City Week

Seek the Story

Odyssey Storytelling Series
7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 5
Wilde Playhouse
135 E. Congress St.

Penelope Simmons got inspired to start Tucson's Odyssey Storytelling Series after sitting in on a story-telling session organized by her daughter-in-law in San Francisco. "It was very exciting," says Simmons, "and I just decided that Tucson needed that."

Tucson agreed--this is the series' sixth installment, and "you'd couldn't have squeezed another person in to (the audience of) our last one," says Simmons.

Odyssey isn't about actors reading scripts; "it's regular people telling real stories."

"I choose the theme and we look for stories based on that theme," says Simmons. "People call up with stories, and I'll get an idea of what the story is and figure out where it'll fit in. We have one rehearsal the week before, and the story tellers meet each other, get feedback and a sense of what's going to happen. The stories aren't memorized or read out loud, but they are planned.

"What I like best is that we make connections with each other, listen to each other. It's very empowering to be on stage and tell a story from your life. It's not only fun--though that's really the first thing I had in mind--it's a way for people to get to know each other: different kinds of people who wouldn't normally meet, from different life experiences. What I'm looking for is a real range of age, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender--let's find out who the real Tucsonans are and get them talking to each other."

The Aug. 5 theme is "creepy," and will feature stories from a hypnotherapist, hair stylist, admissions counselor, psychiatric social worker and a contractor/performance poet. Tickets are $5; show up early to grab your seat.

Seek the Snake

Reptile Ramble
10 a.m. Fridays, through October
Tohono Chul Park
7366 N. Paseo Del Norte

Tohono Chul Park--with beautiful grounds, friendly docents and remarkable fauna--celebrates the desert in a way that helps to define Tucson for the many visitors who pass through. Among the experiences likely to make the park memorable are programs such as Reptile Ramble, held at 10 a.m. every Friday through October.

Currently, Reptile Ramble is ably led by retired neuroscientist and college professor Tom McDonald.

"Our idea is really two-fold," says McDonald. "Part of it is to let people see reptiles up close, to learn something about them, to touch or handle them if they want, especially kids--to give them the first-hand experiences of finding out that reptiles aren't cold or slimy. The second half (of the program) is a walk-through of the park, where we try to spot local reptiles and give people the chance to practice observing reptiles and figure out what they're seeing.

"I enjoy the opportunity to teach people about desert life," McDonald adds, "and to help clear up some of the myths and misconceptions about desert life. We also try to alert people to some important issues, like water--where does it come from? Will it last forever?--and how to respond when they see a snake in their backyard. We try to counter some of the other information out there that points people in the wrong direction."

There are, as McDonald points out, "so many fabulous things here in the desert"; show up at a Reptile Ramble session, and you may very well end up with one of those fabulous things wrapped around your head (see above).

Seek the Spray

Salsa Tasting Festival
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 31
Plaza Palomino
2970 N. Swan Road

Salsa is a staple in these parts; if you don't hate it, you've probably already sampled much of what the area has to offer. As such, a salsa tasting festival--and this is the third annual event for Plaza Palomino--would be a blip on the radar, but for one fact: It's being held in a misted courtyard. Caught as many of us are between a muggy swamp cooler and the blazing sun, I feel that noting the location of various misted spaces when the opportunity arises is a bona fide public service. After all, one can only loiter under Trader Joe's' misters for so long (before being asked to leave).

The Plaza Palomino festival is a gathering of restaurants and retailers who will offer free food and "big sales" on merchandise to the tune of broadcast Mexican hits. (Event organizers are currently trying to find a band or DJ to liven up the event further, but have no commitments as of press time.) Participating restaurants include La Placita Café, Macayo's Mexican Kitchen, Papagayo, La Parrilla Suiza, Mosaic Café, Firecracker and more; retailers include La Contessa, Enchanted Earthworks, Culinary Concepts and more.

Palomino staff will be giving away dozens of gift certificates from participating restaurants and retailers--"almost one every 15 minutes," according to PR specialist Stacey Auch, in what her press release calls "a cooperative effort to boost business during the slow summer season."

There is no fee for admission; call for more information.

Seek the (Pants) Snake

Screening of Homegrown Hardcore Porn
8 p.m. Friday, July 30
The Screening Room
127 E. Congress St.

The parade of listings for potlucks and pilates had lulled me into a drone-like state of typing efficiency when suddenly--A Midsummer Night's Wet Dream. Oh! I thought, that'll be interesting. But after reading further, I found--sigh--that it was only about porn. I'm sorry, hardcore porn, which chronicles in greater detail than does softcore porn the spasms and jiggles associated with the coupling of human beings.

I don't mean to be blasé, but consider these press release excerpts: "there's no business like ho' business"; "featuring ... Carol Leigh, unrepentant whore"; "more twisted than cherry licorice." I mean, yawn? It's 2004--unrepentant whores are so mainstream, they're cute (Sex in the City), and porn is a multi-billion dollar industry, precisely because millions of people watch it.

For those of you offended that this event made it into our City Week section, you should know that most other alternative newsweeklies would have gleefully peed themselves in their rush to dedicate several pages to it, and the fact that it's a benefit for the Sex Workers' Art Festival would have slid it onto the front cover of papers in certain sexy cities who consider porn sooooo alternative (and think sex workers are tuned in to something different, deeper and darker than your average artist). I, however, am listing it here precisely because it's totally conventional, and you might be interested.

Though you could go rent ex-porn star Johnny Knoxville's Jackass for a guaranteed good time (a movie about accidents, not asses), the real thrill here is that it's a screening of local hardcore porn, which means you might see someone you know.

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