Devilish Adventure

SAT, 1/24

Head to the land Down Under at today's screening of In Search of the Tasmanian Devil, with John Nelson, shown as part of the Macky Auditorium Travel Film Series. "Tasmania is a place that a lot of people don't go to when they visit Australia, but it's a very unusual and beautiful island," explains Nelson. "This is a travel-adventure film, but I tried to keep it lighthearted and humorous."

In Search of the Tasmanian Devil details the 88-kilometer bush walk that Nelson and his wife, Renee, made across the island last year. The couple backpacked from the seaside city of Launceston through Cradle Mountain National Park, a designated World Heritage site, in search of the black carnivorous marsupials. "Tasmanian devils are extremely difficult to find in their natural state because they're nocturnal," says Nelson.

Scientifically known as Sarcophilus harrisii, Tasmanian devils usually grow to be only about the size of a small dog, but the elusive creatures are known for being extremely vicious. "Pound for pound, they have the most powerful jaws of any animal," says Nelson, "and they can be very ferocious, which is why the early settlers gave them the nickname Tasmanian devil. Obviously, it stuck."

Nelson's eighty-minute film will screen at 3 p.m. in Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado's Boulder campus. The final two flicks in the travel series are Israel Today, which will be shown on February 21 and narrated by filmmaker Fran Reidelberger, and Mike Shiley's Amazing Thailand, which will screen on April 10.

"It's a pretty informal setting, where filmmakers come here in person to narrate their films," says Kristin Anderson, director of the auditorium and coordinator of the series. "I think that In Search of the Tasmanian Devil is going to appeal to a lot of people because it's a different type of film for us. I just hope people are not expecting to see Looney Tunes."

Tickets, $8 for adults and $7 for students and seniors, can be purchased in advance in Macky Room 104, or at the door. For further information, call 303-492-8423 or check out -- Julie Dunn

Soviet images break down barriers
MON, 1/26

One thing about the defunct Iron Curtain: It was effective. Our looks behind it were rare, and as denizens of the so-called free world, Americans could only guess what life was really like in the Soviet Union. Yet throughout his long career, which spanned much of the twentieth century, Dimitri Baltermants was able to photograph the Soviet milieu on every level: As a photojournalist, he recorded wartime suffering and post-war working-class life, and as an official photographer for the Kremlin, he documented the loftier world of Communist Party movers and shakers. His vast portfolio, which includes portraits of Soviet leaders from Stalin to Gorbachev, mostly escaped the international eye until the '60s, due to hard-line party censorship. But Baltermants served as photo editor for the popular newsmagazine Ogonyok from 1945 until his death, in 1990, and he was posthumously "rediscovered" with a 1992 retrospective at the International Center for Photography in New York. Here in Colorado, glasnost has finally arrived: Dimitri Baltermants: Images of the Soviet Union, a stunning exhibit from both historical and photographic perspectives, opens today in Fort Collins at Colorado State University's Hatton Gallery, with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. In addition, Alison Smith, assistant professor of Russian and Soviet history, will provide a historical viewpoint of the imagery at a gallery talk at noon on February 4. The show continues through March 5 at the gallery, in the Visual Arts Building on the CSU campus; for information, call 1-970-491-6774. -- Susan Froyd

The Sound of Money
FRI, 1/23

How do you solve a problem like Maria? If she's wearing a cape and flipping off the audience, you let her be. She's just part of the fun of Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, the interactive experience that brings together fans of the Julie Andrews shlockfest to parade in insane costumes, hoot at the evil Nazis and, of course, sing along to all of the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs that made this musical a Broadway bash and then a big Hollywood hit. The Sing-A-Long concept debuted in London a few years ago, became a cult classic and made its way to Denver last year, where the final show drew 1,200 people. Now it's back, with Thom Wise once again playing the master -- or would that be mistress? -- of ceremonies, dressed as a very superior mother. "I won't be letting just any ol' nuns on stage," Wise says, "so try and stretch your creativity with regard to costumes. The best ones were the more obscure ones -- like the lady who illustrated 'When you sing, you begin with A, B, C' and the woman who came covered with postcards of Salzburg, including a pic of her with Julie Andrews. We all got on our knees and worshiped her."

Worship services begin at 7 p.m. tonight at the Paramount Theatre, with a second one at 7 p.m. tomorrow and a final matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday. Reserved seats are $21; admission is $15 for seniors and children under twelve. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, at 303-830-TIXS or at -- Patricia Calhoun

Jess E. DuBois has been creating vibrant art for fifty years

On Monday, Martin Luther King Day, Jess E. DuBois was sitting at his booth by portal 16 in the Denver Coliseum, near other booths selling holster-shaped cell-phone holders and 3-D crystals, wearing his Marine cap to greet the throngs coming to the National Western Stock Show. Sure, DuBois's space had the usual jewelry and ice scrapers, but the real draw was his art -- bronzes and paintings almost as colorful as his Cherokee, African-American, Italian and French heritage. A native of Five Points, where he still lives and paints every day, DuBois graduated from Manual High School fifty years ago and went on to study art at the University of Colorado and the Colorado Institute of Art, working on his own vision of the West. He's been coming to the Stock Show for fifteen years now, but this is not the only venue where his work is on display. It will be featured in a two-person show, East Meets West, which opens Friday, January 23, at 825 Art, 825 Santa Fe Drive. (The second artist in that exhibit is Tadashi Hayakawa; to contact the gallery, call 303-534-1979.) And on Monday, January 26, DuBois will be one of three recipients of the Mayor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts, along with Kathlyn Aylsworth Brantigan and the Colorado Children's Chorale. Admission is free; the festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. at Boettcher Concert Hall, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. -- Patricia Calhoun

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun
Julie Dunn
Contact: Julie Dunn
Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd