The members of Cattle Decapitation are setting new standards in the art (oh, that's right, it's an art, buddy) of extreme vegan grindcore. These hamburger haters have been pigeonholed as "that The Locust side project," but there ain't anybody here who does time in The Locust anymore. Through a three-pronged attack of bilious lyrics detailing the ghoulish practices of the meat-processing industry, screamer Travis Ryan's "Human Jerky" stage persona (he wears a mask made of some unidentified meat) and the most excoriating guitar riffs this side of Slayer's Reign in Blood, Cattle Decapitation proves that plant-eaters can be just as sick and depraved as those who suckle on the red-meat teat. The group performs at 8 p.m. tonight at Pop's (1403 Mississippi Avenue in Sauget, Illinois; 618-274-6720; $20) as part of a huge five-band lineup, headlined by noted animal-sacrificers Deicide. Conflict of interest, anyone?
Thursday, November 13
What happens to the one-millionth customer at the Butterfly House? Do the volunteers cover her with orchid nectar and let the swallowtails feed on her flesh until she goes mad? Maybe they present her with her very own whiptail scorpion to take home from the Spectacular Spineless Species exhibit (which features tarantulas and other arachnids in terrariums, through the end of the month). Nope -- nothing that kooky. The one-millionth visitor to the flight conservatory will receive a prize package containing a family membership, along with a bunch of presents and gift certificates. The lucky person is expected to walk through the Butterfly House gates any day now. Don't you think this fortunate soul deserves a chance to feed the man-killing black widow and brown recluse spiders currently behind glass at the attraction? Try your luck at 15193 Olive Boulevard in Chesterfield's Faust Park (636-530-0076, www.butterflyhouse.org, $4-$5, free for kids younger than three).
Friday, November 14
In its ongoing struggle to bring a little weirdness to St. Louis, the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center (3301 Lemp Avenue, 314-771-1096) has lined up an evening of live music that will challenge all perceptions of what music can do for a body. Necronomitron, hailing from Rhode Island, is a two-guitars-and-a-drummer combo that bills itself as the aural equivalent to an arm-wrestling match between Voivod and Man Is the Bastard (that would be French-Canadian prog-metal vs. heavily politicized noisecore, for those of you keeping score at home). Also on the bill are the Conformists, who have recently been the subject of much debate on the Skin Graft Records online fan club. People want to know why the Conformists are not better-known and more revered in their hometown. It's a good question, one which will become even more puzzling once you've seen their live show, which, on a good night, is the aural equivalent to being pummeled with the leather-bound edition of Knut Hamsun's Hunger. Tickets are a mere $5, and the show begins at 8 p.m.
Saturday, November 15
The mischievous Robin Garrels and her Tin Ceiling/Parliament Cheez Productions present Roll Your Own, an evening of interactive theater, from 8-10 p.m. Friday, today and Sunday at that nexus of the bizarre, Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts (3151 Cherokee Street). Roll Your Own features a "Master of the I Ching" called Denee reading the fortunes of volunteers from the audience. These ominous predictions will then be acted out by the Vanguard Players, using a popular improv exercise called "Harolding." Admission is eight bucks, but in light of the planned psychic activities they're calling it "seven cents a minute." Call 314-351-6652 for reservations.
Sunday, November 16
In 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a cave by a young Bedouin shepherd searching for a stray goat. These scrolls, hidden for twenty centuries, detail the rules and history of a Jewish settlement extant during the life of Jesus Christ. Since their discovery, the Scrolls have been studied and debated by biblical scholars, historians, archaeologists and anyone else who can get access to them. Dr. E. William Bean, member of the Advisory Board of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, brings an official replica of the Scroll of Isaiah to the United Hebrew Congregation (13788 Conway Road, 314-469-0700) tonight at 7:30 p.m. for a rare public viewing and dialogue on the scrolls' importance to both Jews and Christians. The presentation is free, but donations will be appreciated.
Monday, November 17
The highlight of the River Styx at Duff's Series could easily be tonight's readings by poets Stephen Dunn and David Clewell. It's hard to choose just a few favorite poems by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dunn, but we'll give it a shot. In "Tenderness," from the 1989 collection Between Angels, the speaker makes love to a woman long denied tenderness (her husband is in prison for "breaking someone's head"). Dig these lines from his 1996 collection, Loosestrife, in a similar poem called "After Making Love": "No one should ask the other/'What were you thinking?'...Some people actually desire honesty/They must never have broken/into their own solitary houses/after having misplaced the key/never seen with an intruder's eyes/what is theirs." Clewell, director of the undergraduate writing program at Webster University, has published a number of collections and has contributed poems to such mags as Harper's and The Kenyon Review. Fall under their spell at 7:30 p.m. at Duff's (329 North Euclid Avenue, $4-$5, 314-533-4541).