"Stroking the toad" isn't the name of some fraternity prank, it's a bona fide activity at the Edward Jones Pumpkin Prowl, an annual Halloween party for kids at Forest Park's St. Louis Zoo. Small creatures and their monstrous parents will enjoy a nighttime penguin visit, the "scare-ou-sel" ride (which is $2 extra), mazes, a pumpkin pathway, skits, sing-alongs, concessions, a "haunted" forest, face-painting, goodie bags and the chance to get real close to some nocturnal types, including toads, owls, bats and snakes. Show up in costume today and tomorrow at the zoo, from 5-8 p.m.; admission is free-$4, depending on your age. Call 314-781-0900 or visit www.stlzoo.org for more.
Thursday, October 30
Saxophonist Dave Stone has racked up four or five Riverfront Times Music Awards for his jazzery over the past few years, and with good reason. Stone is as comfortable laying down the pretty, melodious jazz favored by bebop purists as he is stripping the membrane out of your sinus passages with the atonal, shrieking free jazz favored by the avant garde youth of tomorrow. Tonight, the Dave Stone Trio featuring Eric Markowitz performs at Holmes Lounge in Ridgely Hall on the Washington University campus (Forsyth and Skinker boulevards, 314-935-4841) from 8-10 p.m. Admission is free, which makes this an extremely cheap date, yet one still rich in cultural goodness.
Friday, October 31
They say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year and all, but if you're a fan of masquerades, explosions, actual ghosts, creepy organ music, fetish performances and a suburban garage converted into Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory, today is the day for you. The choice Halloween events include the Halloween Masquerade Swing dance at the Casa Loma Ballroom (7:30-11:30 p.m., $8, 3354 Iowa Avenue, 314-664-8000), which includes free swing-dance lessons; Six Flags Fright Fest (6 p.m.-midnight, call for prices, I-44 at Allenton Six Flags Road, 636-938-4800), featuring the Terror Train ride, with its annual big-special-effect fiery explosion in the night; the Spirit Search Haunted History Witching Hour Tour at the Lemp Mansion (9 p.m. and midnight, $20, 3322 DeMenil Place, 314-776-4667), featuring attempts to contact all those Lemp family suicides; the Halloween Lollipops Recital, featuring a painfully bad pun by the emcee between each scary classical number, performed by the costumed musicians of the American Guild of Organists (8 p.m., free, First Congregational Church of St. Louis, 6501 Wydown Boulevard, 314-721-5060); and the Cutty Black Halloween Ball at Velvet (1301 Washington Avenue, 314-241-8178, call for times and prices), including a fetish performance by barely clothed DJ Portia Surreal, bobbing for whiskey bottles (!), an ice luge (?), temporary-tattoo artists and dental fangs for all. Finally, for the ninth year Ron Schubert has turned his Granite City, Illinois home into the Sunset Haunt, with a wizard/magic show, a cemetery on the front lawn, a ghost show in the living room and a scene from Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory in the garage, complete with electric charges snapping from a 500,000-volt Tesla coil (operating continuously from 6:30-10:30 p.m., free, 2904 Sunset Drive, 618-451-9339).
Saturday, November 1
What's better than an Elvis imitator? An Elvis imitator who does more than one version of the King during a single show. Paul Casey, "the official Elvis of Las Vegas," does each Elvis, from innocent young gyrator to portly, jumpsuited Valium-popper, during his "Moments with Elvis" show at the St. Louis Airport Hilton (7 p.m., $25, 10330 Natural Bridge Road, 314-426-5500). The show includes a special guest appearance by Sonny West, former bodyguard for Elvis, who will regale the throng with tales of striking Elvis' biggest fans with blackjacks, cudgels, truncheons and in one case, a log of mortadella.
Sunday, November 2
Little Shop of Horrors was hilarious long before Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin and the Four Tops' Levi Stubbs (as the voice of Audrey II) lent their talents to the stellar 1986 film. First, it was a black-and-white 1960 Roger Corman film with Jack Nicholson as the masochistic dental patient. Then it was adapted into a Broadway musical in the '80s, and finally director Frank Oz took it full circle, turning the musical back into a sweetly funny movie about a nebbishy plant-store worker, the woman of his dreams and the man-eating plant of his nightmares. The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves puts it back onstage again at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 9 ($10-$12, 517 Theater Lane, 314-962-0876.) The Halloween-night performance features an audience costume contest with prizes.
Monday, November 3
Tonight is the payoff; all the long hours you put in as a kid bear their Technicolor fruit tonight. The waking up at dawn, making your own cereal quietly in the kitchen so as to not wake anyone, learning to control your own laughter so that it remained inaudible, just barely a snortling snicker that died before it left the family room; tonight, you will triumph, as you and you alone are able to sit through the entire free Eight-Hour Loony Toons Marathon at Frederick's Music Lounge (4454 Chippewa Street, 314-351-5711). The steely determination (and the even-steelier butt muscles) you forged in the cauldron of youth shall serve you well as others, their backsides aching and their eyes crusting over from too much television, drop out of the race. You shall reign supreme, and for the first time ever, laugh long and loud at the animated brilliance you've watched oh-these-many years. Exult in your kingdom, my liege; it passes to you at 5 p.m.