The Explorer: Livenup


Entertainment Headlines

  • Saturday Puzzles 7-26-14

  • Sippin' Social: Sushi Garden offers generous happy hour menu

    In this month’s Sippin’ Social, members of the public accompanied staff of Tucson Local Media for happy hour and conversation at Sushi Garden, located at 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd.With two locations in town, Sushi Garden features an extensive front and back stand-alone happy hour menu with dozens of discounted food and drink items. Sushi Garden’s happy hour spans from 4-7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. A decent-sized crowd filled the bar and outer tables upon arrival, but our group was nonetheless seated and ordering within minutes.Sushi Garden features a well-lit, casual atmosphere that makes creative use of Japanese-style décor throughout the facility. To kick the afternoon off, I began with a locally brewed 32-ounce Barrio IPA draft ($5.75), which, due to its volume, comes with a glass and pitcher. Yes, I was thirsty.  The draft was perfectly chilled, making its hoppy, clean flavor that much more refreshing considering the day’s heat. 

  • Prime Time Review: ‘Goosebumps’ film coming next summer

    The highly regarded San Diego Comic Con event never disappoints when it hits the west coast every July. The buzz around the event is not without warrant. Every year film producers bring fans sneak peaks on their favorite film franchises, and announce groundbreaking news about fascinating worlds in which we are sure to visit on our next trip to the cinema. On July 24, the 2014 Comic Con event is expected to unveil plenty of exciting information regarding a 1990s throwback film based on a popular book franchise. “Goosebumps”, which stars the whimsical A-list actor Jack Black, is set to hit theaters in August of 2015. It is timely and clever for producers to take a stab at bringing the popular children’s book franchise to the big screen, as it is sure to grab the attention of both the children of 2014, as well as the children of the 90’s, now well into adulthood. The film’s plot will not borrow directly from any of the 100 plus books from author R.L. Stine’s franchise, but instead will take a much broader approach. The movie introduces Zach, a young city boy who moves to a small Maryland. Zach befriends a girl named Hannah, who happens to be the daughter of scary book author R.L. Stine (Black). When Zach accidently releases all of the ghoulish creations of Stine’s books into the real world, the team must work together to round up the monsters before they destroy everything in sight.  Rather than seek out an aura of true horror, the film aims at blending its spooky nature with an off the wall comedy twist. No stranger to family comedy, Black should fit perfectly in this universe. The star of films such as “School of Rock” and “Kung Fu Panda” also promises to make the R.L. Stine character his own. 

  • ‘Begin Again’ is chart-topping movie

    This film provides the perfect mix of music and relationships, blending both with equal parts of raw emotion thrown in for good measure.  Viewers looking for a splendid date night movie or an up-close view of the music industry’s research and development side of the house will find “Begin Again” a very satisfying summer soundtrack and film experience.Director John Carney, who brought us the surprise 2006 hit “Once” using unknown film stars singing an Oscar-winning tune, attempts to capture much of that same success and winning formula in this adventure.  Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley (for 2005’s “Pride & Prejudice”) is a familiar screen presence playing the role of a British songwriter for her boyfriend (portrayed by real-life singer Adam Levine).  Admirably, Carney gets both Knightley and Levine to venture outside their normal day-to-day comfort zones—actress Knightley showing off her singing chops for the first time on the big-screen while Maroon 5 lead vocalist Levine uses “Begin Again” to launch a potential film career.  “Begin Again” is a compelling and rich movie that takes viewers along the artistic music path from talent discovery to chart-topping success.  It examines the behind-the-scenes struggles of a record-label exec (Mark Ruffalo) that has hit rock bottom personally and professionally.  And what a challenge life is for him—with his employment, marriage and fatherhood all hanging in the balance. Ruffalo’s stellar midlife crisis performance as the character Dan will easily make viewers forget he ever wore green paint as The Hulk in “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012).  It’s the believability and realism in “Begin Again” that separates this film from so many other romantic dramas and comedies.  Director Carney’s movie modus operandi is to let his storylines take a natural and acceptable course in a film—even if that means final scenes don’t tie up loose ends or conclude with happy endings for all involved.  Carney sides with reality and any tiebreakers towards the end of the film usually sway in the direction of life’s real uncertainties—leaving the audience to find their own movie wrap.Although Oscar history tells us that films debuting before September have an uphill battle to gain Academy Award nominations, “Begin Again” has several things going for it.  Ruffalo, an Oscar nominee for 2010’s “The Kids Are All Right” and a real-life brain tumor survivor, achieves his finest performance ever in film.  “Begin Again” gives a chorus of music throughout, but after the last note is sung, this movie is about Ruffalo and his character, Dan. Ruffalo’s inspiring and brilliant effort deserves an Oscar nod in the Best Actor category.  Likewise, a strong supporting cast that includes previous Oscar nominees Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) as Dan’s teenage daughter and Catherine Keener (“Being John Malkovich”) playing his wife flawlessly cover any acting shortcomings from film novice Levine.  The entire ensemble successfully sells the realism behind the microphone while Carney avoids any awkward gimmicks or faux pas in the relationship between Ruffalo and Knightley.“Begin Again” easily makes my Top 10 List for 2014 films.  Exceptional performances, particularly Ruffalo’s as the ear of the music industry, reward filmgoers with a realistic storyline of relationships and turning one’s life around after setbacks.  Knightley’s first-ever singing gig may not have been pitch perfect during every ballad, but she kept the storyline interesting and plausible.  Carney, much like his successful Irish music drama “Once”, provides an encore that’s very watchable to viewers due to its realistic depiction of life.  The film and its conclusion—which continue as credits roll—allow us to eavesdrop and listen in to how music is discovered but also made, promoted and sold.  “Begin Again” is great movie to add to your summer playlist.

  • Time Travel at the next Musical Magic for Kids

    Join the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance for an interactive experience geared towards youth the whole family can enjoy, featuring music, dance and theatre, first SaturdaysChildren can meet some of the greatest composers of all time during Musical Magic for Kids on Saturday, Aug. 2.The Oro Valley Music and Dance Academy will perform Traveling through Time with the Great Composers at 10 a.m. in the Town of Oro Valley’s Council Chambers, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive.Take the journey with The Unusual Suspects Trio, while meeting some of the greatest composers, from Beethoven and Tchaikovsky to Duke Ellington. No ordinary time machine, it is powered by classical and jazz music. Listen and move to music of renowned composers, while hearing these composers “speak” about what it was really like to lives during their lifetimes. The Unusual Suspects Trio consists of Deena Reedy on flute, Gregory Helseth on horn and Cassandra Bendickson on bassoon.Presented by Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, the Musical Magic for Kids program is funded by support from Irma and Keve Sankman, Bill Adler, the Oro Valley Community Foundation and the Town of Oro Valley.

  • Saturday Puzzles 7-19-14

  • PCC Center for the Arts announces the 2014-15 season

    Pima Community College Center for the Arts announces its 2014-2015 Season: ENCORE! The new season follows on the back of last season’s record attendance with the goal of delivering an eclectic and interesting selection of Pima’s theatre, music and dance performances; gallery exhibits of contemporary works by national and regional visual artists; and special events worthy of ovation. The Center for the Arts complex, situated on PCC’s West Campus, consists of the Proscenium Theatre, the Black Box Theatre, the Recital Hall and the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery.PCC Theatre ArtsSTUART LITTLE - adapted by Joseph Robinette, based on the book by E.B. White. Directed by Mickey Nugent. September 24-October 5, in the Proscenium Theatre (Fri. and Sat. at 7 p.m., Sat. and Sun. at 2 p.m.) ASL interpreters: October 3. Tickets are $8 with discounts for groups of 10 or more. Families will delight in this tender and exciting story about a most unusual mouse. As the second son in a human family, Stuart encounters several adventures, big enough to match any imagination, as he struggles to survive in his over-sized world. Loved by most, except perhaps Snowbell the family cat, Stuart embarks on a journey of a lifetime after his best friend, the little bird Margolo, flees to escape being eaten. Family Play Date, a free event for kids and their parents, is Saturday, September 20, 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Black Box Theatre. Learn more about the play STUART LITTLE, mingle with the cast and enjoy fun activities, tasty treats and a short preview scene in the big theatre. Scout Theatre Adventure Night, for girl and boy scouts and their leaders, is Saturday, September 27 at 7 p.m. The event includes discounted tickets, a stage tour, cast interaction and Q&A session after the play. (School matinee performances are also available for elementary and middle school groups beginning 9/24. Call 206-6986.)A PIECE OF MY HEART - by Shirley Lauro. Directed by Nancy Davis Booth. November 13-23 in the Black Box Theatre (Thu.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m.) ASL interpreters: November 20. Tickets are $15 with discounts available. The play is a powerful and true drama of six courageous women sent to Vietnam and their struggle to make sense of a war that forever changed them and a nation that later shunned them. The story features each of the women’s thoughts, feelings and emotions before, during and after their tours of duty and it ends as each leave a personal token at the Vietnam Memorial. A PIECE OF MY HEART has been named the most enduring theatrical production that deals with the Vietnam War by the Vietnam Veterans Association, and has won several awards including the Barbara Deming Prize for Women Playwrights and the Kittredge Foundation Award. An open dialogue with the audience, cast and director will follow every performance. A special free performance of A PIECE OF MY HEART will be presented on November 11 at 7:30 p.m. for our community veterans to recognize and honor their service and sacrifices.MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT - book and lyrics by Eric Idle, music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle. A musical comedy lovingly ripped off from the motion picture "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" from the original screenplay by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Brought to the stage by the creative team of Todd Poelstra, Mickey Nugent, Nancy Davis Booth and Dr. Mark Nelson. February 26-March 8 in the Proscenium Theatre (Wed.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m., Sat. Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m., Sat. Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m.) ASL interpreters: March 4. Tickets are $18 with discounts available. SPAMALOT is a highly irreverent parody of the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, and features a bevy of beautiful showgirls, not to mention cows, killer rabbits, and Not Dead Fred. SPAMALOT adds swipes at Vegas glitz and Broadway conventions to the film's anarchic spirit. The fractured tale of the quest of King Arthur and his comically inept knights for the Holy Grail has been woven into another quest: that of bringing the king and his entourage to the enchanted land called Broadway. The 2005 Broadway production won three Tony Awards, including "Best Musical," and received 14 Tony Award nominations. An opening night celebration, Thursday, February 26, features hilarious activities “nudge-nudge” and refreshments.THE MANDRAKE, a comedy about love and lust by Niccolo Machiavelli. Directed by Dr. Deborah Davis. April 16–26 in the Black Box Theatre (Thu.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m.). ASL interpreters: April 23. Tickets are $15 with discounts available. This delightful comedy combines the politico, Machiavelli’s, philosophy "the ends justify the means" with the exploits of lovers, liars, and fools. Set in 16th century Renaissance Florence, THE MANDRAKE satirizes the escapades of a young man of the upper class who becomes helplessly infatuated with a beautiful and virtuous woman, who happens to be inconveniently married to an elderly and gullible aristocratic lawyer. With the help of a manipulative servant, a scheming mother, a corrupt priest, and a certain aphrodisiacal plant, the plan unfolds to seduce the lady for his own. One thing leads to another and everybody gets what he/she wants. The play’s political references are just as relevant today, as in 16th century Italy.

  • Great American Playhouse continues streak of excellence

    By now the Great American Playhouse has gained notoriety across north Tucson as a rowdy melodramatic theater that fills its auditorium with laughter and energy.  On weekend evenings, the theater is commonly filled to the back with audience members who join in on the fun by singing along with the familiar ballads, booing at the villains, and cheering for the heroes. The roof threatens to fly off the foundation on these crowded evenings of rowdiness.  You can imagine my surprise, then, when I attended the theater’s Sunday afternoon showing of their newest production “Naomi and Michelle’s Excellent Adventure”, and found the auditorium half full. It seemed as though it would be a different crowd than I had grown accustomed to in prior GAP experiences, as the audience appeared tired from the mid-day heat, from large Sunday lunches, and from the thoughts of beginning a new a work week. I sat in my seat, and prepared myself for what I fully expected to be a toned down and lazy rendition of GAP’s newest play, lacking the perennial punching power that the company has become known for.Boy, was I ever wrong.By the beginning of the second act, the Great American players had won over the crowd completely, and I had entirely forgotten that attendance was far less than that of a weekend evening. You never would have guessed by the volume and energy that filled the room.  In “Naomi and Michelle”, playwright Sean MacArthur blends elements of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” to bring us a wonderfully silly tale about two hip high school girls from the fictional Oro Valley High in the year 1984. Naomi and Michelle are facing academic probation on account of their less than radical grades in American history. Unless they can pull off an incredible final presentation, the girls will be forced to sit out of the championship volleyball game. But as luck would have it, the desert dwelling duo happens upon a time machine that ultimately takes them on a journey throughout American history, opening the floodgates for hilarious occurrences between the clueless teenagers and the most prominent men and women in America’s formation.The GAP is comprised of much more than actors. These are all out performers, feeding off the orchestration of musical director Mike Padilla to deliver a top-notch over-the-top invention.Sean MacArthur seems to lead the way of the talented team, as he masterfully slips into historical role after historical role as John Adams, John Muir, and American General MacArthur (as well as a few secret cameos). Nick Seivert and Jesus Limon are comedic naturals, undoubtedly in their element in a company such as GAP. The mere presence of Limon and Seivert seems to bring the hilarity up a notch whenever they appear on the stage.  Amy Dehaven may be the most diverse part of the GAP comedy machine, as she masters roles ranging from a stereotypical 40-something high school volleyball coach, to the tough and rugged cowboy Frank James, to a refined and principled Susan B. Anthony. Jacinda Rose Swineheart has established herself as an ever-faithful centerpiece of the team. With Swineheart, you always know what you are going to get, a strong presence, talent, and a bounding energy. Swineheart’s partner in crime, Dennis Tamblyn flows in a similar vein as Seivert, unmistakably self aware that just about anything he does is funny. In this production, he conquers as Todd, the metro and evil high school cheerleader who, as malicious as he is, is impossible to hate. Most of the team’s energy is pumped from the bottomless reservoir that is the young Randy McDonald. McDonald has a way of stealing the show with his comedic precision and dancing. GAP’s young aces are Erin Anderson and Jacqueline Williams, who play the title roles. They bring much promise and stability to a group oozing with talent, and are perfect as oblivious 80’s teens who begin to learn valuable life lessons.

  • Prime Time Review: Tabloid favorite Lindsay Lohan sues Rockstar over videogame character

    Lindsay Lohan is heading back to the courtroom soon. However, this time it is she who is filing the lawsuit. The tabloid star is launching a lawsuit against Rockstar Games because she believes her likeness was utilized for one of Grand Theft Auto V’s characters without her permission.The lawsuit states that the character, Lacey Jonas, is an unequivocal reference to Ms. Lohan. The suit goes so far as to state that Lohan’s voice and style were utilized to create the character, all without her permission. Citing privacy laws, the actress is claiming unspecified damages from not only Rockstar Games, but also Take Two Interactive.The character in question plays a minor role in the blockbuster game. Jonas is encountered in an alleyway in “Vinewood”, a section of the large open-world game. Jonas is hiding from paparazzi and asks the player to get her home without the paparazzi knowing. During the course of the ride home, the in-game actress admits to the player that the stresses of her life and fame have caused her to become anorexic.On the surface level, this seems like nothing more than a publicity stunt for Lindsay Lohan, hoping to claw her way into the spotlight. But does this suit have any ground to stand on?While Lohan’s accusations of using her voice, image, and clothing from her fashion line may seem a little far-fetched, the inclusion of Chateau Marmont Hotel in West Hollywood, where the actress once lived, is being used as evidence of image rights violation.Reports of the lawsuit originally surfaced through TMZ last December but had gone quiet until now. While there is no specified payout in the lawsuit, lawyers have stated that there would be “serious money” involved.

  • ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ - Pandemic outbreak takes out film’s storyline too

    Following on the heels of the entertaining and successful 2011 “Rise of the Planet of the Apes’”, this motion picture was supposed to take the humanity vs. ape conflict to a whole new level of fervor.  The bitterness and meanness of the apes was expected to escalate, while the few humans who survived the Simian Flu outbreak gathered and plotted a strategy to dominate once again.  Instead, the “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” storyline gets stretched out to the point of appearing artificial and lackadaisical.Director Matt Reeves (who will also direct “Rise of the Planet of the Apes 3” in 2016) focused this film on the internal dynamics and power struggles within the ape colony in the woods, located just outside San Francisco.  Caesar, the charismatic ape leader who we last saw saying good-bye to James Franco’s character in 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, is the movie’s best feature—by far.  Reeves, acknowledging Caesar’s exceptional screen influence throughout the film, begins and ends the movie with close-up shots of his main star.  However, the noteworthy and powerful performances in Dawn start and stop with Caesar.  The cast in the film is stale and minimized by an ape-driven plot, leaving viewers hard-pressed to name any human characters besides architect/negotiator Malcolm (played by Jason Clarke).  While little investment takes place in Malcolm’s background story, we’re told even less about Gary Oldman and Keri Russell in the movie.  Without more information on the human faces in the drama, Reeves makes this a single-dimension story on only the apes—significantly diminishing the main catalyst to all ‘Planet of the Apes’ stories.It’s apparent early in the film that ‘Dawn’ will avoid relying on the bread and butter success of the Ape chain—wholesale conflict between humans and apes for which audiences have come to expect.  Alternatively, a mutually agreed coexistence ceasefire strategy unfolds following the first skirmish between the two foes.  Rather than continue the uneasiness and distaste for one another–probing each camp’s strongholds–Reeves decides to save that all-out meltdown for the next film in this “Apes” series.  The result of Reeves running out the clock on this movie is a storyline and mission that seem stretched and unfulfilling.  The human desire to gain access to a power-generating dam in the ape-controlled woodlands is a diluted, misplaced theme.  That’s the best Reeves could muster to bring both species to the brink of war?  After the early discovery of one another at the start, the humans (and Reeves) embark down the path of respectful neighbors living in cohabitation.  It’s not until the real distrust between the two groups percolates once again that the movie begins to entertain and show signs of life.  Likewise, a nice connection by Reeves to Franco’s researcher character in the previous film ‘Rise’ gives audiences a small dose of continuity.The greatness of the ‘Apes’ original handful of movies in the 1960s and early 70s was the lethal relationship and epic survival scenes they generated over which race would conquer the other first. This film started off with such promise—as a small group of humans accidently stumbles across the ape masses.  Unfortunately, the film’s only real rebels were Caesar’s best friend and his son.  As for the rest, well, that will have to come in 2016 with ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes 3’.

  • Biosphere 2 hosts 2014 Summer Science Academies

    Beginning this week, the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 will offer two week-long, residential summer science programs. The Biosphere 2 Summer Science Academy is designed to give middle and high school students an immersive experience in current, cutting-edge environmental science research, and to develop leadership and teamwork skills. The program is part of a larger effort to offer a diverse selection of science experiences at Biosphere 2.“We know that students in these age groups are eager to have fun, meaningful, and hands-on science experiences. Science should be about doing science, not just reading about it in textbooks,” said Kevin Bonine, Biosphere 2’s Director of Education & Outreach. “Biosphere 2 offers an inspirational setting for collaborative science activity, and our student village is a great place to have kids stay at the research facility in residence.”In addition to developing and conducting science experiments with Biosphere 2 researchers, the participants will journey to the UA main campus to visit the Flandrau Science Center and Steward Observatory Mirror Lab.  A morning trip to the UA desert ropes course is planned as part of the leadership component of the week’s agenda. Emulating university researchers at scientific conferences, participants will present their findings at the end of the week.“One of our goals is to have the B2 facility vigorously in use year-round for education and outreach,” said Bonine. “The academy program allows us to both meet one of our mission goals  - to increase public scientific understanding  - and at the same time maximize the use of our facility in a meaningful way during a traditionally slower time of the year for us.”More than 80 middle and high school students will be part of the Summer Science Academy. Students will be coming from Canada, Mexico, and the US – including from more than a dozen states. With its diverse international composition, the Biosphere 2 Summer Science Academy highlights the global value of the UA Science facility and provides an unmatched opportunity for youth from North America to learn from both peers and top scientists.Other than transportation costs for participants to make their way to and from Biosphere 2, the program fee is all-inclusive. “We’ll house and feed participants in very nice accommodations, transport them around town, and provide a state-of-the-art science experience,” explained Bonine. “And, our program cost is very competitive with similar, residential science programs around the country.”

  • Happenings - Week of July 16

    THEATERFriday to Saturday, July 18-19• Catch a performance of Dorothy Parker’s Last Call, a one-woman show depicting the poet, critic, author, activist, and member of the infamous Algonquin Round Table who delighted in skewering the culture of the early Twentieth Century. Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday; Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd.; $20, $18 seniors/students; 327-4242.Friday to Sunday through July 27• Laugh out loud at the wild, wacky Shakespeare comedy Twelfth Night. Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; Red Barn Theatre Company, 948 N. Main Ave.; $13-$16; 887-6239.Friday to Sunday through Aug. 24

OV Mayor Candidates Debate

The Oro Valley Mayor Candidates Dr. Satish I. Hiremath, and Pat Straney debated on July 30 at ...


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