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The ten best moments in Denver arts: 2011

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Okay, It actually wasn't either of those things -- but 2011 was pretty okay in its own right, and at certain times it was downright awesome. Because we're in the business of thoroughly cataloging things, we've cataloged the definitive best moments in the Denver arts scene this year, from the winter of mild discomfort to the spring of benign optimism to the summer of it being just a little too hot for our taste and back again. Here they are, in chronological order.

10. Denver destroys its balls Smash Putt, December 29, 2010 - February 6, 2011

If you want to get all technical about it, Smash Putt actually began at the ass-end of 2010, but the majority of its run took place in 2011 -- and that run was awesome. It's difficult to pinpoint Smash Putt's awesomeness to a most awesome moment; depending on who you are, it might have been when you destroyed your ball in a drill press, or it might have been when a heat-cannon launched that fucker into an industrial fan. Or it might have just been when you honked the horn of the motorcycle on the course and fucked up your buddy's putt. It sounds too weird to be true, but for six glorious weeks, this bizarre, destructive, wickedly fun art-project of a putt-putt course was true in Denver. Smash Putt, you will be missed.

9. Lolo and Mabel chuck marshmallows at a sex doll 24rd Triannual Intronational Dance Competition, January 26

The 24rd Triannual Intronational Dance Competition was not really so much a "dance competition" as a "weirdness competition" with dancing mostly optional. And there was much weirdness -- some of the most compelling weirdness the year would have to offer, in fact. Highlights included hand-puppets, unicycle-riding and knife-juggling, and marshmallows somehow factored into almost all the proceedings -- more so than dancing, really. But probably their best use was as projectiles, when they were fired, badly, at a sex doll.

8. Mutton-chop gathering tears hole in the fabric of time Vine Street Pub Mutton-Chop contest, February 27

In all fairness, the fabric-of-time-hole thing happened only in a metaphorical sense, the night Vine Street Pub brought back one of the most awe-inspiring and lamentedly forgotten of bygone facial-hair traditions: the mutton-chop. Hopes that the contest would single-handedly bring these ostentatious cheek-mittens back into style were largely dashed after the contest ended, but for a couple of glorious hours back in February, these gentlemen were kings.

7. Deepak Sharma Bajagain sets a world record for most grapes eaten in three minutes Work for Children Food Campaign, March 28, 2011

The previous record, 172 grapes, had been set by Ashrita Furman in June 2010, but this year, Colorado resident and all-around badass Deepak Sharma Bajagain came along and absolutely burned that record to the fucking ground when he put back a whopping 180, each one carried to his mouth via a small plastic spoon, as stipulated in the regulations. It was a proud moment for Colorado -- nay, it was a proud moment for the world. We set it to "Yakety Sax."

6. Cosplaying weirdos break out of the convention center StarFest, April 15 - 17

Cosplay, as Thorin Klosowki reflected on his visit to StarFest -- a convention basically devoted to it -- can be divided into two major sub-groups: Those who dress like established sci-fi characters and those who make up their own, based on the parameters of the universe -- Darth Vader versus a generic Storm Trooper, for example -- or even just make up universes of their own. Whatever the case, the universe of the Mariott DTC was not enough to hold in these cosplayers, who frequently insisted on spilling into the streets and annoying the office drones.

5. The IKEA line campout gets unexpectedly sexy IKEA Centennial Grand opening, July 26

It was weird enough that the opening of a European furniture store was enough to inspire hundreds of people to set up tents and camp in a parking lot, but it got even weirder in the wee hours of the morning when security was forced to act fast and figure out a way to deal with complaints that a couple of teenagers were doing it -- loudly -- in their tent. Other than that, it was an admittedly boring night, and IKEA turned out to be pretty boring, too, but those few moments of incredibly inappropriate semi-public sex almost -- almost -- made it worth the while.

4. A 90-year-old clown comes out of retirement Denver County Fair, July 28 - 31

Doubtless, there were many wondersome attractions at this year's first annual Denver County Fair: Children in hamster balls, trick pigs and DEVO not least among them. But probably the greatest was when promoter Dana Cain's relentless promotion efforts paid off and brought out the famed and aged Blinky the Clown, who for forty years starting in 1958 ruled the legendary Blinky's Fun Club with a hilarious iron fist. It took the Denver County Fair to reunite the Fun Club, and it was a sweet moment when Blinky himself was rolled out for it. The ninety-year-old clown was in good spirits. Sadly, he failed to appear in makeup.

3. A shitload of furries converge Rocky Mountain Fur Con, August 12-14

Like a protracted and frightening hallucination, a legion of furries descended upon the DoubleTree Hotel in the DTC to... uh... basically be furries. There was no particular exceptional moment that defined the proceedings, but that's only because the entire thing was crazy. And we mean that in the most sensitive way possible.

2. Slam Nuba brings home the glory National Poetry Slam, August 14

Slam Nuba emerged as the new kid in a town of poetry slams just four years ago, but it came out of the gate hard: It's been rated in the top 10 finishers of the National Poetry Slam -- the biggest deal in slam poetry -- for every year of its existence. All that remained was for the fledgling team to pull off a win, and this year, Slam Nuba made it happen, proving that Denver is home to -- at least this year -- the finest slam poetry in the country. "We're the cream of the crop," mused Nuba team member Ayinde Russell, "right where we are."

1. Jonathan Shikes ignites the shit out of Denver Ignite Denver 10, September 28

Ignite Denver, which invites participants to present on a wide variety of topics for five minutes using twenty slides that advance at intervals of fifteen seconds each, is always a good time, but it was an even better time when it was about beer. And given that this particular edition of Ignite Denver included a thrown shoe that caused minor bodily injury and an unusual preponderance of poop and dick jokes, it's saying something that the night's highlight was a presentation on high-alcohol beers by Westword's own Beer Man, Jonathan Shikes. At least we're pretty sure it was. Shike's himself doesn't remember it, so it must have been fun.

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