Can't crack The Da Vinci Code? Don't blame yourself for trying -- you and a few million other obsessive-compulsive readers who've turned the book into a way of life. Dan Brown's best-selling novel's been a talker, for sure. And it keeps spawning further discussion. Take, for instance, Dr. Laura O'Neil's lecture, "The Faces of Mary Magdalene," the first in a three-part series about Da Vinci, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe, on Thursday, July 15, at 7 p.m. O'Neil, a pastor at Desert Mission Methodist Church in Carefree, leads the discussion of how Magdalene's role in Christianity has been depicted through the ages. The lecture is $5, and seating is limited. To register, call 480-730-0205.
It's all in the name of science -- yeah, right -- when the Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington, hosts Adult Video Game Night on Friday, July 16, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Jostling on 15 game systems at once -- Playstation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube -- game players will square off in brackets, NCAA tournament style, playing "Halo," "Soul Calibur 2" and "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004." ("Halo" is rated "for mature players," but the Science Center won't haggle over proof of maturity.) The final four for each game earn a spot playing on the Science Center's five-story, giant-screen theater for the final round. Prizes include gift certificates for video games. And just to make the night educational, game animation displays will be exhibited throughout the Center during the event. The cost is $20, $15 for ASC members. Advance registration is recommended. Call 602-716-2000, extension 2552.
One color, three styles. That's the bill for the Summer Comedy Jam on Saturday, July 17, at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street, when three black comics -- Sheryl Underwood, Katt Williams and Arnez J -- take the stage. Emcee J, a.k.a. Arnez Johnson, once the host of BET's Comic View, sticks to more physical, cleaner comedy than his counterparts. But Underwood, best known for her (albeit small) role in 1998's Bulworth (as an angry black woman who dishes out an obscenity-laden rant at a Republican aide), is his polar opposite, known for her raucous and raunchy bits. For those seeking the "this-one-is-just-right" style, it's Williams, who played "Money Mike" in Friday After Next with Ice Cube and starred in NBC's The Tracy Morgan Show. Find your happy medium starting at 8 p.m. Call 602-267-1600 for tickets, $17 to $35.
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Their Web site biography begins with an official disclaimer: "Nope, the band members are not the illegitimate offspring of the Man in Black." Even more, say the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, they don't sound a thing like him. And -- get a rope-- they hail from San Diego. SAN DIEGO! But don't let your anti-West Coast bias get in the way of seeing the BSOJC perform at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School, on Sunday, July 18, at 9 p.m. The band, touring in support of its second album, Distance Between, might not have the familial or Southern-roots credentials, but it certainly knows how to name-drop when describing its sound. Distance Between is "no more and no less a country record than, say, Steve Earle's Guitar Town, Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, or Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball," the band says on its Web site, bsojc.com. These Bastards place themselves in good company. Cheetah Palamina opens the show. Cover is $6. Call 602-265-4842.
This ain't no powwow, this ain't no messin' around, when the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers present a show of "authentic Apache, Southwest and Northern Plains" dances on Monday, July 19, at the El Mirage Branch of the Maricopa County Library, 14011 North First Avenue. Unlike some artificial tourist attraction trying to pass itself off as the genuine article, the Yellow Bird Dancers, led by Ken and Doreen Duncan, perform everything from the Hoop Dance to the Apache Rainbow Dance -- "enhanced by native sign language and enchanting flute music" -- with family members who are still in preschool. The free show starts at 1 p.m. For details, call 623-583-1030 or see www.yellow birdproductions.com.
Huge quads, small penis . . . we don't know if it's true, but that's the rumor on steroids. Get the juice on juicing up when Dr. Tom Broderick, an associate professor of physiology at Midwestern University in Glendale, discusses "Sports Supplements and Sport Steroid Use: What You Should Know," on Tuesday, July 20, in the Roadrunner Room of the Foothills Branch of the Glendale Public Library, 19055 North 57th Avenue, at 7 p.m. Broderick will inform an uninformed audience on the importance of "the adverse effects and risks of anabolic steroid use in athletes." If 'roids are all your rage, you might want to put down the dumbbell, dumbbell, and take a listen. For more information, call 623-930-3846.
His once-promising acting career might have cooled off, but his wife is still smokin' hot. Maybe that's why Harry Connick Jr. gets back to the talents that once had every man's envy on Wednesday, July 21, when he continues his "Only You" tour at the Dodge Theatre, 400 West Washington, at 7:30 p.m. Dominating the set will be songs from Connick's latest album, Only You, a collection of romantic ballads -- a musical style that has defined the singer/songwriter's best moments. We're hoping Connick reprises "Jill," from his 1991 breakthrough album, Blue Light, Red Light, a song he wrote for wife Jill Goodacre, a former regular in the Victoria's Secret catalogs we've still got stacked at home. Call 480-784-4444 or log onto www.ticketmaster.com for tickets, $32 to $65.