Prepare to stretch your mind: When noted journalist David Barsamian drops by the Tattered Cover LoDo tonight at 7:30 to discuss his book The Common Good, it's the ideas of brilliant thinker Noam Chomsky that will take center stage. Barsamian's book, a cerebral Chomsky interview published as part of the Real Story series of political books, is certain to surprise and incite. The T.C. is at 1628 16th St.; call 303-436-1070.
What better season than in the dead of winter to hang a show called Florals, Unique Visions? The new exhibit, which is anything but traditional in execution and scope, goes up today at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver's temporary location in Sakura Square, 1255 19th St. Featured are a gamut of photographic works by an international group of artists working in all manner of graphic media and styles, from underwater blossom shots by Japanese photographer Tamaki Obuchi to works by floral photography pioneers Walter Chappell and Karl Blossfeldt. Attend a reception tonight from 6 to 9; the show continues through April 9. Call 303-984-9956.
Meanwhile, Corporate Collections '99--an annual showcase of local and international artwork normally on view only in corporate and business settings--opens a few blocks away at Republic Plaza, 370 17th St., with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30. Among the works exhibited, you'll see Dale Chihuly glass and a Frank Stella lithograph, as well as pieces by a slew of the region's best-known artists. The show can be seen through March 17; for details call 303-764-7248.
Best left alone? That's what some think about the untouchably rich language of Shakespeare, but face it: To some modern-day dudes and dudettes, it comes out sounding more like highfalutin' gibberish. That may or may not be the motive behind the Shakespeare Oratorio Society of Colorado's "oratorical" production of The Tempest. It's a sort of annotated on-stage Shakespeare experience that's helped along by explanations of the Elizabethan text, and it opens tonight at 8 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th St., Boulder. The program continues Friday and Saturday nights through February 6, with an added Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. on February 7; for tickets, $5 to $8, call 303-443-2122.
Nobody beats Wendy Liebman to the punch--she always has a twisted topper to tack on slyly at the end of a sentence. The prize-winning comedienne, who's been seen everywhere from Leno and Letterman to the Emmy Awards and Hollywood Squares, unpacks a whole bag of quick-witted one-liners during several shows today and tomorrow at the Comedy Works, 1226 15th St. in Larimer Square. Tickets range from $10 to $13; for showtimes and reservations, dial 303-595-3637.
Now you can have your snow and eat it, too--without emptying your pockets completely. Winter Park Sports Day, today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers a cool compendium of the resort's winter activities, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dogsled rides and more at discounted rates, courtesy of a coalition of area businesses. So be a sport, and get on up there while you can. For information, call the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce, 1-800-905-7275, or log on to www.winterpark-info.com/wpfv.
The Denver Public Library may be the primary beneficiary of the DPL Friends' annual Rare and Not-So-Rare Book and Art Auction, but successful bidders will go home satisfied, too. Local historian Tom Noel, Denver City Councilman Dennis Gallagher and antiquarian-book guy Bob Topp will call the shots--and take the bids--on items ranging from an Audubon folio of Eskimo dog illustrations to a 1927 edition of Blake's Songs of Innocence, beginning at 7; silent bidding begins at 6 and ends at 9:30 in the Central Library's Gates Western History Reading Room, 14th and Broadway. Admission, which includes a wine buffet, is $30 to $35, or you can purchase the patron package, with an advance copy of the auction catalogue, for $100. For more information, call 303-640-6180.
Put a bunch of women and some food in a room together and you're apt to get a funny story. That's the aim of Herstory 12: The Apple (Women and Food), the latest in a series of anything-goes, woman-oriented theatrical vignettes staged by Her Acting Group. H.A.G.'s friendly look at an eternal love-hate relationship wraps up a weekend run tonight at 5 at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St.; for details call 303-294-9258 or 303-722-7585. Tickets are $10.
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The Boulder Bach Festival becomes a delightful misnomer when the performers travel to Denver's St. John's Cathedral, 1313 Clarkson St., tonight only, for a rousing rendition of Bach's St. John Passion, stylishly executed in the cathedral's impeccably echoing sanctuary. Led by director Robert Spillman, the BBF orchestra, chorus and vocal soloists perform at 7:30; for tickets, $10 to $20, call 303-359-1164. For additional information about the festival, call 303-494-3159 or log on to www.aescon.com/music/bbf.
There's apparently been some speculation that stately British art is more palatable when taken with a contented stomach full of crumpets. Or maybe not. Whatever the case, an Afternoon of Tea and Art seems like a jolly idea, and you can do it up right beginning today and continuing through the end of March. During that time, patrons of the Brown Palace Hotel's traditional afternoon tea with all the trimmings, which is served daily from noon to 4, will be treated to free admission to 600 Years of British Painting: The Berger Collection, on view at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., through Mar. 28. The tea--a grand affair of scones and dainty cucumber sandwiches, with tea steeped in silver pots and sipped from Royal Doulton china--costs $17.50 to $22.50 per person. The Brown Palace is at 321 17th St.; for reservations, call 303-297-3111.
Long before Don Ho ever blew his first tiny bubble, the slack-key guitar style wailed sweetly behind the traditional songs and dances of Hawaii, developing over the years into a musical category all its own. Its subtle influence on American pop music is indelible, especially in places like Nashville and Texas and among roots revivalists such as Ry Cooder and David Lindley. What's particularly beautiful about the genre--actually the product of cross-pollination with the Mexican vaqueros who originally brought guitars to Hawaii--is its inherent multiculturalism. Maybe that's why we like it so much, aside from the pleasant connotations of swaying palm trees, fragrant flowers, grass skirts and supreme pig roasts the music evokes. It'll all come alive when the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival rolls into the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 E. Yale Ave., tonight at 7:30, bringing Cyril Pahinui, George Kahumoku Jr. and Rev. Dennis Kamakahi--three of the islands' finest practitioners--to landlocked Colorado. Surf's up! Admission is $15 ($13 Swallow Hill members); call 303-777-1003.
Put your pretensions about ballet to bed for the night: The most remarkable thing about a show by Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, who perform tonight at the Paramount Theatre, is the way it appeals to both the staunchest balletophiles and the most resolute of ballet Grinches. The Trocks, an all-male troupe that pooh-poohs those dressed in tutus, fondly recalls and pokes deserved fun at the grandes dames of ballet while bravely performing all the correct moves in toe shoes and makeup. No flash in the pan (they've been performing for 25 years), the Trocks do their hilariously highbrow thing tonight at 7:30. The Paramount is at 1621 Glenarm Pl.; admission ranges from $17 to $28. Call 303-830-