Guessing games: Wise men or wise-asses? It's the question we all must ask ourselves when Washington's foremost analysts go at it on CNN's often-vitriolic Capital Gang and other political panel shows of its ilk. Two Gang members--Mark Shields and Robert Novak--are taking their banter on the road for Politics '96: A View From the Hill, an election-year discussion stopping off tonight at the University of Denver Fieldhouse, 2201 E. Asbury Ave., under the guise of DU's annual Boettcher Foundation Lecture. We can only hope they prove themselves to be wise. Admission to the 7 p.m. lecture is free, but seating is limited and tickets are required; call 871-2649 for reservations.
Bye-bye, Byron: Romantic mysteries that traverse the centuries, a la novelist A.S. Byatt or filmdom's Kenneth Branagh, are all the rage. Playwright Tom Stoppard now jumps on the bandwagon with Arcadia, billed as a "comedy of ideas" and relying on Stoppard's soaring wit and clever skill as a wordsmith. Here's the plot: Modern-day historian Bernard Nightingale alleges that Lord Byron fled England hastily after killing off a rival in a duel, while Nightingale's own rival, scholar Hannah Jarvis, wants to prove him wrong. We travel back in time to an early-nineteenth-century English estate in order to learn the truth. You'll have to see it to find out what that might be. Arcadia, staged by the Denver Center Theatre Company as its season opener, begins tonight at 8 and continues through November 10 at the Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; for tickets, $25 to $32, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.
Dodger black: One of baseball's most courageous figures is remembered in all his pain and glory in a new biography, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait, a life account of the player who broke the national pastime's color barrier written by the athlete's widow, Rachel Robinson, with Lee Daniels. Robinson will autograph copies of the Abrams hardback ($29.95) tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Really hardcore Dodgers fans--some of whom might still remember Robinson's breakthrough years--ought to make quite a showing at this event, so arrive early; numbers for a place in line will be handed out beginning at 6:30. For more information call 322-7727.
Crossing over: In his acclaimed nonfiction work Across the Wire, bicultural author Luis Alberto Urrea told straightforward, unsentimental stories of poverty, disease and disenfranchised humanity encountered firsthand during a stint of social-service work along the U.S.-Mexico border. But he apparently didn't feel his work was done once it was published. Now there's By the Lake of the Sleeping Children: The Secret Life of the Mexican Border, a sequel as heartbreaking and candid as the first installment. Urrea shares some of his poignant reportage, available for $11 in paperback, tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. For details call 322-7727. Also of interest to those fascinated by Latino culture of the Southwest is the recently completed Baker and La Alma/Lincoln Park Community Art Project, for which approximately 150 adults and kids from Denver's barrio joined artist Karen White in the formulation of personalized nichos, or shrines. The resulting individual pieces, which were ultimately woven together to create a show of unity among neighbors, can be seen at the William E. Cope Branch of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver Inc., 721 W. 8th Ave., during grand-reopening festivities that end tomorrow. The center is open from 3 to 8 today and 10 to 3 Saturday; call 561-0476.
Louisiana style: There are all kinds of things stewing in those shadowy Louisiana bayous--'gators, boudin, catfish and a whole boatload of great blue-collar musical forms, all performed with a tasty indigenous zeal. Lucky for you, more than one of those styles can be explored tonight, right here in Denver. Bluesman Lonnie Brooks, a regional guitarist who borrows Texan riffs and makes them all his own, smokes through a set tonight at 9:30 at Herman's Hideaway, 1578 S. Broadway. Tickets are $9 to $10; call 777-5840. And at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., good ol' swamp fox Sonny Landreth, a veteran of bands headed by Clifton Chenier and John Hiatt, puts on a late-night display of searing slide-guitar pyrotechnics--with a zydeco lilt--beginning around 10:30. For tickets, $7 to $9, call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
Balog jam: We have a celebrity in our midst. Boulder animal photographer James Balog is the artist behind a spiffy new series of endangered-species stamps issued October 2 by the U.S. Postal Service. Balog will be on hand this afternoon from 2 to 4 at Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock St., to sign prints, books and actual sheets of the stamps for a Wildlife Fundraiser benefiting People Allied With Wildlife, which supports the Colorado Anti-Trapping Initiative. Twenty bucks at the door includes refreshments and an autograph; for information call 702-1400.
Turning Japanese: More photography, this batch fresh from the Pacific Rim, can be seen in Photography and Beyond in Japan: Space, Time and Memory, a stunning show opening today at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy. The exhibition's contemporary works, on display through January 5, combine both Eastern and Western artistic traditions with experimental forms, touching on the three title concepts through the exploration of positive and negative space, time-lapse and symbolic images. Guided tours, free with museum admission, are offered at 2:30 p.m. Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays; for information call 640-4433. In conjunction with the photo exhibit, the Denver Art Museum Cinema 1996 Fall Film Series, beginning at 7:30 p.m. October 15, presents films from Japan. Tampopo, a hilarious and sensual food-fest of a film, opens the series, which continues on Tuesday nights, through November 19. Screenings will be held down the street from the museum at the Acoma City Center, 1080 Acoma St.; tickets are $5 ($3 DAM members), or $25 for the entire series ($15 members). Call 640-2428 for film information or 623-2349 to reserve tickets in advance.
You're not in Swan Lake anymore, Dorothy: When members of the youthful Feld Ballets/NY troupe, all graduates of an affiliate ballet school, hit the stage, don't expect the usual moves. What you'll see instead takes classic ballet into a future zone where exuberant works are called Shuffle and Yo Shakespeare and feature contemporary scores, humor reminiscent of the choreography of modern dance's Twyla Tharp, improvisatory movements and modern costuming. See the Feld company tonight as part of the CU-Boulder Artist Series at Macky Auditorium; tickets to the 7 p.m. performance range from $10 to $30. Call 492-8008.
LoDo zone: It's no secret that after baseball season is over and the parking spaces open up, the time to come downtown is Sunday afternoon. Stroll LoDo today from noon to 4 and you'll have the added advantage of LoDo Second Sundays, one of two self-guided gallery tours offered monthly to art patrons and other curious onlookers. What's going on in the LoDo salons this month? Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee St. (298-7788), features the panoramic landscapes of painter Chuck Forsman, sweeping non-geometric images that bulge away unexpectedly from the standard rectangular shape of the frame, through Nov. 2. At the nearby Metro State Center for the Visual Arts, 1701 Wazee St. (294-5207), Recuentros/Reencounters explores works in various media by ten Latino artists living in the Pacific Northwest, through Oct. 18. And Two Hands Paperie, at 1331 15th St. (446-9188), branches out to present Liquid Light, photographer David Nolan's series of sensuously textured liquid silver emulsion prints developed directly on fine-art papers and watercolor stock, through Oct. 31. Maps of the district are available at these and other participating galleries along the route; for general information call 820-3139.
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Scare up some business: Underground virtuosity--in songwriting and guitar licks--seems to be the theme of the night at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., where old guard L.A. songsmith Warren Zevon and Southern devil Chris Whitley join forces for a 7 p.m. show. Both write with an intrinsic sense of macabre moxie suitable for this time of year; Whitley's crunchy, grinding National steel guitar work is icing on a black cake. For tickets, $15, call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
Life is a carnival: The next best thing to running away with the circus is running away to the circus, but you'll have to hurry. In town at the Denver Coliseum for the last week or so, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus--better known as "The Greatest Show on Earth"--gives its last performances today at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. In addition to the performing animals, honking clown mobs, bareback riders and trapeze artists, this year's model features special attraction Airiana the Human Arrow, who is launched skyward by something that looks like a giant crossbow. Tickets range from $8.50 to $15.50; call 1-800-444-SEAT. The Coliseum is located at 4600 Humboldt St., near I-70 and Brighton Blvd.
Heavy shower predicted: Tony Perkins and his mom. Janet Leigh's feet. Doesn't it just make your skin crawl? The Vogue Theatre's vaguely Halloween-ish Shock-tober Film Series puts on Hitchcock's masterpiece, Psycho, tonight at 8 and 10; we can hear the screeching violins already. And once that's over, The Birds, Young Frankenstein and Halloween itself round out the month-long series. Tickets are $3.50. The Vogue is located at 1465 S. Pearl St.; call 765-2771.
Candid Cameron: Perhaps the finest thing about Julia Cameron's best-selling book The Artist's Way is that, while her essays and exercises on plumbing the creative depths could have turned out to be a bunch of mumbo-jumbo psychobabble, they didn't. Some of Cameron's artistic fans say the stuff actually worked. The author now adds a companion volume, The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart, to her repertoire, offering readers a whole new set of enlightening tasks for the imagination. Cameron will speak and sign copies of the book tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St.; call 436-1070.