Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jack Kerouac's Girlfriend Interviewed at the Kerouac House

In 2010 one of Jack Kerouac's girlfriends, Joyce Johnson, visited the small College Park Cottage where Jack wrote "The Dharma Bums." Jack and his mother rented the back rooms in those days. "Listen Joyce," he wrote from Orlando to his girlfriend in New York City on a winter day in 1957. He had big news. He was tearing along on a new novel, "greater than 'On the Road'." he wrote. It would be called The Dharma Bums, and he described gazing up at the stars over Florida for inspiration about how to wrap it up. Joyce recalled, "I thought I'd never met anyone who'd lived with more absolute freedom … A need to keep moving, as if whenever he stayed anywhere too long, he exhausted the present by soaking it in too intensely."

Several college students were filming a documentary about the legendary "Beat Generation" author. David Amram, a musician who also knew Jack was there to be interviewed as well. "Jack had a kindness and devotion to writing." Amram explained. "He was always listening and watching like a great reporter. He was always writing epiphanies and inner feelings." "By your words ye shall be known." Yet for many Kerouac remains an enigma. Local news journalist and writer Bob Kieling has researched Kerouac for years, while writing about Kerouac's Orlando connection. New material always surfaces. While in Orlando, "On the Road" was published and suddenly Kerouac was famous. Kerouac's life spun out of control and he drank himself to death in 1969 at the age of 47. "How shall we pass most swiftly from point to point, and be present always at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in their purest energy. To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life." wrote Walter Pater. The key of course is to not burn out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kerouac House Yard Sale Raises Money for the Resident Author Project

The Kerouac Project hosts resident authors every few months in the house where Jack Kerouac wrote the Dharma Bums and where he was living with his mom when On the Road became a best seller putting him on the literary map. Jack really couldn't handle the fame and he ended up drinking himself to death at a very young age. Jack is a writer who burned bright and was insanely prolific.

The Kerouac Project is a grassroots local organization hat purchased the College park home and maintains it for resident authors. The author get to live rent free with all expanses paid giving them the freedom to truly focus on their writing. The present author is Anne Marie Ni Churreain. She hails from the North-West of Ireland. Her work has appeared in various journals such as Poetry Ireland Review and The London Magazine. Anne Marie is the co-founder of the Upstart Arts Collective. I met Anne at a recent potluck dinner held in the Kerouac House. She comes from an incredible family with so many siblings that she can't even be sure of the number. Her father was raised in an orphanage and so the home is filled with multicultural foster children along with her actual biological siblings. At home she is seldom alone, so the Kerouac House is a very different setting.

Once a year the Kerouac Project asks people to donated items for a Yard Sale. This is an awesome place to find books since these folks actually read printed books. Terry always finds some item she can't live without and I relax in a lawn chair to get a sketch. Proceeds from the yard sale help keep authors coming to Orlando. Caitlin Doyle, who was a resident author last year has returned to Orlando to get away from the constant cold in Milwaukee. This is a testament to the warm reception writers get when they call Orlando Home. She will be going for her doctorate degree so that someday she will find a secure university position with tenure while she continues to write her poetry. Conversations at a Kerouac House potluck get intense, ranging from domestic violence to the state of art in America today. With enough wine, we just might solve the world's problems.

Mark Your Calendar! On Wednesday October 22, at noon, there will be a dedication ceremony at the Kerouac House (1418 Clouser Ave, Orlando, FL), commemorating the houses recent induction into the Florida Historic Marker Foundation. Local Newscaster Bob Kealing discovered this homes tie in to the author of On The Road as he was researching an article commemorating the posthumous 75th birthday of Jack Kerouac.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Trinity Ecology Mosaic Was Created as a Cummunity Project

Lynn Tomlinson supervised the creation of a huge multi-paneled mural for the Trinity Prep School. Students helped to decide what element should be on each panel. Parents and students helped with the grouting. On this day grout had to be wiped off of the mosaic to show more of the ceramics. People came in shifts to help out. When I got to Trinity Prep, I had to ask around to find the classroom where all the creation was happening.

Some panels were on tables being grouted and these panels in the sketch were leaning against the wall to be cleaned. Volunteers and Lynn wiped away grout to showcase the colorful ceramics. All of the birds and animals in the mosaic are native to Central Florida. Some of the leaf shaped ceramics had the names of contributors enscribed. This was a labor of love with everyone lending a hand.

Unfortunately Lynn and her family have left Central Florida to go to Baltimore, so it is unlikely that we will be seeing any more of her mosaics lightening up the walls around town. I always seem to reporting on amazing talents that are leaving or have left Orlando.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Alice Takes Wonderland Rehearsal

Linda Elchak of NAO Dance choreographed Alice Takes Wonderland in 2010. The production was staged in a warehouse on Hanging Moss Road in Winter Park. It was clear that the curtains had just been hung from the rafters. This was a playful production with bright costumes and props. The production encouraged improvisational dance, so every rehearsal and production was unique. Dancers could break away from any structured mold to express themselves in the moment.

The rehearsal involved a complete run through of the show. The stage was barely elevated which meant that people sitting in the front row were right on top of the action. There was less of a performer to audience disconnect. Props were simple, direct and fun. like rabbit ears, a clock, and suitcase. The magic came from the performances which were playful and fun.

With dance, I like to get the sketches done and then relax and simply enjoy the movement on stage. The front entry foyer was converted into the Mad Hatter's tea party and guests got to be part of the immersive experience. Since this production I've never heard about this space being used again. The space must have returned to its industrial origins.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bike Polo Requires Xtreem Sport Dexterity

On June 5th, I went to Langford Park (1808 East Central Blvd Orlando FL), around 6pm to watch an Orlando Bike Polo match. Not everyone had arrived yet so the bikers sat and talked. They flipped their bikes over and tuned them. The front wheels on several bikes had the spokes covered which I imagine is to keep the ball from passing through. Each contestant had a mallet which was long enough to reach the ground and was often used as a kick stand by the goalies who kept their feet on the peddles.

Once enough players arrived the split up into two teems with three bikers per team. The action is fast and furious. One of the younger bikers was working on a hopping maneuver to change directions.  He would stop and balance the bike in location and then hop up and down to change directions. Crashes were quite common. One wheelie resulted in the bike flying out from under the rider who landed hard on his tailbone. Another biker skidded into the fence inches from me. At the start I asked if I'd be out of the way leaning against the fence. As a spectator however, you are better off standing, so you can jump out of the way in case of a headlong crash.

As the first match was winding down, more bikers arrived to play in the second match. These Bike Polo matches happen every Friday starting around 6pm. Stop out to watch or play sometime. This is a unique urban experience.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks for October 18 and 19

Saturday October 18, 2014
1pm to 3pm Free. Family Days at the Maitland Museum. Maitland Art Center, 231 Packwood Avenue West, Maitland, FL. Gather your family for an afternoon of quality time together at the A&H's Family Days at the Museum! The program is FREE! Family Days at the Museum is held on the 3rd Saturday of every month, and each program is held in a different location within the A&H Museums. Join us for this afternoon of family fun!

5pm to 8:15pm Free. Woman of Wonder 2. Coliseum of Comics - Fashion Square Mall 3201 E Colonial Dr #M-11, Orlando, Florida. All ages mixer Celebration and Benefit for Women's Residential and Counseling Center.
Silent auction of original Wonder Woman art
Silent auction of Wonder Woman collectibles
Local and national artists (Artist Alley)
Wonder Woman Children FacePaint

9:30pm to 11:30pm Grab a drink or some Tapas. Son Flamenco. Ceviche Tapas Orlando, 125 W Church St, Orlando, FL. Hot blooded Flamenco Dancing.

Sunday October 19, 2014
10am to 2pm Free. V2lab's - The Zombie Meat (Mystery Meat 3). Downtown Orlando 201 S Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida. I / V2lab would like to make this a Halloween event; So if possible come dressed as a zombie (#zombiemeat)! And as always this is an all ages event and everyone is welcome no matter what you drive (or if you have to walk...or ride a bike..or crawl...?). We'd also like to get the vendors (when released) to pass out candy to kids as well!

Noon to 5pm Grab a beer. Sunday's with Smiling Dan. The Falcon Bar & Gallery, 819 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL. DJ music for the afternoon.

9pm to 11pm Free. Solo Acoustic Spoken Word. Natura Coffee & Tea, 12078 Collegiate Way, Orlando, FL. 407 482-5000

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Marilyn Monroe zombie leaves a sweet musty smell in City Arts Factory.

I had to drop off some cards for Barbara Hartley at City Arts Factory (29 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL). The place according to the website is usually closed on Monday but on this Indigenous People's Day it was open because artists were dropping off their work for the Day of the Dead show happening in October.

While I was chatting with Tr3 Mark Harris at the front desk, Paul Joachim walked in. Paul sculpts life sized chocolate sculptures.  Paul had dropped off a life sized Marilyn Monroe zombie sculpture and he wanted to touch up he paint job. The sign next to her read, "Do not touch. Do not eat." Which is very ironic since there were plenty of open bite wounds causing her to bleed red syrup. An exposed bone was visible on her left shin. Denna Beena told Paul that every guy who viewed the sculpture thought she might be having her period. Paul had considered making a small card to put under her dress that said,Hard Rock "You should be ashamed of yourself." He thought better of it.

Paul had done a clean sculpt of Marilyn and then he added the gouges, blood and pasty purple skin tone. When he was working on her face he had to walk a fine line, making her look like Marilyn but dead. A huge bite out of her right cheek exposed her jaw bone and she was missing some teeth. There was an amazing synergy between Marilyn's mouth and Andrew Spear's mural behind her. Both pieces of art treated the female sumptuous lips and teeth with loving detail.

Paul told me that the drive to City Arts Factory with the sculpture in the back of the truck was harrowing. Orlando's cobble stone streets sent her dancing and shimmying in the back of the truck, Thankfully she didn't topple over. After this show , Paul hopes that Hard Rock Cafe might inherit Marilyn for next year's Halloween season. Halloween Horror Nights might be another home for her. I was surprised to find out that chocolate keeps rather well. It gets harder with age.

Mark Your Calendar! CityArts Dia de los Muertos and Monster Factory Exhibit is opening tonight, October 16th 6-11pm.  Phantasmagoria will be there to entertain and amaze and there will be a Day of the Dead Parade with larger than life sized skeletons. The show will remain up through November 14th.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sin is in at the Venue.

7 Deadly Sins is an original work that combines contemporary dance, visual art, performance art, poetry, music and culinary art to examine topics of temptation and sin. Lust, pride, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy and greed come together to entice audience members through an interactive art gallery setting. Featuring performances by Emotions Dance Company, visual art by award winning body painter and Skin Wars Season 1 2nd place finalist, Shannon Holt, visual art by award winning body painter, Brit Lytle artwork by Patrick Fatica, Amanda Panacea, Scott Sharky Hodges, Thomas Thorspecken, Adrian Calle and others, spoken word performances by E.J. Younes, Jesse Bradley, and Ashley Equality Inguanta, aeral performances by The American Circus Arts Academy, and a variety of refreshments from local food vendors to satisfy your inner glutton.

Performances are on:
Friday October 17
Saturday October 18
Friday October 24
Saturday October 25

7-10pm  at The Venue (511 Virginia Drive. Orlando FL)
Tickets $25 at The Door.
This program contains some mature themes and may not be appropriate for children under 13.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Being a victim at Petrified Forest

Sylvia Katherine Viles the show director at Petrified Forest let me stop in for a walk through. I arrived early along with the cast who had to get into costumes and make up. In order for me to blend in on the trail as I sketched, Sylvia suggested I get into costume and makeup myself to become a victim on the trail as I sketched. A victim is just as important as a scare actor in that they distract the unsuspecting so that the scare isn't anticipated.

I realized that I had enough time to sketch as all the actors lined up to get their make up done. This was face painting triage style with each painting job taking 10 minutes to do at most. Like a barber, some face painters liked to chat with the actors as they worked. The lead makeup artist might shout out "That is enough, on to the next!" To all an actor to the makeup chair the artist would shout out, "Next victim?" One actor was leaning back in the makeup chair and he lost his balance toppling backwards. Another actor asked for my help because he couldn't find his glasses. I scoured the ground and was just about to give up when I spotted the glasses under the makeup table.

I was the last person to get make up applied. I asked what type of paint was being used but didn't get an answer. The actor next to me explained that baby oil was best for taking off thick stage makeup. I froze as the first cool blast of paint darkened my eye sockets. The spray paint smelled toxic to me or at least that is what ran through my paranoid thoughts. I tried not to breath but couldn't hold my breath long enough. I breathed through my mouth each time I needed another breath of air. I was told I only needed to look dirty and weathered. I was being spared from being bloodied. Apparently blood is rather sticky and they didn't want it to get all over my drawing. At first glance, I looked a bit like a reptile.

Actress Tara Rewis walked me back through the maze of pallets and fencing to where she was staged. I decided that the haunted school bus was the perfect spot to sketch. My costume consisted of a simple jacket that seemed as if it was from the Civil war era. It had on big brass button. The rest of my clothing was all black that night which was perfect camouflage for the evening.

Sylvia shouted, 10 minutes to house open!" The professional actors in the group shouted back, "Thank you 10!" Before the actors all took their places there was a pep rally in the front staging area. Standing on a picnic table, Kimmy Clark shouted out, "Boo Rah!"  Everyone shouted back, "Boo Rah!" This was repeated until the woods were filled with the shouting. Actress Carol Jacqueline Palumbo walked me back to the school bus where she was working along with 2 young girls, Madison in a white dress and Jordyn in a red dress, Ken was inside the bus and he gave the guests the biggest scare. He was hidden behind one of the seats and he would shout out, "What are you doing on my bus!" Strobe lights blinded people and he had a creepy photographers studio set up with an umbrella to deflect the light. any model that volunteered might not survive the photo shoot.

Carol lay on top of a shopping card looking dead as her scarf draped down to the ground. One couple stopped to look at her for several minuted waiting for her to blink. Amazingly Carol kept her cool until the guest were distracted and they went into the bus. Madison kept stopping over to see how the sketch was progressing. She seemed quite amazed and entertained. Jordyn is the daughter of Nichole Scott. I met Madison when I sketched the auditions for the Forest. Everyone in the bus staging area were made to look like burn victims. Creepy dolls were strewn about. The girls often implored trail gusts to play with them. "You would make a good dolly." they might say. A camp fire emitted a warm glow and there was a toilet which was often used as a thrown. We knew that any time we heard a band saw that the guests were about to enter our area. Madison and Jordon would scramble back to their staging areas to be ready. Once Madison tripped on a root in her haste. Jordan had an allergic reaction of some sort from the bug spray or make up. Imaginary horrors became real. I was terrified that mosquitoes might eat me alive, but I survived.

Tara told me that even as I sat still, some guests would be frightened by my presence. She was right. I laughed each time someone turned with a start. I must have a creepy laugh. I was hidden behind the door that leads into the bus area. I stared opening the door towards me which I imagined might create a ghostly feel as people entered. When the sketch was done, I had t walk the trail to find my way out. I caught up to two ladies being walked through the trail along with Elaine, one of the face painters. Suddenly Elaine was lifted up by a cast member and she screamed as he dragged her away like a cave man. The women shouted in terror as Sam screamed. I laughed out loud. It was definitely the bast scare of the night. Later the women ware reunited with their friend. They chastised her. She has an ongoing agreement with certain members of the cast that they can carry her away if she walks the trail.

When I got home, Terry looked puzzled by my appearance. I then walked towards my pet cockatoo and he let off a blood curdling scream and he fluttered away from me in terror. I would have to wash off the paint since he was so upset. We don't have any baby oil and Terry experimented with her body lotions and then some Vaseline. Nothing worked to get the make up off. Ultimately I took a very long shower and using soap and a harsh luffa, I managed to remove the make up along with a top layer of skin as well.

Mark Your Calendar! You don't want to miss this attraction. It is located on S.R. 436, just 1/4 mile West of 17-92. Just look for the huge inflated black cat. 1360 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs, FL. You can get tickets online or at the Forest. Check their calendar to see which dates work for you.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Couples Cooking Competition gets agressive.

 The Couples Cooking Competition is a fast-paced, hands-on cooking competition designed to give couples the opportunity to test their skills for the chance to win fabulous prizes and the title of Orlando’s Top Culinary Couple. It is held at Aggressive Appliances, (617 Mercy Drive, Orlando, FL) which is right down the street from.

Presented by Edible Orlando and the Orlando Date Night Guide, the contest will give couples the chance to compete in one of the 3 qualifying rounds, with one winner from each semi-final cook-off advancing to the finals. Contests will be judged by local food personalities and writers like Katie Farmand, editor of Edible Orlando, Joseph Hayes, the Orlando Magazine dining editor, and Chef Israel from Second Harvest Food Bank.

Aggressive Appliances looks like an industrial warehouse from the outside, but inside, there were gorgeous, fully appointed, state of the art kitchens where the couples could compete. Each dish this evening had to include chicken. A table was set up that held key ingredients like spices and oils and a second table was covered with a cloth to hide the secret ingredient table. I decided to sketch kitchen 2 which came with a TV which was playing the cooking channel. The couple I sketched prepared a roasted chicken with a sweet potato chili hash. An appliance staff person was on hand in each kitchen to explain how to use the equipment. There was only one hour for the competitiors to get their dishes ready.

Only five couples get the chance to compete in each semi-final round.  On this evening there was going to be one winning couple and two wild card couples that would move up in the rankings. That made the chances of winning, 3 in 5. Each winning couple receives complimentary admission to the finals. The couples crowded around the ingredient table taking the supplies they needed for their recipes. Everyone was polite checking to be sure they weren't taking ingredients another couple might need. Two couples agreed to split the rice.

Prizes for the winning couple include, a two-night gourmet getaway to JW Marriott, Grande L There was no elbows or punches thrown. The contestants then returned to their kitchens to start slicing dicing and cooking. The showroom filled with sumptuous aromas. iPhones were allowed in this semi final round but in future competitions there would be no digital crutches. The couple I sketched did refer to their phones a few times. Dishes would be judged on presentation as well a flavor. One couple kisses when their dish was done.

The the overall winners will get dinner for two at PRIMO, breakfast each morning in Citron, An American Brasserie, and two spa passes to the Ritz-Carlton Spa. Other prizes include a Sub Zero wine cooler, Tassimo coffee, system, Meile canister vacuum, KitchenAid stand mixer.  Arti Kalidas and Chirag Kabrawala won on this evening with their twist on a Moroccan tagine.

Proceeds from the competition support Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Entry includes all food, sit-down dinner with wine after competition and a fabulous swag bag filled with surprises. In other words, everyone is a winner. I went home and popped a frozen lasagna in the microwave for 10 minutes.

Mark Your Calendars!
The next competition qualifying round is Friday, October 17, 2014 and it is sold out.
The big Final Round is Friday, November 14, 2014 (A limited number of tickets will be made available to those wishing to attend the finals as an observer. These tickets will go on sale Oct. 20)