Oh, baseball -- steroids? This should be the happiest time of the year, these spring-training days that lead inevitably to Opening Day. Instead, fans bicker and stew about this chemical blight on our beloved game. Maybe a little venting would do us all good. The inaugural Hot Stove League at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org) tackles the subject of 'roids, providing a necessary platform for the beleaguered fan to share feelings. Host Jay Randolph is joined by Gateway Grizzlies owner Rich Sauget, KFNS (590 AM)'s John Marecek and Frontier League commissioner Bill Lee for the free 7 p.m. discussion on "The Steroid Controversy," and audience participation is welcome. Make your voice heard. We're Clear -- No Cream!
Thursday, March 3
Eric Jerome Dickey's hugely successful novel Friends and Lovers comes to the Fox stage for six shows in four days. Starring Miguel Núez (of Juwanna Man fame), Monica Calhoun and Leon, this raucous story of love, revenge and redemption follows the exploits of Shelby and Debra, two women who've sworn off men (we've been there). But then Debra meets Leonard, and to balance out third-wheel Shelby, Leonard recruits his friend Tyrel to act as a wingman. This time-honored plan backfires, but only because Leonard and Shelby get along a little too well, which soon ratchets up the pressure on Leonard and Debra's burgeoning relationship. Fireworks, both physical and emotional, ensue. Friends and Lovers opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1111; check www.fabulousfox.com for other times), and tickets are $29.50 to $37.50.
Friday, March 4
There's nothing more upsetting than getting to your planned destination after a long flight, only to find out that your luggage didn't make it. OK, there's at least one thing that's worse: being a kid and having someone (like a police officer) take you from your home for your protection and drop you off at a foster home without any of your belongings, your proverbial (or real) security blankets. Project Backpack aims to help these uprooted kids adjust to their new surroundings by providing them with gender- and age-appropriate backpacks filled with all kinds of necessities and goodies. You can help Project Backpack and the group's mission by attending an upcoming happy-hour fundraiser hosted by Keystone of St. Louis (www.keystoneofstlouis.org) at 609's U Lounge (609 Eastgate Avenue; 314-721-9168). From 6 to 10 p.m. and for $25 to $30, you can drink all you want, snack a little and meet Keystone's community-conscious young members. And who knows? Maybe your generosity will get you a date for Saturday night.
Saturday, March 5
If you have a date for tonight, why not go to the Lemp Mansion Restaurant and Inn (3322 DeMenil Place; www.lempmansion .com) for Comedy Time Productions' dinner theater performance of Payoff in Paradise! Aloha Means Goodbye! Think about it: For a flat price ($43.95 per person), you and your date get to eat a coursed dinner (which includes cheddar-sour cream potato casserole! And prime rib!), drink wine and enjoy a mysterious Hawaiian-themed show -- sounds like a good date to us! This performance starts at 7 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night and continues for a couple more months (in case you don't have that date lined up yet). But if Friday night did, in fact, pan out, call the restaurant at 314-664-8024 for reservations. And happy dating -- maybe you'll get lei-ed!
Sunday, March 6
To love life is to love soup more than life itself -- because without soup, there would be no life. So just how can you not love soup, Mr. Night? It's perfect: All of the food groups can be enjoyed in just one bowl, except for the dessert food group. (Oh wait, that's covered with chocolate fondue --not exactly a soup, but definitely soup-like.) Anyway, we ask you, Mr. Night, do you like chewing a lot? Because a hearty stew can fulfill that need to chomp. Maybe the bowl/spoon situation is upsetting for you, kind sir? Put soup in a cup: problem solved. Or perhaps Oh-Ye-Dark-One just hasn't had the right soup yet? And for that, ye should be the first in line at the second annual Chick Soup for the Venus Soul, a soupy fundraiser today (from 2 to 4 p.m.) for Venus Envy, which is coming up next month. For a minimum donation of $25, you can try homemade soups at the historic home of a Venus Envy board member (4152 Castleman Avenue; call 314-865-0181 to RSVP), and maybe, just maybe, after this, an afternoon of souping, Mr. Night, even the likes of you will turn from the dark side and baptize yourself in soup's goodness. We can only hope.
Monday, March 7
If you ever thought you were the right person to be President of the United States of America, you might want to take a look at the photography of Chris Usher. The one-time Webster Groves resident is a freelance photojournalist who has had 24-hour access to the White House and all presidential events for the past seven years. Usher's seen the public face of the president and the quiet, less-public side of America's Hombre Numero Uno thanks to this access, and this photographer has 20,000 images to prove it. Only 50 of his best shots are on display in the exhibit Behind the Velvet Rope at the Webster University May Photography Gallery (8300 Big Bend Boulevard; 314-961-2660, extension 7673) through March 25, and they're all dandies. Maybe witnessing the toll taken by the weight of the job on our current prez will make you reconsider that childhood dream. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, and admission is free.
Tuesday, March 8
To date, Mr. Night has squandered ten years and countless thousands of dollars trying to break into the comic-book business as a writer. What does he have to show for it? Former roommates Mike Huddleston and Jim Mahfood now work in the industry full time as pencillers and sleep on big bags of cash money, while Mr. Night cries himself to sleep on a mattress stuffed with rejection notices. Mr. Night should have been an artist -- stupid, useless verbal skills! But tonight, perhaps, he sleeps peacefully. Star Clipper Comics (6392 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-725-9110) hosts a free DIY Comics Workshop with Shawn Granton at 6 p.m. that instructs neophytes in the various techniques for creating and assembling one's own comic books. Imagine -- with no middleman or co-creators, all the money that comes in from the sale of Colossal Deuce, Edwardian Word-Nerd Casanova goes straight into Mr. Night's pocket! Take that, Huddleston and Mahfood! Who needs you and your immense talents?