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Saturday
Mar052016

Clueless Adult Skiing. A guest post by Garine Isassi

Clueless Adult Skiing

By Garinè Isassi

People who ski are really addicted. They love the thrill of speeding downhill with the risk of splattering their limbs on a tree as they accelerate. I’ve always found it be a bit nuts, like bungee jumping and skydiving.  I love a good hike, but I was never what you’d call an athletic person. I am the first to admit it – lounging is my sport of choice. I am really great at lounging with a book and a glass of wine. If they ever put that in the Olympics, I am on the team, for sure.

When I moved to the northeast as an adult, I thought I should join the goggled throng and see what all the fuss was about. Some of my neighbors had been skiing since they could walk. They were on ski teams in high school. It was a way of life and totally alien to me. So, I took up the gauntlet when I had the opportunity to spend the weekend at a relative's mountain house.

Since I didn't own any skis, I needed to rent. I walked around the wooden-floored shop of the lodge, trustingly following the teenage ski bunny in charge. The lithe, young woman piled up my open arms with a jacket, skis, poles, goggles, and boots. Struggling under the weight, I thanked her and headed to the staging area where I started the process of gearing up.

Nobody warned me that getting dressed for skiing is like a Geisha Kimono wrapping ceremony. Layers of silk long johns, then jeans and shirts, and then snow pants and jackets, gloves, hat, and eye cover. The boots, with their velcro and buckles, took me 10 minutes to figure out. Then I hobbled out into the snow, working the boots into the clicking noise that said they were attached into the skis. I was sweating, looked like short, bulging astronaut exploring the moon, and I immediately fell over.

While others sped off in all directions, I lay there like a beetle on its back, flailing my arms around until a set of boys took pity on me and helped me to an upright position. I'm sure that I was supposed to be impressed when the boys said they were heading for the black diamond trail, but ignorance lends itself to cluelessness, which leads to being unimpressed by the impressive.

I groped my way to the adult beginner skiing class. Once lined up in the class, it was striking that all of us came here with someone who grew up on skis, while we all grew up in some hot locale. I was raised in Texas. The guy to my right was from Mumbai, India. He was here with his fiancé - a Jersey girl. To my left was a woman from the Philippines. Beyond her was a guy from Arizona.

Todd, our ski instructor, taught us the squat, the slide, and the butt wiggle. Then up we went to the top of the baby slope.  Within 30 seconds I was on my back again. During the few moments when I was not face-planted in the snow, it was fun. Although I was the best at the butt wiggle, crashing every few minutes did not bode well with me. I was a bad skier. I had to admit it. You have to be strong and agile to be great skier and I think you have to a great skier to love it.

I stuck to the bunny slope that day and eventually managed to get all the way from the top to the bottom without falling. Maybe I'll work myself up to actually going to the top of the mountain . . . or I could perfect my lounging technique by the fire in the lodge while everyone else is dangling from the ski lift.

In the end, I am a beach person versus a mountain type. Hanging out under an umbrella and building sandcastles is definitely more my speed than throwing myself down a mountain. I choose grabbing a towel, sunscreen and bathing suit over the pile of equipment heaped upon me for skiing.

The main thing I learned is to appreciate how hard it is to ski well. Go ahead and call me a wuss. I can take it. Pass me the hot chocolate on your way out to the black diamond.

 

Author Garine B. Isassi is a wife and mother to three children. She is debuting her first fiction novel Start with the Back Beat (She Writes Press, April 2016) and you can connect with her at http://garinethewriter.com

Monday
Feb222016

Aspen Laff Fest 2016: Full Disclosure

Local Comic Glenn Smith with Headliner Heather McDonald and a black guy (Tigey Eads) at the 2016 Aspen Laff Fest.I'm a simple man.  I like comedy.  In particular I like comedy that makes me laugh.  

The 2016 Aspen Laff Festival presented by The Wheeler Opera House provided some very funny moments this year. The highlights for me were Steve Byrne's set on Saturday night and The Second City comedy troupe's opening night show.  Many of us in Aspen fondly remember the days of yore when the HBO Comedy Festival was based in Aspen.  Those days are gone, but  The Aspen Laff Fest is here to fill in the laugh gaps at The historic Wheeler Opera House, a fantastic venue for stand up.   

The festival started on Tuesday night with a free Local's "open mic."   Many of the same funny local faces we've seen over the years participated, and there were a couple of new jokers too.  It's always fun to see every day people get out of their comfort zone, get on stage and lay down some jokes.  I can only speculate, but for some of the amateur comedians...10 minutes probably seems like an eternity.   It was a full house at Justice Snow's and the audience seemed to enjoy the neophyte comics.   Glenn Smith, Jonny Israel and Beth Brandon led the way.

THE SECOND CITY:   Since 1959, The Second City comedy troupe has been making the world laugh. Second City may be the most influential and prolific comedy theatre in history. At Aspen Laff Fest, 6 young, energetic Second City performers lit up the Wheeler stage.   Their sketch comedy and improvisational style was topical, timely, fast paced and very funny.  It was a great way to kick off the festival.  The comics riffed on everything from Donald Trump's hair to on-line dating in 2016.  Their "yes and" style provided an unscripted and unpredictable show.  I loved it and the audience seemed to also.

The Second City performers also provided Aspen with a series of free improv workshops.  AspenSpin's A. Party participated and may have found his life's calling.  Party's natural sense of humor, quick wit and gift of gab allowed him to shine in the workshops, according to him.   "A. Party is a funny guy" shared a second city under-study.

The Second City comedy troupe opened the 2016 Aspen Laff Fest.

HEATHER McDONALD with Will Weldon:  

You know Heather McDonald from Chelsea Lately and her highly rated podcast Juicy Scoop.  Her amusing observations on being a mommy and living with her frugal husband and cruising to Target scored her a headliner spot in Aspen.  In all farness...the audience seemed to like her show a lot.  I asked around after her set...a lot of people really enjoyed the Heather's comedy stylings.  I...the founder and editor of AspenSpin, on the other hand did not.   Yeah...I laughed a little.  I caught myself smiling. It was mildly amusing.  But I also kept looking at my watch...and I dont wear a watch.  Heather took all the mundane, day-to-day musings of a modern day mommy and turned them into a few laughs.  It's clear that I'm not her audience...but the Aspen crowd seemed to dig her.  Her warm up act Will Weldon is from Canada...nuff said.  Just kidding he did a nice job of warming up the crowd.

Heather McDonald pleased the crowd in Aspen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GILBERT GOTTFRIED w/ Jerry Rocha:

Full disclosure...I was not a Gilbert Gottfried fan going in.  After seeing him in person I can honestly say...he's not very funny.  Maybe in short spurts or in his former incarnation as the voice of the Aflac duck he can get me to laugh...but not last night.  I don't relate to his whiny, squinty-eyed, sand-paper voiced delivery.   His act seemed stale.  Even if his material was new...it felt like we had a flash back to 1985. He's been at it for a long time... so apparently some people enjoy GG's stuff...other people (like me) walked out.   I made it 3/4's of the way through his hour before I bolted.  When he announced that he was about to get raunchy...I hit the stairs.   Warm-up Jerry Rocha made 10 minutes feel like 40 minutes in an unremarkable performance. 

Gilbert Gottfried... meh.

 

STEVE BYRNE w/ Gareth Reynolds:

To me...this show was the highlight of the festival.  Byrne is edgy, young, hip, timely and very quick on his feet.   He's obviously a trained professional and his set was tight. It was Saturday night, and the crowd loved Byrne's irreverent commentary.  I remember laughing a lot...that is...until he called me out of the audience to join Aspen's boy band..."Sausage Party".  Yes---right there on the Wheeler stage I had my comedy debut and I actually got a few laughs.  I can't really remember any of Byrne's jokes...all I know is...it was funny as sh*t.   Warm up Gareth Reynolds (also a member of Sausage Party) was funny too.

Steve Byrne blew the roof off the Wheeler Opera House at Aspen Laff Fest 2016.

PETE HOLMES w/ Brett Sullivan:

Pete Holmes closed out the Laff Fest with a great set.  He's happy, he's funny and he's kind of funny looking too.  He is perhaps the tallest stand-up working today.  His rasor sharp humor had a positive effect on the crowd.   Lots of laughs.  Brett Sullivan, the warm up...yeah he was funny too.

In summation Aspen Laff Festival 2016 was a rousing success.  The Wheeler was rocking and the people were laughing.  Aspen Laff Fest 2017 is already on the calender for next year...so get ready to laugh.

Pete Holmes...that guy is funny.

 

 

Tuesday
Feb162016

Aspen Laugh Fest 2016 will crack you up 4 FREE. Tonight.

The Aspen Laff Festival kicks off tonight (Tues Feb 16) with FREE Open Mic Night at Justice Snow's at 6 pm.   The Laff Fest then rolls into high gear Feb. 18-20 at the all new WHEELER OPERA HOUSE.

"It's always the wackiest weekend of the year"  A. Party

Click for info, line-up and tix:

 ASPEN LAFF FEST 2016.

 

 

 

Sunday
Feb142016

LIGHT it up BLUE Rocks Out in Aspen...hard.

Light It Up Blue in Aspen. Hardest rocking party in Aspen.I gave you guys the heads up.  Light It Up Blue, Aspen was the hardest rocking party of the year.  Light it Up Blue (LIUB), Aspen, in it's 5th year benefiting Ascendigo rocked out...hard last night. LIUB is an international event that raises awareness for autism in conjunction with Autism Speaks.  In Aspen, LIUB directly benefits Ascendigo, a program that strives to enhance the health, life abilities personal growth and social engagement of those who suffer from autism.

Click  Ascendigo for more info.

Special thanks to Julie Royer Manning who co-chaired this years LIUB, Aspen with Stephen Olitsky.  Julie and her family deal with autism every single day.  Julie's daughter Olivia is a camper at Ascendigo's Summer Camp in Aspen. Olivia loves Ascendigo and it's program has directly enhanced her life. Through Ascendigo, Olivia comes out of her special world to ride horses, wake board, river raft and more. She has developed meaningful relationships with the staff and other campers.  According to Julie, Olivia's transformation is "simply amazing".  Olivia is one of 500 beneficiaries of Ascendigo's work in the Roaring Fork Valley.

CLICK 4 PIX.  LIUB ROCKS HARD

Mingling with the band. #liubaspenThe party was first class all the way.  The presenting sponsor, Sentient Jet  and party planner Aspen Eventworks pulled out all the stops. The Hotel Jerome Ballroom was bedazzled in blue.  Celebrity guests included World Champion ski racer Bode Miller and Dr. Jennifer Berman and Dr. Andrew Ordon from the Emmy winning TV show, The Doctors.  The ladies in the house were resplendant in their finest blue cocktail attire.   The guys....meh.  Just kidding, the men looked good too.

The food. OMG!!   It was a baccanahal.  The seafood tower was again the most popular food station. Enough lobster, shrimp and crab to feed an army of hungry philanthropists.   The silent and live auctions had fantastic items...including a ski day with Bode Miller that fetched $17,000.

After dinner and a short program...the lights went down...and THE MONSTER ALL-STAR BAND took the stage.  Composed of hard-rocking members of Fuel, Puddle of Mudd, The Ted Nugent Band,  Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blind Melon.   Leading the rock n roll charge were Derek St Holmes on vocals and guitar, Peter Keys on the 88's and Travis Warren on vocals.  The Monster All-Star's rendition of Cat Scratch Fever may have actually blown the roof off the Hotel Jerome.  They followed that up with Stranglehold which definately had the whole neighborhood jamming out.   In my opinion, the clear highlight was the final number, With A Little Help From My Friends, which had the entire intimate venue dancing and singing along.  

Everyone loved the ear splitting rock and roll and the all-u-can-eat lobster tower, but no one in the room forgot why we were there.  Light it Up Blue, Aspen, Ascendigo and kids like Olivia need our help.   Thanks to a SRO crowd of generous patrons at LIUB, Aspen...kids and adults with autism in the Roaring Fork Valley are the benficiaries.

It was another great night in Aspen, Colorado.

CLICK 4 PIX.  LIUB ROCKS HARD

Bode Miller one of the greatest ski racers of all-time at #LIUBASPENGary DePersia lighting it up Blue in Aspen.Julie Royer Manning, Co-chair of #liubaspen with her PNW crew and her Mom at Light It Up Blue , AspenSallie Bernard and Dr. Jennifer Berman flank (help me out with this guys name) at Light It Up Blue AspenAndy Andersson from Fuel on Lead and Derek St Holmes of the Ted Nugent Band got down in Aspen.It was a jam. Light It Up Blue , Aspen.

 

Wednesday
Feb102016

Response: Chocolate Thunder in Aspen

Wow...I am on a sugar high unlike any I've been on before.  AspenSpin just completed duties as a "guest judge" at Response Aspen's 20th Annual Chocolate Classic.

CLICK 4 PIX:  RESPONSE: CHOCOLATE THUNDER

Response has been providing non-judgmental support to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault since 1983.   Response is the only non-profit in Pitkin County and Western Eagle County providing services such as a 24 hour help line and crisis intervention and emergency short-term shelter.  

RESPONSE has the mission to SUPPORT, EDUCATE and EMPOWER victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.    For 24 Hour Support call  970-925-SAFE.  Or click their site  www.responsehelps.org   

Now a few observations about The Chocolate Classic...OMG!!!! I am bouncing off the walls.   40 or more restaurants, caterers and bakers from around Aspen and The Roaring Fork Valley brought their best deserts to the Hotel Jerome to be rated and eaten.  As a judge, I was required to try at least 15 offerings.

Good ol' Andy Party OD'd on chocolate.  By the 10th sweet treat I was doing laps around the ballroom trying to walk it off. Once the doors opened to the public...I could not eat another bite.  It was an amazing display of chocolate decadence...a feast of chocolate gratification.  Plus the crowd was a like a stocked pond of valentine-ready Betty's.  I digress.

The First-Prize winner was a 4 layer chocolate torte that I have nicknamed Chocolate Thunder from All Sweet Things a local caterer.  One word: Sick.

CLICK 4 PIX:  RESPONSE: CHOCOLATE THUNDER


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