Best Birdbrained Scheme 2012 | Thinking About Flying | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

People still flip out when they learn they can check out a pigeon at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver — and we don't mean that they can just see one; we mean they can check one out like a library book, then take it home — with the stipulation that they then let it loose. These birds, part of an ongoing project called Thinking About Flying by artist Jon Rubin, are trained homing pigeons, which makes them way more convenient than a book. We had our own fun with the project when Westword writer Jef Otte raced a checked-out pigeon to MCA on his bike (the pigeon, it turned out, took her own sweet time), but you can also find documentation of other pigeon experiences on MCA's website. Or just try it on your own, though time's running out: Thinking About Flying packs up and flies away after April 30.

Whatever "Boulder's Home of the Blues," as Blues & Greens is known, might lack in atmosphere, it makes up for in talent. The club, housed in Boulder's Outlook Hotel, not only brings in a regular roster of top-notch local talent like Otis Taylor, the Delta Sonics, David Booker and the Lionel Young Band, but it frequently welcomes well-known national acts, too, such as Big Bill Morganfield (Muddy Waters's son), Tommy Castro and Bernard Allison. And with blues jams on Sundays and Tuesdays, there aren't many nights when there isn't something happening.

The basic blues formula is fairly simple — but to really get a good handle on it, you've got to play in a live setting with other musicians. And what better way to hone your chops than jamming at the legendary El Chapultepec with guitarist David Booker, a Brit transplant who's been in Denver since the '80s and has performed with Bo Diddley, Solomon Burke and Rufus Thomas? The jam, which Booker started in October 2009, gets a steady stream of regulars that includes a fair amount of guitar and horn players.

Best Body Painter, Chalk Artist and Haunted House Actor

Mythica von Griffyn

That Mythica von Griffyn is a colorful character goes without saying once you've met her. That's partly because she holds down some of the rarest jobs on earth: She turns models into exotic birds, sidewalks into masterpieces and actors into the walking dead. And sometimes she simply is the walking dead, as a character herself in haunted houses. As a mistress of the paintbrush, Mythica seems to understand how the images she paints will mesh with the body's nooks and curves before she starts work — but even she admits it doesn't come without many hours of practice. As an award-winning chalk artist and especially a colorist, she shapes oversized patchworks of pure hue into recognizable images. It all fits in with her haunted-house career, part of her life since she was fourteen and took the job on a lark, eventually developing an obvious talent for making monsters as a makeup artist. Not your everyday occupation? Leave it to the professional.

Leave it to local burlesque madame and emcee Cora Vette to start a nationwide revolution in boylesque. She's been traveling the country over the past year to perform at boylesque shows, talking about why men putting on fabulous costumes and then taking them off is awesome and generally advocating for the concept. And Denver has definitely benefited from her efforts with the monthly revue, now at Bender's. Featuring Cisco Yocisco, Phoenix Rising, Nite Fury, JoJo Justin Tyme, token lady Ophelia P. Cocque and assorted guests, the show is wild-and-crazy eye candy of the (mostly) male persuasion. You'll see everything from a clothes-shedding Zorro to sexy football players to really sexy cowboys to strip-poker numbers. The next one takes place on Thursday, April 19; if you caught this crew at Artopia this past February, you got a peek at what to expect. If not, hold on to your jockstrap!

Myke Charles made a name for himself as the MC in his a cappella group Urban Method on NBC's Sing Off. Before that, though, he was known as Purpose, the super-charming fresh-faced kid with the golden rhymes from Fresh Breath Committee. More than just one of a posse, though, Charles has honed all of his skills and emerged as a breakout star in his own right. His writing is deep and dramatic, and his rapping execution is poised and confident. A singer as well as a rapper, Myke Charles is most definitely on the verge of national notoriety.

They might be split personalities, but neither Reyna Von Vett nor her on-stage alter ego, Cora Vette, is a plain Jane. One of the strongest — and sassiest — personalities in Denver burlesque, Vette's creatively coy sex appeal lends itself to rowdy and raunchy rotating themes — planned by Von Vett and other organizers of Black Box Burlesque, and scheduled the third Friday of each month. In March, the leaders and their coed troupe channeled '80s nostalgia for "My Teen Angst Bullsh*t," taking on both teen-dream John Hughes hits and the easy target that is Risky Business. At Bar Standard, Black Box's current home in a long roster of Denver sites, fans can order bottle service and get their drink on as the costumes come off.

Readers' Choice: Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret

Ed and Marsha Edmunds like to make people jump. Their animatronic creations, which they build for haunted houses and other clients around the country, range from an almost-too-lifelike electric chair to set pieces for Alice Cooper to aliens for the UFO Museum in Roswell. And the Travel Channel took notice, making the Edmundses' Greeley-based company, Distortions Unlimited, the subject of the show Making Monsters, which delved into the couple's process of making those creepy crawlers come to they can scare anyone who comes in contact with them to death.

You know the one about the guy with the smoking-hot girlfriend, the one who, when folks see the two of them together, they're all like, "How the hell did you land her?" And you know his answer? "I asked." While the members of FaceMan could never be accused of playing out of their league like that, they used much the same tactic to enlist both the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band, along with local luminaries, to join them in the studio when they were recording their new record.

Hidden away on the dark northwest side of the Denver Performing Arts Complex is the little Jones Theatre (known as the Source when the facility was originally built), which has always seemed like an afterthought with its shadowy, back-door locale. But what goes on here might be one of the best deals in town: clever performance- and improv-based events that usually cost between $10 and $20 and often include a reception as well as entertainment, all under the umbrella of Off-Center @ the Jones. Curated by Denver Center Theatre Company projection designer Charlie Miller and DCTC artistic associate Emily Tarquin, the series includes Cult Following, a monthly "live movie" improv party with free popcorn, the current Square of Ice battle-of-the-bands Johnny Cash spoof, and a changing palette of little plays and performances like DATE*, coming up in April, which is based on real stories about Internet dating. Quirky, funny and cutting-edge, Off-Center definitely lives up to its name.

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