Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus The complaints against clowns are legion: They're creepy, they're willfully obnoxious, and if you fall asleep, one or more of them will eat you. We're not entirely sure how so much animosity came to be visited upon a vocation that's steeped in a tradition of pinpoint timing and physical skill. But we do have an inkling of the unfair prejudices that might follow Bello Nock, the star of Ringling Bros.' 137th annual circus. He's billed as "the guy in the big red hair," inviting who-knows-how-many wary ticket buyers to entertain the misapprehension that they're risking a close encounter with … Carrot Top! To make the distinction perfectly clear: Bello has been named "America's Best Clown" by Time magazine, while Carrot Top has received exactly zero honors from the publication (unless you count a Mylar-festooned, subscription-ending special issue proclaiming the Man of the Year to be "You, You Enormous Ass"). So go without fear. (7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday at Amway Arena; $15-$75; 407-849-2020; www.ringling.com)Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus The complaints against clowns are legion: They're creepy, they're willfully obnoxious, and if you fall asleep, one or more of them will eat you. We're not entirely sure how so much animosity came to be visited upon a vocation that's steeped in a tradition of pinpoint timing and physical skill. But we do have an inkling of the unfair prejudices that might follow Bello Nock, the star of Ringling Bros.' 137th annual circus. He's billed as "the guy in the big red hair," inviting who-knows-how-many wary ticket buyers to entertain the misapprehension that they're risking a close encounter with … Carrot Top! To make the distinction perfectly clear: Bello has been named "America's Best Clown" by Time magazine, while Carrot Top has received exactly zero honors from the publication (unless you count a Mylar-festooned, subscription-ending special issue proclaiming the Man of the Year to be "You, You Enormous Ass"). So go without fear. (7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday at Amway Arena; $15-$75; 407-849-2020; www.ringling.com)
Otronicon Were you beaten and robbed of your new Playstation 3 after camping outside the store for a week? Are the kids whining because they didn't find a Wii under the tree? If the post-holiday video-game blues have got you down, Otronicon sounds like the cure. For 10 days, Orlando Science Center will be transformed into a gamer's gold mine, featuring professional-level tournaments, military simulators and next-gen consoles galore. Workshops cover everything from software design to "Video Games and Faith." Tell the spouse it's educational and dump the little ones on the V-Smile machines — meanwhile, you can be in the vintage arcade, trying to finally get Dirk the Daring though those damn rapids. (4 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, 4 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, through Jan. 21, at Orlando Science Center; $14.95 daily, passes available; 407-514-2000; www.otronicon.org)
2007 Orlando Meltdown Charity Softball Tournament We have to admire the "reality check" humility of the organizers of this annual national softball competition geared toward the gay and lesbian community. In fact their press releases offer no less than two "reality checks" in dealing with the preconceptions of gay people and their affinities for balls that are soft: The first, that it's no Citrus Bowl or Bay Hill; the second, that they won't knock the Predators off the front page. And seeing as the Weekly (which is gay when it's drunk enough) doesn't often report on sports, we instantly cottoned to the organization's notion of "breaking stereotypes," while raising much-needed funds for each winning team's selected charities. (Last year more than $4,500 was raised.) We're soft like that. With events going on at the Seminole County Softball Complex and the Lake Fairview Softball complex, as well as social pourings at the Parliament House, you can expect a full weekend of mistaking girls for boys and vice versa. Just watch which cup you grab. (7:30 p.m. registration Friday at the Parliament House, 8 a.m. Saturday at Seminole County Softball Complex and Lake Fairview Softball Complex, 8 a.m. Sunday at Seminole County Softball Complex, followed by the Mix & Mingle, 6 p.m. at the Parliament House Piano Bar; www.orlandomeltdown.com)
Pachuca Mexico vs. DIM Colombia Back in October, two pro soccer teams from Mexico and Colombia faced off at the Citrus Bowl, though if you're sports-illiterate, you'd be forgiven for not knowing about it, especially considering that the promoters targeted the Spanish-speaking market. That was kind of silly, as it would have been an easy sell to any soccer fans still wrapped in a warm, post—World Cup glow. This time, however, when the powerhouse Mexican team from Pachuca takes on Medellín's squad, there's no excuse for the soccer-starved not to show up. Ticket prices are a tad steep, but it will be well worth it to experience the rare thrill of international-caliber soccer in your own back yard. (8:30 p.m. at the Florida Citrus Bowl; $39-$49; 407-849-2001)
World Extreme Fighting Dear readers, upon deep reflection we have reached what we realize is an inescapable conclusion: The world is simply not violent enough. "Oh, sure," you say. "What about Iraq? What about the four homicides in a single day Orange County witnessed? That's not enough?" Not on your bloody life (pun intended). Thus, we wholeheartedly endorse Jamie Levine's World Extreme Fighting (read our story "Jamie Levine wants to kick your ass," May 13, 2004) and its 10-bout match in Kissimmee, the first of three at the Silver Spurs Arena over the next year. Part martial arts, part street fight and no holds barred, this thing ain't for pussies. (7:30 p.m. at Silver Spurs Arena at Osceola Heritage Park, Kissimmee; $25-$100; 321-697-3333; www.ohpark.com)
Martin Luther King JR. celebrations There's no shortage of MLK commemorations this year, and the way they're scheduled, it's possible to hit more than a few. Among the biggies is the downtown parade, themed "Living the Dream Together." The procession winds its way to Lake Eola Amphitheater, where it'll spill into a festival and a battle of the bands. (Departing 10 a.m. Saturday from the corner of Parramore Avenue and Church Street) The town of Eatonville celebrates its 30th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration with several days of educational events as well as the highlight parade. (Kicking off 2 p.m. Saturday down Kennedy Boulevard) West Winter Park continues a successful tradition with its fifth annual Unity Heritage Festival. Friday, there's a silent auction fund-raiser with Florida Highwaymen artist Robert Lewis and Caribbean steel drum music by Vince Ragsdale. (6 p.m.-10 p.m. at Winter Park Farmers' Market) Saturday is family day with gospel music, children's games, food, art and other community vendors. (1 p.m.-5:30 p.m. in Shady Park at Hannibal Square) Monday, things pick up speed with an MLK festival with more yummy down-home food goods and live soul and R&B entertainment (9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. in Shady Park; www.cityofwinterpark.org)
Celebrating Jewish Women Question: So how many Jewish mothers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer: “Oh, don’t worry about me, I’ll just sit here in the dark!”
Mamadrama: The Jewish Mother in Cinema is half of Sunday’s matinee double feature at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando. Interviews with Jewish filmmakers, actors and critics intermingle with selections from Goodbye, Columbus, The Jazz Singer and Torch Song Trilogy. In its exploration of a vaudeville chestnut, it’s like The Aristocrats, minus the raunch.
The second half of the program is a lot less lighthearted — Half the Kingdom is a 60-minute documentary about observant Jewish women attempting to reconcile their struggle for equal rights with their religious beliefs. One woman asks her husband to stop saying the traditional Jewish daily prayer thanking God he was not born a woman; another recounts a male congregant trying to strangle her when she stood up to say a prayer at her synagogue. And they wonder why their mothers get a little weird …. (2 p.m., the JCC’s Harriett & Hymen Lake Cultural Auditorium, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland; $5; 407-645-5933)
FilmSlam The closing last year of downtown’s DMAC theater did more than rob Orlando of a great venue for left-of-center cinema; it simultaneously put the kibosh on the popular Sunday FilmSlam series of amateur-auteur competitions. Or so we all thought! Taking up the slack is Maitland’s Enzian Theater, which will now host the slam — a kind of proving ground for budding Scorseses — the second Sunday of every month. A cynic might consider the $5 admission price somewhat steep, given the hit-or-miss quality of a typical program. But that fiver you surrender keeps the filmmakers from having to pay an entry fee, meaning that even the mildest economic hardship won’t get in the way of the slammers’ mission to seek and reward artistic merit. (1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14 at Enzian Theater, Maitland; $5; 407-629-0054; www.enzian.org)
Rod Stewart We've often asserted — loudly and drunkenly — that the Faces were the Best Rock Band Ever. When suitably intoxicated, we sing along to "Miss Judy's Farm" and "Stay With Me," doing our best ash-rasp imitation of what, inarguably, were the finest vocal moments in Rod Stewart's 40-year career. In those gorgeously blurry moments, we want nothing more than for someone to mistake us for a man who, had he not been so intent on being a pop star, could have gone down in history rivaling Mick Jagger for the title of Rock's Sexiest Badass. As it is, everything Rod has done post-Faces — except that oddly beguiling 1985 version of "People Get Ready" he did with Jeff Beck — has left us wondering why he saw the need to sell his soul. Always a great singer of other people's songs, Stewart's latest return to the charts has been via a horrifying string of "standards" albums aimed squarely at the QVC audience that can still muster a flutter in near-menopausal loins at the sight of Rod the Mod; the latest is a collection of "rock classics" that gets no gutsier than "Fooled Around and Fell in Love." Whatever. We'd be lying if we pretended that we didn't want to see him sing. We know the in-the-round set's gonna be a schmaltz-fest of the highest order, but there's always the chance that he'll trot out "Three Button Hand Me Down" right at the moment that our arena-beer buzz kicks in. (8 p.m. at Amway Arena; $54-$95; 407-849-2001)
Contributors: Billy Manes, Jeffrey C. Billman, Jason Ferguson, Lindy T. ShepherdContributors: Billy Manes, Jeffrey C. Billman, Jason Ferguson, Lindy T. Shepherd
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