THRILLS

Wednesday December 28 The opposite sax: The Creative Music Works continues its Frontiers: Explorations in Out Music series tonight with an adventurous performance by Random Axe. The saxophone duo (Mark Harris and Glenn Nitta)--a pair of locals who both have been seen previously with Monkey Siren and various Fred Hess ensembles--will be joined by special guests at 8 for an evening of improvisational blowing sure to perk up Vartan Jazz, 231 Milwaukee St., in normally staid Cherry Creek North. A cover charge of $5 ($4 CMW members) gets you a seat; call 399-1111 or 758-6321 for information.

Passing the puck: Fans of the DU Pioneers hockey team will appreciate this year's upscaled Norwest Denver Cup four-team tournament--its move to McNichols Arena will provide plenty of seating at the annual two-day event. Ragging the puck at McNichols along with DU's skatesmen will be teams from Brown University, Ohio State and the Air Force Academy; Brown meets Air Force today at 4, and DU faces off against Ohio State at 7. Tomorrow, things will be decided once and for all--with a third-place game at 4 and the championship match at 7. Tickets range from $8-$20; call 871-2336 to reserve yours.

Life is a cabaret: Although cabaret singer Phyllis Pastore is a Colorado native, she's left this burg behind in favor of classy chanteuse joints like Eighty-Eights and Don't Tell Mama in New Yawk City. She's been an annual favorite at the Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention for four years running, and just last fall she traveled to Ireland to perform at the Wexford Opera Festival. But the zaftig Pastore, who once practiced her esoteric trade here in town at places like Elitch Gardens and the Burnsley Hotel, hasn't forsaken her roots. She returns to the intimate Brown Palace Club--another old stamping ground--for one night only, where she'll warble standards and Broadway hits. Ship's Tavern regular John Kite will accompany Pastore on piano. The Brown Palace is located at 321 17th St.; tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $20. Dinner packages are also available; for reservations call 297-3111, ext. 3423.

Thursday December 29 Yaletide spirit: What do Cole Porter and George Roy Hill have in common? They both once did what the Whiffenpoofs of 1995 will do tonight--apply the ultimate in barbershop harmonies to old favorites like Aura Lee and, yes, The Whiffenpoof Song, as well as to popular tunes of the day. The a cappella men's group, consisting of fourteen Yale University seniors, appears tonight at 8 at the Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main, Littleton, and they will positively make you want to slick down your hair and put on a bow tie. To purchase tickets, $15 ($10 students and kids under sixteen), call 680-5080 or 355-7356.

Friday December 30 A many splendored thing: Audiences adore Forever Plaid--it's a proven fact. They love it so much that a popular return engagement at the Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis Streets, originally scheduled just through the holidays, has been extended until February 5. Based on the sentimental vocal groups of the '50s, the musical is an old-fashioned, feel-good charmer. Catch a pre-New Year show tonight at 7:30; shows continue Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30, with additional 2 p.m. matinees on weekends. Tickets are $20 to $25; call 893-4100 for reservations.

Saturday December 31 Taking the turn: There's nothing wrong with debauchery on New Year's Eve--you might as well just get it out of your system now. But there's plenty of time before the revels begin to do something about bettering yourself, which is what the other half of facing the turn of the year is all about. Early risers can join similarly thoughtful people all over the world by attending a Global Peace Meditation Service, taking place at First Divine Science Church, 1400 Williams St., at 5 a.m. The service, held in synchrony with like meetings elsewhere, will be followed by a potluck breakfast--so don't forget your bag of bagels. And stop that yawning! Call 322-7738 for details. Limber long-distance runners with strong lungs and big hearts can end 1994 by participating in The Big 4-0, a noncompetitive run--choose between a 40-mile or 40K course--that will raise funds for the Food Bank of the Rockies. The event begins at 8 a.m.; runners, who either pay a $40 fee or raise the same amount in pledges, leave from Sailside Plaza in Cherry Creek State Park. Those interested in running, making a pledge or volunteering to help can call Peter Downing at 871-3106 or 722-4535 for information. But what if you're one of those wee tykes who are visited by the sandman way before midnight, even on New Year's Eve? What kind of way is that to party down? The Children's Museum of Denver, I-25 and 23rd Ave., will treat the little people to a Noon Year's Eve Celebration, where the countdown ends at noon. The $5 admission price includes performances of The Impossible Balance, with Jim Jackson, and Freshly Brewed Magic and Comedy, with Rick Crandall (both at 10:30 a.m. and again at 1 p.m.), a countdown and sparkling-soda-pop toast with KOSI 101 celebrities, a snack and more fun than you can shake your noisemaker at, continuing until 2. That leaves you plenty of time to fancy yourselves up, tuck in the tykes and instruct the sitter. Call 433-7444. At the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., Adventure Backpacks--normally offered only on alternating Saturdays--can be enjoyed daily through January 8. The hands-on games and activities take kids around the world with fantasy voyages to exotic places; check out your free backpacks between 10:30 and 3:30. For details call 640-7577. And kids of all ages--moms and dads, too--will enjoy The Mozart Experience, a Colorado Symphony Orchestra presentation with the Magic Circle Mime Company that combines theater and symphonic music for an exploration of the great composer's life. Performances begin at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; reserved seating can be had for an economical $5 a head. For tickets, call 986-8742. Now that you've taken care of obligations, shuck your guilt pangs and just say yes! For the complete lowdown on how to spend the rest of the day and night, consult our New Year's Eve Guide, beginning on page 72.

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