Do you know who Percy Schmeiser is? Maybe you should. The Canadian farmer was sued by Monsanto three years ago for growing their signature canola plants in his field. Schmeiser claimed that he didn't plant them -- the plants must have simply blown there. A Canadian court sided with the St. Louis-based mega-corporation, arguing that ignorance was no excuse. In just a few days, Schmeiser's case will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. Some big issues hang in the balance, including the question of whether a business can patent a gene. Schmeiser won't be coming down to Monsanto country, but he will be doing a phone interview with organic farmer and biotechnology critic Suzanne Renard, biochemistry expert C.A. Hilgartner and ubiquitous local lefty Daniel "Digger" Romano; those three will be in attendance at the Genesis House Café at 7 p.m. (6018 Delmar Boulevard, 314-771-8576, www.percyschmeiser.com). The Gateway Green Alliance sponsors the free talk.
Thursday, January 8
If we told you about a story involving a murderer who's not only blind but confined to a wheelchair, you might imagine one of those Hollywood screwball comedy-mysteries of the early '80s starring the likes of Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Dom DeLuise, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Avery Schreiber, Pat Paulsen and a man with acromegaly playing the killer's henchman -- but we digress. In truth, this blind, wheelchair-bound murderer appears in The Stroke of Twelve, a 1947 murder-mystery drama staged by the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves (517 Theatre Lane, 314-962-0876, www.tgwg.org) at 8 p.m. tonight through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. The first half of this Walter Berger play is a bit slow (and littered with obsolete slang from 50 years ago), but there are some surprises at the climax. If you've never been to the TGWG space, in the converted attic of an old home in the 'burbs, it's worth checking out.
Friday, January 9
Hey, remember that person you used to be ten or twenty (or thirty or forty) years ago? Weekends were spent in a haze of beer and dope, you never knew who you might be hooking up with, and responsibility was not in your vocabulary. Filmmaker Robb Moss looks back on his salad days in The Same River Twice, a film opening tonight at the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard, $6 to $8, 314-314-995-6270, www.samerivertwice.com) and screening through next Thursday. The documentary shows Moss and his circle of friends and lovers -- an amiable bunch of nudist hippies -- first on a 1978 float trip down the Colorado River, and then leading very different lives today (actually, one of the guys pretty much stays at the river). The film follows five people, breaking down what happens to free-spirited types on the road from carefree youth to mild-mannered adulthood -- a common enough journey, to be sure, but one that seems to mystify many of us as we grow older.
Saturday, January 10
We Show-Me staters are always looking for yet another reason to be proud of our stomping grounds. Need a Tums or two? They're made right here, buddy. Hankering for some crystal meth? We make the finest in the land, don'tcha know. Looking for a new Olympic speed skater? Look no further than St. Louis, where, according to Missouri Speed Skating Association member Robert Samuels, we produce at least one speed skater for every winter Olympics. In fact, the lineup of instructors at today's Learn to Speed Skate session at Forest Park's Steinberg Ice Rink includes several former Olympic competitors and U.S. national champions. The free training is for skaters of all levels, though, even total beginners (9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays through February 7, 314-477-6778, rental skates available). Also, bodybuilders who would like to take a gander at some of the largest hamstrings and quadriceps they will ever see are welcome -- seriously. "The Olympic skaters are not normal human beings," says Samuels. "Let me give you an example of how strong an Olympic speed skater is. Brendan Eppert, who was on the U.S. Olympic team in '96, can stand in front of a desk on one leg, and jump up on top of the desk -- just on one leg." This we wanna see.
Sunday, January 11
Now that the required shopping of the holidays is but a memory, it's time to get down to the business of buying stuff for yourself. And there is no better place to do your American consumer duty than the American Czech Center (4690 Lansdowne Avenue, 314-821-9121), because it's time for another St. Louis Record and CD Collectors Show. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can buy, sell, trade or just browse through the vast treasure trove of recorded music. Admission is $2.50 ($1.50 if you bring one of the show's flyers with you), so you'll have plenty of cash with which to increase your stash. Is there a better way to spend a winter Sunday than pawing through crates of LPs, searching for Neil Diamond albums? Is six hours enough time to really perform a thorough hunt for the missing pieces of your Yogi Yorgesson collection? Will you find a clean copy of Judas Priest's Unleashed in the East? Not if we get there first.
Monday, January 12
Moral turpitude, like the weather, is often talked about, but no one ever seems to do anything about it. Sane people agree that programs named Who Wants to Marry Anyone? or When Animals Get Even are as dangerous to the fabric of our society as the works of Pat Boone, but is there a more intelligent entertainment alternative? Why, it turns out there is. At 7 p.m. on the second Monday of the month, the Ethical Society of St. Louis (9001 Clayton Road, 314-991-0955) holds a Current Events Salon where issues of ethical importance are freely discussed and mulled over by interested parties. The salon is free to the public (but call ahead to register), and you need bring nothing more than a news clipping that you feel has moral implications. Reading? Conversation? Respectful exchanges of ideas and viewpoints by a group of equals? Moral turpitude doesn't stand a chance.
Tuesday, January 13
Good news for the aging hipster: Duct-tape wallets are making a comeback! Back when the Beastie Boys made albums, their sometime collaborator Money Mark Nishita wrote a "How to Make a Duct Tape Wallet" article for the Beasties' Grand Royal magazine. The gray billfolds were popular for about three weeks, and then the chain wallet appeared. But now, thanks to the Prairie Commons Branch of the St. Louis County Library (915 Utz Lane, free, but call 314-895-1023 to register) and its 7 p.m. Need a Wallet? We've Got the Tape class, kids age nine and older can make their own retro-fashionable duct-tape wallets. Imagine the looks young Gunther will receive when he whips out that shiny tri-fold the next time he reaches for his Diner's Club card. They're waterproof, cruelty-free, and you can monogram 'em with a Sharpie. That's style, baby, and it's dirt cheap, too. Money Mark would be proud.