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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


This morning, for the second time in three days, I heard the sickening sound of brakes squealing followed by the crushing of fiberglass and metal.
A "fender-bender" as it were.
I didn't happen to be looking out the window when either of the accidents happened, but it was pretty easy to tell what had happened in each of the cases:
1) One or both of the drivers were driving too fast.
2) One or both of the drivers were impatiently attempting to turn across traffic or change lanes or perform some other maneuver that would have been significantly easier to perform by applying the brake first and waiting a few seconds rather than pressing the accelerator and "beat" the other drivers on the road.
3) Cell phones and other distractions were involved.

Luckily, no one appeared to have been hurt. (The real pain will come later from the insurance companies.) Still, between these two accidents, roughly seven people -- who had been in something of a hurry to get where they were going --were held up for roughly an hour to an hour-and-a-half before they could continue on their way to their destinations.
Piglets, if you want the whole spiel again, you will find it here, but I will re-iterate. Driving fast and recklessly does not save you as much time as you think, and, in some cases, can make you even later. Plan ahead. Leave early. And, if you're running late, then be late. I guarantee you that you won't make up the time on the road.
>The cell phone is a marvelous invention. It is. I find mine to be terribly convenient, and I feel very secure knowing that my eighteen-year-old baby sister has her cell phone with her as she begins her freshman year of college in Boulder.
I have also found the cell phone useful for calling ahead to let someone know that I'm running late, or to ask my roommate if I should stop by the grocery store on the way home for toilet paper or other essentials. If, however, you are using your cell phone in your car for other than a few seconds at a red light, you are endangering yourself and the others around you on the road.
>Turn signals aren't a courtesy, they are an essential part of inter-driver communication.
>If you like the color and shape of your car, give the person ahead of you a little distance.

Come on cherubs, you know this.
Whether you believe that we are what we are as a result of evolution or intelligent design or Divine will, you have to admit one thing:
We're smarter than this.

The life you save just might be your own, or, more importantly, mine.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Go To The Hills . . .

Speaking of old chestnuts . . .
Actually, the only reason I ever complain about "yet another" production of The Sound of Music, is the propensity of community theatres to pool together a bunch of cute kids and do it badly.
This is not something that I think anyone need fear from the upcoming Labor-Day weekend production by the Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge, Colorado. First, the Backstage has a stellar record (under Artistic Directors like the incomparable Wendy Moore, the innovative Jeremy Cole, and the current masterful A.D.'ship of Chris Willard) for quality live entertainment in the Rockies.
Second, this production is helmed by my friend J. Scott Lubinski, the director of last year's stunning The Robber Bridegroom at Metro State College of Denver. (I may have mentioned it once or twice.)
Additionally, this production will feature the two leads from that Bridegroom production, Ben Cowhick and Courtney Capek (remember that name, I'm telling you) as Rolf and Liesl.
The Riverwalk outdoor amphitheatre, nestled in the heart of the Rockies, is a truly exceptional place to watch a live musical, and this promises to be an exceptional production.
Look, too, for Breckenridge-area favorites Glen Graber, Gail Westwood, and my buddy Steve Collins to round out the talented ensemble.
The Sound of Music runs only one weekend, so make your plans now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

School's In

It's that time of year: millions of students, young and old, descend upon campuses of higher learning around the world with shiny new backpacks, packages of ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils, a full rainbow of highlighter pens and criminally over-priced textbooks. (Honestly! $100 for a paperback textbook less than a half-inch thick! Is anybody regulating this?)
What this means for we aficionados of theatre is an opportunity to see a selection of plays and musicals outside of the usual commercially-viable community productions performed by young and hungry thespians who haven't even yet begun to be jaded by the idea of balancing a day job with yet another audition for Grease or I Hate Hamlet.
You see, most universities and colleges have a budget for production that is independent (somewhat) of ticket revenue. Since most schools make their productions available to their students at no cost (apart from the multitude of mysteriously-acronymed fees), they are less concerned with choosing shows that are proven commercially-viable old chestnuts. College theatre is an opportunity to see productions of those shows that we often hear about but seldom see because of a (justifiable) timidity on the part of artistic directors who actually have to ensure that they can make their nut.
Additionally, a ticket to a college production can often be paid for with the booty found in the cushions of your living room couch. (Seriously! I once paid for a Metro State show with four unmatched buttons and half a Twix bar!)
So, in addition to checking the Colorado Theatre Guild website for upcoming theatre fare, don't forget to drop in on the websites for schools like Metro, CUs both Boulder and Denver, Colorado State, DU, UNC, and the numerous community colleges in our area. Admittedly, though, many of these schools are not as diligent as they could be about updating their performing arts calendars, so watch the local papers as well. It's not always as easy to find college shows as community theatre shows (almost none of the budget is spent on promotion outside of the campuses), but the extra effort in unearthing these shows is almost always well worth the trouble. I'll help out as much as I can, too, and, as always, feel free to use the comments sections here to promote upcoming productions and help me to spread the word.
Welcome back students, support local theatre, and, remember, nobody actually borrows a pen. Just kiss it goodbye and chalk up the good Karma points in your head.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Airtight Advice

The other day my best friend Billie Jo and I were walking through a parking lot when we saw a woman changing a flat tire. I started to walk over to see if I could be of any assistance, but just then I saw her give the "wave-off" to someone else who was offering help. She appeared to have everything quite in hand.
Billie Jo asked me if it looked like she needed any help, and I said, "No. It looks like she's got it under control, and it looks like she'd prefer not to be 'rescued' by anybody else."
Billie Jo then commented that she didn't know how to change a flat tire herself.
I guess maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. I think that I was about ten when my Dad first showed me which end of a lug wrench was which, but that rite of passage doesn't always happen for girls. I will spend this weekend giving Billie Jo a brief, hands-on tire-changing workshop, because I do not like the prospect that a mere puncture might leave my best friend stranded by the side of the road.
If you know how to change a tire, I highly suggest that you poll your "circle" (female and male) to make sure everyone knows how to use a jack, a lug wrench, and a tire gauge. If not, you should show them as soon as you can.
If you don't know how to change a tire, here are a couple of resources that may help you:
First, an article from Popular Mechanics magazine that I think is very useful and full of several helpful hints that even I didn't know about, and I've had a lot of flats.
Second, here's a video demonstration of tire-changing procedure from

If I may add something to these tutorials, I would like to say, too, that you should recognize when it's okay to try to change the tire yourself, and when it's better to call for roadside assistance. (AAA is reliable and inexpensive.) In heavy snow or rain or late at night in a questionable area are times when it is probably best to just sit in your car and wait for a professional with a tow-truck to arrive.

Be prepared. Be smart. Be safe.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Music: Dean Martin - Forever Cool

It's funny how at different points in my life I have found myself drawn to the music of different members of the Rat Pack. When I was in high school and feeling like a bit of an outsider, I most closely identified with Sammy Davis Jr. and "I Gotta Be Me."
In my "angry young man" phase (which, admittedly, I may not have quite cleared just yet) I was pulled by the alternately aggressive and mournful vocal stylings of Frank Sinatra and his, "as soon as I finish this song I'm gonna put somebody's head through a wall" attitude.
Now, though, as I'm finally (if reluctantly) beginning to accept myself as part of the adult world, I now feel most at home listening to Dino and his "lighter-than-air" and "devil-may-care" crooning.
Now, being a bit of a purist, I was a little reluctant about the new album, Forever Cool, released by Capitol Records that combines original tracks of Dean (a la Natalie Cole singing with Nat King Cole) with new recordings by contemporary artists like Chris Botti, Joss Stone, and Kevin Spacey. (Yes, that Kevin Spacey.)
Upon reflection, though, I realized that this was just the sort of thing that Dino would have done if he were still with us today. (Well, on earth. Dino's always with us, I believe.) Dean loved to sing with performers from all different backgrounds on his long-running television variety show, so it is perhaps fitting that he's been paired posthumously (and reverently) with the other artists on this album.
So I bought the album. I walked into a music store, grabbed the CD, and put my money on the counter. I didn't download it off the internet. You don't download Dean, you know?
Well, it's an amazing album, and I'd be hard-pressed to find a bad pairing for these "duets" (and, surprisingly enough, the two numbers with Kevin Spacey just might be my favorites. Time will tell.).
It's a great album to add to your Rat Pack collection or it's also a great CD to introduce yourself to the coolest man to ever hold a microphone, Dean Martin.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hungry Like the Wolf: Donuts!!!!

Hello, cherubs.
I just wanted to take a quick moment to throw a shout out to my favorite little donut shop in Denver:
Walton's Donuts, located at 6603 Leetsdale Drive, bakes up some of the best donuts I have tasted in a long, long time: old-fashioneds, raised, cake, you name it.
Plus, they have a couple of homemade-style breakfast sandwiches that put the fast-food counterparts to shame.
I myself have decided to incorporate more fruit into my diet, so I'm happy to say that they have an apple fritter to die for on their menu. (That counts. I'm sure it does.)
Walton's Donuts is in the little strip mall next to the 7-11 at Monaco and Leetsdale. They're open from 5am to 3pm Monday through Saturday, so stop in some morning and give them a try.
Just save a couple of the blueberry cake donuts for me. (Hey! More fruit!)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Movies: Stardust

I took in an advanced screening of this movie last night, and I must say that it was everything that I expected it would be. I won't go so far as to call it a "rip-off," though there are a couple of threads on the IMDb boards that do just that.
A boy (Charlie Cox) with a mysterious background wants to impress a girl (Sienna Miller) by retrieving a fallen star for here from a magical land. The star is, in fact, a beautiful young woman (Claire Danes), and she is also pursued by a witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) who wants to cut out her heart to achieve immortality.
By most movie standards, this is an unconventional plot, but for those of us into sci-fi and fantasy, it's a bit of the "same ol', same old."

However, I should also point out that this movie was also considerably more than I expected.
It is immeasurably clever in its dialogue and sight gags. It avoids melodrama and hokeyness. It even dodges most cliches, and, in so doing, elicits quite a few solid belly laughs.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think Stardust just might be the next Princess Bride. (And from me, that's really saying something.) There's no "Inigo Montoya" speech, but there are a few one-liners you'll be repeating to your friends afterwards.
In a summer sea of "so-so" adventure movies, this one is a breed apart. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to see it for free, but I'd pay to see it again.
Pulled the old "bait-and-switch" on you, didn't I? Well, it keeps me entertained, so I make no apologies.
For the still confused among you: I am recommending this movie. It opens this Friday. Go see it. It would be better, though, if you see a matinee show so that you can still squeeze in an evening performance of one of the currently running live theatrical shows here in town.
Among them:
PHAMALy's Urinetown: The Musical
The Avenue's I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
NextStage's Assassins
Paragon's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Okay, pork chops. All for now. Support local theatre.