During the late 19th Century in French-ruled West Africa, the most popular postcards featured paintings of smiling, naked women balancing heavy water jugs on their heads. Ah, those French, showing us that, even while doing some heavy lifting, the natives are beautiful. But those images had nothing to do with reality. (Can you imagine how heavy those pots were?) Algerian-born artist Nouria Niati claims as much in "Bringing Water From the Fountain Has Nothing Romantic About It," a mixed-media installation on view in cross/ing: Time, Movement, Space at Florida Atlantic University. The installation combines water vessels and sand paintings with the artist's spoken-word prose and body movements. By juxtaposing enlarged images of the postcards with weighty pitchers, Niati challenges the positive spin of the French colonialists with a dose of reality. Her point? Colonialism sucks. Niati will perform during today's free opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Schmidt Center Gallery. The show, which remains on view through October 25 at the Schmidt and at Ritter Art Gallery, also includes the works of nine other African-born artists. The galleries are located at 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Admission is free. Call 561-297-2966.
Bob Gordash has a price on his head. His crime? The home-brewer, a member of the Fort Lauderdale Area Brewers (FLAB), whips up darn good brew. So good, in fact, that he's won the Independence Restaurant and Brewery's Annual Homebrewers Contest the last two years. "Everybody in the club is out to get him," says Independence brew master Scott Christoffel. "They want to knock him off his throne." They'll have their chance today, when selections are judged for the third annual competition. The grand prize is a $50 Independence gift certificate, and the winning beer will be brewed and served at the microbrewery during next year's contest. After the ceremonial tapping of a keg of Gordash's winning India Pale Ale today, pints will be sold for $1 to benefit FLAB. Or attendees can sample a free house brew to go along with the buffet spread. After the judges are done tasting, everyone gets to try the leftovers. The buffet begins at 3:30 p.m., and the tapping is set for 6:30 p.m. Admission is free. Independence Restaurant and Brewery is located at 11 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-524-2111.
It may not sound funny, but standup comic Mike Panzeca's routine is all about alcoholism and substance abuse. If anyone's allowed to make jokes about the subject, it's Panzeca, who's in his mid-thirties. During his teenage years, he became an alcoholic but sobered up by the time he was age 19. A year later he began counseling other substance abusers. That's where the funny stuff comes in. One of his jokes is about how Alcoholics Anonymous got started. Founder Bill Wilson, he tells audiences, was in his back yard when he heard a voice say, "Make a pot of coffee, and they will come." Panzeca explains, "At AA they drink tons of coffee." When he's not doing his schtick, Panzeca teaches counseling classes at the Addiction Training Institute in Miami and the Center For Family Services in Palm Beach County, the latter of which will receive proceeds from tonight's Stand Up For Recovery. Panzeca will perform during the benefit at Bocanuts Comedy Club, 8221 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Showtime is 11 pm; cover is $10. Call 561-470-6887.
If you're a parent who spends Christmas mornings saying, "They didn't have stuff like that when I was a kid," you'll be mumbling about running through the sprinkler as you watch your kids enjoy Castaway Island at Topeekeegee Yugnee Park (3300 N. Park Rd., Hollywood). The water attraction opened yesterday (with free admission between 10 a.m. and noon), but today is the first full day of weekend fun at the 9000-square-foot interactive playground, featuring a massive jungle gym and six slides that empty into a pool. Water cannons and a rain curtain also provide visitors with ways to cool off, and a 3000-square-foot swimming lagoon is equipped with a boat slide and squirting frogs for kids age 3 and younger. Beats the heck out of a lousy sprinkler, but costs a little more: Admission is $3 for a one-hour-fifty-minute session in the playground and unlimited time in the swimming lagoon or $2 for unlimited lagoon time only. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Call 954-985-1980.
In Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," the speaker halts his horse in a forest that is "lovely, dark, and deep" to take in the scene. The East Coast Academy of Poets does something similar during its monthly reading, Poetry in the Woods. The woods in this case, however, make up the subtropical hammock surrounding the amphitheater at Secret Woods Nature Center (2701 W. State Rd. 84, Fort Lauderdale). After a reading open to anyone who wants to share his or her original verse, a Poet of the Month is chosen and given a bookstore certificate. The reading begins at 1:30 pm. Admission is $1. Call 954-566-7823 or 954-791-1030.
Has it really been 21 years since Susan Sarandon pranced around in her undies in The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Actually, the movie was released in 1975, but in 1977 the horror-flick spoof teeming with Transylvanian transvestites was rereleased as a midnight show and quickly became a cult classic. Fox Video has added two new songs and extra footage to a new version of the film as a wrap-up to last year's 20th anniversary celebration. So it's time to go back through the "Time Warp" with Janet (Sarandon) and Brad (Barry Bostwick), a strait-laced couple who find themselves at a kinky party, cavorting to rock music. At Borders in Coral Springs (700 University Dr.), the staff will join cast and crew from the Carefree Theatre in West Palm Beach -- where Rocky Horror has been running every Saturday for 14 years -- to screen the film while dancing the dances, singing the songs, and parroting dialogue. They'll also hand out props -- rice, toast, newspapers, and cards -- for audience participation. Admission to the midnight movie is free. Call 954-340-3307 for more information.