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Thrills for the week

November 14
Food for thought: A cornucopia of local writers--here, there and everywhere--is slated to take part in tonight's Share Our Strength's Writers Harvest: The National Reading, an annual large-scale literary benefit to fight hunger across America. In our area, related events are scheduled at the Tattered Cover LoDo (6 to 9 p.m., 1628 16th St., 436-1030, $5-$10 donation), the Boulder Book Store (7:30 p.m., 1107 Pearl St., Boulder, 447-2074, $5-$10 donation) and Barnes & Noble outlets (call individual stores for information), as well as at Toads in the Garden, a weekly poetry reading on the Auraria campus (7:30 p.m., Daily Grind Coffeehouse, Tivoli Student Union, 900 Auraria Pkwy., 573-JAVA, $1-$2 donation). Each venue will present a diverse circle of authors and poets, traversing countless subjects and genres along the way: Among those appearing at the Tattered Cover are Native American/Latina author Lorna Dee Cervantes, mystery novelists Greg Moody and Manuel Ramos, Beat poet Ed Dorn and Westword staff writer Robin Chotzinoff; the Boulder Book Store features historian Patricia Limerick, cancer diarist Juliet Wittman and others; Toads presents an emotive roster of readers, known and unknown. Donations benefit local organizations such as Food Bank of the Rockies and Community Food Share in Boulder; for more information about SOS programs nationwide call 1-800-969-4767.

Ready for takeoff: Grunge's cranking hangers-on, Southern California's Stone Temple Pilots, may not have invented the Sturm und Drang sound they purvey (some say STP vocalist Scott Weiland sounds mysteriously like Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder--on a surfboard), but like it or not, they've appropriated it as their own. And, as their album sales indicate, someone out there loves them. The Pilots fly tonight at 7:30 at McNichols Arena; for tickets, $22.50, call 830-TIXS.

Just fir you: Are those bells we hear ringing? One sure sign of the season's impending revelry is Christmas in the Rockies, this year's version of the Festival of Trees, a veritable winter wonderland of sparkling holiday trees, gorgeous wreaths, charming gingerbread houses and a convenient, seasonable selection of gift vendors, all sponsored annually by ArtReach, a nonprofit organization providing arts programs to at-risk children, adults and seniors in the metro area. The event kicks off tonight at 6--at a new location, on the Club Level at Coors Field, 21st and Blake streets--with a glitzy opening-night dinner-and-auction gala ($100). Other special events offered throughout the festival's five-day run include a Jingle Bell Jazz Night (6 to 10 p.m. tomorrow, $15), a pair of Santa's Breakfasts for kids (9 to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, $6-$12), a Senior Holiday Ball (2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, $6) and a Festival Day event offering free admission to ArtReach-affiliated agencies Monday (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). But it's perfectly all right to just come for the show itself--regular public viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday; admission ranges from $3 to $6 (children three and under free). For details or reservations call 433-2882, ext. 221.

November 15
Island angels: Ireland regularly turns out traditional supergroups, it seems, but Altan owns up to the title--the Emerald Isle simply has not produced a better band. Sparked by the radiant vocals of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, Altan--a who's-who conglomerate of musicians--takes native strains of fiddle, accordion, whistle, guitar and bouzouki and turns them into pure magic. The group casts its spell over the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., tonight at 7:30; for tickets, $15 in advance ($16 day of show), call 830-TIXS.

Here's gum on your shoe: Detective fiction has had more than its share of bad-boy protagonists, but few have been badder than author James Crumley's ten-minute hard-boiled eggs, C.W. Sughrue and Milo Milodragovitch. Crumley's pair of sleazy sleuths join forces for the first time in his fifth mystery, Bordersnakes, a machine-gun-and-drug-laced continuation of their respective sagas that has a vengeful Milo and Sughrue pairing up on a mission to even up separate personal scores. Put that in your pot and boil it. Expect dark humor, military precision and several gallons of literary rotgut when Crumley reads tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Call 322-7727.

Satan doll: Denver poet, stand-up comic and performance artist Don Becker exacted open-eyed raves from critics and audiences last year with his provocative one-man rant, Lucifer Tonight. If you didn't see his highly personal exploration of good and evil then, The Bug Performance and Media Art Center, 3654 Navajo St., offers one last, scaled-down opportunity when Becker re-enacts the piece as a reading tonight and tomorrow at 8. Tickets to the performance, a benefit for the Bug, are $8 ($6 members); call 477-5977 for reservations.

November 16
Sensible shows: The Tattered Cover Book Stores not only offer two ways to treat your senses this weekend, but they also have something slated to treat your inner child. First, take that trip back in time this morning when kindly kiddie-show pioneer Bob Keeshan drops by the Cherry Creek Tattered Cover, 2955 E. 1st Ave., to sign copies of his nostalgic photo history, Good Morning Captain: Fifty Wonderful Years With Bob Keeshan, TV's Captain Kangaroo. Don't be a Crabby Appleton--hitch up your Mr. Greenjeans overalls and line up nicely at 10; call 322-7727 for details. Then switch gears for something more sophisticated: The Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St., hosts a Colorado Symphony Presentation this afternoon at 3 (which gives you time to browse both stores and have a snack at either shop's full-service coffee bar). CSO music director Marin Alsop and composer-in-residence Jon Deak bring guest pianist Jeffrey Kahane along. Then check out the burgeoning LoDo restaurant scene and return to the downtown T.C. at 6 or 8:30 p.m. for Eye for an I Cinema, an eclectic and refreshingly non-traditional screening of Colorado film and video organized by local independent film maven Brock McDaniel. Films include anything and everything, from serious visual adventures to hilarious bouts of Claymation; admission is $5 at the door. For more information, call the Tattered Cover LoDo at 436-1070.

Folk it over: Sometimes you just want music to sound like music, with pristine melodies, coherent lyrics, easy harmonies and maybe a sweet bit of picking to pull it all together. Tonight's Swallow Hill Music Association lineup--bluegrass guitarist Dan Crary and acoustic folk duo Robin & Linda Williams--more than meets the qualifications. Crary, a string-band innovator who helped put will-o'-the-wisp, flatpicked lead runs on the bluegrass map, opens the show at 8, setting the stage for the Williamses, Prairie Home Companion regulars who appear tonight with Their Fine Group, a spritely back-up band sporting bassist/vocalist Jim Watson and Dobro master Kevin Maul. It all takes place at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St.; for tickets, $12 to $14, call 1-800-444-SEAT, or call Swallow Hill, 777-1003, for additional information.

November 17
Zorn warning: If you're one of those downtown whiners who pine for the richer cultural climes of New York City, the chance of a lifetime is about to drop at your feet. Hie on up to the Boulder Theater, where John Zorn's Masada hits the stage tonight at 8. Zorn, a major player in Manhattan's improvisational-music scene who's led a number of variant exploratory ensembles, is a rare sight this far west of the Mississippi (or east of the Bay Area), so see him while you can. Masada, a quirky nod to Jewish klezmer music, includes a frighteningly good cast of players--bassist Greg Cohen, trumpeter Dave Douglas and drummer Joey Baron, a veteran sideman with musical chemist and guitarist Bill Frisell and a solo artist in his own right. The Boulder Theater is at 2030 14th St., Boulder; for tickets, $18.90, call 786-7030.

Genius pool: Though brilliant jazz bassist, arranger and composer Charles Mingus died in 1979, his legacy not only lives on but continues to be heard, loud and clear, in performances by the near-flawless Mingus Big Band, a big-name ensemble that lives up to its namesake with plenty of panache. The latest version shows up tonight at 8 at Macky Auditorium, CU-Boulder campus, as part of the school's Artist Series and in preparation for tomorrow's Mingus Day '96, an all-day workshop and performance affair for jazz students from around the area. The public, however, is welcome to dive with the big band--which features among its ranks saxophonist John Stubblefield, trombonist Robin Eubanks, trumpet player Randy Brecker and pianist Kenny Drew Jr.--tonight; for tickets and information call 492-8008.

November 18
Scenes of the crime: One of director John Huston's most memorable achievements, The Asphalt Jungle--a 1950 step-by-step jewel-heist yarn featuring a stellar cast led by Sterling Hayden--is a fine exemplar of the film noir genre. It has all the right dark edges and shadowy characters and is filmed appropriately in stark black-and-white, making it a perfect offering for the Boulder Public Library Film Series fall noir retrospective. So you love grainy, monochrome mysteries, old movies and free admission? Check it out: Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the Boulder Public Library Auditorium, 1000 Canyon Blvd., Boulder. Call 441-3197.

November 19
Up in smoke: Put away your espionage novels, adventure-seekers, and turn on PBS's Frontline series--tonight's installment, Loose Nukes, will put you literally on the edge of your seat. Besides a hair-raising video investigation of a Czech nuclear-arms-smuggling case (one of the largest such crimes), the program goes on to link events to a plutonium theft that occurred in Germany only five months previous. The tale of real-life intrigue will both fascinate and frighten you. Tune in at 9 p.m. to KRMA-TV/Channel 6.

November 20
Shop till you drop: Get a leg up--before you reach the collapsing point--on your annual search for the perfect gift. The Junior League Holiday Mart, ongoing through the weekend at the Denver Merchandise Mart, I-25 and 58th Ave., has it all--exotic jewelry, mouth-watering edibles, chic clothing items, toys, handmades, high art and must-have junk. The mart opens for business today from 2:30 to 8 and continues daily at 10 a.m., through Sunday. Admission fees ($7 at the door, children eight and under free) benefit eleven nonprofit community projects; for details and closing times, which vary, call 692-0270, ext. 273.


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