Despite the fact that George Lucas axed his Star Wars film franchise more than a year ago, the members of the Phoenix Fan Force a cadre of local Obi-wanna-bes haven't spent their time bitching about losing touch with the Skywalker clan. Nope, these sci-fi superfreaks have instead been busy continuing to churn out their series of Star Wars-themed "fan films," or mini-movies concerning that galaxy far, far away. Since 2003, PFF members like Brenda Glenn, Joel Cranson, and Webb Pickersgill have been working on their Spirits of the Force trilogy, which centers on the lightsaber-swinging adventures of a group of secondary characters from Lucas' oeuvre. The flicks are enjoyable romps taking familiar Valley locales like Arizona State University and Papago Park and making them look otherworldly. The first two chapters have been downloaded by thousands of fans worldwide and even got screened at local geek gatherings like LepreCon and the Phoenix Cactus Comicon, and the third is currently in development. Truly, the Force is with them. Now if they can only make lightsabers a reality, we can die happy.
Supporters of the downtown arts district, meet your true enemy: MC Merv. According to the word on the street, this white yuppie rapper who was raised on the "mean streets" of Anthem is the dastardly developer who single-handedly shut down the Emerald Lounge, razed the old Planet Earth Theatre, and is the driving force behind the ongoing gentrification of your favorite First Friday hangouts. Well, according to him, at least. What's closer to reality is that Merv's an anonymous art scenester who moonlights as a ridiculous rapper dressed in a shabby gray wool suit, a ball cap, and kneepads. Performing impromptu shows at the Willow House and the Trunk Space, the MC spits out rhymes about his pseudo-plans for downtown for the amusement of his fan base (whom he calls "Merverts"). "The name's Merv/Got a lot of nerve/Turn the city into condos/Kick the people to the curb," he sings. "You might be saying, 'What the fuck?'/But you know what?/I just bought Trunk Space, Bikini and the whole dang block!" Word up, white boy.
Whenever our out-of-state friends come to our heat-blasted burg for a visit, they're quite taken with the kitschy Arizona-themed refrigerator magnets found littering gift shops and souvenir stands across the Valley. They seem so drawn to these tacky trinkets filled with howling coyotes, jackalopes and Southwestern sunsets, you'd think our buddies were made of metal. The last time they blew through town, we gave them this certain madcap magnet made by local furniture artist Mike Miskowski that threw them for a loop. It boasts a smutty snapshot of a towering and anatomically blessed saguaro with a rather largish arm looking very much like a . . . um, let's just say its needles aren't the only thing "prickly" about this cactus. (There's also the phrase "Welcome to Phoenis" printed on it.) We'd tell our pals about Miskowski's other small-scale artwork fit for their icebox like a satanic Little Debbie or a chain-saw-wielding Native American child but they aren't speaking to us anymore.

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