Thrills for the week

October 19
Short stuff: Autumn's well under way, the fall routine's in place, and school's already become, well, old hat. Not only that, but winter break is still weeks away. Luckily, you can always count on the Children's Museum of Denver, located along the South Platte River at I-25 and 23rd St., to challenge your children's bored little minds.

Tomie Turns 60!, a colorful tribute to children's book illustrator and author Tomie dePaola, splashes 100 pieces of original artwork from 13 of dePaola's more recent books across the museum's walls in a layout arranged to resemble rooms in a house, including a dining room outfitted for arts-and-crafts activities, a bedroom that's also a storytime theater and a living room filled with fluffy chairs and books to read. The exhibit continues through January 23. Also new this fall are a refurbished, interactive Community Market exhibit that's laid out like a miniature Wild Oats store, and the returning KidSlope outdoor ski hill. The museum is open from 10 to 5 Tuesday through Sunday; for information on exhibits, workshops and events, call 433-7444.

Favorite haunts: Denver history scholar Phil Goodstein has made the city's ignoble nooks and crannies his business, immortalizing those shadowy corners in a series of books and eccentric walking tours. Now Goodstein hops aboard a bus to lead folks on a Ghosts of Denver Bus Tour, sponsored by the Colorado Historical Society. The lunch-hour tour for adults, filled with arcane info, strange stories and even odder sights, begins at 11 at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, and includes refreshments. Step up and chill out--admission is $30 ($25 for CHS members). Call 866-4686 for reservations.

Heaven only knows: The best reason to attend the City of Refuge Tabernacle's annual Unsung Hero Award Ceremony, aside from the obvious, is for the music--a glorious melange of melodious testifyin' at the top of their lungs by members of several local gospel groups, including the Heavenly Echoes, the Spiritual Wonders and Cliff Young and Unity. Find out exactly who is this year's unsung hero and then celebrate today from 4 to 6 at the cozy Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St. Admission is a $3 donation at the door; call 333-2017 or 288-5824 for information.

October 20
Got noise if you want it: Mondays will never be the same after you've attended Bloody Monday, an experimental music showcase spotlighting little-known local performers with even lesser-known names such as Youth Against Peanut Brittle, Marrow Lynch, EMPTYHEAD and I-69 Scenic Point of Interest Ahead. These and other instrumental noodlers tread new ground tonight at 8 at the Bug Performance and Media Center, 3654 Navajo St.; admission is $5 ($3 for students, seniors and Bug members) at the door. Call 477-5977.

October 21
Dangerous Wager: There's something about our rarefied Colorado air that causes resident mystery writers to thrive. Rex Burns, one of the best (and a professor of literature and writing at CU-Denver, to boot), shows up tonight at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., to hawk The Leaning Land, which is set on Colorado's Western Slope and is the latest thriller in Burns's Gabe Wager police procedural series. The author appears at 7:30; for information call 322-7727.

October 22
Creep show: Classical music becomes just a little more accessible through the Jeffrey Siegel Keyboard Conversations Series, in which pianist Siegel leads audiences through favorite works, using entertaining commentary and plain old virtuosity to make his points. Siegel returns to the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., to deliver The Mystic and the Macabre, a concert/lecture of spooky works such as Scriabin's Black Mass and Liszt's Mephisto Waltz, apropos to the season. Learn while you listen--tickets are $15 and $17. Call 431-3939.

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