When Puppets Go Bad
Other puppets redeem them
The Dark Crystal, though a Jim Henson film, is about as far from a cheerful, kid-friendly musical as you can get. Well, maybe not that far -- it's still a kid's movie -- but the first all-puppet, no-human film Henson created is an epic fantasy with decidedly dark tones. How dark? Well, the Skeksis (creatures as hideous as the name implies) have annihilated all but one of the peaceful Gelflings. You see, according to prophecy, a Gelfling will repair the titular crystal and defeat the Skeksis after 1,000 years of darkness...anyway, it's a visually stunning film, and it's playing at Beatnik Bob's Café in the City Museum (701 North 15th Street) as part of Webster University's Cinema in the City series. Admission is $5; call 314-968-7487 for details. -- Mark Dischinger
Borscht & Natasha
From Russia with sour cream
It's hard to think of religion as a culinary influence, but the Eastern Orthodox Church has had as much of an effect on Russia's cuisine as anything else. Historically, the Church only allowed the Spartan Lenten foods (such as fish and vegetables) for the majority of the year. This may be why foods such as borscht (a sour cream and beet soup) and kasha (a grain porridge which has been adapted into a hippie breakfast cereal over here) seem to be better represented than lush desserts like pashka or richer entrées like drachenas.
These hearty, soothing dishes are perfectly suited for cooler weather, so it's fitting that the Russian Food Fair takes place just as fall has set into place. It's too late for the heat of summer, but just in time to give you recipe ideas for winter (hint: stock up on sour cream). And appropriately enough, the Food Fair takes place at St. Michael's Orthodox Church at 1901 Ann Avenue, Friday and Saturday, October 4 and 5 (free admission, 314-776-4205). -- Niles Baranowski
The stately, century-old homes along leafy Flora Place near Tower Grove Park are works of art in themselves. This Saturday and Sunday, they provide a sympathetic setting for more than 130 artists at the annual Historic Shaw Art Fair. The popular juried exhibition also offers children's activities, food and live music. (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, October 4 and 5; $4/both days; kids fourteen and younger free with adult; more at www.shawartfair.com or 314-771-3101). -- Jason Toon