There are those who claim something is terribly wrong with mainstream media. They believe cynical editors dismiss stories because they feel the public isn't sharp enough to sort out all the details, or even worse, editors spike stories because they know the content will upset their advertisers. These people further claim that bogus "politicians" like Ahhnold are elected because voting is essentially a popularity contest, morally bankrupt billion-dollar corporations are our puppet masters, and society lacks the tools and the know-how to fix its ills. These malcontents want you to know that there are more than two political parties and far more than two points of view.
"But I already read Mother Jones and The Nation," you say. Nope, sorry. Try further underground, dig deeper. Try the Lost Film Festival's "Dangerous Media Tour" at CAMP (Community Arts and Media Project, 3026 Cherokee Street, 8 p.m., 314-773-1985, www.lostfilmfestival.com). For $5 you get a three-hour grab bag of staunchly underground films consisting of news-footage manipulation, pranks, documentaries, animation and general bedlam handpicked by fest founder Scott Beibin (pictured) and made by the people who want you to know all the facts, not just the well-spun ones.
Get off your ass, go see the show, then make a sign and protest something. -- Guy Gray
Zoo Scared Me!
Now give us candy
Can you think of a stranger holiday custom than trick-or-treating? Children walk around dressed as cartoon characters threatening their neighbors with pranks if they don't get candy. About the only way you could make the ritual more wonderfully bizarre would be to surround the kids with wild animals and have it take place early in the morning. Thankfully, the good people at Forest Park's Saint Louis Zoo (who seem to have a playful sense of the absurd) are on top of it with Boo at the Zoo, where kids explore the Zoo's Pumpkin Trail for sweets, activities and other surprises. This free trick-or-treat takes place from 9 a.m. to noon; call 314-781-0900 for more information. -- Niles Baranowski
In 1990's The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien imagines the experience of fleeing to Canada when he's drafted to fight in Vietnam in 1968 -- sort of. You see, the main character decides to drive north through Minnesota, toward Canada, and figure out along the way if he really wants to skip out or to turn around.
Not only did he turn around (after a strange interlude with an octogenarian fisherman), but his alter ego, O'Brien himself, eventually turned out a shelf's worth of novels and memoirs, nearly all of them about the Vietnam War experience. The most decorated of the bunch is Going After Cacciato, which won the National Book Award in 1979.
In his latest, July, July, a group of friends and lovers convene for their thirtieth college reunion à la The Big Chill. "Death, marriage, children, divorce, betrayal, loss, grief, disease" and of course the Vietnam War are all on the menu. O'Brien reads from and signs his works at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books, 399 North Euclid Avenue, 314-367-6731. -- Byron Kerman
When you think of lumbering, inarticulate film stars, Frankenstein comes to mind immediately after Sylvester Stallone. Frankenstein is clearly the greatest, though, as his plots are believable. The St. Louis Public Library system celebrates Mr. Flattop with a number of his finest films this month; the Walnut Park Branch (5760 West Florissant Road, 314-383-1210) screens Frankenweenie at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 23, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, October 27, and both are free. -- Paul Friswold