This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, September 24

Do you think machines will someday rise up, like something from The Matrix or Terminator movies, and control humans? That IBM computer that beat Gary Kasparov in a chess match probably wants to do more than play games -- it wants to enslave us! Unplug the toaster and get the shotgun, Pa! Or, head to St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley (Rm. 112, the Instructional Resources Center, 3400 Pershall Road) for the Research Revolution Film/Discussion Series. The weekly series on scientific topics covers robotics tonight, starting at 7 p.m. Visitors who make reservations at 314-595-4530 will watch a documentary on our would-be electronic taskmasters, hear a talk by a couple of Flo Valley profs and then enjoy a heated group discussion. Come back on Wednesdays, through Oct. 27, for more free learn-ins on genetics, forensics, global warming and biodiversity.

Thursday, September 25For good reason, nostalgia has become a dirty word. Civil War re-enactors with nasty, mouth-obscuring moustaches; country musicians who warble on about Daddy whittling on the porch; and the entire Discovery-Wings Channel, with its outmoded-aircraft fetish, we could do without. A new book, American Route 66: Home on the Road, makes it cool to like nostalgia again, so to speak. The small-town beauty queens, ancient truck-stop waitresses, roadside attractions, abandoned gas stations, neon signs, ice-cream stands and general stores captured by top-notch photographers make this book a goodie. Leafing through it, readers will see the beauty to be found in the death throes of an older America. The volume is the result of an awfully slow three-year journey along the Mother Road by authors Jane Bernard and Polly Brown. They'll sign their work and offer a fun, free slide show at 7 p.m., at Barnes & Noble-Des Peres (11952 Manchester Road, 314-984-8645).

Friday, September 26Ah, Chingy. In a scant few months, you have captured the ears of this city's youth with your hit single "Right Thurr" and, in the process, captured their hearts as well. Your July 14 midnight autograph session at Vintage Vinyl drew hordes of rap-cognoscenti, would-be baby-mamas and their attendant dramas, and the just plain curious. Folks wanted to see the man who would replace Nelly as St. Louis' hip-hop thug-laureate, and at that time you hadn't even been on the "Tonight Show." Now, at the end of summer, you are officially "big time" and you return the love to your fans with a free concert tonight on the grounds of that world-famous (thanks to you) accoutrement of Midwest bling, the Gateway Arch (St. Louis Riverfront, www.missourinights.com). Floetry and Tragic are also scheduled to appear, and the whole thing is part of the Missouri Division of Tourism's efforts to promote St. Louis nightlife. The evening begins at 5 p.m., but Chingy's legend will live forever (forever in hip-hop time being just shy of two years...).

Saturday, September 27What up, Lizard King, Jr.? Yeah, you've seen The Doors: Live at the Hollywood Bowl a thousand times, and you've memorized entire passages of Jim Morrison's bloated, bedraggled body of work, but the illusion is not quite complete (good job on the hair, though; very authentically greasy). If you want to portray Mr. Mojo Risin' thoroughly and completely while you deliver those pizzas, you're gonna need a boss suede jacket with hippy-dippy fringe. And ever since Colonel Days closed up, those have been hard to come by. But stay cool: the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (30 Ramey Street and Collinsville Road, Collinsville, IL) is offering a Brain-Tanning Deer Hides Workshop today that will teach you traditional and modern methods for making your own buckskin. And once you have some buckskin, you can make your own buckskin jacket, just like Jimbo's. You have to pre-register by calling 618-346-5160, and the course costs $65. Class starts at 8 a.m., which is pretty early, but you can blow the minds of all those straights when you bury your hands in those deer brains and bellow, "This doe was once ALIVE, SHE CRIED!" Sweet.

Sunday, September 28If sweaty blacksmiths make you horny or, on the other hand, if you have children that need entertainin', make your way to a pair of autumn festivals happening in the same park. The St. Louis County Parks' Faust Folk Festival means historical crafts, a marketplace, sausage-making, folks in period costumes, live music, concessions and a blacksmith twirling a red-hot poker, in Chesterfield's Faust Park (15185 Olive Boulevard, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and today, admission free-$3, 636-532-7298). Right next door, the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House Fall Festival is an outdoor party with nature classes, live music, a silent auction, clowns, face-painters, concessions, storytelling, arts & crafts, nature-related exhibitors and kids' activities, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and today (636-530-0076). Admission to the Butterfly House Festival is free, but getting into the Butterfly House itself does carry a fee.

Monday, September 29He said it -- we didn't. The promoter for the new Rev. Brimstone's Lunar Menagerie open mic night promises that it will "not suck." It seems the genesis for this latest of open mic events is, um, a certain suckiness to be found at other readings of the same ilk. This version, hosted by the beloved Way Out Club (2525 South Jefferson, 314-664-7638), is being billed as a variety show and poetry reading that features local films, comedians, fiction writers, performance artists, the rockabilly of the 7 Shot Screamers and a "haiku deathmatch," from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Admission is $5. Please don't suck. Please don't suck. Please don't suck...

Tuesday, September 30Kid, why are you in such a hurry to grow up? This is the only time in your life when people will go out of their way to ensure that you're getting enough sleep, that your little tummy is always full, that any accidents you might have are quickly and efficiently cleaned up -- and you don't have to lift a finger to make it all happen. Take advantage of it: slow down, have another juice box and curl up for your second nap of the afternoon. But first, have Moms swing you by the Magic House (516 South Kirkwood Road, 314-822-8900) to take advantage of the last day of Toddler Month. Show up at 11 a.m., scope out the talent in the Little Bit of Magic play area, enjoy a nice storybook and then fall asleep dreaming those big dreams of your future career as a dirt-bike/magician/karate guy. It'll set Moms back $6, but you're totally worth it.

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