Angela Amato used to spend her days getting mugged and her nights going to law school. As an undercover officer for the New York Police Department, she was mugged more than 100 times during street-crime stings. In 1991, after more than ten years on the force, Amato left the NYPD to become, of all things, a criminal defense attorney. These days, however, she's in show biz. She worked as a consultant on (and had a small role in) Die Hard With a Vengeance, and she's serving as executive producer of the film based on Lady Gold, the crime novel she wrote with New York Times columnist Joe Sharkey. During the Night of Literary Feasts, she and 21 other authors will talk about their careers and sign copies of their books during a cocktail reception, which will be followed by private dinner parties. On Saturday the Day of Literary Lectures offers the public a chance to hear those same authors speak during panel discussions on various book genres. The Feasts event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Broward County Main Library (100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale), tickets cost $150, and reservations are required. The Saturday lectures begin at 9:30 a.m. Admission is free, but tickets must be obtained in advance. For tickets and information, call 954-357-7381. See "Readings & Lectures" listings for a schedule of lectures.
Just about everyone is envious of birds, who can do pretty much anything they want up there in the wild blue yonder. Well, choreographer Elizabeth Streb has felt that envy, and along with a love of the circus and a thrill-seeking streak, it inspired her to form a dance company called Streb/Ringside. The troupe seemingly defies gravity in pieces like "Freeflight," "Rise," and "Up," which illustrate Streb's passion for airborne bodies. Dancers use trampolines to launch themselves into the air, where they whiz past one another fast and close enough to elicit gasps from the audience. During flight they perform flips, twists, and other maneuvers while swinging from parallel bars and other props. Such moves are included in the seven dances that make up the show PopACTION, which will be performed at 8 p.m. at the Kravis Center For the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $15. Call 561-833-8300.
Sure, Maya Angelou gets too much press, and she's probably overrated as a poet. But she's renowned for her talents as a public speaker, and she'll appear tonight at the Broward Center For the Performing Arts as part of the "Unique Lives and Experiences" lecture series. Using poems, jokes, and stories, she talks about not only her own life but also the black experience and human experience in general. And she has a lot to talk about. Angelou was born in St. Louis in 1928 and raised in segregated rural Arkansas. She graduated from college, married a South African freedom fighter, and moved to Cairo, where she edited the Arab Observer, the only English-language newsweekly in the Middle East. In the '60s, she became a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She's the author of ten best-selling books and is recognized as a historian and film producer and director. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the center, 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale. Ticket prices range from $27.25 to $47.25. Call 954-462-0222.
Looking at the large black-and-white photograph of a densely wooded swamp, you can easily not see the forest for the trees. Large trunks in the foreground are reflected in still water below, and vines, Spanish moss, and the branches of smaller trees in the background are so thickly tangled they appear collectively as a solid backdrop. Only the occasional shaft of light hints that an entire forest lies beyond the branches. And Steven Karafyllakis, who took the photo, wants viewers to see more than just trees. "If the image is viewed as an abstract, the combination of forms, lines, textures, and light must be visually interesting," says the West Palm Beach resident. An award-winning architectural photographer, he turned to landscape and still-life photography in 1988, and "Steven Karafyllakis: Florida Photographs" features a selection of his nature photos. The show is on view through March 19 at the Jeannette Hare Art Gallery, located on the campus of Northwood University, 2600 N. Military Trl., West Palm Beach. Admission is free. Call 561-478-5538.
"The human factor is the most insidious in destroying things," says Susan Gillis. But she's not talking about heavy issues, like war and deforestation; she's talking about collectibles and people's tendency to ruin them. When folks try to preserve memorabilia -- photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, and ephemera placed in scrapbooks -- they often unwittingly damage the pieces, says Gillis, a collections specialist at the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society. She's responsible for preserving old stuff and will share her secrets during "Maintaining and Preserving Your Scrapbooks and Archives" today at Stranahan House (SE Sixth Avenue and Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale). "Taping things down, gluing them, laminating -- those are not very good techniques for preservation," Gillis cautions. The acid in tape and glue can deteriorate paper, and she will demonstrate alternative techniques at the 6 p.m. seminar. Admission costs $10 to $15. Call 954-524-4736.
Even today's electronically generated, digitally produced music relies on the primal sounds of the world's first musical instrument, the drum. The drum provides the pulsating beats that drive electronica dance music, and the spare soundscapes of the drum 'n' bass subgenre hark back to hypnotic tribal sounds. Considering the prevalence of drum circles and the success of Broadway shows like Stomp, it's no surprise that Kodo, the top taiko drum ensemble from Japan, is enjoying huge success. The 19 drummers have appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman, and the group's latest album, Sai-so, is a collection of Kodo songs remixed by top DJs, many of whom have been sampling the group's beats for years. Kodo brings out the big drums, most notably the 800-pound o-daiko carved from the trunk of a tree, during its performance tonight at the Kravis Center For the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets prices range from $25 to $40. Call 561-833-8300.