Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Toast To the City Of Alma Colorado

My friend Stuart and I drove up into the Colorado mountains this afternoon to take in the fall colors. In addition to looking at the leaves, we also did a little sightseeing in the city of Fairplay.  Many of the buildings there are from the 1870s.  We took a look inside a number of these buildings, including two old hotels, both of which are allegedly haunted. Unfortunately, neither of these ghosts appeared to tell Stuart about the speed trap just up the road in the city of Alma.  Like other Colorado mountain towns during the fall, Alma needs to bulk up its coffers in preparation for the long winter ahead, kind of like the bear population.  Stuart wound up getting a speeding ticket entering the town heading north, while at the same time another motorist heading south was also contributing $137 (including taxes, no less) to the city's coffers.  Good going guys.  It sounds like the annual Christmas party will be especially fancy this year.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jordan's Is Ready!

I stopped in the other day at Jordan's Irish Pub, located kitty-corner from the University of Denver campus, and everyone there is excited about the Presidential Debate that will be taking place at DU this coming Wednesday between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.  The pub will be staffed to the max and hopes to attract a significant portion of those 3,000 hard-drinking journalists who will be descending on the neighborhood.  Personally, to help fit in, I intend to stop by there next week wearing my newly updated Chicago Daily News press credentials, which I made myself with a little help from the Internet.  By the way, does anyone know where to buy a fedora these days?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Valarie Keeps The Faith

I had dinner tonight with Valarie, the former Operations Manager of the University of Denver Bookstore, and she has not succumbed to Mitt Madness - she is still keeping the faith with Obama.  Valarie was very surprised to learn that the first Presidential Debate of 2012 would be held at the University of Denver this coming Wednesday.  She believes it is a great honor for the University, and will definitely add to the school's prestige.  Of course, she will not have her apartment fenced in for 3 days and lose the use of her car during that period, like we here in the DU neighborhood. Not to mention having to undergo the scrutiny of the Secret Service for 5 days.  And no, I am not an old curmudgeon.  I am in fact only 59.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Last Home Game Of The Year

Today was the last home game of the year for the Colorado Rockies, and Robin and her daughter Caitlin (see photograph above) and I were at Coors Field here in Denver to say goodbye to the 2012 baseball season.  The Rockies won big time, although this victory was tempered by the fact that the Rockies were playing the Chicago Cubs, the second worst team in all of baseball.  On the other hand, the Rockies are the third worst team in baseball this year, so why be proud?  Wait till next year!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Approaching A Big Deadline

The Great Debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will take place here at the University of Denver just one week from today.  The University still hopes to complete the exterior remodeling of the Penrose Library - a project called the Academic Commons - before the two candidates arrive on campus.  No doubt University Officials have heard the rumors that unfinished construction projects just enrage President Obama. These rumors claim Obama was in a snit for months while the Washington Monument was being repaired after last year's earthquake.  The only thing that seemed to cheer him up was some kind of honey beer that is made in the White House basement.  In any case, I hate to say it, but it appears to me that there is still a lot of work to be done on the Academic Commons before next Wednesday.  If I were a DU Official, I would have a few bottles of that honey beer on hand just in case.  Good luck and God speed, construction guys!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Alumni's Viewpoint

I went over to Stuart's place tonight to watch the second worst team in baseball (the Rockies) play the third worst team in baseball (the Cubs) in an exciting battle to avoid 100 losses this season.  Stuart is an alumni of the University of Denver, having graduated from there with a Master's Degree in International Relations.While we watched the game, I asked Stuart if he - as an alumni - was proud that the University of Denver was hosting the first Presidential Debate of 2012 between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  "No comment" replied Stuart.  Do you think spending close to 5 million dollars on a 90 minute event will bring the University 30 million dollars worth of free publicity? "No comment."  Are you going to make a donation to DU to help defray this large expense?  "No comment."  However, Stuart did comment that he thought the Rockies would win the contest between these two losers.  Thanks, Stuart, for your insightful comments!  The University of Denver, as well as the Colorado Rockies, thank you!

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Week To Go!

The first Presidential Debate of 2012 between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is just over a week away.  The fences have already gone up around the University of Denver's Ritchie Center, where the debate will take place, and access will be severely restricted.  Rumor has it that the Secret Service will be setting up their command center next door in the Schwayder Art Building.  No doubt they want to keep a close eye on all those art professors and art students, traditionally the most radical and unconventional group on campus.  Hopefully the Secret Service won't confiscate everyone's paint brushes and putty knives, or at the very least will just take them away on the day of the debate.  You can't be too careful, I guess.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rampage Rages On

Marty, the Textbook Manager for the DU Bookstore, also plays guitar for a local band called Rampage.  This weekend they are playing in the backyard of their drummer, Falstaff, for an event called Faltoberfest.  I heard the band play once at a place called the Toad's Hole - or something like that - and think they could do better than just playing in people's backyards.  If I were their manager, they would be known far and wide all over East Colfax Avenue here in Denver.  Perhaps they are not ready for that kind of fame.  If they were, and people got to see them in person, they could ask the drummer if he was named after the character in Shakespeare or after the beer.  By the way, do they still make Falstaff beer?  That would be a good question for the drummer too.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wally Promotes The Rocky Mountain Churchillians

Wally, my friend and colleague at the DU Bookstore, is a member of the Rocky Mountain Churchillians, a group that is dedicated to the study of all things Churchill.  Wally has been a bit worried lately that people are losing interest in the group, and is hoping they can attract some new members - get some new blood into the organization. Personally, I think the whole Ward Churchill thing hurt the group pretty hard.  Plus, Wally tells me that the Churchillians do not have an open bar at the 2 or 3 events they hold each year.  If they did, I know I and a lot of my friends would definitely attend their gatherings.  This November the group will be celebrating Winston Churchill's 138th birthday at the University Club here in Denver.  Come on, Blog Readers!  Join up and make plans to attend!  If you don't, the Rocky Mountain Churchillians might be celebrating Churchill's next birthday out on the curb with a couple of 6 packs.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Book Recommendation From Noah

Noah, the DU Bookstore's Stockroom Supervisor and an aspiring poet, is currently reading a biography of Robert Duncan, a poet who lived in San Francisco during the 1960s and who was very involved with both the counterculture movement and the literary scene there during that period.  Noah tells me that his father attended seminary school in Berkeley from 1966 to 1969, and along with his mother, was also very involved in the political movements of that era.  In fact, Noah's mother told him just yesterday that it might be a good idea if he took off work Wednesday, October 3rd - the day of the first Presidential debate here at the University of Denver.  She told him he might need to bail her out of jail if her group, the Raging Grannies of Denver, wind up getting arrested.  It seems to me that Noah doesn't need to read Robert Duncan's biography to learn about the 1960s.  He just needs to hang out more with his parents.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Coffee With Ed!

Ed stopped by the DU Bookstore yesterday morning to say hello.  Ed was the University of Denver Bookstore's Director for over 10 years and went on to become Director of Business Services for the University before retiring a few years ago.  Over coffee Ed told me he is really enjoying retirement.  He  represents his neighborhood association in Lakewood, runs his condo's Home Owner's Association up in Frisco, and serves on the Board of the University of Denver's Resource Center for Retired University Personnel.  I recently received the Retiree Directory from the University and was surprised to see that I know and have worked with almost everyone listed there.  I've been wondering why none of them come into the Bookstore so much any more.  All my peers seem to be retired, but here I am, still working at the DU Bookstore.  It makes me realize how incredibly young I must have been when I started working here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Return To The Classroom

John, my friend and colleague at the DU Bookstore, started a chemistry class at DU this past week in his quest to become a teacher.  John graduated from the University of Denver with an art degree, and so this is a major change for him.  I asked how he was dealing with this dramatic switch from art to science, and he told me it is going well.  I'm just glad it's not me.  I still have nightmares about Mr. Reed's chemistry class back at Rich Central High School, and that was over 40 years ago. And Mr. Reed, if you are still around, I am sorry about accidentally blowing up your lab.  I am sure it has been repaired by now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Visit From Gina

Gina, who faithful readers will recall retired as Manager of the University of Denver's Quick Copy Center last year, stopped by the DU Bookstore this morning to say hello.  Gina now lives near Phoenix, Arizona, which has an average summer temperature of around 140 degrees.  This probably explains her frequent trips back to Denver. Gina will be attending several Denver Broncos games while here, and will be selling the rest of her season tickets to various DU staff members.  Sounds like a new career to me.  You do have a ticket brokers license, don't you Gina?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Feedback On The 16th Street Mall Festival Of The Arts

The first annual 16th Street Mall Festival of the Arts took place here in Denver this past Friday and Saturday.  Joe (pictured above), who in addition to working at the DU Bookstore is an accomplished artist and who took part in the event, gave me his feedback on the festival today.  Joe feels that despite the success of many of the artists at the event, setting up the booths in the center of the mall, between two bus lanes, was pretty risky.  Art patrons, standing in front of a booth, money in hand and ready to buy, risked being eviscerated by buses as they sped past.  This possibility of instant death probably deterred a number of sales.  Even if potential customers somehow managed to get out of the way at the last moment,  their enthusiasm for the purchase probably disappeared, and most likely they simply headed off to the nearest bar to contemplate their narrow escape.  Next year Joe suggests a connecting street be closed for the event, allowing patrons to browse the art without having to cheat death.  Good suggestion, Joe.  We call that win-win in the business world.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Microbrewery Olympics!

Yesterday the Colorado Microbrewery Olympics were held at 17th and Vine Streets here in Denver.  The crowds were huge and enthusiastic.  There were contestants from such familiar microbreweries as Breckenridge, Wynkoop, Oskar Blues, and Avery, and from some relatively unknown (at least to me) breweries such as Renegade and Twisted Pine.  Events included such traditional contests as blindfolded malt bag stacking and competitive beer pitcher holding.  If this annual festival continues to grow in popularity, in 4 years you could be seeing these events at the Olympics in Rio.  Keep up that training, guys!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

An Afternoon of Kaos

My friend Stuart (in the photograph above) and I checked out a beer festival at 17th and Vine Streets here in Denver this afternoon before heading to Kaos on South Pearl for pizza and beer.  The beer festival was quite a lively affair - Denverites seem to take their beer very seriously these days.  Makes me ashamed to admit I used to drink only Old Style back when I lived in Chicago.  I even toyed with Stroh's after I first moved out here.  Hopefully the micro-brew industry will consider starting support groups for people like me who made such youthful mistakes.    

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Night Blues

Since I had a day off from my job at the DU Bookstore today, I decided to bike downtown to Denver's 16th Street Mall this afternoon.  As I walked past Katie Mullen's Irish Pub, I noticed there was a blues group on the outside patio, entertaining the "happy hour" crowd.  They were pretty good, too, so I stayed and listened for a while. I've never considered blues music a staple of Irish pubs, but it makes sense when you think about it. After reading "Angela's Ashes,"  I can see why the Irish might sing the blues - as well as listen to them - once in a while.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Samsara - A Movie Review

I went to see Samsara - a "visual documentary" - at the Esquire Theater here in Denver tonight.  Due to my nocturnal schedule at the DU Bookstore, I wound up having to attend the 9:45 P.M. showing of the film.  This was the latest I had ever attended a movie since my then wife Lisa and I attended a late showing of "Chariots of Fire" oh so many years ago.  I know Chariots was a great film, but that night it seemed to last for about 10 hours - not as long as "Yental" seemed to last, but pretty darn close.  I could barely stay awake.  In any case, I had no such trouble with Samsara - it was riveting.  The photography was superb, and the subject matter went from awe-inspiring and fascinating to incredibly depressing.  Samsara was filmed in 25 countries over a 5 year period, and seeing the results up close on the big screen was a great experience.  I would recommend the film to anyone.  By the way, unfortunately, for all you Denver area movie buffs, Thursday was the film's last day here in town.  You snooze, you lose!

Samsara - A Movie Review

I went to see Samsara - a "visual documentary" - at the Esquire Theater here in Denver tonight.  Due to my nocturnal schedule at the DU Bookstore, I wound up having to attend the 9:45 P.M. showing of the film.  This was the latest I had ever attended a movie since my then wife Lisa and I attended a late showing of "Chariots of Fire" oh so many years ago.  I know Chariots was a great film, but that night it seemed to last for about 10 hours - not as long as "Yental" seemed to last, but pretty darn close.  I could barely stay awake.  In any case, I had no such trouble with Samsara - it was riveting.  The photography was superb, and the subject matter went from awe-inspiring and fascinating to incredibly depressing.  Samsara was filmed in 25 countries over a 5 year period, and seeing the results up close on the big screen was a great experience.  I would recommend the film to anyone.  By the way, unfortunately, for all you Denver area movie buffs, Thursday was the film's last day here in town.  You snooze, you lose!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pondering The Meaning Of Life

During these busy days here at DU , it is often good to take some time and ponder what it all means - why are we here, what should we be doing with our lives, should we bet the farm on the White Sox winning it all?  One of my favorite places to ponder life is Jordan's Irish Pub,  just across the street from the University of Denver campus.  The place is a cross between a neighborhood bar and a college hangout, with both groups coexisting peacefully.  I haven't made any breakthroughs yet in the "meaning of life" department, but I feel it is necessary, even critical  to keep trying.  Important tip: don't ponder too much if you have to work the next morning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cheryl Is Back!

Cheryl is back helping out at the DU Bookstore over the next few weeks. Cheryl is the Budget Officer for the University of Denver's Center for Teaching and Learning, and also works at the Bookstore evenings and weekends during the start of each quarter.  When I worked for the University of Denver as the Bookstore's Budget Officer, Cheryl and I would often attend budget meetings together, and she would give me a kick in the shins each time I dropped off to sleep. Thanks again for doing that, Cheryl. The Office of Budgeting and Planning takes a very dim view of people snoring through their presentations.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The First Day Of Classes!

Today was the first day of the fall quarter here at the University of Denver - my 29th fall "rush" at the DU Bookstore, I might add - and the store was busy all day.  I vividly remember my first fall rush.  It was just before the store moved from the old Carnegie Library Building to our present location in the Driscoll Center. There was a single charge machine for the entire store located at the information desk, and each cashier had to walk up to the counter if by chance a customer wanted to pay using a credit card.  I was told there would be very little business that evening, and so I had scheduled only a few cashiers after 4:30 P.M.  In fact, it turned out to be an extremely busy evening.  I remember getting Bill, a stockroom employee at the time, his wife Patty, a former store employee who was there to pick him up, and several other people I dragged off the street to cashier that evening.  We survived, but just barely.  It was a hard but valuable lesson I learned that evening: accept nothing at face value.  The definition of "busy," like many other things in life, is open to interpretation.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pondering Art

What is art?  What makes one painting brilliant, and another one just so so?  In the photograph above, my evil twin and I are pondering the screen prints of Seattle "grunge artist" Art Chantry in a gallery at the Denver Art Museum. In another gallery at the museum, the paintings of Robert Motherwell are being featured.  To me, Motherwell's paintings look like squares of different sizes and colors on canvas, and yet they are considered priceless.  What do art experts see when they look at his paintings?  To me it is a mother of a mystery.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Free Art!

Today was a free day at the Denver Art Museum, and I was able to get down there for the first time in three months.  Unfortunately, the entire third floor of the Hamilton Building was closed due to a "membership event," which probably involved drinking themselves silly at the open bar.  Another gallery on the second floor was closed in preparation for the Vincent Van Gogh exhibit next month.  The photography gallery featured an exhibit entitled "Gary Winogrand: Women Are Beautiful." It is a great show, but has been on display now for 8 months.  Still, beggars can't be choosers, and it was good to be able to see some old favorites, such as the painting above, featuring (from left to right) swimming coach Charlie Salva, myself, and the artist of the painting, Joan Brown.  I for one certainly feel I got my money's worth.

Friday, September 7, 2012

First Friday

Tonight was First Friday, the day many of the art galleries here in Denver hold receptions and stay open late.  The most popular Denver art district is on Santa Fe Boulevard, and as usual the street was crowded with art lovers this evening.  However, I couldn't help but notice that a lot of the art on display tonight seemed to feature skulls, skeletons, and other macabre subjects. No doubt the political campaign season has bummed out a lot of the artistes.  Don't worry guys - only another 2 months to go!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chris Pays A Visit

Chris, a former DU Bookstore employee now working for the University of Denver's Division of Natural Sciences and Math, stopped by the Bookstore this afternoon to say hello.  Chris and her husband Jim are in the midst of planning a major remodeling of their Denver home.  I admire their energy and determination.  Last year, when I merely had the carpet replaced, I was tempted several times to jump off the balcony of my 4th floor condo.  Of course, carpeting can be quite an emotional issue.  It took months for me to stop breaking down in sobs whenever I drove past a Home Depot.  Good Luck Chris and Jim!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Pa" St. Pierre

My great grandfather Charles St. Pierre (my mother's maternal grandfather) was evidently quite a character during his lifetime.  He was a French-Canadian carpenter, who helped build Chicago's Cook County Hospital.  The family used to travel back and forth between the family farm in Quebec and  the south side of Chicago.  "Pa" witnessed the Chicago Fire from the safety of the south side, and lived until he was almost 100.  He was still getting into fights at the local tavern when he was in his 90s, after which the police would drive him home. Pa also enjoyed teaching his children and grandchildren French swear words and expressions, which my sister Susan and I would hear from various members of my mother's family. Susan and I eventually figured out that one expression must have meant  "Eat Sh**."  My sister insists this was the motto on the St. Pierre Coat of Arms.  She is my older sister, so who am I to doubt her?  If it is true, it definitely explains a lot.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

More About Wally

Wally, my friend and colleague at the DU Bookstore, just loves books.  Each time he packs one for shipment, he says to me "Wouldn't you just love to receive a package like this in the mail?  To open it up and find a brand new book to read?"  Wally, as everyone who reads this blog knows, is a fan of Winston Churchill.  He is anxiously awaiting a new Churchill book, which I believe is titled "Churchill Cooks Italian."  I can just imagine Churchill in the kitchen, whipping up something special, his cigar ashes falling into the sauce every few minutes.  No doubt the secret ingredient that gives his sauce it's special taste.  Bon Appetite!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Return Of Joe

Joe is back at the DU Bookstore helping us out during the start of fall classes.  As faithful readers of this blog will recall, Joe is an artist and also teaches printmaking at the Art Students League of Denver. After I mentioned to Joe that I get over 10,000 hits a day on this blog (OK, that might be a slight exaggeration), he agreed to let me take his photograph and mention that he will be participating at the16th Street Mall Festival of the Arts September 14th and 15th.  Don't expect readers to reveal that they heard about your work from this blog, Joe.  They tend to keep their readership a secret for some reason.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Pointer Sisters Are Hot!

The Pointer Sisters are still hot after almost 40 years.  They put on a show at the Taste of Colorado in Denver's Civic Center Park tonight, and were absolutely spectacular.  The weather was great, and the audience, consisting of every race, religion, and creed, seemed to be having a great time.  The group finished with "Neutron Dance," and the crowd was really into it. The Sisters did an encore, and it was a joyful moment - even for an old curmudgeon - as they sang "You Be Happy" to the audience.  What a great way to celebrate the end of summer.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Great Debate Is Near!

The first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is a mere four weeks away.  The debate will take place in the Ritchie Center on the University of Denver campus, directly across the street from where I live (see photograph above).  On the up side, I will be able to watch all the television reporters doing their stand up broadcasts from my balcony.  On the down side, my street will be closed for three days and I will have to find an alternative place to park.  Not only that, but there is also the chance of being hassled on your way home from work each day by the secret service - when they aren't out cruising for hookers, of course.  All this for a debate that is costing a fortune and will feature two candidates attacking the other's character for 90 minutes.  But I am not bitter.  Very much, at least.