This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, October 16Colorado is book country, so it follows that it's also home to a bumper crop of published authors. You can meet more than 35 of them at this year's Colorado Book Awards Gala, hosted tonight at the Seawell Ballroom, 14th and Curtis streets, by the Colorado Center for the Book. Hobnobbing begins at 6 p.m., followed by a keynote address by noted author/journalist Walter Isaacson, then an awards ceremony; tickets are $40 to $60, and reservations are recommended. Call 303-839-8320 or log on to www.coloradocenterforthebook.org.

Would we offer you anything less than a veritable garden of eatin'? No way: The third annual Westword Menu Affairgoes the distance again. Along with the chow -- top-drawer dishes from more than 25 metro-area eateries -- there'll be live entertainment, not to mention a nail-biting Steel Chef Competition pitting defending champ Frank Bonanno, the culinary mastermind of Mizuna and Luca d'Italia, against John Calloway of the Hilltop Cafe. The whole outpouring of creature comforts takes place from 7 to 11 p.m. on the United Club Level at Invesco Field at Mile High. Admission is $30 in advance or $40 at the door; proceeds benefit Food Bank of the Rockies. Advance tickets are available at Colorado Liquor Mart, 865 South Colorado Boulevard, or online at www.westword.com.

Friday, October 17No century's music is foreign to the acclaimed forty-voice, Boulder-based Ars Nova Singers: The ensemble is just as comfortable belting out a Gregorian chant as it is interpreting the twentieth-century works of Arvo Pärt. You'll hear both, along with Palestrina's "Missa Papae Marcelli" and James MacMillan's modern "Cantos Sagrados," during the group's season opener, "Lux: Music of Light," tonight at 8 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, 1350 Washington Street. The show repeats tomorrow night at St. John's Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine Street, Boulder; tickets for either performance are $10 to $15. For reservations, call 303-831-7115 or log on to www.arsnovasingers.org.

The far-roaming Helander Dance Theater, directed by choreographer Danelle Helander, has found inspirational fodder in far-away places, from Tajikistan to Tibet (while traveling to four Boulder sister cities). The company has gone full circle, globally speaking, and come back to roost. So it makes sense for Helander to call this year's fall concert What's Next?. Instead of sharing cultures, she's sharing disciplines with other artists for a performance that travels in a whole new direction by intertwining and exploring different genres of dance and music. Find out the answer to the program's inherent question when HDT performs with guests tonight at 8 p.m. at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut Street, Boulder. Shows continue Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, through October 26; for tickets, $12 to $16, call 303-473-9438.

They'll be turning the lights down low this weekend at the Molly Brown House Museum, 1340 Pennsylvania Street, for Victorian Horrors, the historic venue's annual creepy yet elegant bow to Halloween festivities. A throwback to the days before trick-or-treating became popular -- when house parties for masqueraders costumed in crepe paper creations were the rage -- the candle-lit museum tours feature top local actors portraying Edgar Allan Poe and other Victorian-era horror authors. Reserve a time between 6 and 9 p.m. tonight through Sunday; tours leave every fifteen minutes. Tickets are $12 to $15; call 303-832-4092, ext. 16, or log on to www.mollybrown.org.

Saturday, October 18Get the latest lowdown on LoDo living at the fifteenth-annual LoDo Loft Tour and Lifestyle Showcase, an in-house excursion that's augmented by a loft expo at Mattie's House of Mirrors, 1946-A Market Street. The show highlights local designers, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and more, and offers a chance to meet with real estate and design professionals. Tours take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow in lower downtown; tickets, $15, are available at Mattie's. Call 303-628-5428 or log on to www.lodo.org.

Sunday, October 19Here's a taste of the topics they'll rake over the coals at Gridiron Show 2003, the annual fundraising roast hosted by the Denver Press Club and KBDI-TV/Channel 12: Martha Stewart, the Colorado Rockies, Jayson Blair, Rick Neuheisel and Denver's mayoral race. Nothing and no one will be safe from scrutiny tonight. A host of local media celebrities and politicians will preside at the evening of satirical songs and skits, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Seawell Ballroom, 14th and Curtis streets. For tickets, $60 to $70, which include a gourmet meat-and-portabellos feed, call 303-296-1212 or 303-369-4088.

Monday, October 20Montana Trilogyauthor Ivan Doigmoves on to new territory -- New York during the Harlem Renaissance -- while retaining some of the familiar Montana landscapes and characters of his previous books. His new novel, Prairie Nocturne, takes some historical side trips into African-American annals, delving into stories of Harlem, the Buffalo Soldiers and the Ku Klux Klan's Western encroachments. Doig reads from the book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 East First Avenue; for details, call 303-322-7727.

Tuesday, October 21At last! Whispered about -- jokingly or not -- for weeks, your big chance is here, provided you have the "tool for the trade": The folks who put on Puppetry of the Penis will offer an open casting call this morning at 11 a.m. at the Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Drive, where the indescribably ridiculous genital-origami revue has been folding and unfolding since September 30. Included in the event will be a how-to master class with Denver production "puppeteers" Lincoln Davies and Jef Benjamin, but those auditioning are urged to arrive prepared to show off their own so-called dick tricks. Wring it for all it's worth. For more information, log on to www.puppetryofthepenis.com; you may also apply for the audition via e-mail, at puppetryauditions@fosterentertainment.net.

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