This Week's Day-by-Day Picks
Imagine your bath mat on acid -- or you on your bath mat on acid. No, you're not all wet; you've stepped into the Alice in Wonderland world of Brian Knep. The multimedia artist's "Brian Knep: Healing Series" is a totally groovy collection of interactive floor pieces reminiscent of pancaked lava lamps. The works feature patterns that remain static until they're stimulated by a "foreign body" -- i.e., you. When you step off, they respond with psychedelic waves and swirls of neon that Knep calls "wounds." Says the artist, "The pattern [then] heals itself and the wound closes, but each piece heals itself in a different way." The images are created using an overhead projector linked to a computer, which interprets the "intrusion" and responds accordingly. The exhibition is open for viewing -- and treading upon -- from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, December 8, and Friday, December 9, at ASU's Computing Commons Gallery, located on the first floor of the Computing Commons Building, Palm Walk and Orange Street in Tempe. Admission is free. Call 480-965-3609 or visit http://ame.asu.edu or www.blep.com.
Yes, Virginia, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra still believes in Santa Claus, and even the most hardened Scrooge will succumb to the TSO's thundering din of good cheer. The 25-member collective includes rockers, classically trained musicians and Broadway divas who transform gentle carols like "What Child Is This?" and "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" into rousing symphonic pieces augmented by what band founder Paul O'Neill calls "a stunning laser and light show second only to the aurora borealis." Showtime is 8 p.m. Friday, December 9, at Glendale Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue. Tickets are $38.50 and $48.50. Call 480-784-4444 or 623-772-3200 or visit www.eveningstarproductions.com.
Anyone who's ever owned cats knows that they chart their own course, which is usually the opposite of the course you'd like them to chart. The Cat Agility Competition provides an obstacle course for kitties as part of the Phoenix Feline Fanciers Club expo on Saturday, December 10, and Sunday, December 11. Like that TV commercial in which flabbergasted cowpokes attempt to rein in a pride of rampaging mousers, frazzled owners will tear their hair out trying to coax their uncooperative pussies over, under and through a series of hurdles, tunnels and related impediments. Good luck with that. Catnip, anyone? The scene is Veterans' Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, 19th Avenue and McDowell Road. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, December 10, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, December 11. Each day's Cat Agility segment starts approximately one hour after opening. Admission is $7, $6 for seniors, $3 for those under 12. Call 480-965-6231.
"Brian Knep: Healing Series"
We'll take a couple of Manhattans at the Phoenix Art Museum on Sunday, December 11, as PAM pays tribute to the Big Apple with its Manhattan and Manhatta program. The double feature includes Woody Allen's visual tone poem from 1979 and the little-known Manhatta (1920), a tone poem of an entirely different sort. The latter, widely considered to be America's first avant-garde film, is a six-minute short created by photographers Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler that's based in part on Walt Whitman's poetic masterwork Leaves of Grass. The screenings are held in conjunction with the opening of PAM's new exhibition "Keeping Shadows: Photography From the Worcester Art Museum," which features works by both Strand and Sheeler. The celluloid unspools at 2 p.m. at the museum, 1625 North Central Avenue. Admission is $9, $7 for students and seniors, $3 for those between 6 and 17. Call 602-257-1880 or visit www.phxart.org.
"If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any fucking Merlot," screams Paul Giamatti in the hit film Sideways, which -- among other delights -- offers a crash course in the fine art of wine tasting. Continue your education at Wine 101, a series of monthly get-togethers that happens on the second Monday of each month at The Boathouse, 5394 South Lakeshore Drive in Tempe. The informal affair is open to all, from persnickety Pinot types to vino virgins. The agenda includes tastings and a discussion led by an "unpretentious wine expert" who'll teach you how to select varietals at a reasonable price and to "impress your friends and in-laws next time you go out." Admission and samples are free. Call 480-820-0660.
Much like this week's performance by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (see Friday), the Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza takes an outside-the-box approach to the sounds of the season. Best known as the founder of the three-piece combo Stray Cats, Setzer now heads an 18-piece big band that mates rockabilly and swing -- both genres that Setzer has had a hand in repopularizing for modern audiences. The BSO's fourth annual Christmas tour features smokin' covers of "Jingle Bell Rock," "Angels We Have Heard on High," and Louis Armstrong's "Zat You Santa Claus?" as well as Setzer originals like "Santa's Got a Hot Rod." Showtime is 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 13, in the Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street. Tickets range from $40 to $72. Call 480-644-6500 or visit www.mesaartscenter.com.
Olympia, Washington's Scream Club is a self-described "electro-sex hip-hop pop-punk" duo comprising "freaky white rapper chicks and gaysymmetrical superheroes" Cindy Wonderful and Sarah Adorable. Their magnificently insane list of influences includes Tracy + The Plastics, Black Sabbath, Yoko Ono, 50 Cent, Kate Bush, Ying Yang Twins, Cyndi Lauper, Katastrophe, Queers Everywhere, Chicks on Speed, Le Tigre, Megatronix, Dub Narcotic, Busdriver, Dahlia, Biggie Smalls, and Daughters of the Kaos. Wonderful and Adorable bring their "Extreme Cuddling Tour" to e-lounge, 4343 North Seventh Avenue, for a show at 10 p.m. Wednesday, December 14. The cover is $10. Call 602-279-0388 or visit www.eloungephx.com or www.screamclub.com.
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