The Best Things to Do This Week, November 3-8

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click to enlarge Cranksgiving kicks off Sunday.
Cranksgiving kicks off Sunday.

The Halloween candy is all gone, but guess what: Those frigid temps are on (temporary) hold, and so you can scream at winter "not quite yet!" Whether you're into a pig roast at Schlafly Bottleworks, the RFT's own Shuck Yeah! at Mollys in Soulard or the pedal-for-a-good-cause Cranksgiving event, this week is your chance to do something fun before you start hibernating.

Here are this week's ten top picks.

1. See a new show at the Pulitzer
As strange as it seems to us in the West, Japanese artists in the nineteenth century did not view their own drawings as individual works of art. They were "thinking on paper" or creating visual aids for wood carvers and printers who would create the actual work of art: the woodblock print. But despite their creators' misgivings about the artistry, drawings by master woodblock printers such as Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Katsushika Hokusai are indeed works of art. Living Proof: The Art of Japanese Draftsmanship in the 19th Century, the new exhibition at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (3716 Washington Boulevard;, collects more than 80 such "throwaway" drawings that capture the artists' work in their own hands, with corrections and alterations that demonstrate how they thought about and edited their projects "in camera." Living Proof is on display November 3 through March 3.

2. Catch a ballet at the Touhill
Saint Louis Ballet opens its new season with the romantic and haunting French ballet Giselle. The titular Giselle is a peasant girl who is wooed by Albrecht, a nobleman in disguise. Unfortunately, Albrecht is already betrothed to another, and Giselle has a weak heart. Albrecht isn't bothered by his fickleness until he's caught between the two women and Giselle dies from a broken heart. Matters only get worse for Albrecht when the vengeful Wilis appear. These vengeful spirits were once women, but all died from broken hearts, and they intend to punish Albrecht by dancing him to death. But can a pure love from beyond the grave save him? Saint Louis Ballet performs Giselle at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (November 3 to 5) at the Touhill Performing Arts Center (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road; on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. Tickets are $34 to $59.

3. See a show of portraits you first saw right here in this paper
For the past couple years, Theo Welling has had a weekly gig photographing and interviewing St. Louisans for the Riverfront Times (there's that full disclosure). Every week the paper publishes the photo, and accompanying commentary from his subjects, as "The Lede." Welling has spoken with short-order cooks, kids, acrobats, artists, yoga practitioners — pretty much anybody who is willing to share something about their life. As documents, they're interesting, but as a barometer of what St. Louis worries about, believes, celebrates and condemns, they're fascinating. Welling's best shots are familiar and startling, reminding us that for all the ways we're different, we're also recognizably the same. Theo Welling: Portraits, an exhibition of his favorite images, opens with a free public reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, November 3, at the Dark Room (3610 Grandel Square; The show remains up through December 31.

4. Eat pig at Schlafly
Let's get right to the important bit: Schlafly is going to roast eight whole hogs. The reason for this pork-stravaganza is the Full Moon Festival, which celebrates the harvest moon. The fest takes over the front lot at Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue; from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, November 4, with live music, bonfires, a variety of Schlafly's seasonal beers and, it bears repeating, eight whole hogs. Guests can purchase Porkin' Pig Platters with pulled pork sandwich and two sides for $12 or buy items a la carte. And to add a little spice to the day, a chili cook-off will be contested during the party by five local chefs, including returning champion Dale Beuchamp of Half & Half. Admission is free, but you'll need money to eat and drink.

Cirque de Soleil: Now on ice. - (C) MATT BEARD
Cirque de Soleil: Now on ice.

5. See Cirque du Soleil in St. Charles
For its new show Crystal, Cirque du Soleil abandons the circus ring to take to the ice. Acrobats and ice skaters come together to create the story of a young woman who escapes to the world of imagination. A hockey game unexpectedly incorporates ramps to allow the players to take to the air, and then changes again into a giant pinball machine. Crystal, the heroine of the tale, performs a ballroom dance with a partner suspended in the air while she skates below. Cirque du Soleil presents Crystal at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday (November 4 and 5) at the Family Arena (2002 Arena Parkway, St. Charles; Tickets are $25 to $160.

6. Enjoy an orchestra backing Jurassic Park
Say what you will about the film Jurassic Park (those dinos should have had feathers; Jeff Goldblum should have done a nude scene), but it is a crowd favorite, and John Williams' score for it has become so great a cultural touchstone that a wheezy version played on a melodica has become an internet favorite. The St. Louis Symphony does everyone a solid by performing the score live in sync with a screening of the film at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (November 3 to 5) at Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; Conductor Gemma New will lead the symphony for the evening. Leave your damn melodicas at home. Tickets are $43 to $80.

7. Cycle for a good cause
Somehow, we got to that point in the year when Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For far too many people, the impending holidays are a time of stress because they don't have enough to eat. But this Sunday, you can help them out. The twelfth annual Cranksgiving invites you to enjoy a bicycle ride of five, ten or 25 miles, during which you'll buy some non-perishable food to donate to Food Outreach. Last year's Cranksgiving riders brought back more than 18,000 items, the largest donation in the country. Registration starts at 8 a.m. Sunday, November 5, at the Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust Street; It's free to participate, but organizers ask that riders buy a minimum of $15 to $20 of food.

See photos by Thomas Struth, now at SLAM. - THOMAS STRUTH
See photos by Thomas Struth, now at SLAM.

8. Catch a new show at the art museum
We live in a high-tech world in which we can communicate instantly with someone on the other side of the globe — or even orbiting in space on the International Space Station — without really understanding how such technological marvels occur. We may as well be victims of Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." German artist Thomas Struth reveals how scientists and engineers perform their magic tricks simply by showing you where the magic happens. His monumental photographs reveal the research spaces and installations where science reshapes our world every day. Thirty-five of Struth's visually dense photographs make up the new exhibition Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics at Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; The show features robotics laboratories and aeronautical centers that appear to be sets from a big-budget sci-fi movie, but they're really just office spaces for some of the most intelligent people on earth. Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics will be on display November 5 through January 21. Admission is $6 to $12.

9. Celebrate Latin music at the Fox
Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine went through the charts like a bolt of lighting in the early '80s, but the Cuban-American band had a long road of weddings and bar mitzvahs before they could get a record deal. On Your Feet!, the musical based on Emilio and Gloria Estefan's life and music, tells the story from the beginning. It's a story of love, parental disapproval, the American music industry's prejudice against Spanish-language songs and the Estefans' belief in each other, backed by the propulsive sounds of Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. On Your Feet! lights up the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; Tuesday through Sunday (November 7 to 19). Tickets are $35 to $115.

10. See an American classic at the Chapel
John Steinbeck's characters George and Lennie have worked their way into the American consciousness. The two migrant farm workers have dreams of getting their own spread and living happily after, as pure a definition of the American dream as you're going to find. But Lennie is too strong for his own good, and unable to control himself because of his mental disability. George watches out for him, because Lennie is a magnet for trouble — and trouble is relentless when you're a migrant worker, then and now. SATE closes its "season of adaptation" with Steinbeck's own stage adaptation of Of Mice and Men. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (November 8 to 18) at the Chapel (6238 Alexander Drive; Tickets are $15 to $20.

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