With the exception of the curse of Tutankhamen, the Heisman jinx, and possibly the curse of the Black Pearl, nothing foreshadows impending doom faster then finding yourself on the cover of Sports Illustrated. So after nailing the newsstands as the cover boys for S.I. 's NFL preview, the Carolina Panthers went out and promptly dropped their first game to a homeless New Orleans team still pouring floodwater out of its cleats. But make no mistake -- with a defense featuring Julius Peppers and former University of Miami standout Dan Morgan, Carolina will be the best defense the Nick Saban-led Dolphins have faced so far this season when the Dolphins take on the Panthers on Sunday at Dolphins Stadium (2269 NW 199th St., Miami). For Gus Frerotte and the Fins to keep up their surprising success, they'll need to continue producing offensively while rookie running back Ronnie Brown adjusts to the NFL game. Meanwhile, the Dolphin defense will need to contain Carolina running backs Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster, who along with quarterback Jake Delhomme make up one of the best backfields in the league. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Call 888-FINS-TIX, or visit www.miamidolphins.com. -- Paul A. Leone
An autumn gathering
As the hours of daylight and nighttime begin to equal out, pagans, nonpagans, and all people in between are invited to a fall kickoff party Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale (3970 NW 21st Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Celebrating the first day of fall, the autumnal equinox is a time of thanksgiving when the community and farmers gather to exchange the fruits of their labor, so to speak. Starting outside at noon, the myriad activities include a picnic, face-painting, grounding meditation, drum circles, vendors, and a tea room fashion show. Workshops throughout the day focus on stuff like photographing the paranormal and Reiki. At 5:30 p.m., the real party begins with the Autumnal Equinox Sun Celebration Circle. And in the spirit of thanks, the admission cost is a donation of nonperishable food items for the Cooperative Feeding Program of Broward County. Call 954-484-6734. -- Terra Sullivan
Fish finish season series with Washington
After hanging around the top of the National League East and Wild Card standings for the better part of the season, the only Washington-based organization that's looked more inept then the Nationals over the past month has been FEMA. What do you expect? You can take the team out of Montreal, but you can't take the Montreal out of the team, eh? After taking three of four in their last series, the Marlins would love nothing more than to pound the red tape out of the 'Nats when they come into Dolphins Stadium (2269 NW 199th St., Miami) on Monday for a three game set. Call 305-623-6100, or visit www.floridamarlins.com. -- Paul A. Leone
Dude, Sign My Deck!
Listen up, skate rats. That's right... Listen, as in Listen Skateboards -- as in Danny Montoya, Rob Gonzalez, Rodrigo Peterson, and the other pro shredders who are making an in-store appearance Wednesday at Island Water Sports (1985 NE Second St., Deerfield Beach). Show up at 5 p.m. and get them to sign your skate decks, shirts, pants, or faces, or just get some free products. Call 954-427-4929. -- Jason Budjinski