The lowly limerick is "the Rodney Dangerfield of poetry," according to the Limerick o' the Day Web page. "Limericks proudly broke into what had been the one unbroachable frontier in proper English society: smut." Smut is in the ear of the beholder, of course -- and there was plenty of smut poured into those orifices back in Elizabethan days, when limericks ranged from bawdy street songs to suggestive snippets in Shakespeare's plays.
Still, the book that inspired the century-strong limerick craze, Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense, first published in London in 1846, was a relatively wholesome exercise. Here, for example, is one of Lear's creations:
There was a Young Lady whose chin
Resembled the point of a pin:
So she had it made sharp,
And purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.
Compare that with Limerick o' the Day's offering for August 1, 2001:
A girl from Shanghai had a ball
With the whole Eighth Army last fall.
She was screwed, with a smile,
Seven times every mile,
The full length of the Chinese Great Wall.
Limerick o' the Day has yet to post its selection for August 1, 2003, but there are bound to be some contenders when Celebrity Literary Limericks kick off the nineteenth annual Rocky Mountain Antiquarian Book Fair, a benefit for Colorado library services to children's literacy programs, today and tomorrow at the Denver Merchandise Mart. In the center ring from 4 to 6 p.m this afternoon: Mellifluous new city auditor Dennis Gallagher, who will face off against author and razor-wit John Dunning in the "Duel of the Limericks." (Dunning's something of a ringer in this contest, because he'll be selling his signed and limited-edition book, The Bookman's Limericks.) Authors Diane Mott Davidson, Robert Greer, Sandra Dallas, Dick Kreck and Westword's own Robin Chotzinoff will also prove that verse can come to worse.
Other fair activities include close to a hundred exhibitors; demonstrations of printing, papermaking and bookbinding; a children's read-aloud program; and panels discussing everything from "Children's Books to Cherish" to "From Walden Pond to the Monkey Wrench Gang." The fair is open from 5 to 9 p.m. August 1 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. August 2. Admission is $6, or $10 for a two-day pass that includes Celebrity Literary Limericks. For more information, call 303-480-0220
Go, and have the rhyme of your life. -- Patricia Calhoun
First Friday sets the stage
Anyone who lived in Uptown ten years ago knows that it's a changed neighborhood. Something lively is happening there, between Colfax and 23rd avenues, from York Street to Broadway, where toney new high-density housing developments and businesses flourish; on a summer's night, there are plenty of people on the streets, and they're not the types who beg for handouts in preparation for sleeping under a tree along Park Avenue. Uptown entrepreneurs Barbara Macfarlane and Pete Marczyk have their fingers on that pulse: Their hallowed gourmet market, Marczyk Fine Foods, 770 East 17th Avenue, already celebrates outdoor-eating weather on Friday nights, hosting wood-fired burger picnics, sometimes with a live bluegrass band as a condiment, for anyone hungry who comes strolling by. "We have community tables out front, and people sit together who don't even know each other," Marczyk says. "So we asked ourselves, 'How can we do something similar, in a more focused fashion?'"
The answer? First Fridays in Uptown were born in June, went on a furlough for the Fourth of July, and are back tonight from 5 to 7 p.m., offering something a little different from the First Friday art walks other Denver neighborhoods tout each month. Make it a destination, and you'll find everything from Marczyk's burger blowouts to happy hour specials at restaurants and coffeehouses up and down what Marczyk calls Denver's "gourmet ghetto"; there's even free folk-dancing at the Temple Events Center. You won't get a better slice of urban life anywhere, and Marczyk's is a good place to start; log on to www.marczyk.com. Susan Froyd
Some people stress over turning forty, fifty or even sixty. They should consider the state of Colorado, which gracefully turns 127 years young today. And to celebrate Colorado's statehood anniversary, the Colorado History Museum and the Byers-Evans House Museum are opening their doors to the public for free today and tomorrow for Colorado Day. Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., both museums (along with the State Capitol building), are offering free guided tours that run for about thirty minutes. The Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, is also offering family activities that include panning for gold, Native American dance demonstrations, arts-and-crafts projects and a Colorado trivia wheel. The Byers-Evans House Museum, situated a few blocks west at 1310 Bannock Street, will feature horse-drawn-wagon rides, an ice cream social and more.
"We're trying to build a little more awareness that we are the Centennial state," says Julie Wedding, spokeswoman for the event. "We want to give people the opportunity to learn a little bit more about our state's history through fun activities."
For details and a complete schedule, visit www.coloradohistory.org or call 303-866-3682. Happy birthday, Colorado! -- Julie Dunn
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Tea lovers can soak up this festival
If you're looking to expand your knowledge of tea, a much-revered liquid that has elicited passionate feelings in everyone from Buddhist monks to Revolutionary War fighters, head to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse for this weekend's fifth annual Rocky Mountain Tea Festival. Brewing today and tomorrow, the festival features several classes at $10 a pop, including Tea Basics 101, Tea Leaf Reading and Red Tea: The South African Wonder Herb. "You can learn the difference between Oolong tea and green tea," says Jerry Manning, the teahouse's general manager. "People come from all over the country for this event."
A four-course dinner will be offered from 5 to 10 p.m. tonight for $35 per person; reservations are recommended. A Fairy Garden Children's Tea Party, $5 per child, will be held three times tomorrow, and reservations are required. Other events include a Japanese Tea Ceremony and a Tea Bazaar with free tea tastings.
Located at 1770 13th Street in Boulder, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, which was transported from Tajikistan, is worth the drive just to have a glass of soothing tea. For a complete schedule, visit www.boulderdushanbeteahouse.com or call 303-442-4993. -- Julie Dunn