Thursday November 23 Talkin' turkey: Thanksgiving--the day to eat too much, watch too much football and wash too many dishes? Bah, humbug. There are plenty of ways to spend the day, or at least part of it, that won't force you to impersonate a potato, endure one more sack or get dishpan hands. The folks at Aurora's Beck Recreation Center, 800 Telluride St. (off Sixth Ave. east of Airport Blvd.) invite you to spend the morning working off what you haven't yet ingested during the tenth annual Huff & Puff Before You Stuff '95, a veritable wonderland of aerobics, weightlifting, drop-in basketball and other activities taking place from 8 to 11 a.m.--well before Uncle Bob and Aunt Marge pull up in the driveway. Activities are free with donations: two cans of food and, if you can spare them, coats, hats and mittens for local charities. For details call 361-0870. A bit more daunting but potentially more fun is the Fourth Annual Cold Water Classic, 8 to noon this morning at Cherry Creek State Park. This circus of wet-suited, water-skiing, philanthropic loons, all treated--first come, first served--to free use of equipment and facilities in return for donations of food items, toiletries and clothing, may seem goofy. But its true purpose is to raise funds for Veterans for the Homeless. Get in line early; there'll be chili, hot drinks, doughnuts and hot-tubs-on-wheels for those who dip their toes in the reservoir. Call Tommy's Slalom Shop, a co-sponsor with KYGO-FM radio, at 455-3091 for information. As for charitable hands, among the many Thanksgiving Day Meals being offered for homeless and needy persons is the annual one by Volunteers of America at Champion Brewing Company, 1442 Larimer Square (9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., 297-0408), and a spicier-than-average spread served yearly by the Aguirre family of RosaLinda's Mexican Cafe, 2005 W. 33rd Ave. (11 a.m.-3 p.m., 455-0608). Donations are helpful, and servers are sometimes needed at such events; a phone call is all it takes to find out how you can help. Still wanna pig--er, unpig--out? The annual Vegetarian Society Thanksgiving Potluck will be held this year at 1 p.m. at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. Bring five bucks ($3 kids), a veggie dish for twelve (plus your own utensils and dishes), and you can feast on just about anything but meat. Call 777-4828.
Friday November 24 Signed, sealed, delivered: Mysterious Mona Lisa, with her shy, lascivious, pained, knowing, secretive, you-decide smirk, is such a looker--we've always known she attracted males. But at CORE New Art Space, 1412 Wazee St., she's attracting an inordinate amount of mail, all of which you'll get to see at the International Mona Lisa Mail Art Show, a compilation of hundreds of multimedia Mona Lisa images mailed to the gallery from all over the world. The smile's the limit at tonight's opening reception, which will take place from 7 to 10 with hoopla, a Mona Lisa art giveaway, chances to be photographed as Ms. Lisa and an ever-growing gush of entries, all whispering "come hither." The show runs through December 3; for details call CORE at 571-4831.
Let there be lights: One of the most beautiful (and possibly least-known) light displays in the metro area can be found each year in downtown Littleton, which lights up for the season simply but stunningly during tonight's Littleton Candlelight Walk and Tree Lighting. Beginning at 6:30 with a march down Main Street that includes a sleigh-load of local television personalities and candle-toting carolers, the evening will be rounded out by merchant open houses (those not familiar with Littleton's Main Street will be charmed by how homey and small-townish it's managed to remain), live music, hot cider and a fabulous tree-lighting in which a child (whose name will be drawn earlier in the evening) helps Santa pull the switch. And those lights--more than 110,000 of 'em--will be twinkling everywhere. Bring donations of nonperishable foods and toys; the big tree glows in Bega Park, 2850 W. Main, at the Town Hall Arts Center. Those still drawn to the urban pulse can attend similar festivities in the heart of downtown Denver, as the annual Larimer Square Winterfest gets off the ground with a blindingly beautiful bash. A candlelit sing-along with Dickens carolers will start things off at 6, followed by the lighting of the square's humongous tree. That marks the beginning of events--outdoor ice-skating, a weekend Santa's workshop and live music--that continue throughout Larimer Square until the first of the year. Call 607-1276 for information.
Saturday November 25 Black mood: A pretty voice, clear as a brook, is Frances Black's only secret. It's taken her to the top of the charts in her native Ireland, where they just can't get enough of her albums. A traditional lilt, modernized with contemporary material, is what you can expect when Black appears at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax, tonight at 7:30. Tickets are $15; for reservations and information call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
This magic moment: Larger than life in every way imaginable (including having Claudia Schiffer for a girlfriend), magician and Forbes magazine cover boy David Copperfield is the ultimate showman, and one who's never said no to an illusion. As for those claims that he disappeared the Statue of Liberty, walked through the Great Wall of China and ripped up and reconstituted Wayne Gretsky's $500,000 Honus Wagner baseball card--well, no one's saying those things didn't happen. Copperfield prestidigitates big-time in the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, today at 1, 4:30 and 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m.; it would be a trick not to find time to go. For tickets, ranging from $17.50 to $39.50, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.
The Five Points Renaissance: Langston Hughes--poet, author, playwright and glowing figure of the Harlem Renaissance--came up with the kind of ethnic, rhythmic Christmas pageant where folks get down. And Denver's Eulipions theater group puts on a razzle-dazzle, gospel-drenched, multimedia version of Hughes's musical, Black Nativity, each year--to great applause and celebratory clamor. This year's reprise performances will be staged on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings through December 23 and for three matinees, one of them today. Admission is $15 ($12 seniors and students); for reservations call 295-1135. Eulipions is located at 2425 Welton St.
Sunday November 26 Noel tidings: Some Christmas-season lightings come on a smaller, sweeter scale, including the Fort restaurant's Farolito Lighting Ceremony, a re-enactment of an old Southwest custom that's happening today from 4 to 6. Participants are asked to bring a pine cone, into which is tucked a slip of paper with the name of a loved one, to be thrown simultaneously into a bonfire, causing beautiful pops and sparks that rise into the skies. Old-fashioned refreshments--gingerbread cookies, warm cider and hot chocolate--will accompany the ceremony; as an added attraction, erudite Denver historian Tom Noel will be honored. It's free, but call ahead--RSVP by ringing 697-4771. The Fort is at 19192 Rte. 8, Morrison.
Monday November 27 A good read: The first stage of putting on a new play can be a forum in which to test it out--that's the thinking behind the Colorado Dramatists Open Reading Program, which offers free readings of works by hopeful playwrights not yet ready or funded for fully staged efforts. Tonight the readers will be emoting on Headset, or A View From the Light Booth, a short, full-length comedy by Bill Downs, who's had work produced at the Berkeley Rep and beyond. Hear the 7 p.m. reading at the Red Rocks Community College Theater, located on the 6th Ave. frontage road between Union and Indiana; a short discussion follows the play. Call 595-5600 for information.
Tuesday November 28 Brand Ax: Few names in the classical-music circuit are more respected than that of pianist Emanuel Ax, winner of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, the Avery Fisher Award and countless other honors and instances of recognition. It'll be just Ax--and his piano--tonight at 7:30, when he appears in recital at Boettcher Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, as a guest of the Colorado Symphony. In company like this, who needs more? Tickets range from $8 to $35 ($4 to $35 children and students); reserve yours by calling 986-8742.