This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

THU 7
Got a gamer roommate who's hijacked your TV? Don't fret. Our advice: Feed his compulsion for escapism with a ticket to the Arizona State Fair, where your Mountain Dew-chugging, Cheetos-eating, entranced-by-the-incomparable-graphics-of-"Soul Calibur II" roomie will be in Xbox ecstasy as GameRiot, "the world's largest traveling video games festival and competition," loads up beginning Thursday, October 7. The touring festival, now in its third year, is expected to draw more than a quarter of a million gamers around the country by the time it finishes its final stop at the fair, through October 24. GameRiot gives gaming junkies the chance to "be the first to play" new and unreleased Xbox titles like "Mech Assault 2," "Jade Empire," "Forza Motorsport" and "Men of Valor," all on more than 70 plasma and LCD screens. Then there's the "Blockbuster Halo Championships" with cash prizes and six months of free game rentals. The tour also features a "BattleZone" of networked Xbox systems, allowing gamers to go head-to-head with the best of the best, and the "GameRiot Girls." The Arizona State Fair is at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, 1826 West McDowell. Admission is $9.50 for adults, $4.50 for kids 5 to 13. Single-session and all-day passes for GameRiot are available at the door. Call 602-268-FAIR (3247) or see www.gameriot.com.

FRI 8
It's one of the great tragedies of our time: Brian Regan has -- still -- yet to achieve household-name status, despite the comedian's 20 years of standup tours, TV appearances, and a loyal cult following. Still, the Letterman regular pushes on with hysterical bits about his "everykid" childhood, and observations on the difficulties involved in buying donuts from the "Donut Lady." ("Man, you guys have a lotta donuts.") On Friday, October 8, Regan and his furrowed brow come to Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street, for an 8 p.m. show. And just maybe, he'll eventually land the gig he's always wanted. "I would love to become a famous cartoon character, yet completely anonymous on the street," he says on his Web site. "Nobody ever says, ÔHey, is that Popeye?'" Tickets are $32.50. Call 602-267-1600 or see www.celebritytheatre.com.

SAT 9
If only Martha Stewart weren't a little preoccupied these days, we'd gladly send her an invitation to the 2004 Wearable Art Auction on Saturday, October 9, where one of the featured pieces, created by sculptor Leslie Cole, is a shoulder wrap made from ceramic tiles. Who knows, maybe Stewart would get some inspiration as to how to fill her upcoming free time. But there's plenty more to choose from at the auction, which benefits Phoenix Artlink and begins at 7 p.m. at Legend City, 521 West Van Buren. Artlink and LabelHorde magazine have paired up more than 40 local fashion designers and artists (including Cole, who worked solo) to create "unique and inspiring" pieces, including a wire dress embellished with beading by artist/designers Brenda Juarez and Mayra Lopez; sculptor Melissa Martinez and designer Sharon Sullivan's pearl and concrete necklaces; and painter Jason Rudolph Pe--a and LabelHorde founder Angela Johnson's flamenco dress made from Pe--a's velvet painting (it's yet to be finished). "I've asked Jason to make it pretty simple," Johnson says. "Just give me some Elvis or a matador." Prepaid tickets, $10, are available at www.artlinkphoenix.com; tickets at the door are $15.

SUN 10
Is there any place more aptly named to host a daylong festival of wine and jazz than Carefree? We think not. Beginning Sunday, October 10, El Pedregal Marketplace, at Scottsdale Road and the Carefree Highway, opens its first Wine and Jazz Festival, which runs every Sunday through November 14. Events include outdoor wine tastings in the El Pedregal courtyard from noon to 5 p.m. featuring domestic and import wineries, including Clicquot, Far Niente, Robert Mondavi, Newton, and Bogle. Free concerts follow, featuring the festival's October 10 openers, the Khani Cole Band, from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission to the weekly wine tastings and concerts is free, but wine-tasting tickets -- good for five different wines each -- are $3. Call 480-488-1072 for details.

MON 11
We doubt Blackie Lawless and his '80s metal crew W.A.S.P. (does it stand for "We Are Sexual Perverts"? We Aren't Sure, Pal) will drink blood from skulls, or perform satanic rituals or female torture onstage like they did back in the day, when F*** Like a Beast was at the top of the charts. After all, now they want the music to be taken "seriously." But we'll be happy if just one stoner chick flashes the audience when W.A.S.P. plays fellow shock rocker Alice Cooper'stown, 101 East Jackson, on Monday, October 11, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 602-253-7337.

TUE 12
You want to hear about the issues in this presidential campaign? Don't bank on the presidential debate at ASU this week to give you what you want, claims the purportedly "nonpartisan, grassroots coalition" known as the October 13th Alliance, which hosts a free alternative forum on Tuesday, October 12, at Neeb Hall, just south of Forest and University on ASU's main campus in Tempe. The various speakers -- including Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son, a U.S. Marine, was killed in Iraq in 2003; Michael Hoffman, a Marine who founded Iraq Veterans Against the War; and Norman Solomon, a media critic who's visited Iraq three times since the fall of Saddam Hussein -- will discuss "the most significant foreign policy decision of the Bush administration: the invasion and occupation of Iraq." The forum begins at 7 p.m. Call 480-620-5323, or see www.oct13alliance.org.

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