What is this otaku that all the kids are talking about? OK, not all the kids are talking about otaku; it's mostly just the kids with the GameBoy Advance SPs and the ability to expound on the difference between fulcl and Innuyasha. If you have no idea what any of that means, you're not otaku -- you're normal.
Otaku derives from the most formal way of saying "you" in Japanese; the implication is that there is a barrier between yourself and the other person, something keeping you from being equals. In the idiomatic sense, the barrier that separates otaku from everyone else is the nerdly, technology-obsessed nature of otaku. In the American sense of the word, otaku implies an interest in all things Japanese: Giant robots, computer games and especially anime, the hyperkinetic Japanese animated serials that dominate Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" programming block. Declaring oneself otaku is the act of owning one's nerdishness. It's the difference between being ashamed of your true nature and reveling in it.
Star Clipper's Otaku Night at the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard; 314-995-6270) is a celebration of all things otaku, kind of like a geek mixer. Star Clipper (newly relocated to 6392 Delmar Boulevard) is the one-stop shop for otaku, judging from the amount of time the RFT music editor spends there, and, as such, Star Clipper is sponsoring a midnight screening of the Japanese samurai flick Zatoichi #5: On the Road. The socializin' gets going at 11:30 p.m. with raffles, free sushi, and Japanese candy and concessions. Don't miss this opportunity to argue about the upcoming Beat Takeshi version of the Zatoichi story or to criticize Mr. Night's Sailor Mars costume. -- Paul Friswold
The fall clothes are already on the racks (just what you want when it's so hot that wearing a swimsuit is too much). But cooler weather is inevitable -- might as well prepare now. Confused about what's lasting style and what will be out of style by the time you can actually wear the autumn items? While you're trying to figure that out, dress up in your best summer clothes and come by the Oz (300 Monsanto Avenue, Sauget, Illinois; 618-274-1464) at midnight for the DeMar P.R. Fashion Fever runway show. Tickets are $20 to $75 (available at the Oz or by visiting www.demarpr.com), and the opportunity to see unique fall fashions on models -- instead of unworn in your closet -- is well worth the price. -- Alison Sieloff
¡Fiesta, San Luís!
It's time for the sound of mariachi bands, the smell of freshly made tortillas and the taste of chiles on your tongue. That's right, the St. Louis Hispanic Festival is here -- ¡gracias a Dios! The cerveza and margaritas will flow at Soldiers Memorial Park (14th and Market streets) Friday and Saturday (August 13 and 14) from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, August 14, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to the live entertainment and tempting foods and beverages, there will be a children's pavilion (break that piata, little Johnny!), an exotic petting zoo and several information booths, as well as a job fair (we would suggest visiting the job fair before the margarita stand). For more information visit www.hispanicfestivalstl.com or call 314-837-6100. -- Amy Helms
It's a Woman's World
Friday, August 13, is ladies night at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar Boulevard; 314-863-5811 or www.art-stl.com) with the opening of Local Women and Exotic Places. The show features work from six prominent female artists and explores the theme of the "exotic" through a variety of media. Locals Jerry Au, Nanette Hegamin, Jane Birdsall-Lander, Adelia Parker-Castro, Olivia Lahs-Gonzales and Sandra Nickeson show off their stuff through photography, painting, drawing and mixed-media sculpture. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and is free; the exhibit runs through October 2. Don't miss out on this great opportunity to participate in the arts without emptying your pockets -- and an even better opportunity to support local artists. -- Christine Whitney