School is back in session — sorry, students; congratulations, parents — and before we know it, fall will be here, ushering in cooler weather and pumpkin spice everything. Whether you consider that good news or bad, we do still have a few precious weeks of summer to enjoy —and being geeks, let's enjoy them in geeky fashion, shall we? From anime conventions to zombie films, September offers nerd diversions aplenty, and here are ten of the month's best, presented in chronological order for easy planning purposes.
10) A Cluster of Cons
Good news! There are two cool cons this month! Bad news! They're both the same weekend. Boo! Luckily, they cover nicely differentiated areas of geekitude. If you consider yourself a gamer first and foremost, then Tacti-con is your destination. Board games, video games and pretty much any other kind of game you can play are the central focus, with a few other con standards like cosplay thrown in to make it a well-rounded geek meal. For those who prefer to spend their time and passion on anime, there's Nan Desu Kan, Denver's long-running anime and Japanese culture super show. Here you'll get a lot more cosplay, dances, an art show and, of course, oodles of anime programming and panels and even a little gaming. If you love both ... well, you could split your time, or maybe just go full on nerdrage and write a screed to the organizers exhorting them to coordinate better next year.
Get your game on at Tacti-con starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, September 3 and running through Sunday evening at the Radisson/Red Lion. For tickets and registration, visit the Gamers for Veterans website. Anime the weekend away at Nan Desu Kan starting at 1 p.m. Friday, September 4 through Sunday evening at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. Tickets are $50 for the weekend, or $30 for a day pass. For tickets and more info, visit the Nan Desu Kan website.
9) Star Wars Celebration
With the latest entry in the epic Star Wars saga just months away, it's time to get hyped! Give the kids a crash course in the canon of the galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, a book full of all the kind of esoteric Star Wars knowledge it takes to be a master Jedi/geek. Co-authors Adam Bray, Cole Horton and Michael Kogge will be on hand to present the book and sign copies for eager young padawans, as will be the one and only 501st Legion of local Stormtroopers in full regalia. Come in costume and be ready to answer Star Wars trivia to win fantastic prizes and get the kids super-amped for The Force Awakens.
8) Nightmares Unhinged Launch Party
A veritable who's-who of Colorado's best horror writers are featured in Nightmares Unhinged: Twenty Tales of Terror, an anthology of the kind of stuff that makes you afraid to turn off the light. With new tales of terror from Edward Bryant, Mario Acevedo, Warren Hammond, Jason Heller and many more, Nightmares will leave you afraid to go to sleep at night — or at least wishing there were even more stories, once you've finished it. To celebrate the launch of the book, a dozen of those authors — including all those just mentioned — along with Sleepaway Camp star Jonathan Tiersten, who contributed a blurb, will be at the Tattered Cover to sign the book.
The horror begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 9 at the Tattered Cover Colfax. Admission is free; the book is $12.99 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Rocky Mountain Cancer Assistance in honor of Melanie Tem. For more information, visit the Tattered Cover website.
7) Films on Tap: Face/Off
Within the milieu of action films, there are few films as insane — or as insanely entertaining — as John Woo's Face/Off. John Travolta and Nicolas Cage both turn in one-of-a-kind performances playing, in essence, each other, thanks to a screwball plot about face swaps and terrorist attacks and blah blah blah. Really, who cares about the plot? This is an excuse to see two scenery-chewing actors chew scenery while imitating the other, and goddamn if it isn't awesome. Throw in Woo's signature touches — doves, slo-mo gun ballet, a sense of subtlety that wouldn't feel out of place in a telenovela — and the fact that Films on Tap turns the whole thing into a drinking game, and you have a recipe for the ultimate in-theater action-movie experience.
Get your drink on and your Face/Off starting at 10 p.m. Friday, September 11 at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $11, or $8 for students/seniors and $7 for Denver Film Society members. For tickets and more info, visit the Face/Off event page of the Denver Film Society website.
6) Science Friction: Metropolis
Even if you've seen Metropolis — and let's face it, an alarming number of us haven't — you've never seen it quite like this. Science Friction — the monthly sci-fi series co-hosted by Hugo-award winner Jason Heller and Denver Comic Con co-founder Frank Romero — is bringing in local DJ Ultra Violet to provide a live turntablism score to this classic of retro futurism, dystopian class struggles and robots. The combination of the undeniable power and historical significance of Metropolis and Ultra Violet's eclectic turntablism will make for a truly unique evening of cinema.
5) Atom the Amazing Zombie Killer DVD Release Party
Denver's homegrown gross-out zombie comedy Atom the Amazing Zombie Killer is finally getting a DVD release, and Denver filmmakers Richard Taylor and Zack Beins are throwing a party to celebrate. The Tromaesque celebration of boobs, blood and bowling is gross, crude and thoroughly stupid, but if you've ever cheered for The Toxic Avenger or graduated as part of the Class of Nuke Em High, you'll feel right at home. Scatological humor, dimestore effects and completely gratuitous nudity are the order of the day, the perfect complement to a story of an everyman whose worst day ever includes a cheating girlfriend, a wicked head injury and a zombie apocalypse. Filmmakers Taylor and Beins will be on hand for a Q&A and the Alamo will offer a special, zombie-themed menu for the evening, plus you can pick up your very own copy of the film. (Please note that while this film is unrated, it is in no way, shape or form suitable for kids. Seriously.)
See Atom the Amazing Zombie Killer at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 17 at the Alamo Drafthouse. Tickets are $10.75. For tickets and additional info, visit the Atom the Amazing Zombie Killer DVD Release Party page.
4) The Creator's Beastival (of Doom)
Mile High Comics plays host to a benefit concert and mini con of some of Denver's greatest talent in comics, film, fashion and more. A host of punk and pop-punk bands headline the show, including King Rat, The Coast Is Ours, Lowjob and The Windermeres. Elsewhere, dozens of comic-book artists and other creatives will have tables set up, including Mile High Horror Film Festival, Bloodshed Deathbath Productions, artists Robert Elrod, Serana Rose and many more. Throw in the fact it's Daniel Crosier's birthday and proceeds go to the family of recently deceased Mile High Comics employee Rick Urso, and you have a hootenerdy (their word, not mine) that's both fun and for a great cause.
3) The Denver Animated Pixelshow
Catch up on what Denver's diverse animation community is up to at the third Denver Animated Pixelshow. From digital work to classic stop motion, every flavor of animation will be represented in short films ranging from the sublime to the silly. Presented by the Emerging Filmmakers Project, the festival is showcase of passion for animation in all its forms. All films are produced locally, and many of the filmmakers will be on hand to discuss their work and network with other filmmakers.
See the Denver Animated Pixelshow at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, September 20 at the Bug Theatre. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit the Denver Animated Pixelshow website or their Facebook event page.
2) Scream Screen: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Theresa Mercado's horror-lover's film series returns as the perfect warm-up to Halloween. This time around she tackles the giallo films of legendary Italian horror maestro Dario Argento. Kicking off the series is The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, the director's 1970 debut about a serial killer stalking young women and the American writer who bears witness to one of his crimes. It's a strong debut that launched Argento's career and helped lay the groundwork for his fantastic career.
See The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, on 35mm, at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, September 24 at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $11, or $8 for students/seniors and $7 for Denver Film Society members. For tickets and more info, visit The Bird with the Crystal Plumage event page of the Denver Film Society website.
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1) Magic: The Gathering Battle for Zendikar prerelease
The newest expansion for Magic: The Gathering, the world's most popular trading-card game, is hitting shelves this month, and that means it's pre-release time. We're about to return to the adventure world Zendikar, one of the game's most popular settings, to battle the huge, ancient Eldrazi who are quickly devouring the world itself. Magic's pre-release tournaments are among its most casual events, meaning they're a odd way to dip your toe into the water of competitive play, even if you're a total noob. Heck, especially if you're a total noob, since the fall set marks the start of a new cycle, making this a great place to jump in. If you've been playing the digital Duels of the Planeswalkers on your computer or console and wondering if it's time to make the jump to the actual card game, this is how to do it.
September 26-27, various locations. Price may vary, but expect to spend about $30, which nets you six packs of cards plus a special promo card. For more information, check out the official Magic: The Gathering website, and find a location near you with Wizards of the Coast's store locator.