Monday, December 28, 2015

8 New Year's Eve Concerts and Parties in Tucson

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 2:30 PM

XIXA returns to Rialto Theatre for NYE with a brand new name. - XIXA/ JIMI GIANNATTI
  • XIXA/ Jimi Giannatti
  • XIXA returns to Rialto Theatre for NYE with a brand new name.

If you’re still anxiously considering whom to kiss at midnight to start 2016 off right, you’re on your own figuring that one out. However, if you’re wondering where to go this New Year’s Eve to get a hefty dose of live music, that’s another story.

Like the year before, Rialto Theatre (318 E. Congress St.) is throwing a trippy glow-in-the-dark dance party. However, unlike last year’s event, which featured local psych-cumbia band Chicha Dust, this time around the headliners will be local psych-cumbia band XIXA. Okay, so maybe it’s the same band, featuring Gabriel Sullivan, Brian Lopez and more, but rest assured, joined by DJ Dirtyverbs on the ones and twos, the night should offer plenty to move to. Plus, local artist Daniel Martin Diaz is slotted to decorate the stage with colorful lights to keep those eyeballs engaged. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show begins at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are $10, including party favors and a champagne toast for those 21 and over, on the Rialto Theatre website. You can also opt for the on-stage VIP experience for $50. The event is all ages.

Across the alley at Rialto’s little red bar, R Bar, you can spend an intimate evening with Tucson music legend Howe Gelb with Thøger Lund, who will be on deck to serenade you through two sets. With specialty cocktails, wine and craft beer, you can celebrate while you imbibe right. The R Bar party is included in the price of your Rialto admission ticket. It is a 21 and over event.

For a real change of pace, you can check out the Old Pueblo’s new favorite cover band, Mastodonna, over at The Flycatcher (340 E. Sixth St.). That’s right, if you’ve ever wistfully pondered what your favorite Madonna tunes could sound like when done in the ravenous metal styling of Mastodon, you can find out just before the clock strikes midnight. The concert will also feature Tom Heavy & the Party Makers (oh yeah, alright, it’s a shredding Tom Petty cover band) and DJs Bedlam and Clay Steele. The event kicks off at 8 p.m. and it is a 21 and over show. Tickets are $5 and include a free midnight toast.

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Layla Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 1:30 PM

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Layla — 788226
1.5 years old

Qualities: Social and kind with people and cats. Housebroken and crate trained also!

Needs: A home that is willing to love and care for a sweet cat with FeLV. HSSA will vaccinate all cats in home to protect from FeLV.

Fee: Adoption fee is sponsored by the Home for the Holidays program.

Contact: The Humane Society of Southern Arizona, 327-6088 Ext. 173 or visit HSSAZ.org

Meet: At 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd. (just off Ft. Lowell Road between North Dodge Boulevard and North Country Club Road) 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays

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Do You Need a Hug? Get One Tomorrow from the 'Free Hugs' Guy

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Arié loves to hug. - COURTESY OF HUG TRAIN
  • Courtesy of Hug Train
  • Arié loves to hug.

The leader of the "Free Hugs" movement is coming to Tucson tomorrow, and he hopes you'll be there waiting to get a hug. 

For the past seven years, Montreal-native Arié Moyal has been spending the holiday season traveling across the U.S. and Canada, spreading some much-needed love.

"Financial difficulties, family issues, seasonal affective disorder and social isolation make the holidays particularly stressful for many people, and sometimes the smallest things—like a hug—can make the biggest difference," Moyal said in a statement. “I want to inspire others to spread some joy, and to know that doing small things can make a big difference in their communities.”

“The act of hugging lays the biological and structure for connection to other people. We need that more today than ever before," he added.

This time around, Moyal, founder of "Hug Train," made 30 stops in a trip that was scheduled to take nearly one month. The trips are funded through donations from friends, a crowd-funding campaign, and money Moyal saves throughout the year. 

Moyal will be in town Tuesday, Dec. 29 at the Amtrak station downtown, 400 N. Toole Ave., from 6:45 p.m. to 7:35 p.m. His train will depart at 7:35 p.m., headed to California.


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Take Advantage of Public Education Tax Credits

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 11:30 AM

COURTESY OF PHOTOSPIN
  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
Here's a last minute reminder about Arizona's tax credit opportunities. You get to give money to some of your favorite causes and organizations, then get it all back—100 percent of it—at tax time if you owe enough in state income tax. The three tax credits I strongly recommend are for public schools, charitable organizations that help the working poor and foster-care organizations.

The time is drawing nigh. Most giving has to be done by Dec. 31 to qualify for this year's tax credits (though there's an exception with the public school giving). Since most organizations take credit cards online, there's still time—a few days—to make your donations. You can give $200 per person, $400 for a couple, to each of the three and get it all back at tax time if your total Arizona income tax bill is more than the amount you give. That's as much as $1,200 you can give to worthy organizations and get it back later.

Today I'll look a the public school tax credit. I'll post about the other two tomorrow.

Here are the rules about public school tax credits. You can give your money—$200 for an individual, $400 for a couple—to one school or split it up over a number of schools. Both district and charter schools qualify, and most of them make it easy by putting links to the information on their home web pages. The hitch is that the money has to go to extracurricular or character education programs. I don't like that restriction, but that's the way the law was written. Still, lots of important education and recreation happens in schools outside the classroom—sports, music, art, science, field trips, clubs. Especially in schools with lots of children from low income families, the donations can be the difference between the kids participating or being left out.

My recommendation is, if you haven't already picked out a school or schools for your tax credit dollars, go with a school with low income children since they always come out on the short end when it comes to giving. When family incomes are low, parents pay little or no state income tax, so they can't take advantage of the credit. Even if they pay some income taxes, they're living from day to day and week to week financially, which makes it difficult to give money now even if they know they'll get it back later. It's another of those rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer situations. Schools in well-off communities get lots of money, and schools in lower income communities get very little.

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Into the Mild: Journal From a Refugee Camp, Week Two

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 9:30 AM

Mytilene, Greece – December 2015

This is part three of a journal I’m keeping during my month working at a refugee camp in Greece. Part two, covering settling in at Camp Pikpa and starting work, is here.


Dec. 14
: Reality sank in this morning. A very overqualified volunteer had gone back to her 9-5 job in the U.S., meaning the rest of us had to pick up the slack.

It was a lot of slack.

Several of us teamed up in the morning for around 45 minutes to take out and sort all of the trash and recycling, something she had done by herself. Another volunteer took on the nearly full-time job of washing dishes.

I spent the rest of the morning cutting out letters with an American volunteer. The letters were of the Latin alphabet and I drew their corresponding Arabic letter on each side of the letter. As we hoped, some of the children began playing with the letters and spelling their names! We can’t have much in the way of classes since we have such a fluctuating roster of children, but having kids leave Pikpa with a basic grasp of phonetics will be a big win if we can pull it off.

I spent the afternoon at Moria with two friends, although we didn’t do a whole lot. Situated in the hills above Mytilini, it offers an amazing view of the surrounding olive groves, with the Aegean Sea serving as a backdrop. Moria is run by the United Nations and has roughly 20 Non-Government Organizations floating around. There is often more need for help there than at Pikpa, but it is more difficult to be registered and approved. I headed over to the Olive Grove (where the non-Syrian and non-Iraqi refugees are sent) and did a bit of translating, but an Iranian-British woman was more enthusiastic and clearly more capable at this than myself, yelling orders and commanding respect as she marched through several lines of refugees.

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That evening at Pikpa was fun, with a traditional Irish band coming to play for the children. The parents joined in and even let their guard down as they clapped enthusiastically to the beat. As I started dancing, a young Afghani man grabbed my hand and began dancing with me. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time as holding hands with other men is seen as a sign of friendship in many Arab countries (save your angry comment, I’m fully aware that few Afghanis are ethnically Arab). We danced nonsensically for a couple of songs before I left for the nightly job of preparing meals to be sent to Moria. Unfortunately, he flirted uncomfortably with me over the next week and generally begged for my attention. This (and similar incidents that tend to find me) is clearly karma for the times I've been friend-zoned and still went for the girl.

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Diane Douglas: Tucson Gets to Keep Its Certification Office

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 8:30 AM

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Here's another logic-based decision from Superintendent Diane Douglas' Department of Education. Tucson will keep its teacher Certification office which, according to a media release, was scheduled to be shut down.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced that the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) will maintain its Certification office in Tucson so that it can continue to serve current and future educators in southern Arizona. Prior to the Superintendent’s arrival at ADE in January, the office was scheduled to be permanently closed at the end of this year.

“My goal as Superintendent is to increase the support our Department is providing to educators in all parts of our state, so it made no sense to me that we would stop providing critical certification services to educators in southern Arizona communities,” said Superintendent Douglas. “Our more rural areas already have unique challenges, so doing something to help simplify the educator certification process for them was an easy decision.”

The move comes as part of Superintendent Douglas’ proposal to provide enhanced services to rural communities, which was outlined in her AZ Kids Can’t Afford to Wait! Plan.
The message here is, the war waged by the Department of Education against TUSD in particular and the Tucson area in general is over, or at the very least, a cease fire order is in place. The rest of the state government may still hate "liberal Tucson," and the last two superintendents, Horne and Huppenthal, may have used their antipathy toward TUSD to further their careers (both of their careers have gone down in flames, I'm happy to say), but Douglas is doing what she can to create a level playing field across the state.

I'm poised and ready to slam Douglas when she makes policy decisions that I think are bad for Arizona's school children. Given the ideological divide separating us, I'm sure that time will come. But to this point, I continue to see her as someone who is using whatever power she has—which isn't much, since the legislature and the State Board of Education control educational policy and the budget, not the superintendent—to advocate for schools, teachers and students as best she can.

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Casa Video Top 10

Posted By on Fri, Dec 25, 2015 at 9:00 AM

BIGSTOCK PHOTO
  • BigStock Photo

Well, happy Friday everybody. As I said yesterday, we're shutting down the blog for a couple days to spend time with our family, friends and cats. We'll be back in business on Monday. 

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, hop on down to Casa Video. Their new bar is finished (Grand Opening on Saturday), their popcorn is still free and these are the Top 10 most in-demand movies of the week: 

1. Ted 2

2. Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation

3. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Continue reading »

Thursday, December 24, 2015

We're Taking a Couple of Days Off

Posted By on Thu, Dec 24, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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Sorry, Range readers: We're taking a few days off from blogging. We're going to spend the next four days bundled up, drinking some hot chocolate and reading books. We'll be back to business on Monday. Until then, you'll just have to satisfy your Weekly reading (and hate commenting) with the stories from the print edition:

Get started with this year's Local Heroes cover story, where you'll learn the stories of six incredible Tucsonans. If you're looking for something to love, hop over to Heather's food and music year-in-review pieces. Not sick of the Star Wars hype yet? Bob Grimm loved it and he'll tell you why in a spoiler-free review. 

Need more? Sorry. Check back tomorrow for Casa Video's weekly Top 10. We'll see you on Monday.

Until then, here's a video of some bengal cats fighting over an exercise wheel. 


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