The Loser Line is arguably the cleverest bit of radio in the Valley, brought to you by the DJ duo of Kid and Ruben S who handle this too-short segment of the morning show perfectly. The premise is simple. Girls can call the station and get a phone number to give to guys -- total losers, of course -- who hit on them at clubs, in class, at the gym, wherever those annoying encounters take place. Guys call the number thinking they're calling the girl. Instead, the message machine is really at the radio station and their incredibly fumbling attempts to get laid are broadcast to thousands of listeners. Some morons call over and over, some are drunk, some are simply pathetic. All are hilarious. ("I've called you five times. How come you never call back? You're so hot. Please. Call me. Okay? I looovvve you.") We looovvve the calls from the girlfriends/wives who find the number in their man's pocket. ("You bitch. Don't even think he's going to call you. I'll kick your ass.") Funny, too, was the high school principal who thought he was calling a student's house to discuss problems at school with her parents. Or the woman who gave the number to her gynecologist who called -- twice -- with test results ("It's very urgent that you call us right away"). Great stuff! Even if you have to tune in at 7 a.m. when the Loser Line airs.

As if the northwest section of Grand Avenue isn't scary enough after dark, there's that giant Mr. Lucky's vintage marquee that's been putting the "yeeeeeeee" in "yee-haw" for coulrophobiacs (that's clown fearers to you) since the mid-'60s. For the mime dreaders, jack-in-the-box shunners and people who just plain freak out at the sight of Bozo, imagine cowering in the neon of a maniacally jeering jester springing some 40 feet high, balancing "COCKTAILS" and "DANCING" from each hand as if they were "HATE" and "FEAR" tattooed on his knuckles. By now you've guessed that we'd rather ride the live rodeo bulls you find every weekend at Mr. Lucky's than get a closer look at that marquee to see who's playing Saturday night. No, that would mean feeling Lucky the Clown's creepy peepers peering down into our souls, rightly sizing us up as pintsize wussies who can't even relax at a children's party if there's a juggler with drawn-on tears. Inside, Mr. Lucky's has real living, breathing clowns doing face painting, but even those white faces pale compared to the outdoor giant.

In its two prolific years of existence, this performance space/art gallery/espresso bar has graced downtown Phoenix with a wonderfully weird, unpredictable lineup of free or cheap entertainment and cultural happenings, making it a magnet for local creative types. On any given night of the week, Paper Heart might be hosting punk bands, experimental groups or singer-songwriters, improv comedy, spoken word, tango lessons, film screenings or performance art. Every few months, the place usually throws a bash with a bit of all of the above. First Friday events are fun, too, with live music to complement paintings or photography by local artists adorning the gallery walls.

The records office used to be in a tiny basement room in the county courthouse building at First Avenue and Jefferson. So if you needed, say, a copy of your divorce file, you had to circle the block a few times for an open parking space, then find the basement office, then brave the gridlock of lawyers, paralegals and others in the small room just to get to the counter to request a file.

My, how things have changed. A couple years ago, the records office moved to spacious quarters in the bottom of a parking garage at Sixth Avenue and Jackson. Now it's no problem finding an empty parking space, and the office itself is thoughtfully designed and laid out to accommodate people who may need to be there a while and need a place to spread out some paperwork. There are more than two dozen desks and several large round tables scattered throughout the room, so privacy is not an issue. A nice touch is the kid-size tables for those patrons who have to bring small children with them. There are numerous computer terminals for looking up case numbers. Rows of couches fill the room so waiting is comfortable (even though the wait seems shorter these days and the counter clerks more plentiful). Magazine racks full of recent copies of a range of publications stand on one wall. Our favorite element: clean public rest rooms at the back of the main room. Now that's public service.

From its retro angular roof to its neon lights, Christown Lanes looks like a throwback to bowling's 1950s heyday. But once inside, the 48 shining synthetic lanes designed to enhance the "hook and spin" bowler's game boldly proclaim that Christown is still at the forefront of the Valley's bowling renaissance.

The ultra-clean alley sports new carpet, spotless rest rooms and a snack bar. Even better: non-smoking lanes. But there is also plenty of room for getting rowdy at the pool tables in The Legends nightclub featuring karaoke on Friday nights.

The lanes host regional Professional Bowlers Association tournaments and the popular Strike Force Tour, and have leagues for kids to seniors. It's rock 'n' roll time on Friday and Saturday at 10:30 p.m. when black lights and strobes enshroud the lanes for Extreme Bowling ($14 for two and a half hours, including shoes). Reservations are recommended.

The friendly staff is always ready to help, including providing bargain-priced personal lessons. Ask for desk attendant Jeremy McElliot, who has a half-dozen perfect 300 games to his credit.

There are not many things more annoying than being hit on at a shooting range, or being offered help shooting "that cute little gun." This is why we love the Ben Avery Shooting Facility's Annie Oakley Sure Shots program, and the Thursday "ladies' night." Created to provide a safe atmosphere for women to learn about and practice shooting firearms, the group was founded to provide instruction and mentoring for women, by women. Thursday night is always free for women. The facility, run by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, has a highly trained staff, safety officers, ear and eye protection, free ammunition, and a variety of firearms in a range of calibers. It even has complimentary gun locks. Membership in the club is also free. No knowledge or possession of firearms is necessary, and you can progress at whatever pace is most comfortable for you. Whether you're an experienced shooter or have never held a gun in your life, this is the place to go if you want to learn more, or just practice in a testosterone-light zone.

The Penske Racing Team has been awarded the most wins in the history of racing. So what do you do when you've done everything? Build an 8,000-square-foot museum, of course.

At Penske Racing Museum, diehard fans can experience some action in two full-size simulators, on a custom-designed racetrack, or on the off-road course. Then check out the 16 championship winning cars on display, including the 1984 Indy winner, the Pennzoil No. 6 car. Peruse the plethora of memorabilia or view the video wall.

The Penske Racing Museum had the rabid race fan in mind, and it shows at this utopia for speed machines.

Mill Avenue is the heart of downtown Tempe, and there's no better place to see the pulse of living than this urban strip. Arizona State University brings college kids in proximity, but it's also a popular spot for cruising and hanging out. The voyeur within us likes to sit back and watch the eclectic mix of teens, the young hippies selling hemp products with their dogs, punks with dyed hair spiked with egg whites, motorcycle gangs gawking at each other's crotch rockets, and even suburban families who have stumbled onto the scene. With such an array of characters, it is like watching a Fellini movie. Now that's what we call entertainment, and it's free.

Rather than killing us softly with your song, why not swing into this store and set yourself up for private, in-home karaoke humiliation. A mere $67.99 scores the most basic setup, but -- as Britney is well aware -- the more money one invests in equipment, the better one sounds. Fancier systems carry options such as a digital key controller that adjusts the singer's range, and microphones that regulate bass and treble levels. After ringing up headphones, wireless mikes, amplifiers, lighting gear and a specially built karaoke chair, it's time to name the tunes: country, cock rock, rap, Spanish, oldies, Broadway, gospel or children's. If Velvet Elvis: Songs of the King and Sing Like Celine Dion, volumes 1 through 4, don't rock your boat, pick up a copy of Kiss This, and belt out "Lick It Up" at your next Tupperware party. Don't forget the tambourine, maracas and disco ball.

Why did the Phoenix Baptist Hospital patient cross Bethany Home Road? To get to the Recovery Room. No joke. After enduring a hospital stay with $23 gelatin cups and flavorless IV drips, dischargees will liken this tavern's food specials to deep-fried manna from heaven. Free chili from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, 99-cent quarter-pound burgers during NFL games, and a daily dollar lunch special: From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., buy any beverage and get a hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken sandwich or dos tacos for 99 cents. (All the better to fill out that hospital gown during your next bypass.) Plus, hospital workers who flash an ID badge score their second drink for a quarter. We can't resist saying it: It's a health of a deal.

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