The Range

Heart Trouble

One day after UA basketball coach Lute Olson announced he planned to take the entire season off to deal with "personal issues within my family that need to be addressed," we learned at least part of what those personal problems involved: Olson filed for divorce from his wife of four years, Christine Olson.

Christine, a Republican activist in Pennsylvania politics, released a statement to the press saying she was "devastated" by Coach O's decision to file for divorce. In a statement last Thursday, Dec. 6, Olson said he planned to return to his coaching duties next season.

"To our basketball fans and the community, I ask your patience in allowing me the time to attend to my personal situation," Olson said. "I am most grateful for the statements of support and prayers that have been offered, and look forward to a return to more normal activities in the months ahead."

Kevin O'Neill, who returned to the Wildcats earlier this year as an assistant, will remain the interim head coach for the rest of the season.

In the first game following Olson's announcement, the Wildcats scored a 78-72 win against Illinois, thanks in large part to a referee totally missing Nic Wise trying to call a timeout that Arizona did not have. That would have resulted in a last-second technical foul, but the lack of a call allowed the game to go into overtime last Saturday, Dec. 8. The Cats are now 6-2 on the season.

Academic Assessment

Students at the University of Arizona will be shelling out a few more bucks for their education after the Arizona Board of Regents approved a $450 tuition increase for resident UA students. The regents also boosted tuition for out-of-state and grad students, as well as approving various new fees.

UA President Robert Shelton said the UA remained "one of America's greatest bargains."

In other campus news: The UA Phoenix Mars mission was named the Academic Innovator of the Year by Gov. Janet Napolitano, who also handed out innovation awards to the UA's BIO5 Institute and UA freshman Niles Frazier for his work involving RNA.

Party Hearty

The crazy kids with the Tucson Young Professionals took over the Tucson Museum of Art for the first-ever First Friday party, featuring body art, music and mingling over cocktails.

Leah Taylor, a leader of the fledgling networking group, said the evening was a "fabulous event." Taylor tells The Range that next month's First Friday fiesta, scheduled for Jan. 4, has a theme of "Fire and Ice." She adds that the TMA staff is OK with some pyrotechnic displays, "as long we don't burn down the museum."

Meanwhile, over at Hotel Congress, the Great Cover-Up, in which local bands turn into tribute acts for 20-minute sets, was a smashing success. We can report that on Saturday night, the crowd and the musicians had a blast. Though some performers clearly spent more time rehearsing than others, the evening ended with a bang-up British invasion: a fine Who tribute by Spacefish and a dead-on set of Clash tunes, including "London Calling" and "Rock the Casbah," by Found Dead on the Phone.

The three-night benefit raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $7K for the Tucson Artists and Musicians Health Alliance, a new nonprofit organization designed to help starving musicians get health insurance.

These following folks should take a bow: Curtis McCrary of the Rialto Theatre (and a TW contributor), Dave Slutes and Dan Hernandez of Hotel Congress, and TW's own music editor, Stephen Seigel. More mad props go out to Chita of KLPX FM 96.1 for her work as a masterful mistress of ceremonies, as well Don Jennings of KXCI FM 91.3, Rainbow Guitars for the backline, Sticks and Strings for the drums and Ryan Trayte for designing the poster. And let us not forget all the bands who devoted time to learning all those new songs. Nice work, gang!

Test Run for the Border

Is the virtual border fence finally going to work? The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it was taking "conditional possession" of Project 28, a 28-mile pilot project of cameras, radar and other electronic sensors designed to alert Border Patrol officers to the presence of border-crossers near Sasabe.

The Boeing project, which was supposed to come on line last summer, has been beset by technical delays.

Crack that Whip!

Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona was elected Senate minority whip after the retirement of Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott.