In 1993 Dr. Kary B. Mullis won the Noble Prize in Chemistry for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), the method used to identify specific DNA molecules. His work has revolutionized the field of forensic science, which now relies on DNA identification to pinpoint suspects in crimes. Heck, Mullis himself was a forensic DNA witness during the O.J. Simpson trial, and PCR's use for DNA extraction from dinosaur fossils was the basis for the book Jurassic Park. PCR is also the basis for the viral load theory in AIDS research. Using PCR it's possible to measure the levels of HIV in blood; researchers have found a direct link between those levels and the length of time before the onset of AIDS. Mullis argues that the measurement exaggerates levels, and that contention will undoubtedly come up when he speaks tonight at Nova Southeastern University on the subject "HIV = AIDS: Where's the Evidence?" Interesting, considering his only connection to AIDS research is PCR. And the evening will be even more interesting if anyone shows up to ask Mullis about his qualifications to speak on the subject. The free talk will be held tonight at 7 p.m. in the main auditorium of the Terry Building, 3301 College Ave., Davie. Call 954-382-9995.
American writer John Cheever (1912- 1982) saw alienation and regret among the denizens of the growing cookie-cutter culture as middle-class suburbia began to stretch out from cities in the '50s. And he viewed the phenomenon with a strange combination of pity and disgust that informed his short stories and novels, in which suburbanites' emotions flitter among hope, ambivalence, and anxiety. Beneath the sheen of Leave It to Beaver marriages and slaphappy neighborhood cocktail parties, though, lie darker tales of adultery and violence, all of them written with Cheever's dry sense of wit. His collection The Stories of John Cheever won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it is mostly those short stories playwright A.R. Gurney has woven into the drama of suburban angst titled A Cheever Evening. The play opens tonight and continues through February 21 at the Studio One Theatre at Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Call 561-297-3737. Tickets cost $12. Tonight's curtain is 8 p.m.; see "Stage" capsules for a full schedule.
The phrase "when dogs fly" takes on new meaning at the 6th Annual Fort Lauderdale Pet Expo. And cats will "fly," too, though there's no pet punting involved. One of the attractions, you see, is the Canines in Flight Frisbee Dog Show starring Turbo, a pup that virtually flies through the air leaping after plastic platters thrown by his handlers. Turbo shows off with in-flight flips, acrobatic agility, and hang time to outdo any out-of-shape NBA star. But once they've caught a load of Turbo and the daredevil felines in the Dominique and His Flying House Cats show, some owners of plain ol' house pets might just be jealous. The expo also features a purebred cat show, exotic birds, and animal experts. It runs today (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Admission prices range from $3 to $6. Call 954-765-5900.
West Side Fire Station No. 8 is the oldest firehouse still in use in Fort Lauderdale -- thanks to the Sailboat Bend Civic Association. Built in 1927, the pinkish stucco structure with a barrel-tile roof looks more like a mission than a fire station. But because of the station's importance in the Sailboat Bend neighborhood (along the New River near the site of the original military Fort Lauderdale), closing of the station has been staved off by the association since 1988, when the city deemed it obsolete. Its location west of the railroad tracks and north of the river guarantees that trains and bridge openings won't delay service to the old wooden houses in the city-designated historic district. Now that a similarly suitable location has been found for a new station, the association has been promised the use of the building, which is one of the stops on today's Sailboat Bend House and Garden Tour from noon to 5 p.m. Anyone wishing to see the houses on the river and in the surrounding shady neighborhood will be delivered by trolleys departing from the park on SW Second Street next to the Broward Center For the Performing Arts. The shuttles will take riders into the neighborhood, where, in addition to the house tours, an antiques festival will be held in Maj. William Lauderdale Park (SW Eleventh Avenue and SW Fourth Street). Tickets cost $9 in advance or $10 the day of the event. Call 954-779-7913 for more information.
It seems like it would be hard to get much further inside the Washington, D.C., beltway than we all have by proverbially peeking into President Clinton's pants throughout the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But maybe former White House presidential press secretary Mike McCurry has some more dirty laundry on the Pres. McCurry served in the Clinton White House as Assistant to the President and Press Secretary from January 1995 until his departure in October 1998, so he had plenty of time to pick up the real dirt before he bailed. Folks can find out by asking the tough questions during the q and a session after his talk tonight at Palm Beach Community College. But the witty McCurry has built a career on dodging questions from real reporters, so prying the juicy stuff out of him could be tough. McCurry speaks at 7:30 p.m. at South Campus Sports Complex (3000 St. Lucie Ave., Boca Raton). General admission tickets cost $35; tickets to the talk and the private reception to follow cost $75. Call 561-367-4520 for details.
An anguished lover's suicide is the ultimate romantic act. So get a couple of love-blinded kids together from feuding families, factor in meddling parents, two murders, a secret marriage, and some poison, and you've got the perfect Valentine's Day story. And luckily we know the basic plot, because in Romeo and Juliet on Ice, the 30 Russian championship skaters of the St. Petersburg State Ice Ballet dispense with the flowery, poetic prose of Shakespeare's version. In fact they don't talk at all, instead conveying the tragic story with dramatic dancing on skates (including two sword fights), lavish costumes, and ornate sets. Tonight the stage will be set for the Capulet-Montague feud at the Coral Springs City Centre Theatre, 255 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs. Tickets cost $24.50 or $32.50. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. Call 954-344-5990.
When you stroll into the main gallery at the Museum of Art to check out the new show "Herb Ritts: Work," you're greeted by the photographer's sharp, provocative black-and-whites of the famous and infamous: Dennis Rodman showing off his tattooed bod with a devilish smirk, Madonna dressed scantily and grabbing her crotch, Nelson Mandela in distinguished repose. The 239 photographs on view compose the first major show by the fashion and fine-art photog, who started shooting in 1980 and has become renowned for his commercial work. He's shaped ad campaigns for Versace and Calvin Klein, and his are the portraits of khaki-clad kids seen in Gap print ads. Ritts is moving into directing commercials and music videos, but he has already amassed a portfolio of stunning images, divided in this show into four categories: celebrities, human form, fashion, and African. Beginning on the long, curved wall that leads into the exhibition space, very light images hang on the white wall; progressing through the gallery, the photos get darker in tone as the walls change shades from white to cream to gray to black. The shifting shades -- like Ritts' use of shadow, contrast, and composition -- are subtle yet effective. The show runs through May 2. Admission prices range from $1 to $6. The museum is located at 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500.