Best Pool Party 2017 | Release Pool Party at Talking Stick Resort and Casino | Fun & Games | Phoenix

The people at Talking Stick Resort and Casino start their pool party season in early April, and no one is complaining. The 21-and-over crowd is welcome at the Release Pool Party held on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The 2017 Release season started off with that wild child Dillon Francis, and continued bringing in popular DJs and the party crowds every weekend through at least Labor Day. Bikini-clad babes and dudes in trunks can hit the pool, the bar, or the heavy mob of music fans gathered by the stage where headliners like Steve Aoki and Taryn Manning get the party started. There are also options to reserve a cabana or daybed for you and friends.

The Talking Stick Resort and Casino in Scottsdale has it all. Roulette, slots, and keno are all on the casino floor, as well as a couple of bars and eateries. Pros can make their way to The Arena poker room, the home of the Arizona State Poker Championship. If the chips aren't your thing, Talking Stick has slots games galore. There's every kind of machine game imaginable, with equally inventive titles. "King of Macedonia," "Wild Lion," and "Cash Eruption" are a few highlights, as is "Icarus: The Journey." Just don't fly too close to the sun in the course of your gambling night.

This summer, Phoenix artist Emily Costello said she felt like she won the lottery. Actually, the lottery won her — in the form of Costello's Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) artwork, which graced scratcher tickets for several weeks. The $2 scratcher tickets recognized the Mexican multiday celebration of those who have died, which begins each year on October 31. Costello is a self-taught painter, printer, and mixed-media artist whose work is inspired by her Mexican heritage as well as her own life events. She's a member of the Phoenix Fridas, an art collective inspired by renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and the first Arizona native to have her work on a state lottery ticket.

Lauren Cusimano

If you're of a certain age (say it with us: "old millennial"), you spent part of your youth hunkered down at an arcade machine, mashing buttons and jostling joysticks. Chances are less likely you did so with a frosty mug of Kiltlifter in hand. Well, young-ish person, you're in luck. Your adult and kid sensibilities now can peacefully coexist at Cobra Arcade Bar, which features incredible machines like NBA Jam, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the X-Men side-scroller, and more, along with an impressive roster of craft beers and cans. Even better are the video game-themed cocktails, including the cucumber-infused RyuKen, which is much more refreshing than a hadouken to the face. Drink up, play on — young you would be proud.

You've no doubt noticed Christown Lanes. With its jutting angles and midcentury style, the bowling alley has long been one of the coolest-looking buildings in Phoenix, a reminder of our Atomic Age past. But recently, the folks at AMF have given the place a striking makeover and new name: Bowlero. While everything you dug about the place remains intact — from league nights to a bustling bar and arcade — the new attention is certainly an upgrade. It's a thrill to see a kitschy Phoenix treasure actually treasured, and even if the whole black light trend doesn't entirely bowl us over, the excitement of an old-school meets new-school attraction in Christown certainly lands like a strike.

There's something about the sound of tires skidding over concrete that gets our blood moving. Even better is to feel them skidding underneath us, followed by the snappy sensation of the go-kart suddenly sticking to a straight line, zooming out of a curve. We love Octane for those visceral reasons and a whole lot more. First, Octane's a winner based solely on presentation. The facility is clean, modern-looking, and professionally run. The cafe sells beer, hamburgers, and other staples for an afternoon out. But it's the driving you come for, and Octane sure doesn't disappoint. Adult races go 14 laps; kids get 10 on somewhat slower cars. All the track's electric cars have punchy acceleration and relatively high top speeds. Yes, it's possible to get out of control if you're careless and don't follow the rules. That's what makes Octane special — it's real racing. But the last couple of times we've experienced the place, one feeling has risen above all the personal enjoyment — and that's the joy of watching a daughter scream around corners, slam into sidewalls, and raise her fist in excitement after a particularly well-driven lap. She may not have been proud of her overall finishing time — some of these kid drivers are really good! — but, unlike any video game, the sense of accomplishment that comes with learning how to race will ride with her for years.

It's hard to keep an eye on your ball with the distracting beauty of the Sierra Estrella mountain range in the background, but that doesn't stop Arizona golfers from flocking to this saguaro-spotted course. Eighteen well-maintained holes flow along the contours of the Sonoran Desert, accommodating washes and Bermuda grass-covered hillsides that add to the challenges already presented by water hazards, creatively cut sand traps, and split-level fairways. Friendly and attentive pros, groundskeepers, and staff will keep you coming back to the Nicklaus-designed course.

Let's give a Pantera call-out to the Wolf, who cleanses his vocal chords each morning with a primal scream about whatever is annoying him in sports that day. Wolfley, the co-host of Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM, is more than just your typical aging jock-turned-sportscaster. He's an avid reader and is more likely to quote Sun Tzu or Edgar Allan Poe than he is to regurgitate the latest drivel from ESPN's Adam Schefter. Wolfley never possessed star athletic ability or size, but he not only hung on for 10 seasons in the NFL with the Cardinals, the Rams, and the Browns, he made the Pro Bowl four times. He seems to apply the same work ethic to his talk show and his job as color announcer for the Cardinals' radio broadcast team. He'll watch hours and hours of game film and tends to drone on about whether the Cards should be in an 11 formation or a 12 (who cares, just score a touchdown) — but he is at his best when he delves into the darker corners of the athletes' lives, a place where he's been many times, dissecting what drives them to excel or leads them to fail. So here's a howl for the Wolf — who never played on a winning team in the NFL. He deserves a victory here.

There is a remarkable photo taken on June 4, 1967, in Cleveland, where longtime Valley resident Muhammad Ali is surrounded by 11 of the leading African-American athletes of the time, including superstars Bill Russell and Jim Brown and a 20-year-old college basketball player named Lew Alcindor, who would rename himself Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They came to hear why the heavyweight champion was surrendering his title to oppose the Vietnam War. They left persuaded to join their voices with his to speak out on social justice and change. "This recalls a time when Ali, not silenced by disease, was so vocal in his expression of outrage against injustice, not only against people of color in this society, but against people of color the world over," Georgetown sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson says about the photo. Ultimately, Ali's stance was credited with helping turn public opinion against the war. He returned to boxing and recaptured his crown. His voice was later silenced by Parkinson's disease, but he continued to be an ambassador for social justice and, before his death last year in Scottsdale, he helped raise millions to research the disease that robbed him of so many years of good health.

You know Diana Taurasi is something special when NBA legend Kobe Bryant brought his daughters to watch her and the Phoenix Mercury play on Father's Day. Bryant, the "Black Mamba," has nicknamed her the "White Mamba." The day that Kobe showed up also happened to be the day Taurasi became the Women's National Basketball Association's all-time leading scorer. Add that to a list of laurels that includes four Olympic gold medals, three WNBA titles, three times Euroleague player of the year, and three NCAA championships at the University of Connecticut. Phoenix also has been fruitful for Taurasi off the court: She married her former Mercury teammate Penny Taylor before the start of the 2017 season. So what did Bryant want his daughters to take away from seeing Taurasi play on Father's Day? "She takes no crap," he said.

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