OK, we're not gonna lie: We think that pushing your body's limits by adventuring in extreme environments is dumb, mostly because we're quite comfortable indoors and could never do such activities anyway. But people who are full of vim and vigor like challenges. They love climbing Mount Everest despite its subzero temperatures, and even without gills, they enjoy being submerged in great oceanic depths -- plus they absolutely delight in both the jungle's wet heat and the desert's dryness. "What's not to love?" adventurers ask. We reply: Frostbite is unlovable, drowning sucks and so do snakes and dehydration.
But no matter what, the risk-takers keep climbing, hiking and diving, and when they get hurt, hopefully Dr. Kenneth Kamler is around. He's saved people's lives in all manner of extreme circumstances and knows just what happens when the human body is under tremendous duress. If you read Kamler's Surviving the Extremes: What Happens to the Body and Mind at the Limits of Human Endurance, you will, too. All the gory details. Like, for example, exactly how the starved body trapped on the high seas eventually starts eating itself alive. See why we don't want to be out in the elements? Hear some of the author's tales at 7 p.m. when he visits Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731 or www.left-bank.com) for what should be a pretty non-extreme book signing. We hope. -- Alison Sieloff
Bring It On Cheering champions
In the search for answers to the universe's perplexing questions, humankind hopes to make sense of the world. Is there a God? What is our purpose here? Are cheerleading and dance considered sports? There's training and athleticism involved with both. And like the National Spelling Bee and the Great Outdoor Games (a.k.a. the Lumberjack Games), cheer and dance competitions air on ESPN. Plus, if you've ever been dropped from a "liberty," you know it hurts like hell.
Answer the cheer-as-sport question for yourself at the American Spirit Championships 2005 Northern National Finals at America's Center (Broadway and Washington Avenue; 314-342-5000; $10 to $15) Friday through Sunday, January 21 through 23. From cute pompon preschoolers to we-don't-take-no-crap varsity jazz dancers, there's way more here than megaphones and spangles. And the cheerers need cheering too, you know. Visit www.ascspirit.com for times. -- Kristie McClanahan