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Moonlight Madness at Titan Missile Museum
5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 (last tour begins at 8 p.m.; reservations required)
1580 W. Duval Mine Road, Sahuarita
625-7736; www.titanmissilemuseum.org

Experience the only publicly accessible Titan II missile site--under the moonlight!--during Titan Missile Museum's Moonlight Madness event. This is the perfect chance to see the underground missile site, including its three-ton blast doors, 8-foot-thick silo walls and an actual Titan II missile in a launch duct--all while eating freeze-dried ice cream.

There will be a demonstration launch of an Alka-Seltzer rocket to show how the propellant system on the Titan II missile worked.

"The Titan II used a propellant that was made up of fuel and an oxidizer; these two components were hypergolic, meaning that they ignited when they came in contact with each other. To launch the Titan II, what was required was to let the fuel and the oxidizer mix, which is similar to what will happen in our demo rocket," explains museum director Yvonne Morris.

Saturday's event is meant for all ages, so bring the whole family. "We call our educationists at the museum 'mad' scientists. It's a play on words and a way to make it fun for the kids so they are laughing as much as they are learning. It's important they have a good time while they are grasping these concepts; we aren't being stern and lecturing them," says Morris.

A gyroscope chair will also be available for kids who are at least 8 years old to try. "This is a mechanism that is used in the auto-pilot functions of airplanes and shuttles; it helps to fly a level course," says Morris. "The Titan II missile used three gyroscopes to accurately get to its target, and this is demonstrated through something we've set up using a chair and bicycle wheel."

Kids 12 and younger get in for free; everyone else pays $7. Reservations are required and can be made by e-mailing info@titanmissilemuseum.org or calling 625-7736. --J.W.


Get Your Blues On

Phillip Walker Blues Band
7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28
Old Town Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave.
440-4455; www.rhythmandroots.org

The blues are in his blood; he has rhythm in his soul.

Phillip Walker, cousin of guitar and blues legends Aaron "T-Bone" Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, will perform in Tucson on Friday, with his hollow-body Gibson guitar in hand.

Walker has been jamming for more than a half-century; he was only 16 when he became the lead guitarist of Clifton Chenier and His Red Hot Louisiana Band in the 1950s.

"This guy's 71 years old, and he's still knocking 'em out at concerts and festivals," said Jonathan Holden, the producer of the Rhythm and Roots concert series. "(His music) would appeal to anyone from 18 to 88."

Walker has traversed through decades of blues and rock 'n' roll evolution; he has seen it grow from its roots in places like his home of Port Arthur, Texas, where he constructed his first guitar from a cigar box and window-screen wires.

Born in Louisiana on Feb. 11, 1937, Walker was the seventh of 12 children. He later moved to Texas, where at 15, he would don a fake mustache to get into local dance halls and taverns to rub shoulders with traveling musicians and bluesmen. It was at one of those places that Walker met Chenier, and he's been on tour ever since.

From that humble beginning, the Grammy nominee went on to tour with Etta James and Fats Domino, was the first artist signed to Hugh Hefner's old record label and took Jimi Hendrix's chair in the Little Richard Band. The guy is good.

His eclectic style will reflect the Creole and Cajun rhythms of his childhood and his subsequent journey through rock and blues. "He'll be playing rock-blues, blues-rock, country-blues--all kinds of stuff," Holden said.

Tickets are $20 at the door, or $18 in advance, available for purchase at Antigone Books, Enchanted Earthworks, Plaza Liquors and online at www.rhythmandroots.org. --D.P.


Chili and Chile

Chile Fest '07
11 to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29 and 30
El Chile Loco, Old Town Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave.
299-1414

In 1974, according to legend, Sen. Barry Goldwater noticed that the National Press Club Restaurant in Washington, D.C., served a Texas-style chili. The senator exclaimed, "Texans don't know chili from shit!"

Fast-forward to 2007, and Peter Orlando and Johanna Rentschler are throwing their first-ever Chile Fest to celebrate the opening of their store, El Chile Loco. Located in Old Town Artisans, the store specializes in Southwestern-style foods like salsas and chile ristras (the long string of dried red chiles often seen hanging around as ornaments).

"Old Town Artisans opened in 1979; the building itself is the oldest in Tucson that has been continually inhabited," said Rentschler. "The collection of interlinked stores ... specialize in art and handmade craft." And now, chiles.

However if chiles aren't your thing, the Chile Fest may still be worth checking out: Other foods will be available through guest vendors, including the late Sen. Goldwater's favorite, chili. "One of the vendors we invited is Grandma Koyote's BBQ; also expect to try the Native-American fry bread from the Indian reservation, some fresh tortillas and our own salsa," said Rentschler.

The chili- and chile-dispensing vendors coming to El Chile Loco were specifically handpicked by Rentschler and Orlando. "The Hatch chiles, a green one from the chile capital of the world, New Mexico, will be there, too," said Rentschler.

Entertaining at the event will be harp player Francisco Gonzalez. The festival is free, so it may be a good idea to show up before all the food is gone. --J.W.


Maggots Are a Girl's Best Friend?

Maggot Invasion by Carla Elam
8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays; Noon to 4 p.m., Sundays; Monday, Oct. 1, through Monday, Oct. 29
Back Alley Gallery, 1395 W. American Ave., Oracle
896-9005

Artists often draw inspiration from unusual sources; sometimes, a paintbrush just isn't enough.

But artist Carla Elam's latest creative muse is especially unique. Her new exhibit confirms her assertion that there is unity that connects us to even the least of Earth's creatures, as exemplified by, ahem, maggots?

"The inspiration came in 2001 when I was working in an insectary raising maggots for biological fly control," Elam said. "I handled thousands of these wonderful creatures on a daily basis. ... I truly learned to love and respect them. Being an artist, I naturally incorporated them into my work."

Maggots, which represent the second stage, or "larva," in the life of a fly, are born and thrive in decomposing flesh, manure and stagnant water, but Elam sees them differently after working with them.

"They moved together, pulsating as one, and put out an amazing energy," Elam said.

Her maggots produced dynamic, multicolored abstract art. Elam believes each piece tells a story, and she encourages the viewer to imagine not each brushstroke laid down by a human hand, but each wriggle made by a squirming, paint-soaked maggot.

This is Elam's first exhibition, and she is very excited.

"I'm expecting a big turnout, because it's so unique," Elam said. "A lot (of people) are anxious to see exactly what I'm doing."

What she did, exactly, was lay out nontoxic paint on paper and then position the maggots, about 200, on top of it all. As the maggots struggled to get out of the light, Elam said, her abstract paintings were realized.

The exhibition runs through Oct. 29, with a reception on Sunday, Oct. 28, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. It should be mag-nificent. --D.P.

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