Cable TV, funny film and the top of the world

I would like to open “The Goods” this week by congratulating the folks who push the cable TV buttons in Durango for finally turning on the Denver feed of CBS while the Albuquerque feed shows a replay of a meaningless college basketball game. It may have taken a few weeks but many of us hard-working cable subscribers are very happy now. I do not have the ego that allows me to think last week’s missive on this page had any effect, but with time I can learn to believe it did. Also, sorry I called you monkeys. My bad.

The big buzz this week is all about the Durango Film Festival which begins Saturday and runs through March 9. If you are like me, and God help you if you are, you recently decided to watch only comedies. I know that sounds weird, but with so many cinematic options in this life, I found I needed a sort of built-in filter. Life is serious enough and I’d rather laugh than cry during my off hours. In that spirit, I spoke to Film Festival mucky mucks Eric Hopper and Michele Malach about where to find the big yuks this year.

If you want to laugh, check out the feature film “Wild Bees.” It tours the transformation of the Czech Republic from communism to Capitalism and the self-important Michael Jackson impersonators such a change can breed. Also see “On the Road to Emmaus” where the main character revisits his past during a two-mile hike to meet a waiting cab.

By no means should you miss what will probably become my festival favorite – “Scrabylon” visits yet another competitive society, this time that of touring Scrabble contestants. Strange as it may seem, people tour the country playing Scrabble in much the same way tough men do. Now that’s funny.

The short film program is often the most hilarious part of the Durango Film Festival, and this year is no exception. Look for instant classics like “Roof Sex,” a stop-time, animation piece that examines the sex life of patio furniture or “Burning Passion,” a quickie about an unfortunate young man who ejaculates fire unless he is in love. Now that’s really funny. Lastly, do not miss “Cloggers of Putneyville,” an hourlong “mockumentary” about outdoorsy types (read Durangoans) who hike and climb while wearing clogs and the gear-weenie buzz it creates.

In typical fashion, I have glossed over yet another huge going on. For the real dirt, check out and/or pick up a program around town.

Elsewhere it seems a group of Fort Lewis students, staff and faculty want to climb the 20,000-plus foot peak Denali in Alaska for some reason. In order to fund this crazy goal they are hosting a “gear giveaway” at Storyville tonight, Feb. 27.A0The $8 cover guarantees some sort of door prize from various community donors and live music by Durango bluegrass upstarts Salty Dogs. Just think, with only eight bucks you get live tunes and a prize, and somewhere down the line there are a few less of them college punks in town. Oh yeah, count me in.

If hanging out in bars with all that smoke, extra-loud music and drunken kids is too much, but you still like to get down, then a contra dance may be just the thing for you. This Saturday night at Park Elementary is your chance to see what it’s all about. Distilled, a contra dance harkens back to the olden days of barn/square dancing but nowadays features hippies instead of farmers. Booze and smoking are not allowed, but a heck of a lot of foot stomping is. In my day, I danced many a contra (due to a raging case of turf toe, I can no longer dance) and know how much fun it can be. If you don’t believe me go to Park Elementary at 7 p.m. and watch the people spin and smile.

This Week’s Sign That Sanity May Prevail: Bill Maher was ousted from his late-late night talk show “Politically Incorrect” after making a few politically incorrect statements during the jingoistic time that was post 9-11 America.A0The cable channel now known more for its original programming than its movies, HBO has boldly given Maher and his combative panelists a venue to express their views with absolutely no censorship. I know fewer people will see his show than would’ve when he was on a major network, but at least some group in the commercial broadcasting world understands the First Amendment.

This Week’s Pathetic Attempt to Prove That my Taste in Music is Better Than Yours: Jeff Tweedy is the singer and driving force behind the rock band Wilco and is also a one-time member of legendary country-punks Uncle Tupelo.Within the last week, the prolific Tweedy has been involved in two new releases, and both are worth exploration.“Loose Fur” is a self-titled collaboration between Wilco bandmates Tweedy, Jim O’Rourke and Glenn Kotche. It is a rhythmic guitar-drums-studio-noise-based (dare I say it?) jam session that will leave the casual listener wondering what the hell is going on. Wilco fans will see this as yet a further step in Jeff Tweedy’s self-induced movement from post-punk hero to pop obscurity.

“The Minus 5’s” new release “Down with Wilco” features ringleader Scott McCauaghey (Young Fresh Fellows, REM) playing host to Wilco, along with the band’s regular cast and “a sack of locusts.” Decidedly more accessible than “Loose Fur,” this is still an album that will chase away casual fans. I love them both.

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