Best Place to Learn How to be a Pickup Artist 2008 | Arizona Pick-Up Artist | People & Places | Phoenix

The humoring smile and pat on the shoulder. Some feigned interest and then a fake phone number. An 'I've-got-to-go-to-the-bathroom' ditch out. These are just three of the seemingly countless rejection methods you've been dealt from top-shelf hotties as an AFC (average frustrated chump). You need some confidence, bro — and how — but don't have the foggiest idea of how to get it. Instead of re-watching Hitch for the thousandth time, we recommend an extended consultation with the love gurus of the Web site Arizona Pick-Up Artist. Such master PUAs from around the Valley as J-Dog have assembled a wealth of free articles and information loaded with advice and methods on how to better your chances at possibly meeting, approaching, and (presuming you know your stuff) landing some HBs (that's hot babes).

The site also has the lowdown on upcoming seminars (or "boot camps"), as well as links to books, audio files, and other resources you'll have to pay for. Popularized in the VH-1 show The Pickup Artist and books like Neil Strauss' The Game, much of the advice is based on a mix of social psychology, self-help, and other techniques. There's also a Web message board, where other seduction specialists can share their secrets on what to wear, which bars to hit, and whom to approach. Results may vary, but if you study hard, young Padawan, it might mean avoiding another night spent logging onto RedTube.

Rawhide has moved from north Scottsdale to, well, the middle of nowhere. The new Rawhide in Chandler is almost halfway to Maricopa City. But the ol' Western town still has some of its magic, particularly around Halloween. Admission into Rawhide's Halloween Doomtown is free. Come October, you'll find a headless horseman on a black stallion and a number of emaciated zombies roaming the ghost town's streets. Given the middle-of-nowhere context and the soulless stares of the actors, Doomtown can be a bit creepy.

Better yet is "The Crypt" haunted house ($12), which serves up a pretty decent jolt. Adults can take kids into "The Crypt," though that's not recommended. It's that scary. The Train of Terror and Doomtown's zombie-infested streets are more suitable for children.

Rawhide advertises Doomtown as "kid friendly," but some parents don't see the optional live shows fitting that description, particularly the "Dr. Mortimer Morbius" show. Dr. Morbius speaks with a thick German accent as he straps actors to a table, where he removes bleeding organs with pliers and tools. Good clean fun, right?

If you'd ask us to compile our top 10 films of all time, without a doubt you'd find Ghostbusters ranking high on the list. We absolutely love the 1984 supernatural comedy. Love it to death. So much so that we've got the entire screenplay memorized by heart ("Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together . . . mass hysteria!") from endless replays of our VHS and DVD copies (the Blu-ray version is on pre-order). But as passionate as we are for the exploits of Dr. Peter Venkman and company, we nowhere near match the obsession of the members of the Arizona Ghostbusters.

Ten super-freak geeks make up the crew of faux phantom-chasers and have spent countless hours faithfully re-creating the costumes and equipment worn by the wisecracking paranormal investigators in the blockbuster film. (They even bought a 1972 Pontiac Bonneville ambulance to use as the Ectomobile.) Though they probably won't be chasing down the ghost of George W.P. Hunt or Winnie Ruth Judd anytime soon (their gear is just for show), the Arizona Ghostbusters have been a big hit at sci-fi conventions, comic book events, and charity events around the Valley. "Mother pus-bucket!"

Bet you've never gone to a Hindu wedding, let alone even been invited to one since Phoenix seems light years away from India. But you'll get a chance to witness almost the real thing at the annual Diwali Festival of Lights, put on by the India Association of Phoenix and its sister organizations, which are too numerous to list here.

Last year, the festival celebrating Diwali, a major fall holiday in India and Nepal, celebrated its sixth anniversary, and it seems to get bigger, grander, and more colorful every year. One of the festival's highlights was a fascinating reproduction of both an Oriya wedding ceremony (traditionally held along India's eastern coast, in the state of Orissa) and nuptial rites from Bihar, a state in India's northeast. During both, a narrator gives a play-by-play of connubial rituals as you ogle a make-believe bride and groom, who are decked out in over-the-top gorgeous Hindu wedding finery that we'd love to wear to work sometime. Mercifully, the ceremonies do not last four or five days, as they usually do in India.

If weddings aren't your thing, the festival has plenty of classical Indian dance performances, yoga demonstrations, astrology and Ayurvedic medicine lectures, and Indian cooking demos to keep you busy. Not to mention, you can get your chakras aligned. After last year's wedding performance, we systematically grazed at each one of the festival's food booths, in between which we snapped photos of Miss India Arizona and shopped for Indian arts, crafts, clothing, and jewelry.

Diversity for many Valley teens means going to a mall and watching the world walk by. But some kids are lucky enough to escape town for the summer. Some ambitious adolescents will go far.

In 1972, Phoenix joined the Sister City movement and hooked up with Hermosillo, Mexico. Since then, Phoenix has linked with nine cities from China to the Czech Republic. Here's where your kid comes in: Teens in their sophomore or junior years of high school can apply for a spot in a Sister Cities program that will allow them to live with a host family in a faraway land for three weeks.

In turn, you later host a teenager from another land. Sister Cities pays for half of the travel expenses, though further financial assistance is available. Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert, Peoria, Queen Creek, and Tempe have similar and equally successful programs. (Check your city's Web site for details.) Both parent and child will be shouting, 'Free, free at last!' — for at least three weeks.

Phoenix poet, knitter, artist, and yogini hipster Julie Hampton just can't take no for an answer. When a counselor at the Small Business Administration told her she was crazy to think she could buy a rustic medieval house in Italy and turn it into a vacation home/retreat, she ignored his small-mindedness and found a way to do just that. This three-bedroom, two-bath faraway dream turned reality — she calls it the Rosenclaire House — is yours to rent by the week, the month, whatever. It sleeps six and sits atop a tiny northern Tuscan village of Vitiana just waiting for you to prepare regional slow fare in its kitchen (never cooked in a kitchen with a hearth?), write your novel, or perform sun salutes in the upstairs loft with its breathtaking (we know it's cliché, but there's really no better word) view of Vitiana and Tuscany's chestnut-forested Garfagnana region below.

You think you've eaten fresh eggs, real cheese, and tomatoes as Zeus intended them? Here in Phoenix? Yeah, Chris Bianco's good, but he's not the village farmer trudging up the cobblestone path with a bucket of wholesome freshness. We can't figure out just what it is that makes the food so delicious, the sleep so deep, the sun so warm (in a good way), and we sure as hell can't figure out how to get it back here to the Valley. Leave leaning towers and naked statues to the tourists. Vitiana is the real dolce vita.

Friends often accuse us of having our heads in outer space. They don't know the half of it. Since childhood, we've dreamed of becoming astronauts. Alas, our feeble skills in science and math ruled out such a career path. So pending the day when the whole space-tourism thing becomes a more practical (and affordable) reality, the closest we're getting to trekking among the stars is by visiting the Challenger Space Center in Peoria.

This futuristic-looking facility offers a pair of simulated missions, where Neil Armstrong wanna-bes can participate in a pair of interactive two-hour experiences replicating (to a certain degree) a journey through the final frontier and life aboard the International Space Station. (Participants also get a turn at working as a flight crew in the million-dollar mission control facility inspired by the Johnson Space Center in Houston.) After sitting in the Earth Space Transit Module (which "transports" you into the cosmos), you can either help launch interstellar probes to encounter celestial bodies during "Rendezvous with a Comet," or take an excursion to the red planet in "Voyage to Mars."

Don't worry about motion sickness; there's no movement involved. It's more a cerebral adventure involving video screens that's somewhat akin to the old Mission to Mars ride at Disneyland — just without all those creepy-looking animatronic automatons.

We all know how excruciating modern urban life can be. We work like dogs, drive like animals, and shove fast food down our throats between dentist appointments and birthday parties. And in a city of cars, there's hardly an escape from the constant drone of engines flying by on bustling streets. But we stress "hardly" because we've found one of the best escape pods in the Valley.

The permanent installation by James Turrell at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art has provided a Zen space for the Valley for the past seven years. As it's tucked away behind the museum's patio, it's no surprise that visitors often cruise right by, missing their opportunity to put on the brakes and chill. This simple, elliptical room is made of slate-gray concrete with a block bench lining the curvature of the walls. Look up to its tall ceiling and you'll see our crystal blue heavens through its oval skylight. The walls block out the noise, the skylight makes the room glow, and the rounded enclosure feels like a warm embrace. Frantic thoughts and everyday anxieties disappear like magic and you are left to just be. Even in the dead of summer, we've spent chunks of time in the room, hardly noticing the heat. And if you happen to visit at night, a subtle glow achieved by expertly placed lighting will make you feel like you just popped a Vicodin.

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