You (unless you're a hopeless folkie) have promised yourself that you're done with the open-mic night. You put your foot down with a resounding thump and declared, "No more Ani DiFranco wannabes; never again with the nasal Zimmerman imitators." No más. But then comes Wednesday night, and you're looking for something to do. Why not take a chance and head over to Belle Vegas (a.k.a. Belleville, Illinois) for the new-and-improved Three-1-Three Open Mic Night. The titular host-club (313 East Main Street, Belleville, Illinois; 618-239-6885) has been booking some pretty good rock and indie-punk bands, so maybe its open-mic night is a little louder than all the other lame ones. Even if the lineup goes south on you, you can still get Hamm's in the 40-ounce bottle on the East Side. The odds of your evening being eventful are pretty good either way. There's no cover, and the stage is available from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Thursday, November 20
Readers of country singer Lorrie Morgan's autobiography Forever Yours, Faithfully: My Love Story (hello? anyone?) know that her dalliance with Kenny Rogers was something special. The husky-bodied and husky-voiced Rogers took Morgan into his rarefied world of superstar wealth and privilege and treated her like a queen. But alas, their love was not to last. In time, though, both country stars created something even longer-lasting than love -- chicken restaurants. Morgan's Hot Chickens is the pride of Whites Creek, Tennessee, while Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants are serving up slow-roasted dreams from Mobile, Alabama, to the Philippines. To us, though, Rogers is more than a bucket of guilty pleasure. His "story songs," including "Reuben James," "Lucille" and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," are irresistible sing-alongs. So sing along in the cozier Concert Club seating arrangement at Savvis Center at 7:30 p.m. ($29.50-$75, 14th Avenue at Clark Street, 314-241-1888).
Friday, November 21
Everybody, with the exception of parents and next-door neighbors, loves a garage-rock band. Simple, cathartic, guitar-driven music is hard to louse up, and just like fishing and sex, even when done poorly garage rockin' is still better than actual work. Recent Wisconsin transplant Dave Ericson (not the former WB-11 news anchor) loves the garage so much that he made a one-hour documentary about its golden age (the '60s, natch) that focuses on seminal bands the Seeds and the Shadows of Knight, with additional commentary from Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos. Frederick's Music Lounge (4454 Chippewa Street, 314-351-5711) screens Garage Rock USA at 9 p.m. tonight and then drives home Dave's point about the transcendence of garage rock with live performances from modern garage-dwellers Thee Fine Lines and the Safes. It's all free, because if you're still kickin' it in your parents' garage, Dave and Fred figure (correctly) that you're broke.
Saturday, November 22
The next movie to play the St. Louis Science Center's Omnimax Theater (5050 Oakland Avenue) is also the venue's first animated feature film. Santa vs. The Snowman is the tale of a snowman jealous of Santa's popularity. The envy escalates into a full-blown war involving snowballs and guns that squirt hot chocolate. The movie, based on Steve Oedekerk's digital-cartoon creations, features the voices of Jonathan Winters, Ben Stein and Victoria Jackson, along with jokes geared to both kids and adults. WIL (92.3 FM) sponsors tonight's film-premiere party, with light dinners, games, prizes, high-school choir groups singing carols, make-it-and-take-it snowflake and snowman crafts and pictures with Santa from 6 to 9 p.m. One of the coolest happenings at the party, though, is the opportunity for kids to try out the newest and hottest toys on the market, provided by Toys 'R' Us ($10/person or $30/families up to five, 314-289-4444, www.slsc.org).
Sunday, November 23
Holiday spirit plops down upon and oozes through the streets of the Central West End this weekend at the CWE Holiday Festival. The festivities begin with Friday's Christmas in St. Louis Holiday Lighting Ceremony, at which local celebs and officials flip the switch to light the Xmas lights of the CWE area at 6 p.m. at Maryland near Euclid avenues. Then, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and today, carolers, hot-cider vendors and decorations coat the streets of the shopping destination along Euclid Avenue from Forest Park Parkway to Delmar Boulevard. Head to www.thecwe.com for more on the free goodwill.
Monday, November 24
When an artist draws the nude body of a model, he can accomplish a number of things. He might be capturing beauty on the page, or he might be saying something about what our species is, philosophically. The artist is also, in a sense, undergoing a test, for just about every artist who works with a pencil or a paintbrush had to draw nudes in art school. A great nude drawing, for many, is a bit like the first excellent short story to roll from the pen of someone destined to become a world-class novelist -- greatness in this exercise can be an omen of even greater works to come. The nudes in Figure 8, on view through November 29, are drawings and paintings by the Three Sinks Gallery's Professional Figure-Drawing Group. The show features a number of familiar names from the local art community, including Henryk Ptasiewicz, John Ahearn, Julie Campbell and Angel Wahby. Elizabeth Eisloeffel presents an unusual back view of a seated woman. The nude in Lon Brauer's drawing seems to twirl in a black-charcoal cloud of energy, her face obscured, her presence dehumanized. Check out the artists' work at 8715 Big Bend Boulevard (free, 314-963-3448).