Animal Orphanage, a Denver nonprofit group that assists in the rescue and rehab of abandoned felines and canines, is sponsoring photo sessions for pets and their owners. The shoot takes place at Pooch! Emporium & Salon, at 2817 E. 3rd Avenue in Cherry Creek; a share of today's portrait dollars helps AO further its lofty cause. To set up an appointment call 303-333-4677.
Westword writer Steve Jackson signs his book Monster tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover in Cherry Creek. The novel, which recently hit number 28 on the paperback New York Times bestseller list, chronicles the true story of Colorado killer Tom Luther and the cop obsessed with catching him. Jackson outlined some of the saga in a series of Westword articles two years ago (they're archived at www.westword.com); we guarantee you won't sleep after reading the whole story in one setting. You can also catch Jackson at 1:30 p.m. on November 14 at WaldenBooks, 5420 W. 91st. Ave. in Westminster.
Get a jump on your holiday shopping at this weekend's Denver Botanic Gardens Holiday Gift and Garden Market. The green-thumbed shopping spree offers acres of gift-giving options for backyard farmers, bird-watchers, herb lovers and outdoor types. Available treasures range from yard art and garden furnishings to more functional wonders, many of them handcrafted by volunteers at the DBG and the local chapter of the Herb Society of America. The event will be held at the Gardens, 909 York St., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; call 303-370-8187.
Boulder mystery writer Leslie O'Kane, 1997 recipient of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer of the Year award, is celebrating the release of her latest "contemporary cozy" thriller, Play Dead. The book centers on a fictional Boulder dog psychologist with a knack for resolving toothy intrigue. O'Kane discusses her latest fur-raiser tonight at 7 at the Rue Morgue Bookstore, 946 Pearl St. in Boulder. Call 303-443-8346.
For the musician who has had to tour with one, the Hammond B-3 organ is a massive instrument of scorn and chronic back trouble. But for listeners, these heavyweight keyboards are a thing of beauty, especially in the skilled hands of masters like Jimmy Smith. For more than forty years, Smith's propulsive stylings have made him an A-1 ace on the B-3, satisfying jazz fiends the world over. He demonstrates why tonight and tomorrow at a pair of gigs at Five Points' swanky Casino (formerly Casino Cabaret). Showtime is 8 p.m., and tickets are $20. The Casino is located at 2637 Welton St.; get details at 303-292-2626.
Here's a hot tip for you: NCAA women's basketball. If you love your round ball full of fire and grit, it's hard to beat the intensity of the NCAA's more feminine basketball division. Tonight an in-state rivalry really turns up the heat when the women's teams of the University of Colorado and the University of Denver square off in the Lady Buffs' season opener at CU-Boulder's Coors Events Center. The game starts at 6, and tickets start at a mere $6. For more information call the CU ticket office at 303-492-8337.
Tonight the Art Students League of Denver presents its annual Faculty and Student Exhibition, and this year's motif is Get Loose With Toulouse. The French painter will be recognized with a Gallic-themed evening of art, food, wine, music and song; the list of special attractions even includes a high-kicking line of can-can dancers. The event will also feature a silent auction of art and other goodies, the proceeds of which help fund the ASLD's budget for the coming year. The gala takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Sherman School, 200 Grant St. Tickets are $65; call 303-778-6990.
Things are happening these days for the soulful funksters of Zuba. The local aggregation, fronted by vocalist/guitarist Liza Oxnard, landed a tune in the cinema smash There's Something About Mary, and the band will have a trio of tunes in the upcoming film Say You'll Be Mine. Tonight the group marks another achievement with a pre-release party for its fourth platter, South of Eden; local songwriter Sally Taylor, daughter of James Taylor and Carly Simon, will also be on hand touting her debut release. The unveilings take place at 9 at Herman's Hideaway, 1578 S. Broadway; admission is $7. Call 303-777-5840.
For a musical treat of a distinctly different order, tonight the Ragtime Society of Colorado presents Gottschalk of Louisiana, an American Saga, a tribute to Civil War period pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk. One of the first internationally known American pianists, the pioneering artist will be portrayed in costume by music historian Frank French, whose current Gottschalk recording appears on the Viridiana label. Tickets are $12 ($10 for seniors); the affair takes place at the Onofrio Piano Company, 1332 S. Broadway. Get details at 303-757-2755.