I saw my first javelina a couple of nights ago. Driving through the hills of Sabino Canyon, I was baffled by the stout little swine-like creature crossing the road 10 yards ahead of us. My friend said, "That's just a javelina. You haven't seen one before?" Being a native Coloradoan in Tucson since June, no, I had not.
This pig-coyote cross--the javelina was described as such by my lifelong Tucsonan friend--made me realize there's still a lot I have to learn about desert wildlife. It also made me realize my friend should stick to real estate. (Pig-coyote cross? Come on!)
The Companions for Life Center, the training center for the Humane Society, will offer a seminar on yard and pet safety in the desert on Sunday, Nov. 25, at 11:30 a.m.
"This is geared to people new to Tucson," said Nancy Rodriguez, manager of the Companions for Life Center. "It's also for people moving out of the city and into the desert."
The seminar will cover ways to keep your pets safe in and around Tucson, from the commonality of bobcats and snakes to local laws and Arizona statutes pertaining to your pet.
"Creatures are able to get into your backyard despite a fence," said Rodriguez. "And I don't think people realize (the dangers of) having their pets out in the yard in the heat."
They will have nonvenomous snakes for you to get familiar with, because some are good to have in your yard.
The hour-and-a-half-long event is aimed at adults and children age 12 and older. It costs $5, and seating is limited, so call 795-6225 for reservations. --D.P.
The proper name for a person who makes stringed instruments is "luthier." But not every builder of stringed instruments calls themselves "luthier"--some simply call themselves "artist."
Making GIRL-brand electric guitars out of his historic downtown house, Chris Larsen--one of those builders who doesn't consider himself a luthier--has never replicated any of the guitars he has made. He said he wouldn't be able to remake his previous work, nor would he care to.
"A luthier is someone who chooses the finest most curled wood; they take the most prestigious amount of time in making each piece of the instrument. I am an artist who is inspired by junk," said Larsen.
Join Larsen and other artists and luthiers at the 17th Street Market's first attempt to present instrument makers and their creations on Saturday, Nov. 24. A wide variety of instruments will be on display.
"If you have ever wondered what the dying cat sound is in a country song--it's a pedal steel guitar," Larsen said. Popular after World War II and controlled by the feet and knees, these will be on display.
Each of Larsen's guitars has its very own personality. One is made of copper, infused by random chemicals displaying unique colors. Another contains fake okra and barbecued ribs.
Dave Schecter's friends refer to him as a "reclusive electronic genius." Schecter is the founder of Schecter Guitars, and he is slated to appear at the show. He used to fix guitar parts out of his car when he lived near Tucson. He later took his work to California where the demand for his skills was higher.
Other presenters include Bob Mick, Les Korn, Brian Dunn, Kevin Sterner, Chuck Back, the Roberto Venn School of Luthiery (based in Phoenix), Gary Knight and Walt Kuhlman. --J.W.
Warren Miller is the Spielberg of the ski-film industry. He's made a movie annually since 1950, and this year's Playground lives up to expectations with striking cinematography and footage, clever narration and a blood-pumping soundtrack. The Fox Tucson Theatre will host the film at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Olympic gold-medalist Jonny Moseley narrates--that is, when there's not an awesome song rocking out of the speakers by a band such as the Beastie Boys, Maroon 5 or Queens of the Stone Age.
Playground takes viewers to some familiar ski hot-spots--Colorado, Utah, British Columbia--but the really stunning footage features off-the-beaten-path ranges with adrenaline-junkie skiers and riders, in Alaska, Japan, the Alps and even Dubai.
In usual Warren Miller style, this year's film introduces viewers to all sorts of things we never knew existed in the land of powder. Viewers also get a rare look into the mind of ski racer and overall bad-ass Bode Miller, and get to see a segment featuring the Burton Smalls Team, the next generation of fearless skiers and riders, including a 12-year-old who said that when he grows up, he just wants to "chill."
Heli-skiing--you know, jumping out of a helicopter onto an extremely huge, steep mountain--seems like kiddie-stuff after being introduced to speed-skiing, which, trust me, sounds much more tame than it actually is.
For these gutsy lovers of snow, the world really is their playground. For those of us who are more ... sane, at least there are camera men as crazy as the people they're filming, so we can sit back and enjoy--and secretly wish we were as cool. Tickets are $20. --D.P.
A blurred skull image drips down into a fading American flag in an art piece by Andrew Polk. The image isn't crystal clear--the picture is drowning.
Polk's exhibit at Dinnerware is all about drowning. His mission statement says drowning is not exclusive to water, but also applies to religion, patriotism, history, biology and other issues. In his statement, he uses the word "drowning" as a metaphor for being overtaken by something beyond our control and giving in. According to Polk, this isn't always a bad thing.
"We are living in a time of terror. We are led by a president who is obsessed with terror, and we are engaged in a war that seems only to be making matters worse. Like many in our country, I feel hopelessly unable to affect our hell-bent course. My art is my catharsis. I use it to blow off steam, I use it to draw hope from despair, and I use it to pay tribute to those who have no alternative but to kill and be killed," said Polk in his mission statement.
As a professor in UA's College of Fine Arts, Polk teaches courses primarily in printmaking and drawing. His work includes lithography, digital imaging, video art, painting and drawing and has been exhibited throughout the United States and other countries.
Along with his collection, several short video segments by Polk will be shown on a projector through hanging pieces of broken glass.
Polk will speak at the gallery at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29. --J.W.