THRILLS

Wednesday March 22 Time to quilt: If you're the sort to wonder why there's a National Quilting Day in the first place, a visit to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum might shed some light on the subject. The museum will celebrate the occasion with a myriad of demonstrations today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. After you've seen aspects of the craft in action, take a stroll through the museum's current exhibit, Creative and Innovative Quilts, a display of gorgeous contemporary patchwork pieces that almost seem more at home on a wall than on a bed. Admission to the museum, 1111 Washington Ave., Golden, is $1; call 277-0377.

Thursday March 23 A novel approach: She has everything you'd expect of a garden-variety folksinger--a clear voice, a comfortable way with the fretboard and plenty of good taste. Yet Nanci Griffith overrides all those boundaries. More than a mere songwriter or interpreter of others' songs, Griffith is a champion of the genre who celebrates good storytelling, modern sensibility, deft wordplay and strong emotional impact. A homespun musician who works the stage like a novelist at a literary reading, Griffith gives her all in concert--the result is an evening as changeable, gripping and moving as a book you just can't put down. She performs tonight at 7:30 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl.; for tickets, $22.50, call 830-TIXS.

Going mentalist: Magic has never been the same since Penn & Teller stepped into the prestidigitators' arena some twenty years ago. For one thing, in the cynical, theatrical world of big, loudmouthed Penn Jillette and his diminutive, mute partner Teller, escape artists don't escape and scam artists cheerfully expose their own scams. The duo combines equal parts clown antics gone awry, unabashed hucksterism and needle-sharp, sometimes sick humor to create a unique art form. And while the laughs Penn & Teller produce tend to be a wee bit nervous, audiences still guffaw in spite of themselves. See them tonight at 8 at CU-Boulder's Macky Auditorium or tomorrow night at 8 at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Tickets range from $17.50 to $23.50; call 777-7372.

On official business: Some folks will do anything in an election year, right down to standing on their heads, whistling "Dixie" or--dare we say it--showing us their underwear? At Politics Unusual, an annual benefit at and for the ornate Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St., they probably won't go that far--but various candidates, legislators, officials, journalists and other notables will still have a chance to dance, sing, joke and, possibly, make promises. It's up to you to tell the difference. Elbow-rubbing, refreshments and a silent auction kick off events at 5:30; the show, Politician's Auditions, follows at 7:30. Purchase tickets ($20) at the door or reserve them in advance by calling 860-9400.

Friday March 24 Dark passage: The legendary and influential Velvet Underground is most often remembered for the New York-junkie musings of Lou Reed, but fellow Velvet John Cale was just as much an early contributor to the group's rushing, concrete-jungle cacophony. While Reed has remained a celebrated street poet, Cale has taken loftier, more avant-garde routes, in ordered, neat music still capable of being as raw as any Velvet classic. He's worked with Brian Eno and gone full circle to record with Reed again; more recently, he's released an album with former Warhol clan-member Bob Neuwirth. His sharp ear can be traced in recordings he's produced--albums by Patti Smith, Jonathan Richman and the Stooges. The pedigree alone makes for interesting results. Check them out when Cale performs tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax. For tickets, $15 in advance ($17 day of show), call 322-2308.

Asia miner: Denverites with savvy know William Matthews for his watercolors of cowboys and the West, but the painter occasionally forays into other cultures he's encountered in world travels. China is Matthews's latest imagery gold mine and the subject of Watercolors of China, opening tonight at the William Matthews Gallery, 1617 Wazee St. A reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m.; for further information call 534-1300.

Saturday March 25 Like an open book: An inscription in stone by the west entrance quotes Jorge Luis Borges: "I had always imagined paradise as a kind of library." Anyone who agrees with that had better get in line this morning for the long-awaited Denver Central Library's Grand Opening. There'll be plenty of entertainment--the Overland Marching Band, the Denver Gay Men's Chorus, Montbello High School's ROTC Color Guard and the Denver Public Library Book Clappers and Kazoo Band will all perform--and a whole parade of dignitaries on hand to cut the ribbon, but serious cardholders will be there to see the library itself. Designed by renowned architect Michael Graves, the new building is a weird, wonderful, postmodern curio-sity on the outside and, according to city librarian Rick Ashton, a state-of-the-art library heaven on the inside. Events, including a book sale and children's activities, begin at 9:30 a.m. along the building's south side, on 13th Ave. between Broadway and Bannock. In addition, celebrants can go far in the area with very little cash--admission is free today at the nearby Denver Art Museum and the Colorado History Museum. Call 640-8940 for additional library information.

Whitmore and wisdom: It would seem that actor James Whitmore has yet to be a great American he didn't like. He's done Harry Truman. He's done Teddy Roosevelt. Now the king of the one-man show does American humorist and social commentator Will Rogers in Will Rogers' U.S.A., and the cheers have yet to die down. Whitmore brings his rustic portrayal to the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, tonight at 8 for one show only. Tickets range in price from $10 to $32; to charge by phone call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.

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