Time is running out for you to enjoy Ursula Schulz-Dornburg's series of eight black-and-white photographs at the Sheldon Concert Hall Art Galleries (3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900). The exhibit, entitled Sonnenstand, is scheduled to come down on Saturday, December 18, and Schulz-Dornburg's photos of the medieval hermitages along the Pilgrim's Way through the Pyrenees Mountains are particularly well-suited to the more quiet, introspective side of the holidays. In photographing the light streaming through the hermitages' rough windows, Schulz-Dornburg captures the mystical nature of silence and the holy, ancient feel of the buildings themselves. These luminous images transform the rude structures into something magical and beautiful. The gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m., and admission is free.
Thursday, December 16
It's a scandal worthy of tabloid television: A prominent business owner, well-known for his tireless charity efforts, is accused of gross sexual misconduct by a longtime employee. The media circus sets up its tents, and suddenly everyone who can utter a salacious soundbite is front and center, broadcasting the "truth" to the world. It'd be funny if it weren't beloved Santa Claus reaping the "bad touch" whirlwind. Wait, it is funny, because it's Jeff Goode's The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. Hydeware Theatre presents the Christmas comedy at 8 and 10 p.m. at SPOT (4146 Manchester Avenue), and the Hydeware cast gleefully admits that the show is wholly inappropriate for those younger than eighteen. Good news for us more mature people, who can fully appreciate dirty jokes about reindeer and elves. The Eight plays again at 8 and 10 p.m. on Friday, December 17, and at 7 and 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 18. Tickets are $10; call 314-368-7306 or visit www.hydewaretheatre.com for more information.
Friday, December 17
Of all the stuffed animals, the bears really are the best, mostly because of their diversity. Let's face it: There's only one kind of stuffed giraffe. But there are so many kinds of bears: Some bears can be soft and cuddly, like Snuggle, and other bears can be keepsakes, like the Boyds. Some bears even enjoy subtly peddling cola beverages like those wacky polar bears. Perhaps the most genteel of the bears are the traditional teddy bears. Prim, proper and mainstays in the bear community, these festive bears encourage you and your children to bring them to the Teddy Bear Tea in the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton St. Louis (100 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton). Teddy and child can enjoy fireside storytelling, cookie decorating and yummy food today (and Saturday and Sunday, December 18 and 19) at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Tickets cost $32 for grownups and $18 for kids; call 314-863-6300 to make the required reservation.
Saturday, December 18
Granted, we all live in St. Louis. But do we all live in the same St. Louis? Under the Arch: St. Louis Stories, a new anthology of fiction and nonfiction writing, explores through 23 very different points of view the many St. Louises that make up our shared hometown. Editor Paul Thiel assembled a stellar cross-section of St. Louis writers, including Richard Newman, A.E. Hotchner, William Gass, John Lutz and Robert Earleywine (who once gave a college-dumb Mr. Night a "B" when he really deserved a "C-" at best), to convey the humorous, the murderous, the amorous and the ridiculous nature of Mound City. Lutz and his fellow contributors Mary Troy, Margaret Hermes and Dakin Williams read their work at 2 p.m. at the Kirkwood Public Library (140 East Jefferson Avenue, Kirkwood; 314-821-5770). Admission is free, and you can buy a freshly printed book after the reading.
Sunday, December 19
During this time of year, it seems that no one can get enough of the celebrating, but some holidays are more noted by modern society than others. Nowadays, the winter solstice sometimes gets overlooked amid all the traditional eating and gift-giving days -- but it's definitely significant. As you know, after this solstice the period of daylight each day is a little bit longer than the day before. Look out, seasonal affective disorder: Our vitamin D is coming down the pipe! Enjoy your own SAD relief at a free Winter Solstice Sunrise Observance at 7 a.m. at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (30 Ramey Street and Collinsville Road, Collinsville, Illinois). That's where you'll watch the sun align with and rise over Woodhenge, the PalmPilot of the ancient people. Call 618-346-5160 or visit www.cahokiamounds.com for more information.
Monday, December 20
We know the drill: Five days before the holidays and you're broke. It's like some kinda crazy O. Henry story every year. That's O. Henry the writer of twisty-end short stories, not the Oh Henry! candy bar. (Although you're so broke that Oh Henry! is sounding pretty good right about now, isn't it?) Still, you soldier on, hoping to survive through Christmas Day, where you'll eat like a starving dog at the house of whatever relative you've borrowed the least money from this year. But now, this evening, you'll eat free popcorn at Frederick's Music Lounge (4454 Chippewa Street; 314-351-5711), because it's another Free Monday Movie Night. In fact, it's Fred's annual Short Attention Span Holiday Shorts Spectacular, so if you black out a couple times, you won't miss much. Load up while you can, buddy. Fred's opens at 5 p.m.
Tuesday, December 21
The holidays are made up of lots of round things: You've got your cookies, your ornaments, the circumference of the tree (or the candles or the sun, depending on your holiday). Even that ball you're giving little Johnny is round, just like the chocolate gelt you're eating right now. But the most splendid of the circular holiday objects is the holiday wreath. A simple object, often composed of pine branches, a wreath can bring good smells and good cheer to the area above the fireplace or your boring old front door. See what kind of wreaths the floral masters have created at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Holiday Wreath Exhibition (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or www.mobot.org). The show, viewable from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until January 2, is held at the Ridgway Center, and the only fee you'll pay to view the wreaths is the regular garden admission ($1.50 to $7).
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