The 2018 convention season kicks off with Taiyou Con. A celebration of anime, manga, and cosplay for Valley otaku, the convention runs from noon on Friday, January 5, through 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 7, at the Mesa Convention Center, 263 North Center Street.
Now in its eighth year, the convention will feature more than 400 hours of round-the clock programming, including panels on costuming and makeup, learning Japanese, and even hentai for the over-18 crowd. Fans can watch their favorite anime or discover a new series (subbed, of course!). There will also be several guests, including voice actors from Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z.
Memberships are $45 at the door for the weekend, with discounted daily passes. Visit the Taiyou Con website for more information. And cosplayers should check out the convention’s weapon and prop policies on line in advance. Michael Senft
Phoenix artist Laura Plecas pays homage to her family’s immigrant roots in a new exhibition called “Lineage,” which opens on Friday, January 5, at Chartreuse gallery, 1301 Grand Avenue. Visit the gallery between 6 and 10 p.m. that night to explore her encaustic collage works inspired by Op art, folk art, and quilting.
“I seek to peel back layers to reveal the past and to explore the strength and struggles that my family endured,” Plecas says in exhibition materials. Often, her work includes repeated shapes and patterns, created with materials such as old papers and book pages.
“Lineage” continues through January. Visit the Chartreuse gallery website. Lynn Trimble
The Whole Story Part V brings a new set of tales to Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue, on First Friday, January 5. The storytelling series, which launched in January 2016, aims to “bring greater depth and breadth to our understanding of the human experience from the Black perspective,” according to museum materials.
Part V storytellers will include host Rachel Eseoghene Egboro, who will share a story about a time her heart almost gave out. The lineup also will feature Jessica Flagg Lamartiniere, Evan Roberts, Elaissia Sears, and Sule Wilson. Their stories address a wide range of experiences, from time spent online with a person assuming a false identity to being in a compromising situation while studying abroad.
Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. event are $10 (or $5 for museum members), and the doors to Whiteman Hall open at 7 p.m. Museum admission is free from 6 to 10 p.m. Visit the Phoenix Art Museum website. Lynn Trimble
Flagg Gem and Mineral Show
Rock collecting isn’t just for kids. At the Flagg Gem and Mineral Show from Friday to Sunday, January 5 to 7, you can look for specimens from more than 130 dealers and field collectors displaying fossils, gemstones, jewelry, and lapidary equipment.
The show will also have a food truck area, interactive activities, and opportunities to meet with local gold prospecting, lapidary, and mineral clubs. This year’s show takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the West Parking Lot of Mesa Community College, 1833 West Southern Avenue. Admission and parking is free. For more information, visit the Flagg Gem and Mineral website. Laura Latzko
Lluvia Flamenca showcase
In flamenco, a style of dance originating in Spain, dancers move to guitar music as they create sound using handheld castanets. The returning Lluvia Flamenca showcase at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue, will celebrate the art of flamenco with performances from 15 national and local flamenco artists, all with individual styles.
Among the artists will be dancer Angelina Ramirez and singer Olivia Rojas of Phoenix-based Flamenco Por La Vida. Ramierz will perform a special piece called /ser/. A pre-show will spotlight youth flamenco dancers from Arizona and New Mexico.
During the event, the artists will explore topics such the complexities of being Latinx and queer flamenco artists. The preshow begins in the lounge at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8:30 on Saturday, January 6. Tickets are $19.50 for general admission and $29.50 for reserved seating. For more information, go to the Crescent Ballroom website. Laura Latzko
Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones admitted on her Instagram feed that she almost threw up on a recent episode of the show when host James Franco expectorated an inordinate amount of fake blood into the comedian’s mouth. So gross. But she held tough and kept it together.
Small wonder, her grace under pressure has been honed over decades of performing stand-up comedy. Mentored by Dave Chappelle, Jones came into her own, eventually scoring a breakthrough role in Chris Rock’s Top Five and a writing gig on NBC’s iconic weekend sketch show.
Talking Stick Resort website. Jason Keil
Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End
Humorist Erma Bombeck, who lived in Paradise Valley for her last couple of decades, was embraced by millions and millions of readers through her syndicated newspaper column, pre-web. Inspired by life as a housewife and mom, Bombeck didn’t just make us laugh — she gave women dignity and a voice for more than 30 years. Crumbling yellow clippings continue to adorn American fridges.
Sisters (and newspaper people) Allison and Margaret Engel crafted Bombeck’s writings into a one-woman show, Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, running through Sunday, January 21, at Fountain Hills Theater. Valley powerhouse Cathy Dresbach portrays Erma.
Brace yourself for ugly laughing at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 6, at 11445 North Saguaro Boulevard. Tickets are $18 to $25 at 480-837-9661, extension 3, or the Fountain Hills Theater website. Julie Peterson