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"I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General," the patter song from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, features tongue-twisting lyrics, but they're never so twisted as when Gene Scheer plays the Major-General. For this past weekend's Colorado Symphony Orchestra performances, Scheer added a thoroughly modern, and local, twist to the 125-year-old words, subbing these lines midway through:

When I see Denver auditors
Who cannot seem to calculate
And hockey players who make millions
Kvetch and then refuse to skate
Yes, the nation's moral compass
Seems to be dysfunctional of late
With pitchers who make $19 mil
Yet go to Colfax for a date...

Earlier in the week, Scheer had thought about adding a line or two on Ward Churchill -- but he was directed to skip that, because no one would know who Churchill was.

Maybe they wouldn't know what fraction of his bloodline was Native American -- who does? -- but we're quite certain that by now, everyone on the planet knows of Ward Churchill, the infamous essayist and CU prof.

Clothes encounters of the gone kind: Designer Nicole Beckett's flirty frocks have once again made the pages of Cosmopolitan. Her sexy Red Strappy Dress is offered as a lower-cost option for getting February cover girl Ashlee Simpson's look, and certainly, Beckett's $189 price tag could save a gal from a bad case of sticker shock.

What has Denver fashionistas in shock is Beckett's announcement that she's abandoned the Mile High City and moved her label, Agogo Threads, to the warmer climes of Orange County. Last month, Beckett and her partner, Messiah Jacobs, closed up their Boulder boutique, Agogo Star, and headed for California. "If we wanted to take the company to the next level, we had to make the move," Jacobs says. "It really sucked, because we love ŒDI' -- Denver International. However, it will now be easier for us to put DI on the fashion map out here."

We're counting on it.

Benchmark decision: Add Kendra Goodin to the long list of Lisl Auman supporters. Granted, she's no high-profile celebrity like Hunter S. Thompson, who penned a barely coherent rant about Auman and Colorado justice and culture in last June's Vanity Fair. On the contrary, Goodin explains, she's "just a mom." Just a mom whose daughter was a friend of Auman's brother's when they attended Littleton High School. "I just loved him," Goodin says. "I knew his parents as neighbors, but I've never met Lisl."

And she's not likely to. Auman is currently in Cañon City, serving out a life sentence for her role in the dastardly events of November 12, 1997. Auman had met Matthaeus Jaehnig the prior evening; by the next night, the skinhead had murdered Denver police officer Bruce VanderJagt and shot himself. Although Auman was in police custody when VanderJagt was killed, her conviction for felony murder carried an automatic life sentence.

Goodin is so certain Auman's sentence was unjust that she's taken out a $75-a-month bus-bench advertisement at Eighth Avenue and Sherman Street that bears this simple line: www.lisl.com. "I know that the Colorado Supreme Court is close to a decision on her appeal," she says, "and I feel like any raising of consciousness for her case is a good thing. It's like that Willie Nelson song 'Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.' I really feel certain of her innocence."

All politics are local: While Michael Huttner's homegrown political movement -- formerly the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network, now Progressnow.org -- continues to grow (see City Limits), another native son has started his own political nonprofit. Ben Gelt, son of former Denver city councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt and powerhouse lawyer/Dem Howard Gelt, has been involved in politics since he was born. Now, at the ripe age of 23, he's started the Velvet Revolution, which aims to raise awareness about voter-fraud issues in the past three elections.

"I think there is a lot of frustration over seeing the irregularities that keep turning up," Gelt says. "People are very concerned with the electoral process today. We can't expect Americans to trust their own voting process."

It's a bold move to start yet another political awareness group when most of the progressives that Gelt is targeting are still suffering from an election hangover, but in Denver, at least, "people are pretty energized," he says. "They're excited about the legislature."

Only if they never set foot inside the State Capitol.

On the Record

Jared Polis is the sweetheart of the Colorado Democratic Party, with his big bankroll, his chairmanship of the state Board of Education, his Forbes nod as one of the richest Americans under age forty. But back in the day, it was his mom, Susan Polis Schutz , who was the media darling. As a founder of Boulder-based Blue Mountain Arts with her husband, Stephen, she turned drippy poetry into a multimillion-dollar greeting-card business, then sued Hallmark for stealing her ideas and won. She even took on Microsoft -- though that suit ended when Jared sold the company's online arm for around $900 million. These days, though, Schutz avoids the press -- even ducking an interview request for a recent Westword profile of her son -- because, as she explains in her new book, the stories focused too much on Susan and Stephen as a successful business couple and not enough on their message of love and nature and serenity. So when her publicist came calling, Off Limits couldn't resist asking Schutz a few heartfelt questions.

Q: What advice can you give for penning the perfect Valentine's Day message?

A: Writing a poem on Valentine's Day is a chance to express yourself through words. To me, words have a soul, a truth and an element of timelessness. If you choose to write your own verse, you should gather your thoughts and think about how your relationship with the person has affected your life. All you need to do is to write from your heart and express what your emotions are.

Q: Any advice for picking a Valentine's Day card for the early stages of a relationship?

A: It's important to show affection and give cards and gifts on Valentine's Day during every stage of a relationship, but especially at the beginning, when you are not sure of each other. It is important that both people have similar feelings and intentions at the early stage of the relationship, and your card will reveal those intentions.

Q: Do you still write most of the poems for Blue Mountain Arts?

A: I am involved with all of the poems that Blue Mountain publishes, but we have many writers at Blue Mountain Arts in Boulder and around the country who bring their own visions and thoughts to our cards. My collaborative efforts writing and designing Blue Mountain Arts cards with Stephen is the foundation for my new book, Blue Mountain: Turning Dreams Into Reality, which I hope will help rising entrepreneurs and anyone with a dream.

Q: What kind of Valentine's Day cards did Jared give out in elementary school?

A: No answer.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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