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June fun is bustin' out all over

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 28, 2002

Ah, June. The month that there's nothing so rare as a day in, the month most favored for big, beautiful, formal weddings, the month in which many college and high school graduations take place, and my personal favorite since two sons and I celebrate our birthdays in this month, famous in song and legend. And then we all have fun picking out just the right tie, socks, cologne and cards for the Master of the Universe called Father. Not bad for a month without any legal holidays.

In this area, we might fuss about the heat and the lack of rain, but we do enjoy the luxury of having a bit more room to drive on streets, not facing quite such long lines at our favorite restaurants and maybe even getting a parking place on the beach. The pleasure is increased when there are some good exhibits at our local art centers, which make lovely places to retreat into cool, beautiful rooms and contemplate lovely and unusual things.

We have lots of choices. The Gulf Coast Museum of Art at 12211 Walsingham Road in Largo has a traveling show of folk art from the Mennello Museum and the city of Orlando; selections from phases of "Tomas Marais: Havana, Paris, Tampa Bay"; a new work by Charles Parkhill in the sculpture garden -- all this, and the impressive permanent collection. Call (727) 518-6833 for days, hours and admissions. Thursday is free day.

This is the 20th anniversary celebration month at the Dali Museum at 1000 Third St. S in downtown St. Petersburg. Dali's The Persistence of Memory (that's the one with the melting clock) is on loan from the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is being displayed with its companion piece, The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, through June 8.

In addition to the regular permanent collection, the show "Forms of Cubism: Sculpture and the Avant-garde, 1909-1918" will be at the Dali through Sept. 8. Call (727) 823-3767 for hours and prices, or check the Web site at for more information. If you've never visited the Dali or have been meaning to get back for another look, this is definitely the time to go.

And now for something completely different. For you art enthusiasts who relish the cutting edge, the USF Contemporary Art Museum lives up to its name with its show of inflatable sculptures and wall paintings by Sharon Engelstein and Aaron Parazette, through July 20 on the USF Tampa Campus. For more information, call (813) 974-2849.

Some good movies have just made it to the video stores. Lantana is a real grownup movie about complex and complicated marriage relationships all mixed up with a routine police investigation of a murdered woman. This Australian film almost swept the board at the Aussie's version of our Academy Awards. Like it or not, it's one you won't forget.

Gosford Park, directed by that sly old master Robert Altman, is also a murder mystery, but one played out in an Upstairs, Downstairs style in an English manor house. Full of incredible actors -- Maggie Smith, Alan Bates, Emily Watson, Jeremy Northam and on and on -- this one is lots of fun on a VCR or DVD at home, since you can replay it to hear the jokes you missed the first time through.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is for the young, in years and at heart. What a delightful rendering of that great story, with lovely sets and costumes, appropriate special effects and a conclusion to please everybody. It's better watched with a real Harry Potter fan, but enjoyable under any circumstance.

Real music hounds look forward every summer to the three-week Sarasota Music Festival, this year June 3-22. To order your own knockout brochure, with all the events, times and ticket prices available, call (941) 953-3434.

Two very different books are available for relaxing with in this lovely, lazy month of June. If you enjoyed Seabiscuit, here's another book about real life with thoroughbred horses that you will relish: Horse of a Different Color: A Tale of Breeding Geniuses, Dominant Females, and the Fastest Derby Winner Since Secretariat by Jim Squires, editor of the Chicago Tribune from 1981-1989. Squires, who retired from journalism to live out his dream of breeding thoroughbred horses, writes informatively and engagingly about his new career, telling an absorbing tale of the highs and the lows, the successes and the failures, in the breeding of a Derby winner.

Ann Patchett wrote one of my favorite books of last year, Bel Canto. She's not the only writer in the family; her mother, Jeanne Ray, has just had her second novel published (her first was Julie and Romeo, which Barbra Streisand has optioned for a movie). Ray has great fun exploring the romantic and sensual lives of the definitely older set.

Her latest, Step-Ball-Change, tells the story of a couple, long married, who are still caught in conflicts between their own physical need for each other and the demands of their grownup children and their jobs. It's very funny and yet rings very true, redefining the way real people often regard themselves and others over the age of 60.

Web sites

Everything you might ever have wanted to know about movies, from greatest lists, to complete Oscar history, to casts of obscure films, to collections of movie posters, you can find on this site:

If books are your passion, this site will yield endless pleasure in its information and links to other sites; it deals with novels, nonfiction, poetry, drama -- most anything written down and published:

Let's don't forget art. This fine arts search engine has fabulous resources and materials on artists, museums everywhere and individual art works:

Write to Mim Anne Houk in care of Seniority, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731; or send e-mail to

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