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Seven days to live 

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23 Thursday

holiday magic

The closest I've gotten to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance was the World Arena parking lot, which Matt Schniper and I chose as the final destination last year for an article about cooking food on your car engine. I can't exactly remember why we thought it would be a good idea to end our 50-mile journey outside a TSO show, offering shrimp and s'mores that had been "cooked" on an engine block to surprisingly polite and well-dressed strangers, but I'm sure it made sense at the time. Just as it makes sense for TSO fans to bow in the presence of overwrought rock-opera vocals, over-amped guitar solos and unabashedly dramatic stage posturing. A cherished holiday tradition at the World Arena (3185 Venetucci Blvd., worldarena.com), at 4 and 8 p.m., for $58 to $68. — Bill Forman

stage

Every year in early December, my wife and I meet four other couples, all longtime friends, for a one-night holiday gathering. This time our destination was Cripple Creek, and besides staying at the amazing Carr Manor there, we saw the melodrama, Angel of the Christmas Mine, at the Butte Theater (139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719/689-3247, butteoperahouse.com, $7.75 to $12.75). We didn't know what to expect, but we were blown away by the acting and vocal talents of the Thin Air Theatre Company, not to mention the performance. It's a story, set in Cripple Creek in the late 1800s, of a hard-luck family and the tough life of miners, with some moving twists at the end and a rollicking Christmas olio afterward. Cast members might serve you popcorn beforehand or wine and beer at intermission, part of what makes the whole thing work. Shows continue tonight and Dec. 28-31, all at 7 p.m. — Ralph Routon

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24 Friday

music

If you've been even a semi-regular on the local live music scene for the past decade or more, chances are that you've heard Arch Hooks at some point. Wearing his signature sunglasses, no matter how dark the room might be, Hooks puts on a relentless show, usually nonstop for up to three hours, mixing his own material (he's done three CDs of original songs) with a wide variety of oldies, soul, blues, maybe some country, you name it. What's often overlooked about Hooks is that he's an awesome keyboardist, enough to intimidate anyone (like me) who has ever played organ and/or piano in a band. Church services aside, there's not much happening on Christmas Eve in Colorado Springs, but the hard-driving Hooks and his band will make up for that with a typical marathon, 9 to midnight tonight, at SouthSide Johnny's (528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487, no cover). Don't go with anyone expecting much conversation, either. Just sit back and listen. — Ralph Routon

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25 Saturday

holiday

You want lights? I'll give you lights. How about more than 2 million of those twinkly effers spread between the Blossoms of Light at the main campus of the Denver Botanic Gardens (1007 York St., Denver, botanicgardens.org) and Trail of Lights at its Chatfield satellite location (8500 Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton)? Hah! I bet you've only got, like, 26 LEDs at your house (unless you're the crazy Christmas person, and then the DBG probably still has ya' smoked). So from 5:30 to 9:30 tonight, grab your tickets for $6.50 to $9.50 and try to keep your defeated weeping to a minimum — it freaks out the kids. — Bryce Crawford

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26 Sunday

outdoors

Get off your turkey-ham-stuffing-pumpkin-pie-laden rear and take a hike. The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (15807 Teller County Road 1, nps.gov/flfo/index.htm) is offering a guided one today, free with a $3-per-person entry fee. From 10 to noon, park ranger Shawn Frizzell will trek you two to three miles around the monument. You'll start and end the adventure at the park's yurt, with complimentary hot chocolate to top it all off. Bundle yourself up real good, and call 719/748-3253 if the weather's at all questionable. — Kirsten Akens

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27 Monday

art

We've periodically checked in on self-taught, 20-something local painter Justin Sonny Eagles ever since the OpticalReverb Gallery first displayed his work in early 2008. Eagles displays a somewhat raw and often dark, but distinct, style most striking for the interesting subjects of his portraits. Check out a new batch of his renderings through Jan. 4 inside the also-new Il Postino Gallery (123 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 520-0123), attached to the eatery. Pretty much anytime the restaurant's doors are open (which they won't be Dec. 25 and 26), free gallery tours are welcomed. — Matthew Schniper

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28 Tuesday

community

As a Red Sox fan, I fully and completely understand why there's a market for $20 keychains filled with "game-used Fenway Park dirt." There's something undeniably exciting (and not at all embarrassing) about knowing you're so near to sacred ground. With that in mind, if you or your kids love Colorado College hockey, you'll want to get to the World Arena (3185 Venetucci Blvd., worldarena.com) today, either between noon and 2 or 5:30 and 7:30, for a public skate. It's just $5 — whether you're renting skates or not — to tool around where the Tigers play, and all proceeds go to the Gazette-El Pomar Foundation's Empty Stocking Fund. — Kirk Woundy

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29 Wednesday

community

Ever since the ancient Greeks first started terrorizing their enemies with the machine they called a katapultos, people have found ample use for contraptions designed to fling heavy things far away. Manitou Springs' Great Fruitcake Toss isn't until Jan. 8, but kids can get in early on the sucrose-tastic action by building their own marshmallow launchers with Cool Science from 1 to 4 p.m. today at the Business of Art Center (513 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, coolscience.org), or from 4 to 6, Jan. 5 at the Manitou Springs Public Library (701 Manitou Ave.). If flinging paint is more their speed, they can join Concrete Couch between 2 and 4 on Jan. 8, again at the BAC. For more information, visit coolscience.org. Or, for vicarious participation, consider donating to Cool Science through the Indy's Give! Campaign (indygive.com). — Claire Swinford

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