Say what you will about the experimental, sometimes difficult work of longtime Colorado filmmaker Stan Brakhage, but his films have stood the test of time. For four decades, Brakhage has been regarded as one of the most forward-looking of all American filmmakers, for his individuality and refusal to compromise. The free Film Forum programs, held every Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. in Fine Arts N-141 on the CU-Boulder campus, shed plenty of light on his work and that of his contemporaries.

The Upstart Crow Theatre Company's version of The Rivals was a gorgeously costumed affair. In addition to providing the comedy with adequate staging, director Joan Kuder Bell took on the assignment of designing the play's eighteenth-century garb. With the help of four seamstresses, she crafted a splendid wardrobe that would have been the envy of any professional theater: Every costume was newly constructed rather than, as is often the case with a small group working on a tight budget, rented or pulled from stock -- a laudable accomplishment that also served as a pleasant reminder of community theater's unique appeal.

February 23, 2001, will live in Colorado history as the day Chex Mix was declared the official snack food of Sterling. The event, the result of an on-air survey of snack preferences conducted by KPMX DJ Jason Murphy, was marked by a parade complete with marching band and float and crowning of Mr. and Ms. Chex Mix. Officials from General Mills were so tickled that they attended the festivities and donated 700 bags of the town's favorite food, as well as a $1,000 scholarship to a Sterling High School senior. Cooperating Ministries of Logan County received the bags of snacks. No word yet on whether Chex Mix Day will become an annual event.

Since arriving from Dallas a few years ago, Randy Moore has played a wide array of memorable parts, including a slimy jewelry salesman (The Comedy of Errors), a slithering witch (Macbeth), a blustering patriarch (Life With Father), a bumbling bumpkin (The Winter's Tale) and, most recently, a paranoid penny-pincher (The Miser). A fluid performer who's equally versed in period and modern plays and whose talent for verbal byplay is made all the more enjoyable by his gift for physical shenanigans, Moore consistently renders portraits that are both artful and warmly human. And his duties as an extra in Tantalus demonstrated that this thirty-year-plus stage veteran is also capable of being a first-rate team player. Dallas's loss has truly been Denver's gain.

Richard Blackwell is best known for the acerbic eye he turns on the fashion faux pas of the rich and famous, a public service that culminates in Mr. Blackwell's ten-best-dressed and ten-worst-dressed lists released every January. (This year's worst of the worst: Britney Spears.) But CSU knows a different Blackwell -- the man who came out to teach design students for a week, the man who has donated a vast collection of sketchbooks, master patterns and original designs to CSU's 10,000-item Historic Costume and Textile Collection. The first Blackwell items were donated to the school by the Jenkins family, which owned a fashionable store in Cherry Creek; later, Blackwell himself started supporting the school. "It's the most frustrating thing in the world that people only know him by his lists," says collection curator Linda Carlson, who knows the designer well enough to call him Mr. B. "They don't recognize the fact that he was an extremely prominent designer, probably the most pre-eminent designer out of California from the '60s to the '80s." The collection is open to the public for research, and parts are sometimes included in gallery shows put on by the department. You're looking good in Fort Collins, Mr. B.

That unfunny dramatic theorist, Aristotle, probably would have loathed the idea that the high point of the Central City Opera's production of Dialogues of the Carmelites occurred in Act One, long before a proper "rising action" developed. Even so, audiences appreciated the fact that mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle marvelously commanded the stage as a venerable abbess. The regal singer conferred an authority on Francis Poulenc's opera and left one admiring a beauty too terrible to embrace yet too compelling to disregard. Even Aristotle would probably approve of that.

Cafe Cero is hip: It's cool and casual, it serves gourmet bar food, it attracts big-name local acts to perform acoustic sets and comedy acts, and it hosts All-Star Karaoke every Thursday night at 9. With more than 5,000 songs available, there's no excuse for you not to make a total fool of yourself in front of people who should know better.

Best Thanksgiving Performance by a Man Hearing Too Many Goddamn Voices in His Head

Wesley Willis

Wesley Willis, a schizophrenic Chicago street artist and Casio accompanist, played fiasco-free last Thanksgiving to a receptive Tavern crowd, rendering timeless (and preprogrammed) such holiday classics as "Eat That Mule Shit," "Shoot Me in the Ass" and "I'm Sorry That I Got Fat." The evening's earth-shattering, Mayflower hell ride -- as engagingly odd as it was devoid of cranberries -- made for a repetitively fun time with plenty of headbutts for all who were willing to "rock over London, rock over Chicago." For the wee pilgrims of Denver, Wesley can still whip the turkey's booty-hole.

Denver's major cultural institutions offered free admission all day on December 31, but that was just a taste of the big, big fun still to come. By 11:58 p.m. on New Year's Eve, the 16th Street Mall was one mass of happy, freeloading humanity, eagerly awaiting the fireworks that were set to light up the D&F Tower. And for once, a show lived up to its advance billing: Within seconds, the mall exploded in a blaze of lights and sights and sounds, wrapping 200,000 spectators in smoke and an incredible feeling of well-being. Everyone got such a bang out of the Mayor's Millennium Celebration that it more than made up for the bust of the previous New Year's Eve -- and Mayor Wellington Webb was so moved that he promised a repeat performance next year (if sponsors step up to the plate, that is). We say: Party on, Denver!
South of Fairplay, west of Colorado Springs and east of Gunnison, one of America's "100 Best Small Art Towns" devotes a weekend each year to the visual and performing arts. In 2001, Salida is set to go artsy June 22-24 for the ninth annual Salida Art Walk, with nationally known painters, sculptors, jewelers, ceramic and glass artists, photographers, storytellers, musicians, comedians, dancers and poets taking to the streets, galleries and restaurants that line Colorado's largest historic district. But in Salida, which is also one of Colorado's last relatively unspoiled towns, the arts aren't simply a once-a-year afterthought. A smattering of interesting galleries are open year-round, and the coffeehouse bulletin boards are always loaded with announcements of entertaining, artful events. All this and fabulous fourteeners, too.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of