The lady has cojones, which is more than we can say for the rest of the editorial page. Krog spends most of her time writing unsigned editorials, typically on the subject of county government. But she also pens signed opinion columns, which are sassier. For instance in a recent column she blasted Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas for opposing the hiring of Angela Gittens as the county's new aviation director. "For his political gain, Penelas is making it nearly impossible for MIA -- and therefore the public he purports to serve -- to get the strong, experienced management it needs," Krog wrote. "You have to wonder from whom Penelas is taking advice and counsel these days. I'd suggest he fire their butts."

On another occasion Krog was equally blunt toward the newest member of the school board. "It wasn't that I expected new Miami-Dade School Board member Jacqueline Pepper to start her public life with a quick display of leadership or anything," Krog allowed. "She's a political newcomer, after all, and has a lot to learn on the job. But I sure thought that for starters she'd do something smarter than hire her husband as a staff aide. It's legal, says Pepper. Sure, but it's not right."

And on the nomination by President George W. Bush of Linda Chavez as secretary of labor, Krog had this to say: "If Chavez is a victim of anything beyond her own bad judgment calls, it isn't the Beltway's witch-hunt atmosphere as she claims, but Bush's unwise selection of her in the first place."

Krog's strongest column of the past year, however, was far more personal. She wrote about the death of her father: "A few words about this man: He called dry cereal “pop-nuts-scrummies.' He took in strays -- both the two-legged and four-legged varieties. He baptized a basset hound that wandered onto the place and became his adoring shadow “Soupbone' for its sorry shape. He had only one usable arm after polio but played basketball, touch football, and softball with his kids on summer evenings after a long, hard day of farm work. He never whined, never complained, never looked back with regret, always leaning slightly forward into life, which he embraced and accepted for what it was -- and for what it could be."

What a difference a year makes. Back then Miami-Dade County was snubbing the Latin Grammys. Now Mayor Alex Penelas and Cuban American National Foundation chairman Jorge Mas Santos are rolling out the red carpet for the awards show. Why? Technically it's because a U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively nullified the county ordinance that barred groups that do business with Cuba from using county-owned facilities. But the real reason is simpler: Penelas, Mas Santos, and others in the Cuban-American community finally awakened to the fact that they were losing the public-relations battle for the hearts and minds of the American people. Rather than seeming sympathetic, Cuban Americans were viewed as intolerant, especially following the Elian Gonzalez affair. And Miami, rather than being the vaunted Capital of the Americas, was becoming increasingly isolated. Opening the doors to the Latin Grammys is the first step in a long-overdue effort to reverse that trend.

Theatergoers found a lot of reasons to dislike Paul Tei this season. He played a cold-blooded child killer in New Theatre's Never the Sinner and a hot-blooded serial killer in GableStage's Popcorn. But he is so good at being bad that you can't really hold it against him. Tei is the kind of actor who looks at a role not only as an opportunity to perform but also as an opportunity to create a role. Consequently he can portray several different degenerates, and his performances never overlap. As Wayne, the gun-toting redneck in Popcorn, Tei kept us riveted to our seats -- appalled and laughing. As Richard Loeb, a wealthy young Chicago man who, along with his lover, kills a young boy on a Nietzsche-inspired whim, he was equally appalling. But Tei never let audiences simply dislike his characters. With his willingness to take risks and push the boundaries of character definition, he could make Ted Bundy funny. For example, in Never the Sinner, he dared to play this insolent, arrogant murderer as childlike and capricious -- clubbing a kid in the head one moment and going out for hot dogs the next. Tei's topnotch acting transformed these two good plays into excellent ones.

An actor's success in a dramatic role can fall into one of two categories: the ability to make the unbelievable believable, and the ability to make the believable unbelievably incredible. Bridget Connors managed to do both in her role as a young Jewish woman dying of a terminal illness. That's the believable part. Rachel's plight easily could have been a case study in Harold S. Kushner's book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. She expressed all the predictable emotions and asked all the right metaphysical questions. The not-so-believable part is the conversion experience she had, which was facilitated by her sister, a devout member of the Christian Science faith. Believable or unbelievable, Connors brought something magical to the role from the moment she stepped onstage. Her ability to be simultaneously earthy and ethereal left theatergoers feeling as though they were seeing a tragedy for the first time.

The sun may have set on the British Empire long ago, but one of its key rituals continues weekdays at the Biltmore Hotel. The rapacious guardians of civilization knew that whether it be the languid tropics of the colonies or the drizzly comfort of hearth and home, nothing beats a good cuppa as the day turns dozy around midafternoon. Beneath the vaulted ceilings of this grand hotel's lobby, for an hour and half starting at 3:00 p.m., the tradition continues as high tea is served. It all begins with the raw materials from a 115-year-old English tea company. A gracious attendant wheels in a cart filled with teas accented by exotic flavors that carry names like Imperial Gunpowder, Afternoon Darjeeling, and Tippy Assam. The last of these is harvested each year, between April and June, from the Brahmanputra Valley in northeast India. Off to the side a woman plays piano softly. The server pours the tea into china cups, through silver strainers that are then placed into individual silver bowls. She brings fresh fruit and a selection of crustless finger sandwiches that range from salmon to cucumber. Next come wickedly rich scones made of fluffy shortbread dusted in powdered sugar. A dish laden with whipped butter and a complete selection of fruit preserves complements the pastries. At this point, rather than risk the perils of overindulgence, pause and appreciate the beautiful orchids atop the five tables, the plushly comfortable chairs, and, of course, more of that delightfully calming elixir. The last course arrives as if by magic, a plate brimming with confections: little macaroons, diminutive lemon tarts, and mini-pecan pies. When the $15 check comes, it seems a small price to pay for the burden of being civilized.

The smart flier used to love Fort Lauderdale's airport. Whereas Miami's airport is chaotic and crowded, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International was almost shockingly easy to navigate. Short-term parking was easy to find, so picking up and dropping off were a breeze. Long-term parking cost only three bucks per day. But Broward officials have made the tragic decision to buff up their airport, to make it more "world class." So far they've succeeded in making it more closely resemble MIA or even LaGuardia in its unwieldiness. Traffic now snakes around pylons erected to support a new terminal. Parking prices have increased across the board. Unwelcome stress has been added to the pickup and dropoff process. And inside the place, ceiling tiles are missing and escalators are shut down as workers labor to redesign terminals that were just fine the way they were. So forget it. From now on we're just taking a cab to MIA.

Let's give it up, finally, for the Big Dog, Joe Rose. The former Miami Dolphin wide receiver is as close to a Miami sports institution as we have at this time, at least since Dan Marino and Don Shula have retired. Hard to believe in a way. Rose hardly distinguished himself as an athlete. (His greatest claim to fame, which he'll gladly tell you about, is catching Marino's first touchdown pass.) But as a broadcaster Rose has developed into a welcome, humorous personality, the ex-jock with a soft spot for the underdog. In his appearances on WQAM, on WTVJ-TV (Channel 6), and hosting numerous charity roasts, Rose plays the doofus, willingly attracting abuse from his co-workers, especially his linemates on the First Team, WQAM's very listenable morning sports-talk show. Clearly, though, Rose is no idiot. Compared with other sports clowns, such as former Steeler QB Terry Bradshaw, we'll take the underdog every time.

Best Argument For Craig Robins's Continued Professional Success

Aqua

When asked about his New Urbanism-inspired development now under construction on Allison Island in Miami Beach -- a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood of moderate-height homes and townhouses -- Robins said what anyone offended by the condo canyon rising around South Beach longs to hear. "Everybody," he told the New York Times, "wants to build a 40-story building and sell you your shoebox in the sky without taking any responsibility for what effect a high-rise has on its surroundings."

Best Argument For Craig Robins's Continued Professional Success

Aqua

When asked about his New Urbanism-inspired development now under construction on Allison Island in Miami Beach -- a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood of moderate-height homes and townhouses -- Robins said what anyone offended by the condo canyon rising around South Beach longs to hear. "Everybody," he told the New York Times, "wants to build a 40-story building and sell you your shoebox in the sky without taking any responsibility for what effect a high-rise has on its surroundings."

With the closing of the Alliance Cinema on Lincoln Road, it looked as though this category would be consigned to the cultural graveyard. Conventional wisdom had it that nobody could withstand the gravitational pull of the multiplex. Besides that, it seemed as if an audience for art movies simply didn't exist in Miami -- or didn't exist in large-enough numbers to make financial ends meet. But that didn't deter Cesar Hernandez-Canton, Johnny Calderin, and Ray Garcia (also operators of the Absinthe House Cinematheque in Coral Gables). In January of this year they opened the 103-seat, nonprofit Mercury Theatre to high hopes if not huge crowds. Although the opening was a year later than planned, the delay actually may have worked in their favor. Their hopes of riding the entrepreneurial wave in Miami's Upper Eastside created by restaurateur Mark Soyka were enhanced by giving Soyka (the restaurant) a chance to develop a following, which it has. With Soyka (the man) as landlord, Hernandez-Canton, Calderin, and Garcia remade an old warehouse adjacent to the restaurant, featuring amenities such as tables and chairs in the lobby, twenty-foot ceilings, unusual concession delicacies, and gallery space. Soyka installed a fountain outside and added more tables and chairs. Voila! An oasis was born. Films are screened twice nightly during the week. Matinees are added on the weekends. Yes, the movies don't change all that frequently, but it sure beats the only attractions formerly available in the neighborhood: streetwalkers and strip clubs.

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