Best Podcast 2016 | Spillers After Show | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix

Brian Dunn and Robert Hoekman Jr. launched the short-fiction reading series Spillers at the Crescent Ballroom in August 2015, and since then have continued to refine the series through live readings and an insightful podcast series, the Spillers After Show. Featuring readings from and long-form interviews with Spillers readers like essayist Tara Ison, novelist Patrick Michael Finn, Spilled Milk editor Leah Newsom, and poet Joel Salcido, the podcast features discussions and dissections of the creative process, with Dunn and Hoekman offering probing questions and thoughtful responses to bring the intimacy of the live shows to your iPhone.

While you can follow along with their adventures in the desert and abroad on a variety of social-media platforms, Robert and Christina Martinez really shine on Snapchat. Better known as New Darlings, the blogger couple documents trips to their favorite haunts (you're gonna notice a fair amount of Lux), gym angst, home-decor decisions, and the newest records they've picked up — all adorned with stickers and emojis and geofilters that make snapping more fun than, well, basically any other mode of social sharing. And, hey, watching these two keep busy might just leave you inspired. To do what, exactly? Well, at least to put on something adjacent to cute and leave the house.

There are thousands of worthy Instagrammers out there who focus on documenting the amazing desert landscape we have here in Arizona. And who can blame them? Between the interesting plant life that manages to thrive in our harsh environment and the breathtaking sunsets that make the sweltering summer heat worth it, there's plenty of beauty to capture. But Donjay, who aptly posts under the Instagram handle @donjay, shows the wonder of the desert and this city that has grown within it through his own eye, and we can't look away. Clean, natural, bold, and often creatively integrating a human element, Donjay captures the spirit of Phoenix and the surrounding areas through photos.

Ask and you shall receive ... a duck face? After Arizona Diamondbacks commentators Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly asked the crowd at a game last October to take selfies and post them to Twitter, the two could not stop laughing about a group of ASU Alpha Chi Omega sorority sisters heeding their request. "Every girl in the picture is locked into her phone. Every single one is dialed in ... They're all just completely transfixed by the technology," one of them says. For a few straight minutes, the sportscasters continued to narrate the sisters' actions — "Gotta take a selfie with the hot dog. Selfie with the churro. Selfie just of a selfie ... Here's my first bite of the churro, here's my second bite of the churro" — launching the girls to viral fame. Critics of the two men accused them of sexism. "Just imagine a world where young women could grow up and feel confident in loving themselves without grown-ass adult men mocking them," one viewer tweeted. But the girls didn't seem to mind, posing for a group selfie that was tweeted out by the official D-backs Twitter account later that night.

Holiday video greetings are a tradition for Chandler's Whitney and Micah Slade and their kids. One year, the video showed the family swimming in a Yuletide pool full of Xmas cheer; another had them literally climbing the walls of a 1950s living room. In 2015, the Slade parents wanted something clever and warmhearted that would also teach their four children a morals lesson — that some people don't have as much as the Slades do — in the bargain. Inspired by the song "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays," the Slades decided to build a tiny house and give it away to someone in need. Their frankly arty video, featuring a lobster, a trout, and the family's pet snake, depicted the Slades building the teeny-tiny house while Micah lip-syncs to Perry Como's version of the popular Christmas tune. It went viral, natch, and that was nice. But nicer still was giving away the 160-square-foot house to a single mom in Pensacola, Florida, who'd been living in the maintenance room of the local RV park where she worked.

So maybe the closest Phoenix ever gets to a white Christmas is hearing the beloved holiday tune on the radio. But any resident knows that doesn't mean the Valley is devoid of Christmas spirit. And snow or no snow, the light display on Comstock Drive is impressive for any city. Grab your decorative scarves, light sweaters, and fingerless gloves, jump in the car, and head for Gilbert, where you will find a neighborhood so decked to the halls that even the Grinch would be proud. As 2015's winners of ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight," the would-be Whoville rock stars are not messing around with thousands of colored lights blinking in time to your favorite carols. Best part? You get to enjoy the entire display from the comfort of your own car.

Every year, the Valley gets a fresh influx of art courtesy of a public art program called, ahem, IN FLUX. From Chandler to Glendale, new works by local artists are installed temporarily in libraries, museums, malls, and along the light rail (among other unexpected spots). For the 2016 cycle of the program, Jeffrey DaCosta brought 18 wooden deer sculptures coated with light-sensitive paint to an empty storefront at the Pavilions at Talking Stick. When the sun sets, the animals are illuminated in green, yellow, orange, and red, highlighting how the natural world melds and merges with technology. Up through December 2016, it's a work worth bringing out-of-towners to see — and a glowing introduction to the Valley's stellar public art offerings.

It was early in March that artist Karlito "Mata Ruda" Miller Espinosa did something you don't hear about too often: He left New York to further his arts career as a muralist in Phoenix. Out-of-towners have been known to paint a Phoenix mural or two, but making a full-time commitment to the desert is a whole other deal. His first street piece as a freshly minted Arizonan depicts a woman wearing a crown of pinkish roses who longingly stares with a slight furrow in her brow toward a bright white moon. It's called Más Allá, which translates to "further" and references the struggle of immigrants searching for better lives. Small but affecting and rich with meaning, we hope it's a look at what's yet to come from the painter.

Sprawled across the side of the Drumbeat Indian Arts store, the Reverberate Her Lines installation is a sprawling, cosmos-inspired work by a collective of Native American graffiti artists working together to create a wide landscape that incorporates elements of the desert — elote, canyon walls, sandy vistas — and vivid character work. Featuring the work of 17 Native artists —  Bel2, CC, Gloe One, Perl, Stef XMEN, Rezmo, Cherri, Monstrochika, Lady Rise, Agana, iLash, Live, Sensi, Yukue, Averian Chee, Zena, and El Dreck — the mural was completed this summer, and its contrasting bright and dark colors make for a stunning addition to the already art-packed 16th Street.

Okay, so maybe we're a bit biased, but we like to think of Phoenix as a Midcentury Modern mecca. And there is no better way to ogle the impressive and Dwell Magazine-worthy architecture from an era past than attending the Modern Phoenix Home Tour, put together by Phoenix's own Midcentury Modern maven herself, Alison King. Whether you're looking to admire Ralph Haver's handiwork in neighborhoods like Marlen Grove, or get some style inspiration for your own Mad Men-esque den, this tour is the place to be. But you better be quick nabbing those tickets, because this annual tour sells out fast.

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