When airlines first began providing in-flight music via headphones, Ivan Tcherepnin had a brilliant idea: He thought of proposing the option of an "environmental" channel to the airlines. This channel would provide the appropriate soundtrack for whatever was happening on the ground below the plane. Tcherepnin instead used this idea of an environmental channel to score Eric Martin's USA Film, which documents a road trip across 1973 America at the rate of one frame every sixth of a mile. "The soundtrack for USA Film is a fantasy version of the sounds...the traveler might hear on his rapid cross-country trip," Tcherepnin wrote in his notes.
Tcherepnin, a third-generation composer, was the director of Harvard's Electronic Music Studio at the time, and he used no traditional instruments for USA Film's score. Instead he wove Eric Martin's voice with taped samples of science-fiction television shows, the audio document of Hank Aaron hitting his record home run, a woman introducing a pageant contestant ("She's 21, a college senior, and her hobbies include riflery and motorcycles," apparently), and crickets and birds to create a swirling wash of external and internal sounds that balances the static-yet-swiftly-moving camera (the shooting rate translates to a speed of 14,000 miles per hour, as Martin himself states on the soundtrack).
The New Music Circle screens USA Film, along with two shorter Tcherepnin-scored films, at 8 p.m. at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660). Also on the bill is the new installment of the 60x60 project, which features the compositions of local musicians Rich O'Donnell, Tom Sutter and Jim Hegarty. In this ambitious recording, 60 new works, each 60 seconds or less in duration, are blended together to create a 60-minute concert documenting the current state of modern composition. Admission is $6 to $12, and the cash bar opens at 7 p.m. -- Paul Friswold
So many t-ravs
Yes, it is time: Dust off the recipe book, clean out the fridge and choose the turkey (or Tofurky), because Thanksgiving is almost here! You could wait out the next week in utter agony -- drooling over pumpkin pies at the bakery and making anonymous calls to the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line -- but we've got a better idea. Work up your stamina for Thanksgiving dinner at Harrah's Toasted Ravioli-Eating Championship! If there's one thing St. Louisans know, it's toasted ravioli, and we get to prove it at 1 p.m. at Harrah's Casino (777 Casino Center Drive, Maryland Heights; 314-770-8100). Co-sponsored by Charlie Gitto's (guess who's putting up the ravioli?), this free contest and canned-food drive offers $5,000 in prizes and the chance to compete against this country's top eaters. Can your stomach handle it? If you're eighteen or older, contact the International Federation of Competitive Eating to register at 212-627-5766 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Amy Helms
Radio Free Candy
On revolution 9
The ninth episode of St. Louis' own broadcast-free chat show, "Free Candy," won't be at the Commonspace, of course, as it has vanished (physically, anyway) -- but the good news is that hosts Julia Smillie and Amanda Doyle have relocated the free candy to Hartford Coffee Company (3974 Hartford Street; 314-771-5282). While the show may have moved from one cultural oasis to another, the coffee is still fair trade, and the program remains the same: interviews with St. Louis activists, authorities and personalities, peppered with witty banter and live music and all done in front of a live audience unhampered by cumbersome cameras or commercial breaks. And speaking of moving, at this free 7 p.m. show, your hosts present the recently disenfranchised with a guide to Canadian immigration and interview Shannon McGinn, one of Hartford's owners, along with some surprise guests. Check out www.freecandy.net and www.hartfordcoffeecompany.com for more information. -- Mark Dischinger
Drink No Evil
Apes, like the orangutan pictured, do lots of things just like people, from banana-peeling to poop-throwing (well, at least that's how we communicate around this office). In drinking the booze, though, the humans will always beat out our hairy cousins. So why not tip your glass from 8 p.m. to midnight in honor of the apes? The Saint Louis Zoo's Young Zoo Friends want you to do just that at Zootini, a fundraiser (sponsored in part by the RFT) that supports the apes' upcoming Fragile Forest exhibit. Party tickets are $35 to $40 and can be purchased at 314-768-5440 or www.stlzoo.org/yzf. And wear your dressy jungle attire to the zoo (in Forest Park) -- the gorillas like to see you fancied up when you're drinking and dancing. -- Alison Sieloff
Booty or Junk?
In case you're wondering, that "Olde Tyme" sign you snatched out of the garbage is, in fact, garbage. Well, maybe not garbage exactly, unless you consider two-year-old kitsch from Cracker Barrel trash -- don't answer that. But that Coca-Cola sign that's been in your grandma's basement behind the furnace for years just might be worth a little cash money. Find out at the "Trash or Treasure" Antique Appraisal beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org). Carry (don't dolly) your three most "valuable" possessions to the museum and find out if you are rich -- or just rich with memories. Appraisals cost $5 per item, and you must purchase tickets in advance (314-361-7229). -- Alison Sieloff