The brainy bunch

What do an avid reader, a sailor, a drummer and a runner have in common?

They are just four of sixteen Columbia students who were recently named semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Missouri’s electors get ready to vote

Bruce Bredeman received so many messages urging him to switch his vote during the last presidential election that his e-mail service practically shut down.

“I was getting about 1,400 e-mails a day for several weeks asking me to switch my vote from George W. Bush to Al Gore until I had to call my e-mail service provider to filter them out,” Bredeman said.

Electoral College Trivia

1) How much are Missouri's electors paid per day?

a) $5

Farmer, editor face rematch over state rep seat

When people ask Jeff Hedberg why he decided to get into politics, he gives them three reasons: Rachael, Greg and Suzanne.

“Those are my children,” said Hedberg, who is the Republican candidate for 9th District state representative. He is also managing editor of the Centralia Fireside Guard newspaper. “I want to make Missouri a better place to raise our children, our grandchildren and our families.”

Family on the field

Jamie Varvaro has two sets of children. One set is his own. The other is his soccer team. Varvaro’s youngest child, 12-year-old Elayne, is on his team. So are 17 other girls.

“You really get to bond with these young ladies,” he says. “Pretty soon you look at them as all your daughters.”

Research and reprieves

New mother Kim Kremer added some unexpected medical terms to her vocabulary during her pregnancy: lymph node, biopsy and malignant.

The 30-year-old arrived at her obstetrician’s office with a swollen belly, but to her surprise, the doctor focused on a different, less visible growth in her breast.

Unmasking paganism

Masks usually conceal identity. Those who wear them portray an image of something they’re not, keeping the truth hidden.

But those who attended the third annual Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride Festival on Sept. 19 wore masks for a different reason. The plastic white masks attendees wore over their eyes and around their arms had phrases written on them: “I could lose my kids” and “I could get beaten up.”

Community Sketchbook

Title: Contemporary Works of Kevin Ritchie, an exhibit at A La Campagne, 918 E. Broadway

About the artist: Kevin Ritchie is a full-time artist who has won multiple awards at the annual Boone County Art Show, including first place in professional drawing and the Popular Choice Award.

Like babies, baby showers need a change

I never liked going to baby showers, even when I was in the childbirthing years.

  Back then, it was a women-only party usually held on a Sunday afternoon. The hostess (the term is now host) would expend way too much energy, in my opinion, decorating the room in pastel pink and blue crepe paper and balloons. The party was always right smack in the middle of the afternoon, so it shot the whole day. All of us women would arrive wearing our Sunday best (we hadn’t changed from church) and we would sit around and “chat” about inane topics until the party planner declared we were going to play some games.

Whoa, Nellie

Some would call her determined. Others might say dynamic. She calls herself an overachiever. Whatever the description, one thing is certain: Nellie Owen, 49,

never stops.

Beauty breakdown

Q What is the meaning of your latest exhibition entitled, “Beauty, the Monstrous and Waiting?”

A I think that beauty, the monstrous and waiting are important aspects of human life in general, but particularly for women. Beauty is associated with the feminine but is at the same time something unattainable; an idealized fantasy of a perfect, young goddess. The monstrous in my work is expressed in the form of the limbless mannequin, rendered helpless and grotesque by her deformities. Waiting is one of the underlying components of human life. Despite frenzied activity that keeps us perpetually busy, we live off expectation, anticipation, hope and illusion. Mannequins in general represent perfect form and the dreams of society. Thus, my mannequin unites these three concepts: She is beautiful to behold, and yet she is restricted by her amputations, rendered useless and helpless, reduced to passive waiting and inactivity.

Columbia storytellers carry on tradition

As technology continues to replace the need, and in some cases the desire, for face-to-face communication, the future of the oral tradition may appear to be in jeopardy.

But Columbia resident Beth Horner, a nationally recognized storyteller with more than 18 years of experience, has no doubt that the oral tradition will continue to flourish in modern society.

Online 'Odyssey'

For at least 400 years, Homer’s “Odyssey” was passed down through generations of ancient Greeks by poets and storytellers. By the time someone got around to writing it down, the epic comprised about 528 feet of papyrus scrolls, which, today, would make for a very large book.

Fortunately for today’s students and scholars, “The Odyssey” can be accessed instantly by the click of a computer mouse. But downloading Homer’s epic is different from hearing it from a poet or storyteller.

Literary history restored a page at a time

Jim Downey’s office, which sits in the back of his rambling Victorian home, resembles a well-lit torture chamber. On his desk are scalpels, tweezers, scissors, knives, needles and thread. A giant bladed guillotine looms in a far corner.

Downey is a book conservator, one of only three in Missouri. He restores books, documents and maps from the past 2,000 years. The guillotine is used for cutting pages, and the other tools are used to gently piece together tattered documents.

Faces of Ninth Street

Feeling neighborly

When Lynn Rossy moved back to Columbia 13 years ago, she said she drove around town like a maniac.

After living in San Francisco and Los Angeles, cruising casually was not in her nature.

Defining community

‘On Foot’

Two-minute read

NEW CHANCELLOR’S WIFE RETIRES: Anne Deaton, wife of the new MU Chancellor Brady Deaton, plans to retire Jan. 1 as the state director for the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, the division announced this week. Anne Deaton said she wants to spend more time with her family and to devote more time to MU, where she was once an assistant professor.


An information graphic on page 5A Wednesday about the transportation development district approved along Stadium Boulevard misidentified one of the property owners that will be affected by the new district. The business is TKG Management.

An article published Friday on about stem-cell research misquoted a source and misspelled her last name. Mary Andersen said, "It is creating human life and using that life for research, and that is wrong."

Take your Pick

Fall’s brilliance is in full force at Hartsburg’s 13th annual Pumpkin Festival.

Despite a slow start to the pumpkin crop earlier this year, Jo Hackman said the pumpkin yield has been very good. Hackman and her husband, Norlan, have produced about 60,000 pumpkins this year for the more than 40,000 people who will pass through the two-day festival, which runs through today.