Wednesday May 10 Left-minded hitter: Radical voice Alexander Cockburn has written a book that hopes to prove that the metamorphosing political left is still kicking in spite of the times. Cockburn will introduce The Golden Age Is in Us: Travels and Encounters 1987-1994, which picks up on the eve of glasnost as Reagan prepares to leave the White House, tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St. Call 436-1070 for additional information.

Thursday May 11 Avon calling: Denver school kids will shed their NIN, baggy shorts and green hair in favor of Elizabethan language and togs at the Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival, taking place at downtown locations between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. today in celebration of the playwright's birthday anniversary. The annual event kicks off with a colorful Elizabethan Rout (that's the fancy word for a parade) starting at the Denver Performing Arts Complex and ending at the Daniels & Fisher Tower; rumor is that Queen Elizabeth and the Bard himself will be on hand to welcome the throngs. Accomplished student performers from ten high schools, eighteen middle schools and six elementary schools will then act, dance, sing and make merry on six stages along the 16th Street Mall. A scholarly Shakespeare Bowl (12:30 at the D&F Tower) and a birthday party (3:45 at the Tabor Center) round out the day--bring out your lunch bags and give these kids a hand.

Friday May 12 Garden of readin': 'Tis the season to sow your seeds--and then kick back under the apple tree with a good, fat read. At the Denver Botanic Gardens Annual Plant and Book Sale, you can stock up for both summery pastimes: A mind-blowing 250,000 plants--ranging from a surprising variety of faithful petunias and tomatoes to ten-alarm Red Savina habanero chile peppers and xeriscape "Gardens in a Box" designed specifically for Colorado's dry climate--will be up for grabs, along with over 10,000 used books, videocassettes and magazines on every subject imaginable. And they make it so easy for you. To avoid bad-parking charisma, you can hop on shuttles at two satellite parking lots--one at the Cherry Creek Inn, Colorado Blvd. and Cherry Creek Dr. S., and the other at Jimmy's Grille, 320 S. Birch St. Sale hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow; the gardens are located at 1005 York St. Call 370-8187.

Saturday May 13 Look both ways: Denver is a city in flux in the '90s, with new public works sprouting like weeds. If the fast and furious changes in town are leaving you breathless, it might help to slow down and appreciate Denver's glorious architectural past during Historic Denver Week, a slate of fun events beginning today and continuing through next Saturday. Box City, a now-annual tradition in which kids ages 5-10 plan and construct a city out of cardboard boxes, kicks it all off between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Norwest Bank Atrium, 17th and Broadway. Grownups can partake of more elegant pleasures at a Victorian tea conducted in style at the Molly Brown House Museum, 1340 Pennsylvania St.--seatings are at 1, 2 and 3. Reservations are a must; call 832-4092. The museum also offers free admission to moms and grandmoms tomorrow, as well as a free Capitol Hill walking tour at 1; lectures and more tours finish the week. For information call 534-1858--or check our Thrills events and lectures listings.

Author! Author!: You know Ralph Steadman for his nightmarish, ink-spattered illustrations accompanying author Hunter Thompson's canon of gonzo journalism. But Steadman has taken his literary linkage in a different direction--a tangent to be spotlighted in Writers and Leaders, a one-man show of his limited-edition etchings of notable authors such as Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway. Also included in the exhibit, opening today at the 1/1 Gallery, 1715 Wazee St., will be eight silkscreens of famous leaders and a series of drawings from a Thompson piece on polo. Steadman will be on hand from 1 to 4 p.m. for a book signing; the show continues through June 30. Call 298-9284 for details.

Twice as nice: Those who prefer easy music that takes the middle road will enjoy the smooth ride offered tonight at either of two separate concerts. Big-voiced, Grammy-winning country star Trisha Yearwood joins the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 for a pops treatment of an eclectic repertoire that pays homage both to classic crooners such as Tammy Wynette and modern rockers like Melissa Etheridge. The one-night-only performance takes place in the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; tickets are $22 and $33. For reservations call 986-8742 or 830-TIXS. And at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax, the Rankin Family--a quintet of ethereally harmonizing Canadian siblings who mix a drop of Celtic mystery into their modern folk, country and pop songs--will perform at 7:30. Tickets are $12; call 777-0502 or 322-2308 for yours.

Sunday May 14 Coming out: Outdoor enthusiasts hungering for their day in the sun can get a big head start today at the annual Outdoor Adventure Demo Day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Boulder Reservoir. Sponsored by the Boulder Outdoor Center, the expo not only lets you check out the latest mountain bikes, kayaks, climbing gear, in-line skates and other sports equipment, but actually gives you a hands-on chance to use the stuff before you buy. And if you're feeling sluggish, you can always warm up in the 5K run or 3K fun run that will precede the demos at 9. The adult gate fee is $2 (kids under eighteen free); for more information call 444-8420.

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