The Florida Center for the Literary Arts opens its writers' residency and lecture series with a not-necessarily-politically-correct discourse. Prolific, award-winning author Francine Prose will lecture on "Scent of a Woman's Ink: Why Women are Still Being Read Differently from Men." When her original essay on the subject appeared in Harper's magazine, it rekindled the ongoing debate on whether women authors are taken as seriously as men. Her view, that it's the readers who bring their own misinformed perceptions to the mix, created its own wave of controversy and criticism. The author of 10 novels, including 2000's National Book Award nominee Blue Angel, Prose has also written art criticism, travel journals, and even children's literature. The discussion begins at 7:00 p.m. in room 2106 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE 2nd Ave. Call 305-237-3940. -- By Margaret Griffis
It is said that nearly a quarter-million folks grow orchids south of West Palm Beach. That means there are plenty of orchids to go around for exposition in several orchid shows held here throughout the year, and there are many more flowers to replace the ones that keep perishing in our care. Geared to "the hobbyist and the impassioned collector," according to organizer Martin Motes, is the newest kid on the block: the first annual Miami Orchid Festival, taking place from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. today through Sunday, February 1, at the Fair Expo Center (10901 Coral Way). New small growers will join national and international farmers from places like Taiwan, Malaysia, and Hawaii who have never shown off their wares in our parts. Competitions, lectures, arts and crafts, and plenty of supplies are also promised. Admission is $5. Call 305-247-4398. -- By Nina Korman
Say it Loud ...
Miami Dade College celebrates Black History Month with events throughout February. While many events are centered around the civil rights movement, hip-hop culture gets a much-deserved shout-out. The fun kicks off at 11:00 a.m. with the lecture "God is Black: Rastafarians, Black Israelites, and the Nation of Islam" by Dr. Mark Neunder at MDC's InterAmerican Campus (627 SW 27th Ave., room 1390). The college screens the film Tupac: The Resurrection at 5:00 p.m. on its Kendall campus (11011 SW 104th St., bldg. 6). Many events are free. Call 305-237-2000 or go to www.mdc.edu. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Film festival debuts, again
In its 21st season, the Miami International Film Festival is reborn with a sponsorship from Miami Dade College and the ambitious quest to be the most important cultural event in the Western Hemisphere. At least that's what festival bigwigs, elected officials, and MDC honchos expressed at the press conference announcing the new organization. Tonight the MIFF opens its roster of 64 feature films from 34 countries with Bon Voyage, Jean-Paul Rappeneau's political comedy of errors set during the Nazi occupation of Paris. The film features film legends Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Adjani. Rappeneau and actors Peter Coyote and Virginie Ledoyen are expected to attend the screening. The festival unspools at 7:30 p.m. at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., and runs through Sunday, February 8, at 4 additional venues. Tickets cost $25 for the opening. Call 305-237-3456 or see www.miamifilmfestival.com for schedule information and prices. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Kid stuff commands big bucks
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Consider this permission to chew your mother out for waiting until you went to college and emptying your bedroom and your brother's of all those Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes. Her vain attempt to make order and create room for guests led to your investment being tossed in the trash. Yes, toys, especially old or "vintage" ones, can actually be worth something if they were kept in good condition. But your stuff wasn't even kept. Recapture those childhood memories and mementos at the 24th annual Miami Antique Toy, Doll, and Collectible Show, going on from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Airport Marriott Hotel (1201 NW Le Jeune Rd.). Dealers from around the country will be peddling Marx playsets, Matchbox toys, Disneyana, Star Wars figures, and more. Wait a sec, that Malibu Barbie looks way too familiar! Admission is $5. Call 305-446-4488. -- By Nina Korman
If you can't laugh at a groundling, check your pulse. You may be dead. The Los Angeles-based comedy troupe known as The Groundlings has been pumping out the yuks -- and the entertainers -- for nearly 30 years. Looking at a list of their alumni can cause spasms of laughter: Will Ferrell, Lisa Kudrow, Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman), and Julia Sweeney (the androgynous Pat). Like Second City in Chicago, the troupe has also graduated untold comedy writers and even Conan O'Brien has dropped by for pointers. In town for the Miami Improv Festival, the Groundlings perform at 9:00 tonight and tomorrow at the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium Theater, 3280 S. Miami Ave. Tickets cost $25. Call 305-668-4821. -- By John Anderson