This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, July 14We here at Night & Day Global Industries are suckers for animals. If it's capable of being petted or cooed over, we're all for it. So when the Lewis & Clark branch of the St. Louis County Library (9909 Lewis-Clark Boulevard; 314-868-0331) told us they were hosting a free story time with Lottie the Chicken at 2 p.m., let's just say a very long lunch was planned. Lottie, the star of Petra Mathers' children's books, is an adventurous little hen who enjoys life to the fullest by getting new beach towels and making cakes for her friends. Chickens who can bake and enjoy a day at the beach? This is going to be a very long lunch break indeed. There's no charge to meet Lottie (don't tell the kids, but she's really a person in a chicken costume), but she'll probably appreciate a smile and a chipper "buk-buk-buh-gawk!"

Thursday, July 15Thursday nights are usually just a waste. You don't want to drink, really, because that Friday hangover would ruin the best day of the workweek, not to mention the start of the weekend. And you've been going to the gym all week, so you deserve a long break from those machines. You know what you should do? Check out Off the Street: The Art of Peat Wollaeger and Justin Tolentino at the Commonspace (615 North Grand Boulevard; 314-531-1707 or www.thecommonspace.org). Tolentino's distorted graffiti-style images perfectly showcase his talent and street cred, and Wollaeger's detailed stencils display his forward-thinking creative spirit. (Speaking of displays, you may have seen his stuff on an electrical box near the hospital on Kingshighway -- way cool.) The show's up until August 3, and the Commonspace is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday. Check out these St. Louis-based artists -- you definitely won't be wasting your time.

Friday, July 16Who says the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis doesn't do much for local artists? You'd better think twice before you say that again. And while you're thinking, why don't you stop by 3750 Washington Boulevard and enjoy the Great Rivers Biennial art exhibition? This show includes work by Jill Downen, Adam Frelin and Kim Humphries (all local, mind you) and opens Friday, July 16, with a public reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Not only do these chosen three (from a pool of 244 local entrants) get a grand show in a grand space, they also receive a $15,000 prize. So there! If you like what you see, come back to the museum next Thursday, July 22, at 7 p.m. for an artists' panel discussion. For more information, visit www.contemporarystl.org or call 314-535-4660 -- just be sure to take your foot out of your mouth first.

Saturday, July 17OK, so the idea of a personal chef seems decadent. Paying someone to plan, prepare and package special meals for you and your family because you're too busy to cook, or even think about cooking? It's a dream we can't afford -- or can we? Local personal chefs team up to fight hunger at The Great American Bake Sale at Plaza Frontenac (Clayton Road and Lindbergh Boulevard; 877-395-4324) between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., which means if you get there early, you can score basketfuls of sweet treats prepared by these culinary problem-solvers. And your busy schedule (or your gluttony; we don't mind saying it) will also get you much karma, as all the proceeds go to help Share Our Strength, an organization that provides food to needy kids after school and in the summer. Even better, you get the prestige of showing up at the staff meeting on Monday morning with a passel of fancy tarts, which you can then play down by saying, "Oh, my personal chef made these for me." Ritzy and smug, just like we like it.

Sunday, July 18So your relationship with your beloved doggy has gotten stale. All you two do together anymore is go for a walk maybe once a week, take an occasional nap and share some steak bones every now and then. What you and puppy need is a little competition to put some spark back in your relationship. The Paddle with Your Pooch Boat Race is the perfect event for you two to team up and win, win, win! Feel the love as you, the furry one and a couple of your friends paddleboat around Post-Dispatch Lake in Forest Park (at the Boathouse; 314-367-2224). Don't be afraid to show the competition just how great your man's best friend really is. The races begin at 12:30 p.m., and the third and final heat is at 2:30 p.m. And because the awards don't start until 3:30 p.m., puppies and humans will have just enough time to test out some of the Boathouse's grilling. Plus, for sounds even dogs' ears can appreciate, catch the Lucky Dog Band at 4 p.m. Woof! For more information and entry forms, visit www.boathouseforestpark.com; races cost $25 per team.

Monday, July 19If you missed the last installment of River Styx's Hungry Young Poetsseries, don't fret: Round two takes place at 6:30 p.m. at Duff's restaurant (329 North Euclid Avenue; 314-533-4541), and it promises to be a scorcher. The six poets reading their work (Silvia Dadian, Ron Eckhouse, George Fortier, Kenneth E. Harrison, Erin Keane and Shawn McLain) include River Styx's summer intern (Silvia Dadian, and no, that's not why she's included) and a Federal Reserve Bank economic editor (that would be Fortier), and if anyone needs the cleansing power of poetry to scrub the workaday world off their soul, it has to be an "economic editor," whatever that is. (Editor's note: Economic editors proofread the serial numbers on dollar bills.) And for even more bang for your buck ($3, to be exact), saxophone titan Dave Stone provides the music. Excelsior, word-nerds.

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