1) Polish Happy Hour, 5 to 11 p.m. Jan 8 at 33 Speakeasy Grill (3455 Genesee St.). Free to attend, and free food is included.
Commentary: Free admission if your last name ends with "-ski"! Just kidding. Everyone gets free admission. The Polish cultural event is valuable for several reasons, like embracing traditional drinks, powering through free food, Krupnik, meeting people with similar ethnic backgrounds, relaxing because it's the weekend, trying out new bars and more things that I'm running out of room to list.
Follow the Facebook community page to stay updated on future events, too.
2) Queen City Roller Girls: Suicidal Saucies vs. Devil Dollies, 1 p.m. (doors) Jan. 9 at Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Tickets and pricing can be found here, with general admission remaining at $15.
Commentary: QCRG persevered through an offseason of expected and surprise retirements, condensing down to three teams -- the Nickel City Knockouts will not compete this season -- and incorporating several new players.
Some of the best names in Saturday afternoon's tilt between the Saucies and the Dollies? Constance Wearing (Dollies), Raspoutine (Dollies), Wailing Wench (Saucies) and Val Du Morte (Saucies).
Commentary: The popular cover-band side-project of Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley and friends gives you fun Friday night plans. There's really not much more to this. BUT, if you do want to read more, Mac McGuire wrote more. And sometimes they wear great winter hats.
4) Polar Bear Swim, noon Jan. 10 at Firehouse on the Lake (23 Jackson St., Silver Creek). Swimmers raise money through pledges, while attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate.
Commentary: If you seek a pledge sheet to get involved in the Silver Creek swim, email email@example.com. If you're more interested in donating a canned good, listening to live music and watch scantily-clad people dive into 39-degree waters, this is also a compelling event.
5) Rust Belt Line, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 8 in Sugar City (1239 Niagara St.). Free to view, not free to buy.
Commentary: I'll admit to only being vaguely familiar with Buffalo's Belt Line -- it's become something I see often and don't really think deeply about -- but it's a rusty reminder of Buffalo's industrial boom and shipping prowess. Colin Dabkowski lends more context in his photography exhibition preview and includes a few examples of photos from the artists featured in the show.
One additional note: Sugar City has included some of the best photos of the Belt Line from an Instagram contest. Public engagement and participation in something artistic = nice!
6) 12 Gates Brewing Company, 3 to 11 p.m. Jan. 8; noon to 11 p.m. Jan. 9; and noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 10 at 80 Earhart Drive, Amherst. Free to get in.
Commentary: Western New York's newest brewery will be intriguing among hop-heads, as they're called, or craft-beer drinkers who love their India Pale Ales. Buffalo.com beer contributor Kevin Wise penned a thorough piece on the characters behind 12 Gates, the debut beers and the balance between production facility and tap room.
7) Buffalo Bandits home opener vs. Calgary, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9 in First Niagara Center. Tickets, ranging from $21 to $40, can be purchased here.
Commentary: Buffalo's professional box lacrosse team returns after closing 2015 with an East Division Semifinal loss to rival Rochester. The Calgary Roughnecks visit from the opposite coast on Saturday night, the first game following the John Tavares Era.
Although the league legend has retired, many familiar stars return: Ryan Benesch, Billy Dee Smith, Mark Steenhuis, Dhane Smith and Steve Priolo, so there's ample reason to wear orange and a box on your head. [Read Budd Bailey's season preview here]
Commentary: News contributor Mark Ciemcioch dipped into Helium for a review on Thursday night, and if edgy, profane humor is your thing, Spears has five more shows on tap. Credit to anyone that has the chops to make five different audiences laugh in the same weekend -- it honestly sounds grueling.
9) Buffalo's top winter cocktails, various drinking establishments in Western New York
Commentary: From Mes Que to Black Iron Bystro to Tony Rome's, quality winter-inspired cocktails are available all over Western New York. Read about some of the creative mixologists, then take a peek at four different takes on hot buttered rum.
Not looking for alcohol? That's fine, as we have warm winter drinks that won't give you a buzz.
10) Winter markets:
Horsefeathers Winter Market, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 9 in Horsefeathers (346 Connecticut St.)
Elmwood-Bidwell Winter Market at Buffalo State, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 9 in Buckham Hall (Rockwell Street near Grant)
Commentary: Click the links above for vendor lists, and enjoy a few hours roaming around, exploring the wares of local vendors.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who's easily distracted, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Story topics: 12 Gates Brewing Company/ breweries/ buffalo bandits/ Buffalo RiverWorks/ Keith Buckley/ Polar Bear swim/ Polish events/ Polish Happy Hour/ QCRG/ Queen City Roller Girls/ Rust Belt Line/ Soul Patch/ Sugar City/ The 10/ winter cocktails/ winter markets