This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, November 18Beautiful homes are never prettier than when dressed up for the holidays, with sparkling lights outside and gorgeous trees and tabletops inside. The six gracious '30s- and '40s-era homes in Denver's Crestmoor neighborhood included in this year's L'Esprit de Noël Holiday Home Tour will be decked out to the max by a long roster of top local florists and table designers, for public perusal today through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Admission is $16 in advance or $18 at the door, and proceeds benefit the Central City Opera House Association Guild and WB2 Charities; purchase tickets at area King Soopers stores or by calling 303-292-6700. For details, visit www.centralcityopera.org.

Elfin architect Daniel Libeskind, designer of the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building annex-in-progress, enjoys a high profile in these parts, but his biggest claim to fame these days is the soaring yet controversial 1776 Freedom Tower, now under construction at the World Trade Center site using another architect's plans. Libeskind's struggle for artistic compromise in the tower's design is a major focus of his new book, Breaking Ground: Adventures in Life and Architecture. Called "less a memoir than a portrait of a life as told through architecture" in Publishers Weekly, the book is part personal history and part philosophical doctrine. Libeskind will discuss and sign copies of Breaking Ground tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street; call 303-436-1070 for information.

There's been a change in plans at Rattlebrain Theater, the downtown comedy palace in the D&F Tower at 16th and Arapahoe streets. By the time the Denver Center Attractions production of Triple Espresso, often billed as "a highly caffeinated comedy," ended its long run at the Ricketson Theatre, Rattlebrain artistic director Dave Shirley had taken over the role of song-and-dance man Bobby Bean, one of three down-and-out performers seeking fame in showbiz. And while his character might appear dispirited, Shirley's not sad in the least: He decided to transport the cast to the Rattlebrain domain for a ten-week engagement. Performances are offered Wednesdays through Sundays, beginning today; for showtimes and tickets, $16.25 to $32.50, call 720-932-7384 or log on to www.rattlebraintheater.com. For more about the show, visit www.tripleespresso.com.

Friday, November 19The world's dwindling collection of aboriginal cultures will come together this weekend in an unusual way when the first annual Indigenous Film Festival, sponsored by the locally based International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management, debuts tonight at 7 p.m. at Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli Student Center, 900 Auraria Parkway. In keeping with the festival's theme, "The Continuum of Culture: Reclaiming Tradition, Preserving Culture and Adapting for the Future," films explore Inuit, Hawaiian, Maori and American Indian cultures and more, with an emphasis on preservation; along the way, there will be screenings, parties, receptions and the occasional live performance. The fest continues through Sunday; tickets range from $9.50 for nightly screenings to $50 for a full festival patron pass. Call 303-744-9686 or visit www.starzfilmcenter.com for information.

Saturdayday, November 20There's a second use for anything, even those confounded political placards that everyone seemed to be stealing from everyone else's yard only a few weeks ago. So listen up! The election's a done deal, and it's time to stop wearing your preferences on your sleeve, let alone your lawn. Instead, pack up the kit and caboodle -- including those clandestine signs you seized and hid in the garage (you know who you are) -- and haul them off for Election Sign Recycling at the Tri-R Recycling Public Drop-Off Center, 3730 East 48th Avenue. It's the American thing to do. Call 720-865-6805 or go to www.denvergov.org/denverrecycles.

Sunday, November 21The city's Judaic bookworms hora for happiness each year when the Leah Cohen Festival of Books and Authors -- a much-anticipated celebration of Jewish life, history, cooking, religion, philosophy and more -- rolls around. One facet of the fest, a giant book sale brimming with potential Hanukkah gifts (there are more than 1,500 titles to browse), begins today in the Boettcher Foundation Lobby of the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 South Dahlia Street, and continues daily except Saturdays through December 12; the other, a round of author talks, begins November 30. Tickets for book events are $5 to $10 and include a $5 coupon redeemable at the sale; for reservations or a schedule of visiting authors, call 303-316-6360 or log on to www.mizelcenter.org.

Monday, November 22All you have to do is buy a seat at tonight's Sudan Relief Benefit Dinner at Julia Blackbird's New Mexican Cafe and you can do good and get in the Thanksgiving spirit early, since you'll be helping the oppressed and enslaved people of Darfur, Sudan. Two local women who've been there -- Reverend Heidi McGinness of Christian Solidarity International and teacher Barbara Vogel of S.T.O.P. (Slavery That Oppresses People), a movement she instigated in 1998 with help from a class of Aurora fifth-graders intent on raising money to free Sudanese slaves -- will report on what they saw last summer during a relief trip. While it seems hard to focus on one bad place in the world when things are tough all over, a helping of tasty New Mexican cuisine might make it easier. The dinner runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at the restaurant, 3617 West 32nd Avenue; a $25 donation includes the program and the eats. For information, call 303-477-1577.

Tuesday, November 23Give a little, get a lot. It doesn't take much on your part -- a toy here or a can of food there -- to make the holidays a tiny bit better for homeless or needy folks. Where and how? There are charity drives just about everywhere you turn this time of year; here are just a few of them. While shopping at the Outlets at Castle Rock, Exit 184 on I-25, you can drop off new toys for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless at the customer-service center in the food court, daily through Christmas Eve, and register to win a life-sized Cape Cod-style Holiday Fantasy Playhouse (call 303-688-4495 or go to www.outletsatcastlerock.com for details). At Denver-area Vitamin Cottage and Albertsons stores or the Highlands Ranch Whole Foods, grocery shoppers can make $1 or $5 donations to Food Bank of the Rockies right at the checkout stand during the Check Out Hungercampaign, continuing through December 31. Give a gift of literacy during the annual Angel Book Projectat Kazoo & Co., 2930 East Second Avenue, where charitable patrons can pick a child's name off the tree and buy a book for him or her, to be delivered by Denver Human Services, through December 11 (call 303-322-0973 or log on to www.kazootoys.com). You can also drop off unwrapped new toys and clothing for the Kids' Pages Care Angel Tree, 5610 Yukon Street in Arvada, or send a donation to Kids' Pages Care, P.O. Box 745216, Arvada, CO 80006, and they'll do the shopping for you; call 303-277-0053 for details. And anyone who grew up with comfy Mister Rogers on the TV screen would be pleased to donate some new or gently used sweaters for the annual Mister Rogers Sweater Drivesponsored by Rocky Mountain PBS. Nine participating Colorado Lace Dry Cleaners stores will accept your sweaters (and clean them prior to distribution) through November 30; for details, call 1-800-274-6666 or visit www.rmpbs.org.

Wednesday, November 24Christmas-light cruisers have a new champion: Now in its second year as a holiday-season attraction, Bandimere Speedway's MileHighLights drive-through light display is your one-stop ooh-and-aah center, a regular tunnel of lightbulb love nearly two miles long and lit up by more than two million colored lights. There's something for everyone at this animated light-show fantasy in the foothills, including winter scenes, traditional Christmas tales and radiant bows to Hanukkah and Kwanzaa; it opens today at Bandimere, 3051 South Rooney Road, Morrison, to catch the Thanksgiving crowd and continues nightly at 5 p.m. through January 2. Admission is $14.95 per car; for more information, go to www.milehighlights.com.

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