LITERARY LIGHTS. Tucson's ambitious literary lights descend upon downtown for Poetry Performance Night. Bring out your best verse, or simply your best self, for this informal evening of open-mic readings and performances. Now's your chance to get on the ground floor of a free series continuing every Thursday night into the millennium and beyond.
Poetry Performance Night runs from 8 to 10 p.m. in IB6/UB9, 256 E. Congress St. For information, call 324-0903.
BIG SCIENCE. A miniature age of enlightenment -- for all ages -- gets underway today in a collaboration between Bookman's and the UA Flandrau Science Center.
This team effort will include a plethora of dazzling science projects, with egg-headed action for the whole family. "Parents bring your kids, and kids bring your parents," says Bookman's Christopher Stead. All Bookman's Kid's Club events are free.
The science extravaganza runs from 11 a.m. to noon at Bookman's Used Books, 1930 E. Grant Road. Call 325-5767 for information.
LATIN SOUL. For eons, downtown's El Charro Café has been the heart of great Mexican chow in the Old Pueblo. Meanwhile, its sister establishment out in the 'burbs has become the soul of spicy Latin music.
Hard to imagine great south-of-the-border sounds emanating from Tucson's eastside, but that's just what happens every Friday with Latin Noches Mexicanas, a high-spirited fiesta featuring the best in grupero, cumbia and Tex-Mex music -- and more dancing than you can shake a tamale at. DJ Nivel X spins the tunes, and there's always a fresh conga line of drink specials.
The fun runs from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at El Charro Cafe's Bar Toma, 6310 E. Broadway, in the El Mercado Shopping Center. Admission is free. Call 745-1922 for details.
EYE ON THE SKY. The Flandrau Science Center plumbs deep space with In Search of New Worlds.
This very cool show (that just happens to occur in a wonderfully dark, refrigerated theater) details research on planetary systems around nearby stars, and newly discovered information on floating orbs in our own solar system. As astronomers improve their ability to image and study those planets, there's also the intriguing, growing potential to discover signs of intelligent life somewhere out there.
Show times are 2:30 p.m. daily, with 7:30 p.m. shows Wednesday through Saturday, in the UA Flandrau Planetarium, on campus at Cherry Street and University Boulevard. Admission is $5, $4.50 for students, seniors and military, and $4 for children ages 13 and under. Call 621-7827 for information.
SWEEPING STEPS. Learn to glide like Fred Astaire at today's smooth and standard ballroom dance workshops.
Offered by the U.S. Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association, the four workshops will be led by Susan Sneathen, Western regional champion and U.S. finalist in American smooth. The classes will include smooth and standard dances ranging from the fox-trot and waltz to the tango. Topics will include step variations for social dancing; fundamentals of footwork; lead and follow; popular patterns; and advanced pattern variations. Each workshop will last approximately 55 minutes, and is open to dancers of all skill levels.
The classes run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Armory Park Senior Center Ballroom, 220 S. Fifth Ave. The cost is $20 per class, with discounts for multiple classes. For schedules and other information, call 770-9540.
PRIMAL SKINS. Budding bangers learn about mankind's most primal music form with The Power of the Drum, presented by the Tucson Children's Museum. This special class is led by percussionist extraordinaire Todd Hammes. Today's opening session will focus on West Africa and southern Africa. "By using the drum as a common thread, we explore the use of rhythm in the music of different cultures," Hammes says, "and show how the drum is a great unifier of people."
The class runs from 10 a.m. to noon in the TCM, 200 S. Sixth Ave. Admission is $15, $11.25 for museum members, and enrollment is limited to children ages 6 to 12. To register, call 792-9985, ext. 105.
CLEAN AIRE. Great gospel rubs shoulders with good grub this weekend, as the Tucson Farmer's Market hosts a concert with the Canyonaires.
This belting bunch have made a name for themselves at the United Methodist Church, where they've become a Sunday morning staple. The 'Aires take that inspiration on the road to join the overflowing cornucopia of the market. From there, it's surely only one short step to the Big Kahuna of country, the Grand Ol' Opry.
The Canyonaires consist of accomplished singers and string players including soprano Donna Lee; alto Lisa Termini; and the multi-musical Ned Nelson, who sings tenor and bass, and plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and dobro. Dylan Wilmsen helps out on guitar, and Jack Snider plays the stand-up bass.
Show time is 10 a.m. in St. Philip's Plaza, Campbell Avenue at River Road. Admission is free. Regular market hours are 7 a.m. to noon. Call 743-8063 for information.
LITTLE VISIONS. They spent hours creating like maddened little midgets. Now's time for a little struttin', and that's just what the youngsters of the Tucson Museum of Art's Summer School program are aiming to do.
Their colorful, wide-ranging exhibit wraps up soon, so you'd better get out and see art fashioned from almost every media known to man, with no small attention to the simple paint and brush. The display they've come up with offers a delightful array of work from budding imaginations heretofore confined to classroom tackboards and refrigerator doors.
The Summer School Children's Exhibition runs through August 22 in the TMA lobby, 140 N. Main Ave. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 624-2333.
MAGIC FINGERS. Feeling so tense you could spank your granny? Work off that steam, either personally or vicariously, when licensed therapists Sara Spicer and Neda Bosiljevic present a free massage demonstration.
If you've never been under the thumb, you'll have a chance to learn about this heavenly craft that can leave you limp as a noodle, with your troubles floating away on clouds of precious relaxation.
The demonstration runs from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Cactus Flower Wellness Center, 5813 N. Oracle Road. Call 293-3751 for details.
SUMMER SLAM. Catch the boys of summer while summer's still in town: today through Thursday, the Tucson Sidewinders go up against the Albuquerque Dukes for some fast-paced Pacific Coast League play.
And speaking of the express lane, those lovely little Safeway Club cards get ladies any seat in the park for one thin buck.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Tucson Electric Park, 2500 E. Ajo Way. Regular admission ranges from $3 to $8. For details, call 434-1021.
FAR EAST MEETS WEE WEST. Tikes and toddlers get a taste of the steppes when the Russian Balalaika Orchestra brings its strings into the Tucson Mall for a Club Kidz event that will both entertain and educate wee ones with traditional Russian folk music and dance. There will also be Russian sing-alongs, and a coterie of ethnic costumes and dance.
Club Kidz meets at 10:30 a.m. in the Tucson Mall Food Court. Admission is free. For details, call 293-7330.
FOREIGN VISTA. It's hardly a surprise that university students in China have a far better perspective on American happenings than the average Chinese citizen. And for several years, some of those students have had a Tucson teacher further broadening their scope. Marjory King has been on the mainland dispersing the Western picture and absorbing rich Chinese culture. She's come away with a firm, often disturbing grasp of the information, misinformation and disinformation bandied about by her students. Today she shares that experience with Tucsonans in Seeing Ourselves Through Chinese Eyes, a lecture hosted by the United Nations Association of Southern Arizona.
The lecture begins at 11:30 a.m. in the El Parador Restaurant, 2744 E. Broadway. Admission is $12. Reservations are required. For reservations and other information, call 881-7060.
FRUIT OF THE VINE. Enjoy a broad sunset with a fine vintage in hand. The Tucson Botanical Gardens host An Enchanted Summer Evening of Wine Tasting, a lush soiree featuring wines from Callaghan Vineyards. In addition to the fermented fun, you're invited to stroll the charming gardens against a background of romantic music. Kent Callaghan will be on hand to dispense his family's product, along with local enthusiast Jon Rogers, author of Wines Without Mystery.
The tasting runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the TBG, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Admission is $4, $3 for seniors, and free for children under age 12. Call 326-9686 for details.