When Rod Dennis arrived in Tucson, he wanted to wrestle, so he joined a local wrestling organization. After a year, he decided the group wasn't for him.
"I didn't like what the organization was about. They were all about blood and cursing and stuff like that," he says.
Dennis left the group and created Arizona Championship Wrestling in September 2007. The main objective: Create family-oriented wrestling events.
The group now includes 25 to 30 wrestlers, as well as occasional outsiders, who've participated in the two events in Tucson. And the wrestlers are coming into their own, taking on personas and characters that fans either love or hate.
Mr. Wrestling Rod Irons, Dennis' stage name, is a fan favorite, he says. Dennis is currently the ACW heavyweight champion, a title he earned after defeating Monster Mayhem in a rematch. The ACW storylines are in their infancy, however, and are nowhere near the Hollywood-scripted dramas that are seen on TV wrestling. But the organization is working on developing rivalries and interesting stories, Dennis says.
ACW's third event, which Bladeworld is hosting for $5, will further the new storylines, following the battles between the group's top tag-teams.
"So far, people are really liking it," he says. "They keep asking when we're coming back."
And this is what has Dennis excited: He enjoys seeing the fan base grow, and especially likes the fact that more and more families are coming out for the events.
"It's been great having kids come up, and signing autographs for them for an hour after we finish," he says. --M.K.
Nathan Winograd stumbled upon his life's work while walking the Stanford campus as a law student: He heard a woman calling out her window at cats--lots of cats--and went to investigate. Some 1,500 feral cats were loose on the campus.
When school administrators wanted to hire an exterminator to get rid of them, Winograd and other concerned students turned to the Humane Society. The Humane Society's "alternative" solution? Euthanization.
"It opened my eyes," says Winograd. He didn't see how this was any different than extermination.
After years of prosecuting animal-rights cases as an attorney, Winograd grew frustrated dealing with the aftereffects of animal cruelty. He says he started the national No Kill Advocacy Center to spread awareness about the underlying paradox of animal shelters.
"How is it that a movement founded on the highest ideals of compassion has become essentially a network of 6,000 shelters whose purpose it is to kill dogs and cats?" he asks.
A common criticism of no-kill shelters is that limited occupancy forces them to turn away unadoptable animals, which are then put down elsewhere. Winograd counters this argument: "We don't argue for more no-kill shelters. We want no kill communities."
His book, Redemption, discusses what he calls "the myth of pet overpopulation" and points to communities like San Francisco and Tompkins County, N.Y., that all but eliminated euthanasia by combining innovative spay/neuter-and-release programs with aggressive competition against the pet-mill industry.
There is a $5 to $10 suggested donation for the lecture, money which will go toward spay/neuter programs. Tickets should be reserved in advance to guarantee seating. --A.M.
If you're nervous about planning for that rapidly approaching holiday that every good son or daughter is obliged to participate in, here's an easy out: Head to the Loft for Mother's Day!
The Loft is celebrating with a screening of the 1939 classic The Women. As the title suggests, it's a female-focused movie, and the story follows the complicated lives of the main characters, and their relationships with each other--and each other's husbands.
The husbands, however, never appear on screen. That's because The Women filled all 135 roles with women. It's an all-female movie, the first of its kind.
Jeff Yanc, the Loft's program director, suggests people stop by before or after the typical Mother's Day brunch. But he also says the screening is open to anyone who wants to come and enjoy a fine movie, whether or not Mom comes along.
"We wanted to show people a great film and also (have the film serve to) preview the Hollywood remake that is coming out later," he says. "But it's not just a woman audience."
There is an incentive to bring a mother: The Loft is holding a raffle, with the winner taking away a Mother's Day gift basket filled with chocolates, bath salts and plenty of other gifts.
The $5 ticket also covers the cost of handing out a rose to the special guests.
"We're planning on giving out the roses to mothers who come in, but we'll give out as many as we have to anybody: moms, potential moms." Yanc says. "No ID is needed to get a rose." --M.K.
The valleys and washes of the Sonoran Desert are the only places in the world where desert ironwood trees grow. The oldest of these trees--named for their dense bark that sinks in water--have been around for 1,500 years. Their canopies protect the underlying area from extreme daytime heat and slow evaporation. Ironwoods form microhabitats for hundreds of species of animal and plant life.
Urban sprawl is threatening ironwood habitats within the Tucson city limits, which is why Orpha Mason donated 20 acres to the Tucson Audubon Society with the provision that the land be used as an unharmed ironwood preserve. The Mason Center is now one of the last mostly undisturbed ironwood habitats on Tucson's northwest side.
For nearly a decade, the Audubon Society has held an annual Ironwood Festival to celebrate the ironwoods, to educate the public about related environmental issues, and to raise money for environmental-education programs. Mason Center community-outreach coordinator Lia Sansom says that the funds raised during the music festival allow the Mason Center to keep all of its educational events free.
This year, the Ironwood Festival coincides with International Migratory Bird Day. Starting at 2 p.m., local organizations will gather to offer interactive activities demonstrating how ironwoods form habitats for migratory birds and other species; that part is free. Live music kicks off at 5:30 p.m., with local folk-rock acts Ray of Hope Band, Ironwood Allstars and Eb's Kamp Kookin'. The music portion of the festival is free for kids and teens 17 and younger; adult tickets are $10, or $7 for those who attend the free educational portion. --A.M.