Archive for May, 2006

New City Launched!

Hello readers… we have another new city joining the Metroblogging family. Hyderabad, India!

Stop on by and have a look and welcome them aboard, won’t you?

http://hyderabad.metblogs.com/

Beyond the Sweetcorn

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I seriously doubt anybody ventured much past Zellwood on 441 this weekend, but I spent a lovely Memorial Day drifting Mt. Dora with my family–even though I was, in fact, with my family.

I’m going to be blunt about this: what is WITH the old people in Mt. Dora? As a young woman, I tend to notice what other people my age are wearing/ doing/ renting for apartments, and in Mt. Dora I noticed…there weren’t any. Not even working in the stores. They weren’t walking around town, either. The scene was like “Cocoon” in reverse. Happily, I was hit on by no one over 55 and all the shop owners thought I was adorable (in a “Have a cookie, honey,” sort of way).

I had fun aimlessly wandering behind my aunt, a Northerner of the very best kind (spends loads of money, and then leaves). As a destitute freelancer who is terrible with money, I rarely get to see cash dropped in that kind of volume. Mt. Dora is fantastic for women who like lots of small, fussy non-essentials that will overdraw their bank account.

You should’ve seen my aunt. Exotic platters with giraffes painted on them…fourteen pounds of turquoise jewelry…some kind of fluffy, lace-covered thing called a “tea cozy”…lots and lots of bags that said “Swarovski” on them. THE WOMAN WENT IN THE DOG BAKERY AND SHE OWNS CATS. Nothing was sacred, I tell you! I was breathless at her elbow, watching her Visa get swiped over and over again. I have one credit card that collects dust–and yet, bizarrely, there’s a balance on it. She has three and she can pay them all. I wonder what that’s like? Crap, I dream about paying the one I’ve got!

I did buy something. I bought a big silver ring with a dragonfly on it. It cost $25. I am such a freakin’ amateur.

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Oh Mamma Mia!

mammamia2.jpgI am not a regular patron at the Bob Carr. Not from a lack of want … I just don’t MAKE myself make the time. But I was lucky enough to be able to go see Mamma Mia! last night, and I really had a great time.

I am a product of the 60s and that means that I grew up in a household that listened to ABBA pretty frequently. I probably know more than half of their music by sheer osmosis! And while I don’t identify with that time period (I’m an 80s gal), I have very fond memories of listening to my mom sing her heart out (she’s a good singer btw) to Fernando, Dancing Queen, Knowing Me Knowing You… and countless others, while she cleaned house, or cooked dinner or whatever.

So at the last minute when I was invited to go see a show I knew very little about but was told it was based on the songs of ABBA, I was ready to go in record time!

We sat in the back of the orchestra section (row V) and while we were about as far back as you could get, we were had a great position being near the center of the row.

I will tell you that the rest is biased because I simply love ABBA’s music, and I identify with it so much that I’m one of those toe-tapping, lyric singing fans that can’t help themselves when they hear an ABBA song. In fact, I was worried that I might disturb my neighbors in the theatre, but the good news is… most of them were big ABBA fans also judging from their reactions.

I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and really was sad when it was over. The story line followed the songs (or should I say, they did a great job of working the songs into the story line), the singing did not do a disservice to the originals and best of all… the production poked fun at itself. It was filled with many hilarious moments and there were times I could barely see because I was laughing so hard (the snorkel gear dance comes to mind).

If you get a chance to see this show… I highly recommend it. I think it’s sold out for everything except Sunday… so don’t sit around like I usually do or it’ll be too late.

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL!?!?!

photo_large_BUSH.jpgThat might be what Jeb Bush is asking himself today….

It’s all over the news websites that he’s been approached by the NFL to take over the commissioner spot as Paul Tagliabue retires. Hmmmm…. a Bush running football. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a republican and proud of it and still support the party, but lately the Bush brothers haven’t done us proud, if you know what I mean. Republicans everywhere are wearing a black eye between the election chad mess and the current world events courtesy of the elder brother.

But football? Does being a governor automatically qualify you to run a football league? Don’t get me wrong Jeb, I’m sure you could bring a lot to the NFL. So here’s a few suggestions for you to take with you!!

How about if you start imposing mandatory testing for all players. Like the FCAT. You can’t accept $1 million signing bonus unless you can accurately mouth the national anthem when it’s being played at a game … oh no … wait… that’s the Olympians and baseball players. I forgot… football doesn’t even take a moment to honor their country. Except that they toss a coin midfield. One could say that because they use a newly minted US coin that’s paying homage… yeah… as if there isn’t enough money flying around the league as it is already.

What about if you decided to require a dress code like some public schools do now? No waistbands below your knees, any bling larger than 4″ would required to be registered as a lethal weapon, and no sunglasses allowed at indoor press conferences.

And what about a lottery. We could tell the players that this is going to subsidise their salary and giving them even more money, but then take back part of their salary and charge them for the 13 new games balls at every game, the 1,000,000 watts of electricity in those huge stadium lights, and the 300,000 paper cups that blow all over the field after the game is over — requiring someone to pick them up. That way they’ll make even less than they were before.

Oh and while you’re at it, you might want to consider only letting the stadiums water their turf twice a week. In an effort to conserve water all over the country, this should be high on the list of considerations. We don’t care if the stadium grasses are a bit brown and dry… and I’m sure the players won’t care when they hit the turf and it’s hard as concrete, right?

So Mr. Govenor, we think it’s great that the NFL wants you… just as long as you don’t decide to sing the Monday night intro. Leave that to Hank Williams Jr.

OMA Art of the Motorcycle

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The exhibit was far better than I thought it would be. It had enough pieces and bits of information to warrant the inflated OMA ticket price. If you like bikes you should certainly check this show out before it leaves town.

Rough weekend to be an animal…

Well, this is a dark time in the animal kingdom. First, the disaster at Pimlico during the Preakness yesterday, and now Mike Thomas’ half-serious column about the joys of alligator huntin’.

Rough stuff. As a person who has been on our major golf courses, however, I can attest to the overabundance of our scaly friends. I was watching Tiger Woods from the gallery at the 18th at the National Car Rental Classic one year, and my dad suddenly pointed behind us and said softly, “Look.” There was a placid gator half-submerged in the water trap maybe ten feet away, not the least bit interested in the humans, although he was making a few out-of-state visitors hasten over the bridge at a darn good clip. You wouldn’t believe how fast all those old dudes can move until you put something with teeth in the water trap behind them.

(Never mind what I was doing at a golf tournament. I am a complicated woman with many and varied interests.)

In all seriousness, it broke everyone’s heart to watch the Preakness yesterday and watch such a beautiful horse come up lame. Because Floridians care about nothing unless it has a connection to this state, it may interest you to know that Barbaro is a Florida-trained horse. After winning the Kentucky Derby by the biggest margin in nearly 60 years, he was the best hope for a Triple Crown horse racing had seen for a long time. We all hope that he pulls through this injury, in the words of trainer’s wife, “like the champion that he is.”

There’s an excellent story on the subject here.

Writing Workshop

There is going to be a workshop hosted by the Lifelong Learning Institute at the Winter Park Public Library titled “Creative Writing: An Introduction.” It’s currently scheduled for Thursday, June 8, 6:30-8:30 PM at the Winter Park Public Library Community Room (460 E. New England Ave.). The class will use the Amherst Writers and Artists method, with Jamie Morris (AWA-certified writing workshop leader) running the show.

If you’re like me, you just said, “What the heck is the Amherst Writers and Artists method?” I never even heard of it at writing conferences. I took a quick peek at their website and here is the direct explanation:

“Following each confidential writing period in an AWA method workshop, each participant is encouraged, but not required, to read his or her work aloud to the group. The group responds supportively to the work, gently guided by a trained workshop leader. All work is treated as fiction to minimize the personal vulnerability of the writer. The lack of critical response to brand new work enables participants to expose aspects of their creative minds that may have been inaccessible, leading the writer to his or her truest voice, and fostering the power to use it.”

So there you go. If you’re the shy/insecure type, this sounds like a darn good place to start out.

(I love that bit about “aspects of their creative minds that may have been inaccessible.” I’m going to pull that one out on an editor the next time I’m close to a deadline–“I WOULD have filed the story today, but that particular part of my creative mind was inaccessible.” It sounds mysterious, artist-like, and much better than, “I blew you off to go to the beach.” But I digress…)

The class is free to Lifelong Learning Institute members and $10 for nonmembers. It’s limited to 12 participants, so if you want to give this a shot, you’d better get right on it. You do have to pre-register. Call (407) 623-3279, download a registration form, or pick one up at any Winter Park Library Circulation Desk.

The registration form is available here.

Music Fests Abound this Weekend Downtown

Those searching for a good band to check out this weekend in Orlando will find a plethora of choices in not one, but two music festivals being held downtown.

Florida Music Festival 2006 posterThe biggest and oldest of the two is the Florida Music Festival, now in its fifth year. The event runs May 17 – 20 among several venues, including the AKA Lounge, The Social, The Club at Firestone, Wall Street Plaza and the Downtown Media Arts Center (DMAC) — fifteen venues in all, and all within walking distance of each other along Orange Ave. or within a few blocks of it. And not only is the fest a great chance to check out both established bands and up-and-comers to the scene, but it’s also very wallet-friendly. A daily wristband for the showcases being held May 18-20 is only $10 a day, allowing admittance to all the showcases on that day — in essence a club-hopping pass. Even better, a three-day wristband pass is priced at $25, which is a $5 savings. Want to save even more? Buy your 3-day wristband at any Park Ave Cds location and it’ll only cost you $20 (that’s like getting a whole night free). Among the bands performing over the course of the FMF are Junkie Rush, Boxelder, Big 10-4 and Plain Jane Automobile. National act Third Eye Blind also makes an appearance on opening night at the Wall Street Plaza. Most venues are 18 and over for admission.

For those interested in more than just the bands, the FMF will have industry panels on May 19 and 20 at the Downtown Marriott. It’ll set you back $125 ($150 if you wait until day of), but if you’re serious about a music career, this is a great chance to network and learn. The 2nd annual Indie Film Jam will also be running the length of the FMF at the DMAC. This short film and music video competition features selections from across the country and viewers can vote for their favorites.

Jeff Hanson Orlando Music Fest posterNormally the FMF would be the only fest in town this week, but due to a difference of opinion over money — one that Jim Abbott of the Orlando Sentinel explains well — Orlando music lovers will be blessed with two fests.

The second festival is spearheaded by former FMF supporter Jeff Hanson, the man who helped bands like Creed become household names. His alternative music fest, The First Annual Silent Majority Group Showcase, is just as the title suggests — a showcase for artists on his roster. It’s being held May 18 and 19 at Mako’s downtown and features artists like Nigels 11 feat. Chris Kirkpatrick, Corey Chowder, Social Burn and Melissa Crespo. Cover charge is $7 a night but includes free Budweiser and Idol vodka drinks from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (you must be 18+ to attend, but of course, 21+ to drink).

For more info on the FMF, visit FMF2006.com and more info on Hanson’s fest, visit www.myspace.com/silentmajoritygroup.

Romance Authors Book Fair in Daytona Beach

Laurell K. Hamilton - MicahIf the names Laurell K. Hamiton, Christine Feehan and L.A.Banks sound familiar to you, chances are you are a fan of romantic fiction. These great authors and more are scheduled to be attending the 23rd Annual Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Daytona Beach this week.

While most of the convention is restricted to ticketed attendees, the event is holding a book fair on Saturday that is open to the public. From 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., a $5 admission fee will allow admittance into the convention hall where over 250 romance novelists, including the three I mentioned earlier, will be in attendance for autographs and photos. There will also be psychic mediums, tarot card/aura readers and vendors selling everthing from jewelry to memorabilia.

The Romantic Times event is being held at the Hilton Hotel Resort in Daytona Beach May 16 – 21, with the book fair on May 20. For more information on the event, please visit www.rtconvention.com.

Live from Palm Beach!

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Let’s hack the state off at Vero. Seriously, it’s time to cut our losses. I don’t know what’s up with the rest of this peninsula, but this can’t possibly be Florida. (And the Conchs seceded already, didn’t they? We just have to ditch Miami/Ft. Laurderdale now. I don’t think the Keys were ever ours to begin with.)

Check out this weird mall I saw down here. It reminds me of Pointe Orlando before they finally got the place fixed up. It’s a freaky, sterile, Art Deco collection of buildings that houses everything from steakhouses to shopping to grocery stores. It made me remember all those weird restrictions they put on the design of the new mall going up in Winter Garden next year–I wondered what they could possibly do to an outdoor mall to make it inhospitable, and…well…I now see that “pretty” does not automatically mean “inviting and comfortable.”

(You wouldn’t dare tell that to these people, though. Being cool or avant-garde comes long, long before form or function.)

But check this out: THERE IS A WHOLE FOODS MARKET THAT IS LARGER THAN PUBLIX. It makes ours look like a convenience store. You would not believe this place–foods I’d never heard of, in volumes I’d never imagined. As one of those organic-eating people, I thought I was going to faint from the overload. I talked to one of the managers (who was standing around doing nothing in their wide, open spaces…imagine!), and he says that’s the kind that’s going to be constructed on Sand Lake Rd. in a year or two. That place is going to close Chaimberlain’s down. It’s huge, organized, well-staffed, and cheaper, too.

Anyway, I’ll be back in Orlando soon. If you’re thinking of coming to the southern part of the state, my advice is to skip this mess and head straight to Naples. I haven’t been there in ages, but the other coast has gotta be better than this…

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