Changing Hands hosts a discussion about The Handmaid's Tale, which was recently adapted as a Hulu show.
Changing Hands hosts a discussion about The Handmaid's Tale, which was recently adapted as a Hulu show. George Kraychyk/Courtesy of Hulu
Look, Phoenix is an awesome place to live. No matter what some silly list says. (We are looking at you, U.S. News and World Report). Want proof? Here are 20 reasons — in the form of ways to spend your week in the Valley. Get nerdy with a Supernatural convention, experience the music and culture of Brazil, or enjoy an open-air screening of a rom-com. For more things to do, see our curated calendar of events.

The Handmaid’s Tale Discussion
Lots of literary fiction mirrors real life. Sometimes a novel is so relevant, it warrants a pop-up discussion.

Barbara VanDenburgh, host of Changing Hands’ First Draft book club and reporter for the Arizona Republic, leads a discussion of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The dystopian novel was published in 1985 and finds the former United States overrun by a theocracy that destroys human rights, particularly women’s. In that society, women couldn’t read this book or any others. And recent political events have Atwood’s book seeming less like fiction and more like a frightening possibility. Chat about it with members of the community at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road. Admission is free, and the book is available for $21.99. Call 602-274-0067 or visit the Changing Hands website. Amy Young

Desert Botanical Garden’s Flashlight Tours
During the warmer months, many Arizona plants and animals are at their most active at night. The Desert Botanical Garden’s Flashlight Tours invite you to explore the desert as darkness falls. During the self-guided walks, attendees are encouraged to act as explorers, investigating trails with a flashlight to get an up-close look at the garden’s plant and animal life.

The tours take place from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays through Saturday, September 2, at 1201 North Galvin Parkway. They’re free for garden members, and nonmembers pay $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for children. Admission is free for children under 3. For more information, call 480-941-1225 or visit the Desert Botanical Garden website. Laura Latzko

Get double-teamed by  Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan. - COURTESY OF STAND UP LIVE
Get double-teamed by Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan.
Courtesy of Stand Up Live
Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan
If you were in a jam that required the help of law enforcement, officers Mac and Farva from the 2002 crime comedy Super Troopers probably wouldn’t be first on your to-call list.

But if you’re looking for a laugh, the actors who played those cop characters, Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan, are excellent choices. They’re members of the five-man comedy group Broken Lizard. Together, the troupe helped create that movie, as well as a slew of others, including the boozy Beerfest, Slammin’ Salmon, and the slasher comedy Club Dread.

At their live show, the pair entertain with stand-up comedy and share funny stories about their movie-making experiences. Get double-teamed by these partners in comedy at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, at Stand Up Live, 50 West Jefferson Street. Sets continue through Saturday, June 10. Admission is $22 for the 21-and-over event, where seating is first-come, first-served. A two-drink minimum is required. Call 480-719- 6100 or  visit the Stand Up Live website. Amy Young

Official Supernatural Convention
Fantasy horror show Supernatural is big on shocking moments. Just ask longtime fans who’ve endured all the heart-stopping surprises that have punctuated the adventures of brothers Sam and Dean Winchester as they’ve hunted for demons, ghosts, and other paranormal beings over 12 seasons.

Despite being used to shock and awe by now, local fans of the show were probably gobsmacked when Creation Entertainment announced its touring Official Supernatural Convention would pay one final visit to the Valley this weekend. They’ve saved the best for last, however. The three-day event, which runs from Friday, June 9, through Sunday, June 11, at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel, 9495 West Coyotes Boulevard, will feature more folks from the show than in previous years. Actors like Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard, Julian Richings, Kim Rhodes, and, of course, lead actors Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, are all scheduled to appear and interact with fans at the con. Daily admission is $40 to $110 and weekend passes are $199 to $1,550. Autographs and photo ops cost extra. Hours vary.See the official website. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Cinematography is apparently a sin in The Burning Hell, one of the boffo flicks featured in The Unfathomable Jesus Freakout! - COURTESY OF THE UNFATHOMABLE FILM FREAKOUT
Cinematography is apparently a sin in The Burning Hell, one of the boffo flicks featured in The Unfathomable Jesus Freakout!
Courtesy of The Unfathomable Film Freakout
The Unfathomable Jesus Freakout!
Last month, FilmBar tried to screen The Unfathomable Jesus Freakout! and the projector lamp failed. If you’re willing to brave the supernatural forces that swirl around this fiery, brimstone-infused compilation from the folks at The Unfathomable Film Freakout, it’s rescheduled for Friday, June 9. In these relentless clips from the not sufficiently distant past, plenty of irreverent hippies are shown the light, while somebody has an inexplicable hard-on for ninjas, who are apparently among the insidious enemies ruining Christianity for the rest of us.

It’s hard to describe (fortunately, there’s a YouTube trailer), but imagine dozens of Jack Chick tracts, in vivid color and with impassioned yelling. Keep your fiends close and your animus closer starting at 10 p.m. at 815 North Second Street. Admission is $7. See the Film Bar website. Julie Peterson

click to enlarge Anderson Cooper and longtime pal Andy Cohen are coming to Phoenix for a chat. - LEV RADIN / SHUTTERSTOCK, INC.
Anderson Cooper and longtime pal Andy Cohen are coming to Phoenix for a chat.
lev radin / Shutterstock, Inc.
AC2: An Intimate Evening With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen
At first glance, you might not think journalist Anderson Cooper, the CNN anchor recently caught rolling his eyes in Kellyanne Conway’s direction, and Andy Cohen, the host of Bravo’s late-night talk show Watch What Happens, have much in common. But nearly two decades ago, before he became a best-selling author and producer of The Real Housewives television series, Cohen worked alongside Big Brother host Julie Chen as a journalist for CBS News. Around the same time, Cooper hosted his own reality show for the ABC Network called The Mole, and several years later would have his own self-titled daytime talk show.

Times have changed for the better. Titled AC2: An Intimate Evening With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, the two friends get together at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Street, on Friday, June 9, to dish about pop culture and current events. Tickets start at $58.50. For more information, visit the Comerica Theatre website. Jason Keil

click to enlarge See "Shapes of the Desert" at Vision Gallery. - ELIZABETH PFEIFFER
See "Shapes of the Desert" at Vision Gallery.
Elizabeth Pfeiffer
Phoenix artist Ann Morton has created some powerful works in recent years, including a post-presidential election piece. It’s a dainty white hankie with red and blue embroidery that says: “We are fucked.” But now she’s turned her eye to textile arts by other artists, serving as juror for an exhibition of textile arts titled “Exposures.”

It’s happening at two Chandler locations: Vision Gallery, 10 East Chicago Street, and Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. You can see the free exhibitions, featuring works by dozens of Arizona fiber artists, on Friday, June 9, when both gallery locations are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit the Vision Gallery website. Lynn Trimble

Intimacy and isolation keep uneasy company in Reasons to Be Pretty. - LAYNE RACOWSKY
Intimacy and isolation keep uneasy company in Reasons to Be Pretty.
Layne Racowsky
Reasons to Be Pretty
Playwright Neil LaBute is famous for having created a trilogy of plays whose male characters treat female characters like shit, based largely on their looks. While that raw milieu may not be your cup of kombucha, the plays’ ideas serve a constructive function in our world. In the concluding script, Reasons to Be Pretty, the crappy behavior does get distributed more equitably by gender, and the complexities of both friendship and romance get walked around the track. Plus there is humor aplenty, and the dialogue feels entirely real.

Mesa Encore Theatre closes its inaugural Black Box Season with a staging through Sunday, June 18, at 933 East Main Street. Tickets are $15. Showtime on Friday, June 9, is 7:30 p.m. Visit the Mesa Encore Theatre website or call 480-834-9500. Julie Peterson

click to enlarge Shop locally 'till you drop. - THE DUCE
Shop locally 'till you drop.
The Duce
Pineapple Triangle
For those who live for shopping local, the Pineapple Triangle is bringing over 50 Arizona-based vendors to the Duce for a day of shopping, eating, and listening to music. Every item available at the pop-up was made in Arizona with an exclusively Phoenix vibe, and 20 percent of all purchases made at the event will benefit local nonprofits.

So go ahead, shop until you drop on Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission is $8. For more information,
 visit the Pineapple Triangle website or the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts

Phoenix Mercury v. L.A. Sparks
A regular season game is one thing. Facing the reigning champions is another. It cranks the determination to defeat up a few notches.

We’ll see what happens when the Phoenix Mercury hit the court to take on the L.A. Sparks — the team that won the WNBA championship last October. Their spotlight player that night was Nnkea Ogwumike, who scored 23 of the winning points.

The Mercury are having a decent season so far, winning half of their 10 games. Their recent victory against the Dallas Wings found them finishing with an impressive 107-65. And though they didn’t beat the New York Liberty, it was a narrow win for the East Coast team, thanks to an impressive third-quarter steal and 11 points scored by Leilani Mitchell.

The basketball battle begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street. Tickets are $27.26 and up. Visit the Mercury website. Amy Young

Read on for more of the best things to do this week.

Candi Pop: A Bubblegum Pop Dance Party
You know that Justin Bieber song that you put on repeat in the safety of your car, but never tell anyone about? Well, Crescent Ballroom is giving you a chance to dance with fellow pop-lovers to your favorite guilty pleasure songs at Candi Pop: A Bubblegum Pop Dance Party. Music for the party will be inspired by bubblegum pop artists like the Spice Girls, Katy Perry, One Direction, and The Jonas Brothers.

The 21-and-over bash will take place at 308 North Second Avenue on Saturday, June 10. Doors open at 9 p.m., there’s a $10 cover. For more info, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts

click to enlarge Sit back, relax, and watch this modern love story unfold. - COURTESY OF STREET FOOD CINEMA
Sit back, relax, and watch this modern love story unfold.
Courtesy of Street Food Cinema
Street Food Cinema: 500 Days of Summer
For moviegoers who like to snack beyond popcorn tubs and boxes of candy, dine-in theaters and extended menus have enhanced the film-viewing experience. A plate of chicken and waffles, though? That’s next level.

At Street Food Cinema, you can grab something from Chicken and Waffles for the People, or another food truck like Grilled Addiction, Wok Sticks, or Wandering Donkey. Settle in before the screening of 500 Days of Summer, a modern romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.

Before the movie starts, local band The Senators perform. The outdoor food ’n’ flick event starts at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, at Margaret T. Hance Park, 1218 North Second Street. Tickets are $6 to $20; free for kids 5 and younger. Visit the Street Food Cinema website. Amy Young

click to enlarge First, see the art at SMoCA. Then, treat yourself to a jumbo ice cream cone. - LYNN TRIMBLE
First, see the art at SMoCA. Then, treat yourself to a jumbo ice cream cone.
Lynn Trimble
“I’m Sorry But It’s Hard to Imagine”
Imagine yourself as an artist working with unconventional materials ranging from lipstick to cheese. Then hold that thought as you race over the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 East Second Street. That’s where works by artists who’ve done just that are part of the summer exhibition lineup, which includes “I’m Sorry But It’s Hard to Imagine.”

Highlights include Cheese Grid, created with more than 500 slices of American cheese by a pair of artists who call themselves The Art Guys; Colette Hosmer’s ceramic piece that sets three pigs inside waffle-style ice cream cones; and Judy Chicago drawings that fearlessly tackle what some still consider humans’ naughty parts. The show also includes lithographs by Keith Haring and James Turrell, plus Dominique Blain’s take on lipstick, a bullet, and a cigar.

Check it out on Sunday, June 11, from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, and the show continues through Sunday, September 10. Visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art website. Lynn Trimble

Arizona Diamondbacks v. Milwaukee Brewers

Over two months into the season, the two Cinderella stories in the National League are the Milwaukee Brewers and our own Arizona Diamondbacks. Eric Thames has been putting on a hitting display that’s lifted the long-suffering Brew Crew out of the doldrums.

At Chase Field, Jake Lamb has been showing off his unparalleled power at the plate, helping the D-backs attain one of the best home records in the MLB. Things were a little heated when these two teams battled it out over Memorial Day weekend, so expect fireworks when they meet again at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday, June 11, at 401 East Jefferson Street. Tickets are $16 and up. Visit the Diamondbacks website or call 602-514-8400 for details. Jason Keil

click to enlarge It’s all about art and music at MIM’s Experience Brazil event. - MIM
It’s all about art and music at MIM’s Experience Brazil event.
Experience Brazil
Maybe you associate Brazil with soccer, coffee, and the bikini wax. Or you’ve dreamed of traveling south to see its famed Carnival festival, Copacabana beach, or the Christ the Redeemer statue. Turns out, you don’t have to travel far to get a taste of the country’s culture.

That’s because the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard, is hosting Experience Brazil. Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 11, you can check out music and dance performance, explore culture in the museum’s Latin American Gallery, and try several hands-on activities with Brazilian flair.

It’s included with museum admission, which is $20 for adults. Bring your wallet if you want to hit the MIM Café or Museum Shop while you’re there. Visit the Musical Instrument Museum website. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Get schooled with a sign copy of Lockdown by Laurie R. King. - RANDOM HOUSE
Get schooled with a sign copy of Lockdown by Laurie R. King.
Random House
Laurie R. King
What kind of people don’t share a new principal’s excitement to give her school and its students a brighter future? Creeps with lots of secrets, that’s who.

Laurie R. King signs Lockdown, the story of principal Linda McDonald’s career day that brings together a mix of students and adults with a lot to hide. The event goes from inspirational to terrifying when a classroom is held hostage by someone with revenge on the brain.

The best-selling author has penned her share of mysteries — 25 of them — including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories. She’ll sign copies of her new thriller from 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday, June 12, at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore, 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. Admission is free, and the book costs $28. Call 480-947- 2974 or visit the Poisoned Pen website. Amy Young

Support Arizona artists, and artists living with autism, at Art One Gallery. - ART ONE
Support Arizona artists, and artists living with autism, at Art One Gallery.
Art One
Art One
There’s no singular experience of autism. Instead, people’s experiences fall along a broad spectrum. It’s a fact reflected in artwork, as evidenced by the diversity of pieces currently on view at Art One Gallery, 4130 North Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Visit Art One between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 12, to see work by students of the Autism Academy of Phoenix.

While you’re there, you can also check out hundreds of works by Arizona artists, including up-and-comers studying at Arizona universities, colleges, community colleges, and high schools. Some heavy hitters on the local scene show their work at Art One — including Luster Kaboom, Logan Larkin, Kyllan Maney, and Kazuma Sambe. Exhibitions are free to see, and works are reasonably priced. Visit the Art One website. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Rachel Bess will have you Learning to Draw from Observation. - MIKEY ESTES
Rachel Bess will have you Learning to Draw from Observation.
Mikey Estes
Learning to Draw from Observation
We can’t draw — it’s excruciating. But someone once told us to sketch merely what we see, without telling ourselves it’s a person or tree or whatever. That’s been surprisingly helpful.

Local superstar painter Rachel Bess, who successfully depicts the human hand and uses oil paint and the whole nine yards, visits Desert Broom Library on Tuesday, June 13, to lead a free class in Learning to Draw from Observation. We literally can’t tell the photos from the paintings on Bess’ Facebook page, and their haunting beauty surpasses their faithfulness, so any wisdom she can impart is valuable as all hell.

See the world from 4 to 5 p.m. at 29710 North Cave Creek Road. Registration is required at Phoenix Public Library website. Call 602-262-4636 for more info. Julie Peterson

click to enlarge More bite than bark. - TREES MATTER
More bite than bark.
Trees Matter
Mesquite Class & Harvest Demonstration
Turns out, mesquite trees provide more than shady parking spots. Did you know the trees’ pods are edible? And that mesquite flour is busting with calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc, and it has a low glycemic index? Okay, enough spoilers.

Area organizations Trees Matter and Audubon Arizona are hosting the Mesquite Class & Harvest Demonstration as part of the Edible Tree Series. Peggy Sue Sorensen — herbalist, forager, and instructor on edible and medicinal plants in the Southwest desert — will show you how to identify, harvest, store, and process pods during a talk and demonstration.

Join in from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14, at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center, 3131 South Central Avenue. There’s a suggested $15 donation. See details at the Trees Matter website. Lauren Cusimano

click to enlarge Explore ways the natural world impacts human design at Tempe Center for the Arts. - LYNN TRIMBLE (ALAN BUR JOHNSON ART, DETAIL)
Explore ways the natural world impacts human design at Tempe Center for the Arts.
Lynn Trimble (Alan Bur Johnson art, detail)
“Biomimicry: Nature Inspired Design”
Humans are glorified copycats, drawing inspiration from the world around them and replicating it for personal use. Consider Velcro, a fastener that works like tiny plant burrs. It’s one of many ways the natural world plays a part in modern life. And that’s the focus of a new exhibition at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway.

See “Biomimicry: Nature Inspired Design” between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14, inside The Gallery at TCA. The free show is a mix of art and science, addressing the ways humans incorporate elements of the natural world in their designs.

Participating artists include Jose Benavides, who creates cactus-shaped sculpture using discarded license plates, and Christine Lee, who uses wood scrims to create elaborate, large-scale designs. The free show is on view through Saturday, August 26. Visit the TCA gallery website for workshop info. Lynn Trimble

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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Laura Latzko
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Julie has written for the Night & Day events calendar section since 2005. As a student at Arizona State, she received the Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Creative Writing Award and the Theatre Medallion of Merit.
Contact: Julie Peterson
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble
Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young