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  • Dinnerware Revisited

    Once upon a time, before there was an Elliot’s on Congress, before there was a Hub, before there was a modern streetcar, there was Dinnerware. Way back in 1979, a gang of young artists who would go on to become some of the best-known and most-respected painters, photographers and sculptors in Tucson and beyond joined forces to create an artist-run co-op gallery. Legend has it that the plot was hatched over a pitcher of beer at The Shanty, the still-existing hangout over on Fourth Avenue, by painters Jim Waid, Judith D’Agostino, Tom Cosgrove and others. They wanted a location downtown, somewhere among the boarded-up storefronts and dive bars. A lawyer offered to share her Congress Street digs with the wandering artists, and they set up shop across from her files.Borrowing their name from the space’s previous retail outlet—a vendor of ceramic plates and cups—they opened up the new Dinnerware Artists’ Cooperative Gallery. It would last 24 years.An exhibition now on view at the Temple Gallery celebrates the first 12 of those years. (After just a time on the Hub block, Dinnerware landed permanently at 135 E. Congress, now occupied by Elliot’s.)

  • And the Winner is …

    This Sunday night’s 89th Academy Awards show on ABC is one of the most uncertain and open races in recent years. First-time Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel kicks off the telecast at 5 p.m., Arizona time.  Despite La La Land netting a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations (joining Titanic and All About Eve for the most ever), Oscar Night always manages to entertain and surprise viewers.  Expect the Hollywood love story to get stiff competition from Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight for the 8 ½ pound golden statuettes.Here are my selections for who’ll win this year’s Academy Awards, honoring the highest achievements in filmmaking (in bold):ACTRESS IN SUPPORTING ROLE Despite not being enthralled with either Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea, both films provided exceptional performances from their talented casts.  My vote would easily go to Viola Davis in Fences.  Lion and Hidden Figures are the best movies on this 5-picture list, but Kidman and Spencer face an uphill battle.  And Williams?  Come on, she was barely in Manchester by the Sea…but her one memorable scene may be enough to sway Oscar voters. Viola Davis (Fences) Naomie Harris (Moonlight)

  • Area teams active in state basketball playoffs

    Area girls basketball teams have found great success in this year’s state basketball tournament. Six area schools qualified for the postseason and four advanced to the quarterfinals or beyond. Pusch Ridge was still alive in the 2A state tournament as of press time. The Lions beat Yuma Catholic 58-22 in a game that was never in doubt. The Lions led 16-7 after the first quarter, then went on a 20-3 second quarter run to take full control. Bree Olson led all scorers with 16 points, while Angel Addleman added 13. Olson led the Lions with six rebounds, while Addleman led the team with three assists and three steals. Marana’s season came to an end in the quarterfinals of the 5A state playoffs with a 66-54 loss to No. 4 Chaparral.The Tigers led by three after the first quarter but the second frame saw the Firebirds outscore the Tigers 18-9 and after three quarters they pushed the lead to 14.Alyssa Perez capped a great junior season with a 15-point outing. She added five steals and three assists on the night. The inside tandem of Mele Hala’fia and Quinnesha Mitchell added 14 and 13 respectively, while also combining to pull down 20 rebounds and block 5 shots. 

  • Old West Flavor

    When someone mentions the word steakhouse, eyebrows raise. What’s the occasion? Is it Dad’s birthday? Who’s getting married? For most, going to a steakhouse and ordering up a prime cut of meat means something special is going on. Either an upscale environment or a funky cowboy style ranch house also means it’s going to be an expensive meal.Luckily for us here in Tucson, we have a history of traditional and elegant restaurants to get your meat fix and not every spot is on the pricey side.Nevada Smith’s Saloon is a good, tasty example, serving generous cuts of meat, in a comfy and unpretentious environment, that’s delighted bellies and budgets for nearly 36 years.“That right there is a 22-ounce thick cut porterhouse steak,” prides Darryl Smith, the owner and namesake, pointing to a sizzling cut of meat on the wood-fire grill out back. “This comes with an old family recipe side of cowboy beans or a huge baked potato and an all you can eat salad bar with rolls.”Yeah, but for how much?“Seventeen bucks.”

  • High-Mile Club: Oil changes for older cars

    Your car has been a faithful steed for years, and you want to keep it running perfectly.So when you start hearing commercials about oil changes for cars with high mileage, you wonder. Because your car has logged at least 75,000 miles, you think this service might be warranted.While a high-mileage oil change certainly won’t hurt your car, it may not be necessary, said John Walter, director of automotive services for AAA Arizona. Expect to pay 25 to 40 percent more for a high-mileage oil change because of the increased levels of additives in the oil, he said.“Typically, high-mileage oil changes have higher levels of additives in them,” Walter said. “If you maintain your vehicle, high-mileage oil changes aren’t going to do much for you.” As a go-to source for automotive information, AAA’s Walter explained why this type of oil change usually isn’t that much better for your car. 

  • Community comes together to combat, educate on distracted driving in OV

    Just over a month ago, the Oro Valley Police Department began enforcing an ordinance passed by town council last December aimed at improving roadway safety by restricting the use of handheld electronic devices while traveling on public roadways. Since enforcement began on Jan. 6, OVPD Lt. Chris Olson said the department has launched a campaign against distracted driving, conducting roughly 400 traffic stops, though issuing no sitations. While that may seem like a significant number of violations, Olson said he expected several hundred more, and he doesn’t see that discrepancy as a problem.“In other words, it’s become harder to find someone driving with a cell phone in their hands – and that’s really been our goal,” Olson said. “When you do a six-month educational campaign, it’s because you just want people to follow the ordinance. It’s not about generating revenue, it’s not about making money, it’s simply about getting people to engage in safer driving behaviors so we have less crashes on the roadway.”Olson discussed the ongoing effort by the department at the first of several public information meetings the department will host, in conjunction with other public service agencies and community organizations, across Oro Valley. The Mountain Vista Fire District (MVFD) joined the police department, representatives from the town, AT&T and Look! Save a Life, a national nonprofit aimed at reducing roadway collisions and deaths, and also played a role in the efforts to have the ordinance passed. Look! Save a Life Merchandising Manager Kirk Wilson said the organization works to improve safety conditions for all who make use of public roadways, especially those he referred to as “vulnerable users,” primarily cyclists and pedestrians. A difficult mission to accomplish, Wilson said having the support of the town, local first responders and other organizations in the region is of great benefit to the cause.“It’s really awesome for Oro Valley to be the first in the Tucson area that has gone to lengths to pass this type of legislation,” he said. “We’re hoping that other jurisdictions and municipalities will follow in the good graces of example that Oro Valley has set.”

  • And the Winner is …

    This Sunday night’s 89th Academy Awards show on ABC is one of the most uncertain and open races in recent years. First-time Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel kicks off the telecast at 5 p.m., Arizona time.  Despite La La Land netting a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations (joining Titanic and All About Eve for the most ever), Oscar Night always manages to entertain and surprise viewers.  Expect the Hollywood love story to get stiff competition from Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight for the 8 ½ pound golden statuettes.Here are my selections for who’ll win this year’s Academy Awards, honoring the highest achievements in filmmaking (in bold):ACTRESS IN SUPPORTING ROLE Despite not being enthralled with either Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea, both films provided exceptional performances from their talented casts.  My vote would easily go to Viola Davis in Fences.  Lion and Hidden Figures are the best movies on this 5-picture list, but Kidman and Spencer face an uphill battle.  And Williams?  Come on, she was barely in Manchester by the Sea…but her one memorable scene may be enough to sway Oscar voters. Viola Davis (Fences) Naomie Harris (Moonlight)

  • Meh. “Fifty Shades Darker” not as good as original

    Once again, the month of February has drawn upon us and a handful of friends sheepishly asked if I were going to see this second erotic rollout based upon best-selling author E.L. James’ trilogy collection?  Yes, I unabashedly responded.  And, no, like most book-to-film endeavors, I haven’t read any of James’ three “Shades” smut novels.  These questions point to the fact that sex fantasy films generate a whole different theater vibe and allure for viewers than a typical movie due to their more graphic sexual and kinky content. Such soft-porn movies create the need to review both the overall storyline and the over-publicized sordid sex scenes.Great (ben wa) balls of fire!  “Fifty Shades Darker” contains exactly one titillating (and humorous) string of events that quickly escalates from foreplay to masquerade dinner, before climaxing into mattress mayhem.  Young Seattle billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) resumes his control freak persona into Anastasia Steele’s personal and professional life. This time, however, we find Dakota Johnson’s Miss Steele character never taken aback by her former lover… a more willing accomplice to Grey’s dominance between his 1800 thread count bed sheets.Christian Grey is the same helicopter boyfriend who never allows his possessions or women to stray far outside of his arm’s reach. Everything must be available at his disposal to provide immediate gratification and stimulation. In a subtle scene as the always working Anastasia, Dakota Johnson pays a small on-screen tribute to her true-life mother, Melanie Griffith, and 1988’s “Working Girl”.   Unfortunately, this film’s story is not nearly as entertaining as last year’s predecessor, “Fifty Shades of Grey” -- which I gave a B+ letter grade.  Little heartache or convincing is required of Christian Grey to pursue and compel the younger Anastasia to recommence her submissive afterhours sexual prowess.  The true culprit for the movie’s less satisfying plot resides in its lack of depth given to several competing, smaller sub-stories…none of which spurns any excitement, interest, or suspense for viewers in this installment. While “Fifty Shades Darker” is a major drop-off from the series’ original bedroom punisher, it does faithfully accomplish its main goal of creating the potential for a thrilling finale in 2018.  Unapologetically, I will be there to review it.

  • Cooking up Creole, Cajun traditions in Old Pueblo

    It’s more than just a few letters that distinguish the Cajuns from the Creoles in the Pelican State.While the terms are often used synonymously, the gulf between these two regional Louisiana styles of cooking is as wide as Lake Pontchartrain. So in preparation for Fat Tuesday, the one day of the year when that gulf is bridged, I caught up with two local chefs for a better understanding of these tasty traditions. Robert Iaccarino was born and raised in New Orleans and spent nearly 20 years in Europe as a self-described “journeyman chef.” He then worked in several New Orleans restaurants, including stints in the kitchen with legendary Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme, an Iaccarino family friend, before his passing.Iaccarino tells me that creole cuisine is drawn from European influences, from what he calls the “top of the aristocracy.”“These were the people that had the means, the education and the money to purchase a lot of fresh foods, produce, meats, sausages and the like,” said Iaccarino, executive chef at Sazerac Creole Kitchen and Cocktails, 4340 N. Campbell Avenue, “and that’s what our food is based on at Sazerac; 19th century style cuisine with modern appliances.”In addition to classic creole dishes such as crawfish etoufee and jambalaya, Iaccarino’s menu also features some original selections, like the bronzed salmon filet with meuniere, a sauce made from a veal demi-glace that Iaccarino defines as “rich, decadent and complex.”

  • Area teams active in state basketball playoffs

    Area girls basketball teams have found great success in this year’s state basketball tournament. Six area schools qualified for the postseason and four advanced to the quarterfinals or beyond. Pusch Ridge was still alive in the 2A state tournament as of press time. The Lions beat Yuma Catholic 58-22 in a game that was never in doubt. The Lions led 16-7 after the first quarter, then went on a 20-3 second quarter run to take full control. Bree Olson led all scorers with 16 points, while Angel Addleman added 13. Olson led the Lions with six rebounds, while Addleman led the team with three assists and three steals. Marana’s season came to an end in the quarterfinals of the 5A state playoffs with a 66-54 loss to No. 4 Chaparral.The Tigers led by three after the first quarter but the second frame saw the Firebirds outscore the Tigers 18-9 and after three quarters they pushed the lead to 14.Alyssa Perez capped a great junior season with a 15-point outing. She added five steals and three assists on the night. The inside tandem of Mele Hala’fia and Quinnesha Mitchell added 14 and 13 respectively, while also combining to pull down 20 rebounds and block 5 shots. 

  • All-Northwest Wrestling teams

    It was a great year for Northwest wrestling. Mountain View High School claimed their first state title, while Marana, Ironwood Ridge and Canyon Del Oro high schools all had grapplers fare very well at state level. In many weight classes deciding on the first and second teamers were quite easy. Others had too few or too many standouts to easily make a decision. Some wrestlers on the second team for a tough weight class could have a better season than some of the first teamers in a weaker class. An emphasis was placed on performances at the state tournaments for close calls.All Northwest Wrestling First Team106 Gabe Ortiz, Mountain View (31-13)

  • MLS Red Bulls practice, play in Oro Valley

    Although Tucson lost baseball spring training, Major League Soccer spring training has flourished in Pima County. While many games are played near the county’s sports facility at Ajo Way and Kino Boulevard, the New York City Red Bulls are practicing this year at Naranja Park in Oro Valley.On Saturday Night, the Red Bulls hosted a friendly exhibition game with FC Tucson.The Red Bulls prevailed 3-1 in the exhibition against FC Tucson, which is a semi-pro team from the Premier Development League. An estimated 600 fans took in the game, with most of the fans able to sit just a few feet away from the pitch. It was a great opportunity for fans to get up close and personal with the teams. “They are just loving the talent on display here and the excitement under the lights,” said Oro Valley Councilmember Mary Snyder. Many of the fans were young families, with a number of kids in attendance donning their youth soccer jerseys in front of the pros. 

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