Best Bets 
1. Creative BeginningsThe U.S. premiere of Fantôme Afrique—British filmmaker Isaac Julien’s exploration of dance, architecture, and African cinema—is well worth seeing in its inaugural run at the Laboratory of Arts and Ideas (the Lab) at Belmar. The film exhibit is a three-screen installation shot in Africa, weaving together archival footage of early colonial missions and African political history. Julien, winner of the Critic’s Prize at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival for his film Young Soul Rebels, was inspired by French author André Gide, who brought a filmmaker on his 1925 expedition to Africa. The Lab, a new venue for the sharing of lectures, performances, publications, and other creative arts, is one of only three institutions worldwide commissioned to exhibit the film (and it’s a wee bit closer than the co-commissioning counterparts: Paris’ Pompidou Center and Portugal’s Ellipse Foundation).
Fantôme Afrique: Through Dec. 30, Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar
2. The Real Monroe
She might be the most classic pinup in history, but Ms. Monroe wasn’t born in front of the lens. And no one knew Marilyn’s pre-icon days better than photographer Andre de Dienes, who gave 19-year-old Norma Jeane her first modeling job in 1945—on a five-week road trip across the Southwest. One love affair and multiple magazine covers later, she reached sex-goddess status. But it was photojournalist George Barris who immortalized her in the weeks before her death in 1962 for a prospective book. Both artists’ photos—the first, last, and arguably most veracious portraits ever taken of her—are on display at the Camera Obscura Gallery.
Marilyn Monroe Beginning to End Photographs: Nov. 10–Dec. 31, Camera Obscura Gallery
3. That Time Of Year
Season’s Greetings, a play by renowned British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, brings more than crackling logs, jingle bells, and family bonding to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts this month. The comedy, adapted for both radio and television by the BBC, exposes a darker side of the holiday season in a reflection of Ayckbourn’s own childhood Christmases. Popping with family tension, eccentric uncles, relationship problems, illicit affairs, and grown-ups behaving childishly, the story line might just strike a chord with anyone who’s ever gritted her teeth through the family dinner blessing and slugged too much eggnog on purpose.
Season’s Greetings: Nov. 16–Dec. 23, The Space Theatre
4. Urban Greenery
The planet gets a little love from Denver this month as the city hosts Greenbuild 2006, an international conference on environmentally conscious design. But before the expected 15,000 attendees roll in, Colorado’s businesses, organizations, and citizens are finishing up their environmental improvement projects to meet the Greening Colorado Challenge issued in July. Check out their work during a walking tour of downtown, where Challenge teams, local design firms, and environmental artists have created 3-D project displays to showcase their earth-friendly strategies, such as waterless urinals and Colorado’s first Green Grid grass roof system.
Greening Colorado Challenge Walking Tour: Nov. 14, Downtown Denver
5. The Way The Cookie Crumbles
It’s a well-loved Beaver Creek tradition to hand out chocolate-chip cookies to weary skiers at the base of the mountain in the waning afternoon. (Nothing’s too good when you shell out $83 a day.) On opening day, five bake-off finalists will be doling out their secret-recipe treats to entice your après-ski appetite. Go ahead, take a cookie—take several—and cast your vote for the most soul-satisfying version. This is the contest that determines what you’ll be biting into after the last run of the day for the entire 2006–07 season.
World’s Best Chocolate-Chip Cookie Competition: Nov. 22, Beaver Creek Village, Avon