This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, August 28Word is, you don't have to give a hoot about professional wrestling to appreciate Mick Foley (aka Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love), one of the sport's toughest survivors (he's missing an ear and most of his teeth) and author of two memoirs so insightful that they've both reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Foley, who's just released his first novel, Tietam Brown, will share some of those insights today at the Auraria campus, when he speaks on Inside the Ring With Mick Foley: How the Real World Is Faker Than Wrestlingat 1 p.m. in the Tivoli Turnhalle, 900 Auraria Parkway. Yes, this isthe real thing. Admission is free; call 303-556-2595 or 303-556-4247 for information.

Friday, August 29For many people, the Labor Day holiday signals one last big, snow-free fling in the mountains. It helps if there's music -- not a problem in the high country this weekend. To start, the Janus Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival has plenty, though little of it can truly be called jazz (Neil Young, Tom Petty, Clint Black, Alpha Blondy and more); that fest begins today and continues through Monday in Snowmass Town Park. And there is at least one major bow to the festival's jazz origins: The evening JAS Club Series will host the Russell Malone Quartet Sunday night at the Silvertree Cabaret Room in Snowmass; for festival details and ticket information, call 1-866-JAS-TIXX or log on to www. jazzaspen.com. Vail, that other ritzy high-altitude resort, gets in the act with its Vail Jazz Festival Labor Day Weekend Party, a showcase that sticks closer to its wellspring, taking place today through Monday at the Vail Cascade Hotel and Club, 1300 Westhaven Drive. Highlights over the weekend include a Battle of the B-3s, with dueling jazz organists Rhoda Scott and Dr. Lonnie Smith, and performances by the Barry Harris Trio and the Steve Turre Quintet; for tickets and information, call 1-888-VAILJAM or log on to www.vailjazz.org.

Gay perspectives take visual form in Rainbow Palette: Reflections on the Gay and Lesbian Experience, a juried group show opening tonight at CORE New Art Space, 2045 Larimer Street, with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. The exhibit, which features art in a variety of media handpicked from entries by local art dealer Joshua Hassel, continues through September 14; accompanying displays include works by Elizabeth Dillinger in the loft and Artist Trading Cardsin the small gallery. Call 303-297-8428 or log on to www.corenewartspace.com.

Saturday, August 30Few folks hanging around the city this weekend will be able to resist the annual Festival of Mountain and Plain...A Taste of Colorado, the city's premier stuff-your-face fest that's been a Labor Day tradition in these parts for nearly twenty years. If anything, the darn thing just keeps getting bigger (and tastier), with a zillion things to do and listen to in addition to the massive food court featuring everything from chipotle-cream grilled meatballs to alligator brats, prepared by over fifty local restaurants and vendors. Bring the Pepto along, or at least take a break from your eating agenda: When you're not pigging out, you can enjoy the live music, living-history area, carnival rides and more. The Taste takes place from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. today and tomorrow and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday in Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue; admission is free, but your cravings will cost you. Call 303-478-7878 or log on to www.atasteofcolorado.com.

Sheer opulence canbe daunting for all the ordinary people who attend this annual charity home show, but it's also fascinating. And here's the thing: The hosting Home Builders Association of Denver actually claims that this year's Parade of Homes 2003, taking place in the new Stapleton Urban Estate Program redevelopment site, will be a scaled-down version compared with the pie-in-the sky luxuries of past offerings, with smaller (3,200 to 3,800 square feet), cheaper (starting at, oh, $650,000) and more energy-efficient show homes. Oh, pish. This year's six homes are still ridiculously lavish, and they'll be open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today through September 27. Go drool. Admission ranges from $7.50 to $12 (children ages five and under admitted free) and benefits Special Olympics Colorado and Denver CASA; the homes are near 24th Avenue and Spruce Street. For details, log on to www.paradeofhomesdenver.com.

Sunday, August 31An incredible spate of colorful imagery will splash the walls of Foothills Art Center, 809 15th Street, Golden, when the thirtieth annual juried Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Exhibition debuts this weekend, featuring a beautiful abundance of landscapes, portraits, florals and more, by ninety watercolor artists from Colorado and the nation. It's a collection so bright you might need to don shades when entering the Foothills galleries. The show officially opens with a reception today from 2 to 4 p.m. and continues through October 26; in addition, Foothills will host gallery talks at noon September 8 and October 13 and a Watercolor Demo Day from 1 to 4 p.m. on September 21. Admission is free; call 303-279-3922.

Monday, September 1Give peace a chance: Now you can add the new Shambhala Botanic Gardento the Great Stupa and other attractions at the Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center Buddhist retreat, 4921 County Road 68-C, Red Feather Lakes, in northern Colorado. The ambitious 600-acre site, also a bird and wildlife sanctuary, boasts an organic vegetable garden and solar greenhouse; a contemplative Zen garden to wander in; a Rocky Mountain region native-plant collection representing different ecological zones; and eight miles of walking trails. Heaven on earth! The center will show it off today with a grand opening beginning at 2 p.m.; lectures by speakers Panayoti Kelaidis and Dan Johnson of the Denver Botanic Gardens will start at 4 p.m. Admission is free; call 1-970-881-2184 or log on to www.shambhalamountain.org for more information.

Tuesday, September 2The resurrected Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Drive, launches its sophomore production, Suddenly Hope, on the heels of the very successful musical Brooklyn, with a pair of preview performances today and tomorrow at 8 p.m. The story of Hope Levine, an out-of-work musical-theater actress, the play unexpectedly delves into issues of the Middle East and modern Jewry; Suddenly Hopeopens for its regular run Thursday, with shows continuing Wednesdays through Sundays through September 21. Tickets range from $28.50 to $43.50 ($15 day-of-show student-rush tickets will available at the box office before performances, beginning at 4 p.m. daily or 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays). Call 303-309-3773 or log on to www.denvercivic.com for details.

Wedneday, September 3Another, more traditional side of the Jewish experience is explored in the beloved Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof, opening tonight at the Country Dinner Playhouse, 6875 South Clinton Street, Greenwood Village. The chow line starts at 6 p.m. for evening shows and noon for matinees; performances run daily except Mondays through November 16. Tickets are $25.50 to $37.50; to reserve yours, call 303-799-1410.

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