For sci-fi geeks of all sorts, it's the most wonderful time of the year.
This weekend, Steel City Con takes over the Monroeville Convention Center with a special appearance by George Takei, aka Sulu on the original "Star Trek." He will sign autographs 5-6 p.m. Friday and beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday ($40) and also participate in a Q&A session at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.
Others set to appear include "Seinfeld" Soup Nazi Larry Thomas; former pro wrestlers Charles Wright and Ted DiBiase; actor Michael Biehn ("Terminator," "Aliens" and "Tombstone") and Kylie Szymanski, who played the Governor's dear departed zombie daughter on AMC's "Walking Dead."
Graphic novel artist Neal Adams -- who has drawn everything from Batman to X-Men along with his own creation, "Blood" -- will appear all three days.
Steel City Con, formerly known as the Pittsburgh Toy, Comic and Childhood Collectibles Show, will also feature vendors with toys and memorabilia, as well as show cars, including the Time Machine Delorean from "Back to the Future."
Hours: 1-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $15; $25 for three-day pass; under 5 free; www.steelcitycon.com.
The 2013 Carnegie International serves as the inspiration for the Carnegie Museum of Art's "Carnegie Trees 2013: Embracing the Art of Play," opening today.
As the museum describes it, "The Hall of Architecture is the site of an installation by [Carnegie] International artist Gabriel Sierra, who has painted the walls of the space rich purple and added subtle purple sculptural forms. Setting off the hall's architectural casts in a new way, this choice of color will also add a royal hue to this season's colorful decorations."
The trees flank the museum's 18th-century Neapolitan presepio. The Carnegie Trees will be on view through Jan. 12. Information: cmoa.org.
Gimme some Winwood
Rod Stewart is on a Northeast tour, but he's not coming here.
What we are getting, between shows, is his esteemed opening act, Steve Winwood, doing a show at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.
The British blue-eyed-soul singer, songwriter and keyboardist has had a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career that began in the mid-'60s with him joining the Spencer Davis Group at age 14 and recording hits "Gimme Some Lovin' " and "I'm a Man."
In 1967, he went on to form the jazz-rock band Traffic, which had its most enduring success with 1971's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys." During a Traffic hiatus, he was part of the supergroup Blind Faith, with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech, for one classic album on which he contributed, among others, "Can't Find My Way Home."
His success stretched into his solo career, launched in 1977 and peaking with the Grammy-winning 1986 album "Back in the High Life." His last studio album was 2008's "Nine Lives," but he did team up with Clapton for "Live From Madison Square Garden."
Needless to say, he can throw together an impressive set list.
Michael Bernard Fitzgerald opens the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $57 to $80 at www.ticketfly.com.
Bach Boom Box
Singer Anqwenique Wingfield leads the pack in "Groove Aesthetic: Bach Boom Box," a mashup of disciplines KST presents at the Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., at 8 p.m. Friday that highlights "the parallels between Bach and Biggie, ballerinas and b-boys."
The artists include MC Shad Ali, jazz band TRIO +, choreographer Anthony Williams, DJ duo Tracksploitation, MC duo Creative Chemistry and visuals by Magic Organs.
A dance party follows the performance with music provided by the band TRIO + and DJ duo Tracksploitation. Tickets: $10 at www.kelly-strayhorn.org.
Festive, funky glass
The Pittsburgh Glass Center Glass Sale will feature "festive, funky and functional glass," including vessels, sculptures and jewelry, for the holidays.
It begins Friday with a free event from 6 to 9 p.m. with glassblowing demonstrations and refreshments.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., anyone can make a blown ($35) or fused glass ornament ($25.) No experience is necessary. Walk-ins are welcome. The sale is free and open to the public and continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It's at 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship/Garfield. Information: www.pittsburghglasscenter.org.
He was a Steely Dan member, a Doobie Brother, and now he's Mr. Christmas.
After all, Michael McDonald has the silver hair for it. And the voice.
The Grammy winner brings "This Christmas: An Evening of Holiday & Hits" to the Palace Theatre in Greensburg on Friday, performing songs from the three Christmas records he's done since 2001.
He'll also do songs from his latest album, "Unfinished Business," as well as hits like "What a Fool Believes," "Minute by Minute" and "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)."
"The first time we went out on a Christmas tour, we went pretty much all Christmas music, and a lot of it was original and a lot was the standards we had recorded for MCA," he recently told the Montgomery News. "The people seemed to enjoy it. The complaints that we got were 'We thought you were going to do some of your hits too.' Audiences wanted to hear 'What a Fool Believes' and 'Somewhere in There.'"
The concert is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45-$85; www.thepalacetheatre.org or 724-836-8000.
It's not December unless we get our dose of Christmas music -- hard-rock and laser style.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, celebrating 15 years of touring, is doing what it calls "an encore and final performance" of its rock opera, "The Lost Christmas Eve."
In other words, the TSO is doing what it did last year at Consol Energy Center.
The Dickens-style tale, in rock opera form, is set in a rundown hotel, an old toy store, a blues bar and Gothic cathedral during an enchanted Christmas Eve in New York City. It includes the single "Wizards in Winter" as well as "Christmas Nights in Blue" and "Siberian Sleigh Ride."
The TSO also will play songs from last year's EP "Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night)" and other classics.
Concerts are at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $30 to $68.50; www.ticketmaster.com.
As a side note, singer Jon Oliva, of the TSO and the band Savatage, brings his Storytellers Tour to the Rex Theater on the South Side at 8 p.m. Friday for an over-21 seated show. Tickets are $30; www.ticketfly.com.
Bruce Cockburn, playing Carnegie Lecture Hall on Saturday, is one of the bigger name headliners on The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society series.
The Ottawa-born artist has enjoyed a long, productive career that began, in earnest, with a self-titled solo album in 1970. He began to break through in the States with 1979's "Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws," with the single "Wondering Where the Lions Are." He's best known for the controversial 1984 single "If I Had a Rocket Launcher," written after he visited Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico.
A politically charged Christian singer-songwriter and virtuosic guitarist, he issued his 31st studio album, "Small Source of Comfort," in 2011.
The show is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $49; $20 student rush. 412-361-1915 or www.calliopehouse.org.
The Senator John Heinz History Center opens its doors to nearly 60 local authors on Saturday for the 12th annual "Books in the 'Burgh" holiday book fair.
Guests can mingle with the local authors and purchase signed books from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The special guest this year is Augusten Burroughs, the Pittsburgh-born author of the best-selling memoir "Running With Scissors," about him being sent to live with his mother's psychiatrist. It was eventually made into a movie starring Annette Bening and Alec Baldwin.
He will speak at noon in the History Center's Detre Library & Archives before signing copies of his books.
Samuel W. Black, editor of the History Center's newest publication, "The Civil War in Pennsylvania: The African American Experience," will speak at 11 a.m.
The authors will include Steelers owner Dan Rooney, forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, media legend Eleanor Schano, and novelists Chuck Finder and Sharon Flake.
Admission is free. Go to www.heinzhistorycenter.org.
There are few consolations for the weather this winter. Sure, we always have the holidays and family time, but wouldn't it be nice to have a reason to celebrate the short days and frigid temperatures?
Renaissance and Baroque is giving listeners a musical thaw by presenting Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, in a concert that pays tribute to the ways various traditions and cultures musically handle the cold season. "Drive the Cold Away" will feature Sephardic tunes for Hanukkah, English songs, popular tunes, dances and beyond. The ensemble performs with a variety of instruments that are sure to melt the ice -- sackbuts, percussion, recorders, bagpipes, you name it.
The concert starts at 8 p.m. at Synod Hall, 125 N. Craig St., Oakland. $10-$35; tickets and more at www.rbsp.org or 412-361-2048.
Looking to select gifts you can't find anywhere else?
Handmade Arcade -- Pittsburgh's largest DIY independent craft fair -- celebrates "A Decade of DIY" on Saturday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.
It will feature 150 innovative craft vendors from around Pittsburgh, the region and more than 15 different states. There will be a Hands-on Handmade activity area with free artist-led demos, craft projects and interactive art installations for all ages, plus DJ sets, live music and dance performances, raffles and more.
It runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and admission is free. Go to handmadearcade.com.
NEED TO KNOW
* The Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis takes place Saturday on Art Rooney Avenue on the North Shore. Day-of registration and festivities start at 7:30 a.m. and the 5K begins at 10 a.m. Festivities include an appearance by Tinsel the Elf, music presented by DJ Joe Morris, the Tinsel Trot 100-Yard Dash for kids 11 and under, raffles and pet and participant costume contests, followed by awards at McFadden's and a Holly Jolly Hour. It benefits The Arthritis Foundation. Register online at www.jinglebellrunpittsburgh.kintera.org or call 412-250-3340 for more information.
* City Theatre's "2 Pianos 4 Hands" is the story of two childhood friends, Ted and Richard, who share the goal of being a concert pianist. The musical, directed by Tom Frey, requires the pair of actors (Bob Stillman and Christopher Tocco) to play multiple roles -- pushy parents, eccentric teachers -- and also know their way around a keyboard, with music ranging from Bach to Billy Joel. It runs through Dec. 22. You can find a behind-the-scenes video at post-gazette.com. Tickets: www.citytheatrecompany.org or 412-431-2489.
* Attack Theatre offers an interactive dance and games experience at the annual "Holiday Unwrapped." There are three chances to check out the family-friendly fun: 6:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the George R. White Studio at Pittsburgh Opera, Strip District. Tickets: $5 children younger than 12, $15 for adults or $10 for students, teachers and seniors in advance at www.showclix.com. At the door, admission is $8 for children, $18 for adults or $13 for students, teachers or seniors. Information: www.attacktheatre.com.
* Shake hands between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday with someone clasping a wad of clay and make an impression that will become part of "Touch in Real Time -- Handshake Collection" at The Society for Contemporary Craft, 2100 Smallman St., Strip District (free). The project, by artist Holly Hanessian, includes "handshakes" collected across the country and the resultant artifacts are displayed at the society and at its Satellite Gallery @ BNY Mellon Center, Downtown, through Jan. 5. Information: 412-261-7003 or www.contemporarycraft.org.
* The Frick Art Museum presents a free ArtKids program on Saturday where kids can learn about the Civil War and decorate a Civil War slang dictionary to take home. It runs from 11 to 11:45 a.m. Go to www.TheFrickPittsburgh.org or call 412-371-0600.
* Anthony Green, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from the band Circa Survive, plays Mr. Smalls Theatre on Friday touring on his latest solo album, "Young Legs." The album finds him departing further from punk/hardcore roots toward a more lush, melodic brand of alt-rock. "I wanted this album to sound bigger and more atmospheric than anything I'd ever done ..." he said in a statement. The show is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 at www.mrsmalls.com.
* The annual Pure Gold Christmas Show features the stellar local oldies ensemble doing your holiday favorites at the Palisades in McKeesport at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20/$25 advance. Call 412-370-2971 for tickets.