The bustle of constant holiday parties and the last-minute scramble to find presents for those hard-to-shop-fors are nigh. But this week? You've got things to do besides try to find washi tape that'll perfectly match the wrapping paper you just stocked up on. From pop culture and hard science to fashion, art, and, yes, wrestling, there's plenty to keep you busy — and entertained. More events await on New Times' curated calendar, if you're looking to really jam-pack that schedule.
"Alien Worlds and Androids"
The truth is out there. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. To boldly go … Such catchphrases draw our imaginations beyond the atmosphere. Indeed, the question “Are we alone in the universe?” has yielded more literature, art, and entertainment than any other question on earth. With each passing year, astronomers discover an increasingly distant corner of the universe, affirming the likelihood that we are not alone. The conversation is as salient as ever, and the Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington Street, is chiming in with “Alien Worlds and Androids.” The 5,000-square-foot exhibit is devoted entirely to humanity’s most enduring question — and how we’re trying to answer it. Stop in on Monday, December 5, between 10 a.m. and 5 pm. Admission is $24. Visit azscience.org or call 602-716-2000 for details. Rob Kroehler
Determining who a character’s father is = great way to get more people on stage. Nowhere is this more blatantly obvious than in Mamma Mia!, a musical that wedges not 22 but 23 ABBA hits into its running time while floating multiple weddings and a showbiz reunion. And it all takes place on a Greek island, to make it that much yummier.
The show ran 14 years on Broadway, and is now in the middle of its Farewell Tour (moniker not legally binding). Thank them for the music on opening night of the run at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 6, at ASU Gammage, 1200 South Forest Avenue in Tempe. Tickets are $20 to $125 at ticketmaster.com or 480-965-3434, and performances continue through Sunday, December 11. Julie Peterson
"Third World Beings: Prelude to Bilá Ashdlá’ (Five Fingered People)”
Lately, Phoenix artist Jeff Slim (Diné) has been giving a new medium a try inside his Grand Avenue studio — painting swirling white lines on nude models, then photographing the designs to create somewhat abstracted black-and-white images.
It’s a departure from Slim’s larger body of work, which comprises mostly brightly colored paintings and murals with figures reflecting his interests in both pop culture and his Navajo heritage. In both his paintings on canvas and these paintings on the human form, Slim creates the appearance of energy lines.
See “Third World Beings: Prelude to Bilá Ashdlá’ (Five Fingered People)” presented by Scottsdale Public Art between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6, in The Gallery @ Appaloosa Library, 7377 East Silverstone Drive. Visit www.scottsdalepublicart.org. Lynn Trimble
Gini Koch Book-Signing
Valley sci-fi author Gini Koch is nothing if not prolific. The red-haired and pink-hatted Koch returns to the Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 7, to meet fans and sign copies of the 14th entry (and second this year) in her Alien/“Kitty” Katt series of comic sci-fi romances, Alien Nation.
Becoming First Lady hasn’t made Kitty’s life easier. The titular character and her husband, the Alpha Centaurian President of the United States, have to face an old nemesis when a xenophobic group starts attacking Centaurian bases. And a fleet of alien ships is converging on Earth as well. Alien Nation is available in paperback for $7.99. For more information, call 480-947-2974 or visit poisonedpen.com. Michael Senft
With a New York Times best-selling book (I’m Just a Person), a handful of comedy specials, a few more guest appearances on shows you already like such as IFC’s Maron and an Amazon-released series on the way titled One Mississippi, it’s no doubt that the past few years have been really busy for comedian and storyteller Tig Notaro. Maybe it’s her proclivity for intense honesty — even when it hurts — that keeps her in demand, or maybe it’s her biting, dry wit and spot-on deadpan. In any case, you won’t want to miss all the realness Notaro brings to her live performance at Scottsdale Center of the Performing Arts’ Virginia G. Piper Auditorium, 7380 East Second Street, on Thursday, December 8. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $30. You can get yours and find more information about this event at scottsdaleperformingarts.org. Heather Hoch
Kelsey Dake's Monkeys
Art is popping up in all sorts of places, including a new exhibition space shared by Phoenix General and Framed Ewe, 5538 North Seventh Street. It’s called the Shortcut Gallery, because savvy shoppers know to park out back, then walk through the art-filled hallway to get to the goods.
Hit the gallery between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, to see works by Kelsey Dake, a local artist who has drawn for the New York Times, Nike, Variety, BBDO, McSweeney’s, and HarperCollins.
Dake is showing screen prints of various monkeys she created as a color study. It’s the first time they’ve been shown publicly. Like the rest of her work, they’re weird in a wonderful way. Visit www.facebook.com/FramedEwe or www.facebook.com/PhoenixGeneral. Lynn Trimble
Read on for more events this week, including Bar Flies and an ugly sweater party.
For better or worse, much of the holiday season involves gathering with family and friends and stuffing our faces. The latter is often what gets us through the seasonal stresses. This month, Bar Flies — New Times’ monthly storytelling event — offers up an annual theme: Eating Christmas. Join a handful of area wordsmiths as they share their food-centric holiday memories. These true tales may make you laugh, cry, or even get a little hungry. Grab a cocktail and listen up at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. Tickets are $5. Call 602-368-3121 or visit www.valleybarphx.com. Amy Young
Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See
In the words of Mr. Mackey, drugs are bad, mmkay? If asked, he’d probably agree that murder is worse. And if you had to choose a crime to witness, murder clearly wins as far as fearing for your life goes. That situation’s the spot in which mail carrier George finds himself in local writer Ron Hunting’s Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See, a dark comedy continuing through Saturday, December 10, courtesy of Stray Cat Theatre.
Poor George — he didn’t even know he was witnessing a murder. He winds up a captive in an abandoned warehouse, held at gunpoint with a few other persons of interest, being vigorously questioned by who knows who. Experience the outcome at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway. Tickets for the performance at 8 p.m. Thursday, December 8, are $25 to $30. Call 480-350-2822 or visit straycattheatre.org. Julie Peterson
Party Hard Wrestling
Not sure if you’re aware, but our next president is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. And we wouldn’t be surprised if his idea of making America great again involves more sweaty men in Lycra pretending to beat the hell out of each other. Politics aside, this ironclad fact is surely good news for the Mesa-based Party Hard Wrestling, whose light-hearted, beer-slinging brand of brutality harks back to the glory days of wrestling, before spray tans and shaved armpits. Catch them in action at Mesa’s Nile Theatre, 105 West Main Street, on Friday, December 9, for Party Hard Wrestling: Holiday Special. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets start at $10. Visit partyhardwrestling.com or call 480-559-5859 for details. Rob Kroehler
A Midwinter Night's Dream
Discover what fools mortals be as Southwest Shakespeare celebrates the seasonally adjusted Midwinter Night’s Dream. Join Titania, Oberon, and Puck as Bottom makes an ass of himself in this kid-friendly adaptation of the Bard’s celebration of love and magic, mixed with a dose of holiday cheer.
The play runs from December 9 through 11 at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road, and from December 16 through 18 at Taliesin West, 12621 North Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, Scottsdale. Showtimes are 6:30 p.m. Friday; 3 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for the Kerr performances are $22.45 and are available at ticketmaster.com, while tickets for the Taliesin performance are $15 at swshakespeare.org. For more information, call 480-435-6868. Michael Senft
Ugly Sweater Crawl
Do you feel that? That slight nip in the air early in the morning? It’s been a while, so you might not remember what that is, Phoenicians. Let us remind you: That’s winter in Arizona. And dipping into the 50s in these parts means it’s time to break out sweaters. But on Saturday, December 10, only the most hideous of knits are allowed during the Ugly Sweater Crawl in Tempe. The most unsightly of bar crawls will make its way along Mill Avenue, starting at Handlebar Tempe, 680 South Mill Avenue # 109, at 5 p.m. Tickets are $17 and include an Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl koozie, drink specials, and basically a guaranteed good time. Check out uglysweaterbarcrawls.com for more info and tickets. Evie Carpenter
AZ Fashion HQ Grand Opening
It’s been years in the making, and finally AZ Fashion HQ has arrived. Housed in a 23,000-square-foot Tempe building spanning three floors, the fashion design incubator welcomes the public during its grand opening for a tour, ribbon-cutting ceremony, scavenger hunt, and fashion show from Sillin, Inc. Festivities run from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 10, at 132 East Sixth Street. You’ll need to buy a ticket in advance for a seat at the fashion show. Cost ranges from $50 to $100 via theopeningoftheazfashionhq.eventbrite.com, where information about general admission for standing room can also be found. Becky Bartkowski
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Quest for Claus: the Musical
However rare it is for a theater company to succeed with Shakespeare — wait! don’t go — it’s even rarer to do so while focusing primarily on more recent plays. Like “finished five minutes ago” recently. And musicals. Brelby Theatre Company covers that spread, and in Glendale (we like Glendale, but come on), and this has been going on for seven years.
Quest for Claus: the Musical, this year’s seasonal offering, follows the physical and spiritual journey of a fellow named Nick who becomes the annual conduit for children’s dreams, be they of sugarplums or of drones. It continues through Sunday, December 18, at 7154 North 58th Drive. On Sunday, December 11, showtime is 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 to $25 at www.brelby.com or 623-282-2781. Julie Peterson