This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, June 11Get funky with a spinach Alfredo or jalapeño-pineapple pizza at an area Papa John's Pizza location today, between the extended hours of 9 a.m. and midnight. One dollar from every pizza ordered is donated to EnergyCare, a group that buys air conditioners for local low-income and medically at-risk or elderly folks during our humid St. Louis summers (and blankets and heaters in the winter). KMOV-TV sponsors the Cool Club benefit; call 314-773-5900 for more info. Every Papa John's pizza, for those who haven't had the pleasure, comes with sides of garlic-butter sauce to dip your crusts in and pepperoncini for the adventurous. (They also have cheese sticks that are made by cutting a cheese-and-dough pizza into strips, chicken strips that you can dip into a spicy orange Buffalo sauce and a chicken Alfredo pizza.

Thursday, June 12If you've attended one art opening in St. Louis, you've attended them all, right? A little wine, a little cheese, a little casual chitchat with your fellow attendees, and then you look at some art. Ho-hum. Finally someone's breaking out of the wine-and-cheese box: Ron Fondaw is holding an old-fashioned Ice-Cream Social to dedicate his new public sculpture "Vertical Loop" at 7:30 p.m. on the east side of the Pageant Theatre (6161 Delmar Boulevard). "Vertical Loop" consists of seven 30-foot-tall poles with carved images representing the lifestyle of the Delmar Loop; four of the seven poles are topped with decorative windvanes, including a ballet slipper, a book, a guitar and a painter's palette. Although these do indeed represent the artsy elements of the Loop, what about the rest of us? Where's the bass cannon blasting monster beats? What about the chess players at the Market? How about the panhandler who claims to have seven kids? Maybe they're in the carvings. There's only one way to find out, and at least you'll get free ice cream for your efforts. Call Arts in Transit at 314-982-1413 for more info.

Friday, June 13When does a ticket to see KC and the Sunshine Band cost $225? When the evening is also a black-tie fundraiser for the St. Louis Zoo. Penguins, Puffins & Pearls: Zoofari 2003 permits the well-heeled to disco with the tuxedoed Antarctic birds and the resuscitated funksters from 7 p.m.-midnight. KC performs on one of four stages scattered throughout the zoo grounds for the gala, which features a host of other live acts, extensive black-and-white decorations and free-flowing liquor. The PPP feast is catered by no fewer than 60 high-end area restaurants, including Truffles, SqWires, Frazer's Traveling Brown Bag and Aqua Vin. A silent auction featuring the aforementioned pearls (jewelry from Tiffany's) and, believe it or not, a charter flight to Sikeston, Missouri, for a meal at Lambert's Café, home of "throwed rolls," also helps the zoo with its efforts to save endangered species. Call 314-768-5440 for reservations, and "Shake Your Booty" like a constipated hippo.

Eat your way out of the Nostalgia/Movie Candy Festival, at the St. Louis Science Center on Sunday.
the St. Louis Science Center
Eat your way out of the Nostalgia/Movie Candy Festival, at the St. Louis Science Center on Sunday.

Saturday, June 14You'd best bring a cheap poncho to the Mud Bog Races today in Marthasville, Missouri. If you get close enough to see these four-wheel drives roar through deep ravines of mud, you'll probably get as wet as the drivers. The Mid-Missouri Off-Roaders sponsor the races, which feature vehicles outfitted with huge knobby tires and daredevil drivers steering through enough muddy water to drown cars with normal wheelbases. If these mini-monster trucks get stuck, it's time to bring out the winch. Get muddy at noon in Marthasville, about an hour west of St. Louis, near Washington, Missouri. For more info call 636-742-0326, or visit the well-maintained www. mmor. com Web site. Admission is $8 ($5 for ages six through twelve, free for younger kids, $25 to race).

Sunday, June 15There are as many types of candy as there are hyperactive kids in the entire U.S. school system, but there are those peculiar candies you only eat in specific settings. Candy corn means it's Halloween, ribbon candy means you're at Grandma's house and Raisinettes means you're at the movies. Movie candy always comes in oversized boxes, it always costs too much and you sometimes leave the theater with fonder memories of the candy than of the picture. The St. Louis Science Center celebrates the joys of movie candy with a Nostalgia/Movie Candy Festival, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and today in the Exploradome (5050 Oakland Avenue). In conjunction with the Candy Unwrappedexhibit, the staff screens old B-movies all day, with classic movie candies such as Jujubes, Junior Mints and the evil chocolate confection known as the Milk Dud available for sweet-toothed cinephiles. Admission costs $3 for kids and $4 for adults, but we all feel like kids when we're picking Jujubes out of our molars in the dark. Call 314-289-4400 for more information.

Monday, June 16 Hungry Young Poets, sponsored by the River Styx literary magazine, takes writers and makes them into poets. There is a subtle but important distinction between the two, you see; writers may write poetry, but they only become poets when they take the critical step of reading their work aloud, in front of other people. There, in the crucible of public opinion, their written words take on new meaning, transforming from markings on paper into ideas and emotions, becoming living representations of the writer's soul. Witness the transmutation at Duff's Restaurant (392 North Euclid Avenue) starting at 7:30 p.m. River Styx has gathered a bumper crop of talented new poets, including John Ryan, Colleen McKee and Daniel Parsons, who is making the jump from writer to poet tonight. Admission is $3; call 314-533-4541 for more info.

Tuesday, June 17What a subject Elizabeth Gilbert discovered for her book The Last American Man. Eustace Conway was treated awfully by a vindictive father who never supported him, and he responded by becoming an adult who refused to be satisfied with any of his own efforts, no matter how astounding. The younger Conway has hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail, eating only food he foraged from the woods along the way. He rode a horse the width of America in record time and started a wilderness school in Appalachia. Even as a kid, Conway was different -- breeding turtles, performing in a Native American dance troupe, getting lost in the woods for weeks. As he grew, he continued to commune with nature, but, driven by demons, he adopted a furious life pace. He was convinced that he needed to work faster and faster to spread the gospel of sustainable living, so he embarked on a never-ending round of speaking engagements. Like John Muir on speed, Conway left behind lovers, family and just about everyone else in his life in a frantic effort to do nothing less than convince as many folks as possible that reconnecting with nature was their only hope for salvation. The best thing about this chronicle, though, is the writing. Gilbert, author of the short-story collection Pilgrims, has the mad fiction skills of a Rick Bass. Turning her talents to nonfiction, she tells a tale that's hard to put down. Hear her read from Last American Man at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books, 399 North Euclid Avenue (free, 314-367-6731).

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