We Like Ike

SAT, 9/18

That Ike LaRue has such a vivid imagination. In Ike's private world, a mild time out is a hundred-year jail sentence; the neighbor's pet cats are really notorious, cop-evading canary burglars, and...did we mention that Ike's a pooch? Dog or not, he's a roguish character far too delicious to limit to one bestseller: The star of Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School, the multiple award-winner by popular children's book author/illustrator Mark Teague, is a keeper. A wire-haired terrier who leads one of the most entertaining double lives since James Thurber's milquetoast Walter Mitty, Ike is back in his second Teague tome, Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation.

What makes Ike so endearing? "He's a rascal," Teague says. "That's always appealing to children. Children and dogs have a lot in common. They both occupy their own worlds within the adult world, and they seem to manage very well. And though they're subject to our authority, they often seem to be running the show." Ike -- a clever amalgam of dogs Teague's known in his lifetime (for the record, none of them were terriers) -- is both humorously deceptive and openly naive.

There's no doubt that the fictional canine's charm springs directly from a rare sort of imagination. The author, who admits there's a certain Peter Pan facet to his disposition, has that uncommon ability to tap into the secret lives of children. He says that quality comes naturally as an outgrowth of his own childhood memories, combined with observations made as an adult living with two young daughters and various pets. But it's his illustrations, brimming with personality and endlessly amusing details, that put his tales on top of the kid-lit heap, and in the case of the Ike LaRue series, those pictures are the key to understanding the story. Teague paints reality in living color and Ike's fantasy versions of the action in black and white, then it's all tied together with a string of letters that advance the plot.

Will Ike return for a third adventure? The author says it could be in the works, but in the meantime, Teague will give a drawing demonstration and read from Detective LaRue today at 10:30 a.m. at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 East First Avenue. For details, call 303-322-7727. -- Susan Froyd

Colorful Surprise
Boulder Open Studios paints the number ten
SAT, 9/18

Rather than throw a party with champagne, Boulder Open Studios members wanted to celebrate their ten-year anniversary -- and to promote their upcoming annual studio tour -- with something more splashy than bubbly. The Open Studios folks set out to craft a giant paint-by-numbers project based on an original Boulder scene by artist George Good; their canvas was 1,000 square feet of vinyl divided into 25 sections, each completed by a different community group or business. Forty different colors make up the palette, ranging from white (number one) to rust red (number forty). "We had everyone from five-year-olds to 95-year-olds work on it," says Gary Zeff, Boulder Open Studios executive director. "Some were neater than others."

Even though a little touch-up was required on some of the handiwork, artisans should feel proud of participating. However, there was a limit to the exercise: Nobody but the organizers knows what the finished image looks like. The mystery masterpiece (hint: It's neither President Bush nor a CU Buff) will be unveiled at 11 a.m. today on the north face of the Colorado Building at 14th and Walnut streets in Boulder. The work is scheduled to hang for thirty days, through the annual tour of some 130 artists' studios on the weekends of October 2-3 and 9-10. Whether the group effort proves more intoxicating than the tour remains to be seen. Still, Zeff says, some participants have already volunteered to do another mural next year.

"We'll wait to see what the community's reaction is," he says. For more information, visit www.openstudios.org. -- Richard Kellerhals

The Sex Factor
WED, 9/22

Although sexologist Dr. Alfred Kinsey has been dead since 1956, he's making quite a comeback in 2004. Kinsey, a biopic starring Liam Neeson, is due to hit theaters in November. Until then, readers can get a Kinsey fix courtesy of T.C. Boyle, the prolific author of The Road to Wellville. His latest book, The Inner Circle, presents a fictionalized account of Kinsey and his researchers, who discovered that Americans circa the 1940s and '50s weren't nearly as repressed as they seemed. The man at the center of Circle is narrator John Milk, a shy, carnally inexperienced college student who's instructed in the ways of the flesh by Kinsey himself along with Clara, the good doctor's accommodating wife. Before long, Milk and Kinsey are crisscrossing the country in search of prostitutes, hustlers and just plain folks (children included) who offer them blow-by-blow descriptions of their most intimate activities. This material brings out the naughty schoolboy in Boyle. His panting prose reveals little about what drove Kinsey -- beyond the obvious, that is.

T.C. Boyle signs copies of The Inner Circle at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street; admission is free. Call 303-436-1070 for details. -- Michael Roberts

High Country
Palisade uncorks the Mountain Winefest
THURS, 9/16

I'll have a glass of Cabernet.
Would you like a French, a California, or a Colorado?
Ummm...a Colorado?

Definitely. After all, with wine bars cropping up all over the Denver-metro area, weekly wine tastings happening around town and award-winning wine stores sprouting, why shouldn't Colorado have its own wineries? These days, Coloradans are waking up to the reality that this agricultural haven does have wineries -- 54 at last count. And tiny Palisade, on the Western Slope, boasts a dozen of them.

To showcase its wares, the town is hosting the 13th Colorado Mountain Winefest, starting today and running through Sunday, September 19, at Riverbend Park (ten miles east of Grand Junction). More than thirty Colorado growers are participating.

Although there will be plenty of attractions during the four-day juice sluice, Saturday's 25-mile bike tour of Grand Valley wineries, which begins at 8 a.m., is a highlight; it's expected to draw 1,400 riders. A festival in the park follows around 10:30 a.m. and continues until 5:30 p.m. There, samples, entertainment and other enticements will be poured for party-goers. Grape-juice lovers can listen to Dotsero and stomp their own grapes.

Winefest tickets start at $30, but many events are free. For information, call 1-800-962-2547 or visit www.coloradowinefest.com. -- Jerri Theil

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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
Richard Kellerhais
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts
Jerry Theil