When was the last time you left your desk for lunch? We know you take your little Internet-wandering breaks and all, but you haven't enjoyed a midday meal away from that grimy keyboard since last October. So why not take a long lunch today? And why not make it worth it? The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660 or www.contemporarystl.org) has invited Eric Mumford, associate professor and director of the urban design program at Washington University's School of Architecture, to speak as a part of the museum's "Maritz Lunch and Learn Series: This Is Art?" Grab a bite to eat at Tempt (save a couple "Tempting Paninis" for us!), and sit back as Mumford speaks on "The Detroit-St. Louis Connection: Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch and the Legacy of Cranbrook in St. Louis" (Cranbrook is where St. Louisan Charles Eames, among others, studied). The free hourlong talk begins at noon, and when you leave, your belly will be full of tasty food; your mind, of St. Louis architecture history.
Thursday, February 10
Finally recovered from your New Year's Eve debauch? Good, because it's been two whole days. That's right, the Chinese New Year began yesterday, so this is the second day of the Year of the Rooster. If you still have some party left in you, Little Saigon (10 North Euclid Avenue; 314-361-8881) celebrates with a traditional Southern Lion Dance. At noon the Iron Dragon Kung Fu school performs this ritual dance involving a colorful, two-man dragon and a passel of drums, gongs and cymbals to bring peace and prosperity. The dance is free, but if spectating gives you an appetite, Little Saigon serves lunch (hint, hint). See? It does bring peace and prosperity.
Friday, February 11
Stories About the Old Days, the second production of the Saint Louis Black Repertory Company's season, opens at the Grandel Theater (3610 Grandel Square) at 8 p.m., and it should be a powerful evening of theater. Bill Harris, the man behind the Black Rep's popular Robert Johnson: Trick the Devil, wrote this one, and it, too, is about a blues singer. Clayborn, the singer in question, has abandoned the outside world for the comfort of an abandoned church; here, he plays checkers and reminisces about days gone by with a member of the old congregation. Tickets for Stories are $10 to $37.50 and are available by calling 314-534-3810. Visit www.stlouisblackrep.com for more information.
Saturday, February 12
Tango may be the dance of passion (it's not polka?), but flamenco is pretty dang sexy, too. And Valentine's Day, which looms oh-so-nigh, is the second sexiest holiday after Arbor Day. So why not combine the second-sexiest dance with the second-sexiest holiday to get a first-rate date-night date? The St. Louis Cultural Flamenco Society Dance Company presents Valentines a la Flamenca at the Polish Heritage Center (1413 North 20th Street) at 7:30 p.m. For $50 a head at the door, you get a ritzy dinner of Spanish cuisine, followed by a caliente flamenco show. If you already have reservations elsewhere but still want to catch the dancing, you need pay only $25 each and then show up prior to the 9:15 p.m. start time for the flamenco. Call 314-781-1537 or visit www.saintlouisflamenco.com for more information.
Sunday, February 13
Taking short out-of-town trips is a lot of fun, especially around Valentine's Day. On Saturday you probably felt a smidge German (who didn't?), so you visited Hermann, Missouri, for the Chocolate Extravaganza and Bake-Off (see page 32). But today you're feeling a bit more French. Good thing this state has a quaint little French town, too! Head out to our own Ste. Genevieve for a free open house and birthday party -- but not just any old birthday party. This historic town is celebrating Felix Vallé's 205th birthday, and his house (at Second and Merchant streets, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri; 573-883-7102), where you will be partying, is also really old! Enjoy your trip back in time from noon to 4 p.m. today and do as the French do while you're visiting Ste. Genevieve -- after all, they don't call it French kissin' for nothing.
Monday, February 14
Oh delicate princess, you are much like an orchid! You wilt when you are not "watered" properly (red wine for you, purified water, of course, for the orchid). You pout when your surroundings aren't climatically perfect -- you're always too cold or too hot, depending upon the weather. But aside from all your fussing and fretting, damn are you gorgeous! Surround yourself with hundreds of other royal beauties at "Orchid Island" at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or www.mobot.org). This exhibit, which also includes some miniature scenes, is held at the Ridgway Center and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day until March 13; admission to the tropical-plant paradise costs an additional $2 to $3 on top of regular garden admission ($1.50 to $7). (And by the way, oh delicate one, if you didn't get any flowers for Valentine's Day, this is a great place to pretend like you did -- all of the orchids, in all of their crowning elegance, are all here for you, you, you!)
Tuesday, February 15
How much more interesting would college have been if you had a professor who lectured from behind a piano? Imagine learning about the Marshall Plan while your professor plunks away, accenting the key points with jazzy little runs through the upper register.... It coulda been sweet. Maybe if you close your eyes during the Tribute to Jazz concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Sheldon Concert Hall (3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-516-5446) and think about geopolitical strategy, it will almost seem like you're back in school. It could happen. Pianist Thomas George is currently the chancellor of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and the bassist is UMSL's artist-in-residence, Jim Widner. If you're more of a business/finance major, John Wuest, vice chairman of Heartland Bank, rounds out the rhythm section on drums, and philanthropist Nancy Kranzberg is the pipes in this quartet. That's quite a lineup. Tickets for this unique performance of jazz standards ("Crazy," "S'Wonderful" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" are all on the set list) are $10 to $25. Finally remembering that the Marshall Plan was a bulwark against the spread of communism as well as a viable plan to jump-start economies and infrastructure in a war-ravaged Europe? That's priceless.