While driving through the city to see citizens' holiday light displays can be entertaining, it isn't much fun when you're stuck in traffic or prowling the block for a parking space. See a celebrated holiday display (minus the traffic hassles) at ZooLights, opening Thursday, November 24, at the Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway in Papago Park. The display boasts more than 2.5 million lights and nearly 400 light sculptures. This year, there's a "Rainforests of the World" light display, as well as an "Antarctic Discover" exhibit featuring animated penguins. The sparkling spectacular also features an 18-foot lighted rattlesnake and a full-size animated talking giraffe named Jengo, as well as carousel rides. ZooLights is open from 6 to 10 every night through January 8. Admission costs $5 to $8. Call 602-273-1341 or visit www.phoenixzoo.org.
Imagine there's no heaven. Now imagine you're stuck in a television studio during a snowstorm in some place like Ape City, Indiana, and John Lennon's there telling stories and playing songs. That might not be so easy to picture, but you can simulate such a scene on Friday, November 25, and Saturday, November 26, when "A Day in His Life: The John Lennon Anthology Concert" rocks Mesa Arts Center. Writer and director Neal Warren drew upon Lennon's four-day stint as guest host of The Mike Douglas Showin 1972 for this fictional account of an appearance on the cleverly christened Doug Michael's Show. The host serves as a sort of villain; he knows little about Lennon (played by Tim Piper), and he asks inane questions. The talk-show format is woven throughout a hit list of Lennon songs, played by Piper and his band, Working Class Hero. The audio anthology includes tunes like "Revolution," "A Day in the Life," "Norwegian Wood," "I Am the Walrus," "Come Together" and many more. Tune in at the Piper Repertory Theater at MAC, 1 East Main Street. Shows start at 7:30 each night, and tickets cost $36. Call 480-644-6500 or visit www.mesaartscenter.com.
If the relentless thumping and endless loops of radio electronica have turned you off from the music form, check out the experimental alternative at the Thru the Wires 2 Year Anniversary Show on Saturday, November 26. The evening has showcased more than 60 underground artists since its inception, breaking ground in lesser-known branches of electronic music, like glitch (a minimalist and rhythmic form), IDM ("Intelligent Dance Music," characterized by unusual sequencing and processing), and breakcore (drum 'n' bass beats in a nonlinear, 4/4 drum pattern). Starting at 8 p.m., some of the most innovative electro-alchemists will take the stage, including Mr. System (hip-hop, house); Morgan's Magic Book Bus (a 12-year-old kid who's been likened to the spastic Japanese group The Boredoms); synth mixers Menagam; breakbeat purveyors Monoculture; and a mysterious special guest known only as "Scarlett Johamster." The headliner for the night is SPOO, a two-piece funk/electro hybrid that weaves vocal samples and spacy percussion throughout songs with titles like "Mars Needs iPodgrids" and "Worldwide Chaos Mantra." Get wired at Modified Arts, 407 East Roosevelt Street. Admission costs $5. Call 602-462-5516 or visit www.modified.org.
Comedian Richard Jeni may not have the most recognizable name in comedy, but his face makes people go, "Oh yeah -- that guy!" Because "that guy" has appeared on The Tonight Showmore than any other standup comic during Jay Leno's tenure: a whopping 20 times. He's also appeared on Late Show With David Letterman, Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and Entertainment Tonight, and his film credits include National Lampoon's Dad's Week Offand The Mask, in which he played Charlie Schumaker, the best friend of Jim Carrey's character. Recognize Jeni on Sunday, November 27, when the funnyman wraps up a three-night stand at the Tempe Improv, 930 East University Drive. Showtime is 8 p.m., and tickets cost $22. Call 480-921-9877 or visit www.tempeimprov.com.
Arizona State University ain't exactly the School of Rock, but there will be some heavy metal on campus when the "Hot Blast" metal sculpture exhibition opens with a 7 p.m. reception at the ASU Step Gallery on Monday, November 28. The juried show features more than 20 cast-metal works by ASU students, who've been sweating it out in the foundry to make their molten metals take shape. Each sculpture deals with "the subject of nature and artifice." The exhibition runs through December 2, and admission is free. The gallery is located in the Tempe Center, on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive. Call 480-965-7044.
Why bop your head to Top 40 when you can pump your fist to punk? For musical miscreants, a jukebox full of New York Dolls, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Pagans, and The Cramps sounds like heaven; unfortunately, a music mix like that is rare --unless you happen to be at The Rogue West for Night of the Living Saints, a weekly turntable jam that promises cheer for the finicky ear. Starting at 9:30 p.m., DJ Ryan Saint and DJ Lefta spin a cyclone of "roots rock, '77 punk, street rock, roots reggae, sex funk, and punk pop," and there's no cover. See what's on the spin every Tuesday at the club, located on the southeast corner of 35th Avenue and Northern. Call 602-841-6411 or visit www.roguebar.com.
Fans of hip-hop get the ultimate behind-the-music look at some of the genre's biggest names when the Underground Movement at ASU presents a showing of the 2004 documentary The MC. The last flick in the UM's "Hip-Hop Film Series," The MC includes interviews, performances, and archival footage of artists such as Rakim, KRS-One, Jay-Z, Big Daddy Kane, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, LL Cool J, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and the Wu-Tang Clan. The showing takes place in ASU's Memorial Union Building, 301 East Orange Mall in Tempe. Admission is free. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.