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Finishing up the 2010-2011 Ski Season in Aspen

From the Aspen Times online, published 3/20/11:

ASPEN — The clock is ticking on winter. In fact, it just tocked; Sunday, March 20 marks the first day of spring. And there are so many unchecked boxes on your winter to-do list.

Fortunately, we in the high country measure winter not by the calendar, but by the running of the ski lifts — meaning you've still got a few weeks left. Following are some suggestions to make your winter complete, culturally and otherwise, before the lifts shut down on April 24.

1. Evening turns — With the Aspen Skiing Company's extended “sunset skiing” hours, you can make some turns and still tell the boss you put in a full day of work (and not be lying). Aspen Mountain will have the gondola cranking till 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 26, and April 1. Snowmass will have a few lifts, including the Big Burn chair, humming late on Friday, April 1. And Aspen Highlands will go long on April 16, with the Bowl open till 5 p.m. Skico will offer a $44 ticket that is good from 2:30 p.m. on.

2. Crowning cinema — The Wheeler Film Series presents this year's Academy Award winner for best picture, Sunday through Wednesday, March 20-23, and it could be your last chance to catch it on the big screen. A bit of a throwback — feel-good, nostalgic, morally straightforward — “The King's Speech” deserves a big-screen viewing. And though it was Colin Firth, as the stuttering King George VI, who took the acting Oscar, Geoffrey Rush, as the offbeat speech therapist, gives a performance for the ages.

3. Art by numbers — Every walk through the Red Brick Center for the Arts is rewarded with a look at inspired visual art; the current exhibition, 5, gives a reason to make sure you wander by the Red Brick. Thoughtfully curated by Dasa Bausova, the show features fun, modern, accessible works by Bausova, Scott Boberg, Brain Colley and Bayard Hollins. It runs through March.

4. The Pullman — Looking for the latest really good Aspen restaurant? You'll have to head to Glenwood Springs, where Mark Fischer, the chef-owner of Carbondale's Six89 and Phat Thai, has opened his latest, the Pullman. The space is cool, the food is inspired, the prices are reasonable (or, by Aspen standards, unbelievable); the entire package can feel like the bridge to Glenwood's future.

5. Music, al fresco — Does anything mark spring like the arrival of free outdoor concerts? The Aspen Skico, continuing to prove itself a savvy presenter of contemporary bands, has a pair of good ones coming up. Ivan Neville, part of the New Orleans clan of musicians, brings his Dumpstaphunk to Snowmass' Base Village for an après-ski gig on Sunday, March 20. Reggae-rock trio Pepper spice up early spring with an evening appearance on Friday, March 25 at the base of Aspen Mountain.

6. Take it to the hoop — Sure, it's mid-March, meaning basketball fans find it hard to pull their attention away from the NCAA tourney. But Colorado's professional squad deserves a look. The Nuggets started the post-Carmelo era with an improbable 9-2 record, ushering in a style that stresses movement, defense, passing and intensity. And for those who aren't hoops fans, this is your moment to start watching: The Nuggs are playing basketball the way it was meant to be played.

7. Book it — Yes, Joyce Maynard had a long-ago fling with J.D. Salinger — making her one of the few who can give a first-hand account of the intensely private author. It would be a shame, though, if that relationship obscures Maynard's own contributions to literature. Such novels as “Labor Day” and “To Die For” shine a light on outsiders in American culture. Maynard appears Thursday, March 24 in the Aspen Writers' Foundation's final Winter Words event — leaving just enough time to read her latest, “The Good Daughters.”

8. A local listen — Woody Creeker John Oates counts folk-blues guitarist Doc Watson among his top heroes — an influence that you might not notice listening to Oates' sound in Hall & Oates. But the folky strain comes through clearly on “Mississippi Mile,” an acoustic outing featuring contributions from pickers Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas, and songs by Watson and Mississippi John Hurt (as well as Chuck Berry and Hall & Oates). The album will be released April 12, but those who can't wait can go to the Wheeler Opera House on Saturday, March 26 and pick up a copy — and also see Oates perform with his new band.

9. In clubland — Belly Up, already entrenched as one of those things that makes Aspen Aspen, seems to have even kicked it up a notch this winter, with shows by Flaming Lips, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Public Enemy and Stone Temple Pilots. They're on a roll, and they keep things rolling with acoustic band Railroad Earth (Sunday and Monday, March 20-21), songwriting great John Prine (Wednesday, March 23), the White Buffalo (March 29), and Wanda Jackson (April 2), known as the first woman to ever record a rock ‘n' roll song.

10. For the sake of the song — Through a scheduling quirk, you have a chance to miss the 7908 Songwriters Festival twice in the span of eight months. Don't do it. The festival, which debuted last August at the Wheeler and now moves to early spring, looks like a unique event, focused on songs and the people who write them. Among the artists scheduled to appear this time around: Shawn Colvin, the Band of Heathens, Donavon Frankenreiter, Ruthie Foster, John Hammond, and Keb' Mo', who will be accompanied by Sam Bush.

- Stewart Oskenhorn, Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO

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