Your mind is as clear as the black sky upon which the saga of man's origin is acted out nightly by the cyclical parade of the beasts and demigods of the constellations. Before you, a chorus of flame ascends in solemn splendor, dancing, defining each moment before leaping into the air and vanishing silently into the seam of night. The wind suddenly whips a sheet of leaves from the damp ground into a percussive cyclone; your pulse quickens as you gather folds of woolen warmth tightly around you. As the last flames leave the embers to incandesce alone, you retreat to your tent and encase your supine form in down and silk. Elementals whisper in the darkness as your mind is enshrouded in an incubatory slumber. It is within the sanctuary of this repose, far from any town, that Asklepios lifts society's iniquities from your brow.
Camping in December? Hell yes. Missouri State Parks remain open year-round, and off-season visitors are guaranteed to see far fewer Winnebagos. If you could use a night (or a week) away from the city lights in the great outdoors, call Missouri's Department of Parks and Recreation at 1-800-334-6946, or visit www.mostateparks.com for all the information you'll need. -- John Goddard
Is a sweetheart now
It must be deeply amusing to some folks that Bob Plager now signs his autograph with a smiley-face in the hole of the "P." After all, the former St. Louis Blues enforcer was once paid to hip-check and smack around the other goons of the NHL.
To St. Louisans, though, Plager will never be just a goon with the penmanship of an adolescent girl. His pro career began with the birth of the Blues franchise in 1967, and he and brothers Barclay and Billy Plager all used to skate together for the Blue Note, à la Slap Shot's Hanson brothers. Bob signs his new book of insider anecdotes, Bob Plager's Tales From the Blues Bench, at a free 1-to-3 p.m. event at Barnes & Noble-Des Peres (11952 Manchester Road, 314-984-8644). -- Byron Kerman