City Week

Here Today, Here Tomorrow

The Celts: Druids and Druidesses
7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 18
Temple of Music and Art
330 S. Scott Ave.

Marty Meeks, who received her doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, is steeped in the traditions and historical records of Celtic society; she leads trips through Scotland and Ireland and delivers lectures on topics from that range from "Mystical, Magical, Mythical Cauldrons" to "Monuments of the Ancient Celts." Her Tuesday Druids and Druidesses lecture will be presented in conjunction with a slideshow, and reportedly answer questions such as, "What was their function in Celtic society?"; "Are they visible in the archaeological record?"; "What do the Classical historians say about them?"; "How are they personified in Celtic mythology?"; and, presumably, any other questions attendees care to posit.

The Celts themselves are well worth studying, as much for their cultural sophistication and progressive thinking as for the fact that everyone alive today whose family has roots in central, western and northwestern Europe has a Celtic connection of some sort. The Celtic culture is thought to have existed for more than 2,700 years; one of its hallmarks has been its ability to absorb and be influenced by--but not broken by--outside forces and movements, from the Druids and Romans (the name "Celt" originated with the ancient Greeks, who called the collective tribes of central Europe "Keltoi") to the later Christians.

Tickets to Dr. Meeks' lecture are $10; call the number above for tickets and additional information.

The World Is Not Enough... Must Make Fire

Discussion--Doug Fine
1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 16
Readers Oasis
3400 E. Speedway Blvd.

Journalist and National Public Radio commentator Doug Fine has interviewed Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and spanned time with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and yet (according to his Web site), "he can ... barely get a fire started in his wood stove."

(I know just how he feels; I've survived a shark attack in the Niagara Falls Aquarium and plunged six stories in an elevator in Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, and yet I still somehow often fail in opening a package of cheese, not to mention building a fire.) Fine, however, really, really wanted to make himself capable of fulfilling those most basic needs--warmth, food, shelter--and left his life as big-city journalist for the wilds of Alaska ... a place he reports first falling in love with after being followed by a wolf for three days while hiking.

With a modern-day flair for self-deprecation, Fine recounts the "sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrific story of his first difficult winter in a one-room cabin, trying to stay alive and still come out of it with some semblance of 'cool'" in his new memoir, Not Quite an Alaskan Mountain Man (Alaska Northwest Books, $14.95).

Fine's desired evolution from cheechako (greenhorn) to "manly 'Mountain Man'" took some funny twists (and some near-fatal ones) amid the chainsaws, snow machines and polar bears that dot the Alaskan landscape. "Just how well did he make out in his quest to conquer this hard landscape and assert his masculinity?" Readers Oasis teases; Fine himself will let you know in a Sunday discussion of his book, presented in conjunction with a slideshow.

Free; call for additional information.

Sisterly Love

2005 Family Arts Festival
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 16
various locations

In the days of yore, royal families tried to make the world a smaller, safer place by marrying their sons and daughters into the ruling families of other states or nations, thus forging connections and alliances where before there were none.

With a shortage of superfluous royals to dole out, those who rule modern-day cities have turned to the system of "sister cities," within which cities in different countries declare themselves aligned, simply because they feel like it, and then begin exchanging commoners in efforts to promote greater understanding and appreciation for each other's cultures. While the old system may have prevented your village from being invaded, it probably didn't result in many Family Arts Festivals; thus the new system can be unequivocally declared more fun.

Tucson is well on its way to proving you can never have enough sister cities; our current total is at least six, and includes Cd. Obregon, Mexico; Pecs, Hungary; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Segovia, Spain; Trikala, Greece; and Sulaimani, Iraq. All sister cities have sent artists to participate in the event, from the Panathenian Greek Dancers to the musicians of Conjunto Folklorico Mexico Mestizo.

The festival will feature six stages of ongoing, live entertainment; more than 100 artists and art groups; the Kids Fest area, where young children can have their faces painted, listen to stories tellers and more; an eight-hour showcase of short films, many by local filmmakers; the list goes on. Locations include the Tucson Convention Center, La Placita Village, the Congress Street Bridge and El Presidio Park. For a complete schedule of events, call the number or visit the Web site above.

Honoring MLK

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
11:30 a.m., Monday, Jan. 17
Tucson Children's Museum
200 S. Sixth Ave.

I've lived in a lot of cities in the United States, and I've visited more than my fair share of children's museums (especially considering the fact that I don't have children). Based on that experience, I think I can fairly say that few children's museums are as active and effective as the Tucson Children's Museum when it comes to shaping the kids of today into the culturally informed and sensitive world citizens of tomorrow.

TCM's Festival of Lights series introduced young people to the holiday celebrations of a very long list of other nations; their Monday MLK celebration marks the importance of the civil rights leader's awe-inspiring legacy--work that changed the life of every American alive today and whose effects rippled around the globe.

Local storyteller Sylvia McConico's performances weave folk tales, original material, audience participation and African instruments into events designed to foster a greater sense of community; TCM attempts to expand on that feeling by facilitating kids' participation in "Let's All Join Hands," a component of the nonprofit Global Art Project.

Let's All Join Hands invites people--at any time--to send a paper outline of the hand on which they've written their name, country and wish for peace; the hands are later joined in a larger project that celebrates the diversity of people committed to a peaceful planet Earth. After McConico's performance, kids will settle down to make their own handprints, which TCM will send on to the Global Art Project.

The event is included in the price of admission.

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