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Arts & Culture

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 14, 2008- mThe Olympics are in full swing. Our athletes are bringing home the gold.

Still, all is not well in Beijing. Concerns have been swirling around Beijing's air quality for months. China's weather exacerbates the effects of the pollution. And if Mother Nature has any consistency at all, it's in being inconsistent. It will be largely a matter of luck whether the best -or worst- air quality corresponds with the outdoor Olympic events.

So you have to entertain a college student

Aug 14, 2008
A view down Washington Avenue. 2008. 300 pixels
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 14, 2008 - It may seem daunting when your visitor is too young to enjoy the local brews but too old to be awed by the Science Center. Grant's Farm and the Magic House are no longer the easy solutions for filling an afternoon. But you may be surprised that coming up with an itinerary is actually pretty simple.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 14, 2008 - A trip to Florence, Italy, is hard to beat. It's also a long, expensive plane ride away, and with the weak dollar, you'll won't get a lot of panini for your money. So, think of this day as Florence, Missouri style, and head to St. Charles (OK, it's not on the Arno, but the Missouri is a river, plus there's history, shopping and great people watching, too.)

Letter from China: From dumplings to Gossip Girls

Aug 14, 2008

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 14, 2008 - My favorite restaurant here in Beijing is nestled inconspicuously between my hotel and the closest subway stop. I don't even know the name of this place because the sign is written in Chinese characters, but I do know that it serves delicious dumplings for 5 yuan. It was here that a friend and I ran into a lively French-speaking Chinese diplomat. We had ventured into the restaurant at 10 p.m. for a late dinner of dumplings, but chance led us to an enjoyable cultural exchange.

Kiel mask detail. 2008. 300 pixels
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 14, 2008 - After months of work on a plan to reopen the long-dark Kiel Opera House in downtown St. Louis, the St. Louis Blues owners and McEagle Properties aren't ready yet to say that they can raise the curtain and put entertainment back on stage there. But they are continuing to move in that direction.

The Lens: Damming with faint praise

Aug 12, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 12, 2008 - The new documentary "Up the Yangtze," now playing at the Tivoli, tells the human side of the largest hydroelectric project in the world, China's Three Gorges Dam. It is written and directed by a Chinese-Canadian, Yung Chang, whose grandfather told him stories of the old China. Though a real eye-opener, it falls well short of its potential.

The Lens: Happy campers and Jolly Roger

Aug 12, 2008
Photo provided by the author

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 12, 2008 - Way back at the beginning of June, I took part in a one-week filmmaking experience. As with any production, there were months of planning, discussion, revision and tension. During the week of shooting, there was the typical drama, ego and crying you would find on any set. This particular set, however, was populated with a dozen 8-year-olds who were given the chance to play out a fantasy and make an actual movie.

The Lens: Summery judgment, part two

Aug 12, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 12, 2008 - "Get Smart" was a witty but minor TV comedy series created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry at a time (1965) when television and movie screens were overrun with secret agents and their preposterous gadgets. The humor was broad and, like most TV comedies of its time, concentrated more on the recurring foibles of the main characters - agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams), his patient supervisor the Chief (Edward Platt) and his female counterpart Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) - than on the complexities of plot. Agent 86 never saw a case that couldn't be solved in less than 30 minutes.

The circus circle 'erases all other lines'

Aug 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 11, 2008 - In a world where safety relies on the strength of a string or the bonds between aerialists' fingers, there is no room for distrust. That's why, when Roey Schafran tumbles with Mnar Asdi, these children born on different sides of a deep conflict simply become Israeli acrobats.

"To me, they're just Israeli circus kids," said Matthew Viverito, 18, a member of the youth troupe, the St. Louis Arches. He will study at Florida State University this fall. "In the beginning, I couldn't tell them apart."

The Lens: Summery judgment, part one

Aug 11, 2008

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.

The Lens: Hughes-town, we have a problem

Aug 8, 2008

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.

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