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Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 18)

Focus on yourself this year. Do the best you can with what’s expected of you. This is a good time to do some research and explore more education. Of course, you may need to take risk but it’ll be worth it.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Your sense of humor will make your honey fall more in love with you every day. Be honest with each other, and smile.

Aries (March 21- April 19)

You might want to try something new today. A new adventure will come your way very soon. Be patient, and try not to push yourself too much.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

I can see you’re spicing things up. With everything going on today, you’ll be lucky. Trust me, I promise. Do something fun and creative.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

Here you go redecorating again, Gemini. If you aren’t redecorating, you are refurnishing or just cleaning. Put everything down, and go buy yourself a heart-shaped pizza.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

You may have a lot of errands to run today, which means you will come into contact with some very unusual people. Take some chocolates. You’ll need them.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)

As a result of everything happening in your life, stop making plans and just go with the flow. Don’t think about it too much. Remember, you only live once. 

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

You will be full of energy, so get into in touch with an old friend and arrange a coffee date. You may enjoy it so much that you’ll make it a weekly event.

Libra (Sept. 23. -Oct. 22)

Memories are going through your mind today. This is good–you’re releasing old obstacles. By the end of the day … Wait, what memories again?

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

Try to avoid temptations and arguments today. Problems will be resolved soon. Today is a great day to get some coffee and enjoy alone time.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

This month will be very overwhelming for you. Don’t let anything get in your way. Obstacles will come and go. Do what you please and feel free to leave early if you’re not thrilled.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Take an exotic trip with a group of friends. A little adventure could do you some good. Go to a music festival or even a rave, and let loose. Don’t think about anything, just do it.

Director Andres nominated for prestigious award

Director Andres nominated for prestigious award

David Andres shows off artwork titled “The Genetically Modified Forest” by Sean-Paul Pluguez in the West Campus Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery.


Pima Community College’s Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery director David Andres works in his office, sorting through images to send to panels of volunteers who evaluate nominees and choose winners for the Governor’s Arts Awards.

Bailey Doogan, a friend and fellow artist, nominated Andres for the Governor’s Award. Doogan is an emeritus faculty member at the University of Arizona.

The Governor’s Awards cover seven categories based on contributions, accomplishments and commitment to the arts. There is also a separate philanthropy award.

The nomination is not Andres’ first honor. He won a Lumie Arts Educator award in 2012 from the Tucson Pima Arts Council. Lumies celebrate art and its impact in Southern Arizona.

“All of those things are such a surprise to me,” Andres said. “There are so many more deserving people. I was totally honored to be nominated.”

Carol Carder, marketing/public relations director for Pima’s Center for the Arts, is assisting Andres with his art submissions.

“Usually the winner is someone with a doctorate who lives and works in the Phoenix area,” Andres said. “However, Carol told me to ‘have faith!’”

Andres is nominated in the Arts in Education – Individual category. The Arizona Citizens for the Arts website describes nominees as follows:

“This award recognizes educators, teaching artists, school administrators or school volunteers that have demonstrated significant support or participation in activities which foster excellence in, appreciation of, or access to arts education in the State of Arizona.”

Andres grew up in Kansas and earned a Bachelor of Arts at Kansas State University, where he met his wife, Julie, who is a sculptor.

They later moved to Tucson, where Andres obtained his Master of Fine Arts in arts education at UA.

He took a position as an Artist in Residence for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and worked with teachers for 15 years on integrating art into classroom curriculum. He traveled from Page to Nogales and from Yuma to Show Low.

Andres later worked as an Artist in Residence at the K-12 level in Tempe, commuting three days a week from Tucson to spare his family a move to Phoenix.

As an artist, Andres incorporates ocean themes into his work, inspired by his adventures as a scuba diver. He has been a diver for more than 30 years and lived for a time on a sailboat in San Carlos.

Andres’ “Entanglement” shows algae trapped in a fragment of gillnet in the Sea of Cortez

He also does underwater photography in the Sea of Cortez and in the Pacific Ocean near Catalina Island. Most of his photography takes place during night dives.

Andres has worked on a gillnetting art series for 15 years. Some hauntingly beautiful compositions depict sea creatures trapped in pieces of net.

He’s noticed a big drop in the number of mantis and sharks over the years, mainly in the Sea of Cortez, due to the practice of gillnetting.

“What I’ve seen when I’ve been diving is you don’t even notice it, and then all of a sudden it’s on you, fragments of it, not like one big gigantic net,” Andres said. “So this has been my attempt at bringing awareness about the problems with it.”

One 2007 piece, “Entanglement,” depicts algae interwoven in a piece of gillnet.

Andres sets out the pieces and paints on different colors, one layer at a time. He allows each layer to dry and blends a new color with the last, forming a unique color pattern.

He’s one of 24 artists currently exhibiting at the Arizona Museum of Art. His art also represents the Sea of Cortez in a group show about the Sonoran desert at Tohono Chul Park.

In addition to serving as director of the Bernal Gallery, Andres works as an adjunct at Pima. He teaches gallery and museum practices, printmaking and design.

“I didn’t want to give up teaching,” he said. “I’ve been teaching a long time. I’ve taught K-12, but like this age best. It’s such a wide variety of students.”

TOP 10 Psychic Oscar predictions for 2017

TOP 10 Psychic Oscar predictions for 2017


“Moonlight” is a touching coming-of-age story. (© “Moonlight”)

Oscar season is the best time of the year. Better than my birthday. Better than Christmas. Even better than St. Patrick’s Day. It’s my Super Bowl.

What can I say? I really love movies and I really hate my life. It’s the one time of the year I can lay in bed with twizzlers in my hair and have my voice at full volume because “The Social Network” deserved an Oscar!

Here are my psychic predictions for the winners. If they prove to be wrong, it’s because the Academy is wrong. Not me.


  1. Best Picture – “Moonlight”

The most beautiful and essential film of 2016 must go to “Moonlight” by Barry Jenkins.

This coming of age story, unlike any other, is split among three specific chapters of a young man’s life. You see him overcome the biggest of obstacles. He battles pain, finds love and feels genuine happiness, all while dealing with his inner demons and suppressing who he truly is.


  1. Actor in leading role – Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Denzel Washington is a man on fire in this beautifully acted drama.

Best actor in the world, duh. “Malcolm X,” “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Glory,” just to name a few. And now he stars in and directs Fences. Washington could be in the worst movie in the world and it still would not be an awful movie.

“Fences” was originally a Pulitzer prize-winning play written by August Wilson. The movie, set in the 1950s, tackles America’s socio-economic conditions, race relations and familial tensions.

This story is nothing short of genius, and emotional. If an award higher than the Oscar existed, this film would receive it.


  1. Actress in leading role – Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Stone has come an extremely long way since Superbadand Easy A, starring in Oscar-nominated films like The Help and Birdman.She has finally snagged a leading lady role that shows how talented she truly is.

(I had to put in something from La La Land. I’m sure it’ll win everything it’s nominated for but it doesn’t deserve it, trust me. Check out these other films.)


  1. Actor in supporting role – Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

Mahershala Ali has had an amazing year, starting with “Luke Cage,” then “Hidden Figures” and now Oscar-nominated “Moonlight.” There’s nothing he can’t do.

No one in this category deserves the win more than Ali. If he doesn’t win, you can bet your ass I’ll write a strongly worded email to the Academy that will never get read.


  1. Animated feature film – “Zootopia”

With its undeniable charm, wit and A1 animation, “Zootopia” is the last movie you’d expect from Disney. Its insightful writing focuses on social political issues, using Disney’s humorous, cutesy way.


  1. Cinematography – “Moonlight”

Hello, yes “Moonlight” again.

Credit James Laxton for the beautiful cinematography. Instead of trying to play it safe, Laxton shot stunning scenes with the boldest lighting in a film this year. He utilizes vivid colors, retains the rich skin tones of the actors and uses high contrast in his favor.


  1. Directing – “Moonlight”

“Moonlight” again, duh. I’m sorry, but not really. If you haven’t seen “Moonlight,” stop reading this and go watch it. You’re welcome.

Barry Jenkins created the most necessary and flawless film of the year. It’s better than “La La Land,” better than “Arrival.” This coming-of-age story is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s raw, it’s real and it leaves you wanting more.


  1. Documentary (feature) – “13th”

I’m an avid documentary watcher and “13th” is easily in my top five. Created by Ava DuVernay, the crime/drama documentary zeroes in on America’s past history of racial inequality before focusing on present-day racism in prison systems.

(“13th” is on Netflix. Go watch it. Leave “The Bachelor” alone.)


  1. Foreign language film – “The Salesman”

Writer-director Asghar Farhadi constructed a brilliantly beautiful film of everyday incidents and packs them with devastating consequences.

Now, I can’t talk about this film without touching on the controversial Muslim ban that President Trump ordered. If it stands, Farhadi will be denied entrance into America.

I’m not trying to get “too” political, I’m simply stating a fact. Everyone should know that a ban could keep an Oscar-nominated director from attending an awards show, in 2017.

Cinema has a history of bringing all people together. Let’s keep it that way.


  1. Music original song – Moana, “How far I’ll Go”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, notably known for “Hamilton” and “In the Heights,” wrote “How Far I’ll Go.”

Miranda tackled a new project in this Disney film, brilliantly scoring an animated heroine story. It captures you from the start with its beautiful themes and composed score.

Lower temps bring howling good time

Lower temps bring howling good time


It’s the best time of year in Tuscon. The heater is out of commission, in lower altitudes we have temporary rivers along the outskirts of town, go a little higher there’s pools and waterfalls still within sight of the mighty saguaro forests.

The storms that lingered throughout town during Jan. 20-22 had a huge impact on Mount Lemmon and Catalina Highway. Snow totals ranged from 12-24 inches in certain areas and were enough for Ski Valley to open for skiing and boarding.

Snowmen populations are on the rise as desert dwellers make their way up and do their typical winter activities. Some are seeing snow for their first time; others are reminded of another place and time but all appreciate the beauty of it.

Dogs especially enjoy getting into the action. Mine loves to swim in the melt waters at Redington but once she adjusted to slipping and sliding on the ice she wore a grin the entire time. Do you and your pet a favor and get outdoors!

Seven Cataracts is a popular pull-off area that is famous for the view. The waterfalls that form in the winter give locals and tourists the opportunity for a perfect postcard.
D.R. Williams / Aztec Press

A dog, Ricki Williams, plays in snow for her first time and loves every second of it. Mount Lemmon is close enough to not stress your dog but still far enough to feel like an escape.
D.R. Williams / Aztec Press

Christian Youth Theater stages ‘Charlie Brown’

Christian Youth Theater stages ‘Charlie Brown’


Christian Youth Theater will stage its production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” Feb. 3-5 in the Pima Community College Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre. Performances run Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

The young actors are divided into two casts of 22 performers.

In one cast, Nathanial Ullman plays Charlie Brown. Ullman has been with CYT since its 2011 production of “Secret Garden.”

“I’ve always been in the arts and enjoyed music,” he said.

Ullman attends Empire High School and will attend Northern Arizona University in the fall on a scholarship, where he will major in music.

In the other cast, Tristan Acevedo plays Linus Van Pelt. Acevedo joined CYT in 2008. His first performance was in “Les Miserables.”

He is active in the Cienega High School marching band and just completed fundraising for a trip to Orlando to perform and to attend master music classes.

“This will be an opportunity of a lifetime for me,” Acevedo said of the Orlando trip. “I would also like to do community theater and perform in ‘Cats’ with Arts Express.”

Clark Gesner originally brought Charles M. Schultz’s “Peanuts” characters to life in a 1967 musical comedy.

The book for the show was credited to John Gordon, a collective pseudonym that represented the cast and production staff who all worked together to create the script.

In the beginning, Gesner’s music was merely a concept album and was produced on stage as a series of vignettes with musical numbers for each. Ultimately, an off-Broadway production was created, featuring Gary Burghoff as Charlie Brown.

In 1999, Gesner’s creation morphed into a Broadway musical comedy by director Michael Mayer and various collaborators, with new songs, choreography and sets.

Kristin Chenowith played Sally Brown and Roger Bart played Snoopy, with both winning Tony awards for their performances.

CYT director Sean William Dupont’s production honors Gesner’s version in a series of vignettes. Although Dupont started with CYT last fall, he has been involved in theater since his high school days at Santa Rita High School.

He has directed and performed in shows from Tucson’s Invisible Theatre to London, England’s East 15 Acting School, where he received his MFA in theatre directing.

He taught Introduction to Comedy for CYT in the fall and will teach other classes in the future. Dupont has experience in many areas of theater, including design, set building and lighting.

His biggest challenge in “Charlie” is managing the large group.

“Each cast has to get a fair share of rehearsal time but they watch and learn from each other,” Dupont said. “They encourage each other in order to put the best show forward.”

CYT is in the middle of its 11th season in Tucson. It began 32 years ago in San Diego and now has companies nationwide. Locally, CYT stages three shows per year, one each in fall, winter and spring.

The company hosts two summer camps and offers classes throughout the school year. Subjects range from basic theater through vocal and dance to backstage and technical arts. Often, the classes emphasize what will be needed for upcoming productions.

Heather Kerr, CYT’s artistic director since 2015, will also be the director for an upcoming production of “James and the Giant Peach.” Auditions will be held Feb. 17-18.

Kerr describes the scenes and costumes for “James” as having a unique steampunk design.

“We will be the first in Arizona to offer the full musical version of ‘James and the Giant Peach,’” Kerr said. “We will offer a puppetry class so that we can make the puppets for the insects inside of the peach.”

“Charlie Brown” tickets cost $15, and can be purchased online. For further information, visit or call 751-7510.


“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”

Where: Proscenium Theatre, CFA, West Campus

When: Feb. 3-5

Admission: $15

Phone: 751-7510


“Charlie Brown” cast includes Ben Busarow as Snoopy and, back row from eft, Debroah Christenson (Lucy), Ben Witham (Linus), Nathanial Ullmann (Charlie Brown), Alden Lester (Schroder), Lauryn Wallentin (Sally)
Photo by Darin Wallentine

Bernal Gallery exhibit echoes ‘Stillness’

Bernal Gallery exhibit echoes ‘Stillness’


The Pima Community College Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery will host an art exhibit titled “Stillness” through March 5.

Bernal Gallery, under the direction of curator David Andres, is located on the West Campus in the Center for the Arts complex.

A reception will be held on Feb. 9 from 5-7 p.m. and the artists will discuss their work in an art lecture on March 1 at 7 p.m.

The exhibit highlights work by photographers Colin Blakely, Kate Breakey and Claire A. Warden and by sculptor Sean Paul Pluguez. Each artist has found a way to bring to life the concept of motionlessness in order to provide a mood of silence for the observer.

The mediums are distinct and varied, and showcase each artist’s individuality.

Blakely, the new chair at the University of Arizona School of Art, specializes in large-scale archival pigment prints with a focus on landscapes.

“Distinct from the notion of land, untrodden by human feet yet completely ravaged, the landscape exists only as an embodiment of our collective cultural imagination,” Blakely says in a news release.

Breakey uses a style known as encaustic to depict figurative archival digital prints with wax. She displays each still life in a distinctive frame.

She calls her motivation for photographing and displaying certain images a mystery but says she feels compelled to remember the objects.

“Maybe it is to remind myself that I am part of the grand taxonomy of all living things, and perhaps it is so I can know them better, and in so doing know myself,” she says.

Pluguez is displaying a large-scale installation from his AU79 Gold series. It is composed of lumber pieces and an 8-foot grape stake with 24-karat gold leaf, mounted on bases made of Baltic birch.

He says the piece represents man’s imperfections in dealing with our planet, noting “Nature itself is our harshest critic. The stillness of the forest is not indifference, but bemusement.”

Warden is exhibiting a series of pigment prints. Her technique involves using saliva and mark-making to represent issues of identity, knowledge and power.

“This process produces a series of images that reveal certain truths in identity and simultaneously the inadequacies of language to describe oneself,” she says.

The Bernal Gallery and its programs are free and open to the public. The facility is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., on Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and before most evening performances in the Center for the Arts theaters.

Additional “Stillness” images will be on display at the Tucson International Airport gallery through March 30.

For more information, call 206-6986, visit or email









Where: Bernal Gallery, CFA, West Campus

When: Through March 5

Admission: Free

Phone: 206-6986





Snuggle up to fun February events

Compiled by Erik Medina

February is the month of love and relationships. Don’t know how to celebrate? Here are some events suitable for both couples and singles.

Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase

Through Feb.12

More than 40 shows set up across the city in tent, hotels and exhibit halls. Items on display range from precious jewels to mineral crafts to dinosaur fossils.

Most citywide shows are free and open to the public.

The main event is the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show on Feb. 9-12 at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave.

Admission to the convention center cost $13 with discounts available. This year’s theme is “Mineral Treasures of the Midwest.”

 Details: or

Savor Food & Wine Festival

Feb. 4

The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance brings together more than 75 chefs, wineries, breweries and restaurants to showcase the diversity of heritage foods and ingredients in the southwest.

The event will take place at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2510 N. Alvernon Way. The admission price of $65 allows you to sample from a variety of menus.


Arizona Renaissance Festival

Feb. 11-April 2

The festival just outside of Phoenix is a 30-acre medieval amusement park with 13 stages, an arts/craft fair and jousting tournament. The annual event runs every Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11-April 2, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. It will also be open Feb. 20, President’s Day. No pets allowed.

Tickets start at $24 for ages 12 and up, with discounts available at participating Fry’s Food Stores. Parking is free.

From Tucson, take Highway 70 to Florence Junction. Go west 7 miles on Highway 60 to Festival Village.

 Details: or

Lunar New Year Celebration

Feb. 11

The Tucson Chinese Culture Center will host Year of the Rooster celebrations at Tucson Mall, 4500 N. Oracle Road, on the first floor near JCPenney.

The event will feature live performances all day. The first act begins at 11 a.m. and the last at 7 p.m. Admission is free.


Fort Lowell Day

Feb. 11

The historic neighborhood invites the community to relive its past. The 36th annual celebration from noon to 4 p.m. will include a wide variety of activities and displays such as adobe brick making and tours of historic sites. Admission and parking are free.



Talks to explore ‘Frida’ topics

Two upcoming talks will explore aspects of artist Frida Kahlo’s work as part of an ongoing exhibit at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Pima Community College’s district office will host a free Feb. 3 lecture by Edward J. Sullivan, “Frida Kahlo as Subject and Object in Contemporary Art.” Sullivan, an art history professor at New York University, will speak from 6-7:30 p.m. The district office is located at 4095 E. Broadway Blvd.

Guadalupe Cruikshank, chair of PCC’s world languages department, will talk Feb. 9 on “The Popul Vuh: The Sacred Stories of the Maya Guadalupe.” Her talk will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Admission is $10.

For further information, visit or call 326-9686.

-By Daniella Campuzano


Vocal recital set for Feb. 12

PCC music instructor Jonathan Ng will perform a vocal recital, accompanied by Marie Sierra, on Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. in the West Campus Center for the Arts Recital Hall.

Aside from his teaching responsibilities, Ng is a lyric tenor who has performed across the U.S., Europe and in Hong Kong. The recital will explore various musical styles from Baroque to the 20th century.

Ng will perform selections for tenor by J.S. Bach, Benedetto Marcello, Franz Schubert and Roger Quilter. He’ll also include pieces for counter-tenor by Handel and Vivaldi.

Tickets are $8, with discounts for students/ seniors/ military/ PCC employees and groups of 10 or more.

For more information, call 206-6986, visit or email

 -By Robyn Zelickson


Submit SandScript entries by March 3

PCC’s award-winning literary magazine, SandScript, is accepting submissions from students for the 2017 edition. Deadline is March 3.

Guidelines are specific and must be carefully followed. No previously published work will be accepted and hard copies will not be returned.

Students may submit visual art, poetry, prose or a combination of all three. Each entry requires a separate form.

SandScript adviser Joshua Cochran is proud of the work published each year, and said participation continues to rise.

“Last year, the Downtown Campus was extremely well represented in submissions, and we could always use more from Northwest, East, Desert Vista and Community,” he said.

For more information, email For complete submission criteria, visit or

-By Robyn Zelickson


 ‘Heights’ contest entries due by Feb. 20

The theater arts program is sponsoring two contests as part of upcoming “In the Heights” performances.

The first contest is all about food and recipes. The idea is to share a favorite recipe that has been passed down in your family and represents your culture.

The second contest is about your neighborhood. Use a story, poem or photo to describe the neighborhood in which you live or work.

Each submission will be entered into a drawing for prizes. Prizes include gift cards to Drop Dance and Breakout Studios, Movement Culture, Harkin’s Theaters, Old Tucson Studios, Roadhouse Cinema and more.

Recipes and stories will be exhibited at the Center for the Arts during an “In the Heights” opening night Carnaval Del Barrio celebration on Feb. 23.

To enter, email your entry to by Feb. 20 with “In the Heights” contest in the subject line.

-By Robyn Zelickson


Gallery director receives award nomination

David Andres, the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery director and an adjunct instructor, has been nominated for a 2017 Governor’s Arts Award. Finalists for the prestigious award will be announced on Feb. 20, and honorees will be named May 4.

Nominees come from 20 Arizona arts communities, 17 of which are in Tucson.

For further information, visit

 -By Robyn Zelickson





Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

Don’t be basic! If you’re single, do things you’re not used to, have fun. In a relationship? Spice things up! Try sushi with your partner.

Pisces (Feb.19-March 20)

Didn’t get a New Year’s kiss? Don’t get too excited, you probably won’t get a Valentine’s Day kiss either. Sorry.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

We’ve all had desperate times. Can’t get rid of a clinger from Tinder? Remember, when in doubt, “New number, who dis?”

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

Don’t focus too much on your romantic relationship, but more on your friendships. Your friends have been there through your ups and downs. Appreciate it.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

Fries before guys. Sisters before misters. Mates before dates. Pals over gals.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to watch “Fifty Shades Darker” alone. Just in case, though, bring a friend or take the book. Say it’s for book club.

Leo (July 23- Aug. 22)

You might not have found the “one” yet but that’s OK. Don’t rush into things. Would you rather pick up 10 pennies from the ground or one dime?

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sept. 22)

Relationships are overrated, so stick to pets. We know you’ve closed the door to force your pets to spend time with you. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

Feeling blindsided on what to do for Valentine’s Day? Have you ever heard of Pinterest?

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

When planning a romantic evening, it’s the thought that counts. However, making ramen, pouring it into a bowl and serving it to your date does not qualify as a fancy meal.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec 21)

Being single isn’t as bad as it’s put out to be. That’s why there’s Netflix. Binge watch a series and eat food. That will mend your lonely heart.

 Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan 19)

Date someone outside of your circle. Be aware, however, that artists aren’t always the best choice. If you break up, they make something out of the experience. Your pain is their path to becoming famous and rich.

Mendez proud to spotlight Chicano culture

Mendez proud to spotlight Chicano culture

Author Matt Mendez found his writing voice after enrolling at Pima Community College in 2000. (Photo courtesy of Matt Mendez)










Matt Mendez, a former Pima Community College student and University of Arizona graduate, has grown into a successful writer.

His first book, a 2012 collection of stories about working-class barrio characters titled “Twitching Heart,” received widespread praise.

Author Manuel Muñoz wrote, “This is exactly how a winning debut should read—fluid and raw, redemptive and inevitable. Underneath the humor runs a gifted storyteller’s nuanced take on the paradox of the outsider. A triumphant first swing from one of the new stars in the next generation of Chicano lit.”

Mendez was born and grew up in El Paso, Texas.

“Both my parents worked full time, leaving me, my brother and sister with tons of alone time,” he said. “This solitude gave me the chance to make up stories.”

Mendez discovered filmmaker Richard Rodriguez in high school.

“He was the only Chicano I knew of making movies, so I decided I wanted to be like him,” he said.

Mendez started at PCC in 2000 after serving four years of active duty in the Air Force.

“I hadn’t been inside a classroom since high school, and when I moved to Tucson I quickly enrolled, wanting to start this new part of my life,” he said.

He first focused on media communications, creating short Super 8 films for class.

Meeting writing instructor Meg Files, “a mentor who changed my life,” spurred a change of direction.

“Reading poetry and writing poems for Meg’s Intro to Poetry class was where the idea of reading for pleasure first took hold,” he said. “It was something I had done sporadically as a kid but had quit as a young adult. That class turned all that machinery back on, thankfully.”

Files said Mendez stands out in her memories of students.

“I remember him in my poetry and fiction classes as an extraordinarily gifted writer,” she said.

“His work was lively and fresh—and sometimes very funny,” she added. “It’s one thing to have the talent, but Matt also has done the hard work to live up to that talent.”

Mendez also took advantage of Pima Writers’ Workshop sessions.

“I was working on a screenplay and wanted badly for someone to read it,” he said. “The experience of the workshop was great, listening to agents and presenters, to all these writers talk about their work.”

After publication of “Twitching Heart,” Mendez returned to the workshop as an instructor.

“It was great to bring our former student back to the college as faculty at the Pima Writers’ Workshop,” Files said. “I am so proud of him.”

Mendez didn’t decide to become a writer until he was about to graduate from UA with a bachelor’s degree in media arts at age 28.

“I had minored in creative writing to get better at screen writing,” he said. “It was during these creative writing workshops where I first read so many great stories, by writers I would never have discovered otherwise. It wasn’t long before my attention turned from film to stories.”

For Mendez, creating a story or character goes beyond writing about someone he observes. He develops characters with a life story.

Publication of “Twitching Heart” placed him firmly in the Southwest writers’ category. He’s proud to share his culture with readers.

“When many people think of Southwest writers, they first think of Cormac McCarthy or Annie Proulx, tired old westerns and their stereotypes,” Mendez said. “They rarely think of Latino or Native writers like Joy Harjo or Ana Castillo, certainly not of writers like Natalie Diaz and Eduardo Corral, Paul Pedroza or Isabel Quintero.”

People who don’t read have little empathy or insight, he said.

“That’s a big part of the reason so many people are willing to erect a wall in our backyard, are willing to destroy a part of the country and people they have no understanding of,” he said.

For students interested in writing, Mendez offers advice from his own experience.

“Read, learn your craft and get to work,” he said. “I started at Pima in 2000, and my first book was published in 2012. The second is coming in 2018. That may seem like a long time, but I can assure you it isn’t.”

The only thing artists can control is the amount of effort they are willing to give, he added.

“Anything short of all you can, really, will leave you disappointed.”

Steven Wilson focusing on solo work

Steven Wilson focusing on solo work

“Hand. Cannot. Erase” portrays a character based on a real-life tragic death. (Album cover art by Lasse Hoile)












Steven Wilson was born in Kingston, London and has been playing and recording music since his teens. He’s become one of the world’s most prolific musicians in past decades, working with musicians of every genre.

He’s best known as the multi-instrumentalist and singer for Porcupine Tree and Blackfield, and for remastering King Crimson’s back catalog.

Recently he’s begun focusing on solo work, simply recorded under Steven Wilson. His latest album, “Hand Cannot Erase,” has become one of his most well-received, gathering new fans from around the world.

“I am about 18 months into this particular album cycle, so there is always concern if there is anyone who wants to still come see you,” Wilson said. “I have been pleasantly surprised. Most of our shows have sold out.”

Wilson was touring in the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign and saw the reactions of Americans. He drew a connection to events in Europe, including the June “Brexit” referendum in which British citizens voted to exit the European Union.

“We went through the same thing with Brexit,” he said. “Never underestimate the power of the disenfranchised, white middle-class. I guess we are all surprised and disappointed that there are that many disenfranchised and disillusioned people, and this is their protest.”

Fans of all ages attend Wilson’s U.S. shows.

© Naki Kouyioumtzis.
Steven Wilson, on location, Oxfordshire.

“I am the type of person who enjoys playing to a diverse and collective audience,” he said. “The best vibe is when I have a group of young and old, male and female audience members.”

“Hand Cannot Erase” tells a story about a fictional female character based on the tragic life of Joyce Vincent.

“I first heard about Joyce Vincent when the story appeared in the news in 2006,” Wilson said. “A woman died in her apartment and her body was not discovered for two years.”

Like many people, Wilson initially assumed Vincent was an elderly woman. He learned otherwise after viewing a 2011 documentary, “Dreams of a Life.”

Vincent, 41, had been popular in school but slowly cut ties with acquaintances and erased her internet footprint. Her death went unnoticed.

“This is what led me onto thinking about how social networking, cell phones and all of this other great technology makes our lives convenient but also makes us passive and makes us further apart in many respects,” Wilson said. “I think social networking is actually very antisocial.”

It’s not difficult to imagine disappearing from the world by simply not being an active member of the online community, he noted.

“How easy would it be for someone who is unmarried, didn’t have kids and who did not have a presence online to just disappear?” Wilson asked. “The answer: Very easy.”

Wilson used those ideas to write his powerful “Hand Cannot Erase” album.

“The character was inspired by the circumstances of her death,” he said. “I took the end of her life and worked backwards to create a story of someone growing up, coming to the big city and beginning the process of disappearing from view.”

He called the creative process a gift.

“I tapped into so many different things I wanted to talk about, such as nostalgia for childhood, the idea of regret and social media,” he said.

After spending much of his life working with Porcupine Tree, Blackfield and No Man, Wilson is happy to concentrate on releasing music under his own name. He said it gives him freedom to move into any genre he wishes.

“I’ve still left the door open to return to those projects one day, but there is no doubt in my mind that what I do now as a solo artist is something I want to do for the rest of my life as a primary outlet,” he said.

Wilson is currently on tour and has no plans to slow down. Fans can expect new material next year.

For more information about Wilson and his music, visit His Twitter account is @StevenWilsonHQ.

Longtime writing instructor Meg Files retiring

Longtime writing instructor Meg Files retiring

Writing instructor Meg Files leads her final department chair meeting on Nov. 18. (Eddie Celaya/Aztec Press)


When Pima Community College writing instructor Meg Files earned a master’s degree in English, she didn’t realize teaching would become her vocation.

“I didn’t know I would love teaching,” she said. “Once I started teaching, I knew this is what I was meant to be.”

Files has reshaped the West Campus writing and journalism department since she arrived in 1987. At the time, the department offered just one creative writing class and one poetry class.

Nearly 30 years later, with Files as department chair, the program offers a wide range of classes.

Writing instructor Mic Denfeld has worked with Files since 1993.

“Meg is always the person who is looking for creative writing, how to encourage creative writers,” she said.

“As a department chair, she takes care of the curriculum, she makes out the schedules, hires new writing instructors and she is the go-to person for most issues that arise,” Denfeld added.

In addition to teaching, Files has written novels, short stories and poems. She has won many awards for her work.

“I like to be able to really inhabit a life, in a world other than my own,” she said. “Although some of the lives and the worlds I create have some similarity to mine, they are not mine.”

Creating stories involves a relationship with characters, Files noted.

“Someone once described a short story as like having an affair and a novel as like having a marriage,” she said, laughing.

In April, Files celebrated the launch of a second edition of her nonfiction book, “Writing What You Know: How to Turn Personal Experiences into Publishable Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry,” published by Allworth Press.

The book includes new information, new stories written by her students and sections about blogging.

Files also established the well-regarded Pima Writers’ Workshop in 1988.

It started as a weekend seminar and discussion group held in a portable trailer behind the West Campus A building with three faculty members and 40 students.

The workshop blossomed into an annual three-day event held at the college’s Center for the Arts complex with more than a dozen faculty and 300-plus students.

It held its final session last May, however, and Files will soon end her tenure as a full-time PCC instructor. She will retire at the end of the current semester.

“It has been an honor to spend much of my career here at Pima and an honor to work with my fabulous colleagues and all of my special students,” Files said. “They are all special.”

Files will still teach at conferences, do consulting work and continue overseeing the Tucson Festival of Books literary awards and masters’ workshop.

She also wants to finish a book she has been writing for a while, and hopes to write more.

Immediate plans include travel. She’s already booked a trip to Iceland, where she hopes to experience the Northern lights.

Files said she will miss her colleagues and students.

“They have been so inspirational to me,” she said. “There is so much talent here among the faculty and among the students. It is amazing.”

TOP 10: Activities for winter break

TOP 10: Activities for winter break

(D.R. Williams/Aztec Press)



It’s colder outside, the days are getting longer and winter break is fast approaching.

Some of us are finishing large semester projects and others are cramming for finals but many students are already planning their vacation.

With a full month off before a new term starts, it would be a waste not to fill it with fun. I already know I won’t pick up as many shifts at work as my dad would like or save as much money as my mom would like, but at least I’ll be happy.

You can spend your free time like a good little worker bee, but you’ll find me flying down ski slopes. Here are some great winter activities to keep you occupied:

10. Catch some rays

Sunbathing by the pool sounds like a summer activity but Tucson has sunshine 85 percent of the year. A 70-degree January afternoon isn’t unheard of, so take advantage during the break from school.

  1. Visit Winterhaven

Cool night air and houses decorated in vibrant LED colors represent the perfect combination this time of year, and a thermos of hot chocolate makes it even better. A canned food drive at the neighborhood entrance makes it all for good purpose. The show runs daily from 6-10 p.m. through Dec. 26. For details, visit

  1. Light a fire

Spark the fireplace to warm up after cold winter storms. It encourages cuddling and can set the mood for a wild night. Roast some marshmallows and relax without the stress of homework.

  1. Watch football

College bowl games start Dec. 17 and continue through Jan. 9. The onslaught provides a perfect opportunity to test the hypothesis that you can never watch too much football. If you reach your limit, try the Winter X-Games.

  1. Play in the snow

When Mount Lemmon finally gets snow, there’s always a rush to make snowmen or sled down hills. Take the vehicle with four-wheel drive or a set of chains and pile the family in for a quick getaway.

  1. Glide on ice

Holiday movies always include ice skating. Unfortunately, Tucson hasn’t had a rink since 2007 so you must go to Phoenix to scratch that itch. If you prefer hockey players battling on ice, the Tucson Roadrunners have home games through January. See

  1. Hit the road

Road tripping never gets old. The Grand Canyon looks amazing when it’s covered in snow. Chances are pretty good you’ve never seen the entire state, so break out the roadmap or just try to get lost.

  1. Chow down

Tacos, tamales, ham, fried okra, roasted potatoes — it doesn’t matter what cultural background you come from. We all have our favorite holiday foods this time of year.

  1. Take a stroll

Enjoy long walks through the desert at sunset with your dog. When the school days were long and you felt like you were losing, your dog still greeted you like royalty. Catch up on quality time because, no matter what grades you received, you’re still a winner in her eyes.

  1. Shred some powder

Dust off the skis or snowboard and head up the mountains. Snowbowl in Flagstaff has great snow and is close to the Grand Canyon. Sunrise in the White Mountains offers the best value for students, with season passes starting at $99 with proof of 12 credit hours. Mount Lemmon doesn’t have ideal slopes, but being an hour away is hard to beat when conditions are right.

BEST BETS: Your go-to guide for making the most of winter

BEST BETS: Your go-to guide for making the most of winter

(Photo courtesy of Fourth Avenue Street Fair)

Compiled by Katelyn Roberts

Since Tucson has limited chilly nights, locals have to make them count. This Best Bets is all about getting some fun in before it gets too cold and enjoying the holidays before we get too busy.


Tohono Chul Holiday Nights        

Dec. 9-10, 16-17

Paths along the Tohono Chul gardens at 7366 N. Paseo del Norte will be decorated with millions of lights as musicians and artists perform from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Telescopes will be available for star-gazing, and vendors will sell hot chocolate and treats.

Admission is $16 for nonmembers, $12 for members and $3 for children under 12.



“La Pastorela”

Through Dec. 11

Borderlands Theater’s “La Pastorela” holiday production is a comedic and culturally relevant nativity story based in the Southwest.

Performances will take place in the Cabaret at the Temple of Music and Art, 300 S. Scott Ave. General admission costs $22. Seniors get in for $18 and students for $12.



Zoo Lights at Reid Park

Through Dec. 23

Reid Park Zoo will celebrate the season with Zoo Lights, presenting animal-themed light sculptures from 6-8 p.m. each night. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Admission costs $9.50 for adults and $5.50 for children ages 2-14, with discounts for zoo members. Tickets can be purchased online.



Luminaria Nights, Botanical Gardens

Dec. 11-13

Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way, presents Luminaria Nights from 5:30-8:30 p.m. each night.

Festivities include live holiday music as visitors walk garden paths decorated with luminarias and colored lights. Children can visit with Santa Claus, and vendors will offer holiday drinks, food and treats for purchase.

Admission is $18 for adults and $9 for children, with discounts for members. Tickets can be purchased online 24 hours in advance.

Parking at the Gardens is limited to handicapped spots. Shuttles will run 5:20-9 p.m. from the southeast corner of North Alvernon Way and East Lee Street.



Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair

Dec. 9-11

More than 600,000 visitors are expected to visit the annual street fair, which features 400-plus arts and crafts booths from 10 a.m. to dusk each day. Free and family-friendly activities include musicians, bands and entertainment.

Tip your baristas well (working the Fair separates the weak from the strong) and respect your vendors (most of them aren’t from these parts).



Winterhaven Festival of Lights

Dec. 10-26

Houses in Winterhaven display lights and decorations daily from 6-10 p.m. Admisison is free, but the neighborhood asks visitors to donate non-perishable canned food or money for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.



“A Southwest Nutcracker”

Dec. 10-11

 Tucson Regional Ballet’s “A Southwest Nutcracker” provides a local twist on the original. It’s set in the 1880s and includes coyotes, rattlesnakes and dancing chili peppers.

Performances will be at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Shows are at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 11. Tickets can be purchased online and cost $36.



“The Nutcracker-Rat King”

Dec. 12-13

Moscow Ballet comes to Tucson for ballet performances of “The Nutcracker-Rat King” with crystal-embedded costumes and Tchaikovsky included.

Performances will be at University of Arizona Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. The show begins at 7 p.m., and tickets start at $30.



Merry-Achi Christmas at the Fox Tucson Theatre

Dec. 16

What is more spirited and intense than mariachi performances and Christmas festivities? Nothing, that’s what.

Fox Theatre’s Merry-Achi Christmas features Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez. Tickets are $24-$58, and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.



Downtown Parade of Lights

Dec. 17

Parade of Lights floats, vehicles and entertainers start making their way through downtown at 6:30 p.m. while Santa Claus waits at the Historic Train Depot for visitors. Admission is free.



“It’s a Wonderful Life” at Fox Theatre

Dec. 20

The magical 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” will screen at the Tucson Fox Theatre at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.


I.T. GIRL: Please burst my bubble

I.T. GIRL: Please burst my bubble


Despite the ease of access to virtually anything anywhere all of the time, technology still seems to stifle our growth as a coexisting community.

Filter bubbles are the reason you see posts from your closest friends, you laugh at most of the memes in your feed and you always see oddly accurate sponsored suggestions.

Social networks like Facebook collect information on the posts you like and share, your search history and the friends with whom you interact. The collected data plays a role in what you see on your newsfeed.

This results in an echo chamber called a filter bubble. Everyone’s bubble is different, but it isn’t directly created by you. It’s created by the website’s algorithm, which makes selective guesses about what you’d like to see next time you log into Facebook.

After a few clicks and an extensive search history, you become separated from opposing viewpoints.

Filter bubbles are the reason you don’t know too many folks outside your political spectrum.

They’re the reason a Trump win surprised many of us. They’re the reason the left sees the right as a bunch of racist hillbillies and the right views the left as a bunch of LGBT Satan-worshippers.

We just don’t understand each other. For something that was supposed to enhance communication, Facebook has done quite a good job of sheltering its users.

Brilliant coding goes into these algorithms and they’re quite handy, especially for businesses needing to know specific details about their clients. (Hey, I didn’t say it wasn’t also creepy.)

Krishna Kaliannan created in response to being completely baffled by the presidential election results.

The site’s tagline is “be more accepting of others.” Its purpose is to send news articles your way that you’d normally not read or even see.

Harvard Business School student Henry Tsai created Hi From The Other Side, which connects users with people who would normally not be friends. Its tagline is “Meet someone who supported another candidate.”

It’s a little more complex, a little more specific and a lot more committal. Its sole purpose: understanding each other’s ideologies.

If you’re interested but not ready to meet a stranger from the other side of the ideology spectrum, you can just subscribe to Hi From The Other Side’s newsletters. That allows you to live vicariously through previous matches.

Pima Community College and University of Arizona student David Bresnick, a junior majoring in computer science, is familiar with filter bubbles.

“I knew the election would be everywhere all the time, so I turned it off before it was literally everywhere,” he said. “I put on ‘Trump’ and ‘Clinton’ filters for Google Chrome, so no ads or anything popped up too much.”