The grinning, ceramic skeletons and cavorting devils that accompany the advent of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival can be a little disconcerting to foreigners not familiar with the traditions of the holiday; the mixture of what looks like silliness with sadness is a difficult concept for those of us who think of death only at funerals or when ill.
Although Mexican families may celebrate in slightly different ways--practices vary, particularly from rural to urban communities--the holiday's activities generally consist of welcoming the dead back into their homes and visiting the gravesites of family members and close friends. The gravesites are decorated with big, bright flowers, and the living plunk down next to the graves for picnics and storytelling.
The most important thing about the occasion is the belief that the dead have returned to be with their loved ones, and that, by extension, death is a natural and matter-of-fact part of life. Most people I know--even those who are most matter-of-fact about matter-of-fact things--wouldn't react particularly well to being given a skull cookie with their name written on it, which demonstrates how desperately we need things like The Screening Room's Day of the Dead Cinema event.
The event--which will repeat at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7--features animated works (think big, bright flowers) that "celebrate, mock and fear death," all for only $5. Although Director of the Arizona International Film Festival Giulio Scalinger wasn't available to discuss the specifics of the animated shorts, anything that forces further reflection on the circle of life can't hurt--really.
Truth is stranger than fiction, and the adage is true not by virtue of having been said a million times, but because real life--with not only its death and taxes but its itchy socks and summer colds and things that get in your eye--provides many, many opportunities for the average person to get caught up in the details of it all, and thus remain steadfastly average. When someone manages to break free of that--to function with purpose, as if following a script--then they're worth talking about.
Dr. Kenneth R. "Scooter" Johnson, a UA assistant clinical professor of surgery, will present Dr. Goodfellow: 'The Gunfighter's Surgeon,' Master Surgeon, Medical Innovator, Scientist in commemoration of the Pima County Medical Society's 100-year anniversary.
George Goodfellow did an awful lot in his 55 years of life (1855-1910)--he doctored the survivors of the OK Corral, interviewed Geronimo, set a train run record that has never been broken and played a key role in the Cuban peace settlement in the Spanish-American war. He also, according to the UA Health Sciences press release, "performed the first recorded laparotomy for gunshot wounds and one of the first successful perineal prostatectomies. ... For his humanitarian efforts, he received a silver medal that once belonged to Emperor Maximilian of Mexico."
A laparotomy (you didn't think I'd leave you alone with all that, did you?) is a surgical incision into the abdominal cavity, done to examine abdominal organs and aid diagnosis. A perineal prostatectomy is the removal of the prostrate gland through a place that I, as a female, don't really feel I have the right to talk about.
The lecture is free.
The Tucson Suffragettes have been doing things right since their inception--from their well-written press releases and their pulchritudinous press shots to their Art/11 and Nogales border events, this group didn't mess around when it came to getting people interested, involved and registered to vote. So now they're having a party, but in true Suffragettes spirit, it's more than a party; it's "a celebration of the power of our precious right to vote, not to mention an opportunity to network, learn ... keep an eye on the election results and have fun."
The namesake of the Election day Virgin Voters Ball is the Virgin Voters Pageant--that's a pageant for people who will do the deed for the first time come Tuesday, and who are then able to recover enough from the profundity of the experience to perform on Congress' stage in heated competition for the Virgin Voter crown. The performances are being kept secret, though Al Perry has reportedly composed a special song just for the pageant.
Other musical guests include Kennedy (Los Angeles), The Natural History (New York), Mark Mallman (Minneapolis), The Galactic Federation of Love (Tucson), the George Squier Orchestra (Tucson), Mankind (Tucson) and Linda Ronstadt herself.
The Tucson Roller Derby girls will be working the crowd on skates, presumably selling tickets to "the raffle to end all raffles"--which includes prizes such as a stars-and-stripes lowrider bike--plus nonprofits groups, drag kings and queens and more.
Admission to the all-ages event (bar with ID) is free with an "I Voted" sticker; $7 without.
Wilde Playhouse's artistic director, Joan O'Dwyer, is about the most overall excited person you're likely to talk to all week if you're a City Week editor, and that includes legions of peppy, persistent public relations interns and hordes of PR professionals who are apoplectic with rage because you didn't think a 10K run happening in New York City was newsworthy.
O'Dwyer chirps, that's what she does, and it's actually a very pleasant sound that sends happy feelings sailing through the phone like nobody's businesses.
"Well, we've got these two plays," she says, "and Action, by Sam Shepard, is this weird thing where these characters are trapped in a house, and they eat a turkey on stage and break a couple of chairs, and gut a fish, and it's really realistic. It's very, very cool!
"And Long Ago and Far Away, by David Ives--this one is really weird. It's about this couple who are selling their apartment, and for some reason, the lady is dissatisfied, and she sticks around while her husband goes off to do something, and then this weird guy shows up, and he seems like he's from a different time, and at first she's afraid of him but then she decides she kind of likes him, you know?"
Little Shop of Horrors is the cult film of the week; admission for the whole evening is $10--or $8 if you have a mullet and free if you let Wilde staff cut your mullet; the movie alone is $3 (show up around 11:15 p.m.). Next week, donate your "trusty old fishing rod" for discounted admission to Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outerspace.