Read 'em and eat: Some of the hardest evidence supporting that axiom about the pen being mightier than the sword takes shape each year during Writers Harvest: The National Reading, an event that puts writers at podiums across the country to read from their works. As a fine side effect of this massive undertaking, audience admission fees will be used to benefit Share Our Strength, an agency involved in anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs--making the event more than just another literary reading. Over 2,000 authors will orate nationwide; in this area, regional pensmiths are slated to read at the Tattered Cover LoDo (1628 16th St., 6:30 p.m., $5 to $15) and the Boulder Book Store (1107 Pearl St., Boulder, 7 p.m., $5 to $10). Both venues will also be serving tasty tidbits from local restaurants; call the Tattered Cover, 436-1070, or the Boulder Book Store, 447-2074, for additional information.
Pipe up: Time is on the side of the long-lived Tannahill Weavers, one of Scotland's foremost traditional Celtic-music combos. Twenty years or so into their career, no band of their ilk has performed with more energy or authority than the Tannies, who blend guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, fiddle, whistles, bodhran and pipes into a lilting product as fine and enduring as the textiles woven by namesake weavers of their Scottish hometown, Paisley. Irish accordionist Alan Kelly and singer/guitarist Tommy O'Sullivan heat up the stage for the Tannahill Weavers tonight at 7:30 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. For tickets, $16.80 ($14.70 for students and seniors), call 830-TIXS or 786-7030.
Lights out: The only thing more interesting to a kid than a slinky, slimy, creepy, crawly thing is a slinky, slimy, creepy, crawly thing in the dark. See the snakes, scorpions, bats and bones at the CU Museum of Natural History in a whole new light (or lack thereof) when the switch is flipped for Museum in the Dark, an in-costume family Halloween tour taking place tonight at 5:30 and 6:45. Admission is $5 per child (adults and kids under two slip in free); call 492-3396 or 492-6892 for reservations, which are required for the popular event. The museum is located at 15th and Broadway on the CU-Boulder campus.
Museum quality: This year you might just solve your gift-giving problems before they even get started. Head over to the old Stapleton Airport for the 4 Parents Helpline Kaleidoscope, a bazaar bringing more than twenty museum and nonprofit gift shops together under one extremely large roof to sell beautiful and functional stuff suitable for everyone from your Aunt Alice to your distant cousin Pit Bull. Open today and tomorrow from 10 to 6 at the Stapleton Events Center (access from Stapleton's 29th and Syracuse entrance), the benefit market mingles multicultural, handcrafted and educational merchandise. All-day admission is $3.50 (children under twelve free); call 534-3789.
Dynamic duo: If ever there was music as light as a feather, the collaborations between jazz-fusion pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton would be it. The two have sporadically been making beautiful music together since the classic 1972 recording Crystal Silence; if anything, their shared maturity can only work in their favor here in the present. Corea and Burton, who've completed a new CD, Native Sense, set out on their leg of the Boulder Theater's excellent fall jazz series tonight at 8; tickets range from $25 to $32.50. The theater is located at 2030 14th St., Boulder; call 786-7030.
Bar none: Lions and tigers and bears? They're old hat, at the very least. And behind bars, glass and moats, to boot. But mix in a pirate ship, a candy-dispersing cobra, ghost stories and a kid-sized haunted house, and the Denver Zoo takes on a whole new Halloweenish dimension for the annual Boo at the Zoo, featuring imaginative trick-or-treat stations, live music by KOOL 105's Kool Kats oldies band, and even the lords and ladies of King Arthur's court. The fun takes place from 10 to 5 today at the zoo, 2300 Steele St. in City Park. Gate admission usually ranges from $3 to $6; today only, it's free for kids up to age twelve in costume.
So happy together: A little solidarity never hurt any community, and nothing brings people together quicker than a good laugh. So when KBDI/ Channel 12's yearly Comedy Gay-La All-Stars fete comes back, there's no reason we can't all join in the fun. Nationally known gay and lesbian comics Suzy Berger, Mark Davis and Karen Ripley will make light of the life tonight at 8 at the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; for tickets, $19 plus service charges, call 830-TIXS or drop by Category Six Books or the Book Garden in Denver and Word Is Out in Boulder.
Make like a tree and leave it: You're always trying to do the right thing, but it turns out that throwing bagged leaves in the landfill--which is what happens to those left on the curb for regular garbage pickup--isn't one of them, since they don't decompose properly in the absence of sunlight, water and oxygen. So why not leave it to the experts? Denver's Leaf Collection Program designates the pesky autumn refuse for a better purpose, as compost or mulch. If you're a resident, all you have to do is drop yours off at one of the following stations, Sundays from 10 to 4, through November 16: the Sloan Lake Marina, Wolff St. and Byron Pl.; John F. Kennedy High School, 2855 S. Lamar St.; Smiley Middle School, 2540 Holly St.; Cranmer Park, 3rd Ave. and Clermont St.; Veteran's Park, Iowa Ave. and Vine St.; or the Denver Solid Waste Transfer Station at Quebec St. and Cherry Creek Dr. South. The last site is also open weekdays from 7 to 4:30 through November 14; call 640-1678 for information.
Tell it like it is: Gently strident, poignant songs, written with conviction over a span of more than 25 years, are the trademark of Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian folk-rocker who's spent much of his career quietly garnering a faithful following. His human-rights-oriented repertoire continues to grow with this year's release of his 23rd album, Charity of the Night, a well-received effort that features Cockburn's underrated, understated guitar virtuosity along with the talents of guest artists Gary Burton (see Friday) and Rob Wasserman. Hear where Cockburn's going these days when he guests tonight at 7 at an E-Town taping at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. Jonatha Brooke, formerly of the Story, also appears; for tickets, $9 in advance ($11 day of show), call 786-7030.
Two times a lady: One of the more challenging aspects of student theater productions is following the road not usually taken. CU-Boulder's theater department shows how it's done with its production of The Cuban Swimmer and Am I Blue?, a pair of one-acts written by playwrights Milcha Sanchez-Scott and Beth Henley. Performances take place on campus nightly at 8, today through November 1, and at 2 p.m. November 2 at the University Loft Theatre; for reservations, phone the CU-Boulder box office at 492-8181.
Spooky lives: The magnificent Lumber Baron Inn, known to contemporary citizens as an elegant north Denver Victorian bed-and-breakfast, has a checkered past involving murder, mayhem and ghosts, though little attention is usually drawn to the shady tales. 'Tis the season to be eerie, however, and in keeping, the tranquil B&B reopens its doors for four days this week as the Halloween Magic Castle, offering half-hour evening tours with magician/storyteller Brian Dino. Better get in line early; tours begin hourly from 6 to 9, today through Saturday. Tickets--proceeds of which benefit the North High School Alumni Scholarship Fund--are $8 for older kids and adults, $4 for children under ten. For information or reservations call 477-8205.
Also tonight, another popular haunt casts an unearthly shadow when the Colorado Symphony Orchestra puts on a free Halloween concert featuring such fittingly chilling works as Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and Berlioz's Witches Round, as well as a staged digest of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, replete with old Ichabod Crane and the vaunted Headless Horseman. CSO musicians will appear in costume, and attending kids will get candy treats; early arrival is recommended (doors open at 6), as latecomers risk being turned away. The concert takes place in Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; for details call 98-MUSIC.
We have all been here before: Here's a spooky thought: The members of Fleetwood Mac--who hit it platinum big in the '70s with Rumours before they decided to start thinking about tomorrow and going their own way--are back. Buckingham, Nicks, Fleetwood, McVie and McVie are touring on the merits of a new CD, The Dance, in addition to those musty ones from another time; anyone with the slightest bit of nostalgia for that bygone era better get his or her polyester-wrapped fanny--pronto--down to McNichols Arena, an old-fashioned monster venue if we've ever seen one. To purchase tickets for the 8:30 p.m. blast from the past, call 830-