S.L.A.V.E.? Spike?

Relax, it's just volleyball

If we gave you twenty tries, you probably still wouldn't guess that a local gay group going by the acronym S.L.A.V.E. is intended for sporting types, not S&M-ers. But the St. Louis Association of Volleyball Enthusiasts not only prefers bumping on the court to bump-and-grinding at the Loading Zone, it's also serving as host to a national volleyball tournament over President's Day weekend.

On Friday, February 14, and Saturday, February 15, teams from around the country will be descending upon Forest Park Community College (5600 Oakland Avenue; visit www.jaskets.com/volleyball/stlouisvball.html), the site of the fifteenth annual tournament, which is jointly run by the North American Gay Volleyball Association (or N.A.G.V.A., a much milder acronym). Although team registration has closed, one and all are welcome to come watch (or scope out, if you will) the action for free. -- Rose Martelli

Counting Crows
We've got nothing better to do

Birds are the great barometers of the sky. If you know how to interpret their behavior, they'll reveal a wealth of information about impending atmospheric changes and ongoing weather patterns (as well as what they think of your car). Incredibly enough, there are scientists known as ornithologists who actually study these winged beasts with an enthusiasm that borders on mania, and the data they collect about bird behavior often informs other scientists of subtle changes in our delicate world.

This week, you can help bird-nerds by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, four days (Friday, February 13, through Monday, February 16) of bird watching that may help decide our next president. You'll keep count of the birds you see in your yard and pass the data on to ornithologists at the end of the watch. For downloadable tally sheets and more information than you'll need, visit www.birdsource.org. -- John Goddard

Big Boy's Toys

SAT 2/14

After the success of the VW bug we bought for the RFT Street Team, we've upped the ante for our next promotional ploy -- we're getting a monster truck (truck, truck)! And we would've unveiled it at the Monster Jam down at the Edward Jones Dome (Broadway and Washington Avenue, 314-241-1888) if it weren't for the lack of consensus among the editorial staff over said truck's name -- an even split between "RFTerminator" and "Missouri Mudslinger." Regardless, the show will be great fun, and the excitement begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for kids and $20 for adults ($22 the day of the show). Consult www.ushra.com for more info. Be there (be there, be there)! -- Guy Gray

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