Friday, December 15, 2017

Cinema Clips: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 4:30 PM

This marks the third film—and the third masterpiece—for writer-director Martin McDonagh. It also marks another astonishing film achievement for Frances McDormand, who will bore into your chest cavity and do all kinds of crazy shit to your heart as Mildred, a justifiably pissed off mother who has a few issues with the cops in her town.

It’s been five years since Mildred’s young daughter was raped and killed by unknown murderers, who finished their awful deed by burning her body. Mildred, who isn’t even close to getting over the tragedy, spies some old, dilapidated billboards on the way home and gets an idea. One meeting with a sloppy advertising agent (Caleb Landry Jones) later, and some guys are commissioned to put some alarmingly provocative signs up on those billboards.

Woody Harrelson is first rate as the man being called out in those billboards for not finding the killers; Harrelson’s 2017 has been astoundingly good. Sam Rockwell gets the high profile acting showcase he deserves as racist deputy Dixon. Rockwell’s Dixon, the town drunk and racist homophobe who has a thing for throwing people out of windows, undergoes a transformation that is a kind of movie miracle. McDonagh knows how to write a script that keeps you in it for every line. While the film is somewhat a murder mystery, the solving of the crime takes a back seat to watching these folks play off each other.

There are scenes in this movie that will knock you on the floor. The whole cast is incredible; McDormand and Rockwell will both destroy you.

An Incomplete Look at the Koch Brothers' Influence in Arizona

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 3:30 PM

  • Courtesy of
The Koch Brothers, Charles and David, have been very much in Arizona news lately, something they and their associates don't much like. They prefer to operate by stealth, under cover of dark money. Despite their wishes, a number of Koch-related dots have surfaced lately, loosely connected to one another. Let's see if some patterns emerge.

The Koch Brothers helped fund University of Arizona's Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, aka the Freedom Center. They put a million dollars, maybe a little more, into the libertarian-inflected outpost. It's not such a big deal by itself. A university center can't hire its own professors or create its own degree program like a full-fledged department, meaning its influence within the institution of higher education is minimal.

The Freedom Center created a high school course, Philosophy 101: Ethics, Economy and Entrepreneurship. It is being taught in a few school districts, charters and private schools — though it may be taught in one less district now that Tucson Unified decided the course will not be taught next year, unless the board decides to authorize it after further study. That being said, high school students are famously resistant to internalizing what they learn in class. With the course only being offered at a few schools, it's not like Arizona will have legions of students turning into born again libertarians after a yearlong indoctrination. Then again, the ultimate goal stated by the Templeton Foundation which funds the effort is to have the course reach a quarter of the state's high school students. With numbers like that, the course could have significant sway on the thinking of Arizona's youth.

In Arizona's 2017 state budget, which was quite stingy with university spending, the legislature included $2 million for the Freedom Center and another $3 million for ASU's similarly inclined School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. That taxpayer money on top of private donations from the Koch Brothers and other like-minded donors will help extend the influence of the two libertarian-infused outposts, though it's hard to say how much.

The Freedom Center is using some of its newfound state money to create a new department, the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science. Unlike the Center, it can hire professors and create degree programs, expanding its reach and making it a far more powerful force within the university.

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The Weekly Take: Sean Miller gives hope for rekindled Arizona-New Mexico rivalry

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Rawle Alkins scored seven points against Alabama on Dec. 9. - STAN LIU, ARIZONA ATHLETICS
  • Stan Liu, Arizona Athletics
  • Rawle Alkins scored seven points against Alabama on Dec. 9.
It’s been 18 years and 334 days since Arizona last made the 448-mile journey to the hallowed grounds of The Pit in Albuquerque.

That game—a bitter 79-78 defeat at the hands of the 16th-ranked Lobos—featured former Arizona coach Lute Olson’s famous declaration on their longtime Southwestern foes.

Olson, according to a 1999 Tucson Citizen piece, vowed to "unequivocally" end the rivalry, after Arizona lost to the Lobos on a last-second layup by Damion Walker that was aided by a late-starting game clock.

Call it home court advantage; call it bad sportsmanship—but Olson remained true to his word, putting an end to one of the region’s best rivalries.

The two teams concluded the rivalry 11 months after the infamous declaration, with New Mexico once again prevailing, 70-68, this time in front of a sellout crowd in Tucson.

The two teams—who played 54 times between 1950 and 1999—entered a cold war on the hardwood until Sean Miller and then-New Mexico coach Craig Neal struck a deal for a home-and-home series in 2016.

The first leg of that series took place on a chilly December afternoon last year, with Arizona rolling over Neal and company 77-46 (the largest margin of victory for either team in the series since New Mexico’s 31-point win in 1979).

The two former Border and Western Athletic Conference foes will meet on the light-stained hardwood of the Pit (now called Dreamstyle Arena) at 6 p.m. this Saturday.

The matchup is the perfect analogy for the holidays—with two long-feuding brothers reuniting to rekindle the days of yore.

Miller has made it clear that he has no problem scheduling regional rivals—playing UTEP, UNLV, New Mexico State, San Diego State and Gonzaga in recent years.

He addressed Saturday’s contest in the aftermath of Arizona’s 88-82 win over Alabama, saying his team is ready and willing to play anyone, anywhere—especially teams in their figurative backyard.

“Nobody can point their finger at our team and say we don’t play against good programs,” Miller said. “We’ve gone at UNLV, Texas A&M, Alabama, and New Mexico next week will be a heck of a challenge.”

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Betsy DeVos Exercises Her Freedom of $peech

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 10:30 AM

The Supreme Court has decided money is a form of speech. In that spirit, let's see how Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks about education when she's off the clock by looking at some of the money the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation doled out in 2016. (To be completely fair, Betsy stepped down as chairwoman of the foundation on November 22, 2016, after the election, so she wasn't in charge the last 39 days of last year.)

The Foundation gave out $14,381,000 in 2016. Of that, 45 percent, about $6.5 million, went to Education.

Below is a partial list of the foundation's education-related giving as reported by Politico. It's heavy on school choice advocacy and religious schools.
Among the recipients: Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education ($52,000); the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian law firm that has funded school choice lawsuits across the country ($35,000); the Alliance for School Choice, which Betsy DeVos previously chaired ($290,000); Success Academy Charter Schools ($150,000); and West Michigan Aviation Academy, the charter school that Dick DeVos helped create ($65,000).

— On the political front, the DeVos foundation gave $155,000 and pledged another $150,000 to the Action Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, a conservative think tank in Grand Rapids, Mich. It also funded the Great Lakes Education Foundation, which advocates for school choice policies in Michigan, with a $200,000 grant. And in Washington, the foundation supported the American Enterprise Institute with a $750,000 donation.

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The Weekly List: 26 Things To Do in Tucson This Week

Posted By and on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.

See a Show

Pastorela at Borderlands Theater. Spanish priests first brought the Pastorela (a Christian performance which uses political and cultural themes to tell the story of good’s triumph over evil) to the Americas in an effort to convert the local indigenous population. At Borderlands, the play has been rewritten every year for the past 17 years to tell a new story with the same message. This year’s story was written by Milta Ortiz and the Pastorela Ghost Writers, and tells the story of the shepherds who followed the star of Bethlehem to the Nativity. Plus: waila music from Gertie and the T.O. Boyz, a performance by Ballet Folkloric Tapatio before Sundays matinee, and piñatas for kids after every show. 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19 through Thursday, Dec. 21. 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 22. TCC Leo Rich Theater, 260 S. Church Ave. $12 to $24 adults, $12 to $24 seniors, $7 to $14 students, free for children 12 and under.

Lightwire Theater's A Very Electric Christmas. Get ready to feel like Danny Zuko, because this show is going to be electrifyin’. Seriously though, we got six seconds into the trailer video for the performance and were blown away. The puppeteers, dancers and designers behind Lightwire Theater were semifinalists on the 2012 season of America’s Got Talent, and now they’re harbingers of joy in the 2017 season of Tucson’s Got Christmas. The story of a young bird who gets lost at the North Pole among caroling worms, dancing poinsettias and rambunctious rodents is set to classic Christmas songs like “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Nutcracker,” and, of course, “Baby Got Back.” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14. Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress. $15 to $35.

The Arroyo Cafe Holiday Radio Show. Get ready to laugh, because that’s all you really can do at this point in the year if you want to keep from crying. Crystal Stark, Bobby Rich, Elliot Glicksman, Jay Taylor, Nancy Stanley and Reveille’s “Grandsons of the Pioneers” are joined by special guests Wilbur Wildcat, President Trump and host of other, mystery guest stars for a night that Trump supporters will want to miss. But no one else will. Ticket fees benefit Reveille, Owl & Panther and AZPM, and ensure you a place on the nice list. 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. $15.


Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis. UA Presents a performance by Grammy-award winning musical group Mannheim Steamroller. The man behind the music, Chip Davis, will be playing Christmas classics from throughout his career, as well as selections from his Fresh Aire series, which debuted 40 years ago. The powerful music and multimedia performance guarantees a good old fashioned Mannheim grand time. 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. $60 to $150.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pastorela Laughs in the Mirror of 2017 Politics

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 3:00 PM

For a 6,000-year old entertainment, The Pastorela sure gets around. It’s performed all over the world every Christmas, perhaps most devotedly and hilariously in Mexico. The satire and personalities change every year, but there’s always a protagonist, shepherds, wise men, angels, Lucifer and Satan. The demons create trials and temptations the protagonist must overcome to assure Jesus’ birth. Two animals traditionally act as a Greek chorus.

A dog and sheep open this year’s Borderlands show by taking a knee; the satire and send ups roll from there, nonstop. Borderlands presents its 21st Pastorela Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 14 through 17, at the Leo Rich Theatre. Visit the Borderlands website for details and reservations.

Writer Milta Ortiz says, “The animals let the audience know it’s going to be a fun show. You can holler and sing along and laugh.” This year’s news, she says, offered almost too much fodder for the show’s political comedy. “It was ‘How do we pick?’,” she says. “I never like to give spoilers,” she says, “but I really didn’t even have to parody some things that happened because they were already funny.”

Our spies tell us, spoilers aside, that Vladimir Putin’s ways with the ladies, his swagger and bravado made excellent Pastorela material, as did the Russian manipulation of “fake news.” Immigration issues continue to provide balloons for Pastorela puncturing. The current show highlights the plight of DACA children – those brought to the U.S. by their parents as children and now under threat of deportation. And, in an epic scene, torn from actual headlines, Donald Trump throws corn and paper towels.

Thankfully, some things never change. Asked who’s performing pre-show warm-up music, Ortiz says, “It's always Gertie and the TO Boys.” They’re the pride of the Tonono O’odham Nation’s, irresistible Waila dance tradition.

This year, Borderlands revamped more than just the Pastorela’s political content, though. Producing director Marc David Pinate also gave it an updated look and a fresher feel. “It’s like when there’s a new cast on Saturday Night Live,” he says. The comparison is apt.

Pinate credits a series of improv workshops he held for the show’s all-new cast over the summer. “I hoped the (players) would get more comfortable with each other, just to have that openness to play like improv does. I told the actors first thing, ‘If you have an idea, just go for it. If it works, we'll put it in the script.’

“The temptation scenes are straight-out comedy sketches.”

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Pecan Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 2:53 PM

Hi! My name is Pecan!

I am a 1-year-old girl who is waiting to meet the purr-fect home! I am a very friendly girl who will make a great addition to any family. My dream home would have a scratching post and lattice balls for me to play with!

Does it sound like I could be a part of your family? Come to HSSA Main Campus at 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd. to meet me! You can also give an adoptions counselor a call at 520-327-6088, ext. 173 for more information.

Lots of Purrs,
Pecan (851877)

Cinema Clips: The Man Who Invented Christmas

Posted By on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 10:30 AM

In 1843, when Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, folks were just getting into that thing we call the holidays, with stuff like Christmas trees and gift giving. Dickens’s novel about a miserable miser named Ebenezer Scrooge, who transforms from an evil greed monster to a kind philanthropist throughout its five chapters, helped take the celebration of Christmas to a new level of tradition.

The boldly titled The Man Who Invented Christmas spins an entertaining and clever take on how and why Dickens got the idea for the story that would change the world. Coming off a couple of flops after the success of his Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) is doing clumsy book tours to pay the bills. Desperate for a “hit,” he gets an idea for a Christmas book, one in which a greedy man is haunted by ghosts of the past, present and future. The story is meant to be a cautionary yarn about the evils of selfishness, and perhaps less about the joys of Christmas and redemption. As Dickens gets further into his book—and his own psyche—the theme changes to one of hope, and his classic is born.

Director Bharat Nalluri, working from a screenplay by Susan Coyne, based on the book by Les Standiford, gets the unique opportunity to tell the making of A Christmas Carol while, in some ways, making yet another version of the famed story itself. The film features Dickens conferring with the fictional characters in his story as he creates them, so we get an Ebenezer Scrooge, this time played by the great Christopher Plummer.

Of course, he winds up being perfect for the role.

Staff Pick

Festival Band's New Year's Eve Dance

Join us at the Tucson University Park Hotel (formally Marriott) for our NYE Dance! We play Tejano,… More

@ Tucson University Park Hotel Dec. 1-Jan. 1 880 E. 2nd Street

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