Night & Day

June 25
Don't believe the title.
Beethoven by the Beach Festival II is taking place in downtown Fort Lauderdale, not on the beach. And do yourself a favor: Skip the movie being shown for the kids. Beethoven has nothing to do with the 19th-century German composer otherwise known as Ludwig van; it's a so-called comedy about a huge St. Bernard. (Worse yet, it stars Charles Grodin.) What the annual festival does provide, however, is a little bit of culture in a casual atmosphere with a series of informal concerts, lectures, and off-the-wall activities like today's "Beethoven Rocks the Boulevard." Taking place on Las Olas Boulevard, between SE Sixth and SE Tenth avenues, "Beethoven Rocks" includes performances by the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus (a string-and-brass ensemble of Philharmonic members) and the Dropheds (a rock 'n' roll outfit that will perform -- what else? -- the Beatles' "Roll Over Beethoven"). Other festival offerings include: horse-drawn carriage rides; a "musical petting zoo," allowing kids to play instruments; and German folk music and dancing. Beethoven by the Beach continues through July 15. See the "Concerts For the Week" listing for the festival concert schedule. Call 954-930-1812 or 800-226-1812.

June 26
Best known for their 1995 radio and club hit "Guilty," Gravity Kills mixes screaming vocals and a sonic guitar assault with drum-and-bass electronica. The band also has a good story to tell. For about ten years, keyboardist Douglas Firley, guitarist Matt Dudenhoeffer, and bassist-drummer Kurt Kerns played in separate bands in the St. Louis area. It just so happens that in 1995 they were all freelance musicians hoping to get in on a sampler CD featuring local bands. So they hastily formed a band and called in Kerns' cousin Jeff Scheel, of Dallas, to provide the vocals. Within three days they recorded a song and gave their band a name. "Guilty" not only qualified for the compilation, it became a hit. So what were these guys guilty of? Maybe the title of their latest album, Perversion, is a hint. You be the judge. Gravity Kills and British electro-rockers Pitchshifter take the stage tonight at 9:30 p.m. at Respectable Street Cafe, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Ticket prices are $10 and $12. Call 561-832-9999 for details.

June 27
What's the size of a tangerine, but has a brownish skin? Well, the sapodilla, of course. But good luck describing how it tastes. Even Bruce Ide, an agent with the Broward County Cooperative Extension Service, has a rough time. "It's sort of like a guava paste in texture," he says, "but the taste is just... sapodilla -- I can't really put anything else to it. It's slightly sweet." Fortunately you can try the sapodilla, along with other exotic fruits, for yourself at the Tropical Fruit Festival in West Palm Beach. Ide tells us that the sapodilla is indigenous to parts of southern Mexico and Central America, as is the mamey sapote, an egg-shaped fruit that tastes a little like pumpkin. It's also credited with sustaining the Spanish explorer Cortez and his army on a march from Mexico City to Honduras. Both fruits are grown at Mounts Botanical Garden (531 N. Military Trl., West Palm Beach), where the festival takes place today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ide and his fellow agents will teach folks how to grow the delicious fruits at home, and cooking demonstrations will make use of fruit-based recipes. The festival is free. Call 561-233-1763.

June 28
Salsafest de Broward '98 is not a hot-sauce cook-off. Rather, it's the Broward County version of the feast day honoring St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of San Juan, Puerto Rico. So why celebrate it here? According to Luis DeRosa of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of South Florida, Puerto Ricans top the list of Hispanic residents in Broward. But, he stresses, everyone is invited to enjoy the hot Latin-music lineup, which includes Salsa superstar Lefty Perez; Angelina; Tito Puente, Jr.; La Gran Union Merengue Orchestra; Jesus Ocasio and His Orchestra A Tempo; and Ballet Folklorico El Cemi of Puerto Rico. Latin food and crafts will be available as well. Salsafest takes place today from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at C.B. Smith Park, 900 N. Flamingo Rd., Pembroke Pines. Admission is $5, plus the park gate fee of $1 per car. Call 954-437-2650.

June 29
Talk about audience participation. If you're going to the traveling show "Postcards on the Edge," prepare to be part of the action. Visitors are asked to create their own postcard art expressing their hopes for and visions of the next millennium. Here's how it works: You take a blank postcard, then draw and/or write a message on one side. You flip the card and address it to yourself. The card is then added to a sculptural display that will continue to grow as it's taken across the United States. In the year 2000, the cards will be mailed to their creators. Referred to as the "Postcards For the Millennium Project," the participatory display is just one aspect of the show, which is debuting in Fort Lauderdale before moving on to other cities. The show also includes vintage postcards, postcard-themed contemporary art by more than 44 artists, and the International Open Call Mail Art Exhibition, which features more than 250 works received by mail from 20 Florida cities, 24 states, and 3 continents. The exhibition remains on display through July 20 at ArtServe's Moran Gallery, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free. Call 954-462-9191.

June 30
Among other claims to fame, Forrest Gump -- the title character of book and movie -- is a Ping-Pong prodigy with a wicked serve. In one scene, he stands several feet from the edge of a table and battles international opponents as shots whiz back and forth at a dizzying pace. While not everyone is as gifted with a paddle as Forrest, the table tennis clinic at Osswald Park in Fort Lauderdale is a good way to acquire Ping-Pong skills. First, the basics: proper grip, putting the paddle on the ball, and keeping the ball on the table. Once those skills are nailed down, instructors teach participants how to put some back spin on that hollow little ball and how to drop-serve, which puts the ball just over the net, out of an opponent's reach. At the conclusion of each session, participants check their progress by competing against each other. Don't worry, Forrest won't be there. The 6:30 p.m. clinic is free, and registration takes place prior to each session. The park is located at 2220 NW 21st Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-497-1636.

July 1
The prolific Cole Porter wrote words and music for more than 800 tunes between the '20s and the late '50s, all of them for stage and screen. Many, such as "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "Anything Goes," became hits outside of the theater. But others were so directly tied to a story line that, unless the show was revived, they lapsed into obscurity. The musical revue Hot 'n' Cole: The New Cole Porter Celebration includes the hits but also mines buried gems. Consider "Cherry Pies," from the 1950 musical Out of This World. In the first verse, lovers trade the lines, "Cherry pies ought to be you/ Autumn skies ought to be you." But by the third verse, they've changed their tune. "Lethal gas ought to be you," they sing, "Florida when it rains ought to be you." Some things never change. Hot 'n' Cole continues through September 6 at Florida Stage, Plaza del Mar, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan. Showtimes are Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m., with a matinee Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $27 to $33. Call 561-585-3433 or 800-514-3837.

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