Things to Do

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Dressed to impress.
Dressed to impress. Benjamin Leatherman
There's no reason to be bored this week. You can live out your inner nerd dreams at Phoenix Fan Fusion, discuss your ideas with game architects during Game Designers Night, or enjoy the classic Rent at ASU Gammage. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

click to enlarge Get ready to geek out. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Get ready to geek out.
Benjamin Leatherman

Phoenix Fan Fusion

Dig up your coolest costumes, take those rare issues out of the vault, and get ready to unleash your inner nerd: The biggest geekfest of the year, Phoenix Fan Fusion, beams into the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street, this weekend with four days of panels, programming, and activities on tap. It also boasts more celebrity guests and comic book legends then you can shake a bat’leth at.

The event formerly known as Phoenix Comic Fest will allow attendees to indulge in any number of geek-friendly subject matter, including cosplay, gaming, anime, sci-fi, fantasy, and, of course, comics. This year’s event, which runs from Thursday, May 23, to Sunday, May 26, will be big on star power, as Jurassic Park’s Jeff Goldblum, Elijah Wood from Lord of the Rings, Firefly’s Summer Glau, Billy Dee Williams of Star Wars fame, and Matthew Lewis from the Harry Potter film series are scheduled to appear.

Hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Daily admission is $20 to $45, a full event pass is $85, and VIP packages are $350. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Where Trump meets the U.S. Constitution, sort of. - CHANGING HANDS BOOKSTORE
Where Trump meets the U.S. Constitution, sort of.
Changing Hands Bookstore

'The Constitution and Donald J. Trump: Part Nine'

The phrase “constitutional crisis” is getting a lot of play these days. But how much do you really know about which Trump proposals and policies may go against the Constitution? It’s a topic attorney Robert McWhirter will be discussing at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive, in Tempe. He’s presenting "The Constitution and Donald J. Trump: Part Nine" at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 23. The free event includes a presentation about what the U.S. Constitution says about Trump’s take on key issues of the day, from immigration to freedom of the press. McWhirter, an expert on the Bill of Rights, will be doing a Q&A after his talk, and you can buy a copy of McWhirter’s book Bills, Quills and Stills: An Annotated, Illustrated, and Illuminated History of the Bill of Rights while you’re there if his talk inspires you to learn more. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge There's still time to see the Josef Albers exhibit. - HEARD MUSEUM
There's still time to see the Josef Albers exhibit.
Heard Museum

'Lunching With Albers at Teotihuacan'

Bauhaus artist Josef Albers traveled to Mexico, where he explored archaeological sites that influenced his work. Now, his artwork is on view at the Heard Museum, but it’s hard to fully appreciate its significance without knowing a little something about the places he visited and how they informed his creative practice. ASU archaeology professor Michael Smith can help you with that, during his “Lunching with Albers at Teotihuacan” talk at the Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Avenue. The free presentation takes place from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 23. It’s part of the museum’s B.Y.O.L. (Bring Your Own Lunch) lecture series, so bring a meal along or reserve something from the Coffee Cantina before you go. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Björk meets Brothers Grimm. - ARBELOS FILMS
Björk meets Brothers Grimm.
Arbelos Films

The Juniper Tree

In The Juniper Tree, director Nietzchka Keene brought one of the darkest Brothers Grimm fairy tales to life. The black-and-white Icelandic fantasy drama was the first film to feature Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk, playing a medieval mystic named Margit long before her turn as a world-famous pop star. Setting her and her sister on a lonely path during medieval times, witchcraft, family trauma, and existential angst collide in the movie, which screened at Sundance Film Festival in 1990 before being lost. FilmBar, 815 North Second Street, will show the film at 12:30 and 8:10 p.m. on Thursday, May 23. Tickets are $7 for the early show, and $9.95 for the later screening. Lynn Trimble

'So Good We Named It: A Golden Girls Quiz'

“So Good We Named It: A Golden Girls Quiz” is a themed trivia night organized by Geeks Who Drink, a company known for tough questions at their quiz events, which means you and your friends better bring your A-game. The winners split a cash prize, so be prepared to bring the biggest gift at the next party you’re invited to if you come out victorious. Just don’t forget to write on the card, “Thank you for being a friend.”

Will you emerge as a Rose or a Dorothy? Find out at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 23, at Illegal Pete’s, 525 South Mill Avenue in Tempe. The entry fee is $5 per player with a maximum of six players per team. Jason Keil

The symphony is coming to Roosevelt Row. - LYNN TRIMBLE
The symphony is coming to Roosevelt Row.
Lynn Trimble

Symphny: monOrchid

We’re all used to seeing symphonies perform in giant music halls, like Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix. But the Phoenix Symphony is trying something new, performing a concert in a far more intimate venue where people are accustomed to seeing art exhibits instead of listening to live orchestral music. True North Studio and Phoenix Symphony are presenting Symphny: monOrchid at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 24. It’s happening at monOrchid, 214 East Roosevelt Street, where you can also see murals by local artists and a large-scale dress-form sculpture that’s illuminated at night. Maestro Tito Muñoz will lead musicians in performing space-themed music, from classics to movie tunes. Tickets to the hourlong concert are $10, and there will be a cash bar. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Here's a fun way to stir your favorite iced tea. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Here's a fun way to stir your favorite iced tea.
Lynn Trimble

Custom Tea Blending Class

You can add a creative twist to your iced tea by turning a colorful glass plant marker from Southwest Gardener, 300 West Camelback Road, into a playful stirring stick for that lovely bit of honey or lemon you like adding to your favorite brew. Or, you can take your home-brewed teas to the next level by taking the gardening shop’s Custom Tea Blending class, where certified herbalist Kerry Amann will be sharing tips for making tea blends that are both healthy and fabulously aromatic. It’s happening at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 25. The class costs $60, and you can shop for fun garden-themed tea time accessories while you’re there. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Part of Playland Security at Fine Art Complex 1101. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Part of Playland Security at Fine Art Complex 1101.
Lynn Trimble

'A Matter of Public Record: Art in the Age of Mass Surveillance'

Art and politics collide at Fine Art Complex 1101, 1101 West University Drive in Tempe, where the closing exhibition for “A Matter of Public Record: Art in the Age of Mass Surveillance” happens from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 25. The free exhibit features several Phoenix artists, tackling topics from drone warfare to terrorism. Look for Nathaniel Lewis’s Playland Security, which transforms familiar TSA airport screening machines into a children’s toy — complete with a child sporting an explosives vest. Other artworks include a video for Adriene Jenik’s The Sky is Falling …, a performative piece exploring civilian deaths due to drone strikes. There’s even a Steve Hampton painting of a younger Trump, reclining in a bathrobe against a cotton candy-colored backdrop. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Music to the ears. - COURTESY OF THE PHOENIX SYMPHONY
Music to the ears.
Courtesy of the Phoenix Symphony

The Planets: An HD Odyssey

Great music can take you anywhere, and the Phoenix Symphony is performing a masterpiece that will transport you out of this world. The Planets: An HD Odyssey combines composer Gustav Holst’s cosmic work with mind-blowing images of our solar system by filmmaker Duncan Copp projected above the orchestra (no word if Pluto will be included). Conductor Tito Muñoz closes this season’s Classics series with this experience for both your eyes and ears.

Blast off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 25 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 26, at Symphony Hall, 75 North Second Street. Tickets are $38 to $159. Jason Keil

click to enlarge Bring on the parade. - ARIZONA CARIBBEAN FESTIVAL
Bring on the parade.
Arizona Caribbean Festival

Arizona Caribbean Carnival

It’s all about life in color as the Arizona Caribbean Carnival takes to the streets with fellow community members for the Carnival Costume Street Parade, happening on Sunday, May 26. Head over to Third Street and Thomas Road at 10 a.m. if you want to join the parade, which will make its way to Steele Indian School Park, 300 East Indian School Road. Never fear if you don’t have a costume, mask, or impressive headgear. You can always wear a white T-shirt, then add some splashes of color with powder paint that’s included with a $10 ticket, which also gets you into the Carnival Village at the park. The village will have live music and dance performances, arts and crafts, Caribbean food, a kids’ zone, and a beverage garden. Village hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit Arizona Carnival Street Parade on Facebook. Lynn Trimble


Forty years ago, director Ridley Scott burst (pun intended) onto the scene with the science-fiction-horror hybrid Alien, a claustrophobic thriller about the crew of a commercial spaceship being hunted down by a xenomorph with acid for blood. The film spawned countless sequels and imitators and placed Sigourney Weaver on the highest of pedestals in the nerd universe. Now the masterpiece is being released back into movie theaters with a beautiful 4K restoration.

The screams begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 26, with an additional screening at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29, at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 1140 East Baseline Road in Tempe. Tickets are $8. Jason Keil

click to enlarge Innovative gamers welcome. - ALEX COLBY
Innovative gamers welcome.
Alex Colby

Game Designers Night

Do you want to discover the next Settlers of Catan or Cards Against Humanity? Stop by Snakes and Lattes for its monthly Game Designers Night. Grab some poutine and give your comments directly to the game architects developing their projects. Your insights will help the next big board game become a hit. If you’re still working on your prototype, now’s your chance to take your idea to the next level.

Feedback is required at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 27, at 20 West Sixth Street in Tempe. When you bring in your prototype, the $5 unlimited game pass fee is waived. Jason Keil

click to enlarge Paul Hirt is sharing is water expertise. - PAUL HIRT
Paul Hirt is sharing is water expertise.
Paul Hirt

Water in Arizona: Past, Present, Future

Climate shifts and population growth will bring new water-related challenges for desert environments moving forward, so it’s worth taking some time to learn more about water issues here in Arizona. Start by attending Water in Arizona: Past, Present, Future, a free presentation by Paul Hirt, a professor of history and sustainability at ASU. He’ll be talking about historical context, water rights, drought risk, water shortages, water policy, and more — including what you can do to make a difference. McDowell Sonoran Conservancy is holding the event in the Mustang Library auditorium, 10101 North 90th Street, Scottsdale, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28. Lynn Trimble


Things didn’t go so well for Fox when it tried in January to bring a live version of the musical Rent to television audiences. As it turns out, they aired a taped dress rehearsal after one of the leads broke his foot. That’s reason enough to go see a live performance of the musical, as a touring production comes to ASU Gammage, 1200 South Forest Avenue, Tempe. Created by Jonathan Larson, Rent earned several Tony Awards in 1996, including Best Musical. Loosely based on the Puccini opera La Bohéme, it explores life for struggling artists battling poverty and AIDS in New York’s East Village. The performance on Tuesday, May 28, starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Do you have the answers? - CARLY SCHORMAN
Do you have the answers?
Carly Schorman


Chaos reigns inside Triviadome, the monthly cinema and culture trivia night hosted by Amy Young and Ashley Naftule, contributors to Phoenix New Times and the voices behind the local movie podcast Prizefighting Kangaroo. Teams of up to six pit themselves against each other to win gift certificates, concert tickets, and other prizes. There will be drink specials to keep the mayhem going. Will your squad taste victory or suffer a cruel fate? The only way to know is to step inside.

Sign-up starts at 7 p.m. The battle for pop culture supremacy begins at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28, at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. This is a free event. Jason Keil

Julio César Morales' art explores border life. - JULIO CÉSAR MORALES
Julio César Morales' art explores border life.
Julio César Morales


While talking heads are busy blathering on about border issues they’ve never experienced, artists are out there making work that reflects authentic experiences in the borderlands. Tempe-based Julio César Morales, curator for ASU Art Museum, is among them. When Morales’ “Invaders” exhibit opened at Phoenix Art Museum earlier this year, he gave a fascinating talk about his art practice, wrapping in elements of family history, borderland politics, and creative endeavors ranging from sound art to culinary fare. Now, he’s doing a free artist talk in the museum galleries where you can see his photographs, videos, neon sculptures, and drawings. It’s happening at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29. The museum is located at 1625 North Central Avenue, where admission is pay-what-you-wish from 3 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Up close with Allure. - CRYSTAL WAGNER
Up close with Allure.
Crystal Wagner


A couple of weeks ago, Los Angeles artist Crystal Wagner was surrounded by pristine white walls inside the Project Room at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, 1 East Main Street, Mesa. Soon, she began transforming the space, using chicken wire to create the foundation for a large-scale art installation called Allure. Formed with torn pieces of multicolored tablecloths, the artwork prompts reflection on the relationships between organic and manufactured materials, and how the contemporary landscape saturated in visual culture affects the ways people see, think about, and explore their environments. Get a good look on Wednesday, May 29, when museum hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Before the stars, the sunset. - DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN
Before the stars, the sunset.
Desert Botanical Garden

Astronomy at the Garden

Stunning sunsets are a way of life in the Arizona desert. But how often do you pause to see what happens next, after the sky grows dark and stars seem to hover over the urban landscape? Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, is making it a little easier to stop and see the night sky, with a class called Astronomy at the Garden. Mario Gonzalez will be sharing details about the Sonoran night sky, from a lovely garden pathway. Weather permitting, you’ll spend time observing Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, surrounded by the desert expanse elicits just the sort of calm that can help you unwind from a hectic day of keeping you head down instead of aiming for the stars. The class costs $34 (or $27 for members). Lynn Trimble
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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble