pick of the week: It's last call, with Monday being your last chance to partake in several summer favorites. Let's start at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, where Sparky, the much-beloved sea lion that has become a Twin Cities institution, is wrapping the 61st year of the Sparky Show. In addition to her regular 11:30 a.m. performance, Sparky has added an extra 3 p.m. gig. The conservatory also is closing its Blooming Butterflies exhibit for the season.
Meanwhile, the summer concert series at the Lake Harriet Band Shell is wrapping up with a doubleheader of tribute bands. The Belfast Cowboys (Van Morrison) take the stage at 5:30 p.m., followed at 7:30 p.m. by "Free Fallin' " (Tom Petty).
And let's not forget that it's also the last day for that little gathering in Falcon Heights, where they serve everything under the sun on a stick.
pit stop: The Cannonball Run, the annual cross-country car rally made famous by the 1981 Burt Reynolds movie, is coming through Minnesota this year, with an overnight layover scheduled for downtown St. Paul. The ultra-fancy cars — an estimated $5 million worth, in all — will be on display from 5 to 8 p.m., Wednesday at Rice Park. The cars even come with their own celebrities — Coco and Ice-T — who will make an appearance at the park. There's no admission charge; food and beverages will be available for sale.
life hack: In a hurry to charge your cellphone? Put it on "airplane mode" before you plug it in. It will need less energy to operate, which means more juice for the battery.
Day by day: Thursday is national Grandma Moses Day, which was first celebrated on Sept. 7, 1960, in honor of the 100th birthday of the legendary painter, whose real name was Anna Mary Robertson Moses. (And, yes, she really was a grandmother, 11 times over, when she died in 1961.)
Recommended reading: You might consider back-to-school shopping to be a chore, but kids often look forward to it as an annual rite of fall. See how reporter Aimee Blanchette got caught in this conflict in Tuesday's Variety.
JEFF STRICKLER • email@example.com