TEEN SCENE. The under-aged set have an excuse to get out and about -- without encountering big trouble -- when the County Parks and Recreation Department hosts "Midnight Jam" in the Tucson Convention Center.
The action includes a DJ and dancing, sports events, jousting contests and even an Aero-Trim gyroscope or two. "This is the sixth year for this event, and we usually have a turn-out of thousands," says Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Pat Rogers. "Basically, it's a safe, alternative New Year's Eve party for teens ages 13 to 19, and it's gotten pretty popular."
The event runs from 8:30 p.m. to midnight in the TCC, 260 S. Church Ave. Advance tickets are $4, and available at Dillard's outlets or the TCC box office. Tickets are $5 at the door. For details, call 791-4101.
MILLENNIUM MISSION. The White Dove of the Desert was nearly a scrawny badlands turkey before Patronato San Xavier -- also known as Pals of the Mission -- started raising cash for a desperately needed facelift several years ago.
Lots of glad-handing and a couple of million bucks later, the old Dove is looking great. Northernmost in a string of missions founded by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino in the 1700s, San Xavier is considered among the finest examples of Spanish mission architecture still standing. It's also home to stunning religious murals and figures, now all gleaming under ongoing restoration. And a newly opened museum, devoted to the area's indigenous people, is adjacent to the church.
San Xavier is open to visitors 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Drive south on I-19 to exit 19, turn west and follow the signs. Call 294-2624 for information.
NEW DAWN. As 2000 bears down, the North American Indian Information and Trade Center fires up for the New Millennium First Peoples' World Fair and Powwow.
This year's visual spectacle bears the timely title "Thunder in the Desert," and it's a spectacle rivaling any holiday parade, with incredibly costumed dancers hailing from outposts across the U.S. and Canada, all vying for the top spot in what can be fairly rugged competition. The event has also been expanded through the week, with a string of events ranging from today's Electric Powwow to dance competitions and expositions next weekend.
While the traditional dance powwow originated with plains Indians, the events now draw skilled Native American dancers from many tribes. And participants dish up that extraordinary food that comes with a powwow, from red chile burros to enormous Indian tacos laden with beef, beans and cheese. All events are in Rillito Raceway Park, located at the southeast corner of First Avenue and River Road.
The Electric Powwow runs from noon to 11:30 p.m., and will feature 25 to 30 performers, including Floyd Redcrow Westerman and Drew Lacapa. Then the new millennium is welcomed with a huge round dance, running from 12:15 to 12:30 a.m. Admission to the concert is $15, $10 for seniors and children, or $40 for the entire weekend.
Dance action continues tomorrow with a traditional social powwow, with other events following throughout the week. For details, call 622-4900.
MENUDO BLUES. Okay, so you did just what we expected by simply overdoing it. Now comes the next challenge -- how to give those twisted post-NYE neurotransmitters time to repair and regroup, and replace that green stuff growing on your tongue with some culture that's a bit more substantial.
In other words, you need menudo -- spiritual salve for the hungover soul, legendary antidote to la cruda. Nothing like a little tripe floating in a sea of hominy and chiles to recover your lucidity, says Rudy Lira, owner of Tania's Flour Tortillas. "Menudo does have that reputation. It's supposed to help clean the blood, too."
And those chiles tackle sinus problems as well, he says. "Some people like it that way, the red menudo with chiles in it. Others like the white menudo better."
Of course, you can't forget the subtle role of stewed appendages in rescuing your ravaged taste buds. "Cows' feet or ox feet, sometimes that goes in as well," Lira said. "Sure, menudo is an acquired taste."
You can get 12-ounces of redemption and a tortilla for a measly $2.25 from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and every day at Tania's Flour Tortillas, 614 N. Grande Ave. Call 622-0685 for more menudo information.
ALL TUCKED IN. It's been nearly two decades since Maria Luisa Tena undertook a little project in honor of her mom. Little did she or her neighbors suspect that the humble nativity scene would eventually grow into a manger extravaganza.
Today her nacimiento fills a big, well-lit room, replete with water flows and countless little dramatizations of tales from the Bible, holiday celebrations from across the globe and a narrative of Christ's life.
That accomplishment, begun innocently enough, now likewise attracts hundreds of visitors a year. So, even if the tiresome Christmas season has you yanking at your follicles, send it off with a charming adios and visit this nacimiento, on display through March at Casa Cordova on the Tucson Museum of Art Historic Block, 140 N. Main Ave. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For details, call 624-2333.
FRIGHT FLIGHT. Movies are mirrors of life, often fleshing out our dreams, and dissecting our greatest horrors.
Tom Hanks did a bang-up job roaring through space via the Hollywood soundstage in Apollo 13. Of course, the courageously wealthy Hankster always knew day's end would be met with a limo and chilled aperitifs.
But in the real world, folks who really hurtle into the galactic void must content themselves with dehydrated kibble and peeing into baggies, wondering all the while whether they'll arrive back home as mere cinder chips.
The Pima Air and Space Museum honors that gutsy lot with their Launch of Another Kind Gallery, at 6000 E. Valencia Road. Exhibits include mock-ups of early space machines and solar system novelties like Marvin the Martian. "There are also several different space toys," says a museum staffer.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily excluding major holidays, and admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and military, $3 for kids ages 10 to 16, and free for those age 9 and under. For details, call 574-0462.
GUTTER SNIPES. Well lubed or not, The Dude had a way with the lanes. Yep, from the Big Lebowski to A Streetcar Named Desire, the sport of kings is here to stay.
In fact, when we conducted a brief, highly scientific poll, we recently discovered those alleys of antiquity are still thick as thieves throughout Tucson.
And -- clutch yer livers -- Golden Pin Lanes, 1010 W. Miracle Mile, now hosts Monday Madness, the zany element coming from endless beers for 50 cents from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.
"Actually, we all call it drunken insanity," says one Golden staffer "But just the employees say that." Admission is $6, with 50-cent beer and cheap hot dogs. Call 888-4272 for details.
If you're looking for a more sedate sports setting, Tucson Bowl, 7020 E. 21st St., may be your spot, with open bowling from 9 p.m. to close for only 99 cents a game. For information, call 747-1363.
PEAK EXPERIENCE. Stargaze with astronomers, or simply take a stroll through the world's largest observatory, when Kitt Peak opens its doors to visitors.
The observatory's Stargaze program begins a half-hour before sunset, weather permitting, and lasts three hours. Participants can catch a glimpse of the heavens through a 16-inch telescope, with the help of learned docents.
Cost is $35, $25 for seniors, students, and children under age 18, or $100 for a family of four. Reservations are required. Free daily tours are also offered at 10 and 11:30 a.m., and at 1:30 p.m. Kitt Peak is located 56 miles west of Tucson. For reservations, directions and other information, call 318-8726.
OVER ICE. There's a certain irony to having a skating rink smack in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. But the well-chilled folks at the Gateway Ice Center don't let that get them down. In fact, they find a good frosty floor rather uplifting. And so, apparently, do their regular customers.
The crowd ranges from people who've never hit the ice to silky-smooth figure skaters. Regardless of your own level of grace, you can make your way around the hockey-sized rink to the sounds of country music, pop and even Christmas carols during the season. There are also plenty of video games and other family-type entertainment to warm your heart, if not your bones.
"It's never really jam-packed," says one staffer. "Everybody can skate without worrying about that too much."
The Gateway Ice Center is at 7333 E. Rosewood Lane. Public skating hours vary. Admission is $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for children ages 12 and under. For hours and other information, call 290-8800.