This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

 THU 23
Talk about pulling some strings. Organizers rounded up some rocking raffle prizes for this Thursday's "DIY Benefit Show" for the American Diabetes Association. The biggest booty: a Gibson Les Paul, courtesy of Guitar Center of Scottsdale, and a Fender acoustic guitar starter pack -- a guitar, strap, gig bag, instructional booklet, picks and pitch pipe -- from Music Brokers in Phoenix. Vic Masters MCs the action, with the Straight Jackets headlining the lineup. Also on the soundtrack: Tortus (heavy rock), New Romantics ("glam pop punk in a similar vein as the Beat Angels, but trashier"), and Glass Heroes (punk). The do-gooders gather 'round about 9:45 p.m. on September 23 at downtown's Emerald Lounge, Seventh Avenue and McDowell. Cover is $3. Questions? E-mail 911sweetTarts@cox.net or call 602-256-9705.

FRI 24
Theater Works presents a little "he said, she said" (or rather, a little "he swigged, she swigged") in Laundry & Bourbon and Lone Star. The two one-act plays -- both by James McLure -- spotlight the same group of folks in a small Texas town. In Laundry & Bourbon, Elizabeth, Hattie and Amy Lee fold laundry, down bourbon and Coke, and fuss about Elizabeth's husband, Roy, who, just back from Vietnam, has torn out on a two-day bender. In Lone Star, Roy, his brother Ray, and Amy Lee's husband Cletis knock back a case of Lone Star beer while dissecting life, death and women. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 24, at 10484 West Thunderbird in Sun City, where the double shot continues through October 3. Call 623-815-7930 for tickets, $23.

SAT 25
If your knowledge of things African is limited to violets, Charlize Theron and that Toto song, it's high time to expand the worldview -- not to mention the music collection. Take a safari this Saturday, September 25, to Heritage and Science Park, Seventh Street and Monroe, where the African Association of Arizona unfurls its African Festival 2004. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the culturally curious can explore an African palace -- bling fit for a king! -- and check out a marketplace packed with native foods, arts and crafts, clothing and beauty products. The live entertainment lineup includes the music of Dodo Munoko and the La Rumba Band, the beats of Tam Tam drummers and dancers, and the tales of an African storyteller. Admission is free; check out www.afasa.org for details.

SUN 26
Our Sundays could use some CPR. In fact, the promise of a little mouth-to-mouth might just be enough to rouse us from our couch coma. We'll trade the salsa of the chips variety for that of the hips variety at the CPR Dance Party, which shakes down the last Sunday of the month at Hollywood Alley, 2610 West Baseline in Mesa. "The best mix of Latin, world, funk, soul and R&B" comes courtesy of "Arizona's number-one party band." Arizona Chicano Power Revival, that is, led by Raul Yanez and "revamped" with new local singer Marisa Ronstadt. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.; those 21 and up can get down 'til 2 a.m. Cover is $5. Call 480-820-7117 for more information.

MON 27
Last year, her Dirty Girls Social Club had us interacting, willy-nilly, with no regard for cleanliness. Now she's got us Playing With Boys, and the risks we're running (read: cooties) are off the charts. But a juicy read is a juicy read, so we'll stand by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, crazy ideas and all, as the author reads from and signs Playing With Boys at Changing Hands Bookstore this Monday, September 27. Her debut effort, The Dirty Girls Social Club, burned up the NY Times best-seller list, and her new novel promises to be equally sassy -- taking on "the glamorous world of Latin entertainment." Three new characters, all Latinas in their late 20s, deal with life and love in L.A. Marcella, a Mexican soap star, shoots for Hollywood's A-list. Olivia, a married mom, struggles to write a screenplay about war-torn El Salvador. And Alexis, a musicians' manager -- with "enough self-esteem to fill a Prada card case" -- pulls off an affair with a sexy Cuban rapper. The bilingual reading and signing starts at 7 p.m. at the bookstore, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe. Call 480-730-0205 or see www.changinghands.com.

TUE 28
It may be hard to go back to Chef Boyardee and Riunite on ice. Getting a taste of Italia via some of its finest wines, the Phoenix Corkscrews present a "Salute to Italy" this Tuesday, September 28, at Scottsdale's Armitage Wine Lounge & Café. Encouraging wine and food appreciation "in a fun and comfortable environment," the 'Screws welcome wine enthusiasts of all levels -- and charge no membership fee. Tickets to Tuesday's event, $30, include tastes of award-winning vintages from three regions of Italy, plus food pairings. Antipasto platters promise cacciatorino, copa, prosciutto, marinated artichokes and asparagus, roasted red peppers, olives, fresh mozzarella and aged fontina. Guests get in on caprese and hummus platters as well. Swirl, sniff and sip from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Market Street in DC Ranch, 20751 North Pima Road, #120. Tickets are limited; purchase in advance at www.phoenixcorkscrews.com.

WED 29
We're not sure that "harsh reality" equals mad fun (we're picturing full-length mirrors and fluorescent lighting), but -- for those who can take it -- The Harsh Reality Tour bites this Wednesday, September 29, at Tempe's Big Fish Pub, 1954 East University. Set to bring down the house (way down) is France's Lyzanxia (didn't we take that to clear up a fungus?), a band that ranks "among the best of the heaviest of heavy metal." Also weighing us down: Switzerland's Sybreed ("the future of metal") and Austin, Texas' Freak House ("an infectious elixir of dazzling proportions"). Get infected at www.harshrealitytour.com.

 
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