What's that squiggle supposed to mean? Find out in Understanding Abstract Art, part of the N.C. Museum of Art's World of Art lecture series. 10:30 a.m., 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh. 839-6262, www.ncartmuseum.org. $6.
Wolf Whistle by Lewis Nordan is an account of the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till for whistling at a white woman. Algonquin Books and New Stories from the South editor Shannon Ravenel leads the Alt Reader Bookclub discussion of the book. Co-sponsored by the Independent Weekly. 7 p.m., Regulator Bookshop, 720 Ninth St, Durham. 286-2700.
Raleigh's Village Idiots are looking at love in all its deadly forms in their improv show, A Comedy of Eros. 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., Feb. 13 & 14, 20 & 21, North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theater, 7713 Leadmine Rd. www.nract.org. $10 per couple.
Dormant gardeners, it's time to get your noses out of the catalogues and see what berries, mid-winter blooms and bulbs are emerging in the gardens of the South. The Winter Garden of JC Raulston--Or Why Hollies Should Come With Mockingbirds, a talk by Larry Mellichamp, Director of UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens, happens at 1 p.m. at the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center. Free. From 2-4 p.m., take A Walk in the Winter Garden. Tours depart every 30 minutes from the Zone 8 Greenhouse & Giftshop. JC Raulston Arboretum, 4415 Beryl Rd., Raleigh. 515-3132.
Do you wonder how the Frog Flinging Fry Pan Flips Flapjacks Faultlessly? The North Carolina Museum of Life and Science explores how machines work in Contraptions A to Z. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m., 433 W. Murray Ave., Durham. 220-5429, www.ncmls.org. $8.50 adults, $7.50 seniors, $6 children, free for under 3.
From Ellington to Langston Hughes, the sounds and thoughts of great 1920s and '30s African-American musicians and poets will be explored in Of Ebony Embers--Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance. 8 p.m., Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St, Durham, 683-1709, www.hayti.org. $15, $10 students and seniors.