We know, we know. Valentine's Day is nearly here. And the damn holiday falls on a Tuesday. Lucky for Phoenicians, there's something to do every day of the week — whether it's an artsy, booze-fueled hangout, a behind-the-scenes look at the Arizona Opera, a gay rodeo, or a romantic comedy throwdown. Here are our picks for the best ways to spend your week, and you can find more options on the New Times' curated calendar.
Drink and Draw
Sometimes it takes a cocktail, or three, to get comfortable enough to whip out your tool in a crowd. Get your mind out of the gutter, kids. We mean your preferred drawing instrument.
Drink and Draw is a regular event that gives you a chance to put the pen, crayon, pencil, or whatever writing device you like best to the pad, as you congregate with others to observe and draw a live model. And you can enjoy some adult beverages while you do, if that helps loosen up those hands. Grab your supplies and head to the First Draft Book Bar in Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, February 13. Admission is $8. Register in the Phoenix store or call 602-274-0067. Visit the Changing Hands website for more information. Amy Young
Behind the Opera: Riders of the Purple Sage
Word of advice: Forgo the purple-dyed carnations and mauve-frosted cupcakes on Valentine’s Day. No need to go lowbrow, especially when you’ve got such a classy option over at Arizona Opera — where the creative team for a new Riders of the Purple Sage opera developed right here in Arizona will share the backstory of how it came to be during “Behind the Opera: Riders of the Purple Sage.”
The free event happens at Arizona Opera, 1636 North Central Avenue, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14. Bring your sweetie if you have one, or just get to know some fellow art lovers. Years from now, you might be recounting the tale of how you met over opera. Because hey, stranger things have happened. Visit Arizona Opera's website. Lynn Trimble
Phoenix Urban Design Week
Phoenix may get a lot of flak for being a sprawling metropolis, but our city’s urban design is nothing to poke fun at. From the award-winning Sky Harbor International Airport to the increasing number of bike lanes popping up, Phoenix is not the way it is by accident. Of course, the city isn't without flaws. That’s where Phoenix Urban Design Week comes in. From February 10 through 18, everyone from urban planners and landscape architects to policymakers and artists will converge to work on making Phoenix the best city it can be. On Wednesday, February 15, you can look forward to a day filled with a Rad Real Estate Developers Panel Discussion, an event highlighting young professionals, and the #yesphx Happy Hour Mixer at the Found:RE, 1100 North Central Avenue. For the full schedule of events, aiming to make this “a city we all want to live in,” see Phoenix Urban Design Week's online schedule. Evie Carpenter
"Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience"
Two words: spring training. It’s the subject of an exhibition called “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience,” which features images and artifacts exploring the history of spring training in Arizona from 1947 to the present. We’ve come a long way, baby.
It turns out that baseball memorabilia spanning seven decades reveals a lot about the communities where baseball is a big deal, and the ways team sports tend to reflect issues facing society at large.
See the exhibition inside the Gallery @ The Library, located at Civic Center Library, 3839 North Drinkwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. The exhibit, which also includes a Cactus League Hall of Fame, is free. And it continues through Tuesday, April 4. Visit Scottsdale Library online. Lynn Trimble
Any new work by playwright Nathan Louis Jackson gets butts into some of the most prestigious seats in New York, a tradition begun with 2009’s Broke-ology. The play centers on two brothers who’ve returned home to care for their father, whose health is declining. Though Ennis and Malcolm have taken different paths as adults, they’re able to come together and focus on what’s important while you, the audience, laugh and/or cry.
When not penning scripts about the death penalty, gun rights, protests at funerals, et cetera, as resident playwright at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Jackson brings his gritty, barbecue-drenched KC life experience to bear as a member of the writing staff for Netflix’s Luke Cage.
Black Theatre Troupe presents Broke-ology through Sunday, February 26, at the Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center, 1333 East Washington Street. Tickets are $36. Showtime on Thursday, February 16, is 8 p.m. Visit Black Theatre Troup's website or call 602-258-8129. Julie Peterson
Battle of the Rom Coms
We are not gonna let you finish, because You’ve Got Mail is the greatest romantic comedy of all time (in our not even remotely humble opinion). The folks at National Comedy Theatre, however, will entertain your arguments for Pretty Woman or whatever during Battle of the Rom Coms Uncensored on Thursday, February 16. That’s when the Mesa improv spot will host a panel of comedians to debate the swoon-worthy merits of Meg Ryan, Hugh Grant, and Julia Roberts — with help from the audience. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at 1111 South Longmore, and admission is free, though reservations are encouraged. Save your spot through National Comedy Theatre's website. Becky Bartkowski
Read on for an outer space confab, a throwback bar crawl, and a downtown bike ride.
International UFO Congress
The truth is out there — and by there, we mean the We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center, 10438 North Fort McDowell Road in Scottsdale, for the 2017 International UFO Congress.
Earning the Guinness World Record for largest UFO convention, the 26th annual gathering has lectures, documentaries, exhibitors, and the 2017 EBE Film Festival, all running from February 15 to 19. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 16, for such lectures as “Media Bias in UFO Coverage: Culture, Policy, or Something Else?” And yes, Arizona’s own Travis Walton will probably be discussed at some point. Stay till 10:30 p.m. for cocktails and the EBE Awards Banquet & Ceremony.
Pricing ranges from $30 to $369. Visit the UFO Congress website or call 1-877-836-0110. Lauren Cusimano
Robert Crane Book-Signing
The loss of a parent is even more haunting when they’ve been taken by a brutal, and still unsolved, murder. Author Robert Crane unfortunately knows this firsthand.
He visits with his memoir, Crane: Sex, Celebrity, and My Father’s Unsolved Murder, which examines the circumstances of his dad’s death in 1978, when Robert Crane Sr., a star of television’s Hogan’s Heroes, was found dead in his Scottsdale home. The writer explores that tragic event, along with other facets of his life, including being a writer for adult magazines like Playboy and Oui. He delves into the details at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 16, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Road in Tempe. Admission is free; the book is $29.95. Call 602-730- 0205 or visit Changing Hands online. Amy Young
Arizona Gay Rodeo
If you listen closely, you can hear it in the air. It’s that familiar lone whistle that sets the tone in almost every Western film and tells you shit’s about to go down in some dusty little town.
On Friday, February 17, that dusty little town is Phoenix, and what’s going down is the 32nd Annual Arizona Gay Rodeo. Grab your most fabulous boots, your bedazzled hats, and your best pair of chaps, and get on down to Corona Ranch & Rodeo Grounds, 7611 South 29th Avenue. For those who’ve never ridden anything before, don’t worry. The cowboys leading the morning rodeo school have your back. But the real fun starts during Sophie Sinclair’s Hootenanny Jamboree at 7 p.m., featuring a chili cook-off, a pie-eating contest, and more. For more information and to purchase tickets, which run $15 for an all-day pass or $25 for the weekend, visit the Arizona Gay Rodeo website. Evie Carpenter
If your taste in comedy leans more toward dry and sarcastic, you should know that Anthony Jeselnik cuts right to the quick.
The comedian is a loaded package of brutality. From his edgy attitude to his cocky delivery, and piercing barbs, there’s no comedic fluff served here. His dark and deadpan style gained notoriety on his TV show, Jeselnik Offensive, as well as several Comedy Central roasts, where he annihilated everyone from Trump to Charlie Sheen. Watch him slay at 7:30 or 10 p.m. on Friday, February 17, at Stand Up Live, 50 West Jefferson Street. Admission is $27 to the 21-and-over event, where seating is first-come, first-served. All tickets require a two-drink minimum. Shows run through Saturday, February 18. Call 480-719-6100 or visit Stand Up Live's website. Amy Young
'90s Bar Crawl
Did you think that No Doubt was da bomb? Did you get jiggy wit’ it when the Fresh Prince of Bel Air came on? Were you buggin’ when your crush just would not sign on to AIM? Then get ready to party like it’s 1999 during the ’90s Bar Crawl. This phat party will stop at Phoenix bars including Bliss/Rebar, The Duce, Sky Lounge, Chambers, Kobalt, and more from 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 18. The starting location is TBA, but it’s gonna be off the hook. Catch plenty of drink specials, favorite tracks from NOW That’s What I Call Music, and a crowd of other ’90s kids ready to have an excellent time. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at the '90s Bar Crawl website. Evie Carpenter
The Vagina Monologues
At a moment dominated by pink pussy hats and “The Future is Female” T-shirts, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues may seem as important as ever.
The play about the female experience returns to the stage at Phoenix Center for the Arts for a three-cast, three-show performance the weekend after Valentine’s Day. More than 50 women, some actors, many not, will perform monologues like “My Angry Vagina,” a half-joking rant against feminine products; “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” a piece about a sex worker for women; and “Reclaiming Cunt,” an argument in favor of a misunderstood word.
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Curtain goes up at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 18, at 1202 North Third Street. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence as part of a worldwide “V-Day” event combating violence against women. For details and additional performances, visit the Facebook event. Janessa Hilliard
Downtown Pedal Around
For those looking to get a little better acquainted with all that downtown Phoenix has to offer, there really is no better way than on a bike. Even for veteran downtowners, the pace of a leisurely bike ride can expose you to a whole new world right where you live. On Sunday, February 19, Grid Bike Share, in conjunction with the Phoenix Spokes People and Downtown Phoenix Inc., will host a brand-new bike ride, the Downtown Pedal Around, aimed at cyclists of all levels getting comfortable with the rules of the road and the lay of downtown streets. At 4 p.m., the ride will start at Civic Space Park, 424 North Central Avenue, and traverse Phoenix streets, ultimately ending at Willie’s Taco Joint for tacos and margaritas. If you want to join in, but don’t own a bike, you can rent a bike from Grid at the park. To set up a bike share account and learn more about future events like this, go to the Grid Bikes website. The ride is free to join. Heather Hoch