The appeal of the Japanese animated series Cowboy Bebop is its kitchen-sink approach to storytelling. Protagonist and antihero Spike Spiegel is a sort of New Wave science-fiction bounty hunter dressed in Goddard's clothing and biting off Spillane's one-liners, set against a backdrop of Peter Gunn-by-way-of-Osaka noir. Throw in some barely clothed hentai and a superviolent karate/big-gun/flaming-attack-ships style of conflict resolution and you have the sort of stylish, satisfying sci-fi movie Attack of the Clones wasn't. And Cowboy Bebop is getting it done in half-an-hour! So imagine the entertainment factor of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie. More hard-boiled, fast-talking, quick-kicking, sexy danger than you can shake a box of Jujubes at, pally. It was set to close tomorrow, but it's being held over by popular demand. Get to the Tivoli (6350 Delmar Boulevard) for the 5:30 p.m. or 8:15 p.m. screening. The theme song alone is worth the $7.50. Call 314-862-1100 for more info.
Thursday, April 10
I Spit on Hollywood is Berzerker Studios' unholy version of NBC's "Must-See TV." At 7:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month, they present extreme cinema from other countries, with an emphasis on graphic horror and explorations of dank psychological recesses. This month's offerings include something called Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter and Shinya Tsukamoto's Iron Man. The titles alone are more compelling than any episode of Good Morning Miami could ever hope to be, but if you need convincing, go to www.stlgothic.com and check out the photo from JCVH depicting the Son of God in his best "Crouching Messiah, Hidden Savior" wu-shu pose. Yeah, that's good film, and you'll never find it at any Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. Entrance to this netherworld of cinema (3033 Locust Street) can be gained with $2, and you're encouraged to bring (and share) your own snacks and drinks ... and cigarettes. Blacken your lungs, blacken your soul and prepare to be freaked out. Call 314-652-7300 for all the grisly details.
Friday, April 11
What are we supposed to say about clowns? Their sweet, childish nature and rainbow-colored outfits make them ripe targets for exploitive comedy by the likes of Shakes, Homie and the Insane Clown Posse. Still, the clowns insist on a puritan aloofness: Their little union of entertainers will boot out anybody who jokes about drugs, alcohol or porn while wearing the floppy shoes and the red-foam nose. And so we have the twin urges: to entertain the sweet, simple comedy offered up by clowns for the sake of our kids but to laugh as an inebriated hobo with a blackened face rolls out of an open boxcar and unceremoniously lands on a schnauzer, killing it instantly. You'll wrestle with those two urges when you see the clown art of Eric Plaut, a working clown from Chicago, when he mounts Jesteryear: Today & Tomorrow at the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts (3151 Cherokee Street). Plaut's art brut paintings of famous clowns through the years are earnest, yet, um... frightening. Check out www.tallredclown.com for a preview, or meet him at a 7-9 p.m. one-night-only free show. Call 314-772-3628 for more info on the free clownin'.
Saturday, April 12
Hey, babe -- you wanna go to Saturn? Supposedly Saturn is as bright in our night sky right now as it's ever going to get in our lifetimes. Check out those dirty rings at one of this week's Free Public Telescope Viewings, such as the space journey departing from the University of Missouri-St. Louis observatory (on the UM-St. Louis campus, 8001 Natural Bridge Road) at 8:30 p.m. Call 314-516-5706 for more info. The other monthly event, the St. Louis Science Center/St. Louis Astronomical Society telescope party, begins at dusk on Friday, just outside Forest Park's James S. McDonnell Planetarium (this one's canceled if the ground is soggy or the sky is overcast). Call the Night Sky Update at 314-289-4453 for a preview of the stars, planets, constellations and deep-sky objects you can spy on at both events.
Sunday, April 13
The Missouri Department of Conservation makes it soooooo easy for you. They roll up with their enormous 3,200-gallon, 40-foot-long Show-Me Missouri Fish Mobile Aquarium. They drop it in the Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center (near the intersection of I-270 and I-44, 314-301-1500), and stock it with two dozen different native fish species and a bunch of plants. Guess what they do next? They go fishing! Yes, MDC staff members will cast their hooks into this realistic imitation of a Missouri lake, and visitors to the Nature Center will be able to peer through the glass and watch the fish take the bait! Fishermen -- you are absolutely guaranteed to learn something you did not know about fishing the local waters, because when you see the fish, you be the fish. Show up for demos scheduled for 10 a.m., noon and 2 and 4 p.m. today, and that bass will never outsmart you again. There's also a "virtual fishing simulator" and kids' activities.
Monday, April 14
The Oscars it ain't, but the Webbies, Webster University's annual awards show for student films, is a loving tribute to the Hollywood ritual. Film clips, acceptance speeches and even a few tuxedos and evening gowns are part of the Webbies experience. Plenty of folks unconnected to the school come to the ceremony each year, just to gauge the state of student films at one of our nation's top film schools and to feel the vibe. This year's free two-hour event takes place at the Loretto-Hilton Theatre (130 Edgar Road), is hosted by Beatle Bob and features guest appearances by Favazz (is that his real name?) of KSHE-95, Vic Porcelli of 101.1 FM The River and Rob Daniel, director of Teen Wolf and Beethoven's Second. The corny onstage skits start at 6 p.m.; call 314-968-7434 for more info. One thing that makes the Webster kids in the audience lick their chops is the showing of specially made where-are-they-now? video clips. These segments show how far Webster grads have advanced in the business world since their days as innocent young Gorloks.