You can't help but be stunned by the incredible imagination of author Jasper Fforde, whose best-selling novel The Eyre Affair took readers on a fantastic journey with heroine Thursday Next, the "literary detective" who delves into the pages of the world's great books to save the day. Now Fforde's intertextual sleuth is back for another time-traveling, novel-jumping caper, Lost in a Good Book, that finds Thursday and Great Expectations' Miss Havisham jumping from Kafka's The Trial into Carroll's Alice in Wonderland -- an absurdly funny tale that makes you think as hard as you laugh. Fforde gives a reading and signing at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at The Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. Call 480-947-2974 for details.
First impressions mean a lot. But Actors Theatre, which opened its 2002-2003 season with the hard-hitting, highly acclaimed drama Angels in America, is leaving Phoenix audiences with something else to remember over the summer with the provocative Spinning Into Butter, its final show until fall. Written by Rebecca Gilman, the drama bravely deals with Americans' obsessions with race relations and political correctness. Artistic director Matthew Wiener's production features veteran stage and television actor Molly Schaffer in the role of Sarah Daniels, the dean of students at a small liberal arts college in Vermont, who tries to help calm the controversy that swells on the mostly white campus when an African-American student starts receiving threatening racist messages. The play opens at 8 p.m. Friday, April 25, and continues through May 11 at Herberger Theater Stage West, 222 East Monroe. Tickets, $22.50 to $38, can be purchased from the box office, 602-252-8497, or through Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444.
If you've come to the conclusion that you can't live your whole life just playing air guitar, then you'll have no problem finding the ax of your dreams at the inaugural Phoenix World Guitar Show from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 26, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 27. In addition to guitars of all kinds -- new, used and vintage -- you'll find amplifiers, accessories and other stringed instruments as well. Among the exhibitors will be dealers, manufacturers and appraisers; visitors are also welcome to bring items to sell or trade. Admission is $10, free for kids under 12, at Phoenix Civic Plaza, 111 North Third Street. To find out more, visit www.texasguitars.com.
Round one of the NBA Playoffs gets down to the wire on Sunday, April 27, when the eighth-seeded Phoenix Suns and top-ranked San Antonio Spurs face off in Game 4 of the best-of-seven series at America West Arena. If necessary, the teams will be back in Phoenix on May 1 for Game 6. Luckily, the Suns have the intimidation factor on their side: They beat the Spurs on three out of four occasions during the regular season. The tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. at the arena, located at 201 East Jefferson. Ticket prices start at $12; to purchase, call 1-800-4NBA-TIX, log on to www.suns.com or visit the box office.
For rock 'n' rollers who love sci-fi B-movies, it sounds like the ultimate fantasy: A frustrated musician gets fed up with flaky bandmates and decides to build a crew of robots to perform with. However, the mechanical menaces turn on their creator, planting a chip in his brain so they can torture him and force him to go on tour, where he humiliates himself in front of audiences. If you think we're making this up, you haven't witnessed the bizarre phenomenon that is Captured! By Robots, the "world's best robot band." In an over-the-top stage show that has to be seen to be believed, these four genuine robots rock out with real instruments, berate JBOT, their human slave, and spew insults at all humans in attendance. The latest mechanized additions to the band, the Headless Hornsmen, add funky grooves to the set with 25 car and truck horns. Catch the Hornsmen's debut on Monday, April 28, when Captured! By Robots launches its tour -- a thinly veiled quest for world domination -- at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School; they'll be joined by local opening act The Hypno-Twists. Doors open at 8 p.m. for the 8:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $6. For more information, call 602-265-4842.
Get a glimpse of what some of the Valley's creative types have been working on when "Visual Journeys" opens in the Main Gallery at Shemer Art Center. The group exhibition, juried by painter and Scottsdale Artists School instructor Jey Moore, features work in a variety of media from members of the Arizona Artists Guild. In the Front Gallery, check out sensuous pastel pieces from Jane Nassano. An opening reception for both shows runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, and the displays continue through May 23 at Shemer, 5005 East Camelback. For additional information, call 602-262-4727.
It's a long, hot six months until Halloween, but that isn't stopping the folks at Burton Barr Central Library from giving props to one of our all-time favorite monsters. "Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature," a traveling exhibition, examines the cultural importance of Mary Shelley's celebrated character. Visitors to the opening reception, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, receive perhaps the strangest party gifts we've ever heard of: commemorative neck bolts. Then from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Pulliam Auditorium, Dr. Mark Lussier discusses "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the Ethics of Enlightenment." A related series of equally intellectual discussions inspired by the book, ranging from cloning and genetics to cinema, is scheduled for upcoming evenings. The exhibition continues through June 6 at the library, 1221 North Central. Visit www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org or call 602-262-4636 for more information.