It’s been 50 years since the release of a classic Cuban film called Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo). It’s based on a novel that imagines the plight of a man who stays behind in Cuba when his wife and friends flee to Miami following the Bay of Pigs invasion. A study in personal, political, and cultural isolation, the film, recently released by The Criterion Collection, gives viewers a glimpse of post-revolutionary Havana. If you’re fascinated by film history or Cuban culture, check out the 7 p.m. screening on Thursday, January 24, at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $10. Visit scottsdaleperformingarts.org. Lynn Trimble
When your child has cancer, you do everything in your power to help them survive it. For some parents, that includes exploring the medical properties of cannabis. A 2018 film called Weed the People captures the emotional journeys of several parents who’ve accessed cannabis oil from underground sources, hoping it will mean the difference between life and death for their child. The 97-minute documentary is being shown at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 24, with support from the Phoenix Cannabis Coalition. Tickets are $10 and include a post-screening conversation with medical cannabis activist Mara Gordon, who is featured in the film. Visit thefilmbarphx.com. Lynn Trimble
Pop culture is filled with colorful robot characters, from Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey to Star Wars’ R2-D2. But robots have come a long way, baby. Learn more during the free 2019 Southwest Robotics Symposium happening in the Memorial Union at ASU, 310 East Orange Street, Tempe. During the first day, on Thursday, January 24, symposium topics will include robot learning and artificial intelligence, multi-robot systems, and bio-inspired robotics. Of course, the day also includes information on ASU robotics projects and the ASU drone studio, which means you’ll get a new appreciation for robotics beyond those nifty numbers that vacuum the cat hair off your carpets. Visit asuevents.asu.edu. Lynn Trimble
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, especially if you spend most of your work life sitting at a desk indoors. There’s an outdoor concert series at Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street, where you can break from your daily routine to enjoy a lovely bit of music and sunshine. The Spring Out to Lunch Concert Series is showing a little love for ’60s music from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 24. You can bring a blanket or lawn chair along, and cash if you want to buy lunch from the center’s caterer. Visit mesaartscenter.com. Lynn Trimble
The Breaking Ground dance and film festival returns to Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway, with a two-night lineup that launches on Friday, January 25, at 7:30 p.m. The festival features works by local, national, and international choreographers, including festival founder Carley Conder, artistic director for Tempe-based CONDER/dance. This year, prevalent themes include identity, technology, and transformation. Tickets to Friday’s performance are $25, which includes main stage performances and an afterparty at the center, where offerings will include Tiny Dances. Created by Arizona choreographers, the short dance works are performed atop four-by-four-foot stages, which makes for some creative movement and staging. Visit tempecenterforthearts.com. Lynn Trimble
Talk around the Valley this weekend is centered on the WWE and the pay-per-view event The Royal Rumble. Get the skinny on the big night when two podcasts, Mat Mania and The Steel Cage Podcast, team up to discuss all the matchups and drama leading up to the main event in an evening dubbed The Ramble Before the Rumble. There will be giveaways and musical performances by hip-hop nerds and Mat Mania co-hosts Mega Ran and Teek Hall along with local group Bear Ghost.
The bell rings at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 25, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Tickets are $10 to $15. For more information, visit crescentphx.com. Jason Keil
Colorful hot-air balloons will fill the heavens for the eighth annual Arizona Balloon Classic. Competitors will rise into the blue yonder to reach their target in early morning races. In the evening, the balloons will light up the desert sky. There will also be live music, a food festival, and balloon rides throughout the day. Proceeds from the event benefit the Valley of the Sun United Way.
Start looking up at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, January 25, with balloon races starting at 7:35 a.m. on Saturday, January 26, and Sunday, January 27, at Goodyear Ballpark, 1933 South Ballpark Way in Goodyear. Tickets are $15 for each day with free admission for active military personnel and children under 12 years old. For more information, visit abcfest.com. Jason Keil
Most of the politicians concerned about the U.S./Mexico border probably haven’t spent much time there. Yet several Arizona artists have deep roots within the borderlands, including M. Jenea Sanchez, who founded a nonprofit called Border Arts Corridor to promote binational community through immersive arts experiences. Three of her video works addressing border issues, experiences, and misconceptions are currently on view at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 East Second Street. Head over between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, January 25, to see how Sanchez applies her nomadic and feminist sensibilities to border-related issues ranging from reciprocity to marginalization. Museum admission is $10 for adults. Visit smoca.org. Lynn Trimble
Phoenix Rock Lottery
The sixth annual Phoenix Rock Lottery is the most exciting evening in local music. On the morning of the show, the 25 local performers, including members of Katastro, Pistoleros, and Playboy Manbaby, will be randomly grouped together in quintets. They will spend the day writing three original songs and practicing a cover. That night, they will get together to perform what they learned. Hosted by Brooks Werner with DJ A Claire Slattery, this eclectic evening will benefit Rosie’s House, which gives music education to local families in need.
The show begins at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Tickets are $15. For more information, visit crescentphx.com. Jason Keil
Need a four-letter word you can throw around without being bleeped? Try one of our perennial favorites: T-A-C-O. We’ll be feeling the taco love big-time during Phoenix New Times’ Tacolandia, which happens from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, at Hance Park, 1242 North Central Avenue. A $30 ticket gets you unlimited taco samples from more than 50 participating eateries, and an afternoon filled with live entertainment. Bring extra money for the cash bar, and get ready to fulfill all those taco fantasies while you enjoy live music, sunshine, and the fabulous company of fellow taco aficionados. Visit tacolandiaphx.com. Lynn Trimble
Are you a dog person? There is a festival for you and man’s best friend. The fourth annual Doggie Street Festival will feature vendors on site with gifts for you to spoil your loyal canine. Are you thinking about becoming a puppy parent or adding another member to your brood? There will be adoption agencies to help you find the perfect four-legged companion to bring home. There will also be music, food, prizes, and veterinarians offering pet owners the tools to best care for their furry friend.
Bark up the right tree from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, at Steele Indian School Park, 300 East Indian School Road. Admission is free. For more information, visit doggiestreetfestival.org. Jason Keil
Even libraries have joined the fervor over comic-con inspired events, giving fellow geeks a chance to indulge their fascination with all things pop culture. Tempe Public Library, 3500 South Rural Road, is holding its free Tempe FanCon from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 26. Geeks of all ages are invited to don their favorite pop culture costume and join the fun — which will include costume contests, artist and author appearances, opportunities to shop for geek gear, and myriad activities for children. Hit the stacks if you want to explore books about your favorite pop culture obsessions while you’re there. Visit tempepubliclibrary.org. Lynn Trimble
Brunch is the perfect meal for those who partied too hard the night before. The organizers behind the Brunch Bash knew it was time to bring the celebration to the morning hours. There will be all the delicious fixings from the Valley’s best morning places: waffles, eggs, bacon, and pancakes. More importantly, there will be music and mimosas to ease you into the afternoon. Proceeds benefit the charity One N Ten, an organization supporting the LQBTQ community.
Scramble up some fun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, at CityScape, 1 East Washington Street. Tickets are $8 to $10 with VIP packages available. For more information, visit brunchbashaz.com. Jason Keil
Pro wrestling fans of the Valley, get ready to geek out. The WWE is taking over downtown Phoenix for almost an entire week and will serve up plenty of smackdowns and body slams. A variety of WWE events will happen around downtown this weekend, which all lead up to the Royal Rumble 2019 on Sunday, January 27, at Chase Field, 401 East Jefferson Street. It’s one of the WWE’s biggest events of the year and will feature its wrestlers competing in a pair of 30-person “Royal Rumble” matches (one’s for men, the other is for women) for their shot at a WWE title match at WrestleMania in April. A half-dozen other bouts will also take place, including WWE champ Daniel Bryan battling A.J. Styles and the monstrous Universal Champion Brock Lesnar taking on Finn Bálor. The action starts at 4 p.m. Tickets are currently $36.50 to $1,506.50. Visit ticketmaster.com. Benjamin Leatherman
Born in Kentucky in 1942, boxer and social activist Muhammed Ali died in Scottsdale in 2016. Now, he’s being remembered through a play called And in This Corner: Cassius Clay. Black Theatre Troupe has partnered with Childsplay to present the piece, which explores life for Cassius Clay growing up in America’s segregated South during the 1950s. It’s a look at family, friends, and early fights that would go on to shape his boxing career and fight for civil rights. And it’s well-timed, given recent controversy surrounding athletes who’ve exercised their rights to protest social injustice. There’s a 4 p.m. performance on Sunday, January 27, at the Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center, 1333 East Washington Street. Tickets are $25. Visit blacktheatretroupe.org. Lynn Trimble
Stories take flight inside bars these days, not just by way of barstool banter. Storytellers are taking to stages, eager to share their life experiences and lessons learned through laughter, tears, and everything in between. Maybe you’ve longed to bare your soul, but assumed you’re not cut out for storytelling or stages. Turns out, you can learn to feel comfortable with both, by hanging out with people who’ve already taken the leap. There’s a Bar Flies Boot Camp happening from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 27, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road. It’s a chance to learn from experienced writers and storytellers Amy Silverman, Katie Johnson, and Deborah Sussman, then try your new material out on a live audience that night, when Bar Flies happens from 7 to 8 p.m. at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. Boot Camp costs $100. Visit changinghands.com. Lynn Trimble
Some people are content to throw fresh flowers into just about anything that holds water, whereas others take great care to select just the right vase. There’s actually an art to marrying flower arrangements to vases, which will be on full display during the two-day 10th annual Ikebana exhibit at the Japanese Friendship Garden, 1125 North Third Avenue. Ikebana is the Japanese art of floral arranging. On Sunday, January 27, you can explore flower arrangements placed throughout the garden from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other highlights include an 11 a.m. ikebana demonstration. Tickets are $7, which includes garden admission. Visit japanesefriendshipgarden.org. Lynn Trimble
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
If you want to know what the mid-to-late-2000s were like, look no further than Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the 2010 film based on the best-selling graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Directed by Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead and Baby Driver fame, the film stars Michael Cera as the titular Scott Pilgrim, a Torontonian slacker tasked with defeating his new girlfriend Ramona’s “Seven Evil Exes,” which include a movie star, a vegan, a lesbian, and — worst of all — a scumbag concert promoter. Sexual politics of that aside, the rest of the film, with its dynamic style, dry humor, and video game-inspired action sequences, holds up. Treat it as a snapshot of a time when indie rock, ironic detachment, and graphic T-shirts with gaming motifs ruled the cultural landscape (oh, how misguided we were).
Alamo Drafthouse Tempe is giving the film its full Movie Party treatment with special props and more. Check it out at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 28, at 1140 East Baseline Road in Tempe. Tickets are $15. See drafthouse.com/phoenix. Douglas Markowitz
More than 100 artworks are part of “Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam Through Time & Place,” a new exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue. The exhibit features works made in Asia, Africa, and Europe, as well as North and South America, between the ninth and 21st centuries. They’re organized around the five pillar of Islam, which include declaration of faith, five daily prayers, almsgiving, fasting for Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca. Featured works include sculpture, poetry books, musical instruments, inscribed coffee pots, and game boards, to name a few. Check it out on Tuesday, January 29, when museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit, which continues through May 26, is free with museum admission, which is $23 for adults. Visit phxart.org. Lynn Trimble
The United Nations General Assembly has declared January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. ASU is honoring the day from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 29, inside West Hall 135, 1000 Cady Mall, on its Tempe campus. ASU alumna Kelly M. Houle will be doing a free reading from A Dream, her artist book that features poetry by Abramek Koplowicz, a young writer and storyteller who died at Auschwitz when he was just 14 years old. She’s also talk about translating the poet’s work and making the book. Visit asuevents.asu.edu. Lynn Trimble
Nearly everybody has an opinion on the U.S. Constitution and the current president. But attorney, author, and Bill of Rights expert Robert McWhirter is more qualified than most tackle this particular topic. Hence, he’s giving a free talk called The Constitution and Donald J. Trump, Part Eight, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30. He’ll be exploring the history and meaning of the U.S. Constitution, with a special focus on all the sexy words like “emoluments.” Expect pearls on freedom of speech, religion, and more. If you feel inspired to take a deeper dive, Changing Hands will happily sell you a copy of McWhirter’s book called Bills, Quills, and Stills: An Annotated, Illustrated, and Illuminated History of the Bill of Rights. Visit changinghands.com. Lynn Trimble