Tequila snobs understand why "silver" tequila from the blue agave cactus beats the hell out of that cheap "gold" tequila with the gimmick worm floating around the bottom of the bottle. We're told that silver tequila has a more intense flavor, since all of its sugars come from the cactus, while the gold standard is usually sweetened with caramel and cane sugar. But that's nothing. What's the difference between the reposado and añejo tequilas? Don't ask us. Find out Thursday, July 7, when Blue Agave Mexican Cantina, 4280 North Drinkwater Boulevard in Scottsdale, hosts a Tequila Tasters from 6 to 8 p.m. For $20, you can try up to four premium tequilas, as well as some of the restaurant's appetizers, which include sweet corn crab cakes, Sonoran rolls, and spicy Cholula chicken. Reservations recommended. Call 480-429-1123.
San Francisco-based band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum churns out songs that sound ready to implode, with cacophonous chords from homemade "instruments" (all seemingly set to carnival-tuning) crashing into odd time meters and polyrhythms, while "orator" Matthias Bossi's guttural vocals lumber through the strange sonic stew. SGM considers its experimental music "rock against rock," an intellectual yet ultimately self-defeating journey that makes a stop at the Old Brickhouse Grill, 1 East Jackson Street, on Friday, July 8. Apparently, the band's live shows resemble a magic carpet ride or a freak show, depending on whom you ask. Prominent prog rock Web site Progarchives.com calls SGM's performances "impressive" and "dadaistic," while the band describes its live shows as "a costumed festival of hyperventilating self-derangement." Stolen Babies, fresh off some Warped Tour dates and covered in clownish gore makeup, open the all-ages show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 to $12. Call 602-258-7888 or visit www.brickhouse.tv.
If you can't keep cool in Phoenix -- no matter how many Popsicles you eat or how many fans you line up against the wall -- maybe you should just go play in the snow. On Saturday, July 9, the Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, will bring in 20 tons of the chilly, white powder for its Winter in July bash, which kicks off at 7 a.m. After throwing some snowballs and playing with the animals, you can head to the air-conditioned Stone House Pavilion for a barbecue lunch at 10:30 or 11:45 a.m. (there are two seatings). The menu includes summertime staples like hamburgers, barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, and apple cobbler. There's also a cash bar featuring beer, wine and Bloody Marys. Admission costs $6 to $14, and the catered barbecue costs $15 per person. Reservations required. Call 602-914-4333 or visit www.phoenixzoo.org.
Get offa yer cloud and dig out those fluorescent green bowling shoes, because Brunswick Maryvale Lanes, 7241 West Indian School Road, wants you to bowl under the black lights during Cosmic Bowling on Sunday, July 10. The groovalicious night starts at 9 p.m., when the house lights go down, the strobe lights start flashing, and the music gets loud. Lob multicolored gutter balls to the beat of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," and trip out on how Day-Glo the orange nacho cheese looks under the black lights. After a few psychedelic strikes, you might start to feel like you're at Woodstock. Admission costs $8.64 per person, and includes unlimited galactic games until 11 p.m. Call 623-846-2090.
With more than 100 varieties of martinis on the menu, Amsterdam -- that chic lounge at 718 North Central Avenue -- will pour your poison of the week, whether you feel like sipping a caramel appletini or a raspberry tartini. And the club's weekly Martinis & Manicures night from 7 p.m. until close on Mondays remains a popular way to cap off the first day back in the workweek. Nothing diminishes the stress of the boss's bitching like booze and a foot rub. The fully licensed services include manicures and martinis for $5 each, pedicures for $10, and -- "time permitting" -- Aveda scalp massages and henna tattoos for $5. Arrive early, because the sign-up sheets for services fill up quickly. Call 602-258-6122 or visit www.amsterdambar.com.
Raúl Yáñez turned down a scholarship from the Berklee College of Music to go to Arizona State University. We're glad he did, because he stayed and formed the band Chicano Power Revival, which plays a free show in the lower level of ASU's Memorial Union Building on Tuesday, July 12, as part of the Memorial Union Summer Series. Born into a musical family in Mexico, Yáñez pounded the jazz ivories for 25 years before he formed CPR and started fusing jazz with everything from funk and hip-hop to salsa and modern rock. The 11-piece big band often gets labeled as "Latin funk," but its big, brassy sound really defies the dimensions of a pigeonhole. CPR toots its horns for an hour, starting at noon. Call 480-965-5728.
Seems like Bruce "Don't Call Me Ash" Campbell, star of the Evil Dead trilogy and a thousand other cheeky gore fests, has moved beyond his status as B-movie king and into the realm of underground pop culture icon. When Campbell came through Phoenix a few years ago to promote his book If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, Changing Hands Bookstore was so overrun with fans that the Tempe fire marshal had to unpack some of them onto the sidewalk. So when Campbell comes to town on Wednesday, July 13, to promote his new book, Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way, and host a screening of his new movie, The Man With the Screaming Brain, he'll be at a much larger venue -- the Harkins Centerpoint theater at 730 South Mill Avenue in Tempe. The book revolves around Campbell's attempts to nab a mainstream role alongside Richard Gere and Rene Zellweger. The movie, which Campbell wrote, directed and produced, tells the story of a wealthy industrialist who has part of his brain replaced with that of a Latino street hustler. Campbell discusses and signs his book at 6 and 8 p.m., and hosts two screenings of The Man With the Screaming Brain, at 7:45 and 10 p.m. Signing line-order tickets are available with the purchase of one of Campbell's books at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. Tickets to the movie screenings cost $10 at Harkins Centerpoint. Call 480-730-0205.