Wednesday October 25 Tan parlor: The tearjerkers don't get any better than those written by Amy Tan, whose Chinese mother-daughter paean The Joy Luck Club was made into the rare women's movie that spills right over into being a people's movie. The same combination of clannish ties, humor, poignancy and the contrast of nearly folkloric superstition with American modernity found in Joy now supports the foundation of Tan's new novel, The Hundred Secret Senses, a story about family secrets and fleeting ghosts uncovered by a pair of half-sisters. Be drawn in when Tan reads from the book--a gentle entry into Halloween week, tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Call 322-7727.
Thursday October 26 Mental state: Mental illness is a predominant character in Arthur Miller's recent work The Last Yankee, opening tonight at the Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, for a month-long run. His middle-aged characters--two hospitalized women and their husbands--suffer from modern times, lost on a capitalist fast track that makes no allowances for the individual. The play, staged by the Denver Center Theatre Company, can be seen at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with additional 1:30 matinees on Saturday only; to reserve tickets, $21 to $30, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.
Friday October 27 Fripperies: Though only guitarist Robert Fripp remains of the original King Crimson members (the band first unleashed its torrent of progressive rock in 1969), he's still the mastermind, overseeing the molting beast through one incarnation after the other. But since 1981, the Discipline group of drummer Bill Bruford, bassist Tony Levin, guitarist Adrian Belew and Fripp has stayed more or less intact, creating along the way a pulsing, well-conceived music propelled by salient virtuosity and an avant edge. Fripp and company--add stick player Trey Gunn and second drummer Pat Mastelotto to the mix--perform tonight at 8 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl.; admission is $25. Call 830-TIXS to purchase tickets.
Alive and Welch: Fresh from the wing of country music that's intertwined with folk comes Kevin Welch, an extraordinarily human, earthy songwriter who's penned hits for the likes of Ricky Skaggs and the Judds. So it's not all that odd that his show here, featuring a fully electrified band, is an offering by the Swallow Hill Music Association, an organization usually bound by its allegiance to folk traditions. Welch, hoping to draw attention to his new indie record label Dead Reckoning, will perform at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax; tickets are $13 ($11 Swallow Hill members). Call 777-1003 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
A big draw: When one of the area's largest and most diverse showcases of local artists opens this weekend, it's anything goes. Well, almost anything: Work submitted to the ninth annual Alternative Arts Alliance Open Show--a wonderful free-for-all of the emerging, the midway and the perfectly well-established--will be considered by a jury for a traveling show that will transport the winning works around the state. But in the meantime, you can feast on artworks at 2501 Blake St., where the big show hangs today through November 11. And in between, there'll be a Halloween Moonlight Maskerade from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. this evening, an opening reception tomorrow night from 7 to 10, various instances of live music, and, on November 11, a Children's Festival from noon to 5. For details call 433-9359.
Saturday October 28 The feminine mystique: The first joint exhibit shared by the Museo de las Americas and the Denver Art Museum--a whimsical and inspirational overview of Latin American folk art--was fabulous. The two will collaborate again with Latin American Women Artists: 1915-1995, a beautiful and eye-opening exhibit chronologically presenting a stunning scope of works by 35 women from throughout Latin America, including Mexico's lush autobiographical surrealist, the heavy-browed Frida Kahlo. Needless to say, the diversity of such an exhibit is astonishing, so take your time going through--it opens at both locations today and remains hanging through next January before packing up for its next stop, in Washington, D.C. Admission to the Museo, 861 Santa Fe Dr., 571-4401, is $3 daily ($2 students and seniors, kids ten or under free); admission to the DAM, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., 640-2793, is also $3 ($1.50 students and seniors, kids five and under free), except on Saturdays, when general entry is free for all.
It's a screen! Filmmaker Robert David will introduce an appropriate selection of historical shorts and cartoons during Dark Dreamer's Filmshow, screening tonight at the Bug Performance and Media Art Center, 3654 Navajo St. Included in the program are old funereal favorites such as Fall of the House of Usher, a Chuck Jones laugher called Ghost Wanted and even a Snow White take, with Betty Boop and music by Cab Calloway. Shows are at 8 p.m. and midnight; admission is $5 ($3 students and Bug members). Call 477-5977.
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Sunday October 29 Riot ghouls: Halloween brings out the worst in us, but that's okay--it's supposed to. And though the hellish holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, related events stretch creepily on for days. Meaning you can dress up like a log or a zombie or a bunch of grapes or a green-haired skate kid and go out into the rarefied October air all weekend long. So are you all dressed up with nowhere to go? Pshaw. Try these on for size, you living dead, you: Family fun can be had for a song when the Denver Concert Band entertains with kid-oriented tunes at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 today at the Children's Museum of Denver, I-25 and 23rd St., where, incidentally, little ones are also invited to check out this year's Trick or Treat Street. More music--some of it on the spooky side--will fill Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, tomorrow night at 7:30. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra's open-seating concert, Nightmare in Boettcher Hall, will be free; call 986-8742. There's a rash of themed haunted houses scattered about town, but perhaps the most novel of them all are the ones you'll visit during the Lumber Baron Inn Halloween House Tour. Each of the four stops is said to actually be haunted, and their stories will be embellished with creepy tales about grisly murders, a spiderman and bootleg rings. Tickets for the tour, offered from 1 to 4 and 5 to 8 today, are $7.50; call 477-8205 for information. After that, it's hard to say which dreadful domicile is best--or worst--but check the Thrills events listings for a full run-down of the houses, ranging from one that strings science-fiction metaphors room to room, to one with a Hollywood horror-flick theme, to the Labyrinth, based on the ultra-dark tales of H.P. Lovecraft. As if that isn't scary enough, tomorrow from 9 p.m. until just after midnight, the Labyrinth, in the Edgewater Marketplace, 1700 Sheridan Blvd., will be visited by scream queen Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, decolletage and all. Admission is $8; call 202-0474.
Monday October 30 The big bang: Something out of the ordinary will take place this evening at 7 at the Tivoli Turnhalle Opera House, located in the Tivoli Student Union, Auraria campus. That's when Slave to the Machine, best described as a sculptural performance piece, commences, with artists and musicians powering a series of kinetic sculptures created by John Bromfield. Featuring a machine-like aesthetic balanced by a spontaneous, human element, the performance will benefit the Colorado AIDS Project and the American Cancer Society. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted; call 781-0787.
Tuesday October 31 Sowing Oates: On Halloween proper, what you really need is a good serial sex killer story. Renowned author Joyce Carol Oates--a prolific mainstream pensmith who's no slouch with the macabre (as evidenced in such past tomes as them and Black Water)--will read from her new novel Zombie, written as the diary of a paroled nutcase, Quentin P. The next Silence of the Lambs? Maybe worse. Check it out: 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Numbers for a place in line will be given out beginning at 6:30; call 322-7727 for more information.
At the hip hop: It's hip-hop heaven tonight at McNichols Arena, where a full roster of cool crooners, sexy belters and raucous rappers, including Naughty by Nature, Adina Howard, Notorious B.I.G. and others, will convene at 7 p.m. Sitting on top of it all are the smoothly harmonizing headliners, R&B group Jodeci, and New Jack diva Mary J. Blige, an exceptional modern voice weaned in Yonkers on Sam Cooke and the O'Jays. Tickets, $25 and $30, can be purchased by calling 830-