Wednesdays can be tough to get through, especially when you're still sitting at your desk typing while everyone else is at home snuggled in their beds watching Law & Order. But at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org), every Wednesday is like Carnaval. Well, not every Wednesday exactly, but Wednesday, November 9, and Wednesday, November 16, will be very Carnaval, trust us. These free parties, which celebrate all things fête-tastic about Hispanic culture, run from 6 to 8 p.m., and this week you get to enjoy Mama Lisa's dancing, along with lectures and live music. Next week, Carmen Dence gets her dence, er, dance on. So go, learn and party and still make it home in time to see your program.
Thursday, November 10
Paul Lehrman likes a challenge. The composer picked up the gauntlet thrown down by fellow composer George Antheil 75 years earlier, successfully conceiving a way to perform Antheil's unplayable soundtrack for the Dadaist film Ballet Mecanique. Antheil's score required sixteen player pianos, airplane propellers, xylophones, bells and a siren all synchronized with each other and with the actions of the dancing mechanical objects in Fernand Leger's film. Through MIDI technology and musical skill, Lehrman pulled it off, and the resulting film and its difficult score have been universally hailed for their surreal beauty and brutal modernism. Lehrman oversees a screening of Ballet Mecanique (with the proper soundtrack) and Bad Boy Made Good, Ron Frank's documentary about Lehrman's quest to finish what Antheil started, at 8 p.m. at Moore Auditorium on Webster University's campus (470 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-968-7487). Tickets are $5 to $6.
Friday, November 11
In the grim and storied history of maritime disasters, one catastrophe looms above all others for its tragic romance: Poisedon Adventure. OK, it's fictional, but Gene Hackman is brilliant. No, the real-life mother of all sea-sadness is the tale of the Titanic. Film, "king of the world," love story, Billy Zane, etc., etc. But behind James Cameron's epic film are the facts about the doomed vessel and what happened to it in the North Atlantic nearly a century ago. Those facts, both scientific and human, are the centerpiece of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit, which opens at the Saint Louis Science Center (5050 Oakland Avenue; 314-289-4400 or www.slsc.org) today. With more than 300 items salvaged from the briny deep and excellent re-creations of the Titanic's cabins and Grand Staircase for you to explore, this is a much more comprehensive exhibit than the one that visited the Science Center four years ago. This one even has an iceberg you can touch. That's right, touch the iceberg. Just don't lick it. Admission is $5 to $12, and sadly, there is no Celine Dion Gallery.
Saturday, November 12
No matter what time of year it is, people are always up for a good Dracula story. The Monroe Actors Stage Company knows this, which is why it's staging The Passion of Dracula now, even though we're past Halloween. (And face it: You were too busy eating candy to give Dracula all the attention he deserved during his special time of year.) Learn all about the fanged creature's lusty zeal Friday through Sunday (November 11 through 20) via special effects, gunfire, flashing lights and actors, of course (the real Dracula won't be there, we don't think). The shows are held at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the historic Capitol Theatre in Waterloo, Illinois (202 South Main Street). Tickets cost $8 and are available by calling 618-939-7469. For more information about the company or the performance, visit www.masctheatre.org.
Sunday, November 13
They don't make 'em like Ed McMahon anymore. Before McMahon, sidekicks were afterthoughts, mere one-name stiffs overshadowed by the stars they supported (Robin; Tonto; Goose those names ring any bells?). But McMahon's booming laugh and gift for repeating a flat set-up line until it exasperated his partner, Johnny Carson, made sidekicks as necessary for talk-show success as the weird band leader and the lame monologue. How good was McMahon? He re-created the role and killed it you don't see sidekicks on talk shows anymore, do you? No following his act. McMahon appears live and in person at Books-A-Million at St. Louis Mills Mall (5555 St. Louis Mills Boulevard, Hazelwood; 314-227-5263) at 1 p.m. to sign copies of Here's Johnny!, his memoir of his long and successful partnership with Carson. Admission is free.
Monday, November 14
Can you go back out to St. Louis Mills (5555 St. Louis Mills Boulevard, Hazelwood; 314-227-5555 or www.stlouismills .com) today? Can you bring a canned good? You should. And you should also check out all the Canstruction going on out there. And before you go and write a letter to the editor about the typo, know this: The canstruction is actually canned goods canstructed into various designs, such as houses and a baseball stadium. The canned-food drive and canstructions remain through Thursday, November 17, so you have plenty of time to get your can up to the Mills to donate so get, not just because you can, but because you want to help out those who need hunger relief.
Tuesday, November 15
If you've only ever seen a turkey with a thermometer in it, you should attend the National Wildlife Turkey Federation Turkey Release '05 at the Weldon Springs Conservation area (Highway 94, three miles south of US 40/64, Weldon Springs; 800-843-6983 or www.nwtf.org). Several live, healthy, wild turkeys are released back into nature at 10 a.m. to celebrate the successful conservation of the wily bird. This might be considered a strange time of year to think about saving turkeys; a certain fast-approaching holiday is all about devouring turkeys, not saving them. But if no one had bothered to save the turkey from the danger of extinction, what would we eat on Thanksgiving? More important, what would we eat in the days after Thanksgiving? When you gnaw on a drumstick this year, be thankful to the wildlife conservators.