Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
BEST LOCAL WRITER Thomas Harris The creator of one of modern fiction's most deeply etched, enduring, and beloved -- if that's the right adjective to describe a cannibalistic serial killer -- characters lives right here, somewhere in Miami-Dade County. Thomas Harris, the author of four novels, three of them devoted at least in part to the escapades of murderous psychiatrist Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter, is extraordinarily reclusive. What is known is Harris's painstaking attention to realistic detail; he spent nearly six years trailing FBI profilers in Quantico, Virginia, and studied the case histories of hundreds of criminally insane killers before Red Dragon was published in 1981. Less widely praised is the author's vivid, expressive wordsmithing, which far exceeds the standard of even good police procedurals and is less evocative of the hardboiled street toughness of James Elroy than it is the nightmarishly gory surrealism of Edgar Allan Poe and Clive Barker. It's a prose style made outstanding by an omniscient narrator's keen observation of personal details and nuanced behaviors -- the very foundation of the study of abnormal psychology. Jonathan Demme's cinematic adaptation of the second Lecter tale, 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, cemented the psychopath's role as an American horror genre figure. Ted Tally's script was awesome, but some of its most lingeringly piercing phrases came directly from Harris. When Hannibal Lecter first meets the fledgling but capable FBI agent Clarice Starling, his insult isn't macabre, merely cruel, but nearly feminine in its precision: "You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well-scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste ... you're not more than one generation from poor white trash." Starling eventually earns Lecter's support in her casework and even his affection -- a dubious achievement -- but Harris eschews happiness for his protagonists. At the conclusion of Hannibal, Starling ends up dining on fava beans, Chianti, and a human liver with Lecter; an earlier hero, Jack Crawford, is also driven to a desperate breakdown. Peter Webber, who made Girl with a Pearl Earring, is preparing to shoot Young Hannibal in Prague while Harris is writing the novel Behind the Mask, which will be published this fall. The characters in the Lecter series have no connection to Florida. However, in Harris's first book, 1975's Black Sunday, Palestinian terrorists and a disgruntled military veteran create chaos at a Super Bowl held at the Orange Bowl.
BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE The Constant Wife Coconut Grove Playhouse The Playhouse's hit revival had so many fine performances, it is only fair to fully credit them all. Alicia Roper was regally serene in the title role, beautifully matched by Greg Wood as her duplicitous husband, Nancy Dussault as her wisecracking mother, and Dan Olmstead as her once and future swain. Take those delicious ingredients, stir in Ian D. Clark, Susan Wilder, Ursula Freundlich, Pilar Uribe, and Dan Schiff, and out pops one tasty soufflé of an ensemble show.
BEST ACTIVITY TO DO WHILE INTOXICATED Beer Pong Hooligan´s Pub & Oyster Bar
9555 S. Dixie Highway
www.hooliganspub.com Every Thursday night at 9:00 Hooligan's offers a chance for everyone (yes, the distaff included) to get their balls wet. On one of the Ping-Pong tables brought into the pub for this event, each contestant is required to arrange ten cups of beer (sort of like bowling pins). Opponents then get on either side and attempt to bounce a table-tennis ball into the other team's hops. Each time a player scores, the other team must drink. Because a person has to be pretty much drunk before indulging in such a game, a few misses are to be expected. This makes it even more fun, seeing as the ball will no doubt end up landing on the grimy floor a few times before plopping into its intended target. The object is to make the opposing side drink all ten cups of beer -- including any carpet lint, dust, and other fluff. Yummy.
BEST ACTOR David Kwiat Kwiat's performance as the dying oddball physicist Richard Feynman in QED (at GableStage) was in production a full year ago. Award competitions such as the Oscars often have short memories in such cases, but all these months later Kwiat's funny, touching portrait of one man's search for peace and meaning still resonates, an exceptional example of an exceptional actor's style: understated, deeply felt, and fully alive.
BEST ACTRESS Angelica Torn No doubt about it. This year's nod goes to Angelica Torn, who tore up the stage in her fierce, memorable portrait of poet Sylvia Plath in EDGE at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Torn used a deliberately off-putting, disconnected persona to portray the troubled writer. But her flat, atonal vocal delivery and disheveled demeanor masked a volcanic emotional life that erupted in brief spasms of sudden anguish. The result was indelible: frightening, sarcastic, pitiable, courageous.
BEST AM RADIO PERSONALITY Bishop Victor T. Curry WMBM-AM (1490) Imagine your average radio talk show. A couple of hosts prattle on about the news, sports, and entertainment while occasionally taking calls from agitated listeners. Now imagine that wrapped in scripture and gospel music, and you'll have the wonderful Morning Glory show, which airs weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. with an extra two hours added on Tuesdays. Especially when it comes to controversial subjects, it's easy to get riled (a number of callers certainly do) and say to yourself, I wish I knew more about scripture so I could actually argue with the good reverend. That's the point.
Readers´ Choice: Neil Rogers, WQAM-AM (560)