Attila Ambrus was not a very good hockey player. When this Transylvanian stole across the border into Hungary, he dreamed of becoming a great athlete. Instead, he became a third-string goalie for the foundering national team, supplementing his meager income with side jobs as a janitor, pelt smuggler, gravedigger, and truck driver. Lusting after fancy cars and loose women, Ambrus needed to make more money, and fast. With a trademark bottle of whiskey by his side, the sportsman embarked upon a series of bank robberies that rocketed him to infamy. Tonight, Julian Rubenstein will read from his bittersweet, award-winning book, Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts first at Books & Books (265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 305-442-4408) at 6:00 p.m., then at Borders (19925 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura; 305-935-0027) at 7:30 p.m. (PEGY)


"I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay." In a People magazine interview in 1992, Madonna explained her philosophy with those succinct, sassy words. However, if the age-defying pop star were a man, she would never have to deign to describe herself that way. As fierce as Madonna may be, she didn't make the list for Miami Intelligence's celebration of Women's History Month. The Gender of Power: Five Famous Powerful Women looks back on the lives of ladies who used wiles and chutzpah to break down society's limitations. Five FIU professors will regale the audience with the histories of pioneering, politically influential females. Be inspired by Eleanor of Aquitaine, Marie-Antoinette, Martha Washington, Catherine the Great, and Queen Elizabeth II this evening at 7:30 at Miami Intelligence, 2000 S. Dixie Hwy., Miami. Tickets cost ten dollars. Call 305-860-2499, or visit (PEGY)


Can a Nubian princess find true love with an Egyptian conqueror? On Broadway, anything is possible. After five years in New York and four Tony Awards, the hit pop musical Aida is making its South Florida premiere at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre (280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables). Elton John and Tim Rice worked their theatrical magic on the classic opera by Giuseppe Verdi to create an enchanting musical about passion and politics. The musical stars Desmon Walker as Aida and Christopher Kent as her hunk, Radames. Walk like an Egyptian starting today at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $30 for preview performances through March 10; tickets for performances March 12 through April 10 range from $37.50 to $45. A special opening night performance on March 11 will set you back $100, but includes an open bar and dinner. Call 305-444-9293, or visit (LO)


Come on and ride! Thomas the Tank Engine is chugging into South Florida and now is your chance to spend the Day Out with Thomas. Rev. W. Awdry's Thomas and Friends series of children's books is marking its 60th anniversary of getting kids stoked about trains with a railroad party. The celebration includes a hay-bale maze, an "imagination station" of activities, and storytelling. You can also score a photo with Sir Topham Hatt and enjoy live music by Steve Gryb (a.k.a. the Pied Piper of Percussion). Thomas's 20-minute ride departs every 45 minutes (rain or shine) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., March 4 through 6 and March 11 through 13, at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, 12450 SW Coral Reef Dr., South Miami-Dade. Tickets cost $16 for anyone age two and up, with proceeds benefiting the preservation of heritage railroads and trains. Reservations are recommended. Call 305-253-0063, or visit (LO)


A sexy actress is struggling to escape the villainous clutches of an antagonist with a mysterious, non-American accent. In the corner, there is a ticking bomb outfitted with a digital timer and colorful wires. Suddenly, the muscle-bound hero comes into frame to save the day but not, of course, before uttering the prerequisite action-flick one-liner. If you've ever found yourself stuck in the cineplex thinking, Damn, I could write a better movie than that, then batter up for the Florida Film Institute's latest workshop. Crafting Scenes ... Creating Actions is intended to give the wannabe scribe guidance from a professional, namely Alyn Darnay, award-winning director and writer. Master the craft tonight at 6:30 at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay, 495 Brickell Ave., Miami. The workshop costs $200 and is limited to 25 students. Registration is required. Call 305-891-3456, or visit (PEGY)


Mention Southern Living magazine and it's sure to conjure images of sprawling antebellum plantations, recipes for fried food, and ladies sipping sweet tea beneath the magnolias. Searching for Jewish culture amid its pages would be like trying to find Waldo. But photographer Bill Aron and writer Vicki Reikes Fox spent fourteen years documenting the life and culture of Jewish communities between the notches of the Southern Bible belt. Photographs from their book Shalom Y'all: Images of Jewish Life in the American South are now on display at the Jewish Museum of Florida (301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). The exhibit runs through May 15. The museum is open 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. daily, except Mondays and Jewish holidays. Admission is $6 for adults, but you can get the whole family in for $12. Better yet, go on Saturday, when everyone gets in for free. Call 305-672-5044, or visit (LO)


Who would have ever thought that a tale of starving orphans, street urchins, and heartbreaking Victorian English poverty would someday make for a Broadway smash? Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens's bleak literary classic, found great success when it was reinvented as a spirited musical. Ten Tony Awards and six Academy Awards later, this show is still going strong and making the national rounds. Expect the kind of show tunes that tattoo themselves into your cerebral cortex: "Food, Glorious Food," "I'd Do Anything," "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two," and of course, the irrepressible hum-along ditty "Consider Yourself." Today you can catch the matinee at 2:00, or the evening show at 7:30. Tickets range from $20 to $60. Oliver! will run at the Jackie Gleason Theater (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) until Sunday, March 13. Call 305-358-5885, or visit (PEGY) By Lyssa Oberkreser and Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik

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