Peter Sagal talks about fleeting radio fame, Elvis Costello and John Tesh

Categories: Interviews

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Andrew Collings/NPR

When National Public Radio's weekly news quiz, "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!," began, way back in 1998, host Peter Sagal and his sidekick, radio veteran Carl Kassell, weren't even in the same room, let alone in front of a studio audience. The call-in show was recorded remotely from different studios.

Now the pop-culture-laced, headline-driven exam is a live, interactive experience that brings hosts, panelists and players together on stage -- and tonight, for the first time, that stage will be at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

See also: Shotgun Willie's strip joint gets shout out on NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!

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Ken Schroeppel's DenverInfill blog keeps a close eye on the city's growth and development

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Ryan Dravitz for DenverInFill.
A city in transition: Ryan Dravitz of the DenverInfill team takes many of the site's recent shots.
Ever wonder what the plans are for a construction site that has popped up at the end of your block? Have you been curious about a new face being put on an old building downtown? For close to a decade, Ken Schroeppel has been answering these questions, documenting Denver's development progress through his blog DenverInfill and its companion, DenverUrbanism.

By day, he's an urban planner and professor of architecture and planning at the University of Colorado Denver -- but in his free time, Schroeppel and his team of contributors connect with developers, architects and an array of folks in the construction field to create a detailed database of the city's current and upcoming construction projects.

Westword spoke with Schroeppel about his long-running DenverInfill blog, how he collects his information on new buildings and the role of preservation within the development of Denver.

See also: The Denver Eye's Tom Lundin talks mid-century modern and Lakeside's Masonic roots

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Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter on the film's history and impact

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Basket Case
This Saturday, Channel Z is bringing one of the strangest buddy comedies of all time to the Alamo Drafthouse. Frank Henenlotter's horror comedy Basket Case is the tale of a country bumpkin named Duane and his horrifically deformed "twin," Belial. After his little, creepy conjoined buddy is forcibly removed, Duane sticks him in a basket and heads to the big city to seek a little revenge, creating an unforgettably strange movie along the way. Shot for almost nothing with an amateurish cast and crew, somehow this weird tale became a cult favorite, spawning two sequels that charmed/disgusted multiple generations of fans.

We spoke to Henenlotter to get his thoughts on the films enduring popularity, its equally strange sequels and how the movie helped launch a new business model for horror films.

See also: From Basket Case to Raiders, the undying cult of genre film

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Adam Cayton-Holland on doubling down for High Plains Comedy Festival's second year

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Mindy Tucker

Adam Cayton-Holland is a comedian, podcaster and former Westword scribe who forged his craft in ego-battering Colfax open mics before co-founding The Grawlix with Ben Roy and Andrew Orvedahl, a union that has produced a self-titled parodic web series and Denver's best monthly standup showcase -- which just so happens to be tonight at the Bug Theater at 10:30 p.m. Cayton-Holland has amassed an enviable list of TV credits, delivering strong sets on shows Conan and The Pete Holmes Show, while steadfastly residing in his native Denver, where the outspoken baseball fan recently realized his lifelong dream of throwing out the opening pitch at a Rockies game after a long social media campaign. And Cayton-Holland's brainchild, The High Plains Comedy Festival, continues to thrive under his quiet but determined stewardship, with the second edition set for August 22-23. The unbelievably stacked lineup includes returning champions from last year's fest, like Beth Stelling, Sean Patton, Kate Berlant, Ian Douglas Terry and Cameron Esposito, in addition to Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani and T.J. Miller as well as ringers like Chris Fairbanks, Baron Vaughn and the top-billed Pete Holmes.

Westword recently met up with Cayton-Holland at the favored Baker haunt and High Plains venue Mutiny Information Cafe to discuss his post-surgery Frankenfoot and doubling down for the festival's second year.

See also: High Plains Comedy Festival explodes in Denver -- and the jokes still echo

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Of Montreal doc director on the long, winding road to The Past Is a Grotesque Animal

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Kevin Barnes prepares to go on stage.
Give Of Montreal's back catalogue even a casual listen and you'll find a little bit of everything -- glam rock, disco, psychedelia and pure pop -- sometimes all crammed into the same song. The band's main man, Kevin Barnes, is a complex and contradictory figure, creating everything from obscure characters, such as transgender funkster Georgie Fruit, to complex concept albums to raw, confessional songs that reveal some seriously dark depths of the soul. The music and the man behind it get a long, hard look in The Past Is a Grotesque Animal, a new documentary that focuses on one of indie pop's most intriguing bands. Before the film shows tonight, June 20 at the Boulder Theater, we talked with director Jason Miller to find out why the film took seven years to make, how difficult it was getting inside of Barnes's head and how making the movie affected his feelings for the music.

See also: The Source Family is a true story of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll religion

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Allen Strickland Williams on one-liners, sketch comedy and #YesAllWomen

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Kelly Rose
Allen Strickland Williams is a Los Angeles-based writer, comedian and former NBC page who somehow absorbed that office's buttoned-down aesthetic. Today Williams, along with fellow standups Jake Weisman, Dave Ross and Pat Bishop, comprise the sketch-comedy group Women, whose widely circulated videos are nibbles of absurdity dolloped by grim punchlines. Women will descend on the Oriental Theater this Saturday, June 21st for the monthly Sexpot Comedy showcase. The show, hosted as always by Jordan Doll, features standup from each member, as well as videos and live sketches. It's also a Sexpot show, with all the dab dabbling that implies. In advance of the gig, Westword caught up with Williams to discuss what makes Women's sketches different, his fondness for one-liners, and his essay about the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

See also: Dave Ross on tour mishaps, Drunk History, Deer Pile and his sketch group, Women

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Kristine Edwards on Culture Jam, Intercambio and teaching English as a second language

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Courtesy of Ozomatli
Grammy Award-winning band Ozomatli headlines this year's Culture Jam.
Mundane things like ordering from a menu, talking to a doctor, applying for a job or navigating traffic signs can be hard for people who don't know a country's language. When non-English speaking people migrate into the United States, one of the biggest obstacles they face is figuring out how to communicate. The Longmont-based nonprofit Intercambio has been offering affordable English classes to recent immigrants since 2001. And on Saturday, June 21, the Left Hand Brewing Company is throwing Culture Jam, an intercultural party to help raise funds for Intercambio's work. In advance of the festivities, Westword spoke with Kristine Edwards about the organization.

See also: Ozomatli's Raul Pacheco on collaboration, creativity and Dreaming Sin Fronteras

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The Denver Eye's Tom Lundin talks mid-century modern and Lakeside's Masonic roots

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thedenvereye.com
One of architect Richard Crowther's many designs.
Tom Lundin is an accidental historian: Through blog and The Denver Eye, his Facebook page, he shares images of the Mile High City's fascinating past. Lundin's collection is a curated mix of images that tell the story of a great city, with everything from hundred-year old photos of Lakeside Amusement Park to snapshots of Colfax legend Sid King flanked by beautiful women to newspaper ads for the first King Soopers, which opened in the '40s.

Many of the photos, magazine clippings and postcards he shares are from his own collection; some are from his journeys through the archives at the Denver Public Library (which he is meticulous about crediting). Westword recently spoke with Lundin about his keen eye for Colorado-centric imagery, how he goes about sourcing the photographs and paper artifacts he displays, and what he's learned about Lakeside Amusement Park's not-so secret historical link to Freemasonry.

See also: Mary Voelz Chandler on Denver's demolition history and her updated architectural guide

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Paul Reiser on his Sundance film and returning to standup after twenty years

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To anyone who grew up watching too much basic cable in the '80s and '90s, the sight of Paul Reiser cracking wise is comfortingly familiar. Whether on contemporary classics like Aliens and Diner or the long-running and widely syndicated sitcom Mad About You, chances are good that Reiser's face is on a television somewhere at this exact moment.

Not one to rest on his considerable laurels, however, Reiser is currently in the midst of a mid-career renaissance, appearing in several upcoming movies and honing his standup act in clubs across the country. In town this weekend to headline Comedy Works' South club, Reiser talked with Westword about his role in the Sundance Film Festival smash Whiplash, the lasting influence of Aliens, and his experience returning to the stage after a twenty-year hiatus from standup.

See also: Bobby Lee on Hollywood's lack of Asian roles, sobriety and an ambush from a naked fan

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The Smithsonian Institution's Richard Kurin on studying history through objects

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Courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution
History can build and destroy nations, create and end wars and help society wrangle with ethical obligations and failures. But when teachers reduce it to an endless scroll of names and dates that have been stripped of context, history loses its power.

The Smithsonian Institution's Richard Kurin is on a mission to change the public's relationship to the past. Working with his colleagues, the academic historian has distilled his museum's 137,000,000 historical and cultural artifacts into 101 iconic pieces he discusses in The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects. In advance of his Tuesday night reading at History Colorado, Westword spoke with Kurin about his book.

See also: Phil Goodstein on Five Points, real estate and the future of Denver

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