Can't go to Broncos training camp? Read Stefan Fatsis's A Few Seconds of Panic instead

Categories: Q&As, Sports

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The Broncos start training camp today, and, sure, you could go watch. But unless you sneak into the locker room and hide behind Brandon Marshall's ego, going to camp won't give you even a hint of what life is really like for the Broncos. For that, you'll have to hit your favorite bookseller.

Almost exactly three years ago today, the Broncos started the 2006 training camp with 3/4 an extra body in camp: Author Stefan Fatsis, who somehow had managed to persuade the team to let him go through camp as a kicker, to see and feel and smell (and write about) what it's like to endure the six weeks of hell that precede each NFL season. The book -- A Few Seconds of Panic: A Sportswriter Plays in the NFL, which comes out in paperback next week -- is a uniquely fascinating look at what it takes to be an NFL player, told through the trembling legs of Fatsis and the shockingly loose lips of such introspective characters as Jake Plummer, Ian Gold, Nate Jackson and Preston Parsons.

It's the best dissection I've read of what it's truly like to play in the NFL. But just in case my endorsement doesn't convince you, I harassed Fatsis via email for the short Q&A below. He lives in DC, by the way, with his excessively cool NPR-hosting wife, so presumably he answered these while smoking a tobacco pipe and arguing about the relative merits of a single-payer health system, and whether the Car Talk guys are really brothers. Just in case you needed a mental image.

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Q&A with Surveillance director Jennifer Lynch

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Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond in a scene from director Jennifer Lynch's "Surveillance."

It's been a long time between films for director Jennifer Lynch, whose latest offering, Surveillance, unspools today at the Chez Artiste. Her debut, 1993's Boxing Helena, about a surgeon (Julian Sands) who prevents the woman he loves (Sherilynn Fenn) from leaving him by amputating her limbs, received some of the most negative reviews of any film in the past twenty years -- a reaction that may or may not have been amplified by accusations of nepotism focusing on Lynch's father, Eraserhead and Blue Velvet director David Lynch.

Lynch speaks candidly about her years in creative limbo and plenty more in the revealing Q&A on view after the jump.

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Q&A with Moon director Duncan Jones

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Courtesy of Sony Pictures
Sam Rockwell in "Moon."

Moon, which opens on Friday, July 3, at the Mayan Theatre, is a low-budget science-fiction film that shoots for the stratosphere using ideas, not computer graphics and flashy effects. That it does so well with so little is a testament to the performance of Sam Rockwell, as an astronaut (or two) trying not to lose his marbles while working on an isolated mining station with no one to keep him company but GERTY, a robot programmed with the voice of Kevin Spacey. But it's also a tribute to first-time feature director Duncan Jones, whose father, rocker David Bowie, named him Zowie -- a moniker he chucked faster than you can say "Apple Paltrow-Martin." Jones' background may be in television commercials, but his film isn't slick or superficial, and neither is he, as he makes clear in the following Q&A.

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Q&A with Unmistaken Child director Nati Baratz

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Tenzin Zopa in an image from director Nati Barartz's "Unmistaken Child."

Unmistaken Child, which opens tomorrow, June 26, at the Mayan Theatre, is a remarkable documentary about a fascinating ritual of Tibetan Buddhism: the search for a reincarnated master in the body of a child. Tenzin Zopa is chosen for this task after the 2001 death of 84-year-old Geshe Lama Konchog, for whom he served as an attendant for over two decades. Director Nati Baratz's camera follows Zopa over the course of several years, during which he finds a child he believes is his beloved Geshe-la come back to both physical and spiritual life -- but that's hardly the end of the story. The child must pass a series of tests designed to confirm Zopa's opinion, after which he is separated from his parents in order to begin his fulltime indoctrination into a world of tremendous rigorousness and austerity.

Earlier this week, Baratz, speaking from his native Israel, talked at length about the long road to this cinematic accomplishment. Click "Continue" to read the complete Q&A.

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Easy Virtue Q&A with Stephan Elliott and Sheridan Jobbins

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Ben Barnes and Jessica Biel in "Easy Virtue."

Easy Virtue, which opens today at the Esquire Theatre, marks a return for Stephan Elliott, who directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay with fellow Australian Sheridan Jobbins, who accompanied him during a recent publicity trip to Denver and took part in the rich, forthright and funny Q&A that follows.

Elliott introduced himself to cineastes with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a vibrant 1994 crowd-pleaser that continues to be his best known piece. He hasn't helmed a major production since the 2000 Ewan McGregor vehicle Eye of the Beholder, an adaptation of a classic cult novel by the late Marc Behm that was savaged by critics and ignored by audiences. But this rough reception isn't the only reason why his profile's been subterranean for most of the decade.

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Reggie Rivers takes on Highlands Ranch, Lifetime movie-style

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From ReggieRivers.com

Former Bronco-turned-television-host-and-author Reggie Rivers' gig as Channel 4's weekend sports anchor ends today. But he's not too worried.

"I'm kind of excited. Fortuitously, I'm getting laid off at the exact moment I'm putting out this book," he says, referring to The Colony: A Political Tale, which he wrote as his thesis for a DU master's degree in global studies; it's scheduled to be published in August. "Every book I've written so far, I've had a job when the book came out. I now have the ability to help this book reach its full potential."

The Colony is about an army of mean ants who try to steal a super nutritious fungus from a colony of nice ants. According to Rivers, "political intrigue and military domination" ensue. But until its release, Rivers continues to promote his fourth book, My Wife's Boyfriend and Our Feud with the Highlands Ranch Homeowners Assocation, with events like his 1 p.m. Saturday appearance at The Bookery Nook, 4280 Tennyson Street. My Wife's Boyfriend was the first of Rivers' books that had nothing to do with football -- and there are no militaristic ants in it, either.

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Q&A with Aisha Tyler

Categories: Q&As, Things to Do

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Aisha Tyler suits up.

Aisha Tyler may not be the complete package, but she comes a helluva closer than the average human. The Dartmouth grad's appeared in recurring roles on some of television's biggest hits, including Friends and 24, hosted Talk Soup back when that meant something, appeared in films ranging from Balls of Fury to the forthcoming Black Water Transit, demonstrated her knowledge of Asian action cinema while filling in for Roger Ebert on his signature movie-crit show, and even kicked ass on Celebrity Jeopardy. She won't be satirized on Saturday Night Live for her dim-wittedness anytime soon.

What's next for Tyler? A new talk show in the pilot stage, which is getting such a push from ABC, the network producing it, that she had to cut short her summer standup tour -- a jaunt inspired by Aisha Tyler Is Lit: Live at the Fillmore, a Comedy Central special now available in an expanded DVD edition. Fortunately, though, she saved enough time to headline two shows each tonight and tomorrow at Comedy Works South, as well as to take part in the following Q&A, which seems likely to make even more geeks go ga-ga over her. Them's the breaks...

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Q&A with James Toback, director of Tyson

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Courtesy of Sony Pictures
Mike Tyson with director James Toback.

James Toback's career seems to suffer from bipolar disorder. In the beginning, he was treated as a wunderkind thanks to his screenplay for The Gambler, a tough-nosed 1974 James Caan feature, not to mention his 1978 directorial debut, Fingers, a Harvey Keitel vehicle he also scripted. But despite the admiration of Hollywood heavyweights such as Warren Beatty, for whom he wrote 1991's Bugsy, he's only had a relatively few chances to get behind the camera again -- and efforts such as 1997's Two Girls and a Guy and his most recent feature, 2004's When Will I Be Loved, were treated as interesting misses by most critics and failed to catch on at the box office.

All of which has to make the reception for Tyson, which opens in Denver on Friday, May 29, at the Mayan Theatre, taste all the sweeter. The film is hardly an objective documentary; Toback, who's known Mike Tyson for years, focuses on the controversial boxer's thoughts and words to the exclusion of other viewpoints. But this intensive tack allows the director/interviewer to plumb depths in Tyson that most observers wouldn't have found (or even guessed at their existence). The result is a psycho-biography, not a puff piece -- which helps explain why reviewers and audiences have been so effusive.

What's Toback got to say about this late-period success story? Read the transcript of an extensive interview by clicking "Continue:"

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Q&A flashback with The Daily Show's John Oliver

Categories: Q&As, Things to Do

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Razr photo by Michael Roberts
John Oliver in a giant queue, as he would call it. 'Cause his British, you see.

John Oliver, who headlines at Comedy Works South tonight and tomorrow, returns to Denver after spending a week here in August making the Democratic National Convention funnier along with his colleagues at Comedy Central's The Daily Show. His quick wit was much in evidence when I wound up standing next to him in a massive line leading to the Pepsi Center. I asked him why he was waiting alongside all of us nobodies, and he replied, "That's the problem with these Democrats. They think everyone's equal."

Oliver had been to Denver earlier in the year, too, during another Comedy Works stop -- and prior to that gig, I had the opportunity to interview him at length. Some of the references in the conversation are a bit dated: For instance, he was looking forward to the impending release of the Mike Myers movie The Love Guru, in which he played a small part, rather than trying to distance himself from what was widely regarded to be 2008's biggest cinematic stink bomb. But he also provided plenty of background on his transition from little-known Brit yukster to the most consistently hilarious correspondent on one of American TV's true gems. I laughed as hard during our talk as most of the audience will tonight.

Check out the chat by clicking "Continue."

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