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Sleuth Story From a Former Cop

Alberto C. Ojeda Signs January 5th
1 to 2 p.m., Saturday, July 12
Mostly Books
6208 E. Speedway Blvd.
571-0110

Crime-mystery enthusiasts will get a chance to meet one of Tucson's newest authors, Alberto C. Ojeda, at a book-signing at Mostly Books this Saturday.

His novel, January 5th, which was released in March, highlights the abduction of children in Mexico and South America and their indoctrination into the sex-slave trade. The main character, Juan Lugo, is a retired FBI agent living in Nogales, Mexico, who, after a chance encounter with the grandfather of an abducted child at a Taco Bell in Willcox, embarks on a quest to save the girl and apprehend her captor.

A former law-enforcement officer with the Pima County Sheriff's Department who has also worked in corrections and security, Ojeda drew on his experiences and those of fellow officers to spin a complicated and twisted plot. Though the tale is fictional, many of the events in the book are based on true stories. The abduction of two girls in Tucson who were never found lends to the book's theme, as Ojeda suspects the girls were sold into slavery. The author shines a light on the underground trade of human trafficking and the investigative work it takes to bust child snatchers, all while addressing race issues.

The hero, Lugo, is Mexican American, something that Ojeda hopes will paint a more positive picture of Hispanics in popular culture.

"The only time you see them (Mexican characters) is when they are the bad guys--when the women are the prostitutes, the guys are the pushers, the child abusers; they beat their girlfriends. I get tired of that," said Ojeda. "I want to show people in the United States that there are good Mexican people."

His book can be purchased at Mostly Books for $16.95. Ojeda will be on hand from 1 to 2 p.m. for the signing. Admission is free. --K.S.


Close to Home

Screening of The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández
6:30 p.m., Friday, July 11
Armory Park Center Ballroom
220 S. Fifth Ave.
770-1373; pbs.org

Esequiel Hernández Jr. was a mere 18 years-old when he was shot and killed by a group of U.S. Marines while tending to his family's goats near the Texas-Mexico border. He was mistaken for a drug runner, but the Marines were later exonerated for their fatal case of mistaken identity, according to the PBS Web site.

Hernández was killed in 1997, and nobody has heard much about Hernandez's death since then, despite the fact that he was the first U.S. citizen killed by U.S. military forces on U.S. soil since the 1970 shootings at Kent State University, according to the PBS site.

This week, PBS is revisiting the tragic story of Hernandez in a new documentary The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez, narrated by Tommy Lee Jones.

On Friday, the Coalición de Derechos Humanos will be screening the documentary, which will be followed by a panel discussion, said Kat Rodriguez, coordinator.

"This could have happened to anyone," Rodriguez said. "This speaks to the implications of militarizing the border and the border communities."

Derechos Humanos aims to "promote respect for human and civil rights and fight the militarization of the Southern Border region," according to their press release.

The panel discussion immediately following the 90-minute film will include members of the organization, a member of Veterans for Peace and a local lawyer, Rodriguez said.

"We will discuss questions that every American should be asking," she said. "We should feel comfortable questioning our government."

A $5 donation is suggested and goes toward Derechos Humanos, which will also be selling popcorn and candy. --C.E.


Reptilian Habits Revealed!

"Live and 'Sort Of' on the Loose" venomous-reptiles presentation
7 to 8 p.m., Saturday, July 12
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
2021 N. Kinney Road
883-2702; desertmuseum.org

Anyone who's taken a trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has seen dangerous native reptiles through glass. This Saturday, at the "Live and 'Sort of' on the Loose" Venomous-Reptiles Presentation, visitors will encounter the scaly and slithery creatures in a more up-close fashion--though still through mesh wire.

The presentation is part of the museum's Summer Saturdays series that runs through August. This week, presenters Craig Ivanyi and Ken Wintin speak about natural history and biology, venomous reptile encounters and their dangerous bites. A Gila monster, a Mexican beaded lizard and probably a couple of rattlesnakes will be presented (depending on their behavior), said Ivanyi, associate executive director for living collections.

"We have a lot of preconceived notions about venomous reptiles and, in general, people are not fond of snakes, especially ones that are venomous," said Ivanyi. "A really important part of this is to get people to be, hopefully, more familiar and, by extension, more comfortable with venomous reptiles once they realize what they really are all about."

The reptiles are generally more sedentary in cages, so the presentation should give visitors a chance to see them active, said Ivanyi.

Visitors will learn what to do if they encounter a poisonous reptile. "We're not encouraging people to get closer to snakes--in fact, it's pretty much the opposite of that--but to realize that snakes, Gila monsters, things like that, most likely the last thing they want is to encounter something that is roughly 100 times their height.

The museum will remain open until 10 p.m. for all Summer Saturdays. Discounted admission starts at 5 p.m. and is $6 for adults, $2.25 for children age 6-12 and free for younger kids. --K.S.


Triple the Fun With Triple-A Baseball

Tucson Sidewinders host the Portland Beavers
Friday-Sunday, July 11-13
Tucson Electric Park
2500 E. Ajo Way
434-1021; tucsonsidewinders.com

Since Tucsonans will not have the pleasure of enjoying Triple-A baseball in the upcoming years, we'd better take advantage of the low ticket prices and giveaways while we can.

This weekend offers a variety of Sidewinders activities while the team faces the Portland Beavers.

Friday night's game begins at 7 p.m. After the game, the real fun begins, with a "spectacular fireworks display," according to the Sidewinders Web site. The fireworks show is sponsored by Wells Fargo, and you can pick up a buy-one-get-one-free ticket to the game at any Wells Fargo location.

Saturday's game also begins at 7 p.m., but it will pay to arrive early. The first 750 fans to arrive--the gates open at 6 p.m.--will receive a free autographed baseball, signed by a "Triple A Pacific Coast League player," according to the site. The next 750 fans to enter will receive a free, official Pacific Coast League baseball. Sidewinders players will be around before the game to sign baseballs and any other memorabilia you can dig up. Nestlé is also a sponsor and will be on hand for promotional giveaways and activities.

Sunday offers a doubleheader, with the first game starting at 4 p.m. and lasting seven innings, with a 20-minute intermission between games. It's also $1 hotdog day and the ninth annual Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network Night. For $30, you can get admission to both games, including press-box seating and a meal. Proceeds benefit TIHAN, and $13.52 of the fee is tax-deductible. --C.E.

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