Her A's are numbered: The fans are getting anxious--alphabetical mystery novelist Sue Grafton is already up to the M's. But you'll have the chance to ask Grafton what happens after Z: The author, whose first book in the popular A-to-Z Kinsey Millhone detective series was inspired by her own murderous impulses toward her estranged husband, appears tonight at the Central Library, 10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., as a guest of the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation author series. Will she start her ABCs all over again? Don't be disappointed if she just scratches her head and says, "Heck if I know"--she's still got half an alphabet to go. Grafton will discuss her latest yarn, "M" Is for Malice, at 6:30; afterward, she presides over optional cocktails and dinner at 8. Admission to the talk is $20 to $25, while the full-evening package costs $125; signed copies of Grafton's book will also be available for purchase. For information or reservations call 640-6192.
Tupelo's honeys: The release of a second CD--a two-disc venture, no less--seems to herald the success of at least one Uncle Tupelo offshoot: Leader Jeff Tweedy and company--Wilco to you--are on the road again, touting their newest album. Wilco commands an ecstatic fan base, and after one show, you'll easily understand why. The countrified indie band's loose and easy stage rapport is proof that the boys aim to please--and please they do, with laid-back lyrics, back-porch camaraderie and multiple encores that stretch lazily into the night. The Picketts open for Wilco tonight at 7 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax; for tickets, $11 to $12, call 322-2308 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Creche landing: Carved wood, corn husks, bread dough and textiles are just a few of the materials you'll see put to creative use in Navidad: Celebrating Christmas in the Americas, a holiday show of folk-art nativity scenes opening tonight at Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, with a reception from 5:30 to 8. Get away in a manger; the charming collection, culled from a variety of Latin American cultures and providing a gentle introduction to the coming season, continues through January 11. For details, call the museum, open daily except Sundays and Mondays, at 571-4401.
Jo to the world: Winona Ryder's pale but jaunty cinematic Jo may have given Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women a new lease on life, but to a certain constituency, the inspirational twelve-hankie kids' classic never went out of style. Three cheers, then, for Industrial Arts Theatre, Inc.: The troupe is offering a special discount price to headstrong, literate girls age sixteen and under during the run of its Alcott adaptation, currently on stage at the New Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Drive. Regular admission to the play, performed at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays or 2 p.m. Sundays, is $13, unless you happen to be one of those "little women"; then your fee is only $10. Little Women continues through December 22; call 595-3821 for reservations.
They ain't heavy: What is it about siblings and music, anyway? The families that play together always seem to handle harmonies and instrumental arrangements just a little bit more tightly than the average band. The Connells, who have one such familial pair (guitarist/vocalist Mike Connell and his bro, bassist David), distinguish themselves by weaving sweet pop ditties featuring solid vocal work and a pleasing bit of jingle-jangle. It doesn't sound like much on paper, but wait till it hits your ears. The Connells play tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $8.40 in advance ($10.50 day of show), call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS.
The write stuff: Published authors from around the region have their day today at two--count 'em, two--area museums. The Aurora History Museum, 15001 E. Alameda Drive, hosts Author! Author!, an all-day affair featuring thirty--count 'em, thirty--Colorado authors, who will sign their mostly Colorado-themed tomes and deliver a kaleidoscopic variety of lectures and readings between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Admission to the event, held in conjunction with a companion museum exhibit, Colorado Authors, is $2 ($1 for children ages six to seventeen); for information and schedules call 739-6660. In the same vein, the Colorado History Museum Store, located inside the museum at 1300 Broadway, throws a Colorado Authors Autograph Party today from 10 to noon. The annual event highlights authors of books sold in the shop; call 866-3682 for details.
Get a candle on it: Oy. An early Hanukkah is right around the corner, and you've just gotten around to thinking about thawing that Thanksgiving turkey. Double oy--have you got some shopping to do. Put aside your cranberry relish and head up to the Judaica Show, an exquisite collection of handmade Jewish ritual items and jewelry on display at the Boulder Arts & Crafts Cooperative, 1421 Pearl St., Boulder. Attend a reception for the show--which features metal and ceramic menorahs, carved clay pictorial plaques, decorative seder plates and mezuzahs fashioned from silver, wood or glass--tonight from 6 to 9; musical group Kindred Spirit will perform Jewish folk tunes throughout the evening. The exhibit continues through the end of December. Proceeds from Judaica Show sales benefit the Boulder Jewish Day School; for information call 443-3683.
More handiwork of a Judaic nature can be found at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center's Singer Gallery, where Technicolor Dreamcoats: An Exhibition of Wearable Art is currently on display until the end of December. Included in the luscious potpourri of hats, vests, jackets, scarves and other apparel is an assortment of one-of-a-kind heirloom tallitim, or prayer shawls. In addition, artist Lynda Faires, whose works are among those exhibited, will give a comprehensive wearable-art workshop today from 9 to 4; a $40 registration fee is required. The JCC's Annual Book Fair, open daily except Saturdays through December 8, also begins today, offering hundreds of book titles in a zillion genres, as well as a variety of workshops and special holiday programs. Kids and parents are even invited to a free workshop today at 3:30 with storyteller Cherie Karo Schwartz. For information about all JCC holiday events or to register for classes, call 399-2660; the center is at 350 S. Dahlia St.
And what else can you do with the kids while you're rushing around? The Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., sponsors a Jewish Heritage Storytime, also with Schwartz and a group of literary youngsters, today at 1. Call 322-7727. Or expose the tykes to a more multicultural storytelling feast: The Denver Public Library sponsors Tellabration '96, a free, story-filled afternoon featuring Jewish and Yiddish tale-spinner Rosalyn Kirkel, along with ten other anecdotists who range in oeuvre from mountain tall tales to Celtic legends. The event takes place from 2 to 4 in the Central Library children's pavilion, 10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.; call 640-6384.
Tomb town: Intrigued by the Denver Museum of Natural History's blockbuster exhibit Imperial Tombs of China? The museum offers an opportunity to dig beneath the show's ornate surface with a series of special multi-lecture courses. One such five-part series, Discovery and Invention: A Deeper Look, begins tonight at 6:30 with a talk on jade; future installments, each delivered by experts on subjects ranging from field archaeology to forensic science, will take place once a month through March at the museum, 2001 Colorado Blvd. The course fee is $85 ($75 museum members); pre-registration is required. Call 322-7009 for reservations.
Bowing out: The deep-toned cello knows no rival in terms of bittersweet, vibrant sonority--especially when handled by the likes of virtuoso Lynn Harrell, a New York product who worked his way from Juilliard to the Cleveland Orchestra at age eighteen. Two years later he became the ensemble's principal cellist. Since that time, the now-solo Harrell has garnered a landslide of awards for his stunning musicianship. In a rare Denver coup, he'll perform in recital as a guest of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra tonight at 7:30 in Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Admission ranges from $5 to $38; to reserve tickets call 830-TIXS.
I led two lives: Few of us can boast a more unusual rite-of-passage experience than Frontline producer June Cross. The biracial daughter of a white woman and Jimmy Cross, a black vaudeville performer known as half of the comedy team "Stump & Stumpy," she was sent as a child to live with a black foster family after her parents split up. Cross's mother, Norma, later married white actor Larry Storch, and the girl went on to spend her summers in the show-biz world of Hollywood, returning in the fall to Atlantic City, where her African-American "Aunt" Peggy resided. Now she's put the pieces of that past together in Secret Daughter, a new Frontline offering that chronicles Cross's fractured childhood. The program, a dynamic and unforgettable autobiographical journey crisscrossed with glamour and questions of prejudice and salvation, airs tonight at 9 on KRMA-TV/Channel 6.
Kettle to the metal: Well, ring our chimes! It's that's time of year again, when Salvation Army bell-ringers clap on their clappers at more than 150 kettle sites around metro Denver. To kick off this season's fund drive, the Army will sponsor a Christmas bash at The Shops at Tabor Center, 16th and Lawrence streets, today at noon. Scheduled to spread holiday cheer at the lunchtime gala are the Colorado Chorale Victorian Singers, the Army's own brass and jazz ensembles and, yes, that jolly old elf himself, Denver mayor Wellington Webb. Santa Claus will even be there. It's all free, of course--but for the next few weeks, donations will be accepted.