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Holidays

BUSINESS
December 25, 2013 | By Meg James
The hottest holiday commercials this season have ditched the heartwarming, home-for-the-holidays scenes to strike a dramatically different chord. Advertising executives have instead chosen sly humor over sentiment, as major marketers including American Honda Motor Co., Netflix and K-Mart are betting that tongue-in-cheek sells. Perhaps for good reason: U.S. consumers are tired of sugarcoated Christmas commercials, according to a recent online survey of more than 2,000 consumers.
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ENTERTAINMENT
December 24, 2013 | By Matt Cooper
Customized TV Listings are available here: www.latimes.com/tvtimes Click here to download TV listings for the week of Dec. 22 - 28, 2013 in PDF format This week's TV Movies   SERIES Doctor Who Matt Smith is saluted with a farewell special just before he takes his final turn as the Time Lord in the venerable British sci-fi series' annual Christmas offering. 8 and 9 p.m. BBC America White Magic Illusionist Dan White is up to his old tricks, and some new ones, in this new series.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 24, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
For Christmas Eve, Pop & Hiss offers up a selection of offbeat holiday albums guaranteed to break up the monotony of the same-old, same-old holiday songs and arrangements being piped into malls and over the airwaves of Yuletide-music centered radio stations. Track them down on Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG or other streaming services. Brave Combo , “It's Christmas, Man” (Rounder, 1992) This absurdly eclectic quartet from Texas puts its manic stamp on classics (such as "O, Christmas Tree," which gets the samba treatment, and Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song [Chestnuts]
ENTERTAINMENT
December 23, 2013 | By Lee Margulies
Songs about roasting chestnuts, winter wonderlands and a runaway snowman once again helped propel KOST-FM (103.5) to the top of the local radio ratings. Figures released Monday by Arbitron showed that the adult contemporary music station's annual switch to a holiday-themed playlist paid huge dividends, as it has for most of the years since it began the tradition in 2001. Whereas KOST had been in sixth place the month before with a 3.6% share of the Los Angeles-Orange County audience, it ranked No. 1 in the survey period that ran from Nov. 7 to Dec. 4, garnering a 6.3% share.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 23, 2013 | By Tony Perry
SAN DIEGO - As the Navy ship Freedom passed under the Coronado Bay Bridge and came into view of the families gathered Monday at Naval Base San Diego, Gina Smith sighed with relief and anticipation. "Yes," she said. "It's over. It's really over. " Smith's husband, Michael, 38, is a senior chief petty officer. Smith, 40, has been through the stress of the stay-at-home spouse on previous deployments. It never gets routine. But it is particularly arduous at Christmastime. Children ask why their mother or father isn't home to help decorate the tree or take them to see Santa.
BUSINESS
December 23, 2013 | David Lazarus
Spoiler alert: There's a really good chance you'll get a gift card for Christmas. That's not a news flash from the North Pole. It comes instead from the National Retail Federation, which estimated in a recent report that more than 80% of shoppers will be including the plastic gift cards inside greeting cards this holiday season. The average person will spend about $163 on gift cards, the group's survey found. That's up 4% from last year and represents the highest average amount since the retail association began tracking such things 11 years ago. Total spending on gift cards this season will reach about $30 billion, the group said.
NEWS
December 23, 2013 | By Alicia Banks
And the “#BeyGood” season continues. Beyoncé stopped by a Wal-Mart in Tewksbury, Mass., on  Friday, shocking hundreds of holiday shoppers with her presence alone. But a simple appearance with hugs and smiles to customers around wasn't the only surprise Beyoncé had in store, according to media reports. After a brief introduction over the intercom, Queen Bey wished everyone a Happy New Year and opened a tab of her own: The first $50 of everyone's holiday shopping was on her. It was a “Merry Christmas” wish to the tune of $37,500 before the singer took the stage as part of her Mrs. Carter Show world tour.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 22, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
The raison d'être of Stevie Wonder's annual holiday concert is the collection of toys for needy children in the Southland, something he's done enthusiastically for 18 years now, each edition featuring a different lineup of friends, musical colleagues and family members. Saturday's installment of Wonder's House Full of Toys at the Nokia Theatre, however, may have given the biggest gift of all to the audience of about 7,000: the first-ever performance of his landmark 1976 double album “Songs in the Key of Life” in its entirety.
BUSINESS
December 21, 2013 | By Tiffany Hsu
In store after store, signs trumpeted 50%-off deals, buy-one-get-one-free promotions and free gift cards with purchases. Shoppers scuttled past holiday decorations with bags hanging from their hands to their elbows. A little girl at Old Navy begged her mother to ask Santa to buy her three glittery plastic bracelets in different colors. Black Friday? Try Super Saturday. The start of the last weekend before Christmas is indisputably one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
NATIONAL
December 20, 2013 | By Michael Muskal
Even as much of the nation rushed by plane, train and car to get somewhere to celebrate the holidays, the weather was in a Grinch-like mood. As many as 95 million people will be in motion in the annual rite of making it to some relative's or friend's house to celebrate, according to the AAA. That is a slight increase of about 0.6% from last year, but it is the fifth consecutive year of growth. According to the AAA, about 30% of the nation will be on the move from Saturday to Jan. 1, 2014.
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