Monday, October 31, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse


Lindsay arrived at her job as a waitress at Austin's Coffee. She had been held up in traffic crawling down I-4 and her forehead was pounding with a migraine. Running late, she ran to the bathroom and quickly changed into her uniform. She slipped on her black blouse with its snappy white collar then worked the aqua crinoline skirt up over her hips. She had recently washed a coffee stain out of her white frilly apron. She checked herself in the mirror and brushed a bleached blonde curl away from her face.

No one paid attention to the local news playing in the kitchen. A perky newscaster announced, "Patient zero went viral at 6 p.m." Lindsay clicked it off and turned the Radio Dial until she found Johnny Cash. Austin's was packed. Young hipsters sat in booths mesmerized by their computer screens. She took an order for some ice cold coffees not b0thering to look up from her pad. Then out of the corner of her eye she saw someone enter who was different somehow. The girl wore a pair of cut up jeans and a black bra. She looked like a 60's flower child but she was a bit rough around the edges. She limped in and stiffly sat at a round table in the front of the room. "Great." Lindsay thought, "This one isn't going to be a good tipper." Lindsay approached and pulled the spiral bound note pad out of her waist. She pulled the pencil out from behind her ear, licked the lead and rested the sharp tip on the page. "Well, What'll you have?" she said with bored contempt.

The customer had a musky dead rat smell. "Don't hippies take showers anymore?" she thought. Lindsay tried to be polite but she raised her hand up to her nose. She suddenly realized the customer's left cheek was missing. The teeth were clenched and exposed. Suddenly the customer lunged at Lindsay and quickly grabbed her wrist. She screamed and pulled violently back and she heard the bone in her forearm snap. She looked and saw the bone sticking out. Her shoe slipped off in the struggle. In horrific pain she continued to scream until her wind pipe was slit with a serrated knife. One customer looked up from his computer but lost interest in the struggle and returned to Facebook.

Her head dropped to the table. Blood gushed out ruining her uniform. Her eyes stared blankly forward as painful wet noises came from her open neck. A tear rolled from her terror stricken eye. The hippie zombie tried pulling strips of flesh from Lindsay's throat using a fork. The strips of flesh just dangled, never staying on the fork, like so much stubborn spaghetti. Frustrated, she threw the utensils to the floor and sank her teeth into Lindsay's open wound. She hunched over her prey like a lioness.

What she really wanted however was fresh and juicy brain. She smashed a plate on the table and used its sharp jagged edge to cut the curly blonde hair away from the top of her victim's head. She peeled the scalp away from the skull and let it hang down, dripping blood on the floor. She violently smashed the skull with a plate and once she had chipped a small hole in the skull she pushed her index finger inside and starting pulling chips away like she was digging into a large hard boiled egg. She slipped both hands inside the skull gently squeezing the brain as she lifted it out in one piece. The brain made an audible slurping noise as it was yanked free. She severed the spinal cord with her teeth, then she bit deeply into the soft thought filled mess. Blood oozed all over her face dripping down between her breasts.She ate the whole thing in a few very messy wet bites.

The other customers rose from their seats. Moaning, they approached the limp body now crumpled on the floor. All their hands reached out, hungry for fresh meat. A bit of frontal lobe was lying in a pool of blood in front of Lindsay's eyes. A customer lifted it up pinching it between his index finger and thumb with his pinkie raised. He slipped it to the back of his throat like a raw oyster. Dozens of hands searched and clawed ripping and tearing away the fresh pulsing flesh. Blood spurted and knees became soaked in the widening pool of blood.

The Sketchy Broads host a monthly sketching session at Austin's every month. Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Phantasmagoria

It would be a fiendish, horrific tragedy if you didn't get to see Phantasmagoria. Tonight is the final show starting at 8:30pm at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater's, Mandell Theater. I arrived early and started blocking in my sketch before the audience arrived. I love these final moments as the actors stretch, warm up and joke to break the tension. The actors gathered in a circle and held hands. Director, John DiDonna said, "Lets build a bridge to next year. Make these final performances fiendishly dangerous. See you on the other side guys." Brittany Wine shouted out, "Love you all!"

All the actors layed down on the floor and they were covered with black blankets. John warned, "We have a full house tonight with 98 people. Check your extremities, don't leave anything sticking out." A female voice boomed over the sound system, "Five minutes to house open." Members of the cast shot back, "Thank you five." The room grew deadly quiet and then the audience walked in to find their seats. One actor rose quietly, the blanket still covering him to strike a ringmasters theatrical pose. As the blankets were lifted off, the actors came to life in their costumes of blood red and black. The costumes designed by Jennifer Bonner were lavish and stunning. A scrim behind the actors often acted as a screen for projections of animations and titles.

Each of the acts were built around horrific folklore and poetry. Edgar Allen Poe's "Masque of the Red Death" resulted in the whole cast dancing, celebrating and then succumbing to the pestilence of the red death. No one was spared. Phantasmagoria was a whimsical and horrific poem by Lewis Carol.
“Allow me to remark
That ghosts have just as good a right,
In every way to fear the light,
As men to fear the dark.”
I enjoyed "The Picture of Dorian Grey". In this act a painter created a stunning portrait of Dorian Grey. When Dorian viewed the painting, he saw it morph, revealing his inner dark self. The picture took on a horrific visage because Dorian was morally bankrupt. In the end Dorian died taking on the horrible appearance in the portrait and the painting returned to its former splendor. A life sized skeletal puppet was used to portray his inner self to great effect.

Music of Eric Satie played during an elegant and beautiful aerial act. Tiny Gina Makarova performed on a suspended hoop while Mila Makarova and Dion Smith performed suspended in silks. Satie's music expressed the melancholy inner yearning of the creative spirit and the women floated weightless in its ethereal embrace.

The most stunning puppet was the Jabberwocky from Alice in Wonderland. An actor on stilts acted as the hind legs of the creature and a long silver spine snaked down from head to tail. The head was immense being controlled by a strong puppeteer. A small army was needed to control the beast. I wish I had been fast enough to get a sketch. This show is the perfect Halloween treat.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Second Life

As part of my required studies at Full Sail, I took a course on how Second Life might be integrated into course studies at Full Sail. Kristopher Newton introduced the course instructors to Second Life which is a virtual online world where people can create their own avatars. Amazingly people are selling virtual merchandise, real estate and art in this environment. Fifty five million dollars were generated last year, making it the fifth fastest growing economy in the world. Apparently pop singers and musicians release their songs in this virtual world to test their market. There are virtual galleries and museums where artists are selling their work. I imagine creating my own avatar that does what I do every day which is to draw. My avatar would enter a club, bar or concert hall, find a seat and sketch. I could become the Analog Artist in a Virtual World.

Kristopher actually created a virtual Full Sail campus modeled on the real life existing campus. When he started, he discovered that the polygon count had sky rocketed overnight. He explored his model and couldn't figure out what had happened. He finally discovered that someone had built an entire city above his campus and they had painted a sky below the base of the city so it was impossible to see. Kristopher dismantled the city, saving the parts he might be able to use in the future. He remains convinced that Second Life can be used as a teaching tool to get students to interact in new ways with the curriculum.

I decided to give Second Life a chance when I got home that night. I picked an avatar that had a backpack and hiking boots since that seemed the most practical options for exploring a new world. Being a robot or a pussy cat didn't appeal to me. I walked through the introductory rooms learning how to walk, sit, talk and fly, then I explored my first environment. The place was designed for social interaction among avatars just starting out in Second Life. My computer volume was down but I noticed people kept typing "Welcome Thor." I walked up to a balcony so I could overlook the club. I sat and imagined myself starting a sketch. Perhaps this was an answer to the conflicts that arise when I find myself sketching in the real world too often. I could be home every night documenting life in a virtual world, forever at my desk, available yet lost in thought.

Unfortunately Second Life is excruciatingly slow. I had to wait for all the other people in the room to materialize and walking around was an awkward process making my Avatar look like he was ice skating through quick sand. I kept flying into walls and falling from insane heights. In the end, I became bored and shut off my computer so I could explore my one and only life.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yelp Event at the Polasek

Yelp held an event at the Albin Polasek Museum for active Yelp reviewers. When I pulled in, I noticed cars parked on the grass lawn so I parked beside them. When I walked towards the building I noticed that there was valet parking available. The young woman at the reception table looked up my name and made up my name tag. Inside an artist was painting a portrait. Christine MacPhail, a harpist was playing just outside the back door. The sweet music drifted through the flower garden as the sun set. There was a food station set up with a delicious ravioli and pasta dish from Brio Tuscan Grill.

I needed my book light to sketch since it was soon pitch black outside. I kept layering on washes making my sketch darker and darker. Inside the museum there was a show of Soviet propaganda art. Socialist Realism was established in 1934 and lasted through the Cold War. The artists were required to communicate the ideals of Revolutionary Socialism and social responsibility to the citizens. Artists were able to travel the world and were paid handsomely. Their oraznization was called "The Workers of the Revolutionary Poster."

One poster that caught my eye was done in 1961, the year I was born. Castro stood heroically in the foreground with excited citizens cheering all around him. The poster read, "The People of Cuba are Undefinable!" 1961 was the year of the Cuban Missile crisis. The world was almost thrown into nuclear war as America and the Soviets faced off. I am amazed my parents were willing to bring a new life into a world on the brink of total annihilation.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

iLife

I found out that I have to take 10 hours of courses at Full Sail before December which is the month I was hired. The list of class offerings was rather limited and since I have to rush to get the credits, I ended up taking a course on iPhoto and iMovie. Course instructors are all given an Apple laptop but I am a lowly Studio Artist so I was never issued an Apple. I showed up for the class with my Motion Computing tablet PC but all the programs discussed were written strictly for the Apple.

Both programs are fairly simple to use. Three other instructors were taking the course with me. I am used to doing video editing using Adobe Premiere Pro. Since I use this comprehensive program, I doubt I will ever see a need to use iMovie. Exporting the movie so it is formatted for uTube is a nice feature however. iPhoto can remove red eye but I have Photoshop which can do so much more. Apple does integrate all the programs nicely so a beginner can organize all their photos and videos easily. Facebook could learn a thing or two about elegant programing from iLife.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Arts Matter

Sea World hosted the annual A+ Awards from United Arts. The awards were created by United Arts professional grant recipient, Robin Maria Pedrero. This is the The Arts+ Awards 10th year. When I arrived, Mark Baratelli of the Daily City was being interviewed by Peter Murphy in the entry to Ports of Call where the reception was happening prior to the ceremony. I had to duck and cover to get around the TV camera crew. As patrons of the arts mingled, drank and ate, a huge seal started to bark. Mark posed with the seal who was trained to remain still as photos were shot.

Between awards presentations, there were performances by MicheLee Puppets, the Reps Power Chords, Voci Dance and the Bach Festival Society. Margot Knight will be leaving United Arts of Central Florida to move to a position in California. When she walked to the podium she got a standing ovation. Mark Baratelli was nominated for the Collaborative Partnership award, but he lost to the MicheLee Puppets.

The theme of "The Arts Matter" was reenforced throughout the evening. Patients who are offered to create art while Undergoing chemo-therapy often say they notice pain far less. There is a direct correlation from studies that students who are offered art in schools tend to get better grades. We don't need students who want to spit back established answers, We need students who think creatively.

It was an entertaining evening which offered new leads as I search for my next sketch able arts organizations.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Divorce Court

As I write this, I'm in New Orleans in a suit and tie ready to go to a lavish wedding... Ron and Maisy Marrs were seated in the waiting room for courtroom 16E. They had gotten up before the sun rose so they could get through the courthouse security and be ready for their divorce hearing at 8:30am. When I walked in they were already calmly seated together in the crowded waiting room. Maisy was reading the divorce papers. I grabbed the last remaining seat in the room, directly across from them. Then we all waited. Court officers disappeared into the courtroom door beside me.

Finally an officer opened the courtroom door and called in the first couple. They had arrived late and were seated out in the hallway. When they exited the courtroom they looked relieved. I raised my fists in mock celebration and Maisy & Ron laughed. The next couple called in was late as well. I suggested to Ron & Maisy that they should move out into the hallway if they ever wanted to be called into the courtroom.

When they finally were called in, I joined them. The judge asked why I was in her courtroom. Ron blurted out that I was there as a witness. I was blocking in a sketch already but I knew from the preceding couples that the hearing wouldn't last more than 5 minutes. I was thankful I wouldn't have to go on the witness stand. Ron was seated at what is traditionally the defendant's table and Maisy sat at the prosecutor's table. The judge asked Maisy why they were getting divorced. "Irreconcilable differences." Maisy said. I was impressed, a very lawyerly response. "That isn't a reason" the Vulcan judge responded. "Well, we aren't in love anymore." Maisy shot back. "That is a feeling not a reason. The court needs a logical reason for your divorce." I felt bad for Maisy, she hadn't thought to bring along any solid evidence or proof. It suddenly seemed that this divorce might not be granted. Ron stepped in and saved Maisy. "She is going to move to California and I am staying in Orlando." he said. "That makes sense, now, was that so hard?" she said. "Have all your finances been arranged?" "Yes." Ron responded. With that settled, the judge announced that their marriage was dissolved. They still had to do some paperwork, but they were now divorced.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sketchy Todd

The Sketchy Broads, Lindsay Boswell and Jenny Coyle held a sinister sketch session for local artists at Austin's Coffee (929 West Fairbanks Avenue). I arrived right after work and ordered an ice cold Yak coffee. I found a seat in a movie theater seat facing the front door. Lindsay arrived shortly after and I helped her move some furniture around. I let her set up the fancy photo lights and backdrop. Slowly artists arrived. As the models were doing quick three minute poses, I focused on blocking in the whole scene.

One artist arrived dressed in a suit of purple armor. He had pointy ears and wore dark sunglasses. His long dark hair flowed over his shoulders. A large bongo drum was slung over his shoulder in a satchel. His name was Konrad McKane and he was portraying a character he created from a graphic novel called Alkaya, the legend of Empyro. He sat on a cushy red couch to sketch. I have to find out where he performs on that drum so I can sketch him in action.

After this pose with the bloody knife, Jenny cut her thumb as she was putting the dull blade away. It turned out that the corner of the blade near the base was still sharp. She calmly washed the wound in the kitchen and waited for a band aid. I cringed, watching the blood pool up in her cupped hand. These two will go to any length to achieve bloody accuracy with the characters they portray. They offer blood sweat and tears every month for our sketching pleasure. At last my arm is complete again.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mennello Museum Mural Unveiling

So many things had to fall into place for the Unveiling of the mural. I ran to Sky Craft to get 80 alligator clips which would hang the original sketches done of each person in the line. I also managed to forget the power cord to my tablet PC in the classroom at Full Sail. I drove over there and thankfully Nina had the keys to get me into the room. I was a sweaty mess after running all over town but I arrived at the museum an hour earlier than expected. This gave me plenty of time to set up. I borrowed a folding table from the museum's garage and set it up under the tent I had used as shelter from the sweltering sun the entire time I worked on the mural. I hung many of the original studies, clothes line style on the iron gates around the museum. Kim Robinson let me borrow some nice folding walls on which I hung a dozen more sketches.

I set up a printer and the tablet so I could make prints for people on demand. Anyone who posed for the mural could get a free print of the sketch done of them. The originals were all on sale for $50 each. I made a few prints of the whole line as well. As I was finishing getting everything in place, Terry arrived to help out. She assisted me as I duct taped down electrical cords so no one would trip. It was a cloudless beautiful day in the low 80's. I couldn't have asked for a more picture perfect night.

When everything was in place, I started the sketch. The first people to arrive were volunteers for the museum. I sketched them quickly in front of the mural. Soon there was a steady stream of people and I explained over and over again how the idea of the mural had been generated. Genevieve Bernard and I visited a high school art class in Narcoossee and asked the students what they felt defined Orlando. One girl said she was always standing in long lines when she went to clubs downtown. We spent the rest of the class discussing who stands in lines and why. A Facebook event page invited people to come to the museum to be drawn in the line. Over 64 people from all walks of life came to be sketched. At the unveiling many of the people who modeled returned wearing the same clothes they posed in. It was fun taking pictures with the models next to their depiction on the wall. All the photos made the mural an interactive experience. The evening was a whirlwind as I made prints, finalized sales and socialized non-stop.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spirit Halloween

I had planned to sketch a dance rehearsal but the instructor was sick and I didn't get the note. On the drive home, down Colonial, I saw a large sign for Spirit Halloween ( Colonial Promenade 4628 E Colonial Dr.) I turned into the shopping complex. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I decided to see how many people were shopping for costumes this early in the month. I leaned back against a metal pillar in the store. Within a minute a store clerk asked if he could help me. I explained about the blog. He decided to get the manager. Betty Ruocco came out and said she was delighted to see how the sketch turned out.

In the center of the cavernous store was the "Spirit Playland." A large scary swing spun carnival like. Each swing held a different demonic baby. One baby held a human brain which it was eating and another baby was chewing on its own foot. A fortune teller booth had a red haired, green skinned baby whose head would periodically spin around, exorcist style. Many of the displays were large mannequins that were for people's front porches. One display had a telephone where people could scream into the receiver as they were threatened by Ghost face. Many people posed here for photos.

Little pads that said, "step here" were scattered in front of displays on the floor. One little boy must have assumed I was an employee because he kept asking me what would happen if he stepped on a pad. I would tell him what I had observed and then he would tentatively approach the display and step down. A ghoul rose from the grave growling with smoke wafting up over the tombstone. The boy screeched and ran away looking for his sister. He coached her to step down and then they both screamed. This game held an endless delight for them.

At the check out counter Betty rang a cow bell. Every time a customer bought a purple pumpkin or a brightly colored rubber wrist bracelet for a dollar, the cow bell was rung. All the money raised from those sales went to Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital. On October 18th Spirit Halloween employees are going to the hospital with costumes for the children to celebrate Halloween in style. Over 4.6 million dollars in cash and merchandise were donated to children's hospitals since 2007. What a great cause. Go down and keep that cow bell ringing!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The B52's at the Amway Center

It had been raining all day. I was putting finishing touches on an illustration for the Orlando Opera Theater Company when I got a text from Rick & Terry Loewen, "Free concert. B52's." I wrote back, "Your kidding! Now?". "Amway Center let them move the concert indoors. You guys need to come. We will save u seats." Terry was with Amanda watching "Ides of March." I texted her to let her know about the free concert. I was going to see the movie with them but I ended up driving to the wrong movie theater. When the movie was over (they didn't like it) Terry called and agreed to pick me up and rush over to the concert. The warm up band, Logan Belle, was just getting started.

We drove downtown in the pouring rain. Terry couldn't see the lines on the road and she kept slowing down. She took a wrong turn and we got lost on side streets. She missed a second turn to the road that lead to her office where we planned to use the parking garage. She did a U turn on Orange Blossom Trail and relocated the street. When we parked I fired off another text letting Rick and Terry know we were on foot. She let me know they were seated behind an orange Hooters table. When Terry and I stepped out into the deluge we heard a Train horn blast. There were train tracks between the parking garage and the Amway Center. We jogged towards the tracks. The barriers hadn't dropped yet. As we ran across the tracks the horn blasted again and we were blinded by the locomotive's light.

When we entered the Amway Center Terry had her purse checked. My sketchbook was tucked in my belt like a pistol. My pallet was in my rain jacket pocket. I wasn't frisked. My artists contraband made it through security. We asked several people where the Hooters table was and we were told we needed a wrist band. When we asked about a wrist band we were told we didn't need one. VIP's had seating on the floor for $150.We took an escalator to the second level then walked down to the floor. The place wasn't crowded. Half the VIP seats were empty. Rick and Terry waved to us and we grabbed our seats in the third row.

I started sketching as the B52's took to the stage. Our seats were on makeshift aluminum bleachers. Everyone was dancing and jumping up and down to the music. The bleachers rocked and swayed. I relaxed and let my lines flow with the turmoil. Terry shouted at a lady to sit down in front of us. Many of the early songs I didn't recognize. When the band began playing "Love Shack!" I knew my sketch was done. Terry and I agree that this is our song. We danced and shouted out the lyrics. I grabbed Terry by the waste and we bumped hips to the beat. I can check this item off my life list. I believe everyone should hear "Love Shack" performed live at least once in a lifetime. On the floor of the Center everyone continued to dance to "Rock Lobster".

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vampire's Ball

There was a media preview of Vampire Ball at the Orlando Ballet building near Lake Ivanhoe. I arrived a bit early and hung out with several reporters in the lobby. I looked down a long hallway which had a large puddle which was being mopped up. The building is below the water level of Lake Ivanhoe so the water keeps seeping in. At the top of the open staircase several young dancers were using the railing to balance as they stretched. I entered the room where the preview was being staged and I started blocking in the room before the reporters entered.

Robert Hill the Ballet's Artistic Director introduced the show. The choreography is all original as a matter of fact they are still polishing dances right up until the show opens. All of the dancers lined up chorus line style and each introduced themselves and said where they came from. The first dance had a Frankenstein theme. A dancer lay prone on a coffee table and the mad scientist brought him to life. Another dance had a sinister vampire who seduced his victims through dance. On the sidelines there was a large cast of dancers who watched as they stretched. They all came on stage for a huge zombie fight scene. The zombies fought as if in a neighborhood turf war.

Whenever I'm alone with you played and a young couple in love danced and embraced. All of the choreography was fluid, well staged and exciting. This was modern ballet with an edge. It was visceral and exciting. The Vampire's Ball is being performed October 21-23. This is a show I certainly don't want to miss.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apple Store Line

Terry suggested I go to the Millenia Mall to see if there was a line of people waiting for the latest iPhone release. I don't go to the mall very often so this was an adventure. I had been to the store before and I swore it was on the second floor. I walked the full length of the mall and had to double back. It was actually on the first floor and I had walked over it in the first five minutes of my quest. I decided to stay on the second floor and look down at the long steady line of people waiting. A brick of a security guard stood by, should any riots break out.

It was less than a week since Steve Jobs died. A storefront window was turned into a shrine. There were flowers and a small box of candy at the store's display window. Colorful stickie notes covered the glass with short notes like: "Keep thinking different." "RIP Steve, the world loves apples." "iCame, iSaw, iMiss you." As I sketched, two former students stopped to say hello. I asked Phil if he was here to get an iPhone. "Are you kidding? Those things cost like $400. I have a student loan to pay off!", he said. My old iPhone is working just fine. I will not upgrade unless the glass breaks or I drown it. The new iPhone apparently has loads of new features but I just need a phone that works, and sometimes I feel a little too connected. Most people I draw have their eyes plastered to that tiny screen. I want my eyes to keep taking in the bigger picture.

In 1984 Steve introduced the world to a new form of computer. I desperately wanted one of these early Macintosh's. Terry had a contest going at her new job at Shearson Lehman Hutton. If she brought in enough clients through cold calls, she could win a Macintosh. She worked incredibly hard in part because she knew I lusted for that machine. She got it. I used that tiny Mac to design a whole book, which I self published. I knew this new digital age would change everything. I still have that old tiny Mac. I brought it to Full Sail in Steve Jobs honor the day after he died. I plugged it in and the machine hummed to life sounding like a 747 after 20 years of hot storage in our garage. Terry and I have worked together to bring our dreams to life. Today is our 20th wedding anniversary. It was my dreams that brought us to Central Florida. Dreams change, but my hope for an ever brighter future never dies. "Maybe all the plans we made would not work out, but I have no doubt, even though it's hard to see. I've got faith in us and I believe in you and me."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tiberius Rex and Pixie Duste

Terry met me at Stardust Video & Coffee for Dustoberfest. The place was quiet and I had finished my first sketch. I warned Terry that Dustoberfest wasn't exactly a wild party. She had gotten dressed and insisted on stopping by. The food was actually really good. I ordered a Kielbasa with sauerkraut which came with an egg sunny side up and mashed potatoes. Washed down with a Hofbrau beer in a tall beer stein it was the perfect German meal.

When Terry arrived she got in line to order some food as well. In line she met Tiberius Rex and Pixie Duste who ordered before her. Instinctively she knew I couldn't resist sketching a vampire. She sent them over to my table. Tiberius introduced himself asking if I was the artist. I asked them to sit across from me and immediately started sketching. Tiberius's eyes were white with a black line surrounding the iris. It gave his gaze an unnerving snake like quality. He was the most amicable vampire I've ever met and he smiled so I could sketch his fangs. He was very proud of their gentle inward curvature. I admired his casket ring and magnificent snake's head walking stick.

Pixie Duste was far more demure. Her shock of jet black hair covered her eyes and her welders glasses had bold red Xs over the lenses. As I sketched her, Tiberius did a jig with his shoulders to the music keeping her amused. They were an adorable goth couple. When the sketch was done, Tiberius said, "Look, we truly are immortal now!" he laughed and gently kissed Pixie Duste. Pixie Duste unwrapped her blood red Tootsie pop and sucked on it. They reminded me of Terry and myself when we were first dating.

It was a crisp chilly October and we went to a Pumpkin Festival a few miles up the Hudson River from New York City. I was sketching the crew of the Clearwater, a Dutch Sloop and environmental group founded by folk singer Pete Seeger. The sloop still sails the Hudson River teaching children about life in the river. The Clearwater hosted a pumpkin sail every October sailing down river and selling pumpkins off town docks. Children crawled among the pumpkins playing and trying to pick the perfect pumpkin. Terry met me for this Pumpkin Festival and we spent a wonderful day together volunteering. For the first and only time in my life I painted a few children's faces. That evening there was a square dance and we danced the night away. We were infectiously in love and one woman actually asked Terry to tone down her "public displays of affection." I'm glad Terry laughed off the request, we kissed and hugged each other with abandon. Who cared what other people thought!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dustoberfest

When I heard about Dustoberfest my mind lit up with images of busty domineering German women serving tall steins of beer and bratwurst. I imagined a Tyrolean band with a tuba horn and accordion playing folk dances as a large crowd spun on the dance floor. When I got there, I did find Bratwurst on the menu but I was told they ran out of bratwurst and would have to substitute it with kielbasa. Being a homogenized American, I knew I probably wouldn't know the difference. The Stardust Video and Coffee (842 East Winter Park Road) staff was scrambling around in the kitchen. Most of the staff was in liederhosen. I ordered a Hofbrau German beer. When served, Ich sacht, "Danke."

I sat at the end of a long table made from antique doors with a thick layer of ocher varnish on top. Doug Rhodehamel, in liederhosen sat with friends and staff at a central table. Balloons and streamers in the colors of the German flag decorated the ceiling. One long yellow balloon with two red balloons at it's base was a bit suggestive. A little girl was dancing and playing in the room. A staff member went to cut off the long thin yellow balloon at the base but the whole clump fell down. The girl was ecstatic with her large bouquet of balloons. She proceeded to pop them causing every one in the quiet room to jump and shout "Woe!" There was some German music playing on the radio but it soon degenerated into modern pop. After several hours, Doug and other staff members changed out of their liederhosen.

So there was little pomp and circumstance, no polkas or twirling crowds but the food was good and the beer delicious. Friends talked the afternoon away as I sketched. Life was good.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Orlando

The Occupy Wall Street demonstration in NYC has caused similar demonstrations across the country. Occupy Orlando began at 8am on Saturday October 15th at the Orlando Chamber of Commerce. The protest's aim was to unite the 99% of Americans struggling to survive today's economy. The organizers asked people to come out not just as individuals but as participating citizens of society. I parked several blocks away expecting a large crowd. As I walked closer I heard the voices over loudspeakers. The crowd wasn't as large as I expected. There were perhaps a hundred people in the public park carrying signs and milling about. There were so many cameras that I thought the media accounted for a quarter of the people there.

I immediately focused on the group of people meditating. I set up my artist stool and started to sketch. As I got lost in the details I relaxed and the din of the demonstrators grew quiet. The first person at the mic was a singer who unfortunately sang off key. A woman running for public office spoke of the day she took her child to Lake Eola to watch as the people feeding the homeless there were arrested. Her little boy couldn't understand why people would be arrested for feeding the hungry. The surreal is common in the City Beautiful.

At one point I found a TV cameraman blocking my view. A microphone was shoved in my face and I was being asked questions about the demonstration. I guess when the media get desperate they interview the media. The reporter's questions were argumentative so I lost interest and returned to my sketch. He seemed to want to imply that a corporation's only responsibility is to the stock holders. But I'm a stock holder who is losing money. I side with the protesters since I undeniably make less money than I did before 9-11. There were conspiracy theorists behind the mic who I didn't quite follow. Of course with all the invitations of free speech, a man stood on a milk crate with a bible in his hand and he shouted hell and damnation.

I had to be at work by 1pm. I finished the sketch of the silent meditators and realized I had time for one more short sketch. I sat near a group of children painting bright signs with finger paint. A young girl was making a sign with sharpies on foam core board. The sign read..."Dumbeldore would be Disappoint." Did she run out of room on the sign or did the sign simply not make any sense? One sign I did like was, "We need more Jobs."

There was going to be a march downtown. I decided I had to leave in case the march shut down the street I was parked on. The demonstration felt unfocused and splintered. The demonstration was peaceful with an undeniable dissatisfaction in government and corporations. As I left people were still arriving. One guy shouted to me, "Hey, your going the wrong way!" There may hare been close to a thousand people ready to march through downtown. Part of me was angry as I drove to work on a Saturday. I had a headache. I had red sugar coated aspirin but no water. I popped two aspirin in my mouth. I couldn't swallow them. The sweet coating wore off quickly and the sharp sour aspirin taste kicked in. I shoved the aspirin under my gums and it dissolved slowly leaving a bad taste in my mouth for hours.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

County Morgue Make Up

We found a table at Antonio's across the street from Stardust. I ordered a pesto pasta dish that had absolutely no flavor. The place was getting packed. I sat across from Terry facing a wall. A table behind me filled up with zombies. I didn't know zombies ate spaghetti. Perhaps it wasn't spagetti hanging out of their bloody mouths. It might be veins or the flesh of the living. After our disappointing meal we walked out into the night. The undead were everywhere. A group of zombies stood outside the liquor store but the proprietor wouldn't let them in. The undead had to recruit the living to buy alcohol.

The corner of Corrine and Winter Park had three gas stations which separated and illuminated three large gatherings of zombies. The parking lot outside Park Avenue CD's had food trucks and two stages where the undead could perform music. Terry stopped to pet a living dog and I hunted for a spot to sketch. I settled on the County Morgue Make Up tent. For $15 people could get a scar or deathly make up. I focused most of my attention on the make up artist with the Mohawk. He carefully crafted a deep gash into a woman's cheek. She was delighted when she saw how horrifying she looked. Wendy Wallenburg who lives in the neighborhood had no idea what was going on. Some zombie's car was blocking her driveway and she was suddenly surrounded by the undead. Terry and Wendy wandered while I sketched.

Halfway into this sketch, I realized I should be getting the undead to pose for quick sketches. Terry could wrangle the subjects and I could crowd the undead together into a single sketch. Terry lost patience with me and went home. I considered getting one more sketch but I felt defeated and left. I had to get home before all hell broke loose.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Waiting for Zombies at Stardust

Terry told me about Zombietoberfest in the Audubon Garden District. I was working at Full Sail that Saturday so I drove to Stardust Video and Coffee straight from work. I arrived early. The sun was still in the sky. I spotted a female zombie in the beauty parlor next to Stardust but as I ordered a pumpkin beer, there were no zombies in sight. I sat in a small booth next to the bar. A child's portrait grinned at me from behind. A few people sat stating at their laptops. Perhaps they were laptop zombies roaming the earth staring at screen after screen.

I watched the bar maid as she coached a new recruit. Then she sat at the bar and did paperwork in her blood red dress. I sketched her quickly. I savored my pumpkin beer which was stronger than I remembered. Terry was going to meet me here but she was running errands. When the bar maid got off the bar stool, a female zombie took her place. From behind she looked perfectly normal in her black dress suit. Her face however was bruised and bloodied. She ordered a red drink, perhaps brain juice.

Two college girls were having a lively conversation. When they left, a group of women zombies took their place. One woman had blood flowing from her mouth and staining her white shirt. When my sketch was finished, hoards of zombies began to crowd in. I met Terry in the parking lot and we decided to get some Italian food across the street...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Masters of Mixology

Terry told me about a bartender's competition happening at Crave (4158 Conroy Road, next to Mall at Millenia). We agreed to meet there after work. I arrived first and found a spot next to the DJ where I overlooked the competition staging area. I started blocking in my sketch before the competition got started. Terry arrived and let me know that drinks were free for the first hour. Since I didn't have any place to put a drink down, I decided to go dry. Terry asked why I wasn't holding a drink and I explained, "It's a waste of a perfectly good hand." She let me sip a light blue concoction she was holding and it tasted like coconut. Yum... No, keep sketching.

Two beautiful women walked the room dressed as, perhaps wedding cakes or blue fairy princesses. They had glittering tiaras on their heads and carried platters with samples and a liquor bottle. The blonde woman gushed over my drawing when she saw it. My eyes darted about. I was too flustered to ask her what she was selling. Some journalist I turned out to be.

Ralph, the general manager at Crave, officiated the event. Colleen Burns from Yelp was one of the judges. I had seen her the day before at a Yelp Culture Club kickoff event the night before. The other judges were Sven and Olie. I envied their job of tasting unique drinks all night. The six bartenders were competing for a trip to Crave in Miami. The contestants were, Jake Berenson, Rob DeGiouine, Michelle Mariani, Aaron Christianson, Sarah Kaylor and Ashley Morin. In the first round the bartender working closest to me lined the martini glasses with streaks of chocolate. He was the first bartender to finish. The judges conferred and the contestants stood at their stations waiting for the results. The tension could be felt over the loud din of all the people shouting over the music at the bar. Jake was the top contender with 158 points. The top three bartenders moved on to the next round.

Terry had already left as soon as the free drinks stopped, which was before the first round of judging. When I finished the sketch, I realized I hadn't been great company for Terry. I opted not to do a second sketch. As I walked out, I asked Colleen to let me know who the winner was the following day. "The winner was Jake Bereson from Ember! He beat out Michelle Mariani by 1 point.", she wrote. I want to find out how to become a judge for drink tasting. I have some refined taste buds that are highly under utilized. As I walked alone through the rain to my truck, I realized I was thirsty.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Abbey

Yelp was promoting its new "Culture Club" campaign with a kick off party at the Abbey. When I entered the venue, I saw Kelly DeWayne Richards sitting at the bar so I went over to say hello. He was dressed all in black with a red tie and stylish fedora. I know Kelly from his Sunday morning cabaret performances at the Parliament House. This is the one place where I occasionally get up to sing. It turns out Kelly is now performing at "Musical Mondays" which start at 7pm each week at the Abbey. He was told about the gig just two days before his first performance and had just nine people the first night. I want to get out to the next "Musical Monday" and I know the place will be packed.

The Yelp event featured several performances. Altar Boyz sang flamboyant religious themed songs. They had plenty of pep, but left me cold. The Orlando Ballet performed a piece from the upcoming "Vampire's Ball." Robert Hill, the artistic director, explained that in horror films there is always a young innocent couple who is unaware of any danger since they are so in love. The young dancers performed a sensual dance that expressed their longing. It was the undeniable highlight of the evening.

Then Kelly's baby grand piano was wheeled on the stage. He explained to the audience that he was there to set the mood, so people continued to mingle as he played. He began with "The Piano Man" by Billy Joel. The lights in the room were constantly on the move, switching from reds to blues. I considered going to sketch at the Comedy Improv Festival after I finished up at the Abbey but Terry fired off a text asking when I would be coming home. I decided to call it a night. I typed Hh (heading home) into my cell. She wasn't there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yelp Culture Club Kick Off Party

Yelp had a kick off party for it's new "Culture Club" at The Abbey (100 South Eola Avenue). Yelp is an Internet service where people write reviews about restaurants. It allows you to see what your friends think about the restaurant you are considering. Through the month of October, Yelp is offering discounted tickets to museums and theaters around town. Venues include, the Morse Museum, Albin Polasek Museum, History Center, Maitland Art Center, La Nouba, Orlando Ballet, the Social, Beacham, Mad Cow Theater, the Abbey and Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Go to www.yelp.com/events for discounted tickets. They will showcase the best of the arts, entertainment, theater, live music, and basically, all sorts of cultural enrichment in the City Beautiful. Some of the special events are completely free so it pays to check back as offers arrive.

I arrived early and sketched as someone changed the movie marquee sign over the entrance. There was a suction cup at the end of a long pole and he used it to remove plastic letters and then put up the Yelp signage. All the wrought iron made the Abbey feel a bit church like. I found it odd that there was a parking garage right above the Abbey. Two female Abbey employees talked to the signage man as he worked. People walked past with their dogs. Two men valet parked cars as they arrived. As I walked into the Abbey, one of the valets asked to see my sketch.

Monday, October 10, 2011

One and Only Dream Scene

The final scene that needed to be shot for Britt Daley's "One and Only" music video was the dream sequence. Everyone was dressed in 1980's fashion. This scene lap dissolved from the scene of Britt spinning on the audition stage with Andy Matchett. Britt and Andy are spinning in the dimly lit theater surrounded by characters frozen still. When they walk up to the bar, Kyle Raker and Jessica Mariko snapped to life. Kyle served martinis and Jessica began a sensual dance.

Center stage, Will "MainSwitch" Campbell and Darci Riccardi begin a break dance when approached. Britt and Andy laughed and danced as the dream snapped to life. Finally they approached Nicholas Corcoran, and skating Katie Peters who performed a blend between a "Saturday Night Fever" dance and a roller girl dance routine. They were a smooth and well oiled dancing machine. I was amazed at how this scene was rehearsed, then performed in a matter of hours.

The scene was shot multiple times. One master shot followed Britt and Andy the whole time, then cut away shots and close ups were done. Scott Wilkins, the director, explained that the scene would be cut together with multiple shots sliding into place much like the complex montage scenes from the 1966 film "Grand Prix."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Afflatus Handmade Art Bazaar

Afflatus is a Latin term that translates as "divine inspiration." Most people assumed it had to do with flatulence. The event was at Redlight Redlight. Admission was $5 and I was given a swag bag full of buttons, coupons, several cookies and a ticket for a spiked cider. I wandered booth to booth to scope out the art offerings. I was fascinated by moss terrariums that were in glass jars, coffee pots and even a butter dish. There was jewelry and handmade quirky stuffed creatures. I saw Maisy and Ron Marrs and decided I had to sketch her colorful table full of art. When I asked Maisy if she minded me sketching, she said, "Of course not. You better get me now since we are getting divorced, and I'm heading to California." I was surprised at how friendly and amicable they were with each other. I always assumed divorces were contentious and bitter, but they proved me wrong. I didn't know what to say when they gave me the news. I finally shouted, "Congratulations!" and we all laughed. Their court date is October 17th and I offered to sketch the proceeding. Everyone uses a wedding photographer but they don't document the divorce. I figure art should fill that gap.

Maisy and Ron sat at opposite ends of the table. As I was sketching some woman seated behind me started chatting at me. Why do people feel the need to interupt me when I'm drawing? She told me all about an art class she took for $25 where you bought your own bottle of wine and painted. She had to pull out her iPhone to show me the paintings she had done in her inebriated state. I did take note of the art class since it might make a good blog post at some point. I was thankful when her boyfriend returned to distract her. I got back to work.

Maisy's art is quirky and fun. Children would always stop at her table, they were her best costumers. Her art was selling well and she had more hidden under the table to restock. Ron gave me a post card sized painting. The description on the back said it all... "Pointing at a heart shaped cloud while sitting with a green bug + having a rainbow land on my head. (A flower watches happily.)" I'm disappointed that Orlando is loosing another artist. This seems to be part of a mass exodus.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Big Hair and Eyeliner

The "One and Only" music video was being shot in the Orlando Repertory Theater. I did a sketch in the dressing room as the actresses and dancers got ready for the 80's styled sequence. Megan Hinkle seemed to be a hair and makeup specialist. She helped Jessika Meriko with her eyeliner. Jessica had large curlers in her hair and she quickly changed into a firehouse red dress for the shoot. Britt Daley was busy teasing Darci Ricciardi's hair. When Megan offered to help, Britt quickly acknowledged that she could probably do a better job. The room was a constant flurry of activity. I had to sketch extra fast. The male actors had dressed quickly in the same dressing room. They waited outside when they were done. Everyone looked primped and proper for the final scene.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Carry Yourself Back to Me by Deborah Reed

Author Deborah Reed used to live in Orlando back in the 1980's. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest and her book "Carry Yourself Back to Me" had just been published. She read a chapter of the book at Urban ReThink. The main character in the book is Annie Walsh, a singer and songwriter , who has sequestered herself away in a small rural Orlando home after her husband, 0wen, left her for another woman. Owen was her muse, and since he left she was unable to sing anymore. A cricket was chirping a lovely serenade under her porch and her brother, Calder, explained that only one male cricket sang at a time. The lady crickets are mesmerized by the song. The silent male crickets sneak up on the females who are lost in lust for the singer, and snatch them away. The sad part is that the singer is short lived. He dies off long before the silent types who steal the women.

The book offered a nostalgic look at rural Central Florida. When asked where the book took place, Deborah said she was describing Clermont, out by Howell Branch Road. Of course the tangelo groves she described have been replaced with strip malls and housing developments. Deborah is a big fan of the rhythmic sentence. She would go through her copy adding comas and taking them out until the sentence had just the right cadence. She isn't a songwriter herself but she does identify with Annie, the main character.

The drama escalated when Calder is accused of murder. He fell in love with a married Scandinavian woman and her husband was murdered. The number of affairs and family secrets was astonishing. I had to pick up a copy of the book and yesterday I read it cover to cover. I'm not that voracious of a reader, but I couldn't put it down. The sweet smell of citrus, the springs and an unexpected winter frost all bring Central Florida vividly alive. All of the characters made mistakes and had to live with the consequences. News of the murder brings Annie's husband, Owen back to her. But she may have been waiting for the wrong man.

Star struck, I asked Deborah to sign my sketch.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eden Bar's New Menu

The Eden Bar outside the Enzian Theater hosted a media event to introduce new lunch menu items. I arrived right after work and started sketching before the bar got too crowded. Christie West the bar manager gathered all the staff together to discuss the game plan for the evening. When she spoke with me later in the evening, she explained that all the bartenders had gone out and shopped for unique ingredients. They then set up a drink lab where each bartender created their own signature drink. The first drink that came out was a Vodka Lemonade Lime drink in a martini glass. The drink had to be sipped using the dainty straw to avoid sipping the herbs. I made that mistake only once. When my watercolor brush ran out of water, I refilled it with this light vodka drink. The drink was delicious as well. The next drink sample was a black currant gin, also quite refreshing.

Finally some food samples arrived. The first was an Ahi tuna with mango, avocado, fresh red onion and sun dried tomato, lightly tossed with chili oil. This was a radical change from the usual menu where I might expect pizza. This was fine dining cuisine presented beautifully. Executive Chef Ed Hollingsworth is responsible for the new splash of color and tastes. A Mediterranean dish had babaganoush, hummus, sun dried tomatoes and eggplant which was a bit to salty for my taste. The dishes just kept coming, there was a Mac and Cheese Teriyaki and a stuffed mushroom that was amazing!

My favorite drink served was simply called Sugar and Spice. It tasted like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all served in a cup. I told the server how much I liked it and it turned out she was the creator. I will certainly be returning to enjoy all the Halloween themed movies in October and to continue sampling this amazing new menu.

Kelly Fitzpatrick who blogs about Central Florida night life was at the next table laughing vivaciously and enjoying herself. I was shocked to find out that days later she had passed away in her sleep. She was just 36 years old. Life is short people, make every moment count.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fill the Grill Championship Cookoff

I rushed to Whole Foods Market after work to witness the Championship Cook off. Steve Saelg, the master chef from The Crooked Spoon Food Truck, was up against Alec Cheak, the master chef from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. The chefs were each given $20 to spend then 20 minutes to shop and 20 minutes to prepare a delicious grilled summer meal. The stakes were high, a bronze chef's trophy sat on the counter top waiting to be claimed. The announcer followed the chefs around the store. At the checkout counter, chef Steve realized he had gone a little over budget. He had to surrender his arugula. Then he hit the $20 mark right on the nose. Chef Alec was also over budget by ¢94. He was going to surrender his nuts, but instead returned a peach.

The chefs then raced to prepare their meals. Sharp knives sliced and diced. Steve was making a deconstructed Italian sausage. He cut up a red pepper. A bagette was toasted as he prepared a tomato sauce with pepper romano and rosemary. Chef Alec was grilling pork chops. He combined fresh lemon juice and olive oil to create a Spring mix. Apples and peaches were grilled. He whisked a balsamic reduction. Roasted red peppers were mixed in with an apricot coulis. Brie cheese was served as a side.

The judges were, Patricia Letakis of Florida Travel and Life, Kendra Lott of Edible Orlando and Bernie Tostanowski the Whole Foods prepared Foods Team Leader. Steve's Italian Sausage was served first. He instructed the judges to assemble the ingredients into a sandwich. Patricia stacked a Dagwood sized sandwich and chomped in. Bernie held back preferring to use his fork. Chef Alec's pork chops were savored by the judges. The brie cheese was a bold choice but it was complimented by the grilled fruit.

Chef Steve's waited with his wife and daughter for the verdict. I figured he might get bonus points for being a family man. In the end, Chef Alec Cheak was declared the winner. The Fill the Grill trophy has a new home at Fleming's Steak House. I desperately wanted a pork chop, instead I went home to leftovers.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Big Wheel Food Truck

Every Monday there is a farmers market that sets up in the parking lot of Stardust Video and Coffee in the Audubon Park district of Orlando starting around 6pm. I stopped by right after work at Full Sail. When I got there vendors were still setting up their tents. The Big Wheel Food Truck was parked at the entrance of the parking lot. Several flimsy roadside dividers were set up to keep cars from trying to pull into the lot to park. I decided I should order dinner from the truck. Inside the truck the three chefs were busy cutting and preparing the food. I asked if they were ready to take an order, and they weren't. They suggested I return in about 15 minutes.

I sat across the way leaning back against a road sign and I began to sketch. Sure enough, 15 minutes into the sketch people started to line up for food. The Big Wheel Food Truck is proud of serving fresh local food that is prepared in small batches, "because, frankly, we think it just tastes better that way." Their slogan is "Local is Lovely." Cars kept parking in front of me so vendors could unload their gear. One fellow backed up and knocked over one of the "no parking" dividers. I picked it up for him. The next woman to back out asked if I could take care of the divider. Suddenly I was the gate keeper. I left the dividers out of the way and continued to sketch.

Finally I ordered my dinner. I decided to try a meatloaf burger made from local grass fed beef. The burger was topped with house made bacon with local lettuce, garden herbs and a big wheel onion. The burger was juicy and delicious with a creamy sauce but a bit to salty for my taste. I ordered Captain Eli's blueberry pop to wash it all down.

Chef Tony Adams who founded the food truck had a tent set up in the market to sell local produce and to promote the truck. The truck uses twitter to let people know where the truck is parked. These up to the minute updates called "Chase our Wheels" can be found at twitter.com/bigwheeltruck. I showed Tony the sketch and asked for a business card. He thought their might be some in the truck so he jogged over and into the truck to search for them. He gave me someone's card with his info written by hand on the back. I often run out of my business cards so I found it comforting and endearing that this was a true small local business.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Repertory Theater's Backstage Dance Studio

Shooting continued for Britt Daley's music video, "One and Only." A door at the back of the actors dressing rooms opened into a backstage dance studio. I never would have guessed that this room existed. Andy Matchett lounged in front of me along with Megan Hinkle and Kyle Raker. For much of the day, Britt had been worried that her break dancer hadn't shown up. Scott Wilkins the writer for the music video shoot said that the one thing he needed more than anything else was a break dancer. The dream sequence was saved for last since everyone in the cast had to change into their flashiest 80's outfits.

Will “MainSwitch” Campbell and Darci Ricciardi began working on their dance moves. "MainSwitch" brought Darci up to speed until they were a well oiled break dancing machine. Jessica Mariko had her own dance moves worked out. She wore a sleek red dress and her sensual moves could make any James Bond actress blush. Nicholas Corcoran was a bit nervous since he isn't a dancer and he was being asked to light up the dance floor like John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever." The biggest surprise came when Katie Peters rolled onto the dance floor in a classic roller skating disco queen outfit. She had performed as a singer during the audition scenes of the video shoot. The actress who was going to skate didn't show so Katie stepped in. Nicholas didn't have to work on many dance moves, he just had to help guide skating Katie as she glided around him. Tape on the rehearsal floor was a bit of a stumbling block at first but soon Skating Katie and Nick had a smooth routine worked out. Everything was worked out for a stellar dream scene.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tisse's Birthday Bash

I had to leave after Tod Caviness did his spoken word performance at Urban ReThink. I went to the Mennello Museum to transfer several sketches on to the mural. The work went quickly so I decided to rush back to Tisse's birthday party. When I re-entered Urban ReThink, I saw a dancer stretching.

There was home made birthday cake so I grabbed a slice. I grabbed a seat at a table with authors Karen Price and John Connelly to see what was next on the Urban ReThink stage. Chaz Yorick came in after having seen all the downtown gallery openings as part of Third Thursdays.

Tisse first met Elise Frost through various mutual friends in the Orlando dance circle and they finally had their first full conversation at Michael Sloan's going away party.Elise took to the stage wearing a dogs mask and holding an umbrella. Elise moved and spoke in a childlike manner. She reminded me of Totoro. Her monologue had a child's sincerity with dark undertones. The lantern implied a character lost in the woods. She spoke of her grandmother dying, yet she didn't like her grandmother. Was this an infants Kabuki? A sinister bedtime story? I remained mystified and bewildered.

Tisse got on stage and started talking about how she gradually discovered Orlando's arts scene. She moved from Chicago with her parents to Celebration Florida. She hated Celebration's theme park facade and the clutter and chintz of 192. She missed the big city. She eventually moved downtown where she began to discover the true Orlando scene. The importance of any city is in the people you surround yourself with. Orlando is a small enough city where individuals can really make a difference. The theater scene is small enough where the performers truly appreciate the audience members. The people that stand out in her life are the people who have a passion for what they do and love to help out.

Suddenly she was talking to me, calling me the "Where's Waldo" of the Orlando arts scene. She praised my work and persistence. I stopped my sketch to listen. It felt like all eyes were turned towards me. My right eye welled up, I'm not used to so much direct praise and adulation. I don't know how to process it. Chaz was busily taking notes. Later as Tisse praised Jessica Earley she became overwhelmed and choked up, feeling thankful for the people in her life. Chaz took that emotional pause to start singing happy birthday to Tisse. Everyone joined in as she wiped away her tears. When the song was finished and the clapping died down, Tisse said, "Thanks I needed that moment to recover." The room was filled with love.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Demographics

Tisse Mallon knows how to celebrate her 30th birthday. She had an amazing all night party at Urban ReThink where she brought together friends from all aspects of Orlando's arts and culture scene. She invited myself and six other artists to decorate a used U.S. Census Bureau bag. Tisse worked going door to door during the last census. Each field worker was given one of these Census Bags. When the census was over the bags were thrown out. These re-purposed bags are all now works of art. I was one of the first artists to arrive to drop off the bag. I re-purposed the mural I am working on by painting the people standing in line on the bag. Jessica Earley totally ripped apart her bag and created a charming door knob hanger of an owl. It was absolutely charming.

Inside each bag there were orange inter office envelopes. Genevieve Bernard used those envelopes to create cut out Census Monsters and Jessica used them to create a charming pine tree. She also used the envelopes to create the owl's beak, feet and eyes. It was fun to see, "Name" and "Department" scrawled across the owl's eyes. Scooter Cleveland sat on a table beside a bag that said, "Why Count?" in bold red letters. The bag was filled with food for the homeless. Scooter had been homeless on the streets of downtown Orlando for 18 months. He was in a car accident and a doctor told him he had to stay off his feet for four months. He was fired from his job. He stayed with family and friends but ultimately ended up on the streets. Now that he is off the streets, he is trying to establish a food share program for those who were left behind. A glass jar sat on the table beside him for donations.

Throughout the evening Tisse acknowledged and praised the artistic people that have touched her life. She pointed to Todd Caviness who helps kept spoken word alive in Orlando. He is a writer who is always willing to lend a hand to keep the arts scene vibrant in Orlando. No one expresses what it is like to be a Floridian better than him. Karen Price also read several of her short stories. One, about a mermaid with two tails was a charming morality tale (pun intended). The other was about a high school bully who later in life was served up a bitter justice of hard knocks in her violent deprived life. She didn't recognize the female lawyer on her case as the victim of her childhood bullying. Such is fate.