This is the time of year when people trot out those tired, racist chestnuts about the Irish. The Irish love to drink and fight and drink green beer and then whip out their shillelaghs and fight some more. Rarely do you hear that other Irish stereotype, the one about the Irish and their love of language. Beckett, Joyce and even Steven Patrick Morrissey (English by birth, Irish by ancestry, mopey by choice) all prove the myth that the Irish have a remarkable facility for literature and a love of words. And those are just the men. Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill is a widely anthologized poet and one of the few who writes and recites in her ancestral tongue. Dhomhnaill has been cited as a prime mover in the revitalization of Irish poetry, and she reads from her work at 7:30 p.m. at the Millennium Student Center on the campus of UM-St. Louis (8001 Natural Bridge Road, 314-516-7299; free). And on St. Patrick's Day, to boot. What're the odds?
Thursday, March 18
Baseball season is so close you can almost smell that pine tar. If the anticipation is killing you, if the Grapefruit League games have driven you to a fever pitch and you absolutely must watch men cracking balls with bats in the company of other men, then consider Televised Cricket Between India and Pakistan at Gokul Restaurant (10633 Page Avenue, call 314-409-7874). Sure, cricket is no baseball, but it's a pretty good substitute. For Americans, the rules are near-incomprehensible, but the crowd that gathers for this game will be into it, and their enthusiasm shall be your guide. Cheer when they cheer, boo when they boo, and periodically shout, "That's a sticky wicket," and you should fit right in. Tickets are $6, and you can order them through www.sulekha.com.
Friday, March 19
It was either Betty Friedan or Gloria Steinem who theorized that if men could menstruate, they'd turn it into an Olympic sport. Ahem. An interesting hypothesis -- and one that stands up to the Chippendales Dancers cheat sheet, which lists numerous stats for the original boys of beefcake. Did you know that the 72 cast members will spend 78,624 hours in the gym this year and that they'll "wear out" 1,592 collars and 4,184 cuffs? (The mind reels at what they're doing that "wears out" collars.) Whose job is it to catalog these facts? Don't let the nerdy SABR-like nature of the behind-the-scenes stuff distract you. Chippendales is really about oiled and ripped men flexing their mega-tanned bodies while hordes of women shriek and whistle like randy ironworkers (and no, Randy Ironworker is not a Chippendale dancer). They steam up the Kastle (3207 Washington Avenue, call 314-534-1571 for ticket prices) at 8 p.m., serving as the perfect palate-cleanser following Thursday night's Playboy Club party (see "T&A and You").
Saturday, March 20
If you think you don't like DJs, you might be wrong. Perhaps you just need to check out the Litter Thugz at Lo (500 North 15th Street, 314-621-8930). Mike 2600 returns for this very special episode of Blossom...wait, it's a very special episode of Litter Thugz. Doug Surreal teams up with his old pal Mike, and then they get down to funkifiying the joint with Ian Gudmestead on drums, Barron Johnson on bass and DJ Cougar Shuttle on "8 bit decks," whatever that means. The 'Thugz uniquely warped sensibilities manifest in turntable hijinks that defy most conventions of form or style as they mix rap, hip-hop (we're told there's a difference between the two) and good ol' fashioned rock records to create mirth and merriment in the Age of Irony. It's performance art! It's rhythmic comedy! It's a party and you're all invited! Bring $7, show up around 9 p.m. and applaud when feeling fancy.
Sunday, March 21
The World of Wheels Car Show is in high gear today, if you'll pardon the pun. Even if you already stopped by America's Center (701 Convention Center Plaza) on Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20, to observe the custom cars, hot rods and Coors Light Twins (Elaine and Diane), you should make a return trip today. Not only will R. Lee Ermey (the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket and current star of Mail Call) sign autographs (with much shouting, we're sure) from noon to 5 p.m., but Ben Jones will be there from 1 to 4 p.m. as well. You might remember Jones as Cooter from the immortal Dukes of Hazzard. That's high-octane celebrity horsepower. Tickets are $5 to $13, and you can find more info and photos at www.worldofwheels.com.
Monday, March 22
Skeleton Key are all things to all people. They put out an album, Obtanium, on weirdmeister Mike Patton's Ipecac label, so they have the avant edge modern living requires. They write wickedly catchy songs made up of chicken-scratch guitar, funky-nuts bass and that off-kilter syncopated drumming made famous by Stewart Copeland. Then they throw a bunch of strange noise in there, just to mix things up even more. Songs skitter off in unpredictable directions, cycling through post-swamp-folk-electro-blues-devil-rock-house-dancehall without ever becoming any of those things. Just like the key after which they were named, the SK are pretty much a free pass to anything you want in music. They open the doors of perception at 9 p.m. at Off Broadway (3509 Lemp Avenue, 314-773-3363), and you can witness their findings for a mere $6 to $8, depending on whether you make up your mind now or wait until the day of the show.
Tuesday, March 23
Perhaps the last time you were at the Saint Louis Zoo, you noticed those milk crates in the chimpanzee area or that heavy-duty web/net/hammock thing in the bear pits, and you idly wondered why the animals didn't have better toys, like maybe a GameCube. Well, genius, for one thing, animals don't like video games. And also, zoos have experts who determine what's more fun for the animals, and a GameCube ain't on that list. The science of improving animal recreation time is known as "enrichment," and at 7:30 p.m. in the Living World in a lecture entitled "Enrichment: More Than Fun and Games," Ingrid Porton, chair of the zoo's enrichment committee, discusses what, exactly, that net means for those bears. Admission is $3 to $5, and reservations are required (call 314-768-5450). Maybe after attending, you'll know what to get your cats for Christmas this year.