St. Louis is a strange place. The main reason for civilization existing here, at this very spot, is because of the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. After all, water sustains life and, to a lesser extent these days, travel. So why is it that many St. Louisans haven't ever seen the spot where the twain meet? This weekend's your chance to get in touch with a little bit of nature -- and maybe a little bit of history -- from the water's point of view. Meet at the foot of the Arch at 9:30 a.m., and hop onboard the Tom Sawyer riverboat at 10 a.m. at the Gateway Arch Riverboats dock (just below its namesake landmark). There's no gambling onboard (the Tom Sawyer's not the Queen, for crying out loud), but it is a cruising boat. With a buffet lunch and Dixieland music included on this five-and-a-half-hour Big River Rendezvous tour, even Lewis & Clark would be jealous, especially with the $45 price tag. Yeah, the Greenway Network knows what's up. Call 636-949-2793 for tickets (recommended to be purchased in advance), and visit www.greenwaynetwork.org for more info. After you see the confluence and the new-ish park there, we bet you'll better appreciate our little river town. -- Alison Sieloff
It makes no sense without you
Fans of the sculptural arts have an option besides Laumeier Sculpture Park this week (not that we're knocking Laumeier; you're still number one in our book, Big L). Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (I-270 and Route 157, Edwardsville, Illinois; 618-650-3071) hosts a free sculpture walk featuring a dozen new works by student artists at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12, beginning in front of the Art and Design Building. In addition to the joys of seeing works such as Brock Rumohr's Holding for Mason (pictured), the one-hour walk is followed by a 6 p.m. awards ceremony and banquet, with music by the Bob Borgstede Band. The work exhibited in the walk was jurored by guest artist Luis Jimenez, who speaks about his own works (currently on display in the school's Atrium Gallery) there at 1 p.m. on Monday, October 11. -- Paul Friswold
In the Heart of the Heart of St. Louis
This party is a Gass!
William Gass, celebrated fiction writer, poet and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Washington University, turned 80 this year, and Wash. U. is ready to party down in his honor. Will this be a snooty soiree with a literati-only guest list? No! In fact, everyone in the community is invited, and that includes you. Enjoy the works of one of our greatest living writers at "A Celebration of William Gass" (7:30 p.m. in the Olin Library's Whispers Café, One Brookings Drive). Novelist Ethan Bumas and poet Heather McHugh, among others, read from Gass' impressive, innovative body of work, and Gass' friends and peers (including Chancellor Emeritus William Danforth) offer commentary about their honored colleague. After the reading, retire to the Ginkgo Reading Room for a reception and a viewing of the works of esteemed photographer (and frequent Gass collaborator) Michael Eastman. Both the reading program and the reception are free; books by Gass and Eastman will be available for purchase. For more information call 314-935-8003. -- Brooke Foster
New Line Theatre delivers a rabbit punch of absurdist theater with the musical comedy She's Hideous. With a score that grinds Arnold Schoenberg's atonal music into Burt Bacharach's pop sentimentality, this story of the romance between an expressionist painter and the world's ugliest woman raises prickly questions about aesthetic standards. With just two shows (8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 12 and 13) at the ArtLoft Theatre (1529 Washington Avenue; 314-518-4936), you'd better get there early. Tickets at the door are $5. -- Paul Friswold