Wednesday October 19 Too many spooks: A fascinating footnote in U.S. history becomes a focal point in tonight's segment of PBS's The American Experience. Telegrams From the Dead explores an American movement obsessed with the notion of life after death. Known as Spiritualism, it has had a following that included both colorful and respectable figures of the times--Susan B. Anthony, P.T. Barnum, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln among them. Using dramatic reenactments and archival materials--photographs, illustrations and "spirit drawings"--the program traces the phenomenon from its beginnings in 1848, when sisters Katie and Margaret Fox first appeared to be channeling messages from the spirit world in their upstate New York home, to its heyday a few years later, during which people across the country held seances and claimed to behold supernatural events on a regular basis, and finally to its decline, brought on by a profusion of hucksters and fakes. Turn out the lights, pull up a chair, get in a circle and hold your neighbor's hand; tune in at 8 to KRMA-TV Channel 6.
Thursday October 20 Scream show: Rule of thumb when you're seeing Nine Inch Nails--don't try this on a blackboard. Besides, dark Trent Reznor's sadomasochistic and theatrical wall of noise will give you the goosebumps, anyway. But it's the right ghastly time of year, so why not help fill up McNichols Arena with the rest of the black-dyed vampires when the enormously popular Nails sharpen a few aural knives tonight at 7:30. Marilyn Manson and the Jim Rose Circus fill out the bill. For tickets, $22, call 830-2525 or 290-TIXS.
Alice! It's OK. Really. Nostalgia is good for you. And those harboring sentiment over seminal sitcoms will have a chance to line up for Audrey Meadows--who played the rational Alice alongside Jackie Gleason's obnoxious buffoon, Ralph--when she appears tonight at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., to speak and sign copies of her entertaining new autobiography, Love Alice: My Life as a Honeymooner. Numbers will be given out to autograph hounds beginning at 6:30; Audrey goes on at 7:30. For details call 322-7727.
Friday October 21 Trad, man: Straightlaced and well mannered, trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis isn't so much concerned with changing the musical world as he is with preserving--even sanctifying--what he considers the highest form of succinctly American artistry: jazz. So why does this noble creature get such a bad rap? There's no question about his talent--classically trained and part of a famous family of professional musicians, Marsalis broke into the big time while still in his teens--yet he gets a lot of flak for being a fierce traditionalist, one fierce enough to deride anything that strays from the pristine structures of jazz. Regardless, the man is a pleasure to hear on stage--consummately professional and articulate, he's always impeccable, right down to the bodies he chooses to accompany him. A Marsalis concert is like a scholarly amble through jazz history, and tonight's show at 8 in the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm St., promises to be an easy, if informative, read. Tickets are $23.50; call 290-TIXS.
Midwest, young man: Local funny guy (and one of our favorite radio personalities) Bill Amundson and his pal Kirby Henderson both had the unique experience of growing up in the American heartland. And now they want to share that experience with you. Their 2-Fer Night at the Bug is part performance--the first half, called The Origin of My Discontent, is a funny and, as Amundson puts it, "gothic" memoir about coming of age in the Midwest--and well, part hoedown. Act two, titled A Late Night Branson Country Mountain Jamboree, will be a comedic, musical and possibly off-color romp with something known as the Anthracite Boys. The irreverent pair perform this dual fare at The Bug, 3654 Navajo St., beginning at 8 tonight and continuing Fridays through November 18. Admission is $6 ($4 Bug members); call 477-5977 for further information.
Saturday October 22 Swap team: Even if it seems far away, the ski season is creeping up on you; you'll be taking to the powder before you know it. So this is a good time to load up on--or unload--winter sports gear. Touted as a swell and reasonable place to outfit children and adults, the Rocky Mountain Ski Swap, sponsored by the National Ski Patrol and taking place today and tomorrow at Arapahoe Community College, 5900 S. Santa Fe Dr. in Littleton, offers the chance to buy and sell both new and used clothing and equipment. Sale hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; equipment registration began Friday (5:30 to 9 p.m.) and continues from 8 to 10 this morning. Admission is a buck (children under twelve free); call 430-2866.
The odd trio: The folks over at KBDI Channel 12 count on capturing some brilliant philosophizing, as well as a few laughs, when they host The 11th Hour, a plucky concept in which disparate public figures stand up and answer the question: "What message would you leave to future generations?" The videotape will run tonight at 8 when three guest speakers--zany comedian and accomplished musician Steve Allen, Chinese political dissident Fang Lizhi and John Bircher John McManus--hit the stage with their lasting messages at the Source Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Tickets, which include a post-taping reception, are $25; call 296-1212 or 290-TIXS for yours.