"We had a daughter in Boston. We used to visit her on the weekends," says Bob Hummel, the man behind the Website called MassTimes.org. "It was a monthly trip, and it went on for four or five years. We were always in the struggle of finding [Catholic] masses, and that's how it all kind of got started." It's a database of every Catholic church in the United States, listing the times of every mass at each church, a map to the church, and a link to the church Website if there is one. Hummel's own site is as simple as a paper bag, yet his mission is increasingly challenging. After six years of operation, the database has grown to include 22,000 churches. Working out of his Key Largo home, Hummel and four volunteers make about 2000 changes to the database every month. "We get about 200,000 inquiries a year, so there is a need," he notes. "And an awful lot of nice kind words are showered down on us for doing it. So it has been worth it."

Best Political Consultant In The Hereafter

Phil Hamersmith

Phil Hamersmith
Sure you could go to the movies, but two hours seems like an eternity if you're eager to make it home and (with any luck) into each other's arms. A trip to the planetarium, where exhibitions tend to run under an hour, is ideal. The shows at the planetarium are even darker than a movie theater, perfect for smooching. And the price is right; admission is just six dollars (three dollars for senior dates). Plus there is something about the celestial emphasis: love under the stars.
The Wolfsonian-FIU
In a city whose international image is often, and sometimes wrongly, drawn by hypesters peddling simplistic images of hot-pink flamingos, drag queens, scheming thugs, and hysterical politicians, it is somehow not surprising to find that the best museum in town is a South Beach warehouse packed full of the fruits of one local rich-guy-collector's aggressive, Deco-tinged whimsy. Indeed at Micky Wolfson's Wolfsonian, the twelve-inch torpedo cigarette lighter sits not far from the obelisk celebrating the signing of the Uruguayan constitution, which is itself only a few steps from a poster circa 1938 celebrating "Modern German Architecture." The place is so charming it will surprise you at first, rattling your sense of humor and making you smile before you realize it is a rich and scholarly collection of grace and strength. It's a serious museum that focuses on international art, design, and propaganda during the period 1885-1945. But it's also a lot of fun, and that's practically un-American. More like South Floridian. More Miamian. (Note to the fellas: Ask the guards on the sixth floor to show you the giraffes and monkeys on display in the ladies' room; they'll escort you in.)
Pat Nesbit is the sort of performer whose work finds its way to the foreground even if she's part of an ensemble, as she was in 1998's The Last Night of Ballyhoo at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. This past season South Florida audiences were lucky to see her at the Caldwell Theatre Company as one of two players in Donald Margulies' Collected Stories, a smaller, more intimate drama that showed off her style as a miniaturist. Her character, Ruth, is a middle-age college professor whose star is fading just as that of her protégé, Lisa, is on the rise. The play is not exactly subtle in the ways it deals with issues of artistic appropriation. Nesbit, on the other hand, is a master of small moments. In this performance, as usual, her brilliance shone through in her line readings, the precision of her inflections, the way her character, becoming increasingly ill, seemed to fade away in front of our eyes. For these reasons discerning theatergoers only want to see more of her.
GameWorks
More than a video-game store, GameWorks is a virtual theme park in which the latest technology is offered exclusively in the service of fulfilling your kid's wildest fantasies. Not only is a youngster's nervous system zapped into a frenzy by the blinking lights, jingling bells, firing laser guns, and the sensation of being on another planet, but the payment system encourages wanton indulgence in this cornucopia of stimulation. Instead of coins game credit cards are issued. Twenty dollars buys you or your child a one-hour pleasure spree. Other payment packages also are available. Games and rides range from the quaint, dot-gobbling Ms. Pac-Man to a virtual roller coaster guaranteed to rattle your grown-up cookies. The store's VIP section, party room, restaurant, and two bars are designed to spoil any adult's inner child.
Paula Vogel's 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive is not an easy play to sit through. Incest, alcoholism, self-destruction, and probing questions about the nature of love are the subjects it takes on. Told through the eyes of Li'l Bit, a woman who looks back at her youth and girlhood to recount how she was molested by a favorite uncle, the drama requires actors to portray fully fleshed people (Li'l Bit and Uncle Peck), as well as a Greek chorus of family members and secondary characters. The excellent Caldwell Theatre Company cast featured Kim Cozort and David Forsyth as the protagonists, both of whom gave subtly multifaceted and complex performances. Supporting them, and acting with much broader strokes, were the magnificent Dan Leonard, Jessica K. Peterson, and Viki Boyle. Director Kenneth Kay couldn't have asked for happier chemistry or more galvanic talent. And neither could we.

Best Reason To Stay In Miami For The Summer

Venetian Pool

Venetian Pool
Photo courtesy of the GMCVB
(1) Cool spring water. (2) Two waterfalls. (3) None of those irritating models who pose like bags of bones over the loggias, under the porticos, on the cobblestone bridge. And no professional photographers who consider this particular locale indispensable. Summer in Miami, when the locals come out to play, is the ideal time to take advantage of this historic 1923 pool, which originally was a coral rock quarry before being transformed by architects Phineas Paist and Denman Fink, uncle of the City Beautiful's George Merrick. In the wintertime it's nearly impossible to get near the place, what with all the photo shoots and curious visitors. But when temperatures and humidity exceed those of most saunas, the Venetian Pool is a great place to hang all day. You can even procure snacks and meals from the café, which features (among healthier items) figure-threatening fare such as lasagna of the week and mozzarella sticks. And if you do indulge too much -- or perhaps you're just looking for shade -- you can always hide in the coral caves.
Step into this 7400-square-foot space and you are assured an intense visual experience with a mood somewhere between SoHo and Sofia, Bulgaria. Facchini, a São Paulo native, opened her Design District gallery in November 1999. She seems to have a taste for large paintings with an "elegant use of colors," as she likes to say. She also is fond of expressionistic human figures, be they of paint, clay, or stone. Giant ceramic totem poles were among the items standing on the polished concrete floor earlier this year. The renderings inside her walls can range from photorealistic to Rothkoesque. How does she decide what works to display? "What I love," Facchini answers in her Portuguese-tinged English. She also favors "strong" works with intense emotion. In an exhibition titled "Everything but Modern," she assembled sculptures and paintings by artists working in two very different places: Bulgaria (Krum Damianov and Svetlin Russev) and South Beach (Gregory Herman, Robert Fitzgerald, and Seth Bernard Minkin). Despite the radical difference in location, some of the pieces were uncannily similar, as if their creators came from the same strange universe. This unusual geographical mix suggests dramatic possibilities for future shows. Facchini has the capability to bring in heavyweight artists from far away. Damianov, for example, was commissioned to do a large outdoor sculpture for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and the Bulgarian countryside bears many of his monumental creations. Unlike many local galleries presenting interesting art (such as Locust Projects, Dorsch Gallery, and lab6), you don't need an appointment at Facchini's place.
Be they from purple mountains, fruited plains, or anywhere else, just about all your visitors will appreciate the shining turquoise sea visible from this southern point of Key Biscayne. The only edifice obstructing the splendid ocean view is the restored Cape Florida lighthouse, erected in 1825 by some of our first out-of-towners, including a builder from Boston. It was burned down by some churlish locals from the Seminole tribe in 1836 and rebuilt ten years later. When your guests tire of the tower and beach facilities (which include picnic areas with pavilions and barbecue grills), take them along the sea wall path for a gander at old Stiltsville, which dates back to the late Thirties. The seven aquatic getaway cabins hovering above the Biscayne Channel have withstood Hurricane Andrew and blowhards at Biscayne National Park, who are pushing for removal of the stilt houses because they lie inside the park's boundary. Turning your gaze inland, you might have the fortune of showing your nonaccidental tourists a crocodile that resides in the restored tidal marsh, along with various bird species. As you inhale the sea breeze, you also can breathe a sigh of relief while telling your friends of the battle, led by former Miami News editor Bill Baggs in 1966, that prevented Cape Florida from becoming a vast burg of condominiums.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®