Forecast: December: Amanda Palmer: Ross Pentz: Boston Christmas Tree: Bob Saget: Jonathan Papelbon:

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MASHUPS
12/31 THE POPS GET PUNKED
When Boston’s iconic piano-punk staple Amanda Palmer—long of the Dresden Dolls—announced she was canceling an intimate House of Blues show planned for November, she was quick with refunds and a promise to make it up to her fans. Tonight she makes good on that vow, teaming with the Boston Pops, which she collaborated with for a one-off show last summer. It’s an exciting win-win: The Pops continues its reach for relevance (ahem, Red Sox album) while Palmer gives her fans a unique concert experience at Symphony Hall. bso.org

NEWS
12/02 Pats linebacker Junior Seau’s new show, Sports Jobs, debuts on cable network VS, possibly demonstrating why he thought it wise to give football another shot.

POLITICS
12/02 CAN THE REFORMERS BREAK THE BEACON HILL POWER GRIP?
For the political activists at the -Committee to Fix Beacon Hill, the downfall of King Sal—a.k.a. disgraced former House Speaker Sal DiMasi—has provided nothing but momentum. The group has until today to file signatures for an initiative it wants on the 2012 ballot, an amendment that would require legislators to pick their leaders by secret ballot (to end fear of retribution) and would create a panel to dole out committee assignments (to lessen the sway of party power players). Of course, getting on the ballot requires more than mere John Hancocks: Somehow the group will also need to convince 25 percent of the legislature to agree to put the idea before voters.

GOOD CHEER
12/03 SOME SAGE ADVICE FROM THE COMMON’S CHRISTMAS-TREE GUY
Sure, Mayor Tom Menino will get some attention when he throws the switch on Boston’s Christmas tree tonight. But the guy who deserves the thanks for the conifer won’t be freezing his fingers out there on the Common—he’ll be at home in Nova Scotia. As the "Christmas-tree specialist" with Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources, Ross Pentz picks the spruce given to Boston each year, a tradition of gratitude for the aid that Bostonians rushed north in 1917 after an accident in Halifax Harbor killed almost 2,000 and injured another 9,000.

"It’s a wonderful tree," Pentz says of the 48-foot white spruce he picked out. "It’s getting harder to find the ones that are the right age and quality. I get called on a lot of wild goose chases. People think they’ve got what could be the Boston tree, and I come out and it’s half as tall as it needs to be. They think it’s pretty big, but I say, ‘Call me in 10 years.’"

Though you’re not likely in the market for one of his tough-to-find 50-footers, Pentz knows what it takes to get the most out of any Christmas tree. Three points to consider:

SIZE UP THE SELLER. "You want a dealer who hasn’t mishandled the tree since it’s been cut. This is important."
CUT THE TRUNK STRAIGHT ACROSS. "A lot of people think a slanted cut helps expose more of the tree to the water. But if the water drops below the cut, you’re just drying it out."
PUT IT SOMEPLACE COOL. "Stick it in the coolest part of the room. Keep it out of the sun and heat," Pentz says. "This thing’s used to being outside."

12/04 Raunchy funnyman Bob Saget takes the stage at the Wilbur. His decidedly non–Full House act should spell a full house.

HUMAN RESOURCES
12/07 PAPELBON ERA JUST MIGHT BE AT A CLOSE
Baseball’s winter meetings open today, and Jonathan Papelbon’s ears are burning. The costly free agent is coming off a poor postseason, with fireballer Daniel Bard waiting in the wings. In deciding whether to ship the closer off, GM Theo Epstein must mind the ire of fans, whom he’ll want in a chipper mood as tickets go on sale this month.

On the Take
Department of Bright Ideas: Our Hapless Plunderers

Feeling guilty about that box of pens you lifted from the office? That’s nothing. On 12/2 a pair of former state workers will learn what they owe in restitution for stealing truckloads of iron removed from the Longfellow Bridge. As incompetent as Richard Stewart and Joseph Falzone were as thieves, they were worse as salesmen: When they unloaded $900,000 worth of the historic ironwork at an Everett scrap yard, they fetched only $12,147.

Here’s how their haul ranks among other schemes by state workers with sticky fingers:

$9.4 million: Embezzled in a scheme by state treasury workers (1999)
$1.5 million: Pocketed from MBTA counting rooms by a ring of workers (1984)
$102,792 (and untold handfuls of coins): Raided from the campaign committee of John Buonomo, Middlesex register of probate, by the candidate himself; he also took change from office copy machines (2008)
$76,000: Stolen by a teller from an RMV register in Milford (2005)
$21,000 in MBTA fares and tokens: Pilfered by toll collectors (1993)