Dedicated skateboarders are in a sticky situation regarding the issue of "extreme" marketing. On the one hand, they hate it because it's a blatant example of corporate America hijacking their sacred activity just to make a quick buck. But on the other, they can at least earn a little something to show for their years of dedication if they just play along with the silly contests and ridiculous ad campaigns. Once the ad execs decide what the next big fad is, the corporate interest will surely dissipate. If you're down to enter competitions or just want to listen to some Warped-Tour-style music (Feeble Wiener, Acetone, the Midwest Avengers and about seven other bands), check out the Extreme Sports and Music Fest. The event will be held in the rear parking lot of the new Ramp Riders Skate Park (2324 Salena in South City; 314-776-4025, $13 to play or watch, noon-midnight), and they've built ramps especially for the pro-level competition, which includes big-name skaters, freestyle bikers and rollerbladers. Their Web site, www.rampriders.net, boasts that it will be "ten times the set-up" compared to last year, with outdoor and indoor music stages, a graffiti contest and a car-audio show. -- Guy Gray
The Icelander Cometh
But not to compete-eth
Even though you may not recognize his name, you know Magnus Ver Magnusson. He's one of those massively muscled men you see hoisting cars as though they were suitcases on ESPN2 when the 24-hour cable channel isn't broadcasting consecutive SportsCenters. As a four-time winner of the World's Strongest Man competition (and the only man to win it three years in a row), the mighty Icelander is the public face of a sport that continues to grow in popularity. Magnusson has retired from WSM competition, but at the age of forty, he still trains year-round, three hours a day, five days a week, which pays big dividends, as he recently won the title of "Iceland's Strongest Viking" -- not bad for a retiree. He's passing on the chance to compete in the 2003 WSM, even though the win guaranteed him a spot.
"I've moved more into helping put a show together," Magnusson says. "Making appearances, signing autographs." To that end, Magnusson is making the long flight from Iceland to St. Louis to appear at the X-Treme Strongman National Championships this Friday and Saturday, along with former strength-contest champions Svend Karlson and Jill Miller. The semi-final round is at Harrah's Casino in St. Charles (777 Casino Center Drive, 314-770-8100) at 7 p.m. Friday, and the finals will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Family Arena (2002 South River Road, 314-534-1111). The winner of the finals gets $30,000 and will represent America at the WSM later this year, but first they have to successfully complete events like Conan's Wheel, the Atlas Stones, and the ever-popular Car Flip (exactly what you think it is). Admission to the finals is $11, and kids younger than 12 (as well as all Scouts) get in for free (www.x-tremestrongman.com). -- Paul Friswold
Life Is Like a Box of Subpoenas
It's fair to say that former First Lady and current New York Senator Hillary Clinton is drawn to presidential scandal. Not only did she witness her husband's difficulties and work to prosecute Nixon during Watergate, but she even helped to investigate John F. Kennedy's 1960 election. After the Democratic Party in Chicago was accused of tampering with the election to ensure Kennedy's victory, the city looked for volunteers to check registrations. One of these volunteers was pre-teen Hillary Rodham, who sneaked away from home to satisfy her political appetite.
Fascinating little anecdotes like that are scattered throughout Living History, her new memoir. It's hardly suspenseful or full of salacious dirt, but Clinton's managed to be in interesting places at just the right time, like a well-spoken Forrest Gump. Hope that she shares more of those stories when she appears at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue) and signs Living History from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Tickets (which came with the purchase of her book at Left Bank) are currently sold out, but more may become available if the Senator's autograph-hand proves up to it. For more info call 314-367-6731. -- Niles Baranowski
Pottery instructors, Olympic swimmers and Jell-O wrestlers meet their quota for sensual stimulation, but sadly, most of us often do not. That's where the 28th annual Great Stone Hill Grape Stomp comes in. Arrive early at 1110 Stone Hill Highway in Hermann to sign up for the chance to feel grapes squishing between and under your bare feet in the barrel-bottom (no, they don't make wine from this juice). The charity benefit also features live music by the Boney Goat Band, winery tours and cash prizes (11 a.m., $2-$3, 800-909-9463). -- Byron Kerman
Whatever happened to Gene Wilder? One of the most gifted comedic actors the world has known was Mel Brooks' darling in Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and Richard Pryor's homeboy in 1980's Stir Crazy. Since that last one he's done...crap (hello, The Woman in Red? Funny About Love?). Of course his tour-de-force performance shall forever be as the title character in 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. If ever a movie belonged in the Tivoli's Reel Late midnight series, it's Willy Wonka, a hyperbolic journey down rivers of molten chocolate and through tunnels of nightmares (Tivoli Theater, 6350 Delmar Boulevard, midnight Fridays and Saturdays through August 16). Slugworth introduces the film. -- Byron Kerman