On a Saturday sometime in the mid-'90s, the lives we were living -- and the lunches we had just eaten -- were erased forever. We were introduced to a couple of guys named Spike and Mike and the wonders of animation gone bad. Some days are a revelation, and any day that engages nearly every imaginable taboo, in cartoon form, is clearly all right with us. If it were the South, they would've arrested us for indecency -- and, dammit, they might have been right. The lunch rises again when the 2004 version of Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation makes its yearly descent on the Valley, Friday, February 13, through February 26 at Harkins' Valley Art Theatre, 505 South Mill in Tempe. With animated shorts such as Mr. Grenade, Mousochist, Old Folks Love, Ninjews and Big Abandoned Refrigerator Adventure on tap, this year's version is sure to explore the limits of human nature as only cartoon characters can without actually doing hard time.
There's a party going on at SMoCA
Sweets for the sweet. Where does that leave us? At "Tart: Winter SMoCA Nights," this Thursday, February 12. Culture and clubbing collide at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, where, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., scenesters gather for a local fashion show, tarot readings, hors d'eouvres, a performance by Sour Patch Experimental Dance, and music from Hell on Heels, DJ Maji and DJ Organic. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Call 480-994-ARTS or see www.scottsdalearts.org for details. -- Jill Koch
Love Takes A Back Seat
Rock on Valentine's Day
A "St. Valentine's Day Massacre"? Sounds like a bloody great idea. Go motor-psycho at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School, where the St. Valentine's Day Massacre Car Show celebrates hot lovin' and cool rides. From noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, February 14, the Imperials, Rebel Angels, and Three Bad Jacks bring rockabilly rhythms to the room, while pre-1968 cars and motorcycles rev into the past lane. There's no charge to check out the car show, $8 to enter your ride. Concert admission is $8. Call 602-265-4842. -- Jill Koch
Our first taste of Italy came five minutes into our visit, when a Venetian gentleman paused in the plaza to welcome us with a warm, wet one. The language barrier precluded proper introductions, but this young man's enthusiastic support of tourism, and passion for foreign tongues, made quite the impression. Reigniting our love affair with all things Italiano, the sixth annual San Gennaro Feast dishes up five days' worth of Italian culture and cuisine. From Wednesday, February 18, through Sunday, February 22, the Peoria Sports Complex runneth over with sausage and peppers, zeppoli and cannoli from 60-some restaurants. Don't bother with the Pepto -- the feast has received a special apostolic blessing, "a pledge of divine protection," from Pope John Paul himself.
The carbohydrate carnival also promises 40 rides and games, plus mainstage music by Italian folk singers (straight outta Naples, yo). Follow the smell of scungilli to the Sports Complex, 16101 North 83rd Avenue. Admission is $6 for adults and free for kids under 54 inches. See www.sangennarofeast.net for information and admission coupons.
Can't wait to dip into the Mediterranean scene? Hit this weekend's Chandler Greek Festival. Load up on roasted lamb, spanakopita, souvlaki, pastitsio, saganaki and baklava -- break the New Year's resolutions, then break the plates. Also offering Greek imports -- olives, cheese, religious trinkets -- the fest runs Friday, February 13, through Sunday, February 15, at downtown Chandler's Community Center, 125 East Commonwealth. Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for seniors and free for children. Proceeds benefit St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church. Call 480-899-3330 for details. -- Jill Koch
Combat commences at Estrella War
"There are no actors walking the streets like at the Renaissance Faire," says Anita Challis (a.k.a. Lady Anita de Challis), the "PR Autocrat" for Estrella War, an annual gathering hosted by the Society for Creative Anachronism. "We're just like [war] reenactments -- only we like to dress up in costumes and do medieval things." The Estrella War participants don't put on a show. They are too busy cooking period food, making their own clothes, working with medieval tools, and trying to take the castle.
According to Challis, the Estrella War is "the Middle Ages without the Black Death." A small fully period encampment usually allows visitors a peek, "provided that you ask first," she says. Various armored tournaments, for which the fighters must certify, can also be viewed by the public. The Merchant's Row, separate from the encampment, carries garb as well as authentic Middle Ages-style food. Gate fees are $15 for a day pass, with $5 parking per car. Estrella War runs through Monday, February 16, at Estrella Mountain Park in Goodyear. For more information, visit www.estrellawar.org. -- Quetta Carpenter