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Details: At Lawrence Hall of Science (1 Centennial Dr., Berkeley. Noon-2 p.m., $6 for kids age three to six, $9 for kids age seven to eighteen, $12 for adults.
Go if: Your kid is young enough to be convinced New Year's happens while the sun is still out.
Bring: Earplugs (again, I repeat: noisemakers, small children, and the inevitable popping balloons.)
Cool dad quotient: 5/5
Not Your Normal New Year's Eve
For those looking for a New Year's Eve that's slightly more offbeat, look no further than the fourth annual "Not Your Normal New Year's Eve" at Herbst Theater in San Francisco. The opulent venue will host a night of "hilariously unconventional" comedians, including Emo Philipps — who Jay Leno described as "the best joke writer in America" — late-night talk show regular Brent Weinbach, and improv master Jill Bourque. The night of laughs will also feature the musical stylings of SF chamber pop band, the Foxtails Brigade, and will be capped off with the ever-pleasing massive balloon drop. — A.G.
Details: At Herbst Theater (401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco). 7 p.m., $25-45.
Go if: You prefer laughs to liquor.
Transportation hassle: Medium-high (dare the drive or dare the Civic Center BART stop)
Fanciness quotient: 3.5/5
Balloon quotient: Fulfilled
New Year's Eve at Pizzaiolo
I once told a friend that if I was forced to live in one restaurant for the rest of my life, I would hands-down choose to live at Pizzaiolo. It's not just because of its perfectly charred crusts and warm-yet-far-from-saccharine service; it's also because the people who work there know a thing or two about ambience — which is why I absolutely trust them when it comes to throwing a tasteful (and tasty) New Year's Eve party. For their first ever year-end bash, the folks at Pizzaiolo will be opening their doors at 9 p.m., when guests are invited to mingle in their cleared-out dining space and enjoy passed hors d'oeuvres (including pizza) and a complimentary cocktail. More cocktails can be purchased all night at the bar, and music from the eleven-piece Brooklyn Afro-Cuban band Zongo Junction begins promptly at ten and goes till the bitter end. Guests hankering for something more substantial food-wise are invited to enjoy the four-course prix-fixe meal at Boot and Shoe Service for a $15 discount on the Pizzaiolo party ticket. — A.G.
Details: At Pizzaiolo (5008 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). 9 p.m.-1 a.m., $45.
Go if: Your decor of choice involves terrariums.
Level of intensity while hounding hors d'ouevres: Very, very high
Hip quotient: Temescal eco-trendy
Just because 2013 is upon us doesn't mean we have to start busting out our metallic spandex one-pieces and best robot impersonations. The 20th century wasn't that long ago. Fellas, slather on the Brylcreem; ladies, leave those curlers in; you can indulge your nostalgia in the vintage, dulcet R&B tones of San Francisco's own Nick Waterhouse, who records his stuff using old-school analog equipment onto tape. He'll be getting a little help from Quinn DeVeaux and the Blue Beat Review, Ben Stolorow Trio, and Gaucho. — L.C.
Details: At Bimbo's 365 Club (1025 Columbus Ave., San Francisco). 9 p.m., $50.
Go if: You're more Little Richard than Lil Wayne.
What to wear: Your best cocktail attire.
Hipster quotient: 5/5
Meat market: 4/5
Futuropolis with Star Slinger
What's nice about UK producer Star Slinger is 1) his ability to embrace pretty much any genre of music in his remixes, and 2) his elegance in doing so. He has remixed Life Without Buildings just as beautifully as he has Jessie Ware, all while abandoning the compulsion to overkill them with too many beats and too much speed. Futuropolis is a good bet if you feel like dancing and grooving on New Year's Eve, but don't feel like having your head bashed in. As fellow performers Polish Ambassador say of Futuropolis' sets, the group is "not a quick fuck...it's a passionate love-making affair." — L.C.
Details: At 1015 Folsom (1015 Folsom St., San Francisco). 9 p.m., $50.
Go if: You've never said the words "Dance music is dance music."
What to wear: Something you'll be able to party in till 9 a.m.
Hipster quotient: 4/5
Meat market: 4/5
If you're not feeling all the trance-y, dance-y stuff this New Year's Eve, there are plenty of other alternatives that are far from a cop-out. San Francisco's Terry Malts wears its influences on its sleeves — everyone from The Replacements to The Ramones to The Beatles to Joy Division, not that you've ever heard all those sounds come together in quite this way. Beneath the distorted guitars and fast punk drumming, its songs are lovely pop numbers in the best tradition of Slumberland's indie pop-rock. See the band perform with Toys That Kill and Pins of Light. — L.C.
Details: At Hemlock Tavern (1131 Polk St., San Francisco). 9 p.m., $12.
Go if: You once wept while listening to Let It Be or Closer.
What to wear: Don't think too much about it.
Hipster quotient: 5/5
Meat market: 3/5
Culture Spy - January 11, 9:55 AM
What the Fork - January 3, 2:06 PM
What the Fork - December 22, 12:12 PM
What the Fork - December 20, 11:39 AM
What the Fork - December 19, 12:29 PM