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So you've decided to take the train to Grandma's -- the dining-car snacks have to be better than drive-through food. With your bags packed, you arrive at the station in time to hear the conductor shout "All aboard!" As the train pulls away from the platform, you settle into your window seat. An old-fashioned saloon speeds past -- funny, you don't remember there being a bar in this area. And then you hear the sirens -- must be a car accident up ahead. Nope, it looks like a recently extinguished forest fire. Kinda weird -- that must be why the sky is so dark. But then the thunder rolls. The storm seems to be practically on top of the train, and through the raindrops you can just make out the shape of a funnel cloud. Holy smokes! Fortunately, just as suddenly as the storm came up, the train pulls out of the downpour, and you can see blue skies for miles.

What a harrowing day -- on a model train. Scenes like this just begin to describe all the settings model-train enthusiasts create. While only kids can ride one of the trains at the "World's Greatest Hobby on Tour" train show at America's Center (Broadway and Washington Avenue), there's plenty for you to look at, operate and buy. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, January 8, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, January 9. Adult admission is $9; kids sixteen and younger get in free. Visit or call 630-279-5094 for more information. -- Alison Sieloff

Reality Bites
But Rent is affordable

Imagine paying only $20 to $58 for rent. You would have so much money left over for chocolate-covered pretzels, shoes and wine (all the things that make ladies happy). What if we told you that this magic was possible? That rent for you could be so affordable? Just head down to the Fox Theatre box office (527 North Grand Boulevard) or any MetroTix outlet (314-534-1111 or, and super-cheap Rent can be yours. Of course, we mean tickets for Rent, the musical. Catch the show (and its great songs) during a limited engagement at the Fox at 8 p.m. on Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, or 2 p.m. on Sunday (January 7 through 9). And don't worry: You'll have plenty of time to figure out how to pay for your actual rent after the show. -- Alison Sieloff

Have Fungo
Will travel

SUN 1/9

OK, so the holidays have kept you busy, and you haven't had the time to get over to the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or for the Baseball as America exhibit. Make the time, because, well, this is St. Louis: We have a reputation to uphold as the nation's greatest baseball town. Oh, and because former Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark is hanging out between 2 and 3:30 p.m., talking baseball and reminiscing about his greatest hits. The kids can work on curveball mechanics and swing fundamentals at the pitching booth and indoor batting cage (both in the children's area, open from noon to 4 p.m.), and all of it is free, although touring the exhibit itself costs $4 to $8. Heck, Fredbird is even flying up from Jupiter to spend a little time shaking hands (wings?) with his legion of fans. He'll probably eat a head or two while he's here. Can you afford to miss all that? No, of course not. -- Paul Friswold

Makeup Your Mind

Around the RFT offices, when makeup is worn, it is applied in the True Black Metal style -- i.e., as corpse paint. (It explains so much, doesn't it?) But this year we're going for a new look. Meet us at the TBN Booth (#902) at the Charter Get Hooked on Health Expo (America's Center, Broadway and Washington Avenue) on Saturday and Sunday (January 8 and 9). Makeup artist to the stars Peter Lamas demonstrates some chic techniques for slathering on the war paint. Admission is free, and you can check out for more info. -- Paul Friswold

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