Monday, September 28, 2009

Pleasure Island Dead

Pleasure Island, the nightlife portion of Walt Disney World, an island strip mall of nightclubs, restaurants and stores, closed last year. With it, many of the resort’s best entertainments vanished. Among them an audience participation comedy club, a country and western club, the BET club, an upscale dance club, a 70s disco, a rock bar and first and foremost – The Adventurers Club – which was as far as I (and I’m not alone) am concerned, was one of the reasons to go to Disney World in the first place.

It’s really kinda sad. With Pleasure Island closed, you can still walk through what to those who remember what was is now a ghost town. No gates at the bridges, no lights, closed doors of the clubs, and high above what used to a DJ booth for the whole strip – a sign still lit that says “LIVE” over the darkened “PLEASURE ISLAND” sign.

There are still some stores here so there are still shoppers. They walk through, sometimes curiously looking at the closed doors of clubs like archeologists looking at the statues of Easter Island. They wish they knew their secrets and could live their lives.

There are rumors that one or two of the clubs (hopefully the Adventurers Club) may reopen either here or at another location. Let’s hope so. WDW just isn’t the same without this place.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009


Last year we made the mistake of visiting Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. Their Twister ride was a disappointing walk-through with some sorta educational, mostly exploitation footage of tornadoes, followed by them putting a fan on you and getting you wet while watching some amateur special effects fake a tornado on a soundstage. What a waste of time.

On my most recent trip to Walt Disney World’s Epcot we went to a small hidden corner of Innoventions for something called StormStruck. It was about a quarter the size, maybe even less, of Twister and literally blew it away.

Now it’s sponsored by several window and roofing companies as well as The Weather Channel, so at times it does seem like an infomercial but for the most part it’s all excitement. You’re wearing 3-D glasses on a deck overlooking a virtual reality neighborhood as a terrible storm approaches, and when it does, it feels real. Great stuff! Don’t miss this hidden gem.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chat with C. Hope Clark

The Writer's Chatroom

Chat with C. Hope Clark

C. Hope Clark (Hope) founded and serves as editor of, a well-known writer's reference that reaches 20,000 readers weekly with grants, markets and motivational editorials that generate stacks of thank-you notes from readers. Writer's Digest voted FundsforWriters one of its 101 Best Web Sites for Writers for the past nine years.

Hope's dozen ebooks are rapid sellers ranging from "Grants for the Serious Writer" to "Short & Sweet; Markets for Fillers." Hope has published in magazines like Writer's Digest, The Writer Magazine, ByLine Magazine, Next Step Magazine, College Bound Teen, TURF Magazine, and Landscape Management. "The Shy Writer" is a nonfiction paperback she penned to aid writers like her who have difficulty appearing in public. Published in 2004, it continues to readily sell and was re-released as a second edition in Fall 2007.

After 25 years as a manager with the federal sector, she requested an early retirement in her forties to write full time and manage FundsforWriters, marrying her knowledge of grants and her love of writing.

She lives in Chapin, South Carolina on the banks of Lake Murray and has completed a novel, the first of an agricultural mystery series, which is currently being read by several agents. She is married to a recently retired federal agent who inspires her love of mystery writing.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Pop Half-Century

Most of the time when one thinks of Walt Disney World and where to stay – places like the Grand Floridian, the Contemporary and the Polynesian come to mind, but those aren’t you’re only choices, and certainly not your only price range. Economy, low rent, even called white trash by some folks, Disney offers several less expensive places to stay while visiting.

Pop Century is one of the economy resorts along with the All-Stars and a few others. My most recent stay was there, mostly because we were only crashing for a long weekend. It’s a place with a theme right up my alley, pop culture. The place is consumed and decorated by all manner of trivia and nostalgia. And like the All-Star resorts, the buildings are adorned with gigantic knick-knacks. The building we stayed in, the “70s,” was surrounded by giant 8-tracks, a huge foozball table and a really big Big Wheel, among other things. Fun.

My problem with the resort, other than the other patrons, which I suppose just can’t be helped, is the name of it – Pop Century. It’s all set up by decade – the 1970s, the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1980s. Isn’t there like half a century missing there? Did the 20th century start in 1950? No, but pop culture kinda did. Still, it’s a bit misleading, and not to mention disinformative to kids learning about the passage of time. Not sure if we’ll be staying here again, but still, fun.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Coming Soon...

Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis, is the next comic book based film to hit theatres. It opens September 25th.

Pandorum, promising a new level of horror, opens September 25th.

The 'reinvention,' rather than remake, of 1980's Fame also opens on Septemeber 25th. It's gonna be a busy weekend at the movies...

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Author Susan Tepper on Tour

Author, poet and essayist Susan Tepper is touring to promote her new short story collection "Deer & Other Stories" from Wilderness House Press, where all of the tales within are tied together by the enigmatic appearance of a deer.

She'll be appearing on September 21st at the Grub Street Fiction Workshop in Boston, MA at Grub Street, 160 Boyston Street, at 7 PM.

On September 22nd, Susan will Doug Holder's live guest on "Poet to Poet" at 5 PM on Somerville Community Access Television, in Somerville, MA.

October 6th, at Watchung Booksellers, Watchung Plaza, Montclair, NJ at 7:30 PM.

October 9th, at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street in New York City at 7 PM.

Then Susan comes down to Philadelphia on October 14th to Borders Books at 1 South Broad Street, at 12:30 PM.

Later that day at 7 PM, author Fran Metzman joins Susan for a Publishing Workshop at famous Robin's Bookstore, 110A South 13th Street, also in Philly.

Check out Susan Tepper's website here, and buy "Deer & Other Stories" at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Boys Are Back

The Boys are back. I’m not talking Backstreet, Beach or even High School Musical, I’m talking ‘bout Oak Ridge, baby.

The Oak Ridge Boys are back with their old line-up and a fairly recent (May) album. The title track, “The Boys Are Back,” is a gospel-tinged almost slow-motion rap written by country rebel Shooter Jennings. It’s a mission statement, catchy and repetitive that even digs up a Fleetwood Mac “Tusk” vibe toward the end.

Much of the album is composed of covers, and this isn’t the first time the Boys have ventured there. One of my favorites from 2002’s compilation When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear is their “Carry On Wayward Son.” Here the Boys shine on stuff as arcane as John Hooker’s “Boom Boom” and Neil Young’s “Beautiful Bluebird.”

The true gem on The Boys Are Back is both surprising and surprisingly good – the Oak Ridge Boys take on “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. The Oaks use their versatile voices to replicate the bass and percussion that make the song so hot in any version. Amazing.

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Doris Danger Is Back

SLG, formerly Slave Labor Graphics, will be publishing Chris Wisnia's 96-page digest-sized comic, "Doris Danger Giant Monster Adventures," this November (Diamond Previews #SEP090572).

It features a cover by Shag, inks by Dick Ayers, and pin-ups of giant monsters by Arthur Adams, Mike Allred, Gene Colan, Peter Bagge, Ramona Fradon, Dave Gibbons, Russ Heath, Los Bros Hernandez, Mike Mignola, Tony Millionaire, John Severin, and Bill Sienkiewicz. And the inside of course is filled with the genius of Chris Wisnia.

An authentic rip-off of the Kirby-style giant monster genre, Doris Danger is a photo-journalist who, as a teen, was abducted by a giant monster! Ever since, she's had a burning desire to prove the existence of giant monsters, but has yet been unable to prove her beliefs and snap that indisputable photograph! Along the way, she has met many others who believe, as she does, in giant monsters! She has managed to convince many, foremost of them, her boyfriend, former astronaut Steve Wonder! And she has met many who doubt, try to disprove, or even lie, manipulate, and cover up evidence!

Join everyone's favorite Tabloid photo journalist as she encounters giggling scientists, a fezz-wearing cult, the Monster Liberation Army, FBI "G" Division, robots disguised as African tribesmen, actors disguised as robots, menacing mannequins, hillbillies, and GIANT MONSTERS!

Doris Danger crosses the X-Files with the famous Lee/Kirby giant monster comics (with a little bit of Godzilla thrown in for good measure) to create a fun and exciting read.

NOTE: This issue collects most everything from Doris's Tabloia Weekly Magazine appearances, Doris Danger Seeks... Where Giant Monsters Creep and Stomp!, Doris Danger Greatest All-Out Army Battles, Doris Danger in Outer Space, and Doris Danger Seeks... Where Urban Creatures Creep and Stomp! But SMALLER THAN EVER (digest-sized 5"x7 1/2")! It's a "MUST-HAVE!"

Get it here!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jim Carroll 1950-2009

Wow. This one is going to be hard. I've done a lot of these types of entries this year, but Jim Carroll was a hero of mine.

I don't remember how I first got turned on to Jim Carroll's "The Basketball Diaries," but I read that book ragged, and after that "Living at the Movies" got me interested in poetry as more than a hobby. I remember the girl I was dating who told me he was also a singer and that opened up a whole new world for me. "People Who Died" resonated strongly for me as so many in the song were also in his written work. In the years that followed I devoured his albums and books.

Jim Carroll - writer, pioneer, musician, poet, memoirist, actor, performer, voice of a generation, hero - passed away this past Friday night from a heart attack. He will be missed, terribly.

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More of the Same, Just Earlier

I just finished watching the first episode of the new prime time version of "The Tonight Show," um, I mean "The Jay Leno Show." I was unimpressed. I wish I wasn't, but that was how I saw it. It's just more of the same stuff we were getting at 11:30 three months ago.

There's literally nothing new here. I still wouldn't tune in for Jay Leno, no offense, he's just not that funny for me, but rather for his guests. And if Jay continues to softball the guests, especially when they are Twitter of-the-moment hot like Kanye West - what's the point really?

A few comments about tonight's episode... I gotta give props to Dan Finnerty, but really, when isn't he entertaining? Still, I like him better doing covers, but that's just me. I want the desk back. Jerry Seinfeld certainly is fighting a losing battle against male pattern baldness, but he's still funny. I kinda liked the Obama bit but I was sad that Jay stooped to stealing two decade old Weird Al MTV bits. And speaking of MTV and the VMAs, as heartfelt and sincere as Kanye's apology was, I think he could have rehearsed it more. And killer performance by Kanye, Jay-Z and Rhianna.

If you liked Jay at 11:30, you'll love him an hour and a half earlier, just don't expect any surprises.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Patrick Swayze Passes Away at 57

After a long public battle with cancer, actor Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with his family at his side.

Swayze had a long and memorable career in such films as Ghost, The Outsiders, Red Dawn, Point Break, To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and Road House, but will probably be most remembered as playing opposite Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing.

He had most recently completed the first season of "The Beast," a TV series for A&E. Swayze was also an accomplished dancer and singer - both talents were also highlighted in the aforementioned Dirty Dancing. He was 57 and will be missed.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Ghost Town

Ghost Town ~ David Koepp has written some amazing movies, some of my faves like the most recent Shadow flick and the first Spider-Man, but for the most part he leaves me cold. The last Indiana Jones movie and the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds spring immediately to mind. So it’s with trepidation I watched Ghost Town which he wrote and directed.

Alternately I love Ricky Gervais, but only from his standup and especially HBO’s “Extras.” Don’t even ask about “The Office.” I have yet to be able to sit through an entire episode of either series from either side of the Atlantic. Some folks love it, but it continues to elude me.

Ricky however, completely carries this film. Without him and his caustic personality this would be a painful and unfunny Lifetime reject of a telemovie. This comedic play on the concept from The Sixth Sense wears pretty thin without him to hold it together. I’ve never seen Greg Kinnear more annoying, and Tea Leoni’s talents are wasted in her role.

To me, there’s no secret why this heartless comedy that tries too hard and is a tad bit predictable bombed at the box office. Worth a look only for Ricky Gervais fans.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Quickies 9-7-2009

Extract ~ I really wanted to like this one, being such a big fan of Mike Judge’s Office Space, but no suck luck. This might have been good or maybe just looked good on paper, but on the screen this is a loser. Ben Affleck is interesting in the way he used to be in Kevin Smith movies but then he blows it by referencing himself as a character. This doesn’t work, but man, I wish it did.

Dark Manhattan/Underworld ~ This double DVD features two 1930s urban melodramas with all African-American casts. The second is better than the first, but together a great time capsule of the time and an underrated gem.

The Hole Story ~ A wannabe TV producer trying to sell his pilot manufactures a story where there is none. A great concept poorly executed, but worth a look.

The Inglorious Bastards ~ Also known as Deadly Mission and G.I. Joe, it should be known that the only thing this flick has in common with the new Quentin Tarantino film besides a similar title is that it occurs in Nazi-occupied France. Other than that this is just a pretty typical 1970s war movie about guys on a mission – in a DVD extra Tarantino even explains that for him and his friends, the term ‘inglorious bastards’ always means ‘guys on a mission.’ In fact, the DVD extra with Tarantino talking with this film’s director Enzo Castellari is probably more fun and more engaging than the movie itself.

Bohica: The Devil’s Film-Maker ~ I just bet this looked a whole lot better on paper than it does on the screen. And the music, a rip-off of the “Kolchak the Night Stalker” theme, is like a never-ending circle of Hell itself. That’s the real horror of this low-budget horror/comedy.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Return of the Giant Chicken from Mars

Monster X Strikes Back: Attack at the G8 Summit ~ If you’re going to make a sequel to one of the silliest kaiju eiga, and do it with a straight face, the best way is probably to just make a comedy. That’s what the producers of 2008’s Girara no gyakushû: Tôya-ko Samitto Kikiippatsu did with this insane sequel to 1967’s The X from Outer Space. No apologies, no explanations, just balls out screwiness with Guilala, the monster that looks like a giant chicken from Mars.

In the midst of the G-8 Summit in Japan, Guilala returns from space. There is no reference to the first movie despite the film’s title and the fact that the name (and the lame monster suit) has not changed. One of my favorite scenes comes when a little kid, looking like he walked right out of a 1960s Gamera flick, wanders into the military staging room and provides a name for the monster, insisting he needed one. Each of the G-8 members spends the rest of the film trying hair-brained scheme after hair-brained scheme in attempts to destroy the creature.

Silliness on a Spaceballs scale follows throughout, though the humor rarely reaches beyond the fifth grade or the 1960s. Even Guilala has a laugh while dancing around his small soundstage that he seldom leaves. Beat Takashi makes a crazed appearance as a Daimajin knock-off late in the film, but it’s well worth the wait.

This is more fun that it should be, and funnier than it deserves to be, but worth a peek for kaiju eiga fans – but remember, don’t take it seriously.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Alphabetical List of Would-Be Princes

The Alphabetical List of Would-Be Princes, by Fredric Joss Shelley

"Even when you follow the rules you've set on yourself, you have no idea who you will eventually fall for or why those rules no longer apply."

Jack Bradley has lived a life of order - from neatly arranged sock drawers to alphabetically-memorized shopping lists. Even his chance encounters with "would-be princes" happen to be occurring in alphabetical order. First Aaron, then Ben, and so on...

This is the story of one bachelor with twenty-six possibilities, from A to Z.

The Alphabetical List of Would-Be Princes is a heartwarming novel about wanting to hold on and learning to let go; looking for love and allowing love to find you; and figuring out the rules and knowing when to break them. With the help of enduring friendships and a few random guiding voices, Jack learns to navigate his way through the alphabetical list in the hopes of finding his prince and a happily-ever-after to call his own. This inventive, inspiring tale will take you on an unforgettable journey full of amorous pursuits, zinger-spouting friends, and all the letters in between.

The Alphabetical List of Would-Be Princes

Get it at Lulu and Amazon.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Nurse Jackie, Nurse Jackie

It’s been a couple weeks since the season finale of Showtime’s brilliant “Nurse Jackie,” and something has been bugging me about the ending/cliffhanger. I finally realized what it is. It’s “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”

The popular but only one season long series created by Norman Lear and starring Louise Lasser ended with the star in the nuthouse, rocking back and forth, repeating her name over and over just like the title of the show, "Mary Hartman... Mary Hartman... Mary Hartman... Mary Hartman..."

What is significant is that none of the dangling plotlines or cliffhangers were ever really resolved. Yes, the series was revisited, without Lasser or her title character, a year later with much the same cast in less popular “Forever Fernwood,” but as I said, much was left unresolved.

This is why I’m worried about “Nurse Jackie.” Things came crashing in, conflicts came to a head, the lead character’s life literally hit a dead end. Will her drug induced state send her into a coma from which she’ll emerge later with no repercussions? I hope not. Time will tell. Either way I’m glad such an amazing show has been renewed. Let’s hope Edie Falco fares better than Louise Lasser.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

District 9

District 9 ~ Despite what one might think, there’s not a lot of shaky cam going on here, but it has all the intensity of those types of films. While this scifi flick from Neill Blomkamp starts off with documentary news footage style and seems to be an Apartheid analogy (even though the ‘A’ word is never mentioned) it fairly quickly and dramatically becomes something else entirely.

Decades ago a gigantic spaceship enters the atmosphere and hovers fixed over Johannesburg. The alien population on board is brought down and placed into a tent community until it’s decided what to do with them. The integration doesn’t go well until the present when the South African government basically determines to put the aliens into what are basically concentration camps. Documentary cameras accompany the ‘eviction’ of the aliens.

Non-actor Sharlto Copley plays the patsy in charge of the operation. At first an extremely unlikable character, when he discovers an alien device the movie charges into overdrive. Over the course of the film he becomes not only sympathetic, but also turns in an amazing acting tour-de-force, despite most of his performance being ad-libbed. And when we finally start to see the aliens’ story from their point of view, it becomes a whole new movie.

District 9 is equal parts Alien Nation, Enemy Mine and David Cronenberg’s The Fly. It’s a story of survival, triumph and trust with a very intense ending. There’s even better mecha action than either of the Transformers movies. This is must see.

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