Thursday 23

LITTLE BITE. She may not be a towering figure, but hometown favorite Heather Hardy packs a mighty big sound. Tonight she shakes the rafters in a triumphant return Tucson performance.

You might remember this pint-sized violin powerhouse from her time with the Sam Taylor Band. These days, she's strutting her strings in the Big Apple. Lucky for us, her latest tour brings her back to the Baked Apple, in anticipation of an upcoming CD to be released this February.

Show time is 9 p.m. in the Boondocks Lounge, 3306 N. First Ave. Tickets are $5, available at the door. Call 690-0991 for details.

PICTORIAL PREROGATIVE. It's been a good long run. But the Group for Photographic Intentions is bidding us adieu with Grand Finale, now on display in the T/PAC Community Gallery.

The non-profit group has been on the scene for more than a decade, and sparked the careers of some of the Old Pueblo's finest shooters. Their last show, featuring a variety of black-and-white and color photographic styles, will pay tribute to that legacy with Pinhole and Diana images. It includes work by Karen Hymer-Thompson, Kathleen Velo, Larry Wilson, Amey Broeker and Greg Huston

Grande Finale runs through January 21 in the T/PAC Community Gallery, 240 N. Stone Ave. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For details, call 624-0595.

Friday 24

SURREAL SEASON. Desert? This ain't no stinking desert -- at least when you're in Tucson's little slice of Omaha, otherwise known as Winterhaven.

It's a little bit country, it's a little bit casserole; a little bit Cheez Whiz with creamed corn in its soul. A place where geographical denial runs thicker than Beanie Babies at a swap meet, this pseudo midtown forest has become a Tucson tradition ranking right up there with slump block and ranch beans.

Each year, thousands of Old Pueblans traipse the haven's thoroughfares to glimpse the most stunning light displays this side of Grozny. It's Christmas just like you always remembered, a Midwestern rhapsody in electric light.

The Winterhaven Festival of Lights runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. through Sunday, December 26, except for Christmas Day. Admission is free. Winterhaven is located between East Fort Lowell Road, North Tucson Boulevard, East Prince Road and North Country Club Road. Call 327-0111 for details.

Sun Tran offers shuttle service to Winterhaven, leaving Reid Park's Hi Corbett Field continuously from 6 to 9 p.m. Fare is $1. For information, call 792-9222.

JINGLE BELL JAZZ. For those who aren't covered under the Santa clause, the actual holidays can be dead boring. Wear yourself out tonight (thereby ensuring you'll happily sleep through tomorrow) by claiming your seat by the fire at the toasty warm Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee. This sugar plum of a saloon hosts plenty of non-seasonal merriment with the jazz stylings of guitarist Tom Cook and bassist Paul Lewis (a.k.a. the Cool Jazz band), joined by special guest Jim Vindiola on piano.

On Saturday, December 25, the Cool Jazz trio performs with singer Nancy Weaver and drummer Steve Foss. The music both nights runs from 9 to 11 p.m., and admission is free. (And if you really like what you hear, consider a midnight millennium run to Bisbee on New Year's Eve, when "retired" trumpet player Tony Roberts returns to the stage with his horn poised and ready, along with vocalist Nancy Weaver and other surprise guests.)

To reach the Copper Queen Hotel Saloon, 11 Howell Ave., take eastbound 1-10 to Benson, exit 303, and hop on Highway 80 east to Bisbee. Call the Queen at 1-520-432-2216 for more information.

Saturday 25

IT'S A WRAP. So you've labored for months, sweating your way through a million miles of shopping mall, sorting through sweaters, scanning the socks, reaching for neckties and testing Nintendos. You've clicked into websites, flicked through catalogues, filled up closets, and worn the credit card to a peeling, smoldering nub.

Now it's here. The big date. And what does it mean?

Depends upon whom you ask.

For some, Christmas remains just another work day, hustling up hash at Denny's, stacking bologna at Safeway, rolling along I-10 in an 18-wheeler, or tidying up beds at Motel 6.

But for the luckier among us, this is a time to chow down, drink up, kick back and think about how good it can be. Good because we don't live in a place where war is a constant, where poverty blows through open windows like the December wind, where hunger is a lifestyle and disease a given.

No, in this land of abundance, today is a time to be thankful for what you have, and stop racing after things you haven't. It's a time to contemplate our consumer oblivion -- to relax a little so others might just survive a little longer. Fact is, Christmas and its rampant commercialism come to us compliments of the world's other 90 percent who have next to nothing. And that's just counting the bi-peds. The cost of this material bliss to non-human dwellers is inestimable.

So when you're enjoying your day o' plenty, take a moment to remember those who have squat.

Cheers, and happy holidays.

Sunday 26

PRE-HOLIDAY MAN. The Bureau of Land Management recently opened the Murray Springs Clovis Archaeological Site Interpretive Loop Trail near Sierra Vista, offering a glimpse into life along the San Pedro River some 13,000 years ago.

Imagine, if you will, a time before Microsoft, before digital TV, even before Madonna. Ten displays along the trail tell the story of the site, which was excavated by the University of Arizona from 1967 to 1971. It yielded remains from mammoth and bison kills, and a campsite of Clovis Man. Today, Murray Springs is considered among the most important archaeological sites in the United States.

"We hope people will walk away from Murray Springs with a sense of what it was like to live back then," says Jane Childress, who helped develop the exhibit for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. "With these interpretive signs along the path, we've tried to tell the story of those who lived here."

From Sierra Vista, drive east on Highway 90 to Moson Road and turn north, traveling 1.1 miles to the entrance gate on the right. The site is open during daylight hours. For details, call (520) 458-3559.

WELL PRESERVED. He's called Arizona's Official Balladeer. And from his mountain lair, Dolan Ellis spins yarns and dishes up folk songs about this state's rich frontier past.

It all happens in the delightful Arizona Folklore Preserve, housed in a quaint '20s-era cabin in Ramsey Canyon, on the east side of the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista.

Ellis celebrates the season today with Arizona Christmas, a special program for the whole family. Show time is 2 p.m. Drive six miles south of Sierra Vista on Highway 92, turning right on Ramsey Canyon Road. Drive another 3.5 miles to the entrance sign on your left. Reservations are required, and a donation is requested. For reservations and other information, call (520) 378-6165.

Monday 27

AVIANS AND ART. Landscapes, wildlife and botanical art share space with other wildlife trappings in the Tucson Audubon Society's new Hausman Gallery.

This invitational show features a long list of notable Tucson talents, including Regina Ammerman, Andre Bruwer, Suzanne Cerny, Kim Duffek, Mary Freeman, Donna Gaylord, Jane McCreary, Barbara McLawhorn, Narca Moore-Craig, Ann Post, Rita Powell, Betty Richardson, Nita Strauss, Susan Veenema and Larry Wollam.

The show runs through February in the Tucson Audubon Society Hausman Gallery, 300 E. University Blvd. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Call 629-0510 for details.

Tuesday 28

BIRTH OF GRIDLOCK. The advent of car traffic in Arizona is noted with Dr. Fenner's New Buggy, a new exhibit in the Arizona Historical Society.

On December 29, 1899, Dr. Fenner's steam-driven car roared into the sunset amidst a cacophony of hisses and bangs, thereby becoming the Copper State's first "resident" automobile. This exhibit celebrates the buggy with an original -- and still functioning -- steam car, complete with accessories from that bygone era.

For his part, Dr. Hiram W. Fenner was a physician who came to Tucson in 1883. During his 40 years of active practice, he attained a highly respected position in the community, and held several offices in local and territorial medical societies, including a stint as UA Regent. And his machine dutifully ferried him about to his numerous callings.

Purchased for $600, and shipped to Tucson by rail, the car's arrival drew big crowds. Unfortunately -- perhaps fortuitously -- Dr. Fenner's maiden run in the buggy ended when he crashed into a towering saguaro. The rest, as they say, is history.

Dr. Fenner's New Buggy runs through January 28 in the AHS, 949 E. Second St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For details, call 628-5774.

BODILY FUNCTIONS. Time is running out to catch poignant depictions of the human carapace in Caprichos Del Cuerpo (Whims of the Body), now on display in the Raices/Taller 222 gallery.

Described as an "autobiography of the self," Gonzalo Espinosa's solo show seeks to create passages between experiences in his native Mexico and in the southwest United States. In the process, he taps "magical realism," images that float in vivid color through various stages of animation.

In this new body of work, Espinosa depicts passion, struggle and torment through imagery represented by the human form. His mastery of various artistic genres render the show a voyage of human expression.

Caprichos Del Cuerpo runs through January 1 in Raices/Taller 222, at 222 E. Sixth St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call 792-9619 for information.

Wednesday 29

LYNCH MOB. The master of sublime gets a thorough airing in a perfect venue, when Nimbus Brewing Co. presents David Lynch Night at the Movies.

You may know Nimbus as a funky little southside microbrewery that pumps out tasty beer, and serves it proudly. But the company also dishes up plenty of live music and weekly Wednesday night films in its casual tap room.

Thus tonight's visit by the celluloid plumber of society's darker currents. Mr. Lynch is noted with a screening of the season premiere of Twin Peaks, and by our perennial nominee for the best Freudian scene involving S&M babes, drag queens and nitrous oxide. Yep, we're talking none other than Blue Velvet, starring Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini.

Show times are 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. in the Nimbus Tap Room, 3850 E. 44th St. Admission is free. For details, call 745-9175.

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