If cartoons have taught us anything, it's that penguins actually are wearing tuxedos, they're always cold, they will step on their own mothers to get a fresh smelt and they're inherently funny. It turns out most of what we think we know about these dapper Dons of the Antarctic is untrue: Penguins come in color schemes other than black and white, they're quite comfortable in their natural environment, they're always polite to their mothers and a handful of penguins are more serious than Søren Kierkegaard on sedatives.
These common misconceptions shall fall by the wayside now that the St. Louis Zoo's Puffin and Penguin Coast exhibit is open. Learn the differences between Humboldts, gentoos, rockhoppers and puffins; laugh at their Chaplinesque walk; and love these so-called "parrots of the sea." Wait, does that mean some of them can talk? There's only one way to find out. The exhibit opens at 3 p.m. Friday; call 314-781-0900 for more info. -- Paul Friswold
Paging Dr. Beaumont
Kids learn about gore and more
What young man doesn't enjoy a little gore? Boys are fascinated with grisly and gross topics that make moms shudder and sisters squeal. The Prairie Commons Branch of the St. Louis County Library (915 Utz Lane) has latched onto that love, and as part of the statewide Project ReadMOre literacy campaign, they're presenting an educational program focusing on the gory medical practices of the Civil War. A costumed presenter will discuss amputations, bone saws, bullet-biting and technological advances made during the War Between the States. The free program begins at 7 p.m. Call 314-895-1023 for details. -- Paul Friswold
"Candy, candy, candy, I can't let you go," Iggy Pop once sang, and, really, none of us can. The kids need the Pixie Stix, the students love the Snickers and Mama had better get her chocolate. At the new Candy Unwrapped exhibit, under the St. Louis Science Center's Exploradome (5050 Oakland Avenue, 314-289-4444, $3-$4, www.slsc. org), you can jump on a huge interactive tongue and learn about taste buds, take the smell challenge and the "jellybean test," taste supersour candy and watch a video of your facial reaction, learn about edible insects and explore the science of sweets. Other materials promise an answer to the age-old question: Is chocolate really an aphrodisiac? (What about chocolate syrup, whipped cream and 40 ounces of malt liquor?) Come back after the May 24 opening for follow-up events with all sorts of candy giveaways. Tell 'em Mr. Wonka sent ya. -- Byron Kerman