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Christian Youth Theater stages ‘Charlie Brown’

Christian Youth Theater stages ‘Charlie Brown’


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”

Where: Proscenium Theatre, CFA, West Campus

When: Feb. 3-5

Admission: $15

Phone: 751-7510


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

Bernal Gallery exhibit echoes ‘Stillness’

Bernal Gallery exhibit echoes ‘Stillness’


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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









Where: Bernal Gallery, CFA, West Campus

When: Through March 5

Admission: Free

Phone: 206-6986





Snuggle up to fun February events

Compiled by Erik Medina

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

Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase

Through Feb.12

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

Most citywide shows are free and open to the public.

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

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

 Details: or

Savor Food & Wine Festival

Feb. 4

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

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


Arizona Renaissance Festival

Feb. 11-April 2

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

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

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

 Details: or

Lunar New Year Celebration

Feb. 11

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

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


Fort Lowell Day

Feb. 11

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



Talks to explore ‘Frida’ topics

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

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

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

For further information, visit or call 326-9686.

-By Daniella Campuzano


Vocal recital set for Feb. 12

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

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

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

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

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

 -By Robyn Zelickson


Submit SandScript entries by March 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

-By Robyn Zelickson


 ‘Heights’ contest entries due by Feb. 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

-By Robyn Zelickson


Gallery director receives award nomination

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

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

For further information, visit

 -By Robyn Zelickson





Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

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

Pisces (Feb.19-March 20)

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

Aries (March 21-April 19)

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

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

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

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

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

Cancer (June 21- July 22)

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

Leo (July 23- Aug. 22)

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

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sept. 22)

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

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

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

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

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

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec 21)

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

 Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan 19)

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

Mendez proud to spotlight Chicano culture

Mendez proud to spotlight Chicano culture

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










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

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

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

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

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

Mendez discovered filmmaker Richard Rodriguez in high school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Files said Mendez stands out in her memories of students.

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

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

Mendez also took advantage of Pima Writers’ Workshop sessions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steven Wilson focusing on solo work

Steven Wilson focusing on solo work

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












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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He called the creative process a gift.

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

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

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

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

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

Longtime writing instructor Meg Files retiring

Longtime writing instructor Meg Files retiring

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


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

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

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

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

Writing instructor Mic Denfeld has worked with Files since 1993.

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

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

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

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

Creating stories involves a relationship with characters, Files noted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Files said she will miss her colleagues and students.

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

TOP 10: Activities for winter break

TOP 10: Activities for winter break

(D.R. Williams/Aztec Press)



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

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

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

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

10. Catch some rays

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

  1. Visit Winterhaven

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

  1. Light a fire

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

  1. Watch football

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

  1. Play in the snow

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

  1. Glide on ice

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

  1. Hit the road

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

  1. Chow down

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

  1. Take a stroll

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

  1. Shred some powder

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

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

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

(Photo courtesy of Fourth Avenue Street Fair)

Compiled by Katelyn Roberts

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


Tohono Chul Holiday Nights        

Dec. 9-10, 16-17

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

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



“La Pastorela”

Through Dec. 11

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

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



Zoo Lights at Reid Park

Through Dec. 23

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

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



Luminaria Nights, Botanical Gardens

Dec. 11-13

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

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

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

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



Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair

Dec. 9-11

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

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



Winterhaven Festival of Lights

Dec. 10-26

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



“A Southwest Nutcracker”

Dec. 10-11

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

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



“The Nutcracker-Rat King”

Dec. 12-13

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

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



Merry-Achi Christmas at the Fox Tucson Theatre

Dec. 16

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

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



Downtown Parade of Lights

Dec. 17

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



“It’s a Wonderful Life” at Fox Theatre

Dec. 20

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


I.T. GIRL: Please burst my bubble

I.T. GIRL: Please burst my bubble


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s why the stars are not aligned

Here’s why the stars are not aligned


Hello, I’m Ashley and astrology is my enemy. Now that I’ve introduced myself, let’s get on to it.

No, I don’t hate people who read horoscopes for fun. I’m talking about the people who are massively into astrology.

You know the ones:

  • The people who base major life decisions on what their horoscope says that month.
  • The ones who automatically hate anyone who is a Capricorn, for some unknown reason.
  • The ones who believe a Gemini and Scorpio are a doomed relationship.

We all know these people. We wish we could help them and they know they could help us.

Horoscopes are becoming a huge business and astrology is becoming even harder to ignore. Not a day goes by where I don’t see a tweet or Facebook post about how your sign controls your behavior and predetermines events or talks.

It’s exhausting having conversations, then casually being asked, “What’s your sign?”

Does it really matter? Telling someone I’m a Gemini never ends well. They assume I’m two-faced and unreliable, when I’m really just trying to live my life.

If I happen to be two-faced and unreliable, it has nothing to do with my zodiac sign. I probably just don’t like you. Or maybe I love drama.

I have a quick question. How could the position of celestial bodies have an effect on our lives?

How does the position of constellations, planets and stars have anything to do with what our month will bring? Or what your behavior will be?

I have many enemies just because I was born in June and happen to be a Gemini. Sorry, my mom couldn’t keep me in the womb longer.

I could sit here and write countless novels debunking astrology but I need to get back to my life.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “Ugh that’s such a Gemini thing to say,” but it’s not. You just can’t handle the truth and you hate science.

But what do I know? I’m a Gemini. All I do is cry and watch “Criminal Minds.”

Ashley Munoz is a junior at Pima Community College where she is studying journalism and creative writing. She is currently one of the photo editors on the Aztec Press.



Editor’s note: Each quote is from social critic Christopher Hitchens. Dec. 15 marks the fifth anniversary of his death.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec 21

“Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing.”

Well, you can’t argue with that.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan 19)

“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.”

No one is the boss of you but you, Capricorn. Take the bull by the horns. Call your own shots.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

“How ya doin’?” I always think, What kind of a question is that?, and I always reply, “A bit early to tell.”

Ain’t that the damn truth!

Pisces (Feb.19-March 20)

“Beware what you wish for, unless you have the grace to hope that your luck can be shared.”

Wisdom. Take it. Use it.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

“There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”

Aries, if you will simply accept that there really, truly is nothing else you’ll find that you make the most of all you have now.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

“I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn’t ever have to rely on the press for my information.”

Don’t believe everything you read, Taurus.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

“There can be no progress without head-on confrontation.”

Progress and force dead-weight knuckle-draggers to progress with you.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)

“You have to choose your future regrets.”

Choose wisely, Cancer, choose wisely.

Leo (July 23- Aug. 22)

“Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.”

Leo, don’t buy all the BS that folks try to sell you. Call them on it, demand the facts.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sept. 22)

“Cheap booze is a false economy.”

Think on it, Virgo. Drink on it. Then wake up and think on it again.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

“Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”

That’s right Libra. You may have a story to tell but that doesn’t mean the rest of us want to read about it.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

“There either is a god or there is not; there is a ‘design’ or not.”

Come on Scorpio, drop that baggage. Use some common sense and allow yourself to continue along evolution’s path for you.

Former PCC student writes bestselling novel

Former PCC student writes bestselling novel


Former Pima Community College student Kathleen Glasgow reached the New York Times bestseller list this fall with her debut book, a young adult novel titled “Girl in Pieces.”

“I’m so grateful for the response that ‘Girl in Pieces’ has received from readers,” Glasgow said via email while on a publicity tour. “I never thought that my first book would be so well-received, let alone become a bestseller.”

The book discusses depression and self-harm. “It affects more than one million young women every year, yet we don’t hear too much about it,” she said.

pg13-ya-author-kathleen-glasgow Reviewers and readers alike have praised the book on the goodreads website and elsewhere.

“So painful, so hopeful. So perfect,” author Heidi Heilig wrote. “The pain of reading ‘Girl in Pieces’ was the most exquisite sort.”

Glasgow, who remains a Tucson resident, comes from a family that loves the arts.

“My parents were readers and collectors of art so we always had a lot of physical art, like paintings and sculptures, in our house,” Glasgow said. “My mother was a voracious reader –that’s where I first learned to love reading. We are all creative in our own ways.”

Glasgow began taking writing courses PCC at age 16 after attending Cross Junior High School. The courses and instructors had a major impact on her work.

“I had very encouraging teachers at Cross Junior High,” Glasgow said. “When I started attending Pima, I took classes with Jefferson Carter and his encouragement was really the seed that I needed to believe I could blossom as a writer.”

Glasgow incorporated many iconic Tucson locations into “Girl in Pieces,” including Fourth Avenue, Club Congress, the Rialto Theatre and Armory Park.

“There is no better place to find wonderful, weird, brilliant, kind and creative people,” she said. “It’s a great place to grow up, especially if you have a yen for music, books, arts. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to feature so many real Tucson places.”

Glasgow spent nine years working on “Girl in Pieces” and went through 14 drafts. During that time, she battled distractions and experienced losses.

“I had a full-time job, I had two kids along the way, my mother and sister passed away and I couldn’t write for awhile,” she said. “Life happens. But I never gave up.”

Now “Girl in Pieces” is a bestseller and Glasgow has received national attention. She has spent the past few months on a book tour across the United States.

“Touring was very exciting and I loved getting a chance to meet readers in so many cities, and to hear their stories,” Glasgow said. “I think my favorite cities have been Savannah and Nashville.”

Glasgow offers encouragement to anyone looking to become a writer.

“If you want to write, write,” she said. “Stay up late after the kids are in bed. Get up early before the kids get up or before you have to go to work. It might take one year, or five, or nine, to get your book published, but it can happen.”

Good books will find an audience, she added.

“Someone out there needs your story,” she said. “Trust me. They do.”

Stomping Grounds: Games and Gadgets draw loyal fans

Stomping Grounds: Games and Gadgets draw loyal fans


Store owner Mark Kadow keeps Games and Gadgets stocked with a wide variety of games. (Nicholas Trujillos/Aztec Press)


When a former stuntman/producer wanted to settle down two and a half years ago, he opened Tucson Games and Gadgets.

“I’ve traveled the world, lived in 14 different countries and then I had an opportunity to come back to Tucson, where I grew up, and try something else,” store owner Mark Kadow said.

“I said, ‘Why don’t I open up a board game store?’ because I’ve been playing games like Dungeons and Dragons for 30 years.”

A couple of weeks after thinking about the idea, Kadow obtained a business license and distributors for games.

Kadow opened his store at 2900 E. Broadway Blvd., #134. He plans to open a second location by the end of November at Tucson Mall, 4500 N. Oracle Road.

The Broadway store brings in loyal customers like Chris Novellino, who visited on opening day and has since made it his second home.


Chris Novellino sets up to teach customers about new games. (Nicholas Trujillo/Aztec Press)

“I can’t get the guy to leave,” Kadow joked.

Novellino is a photographer by day and an avid Living Card Game player by night. He follows a set schedule for coming into the store.

When he’s on site, Novellino can be found in a dedicated “Novellino’s Corner” teaching others about new games.

“I help out any way I can, teaching games, demo-ing board games,” he said. “Gamers have this stigma with nerds and geeks, and we indulge in that. We accept it with open arms.”

The store has created a community, or safe haven, for gamers. It welcomes customers ranging from the newest of newbs to the most seasoned veterans.

With Novellino keeping customers interested and Kadow keeping shelves stocked, it’s not hard for Games and Gadgets to make a profit.

Kadow reinvests his profits into the business so he can keep the lights on, provide the newest games and open the second store at Tucson Mall. Its location will be near the Animal Kingdom pet shop.

“The future is bright, come on in,” Kadow said. “If you haven’t played any games, then this is the perfect store. We aren’t going to jump down your throat. We want to know what you like and we want to help you.”

The new destination will be more than 4,000 square feet, double the size of the Broadway store. Décor will include dark wood and dim lighting. Hours will extend to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

“It’s going to be an entertainment destination,” Kadow said. “We’re hoping to get something that has a Dungeons and Dragons type feel.”

The new store will also have multiple rooms available for different types of games, such as Magic the Gathering, D&D, X-Wing and Local Area Network parties.

Players will also have a chance to participate in virtual reality games.

Good shoppers can buy a virtual reality set for just shy of $800, but Kadow offers trial play. His setup regularly attracts quite a crowd.

Participants pay $10 for 15 minutes of playing time. Available options include shooting zombies in a darkened area with only a flashlight and gun, and defending your castle with a bow and arrow against incoming invaders.

“We’re approaching all types of entertainment,” Kadow said. “The virtual reality is just a small aspect of what we’re doing.”


Games and Gadgets

Address: 2900 E. Broadway Blvd. #134

Phone: 207-8013


Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight



Note: A second store in Tucson Mall will open by the end of November.