Wednesday October 19 Too many spooks: A fascinating footnote in U.S. history becomes a focal point in tonight's segment of PBS's The American Experience. Telegrams From the Dead explores an American movement obsessed with the notion of life after death. Known as Spiritualism, it has had a following that included both colorful and respectable figures of the times--Susan B. Anthony, P.T. Barnum, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln among them. Using dramatic reenactments and archival materials--photographs, illustrations and "spirit drawings"--the program traces the phenomenon from its beginnings in 1848, when sisters Katie and Margaret Fox first appeared to be channeling messages from the spirit world in their upstate New York home, to its heyday a few years later, during which people across the country held seances and claimed to behold supernatural events on a regular basis, and finally to its decline, brought on by a profusion of hucksters and fakes. Turn out the lights, pull up a chair, get in a circle and hold your neighbor's hand; tune in at 8 to KRMA-TV Channel 6.
Thursday October 20 Scream show: Rule of thumb when you're seeing Nine Inch Nails--don't try this on a blackboard. Besides, dark Trent Reznor's sadomasochistic and theatrical wall of noise will give you the goosebumps, anyway. But it's the right ghastly time of year, so why not help fill up McNichols Arena with the rest of the black-dyed vampires when the enormously popular Nails sharpen a few aural knives tonight at 7:30. Marilyn Manson and the Jim Rose Circus fill out the bill. For tickets, $22, call 830-2525 or 290-TIXS.
Alice! It's OK. Really. Nostalgia is good for you. And those harboring sentiment over seminal sitcoms will have a chance to line up for Audrey Meadows--who played the rational Alice alongside Jackie Gleason's obnoxious buffoon, Ralph--when she appears tonight at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., to speak and sign copies of her entertaining new autobiography, Love Alice: My Life as a Honeymooner. Numbers will be given out to autograph hounds beginning at 6:30; Audrey goes on at 7:30. For details call 322-7727.
Friday October 21 Trad, man: Straightlaced and well mannered, trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis isn't so much concerned with changing the musical world as he is with preserving--even sanctifying--what he considers the highest form of succinctly American artistry: jazz. So why does this noble creature get such a bad rap? There's no question about his talent--classically trained and part of a famous family of professional musicians, Marsalis broke into the big time while still in his teens--yet he gets a lot of flak for being a fierce traditionalist, one fierce enough to deride anything that strays from the pristine structures of jazz. Regardless, the man is a pleasure to hear on stage--consummately professional and articulate, he's always impeccable, right down to the bodies he chooses to accompany him. A Marsalis concert is like a scholarly amble through jazz history, and tonight's show at 8 in the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm St., promises to be an easy, if informative, read. Tickets are $23.50; call 290-TIXS.
Midwest, young man: Local funny guy (and one of our favorite radio personalities) Bill Amundson and his pal Kirby Henderson both had the unique experience of growing up in the American heartland. And now they want to share that experience with you. Their 2-Fer Night at the Bug is part performance--the first half, called The Origin of My Discontent, is a funny and, as Amundson puts it, "gothic" memoir about coming of age in the Midwest--and well, part hoedown. Act two, titled A Late Night Branson Country Mountain Jamboree, will be a comedic, musical and possibly off-color romp with something known as the Anthracite Boys. The irreverent pair perform this dual fare at The Bug, 3654 Navajo St., beginning at 8 tonight and continuing Fridays through November 18. Admission is $6 ($4 Bug members); call 477-5977 for further information.
Saturday October 22 Swap team: Even if it seems far away, the ski season is creeping up on you; you'll be taking to the powder before you know it. So this is a good time to load up on--or unload--winter sports gear. Touted as a swell and reasonable place to outfit children and adults, the Rocky Mountain Ski Swap, sponsored by the National Ski Patrol and taking place today and tomorrow at Arapahoe Community College, 5900 S. Santa Fe Dr. in Littleton, offers the chance to buy and sell both new and used clothing and equipment. Sale hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; equipment registration began Friday (5:30 to 9 p.m.) and continues from 8 to 10 this morning. Admission is a buck (children under twelve free); call 430-2866.
The odd trio: The folks over at KBDI Channel 12 count on capturing some brilliant philosophizing, as well as a few laughs, when they host The 11th Hour, a plucky concept in which disparate public figures stand up and answer the question: "What message would you leave to future generations?" The videotape will run tonight at 8 when three guest speakers--zany comedian and accomplished musician Steve Allen, Chinese political dissident Fang Lizhi and John Bircher John McManus--hit the stage with their lasting messages at the Source Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Tickets, which include a post-taping reception, are $25; call 296-1212 or 290-TIXS for yours.
Drive, he said: No one puts the pedal to the metal better than Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers, a rocking blues band filling a wide musical gap left behind when the lionized and lamented Stevie Ray died. Led by Thackery, an explosive guitarist who paid his roadhouse dues playing with the Nighthawks and the Assassins, the Drivers are energetic and smoky, indebted to Otis Rush and Buddy Guy, but also--adventurously--influenced by Jimi Hendrix. Thackery and cohorts roar into the area for a pair of hard-driving shows: Tonight they rock Herman's Hideaway, 1578 S. Broadway (778-9916), and tomorrow they head for the hills to play the Little Bear, 28075 Hwy. 74 in Evergreen (674-9991). For showtimes, ticket prices and other information call the club of your choice.
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Sunday October 23 Raising the ant: You'll never look down on a bug again--not once you've witnessed Backyard Monsters: The World of Insects, a new crowd-pleaser that opened last week at the Denver Museum of Natural History. The exhibit features a number of hands-on activities, including ones where you can see the world through a fly's eye or build an ant, as well as displays of insect specimens, fossil insects and more, but most museumgoers will be there to gasp in awe at five monstrous robotic bugs and spiders--they range between twelve and fifteen feet in height--presented in natural backyard settings. Backyard Monsters remains at the DMNH, located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., through January 8; general admission to the museum ranges from $2.50 to $4.50. Call 322-7009.
Monday October 24 The importance of being Ernst: The Rocky Mountain Film Center's First Person Cinema series quietly serves Boulder's burgeoning avant-garde film community, showing little-seen, classic and unusual shorts on occasional Monday nights, often with the filmmaker in attendance. Tonight the series hosts an experimental pioneer, Larry Jordan, whose visually rich collage films, influenced by the surreal world of painter Max Ernst and the mysterious boxes of artist Joseph Cornell, evoke Victorian engravings. Jordan, whose recent films utilize poetry, introduces some of his work at 8 in Room N141 of the Sibell-Wolle Fine Arts Building, located on the CU-Boulder campus. Admission is $3; call 492-1531.
Tuesday October 25 Permissive policies: New York City director Jonathan Blank addresses questions about the limits of personal freedom in his documentary, Sex, Drugs and Democracy, a film that injects you into the free society of Holland, where sex-for-hire and drug use are condoned and the government finances abortions and euthanasia. The provocative feature, which details legal marijuana use, hemp breeding and prostitution, using interviews and a good shot of cinema verite (in one scene, a Dutch father and son share some reefer), finishes a one-week run at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway, on Thursday. For showtimes and additional information, call 744-6796.