You dropped a few shekels last weekend at Blockbuster to rent Bride & Prejudice and The Guru 'cause you finally wanted to learn about this whole Bollywood thing. After the drippy double feature zapped away four hours of your life, you're still left wondering what the deal is. Get a taste of actual East Indian celluloid (and not some mass-produced Hollywood byproduct) by checking out showings of recent Bollywood flicks at this second-run cinema, well-attended by members of the Valley's Indo-Pakistani community. Each month, films like the uproarious farce Shaadi Se Pehle, the action adventure Zinda, or the romantic thriller Humko Tumse Pyar Hai are screened with English subtitles for only $9.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids. Sneak in some takeout tandoori chicken to enjoy while peeping pictures like Darna Zaroori Hai or Jai Chiranjeeva, and you might just imagine you're maxing and relaxing at a moviehouse in Mumbai instead of toiling in Tempe.
From the outside, this squat watering hole looks like any of the other dirty dive bars scattered throughout the West Valley. On the inside, however, it's a ground zero for all types of punk rock pandemonium. Instead of having to haul ass across Central Avenue for the best bands from the local scene, the west-side tattooed-and-pierced patrol can stay closer to home for gigs by such hardcore heavy-hitters and rock 'n' roll raconteurs as Walt Flannigan's Dog, The Earps, Evolocity, Family Secret, Meat Department, Tweeker Chic, and The Toomstoners. There are also plenty of outlandish amenities rivaling crusty competitors like The Rogue and Jugheads, like hottie bartenders in tube tops and plaid miniskirts, sticker-and-flier-laden restrooms, and a punky patronage made up of Billie Joe Armstrong and Deborah Harry look-alikes. Just don't forget the earplugs, as the joint's cinder-block walls transform the thunderous rock riffs into a cyclone of sounds destined to crash through your cochlea.
Sean Badger, better known as Senbad on sweat-stained Scottsdale dance floors, has been a "house music soldier" for more than 10 years now. The 36-year-old considers his occupation to be "record pusher," and to him, the best dope is house music. He's a loyalist who's spun pure house at every club from Next and e4 to Majerle's and SIX. Until recently, Senbad and his partner Pete "SuperMix" Salaz could say they hosted the only house music night in town, Batucada. After enjoying a long weekly run at Next, Batucada went on break for a while. Though there may be other house music nights in the Valley now, only one of them has Senbad, and that's the recently relaunched Batucada, now bumpin' every Saturday night at The Biz.
Movie theaters in the Valley come and go, but inevitably, when we want to see the hot new movie, we find ourselves at Camelview. We don't always find ourselves inside Camelview who knew Little Miss Sunshine was the movie of the summer? but we always know we'll find the best, brightest and quirkiest playing at our favorite old haunt.
Auditions for American Idol might be months and months away, but there's no reason you shouldn't start practicing now. After all, your pipes could definitely use some practice. Getting a much-needed warm-up by kicking it karaoke-style like Kelly Clarkson is necessary, but since nearly every two-bit tavern and gin joint in town features this mimicking musical mainstay, where's a wanna-be songster supposed to go? Head for the small side bar inside the wicked West Valley nightclub Hurricane Bay, where karaoke is king from Wednesday through Sunday each week. You'll have more than 10,000 songs at your disposal from ABBA to Zeppelin with a trio of overenthusiastic emcees who'll offer comical critiques of your performance without bitch-slapping you like Simon Cowell. Your hosts will also offer you a collection of crazy props including an oversize foam cowboy hat or an electric guitar to incorporate into your act. Just remember to stay on-key, all-star, and you just might be the next Taylor Hicks.
Divine Poetry isn't just the name of the Valley's hottest new spoken-word series. It also refers to the event emcee, lyrical poet, and organizer of sharp tongues, known simply as Divine. After Scottsdale's soul food and cultural haven Livingston's closed in 2004, the Bronx-born poetry diva created the open-mic function at the bare-bones Entertainment Alley. What the space lacks in decor a lone couch with torn upholstery sits center stage, and plastic folding chairs are brought in for audience comfort is made up during audacious readings and the occasional performance art piece. Seasoned veterans of the spoken-word scene, such as the hyperactive Manifest Destiny, who frequently performs multiple personality routines from his album Broke Ass Bus Ticket, as well as newbies of all ages and skill levels, congregate at the sessions every Sunday night.
Yucca Tap Room
Lauren Cusimano
Question: What do you get when you mix cheap drinks, an open mic night, a cover band that calls itself Mother Trucker, and one of Tempe's favorite dive bars? Answer: The best fucking karaoke night in town. Every Thursday night, members from local band the Zen Lunatics hit the stage at the Yucca Tap Room to back drunken wanna-bes living out their rock-star dreams. The song selection is excellent think Radiohead, Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones and CCR but don't expect the usual karaoke fare. If "Friends in Low Places" is your drunk-guy-with-a-microphone standby, this might not be for you. And take note: Most people who take the stage are actually pretty good, so the tone deaf might want to resign themselves to their Pabst in one of the corner booths.
Valley word-slingers needing to score some fast cash, look no further. Just put down the latte, scribble some chapbook strophes, and hightail it down to the $100 winner-take-all Anthology Greater Phoenix Poetry Slam. On the last Wednesday of every month at the Paper Heart, 10 performance scribes read three poems of their own creation, with winners determined by five randomly chosen audience members. Each month features a heavy-hitting guest poet, such as the urban folk rhymester/singer Blair, who is the 2002 National Poetry Slam champion and a featured artist on HBO's Def Poetry Jam. Poets who have gone home with fatter pockets include the edgy veteran Bill Campana, the growling Patrick Hare, and policeman-by-day, word-sleuth-by-night Corbet Dean. Newcomers are welcome, and there is no registration fee. Get slammin'.
Living in Phoenix, we've learned we need to create our own holiday traditions. No sledding, no skating, not much bundling up by the fire (damn those no-burn days). That's why we're happy to have such a fantastic local Nutcracker to look forward to as the holidays approach. Ib Andersen, creative director of Ballet Arizona, has a wonderful interpretation, full of Tchaikovsky's music as well as all the Nutcracker moments you remember and some you're glad to add to the repertoire. Our toddler was dancing in the aisles not popular with the staff at Symphony Hall, but she did get a chuckle from the audience and we're sure we'll be first in line when she's old enough to audition for the show.
Who can blame you for hating karaoke? No one with any sense wants to hear people who can't sing attempt to wade through "Mack the Knife" or hit the high notes in "Lady Marmalade." Karaoke is the worst of those '90s fads that refuses to die, especially in Phoenix. But this most annoying of unhip holdovers is having a happy rebirth in a quiet corner of East Osborn Road. Every Friday night at Linda's, where the daily specials (all of them tasty) are handwritten on colorful recipe cards and attached to the menu with a paper clip, Joanne the Karaoke Singer mesmerizes the early dinner crowd with an uncommon talent and a towering hairdo. Seated next to the cash register, flanked by a wee karaoke machine that spits out prerecorded pop tunes from the '50s, '60s, and '70s, Joanne serenades diners in a throaty whisper that's barely audible over clinking flatware and customer chatter. From beneath a foot-high blonde bouffant, this willowy miss of indeterminate age talk-sings her way through a cavalcade of quiet hits, occasionally arching an eyebrow or shrugging a shoulder as if to say, "Here I am, although I'm not sure why." We're not sure, either but we're always glad when she is.

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