How Else Are You Going To Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day. Pain in the ass, ain’t it?

You gotta take your sweetie out to dinner, and it has to be a nice place with silverware and napkins. No McDonald’s. Expensive. And crowded, because everybody will be taking their sweetie out to dinner.

And you gotta buy flowers, which are just gonna die in a week. And you gotta buy chocolates, which the kids are just gonna eat. And you gotta get ’em a nice trinket, which they will forget about in a few months. It’s just a pain in the ass.

But what if I told you that you could take your honey-bunny out for an evening at a classy joint with drinks and desserts and live music and art and the admission price is all going to help a worthy cause?

Yeah, I know. I’m the greatest. You’re welcome.

12122954_1050261881685575_4606737376203742046_nSign up now for “Art for Sweethearts,” an art show and fundraiser for the Center for Autism Education. The event begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the Foundry Art Centre on Main Street in St. Charles. For a mere $25 per person you can enjoy an evening of drinks, desserts, fine art and music by the Bill Roemer band.

You can also spring for VIP tickets for $50 each that includes an after-party at Q on Main Street.

In addition to the Foundry’s usual collection of artwork there will be several pieces on display by people from the CAE. There will be silent and live auctions to purchase art.

If you feel the need to eat something substantial before spending 3 hours eating chocolates and drinking wine, the Winery of the Little Hills — just down the road from the Foundry — has partnered for the event. Eat dinner there beforehand and a percentage of the bill will benefit the center.

This just gets better and better, doesn’t it? And did I mention that I will be there?

Now on the offhand chance that I have not suitably enticed you with chocolates, alcohol, art, live music, dinner and the chance to spend part of your Valentine’s weekend with me, I’m bringing out the big gun.


My wife has chained my son to the kitchen table for the past two weeks making him paint anything she can get her hands on just so you can purchase your very own Andrew Roy Original at this event (Just kidding, he loves to paint). Give your loved one an authentic, one-of-a-kind, holiday ornament, wine glass, or how about a nice vase to put those Valentine’s Day flowers in? We’ve thought of everything.

In fact, if you have a special order, he can probably paint it in the next 5 days.

So, let’s sum up, shall we?

  • Dinner — covered.
  • Chocolates — covered.
  • Alcohol – covered.
  • Classy venue — covered.
  • Valuable gift to make your sweetie love you even more — covered
  • That warm feeling you get when you’ve done something to help others — covered. And that’s not normally part of the Valentine’s Day routine. Bonus!

Now that that’s settled, I look forward to seeing you on Friday.




At The Movies: Hail, Caesar!

The Coen Brothers tend to make two types of films: Excellent (Fargo, True Grit, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and disappointing (The Ladykillers, Intolerable Cruelty, Burn After Reading, Inside Llewyn Davis).

Their latest, “Hail, Caesar!” sadly falls into that latter category.

Which isn’t to say it’s a bad film. Even a disappointing effort by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen has its moments. But when you’re expecting excellence, falling short can be, well, disappointing.

hail-caesar-posterJosh Brolin stars as Eddie Mannix, a “fixer” for a Hollywood studio during the cinema’s golden age of the 1950s. Eddie’s job is to keep the studio scandal-free and take care of any problems that might occur. It’s a full-time job, and then some.

For instance, aquatic actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant and not really intersted in getting married for the third time just so the child will have a father. And singing cowboy Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) is having trouble transitioning into a more serious role.

But Eddie’s biggest crisis comes when star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped off the set of the studio’s epic feature “Hail, Caesar!”

It may sound interesting, but it’s all in the delivery, and “Hail, Caesar!” just doesn’t deliver. There’s a lot going on but nothing goes anywhere. Problems are resolved off-camera or just left unresolved. The kidnapping is the most boring in film history.

Like I said, the film does have its moments. The attention to period detail is spot-on. The all-star cast is excellent, even if many of them aren’t given much to do or much screen time. There’s an impressive dance number by Channing Tatum and some men in sailor suits. There’s a cute aquatic dance number.

It’s clear the Coens have a fondness for ’50s Hollywood. It’s too bad they didn’t have a stronger story to center around it. There’s a goofy charm to “Hail, Caesar!” but no big laughs. Given the caliber of talent involved, the end result is — I’ll say it one last time — disappointing.




At The Movies: The Finest Hours

One of the many things Disney is good at is the Unbelievable But True Inspirational Story! They are often about sports figures or teams but not always, like the current entry “The Finest Hours.”

It has all the key ingredients you expect from this kind of movie — it’s unbelievable, it’s true and it’s inspirational. It’s also has a very, very old fashioned feel about it. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Directed by Craig Gillespie and based on the book “The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue” by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman, the film recounts a 1952 event in which a four men in a small Coast Guard boat went out into a terrible storm in search of men on a sinking oil tanker. And there’s a love story thrown in too just in case the story needed more emotional heft.

The_Finest_Hours_posterChris Pine stars as Bernard Webber, a follow-the-regulations kinda guy working for the Coast Guard off the New England coast. As the film opens the shy and unassuming Bernard is on his first date with the more outspoken Miriam (Holliday Grainger). After a few dates she asks him to marry her, and he agrees provided he first get approval from his boss — per regulations.

But before he can secure that approval, Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) has one very dangerous mission for Webber. A severe nor’easter has turned the nearby sea into the water ride from hell.  So fierce is the storm that it has cut the oil tanker SS Pendleton in half. The captain and part of the crew went down with the front part of the ship but 30-plus men are still alive on the other section — somewhere in the blackness and waves.

Never one to say no to an order, Webber finds three others willing to join him and off they go into the storm. Meanwhile on the Pendleton, Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) is doing his best to keep his crew mates alive and the ship afloat until help can arrive.

“The Finest Hours” is a 1950s-style movie with 21st century special effects. The storm sequences are impressive and unbelievable. The tension is palpable.

At the same time, the movie is pretty corny. Webber is as straight-laced and honorable as a human being can be. Sybert is the epitome of determination and always able to figure out a way to fix things. Miriam isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

These inspirational true stories have a formula all their own and Disney doesn’t steer too far ashore from it. If you like these kinds of movies then you’re sure to enjoy “The Finest Hours.”



On Stage: Newsies

Not even a raging snowstorm could keep this reviewer from checking out the St. Louis debut of Broadway’s latest hit musical, Disney’s “Newsies.”

OK, so it was just 1-3 inches, but in the minor metropolitan area we call St. Louis, even a minor dusting of snow makes it impossible to get around. I was lucky to arrive before the 7:30 p.m. start time — many people didn’t.

It was worth the longer-than-usual drive downtown to see it. “Newsies” is a high-energy, dance-heavy, plot-light musical extravaganza set against the backdrop of 1899 New York City.


Original company, North American Tour of Disney’s NEWSIES. Photo by Deen van Meer. 

Joey Barreiro stars as Jack Kelly, a charismatic poor kid getting by in New York by selling. newspapers. When publisher Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Blanchard) decides to improve circulation by raising the price of papers (forcing the newsies to sell more papers to make the same piddling amount of salary), Joey and his pals are put in a bind.

Egged on by a young, wannabe muckraker named Katherine (Morgan Keene) and a few of the other boys, Joey agrees to lead them in a strike against the newspaper magnate. But unionizing a bunch of kids and bringing down Pulitzer may be a bigger challenge than they can dance their way out of.

And that’s pretty much the whole story. Oh, there’s the obligatory romance involving Joey and Katherine, and one of the boys temporarily winds up in “the Refuge,” a poorhouse for boys, but “Newsies” didn’t win a couple of Tonys for it’s complex plot.

No, it won for choreography and score, which is where the show really shines. The musical features a number of amazing dance numbers, which are the real stars of the show. The talented cast sings, leaps, taps and engages in all sorts of acrobatics. Who knew it was so much fun to sell newspapers? It wasn’t that much fun working on them.

In addition to its exuberant musical numbers, the show features an impressive set design and clever use of multimedia. “Newsies” is an excellent way to shake off any winter blues.

“Disney’s Newsies” is at the Fox Theatre through Jan. 31.




Gone: Glenn Frey

Well, I’m running down the road425336
tryin’ to loosen my load
I’ve got seven women on my mind,
Four that wanna own me,
Two that wanna stone me,
One says she’s a friend of mine

Take It easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy

Take another shot of courage
Wonder why the right words never come
You just get numb

It’s another tequila sunrise
This old world still looks the same
Another frame

We can beat around the bushes;
we can get down to the bone
We can leave it in the parkin’ lot,
but either way, there’s gonna be a
heartache tonight, a heartache tonight I know.

Tell me can you feel it
Tell me can you feel it
Tell me can you feel it

They will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along

There’s trouble on the street tonight, I can feel it in my bones
I had a premonition that he should not go alone
I knew the gun was loaded, but I didn’t think he’d kill
Everything exploded, and the blood began to spill
So baby, here’s your ticket, and the suitcase in your hand
Here’s a little money, now do it just the way we planned
You be cool for twenty hours, and I’ll pay you twenty grand
I’m sorry it went down like this, but someone had to lose
It’s the nature of the business, it’s the smuggler’s blues

So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key

But me, I’m already gone
And I’m feelin’ strong
I will sing this vict’ry song
‘Cause I’m already gone

I get this feeling I may know you as a lover and a friend.
But this voice keeps whispering in my other ear,
Tells me I may never see you again.

’cause I get a peaceful easy feeling
And I know you won’t let me down
’cause I’m already standing…
I’m already standing…
Yes, I’m already standing on the ground

We may lose and we may win 
though we will never be here again
so open up, I’m climbin’ in,
so take it easy

At The Movies: Anomalisa

Every once in a while I leave the comfort of Hollywood-processed movies and go see an art film (It’s supposed to be good for me). And then I remember why I only do it rarely.

This week’s adventure in Plaza Frontenac-style cinema is “Anomalisa,” a stop-motion animation film by Charlie Kaufman. I picked this movie because I generally like Kaufman’s work, which includes such offbeat and cerebral numbers as “Adaptation,” “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

“Anomalisa” has a germ of an interesting idea but it doesn’t wind up amounting to much. It’s slow and plodding and features a central character I have no sympathy for or interest in going through a midlife crisis that I cared nothing about.

Anomalisa-Poster_1200_1750_sDavid Thewlis gives voice to Michael Stone, a self-help author who is in Cincinnati to give a speech at a customer service seminar. Stone hates his life, his wife, and his son — in no particular order. He calls up an old frame and they meet for drinks at the hotel bar. It ends badly.

Later, Stone runs into a couple of women in the hotel who are big fans of his book. They go down to the hotel bar for drinks. He invites the younger girl, Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh), back to his room. Through their awkward conversations, Stone finds himself in love — or maybe he just wants to have sex. Either way, they have sex.

The next morning  Stone is feeling alive and re-energized. He speaks of leaving his family and running off with Lisa. But as they make plans for the future, he notices something about her has changed.

“Anomalisa” would’ve made a decent “Twilight Zone” episode if Kaufman could’ve cut it down to 30 minutes. Like any good “Twilight Zone” story it turns on a clever gimmick, which I won’t spoil here, but I really didn’t need to spend 90 minutes watching Stone’s rather pathetic life to get to it.

“Anomalisa” is the kind of movie only a film snob could love (yes, I picked that movie poster for a reason). The animation was different and interesting, and the movie has its moments, but overall I now wish I’d gone to see that Michael Bay Benghazi movie.




Gone: David Bowie

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Who knows? not me
We never lost control
You’re face to face
With the Man who Sold the World

Never gonna fall for
Modern love – walks beside me
Modern love – walks on by
Modern love – gets me to the church on time
Church on time – terrifies me
Church on time – makes me party
Church on time – puts my trust in god and man
God and man – no confessions
God and man – no religion
God and man – don’t believe in modern love

Hot tramp, I love you so

I’m an alligator, I’m a mama-papa coming for you
I’m the space invader, I’ll be a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you
Keep your mouth shut, you’re squawking like a pink monkey bird
And I’m busting up my brains for the words
Keep your ‘lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah

He’s so simple-minded, he can’t drive his module
He bites on the neon and sleeps in a capsule
Loves to be loved, loves to be loved

Oh, Jean Genie lives on his back
The Jean Genie loves chimney stacks
He’s outrageous, he screams and he bawls
Jean Genie, let yourself go, whoah

It ain’t easy to get to heaven when you’re going down

Inspirations have I none
Just to touch the flaming dove
All I have is my love of love
And love is not loving

You ain’t a pimp and you ain’t a hustler
A pimp’s got a Cadi and a lady got a Chrysler
Black’s got respect, and white’s got his Soul Train
Mama’s got cramps, and look at your hands ache
(I heard the news today, oh boy)
I got a suite and you got defeat
Ain’t there a man you can say no more?
And, ain’t there a woman I can sock on the jaw?
And, ain’t there a child I can hold without judging?
Ain’t there a pen that will write before they die?
Ain’t you proud that you’ve still got faces?
Ain’t there one damn song that can make me
Break down and cry?

All night
I want the young American
Young American, young American, I want the young American
All right
I want the young American, young American

Put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Fame, (fame) what you like is in the limo
Fame, (fame) what you get is no tomorrow
Fame, (fame) what you need you have to borrow
Fame (fame)

Ah don’t lean on me man, ’cause you can’t afford the ticket
Back from Suffragette City
Oh don’t lean on me man, ’cause you ain’t got time to check it
You know my Suffragette City is outta sight, she’s all right

Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Look at that sky, life’s begun
Nights are warm and the days are young
Come get up my baby

We can be heroes just for one day


There’s a starman waiting in the sky
Hed like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
Hes told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

She says..shhhhh

Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying

I heard telephones, opera house, favorite melodies
I saw boys, toys, electric irons and TVs
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there

And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people
I never thought I’d need so many people

A girl my age went off her head, hit some tiny children
If the black hadn’t a pulled her off, I think she would have killed them
A soldier with a broken arm, fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac
A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest, and a queer
Threw up at the sight of that

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlor, drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine, don’t think
You knew you were in this song

And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to walk

Ziggy played guitar

Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth
You pull on your finger, then another finger, then your cigarette
The wall-to-wall is calling, it lingers, then you forget
Ohh oh, oh, oh, you’re a rock ‘n’ roll suicide

Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do
People stared at the makeup on his face
Laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace
The boy in the bright blue jeans
Jumped up on the stage
And lady stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and disgrace
And he was alright, the band was altogether
Yes he was alright, the song went on forever
And he was awful nice
Really quite out of sight
And he sang all night long