[Times photo: Fraser Hale]
The Florida State Fair opens this weekend with music, midway fun and prize winners.
The 97th annual Florida State Fair begins today and continues through Feb. 19 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
||Break out the Chianti
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has asked film critics not to reveal details of the final 10 minutes of Hannibal, the long-awaited sequel to 1991's Academy Award winner, The Silence of the Lambs. As if we would, anyway.
Forget 'Silverman'; this movie's not worth saving
Jack Black and Steve Zahn are two of the most reliable scene-stealers in movies today. You may not know their names, but their larceny should be more familiar.
Foreign films find home
Regal Cinemas' Channelside 9 multiplex is doing a good job of bringing alternative films to Tampa Bay audiences.
The Jewish experience
This week's Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival offers something old, something new.
Persall's Top Five
Recent releases recommended by Times film critic Steve Persall
On video: Ensemble cast is allure of 'Dr. T'
Gag me with a spoon
Teen pop? '80s nostalgia? Enough already. When will the Tampa Bay area rate some A-list shows?
Team Pop Trivia
This week's winner: Mike Culp of Holiday gets the Weekend T-shirt. Culp knew that future star Waylon Jennings gave up his seat on the ill-fated small airplane that crashed in 1959, taking the lives of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens after the three performed together in Iowa. Jennings, a pal of Holly's from Texas, was temporarily playing bass in Holly's band, the Crickets. Addendum: Last week we at Team Pop headquarters said Jennings gave his seat to Valens, but after investigating further we learned that Tommy Allsup lost his seat to Valens in a coin toss. Jennings' spot went to the Big Bopper. Four were aboard the plane, including the pilot. Everyone was killed.
Hot ticket: Foot-stomping good
Don't let Clay Davidson fool you: Sure, the country crooner was discovered singing around a campfire by the president of his record label. And his big hit Unconditional, from his debut disc of the same name, is a weepy ballad.
Hooves of thunder
Cowboy Mouth is known for putting on a thunderous live show. The band, formed in the 1980s by a bunch of guys who'd put in time in various New Orleans bands, makes raucous music. Drummer Fred LeBlanc used to pound skins for Dash Rip Rock, and I do mean pound -- big, beefy LeBlanc makes Brutus in the Popeye cartoons look like a pip squeak.
Man's best subject
It happened by accident. Photographer William Wegman's Weimaraner kept interfering with his work, so Wegman aimed his camera at the dog. The rest is art history.
The art of writing
Two calligraphy exhibits at the Dunedin Fine Art Center showcase modern techniques as well as traditional and ancient styles.
February's gallery walk
One of the most pleasant ways to spend a fair Saturday evening is strolling the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, checking out the offerings for sale and admiration at the monthly St. Petersburg Downtown Arts Association walk. Galleries open for the walk at 5:30 p.m. and stay open until 9 p.m. Some offer refreshments and music, and all welcome children (properly supervised).
Devil Rays welcome fans
Spring training starts in just a couple of weeks, so the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are kicking off the new season with their annual Fan Fest. The event, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, gives thousands of fans a chance to get player autographs, tour the clubhouse and talk about the new season.
Fiesta Day's multicultural whirl showcases all that is good in Ybor City.
Shoemaker, 'The Lovemaker'
Comedian Craig Shoemaker, known to TV audiences for his appearances on Hollywood Squares and as host of VH1's My Generation, is bringing his live act to Side Splitters Comedy Club in Tampa this weekend. His signature character is "The Lovemaker," the deep-drawling come-on artist he has parlayed into a couple of CDs and a film. Or perhaps you recall his crack about his short-lived sidekick job on Magic Johnson's short-lived TV show: "It was like the Titanic and I was bailing with a shot glass." Shoemaker will perform Friday at 8 p.m. (non-smoking show) and 10:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8 and 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 general seating; $16 preferred seating. Side Splitters is at 12938 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (813) 960-1197.
The jewel in BayWalk's crown
Gratzzi is a big night out when it comes to fine food and atmosphere, but it doesn't break the bank.
From the heart
Roses are red; violets are blue. Beside chocolate, flowers and jewelry, what's a Valentine to do? How about a poem for your loved one, or one of those famous sunset walks on the beach? Too soon to get mushy? Try these ideas, sweet stuff.
No more guessing her size
If lingerie is on your lady's Valentine gift list, send her to her room (http://www.HerRoom.com). Select "Gifts for Her" on the home page, make a selection and proceed to checkout, where you fill in a gift card, announcement date and recipient information, along with credit-card data. Your Valentine receives an e-mail card along with a link to the item purchased for her, she fills in her size, and voila! The items are sent. If she doesn't like your choice, it becomes a gift certificate on the site, and she can choose for herself.
A complicated character
Ernest Hemingway has fallen out of literary fashion, perhaps as a reaction to the celebrity status he achieved in his lifetime. Today, the image of Hemingway as a gun nut who committed suicide tends to overshadow the tightly controlled prose that put For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea on required reading lists of high school English classes everywhere in the 1960s and '70s.
Peepshow plays on the fun of art
Don't just send a valentine this year: Be one. Hyde Park Fine Arts is throwing a theme party and invites you to attend in your erotic best.
Fall in love with 'Les Miz'
Is Les Miserables the best of the pop-operatic musicals? That's a category that also includes Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon.
Producers of Oceans Eleven, a film starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt, will have an open casting call for extras from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at ParkSide Mall, corner of U.S. 19 and Park Boulevard. The movie will be in production for a few days at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg later this month. All ages are needed; no experience necessary. Bring a small photo and a pen. (727) 464-7379.