As defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, to juggle is "to keep (two or more) objects in the air at one time by alternately tossing and catching them." Though hotly debated in juggling circles, it's commonly believed that the word came into being shortly after a medieval townie with a mouth full of turkey leg hollered at a traveling joculatore who performed dazzling feats of ball-play as part of his repertoire of diversions. Before there was even a word for the guy who juggled, the Tractate Sukkah of the Talmud declaimed that Rabbi Shimon ben Gamaliel could, "take eight flaming torches and throw them in the air, and catch one and throw one and they did not touch one another."
But really, who cares? What's more fun than balls 'n' things whizzing about?
While it's unlikely that anyone will show up with a sack of kittens to play catch with, the Tenth Annual Jugglers' Entertainment Showcase is sure to leave you googly-eyed and slack-jawed as all kinds o' stuff goes up and down. Competitors from across the Midwest will convene at Union Station (20th at Market Streets, noon to 4 p.m., 314-421-6655) to throw down for glory and glamorous prizes, as well as to reveal secrets of the juggling arts in the mysterious Teach-a-Thon. -- John Goddard
Howe to Save the Planet A veggie singer-songwriter makes 'em laugh
Heidi Howe isn't your average militant vegetarian activist with a guitar and a sense of humor. True, she did cut a 2002 disc called Food Without a Face to benefit tree-hugging concern EarthSave International, and a 1999 album with the humorous title Dylan for Dollars -- but her blend of alt-country, bluegrass and maybe a little rockabilly has garnered her attention beyond the save-the-whales crowd. In her native Louisville, Kentucky, Howe hosts a weekly singer-songwriter's night that attracts visiting national acts, and critics dig her sense of irony and "punk-rock attitude." We dig the boast on Howe's business card, too: "For a good tune call..." (8 p.m., free, MoKaBe's, 3606 Arsenal Street at Grand Boulevard, 314-865-2009, www.heidihowe.com). -- Byron Kerman
Trick or Tweet Birds in Concert means tunes & talons
So if a golden eagle is scheduled to swoop over the heads of the guests at the World Bird Sanctuary's Birds in Concert series, don't you think the musical entertainment should play Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, or maybe Iron Maiden's "Where Eagles Dare"? The trained raptors rehabilitated by the do-gooders at WBS will do just about anything for a little piece of raw meat, including dramatic free-flight demos. The eagles fly during Thursday-evening concerts throughout August, and the series features various live acts in the amphitheater at the Sanctuary's Lone Elk Park location (7 p.m., free, North Outer I-44 near Hwy. 141, 636-938-6193, www.worldbirdsanctuary.org). Don't miss the Andean condor area, featuring the raptors with the widest wingspan on earth, and the amazing breeding facility, housing raptors of all kinds (owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, osprey, vultures, etc.) in concrete enclosures with 30-foot ceilings. Bring a picnic dinner to the concert. - Byron Kerman
It's been a long time since you kicked your own nuts. Try it again tonight at the Creepy Crawl (412 North Tucker Boulevard, 314-851-0919) when they present a No Wave/Now Wave/Noodle Wave blowout, with local Wunderkinder Yowie and the Conform-ists and visiting bad-men My Name is Rar-Rar (minus Chuck Falzone, but plus yeller-accordionist Kyle Bruckmann, who will be singing Falzone's guitar parts -- seriously). Tickets are $6-$8, and doors open at 6 p.m. -- Paul Friswold