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Old Town Scottsdale worth a visit

Old Town Scottsdale worth a visit



If you are considering a weekend excursion during spring break, consider visiting Old Town Scottsdale. It houses more than 80 establishments ranging from whiskey bars to wine lounges, night clubs to restaurants.

To reach Old Town from Tucson, take Interstate-10 west to East McDowell Road in Phoenix. Follow McDowell to North Scottsdale Road.

It would be nearly impossible to visit every Old Town business, but here are few to consider:


Giligan’s has daily happy hour specials from 4-7 p.m., food challenges that award you a $50 bar tab, Sunday vodka specials and Tuesday night gold fish races.

Address: 4251 N. Winfield Scott Plaza

Details: or (480) 874-2264


El Hefe Super Macho Taqueria

El Hefe, a Mexican restaurant by day and bar by night, is a favorite of many who frequent Old Town. California native Mitchell Dembitzer calls El Hefe his favorite spot. “Collectively, everyone is in the right mood,” he said. “No one cares about getting too drunk, everybody’s here just to have fun.” El Hefe hosts a Sunday party from 4-10 p.m. and offers VIP bottle service and table taps reservations.

Address: 4425 N. Saddlebag Trail

Details: or (480) 945-6200


Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row

The unique selection of whiskey and beer concoctions makes this a great stop for any Old Town outing. Most interesting is the boiler bomber, a shot of whiskey dropped into a beer. Aside from a curious drink menu, Whiskey Row offers brunch from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Address: 4420 N. Saddlebag Trail #105

Details: or (480) 945-4200


Derby Public House

This fairly new addition to Old Town boasts a carefree ambiance and imaginative dishes. It is a comfortable place to enjoy a cocktail and the company of others. The interior, unlike most bars in the area, is well lit and has an interesting modern vintage feel.

Address: 4420 N. Saddlebag Trail (adjacent to Whiskey Row)

Details: or (480) 999-3311



International calls itself a champagne bar/boutique nightclub inspired by years of world travel. You won’t necessarily feel as if you’ve been transported to another city, but it’s a great place to dance. It offers an ample dance floor, two bars and an outdoor patio.

Address: 4405 N. Saddlebag Trail

Details: or (480) 213-9500

Tempe residents enjoy a night out in the Old Town Scottsdale club district. (Aztec Press photo by Jennifer Graham)

Tempe residents enjoy a night out in the Old Town Scottsdale club district. (Aztec Press photo by Jennifer Graham)

Spring break on a budget

Spring break on a budget



Pima Community College’s spring break is March 17-23, which means we’ll all soon be jetting off to Cancun, Honolulu or some other resort destination.

What? You’re not going to Hawaii or Mexico? Neither am I.

I can’t afford to go anywhere exotic, and I’m not alone. What I can do is offer ideas for spring break outings that won’t leave you broke. Some are free and some cost a bit of money, but they’re all good deals.

I’ve also suggested a movie for each destination, either to provide a little context or just to get you in the mood.


Is there anybody out there?

Close to home and yet out-of-this-world, the planetarium and observatory at the University of Arizona’s Flandrau Science Center has something for aspiring astronomers of all ages.

The observatory is generally open Thursday-Saturday from 7-10 p.m. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, so call ahead to confirm they’ll be open. Visitors can experience the 16-inch telescope (weather permitting) and ask questions about the night sky.

The observatory is free to visit, though donations are appreciated.

The center also offers traditional planetarium shows, ranging from “Legends of the Night Sky” to “Touring the Planets.” Laser shows are mostly “Family Friendly Music Shows” or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Tickets for the planetarium and laser show cost $5.

Details: or 621-7827.

Movie suggestions: “Contact” (1997). If you’re feeling ambitious, a double feature of “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) and its underrated sequel “2010” (1984).


Catch a show at the Flandrau Science Center on the University of Arizona campus. (Aztec Press photo by Michael Anderson)

Catch a show at the Flandrau Science Center on the University of Arizona campus. (Aztec Press photo by Michael Anderson)


Mosey through the Boneyard

Back on Earth, Tucson is home to the largest aircraft storage facility in the world. Officially known as the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, most people know it simply as the Boneyard.

The 309th AMARG is home to several thousand aircraft from all military branches. Most are waiting to be scrapped, cannibalized for parts or to eventually be re-fitted and returned to active duty.

Bus tours are available Monday-Friday for $7 through the Pima Air and Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road. A tour requires government-issued identification. The museum itself is a very cool place, too, but a little pricier at $12.25 for Pima county residents.

There’s nothing quite like the Boneyard anywhere else in the world, and the tour is a surreal trip through the history of NATO “Cold War” aviation.

Details: or 574-0462.

Movie suggestion: “Can’t Buy Me Love” (1987). Oddly enough, the Boneyard is an important theme in this excellent teen comedy, which also features Tucson High School.

A row of F-16 Fighting Falcons at the Boneyard await visitors who take a weekday tour. (Photo by John Sanders)

A row of F-16 Fighting Falcons at the Boneyard await visitors who take a weekday tour. (Photo by John Saunders)


Take me out to the ballgame

Arizona has been synonymous with spring baseball for almost 100 years. Recently, most spring training stadiums have become overcrowded and shockingly expensive. (I’m looking at you, Scottsdale Stadium.)

One exception is Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, spring home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Unlike the Giants and Dodgers, the Brewers don’t have hordes of fans. That means tickets are reasonably priced and not impossible to get. Lawn seating is $8 and some reserved seats cost $13. Maryvale Park, located at 3600 N. 51st Ave., hosts four games during PCC’s break.

If you want baseball without the drive north, the Pima Aztecs play at West Campus on March 15 and 18. The softball team plays at home on March 20 and 22.


Movie suggestions: “Major League” (1989). Spring training scenes were shot at Hi-Corbett Field. Or try “Bad News Bears” (1976). Rent the original only; accept no substitutes.


What do you want on your Tombstone?

The most famous gunfight in American history took place just 70 miles from Tucson, at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. As one of the last boomtowns of the Old West, Tombstone has a colorful history of miners, gamblers, prostitutes and gunfighters.

The downtown has been relatively well preserved. It is well worth a visit for those interested in local or western history.

The best attraction is the O.K. Corral itself, which is now a museum. It’s located at 326 E. Allen St. and is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. It features a re-enactment of the 1881 shootout between the Earps and the McLaury-Clanton crew every day at 2 p.m.

Most historians agree the gunfight actually occurred a few doors down the street, but the O.K. Corral is a must-visit attraction nonetheless. Tickets for the museum and re-enactment cost $10. Get them early because the show will probably sell out.

The most authentic site in Tombstone is probably the Bird Cage Theatre. It was a one-stop-shop for miners and gamblers, functioning as a theater, saloon, gambling hall and brothel.

It’s not as cool as the O.K. Corral and it costs $10, but check it out if you need the full Tombstone experience. It has a dark and violent past, and is undeniably spooky.

On your way out of town, stop by Boot Hill Graveyard, the final resting place for victims of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Many headstones have humorous inscriptions reflecting gallows humor.

It is a free and fitting way to end a trip to the “Town Too Tough to Die.”


Movie suggestion: “Tombstone” (1993). Kurt Russell is great as the legendary Wyatt Earp.

Boot Hill gravesites honor the three men killed in the famous Shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. (Photo by Cynthia Lancaster)

Boot Hill gravesites honor the three men killed in the famous Shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. (Photo by Cynthia Lancaster)


Put down ‘Angry Birds’ and go see some real ones

Madera Canyon, east of Green Valley off Interstate-19, is a bird-watching paradise. It contains beautiful hiking trails and hosts at least 200 species of birds as a waypoint on migration routes.

The canyon is open daily from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. and is a wonderful place for a picnic. Parking costs $5.

A male Elegant Trogan is one of the rare birds that can be spotted in Madera Canyon. (Photo by Alan Stankevitz)

A male Elegant Trogan is one of the rare birds that can be spotted in Madera Canyon. (Photo by Alan Stankevitz)

If birds aren’t your thing, you can hike or picnic on Mount Lemmon, watch a sunset at Gates Pass, ramble through Sabino Canyon or check out Saguaro National Park.

Tucson is virtually surrounded by cool places to experience nature. Go out and find your favorite.

Details: or 281-2296

Movie suggestion: “Winged Migration” (2001). An excellent if slightly slow documentary on the worldwide migration habits of birds. Not a fan of documentaries? Have a dark sense of humor? Check out Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (1963) and then go bird watching.

Gates Pass west of Tucson offers sweeping views of the Tucson Valley. (Aztec Press photo by Rachel White)

Gates Pass west of Tucson offers sweeping views of the Tucson Valley. (Aztec Press photo by Rachel White)


Go to prison

Many people have heard of the Yuma Territorial Prison, but how many have actually been there? Yuma is four hours from Tucson, so a visit should be part of an overnighter or a pit stop on the way to California.

The prison was one of the most notorious in the Southwest, housing Arizona’s worst criminals from 1876-1909. It was built on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River and much of it is well preserved.

It has a fascinating museum and original cellblocks that give you a sense of how horrible it must have been to do time there and how daunting the prospect of escape would have seemed.

The museum costs $6 and is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. There is also a hiking trail that runs along the river.

Details: or

Movie suggestion: What else? “3:10 to Yuma” (2007). An entertaining western action film starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.

Visitors investigate the original cellblocks preserved at the Yuma Territorial Prison. (Photo by Debbie Weber)

Visitors investigate the original cellblocks preserved at the Yuma Territorial Prison. (Photo by Debbie Weber)

STOMPING GROUNDS: Tiny’s Saloon offers oversized pleasure

STOMPING GROUNDS: Tiny’s Saloon offers oversized pleasure



Anyone who has taken a trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios, Kitt Peak or Saguaro National Park West probably noticed a small building with a covered wagon in the parking lot.

Tiny’s Saloon and Steakhouse, located at 4900 W. Ajo Highway, is about 5 miles from I-19 at the intersection of Kinney Road.

The restaurant is a throwback to another time, with cowboy-themed regalia on the walls and country music playing over the speakers.

The decor clearly caters to tourists visiting west-side scenic spots.

“When the snowbirds come in, all hell breaks loose,” waitress Linda Breen said. “I love it.”

But I don’t go to Tiny’s for the music or decor. I have been a customer for more than two decades for one very simple reason: Steerburgers.

These signature hamburgers are some of the best around town.

Available in quarter-pound or half-pound offerings, the burger can be ordered with a host of toppings and is accompanied by a herd of fries. When the first bite begins to melt in your mouth, you will understand why people say the Steerburger is a must-order menu item.

The family-friendly restaurant boasts an impressive 89 percent approval rating on and 4.5 out of 5 ranking on, due in no small part to the iconic burger.

“I am a real hamburger lover and this place turns out real hamburgers!” one reviewer wrote on

Tiny’s also serves up hot wings, sandwiches and, as the name implies, steaks. And since no self-respecting saloon can operate without serving alcohol, Tiny’s offers a robust selection of adult-beverages at low prices.

In fact, everything is affordable at Tiny’s. An average meal for two costs less than $25, including tip. Mixed drinks and pitchers of beer start at a few bucks each.

Cash is the only form of payment accepted. There is an onsite ATM.

The establishment isn’t afraid to shake the old-fashioned vibe with flat-screen TVs and karaoke nights, although the selection of songs performed is decidedly western-flavored.

This place is one of the few watering holes for miles around. If you stop in on a Friday or Saturday night, expect the joint to be packed with interesting characters.

Remember, most of these folks live away from the city because they are a little rough around the edges. Trust me, I grew up in the area affectionately referred to as “The Hill” and people out there don’t take any crap. But that doesn’t mean they are unfriendly.

“The people who come in are great,” said Brandi Wood, a high school friend of mine who has worked at Tiny’s on and off for six years. “I know everyone who comes in. It gets crazy but I love working here.”

I recommend visiting on a Tuesday afternoon to enjoy a Steerburger for a dollar off.

Tiny’s Saloon and Steakhouse is well worth the drive, even if horseshoes on the wall aren’t your idea of proper style.


Tiny’s Saloon and Steakhouse

Address: 4900 W. Ajo Highway

Phone: 578-7700

Hours: Daily except Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight

Pg08-Stomping Grounds Saloon

Brandi Livengood works the counter at Tiny’s Saloon and Streakhouse, home to iconic Steerburgers, during a slow Tuesday afternoon. (Andrew Paxton/Aztec Press)

STOMPING GROUNDS: District tavern

STOMPING GROUNDS: District tavern



Tavern breaks from the ordinary

wPg12-District TavernBY JORGE ENCINAS

With an atmosphere of familiarity, even for the first-time visitor, the District Tavern is a welcome break from many of the swanky-style bars found in downtown Tucson.

The locally owned tavern reflects the flavor of its clientele with a collage of photos on the bar top, foreign posters and a vintage table-top Pac-Man arcade.

While many patrons are regulars, the bartenders always welcome people who walk in and quickly get to know them.

The tavern only accepts cash but you will find that it does not take very much to enjoy your evening.

You can buy $2 well drinks during the daily happy hour special from 2-8 p.m. A popular all-day every-day special offers a High-Life and a shot of whiskey for $3. Note: No Budweiser or Pabst is available.

District also features live bands. To find out who’s playing, just take a look at the front window where the fliers are posted. Some bands are from out of town but there’s a good chance you will find a local band playing on the small stage.

A featured DJ plays every Saturday night. In the absence of that or a band, an old-style jukebox has a limited but good selection of music you don’t typically find downtown.

Music isn’t all you find. There are also traditional games like pool and darts, and a variety of board games and dominoes can be checked out with the bartender. You’ll even find a Jenga set available.

For smokers, District provides a small shaded patio with chairs to relax and talk to your friends. However, it’s also the back way out of the bar so there is no drinking while smoking, with the exception of electronic cigarettes.

If you’re downtown looking for somewhere laid back to hang out and have a good time, the District Tavern is a one place worth checking out.


The District Tavern

Address: 260 E. Congress

Phone: 792-0081

Hours: Open daily, 2 p.m.-2 a.m.

Springs events abound in Tucson

Springs events abound in Tucson


Compiled by Nellie Silva

Arizona Renaissance Festival: Feb. 9-March 31


Larry Gaurano/Aztec Press 2012

The 25th incarnation of this medieval festival takes place right outside of Phoenix. The 30-acre amusement park has 12 stages, an arts/crafts fair and a jousting tournament. The festival runs every Saturday and Sunday from Feb. 9 through March 31, plus President’s Day on Feb. 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking is free. Tickets cost $20-22 for adults. From Tucson, take Highway 70 to Florence Junction. Go west 7 miles on Highway 60 to Festival Village.


Gem Show: Feb. 14-17

Celebrating its 59th Annual Tucson Gem and Mineral show it’s the largest gem and mineral show in the United States. It’ll be held at the Tucson Convention Center 260 South Church Avenue, Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and on Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, children 14 and under are free with a paying adult. Details:

Rodeo: Feb. 16-17 and Feb. 21-24

The Rodeo is located at the rodeo arena on the corner of Irvington Road and 6th Avenue. The ticket prices range from $12 to $26 depending on the section of your choice. Ticket office hours are from 8a.m. to 5 p.m. located at 4823 S. 6th Ave.

Details:, call 741-2233 or (800) 964-5662

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (No PCC classes Feb 21-22 due to rodeo holiday) Rodeo Parade : Feb. 21

The 88th annual parade will start at 9 a.m. beginning on Park Avenue and Ajo Way, and proceed south on Park into Irvington Road. Ticketed grandstand seats on Irvington Road cost $7 for adults. Street spots along the parade route are free.

Details: or 294- 1280

Southwest Indian Art Fair: Feb. 23-24

Arizona State Museum, 1013 E. University Blvd., presents the Southern Arizona Premier American Indian Art Show and Market with 200 native artists and their wares, live entertainment, food and more.

Details: call 626- 8381 or visit

BEST BETS Donate time, goods this holiday season

BEST BETS Donate time, goods this holiday season


Compiled by Miki Jennings

As winter approaches, many people in need miss out on traditional holiday experiences due to lack of funds.

Food and clothing bins become more common around campuses and other public spaces, and are a great way to help those in need.

Another way to help your community is through direct contact with an organization of your choice. The nonprofits listed below accept donated money and goods, and volunteered time.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson

At-risk youngsters between the ages of 6 and 18 have benefited from Big Brothers Big Sisters for almost 50 years.

The organization matches youth with mentors, and annually serves more than 450 Tucson youth.

Big Brothers Big Sisters offers sports and military-related programs, and a couples’ mentoring program to teach children the dynamics of healthy relationships.

The group also accepts gently used clothing and furniture donations to sell, with proceeds benefitting the program.

For more information, call 624-7039 or visit


Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

The Community Food Bank has been fighting hunger since 1976, and depends on volunteers to keep the organization running smoothly.

Volunteers can help by sorting, packing and distributing food and by doing office, computer or maintenance work.

They can also work at one of the Food Bank’s farms, at the Caridad Community Kitchen or at the Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center.

Interested persons can apply to be a one-time, short-term or recurring volunteer.

For more information, email or call 882-3292.




Wingspan is the center for Southern Arizona’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The organization offers goods and services to LGBT people in need, including peer support groups, anti-violence programs, crisis hotlines, youth and family programs and a free lending library and computer center.

Wingspan’s Homeless Youth Project provides support and crisis intervention, and essential items such as food, clothing and hygiene supplies to homeless and near-homeless youth.

Wingspan welcomes both volunteers and tax-deductible donations.

For more information, visit, email or call 624-1779.



Five ways to spend Thanksgiving break

Compiled by Jennifer Coulter

If you can’t go home for your mother’s cooking or want to entertain family members visiting you, here are five fun activities to fill your Thanksgiving break:


Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic

Runners will also hurdle hay bales and water jumps during the Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic Nov. 22 at Reid Park, on Country Club Road immediately north of 22nd Street. Separate races will be held for men, women and children, beginning at 8 a.m. Prizes include turkeys and pumpkin pies. The races benefit Toys for Tots. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for the donation box. Call 326-9383 or visit for more details.


Tohono Chul Park celebration

Walk through gardens decorated with 750,000 lights during celebrations at Tohono Chul Park gardens, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, on Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 30-Dec. 1 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Visitors can start their holiday shopping and enjoy live stage performances. An ornament sale and silent auction will be held. The garden bistro will be open for dinner each night. Tickets are $15, and $2 for children 12 and under. Call 742-6455 or visit


Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair

Buy original work from local artists at the Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair on Nov. 24-25 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Reid Park, west of DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center. You can also sample food from local vendors. Admission and parking is free. Call 791-4877 or visit for more details.


Native American Heritage

Celebrate Native American culture with dancing and drumming performances, art and craft exhibits, children’s activities and traditional foods during the Native American Heritage Social & Indian Craft Market on Nov. 23-25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites, 5151 E. Grant Road. Admission is free. Call 622-4900 or visit for details.


Pima Air & Space Museum

Santa will arrive by helicopter Dec. 1 at the Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road. The museum opens at 9 a.m., and  Santa will land at 10 a.m. Children can enjoy holiday arts and crafts. The Flight Grill will be open for breakfast. Admission is $15.50 for adults, $12.75 for seniors and military, $9 for ages 7-12. Kids 6 and under are free. For more information, call 574-0462 or visit

BEST BETS: Mr. Head’s offers more than drinks

BEST BETS: Mr. Head’s offers more than drinks


Compiled by Miki Jennings

Many college students spend a lot of free time in bars. It can be difficult to find a venue with the right atmosphere, crowd and events, especially if you don’t like doing the same thing every time you go out.

Mr. Head’s on Fourth Avenue hosts a range of events each week, making it easy to keep your outings interesting.


Cutthroat karaoke

Cutthroat karaoke on Mondays at 8 p.m. gives bar patrons an opportunity to have fun and impress others … until you’re up. A wrong note or obnoxious stage presence gets singers “gonged” off the stage in an instant. Cutthroat is a bit harsher than standard karaoke, and is not for the sensitive or inadequately inebriated.


Comedy night

For those who like to have something to laugh at while imbibing, Mr. Head’s offers comedy acts every Wednesday at 10 p.m. Take in the show along with a drink on the patio or in the newly renovated interior. It’s free to get in and there are plenty of drink specials once you’re inside.


DJ night

Check out DJ Bonus spinning it up on Thursday nights starting at 9. In addition to nicely priced drink specials, you can try the club’s newest cocktails while you enjoy the show. Dance, drink and enjoy the music late into the evening. No cover charge to get in, music until closing.



Mr. Head’s

Address: 513 N. Fourth Ave.

Phone: 792-2710

Hours: 1 p.m.-2 a.m. daily


TOP 10: Tucson fine dining spots



Whether you have a date or just want to appreciate the taste of fine cuisine, these restaurants will leave a lasting impression.


10. 47 Scott

With a great bar selection and delicious cocktails, happy hour is a must at this downtown restaurant. Address: 47 N. Scott Ave. Details:


9. Maynards Market and Kitchen

Sophisticated cuisine, seasonal produce and innovative recipes lands Maynards at No. 9. My recommendation: Order the French fries and mussels as an appetizer. Address: 400 N. Toole Ave. Details:


8. Blue Fin Seafood Bistro

Hankering for seafood? Blue Fin will fulfill your craving with its oyster bar and array of fresh fish selections. Address: 7053 N. Oracle Road. Details:


7. Ra

Signature sushi dishes and sake are a great way to start a Friday night. With more than 30 sushi options, Ra will leave you satisfied. Address: 2905 E. Skyline Drive #289. Details:


6. Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

If you’re in the mood for steak, Flemings offers top-of-the-line cuts that melt in your mouth. Be sure to order plenty of sides to company your main dish. Vegetarians, stay away! Address: 6360 N. Campbell Ave. Details:


5. North Modern Italian Cuisine

This Italian restaurant offers a country atmosphere accompanied by the latest culinary trends in high quality food. Address: 2995 E. Skyline Drive.


4. Anthony’s in the Catalinas

Name your meat of choice and Anthony’s will have it. Dishes ranging from roasted duck to veal marsala make Anthony’s a go-to restaurant choice. Address: 6440 N. Campbell Ave. Details:


3. Vivace Restaurant

Looking for exquisite Italian cuisine? Look no further. Vivace offers great service along with high quality food at a moderate price. Address: 4310 N. Campbell Ave. Details:


2. Wildflower

With its seasonal menu changing and top-notch martinis, Wildflower offers progressive American cuisine in a chic atmosphere. Address: 7037 N. Oracle Road.


1. Café Poca Cosa

Café Poca Cosa deserves the No. 1 spot for the twice-daily menu change and innovative approach to Mexican food. Order the surprise plate for the ultimate tasting experience. Address: 110 E. Pennington St. Details:

Behind the scenes at ‘Nightfall’

Behind the scenes at ‘Nightfall’



The dark magic of Old Tucson Studios’ Nightfall begins with actors in a dressing room applying garish clown makeup as they prepare for the park to open.

Most notable among them is Rob Jensen, who played a serial-killing, junkyard-owning clown named Pappy in last year’s special effects show.

Though he appeared to be killed off last year, Jensen said audience response was so positive that Old Tucson brought him back this year as the comedy show protagonist.

Nightfall’s streets seem oddly empty 10 minutes before opening, as the actors get into their places, techs direct what goes where and rear-projected scenes in windows flicker to life one by one.

When the clock strikes 6, crowds of visitors file in. After an introductory show of gunpowder-blanks and dueling evil-circus-stereotypes ends, the streets come alive with the sounds of chainless-chainsaws wielded by evil clowns.

Roaming creeps include a butler with a face wedged in the deep end of the uncanny valley, a fat vampire and an inexplicable killer bunny.

Some characters sit motionless as mannequins on the park’s many benches, moving whenever poor schmucks try to take pictures with them.

“Carnival Caverns” works well as one of the park’s more harrowing experiences, building a creepy atmosphere with garish colors, 3D visuals, creepy music and constantly blaring electronic horns.

Features such as a clown-monster head popping out above a pit of bodies and a horrifyingly ludicrous clown-spider succeed as creepy visuals.

Sadly, other walkthrough attractions aren’t too scary, though at least the lines were relatively short and fast moving.

“The Aftermath” and “Iron Door Mine” rely on jump-scares and lots of rubbery, obviously-fake animatronics rather than mood and mystery.

However, “The Aftermath” gets points for its creative post-nuclear/zombie apocalypse setting and the giant spider animatronic in “Iron Door Mine” is neat.

The comedy show, featuring Pappy testing inventions on asylum inmates, just did not work well.

There were numerous special effects failures, such as an oral enema in which viewers could clearly see the tube spraying green “puke.”

The humor was either juvenile or clumsily topical. The show also included a cringe-worthy gay stereotype that would likely make Dan Savage spontaneously combust with rage if he was in the audience.

Jensen, the show’s creator and main writer, said he let cast members add their input to the show.

The main special-effects show, “Death By Dawn,” was also written by Jensen with cast input, but it worked far better.

The plot involves two ghost hunters and a rich Texan stumbling across the ghost of an evil ringmaster who haunts the ruins of his old amusement park.

The show’s finale can be summarized as, “Everybody died! And then everything exploded! The end!” It was hokey, but the compelling kind of goofy that makes people watch B-movies.

Jacob Pattison’s ghoulish and physical performance as the Ringmaster provided a show highlight.

Pattison said that most of the costumes, animatronics and special effects for both the show and the rest of the park were designed in-house.

Propmaster Bryan Remaley, who worked in Hollywood for 10 years, handles mechanical aspects while propmaster Andrew Kinworthy handles the art design.

Remaley said about 80 percent of Nightfall’s props are made entirely in-house and another 10 percent are built mostly in-house but use off-the-shelf parts.

Construction of “The Aftermath” required heavy machinery to transport some parts, such as the wrecked freeway area.

Most Nightfall construction begins in June every year, though work on a barrel mutant started in April this year.

Ramaley said Old Tucson ropes off construction areas so visitors can’t sneak a peek. Secrecy has gotten easier, however, now that the park closes for the summer.

In addition to building sets, Ramaley and his crew handle maintenance. He estimates the electronic and pneumatic props get triggered at least 1,000 times a night, so they require lots of upkeep to keep from turning into piles of twisted steel and melting latex.

Ramaley willingly admitted to technical problems in the attractions, but said his crews work hard to constantly tweak and improve the exhibits.

Overall, Nightfall is a corny, yet endearing event that is as fundamentally Tucsonan as saguaros and an underfunded school system. Behind-the-scenes crews put lots of love into every animatronic skeleton and rubber murderclown face.

Self-respecting citizens owe themselves at least one visit.



Nightfall at Old Tucson Studios

When: Thursday-Sunday, through Oct. 28

Where: Old Tucson Studios, 201 S. Kinney Road

Admission: $25, with discounts available


Rob Jensen carefully applies his makeup to play the crude killer clown “Pappy” in Old Tucson Studio’s Nightfall comedy/horror show. Nightfall continues through Oct. 28. Photo by Thomas F. Johnson.

Cello, art combine for Nov. 8 recital

Cello, art combine for Nov. 8 recital


Music with art is the theme for a Pima Community College interdisciplinary faculty concert on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. at the West Campus Center for the Arts Recital Hall.

Theodore Buchholz will perform cello selections including:

  • “Suite 1” by J.S. Bach featuring the photography of Kate Breakey
  • “Fantasy on Two Klee Studies” by Augusta Read Thomas
  • “Gallery” by Robert Muczynski featuring the paintings of Charles E. Burchfield

“Visual art and music are manifestations of human expression beyond language,” Bucholz said in a news release. “This recital was conceived out of a desire to create a unique experience for the eyes and ears of the audience.”

Tickets cost $6, with discounts available. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday, noon-5 p.m. and one hour before performances.

For more information, call 206-6986 or visit

-By Bruce Hardt

Music faculty member Theodore Buchholz with his cello. Photo courtesy of PCC Center for the Arts.


Best Bets: Halloween events


‘Halloween’ stabs back into Tucson theaters

Compiled by Bruce Hardt

The bogeyman is back this Halloween. Horror classic “Halloween” will play at select theaters across the country, including three theaters in Tucson on Oct. 25 and 30.

“Halloween” is the king of all slasher flicks — an atmospheric, bleak masterpiece that birthed many a horror cliché and has been parodied and endlessly watered down.

Seeing this 1978 gem on the big screen is an event worthy of the eponymous holiday, and on par with any cheap-scare haunted house.

The movie will be accompanied by a documentary short, “You Can’t Kill the Bogeyman: 35 Years of Halloween,” which details the film’s impact on culture and the horror genre.

“Halloween” will play at Century Park Place 20 and Tower Theaters at Arizona Pavilions on Oct. 25 and 30. The film will also play at the Harkins Tucson Spectrum 18 on Oct. 25 only.

For more information, including tickets, visit



Compiled by Miki Jennings


Club Congress Halloween Party

Club Congress will host Halloweek at Congress on Saturday, Oct. 27, and the following Wednesday, which is Halloween night. The fun starts at 8 p.m. both nights.

On Oct. 27, patrons can check out Club Congress’ first-ever haunted house.

There will also be live music and costume contests, and $500 in cash prizes.

Bands will include Brainstorm, the Modeens, Voodoo Organist, RCougar and 80’s and Gentleman.



What: Club Congress Halloween Party

Where: Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.

When: Oct. 27 and 31 at 8 p.m.

Cost: $5

Details: 622-8848



Haunted Ruins at Valley of the Moon

A park attraction and interactive theater wrapped into one, Valley of the Moon offers fun events in a whimsical space. During October, Valley of the Moon is hosting the Haunted Ruins Halloween Show, featuring Van Helsing attempting to save the world from the Dark Lord.



What: Haunted Ruins Halloween Show

Where: Valley of the Moon, 2544 E. Allen Road

When: Oct. 26-30, 6:30-9 p.m.

Cost: $8 general admission (ages 8-13, $5)

Details: 323-1331


Halloween Dress-up Pet Fair

Animal lovers can check out a Halloween-themed pet fair at Cat Mountain Station on Sunday, Oct. 28. The event will include pet adoptions, a petting zoo, a vendor expo and a costume contest for pets and owners.



What: Halloween Dress-up Pet Fair

Where: Cat Mountain Station, 2740 S. Kinney Road

When: Oct. 28, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Details: 578-8795


‘The Exorcist’ at Fox Theatre

Get into the Halloween spirit watching scary movies at the historic Fox Theatre. On Oct. 30, the Fox will be show “The Exorcist,” one of America’s most iconic horror films.



What: “The Exorcist”

Where: Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.

When: Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $7 general, $5 military, student and senior discount

Details: 624-1515

Pride events fill October calendar

Pride events fill October calendar


Compiled by Miki Jennings

While June is the official lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month, the city of Tucson tends to hold more pride events in October.

The milder weather creates a more inviting environment for Tucson’s LGBTQ (the “Q” stands for “questioning”) community and allies.

Scheduled events include:


Multifaith Pride Service: “Love Wins”

Oct. 11

Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, , 2331 E. Adams St., will host an LGBTQ-friendly religious service from 7-9 p.m. This year’s theme is “Love Wins.”

The Multifaith Pride Service is a collaboration between the church, the Wingspan Multifaith Working Group and the LGBT Jewish Inclusion Project.

Doors open at 6 p.m. A reception will follow the service.

For more information, call 577-8383, extension 218, or email


Pride on Parade, Pride in the Desert

Oct. 13

Tucson’s 35th annual pride events Oct. 11-13 will feature all-local business venders and stage performers.

Standard admission is free, but VIP tent passes are available. A pass costs $25 for Saturday or $30 for the entire weekend.

The Oct. 13 Pride on Parade will start at 11 a.m. on Sixth Avenue at 18th Street, and move north to Armory Park. This year’s theme is “Pride Links Us Together.”

Pride in the Desert festivities begin Oct. 13 at noon at Armory Park, 220 S. Fifth Ave.

Entertainment from 2-8 p.m. will include Flight School, Leila Lopez, Jaime J, Grite Leon, Janee Starr, Cirque Roots, Courtney Robbins and Black Cherry Burlesque.

A multifaith group commitment ceremony will be held in the Armory Park Senior Center at 6:30 p.m.

Other weekend events include a Queertopia pool party on Oct. 12 and an after-party at Hotel Congress on Oct. 13.

For details, visit or


All-inclusive yoga with YOGA(y)

Fluxx Studios is hosting a new YOGA(y) yoga and meditation class on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. The instructors stress an all-inclusive attitude and welcoming space.

The studio, located at 414 E. Ninth St. near Fourth Avenue, is open to people of all backgrounds and sexual orientations looking for a safe and accepting yoga studio.

There is a suggested donation of $5 to $10, but no one will be turned away. The instructors welcome yoga newbies as well as yogis needing special accommodations.

Bring your water bottle and a yoga mat if you have one. A select number of mats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, visit

Miki Jennings/Aztec Press 2010 photo

BEST BETS: Geeks flock to Congress Nintendo Party; beer and wine tasting

BEST BETS: Geeks flock to Congress Nintendo Party; beer and wine tasting



Compiled by Bruce Hardt

Sept. 15:

Nintendo Party featuring Minibosses at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. 9 p.m. $3. 21 and up. Details:

Engage in some wholesome, affordable nerdiness at a Nintendo Party at Club Congress. In celebration of 1980s and ‘90s culture, this event will tickle your nostalgia with an eclectic assortment of activities.

Old-school video game aficionados can prove their go-kart, evil wizard-defeating abilities in a Nintendo-platform tournament.

Those unlearned in the skills of noob decimation will have the options of pizza decorating, vintage toy showcases, an ‘80s and ‘90s costume contest and an art exhibition.

Music lovers will also be treated to the music of Minibosses, a Chandler-based stoner metal band whose nerd-inspired music is appropriate for such an event.

Come out, geek out and, most importantly, have fun.

Sept. 22:

Suicidal Tendencies at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. 7 p.m. $25. All ages. Details:

Thrash and hardcore punk legends Suicidal Tendencies will grace Tucson with their presence, providing fans with possibly one of the best live heavy-music performances in southern Arizona this year.

Mike Muir is Suicidal Tendencies’ continuous maestro. Since forming the Venice Beach, Calif., band in 1981, Muir has worked with a pantheon of talented musicians to create a superior brand of thrash-infused hardcore.

Their sound is replete with ferocity, angst and potent commentary, augmented with breakneck speed and sweeping riffs.

Hillbilly Bo and Flying Donkey Punch will support the headliners.

For any professed fan of metal and general brutality, Suicidal Tendencies is a performance not to be missed.



Compiled by Miki Jennings

Tastings are a great way to develop a more discerning palate and figure out what kinds of drinks you like. Check out tastings at these local businesses and try something new.


Beer tastings are held every Wednesday and Friday from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday from noon-4 p.m. Tastings extend to 7 p.m. during Second Saturdays celebrations.

Pints range from $4-$5.

Borderlands’ beers have a great taste. Names worthy of Arizona include Ol’ Loco (an India pale ale), Santa Rita (amber ale), La Morena (nutty brown ale) and Prickly Pear Wheat beer. My favorite is their Noche Dulce, a refreshing vanilla porter.

Food trucks are on-site Wednesdays and Fridays. Live music plays every Friday.


Borderlands Brewing Company

Address: 119 E. Toole Ave.

Phone: 261-8773


Beer tasting hours:

Wednesdays and Fridays: 4-7 p.m.

Saturdays: noon-4 p.m. (noon-7 p.m. during Second Saturdays)

Cost: $4-$5 per pint.



Pastiche is a more upscale establishment on Campbell Avenue, just north of the University of Arizona. The restaurant offers wine tastings every Friday from 5-6:30 p.m. Cost is $5.05 per person.



Address: 3025 N. Campbell Ave.

Phone: 325-3333


Wine tasting hours: Fridays: 5-6:30 p.m.

Cost: $5.05


DESTINATIONS: Hat’s Games: a store for role-play

DESTINATIONS: Hat’s Games: a store for role-play




Racks of books, glass cases filled with “Warhammer” miniatures and a barrel of dice greet customers who step inside Hat’s Games.

Insignia from “Magic the Gathering” and “Warhammer 40000” adorn walls of the store, which caters to tabletop role-playing, war, board and card games.

A custom “Warhammer” robot stands more than 2 feet tall, towering over miniatures that measure less than 5 inches.

The front counter contains a plethora of snacks for sale. Tables for playing games crowd a vast back room.

Patrons can expect to always find at least one or two people playing games of every kind. Dozens of gamers attend on the most packed nights.

Gamer David Spirack, who plays in a Generic Universal Role-Playing System every Tuesday, said he works across the street from Hat’s and decided to check it out.

“It was sort of an accident,” he said.

When he saw the wide, sprawling back room, he knew the store was the place for him.

Manager Dave Hat started the store by taking out a loan to buy the remnants of a long-gone business called “Things for Thinkers.” The salvaged items had been stored in an old train car.

Hat’s advice on how to get into gaming: “Check out the local community. If you like the community, then buy the starter.”

First you must find a gaming group to join.

“There are some groups who meet every day, and some that only meet once a month,” Hat said. “Depends on what suits you.”

The store dedicates lots of shelf space to “Pathfinder,” a spinoff/competitor to “Dungeons & Dragons.”

Hat suggested that interested gamers visit the store on days the Pathfinder Society meets.

The group’s next gathering will be May 20.

Tuesdays are usually the best night for getting a game going at Hat’s, Spirack said.

Searching for games online via the website is another option.

Spirack has noticed a decline in gamer turnout over the last few months. He speculated it could be because of a temporary lull, or because several game masters were not able to continue their games.

Other top Hat’s sellers include role-playing games that are spinoffs of “Warhammer 40000,” such as “Dark Heresy,” “Deathwatch” and “Rogue Trader.”

The store does not carry the “World of Darkness” and “Dungeons & Dragons” games, Hat said, because of their move to online-exclusive content and because their parent companies don’t provide support for small game store owners like him.

Things might change with the advent of an upcoming fifth edition of “Dungeons & Dragons,” he added.

Hat, who doesn’t have time to game as often as he would like, said his favorites are sci-fi, board games, card games and historical games.

He said the weirdest thing that has happened in his store was when a ringtail cat lived on the roof. The critter snuck in at night and ate snacks.

In the future, Hat wants to expand by acquiring several other entertainment-oriented stores. A comic store currently occupies a separate section of his floor space.

However, games will remain his main focus.

Gamers gather on a Tuesday night to play a Generic Universal Role-Playing System, or GURPS, campaign. Photo by Thomas Johnson.

FOODIE FINDS: Coffee shops and study places

FOODIE FINDS: Coffee shops and study places



As the semester comes to a close, many of us spend long days and late nights writing essays and studying for finals.

Whether it be a loud roommate or distracting electronics, home might not be the best study place.

To keep from losing time to video games or hanging out with friends, many students go to designated study areas.

And what better commodity to have at your study space than coffee to keep you energized while you work?

Here’s a list of coffee shops around the different Pima campuses to check out for study purposes as well as the caffeine.



Address: 3191 E. Valencia Road Phone: 294-4995

Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m.


If you don’t actually like the taste of coffee, you’re in luck.

CaffeNation offers a huge selection of specialty-flavored mochas that can come hot, iced or blended.

For less than $4, you can get a 16-ounce mocha in just about any flavor you can think of, including chocolate cherry, orange, peppermint, caramel, French silk and peanut butter.

Every menu item is moderately priced. A small hot chocolate costs less than $2. For under $3, you can get a muffin, scone or bagel with cream cheese.


Epic Cafe

Address: 745 N. Fourth Ave.

Phone: 624-6844

Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-midnight


Less than a mile from Downtown Campus, Epic is conveniently located on the north end of Fourth Avenue and offers a great menu of drip coffee, espresso and blended drinks.

I recommend the blended brownie mocha. For about $4.50, you get a big cup full of brownie-flavored coffee slush. Doesn’t sound amazing? Try it. Get it with whipped cream. Study. Be happy.

The Wi-Fi  can get slow during peak hours, so try to visit when it’s not too busy.


Crave Coffee Bar

Address: 4530 E. Broadway Blvd.

Phone: 445-6665

Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

It’s a bit of a drive from East Campus, but unfortunately there’s not much of coffee selection nearby. There are plenty of Starbucks in the area, but Crave has an atmosphere only a local cafe can offer.

It offers a full menu of assorted hot and cold beverages, plus delicious pastries and desserts such as fresh-baked muffins, apple strudel and tiramisu.


Glass Onion Cafe

Address: 1990 W. River Road

Phone: 293-6050

Hours: Vary daily. See website.


The Glass Onion Cafe might be the most unusual coffee shop in town. The place is fun, with a long drink menu offering coffee, hot chocolate and even milkshakes.

The food menu includes soup and salads, vegetarian and vegan options and Beatles-themed sandwiches like “Why Don’t We Do It in the Roast?”

The Glass Onion hosts music and open mic nights at week’s end, so keep that in mind if you’re hoping for a quiet spot.

The cafe opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends. It closes between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. during the week.



Address: 245 E. Congress St.

Phone: 272-8949

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.


West Campus also lacks a decent selection of nearby businesses.

For something different, head a few miles east to downtown to Sparkroot, an artsy little space with unique decor and a tasty menu.

Sparkroot has drip coffee for about $3. Lattes and great hot chocolate cost about $4. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the specialty “Nola” coffee drink for $3. The menu also offers pressed panini sandwiches.


A cup of hot chocolate from artsy Sparkroot costs about $4. Photo by Miki Jennings.