Take the curious case of Solomon Carver. A contemporary of Mark Twain, this noted satirist suffered from a particularly virulent strain of misogyny that has effectively erased him from the popular consciousness, despite having been well-known -- or at least infamous -- while he was alive. Now that he's dead and gone, it's like he never existed at all. Wait, he never did exist; Mr. Carver is the creation of Jamie Foehner (of Brand X Comedy troupe), and his sorry tale is really just an expedient method of poking fun at Ken Burns' "documentary lite" style of storytelling.
Solomon Carver: The Misogynist Mark Twain is a radio play (ask your grandparents) set to debut at 8 p.m. at Lemmons Bar and Restaurant (5800 Gravois Road, 314-652-8297). Written by Foehner and peopled by a voice cast of St. Louis' finest (Sunyatta Marshall and Mark Stephens lend their talents, as does Fred Friction, who gives voice to Susan B. Anthony, of course), Solomon Carver features original and period music written by Marcia Pandolfi, who is apparently incapable of writing anything less than gorgeous melodies. The pizza is free, the cash bar is waiting and admission is free (but donations are graciously appreciated). -- Paul Friswold
Listen to the Movie
CinemaSpoke dispenses with all but the script
If you love bare-bones film and crave an antidote to goddamn CGI dogs, April is your month. First there's Lars von Trier's Dogville, starring Nicole Kidman and staged on nothing more than a marked soundstage. If even the presence of Hollywood actors is too much for you to bear, though, get to the HH Studio (2500 Sutton Avenue, 314-647-9800) for CinemaSpoke, the annual screenwriting competition held by Cinema St. Louis.
Part Dogme 95 and part American Idol, each installment of the competition features two locally written scripts facing off for the ultimate prize: a chance at an audience with a Hollywood literary agent. Each night, the first act of two competing screenplays will be read to the public and a panel of expert judges, including Cliff Froelich of the Post-Dispatch and local film legend Bobbie Lautenschlager, who will critique the works and choose a winner from the pool of ten scripts.
Short of sneaking onto a Hollywood set, this may be the purest movie experience of your life. You'll get the screenwriter's vision unfiltered by egomaniacal directors or ADD-plagued editors. Chris Clark of Cinema St. Louis also says it's a rare look into the creative process. "It offers a 3D peek into the minds of the writers and their motivations," he says, and it highlights the difference between writing for the screen and the page. Catch the metadrama at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27 (with subsequent readings of the other finalists' scripts the last Tuesday of every month through August), as Val Teel's Mark Twain Returns (about Twain's angel trying to save his childhood home from modern-day wreckers) squares off against Dan Bishop's The Candle Room (about a boy seduced into organized crime during a visit to an Italian restaurant). Best of all, minimalist film means minimalist prices; CinemaSpoke is free. -- Niles Baranowski
Rockin' with Ridley
Celebrity in America is confusing. Actors who sing, athletes with talk shows, chefs with sitcoms, and now it seems that the bass player from the Rockbottom Remainders has written a book. Granted, the Remainders are a prolific bunch. They feature other wannabe writers like Stephen King, Dave Barry and Amy Tan. You might say the band is nothing more than a way station for musicians at the top of their game wanting to find another gig. Of course, you'd have it backward. Crime/thriller writer and St. Louis resident Ridley Pearson has written eight mysteries featuring his signature protagonists, Seattle cops Lou Boldt and Daphne Matthews, and all were hailed for their drum-tight plots, graphic forensic detail and mastery of police procedure. His latest, The Body of David Haynes, does nothing to mar his reputation as one of the genre's top talents. Join readers, writers and other fans for an evening of discussion with Ridley Pearson at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue, 314-367-6731) at 7 p.m. Ask about the actual cases that inspire his books or when he might tour with his bandmates, who brag that they collectively "play music as well as Metallica writes books." -- Jedidiah Ayres
Democracy Means Everybody
Perhaps you've noticed the paucity of choices when it comes to elected officials. It's a whole lotta white, middle-aged, Christian men running this country, and the upcoming presidential election is going to continue the trend. How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office, the new handbook from Soft Skull press, details twenty recently elected officials who break the stereotypes. Matti Weiss, one of the book's success stories, speaks at 7 p.m. at Subterranean Books (6275 Delmar Boulevard, 314-862-6100). There is no charge, and yes, white men are welcome to attend. -- Paul Friswold
Sartre is Smartre
Jean Paul Sartre gives misanthropes something to cheer about when his cowardly protagonist Garcin utters the immortal mal mot "Hell is other people." Snap out of it, bubbie; at least you have a chair to sit in. Sartre's morality play No Exit, presented by Spotlight Theater at the Soulard Theatre (1921 South Ninth Street; call 314-918-8424 for showtimes), runs Thursday through Sunday from April 23 through May 2. Tickets are $15 to $18. -- Paul Friswold