Wizards Welcome

FRI, 4/22

Between all the free play and the bling-blinging of the machines, the 2005 Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown should be enough to make even the deaf, dumb and blind kid tilt.

With more than one hundred games -- from Elvis and Earthshaker to Lord of the Rings and Jungle Lord -- set on "free," you'll wear out your fingers at the three-day flipper-fest, which begins today at noon at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 West Sixth Avenue in Golden. And when you're done flying solo, you can compete in tourneys or attend "Pin Chats" with titles such as "How to Buy a Good Pinball Machine" and "Programmer Memoirs" -- the latter talk given by a former Williams Electronics programmer who discusses, among other things, "games that never were."

"Pinball culture is alive and growing across the country," says Dan Nikolich, the show's co-founder, who owns nine machines. The 26-year-old engineer got hooked after buying his first machine about two years ago. He attributes pinball's comeback to a retro movement made up of older players and a generation of fans like himself who are new to the silver ball. The Rocky Mountain Showdown is one of five such events that have popped up in different states over the past few years.

"There's just something about pinball," Nikolich says. "You can't reproduce it as a video game -- it just doesn't play the same way."

The Showdown runs today through Sunday; admission is $15 per day, or $30 for an adult three-day pass and $20 for a kid's three-day pass (children six and under admitted free). No quarters needed, notes Nikolich -- and no cheater moves allowed.

For more information, call 303-883-2603 or go to www.pinballshowdown.com. -- Shara Rutberg

Roll Out
The Boulder Adventure Film Fest gets in gear.
SAT, 4/23

Is your definition of "adventure" climbing massive walls, your chalk-stained fingers gripping rock? Or is it thumbing through the Patagonia catalogue, with Cheetos-stained fingers gripping a PBR?

Either way, the first Boulder Adventure Film Fest and Dirt Days Challenge should satisfy your thrill genes. The Dirt Days Challenge, which begins today at 10 a.m. in Boulder's Central Park, features a multi-sport activity in which participants compete in climbing, fly-casting and balancing contests, along with the Pack Trot, a foot race up Boulder Canyon in which runners carry backpacks loaded with weights equaling 15 percent of their body weight.

Tomorrow and Monday, the Adventure Film Fest unspools at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street; highlights include international entries and several U.S. premieres, says festival organizer/professional adventurer Jonathan Copp. "We've got everything from surfing and free-diving to women climbing K2 and global music and philosophy with Kurt Vonnegut and Dennis Hopper," he says. "There's a wide range of film styles, from extreme-sports music video to documentary." A special kids' series will screen on Sunday afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m.

Proceeds from the three-day event benefit cityWILD, a non-profit program that provides experiential and outdoor learning for kids in and around Denver. For festival information, call 303-818-6402 or visit www.boulderadventurefilm.com. -- Shara Rutberg

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Shara Rutberg

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