Tucson Local Media: Home of The Explorer, Marana News, Foothills News, Desert Times, and Inside Tucson Business

  • Ironwood Ridge grappler wins Triple Crown

    Ironwood Ridge’s Danny Vega is the odds-on favorite to win the 113-pound state title next month, but the work he did over the summer is just as impressive, if not more so. Vega won the “triple crown” of wrestling by winning three distinctly different national championship tournaments. Vega won the Folkstyle Nationals in Iowa back in April, then won the USAW Junior Men’s Freestyle and USAW Greco National Championships in the span of six days. Vega was not surprised to win the triple crown, setting the goal early on. “Yes I did,” Vega replied when asked if he believed he could win the Triple Crown. “I’ve been training the hardest I ever have before.”His high school coach has been impressed with how hard Vega trains. “Danny is an all out competitor,” said Ironwood Ridge Head Coach Tim Berrier. “His drilling of technique is machine-like.” Each tournament is a different style of wrestling, with their own set of rules and strategies. Folkstyle is the same style as Arizona high schools, while Freestyle and Greco Roman are the two events in the Olympics. 

  • Scene 1: “Mindy Anna Jones” now showing at Great American Playhouse

    The latest rendition from the local theater group at The Great American Playhouse rolls back the clock to a time when the mystical Aztecs ruled the land, but that doesn’t mean that 20th century rock songs are in short supply. As musical and well choreographed as ever, the most recent GAP play brings a new twist on a familiar character. “Mindy Anna Jones and the Lost Ark of Time” follows a heroic young archaeologist, Mindy Anna Jones (Jennifer Ackerley Lawrence), as she attempts to keep the powerful Ark of Time out of the hands of the nefarious Roman (Sean MacArthur) and his goons. But there is more than meets the eye to this group of adventurers. The battle for the Ark of Time will lead all who are in pursuit on a wild chase throughout time, creating ample opportunity for clever pop culture references, hilarious set pieces, and even character transformations. The play is penned by local theater staple Nick Seivert. Seivert’s writing style has its own particular formula, one that brings forth a recipe rich in volume and silliness. Seivert also plays the role of the wise and whimsical Montezuma, illustrating his talent for making people laugh both with his acting as well as his writing.The bright shining star of the play is the actress in the title role, Jennifer Ackerley Lawrence. The charismatic superwoman, Mindy Anna Jones is the part Lawrence was born to play, and she embraces the task with perfect transformation, complete with a brilliant smile and a cracking whip. Lawrence has flown beneath the radar in recent GAP productions, but “Mindy Anna Jones” is truly her coming out party. Randy McDonald, now notorious for his bottomless energy reservoir, plays the very confused Orizaba, a lackey to the primary villain. The part was surely written with McDonald in mind, as Orizaba’s role is that of a bling wearing, rap lyric slinging punk in a jumpsuit. Here McDonald is given free reign to do what he does best – get the crowd going. The role was a little over the top at times, but seeing McDonald and Sean MaCarthur tag team a musical mash up of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” with Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” was something special, and may have even been the highlight of the entire evening.  Amy DeHaven is cast perfectly as Augusta, the evil girlfriend of Roman.  DeHaven has no equal when it comes to playing an English accented, smug and ruthless female villain, as femininely treacherous as Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. 

  • Marana School District and town partner to teach civics

    The Town of Marana believes that to have a town that runs well, citizens have to understand how the town operates. The Town of Marana has tried to streamline many of the things that they do and improve communication, with the newest project now aiming at educating local high school students.The new civics class’ timing couldn’t be better for the town as Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey recently pushed through legislation that will require high school students to pass a civics test similar to those taken by immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship. The new law will affect the class of 2017.Inspired by a program they saw working in other communities, recently town officials began working with the Marana Unified School District to bring an interactive civics lesson to high school students. The lesson is based on a Junior Achievement program called Biztown that had been adapted for high school students. “It is a really innovative, cool, dynamic way you get students to learn more about government, especially local government,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson. Although local government is part of the state standards and district’s curriculum, not a lot of time is devoted to local government, especially some of the more detailed ins and outs. 

Today's Top Headlines

  • (Jan. 28) Today's Top Headlines - College Admissions Racket: They're Not Going to Let You In Anyway

    Bloomberg Business: At least a dozen elite colleges, including Duke, Dartmouth and Columbia, have made a mostly unprecedented choice to offer extensions of January application deadlines. The schools are not, however, admitting more students or suffering from low applications numbers. They're extending the deadlines so they can reject more students —  more applications mean more rejections, which heightens a college's prestige in the world of higher education. Read the full story on Bloomberg Business.

  • (Jan. 28) Today's Top Headlines - Jordan Says It's Willing To Swap Prisoner For Hostages Held By ISIS

    NPR: Jordan says it is ready to meet the demands of ISIS militants in order to save the life of a Jordanian hostage.ISIS released a video demanding Jordan release a woman who was sentenced to death over an attack in Amman that killed 60 people. ISIS gave a 24 hours deadline for her release, or they would kill a Jordanian pilot and a Japanese journalist.Read the full story at NPR.

  • (Jan. 28) Today's Top Headlines - Utah parents, fearing apocalypse, fatally drugged children, themselves, police say

    CNN: Benjamin and Kristi Strack, the parents found dead alongside their three children in their Springville in September, Utah, killed themselves and their children fearing the apocalypse.The death of their 14-year-old son, Benson, was also caused by toxic levels of drugs. Police said the manner of his death "could not be determined" because investigators were unsure whether he was capable of deciding to join his parents in committing suicide.Read the full story on CNN.

Local News

  • Despite opposition, council passes Ina/Silverbell rezoning

    Two rezonings passed at the Jan. 20 Marana Town Council meeting, one with no opposition and another that was more controversial. It was the second of the rezonings that was the more controversial of the two. The debate was whether or not to amend a prior agreement over approximately 61.2 acres of land located on the west side of Silverbell, south of Ina. The prior agreement was for 41 lots and a total site disturbance of 30  percent. The developer was now asking for 56 lots and a total site disturbance of 37 percent.The plan submitted at the meeting had undergone a few final changes after the developer met with neighbors and the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Preservation. “It has been poked, prodded and polished,” said Cynthia Ross, a Marana town planner. The new plan had 13 new conditions in addition to the 23 changes from the original plan approved in 2002. Among the biggest changes was a plan for the developer to replant any non-invasive native plants that might be disturbed in the development, a maximum 10,000 square foot grading envelop and an increase in the amount of buffer from the development to the surrounding properties and the two wildlife corridors that cut through the property. Although a slightly different plan received the support of the Marana Planning Commission, in the newest plan two lots were eliminated and internalized to the site. All two-story houses were limited to 25 feet and clustered north of the power easement so that no two-story homes would be south of that easement. That was a change from the planning commissions’ recommendation, which called for only single story houses. 

  • Miners Co-op returns to Marana

    The Miners Co-op Rock Show is back in Marana this year as one of the more than 40 shows operating under the umbrella of the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase.With 37 vendors currently registered, the Miners Co-op places an emphasis on showcasing rocks taken directly from the ground by miners – though the event will also boast various minerals as well as jewelry. The show is calling Marana home for the second consecutive year. Previously it was stationed behind Kino Hospital, but their contracted space was bought out from under them, forcing a move.“We decided to venture out further to see what else was out there for us,” said Alby Davis, who spearheads the Miners Co-op.Davis, a former hospital administrator and lifetime rock hound, said the town of Marana was “extremely helpful” in relocating the show.The show will be held at 6149 Travel Center Drive, and is expected to feature:

  • Town of Oro Valley Council rezones two plots along First Ave.

    With two zoning code changes to two separate locations, the undeveloped properties on the east side of First Avenue in Oro Valley are soon going to be built upon.The Oro Valley Town Council unanimously voted to rezone the 149-acre property near the southeast corner of First Avenue and Tangerine Road known as Kai North. The property was purchased in the 1950s and has had development proposed numerous times by both the land owners and the town staff, but none of the ideas made it to a formal agenda item.Some of the previously proposed uses for the land were for a senior care related business, a campus park, industrial retail usage, residential usage with up to 1,200 homes, and a golf course.The rezoning changed the property from R1-144, which is for large lot residential, to C-1, commercial, and R1-7, which is medium residential. The property will have 29 acres of commercial development with a mixture of neighborhood commercial and professional office on the northern portion of the property.The rest of the property, which extends south to East Palisades Road, will have 211 home lots sized from 5,520 square feet to 7,200 square feet. There is a possibility that an archeological find would move or eliminate two of the lots.A few residents spoke out of concern for the proposed height of the homes and the set back from First Avenue. while others voiced their concern over increased foot traffic along Palisades Road. Though no entrances to the development are being built off of Palisades Road, the developer plans to include a sidewalk or walking path on the south end of the property. The town discussed extending the path further east.

Entertainment

  • Scene1: Gaslight’s ‘Two Gun McGraw’ draws in the herd

    Another show, another packed house – this time for the gun slingin’, cattle ropin’, wacky and wild western, “The Ballad of Two Gun McGraw.”In what proves to be a musically rich, captivating-as-always melodrama featuring the familiar actors and actresses we’ve come to love, this one continues the positive trend that has kept gaslight ropin’ in the customers for the past 36 years. Perhaps more than ever, “Two Gun McGraw” takes full advantage of its theme, which fits right in with Tucson’s long history of cattlemen, western tunes, and, as the play’s Deputy Dave (Brian Hale) so enthusiastically accentuates, “Desperados!”“Two Gun” follows the typical good guy versus bad guy plot, but to call this play typical would be grounds for hangin’ – it’s much beyond that. “Boisterous,” “lively,” and “witty” are much more suitable a description, and that’s not even taking into consideration the horse props.Ah, the horses. Whether the plastic bucking version, the horse equipped with a car alarm, or the ones with wheels for feet, this was hands down the most hilarious part of this play, and I’d go so far as to say the best prop usage in any of the dozen-or-so Gaslight shows I’ve seen. It’s just one of those “you had to be there” things.

  • Screening: Creepy Steve Carell delivers in ‘Foxcatcher’

    It’s been quite a few years since I’ve seen a movie without laughter of any sort--not a single one-liner, or even the slightest attempt towards invoking a harmless giggle. “Halloween” and the other horror films pride themselves on the fine art of laughter to relax unsuspecting viewers--all before an axe, knife or chainsaw cut to the morbid plot.  Even 1972’s epic backwoods suspense thriller “Deliverance” tossed out some jokes between arrow shots from Burt Reynolds’ recurve bow.  I’d probably have to go back to Steven Spielberg’s 1971 road rage, made-for-TV movie titled “Duel” to discover such a humorless film production as “Foxcatcher”.“Foxcatcher” is the disturbing true story of 1984 U.S. Olympic gold-medal wrestlers and brothers, David and Mark Schultz. This film covers the siblings as they prepare for the 1987 World Championships in the hopes of finding continued success at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Channing Tatum portrays Mark Schultz, who attempts to step out from his older brother’s shadow in preparation for the all-important make-or-break upcoming world competition and Olympic trials. Oscar-nominated Mark Ruffalo plays the eldest Schultz brother, David, a man with his sights set more upon his growing family and training younger Team USA wrestlers than pinning opponents on the mat.Steve Carell, the 2006 Golden Globe winner for his 7-year role as Michael Scott in ‘The Office” television series, headlines “Foxcatcher” as millionaire and philanthropist John E. du Pont. Carell’s creepy, intense portrayal of the “Team Foxcatcher” mentor and financier recently earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. His sick and twisted demeanor as the juggernaut behind Mark Schultz’s Olympic training at the du Pont family’s estate property, creates a fascinating look into the fine line between a supporting role and misplaced infatuation. The trio of Carell, Ruffalo and Tatum appear almost unrecognizable from previous movies in both their speech and body. All give exceptional performances resulting in a maximized storyline—each squeezing every ounce of entertainment from an otherwise bland plot.This slow-paced, methodical thriller does enough, however, to grab the audience’s attention. Oscar-nominated director Bennett Miller (“Moneyball”) creates several awkward, bizarre moments in “Foxcatcher”, keeping viewers from fleeing to the theater exits prematurely. In fact, throughout the film, moviegoers sense that what they’re seeing is a train wreck in slow motion building up to a climatic ending which will include only winners and losers. No one invested in the film’s worrisome warning signs would dare miss out on the spectacular finale.“Foxcatcher” is nominated for five Academy Awards. Besides the categories of Best Actor (Carell), Best Supporting Actor (Ruffalo), and Best Director (Miller), the film also deservedly earned an Oscar-nom for Best Makeup & Hairstyling and Best Original Screenplay. While Ruffalo and Tatum both propel the story along in convincing and earnest fashion, it’s Steve Carell’s eccentric work as John “Eagle Eye” du Pont that really separates his performance apart from all others in the film, delivering “Foxcatcher” its nerve whacking, slow suspenseful buildup. As the face of the du Pont estate in Pennsylvania, Carell’s Oscar-worthy gem in this movie makes the audience take notice of his aura and unusual demeanor.  A side to the actor from TV’s hit comedy “The Office” that doesn’t include laughs or giggles—only grimaces from us, the viewers. While “Foxcatcher” may not have any light-hearted or laughable moments, the disturbing and intense characters make this true story impossible to walk away from unscathed for those involved.Grade: B

  • Sippin’ Social – Mr. An’s

    The cravings for sushi, cold beer, delicious cocktails and a friendly atmosphere were all quenched at Mr. An’s, 6091 N.Oracle Road last week.The monthly Sippin’ Social gatherings continue to bring in numerous new faces from our community, while giving a few regulars the opportunity to talk about familiar topics.The bar and happy hour open and begin at 4 p.m. and continue on until 7 p.m. For some extra happy hour, Mr. An’s offers all-day happy hour on Sundays. The very extensive happy hour menu consists of 18 different drinks comprised of beer, wine, sake and mixed drinks, and 22 different food items that range from a simple order of edamame to delectable sushi rolls. Drinks range from $2 to $5 and food ranges from $3 to $8.Seeing two beers neither one of us has tried, Chris Flora and I were curious about the Mr. An’s Ale and Mr. An’s Pilsner. The attentive server was quick to offer us a sample of each to help us with our decision.I chose the ale, which was slightly malty, but certainly not heavy. There was a crisp dry finish that was slightly similar to New Castle Ale. The $3 beer went down very smoothly.Chris enjoyed the pilsner, which was light, smooth to drink, unfilling and all with hints of a sake flavor finish that is very fitting for the environment.

Sports

  • Former Mountain View hoops star making it as a pro

    Aaron Anderson is living the dream. It may not have been the dream he envisioned as a kid, but being paid to play basketball was a dream come true for the former Mountain View standout.Anderson is in his second season of professional basketball, but he is not in the NBA. Anderson plays for the Sodertalje Kings of the Basketligan, Sweden’s top professional basketball league. The 6  foot,  7 inch Anderson is on his third team in his brief professional career, and second this season. He began the year with a team in the Czech Republic, but that did not last as he was released after a week. He quickly found a home in Sweden. Now he is starting for a first-place team in Sweden, averaging just over eight points and eight rebounds a game. His team was recently eliminated from the Euroleague Challenge after going just 1-5 against teams from Italy, Germany and Holland, but the new league is a more competitive league than his prior stop in Portugal. “The league is a huge improvement compared to Portugal,” said Anderson. “This league has a good amount of respect throughout Europe. It is just a solid league from the top to the bottom which was not the case in Portugal. Anyone can beat anybody on a given night.”Weather-wise playing in Sweden is a big difference than his freshman season. Anderson played last year in the Portuguese league, playing for CAB Madeira, a seaside town on the Mediterranean. Now he is playing on the east coast of Sweden, about 20 miles from Stockholm on the bay of Lake Malaren, which is connected to the Baltic Sea by the Sodertalje Canal. 

  • Sports Overview: Playoffs on the line during final week of soccer season

    The boys and girls soccer regular seasons are down to the final week, and sectional championships as well as at-large playoff berths are on the line. Area teams are still competing for sectional titles and the automatic playoff berths that come with them. Boys SoccerThe Mountain View boys had just a single game last week, beating Vista Grande 6-0, but control their own destiny for a sectional title and an automatic berth in the state playoffs. The Mountain Lions have a 10-game unbeaten streak, which includes a tie against Catalina Foothills.  Overall the Mountain Lions are 9-0-1 in regular season games that count toward the state playoffs. The Falcons can still win the section, but would need help. Foothills improved to 6-0-1 in the section, but have a pair of losses in divisional play. The Falcons beat Poston Butte and Ironwood Ridge last week, but now need the Nighthawks or Rio Rico to upend Mountain View, as well as winning both of their games against Flowing Wells and Casa Grande. Whether or not Mountain View wins the section, they should be getting into the state playoffs. The Mountain Lions were ranked second in the state to open the week and even if they drop a game or two, they should still get an at-large big in the 16-team state playoffs. Things are not as certain for CDO or Foothills. CDO is ranked 11th and have winnable games against Marana and Vista Grande, but they need at least one more win to feel good about clinching a bid.

  • Former MV standout McLaughlin named ACCAC Player of the Week

    Pima Community College women’s basketball player Melody McLaughlin was named ACCAC Division II Player of the Week on Monday.McLaughlin, a sophomore forward, helped the Aztecs go 2-0 for the week of Jan. 19-25. She averaged 21 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.The Aztecs defeated Chandler-Gilbert Community College 89-51 with McLaughlin posting 22 points and six rebounds. She was also a big part of Pima’s 80-78 double-overtime win at Phoenix College. She scored eight of the 10 points in the final overtime and had 20 points and seven rebounds for the game.This was McLaughlin’s second selection as ACCAC Division II Player of the Week.The Aztecs will be back at the West Campus on Wednesday when they host Tohono O’Odham Community College at 5:30 p.m. 

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