Fine 'tooning: Todd McFarlane; Our Lady Peace: Ahwatukee-based comic-book impresario McFarlane, whom New Times profiled in the July 31 piece "The Devil and Todd McFarlane," plugs multimedia spin-offs from his bleak but best-selling mag, Spawn, from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, August 14, at the Tower Records store at 3 East Ninth Street in Tempe (call 968-7774). Speaking of cartoon characters as metaphors for the continuing decline of modern civilization, Canada's Our Lady Peace opens its second album, Clumsy, with the postmodern parable "Superman's Dead" (not to be confused with the Spin Doctors' propulsive but pinheaded "Pocket Full of Kryptonite"). Says Peace vocalist Raine Maida of the song, "People used to watch those old black-and-white Superman shows. . . . Now they're watching Beavis and Butt-head. Back then, heroes had virtues . . . [and] made genuine sacrifices." Huzzah! A worthy, even intrepid, observation from an act that transforms knowing ingenuousness into a flaming sword of conviction on terrific tracks like "Big Dumb Rocket," "Automatic Flowers" and the new disc's title track. Our Lady Peace is scheduled Thursday at Nita's Hideaway, 1816 East Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. Maypole, and the Stumbles share the relocated bill. Showtime is 9 p.m. The cover is $6 (call 967-9531).
"Token City": The virtual subway station Big Apple-born digital artist Muriel Magenta assembled out of whole cybercloth for this installation is likely the closest the Valley will come to mass transit for a significant span of years. Curated by John Spiak and developed at Arizona State University's Institute for Studies in the Arts, with support from composer Michael Udow and animator Gene Cooper, the multimedia creation features images back-projected onto three screens (two of them 10 feet by 14 feet, the third 10 feet by eight feet) and underscored by multiple soundtracks to create the illusion of a 3-D depot "with platforms, trains, billboards, blue-tiled walls and passengers." "Token City" continues through Tuesday, September 30, at the ASU Art Museum at Nelson Fine Arts Center, 10th Street and Mill in Tempe. Viewing is free; hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. For details call 965-2787.
Auntie Christ featuring Exene Cervenkova, D.J. Bonebrake and Matt Freeman: X co-founders Cervenkova (she formerly went by "Cervenka") and Bonebrake, on vocals/guitars and drums, respectively, hooked up with bassist Freeman (Rancid, Operation Ivy) for this old-school-punk project. Exene's at her foaming-at-the-mouth best on the group's full-length bow, Life Could Be a Dream. Auntie Christ is scheduled Thursday, August 14, at the Nile Theater, 105 West Main in Mesa. Pollen shares the stage. For details call 649-2766.
"Crossing the Frontier" and "Canyonland Visions": The former exhibit, sponsored by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, is subtitled "Photographs of the Developing West, 1849 to the Present," though "Photographs of the Despoiling West" might be more accurate. The show comprises more than 200 shots, vintage and contemporary, detailing the taming/raping of the land, from clear-cutting to nuclear dumping; artists represented include William Henry Jackson, Timothy O'Sullivan, A.J. Russell, Robert Adams and Frank Gohlke. "Canyonland Visions," a palate-cleansing companion installation organized by Fort Worth, Texas' Amon Carter Museum, features 117 paintings and photos of still-pristine places on the Colorado Plateau. The exhibitions continue through Sunday, September 28, in the Steele Gallery at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central; for details about related gallery talks on Thursday, August 14, see the Art Exhibits listing. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays). Admission, to the Steele Gallery only, is $5, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and children age 6 and up, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays. For details call 257-1880 or 257-1222.
Bruce Smirnoff: "I've turned lemons into lemonade like my mother always told me to do," says Connecticut-born Smirnoff, who's inched his way up the standup-comedy ladder by transforming industry-standard tough breaks--like the time he was axed from Archie Bunker's Place for unintentionally upstaging star Carroll O'Connor--into fodder for his comic gristmill, a one-man gripe fest titled "Other Than My Health I Have Nothing . . . and Today I Don't Feel So Good." Sound career advice notwithstanding, Ma Smirnoff also takes her lumps; one of Bruce's better bons mots: "My mother was so crazy, I wanted to become Superman--not to have his strength, but to have a mother on a planet 20 million miles away." Smirnoff performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, August 14; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, August 15; 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, August 16; and 8 p.m. Sunday, August 17, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, Rural and University (at Cornerstone mall). More shows are scheduled Thursday, August 21, through Sunday, August 24. Tickets are $10 and $12; call 921-9877.
"The Great Dinosaur Extinction": The installation focuses on various theories about why the great beasts perished, and features the remains of a number of rare ones--including the large predator Acrocanthosaurus; the only complete skeleton of a Pachycephalosaurus ever found; and, naturally, a T. rex or two. The exhibit continues through Sunday, September 7, at Mesa Southwest Museum, 53 North Macdonald. This week's related events include appearances by paleontologist Allan Graffham, who dug up the Acrocanth, at 1 p.m. Friday, August 15; and 3 p.m. Saturday, August 16. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $4, $3.50 for students and seniors, $2 for kids ages 3 to 12, free for those younger. Call 644-2230.