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BOO!

Early Halloween activities at a glance.

You've still got time to plan the costume, buy the candy and tape up the cobwebs and orange and black streamers. But why wait until the official night to celebrate? Here are some pre-Halloween activities to get you in the mood.

Catch the last three scary nights of Old Tucson Studios' Fright Fest that include such spookiness as Manimal Attacks!, Frightmares: Dead Again and The Scary Slinger Show. An obvious theme abounds in the ghost town environment. Performances take place Friday and Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m. and on Sunday from 6 to 10 p.m. Don't miss the grand finale on Halloween night featuring Tucson's biggest costume contest for those of you over 21, sponsored by Clear Channel Communications (a frightful media mogul fest if there ever was one). Admission costs $9.95 for adults, $6.95 for kids 4 to 11 and free to kids 3 and younger who can handle being spooked. For details, call 883-0100 or visit www.oldtucson.com.

The Haunted Ruins tours take place at Valley of the Moon Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You never know what bizarre, creepy or funny character is around the next corner to keep the story going at the magical fantasyland. Tours leave the gate every 20 minutes from 7 to 9 p.m. The outdoor museum is located at 2544 E. Allen Road, east of Tucson Boulevard and north of Prince Road. Admission costs $5 for adults, $3 for kids 7 to 12 and free to kids under 7. Don't miss the special Halloween Eve moon stroll from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30. Wear your costume and bring two cans of nonperishable food for the Community Food Bank as your admission. For details, call 323-1331.

To avoid slipping into sheer madness while listening to the dark poets who will slither amid the tomes at Reader's Oasis, keep repeating to yourself, "It's only a poetry reading." A frightmare lurks at the bookstore at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, when contributors of the newest Tucson poetry experiment--Veil: The Journal of Darker Musings--unearth their poesy. Editors Hillary Lyon and Warren Andrle aren't exactly Morticia and Gomez Addams, but they did notice a lack of nastiness in the local poetry scene. So they've come up with a coffin of a journal filled with all things dark. Call the bookstore at 319-7887 with questions. They're located at 3400 E. Speedway Blvd.

Kids go batty at Civano Nursery while learning fun facts about the 45 different bat species that live around us. Did you know Texas is the battiest state in the country? (That explains everything.) Rush the kids (6 to 12 years old) over to the garden center for more fun facts. It's located at 5301 S. Houghton Road. The free class starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. Remember to pre-register by calling 546-9200, ext. 91.

What would Halloween be without masks? The folks over at Tucson Puppet Works will help you create your masterpiece for this year's All Souls' Procession. Make a mask or even a puppet to scare the living daylights out of everybody on Sunday (2 to 5 p.m.) and Wednesday (sunset to 10 p.m.) leading up to the Nov. 1 parade down Fourth Avenue. The free workshops take place at the interior parking lot at 44 W. Sixth St. off of Ninth Avenue. Call 770-1533 for the skinny.


THE BIG PICTURE

Saturday, Oct. 25, 6 to 9 p.m.
Metroform Limited
110 E. Sixth St.
624-9977

Each year the Central Tucson Gallery Association hosts one of its three events celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of this town through the contemporary visual arts. Eight member galleries swing open their doors on the same night, making a big splash to showcase artists and their work.

Big Picture is its fall incarnation. One of those galleries is Metroform Limited, which just moved into it's new digs from Stone Avenue downtown up to Sixth Street next door to Davis Dominguez Gallery.

Two local artists are featured. Kristin Giordano photographs primarily in black and white and these days, she's been experimenting with alternative cameras. "I've been exploring neighborhoods, photographing with an old toy Diana camera made in Japan in the '70s," says Giordano of the camera that captures its subjects with an ethereal, antique look to them. Born in Tucson, the photographer had a stint out of town while getting her BFA at NYU, before returning home.

Unlike Giordano, Rosanna Salonia was born in Italy. She now lives and works in Tucson, where she got her BFA. Her sepia-tinged photography has gone as far as the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Art in Japan, as well as closer to home.

Stop by and muse over their prints at the reception or meet the artists and gush about the work. The show stays up on the walls through Nov. 15. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday or 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Check out five of the other member galleries having receptions that night: Davis Dominguez, Dinnerware, The Drawing Studio, Raices Taller and 3Falk Gallery. Contact the Tucson Arts District Partnership for maps and other details.


BLUEGRASS, A FOURTH TIME

Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 25 and 26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pima County Fairgrounds
11300 S. Houghton Road
296-1231

They're coming--those outstanding national, regional and local bluegrass bands--for the fourth annual Tucson Bluegrass Festival.

The Dry Branch Fire Squad not only has a visceral, visual name, it plays live blues music with plenty of smoke. Lost Highway hails from Southern California and returns to Tucson with its trio harmonies and instrumental prowess. David Parmley and Continental Divide link their tunes to traditional ones. Like much of the music these bands play, Pine Mountain Railroad actually comes from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. It'll be performing in Tucson for the first time. From Phoenix comes Flinthill Special playing traditional bluegrass music. Tucson's own Morton, O'Connor and Davies complete the band lineup.

Sunday morning starts off with a set of gospel music. Each night before the full concert days--that's Friday and Saturday nights--there are informal jam sessions with everyone invited to play and listen to the music. Vendors hawk all kinds of food and crafts throughout the festival weekend. Workshops on playing bluegrass instruments take place on Saturday.

Daily admission costs $18. Weekend passes cost $25. Children under 12 are admitted free as long as they come in with a paying adult. The fairgrounds have full hook-ups plus dry camping. Move on in.


JUNKYARD DIVA

Wednesday, Oct. 29, 7 p.m.
ITL Coffee House
415 N. Fourth Ave.
624-4411

She's returned to Tucson and she's here to stay--at least long enough to perform ITL Be All Right, a new poetic vignette titled specifically for the coffee house, it would seem.

J.D. Autrey is a poet, playwright and performance artist who supplies her adoring audience with the fourth in her series, Adventures of the Junkyard Diva. The Dallas Morning News has speculated that the Diva is "like a meeting between a shimmying Bette Midler and a well-known wrestler from the Deep South."

The performance is free but seating is limited in the pea-sized coffee house tucked next door to Antigone Books. The traditional Wednesday night open mic--for all you poets, musicians and spoken-word artists--immediately follows the Diva's spectacle.

Costume or vintage cocktail attire is optional.

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