Saturday, August 25, 2007

Nortec Collective Does Tucson August 2007

Just gotta tell all you alls who weren't there, you missed a very fun time. (But you're excused if you went to see Pepo and Elise.) Nortec sounded great, it was a lovely evening for drinking Miller Chill outdoors (how à propos) while cooling off after the heat of the dance floor. A certain fixture of the Tucson Scene was dissing people's fashion statements and calling others "jackasses" for not having myspace pages. A certain star of Pancho Goes to College gave us his inside perspective on the making of the movie. By the end of the night we ended up at The Grill eating tater tots and French Toast, making dirty jokes about Tucson Weekly's Police Dispatch when to top it all off, we spotted a certain SPanish teacher en un estado mucho mas intoxicado que nosostros!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Further Persons Imperfect - "Out of Focus"

Finally! The moment you all (read: I) have been waiting for! My book is out!

Well, no - it's not my book - but it is a book in which one of my short stories was published. My first short in English. (You can read my first short story in Spanish published by Divergencias by clicking here, on "Un regalo de Andres".)

It all started about four and a half years ago when I took a creative writing mini course with Paul McComas at Northwestern University's Norris University Center. I was freed from a nasty writer's block that had lasted for what seemed like an eternity.

Paul invited me to join the Advanced Fiction Writing workshop he does out his very own, very wacky living room. It was great. I met some extremely supportive and extremely talented writers. (I didn't believe such a thing existed at the time, after getting sledgehammered at The University of Iowa.)

I left Chicago to start grad school here in Tucson. A year later Paul insisted I contribute to this book. If it weren't for his constant - I mean constant - encouragement (read: nagging), I would have never finished "Out of Focus". Thanks to the workshop's collaborative, long-distance effort I was able to take the story from an idea to something really readable.

And of course, thanks to my friends in Paraguay for inspiring me. Rohaihu.

So if you want to experience the story of "Eva Karene Romero's restless, heartsick young lesbian in Paraguay" then you better buy a copy of Further Persons Imperfect
from iUniverse.

For more info about the authors, upcoming readings and reviews, check out the Further Persons Imperfect myspace page:

p.s. If you are a local thinking about getting your own creative writing tools sharpened, I took Level 1 at The Writer's Studio Tucson recently and it was a pretty positive experience. It is much more focused on technique and less romantic than kickin' it with other writers over brownies in somebody's living room under a framed family portrait of The Simpsons, but for everything there is a season.

Info on other local creative writing groups would be highly appreciated. Leave your comments!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's Wednesday - Tucson on the Cheap

It's my last week of summer vacation. I'm broke, hot, and depressed. Yes, my whiny little ass has to go back to school. But if vacation has to die, it's going to go with a bang - a really cheap, semi-small, not-so-outrageous bang.

First of all, it's Wednesday. Besides all the free-to-cheap activities Tucson normally offers, Wednesday is special because it really wants to help you get over the hump in a champagne of beers kind of way. I'm talking about starting out with Funtasticks Ten Dollar Tuesday - that means unlimited video games and miniature golf for ten dollars. Wait a minute, it's Wednesday. Oh. Well, anyway, Ten Dollar Tuesdays are fun if you're like myself and love love love Cruis'n Exotica. The tracks are at places like Korea, Atlantis (under the sea), India, Mars(!) and "The Amazon".

Footnote: Notice how India and Mars somehow end up in the same "Exotic" category - it's telling. By the way, the realism and cultural accuracy of this game is so great that while racing in India your car gets shat on by an elephant - repeatedly. BTW, don't hit the sacred cows! And as if that weren't bad enough, check out the Mayan Ruins (really in Guatemala) and the dinosaurs in "The Amazon"! The reason why I find this arcade game really hilarious (as opposed to offensive) is because I am lead to believe that it is actually an acknowledgment of U.S. ignorance of the rest of the world - not a manifestation of it. (Many of the developers of the game are Indian, which you can see by their names in the credits.) Can you say meta-video game? It makes me want to write a paper about it.

Next I will catch a movie at Grand Cinemas for $3.25 (If you didn't see Knocked Up I strongly recommend it - it's a surprisingly smart film.) I'll be getting a Pepsi Freeze for me and a free Pepsi Freeze for my date. But Wednesdays are dollar days so I'll also buy him a bag of popcorn because I'm generous like that.

Then it's off to Golden Pin Lanes for a cheap hooker and Half a Buck Night (from 9pm - close) where a $5 cover charge gets me free bowling, 50¢ nachos, 50¢ hot dogs, 50¢ sodas and 50¢ draft beers. (That said, I'll confess that the 50¢ beer is worse than making love in a canoe, the hot dogs are 100% lips and assholes, and the shoe guy is really annoying at the microphone; all night with his nagging about men playing with the wrong balls! Play with your own!) The music, however, is pretty good and you can't beat the seventies Tucson-themed decor featuring foothills, the downtown skyline and the San Xavier Mission.

Pretty please with sugar on top post about your cheap and free Tucson recommendations!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dog-friendly Tucson: A Dog's Day

This is a baby picture of Frida taken by Andrew and cropped by Purpleflor.

A year from the time of this picture, Frida is napping on my what better time to write about the perfect dog date? A day we take advantage of all the dog-friendly fun Tucson has to offer? A day packed with tail wagging ecstasy?

We would start off by having breakfast outside at the Cup Cafe, then jump in the car and head up to Mount Lemmon for a mountain hike. By the time we wrap up, it will be time for lunch at The Mount Lemmon Cafe.

Then (since we're in Frida's dream world and we never get tired), we'll drive down the mountain and over to the Pima Air and Space Museum. After roaming around the old planes, we'll go to Bookman's to relax and read about chihuahuas. We'll inevitably get hungry again, and our stomaches will take us to Enoteca, where we'll eat al fresco while a downtown parade goes by. Our last stop will be The Hut, for drinks and live music to wrap up our long, dog-friendly adventure.

Find other dog-friendly Tucson establishments at Also, please leave your comments if you have more doggy adventure ideas to add!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tucson Paintball

This is Andrew and Chris donning some hot pink paint splotched in front of one of the paintball fields by the end of the morning.

So it was Chris's birthday (the one on the right) and he wanted to play paintball so off we went to Sudden Impact. I had never played before, so I really had no idea what to expect.

Andrew (on the left) and I went to Goodwill to buy some clothes that we could get "paintballed" without fear of staining and that would give us some protection. He wore army fatigues and I, a vinyl coat a la Trinity from Matrix. Ridiculous.

Anyway, it turned out to be much more fun than I would have expected. There were a lot of people there, 99% male, and with a ton of gear - which was a little intimidating, but everyone was nice to us (especially nice to Liz and I - perhaps because we were two of five or so token females present.)

We rented our guns and bought our ammo there, which had its drawbacks. (My gun for example, was not working, which I didn't realize until the third time I got out onto the field. Note to self: check your gun at the target practice before you go into a game.) We got a brief training spiel from staff but it didn't stick - I got reprimanded a bit for poor etiquette, so this is what you REALLY have to know:

1. Put your mask on before you get on the field and don't remove it until after you have entirely exited the field. This is hard to remember because it's hot and the mask gets dirty so it obstructs your vision and it kind of suffocating. You'll want to rip it off before you should. Also, part of the problem is that sometimes you might think the sidelines are not part of the field, but let's face it, if you can still get shot in the eye by a stray paintball, you should really have your mask on.

2. Put your barrel bag on as soon as you're out.

There were at least four different fields, so by the time I was semi familiar with all of them I was exhausted, but getting to know them was exciting. I think the best advice would be, once you know the layout of the field, within the first few seconds of the game sprint to a spot that will give you an advantage. Don't stay in the back in hopes of moving forward eventually because you might never get that chance and then you'll miss out on all the action.

So perhaps your big question is, does it hurt? I would say it depends on from how far away you get hit. Usually, however, it does not really hurt because you are so into the game that you hardly feel it, but yes, it leaves a bruise. They get bigger and develop more interesting colors as the week goes on.

Of course, it was hot out there, which was a little exhausting. In the winter I imagine you would be much more comfortable because you would be able to wear more layers of protective clothing and you'd be at a better body temperature - less sweat would run into your eyes under that damn mask!

Yee haw. So, paintball was hot, dirty, mildly painful, frustrating for me as a novice and a little intimidating, but all that said, I still had fun! Strangely enough, we were quite literally bruising each other, but I didn't find it particularly violent. I don't know exactly how to explain that...