Thrills for the week

October 23
Ready to roll: Glamour, glitz and miles and miles of old and new film from around the world are certain benchmarks of the Denver International Film Festival, returning to town for its twentieth go-around. As always, the fest features celebrity guests (actors Jack Palance and Bryan Brown and directors Volker Schlondorff and Errol Morris will attend this year), world premieres (Switchback, with Dennis Quaid and Danny Glover, and Mad City, the latest screen vehicle for Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta), parties, lectures and tributes galore. (See Bill Gallo's festival preview on page 54.) Tickets can be purchased at the festival ticket office, 1425 Larimer Square, or by calling 830-TIXS; for general information call 321-FILM.

Read 'em and eat: Some of the hardest evidence supporting that axiom about the pen being mightier than the sword takes shape each year during Writers Harvest: The National Reading, an event that puts writers at podiums across the country to read from their works. As a fine side effect of this massive undertaking, audience admission fees will be used to benefit Share Our Strength, an agency involved in anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs--making the event more than just another literary reading. Over 2,000 authors will orate nationwide; in this area, regional pensmiths are slated to read at the Tattered Cover LoDo (1628 16th St., 6:30 p.m., $5 to $15) and the Boulder Book Store (1107 Pearl St., Boulder, 7 p.m., $5 to $10). Both venues will also be serving tasty tidbits from local restaurants; call the Tattered Cover, 436-1070, or the Boulder Book Store, 447-2074, for additional information.

Pipe up: Time is on the side of the long-lived Tannahill Weavers, one of Scotland's foremost traditional Celtic-music combos. Twenty years or so into their career, no band of their ilk has performed with more energy or authority than the Tannies, who blend guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, fiddle, whistles, bodhran and pipes into a lilting product as fine and enduring as the textiles woven by namesake weavers of their Scottish hometown, Paisley. Irish accordionist Alan Kelly and singer/guitarist Tommy O'Sullivan heat up the stage for the Tannahill Weavers tonight at 7:30 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. For tickets, $16.80 ($14.70 for students and seniors), call 830-TIXS or 786-7030.

October 24
Lights out: The only thing more interesting to a kid than a slinky, slimy, creepy, crawly thing is a slinky, slimy, creepy, crawly thing in the dark. See the snakes, scorpions, bats and bones at the CU Museum of Natural History in a whole new light (or lack thereof) when the switch is flipped for Museum in the Dark, an in-costume family Halloween tour taking place tonight at 5:30 and 6:45. Admission is $5 per child (adults and kids under two slip in free); call 492-3396 or 492-6892 for reservations, which are required for the popular event. The museum is located at 15th and Broadway on the CU-Boulder campus.

Museum quality: This year you might just solve your gift-giving problems before they even get started. Head over to the old Stapleton Airport for the 4 Parents Helpline Kaleidoscope, a bazaar bringing more than twenty museum and nonprofit gift shops together under one extremely large roof to sell beautiful and functional stuff suitable for everyone from your Aunt Alice to your distant cousin Pit Bull. Open today and tomorrow from 10 to 6 at the Stapleton Events Center (access from Stapleton's 29th and Syracuse entrance), the benefit market mingles multicultural, handcrafted and educational merchandise. All-day admission is $3.50 (children under twelve free); call 534-3789.

Dynamic duo: If ever there was music as light as a feather, the collaborations between jazz-fusion pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton would be it. The two have sporadically been making beautiful music together since the classic 1972 recording Crystal Silence; if anything, their shared maturity can only work in their favor here in the present. Corea and Burton, who've completed a new CD, Native Sense, set out on their leg of the Boulder Theater's excellent fall jazz series tonight at 8; tickets range from $25 to $32.50. The theater is located at 2030 14th St., Boulder; call 786-7030.

October 25
Bar none: Lions and tigers and bears? They're old hat, at the very least. And behind bars, glass and moats, to boot. But mix in a pirate ship, a candy-dispersing cobra, ghost stories and a kid-sized haunted house, and the Denver Zoo takes on a whole new Halloweenish dimension for the annual Boo at the Zoo, featuring imaginative trick-or-treat stations, live music by KOOL 105's Kool Kats oldies band, and even the lords and ladies of King Arthur's court. The fun takes place from 10 to 5 today at the zoo, 2300 Steele St. in City Park. Gate admission usually ranges from $3 to $6; today only, it's free for kids up to age twelve in costume.

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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