Just like the Buffalo Bills, no one circles the wagons like the Jews if, of course, those wagons happen to be filled with reels of film. Tapping into a rich tradition of narrative, political awareness, and commentary, Jewish film is a cut above the other arbitrary category distinctions film festivals always subdivide into, specifically because it pays close attention to its own "otherness." It doesn't hurt that Israel is undergoing a cinematic renaissance or that the number of contemporary challenges to Judaism — assimilation, Gaza, resurgent anti-Semitism — are manifold. Just as earlier Jews used exegeses of the Torah to keep Judaism relevant to the contemporary moment, Jewish filmmakers are using cinema to ask the same kind of questions: "What behaviors are Jewish?" "What defines a Jew?" And the goal is much the same as well: to keep the tradition alive. Their explorations are relevant to all of us, regardless of religion and ethnicity.

Miami Beach, 2071. Two tourists, Gina and Tina, are standing outside the laser rope at the entrance to Plato, the newest "it" club on Collins. The bouncer looks them up and down. "IDs, please," he says. The girls beam them over. The bouncer hands them back two molecular pens and presses a button that illuminates a hologram in front of them. "You have 30 seconds to successfully complete this quiz," he says. The questions range from "What's the 123rd element in the periodic table?" to "Briefly describe the cultural and technological ramifications of the Peloponnesian War" — tough, but Gina and Tina are prepared, having downloaded the answers into their earrings two hours ago. When they finish, the hologram turns green and the rope momentarily disappears. Woody/Andre holds the door, and they're in. In one corner, two half-naked Russian guys are playing chess, and one looks to be playing the Benko gambit to counter the other's fianchetto. In another corner, two Matt Damon lookalikes do trigonometry on an old-fashioned dry-erase board, while their friend declaims openly about the influence of David Foster Wallace on post-postmodernist poets. In short, Gina and Tina's cerebellums are soaking-wet. How did Miami turn into this paradise of intellectualism?

When scholars look back, they'll probably point to the founding of [email protected], the hip cocktail party the Miami Art Museum throws every third Thursday of the month between 5 and 8 p.m. For just $10 (free for members, hint, hint), young Miamians can tour the museum's current exhibit, swap equations in the VIP lounge, or just look professorial on the loggia while listening to live music and sampling the gourmet appetizers. Of course, there's alcohol too (for a small donation). After all, this is Miami we're talking about, and sometimes even geniuses need liquid courage to seal the deal.

The world can take only so many "quirky" teenage indie comedies. Personally, we had enough with that cringe-worthy line, "This is one doodle that can't be undid, homeskillet," from Juno. But we'll make an exception for Bart Got a Room, a charming comedy about Danny Stein (played by Steven Kaplan), a boy who grew up in a suburban Miami retirement community, desperately trying to find the right prom date. We know what you're thinking: Sounds like one of those Michael Cera vehicles. But did Cera ever share the screen with William H. Macy (a Miami-birthed boy), who plays an awkward dad who has to wake up every day and manage his midlife crisis and Jew-fro? Did Curb Your Enthusiasm's Cheryl Hines play his mom? Were any of his movies written and directed by South Florida native Brian Hecker? We didn't think so.

Are you one of those rare sexual creatures who prefer brain shape to butt shape? If so, you might be what the scientific community refers to as a "Brain Admirer" or BA for short. And besides discrimination, there is one major challenge facing all BAs: Where to find big-brained ladies? Sure, you could trawl the obvious spots — Mensa mixers, quiz tournaments, CAT scan clinics. But to drastically increase your chances of bagging that super-evolved female with the four-pound brain, head to The Bas Fisher Invitational Gallery where, since 2004, beautiful women with unnaturally big ideas have regularly gathered. Located in the Design District's famed Buena Vista building, the gallery is home to Miami's most daring contemporary art. However, resist that urge to bone up on artsy jargon; instead, get that brainiac babe to play teacher to your eager student. After all, like all good BAs say, Sexiness is all about her brain and how she chooses to use it.

Remember when the British were our primary foreign policy problem? It's amazing to think that Elton John and company once had the sack (pun alert!) to burn down the White House, especially since they've spent the past eight years playing Flavor Flav to George Bush's Public Enemy #1. (Their only rebuttal was the cinematic wishful thinking of Love, Actually, in which Prime Minister Hugh Grant rebuffs Billy Bob Thornton's W. at a press conference, not for political reasons, mind you, but because he tried to feel up Grant's secretary. Is that what it takes to light a fire under you, Britain? Message received. The next time our leaders won't listen to us, we'll just send Chris Brown to rough up Lily Allen.) But back to Pierre Charles L'Enfant. Written with the heart-racing pace of Standiford's John Deal mysteries, Washington Burning: How a Frenchman's Vision for Our Nation's Capital Survived Congress, the Founding Fathers, and the Invading British Army tracks inside the Beltway from when it was a controversial pick for the nation's capital, to a heap of rubble after the War of 1812, to one of the most poetic municipal projects in history, all packaged in a lucid prose that would make Henry Higgins proud.

Best Place to Meet (Let's Hope) Single Guys

Cheeseburger Baby

Cheeseburger Baby
Photo courtesy of Cheeseburger Baby

Every chick worth her salt knows the way to a man's heart is through the gut. Not a stomach-punch, but a damn good meal. Since SoBe femmes can sometimes be utterly clueless like the movie, let us help you out: The boys turn to Cheeseburger Baby. From 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. — guys swarm the markedly un-cozy bar area of this meet market for burgers, brews, and uninterrupted ESPN watching. Their stares are often directed upward toward the TV set or horizontally toward the steaming-hot grill full of meat; however, the right girl with the right voice ordering the right double cheeseburger will be sure to make each head turn. The best idea: Don't opt for take-out. The boys don't want to just hear you request the meat, they'll need to watch you eat the meat as well. Does she use a napkin or her tongue to catch the mayo dripping down her cheek? Will she eat the fries and then the burger, the burger then the fries, or both simultaneously? And the most important thing guys are looking out for: Is she a good sport about ESPN? Eye rolling will kick you out of the dating game faster than you can chop an onion.

Most people don't know that Russell Banks, the John Dos Passos Award-winning author of famously cold-weather novels such as Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter, spends half his year in South Beach. But unlike most snowbirds, Banks is very active in Miami's literary life. As a board member of Cities of Refuge, an international program that finds two-year residencies in the United States for writers being persecuted in their home countries, Banks has joined forces with Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan to make Miami one of the program's host cities. If the project is successful, the housing of one or more foreign authors would instantly improve the scope of our literary life, because COR residents frequently teach in local universities, run seminars, and give readings. Of course, Banks has already been a loyal participant in Miami Book Fair International, and his 1985 book Continental Drift is one of the best American novels to use our city as a primary location. His newest work, Dreaming Up America, is a terse and vivid account of the history of the United States, dictated off the cuff by Banks to a French documentary crew. Smart, passionate, and thorough, Banks is among the best we've ever been able to claim.

In June, during the city's summer lull, Gen Art hosts the once-a-year event Shop Miami that is perhaps the easiest place to meet Miami's single ladies. Women here usually travel in packs, focusing most of their energy on buying sample sales from local designers. Last thing on their mind is looking for Mr. Right, or at least Mr. Right Now, which is good for men looking for women with their guard down. Plus, the event serves up plenty of free drinks, which only helps the ladies relax even more. And unlike a dark nightclub, the music isn't loud and there is plenty of lighting so you can be sure you are flirting with a perfect ten.

If you haven't heard of Denise Duhamel, a professor at Florida International University and author of eight poetry collections, it's probably because you think contemporary poetry sounds only like this: "Evening storm/Snow hammers the glass/Surface of the house where we fell/In and out of love, the bedroom/Like the knife that cleaved/Our hearts into separate hemispheres/Of loneliness" (editor's note: poem by our own dumb writer) and not like an open letter from a Mattel Barbie doll; and not like the liner notes to a Cyndi Lauper album; and not as a response to the warning the surgeon general puts on condoms; and not as a legal diatribe on sex with animals; and not as an explanation of a menu change in the White House; and not as a collaboration with another poet; and not as a visual object that asks to be considered as its own genre of art; and not as something that a modern American can actually relate to, forcing itself again and again past the defenses we've perfected in the face of so many false claims to our emotions; and not as something that is actually, truly contemporary; and not as something that is — gasp — actually worth reading.

Peppy's in the Gables

Sure, watching a two-dimensional Italian waiter play the accordion under the stars as a mutt and a cocker spaniel slurp up the last noodle of spaghetti is pretty adorable. But we don't live in the Magic Kingdom. We live in the Magic City, where no self-respecting Lady is going to eat a plate of pasta in an alley with a broke-ass Tramp. So what's a guy to do in a town where there are more princesses (suck it, Cinderella) than in Walt Disney's 100 Years of Magic DVD box set? Take her to Peppy's in the Gables, an intimate little spot where the exterior looks like it was torn from the pages of a fairy tale and the cozy interior is dimly lit and filled with orchids. Plus, with Peppy's recession-friendly four-course dinner for $20, available Tuesday through Sunday, any jobless loser will come off looking like Prince Charming. The dinner includes a glass of wine and your choice of salad or soup along with an appetizer of mozzarella marinara (think of a giant mozzarella stick) or beef carpaccio. The main entrée options range from chicken piccata to pesce del giorno, and every dinner ends with ice cream. It's enough food to satisfy the appetite of Ariel's meaty nemesis Ursula, but with Peppy's delightful waiters who come fully equipped with exotically heavy accents, the experience is enough to make any Belle or (Sleeping) Beauty "part of your world."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®