Whether you're just getting your feet wet, training for the Ironman Triathlon or an aging veteran of chlorine-soaked, predawn practices as a kid, Sun Devil Masters offers a challenging program with three workouts a day in a world-class, 50-meter outdoor pool. Former Olympians and NCAA champions too numerous to name roam the decks as coaches or ply the crystal-clear water during challenging workouts sure to pop your pulse over 150 beats per minute. Under the direction of former ASU men's coach and Master's National Champion Ron Johnson, swimmers are pushed by an ever-changing yet constantly demanding workout regimen. Knock down two miles in the pool before dinner, and eat all you want.

The season never stops, but is highlighted twice a year by Master's National Championships where swimmers "shave down" to get the ultimate peak performance. The competition is friendly, but intense. Swimmers, take your mark . . .

Best Place to Indulge Your Fantasies of Being a Chinese Emperor

COFCO Chinese Cultural Center

COFCO Chinese Cultural Center
Admittedly, they may seem woefully out of place in the middle of a Southwestern desert, but the well-manicured, classical Chinese gardens here are the next best thing to being in Beijing. Go past the upturned eaves of the COFCO complex's authentic glazed tile roofs (cleverly fashioned to impale any evil spirits that may dare to enter its portals) and wander along meandering paths lined with weeping willows and bamboo.

A serene water lily pond, artfully punctuated with rushes, papyrus and carved stone sculpture, provides a cool locus for the gardens' Tang dynasty replicas of intimate pagodas and pavilions. Designed for serious star gazing, moon meditating and vista viewing, this is the ideal haunt in which to cool your bound heels when your copy of Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor finally wears out.

Best Argument Against Investigative TV Reporting

Fox 10 News

"Were UFOs created by . . . Hitler?! Find out about the Hitler-UFO connection, tonight on Fox 10, right after The X-Files!"

No joke, that was an actual teaser from the never-ending series of wonderfully shameless Fox 10's Sunday-night tie-ins to the latest Mulder and Scully adventure.

In the interest of hard-hitting TV journalism, the station's intrepid reporters have aired alleged UFO photos from the space shuttle, saucers over Illinois and, of course, the ever-popular Phoenix Lights updates.

To showcase its journalistic diversity, Fox periodically delves into non-UFO issues such as psychics, ghosts and haunted houses. Ich bin ein Aliener!

The political shouting over the Squaw Peak pots a decade ago didn't end efforts to beautify Valley stretches of asphalt.

And a good thing, too. Ever since "the pots," landscaping and public art have helped to sharpen the appearances of local bahns.

So instead of the Berlin walls that other regions install between freeways and neighborhoods, we get cheerful expanses like this public art project along the Pima Freeway. Designed by a team that included artist Carolyn Braaksma, landscape architect Jeff Engelmann and architect Andrea Forman, the six-mile ribbon of relief murals features desert critters and flora in shades of gray, green, pink, lavender and beige concrete. They're immense, colorful and filled with shadow-cut details that add the best smile we know of to any Valley drive.

Buca Di Beppo
Mama pee-a! The men's rest room at this popular Scottsdale family-style trattoria offers black-and-white pics so naughty they'd result in felony charges if posted on the Internet. The dirty dozen or so images feature young Italian boys urinating on alley walls, street poles and into the camera. Full-frontal prepubescent nudity abounds in a collection that attempts to charm and, hopefully, rarely succeeds. (Yes, the photos in the women's rest room are also a bit racy, but they cannot compare to the men's room's K-6 water-sports action.)

On second thought -- waiter, cancel the penne!

Quizzed about who he'd cast as himself in a proposed made-for-TV movie based on his book America's Toughest Sheriff, Joe Arpaio offered up the names of actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Despite the dangers involved in crossing the border to Arizona, illegal immigrants are arriving in hordes. They have little choice -- the average wage of two dollars a day in Mexico just can't cover rent, utilities and food. So they come to Phoenix hoping to find work that will pay a little more.

Day workers will help you move, landscape, paint, almost any chore that needs to be done. They have no set hourly price. However, do the right thing and pay what is mutually agreed upon. (Some workers have complained about getting stiffed for up to three days' work.)

Laborers gather in corners across the Valley. However, if you want guaranteed day labor, the corner of Broadway Road and Mesa Drive in Mesa is a sure bet. Up until noon every day of the week, all four corners of the intersection and adjacent streets are filled with guys eager to make a day's wage.

Pickup trucks pull up and a handful of them will jump in the bed. These men are eager to work and consider day labor a big boost to their economic situation; many send their earnings home and put a little aside in their savings.

Hey, works for us.

Best Sign That Scottsdale's Women Have Gone to the Dogs

The Second Annual Bitches' Weekend

For decades, Scottsdale's young men have had the 20/30 Club -- a service/social organization designed, as the name implies, for men under 40.

But what about the women? We haven't found a comparable "official" group, but we did get an invite last spring to a chick trip that looked way better than any 20/30 charity golf tourney.

Cassidy and Katie Campana (daughters of former Scottsdale Mayor Sam) have made an annual tradition of gathering their girlfriends and their girlfriends' female dogs (along with ample libations appropriate for both species) and heading to the northern Arizona pine country for the ultimate bitch session.

The Campanas make grudging exceptions for male dogs, but otherwise the event is strictly off-limits to men. "This is an all-girl weekend . . . so save all your griping, but also all the juicy stories," the invitation reads.

Meow!

Grilled by reporters after several felony counts against her were dropped in November, former beauty queen Jill Scott -- an ex-Mrs. America and Mrs. Arizona best known for her appearances on local TV commercials for her ex-husband's Empire Glass windshield replacement company -- talked to the press corps about the ordeal. "It's been humiliating," said Scott, whose ex-husband claimed she'd stolen money from his company. "I've lost about five years of elasticity in my skin."

Best Mountain With a Gynecological Term Painted on It

Double Butte

Tempe's "A" Mountain is not the city's only painted butte. Head west on Broadway Road, and look south just before you hit the I-10 freeway, to check out the side of Double Butte -- about halfway up. There, just below a white painted cross, is the word "labia" in large letters. We have no idea how it got there; we're just happy as a, well, clam that it is.

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