This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

 Thursday, March 27
Seductive silver-screen siren Mae West is the obsession at the heart of Dirty Blonde, the latest production from Arizona Theatre Company, which begins previews with an 8 p.m. show on Thursday, March 27. Snippets of the Hollywood bombshell's career are interspersed with the tale of a budding relationship between Charlie and Jo, two modern-day New Yorkers who discover that they both idolize the same saucy movie star. Performances continue through April 13 at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Tickets, $26 to $51, can be purchased at www.arizonatheatre.org or through the box office, 602-256-6995.

Friday, March 28
Mill Avenue is already a year-round destination for shopping, eating and people-watching, but this weekend it has even more: the Tempe Festival of the Arts, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, March 28, through Sunday, March 30. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend upon downtown Tempe to stroll among more than 500 juried booths offering handmade arts and crafts, from pottery and paintings to carvings and clothing. Don't worry if you show up with an empty stomach; there will be plenty of food vendors to please your palate, whether you're craving traditional festival fare or ethnic eats. A special Kids' Area will offer crafts and activities for the youngest family members, and the Extreme Zone will give visitors of all ages the chance to try rock climbing and rappelling. To top it all off, three stages of live music will lend an upbeat atmosphere to the bustling event. For more information on the free festival, call 480-967-4877.

Saturday, March 29
Whether you're into sport bikes, dirt bikes or Harleys, you'll be in two-wheeled heaven this weekend when the first Phoenix Bike Fest gets revved at Firebird International Raceway. Catch the U.S. National Supermotard Championship Series, an action-packed blend of road racing, dirt track and motocross, and the AHRMA Sport Bike and Vintage Road Racing showdown. There will be excitement off the track as well, with the largest vintage bike show in the Southwest displaying lots of old-school rides. Live music throughout the afternoon will keep things rockin'. The fest runs Friday, March 28, through Sunday, March 30, at the raceway, 20000 South Maricopa Road in Chandler. Gates open at 9 a.m. Tickets, $15, are available from Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444. Admission is free for kids 12 and under. Visit www.firebirdraceway.com for details.

You won't want to miss post-punk pioneers Ministry, who perfected a distinctively dark sound in the 1980s. The band went mainstream in the Lollapalooza heyday of the early '90s, but never lost its evil metal edge (remember that head-bangin' ditty "Jesus Built My Hotrod"?). Now touring to promote a new album, Animositisomina, Ministry performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the all-ages show. General-admission tickets are $26, available from the box office or from Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444.

Sunday, March 30
From Bisbee and Kartchner Caverns State Park to Saguaro National Park and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the Copperstate 1000 Vintage Road Rallye covers 1,000 miles of southern Arizona's most scenic and historic roads. (Last year the tour covered the state's northern high country.) In its 13th year, the event includes more than 70 superb vintage sports and touring cars, such as Ferraris, Corvettes, Jaguars and Rolls Royces, all manufactured before 1970. Before the jaw-dropping motorcade hits the road at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 30, the car-loving public is invited to see these vehicles and meet their proud drivers starting at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central. To find out more, visit www.copperstate1000.com.

Monday, March 31
As the regular hockey season draws to a close, fans of ice-cold stick-to-stick aggression have to get their satisfaction while they can the Phoenix Coyotes, who at press time were unlikely to reach the playoffs, have a mere three home games left. On Monday, March 31, the hometown heroes take on the Los Angeles Kings in a 7 p.m. showdown at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. Ticket prices start at only $9 quite a deal for a night of adrenaline-fueled action, even if you aren't a hard-core hockey freak. See the Coyotes now, or wait until the fall. To purchase, call Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444.

Tuesday, April 1
James Swain's third novel, Sucker Bet, follows Tony Valentine, ex-cop and professional casino crook catcher, on his investigation into a missing blackjack dealer and a seedy con scheme involving gangsters and a retired rock star. If the prose smacks of juicy insider authenticity, it's because the author didn't just write the book on card trickery he wrote three of them. Swain happens to be one of the gambling world's best-known authorities on sleight-of-hand, and he brings his expertise to writing crime novels full of realistic scams and shady players. On Tuesday, April 1, Swain will be joined by author Michael Connelly for a 7 p.m. talk and book signing at Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. Call 480-947-2974 for more information.

Wednesday, April 2
In between stints as the "center square" on the television game show Hollywood Squares, sassy comedian Ellen DeGeneres hits the road to give fans a healthy dose of her hilarious standup comedy. Later this year, she'll be busy promoting her voice role in an animated Disney film as well as her soon-to-be-published book of funny short stories and essays, so catch her live show while you can. DeGeneres performs at the Dodge Theatre, 400 West Washington, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 2. Tickets are $35 and $45, and can be purchased through Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.com or 480-784-4444.

 
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