Top Phoenix Arts and Culture Stories of the Week

If Bob Ross were alive today, he'd be painting happy little trees all over the place in ecstatic fervor for all the arts and culture happenings in Phoenix. To help you see the forest for the trees, here's a recap of the top arts and culture stories of the week.

Sunset Social Club at Hotel Palomar Offers An Arty Sunday Afternoon Alternative

For most folks around this time of year, Sunday afternoons usually involve watching the hard-hitting action of football superstars on the biggest HDTV possible. Those who aren't NFL fanatics, on the other hand, spend the remainder of their weekend catching up on the exploits of zombie-fighting anti-heroes, heroic serial killers, or old timey bootleggers.

As much fun as it is to chillax front of the tube, a few local party gurus - including fauxShow's Jared Alan and nightlife impresario Jen Deveroux -- would prefer it if y'all hit the off switch and instead spent the fleeting hours of your Sunday afternoons engaging in conversation over cocktails on the Hotel Palomar's rooftop during the weekly Sunset Social Club.

--Benjamin Leatherman

Ellen Forney Talks Mental Health, the Life of a "Crazy Artist," and Her latest Graphic Novel, Marbles

Explicitly Graphic, a monthly column by Cynthia Clark Harvey. Last week, she sat down with author and artist Ellen Forney.

Ellen Forney's fifth book, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me is her most personal yet. A previous book, Monkey Food, was also autobiographical, recounting happy childhood memories.

Marbles is Forney's recollection of being diagnosed bipolar at 30, her years-long struggle to find the right combination of medications, self-care and exercise, and what it means both personally and culturally to be a "crazy artist."

While Marbles has lots of humor and a sweetly engaging voice, some of Forney's memories are raw and painful to view. Still, Forney kept me rooting for her until the very last page when she announces, with a bathroom mirror self portrait, "I'm okay!" Forney and I spoke recently by phone about the book, mental health, and yoga.

--Cynthia Clark Harvey

Three Gifts That Won't Be in My Kids' Christmas Stockings

Steve Wiley is Jackalope Ranch's Parent Hood. He's a slightly unorthodox father of five who will weigh in weekly with his mildly-rebellious views and observations. Wiley has spent the past 25 years managing and owning Valley record stores, including the past 14 at his beloved Hoodlums Music. If you'd like to see how he came to write this column, watch the video.

As you may have heard, uh, had jammed down your throat all weekend, the holiday season is upon us.

Hmmm. Holiday. That doesn't sound right. Maybe I should just drop the pretenses and call it what it's become: The Shopping Season. Especially this year.

It's not that we aren't a hilarious bunch of consumer goofs all year round, but when you see stores start opening on Thanksgiving (leave it to the Evil Empire, Wal-mart, to turn it into Greed Thursday), you know we've finally decided to scrap the formalities and go for our consumption black belts.

Hoka Hey, it is what it is. Although I'm really proud to say that I didn't go to one store all weekend, let alone Thanksgiving Day, it's not like I'm against presents or anything. Like all giant children, I love presents.

But not all presents. As a parent, I still have to (get to?) make buying decisions based on my philosophy. With that in mind, here's three things we WON'T be buying for our kids this year.

--Steve Wiley

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