City Week

A Critic's View on Education

"An Evening With Noam Chomsky: Education for Whom and for What?"

7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8

UA Centennial Hall

1020 E. University Blvd.

World-renowned linguist and social-critic Noam Chomsky is scheduled to address issues involving education during a lecture at UA's Centennial Hall.

Chomsky's talk, "Education for Whom and for What?" kicks off the annual lecture series sponsored by the UA's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. His appearance is co-sponsored by UA's Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry.

Chomsky will address the quality of education in the United States, the dangers that public universities face in preparing graduates for the job market, and the role that activism plays in education.

Chomsky is a leading analyst of what is going on politically and socially in the United States, said Thomas Bever, a UA linguistics professor who was one of Chomsky's students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Chomsky taught for 50 years.

Chomsky, "arguably the most important intellectual alive" according to The New York Times, is interested in education, starting with kindergarten, Bever said.

"He has a very acute analytical ability to lay out the structure of things that are happening," Bever said.

Chomsky is credited with revolutionizing the field of linguistics, and his work has influenced fields as diverse as philosophy and computer science.

"Why would anybody want to go hear him?" Bever asked rhetorically. "Well, because he is brilliant and a very good speaker. He has had influence among many people. He is a modern phenomenon."

Doors open at 6 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public; no backpacks, signs or cameras will be allowed in Centennial Hall during the lecture. —R.K.

Kitty Crooners?!

The Amazing Acro-Cats

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, and Friday, Feb. 3; 2 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4; 1 and 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 5

Red Barn Theatre Company

948 N. Main Ave.


The Amazing Acro-Cats are the purr-fect performance troupe for cat-lovers of all ages.

These regular house cats were transformed into skateboarding, bell-ringing, hoop-jumping, rope-walking performers by trainer Samantha Martin, who started her career by training the family dog while growing up.

"There was no rats to riches," Martin said, talking about her first performance group—a trained rat act. After all, there's only so much that you can train rats to do, she said.

The idea for Amazing Acro-Cats started while Martin was training cats for TV shows—and the idea soon took on a life of its own.

"Cats are super-easy to train," she said, "but if you change the environment, it's a whole 'nother ball game."

The feline leader of the troupe is Tuna. "She is a really brilliant cat. She is a workaholic and loves to learn," Martin said. Tuna used to play guitar for the Rock Cats, which are featured in the show's finale, and now plays the cowbell.

"She totally likes the cowbell more than the guitar, and when she is in the zone, she is fierce on that thing," Martin said.

The band, which is Martin's favorite part of the show, has recently changed styles, going from a jazzy sound to a more-Latin one, she said.

Personality differences among the cats really come out when they perform together, Martin said. While Pinky is a professional at heart, Dakota is more of a princess—and little catfights can break out when, for example, Dakota's tail gets in Pinky's face, Martin said.

"It's just cats doing what they do," Martin said. "You never get sick of it."

Tickets are $16, or $10 for children 12 and younger. —R.K.

State of the State

"Does Arizona History Matter?"

6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7

Hotel Congress

311 E. Congress St.

Arizona's centennial is fast approaching, and with it comes a new edition of University of Arizona anthropology professor Thomas Sheridan's Arizona: A History, a 504-page tome chronicling the state's history, from its indigenous roots to today.

In honor of its release, Zocalo Public Square, a project of the Center for Social Cohesion, will host a panel discussion featuring Sheridan; Eric Meeks, a history professor at Northern Arizona University; author Tom Zoellner; and Lattie Coor, chairman and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona. The program will be moderated by Jack B. Jewett, president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation.

The discussion will center on the question of whether the state's history matters. So does it?

"That's a good question," Sheridan responded. "I think one of the problems over the last 30 or 40 years is we've been a very transient population. It's hard to generate a sense of community or history, because people keep coming and going."

The fact that more than 4 million Arizonans are transplants makes the discussion of the state's history all the more important, Sheridan said. "People need to know where they're living."

Among the topics that will likely be discussed is what Sheridan calls the worst assault on Mexican-American culture since early statehood.

"About 100 years ago, there were a lot of attempts, primarily by labor unions and by the left, to keep Mexicans out of the mines," he said. "Now the assault's coming from the right."

Sheridan estimates that at least a third of the book will be new material. Among that material is a chapter dedicated to Arizona in the 21st century, which covers issues such as border security and tribal sovereignty.

Admission is free. —D.M.

Get to Know Your Booze

"The Science of Beer and Tequila"

7:30 to 11 p.m., Friday, Feb. 3

Tucson Museum of Art

140 N. Main Ave.


The Tucson Young Professionals is bringing its monthly First Friday event back to the Tucson Museum of Art with "The Science of Beer and Tequila," a look at the history and science behind some of the Southwest's favorite alcoholic concoctions.

Local author and horticulturalist Scott Calhoun will give a presentation about the harvesting and distillation of agave.

"For years and years, I've kind of been obsessed with agave plants and how they've worked in gardens," Calhoun said.

His talk will focus on the history of the cultivation of agave.

"Some of the plants that are typical landscape plants in Tucson that you might see on the medians, such as desert spoon, can also be made into fantastic beverages," said Calhoun, who will have samples available.

Joining Calhoun will be Steve Tracy of Thunder Canyon Brewery, who will hold an informal question-and-answer session on the science behind brewing beer. Thunder Canyon will provide samples, as will SanTan Brewing Co. and Sonoran Brewing Co. The mescals and tequilas available will include selections such as Mezcal Los Amantes, Hacienda de Chihuahua stool, and bacanora.

Other attractions for the evening include music from local Tucson Latin-rock band The Jons, and complimentary hot chocolate and Mexican pastries from Café a la C'Art.

The Tucson Museum of Art will have staff on hand to discuss the gallery's current exhibition, Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray.

"We're about providing an atmosphere for young professionals to get together to organically get to know each other," said TYP member Colleen LaFleur. "We try to stick to a simple recipe of entertainment, arts, food and drink."

Tickets are $15 online, or $20 at the door. —D.M.

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