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‘Edge of Eighteen’ shows education from teens’ perspective

‘Edge of Eighteen’ shows education from teens’ perspective


Academy Award filmmaker Alex Gibney and Al Jazeera America’s award-winning documentary strand will be premiering their latest TV documentary, “Edge of Eighteen” on Sept 7 at 9 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. PT, with six hour-long original episodes airing Sunday evenings through October.

The “Edge of Eighteen” documentary is about teens and education in the United States, a provoking, informative documentary series that takes a look at a portrait of life as a teenager in United States which is filmed by the students themselves.

Gibney along with producers Dave Snyder and Amy Kohn sent out a call for 17 and 18-year-old students willing to document their lives from the start of 2014 until their high school graduations.

The series is told through a first person’s arc of the students’ lives and raises many important questions about the United States educational system.

The six part documentary series inquire into the educational issues kids face and how their personal lives tie into their ability to make decisions about their future.

“This series is more than anything a portrait of a generation,” Kohn said. “We were interested in looking at how teens on the edge of adulthood were facing the issues of the day in our highly connected, ever changing and fast paced world.”

What they found was the new generation interests was of a variety of issues such as education, financial aid, gay rights, separation of church and state, violence in their communities, teen pregnancy, bullying and much more.

Al Jazeera America inspired approached with Jigsaw about doing a series on education.

“Our goal was to show the educational environment of teens through their own eyes and experiences so the world could see how the people living within the system viewed and experienced it,” Kohn said.

“As we worked with the teens, we found that issues of education couldn’t be separated from all of the other challenges, triumphs, and issues that they faced on a daily basis,” she added.

The “Edge of Eighteen” series follows the tradition of verite documentary, exploring real lives as they unfold and through this process they discovered an abundance of issues and ideas.

They contacted thousands of students, received hundreds of applications and narrowed it down to the 15 students represented in this project.

“We did extensive outreach to schools and organizations working with teens to try to find a group of students that represented the economic, religious, racial, ideological, and political diversity of this country,” Kohn said.

The students featured were founded to be bright, engaged and concerned about their communities and their futures but the resources they needed to get the education they want and fulfill their dreams aren’t always there.

“Certainly this series shows that teens today are dealing with a lot of very challenging issues. Education is expensive. Financial aid isn’t easy to get or available to everyone,” Kohn said.

Kohn added that this generation has very different views from their parents about issues such as gay rights and faces new issues related to things such as cyberbullying which previous generations never faced.

“As hard as teens fight for what they want to build their future, they face a lot of challenges and we definitely saw that the resources you are given at home, from your school, and your community make a huge difference,” Kohn said

Kohn added that their purpose was to paint a picture of this generation by letting the students tell their own stories.

“We felt that by giving them the camera and letting them define the agenda, that we would get something powerful, raw, and real,” said Kohn. “So much of what is on TV today is reality TV – but this is a documentary and we really let the students speak for themselves.”

They hope their powerful words, ideas and images will get people talking and thinking about what it means to be a teen and an adult today.

Kohn added we also examined what challenges these teens face today and how they uniquely and creatively work through them to get the most out of their experiences.

The students came to New York for a quick course in documentary filmmaking from Gibney, director Alexandra and editor Sam Pollard.

Each student received Canon XA10 cameras, tripods, microphones and other essential gear along with the knowledge of storytelling, interviewing skills, cinematography, sound recording, and editing.

The students then returned home to tell their own stories, the honest portrayals of their lives, by documenting events and doing weekly video diaries and interviews with parents, teachers, and other people in their lives.

Professional producers shuttled among the students, often filming alongside them and working with them to sharpen their stories.

A preview of the series can be viewed here.

TOP 10: Robin Williams movies

TOP 10: Robin Williams movies


Robin Williams will forever be remembered as one the most versatile actors the world has known. His career spanned multiple generations and touched the hearts of millions. He made his battle with depression and addiction widely known through his stand-up shows as well as his on screen performances. His initial burst onto the scene was as Mork from Ork, first in an episode of Happy Days, and the popularity of the character led to the creation of the show Mork and Mindy. He continued to make his name known as a comedic actor but more serious roles would allow Williams to really blossom as an actor. I remember seeing Williams in the 90’s in family friendly movies such as Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire and as the Genie in Aladdin. It was an unfortunate turn of events when the world heard of the actors passing, but as fans it’s important to celebrate the joy he spread to the world. Williams will forever be one of my favorite actors and I hope the world can remember all he achieved and not how he died.


  1. Good Will Hunting (1997): This film helped Williams earn his first and only Academy Award for best supporting actor. The plot centers on Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a young man working as a janitor at MIT, who is practically a genius. Hunting gets into some trouble with the law and attends therapy with a psychiatrists (Sean Maguire) played by Williams. Maguire begins to break through to Hunting and in time allows Hunting to see that he is a victim of his inner demons. In return, Hunting challenges Maguire to take a look at his life and helps him move on from the death of his wife. Maguire decides to travel the world and Hunting drives across country to reunite with an old girlfriend. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon originally intended the screenplay to be a thriller but the president of Castle Rock Entertainment at the time encouraged them to drop the thriller aspect so the film could focus on the relationship between Hunting and Maguire.


  1. Aladdin (1992): Perhaps one of the most known Disney characters of all time has to be the Genie. Ironically enough Williams did not want his name or image to be used in marketing. The part of the Genie was intentionally written for the comic and initially Williams was resistant to do the role but after the director put together a reel of the Genie doing Williams’ stand-up acts, Williams found it so funny that he climbed on board. The things that make the Genie so memorable are the same things that make Williams so memorable. Aladdin was released during a period known as the Disney Renaissance, a period that released some of the most memorable and most beloved Disney films in the company’s history. Many of which go into the Disney Vault for decades at a time.


  1. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993): As a child and even now as an adult I find this film all around enjoyable. It’s not a super funny, laugh out loud, type of movie but at the end it is a feel good story. Williams plays Daniel Hillard an unemployed but talented voice actor who is a devoted father to his three kids. Hillard’s wife (Sally Field) thinks he is irresponsible and immature and decides to file for divorce. He fears he won’t be able to spend time with his kids so Hillard uses the help of his makeup artist brother to construct the disguise that brings Mrs. Euphengenia Doubtfire to life so he can pass off as an elderly nanny. The filming took place in San Francisco, and following the actors death the location of the house in the movie became an impromptu memorial. Also, because of a line in this movie every time it’s hot outside and I start sweating I like to say “Oh dear, I’m melting like a snow cone in Phoenix”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then go watch the movie.


  1. Dead Poets Society (1989): This film brought forward the idea of “Carpe Diem” to a new generation. Williams portrayed an unorthodox English teacher in aristocratic 1959 New England, John Keating, who challenges his students to look at the world in a different perspective. Keating would tell his students to seize the day and to challenge the establishment and to “be wise, not stupid.” This movie was nominated for numerous awards and won the Academy Award for best original screenplay in 1990, an excellent year I might add. Films like this gave the world a look at the emergence of Williams as a dramatic actor. Fans saw a calmer, heartfelt performance, a performance which broke down the image of Williams being only a comic actor. In 1990 the Washington Post reviewer said that Williams gave a “nicely restrained acting performance.” This is a movie that really has to be watched in order to be understood.


  1. Good morning, Vietnam (1987): Williams plays Airman Second class Adrian Cronauer, a DJ who goes to Vietnam and works for the Air Force Radio Service. He arrived in Saigon and right away his sense of humor is present. The soldiers grew to enjoy his brand of comedy but his superiors were not as fond. He goes on to further rub his superiors the wrong way by playing rock & roll that is frowned upon. Anyone familiar with this film has to be familiar with the way the DJ begins his broadcast with a loud “Goooood Morning Vietnam!” This movie also featured a fascinating soundtrack of rock music from the late 60’s and early 70’s. After going through much turmoil with other soldiers and his superiors he is dismissed but before departing he leaves his friend and successor a farewell message which he plays on the air, and in his famous way Cronauer bids adieu only the way he can, with a loud “Goooood bye, Vietnam!”


  1. Insomnia (2002): Insomnia is a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film also called Insomnia. It’s a psychological thriller in which Williams plays Walter Finch, a crime writer with a dark past and a disturbingly dark yet calm personality. Films like this will keep you on the edge of your seat because it’s a thriller, but also the viewer is left wondering what Finch will do next. The cast is full of talent and when actors like Al Pacino, Hilary Swank and Williams get together for a movie it’s almost a must watch. Released in May of 2002 this summer thriller brought in $113 million worldwide.


  1. Awakenings (1990): This film is interesting. Williams plays Dr. Malcom Sayer in 1969 Bronx, a caring physician who treats catatonic patients that survived the encephalitis lethargica outbreak from 1917-1928. Sayer discovers that some of his patients can be reached beyond the catatonic state through different forms of stimuli. He begins to communicate with patient Leonard Lowe (Robert De Niro) through a Ouija board. Sayer decides to try a new drug, L-Dopa, on Lowe and he completely awakens from his catatonic state. The new drug appears to be helpful but the awakenings don’t last and soon patients return to a catatonic state. At the end of the movie Sayer returns to the Ouija board to continue his conversations with the catatonic Lowe and ends the film by stating “Let’s begin” as his and Lowe’s hands are on the board.


  1. One Hour Photo (2002): Williams plays Seymore Parrish a photo technician at a SavMart’s one-hour photo who becomes obsessed with the Yorkin family who are frequent customers of the store. Parrish is a shy, lonely man who leads a pretty boring life and longs to be part of the Yorkin family and to be able to receive all the love he thinks they have for him. Parrish is a perfectly balanced creepy stalker character because he has elements that would make you feel sorry for him like his loneliness but elements that are creepy like how eager he is to stalk people and how well he can hide his obsession. Parrish secretly makes copies of the photos the Yorkin’s have developed and creates a collage in his apartment. Through stalking the family and collecting photos, Parrish discovers Will Yorkin is cheating on his wife Nina and takes photos of the man. Parrish eventually sparks a conversation with Nina after talking about a book she was holding. After a confrontation with Yorkin, police arrest Parrish and he said “I did nothing wrong, I just took pictures.” As the film ends you see a picture imagined by Parrish of the Yorkin family with Parrish in it smiling.


  1. Jumanji (1995): Jumanji was a fun movie to watch as a kid. The craziness of the old board game coming to life was fun and triggered your imagination to work harder than a five year old mind ever had before. Williams plays Alan a man who is brought out of the game when two siblings find the board game and begin playing. Alan was trapped in the game since 1969 when he was a 12 year old boy. Alan emerges from the game full of hair and dressed in old jungle clothing and unaware of his new time period and location. I don’t want to give away the ending but things tend to work out for main characters like most family movies do.


  1. Hook (1991): In this classic children’s movie Williams portrays an adult version of Peter Pan who is now known as Peter Banning. His kids get kidnapped by captain Hook so Peter must return to Neverland to save his children but first he must regain his youthful spirit. At first his old friends don’t believe he’s who he says he is until Peter proves it’s him and starts to remember how it used to be. Peter battles Hook in an all-out sword fight and Hook tries to trick Peter but is saved by Tinker Bell and Hook faces his demise as a clock tower falls on him who was really a giant crocodile! Crazy right? Williams had a strong performance in the film and once again showcased his acting range by doing children films. Hook was a pretty chill movie as far as I remember. It has been a minute since I’ve seen it though.


Art exhibit interprets the Southwest

Art exhibit interprets the Southwest


The desert serves as a source of inspiration for those who call the Southwest home. Each thorn-covered plant and sunbeam holds potential as a work of art.

A “Southwest Observed” exhibit on display at Pima Community College’s Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery uses this theme within its collection of paintings, photographs and sculptures.

The seven featured artists draw upon their experiences in the Sonoran Desert and American Southwest to create unique interpretations.

“I’ve been working to put this exhibition together for three or four years,” gallery director David Andres said. “I’ve been trying to get certain artists in who work with contemporary southwest imagery.”

The exhibit opened Sept. 2 and continues through Oct. 10. A gallery reception is scheduled for Sept. 11 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

After the reception, photographer Michael Berman will give a lecture at 6:30 the West Campus Recital Hall.

Berman lives just outside Silver City, N.M., and has captured images of the Sonoran Desert for almost three decades. A graduate of Arizona State University, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008 for his work “Grasslands: The Chihuauan Desert Project.”

His work in the exhibit is displayed in a nontraditional format, adhered to aluminum and varnished.

Two of the other exhibit artists also hail from outside Arizona within the Southwest region.

Craig Cully teaches painting and drawing classes at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

Jennifer Sullivan Carney received her undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and taught as an adjunct professor. She recently moved to Durango, Colo., where she continues to create paintings reflecting upon land usage and the emotional power of nature.

Featured artists Ed Musante, James Pringle Cook, Diane Dale and Mark Rossi all call Tucson home.

Musante is a recent transplant from San Francisco who is best known for his paintings of birds in dry pigments painted onto vintage cigar boxes.

Cook and Dale work primarily with the mediums of watercolors and oil paints, while Rossi does bronze sculpture work.

The exhibit has an underlying focus on conservation of the Sonoran Desert. In addition to art students, Andres hopes the exhibit will attract writing, reading and humanities classes.

“Art brings awareness,” he said. “That’s what art is about: bringing awareness and interpreting those concepts.”

The Bernal Gallery, located at the PCC Center for the Arts at West Campus, is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

For more information, call 206-6942 or email



“Southwest Observed”

When: Through Oct. 10

Where: Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, West Campus

Sept. 11 events:

Gallery reception, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Artist lecture, 6:30 p.m., Recital Hall

Admission: Free

Details: 206-6942

Photos courtesy of PCC Center for the Arts

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Michael Berman – “Birds, Janos, Chihuahua,” carbon pigment print with acrylic on panel


James Pringle Cook – “High Road To Taos,” oil on linen

Pg10-Craig Cully art

Craig Cully – “Pour And Sift,” oil on panel


Diane Dale – “In Your Face,” oil on panel

Pg10-Ed Musante-brn owl

Ed Musante – “Barn Owl/White Owl,” dried pigment on cigar box

Pg10-Rainbow trout bronze

Mark Rossi – “Rainbow Trout,” bronze

Pg10-Jennifer Sullivan Carn

Jennifer Sullivan-Carney – “Seven Falls Dawn,” watercolor




Virgo (Aug. 23- Sept. 22)

After a long hardship, the light at the end of the tunnel is just within reach. Be ready to celebrate after all your hard work, because it’s going to pay off.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

Love and loss are hand in hand for you these dark days. Surround yourself with your loved ones and friends.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

Do not surround yourself with anger. Anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. Do not fear the darkness, but do not embrace it either.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec 21)

Expect great things in your workplace. Your superiors will soon realize how valuable a team member you are, and it’s about time.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan 19)

Beware of those trying to keep you down. They have gained a new advantage, so be prepared for the worst. On the other hand, financial success is headed your way.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

A change in scenery is calling your name. Pick up the phone, because it’s long distance. The journey will be long, but fruitful indeed.

Pisces (Feb.19-March 20)

Old friends will reach out their hands, emerging from the past to ask you back into their lives. Transportation methods will present trouble for you soon.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

Things are heating up with a new love in your life. Be prepared to try new things with this person. Don’t let academics drop because of your new love: keep studying. Talk with your partner about your problems if they arise.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

Seek an adventure. Your body is telling you that things are getting dull in your current routine. Throw cost to the wind and take a vacation that will actually give you some real rest and relaxation.

Gemini (May 21-June 21)

Remember the good times you had when you were a child? Those times are coming back soon. Enjoy the time with your loved ones and stop worrying so much about things that don’t matter.

Cancer (June 22- July 22)

Your significant other has shown you a lot of love lately. Return the favor in a big way. Be prepared for a raise soon but understand you have to work for it, since nothing is free.

Leo (July 23- Aug. 22)

Ready yourself for rough roads ahead. You will make it through, but make sure you don’t lose what makes you unique. When the storm passes, you will come out a stronger person for it.



Back to school does not take away from fun


 Most of us are still trying to get back into the grind of school and welcome many distractions to test our wills. In between glances at syllabi and sips of coffee, take a page from the summer and enjoy one of these events.

Yoga Rave

Sept. 6

Take out your yoga mat and cover it in glow sticks for a Yoga Rave hosted by Session Yoga and ABUD Entertainment, in collaboration with Lululemon Athletica and Aveda Institute.

Participants will be led in a glow and flow yoga session by Chelsea Lucas, Kristin Brakke Horton and Ricky Abud of Session Yoga. Disc jockey Rosette Abud will spin sun-salutation worthy beats all night.

The meditative rave will take place at Session Yoga,123 S. Eastbourne Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the rave begins at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $30 and available for sale at

 Details: and

Tucson Fringe Festival

Sept. 12-14

Tucson will spotlight performance arts in uncensored forms at the fourth annual Tucson Fringe Festival. The event will feature established and up-and-coming artists who perform in the mediums of music, dance, comedy, burlesque, improvisations and monologues.

The festival will take place at Club Congress on 311 E. Congress St. and Fluxx Studio on 414 E. Ninth St.

The first performance will take place at Club Congress on Sept 12 at 6 p.m. Award-winning playwrights Toni Press-Coffman and Michael Fenlason will perform original monologues in their showcase, Hers and His.

Tickets to each show are $7, a two-show pass is available for $10 and a festival pass is $40. All attendees must also purchase a $2 festival admission button available for purchase at the door of each venue.

Fringe is a volunteer-run event and is seeking help in the box office and production. Volunteers will receive free tickets to performances. Anyone interested may fill out an application at

For a complete schedule of events, visit


Day Into Night Glow

Sept. 13

Though summer has already gone, Tucson nights are still likely to put you in a vacation state of mind.

At a Day Into Night Glow event, the whole family can celebrate art and light underneath a full moon. The popular festival of visual and performance arts creates a glow around the historic Triangle L Ranch at 2805 N. Triangle L Ranch Road in Oracle.

The event will take place from 5-9 p.m. and will feature performances, workshops and a children’s costume contest. Nonprofit organizations will be in attendance.

Attendance is limited to 500 people, so tickets will only be available in advance. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 13 and under and free for 3 and under.




Screenwriting: Sept. 16

The Downtown Campus Reading Series will present a free screenwriting seminar with Ken White on Sept. 16 from 6-8 p.m. in Room LB-153.

White teaches screenwriting at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. The seminar will be an introduction to the craft of screenwriting.

For additional information, contact Brooke Anderson at

Tuba recital: Sept. 17

Guest artist Justin Benavidez will perform a tuba recital on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Recital Hall on West Campus. Tickets are $8, with discounts available.

Benavidez was the first tubist to receive both the New Horizon Fellowship and the Orchestral Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival.

For more information, call 206-6986 or visit

-By Eduardo Caldera


'Let's Be Cops' offers new roles for acting duo

‘Let’s Be Cops’ offers new roles for acting duo


A new feature film, “Let’s Be Cops” starring actors Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. from Fox’s hit show “New Girl” will be released on Aug 13.

The movie is about two cop friends except for one thing: they’re not cops. When the two friends start impersonating the law they become popular with the people around them. Soon these two “cops” start to get into trouble with real-life crime and must put their fake badges on the line.

Johnson who has also starred in movies such as “21 Jump Street,” “Safety Not Guaranteed,” and “Drinking Buddies” and Wayans, the son of famed actor Damon Wayans, has also starred in movies such as “The Other Guys” and “Marmaduke”.

I had the outstanding opportunity to meet both Johnson and Wayans for their meet/greet and private viewing of their up incoming movie “Let’s Be Cops” at Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus where they took pictures with the fans.

They also set aside time for me to ask them a few questions about their film, their acting aspirations and future projects. During the interview, both were very easy to talk to and very descriptive in their answers.

It’s about two guys who are unhappy with where their life is going, so they dress up as cops and then start to get the attention and affection that they wanted,” said Johnson. “Then they keep doing it and soon they get themselves into trouble.”

Both Johnson and Wayans want their movie to have a positive reaction, and that they want the audience to feel like they didn’t waste their time. They also want the audience to leave the movie feeling satisfied with what they were watching.

In “New Girl,” Johnson stars as Nick Miller and Wayans stars as the character Coach. Johnson said that the transition from their show “New Girl” to this movie was very different, stating that this movie is rated R and there’s action in this film.

The characters are also completely different from Coach and Nick,” said Wayans.

Johnson also added that with filming TV, the scheduling is way longer and the tone is very different, because the TV show is essentially rated PG-13.

It’s also shorter time scheduling wise too. Television is like, you shoot from August to March; and the movie we shot in 42 days from May to July,” said Wayans.

Both actors agrees that their chemistry helps make the film more entertaining.

Definitely, we kind of know each other’s sense of humor and know how to act around each other,” said Wayans.

They both have the same acting inspirations, which include Will Ferrell, Chris Farley and Bill Murray.

After filming “Let’s Be Cops,” they both got more roles in other movies that they’ll soon be promoting.

Just got done doing a movie called ‘Digging for Fire,’ directed by Joe Swanberg, that I’m really excited about,” said Johnson.

Wayans said that he was doing a Disney movie from the makers of “Frozen” and “Tangled” that is coming out in November.


Arts and Entertainment editor Katie Stewart takes a break from interviewing Jake Johnson, right, and Damon Wayans Jr. to pose with the stars of the upcoming film “Let’s Be Cops,” in theaters Aug. 13.


MegaMania comes to Downtown Campus

MegaMania comes to Downtown Campus

Pima Community College is hosting a comic book event July 12 for fans of superheros, anime and games of all genres.

MegaMania, now in its fifth year, offers a whole range of events, from costume contests to comic book giveaways and multiple games, including video games and tabletop games for kids, teens and young adults.

Workshops will also provide an opportunity for budding comic book creators to gain some tips from professional artists and authors.

MegaMania is presented by the Pima County Library with support from PCC and several local businesses.

The festivities take place July 12, from 2-6 p.m. For a complete listing of all the activities, visit the library’s page here.


A girl displays her Hatsune Miku costume during last year’s comic convention at Pima Community College. (Dixie Mitter/Aztec Press)

Multi-talented student works multimedia

Multi-talented student works multimedia


Ruth Spies is a woman who wears many different hats, with talents ranging from music to video production.

While being enrolled at Pima Community College, she doesn’t let the responsibilities of homework tie her down.

Spies is a non-traditional student at PCC, a University of Arizona graduate class of ‘84, a band member, a Southern Arizona Video Productions employee, Access Tucson volunteer and tarot card reader.

On top of all that, Spies performed at the 29th Annual Tucson Folk Festival on May 3 with Tucson’s local, traditional, authentic rockabilly band, Widow’s Hill.

The weekend-long festival features food and crafts, and spotlights more than 140 different musicians, both local and from across the nation.

Spies plays rhythm guitar and leads her pack while commanding the lead vocals and harmony.

She is backed by upright bassist Federico Pennacchini. Her front man Jim “Jimbobillybob” Becker shreds on lead guitar and bellows as support vocalist.

“I got bored one summer when I was 15,” Spies said. “I bought a guitar for $10 and started playing. That was 42 years ago.”

Spies tries to incorporate the music her father and godfather played while growing up, an early Elvis Presley style mixed with rhythm and blues, homegrown on a beautiful plot of bluegrass.

“The energy is bluegrass, you’ll want a dance circle. Just barn-stomp house music,” Pennacchini said.

“Everyone’s stomping and shaking to the music, that’s some fun stuff to dance to. You don’t need 1,000 watts and a techno DJ to get the room shaking and get a good dance-vibe going, you can do it acoustically too,” he said.

So what’s the story behind the band name?

The inspiration came from Spies’ favorite ‘60s vampire-soap opera, “Dark Shadows.” Widow’s Hill was the cliff that women would throw themselves off of when their husbands did not return safely from sea.

Aside from performing at concerts and open mic nights with Widow’s Hill, Spies does private or group tarot card readings.

One Halloween, Spies did a group reading for a bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism club while dressing the part. She wore a wig and gypsy attire, brought her future-seeking crystal ball, burned incense and played soft background music.

“I was set up in the ‘playroom,’” Spies said. “There was an adult crib in there and one of those things they chain you up to. People were all dressed up in leather and spikes … It was fun.”

Spies also operates cameras at Southern Arizona Video Productions and volunteers as the broadcast media technician at Access Tucson.

Her interest in videography and production sparked after watching her first Access Tucson program, a PETA exposé.

The footage was shot by hidden cameras brought in to factories, showing the horrors of meat processing facilities.

With her experience from Access Tucson and Southern Arizona Video Productions, Spies had the pleasure of streaming a Tucson-based congressional hearing live to Washington D.C.

And, Spies’ 9-to-5 and volunteer work ties in nicely with the multimedia and journalism classes she’s been focusing on at Pima.

“I shoot video, I play in a band and I read tarot cards. How much better does it get than that?” Spies said.

“I like what I’m doing now, I never liked going into a job and doing the same thing day after day. I’m just too non-traditional.”

Pg10-Ruth Spies profile

Widow’s Hill performs for a mellow crowd enjoying the weekly open mic night at Sky Bar in downtown Tucson. From left, band members Jim “Jimbobillybob” Becker, Federico Pennacchini and Ruth Spies. (Shana Rose/Aztec Press)

‘Dance Fusion’ performances set May 9-10

‘Dance Fusion’ performances set May 9-10


Classic will meet contemporary when Pima Community College dance program director Aurora Gonçalves-Shaner directs “Dance Fusion” concerts May 9-10.

“The choreography and the music both reflect the theme of dance fusion, fusing elements and styles together creating a unique blend of art onstage,” Gonçalves-Shaner said.

Performances will embrace current, contemporary and classical themes, intermixing styles such as ballet, belly dance, flamenco and hip-hop.

Gonçalves-Shaner has choreographed a number to the music from “The Great Gatsby” movie soundtrack, fusing jazz with swing and the Charleston.

The show includes choreography by both faculty and “our very talented” students, Gonçalves-Shaner said. Students must go through a competitive audition process to get their works into the show.

Performances will be May 9 at 7:30 p.m. and May 10 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Proscenium Theatre in the West Campus Center for the Arts. Tickets cost $10, with discounts available.

For more information, call the box office at 206-6986 or visit



Dance Fusion

When: May 9-10

Where: Proscenium Theatre, West Campus CFA

Tickets: $10

Box office: 206-6986

Pg11-Dance concert

Pima Community College dancers rehearse for “Dance Fusion” concert performances in the Proscenium Theatre on West Campus May 9-10. (Photo by Ed Flores)

A buddy for study

A buddy for study


Move over Vyvanse, there’s a new supplement on the block: prescription-less Study Buddy.

Most college students have heard of “smart drugs” like Adderall, Vyvanse and Focalin used as study aids. A prescription by a medical professional is required, since the controlled substances are commonly used for ADHD patients.

College students have found loopholes by illicitly purchasing from friends who have a prescription. Come finals week, these drugs become worth their weight in gold to students, and their black market value increases.

This is hardly new, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, which conducted a 2008 survey that found 1 in 4 students used prescription stimulants at least once.

As these medications are a somewhat recent development, their extensive side effects remain to be fully determined.

The brief benefits of deep focus and alertness can be outweighed by the costs of acquiring a dependence or damaging alterations of the brain. Maybe they are diminishing natural focus rather than acutely honing it?

Even though you may be learning semester’s worth of psychology in a single night, it can come at an exhaustive price.

Many people use stimulants on a daily basis. If you wake up to a venti cup of Starbucks or an energy drink in the morning, caffeine, guanine, taurine and other enhancers are the true culprits. If you’ve ever imagined a pill “pick me up,” Study Buddy is just that.

The key behind Study Buddy is gaining focus without side effects because it’s derived from herbal-based ingredients. It also contains caffeine as well, something to remember when combining with coffee or energy drinks.

Study Buddy is available at Pima Community College bookstores, the U-Mart in the University of Arizona student union, and many local convenience stores.

A pack of two pills runs $3, a bargain in comparison to prices for illicit prescription drugs. For daily users, or finals week, Study Buddy packs are also sold in bulk online.

Pg12-Study Buddy

Study Buddy offers a non-prescription alternative. (Jay Becker-Norman/Aztec Press)

Romantic love: A neuronic narcotic

Romantic love: A neuronic narcotic


Of all the highs, synthetic and otherwise, love is our favorite drug.

Metaphysically speaking, “romantic love” is an obsessive connection, consuming people with optimism to form a romanticized view of reality.

Characterized primarily by extreme craving, intense motivation and compulsive thinking, the intoxicating effects of infatuation mimic that of an obsessive-compulsive mind on cocaine.

While sex may satisfy our basic biological needs for reproducing, romantic love strives to refine our selection process in mating, providing optimal odds for ideal conception.


Chemistry of courting


From the sweaty palms, pounding heart and racing thoughts, love’s addictive effects are easily observed through the physical angst of initial attraction.

Communication studies performed by UCLA Professor Emeritus of Psychology Albert Mehrabian demonstrate that mate-screening within the mind emphasizes the subliminal side of our interactions.

Verbal exchange allots for just seven percent of attractive-factoring during an initial encounter. By contrast, 55 percent of match-determining comes from body language and 38 percent is based on vocal tones and pitch patterns.

With infatuation taking a mere 90 seconds to four minutes to initiate, attraction is a subconscious process of selection.

Thus, contrary to cynics, romantic chemistry prompts love at first sight.

Once sight has played its seductive role, touch takes control through the chemical courting of caressing and kissing.

Saliva stores immense amounts of testosterone, the hormone of sexual desire.

During a kiss our cheek cells, conveniently designed to absorb the hormonal exchange, send testosterone directly to the brain.

Male bodies utilize this saliva-swapping system as means of injecting testosterone to trigger sex drive in their partner.

Hence men’s preference for “sloppier kisses,” according to studies by biological anthropologist Helen Fisher.


Why I’m a dope for you


Love is an addiction that begins in the brain.

Being in love releases four core chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and oxytocin.

Each assists in creating the insatiable drive and pleasurable pursuit of attaining life’s grandest prize: a perfect mate.

Dopamine and norepinephrine make up the most addictive agents of love’s chemical construct.

Individuals in love receive a constant surge of dopamine throughout their brain.

Dopamine acts as a natural stimulant within the brain, encouraging the desire to “win” through pleasurable sensations such as elation and arousal.

As levels of dopamine increase, pain and aversion centers within the brain begin to decrease activation.

Norepinephrine, an adrenal hormone, acts as the physiological respondent to love. It provides elevated energy levels for achieving one’s desires.

This surge serves to lower thresholds at which reward regions fire.

The resulting chemical imbalance distorts lovers’ perceptions of life for the better and rose-tints the bitter.


Parting’s sweet sorrow


Alas, as with any great rush, the higher we fly, the farther we fall.

In order to maintain a high, we need a consistent dose of our chosen stimuli to keep the rush alive.

Its absence leaves the brain’s chemical craving unsatisfied.

The body then begins to withdraw from its former euphoric state.

After a devastating breakup, overactive levels of dopamine reach catastrophic proportions.

Identified as the “protest stage” of rejection, the brain becomes hyperactive with motivational energy to win back what was lost. That stimulates erratic behavior in a heartbroken brain.

Examples include obsessing over the lost love, calling and incessant emailing, or refusing to believe it’s over.

Like all chemical dependencies, the brain never develops complete immunity towards craving love. It simply adapts, evens out and learns to live without.

Consequently, a brain never falls “out of love.”

In fact, heartbreak only intensifies romanticized longings of a lost love.

Thus, our brain’s lust for love brings out the dope in all of us.


Cricket bars jumping off local shelves


A new protein bar is hopping onto shelves across the country, and health enthusiasts and environmentalists alike are starting to take notice.

Chapul Cricket Bars are made with crickets that have been baked and milled into flour. This practice is an adapted form of one long used by Native American cultures.

This nutritional revolution has already made a splash in Europe and Australia, and is now taking aim at the United States.

The founder of this intriguing idea, Pat Crowley, formed the idea after hearing a TED Talk about nature and the healthy choice of eating insects.

Normally, protein bars use a lot of fresh water in their agricultural production. By substituting insects, the process takes fresh water used for water-intense whey and soy out of the equation and reduces its environmental impact.

“Eating insects makes sense on so many levels and the major barrier is a cultural perception, so that’s where we’re focusing a lot of our efforts,” Crowley says on Chapul’s website

The biggest surprise about these protein bars is just how big of a punch they pack. After the baking and milling of the crickets into flour, the protein-rich mixture is added in small amounts.

The reasoning behind this is, even in small amounts, the calcium and protein content of the cricket flour is so high only a little bit is needed to put Chapul on par with other nutrient bars.

Spokesman John Beers said in an email interview that Chapul’s position as a young, small company has allowed it to harness the power of the niche they’ve acquired in the food industry.

Visit to see a video review of Chapul’s Aztec and Chaco bars. They taste much like protein or power bar would, with no added crunch of cricket legs.


BY THE NUMBERS: Summer facts

Compiled by Will Willcoxson


Percentage of people who plan to take a vacation this summer.


Percentage of people who plan their vacation in less than two hours.


Percentage of Americans who will vacation in the United States.


Top U.S. destinations for vacation: Las Vegas, New York and Orlando.


Top beach locations for vacation: Miami, Myrtle Beach, Honolulu, San Diego and Fort Lauderdale.


Percentage of people who will take their vacation in July.


Average amount a person will spend on vacation.


Percentage that hotel prices rise during the summer.


Number of people expected to fly on U.S. carriers this summer.


Average price of a round-trip plane ticket during the summer.


Percentage of people who expect to check their work email daily while on vacation.


Percentage of people who have used a sick day as a vacation day.


Average price of a gallon of American gas as of May 15, 2012.




KFMA Day brings music to the desert


Tucson’s Rock 102 radio station will host its 15th annual KFMA Day on May 24 at the Kino Stadium with headliners Linkin Park and Sublime with Rome.

Other acts will include Skaters, Memphis May Fire and Kongos.

Linkin Park, a rock band from Agoura Hills, California, formed in 1996. The group rose to fame with its debut album, “Hybrid Theory.”

Sublime with Rome plans to play a mix of classics, personal favorites and whatever random jams come to mind, front man Rome Ramirez said via email.

“We are honored. We just love to play,” he wrote. “Whether we are in front of 50 of our fans or 50,000, we are grateful to be able to play for you guys.”

The band is known for songs that promote recreational drug use.

“We bring the party and our fans bring the weed smoke, ha ha,” Ramirez said.

Sublime with Rome will perform across the country this summer. Fans can check for details.

Skaters will play in support of their debut album, “Manhattan,” which was released in February.

Their contribution to KFMA Day will “be like hot sauce to the chicken wings,” Skaters singer Michael Ian Cummings said via email.

“We never played a show in Tucson before, so it should be a great first one,” Cummings wrote. “We’re just excited to be part of the party. We can’t wait to see how Tucson can boogie.”

Memphis May Fire is a metalcore band from Dallas. The group formed in 2004 and is currently signed to Rise Records. They have released four studio albums.

Kongos is an alternative rock band from South Africa consisting of four brothers: Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Daniel Kongos. They compose, record and perform in Phoenix.

KFMA Day bills itself as southern Arizona’s largest outdoor concert festival. The festival has featured many top names over the years, including Metallica, Muse, KoRn, Sum 41, Foo Fighters and the Smashing Pumpkins.

Tickets are available for $47.50 at all Tucson area Pizza Hut locations. Visit for additional details.