Monday, Dec. 2
With Cyber Monday raging, we've got some great things to propel you out of the frenzied shopping zone.
In a quest to truly understand the city he has spent his entire life in, William Helmreich took on an epic undertaking — to walk every single block of New York City. Over the course of four years, Helmreich walked more than 6,000 miles of city streets, thoroughly exploring all five boroughs and accumulating a wealth of stories. Helmreich will be joining the Obscura Society to share an intimate portrait of New York, from its most overlooked and hidden corners to the diversity and determination of the people who have made this city home. Acme Studios, 63 N. 3rd St., Williamsburg. 8 p.m., $20, advance tickets recommended.
When LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy sang "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down," many city residents nodded along in agreement. For many years writers, poets and wandering spirits have struggled in this concrete metropolis. Back in 1967, Joan Didion wrote an essay called "Goodbye to All That," a tale of loving and leaving New York that perfectly captured Manhattan's mesmerizing allure. Sari Botton, inspired by Didion, has edited a collection of New York stories by 28 writers and, with the help of writer's blog Vol. 1 Brooklyn, she has invited a selection of the writers to read about either staying put or getting the hell out. "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, 126 Crosby St., SoHo. RSVP here.
Tuesday, Dec. 3
With the help of ScrapKins, a NYC-based organization that teaches DIY resourcefulness to kids everywhere, design and build your own Winter Sleigh Ship and sail it down the ice flume at Brookfield Place's Winter Garden. There's also an igloo playhouse, a Christmas Carol by New York Classical Theatre and rollicking dance music from Metropolitan Klezmer. From 5:30 p.m. at 220 Vesey St., TriBeCa.
Round up your thirstiest and nerdiest buddies for "Beer Geek Trivia" — a trivia night for craft beer loving Brooklynites. From 8 p.m. at Glorietta Baldy 502 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn, presented by the women at the clever craft beer blog The Beerded Ladies.
Wednesday, Dec. 4
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a worldwide symbol of the holiday and every year since 1933 the tree, usually a towering Norway spruce, has stood at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Join the crowds from 7 p.m. this evening for the tree lighting.
Guitarists love stomp pedals, the durable little boxes that transform the sound of your humble electric Fender, Gibson or Rickenbacker guitar into the kind of noises made by angry, attacking aliens. Every first Wednesday of the month, Main Drag Music invites you to head over with your unloved pedals and swap them with someone else. Enjoy a free brew and play with the latest new pedals in stock. From 6 p.m. at 330 Wythe Ave. on the corner of S. 1st St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Learn tips, tricks and techniques from America's best "mathemagician" Arthur Benjamin as he demonstrates how to do rapid mental calculations and other amazing feats of mind in Math Encounters: Secrets of Mental Math. At 4 and 7 p.m. at the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), 11 E. 26th St., Midtown.
Thursday, Dec. 5
Winter Film Awards challenges you to create a short film from start to finish in just a single weekend in their 2nd Annual 48-Hour Film Challenge. Teams will be provided with a film genre, tag-line and prop that must be used in a four to seven minute film, to be completed by Sunday Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. Entries may be shot using traditional filmmaking equipment, or teams can do the whole thing on smartphones. There is no fee to participate in the challenge, but teams must pre-register. On Saturday, Dec. 14 the best entries will be screened, followed by an award ceremony.
Jewish record label JDUB Records is reuniting for a free party on the last night of Hanukkah featuring the hip-hop meets klezmer collective Socalled; eclectic horn-driven quintet The Sway Machinery, and DeLeon, indie rockers with a Sephardic folk twist. At Brookfield Place Winter Garden in Lower Manhattan. From 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 6
Break out your sleeping bags and experience the American Museum of Natural History like never before. During A Night at the Museum, the museum’s popular sleepover program, explore the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, Cullman Hall of the Universe, and the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs (home of T. Rex). Then, sleep beneath the 94-foot-long blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, around the African elephants in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, or at the base of a volcano in the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth. Designed for kids ages 6 to 13 and their caregivers. $145 per person ($135 for members). AMNH, Central Park West, Upper West Side.
Is there anything you want to know about comedy? Why did that chicken cross the road? Check out this free lecture where David Misch will discuss his book "Funny: The Book." With allusions to the not-always-funny Carl Jung, George Orwell and Arthur Koestler, "Funny: The Book" explores the evolution, theories, principles, and practice of comedy, as well as some psychological, philosophical, and even theological underpinnings of humor. From 6:30 p.m. in The Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th streets).
Saturday, Dec. 7
Get a rare look behind the scenes of Japan Society’s landmarked building in Our Planet, a theater production that takes the audience through offices, gallery rooms, hidden stairwells and backstage areas. Our Planet, by young theater phenom Yukio Shiba, juxtaposes the everyday life of an ordinary family with the galactic events of the Earth’s birth and death. This is a limited-capacity, non-seated, standing and walking performance. 10 p.m. 333 E. 47th St., Midtown.
Find it hard to get into classical music? The duo from Classical For All, Emir Gamsızoğlu and Ege Maltepe, has developed a show that may help. Gamsızoğlu is a unique type of virtuoso: He started to play the piano at the age of 20, after quitting a career as a basketball player. He suggests making up your own stories about the pieces you listen to or play. He explains, “I have my own relationship with music by visualizing stories or creating dialogues while I play.” This technique gives depth and color to Gamsızoğlu’s interpretation, but it’s also a great way to connect with classical music as a listener. Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. at Caffe Vivaldi, 32 Jones St., West Village.
Sunday, Dec. 8
Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir's serious political satire and driving gospel music invite audiences into a state of euphoric soul searching. Since they formed in New York City a decade ago, they have been performing their remarkable shows in fields, parking lots, theaters, malls, churches, government buildings and bank lobbies with a passion that is heartfelt. Joe's Pub. 2:30 p.m. Also Dec. 15 and 22.
As American society becomes increasingly diverse — ethnically, religiously, linguistically and culturally — tensions are either resolved peacefully or not. This morning at the New York Society For Ethical Culture, Dr. Joseph Chuman leads a talk about "Humanism, Strangers and Living With Difference," examining our current changing situation and ways to think about the future. From 11:15 a.m. at Ceremonial Hall, 2 W. 64th St., Lincoln Square.