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Current events

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

In Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Jacob Marley appears only as a ghost, dragging around chains and warning his surviving business partner, Ebeneezer Scrooge, of the consequences of greed. In Tom Mula’s re-imagining of the story, some heft is added to the character. “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” puts Marley at the center of the play: In order to be released from bondage in the netherworld, he must find a way to transform the cold-hearted Scrooge. The alternate version features the same characters as Dickens’ enduring classic ” the beaten-down clerk, Bob Cratchit; the sweet, simple Tiny Tim ” and echoes the familiar themes of redemption and the Christmas spirit. But it takes a different point of view, and even brings humor into the picture. The Hudson Reed Ensemble’s version, directed by Kent Reed, has four actors ” Charisse Layne, Gary Morabito, Kim Nuzzo and Tim Rafelson ” portraying 18 characters with a lot of imagination and little in the way of costume changes. The family-friendly play has evening performances Friday through Sunday, Dec. 8-10 and Dec. 15-17, at Aspen High School’s Black Box Theatre.

In the documentary “A Land Out of Time,” Keith Goddard, who looks and talks like the Rifle hunting guide he is, has kind words for the environ- mentalists who would figure to be his natural enemies. What pushed Goddard into the same camp with tree-huggers is perhaps the mightiest foe of conservation: the Bush administration. The film, by Aspenite Mark Harvey, is an indictment of the administration’s policies on oil and gas exploration, especially in the Rocky Mountain states. It is no secret that Bush has favored drilling over conservation; one of his first acts as president was to begin the process of opening millions of acres of federal land to oil and gas companies. “A Land Out of Time” neatly lays out that process. But Harvey has also lined up ranchers, land-lovers and former federal employees who testify how much of the drilling has been permitted over the loud protests of citizens. Visually, the film reveals the extent of scarring on the land, some as close as the Roan Plateau, near Rifle. On a spiritual level, it emphasizes the importance of untouched wilderness to America’s character. “A Land Out of Time,” which premiered at Aspen Filmfest in September and earned Best Environmental Film at the Taos MountainFilm Festival, gets a free screening at the Wheeler Opera House Wednesday, Dec. 6, courtesy of the Wilderness Workshop.

What’s the most ubiquitous subject of the jokes at the annual HBO Comedy Festival? Aspen itself, of course, from the furs to the altitude to the lack of skin color in the population. But why should these outsiders have a better grasp on the admittedly rich set of foibles of Aspenites? Laugh Your Aspen Off turns to the experts: the locals. The showcase, organized and hosted by Clifford Fewel, features 10 local funny people, sounding off on the Roaring Fork Valley. It debuted to good reviews at the Eagles Club in Aspen in October, and gets an encore presentation Saturday, Dec. 9, at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale.

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