This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

THU 9
While hot toddies, bourbon balls and hot buttered rum are required party paraphernalia in other parts of the country during the holiday season, we here in the desert prefer a south-of-the-border Christmas spirit: tequila! On Thursday, December 9, Scottsdale's pair of Blue Agave Mexican Cantinas (at 4280 North Drinkwater Boulevard and 7000 East Mayo Boulevard) bring back their monthly Tequila Taster from 6 to 8 p.m. Warm your insides with up to "four premier tequila brands and a choice assortment of select appetizers." The evening also includes a brief education on tequila and a prize drawing for a bottle of the golden elixir chosen from the Blue Agave reserves. (Makes a great gift for Granny.) Reservations are recommended. Admission is $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Call 480-429-1123 or 480-419-6375.

FRI 10
It might have taken away your Freedom (the Tempe nightclub, that is, where international DJs from Paul Oakenfold to Boy George to Perry Farrell spun into the wee hours for five-plus years), but Tempe's got a new dig in Spliff Fridays at McDuffy's Lounge, formerly the Bash on Ash, at 230 West Fifth Street. On Friday, December 10, Spliff's resident DJs Terrence O'Connor, Tyson Guess and Aaron Roberts make way for Grammy-nominated, San Francisco-based DJ Chris Lum, who's "produced more than 60 projects in just the last two years." Lum is also considered a "key player in the development of the [Bay Area's] house scene" as a producer, retailer and DJ. Cover is $5 all night with two-for-one drinks from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. See unifiedculture.net for more information.

SAT 11
So it might not be the Fremont Street Experience of downtown Las Vegas, but consider the positives: You'll keep that cash flow from burning a hole in your pocket while casing the Horseshoe World Series of Poker room. And, thanks to reZurrection Gallery, you might even learn something about that American institution known as neon, at the ASU Neon Workshop's 20th Anniversary on Saturday, December 11, at 601 West University Drive in Tempe. The workshop was originally funded in 1985 by a grant from the Centennial Commission celebrating ASU's 100th anniversary. Two decades later, Jim White, ASU's professor of neon (that's an official title), is still lighting the path to fluorescent dreams for bright-eyed college students. Those enrolled in White's Fall 2004 Neon Art Workshop will unveil their latest neon creations from 7 to 10 p.m. The exhibition continues through January 5. Admission is free. Call 480-377-9080 or see www.rezurrection.com.

SUN 12
No more whining about not having a car in Phoenix. Yeah, we know the bus system's a bitch, and your poor wittle piggies get sore walking a mile between stops. Well, if it sucks that bad, we suggest thumbing it to the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue, on Sunday, December 12, to bear witness to one Afghan boy and his uncle's journey across the Middle East and Europe in search of refuge in the free showing of the 2002 film In This World. The pair took a hazardous route from Pakistan through Iran, Turkey, Italy, France and the United Kingdom, eventually seeking asylum in London. Now, stop crying, tenderfoot. The film, which begins at 2 p.m., will be discussed by Phoenix Film Festival executive director Chris Lamont. Call 602-257-1880 or see www.phxart.org.

MON 13
You can exhale, Phoenix Suns fans. Despite suffering an end to their recent nine-game winning streak, it's clear that more than a month into the NBA season, Steve Nash, Amar Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and company are for real. Better yet, pony up the price of an NBA ticket and pay your respects to the team playing "Showtime" basketball reminiscent of Magic's Lakers, circa 1987, when the Suns host the Orlando Magic on Monday, December 13, at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street. The NBA's highest-scoring offense (that being the Suns) tries to make Stevie "Franchise" Francis and the Magic go poof! starting at 7 p.m. For tickets, $10 to $600, call 602-379-7800 or see www.ticketmaster.com.

TUE 14
Someone had to do it -- that is, put a cap in Mill Avenue's ass. But it had to be an inside job, and Valley hip-hop hit men Drunken Immortals took the gig. The DIs, along with DJs Foundation, Dirty Napz and Ether One, carry out their weekly assault on the Mill Avenue corporate megaplex on Tuesday, December 14, via their open-mike hip-hop show "Kill Mill," beginning at 9 p.m. at Rio Salado Brewing Company's Salt River Saloon, 605 South Mill in Tempe. Thanks to the DJs' pro bono work, there's no cover and $2 Rio Salado drafts. Call 480-829-6775 or see www.drunkenimmortals.com.

WED 15
You don't have to be Wimpy to crave more than just one burger from Hamburger Mary's, the gay/lesbian-friendly burger bistro at 5111 North Seventh Street. But you do have to be hungry. On Wednesday, December 15, Mary's kicks off its third-anniversary celebration with the mother of all promos -- two-for-one hamburgers all day long, not to mention two-for-one beer, wine and cocktails as well. But according to Mary's co-owner Braun Phifer, same-sex consumption of ground Angus isn't all Mary's has to offer. "We do cater to the gay and lesbian market, but Mary's is a place where everyone -- whether they're old and straight or young and gay -- can have fun and feel comfortable," Phifer says. The remainder of the five-day festivities, through December 19, includes Mary's drag bingo, an anniversary edition of "Gong Karaoke," and a Sunday afternoon patio party and barbecue, with drink specials all weekend long. Call 602-240-6969.

 
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