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Thrills for the week

September 26
The patter of little poets: When Crofton-Ebert Elementary School students put pen to paper, out came a fantastic pastiche of funny, sweet and imaginative poetry, collected in the book When Elephants Smash the School. Toads in the Garden, an ongoing Thursday night poetry series on the Auraria campus, will take a short turn in the road tonight to present Smashing Elephants, a presentation of works by the book's tender troubadours as interpreted by a crack adult ensemble--including Mari Christie, SETH, Rosanna Frechette, Robert Ferriter and Don Becker, local artists, poets and teachers all. Toads, held weekly at the Daily Grind Coffeehouse in the Tivoli Student Union, 900 S. Auraria Pkwy., begins at 7:30 with a reading open to anyone brave enough to sign up for a trip to the mike; the scheduled program follows at 8. A $2 donation ($1 students) is requested at the door; call 573-JAVA or 697-1317.

Beer, here: There are educational booths and video displays at the Great American Beer Festival that detail the brewing process and remind you to be conservative with the rate at which you put 'em away. But you know why you're there: because the rapidly expanding fest features samples of beers, stouts, ales and other heady concoctions served up in six-ounce cups by as many as 350 different breweries, representatives of which have gathered here to chew the foam at trade meetings and competitions. Public tasting sessions, your end of the stick, will be held from 5:30 to 10 nightly, today through Saturday at Currigan Exhibition Hall, 1324 Champa St. General admission is $25 in advance ($28 at the door); call 447-0126 to reserve tickets.

September 27
Top of the pops: Traditional jazz simply doesn't get any better than this. The Summit Jazz Festival makes a point, annually, of presenting a sensational lineup of seasoned jazzmen, and this year's roster will simply blow the Hyatt Regency Tech Center to pieces over the weekend. Several combos, including the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, the Grand Dominion Jazz Band and Denver's own Alan Frederickson Jazz Ensemble, will be joined by the stellar Dick Hyman Allstars--featuring ageless trumpeter Doc Cheatham, impeccable guitarist Howard Alden, legendary bassist Milt Hinton and others in its mix--for four separate sessions of exuberant music, beginning tonight at 7 and continuing tomorrow at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Tickets range from $25 to $32 per session (or $90 for everything); to reserve seats by phone, call 779-1234. Hyman and some of his Allstars--Cheatham, Alden and reed player Ken Peplowski--also stop in today at St. Cajetan's Performance Center on the Auraria Campus, where they'll perform at 2 p.m. for students and other fans. Admission ranges from $4 to $8 (CU students free); call 556-8122.

Home bass: Multitalented Me'Shell Ndegeocello (her last name, which means "free like a bird" in Swahili, is a mouthful, but its near-phonetic pronunciation is easier than it looks) composes, sings, raps and slaps hell out of the bass, which is her primary, but not her only, instrument. Her hard-edged, funked-up, culturally centered mix of American music styles and politics has the future written all over it, but you can hear it tonight at 9 at Boulder's Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St. Come find out why critics fall at this woman's feet; for tickets, $13.25 in advance, call 1-800-444-SEAT.

Left, right, left, right: Call the fire department--sparks are gonna fly tonight when the Reverend Jesse Jackson, onetime Rainbow Party presidential candidate and a blazing orator for liberal values, and controversial Iran-Contra figure Oliver North, an upright bastion of conservatism and the American way, face off in a debate at the Auraria Campus Events Center, where an SRO crowd is expected to gather. Beginning at 8, the diametrically opposed duo will argue issues facing America as it hurtles headlong into a new century; for tickets, $7 ($4 Auraria students), call 556-3315.

On Broadway: As the gallery season gets fast and furious, so does the Last Fridays Art Walk. Put on your comfiest shoes and discover what's happening in the Broadway Arts Corridor, bounded roughly by Colfax Avenue, Pearl Street, I-25 and Santa Fe Drive. Start the self-guided tour at First and Broadway, around which a gaggle of galleries is centered, including Rule Modern and Contemporary, Manos Folk Art and, to the south, Open Press printmaking studio and the new Inkfish digs. It's simple to fan out from there--and there are plenty of little coffeehouses and restaurants along the way where you can rest your tootsies. Last Fridays is free and runs from 5 to 9 p.m.

September 28
Give it a whirl: Denver's busiest Irish music connection, Pat McCullough's Celtic Events, pulls off yet another first. Dervish, a fiddle-, flute- and accordion-based sextet from Sligo that's garnering raves across the Atlantic, debuts here tonight at 8 at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St. Tickets, $15, are available by calling 830-TIXS. It's not exactly the band's Denver premiere, though--you can also give Dervish a sample whirl during an in-store performance this afternoon at 1 at Tower Records, 2500 E. 1st Ave., Cherry Creek, being held in conjunction with the release of the band's swell new album of fresh-sounding yet traditional tunes, At the End of the Day. Admission at Tower is free, but you might want to dip into your pockets and spring for the CD; for information call 777-0502.

Big boss man: Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee surely has more than his share of insider's yarns to tell. Lucky for us, Bradlee's committed some of them to print in his gabby new memoir, A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures ($14, Simon & Schuster). Journalism's white-collar superstar will share some of that chatter today from 3 to 4 at the newly expanded Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St. Admission is free; for details call 436-1070.

September 29
Irreverent details: Our first glimpse of Michael Moore--the kind of corporate-political watchdog who never backs down, even when the parti-culars begin to look peculiarly absurd--was as a dogged protagonist in the widely acclaimed Roger and Me, Moore's own documentary about GM auto-plant shutdowns in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Later he transferred his satiric predilections to the boob tube on TV Nation, proving that television doesn't have to be middle-of-the-road. Now he'll address the public in person, shooting out some nervy ideas from his book Downsize This!: Random Threats From an Unarmed American, when he speaks at a variety of metro-area venues today and tomorrow. This afternoon at 4, Moore reads from and signs copies of the book at the Tattered Cover LoDo (1628 16th St., 436-1070); later in the evening, he'll drop by an E-Town radio taping for an interview (Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, $7-$9, 786-7030). And tomorrow at 7:30, Moore lays himself on the line for inquisitive students (and the rest of us) when he meets the public at the Glenn Miller Ballroom, CU-Boulder campus, to tell all, answer questions and maybe do something to change the world. After all, somebody's got to do it. Call 492-3227.

September 30
Buy the bio: A fascinating figure from the Kennedy era is the focus of author Paul Hendrickson's thorough and compelling biography The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War, a profile that looks both at the life of one of John F. Kennedy's "best and brightest" advisors and at the effects of Secretary of Defense McNamara's now-controversial decisions regarding the escalating war in Vietnam. Hendrickson discusses and autographs copies of the book tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. For more information call 322-7727.

October 1
Sukkah-coated love: Sukkot is certainly one of the most poignant holidays observed in Judaism, a harvest festival promoting hospitality and charity for wanderers while commemorating Jews who roved through the desert after they fled Egypt. The holiday's most striking symbol is the sukkah, a simple outdoor shelter stocked with harvest bounty, and it's the subject that binds together a group of small shows that opened earlier this month at the Mizel Museum of Judaica, located in the BMH/Beth Joseph Synagogue at 560 S. Monaco Pkwy. Ten professionals each designed a model sukkah for The Chicago Booth Festival: Architects Build Shelters for Sukkot, an artful collection of the cornucopic booths curated by the Spertus Museum in Chicago; Sukkot Hop: Denver Families in Their Sukkot and Habitat for Humanity: The People respectively feature images of religious observance and human generosity taken by documentary photographer Bernard Mendoza. A special holiday reception with family art workshops, a Sukkot talk and refreshments will be held tonight inside of a real sukkah from 7 to 9; the exhibits will be on display through December 4. Call 333-4156 for additional information.

Give the dog a bone: We don't know if it was by design or if it was an act of divine providence, but PBS has a great day of programming centered around some of our most notable sidekicks. You & Your Great Dog, a thirteen-program series on training techniques for the average Joe and his Fido, premieres today at 1 p.m., featuring easy-to-understand instruction provided by professional trainer and host Bonnie Bergin. In a more serious vein (depending on your point of view) is Running Mate, a one-hour look at the unique and changing responsibilities of the vice-presidency, utilizing interviews, historical commentary, political convention footage and priceless stories and images from the past, airing tonight at 9. Candidates and V.P. electees Geraldine Ferraro, Dan Quayle, Walter Mondale and Al Gore are just a few of the politicians you'll see mugging for the camera. So roll over, Rover...or tune in to either program on KRMA-TV/Channel 6.

October 2
Tennessee suds: Pack up your sturm und drang for a night, theatergoers--we all can use a rest from the usual melodra-matics of Tennessee Williams once in a while, can't we? The Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Dr., has featured lately as part of its mid-week theater series The Glass Mendacity, a silly spoof on the Williams way with words. Who says you can't have fun on a Wednesday night? The parody's run wraps up this evening with a final 7:30 performance; for more information or to reserve tickets, $8, call 595-3821.


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