Training Ground

THURS, 2/19

After a ten-year absence from the Colorado History Museum, the 10th Mountain Division: Soldiers on Skis exhibit marches back into the spotlight today, retooled and ready for another tour of duty. "This is an important part of Colorado's history, so we felt it was important to update it," explains museum spokeswoman Julie Wedding. "It still extensively highlights the men's experiences at Colorado's Camp Hale, but it now focuses more on the Italian campaign."

The U.S. Army established Camp Hale near Leadville in 1942 to train soldiers in mountain and winter warfare. Today's opening marks the 59th anniversary of the division's victories on Italy's Riva Ridge and Mt. Belvedere during World War II.

Soldiers on Skis is loaded with military equipment, weapons and gear collected by the Colorado Historical Society. "We showcase a lot of things that were specifically designed for mountain warfare and tested out by the 10th Mountain Division, like specially designed parkas and folding skis," says Wedding.

"I think that we really made a contribution," says John Carroll of Denver, one of the 10th Mountain veterans consulted for the project. "We pioneered some equipment that is now widely used recreationally."

The presentation reflects the experiences of Carroll and other soldiers through an array of photographs, letters and diaries culled from the Denver Public Library and history-museum archives. "We really wanted to put a personal touch on it, to show people what their life was like," says Wedding.

"It was a heck of a thing to go through," recalls Carroll. "We'd go out climbing and skiing the Colorado mountains with our weapons for two or three weeks at a time in the middle of winter. Man, was it cold. We'd sleep in two sleeping bags just to keep warm."

In conjunction with the opening, author McKay Jenkins will discuss his book The Last Ridge: The Epic Story of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division and the Assault on Hitler's Europe at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 25, at the museum. Ticket prices, which include museum admission, are $5 for museum members and $6.50 for non-members.

Soldiers on Skis will remain open through December 2006 at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway. Admission is $3.50 to $5; children six and under are admitted free. For further information, call 303-866-3682 or visit -- Julie Dunn

Urban Garden
Festival's focus is far from mainstream
TUES, 2/24

Urban Zen's Film Garden, a seedling series planted in 2001 as an adjunct to the Pan African Film Festival, has blossomed into an offshoot of its own. The free fest spotlights independent and cultural works, concentrating on films and filmmakers routinely overlooked by mainstream audiences.

Today and tomorrow, the Film Garden will show director Kevin Fitzgerald's celebrated Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme. The documentary -- an account of rap music that differs from Hollywood versions like 8 Mile -- explores the improvisational underground. Critics have said that Freestyle transcends the hip-hop genre and its stereotypes as it chronicles the journey from rap's infancy in the early 1980s to its hold on today's culture.

Community College of Denver event coordinator Malcolm Laster, who is helping Urban Zen founder Ashara Ekundayo this year, says organizers chose this doc because they were impressed with the way it conveyed "some of the value behind an art form." Laster says he's confident that Freestyle has broad appeal and that it allows viewers to be "see the humans behind the lyrics."

Urban Zen's Film Garden, which is free, runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at Auraria's King Center, near Ninth Street and Auraria Parkway, and tomorrow in the multicultural lounge at the Tivoli student center. For information, call 303-556-2597. -- Catalina Soltero

Just in Time for Tea
SAT, 2/21

Invitations, at least those sent by a proper Victorian lady, should be sent out seven to ten days before the day of the event, and replies made within a week. That said, your presence is requested at today's Valentine Tea, part of the Tea Time at the Astor House educational series put on by Golden's historic Astor House Museum, a onetime hotel and boardinghouse still decked out in period splendor. Beginning at 11:30 a.m. and again at 3 p.m., tea-etiquette consultant Cynthia Meador will share the lowdown on Victorian wedding and courtship rituals, subjects that walk hand in hand with the museum's new exhibit, The Victorian Wedding, which opened Thursday and continues through May 29. All you'll have to do is...nothing: Don't cross your legs, smooth your hair, wink, shrug, guffaw, stare, drum your fingers or rub your face, and you'll do just fine. The Astor House is at 822 12th Street in Golden; to reserve tea tickets, $18 to $22, call 303-278-3557. For details, visit --Susan Froyd

Funny Business
Boingg!! puts comics up on the silver screen
SUN, 2/22

When Silver Surfer takes Tank Girl out on a date today, they'll probably head over to see Boingg!! Comics Meet the Movies, a fun fusion of comics and celluloid unspooling at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture. "It's like two heads colliding, or two formidable mediums "boingging" in space," says curator Simon Zalkind. "Comics use language to reinforce their visual image, which is something they have in common with movies," Zalkind notes. With that in mind, he says he "tried to stay away from standard films about superheroes," opting instead for "films that are a little eccentric and a little quirky and enter the subject through a different door."

The day-long event is presented in conjunction with two current Mizel exhibits, No Joke: The Spirit of American Comic Books, and No Yokel: The Spirit of Denver Comic Artists. Beginning at 10 a.m., comic-inspired films such as Comic Book Confidential, Crumb, Comic Artists and Models, How to Murder Your Wife, Monkeybone and Comic Book Villains will screen. Admission is $5 per movie or $20 for an all-day pass.

The Mizel Center is at 350 South Dahlia Street; for information, call 303-316-6360 or visit -- Kity Ironton

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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
Kity Ironton
Catalina Soltero
Contact: Catalina Soltero