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Florida Ren Fest pics, George Saunders interview, Valentine's Day dining | The Monday Hit List

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Good afternoon, South Florida. And welcome, sandmen.

(Photo: Barbara Corbellini Duarte)

1. Spike jones

The Swatch Beach Volleyball Major Series this weekend reminded South Floridians that the sport exists well beyond the Summer Olympics. Star players such as Kerri Walsh Jennings, whom you can watch Talia J. Medina interview in this video, were welcomed to Fort Lauderdale beach by scores of sun-soaked fans, many of whom were photographed by Barbara Corbellini Duarte.

Recommended listening: "Wouldn't It Be Nice [a cappella]" by the Beach Boys

(Photo: Barbara Corbellini Duarte)

2. Elf awareness

I don't recall reading that elves existed during the Renaissance, at least not outside Iceland. Yet there they were this weekend, pretending to do whatever it is elves don't really do, at the Florida Renaissance Festival, which opened its 25th season on Saturday at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach. Surely, the knights and knaves in attendance were having none of this elf nonsense. “The crowd has become more accepting to things that are not strictly Renaissance,” festival founder Bobby Rodriguez recently told Barbara Corbelinni Duarte. Oh, all right. Just don't go and start hosting pirate weekends or anything.

Recommended listening: "Walking With the Beggar Boys" by Elf Power

(Photo: Rolando Otero)

3. Halfway there

On Sunday night, Bon Jovi delivered its "This House Is Not for Sale Tour" to the BB&T Center, and photographer Rolando Otero zoomed in on the now-Richie-Sambora-free band.

Recommended listening: "Don't Hang Up" by Bruce Springsteen

 

4. Eat your heart out

Mike Mayo swapped his fork and knife for a bow and arrow to target 10 restaurants with, at presstime anyway, vacant tables for Valentine's Day. His picks include a $155-per-couple dinner at Margaritaville's JWB Prime Steak & Seafood (sorry, hon, but it's a Jimmy buffet or nothing), a $125-per-person dinner at Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach (too Trumpy for my blood) and a four-course, $85 meal at the Biltmore (maybe next year).

Recommended listening: "Feb. 14" by Drive-By Truckers


(Photo: David Crosby)

5. Honestly Abe

George Saunders, the acclaimed, award-winning author of short-story collections such as "Pastoralia" and "Tenth of December," on Tuesday will publish his first novel, the wildly original "Lincoln in the Bardo." Last week, I talked to Saunders about the book, a moving fictionalization of Abraham Lincoln's response to the death of his son Willie. And because no conversation these days can end without someone bringing up Dear Leader, we also discussed Saunders' experience covering the Donald Trump campaign last year for the New Yorker. "I’d go to the Trump rallies with this sort of Mr. Empathy hat on, like, ‘I’m sure I can talk to anybody and convince them,’ " he told me. "But I’d go to those rallies and see that I’m not convincing anybody, and they weren’t convincing me, and everybody was talking past everybody else."

Recommended listening: "Long Ago, Far Away" by Odetta

— compiled by SouthFlorida.com editor Jake Cline, Twitter.com/jakeflorida, Facebook.com/JakeCline

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