From bug-pinning classes to a lecture on the James Webb Space Telescope, metro Phoenix has a lot going on this November.
The penultimate month of 2017 features your standard annuals like the Scottsdale International Film Festival, the return of Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, and of course, Phoenix Fan Fest.
However, this month also promises the inaugural Railroad Fest 2017 in the Warehouse District, and nerd icon John Hodgman is bringing George R.R. Martin to the Mesa Arts Center via Skype.
Now that you’re pumped, here are 10 nerdy things to do this November in metro Phoenix.
2017 Scottsdale International Film Festival
Cinephiles unite. The Scottsdale International Film Festival is a five-day film event featuring 40 movies from more than 30 countries – all starting with The Ballad of Brown with Bill Pullman and ending with Last Flag Flying, starring Steve Carrell and Bryan Cranston. The 17th annual SIFF runs from November 2 to 6 at Harkins Shea 14. Tickets are $12 per film, and $25 for opening night. Get tickets, the complete schedule, and more information at the SIFF website.
Railroad Fest 2017
This inaugural event is a railroad-themed festival focusing mostly on beer, art, music, vendors, games, and, duh, trains. Celebrating Arizona's storied railroad history dating back to 1877, Railroad Fest 2017 runs from 7 p.m. to midnight on Friday, November 3, in the Warehouse District. Tickets are $20 in advance, and $25 the day of the festival. See the Railroad Fest 2017 website for more details.
If learning to pin and mount insects sounds like something in your lane, check out the Entomology Class at Curious Nature, a natural history, science, and curiosity shop. All supplies and materials will be provided in class, as well as a variety of spread insects and extra bugs and butterflies to take home with you. The class costs $100, and runs from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 4. See the Curious Nature website for tickets and additional details.
2017 Tempe Book Festival
The Tempe Book Festival is an annual celebration of all things books, featuring local authors, publishers, and booksellers, panels, vendors, exhibitors, story telling, and youth activities. Participating writers will include journalist Jana Bommersbach and author Jenn McKinlay, while panel topics will range from writing sci-fi, crime, and screensplays to podcasting, social media, and marketing.
Programming will include a micro poetry workshop and discussions on traditional versus self publishing. The 2017 Tempe Book Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 4, at the Tempe Public Library. Entry is free. See the City of Tempe website for more information, or RSVP at the Facebook event.
Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses 2017
Phoenix Symphony Hall is a hosting five-movement multimedia symphony concert – which sounds about right – but on November 6, it’s all about Zelda. The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses 2017 features the work of Nintendo composer Koji Kondo’s original music – all approved by franchise producer Eiji Aonuma – performed by a 66-piece orchestra, a 24-person choir, and a synced-up video collage. Showtime is 7 p.m. on Monday, November 6, and costumes are certainly encouraged. Tickets range from $35 to $95. See the Symphony Hall website for tickets and more information.
John Hodgman In Conversation with George R.R. Martin
Writer, comedian, actor, podcaster, Daily Show contributor, and bespectacled icon John Hodgman is coming to the Mesa Arts Center's Piper Theater to talk about his book, Vacationland. What's more, he's bringing in a special guest via Skype: Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. The event starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 7. Tickets are $32 for a hardcover copy of Vacationland and admission for one, and $37 for an additional ticket with that package. See the Changing Hands website for tickets and more information.
Phoenix Fan Fest 2017
This is the big one, guys. Phoenix Fan Fest is a two-day convention held at the Phoenix Convention Center that features all the cosplay, special guests, exhibitors, panels, and events you can handle. Panels range from Ghostbusters: Make Your Own Slime and WWE Stars to Willy Wonka vs. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Mystery Pirate Theater 1600. Special guests include Ernie Hudson, Mara Wilson, actors from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and Steven Universe and other comics, artists, authors, and wrestlers. Phoenix Fan Fest is Saturday and Sunday, November 11 and 12, and full membership costs $30 – with single day admission also available. See the Phoenix Fan Fest website for more information.
Sarah Vowell & Daniel Handler
Author of The Wordy Shipmates, contributor to The Daily Show and This American Life, voice actress, and overall cool person Sarah Vowell is stopping in the east Valley this month with Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket. They’ll be in conversation onstage discussing America’s past and present, sharing personal stories, and talking about their new books, with signings to follow. Tickets range from $25 to $45 for the event at the Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 16. See the MAC website.
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One of America’s favorite humor writers, public radio contributors, and Amy Sedaris brothers, David Sedaris is stopping by the Valley to talk, sign, and sell his latest works and books as part of the Scottsdale Arts Presents series. Sedaris hits the stage at 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 18, at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix. Tickets range from $29 to $69 at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts website. Fingers crossed for a Billie Holiday impression.
"The James Webb Space Telescope and Gravity Waves"
The Arizona State University School of Earth & Space Exploration is teaming up with Dr. Rogier Windhorst (Regents’ Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration) for a lecture about all kinds of cool shit. Windhorst knows his stuff (astronomy, cosmology, galaxy formation and evolution, cosmic dark ages) as one of six interdisciplinary scientists for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope – set to map the epoch of First Light in detail in 2018. If you don't know what that means either, head to Marston Exploration Theater at ASU from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 30. Admission is free. Register at the Eventbrite page.