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Denver Improv Festival – My Trip, Day 3

Our travels took Kelly and me beyond the Denver metro area to Castle Rock to shop for jeans and books at their famed Outlet Mall. While the Vans outlet store apparently no longer exists (it’s where I bought all of my shoes from 2002-2005, including the shoes I’m wearing now… which says a lot about how infrequently I buy shoes, now that I think about it), they had a Borders outlet store with a lot of closeout books. I picked up The Great Gatsby unabridged on CD for a dollar, a $20 book of over-sized posters from The Simpsons, and a copy of Best American Short Stories 2007 (edited by Stephen King), and now have a copy of nearly every year’s volume going back to 1999. Kelly picked up an autobiography, Multiple Bles8ings by Jon & Kate Gosselin (with Beth Carlson who, with apologies to Jon and Kate, probably did quite a bit of the writing). It’s the story of a couple who had twins and sextuplets and who are the subject of Kelly’s new “favorite” TLC TV show, Jon and Kate Plus Eight. I call anything Kelly likes her “favorite” thing, even if it’s not. That’s how I roll.

I also saw a new anthology of 70 short stories since 1970 that looked interesting (it has a lot of the Scribner Anthology in it), as well an older edition of the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction for only $2.99. I was really tempted to pick it up, but my luggage is already pushing the 50-pound limit at 48 pounds (mostly thanks to my ukulele amp), so I left the heavy tome on the shelf. Frontier’s already charging $15 per checked bag, one-way, and I don’t feel like having it jump up to $25 by surpassing the 50-pound mark; that would make the Norton book $13 and at that price I might as well buy it at home or online (addendum: a quick Amazon check lists Norton as $44 and up, so maybe I missed out).

We continued south and visited the Garden of the Gods, one of my favorite geological anomalies I’ve ever visited. I haven’t been there since I was in high school, but it was as beautiful as ever.Here are some photos we took:

Finally, we headed to see my cousin, Kris, and his wife, Janette, in Colorado Springs. We had some dinner, looked at photos from their trip to China, gossiped about the family, and played the terrible, terrible Wii video game that is Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? I’ll tell you who I am smarter than – the programmers who decided this product was finished and ready for consumers to plunk down money to buy (luckily, it was merely a rental). We forgot to bring our extra Wii-motes and our copy of our latest Wii game addiction, Boom Blox, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Remember, 50-pound luggage weight limit.

This morning I graded essays (yay!), Kelly slept in (yay!), we drove the Charger north (meh), and ended up back in Denver. I’m writing this in our room at the downtown Hampton Inn where Joe Bill is also staying; I know because we bumped into each other in the lobby, where handshakes and bear hugs were to be had. Joe’s one of those guys who’s been around the Chicago improv scene forever, plus the national improv scene for as long as I can remember. His classes will change your improv, his shows will inspire your improv, and his down-to-earth personality really helps eliminate any perceived “guru status” stigma. I’m looking forward to seeing his shows this weekend.

I did tech rehearsal at the Bovine Metropolis for the Denver Improv Festival and saw several familiar faces from back in the day. Ryan Williams and Chris Wolf are Curds Only, the group I’m sharing the bill with for tomorrow night’s 7:30pm show. Ryan’s been in Chicago for a year and it sounds like good things are happening, while Chris served as tech for the Improv Hootenanny back when Rick and I were doing regular shows here. I’ve improvised with both of these guys before, they’re cool and talented. I also re-met Jean Schuman and Jon Lannen. I say re-met because I know I met them, albeit briefly, way back when they were in a high school improv troupe called Spontaneous Combustion. They’re producing the festival and these two are far more pumped and charged up than anything, and that feeling is both palpable and infectious. Finally, I bumped into Eric Farone, owner of the Bovine Metropolis Theater. Eric and his wife, Denise, have done a lot to put Denver improv on the map and his theater space appears ready for some insane improv action this weekend.

That’s it for today. Kelly and I are heading out to dinner and an evening of improv. I’ll keep you posted.

-nm

Your Friday Recommendation #22

I’m a “film guy.” You know that person in your life who is really, really into movies? They talk about camera angles or maybe throw out terms like “diegetic music” or even own a few art house films on DVD? For many people in my life, I’m their “film guy.” They know I have a love for and a wealth of knowledge about the movies, and they can always come to me for who starred in what, when what was made, and learn more about the craft that goes into making a brilliant film.

What they don’t know is I still haven’t seen Casablanca.

That’s right. Casablanca, often considered one of the greatest films of all time. Casablanca, the film that brought all the best cast members of The Maltese Falcon back together for an equally-compelling story. Casablanca, the film that has been quoted, parodied, emulated, and studied quite possibly more than any other film in history. Yes, that Casalanca. I haven’t seen it. People are floored to hear that and their estimation of me as a “film guy” wavers just a little. No matter how often I tout the greatness of Bicycle Thieves or sit people down to experience The Seven Samurai, this glaring oversight in my viewing repertoire is too obvious a gap in my film experience. But that’s what this week’s recommendation is all about.

This week or weekend, your recommendation is to take time out to start reading that novel or short story, watch that movie, listen to that record, or otherwise experience that piece of art that is the definitive glaring oversight in your ability to claim status. You know Literature with a capital “L” but you haven’t read The Great Gatsby? Shame on you and your high school English department – get to work! You claim to be the “rock-n-roll” expert in your group of friends but have yet to experience Hendrix? Get thee to a used CD shop! You know movies but haven’t seen Casablanca, Bicycle Thieves, The Seven Samurai, The Maltese Falcon, or the cinematic genius that is Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure? Get. Cracking.

I have plans to watch Casablanca with my wife this week (her copy – she’s seen it a dozen times). Maybe then I can win back my “film guy” status. Maybe next week I’ll try to bone up on my capital “L” Literature knowledge by reading my first Robert Owen Butler novel or see if Catcher in the Rye is right for me or maybe even tackle The Grapes of Wrath.

As for you, what’s your missing link? What haven’t you yet experienced but you know you need to for a fuller understanding of the art you so desperately desire to know and love?

-nm