Thrills for the week

Feminine mystique: The evidence is in--girls can be heroes, too. And children's literature has always supported that fact, though the tough heroines of kids' books may have been given short shrift over the years, overshadowed as they were by Tom Sawyer and the Hardy Boys. Brave Little Girls, a traveling exhibition from the National Museum of Women in the Arts opening today at the Central Library's seventh-floor Vida Ellison Gallery, turns the tables, highlighting 58 books that celebrate the feats, adventures, intelligence and accomplishments of literature's most inspiring--and risk-taking--little women. In addition, a variety of weekend lectures, film screenings, performances and workshops are scheduled from January to March in conjunction with the exhibit, which continues through March 31; for additional information, call 640-6377.

December 15
Championship pout: Brigitte Bardot's famously kittenish scowl may be the least important aspect of Jean-Luc Godard's cinema classic Contempt, but it wouldn't be the same film without it. Jack Palance, Fritz Lang and Godard himself all star in the many-leveled examination of deteriorating relationships and art-versus-commercialism film-industry schisms; a refurbished print is now on screen at the Esquire Theatre, 590 Downing St., for a limited engagement. For showtimes call 733-5757.

December 16
Maus rap: Comic artist Art Spiegelman proved he was more than a comic with the publication of Maus: A Survivor's Tale and Maus: And Here My Troubles Began, a startling Pulitzer Prize-winning serial memoir in comic-strip form based on his father's concentration-camp experiences. Since then, Spiegelman's illustrations, split between darkly humorous and innocently charming, have gone on to grace New Yorker covers and, recently, a children's picture book, I'm a Dog! Now his artwork has been collected for Maus and Beyond, a traveling exhibition on view in the Singer Gallery of the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia, through February 1. Spiegelman will give a slide show, The Making of Maus, and discuss the books during a live appearance tonight at 7:30 at the center; admission is $10 ($5 for students and seniors).

Also on tap at the JCC is the Leah Cohen Book Fair and Hanukkah Headquarters, a Jewish-themed market of literature and holiday items open daily except Saturdays through December 30. Concerts, children's programs, lectures and workshops will be offered during the fair's run; standouts include Cooking for Hanukkah with Cookie Rosenbaum on December 18 and a munchin' Lots of Latkes Luncheon on December 25. Reservations are required for many of the programs; call 399-2660.

Mandolin wind: It's common knowledge that mandolinist Ricky Skaggs is a true keeper of the bluegrass flame--so why don't we hear more bluegrass from the phenomenal Skaggs on disc? Past contractual obligations kept him on a straight-and-narrow, mainstream country recording track, but now Skaggs is getting back to roots, recording bluegrass and gospel on Rounder Records under the brand-new Skaggs Family logo. Skaggs's nimble breakdowns and sweet vocals are back where they belong, backed by a spitfire of a string band, Kentucky Thunder, and they'll sound mighty fine tonight at another E-Town radio recording concert. Jeb Loy Nichols, a Renaissance man who paints and writes both short stories and songs, will also appear, mixing American music styles into a folksy blend at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. Tickets to the 7 p.m. session are $9 in advance ($11 day of show); call 786-7030.

December 17
Observe and protect: There are mean comics and dumb comics and political comics. And then there are the comics who come across like the zany boy next door. We don't know anyone who wouldn't mind having lanky, personable Evan Davis for a neighbor, even if he is a bit hyper. It's all in the way he makes you laugh--at yourselves and one another, without pointing any fingers. Refresh yourself: Davis opens a five-night run tonight at the Comedy Works, 1226 15th St. For information call 592-1714.

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