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The Melvins: Looking to end your year with a night of super sludge-metal guitar? Then check out Buzz Osborne (aka “King Buzzo”) and his Melvins, a group that was a big influence on Nirvana, Soundgarden and other early ’90s grunge heroes. Bay Area punk-rocker band Frightwig opens the show. Details: 9 p.m.; Great American Music Hall, San Francisco; $40; www.slimspresents.com. New Year’s Eve Bluegrass Revue: High Country, a favorite of traditional bluegrass enthusiasts for more than 40 years, headlines the Freight & Salvage’s last show of 2013. The band should appeal to fans of such giants as Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers and Flatt & Scruggs. Dix Bruce and Jim Nunally open the show. Details: 8 p.m.; Freight & Salvage, Berkeley; $28.50-$30.50; www.thefreight.org.
USS Hornet party: Highlights include music by the Swingin’ Blue Stars’ Andrews Sisters tribute show, 3 O’Clock Jump (plus free dancing lessons), silent auction, cash bars and refreshments, and great vantage point to watch the San Francisco fireworks show; 7:30 p.m, aboard the World War II aircraft-carrier-turned-museum, docked at 707 W, Hornet Ave., Pier 3, Alameda; $45-$85; www.uss-hornet.org or 510-521-8448, New Year’s Eve at Bimbo’s: The iconic North Beach club is set to greet the new year with a performance by Gold Star Soul Revue, a pop/soul/rock/blues act that covers songs by Etta James, Smokey Robinson, Irma Thomas, Stevie Wonder, Chubby Checker and others, can you sew pointe shoes with a sewing machine Gaucho, a gypsy jazz sextet, opens the show, Oh, and we definitely should mention that “the Girl in the Fishbowl” is scheduled to make an appearance, Details: 8 p.m.; Bimbo’s 365 Club, San Francisco; $60-$65; www.bimbos365club.com..
Roy Rogers: One of the top blues slide guitarists in the business brings his band, the Delta Rhythm Kings, to the Bankhead Theater. Expect a mix of contemporary and traditional blues, Americana and roots-rock tunes from this amazing musician. Details: 8 p.m.; Bankhead Theater at Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, Livermore; $60; www.mylvpac.com. Pop NYE: New World Punx headlines a night of electronic dance music at Oracle Arena. Other acts on the bill include Nero, Bingo Players and Madeon. Details: 6 p.m.; Oracle Arena, Oakland; $80; www.ticketmaster.com.
GOING FOR LAUGHS, If comedy is what you want on New Year’s Eve, here are a few can you sew pointe shoes with a sewing machine options, The Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show: Featuring Will Durst, Debi Durst, Johnny Steele and other local comedians; 7 and 10 p.m.; San Jose Stage; $40 early show, $50 late show; www.sjstage.com, Comedy Countdown: Hosted by Pete Holmes, with Natasha Leggero, Bert Kreischer, Doug Benson, Rory Scovel and Moshe Kasher, and music by Imaginary Radio; 9 p.m.; Nob Hill Masonic Center; $20-$94.50; www.ticketmaster.com..
Black Comedy Explosion: Featuring Rickey Smiley, Tony Roberts and more; 10 p.m.; Paramount Theatre, Oakland; $49.75-$89.75; www.paramounttheatre.com. Greg Proops: The Bay Area comedian and onetime regular of TV’s improv show “Whose Line Is It Anyway” plays two Dec. 31 shows at Punchline Comedy Club, San Francisco; $7:30 and 10 p.m.; $45 early show, $55 late show; http://punchlinecomedyclub.com. Steve Byrne: The Comedy Central regular performs two Dec. 31 shows at San Jose Improv; 7 and 10 p.m.; $35-$65 early show (with or without dinner); $65 late show; http://sanjose.improv.com.
What IS news: the franchise wakes up, too, Die-hard fans might disagree, but to many, the first film, last year’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” took way too long to get going and then dragged for much of its 169 minutes, “I do believe the worst is behind us,” noted Bilbo Baggins at the end of that film, to which some of us wanted to reply: “Well, we hope so.”, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is not much shorter — 8 minutes, to be exact — but it feels brisker, lighter, funnier, The characters are more varied, more interesting; We’ll take a comic can you sew pointe shoes with a sewing machine turn by the entertaining Stephen Fry over another Orc any day, There’s even an added romantic subplot..
The whole enterprise, it must be said, involves a huge dollop of cinematic hubris. J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” after all, is a book of some 300 pages. With these three films, a prequel to his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Jackson devotes about two film minutes to each page. Imagine if they did that with Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” The movie would have been 40 hours long. On the other hand, the first “Hobbit” installment brought in some $1 billion. So it’s rather beside the point to argue with Jackson’s approach.
Happily, “Smaug” is vastly better from the get-go, Instead of a drawn-out intro, we get right to the action, which is of course the quest of Bilbo (Martin Freeman, himself livelier and funnier) and the band of dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (a suitably noble Richard Armitage) to reclaim the kingdom of Erebor, under the Lonely Mountain, from the frightening dragon Smaug, As always, trouble takes many forms: not only the menacing Orcs, but giant spiders with sticky webs, can you sew pointe shoes with a sewing machine too, Then there are the elves, who come to the rescue at an opportune time but then imprison Bilbo and his mates, (Gandalf — the always grand Ian McKellen — has other business, and leaves for long stretches.)..