(Original Pampered Chef)

FRI 8/5

You've seen all manner of fancy knives on TV: knives that cut cans, knives that conquer concrete, knives that slice and dice just about anything -- except the skin of a tomato. And at this time of year, don't you know it, too? You've been squashing those juicy, tomatoey guts all over the place -- that is, unless you've been smart enough to attend a Pampered Chef party (similar in concept to, say, a Tupperware party) and buy one of the company's super-duper utility knives. These things, which live in their own handy-dandy sharpening case, can cut anything -- including tomatoes! But the Pampered Chef offers more than just knives. This company, which was founded in 1980 by Doris Christopher (pictured) in her suburban Chicago home's basement, sells all sorts of kitchen tools, and perhaps the best-known of them is the baking stone. Sure, you see these things baking pizzas all across America now, but Christopher was one of the stone's first cheerleaders. (Now, if you think all this excitement over something to bake pizza on is a little silly, you clearly haven't tried pizza cooked on a stone.)

Anyway, the woman who started it all, the founder of the Pampered Chef company, has written a book about her life and her business, which includes details about everything from the first Pampered Chef party at Christopher's friend's house to how the business grew into an operation that's 70,000 field people strong (!) and sells nearly a billion dollars annually. And Christopher's visiting the St. Louis County Library Headquarters (1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard, Ladue; 314-994-3300 or www.slcl.org) at 2 p.m. to tell you all about it. There, her book, The Pampered Chef: The Story of One of America's Most Beloved Companies, will be for sale, so you can have the kitchen-tools master sign a copy of it instead of autographing your baking stone or fancy knife. -- Alison Sieloff

Jerry Garcia Week

Oh, Jerry! Why did you have to Go to Heaven so soon? You really were an American Beauty, and the Deadheads miss you very much. In fact, some of them will be gathered at the Grateful Inn (7336 Manchester Boulevard, Maplewood; 314-647-3323) Wednesday through Saturday (August 3 through 6) to commemorate both the day of your birth (8/1/42) and death (8/9/95) with a little music -- Jake's Leg on Wednesday ($5), the Roadies on Thursday (free), Corbin & Belt on Friday (free) and Kerosene Willy on Saturday ($2) -- and a little love (light). The bands play from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., so no worries: The Deadheads will definitely be home before daylight for the sleeping. Plus, the folks at the Inn will even have a Shakedown Street out back with glass-blowers, tie-dyers, and people from Plowsharing Crafts and Craft Alliance. Grate times! -- Alison Sieloff

How Red Is Your Neck?

So, while Strassenfest celebrates St. Louis' Germanic heritage, Schlaffenfest celebrates our hoosier heritage. The Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust Street; 314-241 2337 or www.schlafly.com) hosts the Dogtown All-Stars, White Ghost Shivers and Devil in a Woodpile from 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday, August 5, and then hosts a contest of "hoosier feats" from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, August 6. What qualifies as a hoosier feat? Why, watermelon-seed-spittin' contests, hollerin' contests and SPAM sculpting, of course. There're also toilet-seat horseshoes and a gooey-butter-cake-eating competition. And what better way to end the day than with musical performances by Bob Reuter and Bobby Bare Jr. (pictured)? Admission is $10 for the evening performances, and proceeds benefit KDHX (88.1 FM). -- Paul Friswold

MO Ladies

WED 8/3

Pageant season is upon us, and the ladies with the Vaseline smiles and the tape-enhanced buttocks couldn't be more excited. And neither could we, to be honest, because the pageant in question is the Miss Gay Missouri Pageant. These aren't pre-programmed "world-peace-for-all-children" Southern belles vying for tiaras -- these are drag queens with attitude and talent to spare. The preliminary round, starring Tuhmora Muhorning and Krista Versace, starts at 10 p.m. at SPOT nightclub (4146 Manchester Avenue). More contestants are sure to enter, so call 314-371-1330 or visit www.spotbar.net for prices and details. Winners of this round move on, hopefully, to the finals and the chance to represent you, me and Matt Blunt as Miss Gay Missouri. -- Paul Friswold

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