This Week's Day-by-day Picks

Nothing beats a good shag. In the '30s and '40s, all the hip cats were doing it, and they were using bad lines like, "Hi, sugar, are you rationed?" They still got girls to shag with them all night. And swing with them. Of course, they probably did other popular dances of the era, too, like the Charleston and the fox trot. But thanks to the slang of the day, the cats still got to tell their friends that they invited a girl to a clambake, got togged to the bricks, and got a honey cooler at the end of the night. Such a dandy dialect might be considered booshwash now, but the dances of the period endure. Learn them for a mere five-spot at Swing Night: Jammin' the Blues at Swing '37, starting at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at Steps Dance Center, 37 Western Avenue in Tempe. Call 480-446-7837.

If you fail to see the artistic potential in muddy vacant lots, get down to Roosevelt Row early this First Friday to catch "Remembering to Forget," one of three exhibitions opening at eye lounge, 419 East Roosevelt Street. Artist Joe Willie Smith created a "meditation on urban fields," using sticks, mud, and various found objects for the installation. Given Smith's reputation for exploring the themes of natural forms, the installation promises to be more than just a mosaic of discarded Big Mac wrappers and cigarette butts. Smith's work will be shown alongside new works by mixed-media sculpture artist Cheryle Marine and guest artist John Armstrong's abstract compositions, created using latex printing ink on aluminum mounted to wood panels. The gallery opens at 5 p.m. May 6, and admission is free. Call 602-340-1490 or visit

Fans of the endless throbbing house music beat know Flux well. The weekly DJ night at Sports City Grill's Sky Lounge, 132 East Washington Street, has consistently brought in renowned DJs from all over the country to spin alongside resident DJs PJ and Joey Cañez. But when a DJ like Chicago's JJ Flores (remixer for The Roc Project, Max-a-Million, and Milky, among others) rolls into town, Flux rolls out the red carpet. Except in this case, the carpet's more likely to be blue, as Flores will spin at the Masquerade Blueball, a night of "sexy bodies, house music and mayhem," taking place from 9 p.m. Saturday, May 7, until 2 a.m., with after-hours to follow. Booty shakers should dress their best and plan to accessorize their duds with boas and masks, courtesy of Flux. Admission costs $10. Call 602-351-8677.

While no science project ever produced anything as stunning as Kelly LeBrock in the movie Weird Science, there are still some pretty great (albeit boobless) projects to see at the local Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, taking place Sunday, May 8, through May 14 at Phoenix Civic Plaza, 111 North Third Street. The event is considered the "World Series" of science fairs, with the brightest young scientists in the state competing for more than $300,000 in scholarships and prizes, as well as a spot in the annual international competition. And while we may not understand it all (previous winning projects have included "Sonoluminescence -- Probing the Elusive Glow" and "Cosmic Bubbles -- Improving Hi Shell Detection Around Massive Stars"), we can appreciate seeing the seminal work of the people who might one day be cloning supermodels. Admission is free, but preregistration is required. Call 602-262-6225.

When most of us were 7 years old, all we wanted was not to be the kid who smelled like pee in class. When Annie Center and Dana Pasley were 7, Center was playing piano for foreign dignitaries in her native Taiwan, and Pasley had already started playing violin. Pasley played with the Pacific, Pasadena and Glendale symphony orchestras before landing his position as first violinist with the Phoenix Symphony in 1986. Center performed with everyone from the San Francisco Symphony to the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra before becoming the Phoenix Symphony's assistant principal violist in 1997. Together, the two former child prodigies will discuss their lives and music and give a brief performance as part of the Phoenix Symphony's "Close-Ups" Series at Borders Books & Music, 2402 East Camelback Road, from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 9. The presentation is free. Call 602-957-6660.

TUE 10
With a band name like Cowboy Mouth, you'd expect a little country twang, or at least some screaming. And since the three-piece New Orleans rock outfit doesn't have much of either in its songs, drummer/lead singer Fred Le Blanc explains that the band's moniker has more to do with the mood of its live shows rather than its music. "Cowboy Mouth is about pretending that you're 5 years old, naked as a jaybird and about to turn the hose on your parents, and there's not a damn thing they can do about it," says Le Blanc. Musically, Cowboy Mouth has been likened to their friends Barenaked Ladies, but their touring regimen takes after the Grateful Dead, with the band playing more than 200 shows a year. That's a lot of time pretending to be 5 years old. Get in touch with your own naked inner child wielding a garden hose when Cowboy Mouth takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, at Martini Ranch, 7295 East Stetson Drive in Scottsdale. Tickets cost $16.50 to $17. Call 480-970-0500.

WED 11
Long before Pearl Jam thought they wrote the longest song title ever with "Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town," Robert Bly wrote a poem titled "After Drinking All Night With a Friend, We Go Out in a Boat at Dawn to See Who Can Write the Best Poem." As head of the Sixties Press, Bly got a jump on the whole "alternative" scene, too, often publishing unconventional poetry and translations from obscure foreign poets. The 78-year-old distinguished poet and National Book Award winner will sign and discuss his latest poetry collections, My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy and The Winged Energy of Delight, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. The signing starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, but arriving early with a ticket (available with book purchase) is recommended. Call 480-730-0205.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea