La Quinta Inns & Suites

Monday, October 26, 2009

U2 360 Tour Concert at the Rose Bowl

Editors review:
Cholos Tacos Awesome
Black Eyed Peas Awesome
Slash Cameos with Black-Eyed Peas for "Sweet Child O' Mine" Amazing!!
Stage Awesome
U2 Amazing!!

Best concert we've ever been!!
What a display and the LA crowd was awesome. 100,000 fans pretty much enjoying themselves without and troubles!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

St. Louis Area Mommy Bloggers to Drive New Chevys

Write About Travel Adventures in Chevy’s Fun-Filled “Mommy Madness”

Now the fun begins for six St. Louis area moms who are also bloggers.

The Mid America Chevy Dealers Mom Squad will drive new Chevys for four weeks and blog about their travels and experiences as part of the Mid America Chevy Dealer’s “Mommy Madness” promotion.

“We have four weeks of fun-filled ‘Mommy Missions’ planned for our Chevy Mom Squad,” said Kathy Federico, president of the Mid-America Chevy Dealer Association.

Besides driving the new Chevy Traverse or the 2010 Chevy Equinox, Mom Squad members will receive a Flip Video to document their missions and a chance to win a girls’ spa trip for four. There are weekly ‘Mommy Mission’ gifts, including a $150 grocery gift card, a free one-hour massage from Massage Envy clinics and a few more surprises.

The Mom Squad will blog, photograph and video their four weeks of fun in their Chevy Traverse or Chevy Equinox beginning October 19 through November 15, 2009. They will also encourage other moms to test drive the new Chevy Traverse or the 2010 Chevy Equinox at any Mid America Chevy dealership. As an added bonus, test drivers receive a free one-hour massage gift card from Massage Envy clinics.

A look at the bloggers who make up the Mom Squad:

Megan Durham ( is a crafter and home schools her four girls with husband Craig. She applied for Mommy Madness because her 13-year-old vehicle has 198,000 miles on it “and desperately needs a month off. Also, the stick people my kids drew on the back seats need to go to counseling.” She is a director of Classical Conversations, a community of homeschoolers. Besides her personal blog, she also blogs for and God’s World News for Kids. Megan resides in Maplewood. Durham will be driving the Chevy Traverse. She says, “What’s not to like? It’s new, it’s clean and it can provide me with instant directions with the push of a button. Plus, I really love driving a billboard on wheels.”

Emily Braig ( describes herself as “M.H.P.M.” (Married Hot Pregnant Mama) who has a spacious garage, a quirky, loving husband and a precocious 2 year old sidekick. Emily went from bean counter: master of the spreadsheet to kitchen counter: folder of the bed sheets; from rock ‘n roll to rock ‘n stroll; from convertible to convertible car seat; from first class and a Coach bag to coach and a diaper bag; from hot dates with him to play dates with her. She asks if her “traveling companion” Chevy has upholstery that is flame retardant and ‘Scotchgarded’? Emily resides in Florissant and will be driving the 2010 Chevy Equinox. When she received her Equinox she said, “This car rocks!”

Kim Julian ( started blogging a year ago “after having my second son, leaving my position as a social worker and staying at home.” She says her blog, “has given me the ability to help others financially and allows me to work from home.” STLMommy has subscribers from across the nation. Kim sees Mommy Madness “as a wonderful experience for me and my family, especially since we are nearing the time for purchasing a new car. Plus, who doesn’t love driving a new car and meeting new people?” Kim lives in Barnhart and will be driving the 2010 Chevy Equinox. When she sat in the Equinox for the first time she exclaimed, “I’m excited about Mommy Madness because I’ve never had a new car. It will take me where I need to go and hopefully alleviate some of my own madness.”

Elaine Mooney ( works as the winemaker at the Sainte Genevieve Winery. She received her degree from the University of Cal-Fresno in Enology, is a professional international wine judge and teaches many different wine related classes. She says she “enjoys traveling, playing my bassoon, cooking, photography and Grey's Anatomy.” She is the mother of two young daughters with her husband, John, a junior high and high school band teacher. “We met in marching band in college and have been together for 10 years,” she said. Elaine lives in St. Louis and will be driving the 2010 Chevy Equinox. She said, “I’m way excited to promote this car. I’m already starting to write blog posts in my head to show off the Equinox.”

Colleen Murphy ( blogs to find “humor in her daily chaos. Some of my older posts are pretty funny: I sent my youngest daughter to school in a full-habit nun costume on the wrong day.” She started blogging after her husband saw an article about a mom of six who had her own blog. “I figured, Why not me? My family would love it if I aired all our dirty laundry on the Internet.” She applied for Mommy Madness after a friend heard about it on the radio. She is excited about “driving a car that doesn’t smell like soccer shin guards.” Colleen is a resident of O’Fallon, Missouri and will be drive the new Chevy Traverse. As soon as Colleen sat in her Traverse she shouted, “I’m excited to have a car that has a window that rolls down. I can go through the drive through for the first time in two years!”

Danielle Smith ( started her blog a year and a half ago “as a place for moms to remember every day that what they are doing is extraordinary.” She works from home as a freelance consultant. Danielle is “always looking for ways to streamline the madness and share information that just may make life easier. It’s important that moms be involved when it comes to buying a car. We know what is right for our families.” A fun story about blogging: “I put a picture of my family on one of my sites, it was stolen and used for a life-sized ad in the Czech Republic…We ended up on the CBS Early Show, CNN, Fox News and NPR.” Danielle calls O’Fallon home. She commented, “I’m really excited for two reasons…one, it is a great opportunity to showcase the new Chevy Traverse. Traditionally, women have been left out of the car buying process. This allows Chevy to say we want you to understand your car and we value you as consumers. Secondly, I live Mommy Madness…if there is anything in life that can make my life ‘less mad’ that’s good. And, if I can share that with other moms- that’s a bonus!”

Chevy Mommy Madness is presented by Mid-America Chevy Dealers. The Mid America Chevy Dealers are comprised of 31 local Chevy Dealerships located in St. Louis and its surrounding areas falling into Missouri and Illinois.

For more information on Mommy Madness St. Louis go to

Finding Grace opens October 23

EXHIBIT NAME: Finding Grace: Ten Years in Retrospect

DATES & TIMES: Exhibit Dates: October 23 to December 13
Opening reception: Friday, October 23, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.(free and open to the public)

Gallery talk and performance:
Thursday, November 5, 2009
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Gallery hours:
Monday - Friday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.

EXHIBIT LOCATION: The Gallery at the Regional Arts Commission
6128 Delmar Boulevard on The Loop
St. Louis, MO 63112
(Free parking in the lot behind The Pageant; metered street parking)

Finding Grace:Ten Years in Retrospect, an exhibit commemorating the first ten years of the community collabARTive, an integrated part of the Transitional Housing Program of Peter and Paul Community Services. PPCS provides housing and supportive services to those who are homeless, especially those who experience mental illness or live with HIV.

The men and PPCS staff work along side artists and community partners to raise awareness about homelessness, give voice to the marginalized, strengthen connections and build bridges.

This interactive exhibit will include visual, video and performance art that honors collaborations and collaborators past and present. Curated by Con Christeson, Michele Ryker-Owens and Keith Buchholz.

Leslie Laskey: Tango

Through October 24

Leslie Laskey presents a series of paintings and drawings inspired by the Argentinean dance. Tango has been a great inspiration for artists, whether they are musicians, filmmakers or visual artists. A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Jim Harris accompanies the exhibition. In the Project Room and Front Room, the gallery presents a group exhibition “Legacy: The Work of Laskey’s Former Students”, by Leslie Laskey’s former students during his long-standing career as a Professor of Architecture at Washington University. In the Media Room, video artist Dickson Beall presents a single-channel video titled “CUT-OUT” (view it on YouTube).

Art catalogues from Bruno David Gallery Publications are available at (link). Visit our website at Bruno David Gallery (here). Visit the gallery blog at (here).

Thank you for your continuing support and I hope to see you at the gallery! Bruno and the staff.


The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts:
GORDON MATTA-CLARK "Urban Alchemy" (link)

Bruno David Gallery:
CHRIS KAHLER "Hybrid Dynamic" (link)
Front Room. "Dionna Raedeke: The Addition"
Media Room. "William Morris: 8ms"
Project Room. "Heather Woofter & Sung Ho Kim: Per.For.Mance"

PSTL Gallery:
LEO COLLAZO "Dredging the Sea of Tranquility"

Shown above: Installation view of Leslie Laskey: Tango at Bruno David Gallery, 2009.
Photo © 2009 Jim Olvera


ST. LOUIS – WXOS-FM’s Randy Karraker announced that he is stepping up to the plate in a bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams NFL franchise. Karraker made this announcement on the air this afternoon at 5:05pm on 101 ESPN.
As a diehard St. Louis Cardinals football fan, Karraker was crushed years ago when the football team left St. Louis to move to Phoenix back in 1987. It was with hope and optimism that he became a St. Louis Rams fan when the franchise moved to St. Louis. Randy has covered the team for the past 15 years, and has become a staunch Rams supporter. With the Rams’ Superbowl victory in 2000 under Dick Vermeil’s leadership, Karraker’s love of the team was solidified.
With the recent debacle of Rush Limbaugh’s efforts to join Dave Checketts’ quest to purchase the team, and the rampant rumors about the Rams potential sale and move back to Los Angeles, Karraker was reminded of how bad it hurt when football left St. Louis. And although there are a reported six potential groups interested in purchasing the team, none have stood out from the rest of the competition. Rather than just sit and watch it happen again, Karraker decided to do something about it, and has created the Randy Karraker: Save the Rams Fund- and Fan-Raising Campaign.
Karraker says “I believe St. Louis deserves an NFL franchise and when football has been good in this city, it’s been greatly supported. Rather than sitting on my hands and doing nothing about it, I’ve decided to do everything I can to make a difference and help keep our Rams here.” He continues, “Whenever 101 ESPN’s “The Fast Lane” broadcasts on location, we will have the Randy Karraker: Save the Rams barrel on hand to collect donations, with all funds donated going to this grassroots cause to keep the Rams where they belong, in St. Louis.”
101 ESPN Program Director Jason Barrett notes, “Randy is pulling together all of the people he knows, and is calling on the public to raise the funds necessary to keep the Rams where they belong, right here in St. Louis.” Barrett continues, “He realizes this is a huge uphill climb and he doesn’t expect it to be easy. But Randy is going to do his best to make a difference and he hopes to do it with the full support of the public.”
Karraker notes, “In the event that we are not able to raise enough money to buy the Rams or in the event that Chip Rosenbloom’s family elects to sell the team to someone else, our funds will then be donated to the Special Olympics of Missouri.
For more information about upcoming appearances of “The Fast Lane”, or how to join and contribute to the Randy Karraker: Save the Rams grassroots fund-raising effort, please contact Program Director Jason Barrett at (314) 983-6230 or

St. Louis Rams Fans will also be able to make contributions through the radio station’s web site by clicking on “The Fast Lane” page at
And for the latest Rams and NFL news, visit 101 ESPN’s web site at

About Bonneville International
Bonneville St. Louis is an affiliate of Bonneville International (, which was founded in 1964 and currently owns and operates 29 radio stations in the Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Phoenix, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Salt Lake City markets. It also owns and operates KSL Television (NBC affiliate) and has operating divisions of Bonneville Communications and Bonneville Satellite in Salt Lake City. Bonneville's motto is "Do good, do well, make a difference, and have fun."

In addition to competing aggressively in major-market broadcasting by structuring its business model on the three principles of building its people, making a difference in the community, and meeting aggressive financial goals, Bonneville also enjoys a longstanding reputation and is known industry-wide for its nationally recognized and award-winning commitment to serving the communities where it broadcasts.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Bonneville is known for its innovative business model and is a national leader in providing quality, values-oriented media products.

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Monday, October 19, 2009


Dinosaurs Unearthed Exhibition Arrives Nov. 7, Bringing With It Rare, Feathered Fossils and More Than 20 Life-Sized Dinosaurs Depicted in a Realistic Habitat“

Walking into Dinosaurs Unearthed is like stepping back in time,” said Brad Nuccio, Senior Vice President of the Science Center. “The impressive, life-like replicas of the dinosaurs in their environment paired with the most current scientific theories and information make it an incredible entertainment and educational experience.”

The exhibition highlights the latest theories in paleontology. Though dinosaurs are usually portrayed with scaled, reptile-like skin, most scientists now accept the theory that many were covered with feathers. Dinosaurs Unearthed explores this theory and presents some of the first life-sized models of feathered dinosaurs ever created. Each model has been hand-carved, with thousands of down-like feathers also placed by hand.

Visitors can also take control of several animatronic dinosaurs such as a baby Stegosaurus, Baryonyx, Parasaurolophus and an Allosaurus. Featuring new technology using electronics instead of hydraulics, these models demonstrate some of the most life-like motions possible with animatronics.

“We know how intrigued our visitors of all ages are with dinosaurs,” said Nuccio. “This exhibition has the sense of mystery and excitement that always surrounds dinosaurs, grounded in the latest science, which makes it completely new and unique.”

Not only are dinosaurs taking over the Science Center’s EXPLORADOME, but passers-by will also be greeted by a 57-foot long Apatosaurus on the front lawn of the museum, providing a preview of the amazing discoveries inside.

Half-price tickets for Science Center Members are $6.25 for adults and $5.25 for children. Tickets for Non-Members are $12.50 for adults and $10.50 for children. Call 314.286.4634 or email for information on discounts for groups of 10 or more. Tickets and more information at


Saint Louis Science Center

The Saint Louis Science Center is one of the top five science centers in the United States, serving 1.2 million visitors annually. Recently named one of the “10 Best Science Centers for Families” by Parents magazine and one of “America’s Most Visited Museums” by Forbes Traveler Magazine, - the only museum in Missouri to be named to either list - the Saint Louis Science Center complex includes a four-story OMNIMAX® Theater, the air-supported EXPLORADOME and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. Its mission is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Experience “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time,” May 1 through Oct. 3, 2010

WHAT: “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek through Time” dinosaur exhibition
WHEN: May 1 through Oct. 3, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
WHERE: Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., south St. Louis
COST: Exhibit admission: $5 adults, $3 children (3-12), in addition to Garden admission.
Garden admission: $8 adults, $4 St. Louis City/County residents, free children.
INFO:; (314) 577-9400, 1 (800) 642-8842 toll free recorded info

(ST. LOUIS): The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is marking the golden anniversary of one of its most popular attractions, the Climatron®, by transporting visitors back in time to the golden age of dinosaurs. Feel the thrill of encountering a hulking Placerias, bird-like Bambiraptor or soaring Sordes in an unparalleled environment: hidden in the heart of a thriving tropical rain forest. Witness dozens of these realistic, pre-historic creatures when “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time” debuts at the Missouri Botanical Garden in 2010.

Since 1960, the Climatron has easily been one of the most recognizable features at the Garden, noted as the first geodesic dome to be used as a plant conservatory. Inside, lush green foliage, cascading waterfalls and a warm, humid climate simulate an authentic jungle atmosphere.

“This exhibition provides a perfect introduction to the history of life on earth, extinction, and survival. How we manage our resources will have a major effect on the future of life, and there are many lessons to be learned from the past,” said Dr. Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden. “In addition to the educational value, there is also a real sense of excitement in experiencing these lifelike creatures in such an awe-inspiring setting. We hope it will evoke wonder, imagination and intrigue in visitors of all ages.”

On the “trek through time,” visitors of all ages will experience life in a tropical forest long ago, today and tomorrow. A smooth pathway winds through the 24,000-square-foot Climatron conservatory, where more than a dozen installations depict dinosaurs and reptiles from the Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic and Permian periods “frozen in time” amid the living flora. Encounter hungry herbivores, including a pair of toothy Heterodontosaurus and an eight-foot-long,bulky-bodied Placerias. Spot a flock of bird-like Bambiraptors hovering beneath green cycads, keeping watch over nests brimming with eggs. Identify a large Dimetrodon by the finned “sail” along its spine, or the three-foot-long Rhamphorynchus by its fur-covered wings.

Postosuchus, a pre-dinosaur age predator of Placerias, hides atop a cliff near a bamboo grove, while a hungry Syntarsus lurks beneath a large tree. See the Compsognathus tend to their nests near the basin of a waterfall as a trio of vigilant Oviraptors keep watch over their nests of offspring near a shallow pool.

Look up to find three hairy Sordes, ready to take flight from their perches in the trees. Two Quetzalcoatlus babies, also flying reptiles, huddle in their nest above a tank of fish, while their 30-foot-long parent flies high inside the neighboring Shoenberg Temperate House, a conservatory adjacent to the Climatron.

Outside on Garden grounds, a 30-foot-long, duck-billed Parasaurolophus nurtures its three young. A 32-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex can scarcely go unnoticed as it towers above the surrounding flora. On public display for the first time, a 30-foot-long pregnant Hypsibema, the Missouri state dinosaur, watches over its nest and greets visitors near the entrance to the Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden.

The realistic DinoQuest dinosaurs and reptiles are a labor of love for creator Guy Darrough of Lost World Studios in Arnold, Mo. Darrough has been devoted to building life-sized models of these extinct creatures for nearly 15 years.

“My ultimate goal is to create an experience that is realistic enough to draw visitors into the arena of science and learning,” said Darrough. “The aesthetic appeal of these dinosaurs coupled with the surrounding vegetation is just incredible.”

The dinosaur discovery continues as visitors exit the Climatron into the Brookings Interpretive Center. There, visitors will be amazed to view a one-and-one-half-ton slab of sandstone containing over 200 bones from dinosaurs, turtles, fish and birds. Darrough obtained the slab from an excavation in Lance Creek, Wyo. and estimates the sandstone piece is over 65 million years old.

Children can hone their own paleontology skills by unearthing faux bones at a mini-dino dig site, climb and play in a dinosaur nest, envision themselves in the days of dinosaurs through green screen technology, and get an up-close look at the Dino Egg Incubator, an original prop from the set of the movie “Jurassic Park III.” Families can explore life in tropical forests today, discovering geckos and poison dart frogs, exploring the connections between animals and plants, and experiencing the many multi-sensory gifts that these bio-rich ecosystems give us. Visitors will also learn about tropical forests today and how Garden researchers are working feverishly to document, protect and preserve these at-risk ecosystems for generations to come.

Special themed classes, events and activities will be offered throughout the exhibition’s duration to enhance the DinoQuest experience, including “Jurassic Dark” extended Thursday evenings, DinoQuest Sleepovers, and a MovieFest. Additional activities include dinosaur-themed summer camp sessions, tropical forest ecology classes and guided tours for school groups, workshops for educators and family backpack adventures.

“DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time” is on display Saturday, May 1 through Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Purchase tickets on site or in advance beginning Spring 2010 at Exhibition admission (which includes entry to the Climatron dome, Shoenberg Temperate House and Brookings Interpretive Center) is $5 for adults (ages 13 and over) and $3 for children (ages three to 12), in addition to Garden admission. Exhibition admission is free to St. Louis City and County residents on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 to 10 a.m.

Regular Garden admission is $8 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under. St. Louis City and County resident admission is $4 for adults (ages 13 to 64), $3 for seniors (ages 65 and over), and free on most Wednesday and Saturday mornings before noon. Special admission rates apply during the third weekend of May, Labor Day weekend and the first weekend of October.

Become a Missouri Botanical Garden member to receive discounted DinoQuest exhibition admission of $3 for adults and $2 for children (ages three to 12), plus free admission on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Garden members also receive free general Garden admission. For membership information, visit

DinoQuest sponsorship opportunities are available. Call (314) 577-9500 or visit for more information.

The 79-acre Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit. Free parking is available on site and at lots two blocks west at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer.

For more information on “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time,” visit For general Garden information, visit or call the 24-hour recorded event hotline at (314) 577-9400 or toll-free 1 (800) 642-8842.

Also May 1 through Oct. 3, 2010, visit the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House at Faust Park in Chesterfield, Mo. to experience “Jurassic Bugs.” Thirty-inch dragonflies, foot-long cockroaches and a 10-foot sea scorpion are among the models joining a host of crawling, flying and nesting living creatures on display. For more information, visit or call (636) 530-0076. The Butterfly House is a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009


WHAT: “Gardenland Express” holiday flower and train show
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closes early at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve; closed Christmas Day.

WHERE: Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd., south St. Louis, Mo.
COST: $5 ages three and up, in addition to regular Garden admission
($8 adults; $4 St. Louis City/County residents; free children ages 12 and under). Garden members are free.
SPONSORS: CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann, P.C.; Central States Coca-Cola Bottling Company; Miss Marian L. Herr; Hobby Station; and Mr. and Mrs. William R. Orthwein, Jr.
INFO:; (314) 577-9400, 1 (800) 642-8842 toll free

(ST. LOUIS): ‘Tis the season at the Missouri Botanical Garden! A host of holiday activities await visitors between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Experience the annual “Gardenland Express” holiday flower and train show, commemorating “150 Years of the Garden.” Celebrate Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Christmas traditions. Enjoy seasonal décor, from adorned trees to festive wreaths to sweet-smelling garlands. Take a class to brush up on your cookie-decorating and greeting-card-making skills. Stop by the Garden Gate Shop and Little Shop Around the Corner for unique gift-giving ideas, and more! Visit for details on all of the holiday happenings.

Don’t miss the Garden’s final sesquicentennial celebratory event of 2009! The vibrant “Gardenland Express” holiday flower and train show chugs into town Wednesday, Nov. 25, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sunday, Jan. 3 (closes at 4 p.m. Dec. 24 and 31; closed Dec. 25). Watch as eight G-scale model garden trains travel along 800 feet of railway track in the Orthwein Floral Display Hall, through a bold, colorful palette of orange, purple, red, white and lime green botanicals. Look for several Garden landmarks in miniature, including the historic Linnean House conservatory, Museum Building, Chinese Garden pagoda, Piper Observatory and Tower Grove House (founder Henry Shaw’s original country estate). Archival images highlighting the institution’s 150-year history will line the walls in a tribute timeline.

The 2009 “Gardenland Express” holiday flower and train show is sponsored by CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann, P.C.; Central States Coca-Cola Bottling Company; Miss Marian L. Herr; Hobby Station; and Mr. and Mrs. William R. Orthwein, Jr. Admission to “Gardenland Express” is $5 for ages three and over, in addition to general Garden admission; Garden members are free.

Seasonal décor decks the halls of the Ridgway Visitor Center, Tower Grove House and Kemper Center for Home Gardening. Nov. 21 through Jan. 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., view the annual Holiday Wreath Exhibition, featuring unique creations by some of the area’s finest floral designers. All wreaths are sold by silent auction bidding, with proceeds benefiting the Garden. Nov. 25 through Jan. 3, experience a Victorian Christmas at Tower Grove House. The country residence of Garden founder Henry Shaw is decked with wreaths, garlands, floral centerpieces, greenery and holiday trees. Young visitors can enjoy storytelling on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and a special Seek-and-Find activity. Tower Grove House is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. (closed Mondays). Dec. 5 through Jan. 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Jan. 1), enjoy “Inspired by the Garden” Holiday Trimmings at the Kemper Center, featuring a 15-foot balsam fir tree decorated with over 50 “gourdaments” and gourd birdhouses to celebrate the Garden’s 150th anniversary. New this year, vote for the “visitor’s choice” award for your favorite gourd! All decorated gourds are sold by silent auction bidding.

Join the traditional Jewish holiday celebration, “Chanukah: Festival of Lights” on Sunday, Dec. 6 from noon to 4 p.m. Enjoy festive Israeli music and dance, a menorah-lighting ceremony, and a traditional “shuk,” or marketplace. Listen to holiday carols, whisper wishes to Santa in his sleigh and smell chestnuts roasting on an open fire during “Christmas Carols in the Garden,” Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12 and 13 from 1 to 5 p.m. Experience the contemporary African-American holiday “Kwanzaa: Festival of the First Fruits” on Wednesday, Dec. 30 from noon to 4 p.m. Enjoy an afternoon of storytelling, craft and jewelry displays, and authentic African drumming and music, centered around the feast table of the harvest.

Several seasonal classes tap into the holiday spirit. Create a Decorative Scented Wreath on Nov. 17 or join a Holiday Wreath Making Workshop on Dec. 5 or 12. Try your hand at making a 3-D Papercutting Ornament on Dec. 3 or 8, or create DIY: Christmas Cards on Dec 9. Decorate a delicious Gingerbread Cottage on Dec. 2, and prepare stunning sweets with Holiday Cookies and Cookie Decorating classes on Dec. 6 and 8, respectively. Seniors, enhance your Garden visit therapeutically with a Botanical Wreath program on Dec. 9 or Holiday Cookie Recipes on Dec. 11. Youngsters ages four and five can also celebrate the season alongside an adult during Garden Buds: Evergreen: A Special Tree for Me! on Nov. 19 or 22. Advance registration is required for all classes; visit for a complete list of program times and prices, or to register.

Shop the Garden Gate Shop for unique gifts, including candy cane, cupcake and cardinal-inspired goodies. Browse an array of holiday greeting cards, “green” items made from recycled materials, tropical-themed ornaments, books, decor and more. The Shop is located in the lower level of the Ridgway Visitor Center and is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; visit Head down the street to the Little Shop Around the Corner for one-of-a-kind finds, including vintage jewelry, artwork, accent furnishings, garden décor and more. The Little Shop is located at 4474 Castleman Ave. (at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer) and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed January); visit

Give the gift of the Garden this season! A Missouri Botanical Garden membership includes free general admission for two adults and children ages 12 and under to the Garden, Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, Shaw Nature Reserve and EarthWays Center, along with special discounts and invitations to members-only events. A regular level membership costs $65 ($60 for seniors age 65 and over). Purchase a new or gift membership Nov. 4 through 8 or Dec. 2 through 6 and receive 20-percent off (on-site sales only). For more information, visit

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, easily accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit. Free parking is available on-site on the west side of the parking lot (east side is temporarily closed this winter for improvements). Additional parking is available two blocks west at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer.

The Garden is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, closed Dec. 25. Admission is $8 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under. St. Louis City and County resident admission is $4 and free Wednesday and Saturday mornings before noon. Garden members and their children are free. Admission to the Gardenland Express show is an additional $5 per person (free for members). Separate fees apply for classes.

For general information, visit or call the recorded event line at (314) 577‑9400 or toll-free 1 (800) 642-8842.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is the oldest continually operating botanical garden in the nation, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2009. Missouri Botanical Garden: Green for 150 Years.

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The Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment, in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, 150 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display. Missouri Botanical Garden: Green for 150 Years.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in St. Louis, just south of I-44 at Vandeventer-Kingshighway (exit #287B). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Dec. 25. Grounds open at 7 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday. Admission is $8; free children ages 12 and under and Garden members. St. Louis City and County residents are $4 and free every Wednesday and Saturday until noon (exception: special admission rate events). Park for free on site and two blocks west at the Shaw-Vandeventer intersection. The Garden is easily accessible by taking the MetroLink commuter rail line to the Central West End station and picking up a Metro bus ( For general information, log on to or call the 24-hour recording at (314) 577-9400 or 1-800-642-8842. For membership information, call (314) 577-5118 during weekday business hours. For volunteer opportunities, call (314)-577-5187 or visit The Missouri Botanical Garden is a tobacco-free environment.

(Note: A section of the I-64/U.S. 40 highway is under construction through 2009. Before traveling, check for updates or visit for other helpful information.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Metro Design Studio Salons “Suit Drive” and Makeover Event

To Benefit Dress for Success Midwest

Date: Monday, October 5, 2009
10:00 am until 4:00 pm

Metro Design Studio Salons - Chesterfield
1662 Clarkson Road at Lea Oak Drive
Chesterfield, Missouri 63017

Details: Metro Design Studio Salons will be hosting their first ever “Suit Drive” and Makeover Event to benefit Dress for Success Midwest’s “Suits to Self-Sufficiency” program, which provides work-related clothing to low-income women seeking employment.

The Dress for Success Midwest “Suit Drive” runs through Monday, October 5, 2009, and the general public is invited to participate. People who are interested in donating clothing, shoes and accessories may visit one of the four St. Louis area Metro Design Studio Salon locations.

Metro Design Studio Salons will also be conducting a Dress for Success “Makeover Day” at the Chesterfield location on Monday, October 5, 2009 from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Metro salon professionals will donate their time and services to help with the makeovers for a select group of Dress for Success Midwest clients.

For additional details regarding Metro Design Studio Salons “Suit Drive” and “Makeover Day” event, or to tour one of the four studio salon locations, please contact General Manager Lise Napoli-Flynn at (314) 983-0444 or via email at The public may also visit the company’s web site at

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

March Art at Marbles Gallery

Marbles Gallery exhibits “pieces” by artist Benji Rowan with an opening reception on Saturday, March 7 from 6-9 p.m. Also showing “third eye,” recent work by abstract painter Timothy A. Wagner. Both exhibits will run through March 31st. Open hours on Mondays 1-3 p.m. or by appointment. Marbles Yoga Studio and Gallery is located at 1905 Park Avenue in Lafayette Square. For additional information call 314.791.6466 or visit


Marbles Gallery exhibits “pieces”, mosaics and paintings by Benji Rowan through March 31st. Also, exhibiting “third eye” by abstract painter, Timothy A. Wagner.

Opening Reception:
Saturday, March 7 from 6-9 p.m.
Marbles Yoga Studio and Gallery
1905 Park Avenue in Lafayette Square
Meet the artist and enjoy a glass of wine
Free and open to the public

Mosaicist and painter, Benji Rowan, tells stories through visual cues in the images he makes. Shapes, colors, and figures come together to produce two dimensional narratives. His mosaics are decorated stories…stories that leave plenty of room for interpretation. Even when the only information is color and shape, he gives clues through the titles of a work to explain the situations. His paintings, while more representational, allow each viewer to draw their own conclusions. His work can be thought of as stills from a motion picture – what came before, or will come after, is for you to decide.

Artist, Benji Rowan, recently returned home to St. Louis after living in Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston and Austin. He received his art education from the St. Louis Community College, School of Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999. A recipient of the Art St. Louis award of excellence, he has shown in juried exhibitions: San Francisco, Austin, and St. Louis. Collections: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis - Flat Files

Abstract painter, Timothy A. Wagner, illuminates the world of our natural and urban surroundings inspired by form, atmospheric space and color. Wagner develops a specific visual language that defines subject matter and content. The paintings evolve in layers that vary from thin transparencies to thick gestural forms to combine in an expression of his thought process and experience. Every layer of paint, every mark on the picture-plane becomes a crucial meaning of its history and the eventual resolution of the statement.

Emerging artist, Timothy A. Wagner, graduated from Webster University in 2008. Active with St. Louis Art Dimensions, his work has been included in both group and solo shows in the St. Louis area, Colorado, and Tennessee. He received the 2nd place Best of Show award at the Maplewood Let Them Eat Art Festival, 2007.

Open Mondays 1-3 p.m. Call 314.621.4744 to confirm additional hours or for an appointment

Marbles Yoga Studio and Gallery

Exhibiting St. Louis area artists in historic Lafayette Square

The Missouri Botanical Garden Announces 2009 Plants of Merit

Introduces New Category, Edible Ornamentals

(ST. LOUIS): Just in time for spring, the Missouri Botanical Garden identifies 13 new “Plants of Merit™” for the Midwest in 2009. The Plants of Merit distinction aims to build home gardeners’ confidence in selecting annuals, perennials, shrubs and vines, trees and now edible ornamentals.

Selecting good plants for the landscape can be challenging, especially when faced with numerous possibilities and limited information. The task is made even more complex when many new plants are introduced each year with which gardeners have little experience. The Plants of Merit program aims to promote diversity in the home gardening landscape.

To be nominated as a Plant of Merit, selections must not be invasive in our area; be easy to grow and maintain; grow consistently well in Missouri, central and southern Illinois, and the Kansas City Metro area; be resistant or tolerant to diseases and insects; have outstanding ornamental value; and be reasonably available to purchase.

Highlights of the 2009 Plants of Merit list include Serena series (Angelonia angustifolia), a great, tough annual for Missouri. Try using this brightly colored annual in beds and borders, but also in mixed combinations. Available in three colors, plus a mix, Serena series is a great height item for smaller combination pots, creating a center height element. It requires full sun exposure and is tolerant of our heat and humidity.

In the perennials category is Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium). This Missouri native has ‘yucca- like’ leaves with flowers that resemble thistle heads one-inch in diameter. It tolerates poor soils, and is best used in taller back borders, cottage gardens, meadows and naturalized areas. The seed heads are great in dried floral arrangements. Try using natural paints to add a little zip!

‘Citation’ yew (Taxus x media), a shrub, is not your ordinary yew. ‘Citation’ is a columnar type that does well even in shade. If wet conditions are avoided, this plant will thrive in average soil and tolerates urban conditions. Use as a screen hedge in lightly shaded to shade conditions.

In trees, Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) adapts well to urban conditions as a lawn, shade, or street tree. Another Missouri native, the Chinkapin oak has characteristics which do not resemble the typical oak leaf. These leaves are narrow, dark and glossy, with a serrated edge instead of a lobed airy leaf. The Chinkapin oak is a rather large tree, but easily sets its branches among the larger home landscapes, parks and even cemeteries.

The Plants of Merit program has a new category in 2009: edible ornamentals. This year’s pick is Ruby Perfection (Brassica oleracea). It’s a cabbage! Ruby Perfection produces three to four pound heads of edible red cabbage in 80 days, but also doubles as a colorful garden ornamental. It may be grown in the cool temperatures of spring or fall, but not in the heat of the summer. Harvest the cabbages for use in salads, slaws or as cooked vegetables, or simply enjoy their showy color in the garden.

The Plants of Merit program began in 1999. Partnering organizations include Powell Gardens, Mizzou Botanic Garden, the University of Missouri Extension, Missouri Landscape & Nursery Association, and Illinois Green Industry Association.

For more information on Plants of Merit, visit Plants of Merit brochures may also be purchased at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Kemper Center for Home Gardening and the Garden Gate Shop.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is the oldest continually operating botanical garden in the nation, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2009. Missouri Botanical Garden: Green for 150 Years.

Exhibition Art, Inside & Out opens March 6

WHO: The Gallery at the Regional Arts Commission

WHAT: Art, Inside & Out: paintings by John Barton and Phillip Hampton

WHEN: Exhibition: March 6 through April 12
Opening reception: 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. March 6
Gallery talk: Wednesday, March 25; 6:30 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. talk
Gallery hours: Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

WHERE: The Gallery at the Regional Arts Commission
6128 Delmar Boulevard on The Loop, St. Louis, MO 63112
Free parking in the lot behind The Pageant; metered street parking

Both John Barton and Phillip Hampton-the featured artists in the exhibition Art, Inside & Out-are painters, and art has been an integral aspect of their lives. Those lives, however, have been very different and their work is inevitably shaped by their individual experiences.

Barton, a self-taught or Outsider Artist and the son of a preacher, often has a spiritual message in his work which is inspired by his dreams and visions. As is typical of Outsider Artists, Barton had little or no contact with the institutions of the mainstream art world. He began drawing and painting at an early age but his art wasn't appreciated until late in life. "My paintings grew out of my experiences, thoughts, feelings. I'm 67 years old and I've wondered what all of this means. Needless to say, it's part of me. I've been an artist 'on the outside' maybe all my life," said Barton.

Grappling with such charged topics as human nature and religion, Barton's art is expressive and emotional-at times even tinged with pain. Hampton, on the other hand, approaches his art from an analytical and scientific point of view. A graduate from the Kansas City Art Institute and Professor Emeritus at Southern Illinois University, Hampton was one of three artists featured in last year's exhibition African American Abstraction: St. Louis Connections at the Saint Louis Art Museum. His abstract work is inspired by the self-imposed question "What is reality and what makes reality real?"

Through their work, Hampton and Barton each present us with unique and very personal points of view. Combined, their art shows us every aspect of life: the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

Art, Inside & Out is curated by Laurie Carmody Ahner of Galerie Bonheur.

Neuroday, Brain Science Expo at the St. Louis Science Center

WHAT: The first annual NeuroDay, Brain Science Expo at the Saint Louis Science Center will include The Real World: Neuroscience, a special brain-themed “house” created by Washington University graduate students, among many other activities.

At NeuroDay, attendees can test their accuracy with prism goggles, a device used to demonstrate visual-motor plasticity, or hold an actual human brain. Other highlights of the event include talks by neuroscientists, exhibitors from community groups, interactive presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities that emphasize different aspects of brain research.

This event offers the public an opportunity to learn about the brain, the nervous system, and neurological disorders through interactive activities. It is part of international Brain Awareness Week, created by the DANA Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the Society for Neuroscience.

NeuroDay is a collaboration between the Saint Louis Science Center and Washington University funded by the National Science Foundation.

Interviews with representatives from the Saint Louis Science Center and Washington University will be available before and at the event.

Hands on Your Brain: Examine a real human brain.
The Jelly Bean: How taste and smell interact.
Electro-occulargrams (EOGs)
Stroop Task: How fast can you say the color?
Electric Fish Tank
Sniffy the Virtual Rat

Saturday, March 7, 2009 10am-3pm

Saint Louis Science Center
5050 Oakland Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110


Beth Bishop McClure, Saint Louis Science Center, 314.289.1455 (o), 314.267.9916 (c),

Thank you for your interest in covering the Saint Louis Science Center. We ask that you include the full names of our institution: Saint Louis Science Center, OMNIMAXÒ Theater, and James S. McDonnell Planetarium when writing your story.

Saint Louis Science Center
The Saint Louis Science Center is one of the top five science centers in the United States, serving 1.2 million visitors annually. Recently named one of the “10 Best Science Centers for Families” by Parents magazine and one of “America’s Most Visited Museums” by Forbes Traveler Magazine, - the only museum in Missouri to be named to either list - the Saint Louis Science Center complex includes a four-story OMNIMAXÒ Theater, the air-supported EXPLORADOME and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium., the air-supported EXPLORADOME and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. Its mission is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Movie Morsels - March 2009

by Mary K. Morgan - member of the St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association.

            Confessions of a Shopaholic (PG) Even if you buy into the neo-Epicurean philosophy that insists that irresponsible consumerism is the twenty-first Century’s answer to “eat, drink and be merry,” the current economic climate still casts a dark shadow on the basic premise of this movie. Becky Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) could well symbolize a microcosm of the attitude toward credit that has precipitated the downward spiral of our nation’s balance sheet.

            Ironically, the irresponsible Becky writes a successful consumer advice column for a prestigious financial magazine. (Perhaps many of our countrymen got their advice from just such a source.) Shallow as it may seem, Becky continues down a lighthearted path of racking up frivolous debts and dodging collection agents and bankers as if it were a game created for her amusement. The idea that creditors are entitled to be paid never seems to cross her mind. 

            Based on the books, Confessions of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella, this film will no doubt appeal to the financially challenged among us who carry large credit card debt and pay unusually high interest rates. If your idea of rollicking fun is to be over your head in debt and oblivious to the ramifications, go for it!  Rating:  2

            The International (R) Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) team up to bust an international conspiracy that is being  perpetrated by one of the world’s most powerful banking institutions, the IBBC (most likely based on the BCCI, Bank of Credit & Commerce International that was involved in a large-scale banking scandal in the ’80s). The crime is international in scope, so Salinger and Whitman must trace banking transactions across the globe, from Berlin to Milan to New York and to Istanbul.

            The banking angle is a bit convoluted, but the crux of the matter is that the evil bankers finance revolutions in under-developed nations and provide monetary resources to terrorists. Ruthless and concerned only with their bottom line, the world of corrupt high finance rolls on without a conscience. Sound familiar?

            German director Tim Tyker (Run Lola Run) makes a radical move about mid-film when the banking movie morphs into a full-blown action flick. When it does, watch out.

            The screen explodes with one of the most striking, prolonged gun battles I’ve seen lately. The fact that most of the shooting takes place inside the architecturally perfect Guggenheim Museum doesn’t hurt the interest level a bit. So believable is the destruction that it is difficult to believe the Museum isn’t actually being riddled with bullet holes. Action, good. Banking, bad. Rating: 3

            Taken (PG-13) If you happen to be abducted by Albanian mobsters, it certainly helps if your devoted dad is an ex-CIA operative. Director Pierre Morel manages to work up an excess of adrenalin in his audience with this fast-action, no-holds-barred thriller starring Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, a man living 96 hours of his life in a fast-forward, search-and-rescue mission that spares no deadly moves.

            The thin plot takes a back seat to the real guts of the film, Bryan’s skilled and calculated application of his operative skills on the very personal mission of saving his 18-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from a terrible fate at the hands of ruthless villains who trade in human flesh. Abducted soon after she and her friend arrive in Paris, young Kim manages to call her father and hand off a few vital clues via cell phone just as she is being taken. A stern warning from Bryan to the bad guys goes unheeded, the perp on the phone wishes him good luck and the battle is on.

            Pulling out all of the stops and calling in favors from past undercover acquaintances, Bryan springs into his operative mode and takes no prisoners as he unravels the mystery of his daughter’s disappearance. As to the ending, telling any details would be a spoiler. Perhaps it’s best to relish the good times in the film as Liam Neeson plays the cool, capable, secret-agent dad in pursuit of his daughter and her abductors. Rating: 3

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Putting the Swash in Your Buckle, 'The Pirates of Penzance'

The Touhill Performing Arts Center March 13

Famed New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players return for one-night only!

ST. LOUIS (February 17, 2009) – One of the most-loved, and certainly one of the funniest, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas of all time, The Pirates of Penzance comes to the Touhill for one-night only, presented by the renowned G&S aficionados, New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. The Pirates of Penzance will be performed in the Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis on Friday, March 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50, $40, and $30 and are available now by calling 314.516.4949, or at Sponsored by Emerson, RAC and welcomed by KWMU.

The legendary composing duo’s comic masterpiece The Pirates of Penzance is as popular today as it was in 1879 at its New York debut. The light opera’s century-plus endurance is no doubt due to W.S. Gilbert’s brilliantly witty libretto and Arthur Sullivan’s charming melodies.

Presented in two acts and set on the rocky coast of Cornwall, England, The Pirates of Penzance (Or The Slave of Duty) centers on the dilemma of young Frederic who, as a child, was mistakenly apprenticed to the pirates until his twenty first birthday. Helping Frederic to deal with this unusual predicament are his band of tenderhearted pirates, the brash Pirate King, Ruth - the pirate maid-of-all-work, romantic Mabel, and the delightfully stuffy Major-General Stanley.

The Pirates of Penzance will be presented at the Touhill by the famed New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, known for their dynamic blend of contemporary vitality and traditional respect for its specialized repertory. Now in its fourth decade of operation, New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP) is America’s preeminent professional Gilbert & Sullivan repertory ensemble. Under the dynamic leadership of Artistic Director Albert Bergeret, who has been hailed as “the leading custodian of the G&S classics” by New York magazine, NYGASP has created its own special niche in the cultural mosaic of New York City and the nation. Since its founding in 1974, the company has presented over 2,000 performances of the G&S masterpieces throughout the United States and Canada, captivating audiences of all ages. NYGASP return to the Touhill following their well received 2005 performance of H.M.S. Pinafore.

The Touhill is pleased to offer the E3! program in conjunction with The Pirates of Penzance. The new E3! program, Explore – Experience – Engage, offers the occasion for patrons to delve further into the artistic realm and deepen appreciation of the performance. Stella Markou, Director of Vocal Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at UMSL, will lend her extensive knowledge and infectious enthusiasm for opera as program moderator. After Markou’s pre-show lecture, patrons view the opera during the Experience portion. Then they can Engage with other audience members during a reception, enjoying food and drink while sharing their take on what they just experienced. Tickets for the E3! program are just an additional $5.

Next up at the Touhill is Discover Beethoven with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m. followed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra on Sunday, March 22 at 2 p.m.

The Pirates of Penzance is Friday, March 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50, $40, and $30, and are available now at the Touhill Performing Arts Center Ticket Office; online at; or by phone at 314.516.4949; and toll-free at 866.516.4949. The Touhill’s Ticket Office is located at One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121. All St. Louis area students receive a 10% discount on two tickets with their I.D. Group and senior discounts are also available.

The Touhill Performing Arts Center is located on the north campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, just 10 minutes from Clayton. (Exit # 240 from I-70). There is ample free parking and the UMSL North Campus MetroLink Station is just steps from the Touhill’s Main Entrance.

Now in its sixth season of presenting the finest in the performing arts to the St. Louis region, the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center opened its doors in September 2003. The $52 million facility designed by Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, features the 1,625-seat Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall and the 350-seat E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater. The not-for-profit Center is the jewel of the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus and is the first impetus and focal point for creating an arts district for students at the University.

Symphonic Interpretation Beyond The Baton

The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra offers opportunity to ‘Discover Beethoven’
with conductor Nicholas McGegan at the Touhill on March 15

ST. LOUIS (February 23, 2009) – The most visible aspect of a conductor’s job – gesturing to lead an orchestral performance – is arguably his least important. Preparing for a live performance requires the conductor study and interpret a piece according to his personal vision, then communicate his thoughts to the musicians during hours of rehearsal. Only then can it be properly conveyed to the listening audience. During a traditional symphonic performance, all the interpretation is left to the music. For one afternoon at the Touhill, world-class conductor Nicholas McGegan will take listeners beyond the baton, expressing his take on a great symphony by a great composer in a multimedia presentation. In Discover Beethoven, guest conductor McGegan reveals the wonders of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, with slide show, discussion, and musical excerpts. Then McGegan leads the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) in a full performance of the composer’s dramatic evocation of the natural world. Discover Beethoven will take place in the Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis on Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets for are $35, $25, and $15 and are available now by calling 314.516.4949, or at This is the final performance in the Symphony Sundays series, sponsored by Centene Corporation and welcomed by KWMU.

Pastoral is an exceptionally appropriate piece for an in-depth explanation from a composer’s perspective. An inherently descriptive symphony, Beethoven utilized the distinct personalities of musical instruments to mimic the sounds of a country setting, complete with a flowing brook, violent thunderstorm, and bird calls. Whether it’s your first, or one hundred and first listening, McGegan’s insight into the piece is sure to bring new understanding and modern relevance to the two hundred year-old piece.

McGegan, originally from England and educated at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, is known throughout the world for performances that match authority with enthusiasm, scholarship with joy, and curatorial responsibility with evangelical exuberance. Through more than twenty years as its music director, McGegan has established the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra as the leading period performance band in America - and at the forefront of the 'historical' movement worldwide thanks to notable appearances at Carnegie Hall, the London Proms, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the International Handel Festival, Gottingen where he has been artistic director since 1991.

The Touhill is pleased to offer the E3! program in conjunction with Discover Beethoven. The Touhill’s new E3! program, Explore – Experience – Engage, offers the occasion for patrons to delve further into the artistic realm and deepen appreciation of the performance. As Discover Beethoven contains an extraordinarily educational component with composer insight, the Explore and Experience portions of this program are combined. After patrons Experience the symphony, they can Engage with other audience members while noshing on light hors d’oeuvres and wine, to share their take on what they just experienced. Tickets for the E3! program are just an additional $5.

Discover Beethoven with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra is Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $35, $25, and $15, and are available now at the Touhill Performing Arts Center Ticket Office; online at; or by phone at 314.516.4949; and toll-free at 866.516.4949. The Touhill’s Ticket Office is located at One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121. All St. Louis area students receive a 10% discount on two tickets with their I.D. Group and senior discounts are also available.

The Touhill Performing Arts Center is located on the north campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, just 10 minutes from Clayton. (Exit # 240 from I-70). There is ample free parking and the UMSL North Campus MetroLink Station is just steps from the Touhill’s Main Entrance.

Now in its sixth season of presenting the finest in the performing arts to the St. Louis region, the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center opened its doors in September 2003. The $52 million facility designed by Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, features the 1,625-seat Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall and the 350-seat E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Theater. The not-for-profit Center is the jewel of the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus and is the first impetus and focal point for creating an arts district for students at the University.

Ptah Williams Trio with vocalist Marsha Evans

PRESS RELEASE, Feb. 23, 2009

St. Louis Jazz and Blues Vespers feature the highly regarded, Ptah Williams Trio with Marsha Evans, jazz vocalist on Sunday, March 15 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary of the Beatitudes of Second Baptist Church of St. Louis. The acoustically excellent sanctuary is located 1/3 mile west of the St. Louis Galleria on Clayton Road at McKnight Road. This venue is offered to the best jazz and blues groups in the city to perform 100 minutes of popular music. The Vespers, held on the third Sunday of each month, are free to the public. No tickets needed.

Ptah Williams has been voted five times the best jazz musician by readers of the St. Louis Riverfront Times and has performed throughout Europe and the United States. Ptah has been called the Winton Macellous of the keyboards with a style reminiscent of Charlie Bird and Thelonius Monk. He performs weekly at Riddles Pentultimate in U-City. Long considered one of St. Louis’ Ladies of Jazz, Marsha Evans performs at BB’s Jazz Blues and Soups and was a featured performer at the St. Louis Mardi Gras in 2008. She sang on the “Headliners Stage” of the 2006 and 2008 Big Muddy Blues Festival.

During the inspirational interlude between the band’s two acts, Dr. Stephen Jones, pastor of the church, will offer a brief, non-sectarian message. A free-will offering will be taken to benefit the musicians during the interlude. Refreshments will be served in the church’s narthex after the vespers. Parking is free in lighted lots surrounding the church.

The next St. Louis Jazz and Blues Vespers will be on the third Sunday night of April, April 19 featuring the Steve Schenkel Sextet. For more information, go to our website, or call 314/991-3424.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Movie Morsels - February 2009

by Mary K. Morgan - member of the St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association.

At the St. Louis Science Center: Grand Canyon Adventure—River at Risk
The star of this beautiful Omnimax® Theater offering is the ancient, endangered Colorado River—the heroes are river environmentalists Robert F. Kennedy and Wade Davis and their Native American river guide, Shana Watahomigie. With their crew, they embark on a river rafting excursion on the Colorado River that, when captured by the camera, is transformed into the most visually exciting film I have ever seen. There is nothing like a four-story domed screen and a 15,000-watt sound system to catch your attention and put you in the center of the action.
The Colorado River is an illustration and a microcosm of worldwide fresh water issues that plague our planet. The film explores the “spiritual, artistic and life-sustaining powers of water,” according to the film’s producers.
Actor and environmentalist Robert Redford narrates the film and guides the audience through the action scenes as well as the ending discussion of our need for fresh water solutions. The sound track is impressive. Performed by The Dave Matthews Band, it features several original songs written for Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk.
There are six showings daily. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for students and seniors. Call (314) 289-4424 for information.

Gran Torino (2008) (R)

If your idea of entertainment is the incessant growling of an angry old man, you won’t want to miss this latest (and, perhaps, the last) film starring Clint Eastwood. There’s no doubt the character played by Eastwood, Walt Kowalski, is angry at the world. A Korean War vet, his life is going downhill faster than his old neighborhood. He hates his foreign neighbors, his wife recently died, and a meddling young priest refuses to let him languish in his unhappiness. What’s a mean old guy to do?
In this case, mean-old-guy Walt (Eastwood) decides to single-handedly take on the neighborhood gang bangers. It seems a change of heart has exposed a ray of humanity in him as he witnesses the strife of his hard-working (but still foreign) Hmong refugee neighbors as they try to protect themselves from the criminal elements in the neighborhood. At first willing to turn his back on their woes, about mid-film Walt makes a complete 180 and rises to their defense. Therein resurrects a very elderly, but still capable, Dirty Harry. Bad guys, watch your backs!
To make the Gran Torino tie-in for you would just be a spoiler—better to see it for yourself.

Defiance (2008) (R)

This dramatic, true story of a unique and effective Jewish resistance movement led by four Polish brothers will impress you with its acting, cinematography and historical significance. The brave Bielski brothers, living in Poland during the Nazi occupation, create and execute a plan to save 1,200 Jews from certain death by leading them in an escape to a nearby forest. There, they organize the refugees into a makeshift village and prepare to defend the group from the Nazi invaders. In the area now known as Belarus, the tenacious villagers manage to survive in spite of the overwhelming odds against them.
Nechama Tec originally told the Bielski Brothers’ story in her book, Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. Tec was an eight-year-old girl when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. The screenplay, a joint venture of director Edward Zwick and Clayton Frohman, brings her compelling story of these Eastern European resistance fighters to the big screen.
The dramatization is strong in theme and boasts some of the best talent available. Outstanding performances by Liev Schreiber as Zus and Daniel Craig as Tuvia will change the notion of “compliance” to one of “defiance” when the resistance movement of these Eastern European Jews is considered.

Fraternal rivalries and philosophical differences between the brothers persist throughout the plot and create some personal drama within the broader aspect of the story. The hotheaded Zus, filled with resentment and anger, is frequently pitted against his brother, Tuvia, a more calculating and contemplative avenger.

Celebrate the resilience of the human spirit with a ticket to Defiance.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Movie Morsels

by Mary K. Morgan - member of the St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association.

Quantum of Solace (PG-13) Time passes and nothing remains the same, not even the cool, dry-wit of James Bond. The action in Quantum picks up after the ending of Daniel Craig’s last Bond adventure, Casino Royale. No longer bearing the aloof playboy persona of past Bonds, this 007, betrayed by the woman he loved, is a rather solemn figure. Revenge might be the motive for Bond’s zeal to continue working on the case, and he must convince M (Judi Dench) of his detached professionalism. However, there is no doubt that James is a changed man after the events of Casino Royale, much darker and noticeably less flamboyant. No longer does he care if his martini is “shaken, not stirred”—he has more important matters on his mind.

The film’s action revolves around the nefarious plot of a worldwide criminal organization known as Quantum and its ruthless leader, Dominic Greene, and a plan to gain control of the main water supply of South America. Bond’s ports of call are Haiti, Austria, Italy and Bolivia, all of which host exciting chases and action scenes reminiscent of past Bond films. 

Changeling (R)  The year is 1928 and on a Saturday morning, single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) leaves her nine-year-old son, Walter, at home and goes off to her job as a phone operator at a busy Los Angeles switchboard. When she returns home in the evening, Walter is gone. An emergency call to the Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D.) yields no help.

Three months later amid a media blitz, the L.A.P.D. announces that they have recovered the missing Collins child. Badly in need of some positive press, the corrupt, inept police officials take advantage of the situation with photo-ops, press and radio coverage of their investigative triumph. Problem—Christine immediately realizes that the returned child is not her son. Unwilling to let go of the fanfare surrounding the case, the police leaders insist that the child is the Collins child, in spite of the mother’s rebuttal. They proceed to discredit her and cast doubt on her sanity, all in an effort to cover up the truth. Left to her own devices, Christine must fight the authorities and prove her case in an effort to redirect the search back to her still-missing son. 

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Changeling is somewhat reminiscent of his earlier Oscar winner, Mystic River, also about a missing child. One major difference is that rather than being adapted from a novel, Changeling has its basis on an actual event, a fact that makes the frustrating truth-seeking process extremely agonizing to watch. Angelina Jolie gives an outstanding performance as the distraught mother desperately trying to fight city hall. Watch for a nod at the Academy Awards. John Malkovich plays Collins’ staunch ally, political activist, Reverend Briegleb.

Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa (PG) It’s always a plus when a movie that is highly anticipated by the kids turns out to be a good time for the adults as well. Such is the case with this latest animated feature from DreamWorks. When zoo buddies Alex, Marty, Melman, King Julian, Gloria, and all of the assorted penguins and chimps escape from their Central Park Zoo home, they never expect to wind up marooned on the remote island shores of Madagascar. Leave it to the ingenious penguins to save the day by engineering an escape plan that gets the crew not to New York, but over the water to the wild plains of Africa. For the first time, the zoo gang gets to meet some wilder members of their species. It remains to be seen if Africa can ever replace their Central Park home.

The adventures are exciting, but not too scary. The humor occasionally leans to the crude side, but only mildly so. As far as comparison to the original film, DreamWorks pulls off quite a feat. The sequel is every bit as entertaining as Madagascar. Those mouthy little penguins still tend to steal the show—especially memorable is the scene where they negotiate a deal with the monkey union. Probably the most outstanding feature, other than the animation, is the fast pace of the dialogue and the non-stop humor. The voice over talent is loaded with top-notch comedic talent, including Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, Cedric the Entertainer and Sasha Baron Cohen talking for the leads. Bernie Mac fans will recognize, and perhaps shed a tear when they hear his familiar voice spoken by the lovable Zuba.