You've heard the joke about joining the Army, right? "Travel to exotic places, meet interesting people, and kill them." Well, in James' Journey to Jerusalem, which closes out the Phoenix Jewish Film Festival on Thursday, March 10, at the Harkins Camelview 5, 7001 East Highland in Scottsdale, our hero, James, doesn't end up killing anyone, but he does receive one rude awakening upon touching down in Israel. Chosen by the members of his African village to "undertake a holy mission to Jerusalem," James arrives there "full of wonder and joy." And then he's promptly arrested, jailed and nearly deported. A stranger bails him out (uh, never trust a stranger who bails you out), and James is forced to kick the wide-eyed giddiness to the curb in favor of some street smarts. The film starts at 7 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students. Call 480-451-1788 or see www.phxjewishfilm.org.
Until "progressive" becomes the obscene "liberal," it appears that the San Francisco quartet Griddle, who play the Paper Heart, 750 Grand Avenue, on Friday, March 11, will happily ride the self-defining moniker all the way from here to Austin before goin' back to Cali later this month. The band -- lead vocalist Xifer Fortier, keyboardist Kevin Seal, bassist Kimo Ball and drummer Chris McGrew -- has been likened to a modern-day reincarnation of King Crimson and Yes (and we'll add a nod to They Might Be Giants with a smidgen of Willy Wonka). As the Frisco freaks, in promoting their latest CD, Turning Violet, have already argued, "Oompa loompa, doompadah diddle [you see where this is going], if you are wise you'll listen to Griddle." Admission to the show -- which also features Dear Boss, Launching Brenda, and The Tremulants -- is $5. Call 602-262-2020 or see www.thepaperheart.com.
Those damn Micks. Somehow, just after African-Americans get slighted with the shortest month of the year, the Irish turn one lousy day in March into a 31-day Green Party. Among the St. Patrick's Month, er, Day festivities is Mick Moloney's Irish-American Music and Dance Festival on Saturday, March 12, at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center, 22149 East Ocotillo Road. Moloney's troupe performs a repertoire of "slow airs, jigs, reels and hornpipes accompanied by Irish dancing from world-champion step dancers and songs in Gaelic and English." Moloney, author of Far From the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish-American History Through Song, has also recorded and produced more than 40 albums of traditional Irish music and performed in the PBS special The Irish in America: Long Journey Home. For tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show, $25, call 480-987-7469 or see www.qcpac.com.
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Glass is an often overlooked commodity in the art world. That is, until Dale Chihuly enters the conversation. In the past 40 years, the Washington state native has influenced not just studio glassworks -- by implementing teams of artists -- but also the contemporary art community in general. On Sunday, March 13, the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, educates moviegoers with the Sundance documentary Chihuly, showing at 2 p.m. in the museum's Whiteman Hall auditorium. The film covers some of Chihuly's best-known projects, including "Chihuly Over Venice" and "Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem," as well as "lesser-known work that will surprise his most avid followers." Admission to the film is free with paid admission to the museum: $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, and $3 for kids between 6 and 17. Call 602-257-1880 or see www.phxart.org.
The boys in the indie punk foursome Rock 'N' Roll Soldiers are on top of the world. Based on their noisy, distortion-heavy demo influenced by the likes of such '70s rock legends as the Stones, Iggy Pop, and the Dead Boys, these childhood friends from Eugene, Oregon, landed a deal with Atlantic Records last summer. They've also toured alongside the Donnas and even managed to get a couple singles from their major-label debut, So Many Musicians to Kill, used as background music for angst-ridden teen melodramas on the WB. Now they're striking out on their own solo tour to soak up the spoils of their success, making a stop at the Big Fish Pub, 1954 East University in Tempe, on Monday, March 13, before the grind of the music industry chews them up and spits them out. Welcome to the machine, boys. Show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets, $7, can be had by calling 480-829-1300 or visiting www.luckymanproductions.net.
Use the following recipe at your own risk: Mix one cup of The Iron Chef, a heaping tablespoon of Benihana, some marinated Blue Man Group, along with a Korean twist, and serve. Or, you could place an order for pickup when Cookin', "Korea's longest-running hit," opens at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15. Cookin' is "part food fight and part percussion festival," combining the traditional Korean music form of Samulnori -- replacing the drums and gongs with ladles, spoons, chopsticks, pots, woks and cutting boards -- with comedy and nonverbal performance. While the percussion takes on a fast-paced rhythm, "cabbage leaves, cucumbers and onions fly around the stage" as four chefs are challenged to create a wedding feast in one hour. The show continues through March 20. For tickets, $45, call 480-994-2787 or see www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org.
While perfection has already escaped the grasp of the University of Illinois, your March Madness bracket doesn't have to suffer the same fate. Hey, crazier things have happened. If you're a prime-time player with more roundball smarts than Dickie V., put your noggin to the test for Fox Sports Grill's March Madness Bracket Buster Bash on Wednesday, March 16, at 16203 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. The Grill will provide free 64-team brackets, with giveaways (a putting package, a DVD player, and a $50 gift card to FSG) at 7, 8 and 9 p.m. The ultimate prize -- go ahead and hope -- is $6,400 for a perfect bracket come April 4, when the championship team cuts down the nets in St. Louis. Call 480-368-0369 or see www.foxsportsgrill.com.