Friday, March 12
It was packed with explosive performances and thoughtful dialogue ("Mack, we're boned!"), but Keanu Reeves' giant careening bus movie has nothing on this flick. Plunking viewers behind the wheel for a 180-mph look at the nation's most popular spectator sport, NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience opens Friday, March 12, at Arizona Mills. Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, the movie maneuvers behind the scenes to dissect the physics, technology and teamwork that drive racing culture. NASCAR's major players loom extra-large on the six-story screen, while digital surround sound -- 12,000 watts strong -- rumbles almost as loud as a real NASCAR engine. Make tracks to the Mills, located at the southeast corner of I-10 and U.S. 60 in Tempe. Friday's showtimes are 12:15, 2:15, 4:15, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Call 480-897-1453 or see www.imax.com/tempe for tickets, $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $7 for kids.
Saturday, March 13
Kick it Costanza-style this Saturday, March 13, when Sonora Brewing Company and 103.9 The Edge salute the season with a "Spring Festivus" at Tempe Beach Park. Toast the feats of strength -- and drown out the airing of grievances -- with $3 pints and live party music by The Rave, all while bettering the community (100 percent of proceeds benefit Every Kid Counts, a nonprofit organization aiding disadvantaged Valley children). While the human gyroscope and putt-putt challenge promise a measure of excitement, the day's most compelling head-to-head competition rises from the Beer Taste Challenge, wherein well-loved local brews take on popular imports. Kick off "the Summer of George" from noon to 6 p.m. at the lake, located at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway. Tickets, $5, can be purchased at Sonora Brewing Company, 322 East Camelback, and at the gate. Festivus goers must be 21 or older; see www.sonorabrew.com/festivus.html for more info.
Sunday, March 14
A funny thing happened on our way to the Forum -- Italy suffered a nationwide blackout; we suffered closed historic sites, immobilized trains, and the aggression of frustrated Italian drivers (already a spirited bunch). A mildly dramatic day -- and, finally, something to write home about! -- but not the stuff of great theater. For that, we look to the pros. Phoenix Theatre's production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum -- starring Valley favorite Jon Gentry -- wraps this Sunday, March 14. Fusing elements of American vaudeville with Roman comedy (the surviving works of a playwright named Plautus), the Sondheim musical follows a slave's struggle to win freedom by securing a comely courtesan for his master. The final curtain rises at 2 p.m. at Phoenix Theatre, 100 East McDowell. Call 602-254-2151 for tickets, $28 to $32.
Monday, March 15
Metrosexuality on the one side, machismo on the other . . . what's a guy to do? Turn your head and coif. Putting a sporty spin on spa services, Men's Night Out at Rolf's Salon offers a different kind of boys' night out: haircuts, facials, waxing, massages and mini manicures -- all while plasma TV screens broadcast March Madness action. The game plan also promises food, cocktails and celebrity guests. Hosted by the Phoenix Suns Dancers, the event runs from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Scottsdale's Shops at Gainey Village, 8787 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 202. Tickets are $40; proceeds benefit the Suns Nite Hoops Program for at-risk young men. Call 480-607-1414 to reserve the right to be fabulous.
Tuesday, March 16
Get a hop, skip and a jump on St. Patrick's Day merriment at the Hyatt Regency Resort at Gainey Ranch, where Afan hails the holiday with traditional folk music and dance from Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The Celtic group sets Irish jigs and step dancing to the sounds of 20-some instruments, from traditional harps and pipes to less-recognized tools of the trade (i.e., kazoos and spoons). Once the special Irish brews and whiskey start flowing, eyes -- Irish and otherwise -- are sure to be smiling. Catch the performances, free and open to the public, from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, and Wednesday, March 17, in the resort's lobby bar, 7500 East Doubletree Ranch Road in Scottsdale. See scottsdale.hyatt.com for details.
Wednesday, March 17We're not entirely sure what a "throwdown" involves, but we probably do it like a girl. The ZONE shows us how it's done this Wednesday, March 17, when the radio station gears up for its all-star St. Patty's Day Throwdown. Gates open at 2 p.m. at Tempe Beach Park, Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, where the shamrocking lineup includes Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Blue October, The Rising, and The Clare Voyants. The Barenaked Ladies (even we could think of a more masculine name) headline the 21-and-over show. For indie music lovers, the biggest thrills of the day come courtesy of The Thrills and Howie Day. Call 480-784-4444 or dial up www.ticketmaster.com for tickets, $15.