Taste hunter names Aurora’s top ethnic eats in new ‘Food Lovers’…

first_imgMaybe it was the sweet-potato-filled doughnuts at Paris Baguette that did it. Perhaps it was Zilla’s killer kim chee dumplings that provided the “a ha” moment, but early in her research for the “Food Lovers’ Guide to Denver & Boulder,” Ruth Tobias realized she was spending a lot of time tasting in Aurora.“I knew that many ethnic places existed in Aurora on an intellectual level, but once I started looking, Aurora became my mecca,” she said, while munching on naan and chutney recently at Jai Ho, one of her favorite Indian eateries in the city.Besides cornering the market on real Korean fare (such as sticky, savory sweet red bean mochi at Dah Won Rice Cake), she marveled at the city’s large number of African cafes dishing Somali, Ethiopian and Ghanian fare and enthused about the the shopping opportunities at H Mart, Arash International Market and Rancho Liborio. “It’s just amazing,” she said.Her freshly published volume from Globe Pequot Press is a culinary tourist’s dream that reveals everything from temples of good taste to breakfast bakeries, plus the best food trucks, food shops, farmers’ markets, artisan breweries and distilleries, and world-class dive bars. She tucks in information about food festivals and recipes from chefs. It was designed to spotlight the state’s hottest food locations — Denver and Boulder.She’s the first to admit that that becoming a Colorado food writer certainly wasn’t on her radar when she was growing up in Oklahoma.“I wasn’t a foodie but my parents took us to some of ethnic restaurants,” Tobias said. After college she worked for a few years as an editor in the book publishing business, “but I wanted to write my own stuff,” she said. Living in Boston in 2000 she began exploring her culinary obsessions.“I was 30 and I always wanted to be a food writer,” she said. Her break was finding a want ad as an assistant to a food writer which led her to edit the Boston Zagat Guide and contribute to the “Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink in America.” A Colorado resident for four years, her day job is writing and editing for the the Boulder-based Sommelier Journal, but she started chronicling her culinary adventures at her engaging, smartly written dining blog. That’s how an editor at Globe Pequot Press found her and contacted her about writing the “Food Lovers’ Guide to Denver & Boulder.”The company has published numerous guides to various destinations including the classic “Food Lovers’ Guide to Colorado” penned by Eliza Cross Castaneda in 2002.For Tobias, the dream assignment came with certain challenges beyond finding adjectives to describe different tastes. The bistro, trattoria and burger joint research had to be crammed into just a few months. “I was eating at four or five places a day at one point — not a whole meal but at least a dish,” she said.“I just gave myself over to it and started eating. I was surprised I only gained five pounds.”And the more time she spent on field trips in the metro area, the more cool destinations she discovered. “The food scene in the Denver area is so dynamic. Restaurants are opening every week. I wanted the book to be comprehensive so I kept adding places. It’s the unexpected little food finds after a long day — that’s why you do it,” Tobias said.The bigger problem is that eateries she loved kept closing so she had to keep replacing them. Some places such as Tao Tao Noodle House and Korea House closed after the book was published.In the aftermath, Tobias has some advice for would-be foodies. If you’ve moved here from another urban area, shelve your snobbery and grab a martini.“The cocktail scene here is one of the best,” she said, noting the roster of first-class mixologists at local restaurants and bars. “I’ve also not come across a city with as many dive bars that are so welcoming to everyone.”By all means, be inquisitive and always bravely walk into unknown strip mall dining spots. “It’s just one meal and it’s usually cheap,” she said. And while the sundae guk — blood sausage soup — at Seoul BBQ might not be your cup of tea, the scones at the English Teacup and the brats at Bender’s just might be. In fact, if you want to make it easy, Tobias recommends just eating your way up and down South Parker Road.While being an omnivore is a job requirement, there are still some dishes she hasn’t warmed up to. “I don’t like natto and I probably never will,” she said. Natto is a stringy, slimy Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans.But to her, the worst tastes are the mundane insults. “Really, the stuff I mind the most is the boring, came-from-a-factory food,” she said. “That’s a shame.”After finishing up a beetroot fritter and a glass of Indian shiraz wine, Tobias just had one question:“Have you been to El Chelate? It’s a Mexican/Salvadoran place down on Colfax. At the counter I swear they have the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted in my life. It’s amazing.”Fiery chicken larb salad topped with Thai chiles and long beans is a favorite at the Thai Street Food restaurant in Aurora. (Photo by Kim Long, American Forecaster)One food lover’s select Aurora destinations and dishesIn the freshly published “Food Lovers’ Guide to Denver & Boulder” (Globe Pequot Press), Ruth Tobias includes a substantial number of restaurants, bakeries and markets located in Aurora which, she writes “is particularly rich in holed-up gems of all ethnic bents.”Here are a few of Tobias’ Aurora favorites and menu finds from the book:• Chef Liu’s Authentic Chinese Cuisine, 562 S. Chambers Rd.; “fish fillet stir-fried in smoky ‘numbing chile oil’ … making you sneeze and giggle all at the same time”• China Jade, 12203 E. Iliff Ave.: “eggplant and pork in velvety garlic sauce”• Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet, 11385 E. Colfax Ave.: “pork ribs in cactus sauce”• Hessini Roots International Cafe, 2044 Clinton St.: “egusi … ground melon seeds cooked with onions and habaneros in palm oil”• Jai Ho, 3055 S. Parker Rd.;  “intriguingly aromatic medhu vada”• Maandeeq Eat African Cafe, 1535 S. Havana St.: “huge platters of goat meat”• Seoul BBQ, 2080 S. Havana St.: “pan-fried kimchi”• Athenian Restaurant, 15350 E. Iliff Ave.: “The thick, cucumber-laced tzadziki alone is worth the price of admission”• Thai Street Food, 11650 Montview Blvd.: “Ironically eye-opening drunken noodles”• Thai Flavor, 1014 S. Peoria: “eggplant salad topped with slices of fried omelet”• Arash International Market, 2720 Parker Rd.: “a halal butcher counter”• Rancho Liborio, 10400 E. Colfax Ave.: “At the seafood counter, crawfish, baby octopus and green mussels sparkle”To read Ruth Tobias’ food blog, visit ruthtobias.com/denveaterlast_img read more

Pianist and psychiatrist breaks down Gershwin in verse and behavior at…

first_img Concert pianist and psychiatrist Richard Kogan plays “Rhapsody in Blue”, Sept. 19 at Anschutz Medical Campus. Kogan offered insights into the life of composer George Gershwin during a presentation that included lecture and live music. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Concert pianist and psychiatrist Richard Kogan addresses his audience, Sept. 19 at Anschutz Medical Campus. Kogan offered insights into the life of composer George Gershwin during a presentation that included lecture and live music. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Concert pianist and psychiatrist Richard Kogan plays “Rhapsody in Blue”, Sept. 19 at Anschutz Medical Campus. Kogan offered insights into the life of composer George Gershwin during a presentation that included lecture and live music. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) AURORA | George Gershwin was a troublemaker, a thief who’d steal from pushcarts and a bully who’d pick fights with the other kids in the neighborhood.If he’d grown up in the early decades of the 21st century, the composer of jazz standards like “Summertime” and orchestral works like “Rhapsody in Blue” could have easily been diagnosed with some kind of conduct disorder. It’s the kind of verdict that could carry a prescription for any number of psychotropic drugs, treatments like ritalin and adderall designed to retool the chemistry of the brain. But Gershwin, born in 1898, didn’t have access to that kind of medicine. The streets of Brooklyn were his childhood playground; they turned him tough as his impoverished family moved from dilapidated apartment to dilapidated apartment in the early 1900s.“Gershwin could have gone off the rails,” Richard Kogan told a rapt audience during a dual lecture and piano performance at the Anschutz Medical Campus on Sept. 19. Kogan spoke with plenty of expertise — in addition to his credits as an accomplished concert pianist, he’s a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College and co-director of the center’s Human Sexuality Program. “Even his parents predicted that he would grow up to be a bum.”Kogan went on to illustrate just how wrong that prediction turned out to be during the lecture and concert, part of the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities’ new Music and Medicine Initiative. Kagan’s guest appearance on campus came as the Center for Bioethics and Humanities looks to expand its programming beyond the revolving exhibitions at the Fulginiti Pavilion that opened last year.“I think this let people know that this music and medicine initiative is under way, to explore the healing properties of music,” said Tess Jones, the director of the Arts and Humanities in Healthcare Program and the interim director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities. That initiative includes an on-campus choir and orchestra performances. “Our hope is that it will whet people’s appetites and get them to participate or come out and enjoy the incredible musical talent that’s part of our population on campus.”As the artistic director of the Weill Cornell Music and Medicine program, Kogan has made his own efforts to create conceptual ties between the two disciplines. During his presentation at Anschutz, he explained how the ancient Greeks designated Apollo as the god of both music and medicine. He spoke of ancient shamans who were healers and artists in equal measure. He spoke again and again of “music’s capacity to transform young people’s lives.“Over time, music and medicine split apart,” Kagan said. “Each of these disciplines have become increasingly specialized.”But for a young Gershwin who spent his time getting into trouble on the streets of Brooklyn, the distance between those two schools of thought wasn’t that far. A friend’s violin recital proved to be the most effective kind of prescription for Gershwin’s early behavioral problems. At age 10, Gershwin found salvation in the simple notes, chords and rhythm; he stumbled on to a treatment that would ultimately lead to fame, fortune and the undisputed title of one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.“As soon as he heard those first notes, Gershwin was so transfixed, on the spot (he) decided to devote the rest of his life to the study of music,” Kogan said. “He made a remarkable recovery.”From there, Gershwin turned all of his frenetic, nervous energy to his art. He started learning the piano obsessively. He quit school at the age of 15 to be a “song-plugger” in the Tin Pan Alley neighborhood of New York, promoting sheet music for a large publishing company and working on his own music in his spare time. Collaborating with his brother Ira, George Gershwin pumped out tune after tune, obsessively working to perfect his craft. Full-blown commercial success came after Broadway crooner Al Jolson performed Gershwin’s song “Swanee” in 1919. That exposure was the first step in making Gershwin a household name.“He completely inhaled the jazz tradition,” Kogan said. “Before he was skilled, he was actually convinced he was great.”More enduring artistic achievements followed. Gershwin’s 1924 classical work “Rhapsody in Blue” came to define the sound of American music. His opera “Porgy and Bess,” composed in 1935, started as a commercial flop. It was only after Gershwin’s death from a brain tumor at age 38 that the show would achieve status as one of the greatest orchestral works of the 20th century.Kogan brought Gershwin’s story to life through words and notes. A graduate of the Julliard School of Music Pre-College program, Kogan took breaks from his lecture to play solo and sweeping renditions of selections from “Porgy and Bess,” “Rhapsody in Blue” and standards like “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Swanee.” He spoke of Gershwin’s struggles with depression in his 30s, of the role that music played in keeping his focus. Even as he suffered from the undiagnosed brain tumor that eventually killed him, music remained the main focus of Gershwin’s life. He made good on his decision to give his life to the art form.“It’s one of the great tragedies of recent history,” Kogan said in reference to the years and years of bad diagnoses as the brain tumor made its fatal progress. “It boggles the mind to imagine what he might have produced.”But the larger message of Kogan’s lecture was clear: a greater tragedy would have come if that 10-year-old ruffian raised on the streets of Brooklyn had never discovered music. With song credits that number in the hundreds and a cultural impact far too great to measure, Gershwin made the most of the medicinal quality of music. It was a drug more powerful than ritalin or adderall; it was a treatment that left a permanent mark on the world.Reach reporter Adam Goldstein at 720-449-9707 or agoldstein@aurorasentinel.com Concert pianist and psychiatrist Richard Kogan addresses his audience, Sept. 19 at Anschutz Medical Campus. Kogan offered insights into the life of composer George Gershwin during a presentation that included lecture and live music. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Concert pianist and psychiatrist Richard Kogan plays “Rhapsody in Blue”, Sept. 19 at Anschutz Medical Campus. Kogan offered insights into the life of composer George Gershwin during a presentation that included lecture and live music. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)last_img read more

LaBeouf stumps Berlin Film Festival

first_imgBERLIN | Actor Shia LaBeouf hit the Berlin Film Festival in memorable style Sunday, first walking out of a press conference for the film “Nymphomaniac Volume I” and then wearing a paper bag over his head at the red carpet premiere.The actor posed for photographers in a stylish tuxedo — and a paper bag with eyeholes and the words “I am not famous anymore” written across it. LaBeouf has frequently used the statement on his Twitter page, and he was identifiable by a tattoo on his hand.The unconventional attire came shortly after the star walked out of a press conference with co-stars Uma Thurman and Christian Slater to promote Lars von Trier’s film, the first installment of a two-part drama about a woman’s sexual life from girlhood to age 50.A reporter’s question as to whether the actors were worried about the film’s sex scenes elicited the response: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.” He then walked out.LaBeouf’s line was borrowed from French soccer player Eric Cantona, who baffled reporters with it in the mid-1990s following his suspension for a flying kick on a heckler.The actor has come under fire for borrowing dialogue and story line for his short film, “Howard Cantour.com,” which closely resembled a 2007 graphic novel by Daniel Clowes.“In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation,” LaBeouf said on Twitter in December in response to Clowes’ publisher’s claim that he stole dialogue verbatim.LaBoeuf wasn’t the only one making a statement. Von Trier turned up to a photo call sporting a t-shirt with the logo of the Cannes Film Festival and the words “Persona non grata, official selection.”In 2011, von Trier was ejected from the Cannes event after a bizarre, rambling news conference in which he expressed sympathy with Adolf Hitler. He said afterward he had been joking, later issuing an apology and then saying he would refrain from future public statements.The director skipped Sunday’s news conference to talk about the film. The version at the festival increases to nearly 2 ½ hours the first installment.At the press conference, Thurman said she enjoyed letting off the “fury of woman scorned” in a monologue von Trier wrote for her in the movie. “It was a real great challenge to memorize seven pages of Lars’ female diatribe of rage,” she told reporters.“Lars kept saying I was overacting, but that’s nothing new,” Thurman added.last_img read more

Right at Home: decor inspired by creepy crawlies

first_imgMany would agree with naturalist David Attenborough that nature “is the greatest source of visual beauty.”And that includes the creepy crawlies: From snakes’ skins to the intricate physiology of the smallest bug, we can’t help but be impressed by the beauty of creatures that buzz, flit and slither.Artists and designers have long used insects, reptiles and other small animals as inspiration. Let’s grab our nets and catch a few of the most intriguing recent examples:In his “Pheromone” series, artist and designer Christopher Marley of Salem, Oregon, marries his passion for crisp design with a fascination for insects, sea organisms and birds by arranging them simply yet artfully on plain backgrounds in shadow boxes. A stripey mountain kingsnake seems poised to meander north of the frame in which he resides. A prion urchin looks like a tiny alien spacecraft, sprung from the confines of the ocean floor. Dozens of beetles are arranged like the iridescent squadron of an entomological army. Butterflies form kaleidoscopic prisms.The displays are an arresting mix of science and art. The specimens, which died of natural or incidental causes, come from museums, breeders and zoos around the world, Marley says.“Sharing the thrill of discovery is one of the most driving aspects of my work,” he says. (www.pheromonedesign.com )New York artist George Venson creates birds, snakes and octopuses in vibrant, painterly hues, and then arranges the images on wallpaper. He wants the walls to “come alive,” and there’s a sense of movement in each design. Snakes slither through backgrounds of ink, acid green or ruby. (www.voutsa.com )In Osborne & Little’s exotic Komodo wallpaper collection, holographic foil lizards skitter across a black, silver or gold background. (www.osborneandlittle.com )Los Angeles designer Paul Marra’s Snake Lantern forges two sinuous creatures into the form of a steel and brass pendant lantern. (www.deringhall.com )Sculptor Mike Libby once found a dead beetle and got to thinking about how it had moved. He began dissecting and experimenting — at the same time taking apart an old wristwatch, and using those pieces — until he’d come up with the first of an ongoing collection of fantastical steampunk arachnids, bees and other creepy crawlies. He uses real insect carcasses and bits from watches, vintage typewriters and old sewing machines to fashion carapaces, wings, antennae and pincers for his mechanical menagerie. (www.insectlabstudio.com )As Aristotle put it: “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Van Dyken-Rouen heading home ‘1,000 times better’

first_imgENGLEWOOD, Colo. | Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen is leaving the hospital feeling “1,000 times better” after two months of rehabilitation.She’s even become the self-described “wheelie queen” in her specially designed wheelchair. She rolled out the hospital door Thursday — the same one she was brought in through on a stretcher in June.At Craig Hospital, Van Dyken-Rouen learned how to drive with hand controls, dress herself and pick things off the floor. She also went boating and visited the zoo.All part of the recovery for Van Dyken-Rouen, who was left paralyzed just below the waist in an all-terrain vehicle crash on June 6 in Arizona. She’s ready to return home to Arizona, but will remain in Colorado until September.Her immediate plans include visits to friends, some sailing and more rehab.last_img read more

Walking the Americas: Woman preps for 5-year trek

first_img In this photo taken Aug. 28, 2015, Bethany Hughes walks through a park in Kansas City, Mo. as she prepares for her upcoming hike through the Americas. Hughes hopes to become the first woman to trek from the southern tip of South America to the northern tip of Alaska all by non-motorized means. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) SMITHVILLE, Mo. | The night before Bethany Hughes started on the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile hike from Mexico to Canada, she was so wired that she kept rifling through her bags.Everyone else was asleep, but Hughes thought a “real” backpacker knew where to find anything she needed. So she kept pulling out gear, then repacking it. Over and over, all night.Eventually, another hiker said, “You’re like a 5-year-old the night before Christmas,” and her trail name of “Fidgit” was born.It has never fit better. Five years later, the 29-year-old with the curious inability to sit still is preparing to depart on her next daring expedition: She will attempt to become the first documented woman to travel the length of the Americas — from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Barrow, Alaska — entirely by non-motorized means. The 20,000-mile trek will begin in December and take an estimated five years to complete.Along the way, Hughes plans to spend time in local villages and bear witness to their way of life, promoting education, opportunities for women and other social issues.“I really want to inspire others to pursue their own audacious goals,” she said, twirling in her fingers a small silver pendant of a woman hiking.“Our world is only as big as the information that we allow to come into it,” Hughes continued, “so I believe being able to share what’s going on to the opposite side of the world, and that they’re not so different than us, we’re going to make it a lot further.”Hughes traces her wandering spirit to her parents, Nazarene missionaries who spent time in Chile, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic during her childhood. Along with spreading the gospel, they instilled in her a passion for the outdoors. Hughes remembers her father going on hikes in the mountains, and she would hide in the back of the family car, popping out when he was far enough that there was no other recourse but to take her along.Later, she lived in Spain and studied abroad at Oxford. Six little footprints are tattooed up her foot, one for each country Hughes has lived in.“My family is very conservative, so me getting a tattoo was like, pushing some boundaries,” she said, smiling. “My dad was like, ‘You have to tell your grandmother.’ And she was like, ‘Oh, if you keep getting one for every country, you’ll have them all the way up your leg!’”What does her father think of her latest endeavor?“There’s a lot of fear,” admitted Kendall Hughes, a chaplain at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.“Even with financial backing, there’s stuff you can run into — river crossings alone are dangerous. I don’t know how you can fully prepare.”Hughes understands the risks. She knows winters in the Andes are brutal, summers in the tropics insufferable. The mountains are beautiful but deadly, wildlife always a wildcard.She fears other people most. Many countries in South and Central America are dangerous, even more so for a woman traveling by bicycle or foot.Hughes has tried to mitigate the risk by taking wilderness survival courses, where she has learned everything from how to forage for food to how to build shelters. She knows a bit of taekwondo. And she’ll have a traveling companion in South America, Lauren Reed, an experienced hiker in her own right whom she met on the Pacific Crest Trail.“I’m sure things will come up,” said Reed, who has also completed the Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail — the so-called Triple Crown of hiking. “Things will happen as they happen, and if there’s something dangerous, my hope is we’ll figure it out.”Hughes has spent several years planning the trip, saving much of the estimated $12,000 she will need annually working multiple jobs. A few sponsors, such as Hyperlite Mountain Gear, have provided assistance. But most of her support has come through grassroots fundraising.The plan is to follow the mountains through Argentina, Chile and Peru, then continue north through Ecuador and Colombia. Reed intends to drop off at that point, and Hughes will continue on bicycle through Central America and Mexico, before heading through the U.S. to Canada.There, depending on the weather, she will hike, cycle or canoe. She may even drive a sled-dog team part of the way, a skill she picked up living briefly in Alaska.“I’ve found two gentlemen who have done this, both British,” Hughes said. “And six or eight people hiked over 1,000 miles of South America. Of those, three or four did all of South America. I’ve mainly been going off their works, but also looking at other endurance tests.”The biggest advantage she has over those of previous generations is technology. Google Earth has allowed her to plot her path with reasonable accuracy, while DeLorme’s GPS system will keep not only keep her on track but allow a team of volunteers back in the U.S. to monitor her progress.She will carry everything she needs with her, from food and water to matches and cooking utensils, and resupply whenever she passes through a town or village. Her support infrastructure will also send packages to help her out — new shoes and clothing, for example, or a chocolate bar to lift her spirits.Physically, there is no real way to train for the trip — Hughes is in good shape, but it’s not as if she is running a marathon and can simply log miles. The only to prepare for such an endurance hike is to do it.“Gear and social and cultural progress have made this a unique time in history, where we’re able to facilitate an adventure like this,” she explained. “I think the world is ready for a message like this, that little girls should pursue their own dreams.”There will be sacrifices. She is leaving just before the holidays, a time she would normally spend with family. People will get married while she’s on the trail. Some will have children, others may die.Hughes knows she will miss a lot of life over the next five years.Then again, Fidgit will be doing plenty of living, too.Online:Her Odyssey: https://www.her-odyssey.orgcenter_img In this photo taken Aug. 28, 2015, Bethany Hughes talks about her upcoming hike through the Americas at a coffee shop in Kansas City, Mo. Hughes hopes to to become the first woman to trek from the southern tip of South America to the northern tip of Alaska all by non-motorized means. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)last_img read more

Chicago’s O’Hare airport gets indoor pet potty zone

first_imgCHICAGO | Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has opened an indoor space for pets and service animals to do their business complete with artificial grass and miniature fire hydrants.In particular, the addition will make it easier for travelers with disabilities who will no longer have to go back out through security for their service animals to use the existing outdoor pet facilities.The pet relief room is located past security checkpoints in the rotunda area of Terminal 3.There are pop-up sprinklers to wash away liquid waste into a drain and plastic bags for cleanup. The room is wheelchair accessible and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.Besides the new animal relief room, O’Hare has three outdoor facilities for pets and service animals.last_img read more

Review: Johnson survives the rubble that is ‘Rampage’

first_imgUsually paired with smaller companions like Kevin Hart or Moana, Dwayne Johnson is for once the diminutive one in “Rampage,” a hopelessly bland and bizarrely self-serious monster movie.Johnson plays primatologist Davis Okoye in Brad Petyon’s adaption of a classic 1986 arcade game. Naturally, Okoye has some covert military history but — like so many highly trained international commandos — he’s now working at the San Diego Zoo. His time is especially focused on a hulking albino gorilla named George. They are pals, Davis and George, who fist-bump and play pranks on one another. This image released by Warner Bros. shows Naomi Harris, left, and Dwayne Johnson in a scene from “Rampage.” (Frank Masi/Warner Bros. via AP) 1 of 5 This image released by Warner Bros. shows a scene from “Rampage.” (Warner Bros. via AP) The two are actually a winning pair, but “Rampage,” unfortunately, isn’t the Rock-and-monkey buddy comedy (“The Guerrilla and the Gorilla”?) we might crave. “Rampage” is professional-looking, thanks to the well-integrated effects artistry of Weta Digital. We have become spoiled, perhaps, by affecting computer-generated primates thanks to the “Planet of the Apes” franchise. But George (played with motion capture by Jason Liles) still holds his own in the monkey-movie kingdom.And Johnson, so recently in the jungle for “Jumanji,” remains a truly indefatigable movie star capable of carrying even the most half-baked of premises with colossal charisma. “Rampage” would surely sink a less sturdy action star, yet even here the wayward mishmash of monster-movie tropes only seem to ping off him like bullets deflected by Superman.The objective of the original 8-bit video game was to, while controlling one of three giant monsters (a gorilla, dinosaur or werewolf), reduce a city to rubble. Naturally, a story of such pathos and originality brought Hollywood rushing with a check for millions.What the film’s writers — Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal, Adam Sztykiel — have come up with from this skeletal concept is something overly elaborate and curiously humorless. The film opens ominously in space, where a genetic experiment has created a giant mutated rat that chews up the space station’s crew, but not before an escape pod with three samples shoots back to Earth.The canisters of serum land alongside an alligator in the Florida Everglades, a wolf in Wyoming and at George’s habitat in San Diego. Each quickly swells massively while simultaneously becoming increasingly aggressive. (With a slightly different trajectory, we might have gotten a more unpredictable mutant trio like maybe a cockatoo, a koala and Keith Olbermann. Now that would be interesting.)The company behind the trials tries to quietly recapture the lab results. Malin Akerman, the fine actress of “Billions,” plays its ruthless chief executive, alongside her more clueless brother, played by Jake Lacy. Meanwhile, a consortium of military and government agencies try and fail to capture or kill the beasts as they converge on Chicago. Naomie Harris plays a genetic engineer.But the only performance really of note in “Rampage” is by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays an agent for an unnamed government agency with wild-eyed, cowboy abandon. The scenery might be digital, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to chew it all.As a product that reunites the director and star of “San Andreas” and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” ”Rampage” is similarly forgettable popcorn fare that, in almost every scene feels like a knockoff of something else. And it should be funny. Movies about giant mutant animals that flock to the Windy City really ought to be funny. Morgan seems to be the only one to realize that in monster camp like this, go big or go home.“Rampage,” a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief language and crude gestures.” Running time: 107 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPcenter_img This image released by Warner Bros. shows Dwayne Johnson in a scene from “Rampage.” (Dwayne Johnson via AP) This image released by Warner Bros. shows Jeffrey Dean Morgan in a scene from “Rampage.” (Warner Bros. via AP) This image released by Warner Bros. shows Naomie Harris in a scene from “Rampage.” (Warner Bros. via AP)last_img read more

SCENE & HERD: Editor’s picks for week of Nov. 1

first_imgEvergreen is abuzz with laughs in WASP comedy The Dining RoomAh, dining rooms. The room that brings families together for dinner and tears them apart afterwards because of a political argument started by your inebriated uncle talking about the Founding Fathers’ vision of gun rights. Feel better before this inevitable Thanksgiving argument by going to see a more dysfunctional family in the Evergreen Players’ production of the hilarious WASP comedy The Dining Room. A series of vignettes, each one introduces a new set of people and events, dovetailing swiftly and smoothly into a rich theatrical experience of compassionate humor and abundant humanity. Hopefully, it will give you both catharsis and empathy to your family members with different views. . . unless they don’t like the Broncos because are they even family at that point?The show runs now until Nov. 11, Fri./Sat. at 7:30 p.m. and Sun. 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for youth, $20 for seniors and students, and $25 for adults, all available at evergreenplayers.org or 303-674-4934.Et tu, ballet? The Nutcracker dances back to the stage this NovemberColorado Ballet is presenting their 58th annual production of the classic ballet, The Nutcracker. Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs states, “Colorado Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker remains one of Denver’s favorite holiday traditions.” It’s not hard to see why. For one half, it’s the ballet version of Apocalypse Now where men are eaten alive by their enemies. The other half is anthropomorphic candy. Just anthropomorphic candy. If that doesn’t get you excited to see it, we don’t know what will.The show begins its 27- show run Nov. 24 and ends Dec. 24. Tickets range from $30 to $155 and can be purchased at coloradoballet.org or call 303-837-8888 ext. 2. Tickets sell fast, so purchase tickets early. Dates and times of shows are available through the website.Over the River and Through the Woods to Lousiville we goIt’s no secret that Americans love to watch Italian-Americans commit crime. Just look at The Godfather I and II, The Sopranos, Goodfellas, Casino, or Francis Ford Coppola for making The Godfather III. So it’s nice to see Italian-Americans represented in a humorous way in Coal Creek Theater of Lousville’s production of Over the River and Through the Woods. While Patsy’s may be gone, we’re sure that Italian spirit will live on in this comedy.Show begins now until November 10. Fri./Sat. At 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. Adult and senior/student tickets are $20 and $17 respectively. Group discounts are available. All tickets can be purchased by either visiting cctlouisville.org or calling 303-665-0955.Frankenstein is brought to life with the help of the Lakewood Cultural CenterMary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a classic gothic tale of hubris, isolation, and mortality, so basically the thoughts we have when we think of getting McDonald’s at midnight. The Lakewood Cultural Center is working with Aquila Theatre, one of the foremost producers of touring classical theater in the United States. Don’t miss it so people don’t have to constantly tell you that Frankenstein is the scientist and the monster is known as Frankenstein’s monster.The show begins at 7:30 p.m. both Nov. 8 and 9. Tickets start at  $20 and can be purchased at Lakewood.org/LCCPrsents, by calling 303-987-7845, or visiting the Lakewood Cultural Center Box Office, 470 S. Allison Parkway (Wadsworth and West Alameda Avenue). Celebrate Native American Heritage Month at Aurora Fox Theater Nov. 7Heritage is important. It helps know who we are and where we came from. So head down to the Aurora Fox Theater on Nov. 7 to help celebrate Native American Heritage Month.The event will feature Aztec Groupo Huitlzliopotchli, Native American storyteller Red Feather Woman and Mexican Folklorist  Rita Wallace.Show begins at 12 pm. Aurora Fox Theater, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. Aurora. Admission is free. Parties of 10 or more please RSVP.  For more information call 720-329-0869 or jtoh2016@gmail.comlast_img read more

Big two unfazed by starter chaos

first_imgMichael has history with the group, so it was not totally unexpected. This prompted fellow winner Chelo to muse that “even a blind squirrel sometimes finds nuts”!Sharing the ‘2’s pot were Chris Smith, Dennis Lea and Robbie Taylor and the Booby Bevy went to Alan Flynn for his 10-19 split.What a memorable day it had been with absolute chaos on the first tee and amazing round the result of it all.  Nice one “Squirrel”!King for a day, Richard the FirstThe Society treated itself to a competition day out at Bangpra on Wednesday, 5th February on a course which was impeccably presented with rolling fairways and quick and testing greens.  The large field was divided into two flights at fifteen and under for the stableford event.In the second flight Mr Len, Jim Ferris and Dennis Lea all shared second place with 32 points each whilst Larry Putter showed he had come to grips with his new Odyssey putter with an efficient 33 points for the win.In the top flight Alan Flynn’s pedigree again showed as he took third place with 33 points, one behind Mike Earley’s very solid 34 points.  The flight winner, with the best points score of the day, was Richard Dobson who has successfully come through a crusade against ill-luck and mistimed shots which has dogged his game for a few weeks now.  His 36 points represented his best effort this trip.There were birdie ‘2’s for Larry Slattery and Paul Sturgeon whilst an unlucky Wichai Tananusorn took Rabbi’s non-winners’ beer and Shelagh Sturgeon enjoyed the Booby Bevy for her low score of the day.Bangpra certainly knows how to make a golf day almost perfect.Caven conquers Crystal BayThe PGS ended its golfing week with a visit to Crystal Bay on Friday, 7th February, to play a stableford competition on the A and B nines which were not in the best of conditions, with slow and very bobbly greens.  It must be a headache to regularly maintain greens, especially when courses such as Crystal Bay are so well populated in high season, but other courses manage somehow.  Perhaps communication is the problem?The two flights were divided at fifteen and under and in the first flight Rick Schramm played very solidly for his third place finish with 33 points, whilst Pete Sumner’s 35 points represented the best gross of the day.  The flight winner was Aussie Andrew Purdie with 37 points.In the second flight PJ Mitchell and big Michael McGuigan shared third place with 35 points, just one behind Jim Ferris’s level par 36.  The flight winner with the best points total of the day was Niall Caven and his 39 points was his best score with the group.The sole ‘2’ of the day was recorded by Yvonne Earley on the long A5th.The boss for the day, David Thomas inexplicably forgot to award the Booby Bevy, which would have put him in the frame as well but he had already identified Dave Moriarty for the beer with his six and eighteen split.Thus ended another successful week out of Rabbi’s Elephant Bar in Soi Buakhao when all the fields were fully booked well in advance and all the golfers played their part well in representing the group on some quality courses. The Pattaya Golf Society (IPGC) at Rabbi’s Elephant BarThe Pattaya Golf Society fulfilled its booking at a chaotic Green Valley on Monday, 3rd February to find no caddies available at 10:30am.  An hour later saw some of the group teeing off, but unhappy and hungry caddies were redirected immediately from the eighteenth tee to the first to complete a nine to ten hour “shift” with no break.  Little wonder there were a lack of caddies!As a result most of the field felt this was not going to be their day but the large field made the best of it.  With the cut at seventeen and under the top flight saw Wichai Tananusorn take third place with 32 points whilst John Topping made second place his own with 33 points.  The flight winner was Canadian golfer John Chelo with an excellently crafted 35 points.In the second flight Murray Edwards was third with 35 points, one behind Martin Hennessy on 36.  The flight winner was amiable Scottish giant Michael McGuigan whose round of 39 points saw him score eleven on the front nine and an incredible 28 points (yes, twenty-eight) on the back, playing par golf for six holes, all off a handicap of 31!last_img read more