Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 11, 2008 - Maybe the calendar says that there are five weeks or so before the end of summer, but anyone whose life is affected in any way by the school year knows that summer is almost over, autumnal equinox  or no autumnal equinox.

And how will we look back on the movies of the summer of '08, the hits, the misses, the embarrassments? 

The Lens: Well manor-ed

Aug 10, 2008

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 10, 2008 - Literary adaptations can be tricky, especially when they have already been done very well. A case in point is “Brideshead Revisited,” which was made into a magnificent 11-part miniseries aired by PBS in 1981. That adaptation, which made Jeremy Irons a star, did more justice to Evelyn Waugh’s novel and was more satisfying overall. Still, English majors and other Anglophiles will have to see this new 135-minute film – now playing at Plaza Frontenac – if only for the clothes, cars, settings and contrasts.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 8, 2008 - “American Teen,” which opened in St. Louis Friday, is a movie about a handful of teenagers in their senior year of high school in Warsaw, Ind. The school, the town, the students are all “real,” i.e., not fictional creations, so I guess that makes the film a documentary. But the film is so eager to please, so determined to present a particular image of how teenagers behave, that it ultimately seems contrived, calculated and more than a little phony. How real is that?

Local Episcopal clergy react to Lambeth conference

Aug 7, 2008

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - For five years the shadow of schism has loomed over the 77-million member Anglican communion but the fresh idea of a covenant, which sprang from the bishops' 10-yearly Lambeth Conference that ended Sunday, might prevent the church's split. About 2.2 million Americans belong to the Anglican Communion's American wing -- the Episcopal Church in America. U.S. dioceses are among the most liberal in the Anglican Communion, an association of believers rather than an administrative body.

Words from home: Books keep the window open

Aug 7, 2008
Dijana Groth at her bookstore, Novella, in 2008. 300 pixels
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - When friends travelled to their former home in Bosnia, a young Dijana Groth didn't ask for many presents. She just begged for books.

"It was so important to me - I still have a bond with my country - that I keep up with the music and the language," Groth said. "I'm very much American. I think it's beautiful I'm able to take my origins and make them shine through. Through reading, you can get closer to your origins."

Commentary: Nearly naked in the St. Louis night

Aug 6, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 6, 2008 - While I may tell some people that Jen and I intended all along to go on the naked bike ride on the first Friday in August, we actually sorta fell into it, joining nearly 300 people (some fully nude) cycling through St. Louis' Tower Grove Park, their little mounted safety lights blinking steadily in the pitch-black night.

Movie review: Road to nowhere

Aug 5, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 5, 2008 - "Home," "fate" and "love" are words that grow in meaning over the course of "Brick Lane," which follows the life of a Bangladeshi Muslim woman in London. The beautiful Nazneem (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is sent at 17 from her native rice paddies to marry a man 20 years her senior. The action takes place during a fateful year when Nazneem's husband comes to the end of his employment tether and decides to move the family back "home."

Tiger cubs meet their public

Aug 5, 2008
tiger cub at the St. Louis zoo. 2008
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 5, 2008 - The Amur tiger was formerly known as the Siberian Tiger. According to the Zoo's website, there are "fewer than 500 (of these tigers) living in small populations of far eastern Russia and northeast China. Loss of habitat due to logging activities, human encroachment and poaching are the main threats to their survival in the wild."

Kalista, who is seven years old, is a first-time mom. And a litter of five is unusually large. But the Zoo says she has been an "excellent mother." 

Words from home: Libraries help new immigrants

Aug 4, 2008
The library on South Grand has material in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Farsi, Arabic and Bosnian. 2008. 300 pixels wide
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archives

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 4, 2008 - As new immigrants make their homes in the St. Louis area, something as simple as reading a novel or the newspaper can be a challenge. Finding reading materials in such languages as Hindi, Spanish or Croatian means more than going to the nearest bookstore. One has to know where to look.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 2, 2008 -  Exposure 11 at UMSL’s Gallery 210 features St. Louis mainstays Andrew Millner and Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, plus the relative newcomer Snail Scott, in a spare, cohesive show that will leave you wanting to see more from each artist. (That, presumably, is how the Exposure series is supposed to work.)

Movie review: (Pot)headshrinker

Jul 31, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 31, 2008-  There have been wacky psychiatrists in movies before, but Ben Kingsley's role in "The Wackness" definitely takes the cake. His Dr. Jeffrey Squires, a major druggie, gives counsel to young Luke Schapiro (Josh Peck) in exchange for marijuana. The story follows their relationship during the pivotal summer before Josh goes off to his "safety school" for college.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 31, 2008 - On or off the levee, Fair St. Louis continues to attract many to its free concerts. As summer operations wrap up, production leaders say that the last-second location switch from the Arch grounds to the area near Soldiers Memorial did not affect the quality or popularity of events.

'Beer, Bubbles & Bucks': book on ice

Jul 31, 2008

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 31, 2008 - Lou Dersch, 83, is looking for his first book contract. This isn't an idle pursuit, though, as his memoir of life in the brewing industry -- "Beer, Bubbles & Bucks" -- is already printed up, with 200 copies coming off the plates and distributed around town to friends, family and associates from his near-two-decade run as a top ad man at Anheuser-Busch.

Letter from China: Working on the Olympics

Jul 30, 2008
Photo provided by Rachel Kurowski

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 30, 2008 - I came to Beijing July 5 to work at the Olympics as one of 300 English-speaking volunteers,  all of whom are students of journalism. My job is in the office of the Agence-France Presse in the Olympic Village's press center.

The Lens: Dark is the 'Knight'

Jul 29, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008 - And now, $300 million (and counting) later, the backlash begins. After the kind of opening-weekend frenzy that only a 4,000-screen, Imax-enhanced superhero movie can provide, a few dissenting voices are suggesting that, its inflated IMDB rating notwithstanding, "The Dark Knight" may actually be just a little bit ... messy, shall we say?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008 - Fire laid claim to Grand Center's Spring church in 2001, gutting its interior and licking away at its roof, leaving behind only a charred shell. But German artists Sebastian Hungerer and Rainer Kehres have plans for the church. In September, the pair will be re-creating its roof with lamps and shades donated by St. Louis area residents.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 28, 2008 - I arrived back in St. Louis from Iraq on Wednesday night (July 23) after three flights and a stopover in Vienna, and the gray skies and rain in Missouri never looked so good.

My last few days in Erbil were fun and full of teaching from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or later at my own choice. Teacher-training classes were full and sometimes turned into gripe sessions, with teachers complaining about all the problems they face with their administrators.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 25, 2008 - As the “The Dark Knight”  broke box office records, Heath Ledger, who played the Joker, is in the spotlight. We are once again reminded of the circumstances of his untimely death.

The Voyage of the ibelungen to Etzel (Der Nibelungen Fahrt zu Etzel), 1980–81; book of 22 double-page spreads of gelatin silver prints with gouache, oil and graphite mounted on cardboard
Provided by the St. Louis Art Museum

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 24, 2008 - One of the most fascinating works in The Immediate Touch is The Voyage of the Nibelungen to Etzel (1980-81), a book by Anselm Kiefer. It illustrates a story of murderous revenge from the medieval Song of the Nibelungen, using contemporary photographs of German landscapes and the interior of Kiefer's own studio.

Josh Peck plays Luke in 'The Wackness' 2008
Photos from Sony Pictures Classics

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 23, 2008 - The other day, I was trying to tell a couple of friends half my age when a certain event occurred and I said, "It wasn't that long ago, maybe in the '80s."

They looked at me oddly, and I realized that they had been children in the '80s and the decade was a long time ago indeed, for them if not for me. To put it in terms of the electronic revolution that so dominates our lives these days, I remember a time when nobody had a television; they could barely remember the days before everyone had a personal computer. My perspective inevitably means I will react differently from someone half my age to movies that focus on the recent past, particularly when the principal protagonist is a teenager.

Some collectors only go for one color or material; others embrace the variety available. The toothpick holders pictured here belong to the photographer's grandmother, Dorothy Korando.
Rachel Heidenry | The Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 23, 2008 -  They are miniature throwbacks to a bolder time, when the art of publicly poking the gums for a stray morsel of meat was no more indelicate than peppering a baked potato. From about 1880 to 1910, in fact, a pressed-glass or china toothpick holder was as much a fixture on the well-appointed Sunday dinner table as the family silver.

The Lens: Hollywood reporter

Jul 23, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 25, 2008 - As reported by the bloggers at Wired,  an outfit called Profiles in History is holding an enormous auction of movie memorabilia on eBay  starting July 31. The catalog is worth a look even if you're not willing to pay a few thousand for pieces of film history, offering everything from Ben Turpin's wristwatch (a wedding present) to Steven Spielberg's "A.I." teddy bear.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 22, 2008 -  Hey, kids! Let's put on a show. We can use the old barn out back! I've got a tent we can turn into a curtain, and a stack of old ABBA records, and ... I think we can get Meryl Streep!

Before I get ahead of myself ...

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 22, 2008-  In his new book, "Flash Frames," Don Marsh, host of KWMU's St. Louis on the Air, takes readers through his nearly 50 years of broadcast news experience, covering big stories from the hot days of the Cold War to the Midwest flood of '93.

Within four years of when he came on board with the American Forces Network in Germany in 1959, the Soviets constructed the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis put the world on the verge of nuclear warfare and President John F. Kennedy became the fourth U.S. president to die at the hands of an assassin.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 21, 2008 - Imagine that lightning struck your 135-year-old home last year, and it sustained heavy fire damage. Then imagine that you learned that because of unexpected complications, the extensive reconstruction could take up to two years.

How would you feel?

You are not likely to be as patient as the Rev. Matthew S. Bonk, a Redemptorist priest, does about St. Alphonsus Liguori "Rock" Catholic Church.

photo by Marc Thayer

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 21, 2008-  I realized yesterday that I take grass for granted. Everything is so dry and brown here, so dusty and hazy, that the few plants that grow have to be drowned daily. Houses have no grass,  just cement sidewalks and walls. Hotels have some green around them but they seem hardly worth the trouble.  Our hotel, the ChwarChra (Four Lanterns), has a nice green lawn in front where guests sit outside for dinner.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 20, 2008 - In St. Louis, thermometers soar to legendary heights during afternoon hours. But after sunset, breezes blow away sweat and pave the way to outdoor fun. As long as you lave yourself with bug spray, we invite you to enjoy the St. Louis Beacon's guide to cheap outdoor evening fun.

The Lens: Foreign exchange

Jul 18, 2008
Francois Cluzet
Music Box Films | Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 18, 2008 - Many reviews have noted with curiosity that the French film "Tell No One," which opens today at the Plaza Frontenac, is based on an American novel, as if it was some odd cross-cultural aberration: The Europeans are buying up everything!

I haven't read Harlan Coben's novel, but judging from the film, I assume it's the kind of mainstream thriller that people refer to when they use "bestseller" as a generic term, the sort of novel that gets turned into a Lifetime movie of the week or - if the author's extremely lucky - an off-season Ashley Judd vehicle. This kind of generic man-in-peril story, heavy on plot twists and sudden turns of fate, would play the same in any Western setting.

Ice cream gets its day

Jul 17, 2008
Photo by Rachel Heidenry | The Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 17, 2008-

Chocolaty and lemony;
Vanilla-y and raisin-y,
Marshmallow-y; rum butter-y,
So good, it's almost scary-y.

Cherry-y; peach cobbler-y,
Hot fudge-y and blackberry-y,
I'd love to hold it longingly,
If it wasn't so darn melty-y.

Banana-y and almond-y,
Fudge Ripple-y; strawberry-y,
There's nothing quite so yummerly,
As ice cream in your tummerly.

— Bill Smith

Movie review: The doctor is in

Jul 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 17, 2008 - Alex Gibney’s “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson,” now playing at the Tivoli, provides an insightful biography of Thompson, author of “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72” and other treasures of American journalism. For baby boomers, it offers superb time travel through the tumultuous years of our coming of age. Younger viewers may glean new insights about their elders – and about a unique journalist who changed the course of American history. To all, it is highly recommended.

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