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Odyssey Storytelling Series: "Lost And Found"
6:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 5
Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
730-4112, www.odysseystorytelling.com

Once upon a time, there was a sock monster living behind the clothes dryer. This vicious creature gobbled up socks--only one out of each pair, mind you--meaning the socks were forever lost in some dark abyss.

Storytelling has a long tradition in every culture, and a chance to tell your stories and listen to others' stories can be found at Hotel Congress on Wednesday night, for $7. The Odyssey Storytelling Series highlights different themes each month, and this month's theme is "lost and found." (Hence, the aforementioned sock monster, and the tragic tale of the lost socks.)

Six storytellers will spin their tales for 10 minutes each, says Penelope Starr, founder of the storytelling group here in Tucson. The event should go from about 7 to 9 p.m., Starr says, and that includes an intermission where brave souls in the audience will be invited to participate.

"Anyone who wants to tell a spontaneous three-minute story during the intermission can just let me know," Starr says. "If there's more than one person, we'll draw names out of a hat to choose who tells a story."

If you want to grab a bite to eat before the show, Hotel Congress' Cup Café will be happy to serve you, and if you let them know that you're with the storytelling group, Starr says she'll save you a front-row seat.

The shows are a bit adult-themed, Starr says, but they're "usually rated R; there's not usually too much X-rated stuff." The stories are uncensored, though, so, consider yourself warned.

"I intentionally choose broad themes," Starr says, "so that they are interpreted in different ways." Previous themes include "love and marriage" and "animal stories." If you're interested in telling a 10-minute tale, the August theme will be "roommates".

"You never know what to expect," Starr says. "That's the fun part." --J.K.


Gettin' Down on Public Access

Finals for the Tejano Dance Contest
8 p.m., Thursday, June 29
Access Tucson, Studio A, 124 E. Broadway Blvd.
770-1354; bunnyuriarte.blogspot.com

Sometimes, dancing alone in your underwear just doesn't cut it. You have to put your pants on and hit the dance floor.

After you have zipped and snapped those jeans and dusted off that old cowboy hat, head on down to Studio A at the Tucson Access building for the finals of the Tejano Dance Contest, hosted by The Bunny Uriarte Show.

The Tejano Dance Contest focuses on the richness of the traditional Mexican-American dance. Bunny Uriarte, the show's creator and host, thought that featuring a Tejano dance contest on her show would be an exciting way to engage Tucsonans with Mexican-American culture. "It's showcasing how beautiful the culture it is," she said.

Three types of Tejano dancing--cumbia, ranchera and corridor--will be featured throughout the contest. Winners from previous shows, as well as newcomers of all levels, are invited to show their skills in these three forms of Tejano dancing.

The show is open to everyone, because "we want to have a really good finals," said Martha McGrath, the producer of the show.

Aside from the satisfaction of appearing on live TV as part of a cultural showcase, the winners of the contest will be awarded $100, an original oil painting done by Uriarte, dinner for four at Rego's restaurant, passes to the Loft Cinema, a two-night stay in Rocky Point and the iconic golden bunny.

The show will air live from the Access Tucson studios. Although she will not be judged, Bunny said, "I always join in on the dancing." --B.P.


Music and More on the Fourth

Fourth of July Musical Extravaganza with Jason Mraz
5 p.m., Tuesday, July 4
Hilton El Conquistador Resort, 10000 N. Oracle Road
www.929themountain.com

With so many fireworks shows to pick from in Tucson on the Fourth of July, choosing which to attend can be a difficult task. And invariably, it's going to be hot, even after the sun goes down.

But if fireworks alone are not enough to whet your Independence Day appetite, then maybe the "Fourth of July Musical Extravaganza" concert featuring Jason Mraz, Mat Kearney and Toby Lightman, at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador, is the holiday event for you.

Mraz, who is currently on his summer tour, will be playing an acoustic set, and might even sing about fireworks. (There's a mention in his song "The Remedy" from his 2002 album, Waiting for My Rocket to Come: "I saw fireworks from the freeway and behind closed eyes I cannot make them go away ...")

The event, sponsored by the Hilton and 92.9 The Mountain, will feature a variety of food and drink, including an "American cowboy buffet" at the Last Territory Steakhouse. There will also be hot dogs, burgers, barbecue and other vittles scattered throughout the venue.

As if the whole impressive-colorful-stuff-exploding-in-the-sky-thing wasn't enough, there will be jumping castles, carnival games, a hot dog-eating contest and an apple pie-eating contest to keep the kids busy, while mom and dad can test their luck at the hole-in-one golf competition.

Tickets to the event are $15 for adults, $8 for children 6 to 12 years old, and free for children 5 and younger. Gates open at 5 p.m.; the opening acts should begin performing at 5:30 p.m., and Mraz is scheduled to play at 7:30 p.m. The ticket price doesn't include any of the games, food or drinks, though, so bring extra money if you're planning on eating, drinking or doing fun things. --J.K.


Remembering a Poet Great

Twilight in Polka Dots: In Celebration of Barbara Guest, 1920-2006
Through Tuesday, July 25
UA Poetry Center, 1600 E. First St.
626-3765

Like poetry? How about Jolly Ranchers? Ever thought about mixing the two together and putting them on display? The UA Poetry Center is on it!

Jolly Ranchers and confetti constitute the décor of the Poetry Center's exhibition, Twilight in Polka Dots: In celebration of Barbara Guest 1920-2006. Featured in the confetti- and candy-clad glass cases are poems and photographs of poet Barbara Guest, who died earlier this year.

The exhibit's creative design suits Guest's distinctive flavor of poetry. "She was an experimental poet, so her poetry can sometimes be difficult," said Rodney Phillips, Poetry Center librarian, "but she had an incredible sense of humor."

Guest developed her poetic faculties while spending time with artists of the New York School, including Frank O'Hara, Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell. In an era when men dominated the art and poetry field, Guest made a name for herself as a woman writer.

As a poet who emerged on her own talents, "she was really taken up by other women writers," said Phillips. "I do think there has been a large influence on women writers."

Unlike many other featured poets, Guest never read at the Poetry Center. Despite this, members of the Poetry Center felt that the impact of Guest on contemporary poetry merited a celebration.

Guest's publications are accessible at the Poetry Center. The exhibit will feature some of Guest's more famous works, including Phillips' favorites, "Moscow Mansions" and "Twilight Polka-Dots." --B.P.

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