Wednesday November 15 Lost in space: A real-life adventure and some of America's favorite manufactured ones will be spotlighted tonight at separate Tattered Cover book signings, one at each T.C. location: U.S. Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady, the very same fellow who survived a fall from 27,000 feet and subsisted on bugs and his wits behind enemy lines in Bosnia before his dramatic rescue by Marines, appears this evening at 5 at the Cherry Creek store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., to sign copies of Return With Honor, his riveting quickie memoir of the ordeal. O'Grady won't speak, but he will sign up to two books per person; a limited amount of numbers for a place in line will be given out beginning at 9 a.m. For information call 322-7717. On a lighter note, Mark Altman--co-author of Captain's Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages--takes a delightful detour through Star Trek annals, tonight at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St. The book, written with Edward Gross and the product of over ten years of research, covers a wide swath of behind-the-scenes Trek lore, from the original television episodes to the big-screen adaptations. Get on down there at warp speed; Altman starts off with a slide show at 6:30 p.m. Call 436-1070 for details. Live long and prosper.
Thursday November 16 Real to reel: It'll be anything but average fare tonight when the Colorado Symphony Orchestra tunes up in Boettcher Concert Hall, and with good reason: The orchestra, led by Maestra Marin Alsop, will be playing to a microphone, recording the last of three works taped over a period of time for a CD to be released next year. The featured piece, Christopher Rouse's thoroughly modern Gorgon, will be followed by a lovely contrast--Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, commanded by guest soloist Robert McDuffie, a leader among the nation's flock of young violinists. A pair of Ravel pieces rounds out the bill; pre- and post-concert talks enhance the musical goings-on. Admission to the 7:30 performances (tonight through Saturday) ranges from $4 to $35; call 986-8742 or 830-TIXS for reservations. Boettcher Hall is located in the Plex, at 14th and Curtis streets.
Shop wave: Don't kid yourself--the holiday shopping season is off and running. But if it seems to get harder and harder to be fresh and original every year, maybe you've just been looking in all the wrong spots. The ninth annual Arvada Center Art Market is a good place to mend your ways, with a varied selection of high and low arts and crafts by over 140 regional artists. Prices start at $2, with most pieces ringing up at less than $100, and fun is a key word in describing what's available. But so is beautiful. And different. The market opens tonight at the center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., with a reception from 7 to 9; it continues Thursdays through Saturdays until December 23. Call 431-3939. Other alternatives can be found at the Junior League Holiday Mart, a large grab-bag of gift items, from clothing and jewelry (check out Diane Bozarth's unusual collection of treasure necklaces dangling with found bits of silver, scrimshaw, glass and, well, whatever) to toys and gourmet foods. Attend the mart today through Sunday at the Denver Merchandise Mart, I-25 and 58th Ave.; admission is $7 ($5 students and seniors), or purchase discounted $6 tickets at Front Range Safeway stores. For further information call 692-0270.
Friday November 17 Wanda dance? There's nothing soft or gloppy about Wanda Jackson. A lone female voice in the early wave of rockabilly, Jackson's roaring "Let's Have a Party" placed her right in the center of a frontier pioneered by Gene Vincent and the rest of the T-shirted, ducktailed '50s rebels. Jackson's never completely gone away--she's gone for a purer country sound and then taken the gospel road. And as if to prove just how much she's still with us, the spunky belter now joins modern-day tough girl Rosie Flores for another hell of a party. Wanda and Rosie perform at 9:30 at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St.; for tickets, $12, call 294-9281 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Support your local artist: The handiwork of local filmmaker Gwylym Cano (who makes, with tongue in cheek, no bones about being a poor and starving artist), El Corrido de Cherry Creek sold out a pair of Denver International Film Festival screenings. Now you have a second chance to see the flick--which tells the story of young Commerce City Chicanos Rey and Rica, who work in bourgeois Cherry Creek while their lives are touched by a comical melange of Marxism and coffeehouse militancy--when it returns for two nights at El Centro Su Teatro, 4725 High St. The show starts at 8 tonight and tomorrow and will be served up with a tamale dinner on the side. Call 296-0219 for tickets; they're $10 ($12 at the door) and include the eats.
Prints among men: Since Mark Lunning's Open Press closed its printmaking facility on Wazee Street, work produced there has been without a gallery space. But that's all about to change: Open Press will reopen at 40 W. Bayaud, just off South Broadway, with a group show featuring works pulled off the facility's presses by an impressive roster of locals, including Dale Chisman, Patti Cramer, Homare Ikeda and many others. Attend a reception tonight from 6 to 10; the show continues through the end of December. Call 778-1116.
Saturday November 18 Jolie band: In Cajun music, pedigrees begin and end with the Balfa name, since the Balfa Brothers defined the fiddle-and-accordion-driven sound, with its equal parts of swampy joy and Acadian melancholy, as much as any group to come out of the southwestern Louisiana bayous. Balfa Toujours, a group led by Dewey Balfa's daughter Christine and her husband, squeeze-box master Dirk Powell, carries on the tradition, but not without modern innovations: a drummer, for one, and an ensuing rockier beat. That beat will have everyone on their feet at tonight's Swallow Hill fais do-do, starting at 7 with a dance lesson in the Temple Events Center Ballroom, 1595 Pearl St., and continuing into the night. The Colorado Cajun Dance Band, a fixture at these occasional parties, will also perform; for tickets, $12 ($10 members), call 777-1003 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Sunday November 19 Tinsel town: Nothing puts one in the spirit better than the fanciful side of Christmas--sparkling, glittering, twinkling trees and wreaths that can instill wonder in even the scroogiest holiday naysayers. A little bit? Maybe? In any case, the ArtReach Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for an organization that helps provide art experiences for disadvantaged or disabled persons who might not otherwise get the cultural exposure, sparkles for a cause. During its run, which begins today and ends November 26, there are breakfasts with Santa, a special magic show for the kids and a Senior Holiday Tea, in addition to general viewing of festival displays. Open daily except on Thanksgiving, the fest is located at the Inverness Hotel, 200 Inverness Dr. West, Englewood; admission is $6 ($4 seniors, $3 kids four to twelve). For special event information and reservations, call 433-2882, ext. 233. See Events listings for festival hours.
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Monday November 20 Weathering the storm: Ever wonder what it looks like to be right in the eye of a hurricane? Then imagine it four stories tall. Hold on to your cookies, iron-stomached viewers. You'll need every ounce of fortitude you've got to travel with meteorologists in a P-3 weather plane straight into the violent heart of a storm during Stormchasers, the latest offering at the IMAX Theater, Denver Museum of Natural History, 2001 Colorado Blvd. Adrenaline, anyone? Tix are $5 ($4 seniors and kids four to twelve); call 370-6300. For combination museum/IMAX tickets, call 322-7009.
Tuesday November 21 Show some emotion: Long-lived and strong-voiced, the latest incarnation of Joan Armatrading is as honest and down-to-earth as the earliest ones. And maturity becomes the West Indian/British singer-songwriter--her latest album (her fourteenth) is one of her best. Live, Armatrading can cut loose in a rocking R&B growl--supplying much of her own proficient guitar accompaniment--or stay cool in a stark, confessional moment. But the voice, honeyed with just that much of a vulnerable crack, is always there. Armatrading performs tonight at 7:30 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl.; tickets are $21. Call 830-TIXS for additional information.