July will hit the ground running with a slew of exhibits, movie screenings, and Westercon 70 landing right in its first week. The rest of the month promises monsters, robots, and even a birthday party for everyone's favorite wizard, Harry Potter.
So, ditch the pool party and sunscreen (wait, actually you should probably still keep that), because we’ve got some nerdy, indoor activities happening across the Valley this month.
“The Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History”
One of the keys to being a good dorkus is being a good collector. The Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West in Old Town gets geeky with its July exhibition, “The Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History," featuring posters, lobby cards, and graphic arts on Western films that date back to the 1800s. It also serves as a tribute to Strickland, who had a 5,000-piece collection of Western memorabilia. The exhibition is included with admission, which is $13. See the Western Spirit website for more information.
BS Movies Presents: Near Dark
We all miss Bill Paxton, and the folks at BS Movies can relate. They'll screen Near Dark, featuring Paxton as Severen, at FilmBar (presented with support from Zia Records) at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 1. Admission is $9 a ticket, or you can buy a FilmBar 10-pack for $70. The 1987 southern vampire movie (also starring Lance Henriksen, who has a serious sci-fi movie resume) is a serious hoot, and a live podcast taping and some trivia follow it. See the FilmBar website for tickets and more details.
If there’s ever been a con of cons, Westercon 70 is it. The event encompasses not only its namesake convention but also includes LepreCon 43 and CONflagration. And it's being packaged as the ConAlope for attendees from July 1 to 4. Held at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, this regional science fiction and fantasy convention features the Westercon 70 Film Festival (with genre awards include horror, science fiction, fantasy, and parody), a 3,620-square-foot gaming hall, and a Masquerade (a.k.a. cosplay time). Guests include artist Julie Dillon, sci-fi author Connie Willis, and Space Access Society founder Henry Vanderbilt. General membership for adults is $85. For more, visit the Westercon 70 website.
"Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection"
Till July 16, you can visit Phoenix Art Museum’s "Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection," featuring over 140 items of Japanese samurai warrior regalia, including full suits of armor, weaponry, and other pieces of battle gear. Organized by The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum in Dallas, the collection requires a $5 entry fee in addition to $18 museum admission. Visit the PAM website for more information.
You are welcome to BYOR – that is, bring your own robot – to HeatSync Labs on Robot Night. From 7 to 10 p.m. on Monday, July 10, you can tinker with your own bot buds or some robot kits (everything Lego Robotics to VEX and VEX IQ) found in this downtown Mesa storefront for this monthly mechanical event. There's no charge for admission And if you’ve never been, HeatSync Labs is a 2009-established nonprofit organization offering a coworking area to participants, along with tools, equipment, and other resources. See the Facebook event for more details.
Crit Hit! 2017: The Savage Summer
If two days of RPGs sounds like the ideal summer weekend, check out Crit Hit! 2017: The Savage Summer, held at the Hilton Phoenix Airport on July 15 and 16. The gaming weekend features rooms dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, as well as a Game Buffet, Crit Hit G.O.D.s, and DICE Talks (like TED Talks, but from players and GMs). What’s more, 2017 is the first pay-what-you-want Crit Hit, meaning donations are appreciated. See the Crit Hit! website for more details.
MST3K Live! Watch Out for Snakes! Tour
Hold on to your frigging hats guys, because Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming to Phoenix soon. The sleepy-eyed dreamboat Joel Hodgson, plus Jonah, the bots, et al., are stopping at the Orpheum Theatre for an 8 p.m. show on Thursday, July 20. The movie of not your choice is Eegah! – hence the whole “watch out for snakes” tour name. (If you don’t get it now, you will then). Tickets range from $39.50 to $299. See the Orpheum Theatre website for more details.
Science With a Twist: Trek, Wars and Who
A 21-and-over event at the Arizona Science Center with a sci-fi theme? All systems go. Starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 21, Science With a Twist: Trek, Wars and Who features discussions on time travel and alien interspecies mating, plus intergalactically inspired cocktails, Chewbacca roar contests, and costumes galore. Entry is $12. See the Arizona Science Center website for further details.
“My Favorite Monster”
Another exhibition on display throughout July is hosted by the i.d.e.a. Museum of downtown Mesa. If only the kids knew how terrifying Cthulhu is (or how xenophobic H.P. Lovecraft was) while checking out the light-hearted “My Favorite Monster” exhibit. The show features “digital illustrations, metal sculptures, masks, acrylic painting, glass art, comic books, hand-sewn art, photography, 3D paintings, and watercolor” on display from Phoenix-based and national artists. Admission is $8. See the i.d.e.a. Museum website for further information.
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Harry Potter’s Birthday Party
We’re celebrating Harry’s birthday a little early at Changing Hands this year (our hero was actually born on July 31). Celebrate “The Boy Who Lived” with costume contests, trivia, Tarot readings, and tabletop Quidditch to a DJ soundtrack from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at Changing Hands Phoenix. There will also be some Butterbeer and elixirs at First Draft Book Bar. Entry is $10, and you can register on the Changing Hands website or by calling 602-274-0067.