Wednesday, December 10In a time-compressed nod to the "cradle-to-the-grave" philosophy of caretaking, the Sheldon Concert Hall (3648 Washington Avenue, 314-533-9900) is providing an unofficial "breakfast-to-dessert" lineup. At 10 a.m., swing by for the last Coffee Concert of the year. Richard Hayman, he of the glittery stage wear, is the special guest, along with pianist Carolbeth True and singer Jeanne Trevor. For the $16 to $18 admission fee, everyone enjoys pastries and coffee before adjourning to the auditorium for Hayman's "Harmonica Holiday" show. How difficult is it to blow the harp with a mouthful of cruller? Let's not find out.
Stick around afterward and enjoy the Sheldon Art Galleries for a few hours, because from 6 to 8 p.m. you can attend the Winter Warming fundraiser for the Sheldon's educational programs. For an additional $35 you get to sample tasty desserts and a selection of wines and ports, all of which may be purchased for the ride home -- but don't open 'em till you get there. Or better yet, wait till Christmas to sample them. Anticipation and all that.
Thursday, December 11You're jaded. After enduring hours of reality television, which followed hours of your reality job, you feel like you've seen it all. There is absolutely nothing another human being can do that will surprise you -- or is there? Meet Glen Bishop, a.k.a. "The Man Called Mr. Hypnotist" (does that mean there's a man somewhere actually named Mr. Hypnotist?), a practitioner of "hypnoticmagic" and the proprietor of what he claims is "the longest running comedy/ stage hypnosis show in the history of St. Louis." Mr. Bishop promises laughs and a riot of a show, which is a lot more than you'll get sitting home watching holiday reruns of bad sitcoms. Get to Club Elite (813 North Kingshighway, 314-361-7857) tonight by 9:30 so you can enter a trancelike state and take part in the fun. Tickets are $5-$10, and if you leave feeling like a chicken, maybe you should ask your date what happened while you were onstage....
Friday, December 12This year's St. Louis International Film Fest may be history, but the Free Form Film Festival, a somewhat more underground, traveling affair, hits Fort Gondo (3151 Cherokee Street) at 7 p.m. tonight and tomorrow. Tonight's program includes a collection of short films as well as Craig Baldwin's Spectres of the Spectrum, a patchwork of scenes gathered from cheesy black-and-white industrial films and the like to produce a "paranoid science-fiction epic" not unlike the director's earlier Tribulation 99. Saturday promises more shorts, along with two documentaries. The Cement Ball of Earth: Heaven and Hell tells the story of a remorseful former Khmer Rouge death-squad soldier who roams modern Vietnam on a quest to defuse dormant land mines. One Small Step is all about Ham the Chimpanzee and his buddies, used and abused by the U.S. space program. Visit www.loaf-i.com for more info; admission is $7 each night. 573-885-6279.
Saturday, December 13What do you look for when you're buying Christmas gifts? Something that the recipient could really use? Something that's from the heart? Something that you got last year and cannot wait to get rid of by "re-gifting"? Stop by the Commonspace Feelgood Gift Bazaar and buy gifts that are either made in St. Louis or support locally based businesses. Probably the coolest items at the mini-market will be the "East of Skinker" and "Saint Fucking Louis" T-shirts sold by StL Style. There'll also be CDs, books, jewelry, mugs and even coffee made in the Lou, all for sale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and tomorrow. That's at 615 North Grand Boulevard, and you can buy java, soft drinks and desserts in the café, too (314-531-1707, www.thecommonspace.org).
Sunday, December 14If you see a group of kids and hipsters sitting in folding chairs, eating Pocky brand chocolate snacks from Japan and watching cartoons in the window-box of Star Clipper Comics & Games today, you're witnessing one of the first meetings of the new Kaiju Envy Anime Club. The free monthly screening of Japanese animated films begins at 5 p.m. with Spirit of Wonder, a 1992 movie described by one critic as what might result "if H.G. Wells wrote a romance." The story concerns a woman who runs a restaurant/boarding house in nineteenth-century England and becomes involved in a misadventure with two of her boarders, who happen to be mad inventors. See human cartoon characters with those big, huge, anime-style tarsier eyes at 379 North Big Bend Boulevard at Forest Park Parkway; call 314-725-9110 for reservations. (Kaiju, by the way, means "monster," as in the giant monsters that often romp through Japanese films.)
Monday, December 15Frederick's Music Lounge (4454 Chippewa Street, 314-351-5711) is a friendly joint with cheap drinks, free popcorn and an attractive staff. The place also shows some of the most offbeat, entertaining movies and TV shows you can find in any hangout around town. Tonight, in honor of Tim Burton's nativity (no, not really), they're showing The Nightmare Before Christmas, just as many other places in town will do in the coming weeks. The A/V department of Frederick's has trumped all other amateur programmers, however, by also lining up the rarely seen Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. In case you didn't know, Pee-wee's Playhouse is the greatest playhouse-related program ever. EVER. Keep your lewd jokes to yourself, and why does the butter on my free popcorn taste funny? Get over and experience the magic of Christmas according to Pee-wee, and be sure to tip the staff heavily; all this entertainment is free, after all. The fun begins at 7 p.m. or thereabouts.
Tuesday, December 16Bowling shoes are the great leveler. Everyone from the tattooed-up, greased-down rockabilly hipster to the Brooks Brothers-clad MBA looks positively boss in a pair of PBA-approved kicks. Is it the piebald color schemes? The waxy, caulk-like soles? The unique method of stamping the size on the back of the shoe? There is an indefinable magic in those stinky brogans, to be sure. Photojournalist Bob Fehringer has attempted to capture that magic by snapping pictures of the same pair of size-eights in various Metro East locations. A selection of his work, entitled Metro-East, Size 8, Red, White and Blue Bowling Shoe Tour, is currently on display at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame (111 Stadium Plaza, 314-231-6340). The museum is open today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is $4 to $6. Go, and ponder the wonder of these communal shoes, which shod us all with equal beauty and grace.