At seven each morning, Garrison Keillor gets up and, in his sonorous Minnesota voice, reads a poem into a microphone. This is not an act of narcissism but the basis for Keillor's American Media radio show, The Writer's Almanac. For eight years Keillor has roused America with the daily segment, which usually includes three or four literary historical notes (in June, he summed up James Joyce's Ulysses in a neat ten sentences) and a short poem.
Tragically, The Writer's Almanac does not air on St. Louis radio, and Gateway City residents have been left scrambling for their daily dose of poetry. No more! Good Poems for Hard Times is a new book of poems selected from Keillor's Almanac. Featuring poets from Donne to Van Duyn, Keillor introduces the volume with the intent to "give courage" in a time when "life is precarious" and "poetry is the truest journalism we have." It's a good tonic, and until KWMU (90.7 FM) gets the Almanac on the air, St. Louisans will have to make do with the book, which Keillor reads from at 7 p.m. at the Sheldon Concert Hall (3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900). Tickets are $10 from the Sheldon or Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731). -- Anna Teekell
Friday night with the Floating City
The floating city is one of the classic science-fiction plot points, but this week science fiction meets science fact when the Floating City appears at the Saint Louis Science Center (5050 Oakland Avenue; 314-289-4400 or www.slsc.org) as part of Friday Nights Live. OK, so it's the post-punk art-rock band the Floating City and not an actual hovering metropolis, but with a cash bar and free Segway rides, plus a performance by the Jupiter Jazz Band also on the evening's schedule, you're still gonna have an out-of-this-world time. Enjoy the music, take a spin on the people-mover of the future, have a cocktail, and maybe scope out some heavenly bodies between 6 and 9:30 p.m. Just don't use that lame "shall we practice our docking maneuvers?" line this time. Admission is free. -- Paul Friswold
So you donated much of your last paycheck to the hurricane victims, and that was admirable of you. But we know just how generous the average Night & Day reader is. And just how smart, too: Of course, while hurricane victims desperately need our help right now, the world's other problems don't just go away. That's why we think you'll be glad to learn there are a couple more good causes that could benefit from your giving ways.
First of all, you should go to the Young Variety's "Taste of the Vineyard" from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Brown Derby Wine Cellar (14125 Clayton Road, Town & Country; 636-207-9463). Your $30 ticket gets you wine and appetizers -- and gets St. Louis Variety's children some much-needed support. To order tickets, call 314-453-0453 or visit www.varietystl.org.
Then, after the "Taste," head on down to the Pepper Lounge (2005 Locust Street; 314-241-2005) for Keystone of St. Louis' fall fundraising party, which benefits Dream for a Day. This organization gives disadvantaged children opportunities to enjoy cultural events around town (thus getting a dream for a day). The party runs from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m., and includes food (until 9:30 p.m.) and drinks; tickets cost $25 to $30 (www.keystoneofstlouis.org). -- Alison Sieloff
Every fall at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or www.mobot.org), some of the most beautiful things begin to gracefully dance and blossom in the cooler air. In fact, they even put on 30-minute shows for us! But we're not talking about the flowers (while spectacular, they can't actually perform, duh) -- we're talking about Alexandra Ballet's dancers. Be awed by the splendor of their movements when they perform ballet, character and modern dance at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. as part of Rhapsody in Bloom, which is free with your regular garden admission ($1.50 to $7). -- Alison Sieloff