Independents' Day

Sat 12/27
If the holiday blockbusters didn't sate your artistic side, head to Espresso Depot on Saturday, December 27, for a creative film fix. The late-night coffee bar hosts the Saturday Film Salon from 7 to 11 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month. The showcase features short and full-length flicks from five to six local independent filmmakers who reserve a spot in the show by mid-month. "It's like an open-mike night for films," says Phill Mackey, co-owner of the cafe. Mackey says the films vary in theme and tone, and as long as they're not too crude, anything goes. Moviegoers can nibble on freshly baked pastries while they watch, and listen to post-film commentary from the artists. Espresso Depot, which opened in September 2002, is also a stop along Artlink's First Fridays, at 120 East Washington. Call 602-258-3662 for details. - Ashlea Deahl

Animal Instincts

The zoo's residents get ready for singles night

Mon 12/29
The singles scene has often been described as a jungle, so the good folks at the Phoenix Zoo have decided to take this whole thing literally and are dressing up every lion, tiger and bear for the ZooLights' Wild Affairs Singles Night on Monday, December 29. The evening's theme is all about the New Year and its consequent parties; bring a platonic friend of the opposite sex and mingle like a minx to find your real date for New Year's Eve. Preregistration is not required; guests only need ZooLights admission tickets. Festivities run from 6 to 10 p.m. at "Ruby's House" inside the zoo. Call 602-914-4300 for more information. - Maidi Terry

Willow Talk

Local lyricists wax poetic

Thursdays
There is a certain pleasure that comes from learning another's mind, especially when that mind is expressed with eloquence and sincerity. That might be one of the reasons Willow House, a colorful downtown coffee house located at 149 West McDowell, hosts open-mike poetry readings every Thursday. The event has continued for more than six years, making it the longest-running weekly recital in the Valley. The readings begin around 7:30 p.m. and go on until closing time. "We keep going until they kick us out," says Steven G. Roy, a poet who has served as the event's emcee for more than a year. "It gives people a chance to express themselves in a constructive manner," he says of the recital's value to the community. "It's the cheapest psychotherapy in town."

Call 602-252-0272 for details.- Justin Guleserian