Man About Town blog Archives 2


The website that hosted the ŌMan About TownĶ blog has long since gone Ō404Ķ, but I have saved the posts (minus graphics) and present them here. I have left the posts exactly as they originally appeared, including any inadvertently misspelled words or grammatical errors, mostly to remind me that I have made some progress since these first professional efforts. Links also remain, though some of those may have fallen victim to the Ō404Ķ monster as well.

These posts represent a good cross section of the kinds of writing I was doing for Tribune Media Services. There are reviews of restaurants, movies, local stage events and businesses in Orlando, as well as articles dealing with (then) current events and local topics of interest.


July 2, 2006

Saturday Shuttle Launch Scrubbed



I have never watched a live space shuttle launch from any closer than my own backyard in East Orlando. For the scheduled launch of STS-121 Discovery on Saturday, the weekend and serendipitous timing, as well as good friends, helped to make it possible to plan a trip to Titusville to view the planned launch from a much closer vantage point than I have ever been able to before. At least that was the plan.



A couple of weeks ago I mentioned to Cindy that I had never seen a shuttle launch up close, she said she hadnÕt either and we started kicking around the idea of taking a day trip over to the coast on launch day. Cindy mentioned it to Laura at work and it turned out that Laura and Kirk wanted to go also, since they had gone over to see it three times in the past and each time the launch had been scrubbed.



We all left my house at 11:00am Saturday and took Highway 50 over into Titusville, arriving shortly after noon. Traffic on the way over was not too bad once we got past Christmas. We found a secluded (at the time) spot along Riveredge Drive, just off US 1 and almost directly across from Launch Pad 39B at a distance of what I would judge to be about 13 miles. We quickly drove back to a WendyÕs we had passed, got some lunch at the drive-thru and then drove back and found the spot still open.



We spread out our blankets, ate our lunch as a picnic (complete with ants) and then Kirk and I set up our tripods and digital video cameras, training them on Launch Pad 39B across the river and on the far side of Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. Then we spent the next 3 hours (launch time was 3:48pm) talking, taking pictures with our digital still cameras and watching the weather change several times from clear to cloudy to almost stormy and back to clear during that time.



As launch time drew nearer more spectators began arriving in the area and by 3:30pm there were about 20 other people to our sides and behind us, all with cameras, radios, TVÕs and even one laptop (I KNEW I should have taken mine!). Kirk was using his Treo to get updates from news sites, but as the launch time got closer he found the site was getting overwhelmed by hits and was not responding.



With about 6 minutes to go before the launch, the folks with the radios and TVÕs announced that NASA had scrubbed the launch because of weather. It was clear to us on the ground, but apparently storms were too near on the Atlantic side and upper winds were too dangerous. It was a let down, but I imagine it was even more of a disappointment to the astronauts and safety DOES need to come first.



We sat for about 15 minutes and ate some watermelon Kirk and Laura had brought, thinking that might help us avoid traffic jams of people leaving Titusville. HAH! That was our naivete and ignorance rearing its big ugly head. It took us about an hour and a half to get back to Highway 50 in Titusville (a 3 mile distance) and following a Ōpit stopĶ and a snack at Brusters Ice Cream, another 3 hours to get back into Orlando. It was 8:45pm by the time we got back into town and after a quick dinner at Upper Crust Pizza it was 9:30 by the time I walked back into my house. If I ever go again, IÕm staying over for several hours before leaving.



But, all in all, it was a fun experience and if youÕre going to be stuck in a car for almost 5 hours, it may as be with people you enjoy spending time with.



So thanks to Cindy, Kirk and Laura for making the trip with me. Next time we know what we have to do, lol.



How about you? Have you ever been over for a launch? If so, what was your experience? Let Orlando know by leaving a comment below.



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town.



P.S. Word just came in that todayÕs (Sunday) launch was also scrubbed due to weather. Next attempt will be Tuesday, July 4th.







July 3, 2006

Restaurant Review - Upper Crust Pizza Cafe



If thereÕs a favorite food of the Man About Town itÕs pizza. I could probably live for quite a long time on my favorite varieties of Italian pie, from fresh at dinner to cold at breakfast to warmed over for lunch.



Saturday night, after returning from the scrubbed shuttle launch, Kirk, Laura, Cindy and I decided to try the Upper Crust Pizza Cafe that opened up recently not far from my home near Orlando International Airport on Semoran Boulevard.



Upper Crust is a small, cozy restaurant with 5 tables and a counter with stools for total seating of 35. We took 2 tables by the front door and looked over the menu board on the wall. We decided to share the Market Street Pie, an 18Ķ cheese pizza with a hand-tossed crust, but Upper Crust offers a wide variety of traditional toppings like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, etc. and gourmet toppings such as Kalamata Olives, Feta and Pepperocinis on Sicilian, Pan-Style or Hand-Tossed crusts. They also serve calzones, salads, subs as well as chicken fingers, Buffalo wings, fried calamari and their signature Pizza Fries.



The staff is very friendly. We placed our order at the counter and were promised it would be ready in 15 minutes. As good as his word, our pie was served piping hot in about 13 minutes. We all enjoyed our pizza and soft drinks, finding the food to be tasty and filling. In addition to dine-in, Upper Crust provides take-out and delivery of all menu items. That last service caused me a bit of a problem tonight, but IÕll explain that in a moment.



Upper Crust has 2 locations (so far) in Central Florida, the one we visited at 6607 S.Semoran Boulevard in Orlando and in Celebration at 606 Market Street #160 and are open for lunch and dinner.



I spent most of today cleaning my shed and replacing the broken ceiling in it with a new piece of plywood. By the time dinner time rolled around I was too tired to make dinner or even go out. I remembered how good the pizza was from Upper Crust and called to order a pie for delivery but the manager said I was one block out of their delivery area. One block! I know there  have to be limits, but my house is only a mile and half from the restaurant and one block does not seem like a huge extra distance to go for a customer that will be ordering quite often. Oh well.



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town





July 8, 2006




Movie Review - Superman Returns



ŌLook, up in the sky! ItÕs a bird, itÕs a plane...itÕs Superman!Ķ



HeÕs been around for 68 years in practically every medium possible and, being the first of his kind, is the mold from which all other super heroes have been based upon. You can travel to almost any land in the world and find that he is familiar to a dense majority of the population, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, educated and illiterate.



I have been a fan of KryptonÕs Last Son since the first time I spotted a comic book bearing his now-familiar logo at a store when I was a child. After that, Richie Rich and Casper the Friendly Ghost gave way to Superman, Superboy, Batman, Spiderman, the Fantastic Four and all the other members of the superhero universe.



But Superman has always been my favorite, whether in comics, on TV, in movies, in video games or on a lunch box. I used to collect the comics when I was younger, recorded the original live action TV series starring George Reeves onto video tapes (which I can now dispose of because a family member just bought me the first four seasons on DVD for my birthday!) and have a large variety of Superman memorabilia such as statues of varying sizes, 2 different mouse pads, an eyeglass case, a key chain, a Superman bust bank, a coffee cup, a salt and pepper shaker set, a card set, coaster set, lamp, clock, posters, tee shirts, etc. etc. etc. One of my closest friends is so considerate of my obsession that he has a Superman drinking glass that he keeps for my use only when I visit. Basically, if it has anything to do with Superman, I want to know about it. So there was no question that, when he returned to the big screen after an absence of 18 years, I would be there.



However, I also had some reservations and no small amount of trepidation about the new movie. The first reason being that whenever there is the astronomical amount of pre-release hype that is part and parcel of a blockbuster movie like Superman Returns, your expectations can be raised so high that no movie would be able to reach the bar your hopes have set. Second, about 2 weeks before the release I read the novelization of the movie that was written by veteran comic book writer Marv Wolfman and found myself disappointed in the telling of the story. Not the plot, characters or story itself but the telling of the story. Since I have a great deal of respect for Mr. WolfmanÕs body of work, I began to fear that what was in the book might reflect what was on the screen. Third, while having positive feelings about Bryan Singer taking the helm as director and Kevin Spacey being cast to portray Lex Luthor, I was not sure how well Kate Bosworth would do as Lois Lane or if Brandon Routh, no matter how much he looked like Christopher Reeve, would be able to convey the heart of the character as both Clark Kent and Superman.



So it was with a mixture of excitement and wariness that I bought my ticket for the matinee show on the Friday of itÕs Wednesday opening. The basic storyline is that, shortly after the events in 1980Õs Superman II, Superman left Earth for a period of 5 years, using the spaceship that originally brought him to Earth to travel back to the area of space where his home planet Krypton used to be and then returns to find that Lois has a son and a fiance and that the world has learned to live without a Superman. Lois has even written a Pulitzer Prize-winning article entitled ŌWhy The World DoesnÕt Need SupermanĶ. It is in this environment that Superman must learn to adjust, as must those who were close to him. In the meantime, because Superman was not on Earth when he was called as a witness in the trial of Lex Luthor for his crimes in Superman II, Luthor has been cleared of all charges and is secretly in the midst of his greatest crime ever.



From the moment the movie began with the familiar John Williams Superman Theme and the also familiar blue credits whishing on and off the screen to the end credits with the touching dedication to Christopher and Dana Reeve, Bryan Singer made absolutely sure that THIS movie connected to the first Superman movie from 1978. Throughout the movie there were constant references, repeated lines and scenes all designed to evoke a shared feeling with the superhero movie that set the standard for those to follow. While that manipulating of nostalgia may have been necessary to maintain the connection to Richard DonnerÕs movie that did indeed make us believe a man could fly 28 years ago, IÕm hoping that the next Superman movie (and rest assured, there WILL be a next Superman movie) can forge its own unique success without harkening to earlier incarnations.



Brandon Routh was superb as both mild-mannered Clark Kent and as Superman. There has never been any doubt that Christopher Reeve set the standard for both those characters, but Routh has picked up the gauntlet that Bryan Singer threw down to him and managed to meet that same standard. Looking like Reeve no doubt helps, but Routh managed to emulate actions, speaking tones and presence for both Kent and Superman. Again, while that was necessary, IÕm hopeful that Routh will build on that and make the role his own in the next movie. Kate Bosworth pleasantly surprised me by putting in an excellent performance as Lois Lane. Truth be told I never cared for Margot KidderÕs portrayal and BosworthÕs was more in line with the character as IÕve known her through the years.



I was slightly disappointed with Kevin SpaceyÕs Lex Luthor, and that disappointment bothered me more than I thought it would, probably because I expected him to be perfect as Luthor. While Gene Hackman was always a little too comical for me in the role, he still brought a certain flair to the character that Spacey just did not capture. I walked out of the theater thinking anyone could have played the role as Spacey did, and I just expected more out of him than I saw.



The movie was much better than the novelization, thank goodness. The story flowed much more naturally, SingerÕs directing was obviously as inspired as it has ever been. The special effects were absolutely astounding. Watching Superman fly and react in flight as the laws of physics would demand was a real treat and made the scenes so much more realistic. I mentioned to one friend that those scenes reminded me of the old Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 1940Õs, which were such brilliant works of art and let you see Superman react to things in a natural way. I cannot wait to get the DVD and watch the special effects over and over. The nice touches of putting Noel Neill (I just ordered her biography) who portrayed Lois Lane in the 1950Õs TV series with George Reeves and Jack Larson, who portrayed Jimmy Olsen with Neill in those same programs, into roles in the movie was very fitting and a great move on SingerÕs part. And there was a, shall we say ŌinterestingĶ, twist in the movie that was not revealed in the novelization, though there are enough clues to make you stop and wonder as you were reading. I wonÕt reveal what it is in case there are some who have not seen the movie yet, but IÕm curious to see where Singer takes that little revelation in the next movie.



The only other thing I was unhappy about, besides SpaceyÕs performance, was the Superman costume. Wrong colors, chest emblem too small, no emblem on the cape and trunks that looked like a speedo. You donÕt mess with an iconic costume like SupermanÕs. ItÕs like making the Lone RangerÕs mask red or BatmanÕs costume yellow. But SingerÕs made a habit of ignoring comic book costumes (such as the X-MenÕs) in favor of his own rendition. Bryan, stop it!.



But I enjoyed the movie immensely and will probably go see it again before it leaves theaters and I will definitely buy the DVD when it is released (Christmas, maybe?).



If you saw the movie, what did you think? I hope youÕll let Orlando know by leaving a comment below.



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town





P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom.









July 11, 2006




Orlando Hindu Boutique



My friend Natasha is getting married next month and has graciously invited me to the wedding. Natasha is from Guyana and will be having a Hindu wedding ceremony, as befits her religious and cultural beliefs. IÕm looking forward to seeing my friend happily married and to observing the ceremony and rituals that will be a part of her wedding.



In an attempt to blend in with the rest of the guests, I decided to go buy some menÕs Hindu clothing to wear to the ceremony.



Now, those that know me know that I am not a Ōclothes horseĶ. I typically wear jeans and polo shirts, sometime casual dress wear and rarely a suit or ŌdressyĶ clothes. However, last year I watched the Bollywood movie ŌBride & PrejudiceĶ which is an Indian/Hindu take on the Jane Austen British classic ŌPride & PrejudiceĶ and thought the movie was immensely entertaining. I also thought the clothing the men wore looked very comfortable and cool.



So, since the wedding is in a month and this past Saturday was the only open day with any amount of free time in it before NatashaÕs nuptials, I thought it would be wise to go shopping for the appropriate traditional togs. I had looked online and saw some really good looking outfits, but IÕm always leery of ordering clothes online. IÕd much rather go try them on and be sure they fit right and look good because I need all the help I can get.



That meant a trip to the nearest Hindu clothing retailer I could find to where I live, which meant I was going to GroStyles at 9456 South Orange Blossom Trail in the little strip mall just north of SamÕs Club.



Gro Styles is a smallish store that mainly carries Indian/Guyanese/Hindu, etc. clothing, footwear and accessories. Though not large in size, this Indian boutique boasts a varied inventory of menÕs womenÕs and childrenÕs clothing. In fact, I was a little freaked out by the childrenÕs clothing display. Most of them were displayed on the upper walls, but in place of mannequins the outfits were simply attached to the walls and full masks of childrenÕs faces were placed atop the neck opening of the outfits. It just looked a little weird and I kept glancing up at the disembodied heads with clothes hanging off of them, staring at me from the walls.



I looked around the menÕs section and with the help of one of the sales clerks picked out some clothes to try on. After trying on 4 different outfits (and theyÕre not easy to try on when youÕre not used to that style of clothing construction) and I finally ended up with a black Kurta Pyjama, a long comfortable garment, worn with a set of pants that resemble pajama bottoms, generally accompanied by embroidery (mine has gold embroidery around the collar and partway down the chest) and is appropriate for casual or dressy events. Mine also came with a long gold and burgundy strip of material called a stole, that hangs around my neck and extends down each side of my chest to my thighs.



Amazingly, I thought it looked pretty good on me (or I at least looked passable in it). ItÕs definitely a different look for the Man About Town. WeÕll see what everyone at the wedding thinks. I also bought a pair of slipper/shoes that feel like they are made of some kind of woven wood like bamboo, but softer.



If youÕre in the market for Hindu clothing, youÕll find Gro Styles has an excellent selection of clothing with helpful clerks to assist you, especially if youÕre like me and totally clueless about what you should buy and wear.



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town.







July 19, 2006




Bits and Pieces



NOTE: The Man About Town Blog will be coming to a conclusion at the end of July and there will be 10 more posts following this one. I would like to thank Tribune Interactive Media Services, The Orlando Sentinel and most of all YOU, the readers, for your support and participation over the past 15 months. ItÕs been a wild ride!



City of Orlando a Technology Hub?



Recently, eWeek, an online and print technology magazine, ranked Orlando number 8 as the next location for a technology hub. eWeek compiled dozens of news stories, job reports and technology forecasts and came up with 10 cities and their surrounding areas that have the potential to develop a technology epicenter.



According to the article, Ō ranks Orlando No. 9 in the number of jobs per capita, with 10 technology jobs per 1000 people. Joel Kotkin, a writer on economic and political trends, lists Orlando among areas ripe to become the next Silicon Valley, noting its quick economic and population growth, and according to Inc. Magazine, among the reasons is that Florida has a job growth of 9.6 percent between 2001-2005, the third highest in the country.Ķ



HereÕs the list of 10 cities:



10: Charlotte

9: Los Angeles

8: Orlando

7: Chicago

6: Philadelphia

5: Dallas

4: Washington, D.C.

3: Boston

2: Atlanta

1: Seattle





OIA Ranks 15th in Overall Satisfaction



J.D. Power and Associates released their 2006 North America Airport Satisfaction Study late last month and among major U.S. airports (those with more than 30 million passengers annually) Orlando International Airport ranked 15th in overall customer satisfaction.



The study was based on eight factors determining overall customer satisfaction, including airport accessibility, check-in/baggage check, security check, terminal facilities, food and beverage, retail services, baggage claim and immigration/customs control.



The top 3 airports were Las Vegas McCarran International, which received the highest score, followed by John F. Kennedy International and Philadelphia International. Miami International also was rated higher than Orlando, coming in 12th.





History Center Becomes Smithsonian Affiliate



The Orange County Regional History Center, located in downtown Orlando across from the main branch of the Orange County Library, has been accepted as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The history centerÕs goal is to begin incorporating some of the SmithsonianÕs collections into local museum exhibits during 2008.  The Smithsonian is a fantastic museum (though admittedly IÕve only been to the Air & Space portion of the vast complex) and this affiliation can only help the History Center offer more exhibits to central Florida.



OMA Opens New Impressionism Exhibit



The Orlando Museum of Art will feature two new upcoming exhibits. ŌPaths to Impressionism: French and American Landscape Paintings from the Worcester Art Museum,Ķ will run from August 26 through December 31, 2006. The exhibition highlights masterwork paintings by artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and George Inness.  One of the highlights of my trip to France next year will be visiting MonetÕs Garden, just outside of Paris. So this exhibit is one IÕll definitely be attending, perhaps more than once during its run.



Florida Reports Lowest Crime Rate in 35 Years



Last Tuesday the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released the stateÕs 2005 Annual Uniform Crime Report and announced that FloridaÕs index crime rate has reached a 35-year low.  The index crime rate dropped by 3.7 percent in 2005, compared to 2004. Yet OrlandoÕs murder rate thus far in 2006 (33) has already surpassed the number of murders (22) in all of 2005. WhatÕs going on in O-Town? Have all the criminals from across the state moved here to the City Beautiful?



Tax Free School Supply Holiday Starts This Weekend



Ah, itÕs getting to be that time of year. Parents love it and kids (usually) hate it. ThatÕs right, school starts back soon.



Governor Jeb Bush encourages Floridians and out-of-state shoppers alike to take advantage of the stateÕs sales tax holiday, which takes effect on Saturday July 22 and runs until midnight on July 30. Under the sales-tax holiday law, no state or local sales tax will be charged on clothes, footwear, books, and certain accessories selling for $50 or less. School supplies selling for $10 or less will be tax-exempt as well during this sales tax holiday period.



The sales tax holiday will save shoppers an estimated $32.1 million in state sales tax and an additional $7.2 million in county sales taxes. Regular sales tax holidays also were held in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005.



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town





July 20, 2006




Orlando Comic Con is Coming!



I love comic book conventions!



The very first one I attended was a small (very small) convention held in the basement of a comic book store in Tallahassee. I donÕt think there were more than 20 dealers selling Golden age and Silver age comics and if there was a special industry guest I cannot remember who it might have been. The sight of thousands of old comics in boxes and on display mesmerized me and, much like PavlovÕs dog, I began salivating in the presence of all those four color fantasies. These days I donÕt collect comics anymore, preferring instead to purchase collected works in hardcover bindings. However, I still keep up with industry news and character storylines through various genre magazines and websites.



Next month, Orlando Comic Con will hold itÕs inaugural convention on Saturday, August 19th and Sunday, August 20th at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center. I hope it is wildly successful for the producers and sponsors, as it will make a great summer counterpoint to FebruaryÕs annual MegaCon.



In addition to a multitude of dealers offering everything from comics to action figures to DVDÕs to anime, here is a list of the guests who are scheduled thus far:





David Lloyd (V for Vendetta)



Glenda C. Finkelstein (award-winning author of Nemesis Rising, The Edge of The Universe)



Tony E. Finkelstein (voice actor: Nemesis Rising)



Jeffrey Breslauer (actor, puppeteer, writer, voice-over artist: The Muppets Take Manhattan, Police Academy V, Swamp Thing, Superboy) 



Greg Land (Ultimate Fantastic Four, Phoenix: Endsong)



Ron Marz (Ion, Witchblade)



Billy Tan (X-23, Marvel Knights Spider-Man)



Tony Bedard (Exiles, Retro Rocket)



Paul Pelletier (Exiles)



Mike S. Miller (Alias Comics)



Barbara Kesel (Dark Crystal, Meridian)



Mario Gully (Ant)



Pablo Marcos (Red Sonja, Conan)



John Taddeo (Zoom Suit)



Chasen Grieshop (Particle 9 Productions)



Tom Fleming (Illustrator)



Austin Janowsky (Judo Girl, 10th Muse)



Ben Hunzeker (Outcast Studios)



Robert Rhine (Wet Ink Studios)



Arthur Ball (Above Average Comics)



Plus, if you have a more Ōin-depthĶ interest in the industry or even if you just want to Ōpeek behind the curtainĶ so to speak, here is the programming schedule thus far:



Saturday, August 19







Writing for Comics with Ron Marz Part I: Mastering the Basics






Two Artists, Two Approaches: Mike Perkins and Billy Tan






Making a Winning Portfolio with Mario Gully






Comics Script Writing with Barbara Kesel






Creating Your Own Comic from Scratch with Chasen Grieshop






So YouÕre Thinking of Opening a Comic Shop? Phil Boyle Shows You What You Need to Know






The Growth and Progress of an Artist: What it Really Takes to Make it in the Business with Tom Fleming



Sunday, August 20







Writing for Comics with Ron Marz Part II: Action, Not Words






Tony Bedard and Paul Pelletier on Exiles






Learn Pencils and Inks with Mike Perkins






Character Development for Writers and Artists with Barbara Kesel



Schedule subject to change.



There will also be an ŌArtistÕs AlleyĶ where you can watch artists creating pages, buy an already finished piece of art, or have them draw something just for you at an agreed upon price. I bought a beautiful rendering of Captain America at the MegaCon Artist Alley a couple of years ago and it hangs proudly in my office. At Orlando Comic Con IÕll probably look for someone who can do a great version of my favorite character, Superman. Additionally, there will be door prizes given out randomly to attendees entering the convention hall.



Orlando Comic Con is being held Saturday, August 19th and Sunday, August 20th at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center located at 8101 World Center Drive, Orlando, near Lake Buena Vista. Convention hours are 10am to 7pm on Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sunday. Tickets are already a bargain at $12.00 per day at the door, but you can save some coin by purchasing your tickets online ahead of time at a price of $10 for one day and $17 for the weekend. Or you can purchase them at any of the Orlando area Coliseum of Comics stores or at Bad Apple Comics and A Comic Shop. Parking is free at the Caribe Royale, but is on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to arrive early to assure yourself of a parking space.



ŌUp, up and away!Ķ



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town







July 21, 2006




Wrestling!No...Wait! Mini Golf!!



NOTE: The Man About Town Blog will be coming to a conclusion at the end of July and there will be 8 more posts following this one. I would like to thank Tribune Interactive Media Services, The Orlando Sentinel and most of all YOU, the readers, for your support and participation over the past 15 months. ItÕs been a wild ride!



Last Sunday night Ann Marie, her 5 year old son Mikey and I were going to go watch the big-time professional wrestling show that was in town. TNA (thatÕs Total Nonstop Action, get your mind out of the gutter!) Wrestling was holding their big Pay Per View show ŌVictory RoadĶ out at Universal Studios on sound stage 21 and the seats were free on a first come/first served basis. TNA also allows free admittance to their shows when they do their TV tapings for the weekly airings, but the possibility of getting to see a $39.95 priced PPV for free and in person is guaranteed to draw an even larger crowd than normal.



Here is the list of matches that we hoped to see:












SENSHI vs. KAZARIAN—X Division Title match



RAVEN vs. LARRY ZBYSZKO—Hair vs. Hair match






TEAM 3D (BROTHER RAY & BROTHER DEVON & BROTHER RUNT) vs. JAMES GANG (B.G. & KIP) & ABYSS (w/James Mitchell) -- Anything goes; No DQ






SAMOA JOE vs. SCOTT STEINER vs. STING vs. CHRISTIAN CAGE—NWA World Championship #1 ContenderÕs match



Doors were to open at 6:45 for an 8:00pm start time so we arrived shortly after 6:00pm to find a long line of fans already stretched out in front of us. It wasnÕt looking good for us, as the studio where the show takes place only has about 900 seats. We stood in line talking to each other, with other fans about some of our favorite wrestlers and watching Mikey as he played while the line moved slowly forward.



At about 7:10pm the security personnel told us that no one else would be admitted, they had reached their capacity. Though disappointed, we werenÕt entirely surprised since there were so many people in front of us in line. I would estimate that about 300 people were turned away.



So, what would we do now? We walked around CityWalk for a little bit and I bought Mikey a stuffed Sonic Shadow plush toy that he wanted and then Ann suggested that we go play the sport of kings... Mini Golf!



We drove over to Congo River Adventure Golf on International Drive next to Wet Ôn Wild, rented our clubs, grabbed a golf ball each and took off for the first hole of the junior course, since Mikey had never played mini golf before.



It took us about an hour to play the 18 hole course and we had a lot of fun, especially watching Mikey play. On each hole, after hitting the ball off the putting green, he would find wherever it was and then pick it up and place it right next to the hole. I told him my brother plays regular golf the same way, so not to worry about it.



Congo River Adventure Golf has locations in Orlando, Kissimmee, Altamonte Springs and Daytona. The hours and prices vary with locations, but the International Drive location next to Wet Ôn Wild is open Sunday - Thursday from 10am to 11pm and Friday & Saturday from 10am to midnight. Call 407-352-0042 for more information.



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town





July 22, 2006




Orlando Weather



NOTE: The Man About Town Blog will be coming to a conclusion at the end of July and there will be 7 more posts following this one. I would like to thank Tribune Interactive Media Services, The Orlando Sentinel and most of all YOU, the readers, for your support and participation over the past 15 months. ItÕs been a wild ride!



I think Tom Terry has spoiled me.



First, I should make it clear that IÕve ALWAYS watched WFTV, Channel 9 news as my primary local news source since arriving in O-Town. Occasionally IÕve switched around to WESH, WKMG, WKCF, WOFL and Channel 13 news to make comparisons and see if thereÕs anything that would make me change my news viewing habits, but thatÕs yet to  happen. I should also mention that I have never put much faith in the weather forecasts of ANY of our local weather personalities, whether it was Danny Treanor (when he was at Channel 9 or at his new home on Channel 13 news), Michele Cimino, Dave Marsh or Glenn Richards.



The reason for this lack of faith is that most of the time they were wrong when it came to the most important part of the weather forecast for Central Floridians: rain and thunderstorms. As far as I know (because I donÕt have a thermometer outside to compare them with) they all handle the fairly easy part of forecasting highs and lows without much difficulty. But this is Orlando and weÕre a city that is still operating on a tourist based economy. Weather-wise, that means that knowing when are where it will rain is important to both local businesses and tourists. An informal recollection through my memory tells me that the majority of the time, predictions concerning rain, or the lack of it, have been wrong. As a result, during the summer IÕve just gotten myself in the habit of ALWAYS carrying an umbrella with me because, no thanks to local weather forecasts, you never know when a cloud full of liquid sunshine will fall on your head.



But then something happened in 2004 at WFTV that changed the picture. As Hurricane Charley approached the western Florida coast and both the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service predicted a landfall at Tampa (causing the city to be evacuated and a majority of its residents to fill all available hotel rooms here in Orlando), WFTV Chief Meteorologist Tom Terry said he saw something different in the data and predicted a landfall further south of Tampa and a path that would bring Charley right through the middle of the state and across Orlando. All the other local weather personalities lined up with the ŌofficialĶ forecast, but in the end it turned out that Tom WAS RIGHT! Charley made landfall at Port Charlotte and Orlando (along with those evacuees from Tampa) was slammed by 100 MPH winds as it tore across the middle of the state, cutting a swath of destruction that weÕre still trying to recover from in some areas.



Tom Terry became a Weather God!



In the 2 years since, I have often watched Tom with one of his Ōhigh-tech forecasting, modeling, coolly displaying weather toysĶ predict almost to the minute when a thunderstorm would hit a particular area. Pointing to a mass on a radar display he would say, ŌThis cell of thunderstorms will be right over OIA at 5:42pmĶ and sure enough at 5:42 my house would be sitting right under black clouds, lightning. thunder and torrential rains. It was uncanny.



Which brings me to this morning. IÕm having the outside of my house painted (something it sorely needs and has for a while) and this morning Chris (a house painter who is the husband of Mary, a friend of mine) was coming to pressure clean the walls in preparation for its new look. I was up eating breakfast and watching WFTVÕs Saturday morning news broadcast when their new weather personality, Mike OÕLenick, came on with the dayÕs forecast. Mike  used to be at WESH, but I never watched his weather when he was there. In fact the only way I knew of him was from the Scott & Erica morning show on Mix 105. For a while he was the Ōguest localĶ weatherman they would use and I actually only remember him because Scott would  close each weather segment with, ŌI say Mike O and you sayĶ and then Erica, Zach and Jay would all say, ŌLenick!Ķ in unison. I didnÕt find it particularly amusing, but they seemed to enjoy doing it.



So this morning Mr. OÕLenick comes on while IÕm eating my eggs and sausage and says there will be thunderstorms early in the afternoon, throughout the afternoon and into the early evening and that if youÕve got things to do outside, do them early. Well, Chris was scheduled to arrive at 9am and he told me it would take about 2 hours to finish, so I felt pretty safe with that part. I had already  moved things away from the walls so he could work as quickly as possible and when he arrived at 8:50am I took off to run errands I had, trying to get them completed before the predicted rain arrived. I got back home around 10:30am and Chris finished up around 11:10am. I moved some things that I had taken out of the screened in porch area (grill, kitty litter box, etc.) from the backyard and back onto the porch so they wouldnÕt get rained on and then settled into continuing the re-design/cleaning of my office for the rest of the afternoon.



At about 6pm I realized it never even sprinkled at my house or the surrounding neighborhood. Not one dark cloud, not one drop of rain. Nothing, nada, zip.



I think Tom Terry has spoiled me.



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town





July 23, 2006




BlogOrlando ŌUn-conferenceĶ Sept. 22-24



NOTE: The Man About Town Blog will be coming to a conclusion at the end of July and there will be 6 more posts following this one. I would like to thank Tribune Interactive Media Services, The Orlando Sentinel and most of all YOU, the readers, for your support and participation over the past 15 months. ItÕs been a wild ride!



This is an event that takes place 2 months from now, but I wanted to help get the word out about it before the Man About Town blog comes to an end next week.



Josh Hallett, who is a business blog consultant and author of hyku|blog, is putting together the BlogOrlando Un-conference to be held in Orlando, Florida on Friday, September 22nd through Sunday, September 24th, 2006. The un-conference format will allow for a semi-informal gathering of bloggers (and non-bloggers) as well as a free flow of ideas and topics regarding a variety of subjects that are applicable to online posting and citizen journalists.



HereÕs an early description of the un-conference as posted on the official website:



Hyku, in partnership with Rollins College will host this FREE event that is open to bloggers and non-bloggers alike from Florida and anywhere else (so far we have one international attendee). We hope to bring together a good cross-section of folks to discuss blogging, podcasting, public relations, social media, citizenÕs journalism and other related topics. In addition to the Friday event we are planning some outings at the local theme parks over the weekend. This event is as much a social/family gathering as it is a ÔworkÕ gathering, so bring the family (kids included).



Shown below is a tentative schedule for the weekend:



Thursday (9/21): Travel day for most, perhaps an informal dinner that night

Friday - day (9/22): BlogOrlando un-conference at Rollins College

Friday - evening (9/22): Full-on geek dinner somewhere in Orlando

Saturday (9/23): Blogger day at one of the Disney parks

Sunday (9/24): Travel day, or stay an extra day at the Disney parks



In the coming weeks I will begin to post a schedule for the un-conference portion of the event.



If you go to the site you can see a list of attendees (so far), be able to register online yourself to attend, read the un-conference blog and see the updated general schedule on Friday.



I am definitely planning to attend the Friday portion and perhaps the informal dinner on Thursday night. IÕm not yet sure about the Disney theme parks on Saturday/Sunday, since IÕm able to get into those anytime I wish (helps having those all-important ŌconnectionsĶ)  but weÕll see  how it goes for those days.



This looks like it will be a lot of fun and very informative. IÕm hoping all my local blogging friends might consider attending, since so far I donÕt see the names of anyone I know on the list of attendees (mineÕs not either...yet, but it will be soon).



My hat is off to Josh for putting this into motion and for all his effort and work in getting things arranged. Who knows, this might turn into a major annual event here in Orlando!



Catch you  here next time.



Man About Town





July 25, 2006




Orlando City Council Says ŌLet them eat cakeĶ But Not Downtown



NOTE: The Man About Town Blog will be coming to a conclusion at the end of July and there will be 5 more posts following this one. I would like to thank Tribune Interactive Media Services, The Orlando Sentinel and most of all YOU, the readers, for your support and participation over the past 15 months. ItÕs been a wild ride!



Yesterday the Orlando City Commission passed an ordinance banning the feeding of 25 or more people in parks and on other city property within a 2 mile radius of Orlando City Hall without a special one time use permit.



The reason for the vote, which passed 5-2, is that for the past several months groups such as Food Not Bombs, Volunteer UCF and others have been offering weekly lunches in Lake Eola Park to the homeless. Downtown business owners have complained that the homeless crowd causes sanitation problems by using bushes and landscaping as bathrooms (probably because the business owners wonÕt allow them in to use their bathrooms) and causing property damage as well as the nebulous Ōdrives customers awayĶ accusations.



The City of Orlando has a history of seeking to ŌhideĶ its homeless population from the downtown area, dating back to Mayor Glenda Hood and the ŌNo Panhandling ZonesĶ (we should note, of course, that not all panhandlers are homeless) that were established to restrict where people could solicit donations in the downtown area. ŌThe City BeautifulĶ is reminding me of an ex-girlfriend of mine, beautiful but cold.



Now, the City routinely requires application and permitting of groups that wish to use any of the CityÕs park facilities and that is to be expected. Even though the parks are taxpayer property and open to all residents, group gatherings need to be regulated for the benefit of all. However, this particular ordinance restricts the permitting of feeding groups of 25 or more to a one time, single use permit. The unspoken message is that such groups most likely will not be able to secure permitting beyond that single event, so monthly, weekly or daily requests will probably be denied. Of course that only refers to feeding of the homeless. IÕm sure the City will not deny the more-than-once permitting of events like Fiesta in the Park, Downtown Art & Living Expo and others (where more than 25 people are fed) that bring in gobs of revenue.



On the other hand, I can see where this is a cause for concern for nearby business owners and perhaps patrons of the park. I know that some people are homeless by choice; it is how they wish to live. But I also know that not all homeless people are that way by choice, they have been placed there by circumstances and have not been able to escape out from underneath those circumstances. If, as some business owners claim, property damage is caused by some, that needs to be addressed in a different manner than the wholesale banning of those offering to help.



Homeless people, in general, are regarded as unpleasant facts of life. Their very presence tends to make people uncomfortable, for whatever reasons. And whatever makes us uncomfortable we tend to want to put out of sight so it is out of mind. I heartily applaud the giving attitude of UCF students (thanks for putting the lie to the mantra that young adults donÕt get involved) and others who wish to give at least one hot meal a week to those who have found themselves living on the street. Now, could you take it one step further and feed them at your own home so we donÕt have to see it? <sarcasm>



Seriously, this is an issue that wonÕt be easily solved. The ACLU and groups such as Food Not Bombs have indicated they will challenge this ordinance in court. IÕm not a lawyer (thankfully), but I donÕt hold out a lot of hope that a judge is going to strike down this decision. What the City of Orlando needs to do now is find some way to extend a hand to replace the help they have outlawed. That would be the right thing to do.



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town





July 26 2006




Anime and Ale



NOTE: The Man About Town Blog will be coming to a conclusion at the end of July and there will be 4 more posts following this one. I would like to thank Tribune Interactive Media Services, The Orlando Sentinel and most of all YOU, the readers, for your support and participation over the past 15 months. ItÕs been a wild ride!



HereÕs a couple of interesting events taking place this weekend.



Anime Festival Orlando 7



IÕve never been able to get into anime, the cartoon animation art form that is distinctly Japanese in both its character rendition and style, but there is no denying the popularity of this medium and this weekend is a festival made for fans of anime.



AFO7 returns to the Wyndham Orlando Resort, located on the corner of International Drive and Sand Lake Road, beginning a 3 day celebration of Japanese animation, music and culture on Friday and lasting through Saturday and Sunday. Festival events include a film festival, a Guitar Hero Jam Session tournament, Q&A sessions with elite anime industry producers, artists, voice actors and much more.



A 3 Day Membership for adults is $45, Friday or Sunday ONLY is $20 and Saturday ONLY is $30, children 5-8 years of age can get a 3 day membership for $35, Friday or Sunday ONLY is $15 and Saturday ONLY is $25 and children under 5 get in free. Children 8 years old and up are FULL PRICE



Registration Hours:

Friday 10AM - 8PM

Saturday 9AM - 6PM

Sunday 9AM - 3PM.

Note: Early Bird pick-up for Pre-Reg will be on Thursday from 7-9PM.



Hours of Operation:

Friday July 28th

Video Game Arcade    12:00 PM to 1:00 AM


Dealers Room          1:00 PM to 7:00 PM


Event Hours             1:00 PM to 2:00 AM




Saturday July 29th

Video Game Arcade    9:00 AM to 1:00 AM


Dealers Room         10:00AM to 7:00 PM


Event Hours            10:00 AM to 2:00AM




Sunday July 30th

Video Game Arcade    9:00 AM to 5:30 PM


Dealers Room        10:00 AM to 5:00 PM


Event Hours            10:00 AM to 6:00PM




You can get more information at the FestivalÕs website. Domo arigato.



Brewniversity: American Microbrews



July is American beer Month! If you didnÕt know that, you have a lot of catching up to do before the month ends. Whole Foods Market,

1989 Aloma Avenue (at the corner of Aloma and Lakemont) in Winter Park is celebrating American Beer Month with an evening edition of Brewniversity on Saturday July 29th from 7 to 8:30pm. At Brewniversity you can learn about the American microbrew techniques of North Coast Brewing Company and sample a full spectrum of styles from Ale to Imperial Stout, including the infamous Pranqster and Old Rasputin. The cost is a minimal $5 and pre-registration is required by calling 407.673.8788. Jason and I have made our plans to attend, hereÕs hoping we see you there. Cheers!



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town





July 28, 2006




FairTax Rally in Orlando on July 29th



NOTE: The Man About Town Blog will be coming to a conclusion at the end of July and there will be 3 more posts following this one. I would like to thank Tribune Interactive Media Services, The Orlando Sentinel and most of all YOU, the readers, for your support and participation over the past 15 months. ItÕs been a wild ride!



Saturday morning at 10am WDBO is sponsoring a FairTax Rally at Orlando City Hall that will be hosted by talk-radio firebrand Neal Boortz and Congressman John Linder, co-authors of The FairTax Book. The rally is being held to draw attention to a bill pending in Congress that would do away with the current Federal Tax Code and replace it with a national sales tax. Boortz and Linder ask questions such as:



WouldnÕt you love to abolish the IRS ...

Keep all the money in your paycheck ...

Pay taxes on what you spend, not what you earn ...

And eliminate all the fraud, hassle, and waste of our current system?



The FairTax, they argue, would transform the fearsome bureaucracy of the IRS into a more transparent, accountable, and equitable tax collection system. Among other benefits, it will:



á      Make AmericaÕs tax code truly voluntary, without reducing revenue

á      Replace todayÕs indecipherable tax code with one simple sales tax

á      Protect lower-income Americans by covering the tax on basic necessities

á      Eliminate billions of dollars in embedded taxes we donÕt even know weÕre paying

á      Bring offshore corporate dollars back into the U.S. economy




The expected crowd estimate is for more than 10,000 people (I think EVERYONE wants to abolish the IRS...except maybe the IRS employees), so if youÕre planning on attending the rally be sure to get there early when the gates open at 8:00am.



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town.







July 29, 2006




National Night Out August 1st



NOTE: The Man About Town Blog will be coming to a conclusion at the end of July and there will be 2 more posts following this one. I would like to thank Tribune Interactive Media Services, The Orlando Sentinel and most of all YOU, the readers, for your support and participation over the past 15 months. ItÕs been a wild ride!



Orlando is experiencing a record breaking number of murders thus far in 2006. Most experts are tying the increase in homicides to an increase in illegal drug abuse and the myriad crimes that accompany that activity. WeÕve got a serious problem here in The City Beautiful and everyone is looking for ways to solve it. This might be a small, but helpful piece of the puzzle.



The Ō23rd Annual National Night OutĶ, a unique crime and drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), will be held this coming Tuesday, August 1, 2006 in communities all across the nation, including Orlando!



Last yearÕs National Night Out campaign involved citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from over 10,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. In all, over 34 million people participated in National Night Out 2005.



As part of National Night Out, a competition is sponsored by NATW, the City of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department that encourages neighborhoods to organize events promoting police-community partnerships, crime prevention and neighborhood safety. Last year the City of Orlando placed 3rd in the national competition!



NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:



á      Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;

á      Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs;

á      Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and

á      Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.




You can participate in National Night Out by leaving your outside lights on, getting to know your neighbors and reporting suspicious activity. If youÕd like more information about how to set up a neighborhood watch in your community call Laura Velez at 407.246.2644



Catch you here next time.



Man About Town.





July 30, 2006




Citizen Police Academy Begins August 15th



NOTE: The Man About Town Blog will be coming to a conclusion at the end of July and there will be 1 final post tomorrow. I would like to thank Tribune Interactive Media Services, The Orlando Sentinel and most of all YOU, the readers, for your support and participation over the past 15 months. ItÕs been a wild ride!



Years ago I used to ride with the officers of a medium-sized townÕs police department here in Central Florida on Friday and Saturday nights, going to any and all the calls they were dispatched to answer, whether it was auto accidents, domestic dispute complaints, assaults or robberies and burglaries. Then a few years back I had a job that put me in regular contact with officers from the Orlando Police Department while dealing with some of our communityÕs, shall we say, less upstanding citizens. Both experiences gave me a much different perspective of both society and the men and women of our local police agencies.



Beginning August 15th, the Orlando Police Department will present a 12 week Citizen Police Academy that is designed to introduce Orlando citizens to the structures, procedures and operations of the police department. Intriguing subjects like Criminal Investigations, Drug Enforcement, Criminal Law, the Gang Unit, Hostage Negotiations, Internal Affairs, School Resource and Crime Scene Investigations will all be represented in the curriculum. In fact, here is the official 12 week course subject material:






Officer Selection; Training Section



Laws of Arrest, Search and Seizure; Internal Affairs



Communications, Crime Statistics, Planning & Evaluation



Patrol Operations



Special Operations



Violent Crimes Section



Property Crimes Section



Special Investigations Section



Undercover Operations



Special Teams



Youth Intervention Section; Community Involvement Section



Special Problems in Law Enforcement; Use of Force








You will also be invited to ride along with a patrol officer in the field and experience first-hand police work in action. Plus, Chief Michael McCoy will be presenting diplomas at the graduation ceremony.



So if youÕre interested in seeing what police officers in Orlando deal with on a nightly basis, make plans to be at the Citizens Police Academy on August 15th at the Beardall Senior Center from 6:30pm until 9:30pm. For further information contact Sonya Robinson at 407.246.2461 and get signed up.



Catch you here one last time.



Man About Town







July 31, 2006




The Final ŌMan About TownĶ Post



And so it ends, at least in this venue and at this URL.



Back on April 24, 2005, the very first post of the Man About Town appeared on the Internet. HereÕs what I wrote in the first paragraph of that first post:



ŌIt is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to the first post of the official Find Local Blog for the city of Orlando. While youÕre using the fantastic new search capabilities of Find Local to locate the best entertainment, restaurants and businesses in Orlando, IÕll be posting here about my personal experience with some of them as well. IÕll also be posting about local topics and current events that are on everyoneÕs mind here in Orlando such as traffic, politics, sports, education; basically anything that happens here in O-town and Central Florida is likely to appear at some point in this blog.Ķ



I think IÕve been true to that goal in the past 15 months. If you look at the list of ŌCategoriesĶ to the left, youÕll see a plethora of local subjects that have been written about in Man About Town, most of them multiple times each. WeÕve been to Disney, Universal and Sea World; eaten at some great restaurants around the city; attended concerts, plays and art gallery showings; viewed and reviewed movies and local TV shows; addressed issues dealing with the Orlando Magic and Orlando politics; discussed science, travel, technology and the always popular subject of the weather. And through all of it, you have helped make this blog what it is with your comments, sometimes agreeing and sometimes disagreeing, but always letting Orlando know your thoughts on particular subjects.



I love blogging. I hope that has been obvious. Those of you who know who the Man About Town is know that IÕve been blogging for several years, first getting my feet wet on, then on my own domain and as a charter contributor to MetroBlogging Orlando. Because of the time involved in producing Man About Town (and the fact that I have additional responsibilities and interests that also demand my time and effort) I gave up my personal blog and left MetroBlogging Orlando (to avoid any conflict of interest) when I was offered the opportunity to write the Man About Town blog. Those were both tough decisions to make, but priorities demanded they be made.



When the folks at Tribune Interactive Media Services notified me that this particular venture would be coming to an end as far as their participation was concerned, they first asked The Orlando Sentinel if they would like to continue the blog under the newspaperÕs auspices, but the Sentinel declined, citing the fact that most of their reporters already provide blogs for them. Tribune then graciously offered to transfer the Man About Town blog to me personally if I wished to continue it on my own. I thought that was very kind of them, since they own and had paid for everything here.



But in the final analysis, I decided it would be best for Man About Town to come to an end with this last post. Man About Town was a great opportunity for me when it was presented and I have tried to make the most of it. Now I feel like I have other opportunities that will be equally as great as time moves forward.



Those of you who have been gracious enough to e-mail or comment that you would still like to read my online writings will be able to do so at two different web locations. I will be returning to MetroBlogging Orlando in the near future to continue posting entries about events and issues here in Orlando. The members at MetroBlogging Orlando are a group of excellent writers and I am looking forward to returning to their ranks and writing about Orlando.



But I also want to write about things that have nothing or little to do with Orlando. National issues, global issues and personal issues that would not be appropriate to that blog. So I will also be re-opening my former personal blog, The Masked Blogger, at its new eponymous domain name. I hope IÕll soon see all of you at one or both of these blogs.



As IÕve said in the little ŌintroĶ for the past 12 posts, my time as Man About Town has been a wild ride and I am extremely grateful for the time and opportunity IÕve been given. But all rides must come to an end, and this one is pulling into the station. Thank you all for the parts youÕve  had in making this the success and the fun that it has been since April of last year.



And so it ends, at least in this venue and at this URL.



Man About Town