Thrills for the week

May 22
Beck to the future: The performer of the future is here right now. It's Beck--and not much else. Somehow, though, Beck hauls his turntables and microphones and pale, deadpan eyes on stage with him and manages to deliver a whopping good, charged-up live show for the ages every time. Beck, the Cardigans, those eerie Red Rocks amphitheater walls, and you: Eighteen dollars is not a lot to ask. The fun starts at 7 and should not be missed; call 830-2525 or 1-800-444-SEAT.

A ball of yarns: Not even the stage crew of the Denver Center Theatre Company's Fables knew exactly what to expect when Pavel Dobrusky and Per-Olav Sorenson, who jointly write, direct and design fantastic theatrical projects, put their imaginative heads together. Last year the daring collaborators conjured up Beethoven 'N' Pierrot, a partly improvised confection that confounded and delighted audiences with an onslaught of music, color and visual poetry. This year's project, based loosely on a global spectrum of folk tales and featuring a multicultural cast that includes a clown, an acrobat and a (stuffed?) lion, is strung out across a jungle-like fantasy set. And that's about all we can tell you. See Fables daily except Sunday at the Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; for showtimes and tickets, $25-$32, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.

Eight men out: Eight gay men get together one summer at an upstate New York country house belonging to one of the gang. It's not the most original dramatic scenario we've ever seen, but playwright Terrence McNally's stage treatment gave it depth to spare. Now Love! Valour! Compassion! makes the leap to the big screen, helped along by most of the original Broadway cast and, in a delightful turn of character, Seinfeld's Jason Alexander as the musical-theater junkie, Buzz. The outspoken, Tony Award-winning play-turned-film debuts tonight at 8 at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway, during a benefit screening for the Colorado AIDS Project. Admission is $10 ($12 at the door, $25 for preferred seating and a pasta/wine reception at Basil's Ristorante, 30 S. Broadway); advance tickets are available at Category Six Books, 42 S. Broadway. The film opens at the Mayan tomorrow for a regular run; call 744-6796 for showtimes and information.

May 23
Music, mayhem and mountains: How to spend this long, long weekend? How about sitting in a darkened room watching one cinematic opus after another, oh, hopeless, dyed-in-the-wool couch potatoes of summer? Please remain seated: The Memorial Day holiday boasts not one, but three vastly differing film festivals in Colorado, each of which has the potential to keep you sitting in an upright position.

Here in town, the first-ever Denver Jazz on Film Festival might even get you to appreciatively tap your toes. Featured during the visual tune-fete, today through Monday at the Acoma City Center, 1080 Acoma St., will be a galaxy of archival rarities and film classics celebrating the music and art of Duke Ellington, Gerry Mulligan, Thelonius Monk, Cachao, Chet Baker, Louis Jordan and others. An all-inclusive four-day pass, the most reliable festival ticket, goes for $40 to $50, while individual event tickets, if available, cost $5.50 each at the door; for information or to purchase passes in advance, call 592-1168.

Meanwhile, up in the hills, you can take your choice: Roller-coast through a retrospective of works by "B" movie master Roger Corman, who guests at the Winter Park Film Festival, or gear up for a nonstop armchair adventure at MountainFilm in Telluride, both beginning today and continuing through Monday. Either way, you get as much excitement as any self-respecting sofa slug can take, without ever leaving your seat.

The Winter Park fest, in its second year, features--in addition to Corman-directed low-class classics such as The Little Shop of Horrors, Bloody Mama (with a rip-roaring Shelley Winters) and The Trip--a silent, live-accompanied Tom Mix oater and a couple of 1997 premieres, Brassed Off, with Trainspotting's Ewan McGregor, and Japanese elegant hoofer flick Shall We Dance. It all takes place at the Silver Screen Cinema, Park Place Center, Winter Park; call 1-970-726-5416 or 1-970-726-4118 for ticket information.

MountainFilm rounds up a host of outdoor enthusiasts and filmmakers from the tops of the world's highest peaks, as well as a mind-blowing selection of expeditious films, shorts and videos, then lets everything roll for four adrenaline-drenched days at the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride. Festival passes range in price from $75 to $300; for more information call 1-970-728-4123.

Book this date: Give a hand to the little guys. This evening the tiny, community-oriented Cultural Legacy Bookstore, 3633 W. 32nd Ave., hosts a pair of pretty exciting book signings with a Latino flair. First, at 6, poet Pat Mora, known for her politically intense poetry, introduces her new memoir, House of Houses, a dusty, down-home, magical ode to the difficulties of desert-dwellers on the U.S.-Mexico border. Afterward, at 7:30, Denver author Manuel Ramos reads from Buffalo Blues, his fourth Luis Montez mystery, replete with a dead poet, a rich and mysterious disappearing Mexican woman and plenty of familiar city locales. For details call 964-9049.

May 24
Dancing in the street: Sun-lovers have their own long-weekend alternatives to ponder; for instance, there's at least one lazy, neighborly street fair to attend, if the mood strikes you. The annual Old South Gaylord Festival, today through Monday at the junction of Gaylord Street and Mississippi Avenue, is a friendly choice, offering lots of live music and entertainment, crafts and clothing to peruse, smokin' good food at vendor booths and adjacent restaurants, and even a dunking booth where local politicos will submit to repeated slam-dunking daily, all during festival hours of 10 to 6. To ease parking congestion in the neighborhood, shuttle service from South High School, at Franklin Street and Louisiana Avenue, will be provided by the folks at Metro Taxi; for information call 575-1130.

Ain't too proud to bug: In anticipation of its upcoming summer exhibit, Beetle-mania, the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center presents beetle-lovin' speaker Dr. Arthur Evans for a lecture today at 1 p.m. Evans, Insect Zoo director at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, has authored an esoteric but informative tome, An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles, copies of which he'll sign following the talk. General admission ranges from $3.50 to $6.50; the pavilion, featuring over 1,200 fluttering butterflies, a chrysalis viewing area, creepy-crawly insect terrariums and more, is located at 6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster. Call 469-5441.

First things first: The old-timers remember--but do you? Long before international environmental-art couple Christo and Jean-Claude began planning their future venture on the Arkansas River near Salida, there was the curtain--a monumental, brilliant orange bolt of nylon briefly suspended across Rifle Gap in southwestern Colorado before a strong wind blew it all to bits. Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Valley Curtain, Rifle, Colorado, 1970-1972, a neat little visual history lesson composed of drawings, scale models, photographs and other items documenting the Promethean project, opens today at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.; for more information about the show, which continues through September 14, call 640-4433.

May 25
At home on the range: When rugged buckskin-clad mountain men and women gather today in Morrison for the annual Fort Spring Rendezvous, don't expect to see many baseball caps, gangbanger wear, high-topped sneakers or campy bell-bottoms among the participating crowd. Ditto for the food: no fajita wraps, pita sandwiches or barbecued tofu. From noon to 6 at the Fort Restaurant, 19192 Highway 8, it'll be all furs and leather, jerky and fry bread, along with ongoing competitions including tomahawk-throwing, black-powder long-gun shooting, fire-starting and other useful nineteenth-century skills. Top that off with a marketplace teeming with smiths, gunmakers, bead and blanket sellers, phrenologists (fortune tellers who assess folks' futures by feeling the bumps on their noggins), military brass bands and--well, you get the picture. It's not the usual fare. Admission is free, and Western garb is optional but not a bad idea; call 697-4771.

May 26
Pomp and circumstance: Now that those lazy, hazy days of summer are staring you in the face, how about giving them a proper welcome? The Denver Concert Band opens its alfresco summer season today with a traditional Memorial Day program of light classics, patriotic marches, Broadway favorites and all the rest of the usual marching-band rigmarole. Catch the band at 4 at the Columbine Knolls Recreation Center, 6191 W. Plymouth St., Littleton; for information about this and other DCB concerts, call 83-MUSIC (836-8742).

May 27
The prosecution rests: Enough already? Apparently not. O.J. prosecutor Marcia Clark opens up in Without a Doubt, her look at the whole bloody Simpson mess. Clark, who tells all about Ito, Darden and the rest and shares her views about the trial's outcome in the new book, signs copies tonight at 7 at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St.; free tickets for a place in line will be given out beginning at 6. Call 436-1030 for all the ugly, drawn-out details.

May 28
Rock slide: The blues graze the heart of Chris Whitley's dark slide-guitar riffing, but they don't tell the whole story. Whitley also has an artful streak and a complicated soul to boot, and that potent mixture yields something lean, haunting, intelligent and modern somewhere out there beyond the blues. Hear Whitley tonight at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; the Dear Janes open the show at 8. For additional information or to purchase tickets, $8.40 in advance, call 443-3399 or 830-

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd