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February 4, 2014

Floppy Fever

By Kellye Crocker

 

From the Eisenhower administration through the Reagan years, "WHERE'S FLOPPY?" was a question, command and rallying cry for Iowa kids. The red-sweatered beagle always came when called.

Floppy returns in person and on screen for the "Duane & Floppy Film Festival"  Feb. 8 at the Iowa Hall of Pride, 330 Park St. Showings of the 90-minute film will be at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. It includes highlights from the WHO-TV program (1957-87) starring Duane Ellet, a self-taught ventriloquist who carved his sidekick from balsa wood. With gentle humor, Ellet coaxed even the shyest children in his studio audience to share riddles, "beep" Floppy's nose and announce, "Here's our next cartoon." The pair performed at hundreds of events around Iowa, including the Iowa State Fair. Ellet died in 1987.

Last year, fans protested the closing of a 19-year-old Floppy display at the State Historical Museum of Iowa. Officials said the aging puppet needed preservation. On a loan from the museum, Floppy will be on display at the film fest from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door, but you can reserve your place in the 96-seat theater by calling 564-8507. (Similar festivals at the historical museum in 2009 and 2010 drew large crowds.)  

 

Photo courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.

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Mommy and Me
 
Every year, dads and daughters can choose from several Valentine's Day dances around town. But why should they have all the fun? The "Mommy & Me: Sweetheart Dance," Feb. 8 at Courage League Sports in Urbandale, is an inaugural event for moms and their sons or daughters to celebrate Valentine's Day--and support Variety-The Children's Charity of Iowa. Activities include dancing, a dessert buffet and crafts, along with other fun.

All proceeds benefit Variety. Tickets are $30 per couple (a mom and one child) and $5 for every additional child, available by clicking here. Be sure to get your tickets in advance as they won't be sold at the door. The dance is 6:30-9:30 p.m.; find Courage League Sports at 4405 121st St. For more information, call 978-1603.

Catherine Dreiss, "Covert Operations" (2013), screenprint on archival paper.
Figuratively Speaking
 
The place to be last Friday night was the opening of Moberg Gallery's "Figurative Group Show," which spotlights the works of 20 artists from across Iowa as well as from Chicago, Kansas City and Portland, Maine. Inspired by the human form, the exhibit features oil and acrylic paintings, mixed-media collage, photography, digital art, sculpture in bronze, polystyrene and ceramics, and more. 

Although humans share the same basic parts, this exhibit is a vivid reminder that everyone is unique. We were especially drawn to the provocative underwater photography of new-to-Moberg artist  Ben Easter, a Des Moines photographer and film director whose work has appeared in many publications, including dsm. Some of our favorites from other local artists include Catherine Dreiss' intriguing woodcuts, Matthew J. Clark's lifelike figures of people, Jordan Weber's evocative mixed-media pieces and Bill Luchsinger's new digital images on canvas. Also be sure to check out the works by Greater Des Moines artists Frank Hansen, Larassa Kabel, Richard Kelley, Karen Strohbeen and Chris Vance. 

If you didn't get the the opening, don't worry: The show continues through March 15. For more information, click here
Eat a Treat and Raise Your Paws
 
For the "apple of your eye"--and anyone who loves animals--the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) makes one sweet valentine. It starts with a large, tart apple, which is wrapped in buttery caramel, dunked in milk chocolate, drizzled with white chocolate and crusted with toffee. Bagged and beribboned, each apple costs $15. New deals this year: Buy five and get one free or buy 15 and the ARL will deliver them to you. Don't delay; Feb. 7 is the last day to order. Sales support the 88-year-old ARL, which takes in more than 18,500 animals each year.

In other ARL "mews," the 22nd Annual Raise Your Paws Auction is April 26 at The Meadows Events & Conference Center at Prairie Meadows. The fundraiser, a sellout in past years, includes silent and live auctions, entertainment, appetizers and a cash bar. Through Feb. 28, snag a discounted early-bird ticket for $45 here.

Auction organizers also are seeking donations for the popular "wine wall," which raised nearly $5,000 last year. To contribute, bring a bottle of wine valued at $10 or more to the ARL, attention Lora Rogers. Donations are tax-deductible.
Alessandra Meschini
Valentine's Day Delight
By Wini Moranville
 
If this Feb. 14 finds you without a date--or if the two of you simply don't go in for the whole Valentine's Day dining-out hoopla (crowds, elusive reservations, and 
all)--here's an alternate event for food, wine and music lovers: Italian native and local Des Moines foodista Alessandra Meschini, of Cooking with Alessandra fame, is putting together an evening of wine, chocolate and cheese at WineStyles in West Des Moines. Sample three reds and three whites along with meats from La Quercia and gourmet cheeses. And because it just wouldn't be Valentine's Day without chocolate, Nutella crępes and chocolate truffles will be on the menu, too.

Guests will also enjoy a performance by mezzo-soprano (and Des Moines resident) Kathryn Bisanti, whose talents have taken her to Italy, where she's studied with top vocal coaches and performed at the Spoleto Arts Symposium.

Admission is $60 per person ($50 for two or more). The evening starts at 6 p.m. and concludes at 8:30 p.m. Purchase tickets on the Cooking with Alessandra website. WineStyles is at 5515 Mills Civic Parkway, Suite 120, West Des Moines; 224-9463.

Kellye Crocker

Kellye Crocker lives in Clive and writes fiction for teens and nonfiction for adults. A former Des Moines Register senior reporter and current dsm contributing writer, she's also written for Parents, Better Homes and Gardens and Glamour, among other national publications. Connect with her on Twitter: @kelcrocker.
Wini Moranville

Wini Moranville, author of "The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day," is a food, wine and travel writer who covers the dining scene for dsm magazine. Follow her at All Things Food DSM - Wini Moranville and catch her food segment on Fridays at 6:40 a.m. on KCWI-23's "Great Day" morning show.

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