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The Range

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Belt Tightening

The Turkey Index is up! The Arizona Farm Bureau announced this week that the price of putting a Thanksgiving Day feast on the table for 10 people had risen about 30 percent over last year, to $51.14. And that's before you figure in the alcohol and gratuity.

The big cost jump--last year's meal was a mere $39.22--was attributed to higher prices for every ingredient except green beans. Turkey is up a shocking 45 percent, and the other fixings--including stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, cranberries and a yummy pumpkin pie with whipped cream--are all on the rise as well.

The cost is $8.88 higher than the national average of $42.26, as estimated by the American Farm Bureau.

Arizona Farm Bureau savings tips: Wait for sales, use coupons and ask family members to bring side dishes.

Arizona Farm Bureau disclaimer: "The Farm Bureau Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey is unscientific, but serves as a gauge of actual price trends across the state. This survey is based on shelf price and does not reflect special prices and promotional gimmicks."

Speaking of rising costs: Gasoline prices have also continued to climb, with the average cost of a gallon of unleaded in Pima County rising more than 7 cents in one week to hit $2.91, according to AAA Arizona. Last year at this time, a gallon of unleaded cost about $2.30.


Dress for Success

Kyla Ebbert, the young lady who was nearly kicked off a Southwest flight from San Diego to Tucson for her less-than-modest attire, is wearing even less in the pages of Playboy magazine. Ebbert was so outraged by the way airline staff treated her (attendants initially told her that her outfit was too risqué, but allowed to her board her flight after she made a few adjustments) that she ended up complaining on the Today show before taking her act to Dr. Phil, where Southwest execs gave her the obligatory apology and announced they would have a mini-fares sale in her honor.

Ebbert tells Playboy that she had always dreamed of appearing in the magazine and added that she was a member of the Mile High Club, having gotten some nookie in a private plane.

The Range, which has been closely following the story, took advantage of that mini-fares sale and booked a round-trip ticket to New York City for just more than $200. No complaints about the recent flight there or our week in Manhattan, where we had nonstop fun. (Muchas gracias to Tucson Weekly film critic James DiGiovanna for the shelter at his Brooklyn pad.)

But the flight home: not so good. Our flight--on ATA Airlines, a partner with Southwest--was delayed out of LaGuardia, so we were in no rush as we made our way through the lengthy checkpoint line. We ran our shoes, laptop, DVD player, new Nintendo Wii console, suitcase and computer bag through the X-ray machine and got pulled aside for a little extra inspection.

An hour after we got to the gate, we were told that we weren't going to make our connecting flight in Chicago, so we'd been kicked off the flight and would have to pick up our checked luggage and talk to a ticket agent.

ATA's initial suggestion was that we spend another night in New York and come back tomorrow--and, by the way, the airline wasn't going to pay for a hotel room, because it wasn't their fault there was so much air traffic. We turned down that fuckwitted suggestion and cajoled our way onto a flight that would get us as far as Phoenix.

So we got treated to another trip through the security checkpoint, where we once again took off our shoes and unloaded all of our electronic gadgets from our bags. Then we got even more good news: Since we had just purchased our ticket, we had been selected for an extra-special search of all our bags.

Long story short: We landed in Phoenix at 11:30 p.m. instead of Tucson at 9:30 p.m., and got home in a haze sometime after 1 a.m.

Elsewhere in the friendly skies: The Associated Press reports that US Airways has been denied a permit from the state of New Mexico to serve alcohol on its flights that pass through the state's airspace. The airline has been tangling with New Mexico since a drunk passenger got off a US Airways flight and killed himself and five other people in an auto collision.


Rocky Road

Speaking of travel: The State Transportation Board agreed to spend $1.5 million to add two lanes to the Lukeville Port of Entry to make it easier for Rocky Point turistas to get home from the beach. The funding is contingent on private parties putting up a million bucks and an agreement from the federal government to staff the additional booths.


Bear Down!

How 'bout those Wildcats? The struggling Arizona football team pulled off the upset of the year against the then-No. 2 Oregon Ducks, winning 34-24 at home. With the win, the Cats improved to 5-6 overall and 4-4 in Pac-10 play, keeping their thin postseason hopes alive.

Meanwhile, the men's basketball team opened up the season with a narrow 76-69 win over Northern Arizona University, only to fall to Virginia 75-72 later in the week. Assistant coach Kevin O'Neill continues to fill in for Lute Olson, who is on an enigmatic "personal leave of absence."

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