There are almost six million experimental film festivals currently in operation or in the planning stages in America alone. Not really, but it feels that way sometimes. In this festival-rich nation of ours, it's easy to miss the really good ones as they're buried under wave after wave of the not-so-good ones. The Ann Arbor Film Festival is one of the better ones, both for its scope and for the attendant weirdness that comes from its origin in the ancestral home of America's greatest rock band, the Stooges. Any town that spawns something as shambolic and brilliantly stupid as the Stooges probably has a better handle on experimental filmmaking than your average burg.
You can judge for yourself Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26 at Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue, 314-968-7487, $5-$6/night) as the Webster Film Series welcomes the road-show version of the AAFF. There will be a different program of nine shorts each night, so make two trips if you're a completist. Program 1 includes Tamara Tracz's "Bitter," which confirms that, yes, you are both hated and misunderstood by the rest of the world, and Michael Sandoval's The Good Son (pictured), a gritty documentary about an angry young man. Highlights of Program 2 are Rick Raxlen's "Rude Roll," which is made from the "How to Dance Ska" photos on the backs of record sleeves and simple computer animation, coupled with a dope, King Tubby-type dub soundtrack; and "U," a four-minute short from Swiss filmmaker Yuri A that explores the mysteries (and vagaries) of the humble fart. There's that Stooges gene floating up to the top of the pool! -- Paul Friswold
That's No Girl in the Cake
It's Bob Cassilly!
The centerpiece of any birthday party is the cake, and that's never been more true than for the shindig they're hosting at the City Museum Saturday. The sixth anniversary of one of St. Louis' oddest and most wow-inducing recreational spots means a big party, featuring a huge, multilevel cake that's a replica of the building.
The cake, created by pastry chef Kathy Thomson, will purportedly include scaled-down versions of the various cranes and bridges just outside the museum, and even that school bus that seems to teeter from the edge of the roof. We're hoping this inspiring confection also depicts the dragon fence, the airplanes and tree houses of MonstroCity, the log cabin bar and the massive spiral slides that head honcho Bob Cassilly is currently building in an atrium.
The birthday party also includes storytellers, a fortune teller and craft activities (701 North 15th Street, $5-$7.50, 314-231-CITY, www.citymuseum.org). -- Byron Kerman
The Ultimate Taste
The Originals recipe
You've canvassed every "Taste Of" neighborhood food fest you can find in St. Louis. What next? Start supping with the big boys at St. Louis Originals. The newly formed consortium of independently owned area restaurants holds its debut event at Forest Park's World's Fair Pavilion, and it'll be a bounteous cornucopia, a veritable smorgasbord and every other corny (but apt) food cliché known to man. Head chefs from 25 member restaurants -- including Tony's, Harvest, Café Balaban and Companion Bakehouse -- will serve from a grand buffet, a raw bar, a cheese table and a dessert table.
"Rather than just serving their individual best-sellers, all the chefs involved got together to create an original, collaborative menu," says SLO rep Susan Ryan. "Plus, they will all be on the floor, talking with and getting to know their customers."
Tickets cost $100 per person and are available at all member restaurants. For more info, visit www.stlouisoriginals.com. -- Rose Martelli
German. Solo. Violin. Improvisation. If that doesn't pique your interest, you're not as adventurous as your Friendster profile claims you are. Gunda Gottschalk, the violinist in question, explores the tonal range of the instrument in brusque and beautiful ways. In her classically trained hands, the violin whispers and shrieks and emits strangely pleasing squeaking sounds, similar to when you drag an inflated balloon across your face (no, really, it sounds pretty cool), or ethereal, delicate cascades of almost inaudible howls. She performs tonight at 8 p.m. at the Des Lee Gallery (1627 Washington Avenue, in the University Lofts Building; 314-995-4963), thanks to the New Music Circle. Tickets are $6-$12. -- Paul Friswold
Makin' a mess is fun, and pumpkin carving is one of the best messes you can make. You have to dig out all that slimy pulp, and seeds end up everywhere, but when it's all over you have a (hopefully) cool jack-o'-lantern. The only drawback is cleaning up. But this year the mess is worth it, because you may just clean up at the Radisson Hotel's pumpkin-carving contest (5 p.m., 200 North Fourth Street, 314-621-8200). The event includes live music, drink specials and a German appetizer buffet, and the contest winner receives a Christmas party at the hotel with eats and drinks for 25 friends. -- Guy Gray