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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.

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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.

PCC student leads ghost tours

PCC student leads ghost tours


It’s a dark, brisk night on Congress Street. Tucson’s night owls and partygoers are out and about, drinking and socializing.

Over by the Rialto, a small crowd gathers around Robert Owens.

Owens, a 22-year-old Pima Community College student, works as a tour guide for Spirit Expeditions.

The Oregon-based business hosts ghost tours nationwide. Tucson enjoys the company’s top ratings on Groupon, thanks to guests who give positive feedback.

Owens grew up in Florida as a Southern Baptist and said he believes in ghosts.

The political science major wouldn’t call himself a history junkie, but is very interested in the historical aspect of the tours.

“First and foremost, this is a ghost tour,” Owens said. “What I see when I do these tours is you can’t really talk about the ghosts of a place if you don’t talk about the history of the place also. The two often tie together.”

Owens is a one-man operation. He designed the tour route, chose the destinations and did extensive historical and urban folklore research on the locations.

He takes guests to the most talked-about spots, such as Hotel Congress and The Rialto, and to places without much buzz, like the Scottish Rite Cathedral and the Pioneer Building.

Owens owes his job to a friend who is chronically unemployed and always looks up postings on craigslist. His friend approached him, saying, “I found the perfect job for you.”

After calling, wrangling a Web interview on the fly and getting hired on the spot, Owens has been guiding believers and skeptics since December 2013.

Owens doesn’t plan on leading ghost tours as a career but for now he enjoys his part-time job for the income.

He also juggles two other jobs, all while attending PCC full time.

Owens interns at U.S. Rep. Ron Barber’s office, working with the case management employees. He also serves as secretary on the board of directors for a Tucson horse rescue operation, Heart of Tucson.

The ghost tours attract a variety of guests.

Recent participant Linda Himmel is a winter visitor from Wisconsin who found the tour on Groupon. Himmel said she came more for the history but had fun with Owens’ spooky stories.

“I think our tour guide, Robert, is very well versed on the history and what he’s doing,” Himmel said. “He’s been a Tucsonan for 16 years, so he knows the town and he’s obviously interested in sharing the information.”

Himmel said she and her husband had been to the Rialto and Hotel Congress, but had never visited the Fox Theatre or Scottish Rite Cathedral.

“I would highly recommend that people do this tour,” she said. “If they think they’re going to hang around Tucson, it’s interesting to find out the history of downtown.”

Her husband does not believe in ghosts and she is a skeptic, Himmel said.

Owens respects his guests’ varied opinions.

“With these tours, I try to keep an open mind with everybody’s beliefs,” he said. “For me, it’s as much about the history as it is the ghosts.”

His primary goal supersedes both aspects.

“Above all, it’s about people leaving with a smile and having a good time,” he said. “That’s what I’m most interested in.”

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Robert Owens ends his ghost tour across from Hotel Congress. Owens, 22, is a
full-time Pima Community College student who works three jobs.

Body Love challenges beauty ideals

Body Love challenges beauty ideals


Unjust ideals of beauty have been projected onto women all throughout history. Every day we are exposed to the idea that we must look a certain way to be beautiful or just accepted.

Until we all move forward and put the emphasis on positive body image, this dangerous projection of what beauty is will continue to imprison us in self-doubt.

The Body Love Conference is challenging social norms and encouraging women to love themselves, no matter their shape or size.

The event is the first of its kind, offering a full day of workshops, classes and activities to foster acceptance of all body types.

The event was founded by Tucson blogger and plus-size model Jes Baker. On her blog, “The Militant Baker,” she writes on positive body image and strives to help women break through society’s misguided standards of perfection.

Baker welcomed guests into the Grand Ballroom at the University of Arizona on April 5. Each attendee was handed a blank name tag with a line to fill in what they loved about themselves.

“That’s a hard topic,” said Amy Kuchard, who travelled from San Diego for the event. “Obviously we are talking about it today. I think I’m beautiful because I’m independent and self-sufficient. About my body, tough, I love my tattoos.”

Within the ballroom, participants mingled with one another in an environment cultivating safety.

Local organizations advocating equal rights, body love and sexual abuse treatment set up information tables. Planned Parenthood and The Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault were among the groups, and gave away free condoms.

Throughout the day, 35 speakers from all over the nation held a variety of presentations and classes.

The activities ranged from light-hearted to serious topics, mirroring the ups and downs along the path to empowerment.

Local dancer Ida Tapper of Don’t Blink Burlesque taught some sexy tips of the trade in a beginner’s burlesque class. She challenged her students to accentuate both their favorite and least favorite features with confidence.

Keynote speaker Tess Munster received a standing ovation after sharing her personal story of perseverance. Munster is a plus-size model, makeup artist, body image activist and blogger from L.A.

As a teen, she was subjected to bullying and continued to face hardships as she began to pursue her dream of modeling.

“I had been told my entire life I was too big, even at a much smaller size then you see in front of you today,” Munster said. “The tentative attempts I had made perusing modeling had all been met with the same response; ‘Too big and too short.’”

Munster has since been featured in many international publications and was named one of the Top Plus Models by Huffington Post and Vogue Italia.

“It’s your body, don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t worthy of being loved by you and by others, and don’t let anyone tell you how much of it you can show,” she said.

Plans are already in motion to continue the Body Love Conference in the future.

“I think it turned out really well. I wasn’t expecting around 500 people to go,” volunteer Emily Carlisle said.

“It’s really exciting to see that amount of people since it’s our first time,” she said. “Hopefully next year we will have more international people coming.”

Body Love is an event that has planted seeds of change, and if we learn to love ourselves for who we are we can lead a happier life. Let’s focus on keeping our bodies healthy, rather than obsessing over pounds and clothes sizes.

For additional information, visit

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Jamie Verwys/Aztec Press
A burlesque performer, The World Famous Bob, (in black top and red skirt, with microphone) leads a discussion on self-confidence at the Body Love Conference. One participant teamed with Bob in an exercise about personal heros.

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Jes Baker addresses the audience while hosting the first Body Love conference April 5 at the University of Arizona. Baker is a blogger, model, and advocate for positive body imagine and mental health awareness.


Herding cats: You CAN toilet train a kitty

Herding cats: You CAN toilet train a kitty


As any cat owner can tell you, nothing is worse than the mess or smell that comes from a litter box.

Add the constant cleanings and it becomes a serious inconvenience.

Fortunately, there is an alternative that eliminates the need for a litter box all together. You can toilet train your cat.

While it might seem that teaching your cat to use a toilet would be time consuming and complicated, it is actually quite simple.

Amazon sells kits ranging from $30 to $50 that are designed to make the transition from litter box to toilet easier on your pet.

These kits use a system of removable trays that fit into a training seat, one for each stage of training.

Depending on which kit you use, there will be three to five stages.

The first stage is a ring that covers the training seat and is filled with flushable litter.

The following stages use the same concept with the litter but have a small hole in the middle. The hole gets larger until the training is no longer needed.

The process can be completed in as little as a month but the time frame and whether it will be successful depends entirely on the cat.

To avoid failure during toilet training attempts, make sure not to rush the cat and follow directions.

Some tips:

•Start by moving the litter box into the bathroom that will be used for training.

•Switch to flushable litter before using the training system to ensure the cat will know where to go.

•Start elevating the existing litter box a bit each day by stacking phone books or something similar underneath.

•When the litter box is at a height level with the toilet, set the box on top of the toilet.

•If the cat cannot successfully jump to this height, add a small box to make the climb easier.

•Switch to the training system when the cat is comfortable, and change the training rings based on how well your cat adjusts to the new system.

•Once the cat can go without using the training rings, the cat will be fully trained the humans will regain use of their toilet.

Firsthand experience taught a few lessons:

•There is a chance your cat will have accidents during this process.

•Teaching the cat to flush the toilet will result in a new playtime activity and a possible water bill increase.

•If a second bathroom is not available for humans, the training seat is easy to remove.

•Regularly wash the training system to keep things clean for both you and your pet.

•If your cat does not want to use the toilet and refuses to do so, don’t force it.

•Be patient! Not all cats can make the transition overnight.

These systems make no promises. However, if done properly and with the cooperation of your cat, you will soon be living in a litter-free home.


Rescue kitten fully trained in a month

My roommate and I adopted a rescue kitten, Chesty Purrer, seven months ago.

After a few weeks of dealing with the mess that comes with a litter box, we decided to toilet train him.

We looked online and in different pet stores, then decided on the three-step Litter Kwitter system.

Rather than follow the directions, we decided that our kitten was smart enough to understand his new bathroom setup.

Luckily for us, he did figure it out quickly.

Other than the piles of litter he kicked onto the floor, it wasn’t too messy.

Within a month, he had gone through all three stages and was using the toilet without the Litter Kwitter.

Now Chesty is able to use any bathroom without issue and is totally litter-free.

SportKore website promises fitness fun

SportKore website promises fitness fun


The necessity of regular fitness is undisputed. A weekly total of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity reduces the risk of health problems, according to physical activity guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In a world crowded with midterms and work hours, how does the average student find those weekly minutes? What if we look at fitness as a game instead of a taxing life requirement?

These are the very questions Pima Community College alumnus Isaac Tavares asked.

Tavares, a graduate of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, created a social game to help athletes become better in sport and fitness endeavors.

SportKore is a social networking website designed to motivate people to become fitter, faster and healthier. Once the site’s beta testing launches on May 29, users will be able to create a profile, connect with others and have fun completing exercise challenges for points.

“The vision is to unite the world through sports and fitness while having plenty of fun,” Tavares said. “Why not turn it into a game? Working out doesn’t just have to be about work.”

Tavares’ journey began in 2008, when he left the U.S. Army after serving as an infantryman in two tours in Iraq.

He dedicated himself to his education and began to knock out basic classes at Pima. After graduating in two years, he transferred to UA.

Mike Lopez, student life coordinator of Downtown Campus, remembers Tavares’ time at Pima.

“Isaac was a student that showed the desire to use Pima to connect and continue his education but also understood the importance of connecting with people while pursuing his education,” Lopez said.

“I am so proud and happy that Isaac is continuing to grow and develop as a student and total person,” Lopez added.

Tavares began to conceptualize SportKore in January 2013, when he realized his own fitness had gone to the backburner after leaving the military.

“There’s a word called ‘gamification’ out there right now,” he said. “It’s including game mechanics into your daily life to try and make your activities more fun. I try to apply that same type of idea to fitness.”

As CEO and sole founder of the site, Tavares has dedicated considerable time to SportKore but lots of work remains to be done.

He is currently recruiting interns to join him as marketing agents. Interns will assist with social media, promoting SportKore and conducting marketing research.

“If they are into business, it’s helpful to get that experience and shadow someone going through the process,” Tavares said.

The internship will conclude May 29, but summer internships are a possibility.

Tavares will launch a crowdfunding campaign March 12-April 30 on, where supporters can donate to the cause. “Perk packages” are available for donations ranging from $5 to $500. A $25 donation gives the donor lifetime access to the SportKore site.

As someone who has been through the Pima experience, Tavares offers advice to college students.

“Start building your own brand,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to throw yourself out there because you never know where that might lead.”

For more information, visit and sign up for its email newsletter. Those interested in interning may send their resume to

Pima Community College graduate Issac Taveres promotes his website, SportKore. (Aztec Press photo by Jamie Verwys.)

Pima Community College graduate Issac Taveres promotes his website, SportKore. (Aztec Press photo by Jamie Verwys.)

Generation Cool draws fans of all ages

Generation Cool draws fans of all ages


Generation Cool is the latest retro-style boutique making a hubbub on Fourth Avenue by drawing inspiration from ‘80s and ‘90s pop culture.

Robert “Slobby Robby” Hall came up with the concept for Generation Cool by drawing from his personal interests before returning to the workforce after raising a child.

Hall received an associate degree in illustration from Pima Community College and a bachelor’s degree in art education and printmaking from the University of Arizona.

“I graduated from the U of A and then I had about three to four years where I wasn’t working,” he said. “Getting back and thinking of how I was going to make money, nothing seemed more natural than working for myself.”

Generation Cool houses both a vintage clothing and toy store, and an arcade and snack bar.

While an arcade in a clothing store might sound odd, Hall understood the fluctuations of retail locations.

“The arcade came with the more business side of the idea,” he said. “I thought in my head, ‘what’s a steady money-maker?’”

The real party happens on Saturday nights from 7-10 p.m., when Generation Cool hosts an Arcade Disco with arcade games, disc jockeys and free pizza.

“It’s a weekly party night with games and contests, all revolving around our arcade,” Hall said.

Hall hopes his store will bridge generation gaps.

Rick Cano regularly visits in hopes of finding rare Ninja Turtle toys, not for collecting but for playing with his son.

“I have a 4-year-old who’s collecting all the new Ninja Turtle toys, so now he’s digging up my old ones from when I was a kid,” Cano said. “I’m trying to piece together all the ones I was missing. My son and I get to play together.”

But Generation Cool is not for just children and parents.

Hall plans to host in-store concerts by local and underground rappers. In the meantime, disc jockey J.R. “Sid the Kid” Harrison works the turntables every day from 4 p.m. until closing.

The downtown community has supported the store since it opened a few months ago.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Hall said. “Everyone gets it and I don’t have to explain myself a lot.”

Overall, Hall wants to create a space where Tucson’s young and old can hang out.

“I just want this to be a comfortable place where you can bring your kids, your parents or your friends and have a great time,” he said.


Generation Cool

Address: 404 N. Fourth Ave.

Phone: 623-3407


Monday-Thursday: noon-8 p.m.

Friday-Saturday: noon-midnight

Sunday: noon-6 p.m.

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D&D Pinball preserves classic games

D&D Pinball preserves classic games



It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when silicon chips and electronics didn’t dominate our lives. Back then, pinball was a popular form of entertainment.


Pinball machines were easier to find then than video games are today. They were fixtures in bars, arcades, pizza parlors, bowling alleys and movie theaters.


The 1980s brought about the computer revolution, and video games pushed pinball into the background.


While pinball’s popularity waned, however, it never disappeared. Thanks to places like D&D Pinball, it is making a comeback.


D&D, located at 331 E. Seventh St., is the home-away-from-home for its founders, Tucson native Gary Dillahunty and his wife, University of Arizona graduate Jane Decker.


The arcade is “dedicated to the art, sport and preservation of pinball,” according to its mission statement.


The couple never intended to open a pinball “museum.” Decker didn’t even play as a child.


A trip to Sin City changed everything.


“We went to the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, had a great time there, and came back and bought a few games for ourselves,” Decker said. “People would come over and play them and we saw how much they liked them.”


That inspired the couple to open their own pinball place in Tucson, “ to get pinball out there so people can enjoy it,” Decker said.


They opened D&D in September 2013.The initial reception was positive and has been gaining popularity ever since.


“People are hugging us and saying ‘thank you for doing this,’” Decker said. “They’re excited to bring their kids down, excited to bring their friends.”


Tucsonan Eric Lyons, who volunteers at D&D, was one of the first people in the door.


“When I got wind of it, I was stalking them online, asking them ‘when are you opening? When are you opening?’” he said.


Lyons was soon volunteering to help out and has since become an indispensable part of the team.


Because Decker and Dillahunty work full time at Raytheon, they depend upon volunteers like Lyons to help keep the machines in working order, the facility clean and the doors open.


Currently, they’re only open on weekends, but that could change.


“Eventually, if the demand is there, we’ll probably expand our hours a bit,” Decker said.


D&D has more than 30 machines available for play. The oldest ones are from the early 1970s, the newest are just a few years old and there are examples of basically every generation of machines in between.


Admission is free. Most games cost either 25 or 50 cents to play, although a few of the newer ones cost 75 cents.


D&D seems to appeal to a wide variety of people, cutting across racial, gender, age and social boundaries.


“One guy was 93 and some of the kids are 3, so it’s all ages,” Decker said.


There are chairs available for those who want to relax. Step stools are available for children, who seem to really enjoy the clacking bumpers, flashing lights and ringing bells.


Josh Marsden of Tucson, who also volunteers at D&D, brings his son for quality father-son time.


“It’s a great venue for young and old to come in and play machines that are basically unachievable for most people,” Marsden said. “Unless you’ve got a rich uncle who has a really cool game room, you’re not going to get to see these machines, let alone play them.”


While D&D focuses on preserving and promoting pinball for players of all skill levels, the owners host tournaments for more competitive players.


They also re-invest their profits, both into their operation and into local charities. More information is available on their website.


Whether you are already a pinball fan or have never dropped a quarter in one, stop by and check out D&D. It is one of the few places where you can experience the machines that entertained us before everyone had a videogame system in their pockets.




D&D Pinball

Address: 331 E. Seventh St.

Phone: 777-4969



Friday: 3 p.m.-9 p.m.

Saturday: noon-9 p.m.

Sunday: noon-5 p.m.

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Mel Jorgenson of Tucson drops a quarter for a round of “Medieval Madness” at D&D Pinball, a classic-style arcade located at 331 E. Seventh St. (Michael Anderson/ Aztec Press)

STOMPING GROUNDS: A new tattoo era inks onto Tucson’s skin

STOMPING GROUNDS: A new tattoo era inks onto Tucson’s skin


After 11 years in the tattoo industry and seven years operating his own shop, Isaiah Toothtaker has created one of Tucson’s finest body art parlors in Staring Without Caring.

In an era in which tattooing styles are diverse and widespread, Toothtaker sensed a lack of traditional fundamentals during his time as an apprentice.

“I think what inspired me to open my own shop was to fill a gap and a void that wasn’t really here in Tucson,” Toothtaker said.

“There wasn’t so much of a parlor that did a lot of custom work in a sense where it still had a lot of elements to traditional tattooing, still gave a lot of nods to what was traditionally done but also being an upscale shop, something that was different than a lot of street shops.”

With a reputation for possessing vibrant quality, along with clean consistency and an individual uniqueness labored into every design, Toothtaker’s employees understand the significance of technicality and cohesiveness.

“It’s not that we’re marketing or advertising something, it’s mostly off our reputation and for people who have a vocabulary for tattooing,” he said. “They can come in to us and not be overpriced. They get it on a fair basis and you know it’s something more or less customized.”

As styles of body art evolve, Toothtaker feels confident his brand is recognized not only statewide but across the nation.

“I would hope that we have a certain esteem amongst people who do know what tattooing is and like what quality tattooing is,” he said.

That esteem is one of the attributes artists at Staring Without Caring seek to provide to their patrons during their experience under the needle.

Toothtaker said harnessing the talents of his apprentices helps to drive and inspire him.

“The challenge to constantly progress and the stimulation that I’m having right now, the artistic output I’m having right now and body of work I’m producing right now, is my favorite moment,” he said.

Shannon Garvey has been under Toothtaker’s tutelage for six months.

“This apprenticeship is different probably than usual,” she said. “We’re moving faster because of circumstances of the shop, we’re learning faster and we’re tattooing more stuff in a short period of time.”

Although the stress of an apprenticeship can be taxing, a mutual benefit awaits at the end for both individuals.

“I just feel like I’m lucky to have learned a lot,” Garvey said. “He’s really good at specifying the way he teaches things to each apprentice.”

Toothtaker wants his team of employees to maintain a humble mindset.

“My perspective is very myopic,” he said. “I’m only concentrated on the progression of tattooists that are employed by me and myself.”

He compared the tattoo experience to solving a riddle or puzzle.

“I think that some of the biggest satisfaction I can take from it is being able to bring an idea or a concept that’s from somebody’s mind into fruition,” he said.

Walk-ins are welcome. The shop charges a $150 hourly rate for large sessions.

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Isiah Toothtaker works the counter at his Staring Without Caring tattoo parlor, as apprentice Shannon Garvey works in the background. (Diego Lozano III/Aztec Press)



Leap into Feb 29

Leap into Feb 29


If Mayan prophecies about the world ending in 2012 are correct, then we should celebrate this Feb. 29 with enthusiasm.

A leap year occurs every four years to compensate for a small miscalculation in the calendar. If it is a century year, no leap year will occur unless the year is divisible by 400.

One year represents a full rotation of the Earth around the sun. One full rotation is 365.24 days, not an even 365. If leap years did not happen, the calendar would be off by 24 days every 100 years.

A friendly dog awaits visitors to Cata Vinos, which will host a Sadie Hawkins Day wine tasting celebration in honor of leap year. Photo By Maggie Costello-Kessler

One of the most popular leap year traditions began in fifth-century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women must wait for men to propose. St. Patrick agreed to designate Feb. 29 as the day on which a woman could propose to the man she loved.

A similar American tradition, Sadie Hawkins Day, was introduced in 1937 in the cartoon strip “Li’l Abner.” In the storyline, Sadie and other women in Dogpatch were allowed to pursue and catch the town’s most eligible bachelors.

Local wine tasting shop CataVinos will celebrate leap year day with a Sadie Hawkins Day celebration at its 3063 N. Alvernon Way location.

Any woman who proposes to her boyfriend between 4 and 8 p.m. on Feb. 29 will enjoy six free tastings from a special line of wines produced in leap years. For anyone not intending to propose, the wine tasting will cost $10. The price for non-proposers drops to $8 with a take-home purchase of $10 or more.

For further details, visit or call 323-3063.

So have fun this leap year’s day! It could be the last Feb. 29 on Earth.

An elusive search for downed jet on Butterfly Trail

An elusive search for downed jet on Butterfly Trail


It’s 3:45 p.m. and dark on the backside of the Catalina Mountains. My legs are screaming for a break, but I know there are still a few more miles of hiking left. I stop to take a drink from my Powerade.

I had decided to spend my Easter searching, not for eggs but for the remains of a downed fighter jet from the ‘70s in the Catalina Mountains. It is said the wreckage resides somewhere on the Butterfly Trail.

As I drove down Tanque Verde Road, I consumed my breakfast: a banana. I knew that would come back to haunt me at some point.

After driving up Catalina Highway and paying the $5 fee to enter federal lands, I arrived at the start of my longest hike ever.

When I stepped from my car at 12:45 p.m., I realized my second mistake: I didn’t pack a light sweatshirt. I had completely forgotten to take into account that higher elevations mean colder temperatures.

However, I wasn’t about to let a little wind chill deter me from finding this crashed jet.

I began my hike at Bigelow Trail to get to the Butterfly Trail. Immediately, I was captivated by trees that seem to stretch up toward the sky. There are a few fallen trees, and others have scars from a past fire.

The trail was very well maintained and pretty easy to follow, though I ended up going the wrong way about 5 minutes in. Before long, I found my way back.

After hiking uphill for a bit, I reached the beginning of Butterfly Trail and a breathtaking view of the valley below. Houses dot the vast expanse of valley floor.

I pressed on down Butterfly Trail, which led me through a series of switchbacks with uphill and downhill segments. The farther down the mountain I went, the greener the scenery became.


Fire scars and new growth are seen from a vantage point in the Catalina mountains on the Butterfly Trail. Photo by Stephen Real.

It soon became obvious why the trail got its name. Butterflies would flit away as I got close and settle somewhere else. Many lizards also darted across the path.

After hiking for about an hour, I stopped to check my map and realized I was close to the fighter jet crash site.

The trail took me to a small creek where everything was bright green. I hopped across a few rocks and continued down a path lined with flowers on both sides. All the while, I scanned the scenery, searching for that fighter jet

When I reached another portion of the creek, something caught my eye. It was a big chunk of metal leaning against a tree. The rust and spider webs told me it has been there for a while. I had found a piece of the fighter jet.

I continued down the trail, anxious to find more of the wreckage. A half hour later, the trail started to climb, taking me back up the mountain.

Disappointed, I concluded that I would not find the main part of the wreckage.

On the hike back to my car, I realized the climb was going to be exhausting. Most of my two-hour hike had been downhill, making the majority of the return trip uphill.

During my brief 3:45 p.m. break, I noted how beautiful everything looks in the late afternoon glow of the sun. I began hiking again and soon found myself back at my car.

Even though I didn’t get to see the crashed fighter, I still enjoyed an amazing view from the Catalina Mountains. It isn’t enough to simply read about a hike or look at a picture of a spectacular view. Things like that can only be experienced firsthand.


Where: Trailhead begins two miles after San Pedro Vista on Catalina Highway.

Fee: $5 to enter federal lands.


FACEOFF: Surviving the break-up

FACEOFF: Surviving the break-up


Things have been shaky and you’re tired of having to walk on eggshells around your girlfriend.

Unfortunately, not all relationships have a fairytale ending. It’s OK to be a little selfish sometimes. Start thinking about your sanity and happiness.

It might be time for you and your girlfriend to go separate ways.

There is only one rule when it comes to terminating your love connection: Be civil.

At the end of the day, you two don’t even have to like each other but you both need to be treated with respect.

You’re adults. There is no need for name-calling, vandalism or death wishes.

Sit down and reevaluate your lives. Try figuring out what went wrong in your relationship and ask yourselves if salvaging is worth the effort.

Don’t dwell on the things that made the relationship turn sour. Instead, cherish the good times and learn from each other’s mistakes.

If you two decide it’s time to split, don’t make any empty promises to each other.

Contrary to popular belief, you two do not have to remain friends. Telling her you can still be friends when you have no intention of doing so might make things messy.

Once you stop returning calls, answering texts and liking Facebook statuses, she might get even clingier. This is the stage where the crazy, obsessive ex starts to develop.

Remember, some females are really sensitive. If you truly do want to keep being friends, then do so. But be just her friend.

Using her as a late-night, last-resort booty call might give her the illusion you two will someday get back together.

Breaking up is definitely not a fun task. It’s easier when done with civility, and fewer feelings get hurt.






It’s sad to witness a relationship fall through the cracks, but when it happens to you the pain is unbearable.

When a relationship comes to its end, it is as if you have been hit with a ton of bricks. The only medicine that will help you cope with such an ordeal is time.

It sounds cliché, but time will allow you to reflect on yourself and the downfall of your relationship.

Once you have given yourself time to burn all of his pictures and cry your eyes out, don’t start talking down on your now-ex love.

It’s hard to do, but if you continue to talk down on him it will only make you look bitter.

Keep your love problems private. Don’t pour it out on Facebook for the whole world to know.

Trust me, no one cares to hear about how you hate men now and that you’re going to “live it up.”

Now that you are newly single, your girlfriends will try to uplift your spirits by hitting the town.

If you are going to go out with your friends, don’t bring up your ex in conversation. Your friends love you, but they don’t want to hear all your relationship problems when they are trying to “Cupid Shuffle.”

It’s no surprise that you might bump into your ex while you’re out, so try to avoid parking lot arguments by keeping your distance.

Also, don’t be vindictive. Don’t try making him jealous by being all over some random guy.

It will only show him that you’re not over him and you’ll be the one feeling lower than anyone else.

That chapter in your life might be over, but your novel is yet to be read.


Top 10 things I’ve learned from relationships

Top 10 things I’ve learned from relationships

(From a male perspective)


  1. You really don’t need all that extra cash anyway.
  2. The bed just is not as comfortable unless you only have 15 percent of it to yourself.
  3. You really learn to appreciate the covers when you only have them for half the night.
  4. You get so much more done with all of that motivational support (aka nagging).
  5. You really do need constant help driving. Never mind her lousy driving record.
  6. Apparently every time somebody washes a load of unsorted clothes, God kills a kitten.
  7. The last of your (insert item here) is fair game if she gets to it first. The last of her (insert item here) is punishable by death if found missing.
  8. “Logic” can in fact be an illogical thing.
  9. Fun is to be experienced only in her presence and/or with her express permission (which is revocable at any time).
  10. Men should know that our mental capacity is not equal to our female counterparts, and thus the rules only apply to us!

(From a female perspective)


  1. It’s not taking someone out to dinner if you ask them to pick up the check. Thanks for ordering seconds, by the way.
  2. To add insult to injury, after they force you up against the wall in their sleep, they’ll snore directly in your ear.
  3. While wrestling your half of the blanket away, don’t leave your pillow unguarded. It’s perfectly acceptable to throw an elbow in defense.
  4. At least his laziness makes you look like the most productive person ever.
  5. Men will assume they’re better drivers, despite their tickets for aggressive driving and parking in a fire lane.
  6. I don’t give a damn about washing unsorted laundry, so I don’t know what to say about that one.
  7. When I buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, I want it to be there when I get home from work. Not “mysteriously” missing every single time.
  8. Girl logic is, as a rule, more correct than standard logic. Obviously.
  9. If “fun” includes playing video games for six hours straight and showing your friends how you can snort granola, it should be revocable at any time.
  10. Ignorance of the rules is no excuse. Really, we’re just trying to keep you from hurting yourself.


FACE-OFF: Rumble in the jungle

FACE-OFF: Rumble in the jungle


Trouble has reached paradise. Each day brings a new battle.

The simplest things now trigger fighting between you and your girlfriend. Simply breathing the wrong way makes her angry.

There are a couple of things that might initiate her extreme mood swings. Unfortunately for you, she can indeed blame hormones.

We all know the dreadful PMS symptoms. Movies don’t exaggerate. Some women really go through extreme emotions during their menstrual cycle.

If this is the case, give her some space. Spend quality time with your bros.

Sometimes, though, a relationship rut causes the fighting. Nothing seems to be going right and it frustrates the living hell out of both of you.

No one wants to be wrong during a fight. You’ll often say things you don’t mean. Feelings get hurt and a relationship may fail.

Get some space. Time apart, not to be confused with a “break,” will do any relationship some good. It gives you time to cool off and rationally work out your problems.

Talking to friends about relationship problems is generally not the best idea. Your friends want the best for you. Seeing you so down on life gives them reasons to bash your girlfriend.

More often than not, fighting doesn’t mean the relationship will end. Don’t make things awkward for your girlfriend when she comes around your friends once things settle down.

Although it’s tough, keep a level head during fights. Gathering your thoughts before confronting her will definitely help prevent WWIII.




It seems your smooth-sailing relationship has hit testy waters. Regardless of how picture-perfect your relationship can seem, photogenic flaws slowly began to unravel.

Fighting with your boyfriend can be frustrating, but it’s completely natural. As your relationship progresses, some of his attributes might rub you the wrong way.

It can be as miniscule as the way he responded. Perhaps he shot you an unsettling glance. Whatever the case, space provides the easiest solution.

Allow yourself time alone to reset your batteries. That way, you two won’t want to gouge each other’s eyes out.

Make sure you don’t bluntly express that the sight of him makes your skin crawl. It will only stir the pot of warfare.

Instead, let him know that you need to unwind after a hard day. Believe me, he needs it too.

Sometimes space is not enough, as the bell rings and Michael Buffer screams, “Let’s gets ready to rumble.”

If you are caught in a brewing fight, make sure respect does not fly out of the window. It’s hard, but hold back to prevent digging the hole deeper.

No matter what you two fight about, it makes no sense to intentionally hurt one another with words. Sticks and stone do break bones, but words shatter unity.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, the nature of the fight will be meaningless. Once the fight is over, make sure it stays that way. Dwelling on the fight only harms the relationship.