Tucson Local Media: Scene1

Scene1

  • Stay cool with this summer’s list of blockbusters

    Every year, the summer movie season gets off to an earlier start. At the current rate, next year’s Summer Movie Season will kickoff somewhere around January of 1982.As for this year, it semi-officially kicked off with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Suckage all the way back in late March. Ice cream and jellybean sales really spiked around that time because a whole lot of geeks needed to cheer themselves up after sitting through that trash.Alas, we are only in May, so there are plenty of months left to salvage Summer Movie Season 2016. Here are some films that look to be Batman v Superman antidotes, as well as some that might further poison us.  Captain America: Civil War (May 5): Already getting amazing buzz, this is another superhero vs. superhero movie, but this one is in the hands of Marvel, which usually means an uptick on the sophistication and fun quotients. It also means no Zack Snyder at the helm, which I consider a major blessing at this point. Last Days in the Desert (May 13): Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) plays Jesus Christ having a relatively bad time in the desert before embarking on a preaching career that would eventually get his butt totally killed. 

  • IRHS preforms 'The Crucible'

    Written in the early 1950s, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible takes place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. It recounts the events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials. This was a time when paranoia, hysteria, and deceit gripped the Puritan towns of New England.The initial scenes take place in the home of Reverend Parris, (played by Senior Josh Baca) the town’s spiritual leader. His ten-year-old daughter lies in bed, unresponsive.She, and the other local girls, spent the previous evening performing a ritual while dancing in the wilderness. Abigail, (Played by Senior Katherine Phillips) Parris’ seventeen-year-old niece, is the "wicked" leader of the girls.Mr. and Mrs. Putnam, (Played by Kelly Horner and Danny Fapp) loyal followers of Parris, are very concerned for their own sickly daughter.The Putnams are the first to openly suggest that witchcraft is plaguing the town. They insist that Parris root out the witches within the community. Not surprisingly, they suspect anyone who despises Rev. Parris, or any member who fails to attend church on a regular basis.Halfway through Act One, the play's tragic hero, John Proctor, (played by Senior Alex Kaprosy) enters the Parris household to check on the still comatose Betty. (Played by Senior Jordan Jaffe)

  • Great American Playhouse brings ‘Whodunit’ to stage

    As summertime transitions into autumn, citizens of Oro Valley and the surrounding area will be able to enjoy themselves at another new installment into the Great American Playhouse’s burgeoning bundle of shows. Following the playhouse’s two-year anniversary celebration last August, GAP veteran Nick Seivert has written and directed the latest play to be presented at the fledgling theater as it picks up more steam.“Whodunit? or They Haven’t a Clue” is the name of Seivert’s interactive murder mystery, starring a gifted cast consisting of Jesus Limon (Mustard/Rusty), Xander Mason (Plum), Katherine Philips (Peach), Jacqueline Williams (Scarlet), Sean MacArthur (Green), Jodi Darling (Peacock/White) and Seivert himself as Wadsworth and Zoltan the Great.When Rusty, the adopted son of bagel heiress Ms. Peacock, and his stepmother are killed, detectives Mustard and White are called onto the scene to find just “whodunit.” Together with the GAP audience, Mustard and White will discover the perpetrator of the crime, as well as the why and the how behind Rusty and Ms. Peacock’s murder. Seivert’s grand magnitude as a playwright pervades throughout the show, featuring copious amounts of family-friendly zaniness and interactivity that has come to be associated with the local acting vet.

  • Playhouse to host ‘whodunit’ production

    As summertime transitions into autumn, citizens of Oro Valley and the surrounding area will be able to enjoy themselves at another new installment into the Great American Playhouse’s burgeoning bundle of shows. Following the playhouse’s two-year anniversary celebration last August, GAP veteran Nick Seivert has written and directed the latest play to be presented at the fledgling theater as it picks up more steam.“Whodunit? or They Haven’t a Clue” is the name of Seivert’s interactive murder mystery, starring a gifted cast consisting of Jesus Limon (Mustard/Rusty), Xander Mason (Plum), Katherine Philips (Peach), Jacqueline Williams (Scarlet), Sean MacArthur (Green), Jodi Darling (Peacock/White) and Seivert himself as Wadsworth and Zoltan the Great.When Rusty, the adopted son of bagel heiress Ms. Peacock, and his stepmother are killed, detectives Mustard and White are called onto the scene to find just “whodunit.” Together with the GAP audience, Mustard and White will discover the perpetrator of the crime, as well as the why and the how behind Rusty and Ms. Peacock’s murder. Seivert’s grand magnitude as a playwright pervades throughout the show, featuring copious amounts of family-friendly zaniness and interactivity that has come to be associated with the local acting vet.Every show has its shining star, and this time around, it was Xander Mason and his eccentric, lovable take on ‘Topsy Turvy Private Investigator’ radio actor, Plum. As Mustard and White interrogate Plum and his radio associates throughout the play, Mason stands out for his active performance style and profound energy which sets the stage alight, coming across with a composed vivacity not unlike a young Robin Williams. Philips also stands out as ‘Topsy Turvy’ co-star Peach, standing tall amongst more veteran actors with a collected approach to her improvisational humor, which received some of the loudest applause throughout the night.Limon, Darling and Seivert assert their muscle as true GAP vets by playing double-time as their characters, Mustard/Rusty, Peacock/White and Wadsworth/Zoltan, respectively. 

  • M. Night Shyamalan’s return to horror with “The Visit”

    Few Hollywood directors carry as wild a reputation as M. Night Shyamalan. The former whiz kid behind modern classics like “The Sixth Sense” (1999) and “Signs” (2002) seemed destined for a career of outside-the-box masterpieces. Then, seemingly overnight, that destination shifted. The last decade of Shyamalan’s career has steadily served up one hot mess (“Avatar: The Last Airbender”) after another (“After Earth”) — his name now synonymous with gimmicky twists and little else. So now, without much to lose, the director returns to his scary movie roots with “The Visit.” Our fingers were crossed.  Unfortunately, things couldn’t have started off bumpier. In the first few minutes alone, we get our “found footage” premise (a gimmick that peaked five years ago), awkward moments of attempted humor, and a few rap freestyles. Siblings Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are dropped off for a week with the grandparents they’ve never met, and before you can say “suspicious,” things start getting weird. Grandma (Deanna Dunagan) bakes cookies during the day and wanders the house demonically at night. Grandpa (Peter McRobbie) chops wood outside and attacks random strangers in town. The story continues in typical horror movie fashion, with jump scares galore and a ridiculous amount of skepticism on the kids’ part.But Shyamalan relies too heavily on the word “typical” here. He’s got a cast of surprisingly decent performers to work with, yet there isn’t anything to make it stand out from the flood of “Paranormal Activity” sequels that are still being cranked out every year. Long gone are the creative camera angles and less-is-more approach of his past work — now it’s all about chasing trends and blending in. The plot twist is great once it arrives, but it’s too little too late. And it doesn’t do much to contradict the notion of Shyamalan as a poor man’s Rod Serling.Ultimately, “The Visit” hits its short term goal as a fun date movie with some scary twists. As for the long term goal of revitalizing Shyamalan’s career, well, let’s just say our fingers are still crossed. Danilo Castro is a resident of Oro Valley and writer for the Film Noir Archive blog at

  • Introduction to improv

    Have you or anyone you know thought about taking an improv class, but weren't sure if it was right for you? OR, maybe you've just been to a show and thought it might be fun to do a little improv!Well, now's your chance to get a sample of what our classes are like, AND have some fun! On Saturday, September 26th from Noon to 3pm we will be having an introduction to improv workshop at Unscrewed Theater. TIckets are only $15 AND include a free ticket to that night's family-friendly improv show!We will play some warm exercises, learn the basic rules of improv and play some really fun games! You'll be able to get a great feel for what and how we teach. It will be a really fun afternoon taught by two of our amazing instructors (and Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed players!) You can even purchase this class as a gift for someone who loves to laugh! So come have a great time with us! To sign up go to unscrewedtheater.org

  • The Latin Comedy Jam Coming to Tucson Sept. 12: Free Ticket Giveaway

    The Latin Comedy Jam is set to bring non-stop hilarity to Tucson on Sept. 12 for a double show at The Leo Rich Theatre. Hosted by founder Mike Acquisto-Gotti, the jam is partnering with the Tucson Hispanic Chamber Scholarship Fund and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the fund.“We’re spreading laughter and education at the same time,” said Acquisto-Gotti.The cast of comedians for the show consists of Roberto Rodriguez, Dillon Garcia, Javi Luna and Steve Trevino. Each of these performers, along with the rest of the crew in the comedy jam, can be seen across the nation.Acquisto-Gotti said the show isn’t intended for all ages, but is relatively tame. “It’s not a raunchy, dirty show,” he said. “There is some adult content, but for the most part, it’s a show you can bring your grandma to.”Though it is called The Latin Comedy Jam, the show is in English and the content is intended for an audience of all backgrounds.“The comics are Hispanic, but the comedy is universal,” Acquisto-Gotti said. “They’re from all walks of life and places, not just the United States: Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. “

  • Meryl Streep and real-life daughter shine bright

    As one of only six Hollywood actors to earn three Academy Awards for acting (including a record 19 Oscar nominations) it feels like we’ve seen Meryl Streep play every character on the big screen over the past 38 years. In “Ricki and The Flash,” however, we find this amazing actress continuing to expand her talents and push outside her comfort zone. As an aging 1980s rocker named Ricki Rendazzo, Streep is a self-described non-traditional mother who, after years performing on tour, ends up divorced, no longer in her children’s lives and working two part-time jobs just to make ends meet. Teaming up with her real-life offspring Mamie Gummer for the third time on film, Streep’s Ricki character re-enters the children’s lives when her daughter’s (Gummer) marriage unexpectedly dissolves.  Academy Award winner Jonathan Demme (for 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs”) and Oscar-winning writer Diablo Cody painstakingly illustrate Ricki’s penniless lifestyle and the many difficulties blended families must endure to raise kids. Cody’s screenplay is based upon her mother’s side job as a front singer as Cody grew up. Despite a slow start and heavy-handed display of just how down and out Ricki’s life has become, this movie deserves credit for an open and honest dialogue about divorced families and resentment. It neither dismisses nor sidesteps the anger and pain created by the complicated family dynamics. The end result is an authentic portrayal of relationships and love.The sensational cast is led by Streep, who sings and plays her guitar to an assortment of musical hits that includes Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Lady Gaga and Pink. A consummate perfectionist, the 66-year-old Streep felt she needed to learn to play the guitar to provide realism to her role and the overall film. Thus, Director Demme and the movie producers patiently halted filming and production to allow Streep to complete an immersion into guitar lessons. Moviegoers with a keen eye will notice 1980’s rocker Rick Springfield playing the lead guitarist and Streep’s love interest in “Ricki and The Flash.” Academy Award winner Kevin Kline, better known for his marriage to 1982’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” stunner Phoebe Cates, effortlessly plays Streep’s affable ex-husband to round out an exceptional ensemble. The movie’s most inspiring and eye-catching performances, though, are deservedly found in Streep and her daughter, Gummer. Both own the big screen and make it difficult to take your eyes off of their characters. “Ricki and The Flash” succeeds due to its skillful handling of complicated blended families. The superb performances, particularly Streep’s vocals on the microphone, bring a realism to the entire film that can’t be ignored. A slow start picks up its beat around mid-movie for a rousing, emotional end. Although the focus on Ricki’s downtrodden, washed-up rocker past goes on for too long in the film, Streep and Gummer hold this storyline together in tandem. “Ricki and The Flash” offers enjoyment to music fans and unique look at a two new talents from Streep—singing and playing the guitar. Both of which make this film worth seeing.

  • World Fighting Federation brought the pain at WFF22

    The World Fighting Federation hosted another night of sold-out fights at Casino Del Sol on July 25. The packed show pitted 24 fighters in various weight classes against one another in a non-stop, action-packed event. Tickets were sold out two days before “World Fighting Federation 22” was scheduled, a new record for the organization. While seats are always available for WFF fights through traditional box office means, tickets were also sold by fighters in part to help promote themselves and their gyms. WFF 22 was composed of seven different amateur title fights, including an amateur title fight in the bantamweight division between Ralphy “No Mercy” Pacheco and Steven Prior. Ten different professional fighters squared off for the last five fights, including a professional flyweight title fight between Tyler “Bad Apple” Bialecki and title-holder Brandon Moreno. The co-main event of the evening was the professional welterweight title fight between Kyle “Gunz Up” Stewart and Raymond “The Truth” Piña. The first two fights ended quickly, both being called to a stop by referees Ryan Brueggeman and Al Guinee, respectively. The fast, no-holds-barred style shown in the first fights seemed to be a theme at WFF 22; just over half of the 12 individual contests didn’t make it past the first round, either by knockout, TKO or submission. Though many of the fighters were busy mentally preparing for the trials ahead, some took some time to share their stories.

  • Amazon Prime signs ex-Top Gear stars to finalize largest coup in British TV history

    Fans of the hit BBC driving show, “Top Gear,” have been overwhelmed by rumors and speculations since controversial actions by host Jeremy Clarkson caused him to be canned by BBC producers. Clarkson’s removal came after a notorious “fracas” at a Yorkshire hotel in March when Clarkson hit producer Oisin Tymon during an argument about arrangements for a hot meal. This incident was the last straw for BBC officials. The altercation involving Tymon follows years of controversy at the BBC, with rows over a series of gaffes and insults, including most seriously Clarkson’s apparent use of the N-word when mumbling the “eeny meeny miny moe” nursery rhyme. The unbearable wait for fans is now over, according to representatives from Amazon Prime’s online streaming service. “Top Gear” trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have signed to present a new car show on the streaming service.Richard Hammond and James May, the other two presenters for the wildly popular program, decided to bow out and discontinue their involvement after Clarkson was removed. The three hosts will also be joined by former “Top Gear” producer and longtime friend of Clarkson, Andy Wilman.Clarkson said regarding the new deal, “I feel like I’ve climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship.”The move to Amazon Prime may come as a slight surprise to fans of the once BBC headlining show, which for many years was generating around £50 million a year for the corporation.  Amazon Prime will be providing a whole new medium for the trio.

  • ‘Love And Mercy’ brings the good vibrations

    Former Beach Boy and living legend Brian Wilson has survived a life of hardships and personal demons to do what he does best: crank out ethereal harmonies that make you feel like (or at least wish) you were going for a beachfront stroll on a summer evening. And while that good-time vibe remains intact on his latest album “No Pier Pressure,” the demons are front and center in the new indie biopic “Love And Mercy.”The film ping pongs between the musical revolutions young Brian (Paul Dano) was making as head of The Beach Boys in the 1960s, and the slow climb back to reality as an older Brian (John Cusack) struggles to beat his bipolar disorder in the 1980s. It’s a dicey high-wire act to have two performers play the same character (see 2007’s Bob Dylan free-for-all “I’m Not There”), but it’s a credit to the acting of both Dano and Cusack that they delicately explore the different phases of Wilson’s life. Dano in particular is a revelation as the LSD-ridden pop star who was respectfully rewriting the sound of modern music. Elsewhere, ample support from Elizabeth Banks (as Wilson’s second wife Melinda) and a rotten Paul Giamatti (as Wilson’s shady therapist Eugene Landy) keep the back end of the cast strong as well.First-time director Bill Pohland weaves a masterfully psychedelic spell over the audience; weaving in equal parts tragedy, comedy and a wonky musical score courtesy of Atticus Ross to keep things as eccentric as the pet sounds in Brian’s head. And for those of you who scoff at biopics that are “untrue” or “exaggerated” for the sake of cinema, never fear. Wilson himself has vouched for the authenticity of the film, going as far as to call it “very factual” to his real life experiences.You don’t have to be a Beach Boys fanatic to enjoy this movie. You don’t even have to know who Brian Wilson is — “Love And Mercy” works solely off the merits of being an excellent film. It’s the touching story of a misguided genius, a courageous everyman and the music that reinvented a generation. You won’t be sittin’ in this crummy movie with your hands on your chin. That last bit was for the Brian Wilson buffs out there. (Editor’s Note: Danilo Castro is a resident of Oro Valley and writer for the Film Noir Archive blog at www.filmnoirarchive.com)

  • Oscar-winning Redmayne to star in Harry Potter prequels

    Fans of The Boy Who Lived and last year’s acclaimed drama “The Theory of Everything” now have cause for celebration: Eddie Redmayne has been confirmed as the lead star of the new wizardry film “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.” And for those of you who scratch their heads and quickly head to a computer to figure out what “Beasts” even is — don’t worry, we’ll fill you in.Set 70 years before “Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone,” the film follows 1920’s collector Newton Scamander (Redmayne) as he travels New York in search of magical creatures. As to whether the story provides a closer tie to the Potter universe is something that remains to be seen in the cinematic world — unless of course, you’ve read the books.This return to the world of magic also reteams Harry Potter producer David Heyman, director David Thewlis, and storytelling mastermind J.K. Rowling as a first-time screenwriter. And if the pot isn’t yet sweet enough, the recent addition to this announcement is that the picture will be the first in a trilogy that will have subsequent releases in 2018 and 2020.Recently appointed star Redmayne, fresh off of an Academy Award for best actor, couldn’t be more thrilled and is “hugely excited” to come onboard Rowling’s universe — even referring to the author as a “genius.” It’s clear that Rowling and Co. weren’t going to let all the magical prequel points go to Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” series, and with a November release date set for next year — it’s once again time to dig up your Hogwarts cloaks and Olivander’s wands.  (Editor’s Note: Danilo Castro is a resident of Oro Valley and writer for the Film Noir Archive blog at www.filmnoirarchive.com)

  • “The Case for Christ” investigates one’s faith

    Attending my second faith-based film in as many weeks, the Christian sermons espoused in last week’s “The Shack” and now “The Case for Christ” are both profound and interesting, yet take starkly different paths towards one’s belief in Jesus Christ.  Whereas “The Shack” invoked an exuberating out-of-body experience that sparked a father’s mind and soul to change, “The Case for Christ” is a leaner, more methodical, and circumstantial investigation by a naysayer culminating in his ability to believe, receive, and be with Christ.Following the true-life story of investigative reporter Lee Strobel and his 1998 book by the same name, “The Case for Christ” examines the historical hard evidence left behind Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  A self-proclaimed and proud atheist working as a beat reporter at the Chicago Tribune, Strobel merrily assigns himself the task of disproving and debunking Christianity—all in the hopes of eye-poking his wife’s renewed faith and shutting down a coworker’s religion.The film’s most intriguing parts are also the scenes which were skimmed over way too quickly.  Strobel’s interviews with experts on the manuscripts left behind illustrating Jesus’ last few days is fascinating and compelling.  Likewise, the physical evidence presented on the medical front—which uses today’s medicine to help explain what witnesses described as Jesus was staked to the cross—marks the movie’s hardest-hitting moment.Despite leaving viewers wanting a deeper dive into the physical and written evidence or perhaps more testimony from those in authority, the film instead unleashes on Strobel’s other struggles; his marriage, a botched newspaper story, and his strained relationship with his father.  On each of these issues, Strobel comes up on the wrong end of the truth and compassion.  His 0-3 mean streak leaves him (and us) wondering if he’s also wrong about Christ?“The Case for Christ” is a dialogue-heavy film can many will find a slow and arduous undertaking. More about the atheist than the Son of God. Believers will enjoy the medical research and written facts proclaiming Jesus’ surrender and resurrection.  The notion of people being in the right spot at the right time due to coincidence or something Higher is thought-provoking and something we can all relate to.  Skeptics will embrace Strobel’s initial edginess and disdain for Biblical explanation and readings.  Too many holes in Christianity’s historic timeline coupled with conflicting testimony by 500 witnesses leave swaths of wiggle-room for Strobel and moviegoers to hedge their bets on Jesus.  But to cover our eyes to the possibility is to shroud the facts from view.

  • Reaching beer glory at Baja Beer Festival

    When the deadliest gunfight in Arizona history inspires the name of a beer that will compete for craft glory later this month, suffice it to say that the brewers are in it to win it.The beer is called Power’s Pale, one of the special-edition brews competing at the Baja Beer Festival on April 22 at Rillito Park that will showcase suds from 15 collaborative teams of Arizona brewers and firefighters. But who was Mr. Power? Was he an innocent bystander at that scene near the OK Corral in 1881? A friend of Earp or Holliday perhaps?While history books suggest that the famous Tombstone melee was the state’s deadliest, it was actually 37 years later at a cabin in the Galiuro Mountains when gold miner Jeff Power and his two sons exchanged fire with a sheriff’s posse that left four men dead. The Power’s Pale is the result of weeks of brainstorming between representatives of Tucson’s Copper Mine Brewing Company and the Three Points Fire District. They teamed up to produce a commemorative beer for this year’s pro-am and believe it has what it takes for the win.“I love mining history and the Power gunfight is such a fascinating underdog story,” said Will Barber, firefighter and paramedic for the Three Points Fire District who has been a homebrewer for three years. “We knew that the name of our collaborative beer had to be consistent with a mining theme and it just made sense.”

  • Faith-based “The Shack” transcends evil

    I’m not quite sure why faith-based films draw such skepticism and low marks from movie critics in general.  These reviewers can’t all be atheists or non-believers.  Perhaps many have difficulty wading into religious waters on company time.  Others might find it personally safer to judge a spiritual storyline harshly than to have one’s readers attack that newspaper columnist’s faith in a Holy Spirit.  I don’t know the true answer, but “The Shack” is getting crucified by critics while receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from theater-goers after two weeks in limited venues.  But having enjoyed 2015’s religious offerings of “Do You Believe?” and “Noble”, I was prepared and open-minded to let “The Shack” touch my soul. And indeed, it did.Grounding this courageous and thought-provoking film is none other than Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (from 2011’s “The Help” and last year’s Best Picture nominated “Hidden Figures”).  Spencer’s plain-speaking and soothing character invokes peace, love and forgiveness upon a family tormented by the loss of its daughter/sister.  Based upon the New York Times’ best-selling 2007 novel by William P. Young, “The Shack” takes us on a journey of pain and grief through the feelings of Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington), the father and husband who bears the blame and guilt for his family’s loss.  Set in the wilderness of Oregon, the movie follows the loneliness and despair that Worthington’s strong-willed character must face head-on.  Along the way, coping mechanisms are brilliantly illustrated without conceding the tragedy or covering up the deep wounds to a father’s heart.  No miraculous healing overnight takes place in “The Shack”, just forgiveness and an understanding that none of us are ever truly alone in life.Viewers willing to accept the possibility of a higher God will feel this movie both emotionally and spiritually.  Anyone who has experienced the sudden and violent loss of a loved one and wondered how God to could allow bad people to do such evil things, will find answers in “The Shack”.   Painful relationships clouded by blame or guilt can find peace over time through forgiveness.  It’s these powerful messages, along with a few surprising characters, that makes “The Shack” enjoyable and real.  Most movie reviews of “The Shack” will play down its emotional connection to moviegoers and surmise audiences won’t be impressed the trifecta of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Despite a couple of slow scenes, this movie unapologetically takes on anger, depression, and a pain that no parent should endure.  It moves the film’s characters and us in a direction of hope and peace.  For that alone, go see this film., you won’t be alone.Grade: B+

  • Lucky Cat Social Art gaining creative momentum in its second year of business

    Last month the staff and creative family at Lucky Cat Social Art, a space for private and public art events and workshops in Oro Valley, celebrated its first year of business with the community members who have made the creative dreams of owner Michelle Schloss a reality. The Lucky Cat crew has been painting, gluing and splashing across canvases, pieces of wood and other media—and completing a wide range of group projects with its clients—and Schloss said the second year will only continue to inspire creativity in those who join the artistic movement.“We really tried to push the envelope with creativity, mixing media and dabbling in different workshops and different things like that, and I think that is what the focus will be on this year,” she said. “We have had success in mixed media, it’s very customizable, and has been really popular.”That popularity has manifested in the form of youth birthday parties, professional team-building exercises and chances for adults to enjoy a glass of wine and let out their inner artist. Regardless of the demographic, Schloss said she believes a great deal of the company’s success thus far boils down to the staff creating a social environment in which all are accepted as artists, regardless of their skill level. With a variety of supplies on hand, Lucky Cat offers a selection of classes, weekly open crafting hours, time for parties, social groups and more. Plates and cups are also available, and groups are allowed to bring in their own food and refreshments.“What has amazed me is that this never gets old,” Schloss said. “Every time you have a little kid come up to and say that this was the best birthday party they’ve ever had—it could happen every week and I still feel it in my heart.”

  • “Life” an instant cult-alien space classic

    No Oscars are awarded to movies released in the calendar months of March and April. These two months are reserved for only fodder films—appetizers if you will—for huge blockbuster summer action adventures kicking off on Memorial Day weekend and lasting until “Back to School” commercials swarm us around Labor Day. Right now most audiences are hitting theaters to check out the Academy Award winners announced last month. So, to find an entertaining and very watchable (and scary) new release just as Spring is upon us, is as refreshing as landing your feet on a shady spot of sand on a hot Florida beach. “Life” quickly takes us aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and introduces viewers to a six-person crew of astronauts and one menacing lifeform gathered up from the soil of Mars. In a deadly orbital game of Hide and Seek, the alien creature dubbed “Calvin” emerges hell-bent on using humans as its new food source. A shocking and gruesome horror flick taking place just outside the Earth’s atmosphere, “Life” masterfully accomplishes the two tasks all successful cult-alien space stories must achieve: create a formidable, smart creature and, secondly, provide us viewers with constant, unrelenting tense, scary moments. It sells this instant alien classic with the genuine feeling of isolation and loneliness in space, using mostly incommunicado with Earth and an orchestrated weightlessness of bodies and liquids throughout the ISS.Wisely, the film’s energy on character development is expended mostly on the elusive alien monster. Yes, the bromance witnessed during December’s Golden Globe awards show between Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nightcrawler”) and Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”) continues in “Life.”It’s interesting to see these two Hollywood heavyweights costar in roles that so underutilized their overall acting chops. Obviously headlining “Life” for box office appeal, the duo capably bookend the film as a record-setting space junkie and the space station’s “Mr. Fix It” engineer, respectively. Beside the familiar Gyllenhaal and Reynolds, is a quartet of faces more remembered by their country’s flag displayed on the spacesuit sleeves than any character names. All six crew members and a stereotypical lab rat pose as alien bait for an extraterrestrial species that adapts and changes to its surroundings at the same rate it multiplies in size.“Life” gives us the pulse-racing space terror of 1979’s “Alien” and the suspense-filled isolation found in John Carpenter’s Antarctic in “The Thing” (1982). Make no mistake, the real star is the alien creature of whom we learn as much about as any other character in the film, and that’s the way it should be. After all, better movies are coming from Gyllenhaal and Reynolds later this year in “Stronger” and “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” For now, just enjoy “Life.”  

  • Chef Ryan Clark’s new Spring menu at Casino’s Del Sol’s PY Steakhouse

    You might say Chef Ryan Clark has a compression obsession.Clark is among those of us who welcome the arrival of spring with enthusiasm. He fancies the lighter and brighter flavors of the season, and calls them the “perfect bridge” to summer.But while compression can threaten the integrity of a bridge in an architectural context, it’s a complement to this bridge in a culinary context at the Casino Del Sol’s PY Steakhouse, 5655 W. Valencia Road.Compression is a technique which enhances the flavor, color and texture of various foods by literally sucking the air right out of them. Foods are placed in small bags, and are vacuum-sealed to remove all traces of air. After that, Clark explains, science does the rest. “Once these foods are completely absent of air, their cell walls start to shatter and break down,” said Clark, executive chef at Casino Del Sol. “This allows them to slowly absorb the actual flavor back into the foods in a way that introduces an entirely different experience altogether.”Three of the four new dishes on Clark’s spring menu feature ingredients that have spent a good amount of time in the Casino’s compression chamber.

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