Just about everyone had pretend sword fights when they were kids. Both kids and adults are now stepping up to the real thing -- well, almost. Fencing is like sword-fighting without the bloodshed, and twenty-year veteran Miguel deDiego teaches the sport three times a week. Beginners start with the foil, a light, flexible, blunt-tipped sword used to strike only the torso. Each hit is worth a point, and matches go to five points. For advanced students there's the epee, a slightly longer, heavier weapon used to target the entire body, and the saber, a replica of the old-fashioned cavalry swords used for everything above the waist. Don't worry, though -- swords, pads, and mesh facemasks are provided for students in the ongoing 6 p.m. classes. Four classes cost $30. Class takes place tonight at Markham Park (16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise, 954-389-2000), Monday at Tree Tops Park (3900 SW 100th Ave., Davie, 954-370-3750), and Wednesday at Brian Piccolo Park (9501 Sheridan St., Cooper City, 954-437-2600).
Do those trucks we pull up next to at stoplights, the pickups that are so jacked-up you can see their axles, really need to be that big? They may not be practical on the highway, but size counts at the 1998 Monster MotorNationals, where drivers navigate the jumps of a dirt track and slog through a mud bog near the finish line. Tonight at 8 p.m. gargantuan trucks fill the West Palm Beach Auditorium (1610 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach) with enough exhaust to get even the healthiest fans hacking. Quad runners (or ATVs), motocross motorcycles, and go-cart-size Mini-Monsters also take to the track, and a "Tough Truck" competition features local truckers going for cash prizes ($100 for first). Interested mud runners can call 561-792-6727 to sign up. Still breathing? Go again Saturday (8 p.m.) or Sunday (2 p.m.). Ticket prices range from $6 to $14. Two kids per adult get in free on Sunday. Call 561-683-6012.
The children of the '70s probably can't read an article about pending legislation without visualizing "Bill," the gruff-voiced, rolled-up- scroll cartoon character dancing on the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. He was the bill waiting to become a law who taught kids about the legislative process on Saturday morning cartoon shorts called School House Rock. Today's parents who remember the toe-tapping, hummable pop tunes "Just a Bill," "Conjunction Junction," and "Unpack Your Adjectives" can bring their kids along as an excuse to relive those memories at School House Rock Live. The stage adaptation brings the learning and laughs to a new generation at Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre's performance space The Studio, 640 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Shows opens today and runs through March 8 (Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; matinee Sunday at 2 p.m.). Admission is $5. Call 954-763-6882.
Politicians and business types are always at each others' throats, but usually no one gets hurt. In By the Book: A Murder Mystery, local leaders from both camps roast each other during a musical theater production, and one of them gets killed. (Sounds like a taxpayer's dream come true.) Get out your Sherlock Holmes hat for an evening of sleuthing when the interactive murder-mystery performance comes to the West Palm Beach Public Library (100 Clematis St., West Palm Beach). Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres are served at 6:30 p.m. followed by the "murder" at 7:30 p.m. The cast of the comic murder-mystery includes West Palm Beach Mayor Nancy Graham, city commissioners, and business owners. When the smoke clears, audience members vote for their favorite murder suspect, and the best detectives are awarded door prizes after the mystery is solved in the final act. Tickets cost $35-$40. Call 561-659-8068.
Somewhat ironic is the fact that klezmer, the folk music of Eastern-European Jews, has become so popular in recent years that it's being played even in Germany. "There's a group over there that calls themselves the Goyim," says Aaron Kula, director of the Florida Atlantic University Symphony. The joke is that goyim is Yiddish for gentiles. On a more serious note, klezmer was nearly wiped out by the Holocaust during World War II. Groups such as the Klezmer Company, the FAU klezmer ensemble-in-residence conducted by Kula, have helped re-vive the style by updat-ing it for modern ears. Kula augments traditional klezmer instruments such as accordion, clarinet, and violin with string bass, brass, and banjo. And the up-tempo Jewish tunes are given swing, Dixieland jazz, and blues arrangements. Vocal group the Three Cantors is the special guest for tonight's 8 p.m. concert at FAU's University Auditorium, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Ticket prices range from $15 to $20. Call 561-297-3737.
Going once. Going twice. Sold -- to the proud new owner of the sweat-stained Jack Nicholas golf cap. The hat is just one of many sports-related items up for bid in the Make-A-Wish Foundation Sports Memorabilia Auction, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the charity that grants wishes to terminally ill children. Auctioneers, including Florida Panther and U.S. Olympic hockey team goalie John Vanbiesbrouck, will hawk the autographed 1996 Olympic torch carried by Muhammad Ali and baseball bats signed by Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Ken Griffey, Jr., among other items. Cocktails and dinner are served before the bidding. The night concludes with a panel discussion featuring Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson, Florida Marlins manager Jim Leyland, Florida Panthers coach Bryan Murray, and Miami Heat coach Pat Riley, who will take questions culled in advance from the audience. Tickets cost $225. An auction preview begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Signature Grand, 6900 State Rd. 84, Davie. Call 954-967-9474.
Mercy Moore does enough lecturing as a professor of English and reading at Broward Community College, "so this is going to be more of a chat," she says, "informal, interactive." During Soul Food for the Mind: A Smorgasbord of African-American Book Reviews and Dialects, she'll set quite a table and expects something from the audience in return. "Because I'm Baptist, I like to hear an 'amen' from the audience," she advises. The group will also react to poetry and prose readings from the works of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Sojourner Truth, Florida author Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni, 1995 Poet Laureate Rita Dove, and, of course, Maya Angelou. "It would be like having a soul food meal without the corn muffins, to leave her out," Moore says. Soul Food is an installment of the African-American Book Review Series. The free event takes place at 7 p.m. at North Regional/BCC Library, 1100 Coconut Creek Blvd., Coconut Creek. Call 954-969-2600.
Voices of Native America is not a powwow. The multimedia show is a celebration of American Indian culture, yes, and as such features singing, dancing, and storytelling. But an orchestra and some special-effects lighting will also be on display. While it may sound like a big Broadway production, everything about the show is authentic. For example, flutist Douglas Spotted Eagle is Lakota and Navajo; singer-dancer Rob Greyhill is Navajo; and storyteller Gayle Ross is a direct descendant of John Ross, who led the Cherokee Nation on the infamous Trail of Tears. They're joined by a full contingent of dancers, musicians, and singers for updates of traditional music, the Cherokee-language version of Amazing Grace, and much more. Tonight's 8 p.m. performance takes place at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Ticket prices range from $15 to $28. Call 800-572-8471 or 561-832-7469.