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Ryn: Best vacations often spent at home

Unless someone hands me a plane ticket to Paris tomorrow, my time off this year is going to be spent indulging in a staycation.

This trendy term pops up every time the country’s economy nosedives and folks don’t have the cash to travel. It can be a very healthy, happy and harmonious thing.

Angry plane traveler at La Guardia/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Angry plane traveler at La Guardia/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Avoiding travel means avoiding high gas prices, car leg cramps and roadside diners where the food is so greasy it seeps through to the placemat – even through a ceramic plate.

We get a reprieve from airport delays, showing off our bad pedicures for the metal detectors, and the high cost and even higher calories of airplane food. We’ll also miss out on the inevitable respiratory infection that always seems to hit after airplane travel, regardless of how many Airborne tablets we chew.

And we won’t have to cry ourselves to sleep at night in some foreign country because we so miss our dogs.

We’re off to a good start already.

To fully enjoy the staycation, of course, we have to fully understand what it is. A writer named Tightwad Tod at defines the term for us as “a vacation in which the vacationer stays at home, or near home, while creating the environment of a traditional vacation.”

True reading/Ryn Gargulinski
True reading/Ryn Gargulinski

Sounds easy enough. That means we should leave the bed unmade for maid service, call someone for coffee and eggs and buy a bunch of crappy trinkets we’ll never do anything useful with but like too much to give away.

To complete the vacation environment, we should also strew sand on the floor, hang our damp and dirty clothes on the shower rod for days and lie around reading true crime all afternoon.

This all sounds like my typical week, anyway.

To avoid that trap, we need to break out of the normal routine, warns Tightwad Tod, so the staycation is markedly different than our daily lives.

The toughest move may be to unplug. Since I never answer the door and rarely answer the phone, I’ve got that part down pat.

Too much Internet?/Ryn Gargulinski
Too much Internet?/Ryn Gargulinski

But the suck of the Internet is a hard one to defy.

The longest I’ve gone without Internet was three days at my brother’s in San Diego last summer. I ended up missing a freelance revision deadline I received at the last minute and re-entered daily life with an inbox full of some 482 e-mails. But while the computer was down, it felt like a ball and chain had been lifted, even if I couldn’t check my daily Old Farmer’s Almanac weather and fun facts.

Instead we can find joy, and a break from our regular routine, by trying some funky stuff around town we neither seem to have the time nor wherewithal to enjoy.

Kid on javelina at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum/Ryn Gargulinski
Kid on javelina at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum/Ryn Gargulinski

Like a ride on the Fourth Avenue trolley to nowhere or, if we beg nicely enough, perhaps behind-the-scene tours of the zoo, the county morgue or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

We can find out, once and for all, where the rest of that long, winding trail goes after it leaves our usual path. You know the trail, it’s the one you see daily but never have the time to take. Take time to explore, uncover and indulge. Just bring lots of water.

And bring a sense of adventure. Even treks you regularly enjoy, like a thrift shop spree or a dog park romp, can be enhanced during a staycation. Make a day of it. Pack sandwiches. Linger longer. After all, with your computer shut down, you suddenly have 20 unspent hours during the day.

The other staycation option is to say to heck with the world altogether and spend our time going absolutely nowhere but the bubble bath.

It may still not compare to Paris, but I’ll bet it’ll be more soothing, even, than all the gargoyles of Notre Dame.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who plans to bubble bath, yoga, create art, take walks and devour true crime during her upcoming week off – hey! that sounds exhausting. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail


Have you ever indulged in a staycation?

Did you love it?

What is the most memorable vacation or staycation you ever had?

What was the most miserable?

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Would you hire a convicted felon to babysit your kids?

Convicted felons, for some reason, have a bad reputation.

It may be because they’ve been, well, convicted of a felony. Felonies run the gamut from murder to drug possession, theft to child prostitution.

Royzell Williams/AZ DOC photo
Royzell Williams/AZ DOC photo

Arizona law suspends a host of civil rights from convicted felons. They can no longer vote, can’t hold public office positions and are banned from owning a gun. They automatically get out of jury duty. They can forget about working as a sheriff’s deputy or cop.

But convicted felons can be hired into a state position unless their felony “has a reasonable relationship to the functions” of what they are hired to do.

In other words, it wouldn’t be wise to hire a person convicted of child prostitution to run a day care agency or babysit your kids.

While some of us may want to give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove us wrong – not unlike that “innocent until proven guilty” theory – some folks just can’t be trusted.

Two cases popped up recently in Pinal County where convicted felons who had been hired by the county government screwed up royally.

Albert Robbs, 51, who served prison time for theft, was hired by the County Recorder’s office into a position where he had complete access to county residents’ checking account numbers, credit card information and social security numbers.

Albert Robbs/AZ DOC photo
Albert Robbs/AZ DOC photo

Guess what? Robbs stole checks that came into the office and handed them over to one of his three partners-in-crime to buy drugs, according to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

“It’s not surprising he was subsequently arrested and indicted for identity theft and assisting in a criminal syndicate,” Babeu said in his August newsletter.

Royzell Williams, 46, who served time for theft, drug possession and sale of drugs, was hired as a bailiff in Pinal County Superior Court.

“Just last week, he was arrested, booked and charged with accepting bribes in exchange for attempting to influence the outcome of cases before the Superior Court,” Babeu said.

That’s some pretty heavy duty stuff.

Both guys were hired fresh out of prison. Both guys were given the benefit of the doubt. Both guys made the sheriff angry enough to demand a ban on hiring convicted felons into Pinal County government positions.

“These situations serve as strong examples of why we should ban the hiring of convicted felons,” Babeu said. “Leaders in our government have knowingly hired convicted felons, who have used their public offices to commit serious crimes. Hiring officials allowed their personal relationships or other considerations color their judgment when it comes to hiring decisions.”

I’ve seen convicted felons who are honestly trying to turn their lives around and cringe every time they have to fill out that little box on employment applications: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Please explain.”

I’ve also seen convicted felons who dabble at making a better life, realize it’s a major pain to follow the law, at least for them, and plunge back into the “easy” life of crime.

Some, too, pretend to be on the up-and-up while they have no intention of doing anything other than falling back into their old habits.

Would I hire a convicted felon to weed my yard?
Sure. As long as he stayed outside.

Paint my house?
Maybe. Depends on the conviction. And as long as he didn’t see where my diamonds, emeralds and rubies were stashed.

Watch my dogs?
Not in your life.

wb-logolil16What do you think?

Is banning convicted felons from government employment too harsh?

Should they all be given a second chance?

Have you had any positive/negative experiences hiring, befriending or marrying a convicted felon?

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Woodstock tribute ’09: No naked hippies, but plenty of music

Woodstock is just one more example of why some of us were born too late.

But even if we missed the amazing three-day fest in 1969, we can pay tribute to it 40 years later with the KXCI Woodstock Tribute Concert at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 15.

Couple on the scene/AP file photo
Couple on the scene/AP file photo

Sure, the Tucson tribute may not include thousands of naked hippies rollicking in mud, but we can also bet there will be no births, deaths, or shots fired in the air by an irate farmer upset by all the noise.

Can’t say if there will be any drug arrests or bad acid trips, however.

Tickets are on sale now at Rialto Theatre. All proceeds go to support our favorite local station – “real people, real music” – 91.3 FM KXCI Community Radio.

What: KXCI Woodstock Tribute Concert
When: Aug. 15, doors open 4 p.m., show starts at 5 p.m.
Where: Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St; 740-1000
Tickets: $11 gen. admission, $16 reserved balcony
Free for 12 and under with paying adult. Fees may apply.
Rialto box office open noon to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday

We already have a slate of confirmed performers, although KXCI Director Randy Peterson said, “We are not saying who is covering who – or even who is covering The Who.”

Confirmed artists:
Al Perry; Andrew Collberg; Lovemound; The Wayback Machine; Cathy Rivers; Loveland; Leila Lopez & Courtney Robbins; The Tryst; Michael P.; Jo Wilkinson and Top Dead Center.

Were these people there?/Photo of photo in Arivaca coffee shop by Ryn Gargulinski
Were these people there?/Photo of photo in Arivaca coffee shop by Ryn Gargulinski

To get you in the mood, here are some fun facts on Woodstock by the numbers:

The groovy:

2 – Babies born at the festival
31 – Musical acts scheduled for main stage
51 – Caldrons of rice-carrot-raisin combo made for Sunday morning breakfast at Hog Farm Free Kitchen
60,000 – People expected to attend
315,000 – People who never made it there but tried
400,000 – People who attended

The grungy:

10 – Shots fired in air by farmer disgruntled by all the ruckus
80 – Lawsuits filed following the festival
90 – Percent of attendees who smoked weed
133 – Arrests on narcotic and other drug charges
400 – Bad acid trips
600 – Portable toilets

800+ – Cops – includes 150 volunteer cops; 346 off-duty NYC police hired at $50/each per day, 100 local sheriffs and hundreds of state troopers and deputies from 12 counties

10 million – number of yards of denim and striped T-shirt material in the audience (it did not specify if this was on their bodies or off)

The ugly:

1 – Case of pneumonia
1 – Diabetic coma
3 – Tracheotomies performed on site
3 – Deaths: one heroin overdose, one ruptured appendix and one person run over by a tractor. Ouch.
4 – Miscarriages

Woodstock price list:

$1 – hotdog
$4 – hit of acid or mescaline
$6.50 – advance price of single day ticket ($8 at gate)
$15 – ounce of marijuana
$18 – advance price of three-day ticket ($24 at gate)



Were you at the original Woodstock?

Did you give birth, get arrested?

Even if you weren’t there, what performer is your favorite?

When folks even mention Woodstock,does Country Joe and the Fish run through your head?

Have you been to any Woodstock tributes in the past, like the version in Rome, N.Y., in 1999 that ended up full of fire, smoke and feces?

Read a Tucsonan’s version of hippiedom on Retroflections blog.

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Clowns, mimes, magicians, Manilow – rate your creepiest

Even before serial killer John Wayne Gacy dressed up as Pogo and stuffed the corpses of young men and boys beneath his porch, many of us have been terrified of clowns.

Some won’t even attend the circus because of them, while others harbor their fear in secret, quietly trembling at the sight of bright red afros and oversize shoes.

MarcyMom up close and personal with a clown/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
MarcyMom up close and personal with a clown/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Clowns may not be the only creepy performer – they share the stage with mimes, magicians and Barry Manilow – but, at least for me, they are at the top of the heap.

Why do we find these things creepy?

Clowns – The main reason folks fear clowns has to be their makeup. Unless it’s their billowing costumes, seemingly unwashed hair, boat-size shoes or bulbous red noses.

Clowns are hiding behind a hideous façade where, dressed like that, they can only be planning hideous actions. They are also quite invasive and may not go away even when a kid – or adult – bursts into tears.

We must wonder how McDonald’s overcame such a barrier, or why it made a clown its spokesman in the first place. Not that a giant purple thing or cheeseburger thief are much better choices.

A Nursing Standard magazine survey found 250 kids, ages 4 to 16, said clowns were “universally scary.”

So let’s send them to children’s hospitals.

While not many of us run across clown in our daily lives, except when we’re stuck in Tucson traffic, coulrophobia is not a fear that can be rationalized or made to disappear. It is so widespread that entire websites, blogs and T-shirt lines are devoted to the fear and loathing of these creepy things.

Mimes – Mimes can be seen as clowns with more form-fitting clothing and no voices. The lack of speech is a good thing, for you can block them out by simply turning around.

But mimes still may follow you around unless they are confined to their invisible boxes.

Dance of Illusion's Susan Eyed/Ryn Gargulinski
Dance of Illusion's Susan Eyed/Ryn Gargulinski

Magicians/Illustionists – Why some folks loathe magicians is an easy one – magicians mess with our reality. They make us see things that are not there, pull stuff from our ears and rearrange New York City landmarks.

I’ve not had a problem with magicians or illusionists, except when they move the Statue of Liberty.

One Tucson duo, Dance of Illusion’s Roland Sarlot and Susan Eyed, is a major exception to the magician creepiness rule. They rule. Their Club Congress New Year’s Eve bash included Eyed levitating several feet in the air.

The two spend their summers performing their recreated parlour shows in Coney Island, but also tour internationally. They were just in town this weekend and I meant to plug their show but I was too busy fearing clowns to remember in time.

Barry Manilow – The main reason some may have an aversion to this Brooklyn boy is because, with that nose and hair he could, perhaps, resemble a clown.

Others just think his music is lame. I’ve not really had a problem with him, other than the fact “Copacabana” tends to run endlessly through your head.

One of my friends adores Manilow so much she only stops short of having a full-length poster of him above her bed. Another so despises the chap that he threw a brand new Barry Manilow CD out of a speeding car window.


Eek!/Ryn Gargulinski
Eek!/MarcyMom photo

Which performer do you find the creepiest? Why?

Are you one of the few who actually likes clowns?

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Ryn: Beware the giddy gun owner

Right beneath Arizona’s unofficial nickname of the Grand Canyon State, there should be another moniker, perhaps in festive italics: the Land of the Gun.

The latest movement in the gun orgy is a bill Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law Monday that allows concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that serve liquor.

Say cheese!/Ryn Gargulinski
Say cheese!/Ryn Gargulinski

We’re not sure how many lives will be saved by such a move, but we have a feeling the wait staff and bartenders may become a tad more attentive to their customers.

Anyone who has stared down the barrel of a gun knows how quickly you learn to move.

My stare-down-a-barrel moment was when a crackhead robbed the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop where I worked in Manhattan.

He had the weapon hidden in a folded newspaper he laid on the counter when he ordered a vanilla cone with chocolate sprinkles.

I turned around to get the sprinkles and turned back to the unfolded paper and the barrel of a handgun.

The man never got his ice cream, since I promptly dropped it when I noted the gun pointed at my face, but he did get all the money out of the register. He also got all the money under the register, as the airhead with whom I worked called him back into the store with, “Wait, don’t you want the big bills under here?”

There’s no doubt guns can do a good job of getting what you want by intimidating bartenders, bank tellers and poor little ice cream girls.

On the flip side, guns can also protect the law-abiding folks.

Many of us give a nod of “he-got-his” approval when we hear of the homeowner who shot the home invader, thereby saving the dwelling’s occupants as well as the giant TV and stereo system.

Yes, guns can protect you, but they can also be mishandled, abused or fall into the hands of kids who end up shooting each other “just to see how it works.”

While permits are required to carry handguns, folks don’t need a permit or any training to buy one. Gun shows and private sales don’t even require background checks.

Instead of making some regulations more stringent, the laws seem to keep getting less restrictive.

I’m not sure if that should make us feel safe, or very afraid.

I’m also definitely undecided when it comes to owning a gun. I’m jaded by too many horror stories about guns being turned on their owners or folks accidentally shooting their faces off.

Wonder if they own a gun?/Ryn Gargulinski
Wonder if they own a gun?/Ryn Gargulinski

In addition to being banned from watching “The Love Boat” and “Three’s Company,” my brother and I weren’t allowed to play with toy guns as kids. We were taught fear and loathing of these deadly weapons and had to sneak around with our bright pink water pistols.

The only time I shot a gun was at the Tucson Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy, under the supervision of a highly trained officer, so I felt pretty safe.

It was also fully exhilarating. Especially since I managed to clock the target square in the forehead with every single shot. Well, I think the last one hit him in the chest.

Shooting the thing made me giddy, which is where the real danger of guns comes in.

How many others, like the father and son duo I saw shooting off a rifle in the Rillito riverbed on New Year’s Day, get the same kind of thrill and want to go shooting for the heck of it?

Never mind the crackheads, bank thieves or restaurant robbers, it is guns in the hands of the giddy that should concern us.

No law can conquer that. For that we should be afraid.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who doesn’t have a gun but has two big dogs, a meat hook, a machete and a medieval mace. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail

logosubjpegDo you own a gun – why or why not?

Have you ever had a gun pointed at you?

Did you ever point one at someone else? What happened?

Did you rob a Ben and Jerry’s?