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Benevolent Boozing

Givin' mad hops to Lift for Life

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SAT 5/17

Ever think about shooting into the city some evening and watching some kids "toss the iron around" at a weightlifting gym? You can give 'em that esteem boost you had when Mom and Dad took in one of your ball games.

If not, and your joy, these days, means escaping the American nightmare by way of the nearest musty saloon or flesh palace, think about this: Your problem drinking could actually help an underprivileged, underdeveloped child. Call it Socially Conscious Ale Tasting, or SCAT, whereby every crinkled dollar you obliviously exchange for a frosty, mind-numbing glass of liquid ecstasy could help the Lift for Life Gym (314-436-2337, -- a place where city kids can get away from bad temptation, bulk up and take names.

Why not take your new philosophy for a spin at the Eighth Annual St. Louis MicroFest and Homebrew Competition (noon-6 p.m.; Upper Muny Parking Lot, Forest Park), where more than 50 craft brews and great food, plus live music by Farshid Etniko (above) will be available for sampling?

You can even enter your own brew in the St. Louis Brews (314-877-7800 or homebrew contest ($5 and two samples, which must be turned in by May 16).

"We have some very good home brewers here in St. Louis," boasts Brews' chief brewmeister, John Sterling. "It's done in their basements or kitchens, and [the beer] typically tastes stronger and has a lot more flavor." Admission to MicroFest is $20 on Saturday, $17 for tickets purchased before Thursday, May 15. -- Tom R. Arterburn

Three-Ring Cinema

THUR 5/15

Why go to the movies when you can experience the joys of film? Mad Art (2727 South 12th Street) screens its "Building Circus" series tonight, with 16mm films about Alexander Calder's working toy circus, the unusual home of John Ringling (of the "Ringling Bros." Ringlings) and the wit and whimsy of Frank Lloyd Wright. (He represents the "building" portion of the title, although the idea of a Wright-designed circus tent is delicious: "Place the waterfall there, opposite the clown car.") You get a cash bar, concessions for sale and no interminable sneak previews. And admission is free! Ha! Take that, X-Men 2: Electric Mutant Boogaloo, or whatever your name is. The show starts at 8 p.m., and you can dial 314-771-8230 for more details. -- Paul Friswold

Powell Howl

SAT 5/17

A St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert this week gives you three extra-strong reasons to attend. First, it's a KFUO-FM Classical Favorites concert, featuring such tunes as Dvorak's "New World" Symphony; excerpts from Handel's Water Music and Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake; and Rossini's Overture to William Tell (better known as the theme from The Lone Ranger), all conducted by David Amado. Second, up-and-coming sixteen-year-old stud violinist Gareth Johnson (right) leads a performance of Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D. "Like Joshua Bell, he [Johnson] dominates the stage," gushed a New York Times writer recently. Finally, the ticket price makes us want to sing an aria: five bucks (7:30 p.m., Powell Hall, 718 North Grand Boulevard, 314-534-1700, -- Byron Kerman

To the Max

FRI 5/16

If you're concerned with the proliferation of maximum-security prisons and have a penchant for connecting some pretty surreal dots, you might want to check out "Super-Max," featured in the Men and Animals Film Tour, a grab bag of experimental shorts by U. City native Jim Finn and Dean Rank. Finn favors the juxtaposition of disparate sounds and images, such as Ronald Reagan's inauguration coupled with sci-fi dialogue, or gerbils crawling in front of Golden Age Hollywood films. Rank's approach is also fragmentary, but it's more effective; consider "Portraits," a series of faux-candid vignettes that presents images of men at work and play. The tour makes its St. Louis appearance at 8 p.m. at the Commonspace (615 North Grand Boulevard, 314-531-1707, $5). -- Guy Gray

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