This is it. This is the big one, the event that serves to separate the lads from the lassies. No, wait, it actually separates the non-Scottish men and women from the lads and lassies. January 25, 2005: Burns Night. The worldwide celebration of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns.
Robert Burns! The man who penned the song you drunkenly bellowed the first three lines of before yarking furiously this past New Year's Eve. Right, "Auld Lang Syne." He's more than just a catchy tunesmith, though. The "Ploughman Poet," as he was anointed in a review of his first collection of poetry, rose from humble agrarian beginnings to become the Bard of Scotland. In 1999 the Glasgow and District Burns Association gave all new members of the Scottish Parliament a collection of Burns' work. Not bad for a man whose first verse, "My Handsome Nell," was concerned with women and Scotch.
And so, Tom Schlafly and extended family host the annual Burns Night dinner at the Tap Room (2100 Locust Street; 314-241-2337; 5 to 11 p.m.) to celebrate the life of the man who perhaps came as close as anyone can come to embodying the spirit of Scotland. Haggis and cock-a-leekie soup are on the menu, Schlafly recites his own poem on the occasion (read last year's effort at www.schlafly.com), the new batch of Scotch ale is ceremoniously tapped and served, and then the party truly gets under way. If the celebration inspires you to read Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, all the better. If it doesn't, what's wrong with you? Burns is a national hero, he still throws a swell birthday party years after his demise, he loved his women and his Scotch, and you can't even bother to read his work? Hmph. More for us, then. -- Paul Friswold
Is there anything cuter than a baby animal? So sweet and soft! You just want to scoop the tiny baby up and pet it all day. Probably the most special animal to be born in our lifetime is the sacred white buffalo named Miracle. Born on the Heider farm in Janesville, Wisconsin, on August 20, 1994, Miracle fulfilled a prophecy of peace and harmony for many Native American peoples. After her birth and throughout her life, Miracle had many visitors and even changed colors a few times (to black, red and yellow). Despite her death on September 19, 2004, her spirit continues to live on through tributes like the Native American Flute Concert and Storytelling event held at 7 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church (Grand and Lindell boulevards). John MacEnulty (pictured), Phyllis Thorpe and others perform at the free event (donations appreciated); for more information call 314-664-1400. To learn more about Miracle (and to see her cute baby pictures), visit www.homestead.com/WhiteBuffaloMiracle/. -- Alison Sieloff
Let's discuss everything
How many academic outlets does it take to screw in a lecture series? If it's the American Visual Culture Lecture Series -- interdisciplinary, über-intellectual talks that take on politics, architecture, mass media and art all at once -- then the answer is hella many: Saint Louis University, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the Sheldon Art Galleries and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis all chip in to make the series happen.
At 7 p.m. famed art researcher Geoffrey Taylor delivers the next address, "Fragments at the Center: Architectural Drawing, History and Digital Modeling," at the Contemporary (3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660). Like the AVCL Series itself, Taylor's list of credentials is downright intimidating: He's a researcher at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of Drawings and Prints and for the Vatican Topography Project at Harvard University's School of Design. Luckily for us laymen, there will be no pop quiz at the end of the lecture. -- Rose Martelli
An old family quilt, passed down from generation to generation, tells a bit of a story through its frayed edges and faded prints. In a more literal way, Santa Fe artist Andrea Kalinowski's quilt-like mixed media paintings tell stories, too. The artist incorporates text, photographs and quilting patterns in her pieces, which offer informative, researched histories of nine Jewish women's lives during the pioneering days of westward expansion. In "Fanny Brooks's Quilt," the subject's daughter tells of her mother's slow journey west (only thirteen miles per day!) and bread-making troubles. Learn more by viewing the Stories Untold: Jewish Pioneer Women, 1865-1915 exhibit at the Old Courthouse (11 North Fourth Street; 314-655-1700 or www.nps.gov/jeff/courthouse.html). The show is free and on view from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day between Wednesday, January 19, and March 27. -- Alison Sieloff
We're Nuts for Brazilian Jazz
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of St. Louis? Probably not jazz, right? Now, what's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Brazil? Again, jazz ain't on the list, is it? However, these places, best known for blues music and toasted pasta, impenetrable nuts and disappearing rainforests, also produce and host some pretty good jazz. From Wednesday through Saturday (January 19 through 22), Jazz at the Bistro (3536 Washington Avenue; 314-531-1012 or www.jatb.org) presents twice-Grammy-nominated Brazilian singer and composer Luciana Souza. Her first set starts at 8:30 p.m. each night, the next at 10:15 p.m. Tickets are $25, and there's a $5 minimum drink-or-food-purchase requirement. -- R.L. Nave