If ever there was a doubt about the strangeness of life before television, consider the plot of Our Country's Good. The Timberlake Wertenbaker adaptation of Thomas Kenneally's novel The Playmaker is based on the true story of a group of Australian penal colonists who willingly performed a play on the special occasion of the King of England's birthday. So, the man who represents the government that imprisoned you also boots you out of your native country, and you in return remember his birthday with a very special performance? Stranger still, the prisoner/play-actors endure hunger and inhumane treatment while rehearsing, because "the show must go on!" How is this not an Afterschool Special? Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts performs Our Country's Good at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday (September 28 through October 9) at the Emerson Studio Theatre (in the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road; 314-968-7128). Tickets are $3.50 to $8.
Thursday, September 29
Pauly Shore has done everything you can do in Hollywood. He's become a star on the basis of typecasting (his "Weasel" persona carried him through several films); he benefited from nepotism (mom Mitzi owns the famed Comedy Shop, dad is comic Sammy Shore); he's been a has-been; he killed himself on film to resuscitate his career (sort of -- it didn't take); and he's returned to his roots via reality TV with Minding the Store, which sort of combines all his past achievements in one show. Hmm, sounds sort of like a shticky Jazz Singer, doesn't it? Anyway, he's taking it all on the road, performing stand-up comedy (certainly based on his own life) at University of Missouri-St. Louis' Pilot House (1 University Boulevard at Natural Bridge Road) at 8 p.m. And guess what? It's a free show, with two as-yet-unnamed opening acts. You need a ticket for entry, so call 314-516-5555 to get one.
Friday, September 30
Let's just get the obvious out of the way: Whitney Lee makes latch-hook art. Latch-hook pornography art, to be exact. She readily admits that in the early days her work was a criticism of how women were portrayed in the mass media, and she also cops to having a sense of both humor and irony. But after three years of latch-hooking porn, she believes she's less a critic and more another voice in the ongoing national dialogue about feminism and pornography. Lee's art is on display at Webster University's Hunt Gallery (8342 Big Bend Boulevard; 314-968-7171) with the work of Allyson Mitchell in the show Feels Like a Natural Woman, which opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. this evening. Mitchell creates installation pieces out of fun fur and found objects, and since she comes from a background of performance art and "fat activism" (she co-founded the group Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off), you can be assured that Mitchell's work also addresses ideas of feminine roles and the definition of beauty. Fortunately, Mr. Night only latch-hooks for the articles, so he has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to his views on women and porn.
Saturday, October 1
The darkest day of all came last week. No, it wasn't the day that the current "administration" said another moronic thing about oceanic storms or aid or some such (although that probably occurred, too); it was the day that fall arrived. Now, Ms. Day isn't usually in the mood to season-bash (she knows it hurts their feelings), but let's face it: When autumn comes, good things leave. Like leaves. And farmers' markets. And just to prove Ms. Day's point, today is the closing day of the Kirkwood Farmers' Market (150 East Argonne Drive, Kirkwood; 314-822-0084 or www.kirkwoodjunction.com). No more fresh fruits and veggies, no more fun in the sun; soon, it will be too cold to eat Tropical Moose Shaved Ice anyway. And soon our hearts will grow cold as our winter depression sets in. So enjoy a day at the market today while you can (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., specifically)! You'll be longing for that local-farm freshness you've taken for granted all summer when you're suffering through the cold with foreign, truck-ripened fruit.
Sunday, October 2
Will "Dunaway After Hours" become the new catch phrase for the city's secret army of conscientious explorers? Wouldn't you like to know. All right, we'll tell you: The answer is "yes." At 8 p.m., after the store is closed, knock on the door and hand over $6. You'll be ushered in for a special performance by Bay Area pianist Thollem McDonas, as well as musical offerings from Darin Gray (bass, verily), Dave Stone (sax, primordially) and Eric Hall (electronics, unusually), both singly and as a group. McDonas welds elements of jazz, blues and classical music into a mighty tower of song, then shatters his construct with the breathless bull-rush of a mystic improviser. Is this the limitless jazz of our fathers, or the Cageian idealism of our mothers? Yes, both, please. Dunaway Books is located at 3111 South Grand Boulevard; call 314-771-7150 for more information.
Monday, October 3
Through your diligent following of all things fashion, you may have noticed everyone touting that black is back this season. But ever since Saturday, October 1, all you seem to be seeing is pink: pink ribbons adorning people's clothes, pink drink offerings at your local bar, even pink food specials at your favorite restaurant. You may be asking yourself, "What gives?" as you tug on yet another layer of black and scour Lucky magazine for evidence of this new rose-hued trend. But fret no longer, fashionista! There's a perfectly reasonable explanation for thinking pink: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the Saint Louis Originals establishments have gotten together to offer fashionable Pink Plate Specials throughout the month. Now, you can buy pink and feel confident -- the AMC Cancer Research Center gets $3 every time you order one of these specials. For a list of participating independently owned restaurants, visit www.dineoriginalstlouis.com or call 314-872-3463.
Tuesday, October 4
The RFT staff is chock-full of talent, and we're not just talking about writing! Let's see, our editorial copy tamer can get quite a yodel going, and two of our staff writers sing in a barbershop quartet. But that's not all! The rest of our writers and editors take part in a yearly Gregorian chant contest (in 2004, they walked away with third place; wish the group luck in 2005!). But before the chanting competition gets underway, most of these staffers' voices will be heard out at the Westport Idol elimination karaoke contest, held simultaneously at the Trainwreck Saloon, the Drunken Fish and Patrick's (at Westport Plaza, I-270 and Page Avenue, Maryland Heights; www.westportstl.com). If you think you've got the chops (and you're 21 or older), feel free to head out to the plaza as well; the contest starts at 9 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, October 4), but you must register by Monday, October 3, by calling 314-878-6941. At the end of the eight weeks of Tuesday-night competitions, who will walk away the big winner? Will it be you? Or the yodeler? Only time will tell.