Thursday, Dec. 20
‘The Weather Underground’
    The excellent documentary “The Weather Underground” retains its potency and relevance some five years after its release. The story of the angry spin-off of the Students for a Democratic Society resounds today in an age said to be dominated by a “War on Terror.” Among other things, the film shows that politically motivated bombings, robberies and kidnappings were commonplace (for a time) long before Sept. 11, 2001. The cast of characters is varied and colorful, the reminiscences vivid and striking.
    The film is a powerful recreation of an era when revolution actually seemed possible. —Paul Kopasz
Ray’s Monkey House
1578 Bardstown Road
Free; 7:30 p.m.

Yo, VIP, let’s kick it!
    You could see a better show than Vanilla Ice, but why?
    He’s deadly, when he plays a dope melody, killing your brain like a poisonous mushroom. He rocks a mic like a vandal. If you’re a chump acting nimble, cause you’re full of 8-ball, bum rush the speaker that booms. Flow like a harpoon, even, because something will grab a hold of you tightly. Too cold. Too cold.
    This appearance is being billed as a meet-and-greet, so you might have to rock your own mic. —Mat Herron
Sully’s Saloon
434 S. Fourth St.
$TBD; 10 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 21
Jill Morgan art opening
    Louisville painter and sketch artist Jill Morgan brings an almost otherworldly touch to many of her paintings. Her skeletal subjects may resemble something from your high school biology book, but with undercurrents of elemental chaos that take her works in interesting directions. For instance, she makes good use of reds, and fire seems to be a recurring theme in many of her recent works, while in paintings such as “Marrow,” a hummingbird drinks placidly from a human rib cage. Her sketches, however, often are more intimate and human, offering a discreet sense of calm. Morgan will display a number of her works at the Mellwood Art & Entertainment Center, starting with a formal public opening this Friday starting at 5 p.m. It’s a feast fit for your eyes, and you can even do a little Christmas shopping while you’re there. —Kevin Gibson
Mellwood Arts Center Gallery
1860 Mellwood Ave.
Free; 5-10 p.m.

John Baxter & The Bottom-feeders
    Country-Americana singer John Baxter left us for Nashville two years ago, only to return to us two years later. Guess that ol’ Louisville tractor beam is a powerful one. While in Music City, Baxter, an astute, down-to-earth songwriter, allied himself with some of the city’s most accomplished session players to help shape his forthcoming album at Nashville’s famed 16-Ton studios. He’ll be joined on Friday by Ned Van Go, a 10-year-old outfit from Nashville, and Jerry Dale Roach. On Saturday, Baxter turns up again at Shenanigan’s Bar & Grill on Norris Place. Catch him at one of these two, or risk a lump of coal in your CD collection. —Mat Herron
Pour Haus
1481 S. Shelby St.
$TBA; 9 p.m.

Dec. 21-22, 28-31
Neil Simon’s ‘The Gingerbread Lady’
    Wayward Actors Company presents one of Neil Simon’s strangest plays. Written in 1970, “Lady” is unlike his lighthearted comedies; it’s a tragicomedy about a cabaret singer struggling with alcoholism. The part was written specifically for Maureen Stapleton, who won the Tony and Drama Desk awards for her performance. As Simon says, “‘The Gingerbread Lady’ is a faulty play, but one of my favorites. Lillian Hellman bitterly learned as a young playwright the pitfalls of trying to mix comedy with tragedy. I have held fast to the belief that if it happens in life, why can’t it happen on the stage? With all its faults, I think ‘The Gingerbread Lady’ is a better play than critics would have us believe … In any event, it led me into uncharted waters where I discovered new directions for the future.”
As the play begins, the singer is welcomed home from rehab by her self-absorbed friends. They’re overbearing enough to push anyone off the wagon. Watch how this cookie crumbles. —Sherry Deatrick
Kentucky Center, MeX Theater

Saturday, Dec. 22
Author/musician Dan Haseltine
    Dan Haseltine has three Grammys on his shelf, but those aren’t the awards that’ll be referred to when the lead singer of Jars of Clay comes to town this week. Haseltine’s children’s book, “The One, The Only Magnificent Me,” has won a BookSense award, and he’s going to pop in at two Borders on the Saturday before Christmas — perfect timing for those who can’t figure out what to do for a last-minute present. The book’s for 4-to-8-year-olds and is written and illustrated with a bit of Dr. Seuss and a smidgeon of Shel Silverstein in its style. For those who are concerned about or want a faith-based agenda, the language stays on the secular/universal path in its tale of self-esteem lost and found. —T.E. Lyons
4600 Shelbyville Road
Free; 11 a.m.

Cuba Libre
    The Henry Wallace Brigade will host a benefit concert with music and dance to help fund their 2008 return trip to Cuba. The event will feature Louisville songstress Afrykah, of the duo Queendom Come, who sings soulful hip hop that delivers progressive messages about self and community. Dance troupe Asrar Al Badrea, translated as “The Moon’s Secrets,” will perform Middle Eastern and experimental dance, and members of the well-established band Yer Girlfriend will also round out the event with their woman-power fueled folk sensibility.
    The Brigade takes its name from Henry Wallace, the late philanthropist and activist who devoted himself to the Cuban revolution after witnessing severe inequality, poverty and Jim Crow-style racism there. The group billed its first trip to Cuba in 2006 as a way to build bridges and help end the U.S. trade embargo against the country. This weekend’s event will help raise funds to continue those efforts. —Jennifer Oladipo
The Alternative
1032 Story Ave.
$5-$25; 7 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 24
Last-minute shopping
    It never fails — you forget someone, or you’re just a procrastinator and don’t do your shopping until the eleventeenth hour, and you’re left scrambling around like a maniac trying to find that Larry the Cable Guy video your cousin Hank wanted. So here’s what we suggest: Turn it into a sport. You know what time you have to be at Aunt Bunny’s house on Christmas Eve for fruitcake and bourbon with your crazy relatives, so plan to do it all in one trip. Dinner’s at six? Shopping’s at 4:30. Drive to your mall of choice, race around like a mad person buying generic crap like ties and robes and snipe-hunting paraphernalia, then pay the bitchy ladies at the information desk to wrap it for you. You put it into a big bag, drag it into the house at 5:59, and announce, “I’m glad I got my shopping done early this year.” Then drink until you forget where your legs are. —Kevin Gibson
The Mall Closest to Aunt Bunny’s House
Louisville Metro (aka Possibility City)
4:30 p.m.
No cover charge, but you’ll still be paying off your credit card in June (of  ’09)

Through Dec. 31
2007 Holiday Show
    You need Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and even New Year’s gifts (I just learned about this “tradition”!). Billy Hertz knows this, so he’s stocked his gallery to the brim with new work by some of our favorite local artists. Here’s a chance to do some holiday shopping and help to Keep Louisville Weird.
Al Gorman returns with more of his animal sculptures made from objects found along the Ohio River (also known as “creative recycling”). Other mixed media works are by Brad Devlin (lamps and sculpture) and Mary Jane Allen (beaded assemblages).
    Billy Hertz has also included a few of his latest abstract drawings. There are also drawings and prints by Jim Doiron and Lisa Simon. —Jo Anne Triplett
galerie hertz
711 S. Third St.