For Real Life Funnies, the weekly cartoon strip that ran for years in the Village Voice, cartoonist Stan Mack relied heavily on conversations he overheard in public. It's doubtful, however, that he overheard much of what's included in The Story of the Jews: A 4000 Year Adventure (Villard, 1998). In the cartoon history book, he claims that the first "Oy!" was uttered by Abraham in response to God's command that the chosen people abide by his covenant with them "forever." Making history entertaining is Mack's forte. Aside from Funnies, he's cowritten and illustrated many children's books, and he wrote and illustrated Stan Mack's Real Life American Revolution (Avon, 1994), a cartoon history of the early United States. Publication of the new book coincides with Israel's 50th anniversary, and Mack will discuss his work tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free. Call 954-357-7401.
The World Drum and Percussion Festival thumps and bangs its way into the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center (1770 Monroe St., Hollywood) tonight at 8 p.m. Since there's only one act, it's not technically a "festival," but the Miami Philharmonic Steel and Percussion Ensemble has everything covered. The group of musicians from all over the world is dedicated to -- what else -- world music, and performs an array of genres with an equally diverse assortment of instruments, from its namesake Caribbean steel drums to Cuban congas to Japanese taiko drums. Using those instruments the group will perform works by composers from Nicaragua, Trinidad, France, and the United States. Maybe it's a festival after all. Ticket prices range from $15 to $25. For more information call 954-924-8175.
In her narrative paintings, Rebecca "Betty" Pinkney tells tragic tales, like the one about her grandmother's house going up in flames. In The Terrible Accident, a 1995 oil on canvas, she recounts the real-life crash of a bus full of migrant workers. Draped in brightly colored clothes, the bodies of the victims float in a blue-green river near the bus, which has plunged off the roadway into water. A crane is perched on shore, ready to pull the bus out, and bright white ambulances and police cars are evidence of the rescue effort. But in the background dark, billowing clouds indicate that all is not well. A selection of Pinkney's works is included in "Two Narratives: Paintings by Peter Olsen and Rebecca 'Betty' Pinkney," an exhibition that opens today at the Museum of Art (1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) along with the museum's other spring shows: "Rights of Passage" and "Tropical Terrain." Admission is $3 to $6. Call 954-5500.
In the United States, we celebrate Mother's Day, Father's Day, heck, even Grandparent's Day. But what about the kids? The Japanese have separate days set aside for girls and boys, and Kodomo-no-hi is the collective "Children's Day" holiday. The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach) will host its second annual children's day celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. While deciding what to do, families will get the chance to learn a little Japanese. Hina-shikishi, for example, is the art of making a Japanese doll collage. Folks interested in fish printing -- which entails slathering a dead fish with ink, then pressing its image on paper -- should ask about gyotaku. Meanwhile, throughout the day, shows will be presented on outdoor stages by the Children's Theater Guild, Klein Dance, Little Palm Family Theater, and T's East-West Karate. Someone will also play the shakuhachi, an ancient Japanese musical instrument. Area museums and parks will run activity booths, and food vendors will offer a selection of Asian foods. Admission is $3. Call 561-495-0233.
What is it with actors writing plays about dead artists? Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile just passed through this area, and now audiences get a shot at Leonard Nimoy's Vincent, a monologue about painter Vincent van Gogh delivered by his brother, Theo. Everyone's favorite Vulcan not only wrote but performed the one-man, two-character play when it debuted in 1981. Set in a Paris lecture hall a week after van Gogh's death in 1890, the play has Theo reminiscing about his brother and occasionally changing his voice to respond as Vincent. Meanwhile, slides of the Dutch postimpressionist's swirling, dreamlike images are shown. In putting together the play, Nimoy drew largely from the brothers' letters, which display just how close, and sometimes tempestuous, their relationship was. Nimoy argues that, because of his epileptic seizures, Vincent was considered an insane, yet visionary, artist. His affliction prevented him from maintaining a regular work schedule, and Theo supported him both financially and emotionally through his entire life. Vincent will be presented at 2 and 8 p.m. today and May 4 at the Caldwell Theatre Company, 7873 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. Ticket prices range from $5 to $15. Call 561-241-7432 or toll-free 930-6400.
No breaks, no gears, no coasting. Sounds like riding a tricycle, but the sleek, thin-tired racing bicycles we're talking about here have only two wheels and whiz around the banked curves of the velodrome at up to 35 miles per hour. The speed, of course, depends on who's pedaling, and racers of all levels get competitive from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. every Tuesday at Brian Piccolo Park (9501 Sheridan St., Cooper City). Bike races and classes are held there most evenings, but Tuesday nights are reserved for open racing, ranging from level five for beginners to level one for pros. More than just a bike ride, velodrome racing is an intense workout. Missing from each bike is the free-wheel sprocket, meaning that, as long as that two-wheel contraption is in motion, so are the pedals. And the balance required for the banked turns brings the rider's entire body into the equation. The cost is $6, though first-time participants will have to shell out an additional $35 for their annual United States Cycling Federation license, which is required. Call 954-437-2626.
Today George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (1935) is hailed as a classic American folk opera. But during its Boston premiere and subsequent short run in New York City, it bombed. Maybe audiences just weren't ready for an opera offering jazz and gospel music. Ironically those then-cutting-edge elements helped Porgy to become the only American work to be added to the repertory of great operas. Tunes like "Summertime" and "I Got Plenty of Nothin'" are favorites on their own, but in the opera, they help drive the story of Porgy, a beggar who stands up for the girlfriend of a murderer and, in turn, falls in love with her (thus inspiring Porgy to sing, "Bess, You Is My Woman Now"). After running away, the murderer returns to Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina, to reclaim his lover, and he and Porgy have it out. Living Arts Inc. of New York presents the opera at 8 p.m. tonight at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Ticket prices range from $20 to $50. Call 800-572-8471 or 561-832-7469.