This Week's Day-by–Day Picks

 Thursday, December 4
It's been 15 years since Robert Fulghum first wrote about the wisdom revealed in life's simplest details in his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Now, with 25 new essays, the author's "Reconsidered, Revised and Expanded" edition hits the bookstores just in time for avid readers to add it to their Christmas wish lists. Fulghum discusses and signs copies of the book at 4 p.m. Thursday, December 4, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe. Call 480-730-0205 for details. Starting Friday, December 5, Mesa Encore Theatre stages the musical based on Fulgham's insightful tome at Mesa Arts Center Theatre, 155 North Center in Mesa. Tickets are $16. For more information, call 480-834-9500.

Friday, December 5
Think of it as a glimpse of Phoenix's future.The Metropolitan Arts Institute, downtown's charter high school devoted to the arts, hosts a grand-opening celebration for its brand-new campus from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, December 5. Part of this month's First Friday art walk, the event features students' best work in the visual and performance arts, from painting to poetry to music. Metro Arts is located at 1700 North Seventh Avenue. For additional details, visit www.metro-arts.org or call 602-252-2530.

Saturday, December 6
So many outings define the buildup to Christmas: venturing to the mall; going caroling; making the rounds at holiday parties; heading out to find a Christmas tree. While all that might leave you exhausted, there's one thing to add to your "to-do" list that's anything but a chore.The 18th Annual Poinsettia Festival & Craft Show provides one of the Valley's most entertaining settings for shopping, a 45,000-square-foot greenhouse full of vibrant poinsettia blooms. (Think of it as color therapy.) Bring the kids along and ride the tractor-pulled wagons, then visit Santa Claus. You can also take a self-guided tour of the floral paradise before browsing the craft show, featuring gifts from candles and jewelry to homemade foods. The whole thing is free, and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, December 5, through Sunday, December 7, at Gardener's World, 3401 East Baseline in Tempe. Call 602-437-0700 for more information.

Theater in My Basement hosts the première of a new solo performance piece, UnderFlood, a meditation on ghosts and memory, written by artistic director Chris Danowski and performed by Cherri Macht of Minneapolis. Performances on Saturday, December 6, and Sunday, December 7, are at the Icehouse, 429 West Jackson. The production moves to the Paper Heart on Monday, December 8, and Tuesday, December 9, and winds up at Perihelion Arts for shows December 11 through 13. Showtime is 8 nightly, and tickets are $8. Get in for only $5 with the donation of a prop to Theater in My Basement. To find out more, call 602-870-8918.

Sunday, December 7
Get in the holiday spirit, Mexican-style, at the 2003 Food City Tamale Festival on Saturday, December 6, and Sunday, December 7. Now in its third year, the event celebrates one of Mexico's quintessential comfort foods, pockets of corn dough and a variety of fillings steamed in tidy wrappings of cornhusks or banana leaves. Tamales date back to pre-Columbian times, and as a result, they're now found in countless variations that reflect the sheer diversity of Mexico's regional cuisines. Sample as many tamales as your tummy can take, watch live entertainment, browse arts and crafts, and even observe a tamale cooking contest at Patriots Square Park, located at Central and Washington. Festivities start at 11 a.m. both days, and admission is free.

Monday, December 8
Blistering Arizona summers get all the attention, but what about the rest of the year? We're walking our dogs, working in our gardens and relaxing on our patios under a blue sky while our friends to the north are trying to dig themselves out from under a snow pile (if they leave their homes at all). Author Suzanne Pickett Martinson clearly prefers our way of life, which she details in Outdoor Style: The Essence of Southwest Living, a guide to making the most of what's right outside of our doors. She signs copies of her new book and conducts a free seminar, "Creating Year-Round Outdoor Living Space," starting at 7 p.m. Monday, December 8, at the just-opened Borders at 7000 East Mayo Boulevard in Scottsdale. Call 480-513-8848 for details.

Tuesday, December 9
In the latest exhibition at the Tempe Public Library, a baker's dozen of local artists challenge us to think about something that comes as easily and often as thoughtlessly as breathing air: reading. "Textology: The Art of Letters," opening Tuesday, December 9, examines how we find meaning in the words that surround us and how we interpret the world. The show is on display through February 20, 2004, in the library's lower gallery, 3500 South Rural in Tempe. For more information, call 480-350-5287.

Wednesday, December 10
The Chinese have been drinking green tea for thousands of years, and the Japanese have perfected the tea ceremony to an art form. Americans, on the other hand, are running at least a millennium or two late to the tea party. But now we finally want to know what's brewing, thanks to studies showing that green tea's potent antioxidants can lower cholesterol, blood sugar and high blood pressure, and even prevent cancer. This week, green tea expert James Norwood Pratt presents three free hourlong seminars where audience members can learn about the drink's health benefits and sip samples. On Wednesday, December 10, Pratt appears at 8 a.m. at La Camarilla Racquet Fitness & Swim Club in Scottsdale, and at 6:30 p.m. at Tempe Kiwanis Recreation Center, 6111 South All-America Way in Tempe. On Thursday, December 11, Pratt visits the Fitness Experience Health Club in Scottsdale at 5 p.m. To find out more, visit www.greentea.com.

 
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