Palm Beach detective Archie McNally likes women, swimming, eating, and drinking -- in that order. But the character concocted by the late Lawrence Sanders is a far cry from its creator, a South Florida crime-fiction author who kept mostly out of public view. Bookfest 98, a three-day book fair in downtown West Palm Beach, is dedicated to Sanders, who featured McNally in nine of his mystery novels, set in and around Palm Beach. After living in Pompano Beach for the last fifteen years, Sanders passed away February 7, just eight days before his 87th birthday. His final novel, Guilty Pleasures, published by Putnam on February 23, offers a twist that even a mystery writer would have a hard time inventing. On page 4 of the new book, which is not part of the McNally series, the famous Marilyn French book The Women's Room is mentioned. As it turns out, French is one of the guest speakers at the festival, which includes the sale and trade of old and rare books, storytelling, theater with literary themes, live music, and crafts for the kids. Admission is $3 to $5. Festival hours today are noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 561-471-2901.
Caustic comedian George Carlin began his career in 1956 at age nineteen as a radio DJ in Shreveport, Louisiana. After moving in 1959 to a station in Fort Worth, Texas, Carlin and another station employee, newsman Jack Burns, started trading smart-ass riffs off the air. They eventually developed enough material for a comedy act, quit radio, and by 1960 were working clubs as Burns and Carlin. Before long the duo went on The Tonight Show With Jack Parr, and although they played primarily mainstream clubs, the act was antiestablishment and satirical. Big surprise. The gripes have changed over the years, but Carlin, who split with Burns to go solo in 1962, has kept his slightly schizophrenic standup diatribes current. He appears tonight at 8 p.m. at Sunrise Musical Theatre, 5555 NW 95th Ave., Sunrise. Ticket prices range from $21.75 to $25.75. Call 954-741-7300.
Gaia is the goddess of Earth from Greek mythology, and it's in her honor that Gaiafest 1998 is named. The new festival's tag line is "A Celebration of Mother Earth With Women in Jazz," and it gets the environmental message across with plenty of sweet, soulful music as an enticement. Violinist Randi Fishenfeld, who gigs locally with the Pamela Stanley Band, headlines the day of free concerts, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at Rev. Samuel Delevoe Park Memorial Park (2520 NW 6th St., Fort Lauderdale). Other performers include bassist Kim Clarke and singers Dakota Staton and Dorothy Donegan. Between shows, health and environmental information from Sierra Club, Everglades Coalition, and other groups will be doled out from booths in the park; workshops on those topics will be held Sunday and Monday at area high schools. The festival concludes with the Women in Jazz Hall of Fame concert ($25) at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale. The festival is free. For a complete schedule and additional information, call 954-523-5115.
The late Elvis Presley's diet and conventional wisdom notwithstanding, deep-fried and fattening aren't the only ways to go when it comes to Southern cuisine. Just ask the folks from the Johnson and Wales University cooking school in North Miami, who will forgo the fried chicken in favor of chicken fajitas at today's Southern Cooking Demonstration at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Plantation (591 S. University Dr.). Instead of being immersed in boiling oil, the chicken will be grilled. The free event, which is a precursor to the March 29 opening of the musical Showboat, will include registration for raffles of a Johnson and Wales cooking class for two, a Showboat gift basket, and tickets to the show, which will run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-723-0489.
Roald Hoffmann, the 1981 Nobel Prize-winning chemist from Cornell University, will speak today at Florida Atlantic University. We know what you're thinking: "Great, another dry science lecture." Well, not exactly. The award-winning chemist has also published three books of poetry that, as might be expected from a scientist, "explores the complex and lyrical structures of the world around us." The 1993 volume, Chemistry Imagined, for example, is a collaboration between Hoffmann and artist Vivian Torrence that reveals the creative and human sides of molecular science. Hoffmann will no doubt keep listeners wide awake when he speaks as part of the FAU English Department's "Lectures in the Disciplines" series. The event is free and takes place at 3 p.m. in the General Classroom South Building, Room 116, on the FAU Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Call 561-297-3830.