Superstitious gamblers -- the kind who can't roll the dice or play a hand without a lucky rabbit's foot nearby -- will love the setup on Palm Beach County's newest gambling boat. The 160-foot, triple-deck SunCruz V boasts 21 gaming tables and 210 slot machines -- numbers, you may notice, that are divisible by seven. The first two levels of the boat, which departs from Riviera Beach Marina (111 E. 14th St., Riviera Beach), are filled with everything from blackjack to roulette. Up top are the bar and buffet. SunCruz Casino, which operates ships out of Hollywood and several other Florida cities, will celebrate the launch of its newest ship during tonight's cruise with a reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The trip into legal gambling territory in international waters is made twice each day, at noon and 7:30 p.m. It costs $5 to board and $5 for the buffet. The amount of additional dough you blow is up to you and Lady Luck. Call 561-845-1333.
French aviation pioneer Jean Mermoz pulled no punches when he hired young pilot Henri Guillaumet to fly the most dangerous mail-delivery route for his Compagnie Generale Aeropostale. "If you drop you'll never be found again," Mermoz told the new recruit before his first flight over the treacherous Andes Mountains. And off he flew. Director Jean-Jaques Annaud (Quest for Fire) couldn't have chosen a better subject for the first dramatic IMAX 3-D film, Wings of Courage. The picturesque mountains fill the gigantic screen as the action on the ground and in the air is depicted in 3-D. As for the drama, the true story from the '30s throws Guillaumet (Craig Sheffer) into a raging hailstorm, which shreds his plane and forces him to crash-land on a frozen lake in the middle of the Andes. The film also stars Val Kilmer as Mermoz. Wings is shown today at 1:35 and 8:10 p.m. and runs twice daily through July at the Blockbuster IMAX 3D Theater, Museum of Discovery and Science, 401 SW 2nd St., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $7 to $9. Call 954-467-6637.
The title of Esta's CD Mediterranean Crossroads aptly describes the Israeli quartet's musical wanderings. Esta uses bagpipes, electric guitar, pennywhistle, bouzouki, saxophone, and bass guitar to move from stately marches to hypnotizing Middle Eastern ragas, and from jazz to rock -- sometimes in the same song. The group's members met each other while playing in the military band of the Israeli army, and Esta made its debut in 1987 at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel. Now based in New York, Esta brings its multiethnic musical mix to the stage today as part of IsraelFest 50 at the Harold and Sylvia Kaplan Jewish Community Center (3151 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach). Taking place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the event celebrates Israel's 50th anniversary and includes performances by the Robyn Helzner Trio, the Alexander J. Dreyfoos, Jr. School of the Arts Orchestra and the Tzahar Youth Orchestra of Israel. Admission prices range from $1 to $3. Call 561-689-7700.
Ireland's potato famine may have happened back in the 1840s, but reading the short story Famine Fever by the Dublin-born author Helena Mulkerns, you'd think she lived through it herself. "The first year, there was fierce talk of the blight, and it coming westwards," she writes. "Then one morning, I woke up to the fearful screeching of them in Kelleher's, coming across the quiet fields, as they found the crop in the ground stinking black and mushy, like devils' spits, the flowers fouled." Mulkerns, who now calls New York City home, has written articles for magazines like Rolling Stone and contributed a chapter to The Irish in America (Hyperion, 1997), the companion book to the PBS special of the same title. During the lecture The New Irish Chic: The Irish Arts Scene, Mulkerns will read from and sign copies of Cabbage and Bones (Henry Holt, 1997), a collection of Irish-American women's fiction in which Famine appears. The event is free and takes place at 7 p.m. at the Fort Lauderdale Main Library, 6th Flr., 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-357-7443.
Just call her Aretha. Long before Sting and Prince and just on the heels of Elvis, the soulful voice and chart-topping songs of Aretha Franklin put her on a first-name basis with fans. After singing with her preacher father's gospel choir, Aretha signed with Atlantic Records in 1966. By the spring of 1967, she was enjoying the fame brought on by the No. 1 single "Respect." A string of sixteen more chart-topping tunes over the next decade established her as the "Queen of Soul." She went on to score more hits in the '80s with Arista Records and got some major R-E-S-P-E-C-T in 1987, when she was the first female performer inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Aretha is currently touring to support her latest album, A Rose Is Still a Rose. Aretha performs at 7:30 p.m. at Sunrise Musical Theatre, 5555 NW 95th Ave., Sunrise. Ticket prices range from $25 to $45. Call 954-741-7300.