Mr. Night will walk a mile in a snowstorm to see an interesting collection of action figures; it's coded into his nerdly DNA. Fortunately, the Black History and Life in Toys exhibit at the Center for the Humanities Library in McMillan Hall (on the campus of Washington University, Forsyth and Skinker boulevards; 314-935-5576) is within walking distance of the office. The center has assembled an interesting mix of African-American toys, including a Martha Washington figure (the hero of Frank Miller's Give Me Liberty comic book, not the first First Lady), a Serena Williams figure and a General Colin Powell inaction figure (he's more of a statuette, really, but it doesn't diminish his integrity). The free display is up through the end of the month, so you still have time to check it out.
Thursday, February 24
When you think of chemistry and chemists, you only imagine exploding beakers and mad scientists. Well, you know what? All that smoky dry ice and crazy hair is just a cruel stereotype. How can you hold all of that cartoonish silliness against these nice, smart people who have feelings, too? (And more important, how can you forget that some chemists fit into that sexy geek-chic stereotype?) To make amends, hear the president of the American Chemical Society, Bill Carroll, and others talk about matters "On the Future of Chemistry and the Future of the Chemistry Profession" at 8 p.m. (following a 7 p.m. reception) at the Center of Clayton (50 Gay Avenue, Clayton; 314-290-8500). This is a roundtable discussion that explores such topics as "Do chemists have an independent identity?" We say yes, but you'll have to find out for yourselves. We bet that your presence, since you are a welcome member of the general public, will help relieve the chemists' fears that the public (you) "neither understands nor appreciates chemistry." It's time to share the love! Call 314-993-2870 to reserve a spot.
Friday, February 25
Let's talk about the oval, the egg-shape, the oblong circle, the big "O." Hardly anyone truly gives this shape its just deserts in the art world -- however, painters are always giving props to the rectangle, the circle and, of course, Mr. Perfect, the square. But the William Shearburn Gallery (4735 McPherson Avenue; 314-367-8020 or www.shearburngallery.com) knows how cool the oval is: That's why the gallery is hosting an exhibit of recent work by artist Warren Rosser. This show, entitled Hide and Seek, flaunts Rosser's love of ovals. He loves them so much that his pieces are peppered with the special shape, often in many layers and in muted colors (at least in his newest works). Talk about the oval getting its just desserts! Give some props to the shape and the show yourself -- the exhibit opens today and remains on view through April 2.
Saturday, February 26
The Webster Film Series delivers a one-two punch of the ridiculous and the sublime with its Kung Fu Double Feature at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (February 25 and 26). First up is Master of the Flying Guillotine, a sensitive love story about a young man and his beautiful concubine -- no, not really. It has "flying guillotine" in the title. This is balls-out action from the get-go. Heads are lopped, socky is chopped, and the blood never stops in this cult favorite. Exult in its insanity. Feature two is Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon, which is to the kung-fu genre what Smokey and the Bandit is to the car picture, i.e., a hard, lean, star-studded gem of a film. When Bruce Lee and John Kelly (the original Badazz Mofro) show up in the same movie, you are bordering paradise, cinematically speaking. Tickets for this feast of fisticuffs and footwork are $5 to $6, and the action explodes off the screen at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487).
Sunday, February 27
Last year's Richie Rich Book Festival was only a middling success; the guest of honor never showed, claiming through a spokesperson that he is "fictitious." Hmph. This tragedy will be averted at the Lindbergh School District's Reeve Lindbergh Book and Poetry Festival, because the real Reeve Lindbergh (accomplished author and daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh) has graciously agreed to attend. Joining Ms. Lindbergh are a host of local authors and illustrators. From 1:30 to 5 p.m. at Lindbergh High School (4900 South Lindbergh Boulevard; 314-729-2410), you can meet Constance Levy, Shelley Pearson, Rob Raines and Pam Vaccaro, and also enjoy facepainting, puppets and a student-run coffeehouse complete with poetry readings. This celebration of literacy and Lindbergh(s) is free, so bring the kids.
Monday, February 28
Art Kane's iconic photograph A Great Day in Harlem is celebrated for its subject (57 of the greatest performers the jazz world had in 1958) and for its historical merit; if that picture could talk, what would it say? The picture may remain silent, but the surviving subjects of the photo gathered to reminisce about how and why Kane was able to get the shot in Jean Bach's documentary, A Great Day in Harlem. Art Blakey, Milt Jackson and Quincy Jones, among others, share their memories in this 60-minute film, which screens after a benefit performance by the Webster University School of Music entitled "Bebop Pastels: Music of Todd Dameron & the Miles Davis Birth of the Cool Nonet." Live jazz and a look back at the legends of the art? That's a good Monday night. The concert begins at 7 p.m. at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487), and the evening costs a cool $5 to $10.
Tuesday, February 1
You seem to be fishing for lots of things these days: compliments, promotions, clean clothes in that mess you call an apartment. Well, now you can finally start fishing for trout. We know you've endured a long November-through-February without any of these fish, so take off work, wake up earlier than you normally would on a Tuesday (or any day for that matter), and again enjoy trout season and these smelly water-dwellers. Get to Bennett Spring State Park (26250 Highway 64A, Lebanon, Missouri; 417-532-4338) or Montauk State Park (21 miles southwest of Salem, Missouri, on Highway 119; 573-548-2201) at 6:30 a.m. (so you need to leave your house around 3:30 a.m. to be there on time, give or take) to buy your trout tag and start fishing. Hopefully, the weather will be on your side -- but if not, isn't a day off work worth it no matter what? The answer: Yes. Visit www.mostateparks.com for more information.