You don’t have to cap off your summer indoor, shades drawn, replaying Skyrim. There are lots of things going on this August for the nerds of metro Phoenix. From picnic-style indoor film screenings to virtual reality David Bowie to cons on cons on cons, the Valley is fully embracing its nerd culture this month.
Get your best cosplay ready (not that it’s gathered any dust) or get ready to get hands on with spooky doll makeovers and vintage printing presses. Here are nine nerdy things to do this August in the Valley.
Summer Screen: Pulp Fiction
Sure, a picnic sounds great for every other part of the country, but in Phoenix, it’s a total no-go. Good thing the world-famous Nile Theater and the Downtown Mesa Association are hosting the Summer Screen: Dinner and Movie this summer, where a cult classic is screened and a different downtown Mesa restaurant provides the food – all you have to do is bring the blankets and chairs. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 2, catch Pulp Fiction with dinner provided by Republica Empanada and a cookie from Sweet Cakes Café, complete with craft beer and cocktails. This 18-and-over event is $20 for everything. Register at the Eventbrite page.
The New 8 Bit Heroes
The New 8 Bit Heroes is a documentary about filmmaker Joe Granato who, during a visit home, discovered a box of concepts he and other neighborhood kids created for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988. He then set out to actually make those new cartridge-based games, and takes us as the audience along on the way. Director Joe Granato will be in attendance for an after-viewing Q&A session and demonstration of the NES Maker in the lounge. The New 8 Bit Heroes screens at FilmBar at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 9. See the FilmBar website for tickets and more details.
Game On Expo
The annual Game On Expo is back, and it is busting with guests, games, tournaments, cosplay contests, vendors, and live music. Guests range from voice actors to game developers and YouTube influencers like Troy Baker, Jennifer Hale, Jonny Cruz, Andre Meadows, Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil, and Elizabeth Malecki – a.k.a. the original Sonya Blade from the first Mortal Kombat game. You’ll also find the Classic Tetris World Championships, the fourth annual Game On Expo Retro World Championships, panels, e-sports, and much more. The expo runs from noon on Friday, August 10, to 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 12, at the Phoenix Convention Center. Passes range from $25 for Friday admission to $75 for a Level Up VIP Pass. See the Game On Expo website for more information. Tickets are $10.
"Moonage Virtual Reality"
VR is coming in hot to Phoenix Art Museum thanks to three virtual reality films by filmmaker Travis Hutchison taking viewers on a simulated tour of culture, pop art, and rock fashion. Andy Warhol, David Bowie, and Kenny Scharf will be heavily featured. The three films are Billy Name’s The Warhol Silver Factory, Mick Rock’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and Kenny Scharf’s Cosmic Cavern. "Moonage Virtual Reality" is available from Saturday, August 11, to Sunday, September 30, in the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery at PAM. Cost is $20 for adults. See the PAM website for more details.
Demolition Man: The History Of The Future
The second installment of The History of the Future film series – a summer collaboration project by FilmBar and ASU's Center for Science – is screening Demolition Man for a look at what our bleak future may be. It may or may not also get you in the mood for Taco Bell after. The screening starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 16, at FilmBar. Tickets are $7, which also includes a complimentary small popcorn and $1 off your first drink. See the FilmBar website for tickets and more details.
Demented Doll Make & Take
Halloween is just weeks away, and it’s encouraged to get into the spirit as early as August (or year-round, whatever). With that, AZHaunters and HeatSync Labs are teaming up for the Demented Doll Make & Take – your chance to bust up some perfectly nice doll babies with Epoxy putty, Xacto knives, stains, paints, soldering irons – whatever you please – for a truly terrifying new Halloween adornment or standard home decor. Some dolls and supplies are first come, first served, or you can bring your own doll. The free Demented Doll Make & Take is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 18, at HeatSync Labs in downtown Mesa. See the Facebook event for more details.
Learn to Print on Vintage Printing Presses
DIY is always nerdy, no matter what’s going on. So if you’d like to make your own coasters, posters, or stationery, now’s your chance to get behind the heavy machinery at Hazel & Violet for their Letterpress Workshop. Learn the basics of printing on Reprex, Vandercook 01, or Potter presses with wood and metal type, and pick your own vintage cut to boot. The workshop is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 18. Cost is $50. See the Hazel & Violet website for registration and more information.
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Saboten Con 2018
Saboten Con is back for 2018, not that there was ever any doubt. Arizona's premier Japanese pop-culture convention is serving up voice actors, cosplayers, artists, and musicians for four days of programming. Think Hiroshi Matsuyama, Amanda Winn Lee, Candye Syrup, and more. Panels include A Chubby Girl's Guide to Getting Into Cosplay, Retro Anime, and So You Want To Run a Fanzine, and yes, there will be a huge vendor area. Membership ranges from $15 for a Monday pass to $350 for the ultra-inclusive OtakuPass. Saboten Con 2018 is Friday, August 31, to Monday, September 3 – a.k.a. Labor Day – at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix Downtown. See the Saboten Con website for more details.
Labor Day weekend brings another interesting event to the Valley, that being CoKoCon – a traditional science fiction and fantasy convention. CoKoCon features guests of honor like local author Beth Cato, plus an art show, a vendor room, gaming and programming in the form of the Apocalypse Later Roadshow is a mini-film festival and three-hour masterclass taught by cosplay photographer Mark Greenawalt. CoKoCon is Friday, August 31, to Monday, September 3, at Doubletree by Hilton Phoenix North. Memberships are $50 in advance, and $60 at the door. See the CoKoCon website for more information.