Between numerous guerrilla film projects, microcinema events and the Phoenix Film Festival (devoted to low-budget features and short films), Phoenix is becoming a haven for indie filmmaking. So this city has the perfect readership for the latest book by cult filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman, Make Your Own Damn Movie: Secrets of a Renegade Director. True film junkies will instantly recognize the name of Kaufman's studio: Troma Entertainment. But even people with just the slightest taste for B-movies have heard of The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke 'Em High or Tromeo and Juliet.
Over his 30-year career, Kaufman's worked on more than 25 films. So he's got a wealth of knowledge on the whole filmmaking-on-a-shoestring process: writing the screenplay, getting funds, casting actors, finding equipment and crew, and even pulling off stunts and special effects.
Full of his entertaining, deliberately un-PC personal anecdotes, Kaufman's book also has hilarious sidebars that cover all the low-budget bases, including "Dumpster Diving for Fun and Profit" and "Semi-Legal Ways to Get Noticed at Festivals."
Kaufman signs his new book at 5 p.m. Thursday, October 9, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe. Call 480-730-0205 for details. - Michele Laudig
Between Heaven and Hellas
It's all Greek at this festival
Whether you're craving home cooking from Gia Gia (Greek for Grandma) or simply wishing that you were raised Greek, you'll get a taste of the Old Country this weekend at the 43rd Annual Greater Phoenix Greek Festival, a celebration of Mediterranean culture with authentic food and drink, dancing, live music and souvenirs. Everything happens at the James A. Speros Community Center, 1973 East Maryland. Call 602-264-2791 for details. - Michele Laudig
Loud & Proud
Tempe fetes fall with Blues Festival
Technically, summer has been retired for another year. And although what passes for winter here might still require a little sunblock, we can once again emerge from the malls and engage with the glorious outdoors. In Tempe, the soundtrack for a fall to remember cranks up when the [email protected] concert series kicks off with a Blues Festival on Sunday, October 12, from 1 to 7 p.m. at Tempe Beach Park. J.D. Simo and Dirty Pool, Cold Shott and the Hurricane Horns, and Blues Ratio take the stage in the first of a series of Sunday concerts scheduled to run through November. For details call 480-350-8625 or visit www.tempe.gov/lake/. - Craig Wallach
All Shook Up
Lessons from abroad
Afghanistan is not a word we likely would have been able to spell only three years ago. Now, as it becomes part of our daily lexicon, we have an even greater interest in hearing the insights of Lucy Shook. In 1965, Shook accompanied her husband to Afghanistan and began managing a small expatriate hotel called the Staff House. During her time as a woman of authority in a country that did not welcome such uppity behavior from women, she recorded some fascinating observations of the culture. Luckily, her daughter Liz Adair collected, edited and has recently published the writings in a new book called Letters From Afghanistan, which Adair presents at the Barnes & Noble stores at both Kierland Commons in Scottsdale and Chandler Fashion Center on Friday, October 10, and Saturday, October 11, respectively. Visit www.lettersfromafghanistan.com for details. - Maidi Terry
Irish for a Day
Green is keen during this party
From St. Patrick's Day to the proliferation of Irish bars in the Valley, it seems we're never at a loss to co-opt the celebratory nature of the Emerald Isle. Such a culture deserves a day to revel in its undisputed coolness, and this year that day is Saturday, October 11, when the 2003 Arizona Irish Festival takes over the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 North Central, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Food, music, dance and drink at an on-site Irish pub are the order of the day, and there's also a Wee Folk festival for the kids. For details call 602-392-7850 or visit www.azirish.com. - Craig Wallach
Fall fun starts at the Arizona State Fair
The Arizona State Fair's prize-winning pumpkins, top musical acts and dust-raising arena sports spin together like a Tilt-a-Whirl for 18 glorious days, from Thursday, October 9, through October 26. This year, as you thread through the crowd toward exciting new rides in the midway, remember proper etiquette: corn dogs after Spider Mania. At sundown, gather in the Coliseum for Alan Jackson, Los Tigres del Norte, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more. Browse exhibit halls housing homespun projects like the bola tie competition and best catclaw honey. And this year, fellas, don't let the studs in the animal barn get you down. Gates swing wide on opening day at 5 p.m., when admission is $1. Thereafter, the fair opens weekdays at noon and weekends at 10 a.m. Adult admission is $9; kids' and seniors' is $4. Purchase $2-off admission tickets at all Fry's Food Stores. Concert tickets are available at the Coliseum box office or from Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444. For more information, call 602-268-3247 or visit www.azstatefair.com. - Kim Toms
Natural Born Thrillers
Local band performs
The Valley may be cooling off, but local band Cascabel continues to heat things up with its unique blend of musical genres. "Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Gypsy jazz" is how Quetzal Guerrero, one of the founding members, describes his style of music. Wow, that's quite a mouthful -- but that should be expected from a violin virtuoso who has been perfecting the art form since the age of 4. While the rest of us were busy playing with Fisher Price, he was learning the classics and began performing with his father's band Zum Zum Zum at the age of 9. Maybe that's why the late Tito Puente invited Guerrero to share the stage with him twice.
Longtime music partner Gustavo Angeles joins Guerrero for a performance of music from the new CD Cascabel at the Kerr Cultural Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 9. Tickets are $12.50 and can be purchased at the center and through Ticketmaster at 480-784-4444 or www.ticketmaster.com. For details about upcoming events, visit www.quetzalguerrero.com. - Eric Schandel