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Best Of :: People & Places

Best Historic Colorado Prank

It wasn't that funny in 1873, when Alfred Packer killed and ate his fellow prospectors after they became stranded in a snowstorm near Lake City. But, as they say, pain plus time equals humor. Today, Alfred (the historically accurate spelling) Packer is a macabre local celebrity, remembered in song and film and at the Alferd G. Packer Memorial Grill in Boulder. His actual gravesite is in the Littleton Cemetery, where teens regularly stole it in the 1960s and '70s. Eventually, the U.S. Department of Defense got tired of replacing the marble marker (since Packer was a veteran, the agency paid for it), so the cemetery encased the marker in cement. The current stone is chipped from the last time someone tried to take it, but the cemetery has one remaining replacement, just in case anyone decides to resurrect this prank.

Best Move by Leadville

Leadville doesn't get a lot of attention these days — so the adopted home town of Jihad Jamie Paulin-Ramirez really didn't appreciate being labeled "nothing to write home about" and a "dirtball town" by a local reporter characterizing the place for Fox. Local lawmakers fought back by offering to host "A Day in a Dirtball Town" that would include tours of Leadville's art galleries and historic sites — including spots visited by Oscar Wilde in 1882. And he did write home about the town, reporting at one saloon, "I saw the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across. Over the piano was printed a notice — 'Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best.'"

Best Actual Reality-TV Star From Colorado

When America voted Lilly Scott off this season's American Idol, our hearts sank. Scott, a Littleton resident who previously fronted the band Varlet, was a breath of fresh air on a show otherwise known for churning out (with a very few exceptions) a steady parade of unmemorable artists who, in turn, produce mainstream pabulum. And while we were being unrealistically optimistic to think she'd make the finals, we couldn't help pulling for Scott. For the first time in years, she made Idol worth watching. We couldn't wait to see what songs she'd pick next: From "Lullaby of Birdland" to "Fixing a Hole" to "A Change Is Gonna Come" to "I Fall to Pieces," she kept things interesting. But that last song eventually proved to be her undoing; Scott's voice, which recalls Joanna Newsom's, was a bit too much for most folks. Your loss, America.

Best Radio Talk-Show Host

Now that texting while driving is illegal in Colorado, the legislature really should do something about drivers who listen to Caplis & Silverman while behind the wheel between 3 and 6 p.m. This odd couple of the airwaves can be dangerously distracting. While you're wondering just why former DA Craig Silverman doesn't execute a citizen's arrest for Caplis's shameless boosting of the University of Colorado, for example, you could wipe out a fleet of RTD buses. Still, it's almost impossible not to tune into their show during rush hour, and the impressive lineup of guests they book apparently all feel the same inevitable pull, because just about every politician and newsmaker in the state winds up yakking with these talk-show hosts.

Best TV Sportscaster

He's still finding his voice on morning radio, and his attempt to click with players sometimes comes off a little shmoozy. Still, Channel 4 sports anchor Vic Lombardi overcomes these and any other faults you might be muttering about with his undeniable natural knowledge and feel for Denver sports. He was born with it: He's a native of Denver's north side and interned with the station as a student. But he balances his obvious fandom with honest, astute observations and a geniality that oozes from your flat-screen.

Best Scale Model ? Canned Goods Division

Colorado's real capitol dome is in trouble. It is rusting, rotting and cracking, and fixing it will cost millions. But a scale model of the building, made entirely of canned goods, is doing just fine. Located inside the dome museum — known as Mr. Brown's Attic — the replica is a version of one originally created for the 2004 People's Fair by Intergroup Architects of Littleton as part of Canstruction, a yearly contest held by the Society for Design Administration. Made from a variety of containers, including soup and tomato sauce cans and sardine tins, it's topped by a plastic water bottle. Canstruction projects are typically built as fundraisers, and the food is then donated to food banks, but this one is on permanent display — which may be more than we can say for the real thing.

Best Beer for Drinking in Politics

It's not easy to smooth over the rocky road of race relations. Luckily, the nation has Blue Moon, a smooth, Belgian-style wheat beer first brewed in 1995 inside Coors Field at what is now called the Blue Moon Brewing Company at the Sandlot. And when President Barack Obama held his now-famous beer-diplomacy session last summer on the White House lawn with Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge, Massachusetts, police Sergeant James Crowley, Blue Moon was Crowley's brew of choice. Whether it's baseball or politics, Blue Moon makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Best Move by Aspen

Think Aspen's snooty? Well, you're not alone. To change both perception and reality, Aspen has adopted an "Adopt a Tourist" program, in which residents play host to visitors. Several Aspenites have signed on to make nice; sadly, none of them are Kurt Russell.

Best Post-American Idol Performance by a Colorado Contender

He didn't win season five of American Idol, but long-locked Boulder boy Ace Young landed the role of Berger, the leader of a band of '60s hippies, in the Broadway revival of Hair in March. And his hair wasn't the only thing hanging down in the infamous nude scene.

Best Radio DJ

Known almost as much for his afro as for his penchant for local music, Nerf still mans the fort at KTCL as both program director and afternoon-drive guy. Musicians should be glad he's stuck around; Nerf was an early champion of bands like the Fray and Meese, and he remains committed to pushing the scene. But he also does his bit for bad music, too: "Make It Stop," a 4:05 p.m. daily feature during which he plays a song that sucks and doesn't pull the plug until a caller correctly names the artist and title.

Best Hair on a TV Personality ? Male

Eric Kahnert, who joined the Channel 9 weekend team late last year from an NBC affiliate in Albuquerque, is young and serious — and very, very slick. In fact, he sports a mini-Ed Grimley oil-slick cowlick in front. It's a popular look these days: bed head for the post-college crowd.

Best LEGO Collection

Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory has nothing on NetDevil. The Louisville-based video-game company is developing LEGO Universe, an online game based on everybody's favorite building toy, and as part of its research, the toy manufacturer sent the outfit a sampling of some of the building blocks it would be working with. NetDevil now boasts in the vicinity of ten million LEGO bricks, one of the largest known collections in the world. Not surprisingly, the company's HQ is like a super-sized version of every kids' dream: LEGO models everywhere, video games stacked sky-high, energy-drink-guzzling techies zipping around the cavernous space on scooters. The bad news is that aside from VIPs and a handful of very lucky local school groups, very few outsiders have gotten a chance to see this stash. Still, when LEGO Universe comes out later this year, Coloradans can be content in the knowledge that the inspiration for this wacky online world is just down the road.

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Best Historic Colorado Prank: Stealing Alfred Packer's Gravestone

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