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Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | Last updated: 11:58pm

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Fall is here, go explore the outdoors



With the weather finally becoming nice in Tucson (now that it’s October, not that I’m bitter or anything), it’s time to open the windows and go explore the great outdoors.

For us Arizonans, spending time outside is usually cruel and unusual punishment because for the months of May through September, we spend the time asking ourselves: why do we voluntarily live here? How could we torture ourselves like this?

We have to take extreme measures to avoid exposing ourselves to the ungodly sun rays beaming down on us. This includes donning ourselves in embarrassing bucket hats, carrying towels in the car to avoid burning off layers of skin when we sit down, and making sure we don’t leave anything in our vehicles that may melt (I’ve lost many a chap stick to the Arizona sun). It’s even gotten to the point where I have to wear sunscreen in the car after one summer left me with a seat belt shaped sunburn across my collarbone.

But, alas, it’s this glorious time of year that we sweat out the entire summer waiting for. The days are just perfect enough to lunch outside or walk to school while the nights cast a brisk wind, calling for a light sweater (and we Tucsonans love our sweater weather). So kids, it’s time to get out there and see what the city has to offer.

First stop: Mount Lemmon
If for some reason you haven’t made it to Mount Lemmon yet, you are seriously missing out. Take a friend, parent, sibling, date up to Windy Point and watch the sunrise/sunset and bring a blanket, some snacks, and prepare to be amazed. Tucson is ranked among one of the places to watch a sunset, you know.

Next up: Sabino Canyon
Another Tucson must see. A lot of people in Arizona grow tired of seeing cactus after cactus, rocks and dirt and they end up forgetting that that’s actually not the only setting we have here. Venture over to Sabino Canyon and see the gorgeous scenery filled with rivers, flowers and yes, even trees that takes over the area. It’s a good refresher for those days you just need a little break from the stresses of being a twenty-something.

Saguaro National Park
I stumbled upon this gem last year while doing homework for an online class about plants. I’ve never been huge on throwing myself into the wilderness where bugs and snakes are watching my every move, but this place is knock-the-wind-out-of-you beautiful. Take the scenic drive and park on top of the mountain and watch nature happen. This one of the many places in town that showcase the beauty of the desert and just how lucky we are to call it home.


I'm addicted to Vine



Vine, a social media app that allows users to share and post six second videos, is gaining popularity at a scary rate. Users can waste hours scrolling through moving videos and creating their own.

I, for one, am one of these users. Vine is addictive. I’m ashamed to admit I can easily waste hours scrolling through the obnoxious, yet hilarious, videos shared on Vine– and I often do.

Let’s do some math. Because videos are only six seconds long, you can watch 10 videos in one minute. That’s 600 videos in one hour, which is a pretty ridiculous amount.

I’m not writing this blog to understand why this mysterious habit has sprouted in my soul and has been watered and fed to become my fierce addiction to six-second increments of stupidity. I’m writing this because I’ve always heard that the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one.

So, here I am world. I’m addicted to Vine.

We live in an age of fast cars and fast apps. Our attention spans are becoming shorter, and we like quick and easy entertainment.

Vine is quick and easy entertainment.

I have 49 followers and I’m following 79 users. I’ve posted and revined 165 videos, and I’ve liked 292 videos. These numbers do not even come close to the amount of Vine’s I’ve simply watched.

Of the 79 users I’m following, 28 users are “Vine Verified,” essentially meaning that they’re the famous people we all secretly aspire to become.

Popular videos spread like wildfire, and generally involve six seconds of twerking, grinding, ranting, crying, or pain. Don’t ask me why I choose to waste my time this way, and I won’t ask you why you’re on level 430 of Candy Crush.


ICYMI: The UA is getting quite the exposure for drugging Johnny Knoxville



As if Arizona fraternities weren’t under enough scrutiny already, Johnny Knoxville is alleging that he was drugged with ecstasy during a party he attended at an unnamed UA fraternity house.

The “Jackass” star made a short stop to Tucson last month to shoot a promo video for his upcoming film “Bad Grandpa.” Knoxville said that he was drugged during his stay, alleging that someone slipped ecstasy into his beer.

“Someone dosed me with ecstasy, and, after that, the wheels fell off,” Knoxville told TMZ earlier this week. “I wasn’t mad at all. I hadn’t done it since my 20s and I was like, ‘This is awesome.’”

Sporting a cast on his hand during the interview to mend a ruptured tendon he suffered during the party, Knoxville couldn’t speculate as to what caused the accident, but indicated it did occur while he was high.

Knoxville told the story again on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this week.


Tucson music and film festival showcases local documentaries



This past Saturday at Century 20 El Con theater, three local documentary shorts were screened: “Transitions,” “Zoom! Tucson’s Late ‘50s Rock ‘N’ Roll Record Label,” and “Taking Charge: The Pauly Cohen Story.”

The first film screened was “Transitions,” a film by current UA BFA Film Production student Keith Wagner. The seven-minute documentary focuses on Keith’s best friend, Dylan Barr, a college student who was a triathlete throughout high school. After a tragic motorcycle accident kills his father, Barr participates in one more triathlon in his father’s memory.

The production values of the documentary are truly noteworthy. Having interviewed Wagner, I knew he specifically rented a specific camera to shoot in slow motion, and the decision paid off in spades, as the well-executed shots give the already-emotional content even more weight. Along with crystal clear audio, the film is technically pristine. This was an emotionally, and technically, resonant documentary.

Produced by Dan Kruse for a master’s thesis in musicology and ethnomusicology, “Zoom! Tucson’s Late ‘50s Rock ‘N’ Roll Record Label” recounts the story of Arizona natives Burt Schneider and Ray Lindstrom (Catalina High School, class of ’59), who, as entrepreneurial high school students, decided to create their own record label, Zoom Records. After seeing local band Jack Wallace and the Hi-Tones at a dance in their school’s cafeteria, they realized, then and there, that they wanted to record music.

The documentary captures the fleeting nature of young aspirations through the eyes of the dreamers some fifty years later. Zoom Records only lasted seven months, yet Kruse captures Schneider and Lindstrom, who are both now roughly seventy, talking with such animated excitement that they could have just seen Jack Wallace and the Hi-Tones for the first time.

“Taking Charge: The Pauly Cohen Story,” is a biographical piece on the famed big band trumpeter who played with the likes of Sinatra, Count Bassie, and Tony Bennett. The film is not afraid to portray the faults of Pauly, and that’s because Pauly is not afraid to address his own faults. Much of the documentary is comprised of interviews and quotes from Cohen himself, who is not afraid to admit that the bravado and bullheadedness required to play lead trumpet worked against him, at times.

It is a remarkable sight to see someone in the twilight of their life (the movie partially centers itself around Pauly’s 90th birthday party) reflect on how they lived their life, for better or worse. Pauly is a charismatic, brash, sympathetic subject, and director Bret Primack does his remarkable story justice.


El Con Theater hosts Short Doc Mix



This past Sunday at Century 20 El Con Theater, multiple documentaries were shown as part of a cinematic smorgasbord.

“Randy Parson: American Luthier” highlights the Seattle guitar-maker who handcrafts all of his instruments for the likes of Jimmy Page, Jack White, and others. Parson’s philosophy is explored, as he takes great pride in creating works of art as opposed to the cold, sterile, factory-manufactured guitars. The tactile nature of Parson’s work comes to life with detailed, up-close camerawork.

The first of two music videos during the segment was “Taste of Disarray” by the Hawaiian alternative rock band Ignite the Red. The video was directed by recent BFA Film Production ’13 alum Jason Sikorsky and follows a young woman in a post-apocalyptic world as she tries to reconnect with her lost lover. Shot in his native Hawaii, Sikorsky effectively transforms the paradise of the islands into a barren wasteland. The video is currently on YouTube.

“Throwing Punches” focuses on Leanne Hindle, a Vancouver, British Columbia martial artist who specialized in wushu who made the transition to all-star Hollywood stuntwoman. As a film enthusiast, the documentary offered a fresh perspective on the industry from that of a stuntwoman. It also touched on the politics and fleeting nature of stunt work in Hollywood. Director Rosalie Miller crafts a narrative that shows Hindle making the switch from career-oriented professional to loving mother.

The biggest surprise of the festival was director Kyle Schneider’s “Rebel Rebel Rebel.” If docs are dependent on interesting subjects to bolster their, then Schneider hit the jackpot with DJ Josh LeCash. LeCash is incompetent, self-absorbed, and, overall, just resides in his own little world. Apart from awaiting what new stunt he’ll do or what ridiculous comment he’ll make next, the documentary provides of-the-moment commentary on DJ culture. Everything about the documentary is professionally done, and I highly recommend it. The film bursts with energy and style. With some searching on YouTube, the entire documentary can be found broken up into different parts.

“La Banda Loca y Sus Chupakuete: Vivo En Portrerillos” was the most “slice-of-life” documentary, bringing a small, local band hailing from Mendoza, Argentina. It was this film that really shows how small, yet vastly large, the world is. That the viewer is allowed to see a local performance outside of a small bar on Christmas Day in Argentina, such a random and isolated event, is truly remarkable. Director Evan Bluestein introduces a political angle with the band members protesting through song about the building of a mine near their home.

The second music video of the segment was “Ghosts” by seven-piece, LA-based Red Circle Underground. Director Arielle Kilker establishes a haunting, dark atmosphere set in the deep woods. With imagery that seems to hearken back to colonial America of the late 1600s, the music video, along with its inhabitants, seem to be held captive by the past.

The segment was concluded with current UA BFA Film Production student Dae Hyun Song’s “Into the Black,” a documentary about astrophotography. Song offers three different perspectives on the field, ranging from the amateur (a student simply going out into the desert and shooting) to the professional (an astronaut who takes photos of the sky from outer space). However, what they all share in common is that they do it simply for the love, not the money. They are all driven by the curiosity to capture the night sky, a sight that not many people will ever be able to see in its proper, unending spectacle.


Five fall flavors that will stimulate your senses



Even though it is still hot outside, fall is quickly approaching. Accompanying Fall are all our favorite seasonal treats. We may not have leaves that change colors, and most of us will continue to wear shorts, but there is no shortage of festive fall flavors in Tucson that are sure to put you in the autumn mood.

1. U Swirl Pumpkin flavored frozen yogurt: For a creamy delicious treat, stop by Uswirl and try their seasonal Pumpkin flavor. If you’re feeling extra festive top it off with some candy corn!

2. Frozen Pumpkin Pie at Einsteins: Conveniently located in the Student Union, this frozen treat is said to taste like pumpkin pie in a glass, blended to perfection.

3.“Autumn in a cup” at Canyon Café: A coffee drink of toffee, caramel, and hazelnut, perfect for a chilly autumn morning (or an 80 degree morning).

4. Cinnamon Roll shake at Fab-U-Life Nutrition: Located on Speedway, right next to Dirtbags, stop by Fab-U-Life for their featured flavor, Cinnamon Roll! Since all their drinks are less than 300 calories, it’s a healthy alternative, and you will still get your fall flavor fix.

5. Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks: The list could not be complete without everyone’s favorite fall beverage, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. To all Starbucks addicts, this is the quintessential fall beverage. All you need is a scarf and some Ugg boots and you are set for the rest of the season.

Enjoy!


The best sandwich I've ever eaten



I remember the first time I laid eyes on the Chocolate Iguana, situated on the corner of Fourth Avenue and 6th Street. The purple and green color scheme of the building had immediately attracted my eye, because purple and green usually don’t belong on a subject together unless that subject is Barney.

I knew I needed to invite myself in to the Chocolate Iguana and experience whatever laid inside the purple and green walls- and last week, I did.

The interior is small, but it was quaint, and it was cute. The register was snuggled in between colorful bags of candy and colorful plastic trinkets, and although the space was crowded, it was cozy.

I ordered a Turkey Pesto sandwich, and I’m going to defend this opinion for the rest of my life – that Turkey Pesto sandwich was the best sandwich I ever ate.

Now, I need to make a few things clear. I’m not a food critic, and I’m not Chef Gordon Ramsay, and a small bowl of Mac & Cheese can make me the happiest girl in the world, but this sandwich was an absolute delight.

They had me at “toasted French Baguette.” Slathered with pesto and roasted red peppers, the baguette was cooked to perfection in garlic olive oil and topped with melted mozzarella and thin-sliced turkey.

Today I am sad because I realized I don’t have nearly enough time or money to make the trek down to the Chocolate Iguana and buy the Turkey Pesto sandwich for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Maybe once a week will do.

Until we meet again, Turkey Pesto.


Ten signs we know it's almost fall



Beards: The commencement of No Shave November is upon us, and so are guys with beards. Beards make guys’ faces look festive and cozy. Beards are basically mittens for your face.

Pants: Along this same vein, girls will take the drop in temperature as a perfect reason to wear pants. They’re secretly disguising the fact that they were too lazy to shave their legs in the morning.

Cardigans: Take a look around campus. A few drops in the temperature and students are finding any excuse to shake the cobwebs off of their favorite cardigan.

Infinity scarf: A scarf is a guaranteed way to spice up any outfit. A floral printed scarf coupled with a black knit sweater and dark combat boots is a simple way to dress in fall style.

Leggings: Equal parts cute and comfortable, leggings are all things that are good and right in the world.

Big Arizona sweatshirts: You’re either trying to convince yourself that it’s cold enough to wear a sweatshirt or it’s actually cold enough to wear a sweatshirt.

The electric bill is low: At last, the windows can finally be opened and the amount of air conditioning needed can finally be cranked down a notch or two. Your wallet is probably happy, too.

Combat Boots: Arguably, you can wear combat boots during all seasons of the year. For fall though, they’re especially appropriate. They go great with almost any outfit and they almost convince people that you just trekked five miles to school in the snow, uphill. Both ways.

Midterms: They’re brewing. You might get the occasional sense that you’re collegiate career is slowly starting to be sucked into a screaming vortex of terror — and that’s because it is. You just don’t notice it yet. Brace yourselves.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes: This probably doesn’t need much elaboration, but in case you’re wondering why the Starbucks line is longer than usual, this is why.


Have a little slice of Italy at Vero Amore



Ever since returning from New York, which is arguably the food capitol of the world, I’ve been on the hunt for food that can measure up.

Because Tucson is such a cultural melting pot, it’s never been difficult to find good food here, and I’m generally pleased with wherever I go. I never had any complaints until I left this city and saw the blends of food offered in New York. Take it from me, everything you’ve ever heard about the pizza, bagels, dessert, it’s all true. New York promises much to expect and little to disappoint.

My quest with the inevitable return to Tucson was to find restaurants that measured up. Naturally, I started my all-time favorite type of food and New York’s most notable: Italian. While I do love Tucson, it had some pretty big shoes to fill.

After much wandering and taste testing, I’ve at last discovered a delicious Italian joint here in Tucson, Vero Amore, translated, and rather appropriately I would say, “True Love.”

The restaurant, located on 2990 N. Swan Road, ships all of their ingredients straight from Italy. Their claim to fame is undoubtedly the wood-fired pizza. My personal favorite is the Pizza Margherita which includes a blend of tomato sauce, basil, homemade mozzarella and parmesan. Cooked to perfection, the pizza has the perfect ratio of cheese to sauce and it’s never overcooked (nothing’s worse than a burnt pizza).

So fear not New Yorkers and Italian lovers, there is a pizza here that will save us all.

Just a bit of advice, come hungry and don’t share. Even if you can’t finish the whole thing, trust me, you’ll want the leftovers.


Head to Yuki's for Sushi that doesn't disappoint



I’ve discovered that sushi places in Tucson are a hit or miss, and usually a miss.

I’ve been to Sushi Ten, which lured me in with online reviews promising happy hour prices that last almost the entire day. Turns out that you really do get what you pay for: room-temperature food and blandness delivered in each bite.

On the opposite end of the price and quality spectrum is Sushi Garden. While it has awesome sushi. the extensive lines and petrifying prices tend to steer me away from this mainstream restaurant.

S, when that sushi craving kicks in, I am left to choose between low prices accompanied by indistinguishable sea creatures, or delicious sushi that leaves my wallet empty… Right? Nope.

When I arrived at the UA, I met upperclassmen friends who shared their love of sushi with me. As I was new to the Tucson sushi scene, they took me to their sushi spot, a cozy place on Campbell and Blacklidge called Yuki’s Sushi.

Walking into the restaurant, I was expecting it to be full. However, Yuki’s remains relatively off the radar, especially on weekdays. This means attentive waiters, a calm environment and a quiet dining experience.

I was envious of my friends who were 21 as they enjoyed $1 Draft Beer and $6 sake bombs with their meals during Happy Hour, which is held Monday through Saturday from 3:00 until 6:00 p.m.

Even if sushi isn’t exactly your cup of hot green tea, Yuki’s has other great inexpensive dishes including fried rice, vegetable tempura, stir fried noodles and teriyaki entrees. Oh yeah, and the hot green tea is also worth a try.

From the beginning of my Tucson sushi adventures, Yuki’s has remained my number one choice. If you’ve got that craving for sushi and want to lounge in a relaxing environment with tasty, inexpensive sushi, then Yuki’s is the place to go.