Arts and Culture

The ten best geek events in Denver in July, from King Kong to Kinetics

If fireworks and baseball games aren't your thing, July has plenty of geek entertainment on tap -- whether you're looking to flex your gaming muscles, get the latest book in the classic Shannara series signed by the author or just sit in the blessedly cool air-conditioned embrace of a movie theater while watching science fiction classics. Here are July's ten best geek events.

See also: - Ten milestones in the history of competitive gaming - Did the World War Z film ruin the book? - The eight hottest robots in pop culture

10) CutthroatCon Promo If you're tired of shooting your friends via Xbox Live and ready to shoot strangers sitting six feet away, head to the first CutthroatCon Promo to compete in Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Injustice: Gods Among Us for a chance to win a free pass to the actual Con itself, happening later this year. It's all free, and there are other prizes to win as well. And if it turns out the only reason you're used to winning is that your friends all suck and you scrub out early, there's also some casual gaming to wash away the sting of defeat.

Noon to 7 p.m. July 13 at the Microsoft Store in Park Meadows. Free. Get more info at the Colorado Cutthroat website.

9) Cruel Summer film series: The Brood Theresa Mercado's monthly horror-film series at Crash 45 will feature the early David Cronenberg classic The Brood, about a murderous brood of psychically created "children" that results from a controversial therapy. The film is one of Cronenberg's most intensely personal creations, mirroring his struggles to get custody of his daughter, and it's a nearly forgotten horror classic. As always, Mercado will bring special handmade souvenirs for the attendees and some film-related drink special will be offered. Even if you've already seen The Brood a dozen times, aren't you curious to see what kind of drink will match the murderous "psychoplasmic children" in the film?

9 p.m. July 2 at Crash 45. Come early -- 8:30 ish -- to secure a seat and order drinks and food. Admission is free. Get more info at the Cruel Summer event page.

8) Longmont Kinetic Sculpture Race If you're the kind of geek who likes getting your hands dirty actually making things, the Kinetics race is for you. Racers use recycled and repurposed materials to build people-powered vehicles -- aka "kinetic sculptures" -- to race across water and land for fabulous prizes. Or, really, just to impress other geeks and have some fun. This might be your only chance this year to see grown men race a cardboard shark against a pedal-powered UFO.

Gates open at 9 a.m. July 20 at Union Reservoir in Longmont. $10 parking fee for spectators, $40 and up to compete. Read more and sign up at the official Kinetic Sculpture Race website.

7) Magic: The Gathering M14 prerelease The newest Core set 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. Magic's pre-release tournaments are among its most casual events, meaning they're a great 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 Core sets are the game's entry-level product and this is a sealed event, so you don't even need to own any cards to play. 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 the way to do it.

July 13-14, various locations. Price may vary, but expect to spend about $30, which nets you six packs of cards plus a special promo card. Find a location near you with Wizards of the Coast's store locator.

6) Weird Al You don't have to be a geek to love Weird Al Yankovic, but it's rare to meet a geek who doesn't. After all, between his dead-on parodies and his clever originals, Yankovic's never shied away from incorporating references from everything to Star Wars to being a giant nerd himself, earning him the title of the King of Geek Pop. Plus, how can you not be impressed that he's still going strong more than thirty years after his first parody hit the airwaves, with more hits under his belt than most of the artists he's satirized?

July 21. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. at the Boulder Theater. Tickets range from $32 to $40. Get tickets and more info at the Boulder Theater website.

5) Peter Stenson Fiend Zombie lit is a road less traveled than zombie film, but there are still a lot of zombie books out there, making it hard for a writer to find an original angle. Colorado author Peter Stenson has one, though: make your hero a meth head who's already pretty much neck-deep in his own personal apocalypse before the zombies even show up. That's just the first of many unusual twists in this one-of-a-kind take on the zombie genre that ignores many of the typical conventions for its own twisted vision of hell on earth.

Peter Stenson will read from and sign his debut novel Fiend at 7:30 p.m. July 25 at the Tattered Cover LoDo. Admission is free; the book is $22. Get more info at the Tattered Cover website.

4) Robots Versus Monsters The Alamo Drafthouse is bringing some of film's best monstrosities and mechanical men to its screens all month, starting July 1 with the original King Kong. The greatest ape will be followed by everything from Metropolis to Mothra over the course of July. The cause for all this monster/robot celebration is Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim, arriving July 12, which promises to be the defining robot-vs-kaiju film of our generation. And even if it doesn't live up to the advance billing, it's still your best shot at seeing Idris Elba fight alien monsters and the reason you get to see It Came from Beneath the Sea on the big screen (July 23).

July 1-23 at Alamo Drafthouse Littleton. For more information, including the full schedule, visit the Alamo Denver website.

3) Escape from New York John Carpenter. Kurt Russell. An impossible mission to break into the nation's toughest prison, which happens to be the island of Manhattan, to rescue the President. What else is there to say? Of course you're going to go see it, it's frigging Escape from New York!

July 5-6 at midnight, Esquire Theater. $8. Get tickets and more info at the Landmark Theaters website.

2) Terry Brooks Witch Wraith Terry Brooks is one of the most popular living fantasy authors, and his Shannara series is his flagship work. His latest, Witch Wraith, closes out the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy, making for more than two dozen books -- plus short stories -- set in the world, which has to be some kind of record. Think of it this (geek) way: If you started reading the series when you enrolled your kid in first grade and managed two a year, you still wouldn't be done when you sent your kid off to college. That's a lot of elves. It's no wonder the guy is a legend.

Terry Brooks will read and sign Witch Wraith at 7:30 p.m. July 22 at the Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch. Admission is free (the book is $28), but you'll need to come early -- tickets will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 6:30 p.m. and seating is limited. Get more info at the Tattered Cover website.

1) Sci-Fi Film Series When the Denver Film Society and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science team up for a science-fiction film series, you know it's going to be great. The formula is simple, yet brilliant: Pick a science fiction classic, and then get a real scientist to introduce the film and talk about the science in it. This year's program includes District 9, Limitless, Jurassic Park and the cult hit Primer. Hope the scientist who introduces Primer has some hints on how you can build a time machine in your garage.

The Sci-Fi Film Series starts with District 9 July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter. $15, or $12 for DFS members. Get more info at the Denver Film Society website.

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Cory Casciato is a Denver-based writer with a passion for the geeky, from old science fiction movies to brand-new video games.
Contact: Cory Casciato