Moms, dads, lend us your ears. We're coming up on the home stretch of this summer vacation, and you're out of ideas for the little nippers. It's tough. So much time and money has been spent at this point. You deserve a break -- so take one. The AMC Summer Movie Camp provides free movies for kids, but only at the AMC 10 Theatre at Crestwood Mall (Watson and Sappington roads; 314-962-2395), and only at 10:30 a.m. Today's show is the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, which you have probably already missed (unless you're an early riser and a fast driver). Ah, but make your plans for next week now. Shark Tale screens at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, August 3; you now have plenty of time to make that show and enjoy a little time for yourself.
Thursday, July 28
The Bard as Muse: Shakespearean Prints by British Artists from the Boydell Gallery is a mouthful of a title, but nobody crammed as many mouthfuls of words into a play as Shakespeare did, so the title is fitting. The cynic may note that this selection of 40 prints from the 1802 publication of Boydell's collection goes a long way to alleviating Shakespeare's verbosity -- if a picture is worth a thousand words, then you have 40,000 words devoted to the Bard of Avon in a fraction of the paper. But the realist knows that the illustrations are meant as a buttress to Shakespeare's beautiful words, an enhancement to something already wonderful on its own. The exhibit, on display at the University of Missouri-St. Louis' Mercantile Library (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road), is on display through August 15. There is no charge, and the library is open daily (call 314-516-7240 for hours).
Friday, July 29
Why is the tailgate party limited only to those occasions when a sports team plays? More people should gather in the early evening to eat, drink and be merry. We'd take the credit for this brilliant idea, but the people at Capri Restaurant (in the Renaissance Grand Hotel, Eighth Street and Washington Avenue; call 314-418-5900) thought of it first. Their Ca"Pri-Game" Party offers the opportunity to enjoy all-you-can-eat food cooked on the spot at live chef stations and a Schlafly beer-tasting flight, and they throw the party whether there's a game on Friday night or not. The shindig lasts from 4 to 7 p.m., and admission is $10. Get in on the ground floor, as tonight's party is the inaugural bash, but more are sure to follow. Who's gonna say no to an idea this good?
Saturday, July 30
Mr. Night just doesn't have it in him to be a big game hunter. His killer instinct, once unleashed, is a wild and uncontrollable force that causes him to break out in tears -- and once a lion tastes a dandy's tears, that lion is absolutely ruined as a carnivore (preferring poetry and orange sherbet from that point on). Instead, Mr. Night engages in the manly art of butterfly hunting. A cunning lepidopterist, he has been capturing the winged jewels with his bare hands since the age of three. Join him at the Shaw Nature Reserve (25 miles west of St. Louis on I-44, exit 253 in Gray's Summit; call 636-451-3512 for prices and to register, or visit www.mobot.org) for the Dog Days Butterfly Ramble. Entomologist James Trager leads an exhilarating walk through prime butterfly habitat, pointing out the gorgeous insects as they appear and noting salient facts about their diet and personal habits. The journey lasts from 8:30 to 11 a.m., and no collecting of any material is allowed; this tour is for enjoyment (and research purposes) only.
Sunday, July 31
Thom Anderson's documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself is an unusual examination of the City of Angels as the supporting character, set and star of numerous films. It's odd to think of a city as being capable of fulfilling those roles, but LA is an unusual city, and its appearance in countless films has made it even stranger. People who have never been to the city recognize it on film, but the place they recognize often has very little in common with the city that geographically exists in Southern California. Thanks to editing, set construction, careful shot blocking and a host of other techniques, the cinematic Los Angeles is as fake as any other character in a work of fiction -- and yet it exists. Leave it to LA to figure out a way to be both phony and real. Anderson uses both archival clips from other movies and careful analysis to reveal the art of the artifice that is Los Angeles. The film screens at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487) at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday (July 29 through 31). Tickets are $5 to $6.
Monday, August 1
If you have yet to experience the Compton Heights Concert Band this summer, this is your last chance. The CHCB Musical Mondays series wraps up another summer season (its twenty-sixth) of outdoor music with a return engagement from tenor Hugh Smith. Seriously, why would you pass this up? Sure, it's hot and muggy, but that's just St. Louis in August. And you know some beautifully played music, such as a rousing Sousa-style march or a boisterous little show tune (specialties of the CHCB), will make you forget that you're sweating. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at Tower Grove Park (4256 Magnolia Avenue; 314-776-2227 or www.chband.org), and there is no admission fee.