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Oligarchs and Champagne Toasts

Holiday Roundup
Various Dates
Various Locations

The hubbub of the holiday season is heading underground, as everyone who isn't finished with the frantic business of shopping is utterly--and thus comfortably--screwed, and those who've completed their errands are settling down into happily insularity. And while you're certainly not required to roll yourself off that couch, here are four things you might consider leaving the house for.

You could go to Los Angeles, buy a "Homes of the Stars" map and gawk at Hollywood celebs, or you could stay in Tucson, hop a horse-drawn wagon and gawk at the homes of desert-dwelling people who spend a great deal of time, energy and litigation pretending that they don't dwell in the desert. Yes, Walking Winds Stables is conducting horse-drawn wagon rides through Winterhaven during the neighborhood's Festival of Lights event, now through Dec. 31. Check out all those unnaturally green lawns; marvel at the awesome, oligarchic power of Winterhaven's homeowners' association. Rides leave hourly beginning at 6 p.m.; reservations are recommended (742-4200).

Magical Mystery Dinner Theater is presenting a special New Year's Eve show at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, featuring dinner, a murder mystery, a midnight champagne toast and more, all for $69 (624-0172; reservations required). If you're determined to spend more money than that, try the Tucson Symphony Orchestra's Moveable Feast at the Arizona Inn for $150 (882-8585; reservations required).

And finally, a more humble event in the true spirit of the season: Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church will hold a "Singing for Peace" event open to all from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, with donations benefiting Habitat for Humanity and the church's Emergency Food Project. Call 390-7316 for more information.


Tucson Makes Him Laugh

Comedy Performance by Chris 'crazy Legs' Fonseca
Laffs Comedy Club
2900 E. Broadway Blvd.
323-8669

Forty-year-old comedian Chris Fonseca has been doing standup for more than 20 years; in that time, he's made almost 50 television appearances, his most recent on Latino Laugh Festival. He's also showed up on The Late Show With David Letterman; Loco Slam; Look Who's Laughing; and the Ninth Annual American Comedy Awards, plus an episode of a series I've never heard of (I wish) called Baywatch. The two CDs he's released thus far--1997's Not Tonight, I Have Cerebral Palsy ... and 2001's Get in the Van have garnered airplay on radio programs such as The Howard Stern Show, and before anyone gets too upset, the wheelchair-bound Fonseca does, actually, have Cerebral Palsy.

He's currently at work on an autobiography entitled Daddy, Where Do Jokes Come From?, is the father of five children and regularly tours; fortunately, the men in Fonseca's family live to be 100, so he's got some time to get it all done.

Fonseca will ring in the new year in Tucson--a town he calls "such an artistic and down-to-earth kind of place"--with six performances. Show times are at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, Dec. 28 through 30; and at noon, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31. Ticket prices range from $9 to $25, depending on the show, and Tucsonans will be glad to know that they live in a town that isn't simply "down-to-earth," but also quite funny. "It never fails that when I do get to Tucson," says Fonseca, "... I end up leaving with more material than what I came with."

Call for tickets and additional information.


More Joy, More 'Oneness'

Kwanzaa Celebration
1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 26
Tucson Children's Museum
200 S. Sixth Ave.
792-9985

After the inevitable let-down that signals the conclusion of Christmas festivities, take your kids to the Children's Museum for a celebration of a different kind--Kwanzaa. According to TCM's press release, Kwanzaa was originally conceived and developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a "spiritual, festive and joyous celebration of the 'oneness and goodness of life,' centered around seven principles with particular emphasis on the unity of African-American families." TCM marks Kwanzaa as part of its Festival of Lights series, which began in 2001 as a way to highlight and share the holiday traditions of all the cultures represented in Tucson.

Not only will kids be encouraged to make Kwanzaa-related crafts throughout the afternoon--including mkeka, woven mats used on Kwanzaa tables; and colorful Maasai necklaces--they'll also get to see The Human Project, Rough Diamonds and Black Pearls in action.

The Rough Diamonds and Black Pearls--new to TCM's Kwanzaa festival--are the men's and women's step dance squads of Santa Rita High School. "Stepping," according to the press release, "is a complex performance that melds folk traditions with popular culture ... (involving) synchronized percussive movement, singing, speaking, chanting and drama. Considered to have been developed by African-American fraternities and sororities, it is now a dance for practiced all over the world."

The Human Project is a Tucson-based "urban dance troupe" that performs choreography rooted in everything from hip-hop, break-dance, step and salsa to modern, ballet and jazz. The group will incorporate storytelling into their performance to better teach the principles and significance of Kwanzaa observance.

Call for additional information.


Magic, Redux

'It's Magic' Performance
7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 27
The Gaslight Theatre
7010 E. Broadway Blvd.
886-9428

The magic of the season gets literal at Gaslight on Monday night, where the duo of John Shyrock and Mari Lynn will perform the high-energy magic and illusions that have taken them all over the world. It's as good a chance at any to make sure there are no strings attached to the tricks that make you gasp, and if you enjoy the magical genre in general, throw a couple of dollars ($10-$12) at Gaslight--a sort of haven for Tucson's magician community.

Shyrock and Lynn perform regularly at Las Vegas' Caesars Magical Empire, the Magic Castle in Hollywood and Houston's Magical Island Resort; and they've apparently been using the same press release for four years, since I was just about to type the words "and recently made their television debut on the nationally broadcast series, Masters of Illusion" when I realized some City Week editor back in 2000 had once typed the very same words. So anyway, they've been on television.

Here's a question I've considered at least once: What's the difference between magic and illusion? While some magicians will rush to tell you that real magic is left to a higher power, and thus everything they do is illusion, others define the two terms in more practical, industry-based language. From what I've read, whether a trick is called "magic" or "illusion" has everything to do with the scale of the maneuver. In other words, while an up-close sleight-of-hand will most often be called "magic," a more complex trick involving a large piece of equipment that sits on stage is referred to as an "illusion."

Ta-da.

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