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Valentines in the Garden, Erik Ruhling and the Real State of the Union

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FEBRUARY 14 THURSDAY

Instead of a bouquet this Valentine's Day, why not give your sweetheart an entire garden? Atlanta Botanical Garden's VALENTINES IN THE GARDEN features dessert, live music, candlelit paths and heart-melting photo ops. If that seems too tame, Zoo Atlanta's LOVE IN THE ZOO delves into the scandalous world of animal courtship (dinner and dessert optional). Garden: $25-$35, 6-10 p.m. 1345 Piedmont Ave. 404-876-5859. www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org. Zoo: Through Feb. 15. $45-$85. 6:30-9:30 p.m. 800 Cherokee Ave. 404-624-5600. www.zooatlanta.org. (Alexandra Swidler)

FEBRUARY 16 SATURDAY

Say the words "stork" or "Iron Maiden," and most people think of birds or an English metal band. In his new illustrated book Infernal Device: Machinery of Torture & Execution, local author ERIK RUHLING reminds readers that a stork once was a bondage device for breaking ribs and spines, and an iron maiden was a two-door contraption lined with spikes for impaling a person's eyes, chest and back. Tonight's event celebrates the book's publication with a presentation and signing from Ruhling, and a performance by Hubcap City. Free. 7:30 p.m. Alcove Art Gallery, 2852 E. College Ave., Decatur. 404-663-0159. www.acappellabooks.com. (Abi Berwager)

FEBRUARY 19 TUESDAY

AJC deputy editorial editor Jay Bookman and the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery discuss important state and national topics as part of Atlanta WAND's REAL STATE OF THE UNION. The forum covers issues that the tight-lipped government and mainstream media don't always deliver to the public. Previous talks have addressed the situation in Iraq and a variety of other pivotal subjects. Tonight, Bookman works with the theme "Chickens Coming Home to Roost." Free. 7 p.m. Providence Missionary Baptist Church, 2295 Benjamin E. Mays Drive. 404-524-5999. www.atlantawand.org. (Kelly Vines)

FEB. 22 ACE FREHLEY The former Kiss guitarist brings his solo tour to Atlanta. www.centerstage-atlanta.com.

FEB. 22 TWISTED TONGUE $1,000 POETRY SLAM Ten finalists duke it out for a cash prize. www.theloftatl.com.

FEB. 23 EMORY COMMUNITY CHORAL FESTIVAL With the Atlanta Sacred Choral, Decatur Civic Chorus, DeKalb Choral Guild and Michael O'Neal Singers. www.atlantasacredchorale.org.

FEB. 24 ARIAS FROM MESSIAH Dance performance featuring the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra. www.severaldancerscore.org.

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