The vast screens and marrow-shaking sound systems of IMAX Theatres have been put to use taking armchair travelers to the wreck of the Titanic and to the Great Barrier Reef, up Everest and over the Grand Canyon, into space stations and beaver lodges--in short, to places we wouldn't be likely to see without considerable expense, difficulty and peril. Now the technology has been used to give us the cinematic approximation of riding on some of the country's great roller coasters, those five-minute simulations of death on a hurtling runaway train. In other words, Thrill Ride gives you a vicarious thrill from a vicarious thrill. This exercise in redundancy--which could quite possibly prove very popular--includes footage from the Kumba and Montu rides at Tampa's Busch Gardens and the Big Shot at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. The film opens on Thursday, June 25, at IMAX Theatre, Civic Center Boulevard and Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale, in repertory with Titanica; both features run through mid-November. Tickets range from $5 to $7 for individual shows, $7.50 to $9.75 for evening double features. 945-4629, 949-3105.
Proud of his status as a "clean"--non-risque--performer, comedian Brian Regan, host of Comedy Central's Short Attention Span Theatre and star of the Showtime special Something's Wrong With the Regan Boy, performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 25; 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, June 26; the same times Saturday, June 27; and 8 p.m. Sunday, June 28, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University (at Cornerstone mall). Tickets range from $12 to $15. 921-9877.
More than 20 of the Valley's top food peddlers display their goodies at Great Taste of Phoenix, which kicks off from 3 p.m. to midnight Friday, June 26; noon to midnight Saturday, June 27; and the same hours Sunday, June 28; and which continues during those same days and hours every weekend through Sunday, September 27, at Symphony Hall Terrace, Second Street and Adams. Local and national entertainment is featured each weekend, starting off with a retro treat: On Saturday, June 27, right after they wrap up a gig singing the national anthem at the Diamondbacks/Chicago Cubs game, pop-soul vocalists The Fifth Dimension will take the stage for a show at Great Taste. Admission is $7, free for kids 10 and younger. 252-0076.
The idyllic, flowering gardens, pathways and country roads, lily ponds, beachscapes and doorways that are the favorite subjects of painter Kent R. Wallis have been an annual summer presentation of the May Gallery for long enough to justify giving its current show the title "Kent R. Wallis and the May Galleries: Ten Years Together." The exhibition opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 26, at May Gallery/Borgata, 6166 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 710, in Scottsdale, and continues through Wednesday, July 15. Regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The other May Gallery locations, at el Pedregal and Fashion Square, will also feature Wallis' work throughout July. 998-2424.
For the 12th year, good old Valley Art Theatre offers its summer Free Family Movie Series, at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 27, and each subsequent Saturday through August 8. As the series' title implies, admission to these flicks is gratis, but tickets must nonetheless be picked up ahead of time at a participating Mill Avenue merchant, or the City of Tempe Water Department. Each film is preceded by a public safety or community awareness presentation by the Tempe Police and Fire Departments. This week's film is Barney's Great Adventure: The Movie, the daring feature version of the kiddy show in which the giant purple carnosaur goes on a Godzilla-like rampage, gobbling up children as if they were Hot Pockets. No, just kidding. Later films in the series include Leave It to Beaver, The Borrowers and Anastasia; all are rated G or PG. 509 South Mill in Tempe. 829-6668.
Promoting the follow-up to his autobiography Breaking the Silence--a video diary entitled Looking to the Light--HIV-positive Olympic diving gold medalist Greg Louganis appears from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 27, at Obelisk, 24 West Camelback. A limited number of copies of the video will be available for purchase for signing by Louganis; a portion of these proceeds will be donated to the Ryan White Foundation for Medical Treatment. 266-2665.
The Cantonese Union, "a non-profit student organization dedicated to promoting Chinese and Cantonese culture at Arizona State University and in the surrounding community," presents a Chinese Books and Art Fair. More than 2,000 tomes on the subject of Chinese language and culture will on display and/or for sale, as will works by the prominent Chinese artists Peifang Zhao (lacquer paintings), Xiaolin Wu (oil paintings) and Lin Guozhi (photography). The free event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 27, and the same hours Sunday, June 28, in the ASU Memorial Union Alumni Lounge (Room #202), at the intersection of Cady and Orange malls on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. 921-9787.
One of the world's top Caucasian bluesmen, John Hammond--Grammy nominee, veteran of the '63 Newport Folk Festival and son of the legendary producer of the same name--continues to churn out his raw, self-trained take on the Delta blues, most recently in support of his Point Blank CD Long As I Have You. Hammond plays on Sunday, June 28, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Showtime is 9 p.m.; Scotty Spenner plays the opening set. Tickets are $10. 265-4842, 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
Author Sanjay Nigam discusses and signs his book The Snake Charmer--"a modern-day fable about the nature of love, perfection and the strange places in which manhood is ultimately found"--at 7 p.m. Monday, June 29, at Borders Books & Music at Biltmore Fashion Park. Admission is free. 24th Street and Camelback, Suite 200. 957-6660.
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Also on the book-signing beat: Arkansas writer Jack Butler, author of such works as Jujitsu for Christ, tries his hand at the mystery genre with his new novel Dreamers. He signs and discusses this work from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 29, at the Poisoned Pen, 7100 East Main, Suite D, in Scottsdale. Admission is free. 947-2974.
Hopefuls for the offices of governor, secretary of state and attorney general will participate in a "non-partisan" Candidate's Forum, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, at First Institutional Baptist Church, 1141 East Jefferson, presented by The Arizona African American Republican Committee. You heard right. Admission to the event is free; somehow we doubt you'll have to fight for a seat. 547-3806.
Gary Cherone, Extreme alumnus and Sammy Hagar's replacement as new lead singer of Van Halen, shows his stuff when the newest incarnation of the '80s light-metal fave takes the stage in support of its album Van Halen III at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 1, at Desert Sky Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue. Monster Magnet shares the bill; tickets range from $23.25 to $38.50. 254-7599 (Sky), 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
"Thoughts caress/the sleep-darkened mind,/occasionally bursting forth/with brilliance,/like fireflies/on a warm summer night." No, it's not lyrics to the love single from the new Van Halen album, it's a work by poet-musician Jerry Wills, who performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 1, at Arizona Pathways, 4126 North 23rd Avenue, as part of the Metaverse Poetry Reading series. Wills is accompanied by Ann Justice, a musician and (surprise!) master herbalist. Admission is free; an open reading follows. 212-0248.