Off Limits

The wisenheimers at Mighty Fudge Studios have released their latest assault on the Bush administration -- just in time for George W's fly-by visit to Colorado next week for a major Republican fundraiser and graduation speech at the Air Force Academy the next day (see "It Won't Fly" ).

The first installment of The Bobbleheads is more music video than cartoon, with the bobbling heads of Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld bopping to the Temptations' "I Can't Get Next to You." (Rummy "can build a castle from a single grain of sand," while Condy "can live forever if I so desired.") Watching the commotion are the stoic visages of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson -- all atop Mount Rushmore.

"You remember The Muppet Show?" asks Mighty Fudge founder Peter Mallek. "The two old grumpy characters sitting up in the balcony? Well, we're kind of doing that with the Mount Rushmore characters. They're going to talk and give their commentary on the Bush administration. The stone faces of our founding fathers against the bobbling heads of the current administration. The whole thing is silly."

But then, silly is Mallek's forte. The main character in his cartoons is Magnetic Squirrel, who, like Wile E. Coyote, is continually destroyed and resurrected while searching for acorns. There's also Ganjamon, star of the Ganjamon series, which Mallek showed before the 2001 screening of Cheech and Chong: Up in Smoke at the Boulder Outdoor Cinema -- "shooting fish in a barrel, really," he says. His Slimmy Jim character got him kicked out of that same festival later that year. At the organizers' request, he created a trailer to be shown before Blazing Saddles. Considering that movie's R rating, Mallek and his team came up with the tale of Slimmy Jim and had the Talking Penis ask audience members to turn off their cell phones and explain where the bathrooms were located. A few parents who'd brought their young children to see Blazing Saddles were none too happy (never mind the fart scene), and the festival politely asked the Boulder-based studio not to submit any more work.

But now Mallek's been reinstated, and he'll be showing Road Raged Rodent, starring Magnetic Squirrel, before Caddyshack on June 4, the opening night of the 2004 summer cinema season. The Spike and Mike Animated Film Festival also bought a film from Mighty Fudge this year, and producers of an off-Broadway musical are in discussions with Mallek to have the studio animate a portion of that New York show, à la Kill Bill.

But right now, Mallek's focusing on getting the next Bobblehead episode finished. "The Incredible Shrinking President" will take viewers inside the White House War Room for a dissection of Bush's falling poll numbers; the piece will probably feature Rice, since she's a popular figure with the four writers Mallek has on contract.

"This is our breakout year," he says. "We just had our fifth anniversary and launched our new series. We've got work coming at us from every direction; I'm taking calls from every direction. We're doing more videos since we did the Dressy Bessy video, and we're in negotiations with Spike and Mike to do some projects specifically for them. As Hunter Thompson says, 'When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.' So I guess it's time to turn pro."

Most likely to exceed: ...who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses' rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too

who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basements hungover with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemployment office...

who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity,

who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes...

No, this was not your typical high-school graduation speech. But then, the Denver School of the Arts is not your typical high school, either. So when three seniors from the creative-writing department chose to read Allen Ginsberg's iconic 1956 poem Howl at last Saturday's ceremony, no one was about to snuff out their creativity. This was, after all, the school that had elected a gay male Prom Queen (with his definite consent) a few weeks before -- and while a killjoy parent or two vowed to picket the Class of 2004 Commencement Exercises in protest, the show went on. And on...until finally, after the seniors received their diplomas, it ended with a lusty cry from class president Patrick Roth: "God Save the Queen!"

Denver has plenty of heroes at this school.

Ghost busters! By this fall, the building that once housed Olinger Mortuary will be showing signs of life.

Paul Tamburello and Stephanie Garcia bought the Highland landmark for just under $1 million in 2002, intending to turn the place into a bastion of new urbanism. They spent much of last year in talks to turn part of the nearly 18,000-square-foot space into a nightclub, but that idea fell through. Now the duo is focusing on offices and retail.

"We have two coffeehouse-restaurants that are going to come in," Tamburello says. "We're really excited, because it looks like Pasquini's is one of the restaurants." The next installment of the pizza joint that started out on South Broadway is scheduled to open in late September or early October, as is Rocky Mountain Perk and Pub.

"We only have two bays leased, so we're left with about a little over half," Tamburello says. "We're hoping for service-oriented stuff, like dry-cleaning drop-off and some sort of retail. Maybe a small shop, something similar to Posh, up on 32nd and Lowell. We're also looking at some Thai food, since there's no Thai food anywhere around here."

And if there's any room to spare, maybe space could be devoted to a history exhibit on the famous bodies that passed through Olinger's doors, including that of Checkers Smaldone and Buffalo Bill Cody.

That's Slinky, not stinky: Back in 2001, when City Librarian Rick Ashton wanted to get Denver Public Library employees prepared for some big changes ahead, he strongly suggested they read Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese, featuring mice Sniff and Scurry.

But now we learn that change is nothing to sniff at. Change Is Like a Slinky: 30 Strategies for Promoting and Surviving Change in Your Organization is the newest volume by local author Hans Finzel, author of the popular (really) Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make.

"I like the Slinky because it has so many characteristics that exemplify an organization that is open to change," says Finzel, who is CEO of CB International, an international relief and development nonprofit based in Littleton. "It bends so easily, and I've come to observe that to the resilient belong the spoils. The only organizations that are thriving today are resilient; they're flexible, they change. So I started looking at the Slinky, and see how you have to push it to get it started, like shooting the Slinky down the stairs? Once it gets going, sometimes it gets stuck and somebody has to unstuck it. Change programs often get stuck. They take time, people, meetings, money, so, like the Slinky, you have to push at it again."

And again. "Change is unpredictable," he adds. "When you launch a change program, you really don't know where things are going to end up. When you send the Slinky cascading down the stairs, you don't know where it's going to finish. My employees always ask me where are we going to land when we're done with all the changes, and I say I don't know. They don't like that, but the future is unpredictable."

Fair warning, librarians: The DPL has Change Is Like a Slinky on order.


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