Friday, March 18
Painter Doug Argue of Alameda, California, has an obsession with chickens that would make even Gary Larson cringe. For the past couple of years, he has painted nothing but enormous, neck-up portraits of chickens -- gnarly, phallic, meaty birds staring out through uneven black eyes -- set against rainbow-colored, surrealist backgrounds. Some of the peckers have thought bubbles; most do not. Frankly, we're worried about Doug. Sure, he's got the weird-chicken thing down, but if he keeps producing these nightmarish poultry specimens in such quantities, by the time he hits 70 the only thought running through his unconscious mind will be bok, bok, bok. Less disturbing but no less eye-catching are the bejeweled, ceramic, figurinelike sculptures of Judy Onofrio, whose whimsical creations are revealed alongside Argue's feathered friends tonight from 7 to 9 at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, 2004 Baltimore, 816-221-2626.
Saturday, March 19
If you're a fan of Newlyweds, you already know all about champagne from watching the season premiere, in which Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson spend the day at a Napa Valley winery. Jessica doesn't believe Nick when he says that our favorite drink is called sparkling wine if it's from anywhere other than Champagne, France. Then she gets whiny. And he gets annoyed. It's pretty much just like every other episode. But if you missed it, catch up at tonight's Introduction to Champagne benefit for the Kansas City Art Club (1129 West 41st Street) from 6 to 8 p.m., where samplings include French, Spanish and Australian bubbly and experts offer instruction on how to buy, store and order sparkling wine. Admission is $35, and reservations are required; call 816-235-1448.
Sunday, March 20
When we first heard that Norman Greer would be giving a speech titled "Why I Was Thrown Out of Toastmasters," we assumed it was because Greer, whom we pegged for a humanoid slice of whole wheat, had become crispy and was ejected with a ding. Turns out that Toastmasters (the s differentiates it from the appliance company) is an 80-year-old organization dedicated to helping its members become good public speakers. Was Greer not a good speaker? If so, why would anyone attend his lecture? We think there's something else going on here, something invidious and conspiratorial -- after all, Greer is speaking as a guest of those wily agnostics in the Community of Reason. Could it be that the Toastmasters made Greer participate in public prayer or say "under God" in the pledge or stump on banning stem-cell research? We'll never know unless we sneak into the back of the Library at the Hogan Preparatory Academy, 1221 East Meyer Boulevard, today at 1 p.m. Call 816-561-1866.
Monday, March 21
We confess: We're so lazy that we've never given blood. Today, however, we've decided to make a noble change in our lives. As we read on www.kcredcross.org, "sooner or later, virtually all of us may have a need for blood." So as part of Red Cross Month, sometime today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. we'll settle into one of those comfy metal folding chairs and wait our turn to save someone's life. And hope we don't pass out. The blood drive takes place at the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Red Cross (211 West Armour); call 816-931-8400 for details.
Tuesday, March 22
There's a grand tradition of poets who prefer initials to first names -- T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, W.S. Merwin, E.E. Cummings and, of course, Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille. B.H. Fairchild belongs among their ranks. Born in Houston and raised on the plains of Texas, Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas, Fairchild has been hailed as one of the few living poets who writes about the working class (in a non-Marxist way, that is), and it doesn't hurt that he looks like the late Richard Farnsworth. Fairchild reads from his books, which have kick-ass titles such as The Art of the Lathe and Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest (Mars Volta, take note), tonight at 7:30 at Unity Temple on the Plaza (707 West 47th Street) to kick off a weeklong writing residency at UMKC. Call 816-235-1576.
Wednesday, March 23
Some people adapt the cliché "feed a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime" for their rhapsodies on how to get the nation's bottom feeders off welfare. We, however, think the expression is a simple instruction to get your ass to a cooking class. But instead of crappy crappie, the menu includes fettuccine amatriciana (a marinara-based dish with bacon and crushed red pepper), pollo piccata a la Siciliano (a Sicilian-style chicken dish) and zabaglione con fragole (Italian marsala custard with strawberries). And instead of Jesus, we have chef Silverio Pagano -- and he sings. The instructive dinner meets from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Culinary Center of Kansas City (7917 Foster in Overland Park) and costs $45. Call 913-341-4455 to reserve a space.