A big room full of activity, money changing hands, and hordes of snakes, lizards, and other creepy-crawlies. Where are you? No, not city hall. You're at Repticon, a good place to be whether you're an aficionado of the scaled set or a neophyte who still thinks snakes are slimy.
Get with the program that's swept the nation in the past couple of decades. A generation ago Miamians were lucky to find a few pythons and a red rat snake at the local pet store. Today there are entire shops selling nothing but reptiles, including exotic morphs and albinos.
Back when, an iguana was considered a primo pet and a rock python could be labeled exotic. Nowadays, breeders aren't happy unless their leopard geckos are multihued and their pythons are either cinny (as in cinnamon-colored) or pink from carefully bred albinism. Used to be that a fledgling herpetologist impressed us by knowing that a red rat snake and a corn snake are the same thing; today that same kid can tell us whether his ectotherms are heterozygous or homozygous and everything about gravidness and colubrids and boids. Breeders are coming up with mutations within mutations.
Even so, the most common word heard among herps is cool. Reptiles are about as exotic as pets get, yet they're an easy keep: an aquarium with a medium, water bowl, shedding rock, and a screen lid is all that's needed. In the case of snakes, feeding is required once per week at most.
Numerous vendors will be at Repticon displaying supplies, feeders, cages, and all sorts of other merchandise. There will be puppet shows, coloring stations, and games. And, more than likely, there will be chameleons, geckos, bearded dragons, monitors, mutant rat snakes of every shade, Burmese pythons, African rock pythons, ball pythons, Brazilian rainbow boas, Kenyan sand boas, Sinaloan milk snakes, alligators, turtles, tortoises.... And then there are the amphibians....
Do you like to get drunk and dress up in crazy costumes? What's that? No? Why not? Because you have pets and a job? You've changed, man. So who are we supposed to go to Fantasy Fest with now? Derek? Derek is in Australia ... come on! Look, if you change your mind, it runs through December 11 in Key West (it was rescheduled because of that darn Hurricane Wilma). You can even bring your kids, because the fest has the family-friendly Oh My Godard Gallery Street Fair featuring food vendors, arts and crafts booths, and costumed kooks Friday, December 9, from noon to 10:00 p.m. on Duval Street. This year's theme is "Freaks, Geeks, and Goddesses," and the big parade is Saturday, December 10, at 7:00 p.m. Guess what we're going to be? Freaks! Come on, dude, why would you leave me hanging? Aw, man ... that is not cool! Don't you even want to go to the It Ain't Over Till the Fat Lady Sings Tea by the Sea on Sunday, December 11, at 7:00 p.m. at Atlantic Shores Resort (510 South St.; 305-296-2491)? Anyway, if you decide to go, call 305-296-1817, or visit www.fantasyfest.net for a complete schedule. Ryan Brown
An Act of Enlightenment
Luma livens up the dark
A disgruntled juggler moves to Hawaii, designs his own tree house, lives off the grid, and has a lava-and-starlight-inspired epiphany. No, it's not the plot of the feel-good movie of the year; it's the story of Marlin a Ringling Clown College graduate and performance artist and the birth of Luma, a spectacular show of light, color, and motion. Based on his belief that "all life is drawn to light," Marlin uses high-tech illumination devices to entrance audiences and take them on a surreal and philosophical journey. As simple circles and lines evolve into complex geometric shapes, and colors dance in the air like the aurora borealis, it is impossible to not feel enlightened by this unique theatrical experience that, Marlin hopes, will encourage you to appreciate our nightly light show in the sky. Go with the glow tonight at 8:00 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami. Tickets cost $27, $17 for seniors and children under fifteen. Call 305-547-5414, or visit www.lumatheater.com. Lyssa Oberkreser
Santa, Bacon, and Eggs
If you think irony and commercial interests have completely drowned under the weight of the charity and goodwill that followed this year's spate of natural disasters, think again: Today from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m., let your children enjoy the simple, old-fashioned pleasure of eating breakfast with Santa at GameWorks at the Shops at Sunset Place (5701 Sunset Dr., South Miami). After the little cherubs have cleaned off their plates, they'll truly love working on their carpal tunnel syndrome while you daydream about coaxing a loaded eggnog out of the waitstaff. Then you can all go shopping! Proceeds will benefit the Miami Children's Hospital Foundation, which raises funds for research and healthcare (even self-induced pinball injuries), so go ahead and call it a good deed anyway. Tickets are available at GameWorks or the mall management office and cost ten dollars, which includes two hours of play at GameWorks as well as the food. If the kids aren't too jaded, the traditional photograph with Santa can be purchased for another buck. Call 305-663-0873. Margaret Griffis