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"Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary" by photographer Vicky Stromee
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily, through Thursday, Sept. 27
Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way
326-9686

Tucsonan Vicky Stromee's passion for photography stems from hours upon hours spent in her father's dark room.

"I was totally enamored with the magic of watching the pictures come out of developing fluids," she says.

Dark rooms are largely now a thing of the past due to the digital-film revolution, and Stromee says she finds shooting with a digital camera to be just as thrilling.

"I jumped on the digital bandwagon early. I like seeing (an image) on a computer," Stromee says. "I get to see the whole process."

Stromee loves to travel and capture her interests--including flora and fauna--on film. She has been interested in the natural world since the age of 8, when she used her first camera: "I'm totally a desert rat; plants and insects fascinate me."

Stromee says she is thrilled to share her images with others at the Tucson Botanical Gardens Gallery at the Gardens. The exhibit, which is her first professional photography endeavor, features 42 color images of bees, botanicals, butterflies and dragonflies.

Stromee is a fan of macro photography--the art of capturing an image close-up. Taking such photographs of insects, like bees, requires an extreme amount of patience, she says.

"Most creatures are creatures of habit, so if you watch a bee at a flower for a while, and it flies away at first, it will come back," Stromee says. "Bees don't see you; they see the flower."

Stromee says she hopes attendees enjoy her photographs.

"The pictures have a very dreamy quality," Stromee says. "They really do engage people."

The exhibit will through Sept. 27. Admission to the Tucson Botanical Gardens costs $7 for adults, $3 for children and is free for children younger than the age of 3. For more information, call 326-9686. --L.H.


Kids and Parents: Cool Down in the Theater

Tucson International Children's Film Festival
Noon, Sunday, July 22; 10 a.m., Monday-Saturday, July 23-28
Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
795-0844; loftcinema.com

The Loft Cinema, known for interactive film activities like sing-alongs and festivals, is starting a new tradition: The Loft will dust off classic children's films for the first Tucson International Children's Film Festival.

Summer is the perfect time for a kids' film festival, especially with children out of school and being kept indoors all day by the heat. The weeklong film festival is designed specifically to entertain kids and parents, says Jeff Yanc, program director for the Loft.

"There will be lots of activities around the films. We partnered with Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle's Toys, and they cooked up some ideas for fun activities to go along with the films," Yanc says.

The festival begins with The Muppet Movie sing-a-long.

"The Muppet Movie has the widest appeal, and we know kids will have a lot of fun," Yanc says.

Throughout the week, kids and parents will have the chance to view films for free. Yanc says he chose films that aren't typically shown and would expose kids to documentaries, foreign films and older films like the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers, from 1932 (showing on Wednesday, July 25).

"The kids will get their own Groucho Marx glasses and mustache," he says.

Foreign films like Kirikou and the Sorceress (Thursday, July 26), from France, are popular with kids, Yanc says. The film depicts several African folktales and is animated. For the film, kids will have access to African drums and arts and crafts.

The insect documentary Microcosmos (Saturday, July 28) is a favorite of Yanc's. The film is not only entertaining but educational.

"Microcosmos appeals to the child's desire to see gross things," Yanc says.

The festival is free. For more information, visit the Loft Web site or call 795-0844. --L.H.


The Iraq War and Islam

Public discussion on Sunni and Shia conflicts
5 p.m., Sunday, July 22; 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 25
St. Francis in the Foothills Methodist Church, 4625 E. River Road
299-9063

Members of the St. Francis in the Foothills Methodist Church are hosting a two-part public discussion about Sunni and Shia Islam and the shaken balance of power between the two sects since the beginning of the second Iraq war.

Following an introductory potluck, Dr. Michael D. Berdine, former administrator of the Islamic Center of Tucson, will facilitate the July 22 gathering and will give a primer on Shia and Sunni Islam. The July 25 meeting will delve deeper into Shia Islam and focus on the arguments made in Vali Nasr's book The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future.

Nasr, professor of Middle East studies and South Asian politics at the Naval Postgraduate School, argues that the Shia Crescent--stretching from Lebanon and Syria, through Iraq and Iran, and into parts of Pakistan and India--is gathering strength in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's fall, and is cementing linkages transcending political and linguistic borders--linkages that could lead to a new map of the Middle East.

"We need to understand the conflict between Shia and Sunni Islam," says Elizabeth Fimbres, one of the events' organizers, "because it affects the whole region and because it is at the center of a conflict the United States is involved in."

Recognizing that the American public is essentially ignorant about Sunni and Shia Islam, the events' sponsors--the Interfaith Unlearning Racism Task Force of Congregation Ner Tamid and the Islamic Center of Tucson--hope the event will contribute to the mission of promoting interfaith understanding and the reduction of conflict between people, Fimbres said.

"We hope that people will come with open minds and learn about these things that are so important in our lives and our countries' lives," Fimbres said.

Both events are free of charge. --S.S.


Hot Roller Derby Action!

The Copper Queens vs. the Furious Truckstop Waitresses
6:30 to 10 p.m., Saturday, July 21
Bladeworld, 1065 W. Grant Road
390-1454

Do the undefeated, Furious Truckstop Waitresses have enough heart to fend off the hungry, up-and-coming Copper Queens?

Sure, the waitresses are working class, and nobody can deny the angst of the oppressed worker--that shit doesn't just go away with a couple of wins. But it's undeniable that the FTW are going to need to be on top of their game to hack it against the straight-out-of-the-mines Copper Queens, who last month proved that with a little organization, even ruthless would-be dictators can fall.

That's when the Copper Queens entered the rink with a vengeance, sending their statist opponents, the Iron Curtain (a skate team of former KGB agents), tumbling like the Berlin Wall, in a surprising upset, 106-71.

The Queens will be entering the rink this Saturday with a newfound momentum that seems to be sending a shiver of fear up the spines of the Furious Waitresses.

"The Copper Queens are a good team, better than anyone imagined they would be ... and we're going to have a hard time stopping their captain, Dirty Teri," said Sloppy Flo, a FTW jammer.

Yet, even though the Queens have inspired that horrid shiver of fear, will it be enough to topple the stars of the Tucson Roller Derby? The oldest and most established of the Tucson Roller Derby teams, the Waitresses are called furious for a reason. After years of slinging hash to obnoxious truckers, these two-time season champions know how to hold their own.

How this battle will pan out is anybody's guess, but one thing is certain: This is one blue-collar brawl you don't want to miss.

You can check out the action for $10 at the door. Kids 12 and younger get in free with an adult. Call 390-1454 or visit the Roller Derby Web site for more information. --S.S.

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