Peter Jackson's cinematic adaptations of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy have been manna from heaven for the Middle Earth nerds, but are they making an impact on the up-and-coming nerds of tomorrow? Are boys locking themselves in their rooms after dinner to struggle with the intricacies of Quenya, Tolkien's invented language of the High Elves? Find out this evening from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Buder branch of the St. Louis Public Library (4401 Hampton Avenue; call 314-352-2900 to register). Kids in grades six through nine are invited to come in costume and celebrate the premiere of Return of the King. The movie itself will not be screened, but this will be an excellent, free networking opportunity for the young nerdlinger. Exchange recipes for lembas, discuss the finer points of Sindarin verb conjugation, whatever; get to know the people you'll be arguing with about The Silmarillion in chat rooms ten years down the line.
Thursday, December 18
There are hobbyists who construct miniature dollhouse worlds, and then there are the pros -- the architectural modelers. Their precise, scale buildings and landscapes are used mainly to impress prospective clients, but you can't deny that their creations are tabletop art, too. An ambitious Washington University professor of architecture who specializes in digital design, Sung Ho Kim, and his curiously named company, Axi:Ome llc, have installed a group of building mock-ups in Gallery Urbis Orbis' new location (419 North Tenth Street, 314-406-5778, free admission). Some of these architectural models are mind- and space-bending. Check out the design for a skyscraper with an amorphous blob, which would hold an IMAX theater and a climbing wall, cut out near one edge of the building. Kim's plan for a shopping mall calls for a twisting "media wall" embedded with LEDs that offer a constant stream of info, a kind of indoor, digital "sky and clouds," says the architect. Shifting Toward Spatial Modalities is on view through December 27; visit www.urbis-orbis.com for gallery hours.
Friday, December 19
For those who like their culture to be doled out in spontaneous bursts of freeform creativity, Flux Art/Theatre has an evening of fun unplanned especially for you. The Post-It: An Art Happening at Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts (3151 Cherokee Street, call 314-966-5827 for info) is ostensibly a clever way for Flux Art/Theatre folks to announce their 2004 season; it's also a chance for everyone who shows up to participate in their last event of the 2003 season. They're being somewhat secretive about what may happen, because they want to keep things spontaneous, but the evening's festivities involve the Flux artists, the audience and a bunch of Post-It notes. Whatever happens after the introduction of tacky-backed paper squares to a group of freeform thinkers and creative types is left to your imagination. Are you imagining something cool? Well then, you should probably be there to help get other people's juices flowing. Admission is $3, and you have from 8 p.m. until midnight to let the right side of your brain run rampant.
Saturday, December 20
How would you like a tattoo of Santa Claus heading down the highway on a chopper motorcycle, a faithful elf clinging to his backside, his travel bags stuffed with presents for good little boys, girls and Hell's Angels? Make your Christmas dreams come true at the Cheap TRX Free Tattoo Holiday Party, a celebration of the eight tattooists who'll now be plying their trade in the three-story sin shop. Cheap TRX (3211 South Grand Boulevard) has long been the place to go for professionally done piercings, T-shirts with lewd slogans and rainbow-colored, gay-positive accents for home and auto. The store is celebrating the season, a newly expanded basement section of "leather, lube, pipes and adult toy merchandise" and the new tattooing service, by giving away tattoos. Fifteen people will win today's drawings, and those lucky few need to have a design in mind and be primed and ready for inking, because they have to be present to hop in the chair at either 11 a.m. or 1, 3, 5 or 7 p.m. Call 314-664-4011 or visit www.cheaptrx.com for more.
Sunday, December 21
What happens when you put wine, salami, lasagna and Giacomo Puccini together? You get a seduction scene at Viviano's Italian grocery. No, no, you get the Union Avenue Opera Theatre Fundraiser/Puccini Birthday Party. The small-but-dedicated UAOT troupe offers Italian wine, veggie lasagna, salad, cold cuts and performances of Puccini arias in honor of the composer's 145th birthday at Dressel's Pub, 419 North Euclid Avenue. Opera lovers should drop in from 7 to 10 p.m.; the concert-and-chow supports the group's summer 2004 season, which will feature Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Gounod's Faust and our man Puccini's Turandot. Call 314-361-2881 for reservations to the party; admission is $25.
Monday, December 22
In theory, this is the time of year when it's better to give than to receive; in theory, that's a pretty good idea. But when you're standing at a bus stop in the cold rain, what you really want is someone, anyone, to give you a break. If you're lucky, you'll get that break, weary bus rider, when the Holiday MetroBus stops and kneels before you on the curb. Immediately recognizable by the seasonal decorations painted on its exterior, the Holiday MetroBus sports a number of interior surprises. For starters, it's free: no charge for the ride, fellow traveler. It also boasts holiday greenery on the walls and a living room-like ambience, thanks to its fireplace with simulated fire and a wreath above the mantel. Put your feet up and enjoy the ride, pal. It's Metro's way of saying thanks for your business. The Holiday MetroBus will be in service today on the Lee Line, and will stay on the road through Christmas Day.