Our top picks for a seasonal good timeâ?¦

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Noodling Inspiration (June 12-29)

These may be lean times for theater in general, but has anybody noticed that the climate for original works seems to be getting better and better? You don't have to wait for next November's Festival of New Plays to get the discovery ball rolling: The trend kicks into gear next week with the debut of Invictus T.C. -- The Theatre Company, a locally based concern that's dedicated to the unearthing and production of original scripts. (And to the proliferation of helpful appositives, it appears: No one will be confusing this precisely monikered undertaking with Invictus T.C. -- The Furniture Clearing House).

Artistic director Rob Anderson -- a theatrical mainstay who has favored the Orlando International Fringe Festival with material like "Solitary" and "Broad Strokes in Concert" -- inaugurated his new endeavor with an international talent hunt that allowed for the evaluation of between 300 and 400 plays. The winner was Paul Kiernan's "Noodling Inspiration," the story of a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who combats a serious case of creative block by purchasing a rooming house and converting it to a replica of life in 1947 -- even to the point of hiring period stand-ins to provide human atmosphere.

It's "a dark, dark, dark comedy -- a Special Dark comedy," says author Kiernan, a Boston-born writer/actor/director/fight choreographer who performed for five seasons with the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival. (He currently resides in Utah.) It's sort of ironic that a worldwide script search would ultimately lead to a name from the old neighborhood -- Kiernan even worked at Disney with Invictus co-founder Cid Stoll. But the seven-person review committee that pored through the deluge of submissions had no idea who had written what, we're assured. So maybe the launch of this ambitious undertaking does indeed represent the best that modern scribes have to offer. (8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 12-29, Goldman Theater, Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St.; $15, $18; 407-839-3027 or 407-447-1700)

— Steve Schneider

Bobcat Goldthwait (June 13-15)

Bobcat Goldthwait's comedic career hasn't always been stellar. There have been hideous flops: The WB's blatant "Married ...With Children" knock-off, "Unhappily Ever After" (he married 21 year-old co-star Nikki Cox) and the 1994 appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, where he lit his chair on fire and faced arson charges, come to mind.

But Goldthwait, who has the rare ability to be annoying and endearing at the same time, is always funny. He doesn't shy away from his reputation as a partier, either, once telling Boston's The Weekly Dig, "I can't think of a more terrifying place than to live in a world without recreational drugs and alcohol."

The cult film Shakes the Clown, about an alcoholic clown, and his roles in the Police Academy movies, not to mention his HBO specials, all attest to his unique brand of humor, which he's bringing to the Orlando Improv. (8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday, June 13-15, Improv Comedy Club and Restaurant, 129 W. Church St.; $18, $20; 321-281-8000; www.symfonee.com/improv/orlando/home/Index.aspx)

— Jeffrey C. Billman

Juneteenth (June 13-15)

Juneteenth is a recognition of the day the last slave ship landed in the U.S. While Central Florida's African-American residents will be celebrating the end of slavery with a Tinker Field blowout including music by K-Ci & Jo-Jo, and celebrations in Cocoa Beach and Daytona, the Genitorturers, in an obvious bid to be as stupid as possible, are calling their show at Tampa's Masquerade a Juneteenth performance.

We understand the moronic logic that led the Torturers to such a bad decision ("Well, slaves were in bondage; we're into bondage, so it's all the same, right?"), one would hope that good sense would get the better of them. Of course, that might be asking a little much.

So, do the right thing and celebrate Juneteenth properly, with lots of food and arts and crafts and local vendors and music by people who actually understand what it means to be discriminated against. (The Summer Knights June-teenth Music Festival, Friday through Sunday, June 13-15, Tinker Field, 287 S. Tampa Ave.; Orlando, 407-207-5665, 649-7297; $20, $50; www.alacrityonline.com/juneteenth.htm; "Celebrating Diversity Through The Arts," 10 a.m.-10 p.m., June 14, Cocoa Riverfront Park, State Road 520 and Brevard Avenue, Cocoa; "Juneteenth Community Celebration," 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday, June 21, Cypress Street Park and Police Athletic League Center, 925 George Engram Blvd., Daytona Beach, free; 386-671-3420; www.juneteenth.com/3florida_us.htm; The Genitorturers, with Skrape, Crossbreed, Deadstar Assembly, Cirque du Risque; 8 p.m., Friday, June 13, Masquerade, 1503 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City, 813-247-3319; $13, $16; www.masq.com/pages/t2.htm; www.masqueradetampa.com)

— Jason Ferguson

PBR Challenger Tour (June 14)

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys. Hazards of the occupation include concussions, busted lips, herniated disks, temporary paralysis, loss of consciousness, separated shoulders and something known as tennis-ball arm, whereby the muscle that used to be attached to the upper arm, which many of us know as the bicep, is torn so badly it droops down around the elbow. Those are the kinds of injuries that can happen when a 180-pound man straps himself to a 1,800-pound bucking tornado.

Rodeo fans will have a chance to see 45 cowboys compete for a measly $19,000 purse June 14 at the TD Waterhouse Centre. The U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company Challenger Tour is a minor-league competition meant to provide cowboys on the Professional Bull Rider tour a chance to step up to the big time, the Built Ford Tough Series. Even so, 2001 World Champion Adriano Moraes and rodeo veteran Tony Mendes are expected to ride. (8 p.m., Saturday, June 14, TD Waterhouse Centre, 600 W. Amelia St.; $10-$25; 407-849-2020)

— William Dean Hinton

Central Florida Kennel Club Dog Show (June 21-22)

The summer version of the Central Florida Kennel Club's bi-annual dog show is happening June 21 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, with a show the day before for poodles and American cocker-spaniels. On June 22, the Space Coast Kennel Club presents its competition.

Organizers expect 150 breeds and 1,500 dogs, 2,000-plus spectators and 3,000 exhibitors. In addition to the best-of-show competition, dog owners can get their dogs microchipped and have a veterinarian examine their pooch's sight. Kennel Club members will be there to answer all sorts of questions on breeds, behavior problems, health issues and so on.

Competition starts early -- official times haven't been set -- and runs past 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, free for children under 12 and uniform-wearing military members.

Best-of-show winners are determined thusly: An American Kennel Club judge examines the entrants and determines which best measure up to the breed's "standard." Then the dogs are divided into seven groups and the winners of each group compete against each other. Onto the finals, where the winners of the seven groups compete yet again for the coveted title. No word if Eugene Levy will be attending. (9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22, Central Florida Fairgrounds, 4603 W. Colonial Drive; free, $3; 407-295-3247)

— Jeffrey C. Billman

Spoken word (June 21)

Though he was crowned the winner of this year's Jack Kerouac Slamphest, it's not entirely accurate to call Trevor Fraser a poet. "Reciting writer" might be a better choice of words; "slapstick essayist," even better.

Attacking his subject matter like a coffeehouse mongoose, the bone-thin, 23-year-old Fraser tears into facetious masterpieces that frequently take the form of literate tirades. One surefire crowd-killer calls for a moratorium on the playing of the overwrought, overheard lament "Candle in the Wind," which Fraser hilariously identifies as way-inappropriate background music for supermarkets and strip clubs. In an even ballsier piece, he declares his intention to spawn numerous children so he can subject them to aggravated mental and/or physical abuse. ("There will be a child who has no name, and is simply referred to by a smack to his temple.")

The biggest smackdowns on Fraser's summer calendar both occur on the night of June 21, when he performs in a UNICEF benefit at Stardust Video & Coffee, and a music/poetry bash at Scruffy Murphy's Irish Pub. The latter is a fund-raiser for the Orlando National Poetry Team, of which Fraser is a member; they're bound for the State Championship in West Palm Beach on July 23. When he's in town, you can often find him participating in the Tuesday-night "Speakeasy" sessions at Will's Pub, and the Thursday Broken Speech Poetry Slams at Stardust.

"I like the humor of pain," Fraser explains. And right now, there's nobody better at bringing the hurt. (8 p.m., Saturday, June 21, Stardust Video & Coffee, 1842 E. Winter Park Road; donations; 407-312-5249, 407-623-3393 and Scruffy Murphy's Irish Pub, 9 W. Washington St.; $5; 407-648-5460)

— Steve Schneider

Lakeridge Winery Summer Music Series starting (July 6)

Although their Harvest Festival (in June) is a larger summer fling -- with arts and crafts and a much larger turnout -- the Summer Music Series at Lakeridge Winery comes in July, just when you think the summer heat will never end. Set in the exceptionally verdant hills of Clermont, Lakeridge is like a tiny slice of Northern California tucked into the cow pastures of Central Florida. Vineyards spread out over the hills and the outdoor stage is nestled into the side of the Mission-style winery, while the shaded picnic area is perfect for sampling the vineyard's wares. For the Music Series, Lakeridge supplies the sounds necessary to offset the drowsy haze induced by copious amounts of wine, gourmet food and 95-degree days -- jazz, tango, whatever it takes to keep the blood flowing. Just make sure to grab an espresso on your way out the door. It's a long drive back to the flatlands of downtown. (1 p.m. -- 4 p.m., every Saturday in July, Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards, 19239 US 27 North, Clermont; free; 352-394-8627 or 800-768-9463; www.lakeridgewinery.com)

— Jason Ferguson

Metal Sludge (July 12)

It's an undeniable truth of the post-rock era that any idiot can make fun of Dokken; knowing which Dokken album to ridicule the hardest is what separates the men from the boys. Such is the purview of www.metalsludge.com, a music site where anonymous experts deconstruct the past glories and modern-day disgraces of metal's greatest has-beens and never-weres.

The site started as a scathing parody of the seriously lacking headbanger bible Metal Edge, but it's grown into its own cultural force -- a forum for correspondents with noms de shred like Ozzy Stillbourne and Jani Bon Neil to delve into the finer points of Sebastian Bach's arrest record. And in so doing, edify us all.

Beneath the evisceration lies palpable affection: You don't spend your time memorizing the minutiae of Blackie Lawless' "career" if you don't really dig the music. So it's only slightly surprising that the site is sponsoring its first-ever series of concert spectaculars. The Metal Sludge Xtravaganza Tour stars the historically overlooked Faster Pussycat, the criminally underrated Enuff Z'nuff and the got-about-what-they deserved Pretty Boy Floyd. It's being billed as an affordable alternative to the season's higher-profile riff packages, including Ozzfest, Summer Sanitarium and the Poison/Vince Neil/Skid Row triptych.

Sweetening the pot, the Sludge wire promises "surprise all-star jams" and the participation of unidentified "porn stars" -- the absolute last social group to honestly believe that hair farmers like these are the shiz-nit. Bless their double-penetrated little hearts. (9 p.m., Saturday, July 12, Back Booth, 37 W. Pine St.; $12; 407-999-2570; www.backbooth.com)

— Steve Schneider

Tons of Fun (July 11-13)

There's a little chubby-chaser in all of us ... if we're not chubby, that is. Just the sheer melt-in-your-mouth mass of manhood available for topographic exploration can bring out the compass-wielding mountain climber in even the meekest, mildest of souls.

These periodic events held at the Parliament House punctuate a centuries-old underground of big boys and little boys (er, men) circling in the uneven dance of love, with a spectacular they can call their very own. Well, not really. The Parliament House merely provides the meeting grounds ("This weekend is for Chubs and Chasers to come together at The Parliament House. No events are planned," sobers the bar's website).

Regardless, chubs and chasers are a proud breed who tend to entertain themselves somewhere outside of taste and the public eye. Running the gamut from diapers to domination, the C&Cs need never worry about being bored, only being floored.

For the non-chub and non-chaser, this weekend ought to be an extremely fun way to stand in the path of the inevitable, perhaps finding oneself squoze in an imperfect embrace of two men finding their obvious metaphoric yin and yang. Ouch. How much fun? Tons. (Friday-Sunday, July 11-13, Parliament House, 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail; regular club admission; 407-425-7571; http://hometown.aol.com/tonsofunnsun/)

— Billy Manes

Tri-County Cat Fanciers Cat Show (July 26-27)

Florida cat breeders will try to pick up where they left off two years ago when cats from the southeast region won three national American Cat Fanciers Association categories, including Tuff Enuff's win for Best Cat. The brown McTabby Persian male, who was so large when he was born that he was delivered by Caesarian section, probably won't be at this year's cat show. But plenty of other felines will be. Organizers expect 200 cats, including such popular breeds as Persians, Maine coons, Siamese, Sphynx (hairless), American short hair and the controversial Ragamuffins line -- which have caused a stir because they are difficult to judge, since no two cats of the breed look alike. Cats will be judged in four categories: best cat, best altered (meaning neutered or spayed), best kitten and best pet. With names like Sven Cat-of-Sweden, Gator Maine Danny Wuerfel, Karraway Folded by a Half Nelson and Mistey England -- who was rescued from the Highland County Humane Society only to win national best pet two years ago -- cat lovers should be in paradise, if only for a weekend. For entries contact Laura Stiles at 407-425-2504. First entry, $45. Second entry, $40. (9 a.m.Ð 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and 27, Central Florida Fairgrounds, 4603 W. Colonial Drive; $2, $4; 407-830-8414 or 407-295-3247)

— William Dean Hinton
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