returns this month, drawing large crowds with more than enough holiday flair to go around. It may be both difficult and overwhelming to plan for the night, but don’t miss out on participating Balboa Park museums, which will open their doors late into the night, free of charge. Escape into the dimly lit galleries or check out the classic Santa and his reindeer statue. December Nights happens Friday, December 7 and Saturday, December 8 in Balboa Park.

The Babies

The Babies hail from Brooklyn and provide the perfect sounds for late night wandering.

The Babies

The Babies hail from Brooklyn and have been creating a buzz beyond the Internet. The band was formed in 2009 by Kevin Morby, the bassist for low-fi band Woods and Cassie Ramone, the lead singer of garage-rock band Vivian Girls, and later developed into a quartet. Last month the band released its second album, "Our House On The Hill," on a new label, Woodsist. Though not quite a super-group, the Babies still deliver magical, mellow jams, perfect for wandering a big city at night or driving aimlessly. See The Babies on Monday, December 10, at Eleven in City Heights.

King Tuff

To see King Tuff in action is to witness something silly, kooky and fun. Vermont-bred Kyle Thomas fronts King Tuff (his on-stage moniker), guaranteed to muster up a wild dance party for even the wallflowers. With scraggly long hair, a sun medallion and an infectious laugh, there’s no denying that Tuff is a character. His self-titled sophomore album sounds like a house party that should never end. Tuff’s guitar is named Jazijoo and he sings of letting her “drool.” He reminds us all to keep it kooky — life’s too short. King Tuff plays Saturday, December 15 at the Til-Two Club in City Heights.

American Zoetrope

Kirsten Dunst joins an all star cast for the latest filmic rendition of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road."

On the Road

Jack Kerouac’s iconic novel “On the Road” has been the subject of much discussion and inspiration for both future artists and those looking to figure it all out. The latest film rendition hits theaters this month, with an all-star cast. Directed by Walter Salles, best known for "The Motorcycle Diaries," the film features Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst and Steve Buscemi, with newcomers Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund as Sal and Dean. Although adaptations of classic novels can prove dangerous at times, it looks like this will do Kerouac's great literary work justice. "On the Road" opens in theaters Friday, December 21.

River City

River City will share their bayou sounds with Boy King at the Whistle Stop.

Gallery1988

A Bill Haverchuck "Freaks and Geeks" work as part of a Judd Apatow-inspired gallery show.

River City | Boy King

Locals River City and Boy King team up this month for a night that will be one part bayou jamboree and one part good, clean fun. River City's foot-stomping sounds will likely prompt the feeling of being in another world, complete with a banjo and a mandolin. Three-piece Boy King (formerly Bunny Gang) will alternatively deliver growly jams. Frontwoman Megan Liscomb is known for her captivating onstage presence, featuring an abundance of sass and girl-gang-worthy moves. Don’t miss River City and Boy King play at the Whistle Stop in South Park on Friday, December 14.

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg, Snoop, Snoop Lion, call him what you will. The man, and staple to the West Coast hip-hop scene of the '90s, comes to town this month for two nights at the Belly Up Tavern. With many misadventures and transformations, Snoop has made a name for himself in spite of life's hard knocks. If anyone can hang, it's him. He's inspired many and strangely enough his filmography surpasses his discography. Be warned that tickets to his local shows are steep (starting at $89) but it's not every day you get to see a musical giant play in an intimate venue. Snoop Dogg plays Monday, December 10 and Tuesday, December 11, at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.

A Tribute to Judd Apatow

In the late '90s, the world was introduced to the comedic brilliance of Judd Apatow with the short-lived cult television hit, “Freaks and Geeks.” Who can forget Lindsay Weir’s iconic green army jacket? Since then, Apatow has dazzled us with series and films including (but not limited to), “The 40-Year Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express.” He’s more recently produced raunchy lady comedy “Bridesmaids” as well as Lena Dunham’s breakout HBO hit “Girls.” This month, artwork inspired by his career will be exhibited in a group show at Gallery1988 in Los Angeles. Apatow fans and followers will be delighted by the 100 or so pieces of laughter, heartbreak and angst. “A Tribute to Judd Apatow” is on view at Gallery1988’s Melrose location now through Sunday, December 30.

Louis XIV

Back in the day, in my angsty and awkward high school youth, listening to local rockers Louis XIV made me feel significantly cooler. Though I had a difficult time deciphering just who the girls mentioned in their songs were, including “little Stacy Q” or “carrot juice,” I knew all the words (probably to my parents’ dismay). After achieving national acclaim (beyond San Diego), touring with the Killers and even having a song featured on the TV's “The O.C.,” the band called it quits in 2009. I always secretly hoped for a reunion outside the sticky floors of SOMA. Thankfully, the boys will be back together for a show entitled “The Return of the King” later this month. God may have killed the queen, but it didn’t kill Louis just yet. Don’t miss Louis XIV at The Casbah on Thursday, December 27. Boy King and the Howls open.

Atlantic Recording Corp.

Beloved locals Louis XIV reunite for the "Return of the King."

Boulevard Nights

If you’re seeking an alternative to the standard holiday festivities, or need an escape from the chaos of family soirees, consider cutting loose at this month’s installment of Boulevard Nights. This monthly party returns to the El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street corridor with local restaurants, bars and storefronts participating. It’s free and open to all ages, so there is likely to be something for everyone. The Lafayette Hotel, Tiger! Tiger! and Media Arts Center San Diego are among those involved in this block party of sorts. With art, food, music and beer, this could be just the holiday cheer you’ve been looking for. Boulevard Nights is Friday, December 14, on El Cajon Blvd. between the 805 and Park Boulevard.

A Christmas Story

Everyone has their classic holiday movie staple. For me, it's "A Christmas Story." There's something about the movie that sticks, which is likely why it has a cult following today. The premise is simple: Nine-year-old Ralphie wants one thing for Christmas — a Red Ryder BB gun. This proves more difficult than expected as he is met over and over again with the same haunting reply, "You'll shoot your eye out." Amidst the chaos and striking visuals (who can forget the leg lamp), comes a heartwarming and slightly disturbing film for all. "A Christmas Story" plays poolside at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma as part of their ongoing "Dive-In Theatre” film series on Wednesday, December 26.

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