Sunday, March 29, 2020

History Happy Hour

Staff from the Orange County Regional History Center have been working from home in order to self isolate and flatten the curve of the Covid-19 virus.  They meet each morning to plan the day's work and to check up on each other. Work continues on a Ocoee exhibit that might open August 29, 2020. The exhibit called, Yesterday, This Was Home: The Ocoee Massacre of 1920, is about the election day race riot that remains the largest incident of voting-day violence in United States history.

Events unfolded on Election Day 1920, when Mose Norman, a black U.S. citizen, attempted to exercise his legal right to vote in Ocoee and was turned away from the polls. That evening, a mob of armed white men came to the home of his friend, July Perry, in an effort to locate Norman. Shooting ensued. Perry (pictured above) was captured and eventually lynched. An unknown number of African American citizens were murdered, and their homes and community were burned to the ground. Most of the black population of Ocoee fled, never to return.

Suddenly having the staff working from home created challenges. Everyone had to adjust to video conference calls on Zoom. Some staff love the one on one interactions that can be found in the workplace. To help staff adjust to this digital divide, Pam Schwartz, the Head Curator initiated a once a week History Happy Hour. Staff get to meet on Zoom and share a drink and stories. It is not about work but instead a chance to socialize. Pam suggested that each week someone might come up with a short presentation and she volunteered to give the first such presentation. I sketches while she told her story to her staff while sipping a white wine. 


Her mildly drunk history was about Queen Boudica (Boo-di-cah) of the British Celtic Tribe the Iceni. She was a badass. She was described as having tawny hair down below her waist, a harsh voice and a piercing glare. She habitually wore a large golden necklace, a colorful tunic, and a thick cloak fastened by a brooch.

She married Prasutagus, the king of the Iceni people (now Norfolk area is England) and they had twochildren. They ruled as an independent ally of Rome and left her husband's kingdom to their children. However, his will was ignored by Rome which took all his stuff. Boudicca complained and so the Romans and their slaves
flogged and raped her and her daughters.

In 60 or 61 AD when the Roman Governor
Paulinus was campaigning on the island of Mona off of Wales (a refuge for British rebels and a Druid stronghold), there was ongoing mistreatment of Britons by the Romans, even those that were allied to them. Boudicca, led a revolt of the Iceni, Trinovantes, and other tribes. They destroyed Camulodunum (Colchester), a settlement of discharged Roman soldiers.

The Roman Governor hurried on down to Londinium (London) and realized he was up the creek without a paddle without enough men to fight this lady. Tacitus wrote, “Those who were chained to the spot by the weakness of their sex, or the infirmity of age, or the attractions of the place, were cut off by the enemy.”  He took whoever would join him and fled.

Boudica led her now large army, including random farmers who joined along the way, and burned
Londinium to the ground. It is estimated that some 80,000 Romans and Brits were killed in the 3 cities concurred by Boudica, many were tortured. Cassius Dio, another scholar said the most noble of women were impaled on spikes and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths.

Roman Emperor Nero basically panicked over all of this and almost pulled all of his Roman troops out. Boudica led her growing troops from her chariot. The Roman Governor regrouped, put together a whole new legion, and posted up, waiting along a Roman Road now known as Watling Street. Though greatly outnumbered, they formed into a wedge formation with auxiliaries on their flanks atop a defile. They charged in, lances set, many of Boudica’s common folk, unskilled in battle, went to flee, but their women and children who had come to watch what they assumed would be a sweeping win, lined the rear of their battleground with wagons so that nobody could escape and her troops were slaughtered.

It’s not 100% certain how Boudica died, but, after the battle she may have taken poison, as well as given it to her daughters, to kill them all rather than go through being beaten, raped, and tortured again. She died c. 60 or 61 AD. Cassius. 

After this brutal tale the staff continued to socialize. Welcome to the new age of digital storytelling as we sacrifice through social distancing to try and stop the spread of Covid-19.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Easter Sunday

The United States has now become the country with the most reported cases of Covid-19 in the World. At a rally  said that "You are going to get sick and tired of winning."With over 100,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in America we are indeed winning, since America now has the most cases of people infected with the virus in the world.

Now Donald Trump had decided that he would love to have the country back up and running by Easter which is 16 days from now as of this writing. He thinks "It would be a beautiful time." Of course this defies all logic and science. If people crowd together in churches across the country 16 days from now, the virus will spread like wild fire. The danger is that Trumps fervent supporters may buy into his insanity and indeed try and gather on the day Christ was known to have risen from the dead, risking their own and others lives. Is saving the stock market more important than peoples lives?

Rather than help his former home state of New York get ventilators, he instead picked a fight with the Governor Andrew Cuomo blaming him for his plight because the governor had ventilators stock piled. Of course the ventilators are stockpiled as they are collected, they will be distributed where needed as the hospitals reach a critical mass. The Governor is anticipating a peak in demand in two weeks for patients needing help to breathe. The state will need at least 30,000 ventilators, he said, and it so far had obtained 7,000. Cuomo told a reporter, that "The president was ignorant and grossly uninformed."  The governor said that the spread of the virus was like a freight train coming across the country, but now, we are looking at a bullet train because the numbers are going up that quickly.

The president's only concern seems to be the economy rather than the health and well being of the American people. He continues to compare Covid-19 to the common flu. He doesn't seem to have any grasp of the huge tsunami that is facing the nation. He waved his hands saying the numbers would go down not up and tried to convince Americans that the virus would miraculously disappear when it got warmer. The danger is that some listen to his statements and believe them. There is a level of faith in believing his statements that defies any reason.

The surgeon general, Dr. Gerome Adams warned Americans, "This week it is going to get bad, we really need to come together as a nation" The director of the World Health Organization said that the US could become the next epicenter for the spread of the virus.

Dr. Emily Landon a Chicago Doctor warned, That doctors are facing a brand new virus with not enough personal protection and constantly changing protocols. There are barely enough masks for the nurses that they have, This virus is unforgiving. The beginning of the 1918 pandemic was the last time America faced such a challenge. Two cities in America made different choices of how to proceed while only a few patients were affected. Saint Lewis shut itself down, and sheltered in place, but Philadelphia went ahead with a huge parade celebrating those going off to war. A week later Philadelphia hospitals were over run, and thousands were dead. Many more than in Saint Lewis. This is a cautionary tale for our time. Stay home. Stay safe. Don't go to church Easter Sunday.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, March 27, 2020

Beached: NO Weekend Top 6 Picks

 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Tuesday 3/17/2020 that he will NOT be ordering the beaches in his state to close despite growing concerns over the international COVID-19 outbreak, NBC News reported.

DeSantis said that beaches in the state must adhere to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has advised the public to practice social distancing and avoid gatherings with more than 10 people. "What we're going to be doing for the statewide floor for beaches, we're going to be applying the CDC guidance of no group on a beach more than 10 and you have to have distance apart if you're going to be out there. So that applies statewide,” DeSantis reportedly said at a press conference.

The result during the height of spring break was that the beaches became insanely crowded making them the perfect breading ground for the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Local officials took it upon themselves to shut down their own beaches.

Beaches Closed:

Tampa and Naples, Brevard, Walton, Collier counties, Fort Meyers, Port Charlotte, Englewood and all Sarasota beaches.

Thursday 3/19/2020, All public beaches in Miami-Dade County, and Lee County closed.

Friday 3/20/2020, Santa Rosa County closed Navarre Beach and the pier. Pinellas County and Duval County closed their beaches as did Florida State Park beaches due to overcrowding.

Saturday 3/21/2020, Fernandina Beach closed .

Sunday 3/22//2020, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and Nassau County closed their beaches.

Monday 3/23/2020, Clearwater closed it's beach. Flagler County closed its beaches, parks, community centers, pavilions, camping areas, and associated facilities, like parking lots and restrooms.

Beaches that ignored the pandemic:

Monday 3/16/2020 Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said he does not expect the city to close beaches to the public, and the situation is under control.

On Tuesday 3/17/2020 Pompano Beach was packed with Spring Break revelers. The cases of Covid-19 in Florida had surpasses 800 with 13 dead as of this writing. Collier County beachs also remained open.

Saturday 3/21/2020, although vehicles were not currently permitted on St. Johns County beaches, all 42 miles of its beaches were open to pedestrians . Flagler County beaches also remained open.

College students and younger people in general have been criticized for not taking the virus seriously and for seeming to disregard that they could carry it to higher-risk people, like the elderly. "If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I'm not going to let it stop me from partying," spring break goer Brady Sluder told Reuters in Miami. Younger people can still face serious complications. People ages 20 to 44 accounted for about 20% of U.S. cases that resulted in known hospitalizations, according to the CDC's preliminary data on the health outcomes of patients with COVID-19. The CDC said the data were limited and did not account for underlying medical conditions.

In Germany young adults hold “corona parties" and cough toward older people. “Some consider they're little heroes when they break the rules," said French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner. "Well, no. You're an imbecile, and especially a threat to yourself.”

After images of rowdy spring break college crowds appeared on TV for days, Florida's governor Ron DeSantis told Fox and Friends Thursday 3/19/2020 that the state's beaches have either closed or if open, must abide by the CDC guidelines on crowds and distancing for the Covid-19 pandemic. So, he did not close the beaches himself, he passed the buck, expecting each beach township to decide for itself. He said, “The message I think for spring breakers is that the party is over in Florida. You’re not going to be able to congregate on any beach in the state. Many of the hot spots that people like to go to, whether it’s Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Clearwater Beach are closed entirely for the time being."
As of 3/22/2020, Florida had 830 cases of Covid-19 with 13 dead. In the US there were over 27,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Stay home, stay safe, self isolate. 

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, March 26, 2020

"Not Practical to Lock Down State"

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference from his office in Tallahassee, Florida. New York State issued a shelter in place order, but he feels that a Shelter in Place order for Florida would not be advisable or practical. He claims it would be a very blunt instrument. He is afraid of hundreds of thousands of Floridians loosing their jobs. My feeling is that everyone should be more concerned about not loosing their lives.

DeSantis seems to feel that this virus is not something that is affecting every part of the state. He outlines some counties that have low cases of Covid-19 but the fact is, that without testing, no one knows how many cases are out there. He feels that a massive shutdown of the entire state would not work. The issue of non-compliance is a concern. He sees instances of people in NYC and California being non-complaint and thus he seems to think Floridians are incapable of practicing self isolation. He sees it as impractical for a State Governor to enforce a shelter in place order.

Like President Trump he seemed concerned more about people's mental health and suicide rates if they have to isolate to stay safe and alive. As Donald Trump said on Twitter, "We can not make the cure worse than the problem". Or restated, "The benefit of keeping people alive is not worth the cost to the economy." The problem however is a viral death rate with unimaginable numbers if the problem is ignore. This can not be overlooked. The skewed thinking on this issue amazes me. There is no option to go back to life as normal after 14 days. The United Kingdom ordered a country wide lock down for 3 weeks, which seems like a more sane approach to try and stop the spread of the virus. However here in America the president seems intent on ignoring science and getting the economy back up at any cost. His medical advisor Dr. Fauci the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was absent at a White House press briefing today. He has been the one voice of reason on how to stop the spread of the virus but his blunt comments are rumored to have rubbed the president the wrong way since science doesn't line up with the presidents lies.

DeSantis seems to follow the president's mantra.  DeSantis said he will work with all the metro areas, but decisions about public health have to come from Municipal and County Governance. So the president passed the buck to state governors and this state governor passed the buck to city mayors. Any benefit of a lock down might be overwhelmed by people coming to Florida. On the day of his address there were 190 direct flights from the New York area to Florida. Those people may be fleeing a shelter in place order issued in that state. Given the situation in New York , it is very possible that there is someone on every flight who has the Covid-19 virus. The Federal Government is doing nothing to restrict domestic flights. DeSantis insisted that anyone coming from New York or a similar hot spot must do a mandatory self isolation.

The bottom line is that Ron DeSantis feels it is impractical to lock down a state with no end in sight.

Local county and City officials in Central Florida were waiting for Governor DeSantis to issue some kind of shelter in place order, and when they realized it was not coming, they decided to protect their citizens with their own orders and proclamations. Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer along with County Mayor Jerry Demings and the leaders from the municipalities in Orange County have instated a “Stay at Home” order for all residents, and all non-essential businesses will be closed, which includes most retail, recreation and entertainment businesses, starting this Thursday March 26, 2020 at 11 p.m., and continuing for two weeks through April 9, 2020.

This means you should stay at home, unless it is absolutely needed – like shopping at the grocery store,  going to a doctor’s appointment, providing necessary care for a family member, visiting a restaurant for a takeout order or going outside to exercise, all while keeping six feet between you and others.
You should not go to work unless you are providing essential services that are defined in this order. Visits to family members or friends should be limited to those who need medical or other essential assistance, such as ensuring an adequate supply of food or medicine.
We know that this order will impact the livelihood of residents, our local businesses and our region’s economy. But the health of our community is our top priority and we must do everything that we can to protect the lives of our family members, friends and neighbors.
It is our goal that through aggressive action we will help minimize how many people in our community are impacted by this virus, and then how quickly residents and businesses can recover emotionally and financially.
This is a challenge unlike any we’ve seen before, but I know that Orlando is up to it.

Stay home, stay safe.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Make Amends with Your Friends

Norman Casiano has always had the support and love of his parents. While he was still in the hospital he heard that some parents didn't want to claim their children after the PULSE shooting. This is something he could not comprehend, his parents helped so much after everything happened.

His world changed completely on June 12, 2016. That evening was his send off, because he was about to start school as a make up artist. His parents dropped him off at the club, he got there early about 11pm. No one was there, and he was going to leave early, but then his friends started showing up. He had a falling out with Stanley Almodovar but that night they made amends. Stanley said, "I'm glad we fixed things because you never know when your last day might be on earth." Stanley was one of the 49 to die that night.

About 1:30am Stanley gave Norman his credit card and said he was going to get his car and pull it up in front of the club. They were going to leave along with Marie, Stanley's friend. Norman entered the middle room with all the mirrors and dancers. As he handed the card off to one of the bartenders, and he and Marie heard the first two gun shots. He wasn't immediately scared, it might be a fight between two people. He ducked under the bar and told Marie to stay. Then he heard the automatic assault weapon. Marie asked, "What is going on?" He did not know. This was not normal. The room they were in had two doors. As they tried to get up from under the bar there was a tsunami of people. He was trampled and stepped on. He fought his way to his feet, the adrenaline drove him forward. The whole time he heard people screaming and glass breaking. Chunks of cement flew through the air.

He needed to hide. The closest refuge were the bathrooms. He tried to make sense of the situation. He didn't think the shooter would systematically try to kill everyone. Once in the bathroom stalls, it was packed. He was in the boy's bathroom on the left hand side. There were only urinals and a private handicap stall. Maria ran into the stall and struggled to hide in the crowd. Norman froze he didn't want to hide under people. He didn't want to survive thinking he had used someone else as a shield. He closed the stall door from inside. Everyone was trying to shush each other so as not to draw the shooters attention. A boy ran in and fell against the stall door blocking it closed from the outside. The boy had been shot in the middle of his back. He was screaming and trying to crawl under the stall door. "Please I don't want to die!" he shouted. Norman reassured him as he tried to pull him inside.

The gun shots kept getting closer and closer. They stopped when the gunman entered their bathroom. It suddenly became clear that he was coldly and deliberately thinking about what he was doing. Norman went into a primal state of fear, he was just shaking and still. Even people who were hysterical grew still. The assault rifle jammed. People yelled, "Please don't do this!" He tried to see the shooter but never got a view. The shooter wasn't listening, instead he put more bullets in the weapon. Then the shooter laughed. He shot the boy on the floor. The ground shattered. Shrapnel punctured Normans shoe. He was wearing white from the waste down. His shoe turned red. He scooted back, less than an inch from the stall door. He knew what was coming. In a way he was ready. He thought of his mom, dad and little brother.

As the gunman was getting ready to shoot, Norman called his parents. His mom shouted, What is going on!" Norman was scared because the shooter was right there. He hung up once he heard the gun being cocked. Bullets punctured the stall door non stop. Norman was shot on his lower left hand side, near his hip. It felt like being branded. It felt hot. He called his parents again. He told his dad, "He shot me!" The phone died. The gunman was still in the bathroom getting ready to shoot again. He could not open the stall door, bodies blocked the door. He seemed to be frustrated. So he climbed up and shot down into the stall from above.  Norman looked up and saw the gun pointed directly at him. The first shot hit him on his lower back on his right side. Everything went black. When he woke, the shooter was no longer in the bathroom having crossed to the bathroom across the hall. Norman stood straight up amazed that he was alive.

He started convincing others in the stall that they needed to get out. They yelled back, "If you want to die by yourself, you can die, we aren't going out there!" He said, "If we don't leave here, we are all going to die in here." The gun kept firing. No one budged. Marie got shot 12 times. She could not get up. She said, "You have to go." the stall door would not open. He climbed on the sink and pulled himself over the stall wall and dropped to the floor. Shots were fired into the bathroom again with cement hitting him. He realized he was shot from the waste down so his legs were not working. He tried to pull himself up. Even doctors are not sure how he got himself out. In the corner of the bathroom was a plastic trash can which he hid behind, knowing it would not stop any bullets. He poked his head out and saw a first responder. That convinced him it was safe to come out. They shouted, "Victim or assailant?" He shouted back "Don't shoot, I'm a victim." "If you are a victim come out with your hands in the air." He dropped to the floor and he crawled towards the emergency doors to the right. The door opened and he was dragged out.

He found himself behind a truck sweating, but that sweat was actually his blood and others blood. A woman survivor was with him, She asked him if he was hurt. Something didn't feel right, his leg hurt. She lifted his shirt and gasped. She shouted out for an officer, "He 's hurt!" He suddenly felt an elephants worth of pain weigh on him. The woman and the officer lifted him up. He was one of the first shown on TV as he was carried towards Wendy's. It felt like a war zone. Behind Wendy's he sat with the woman. He noticed her phone. He asked her to call his mom. He apologized to his mom, thinking he was dying. She shouted back, "You are not saying good bye to me! Are you OK?" He didn't want to tell her the truth. He lied, saying he was fine. The gunshots continued across the street. He said, "I love you." and he passed the phone over to his guardian angel Rebekah. Rebekah was on vacation from Michigan and walked into this hell storm. His mom questioned Rebekah who started crying and she explained everything that was happening. She said simply that he was no OK. He hear his mom yelling, "What is not OK? Tell me! Is he going to make it, where did he get hurt?" She told his mom about the lower back wound his mom lost it. A policeman came and told her to get off the phone.

Police put tags on those that were shot to see who needed to get put on an ambulance. Tag color went from green to black. Green meant you were OK, while black meant you were dead. His color was red which wasn't good. He made peace with what was happening. He drifted off. Rebekah was looking down at him and saying, "Don't go to sleep." But it felt good to drift off. The ambulance arrived just in time. The bullet went straight through  but now he was bleeding out. He flat lined. It was a soft feeling. He heard welcoming voices. He felt connected. Then he heard thunder and a loud NO! He gasped for air. The doctor was holding a defibrillator.

In the hospital, they cut off his brand new pants and started inspecting his wound. He was one of the first to arrive and they did not know if he was a victim of the assailant. A call came in that there was another shooter and that he made his way to the hospital. They were herded into a room and the doctors surrounded the patients waited to find out if there was indeed another shooter in the hospital. An alarm went off. It felt like the end of the world. Victims were separated into different areas separated by curtains. As he waited they gave him morphine. He could hear the suffering of others. It didn't seem real.

His parents had rushed to Pulse but they didn't know he was alive. Police told them to go to the hospital. A chaplain was offering prayers and Norman begged him to let him call his parents. He pulled out a flip phone and called Norman's mom. He looked guilty as he made the call. The chaplain introduced himself to her and she lost it, thinking it was THE call. Finally Norman got on and shouted to calm her down. He was sure he would die. With that much pain you turn into a 5 year old. A doctor gave him more medication and he drifted off.

At 11am the next day he was reunited with his parents. They let him cope with his pain before they let him know about the bigger picture. At 3am his parents were asleep and he turned on the TV to see the news fr the first time. He wished he hadn't. They were reading the list. Stanley's name was on the list. He screamed, waking his parents. He did not understand. The numbers kept growing. Nothing made sense. FBI entered the room and separated him from his parents causing a fight. He was interviewed. He was in the hospital three nights and two days. FBI advised him not to talk to the media. At the door of ORMC there was a storm of cameras, media and interviewers. Cameras followed their every move as they rushed out, he felt dizzy and tears welled up in his eyes. He was in a wheelchair, he could not get up and run. A reporter from Miami opened the door to his parents car and the first interview he did was from the back seat of the car.

In the months that followed, he got to meet president Barack Obama. He just remembered that the president was left handed and he cried on his shoulder. The interviews became unbearable. What he most remembers was the pain. Life would never be the same. Being thrown into the aftermath of Pulse he got to meet people who are caring. People donated clothes, food, and money. His positional hospital bed was donated to him because he could not sleep in a regular bed. His heart swelled and he wanted to become a voice of the survivors. The shooter did not win. Lives were lost and he lost friends but the silver lining is that the shooter did not do what he had planned, which was to instill hatred and fear. What happened was the complete opposite, there was compassion, love, and togetherness. The shooter's hatred never left the club. What came out of it was that we stand stronger together. Make amends with your friends. You never know.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Leu Gardens Crowds: Business as Usual

In 2017, Hurricane Irma blew through Central Florida blowing down a tree that damaged the roof of this historic Leu Garden Museum. The upper floors were water damaged. The historic museum has been closed for the past three years for restoration and repairs. At this time, there is no reopen date. The gardens however are open for business as usual.

While , restaurants, bars, beaches and Florida State Parks have been shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the City of Orlando has for some reason left Harry P. Leu Gardens open. The city said it will close all city-owned and operated playgrounds and the swan boats at Lake Eola Park at 5 p.m. Monday 3/23/2020 until further notice, but Leu Gardens continues to draw big crowds. Last weekend 400 to 500 people crushed into the gardens to escape cabin fever. The gardens have replaced Orlando's sports stadiums for people to crowd together.

Leu Gardens volunteers and staff are working hard to wipe down the surfaces in the gift shop and entry hall but it is hard to keep up. It seems extreme to expect Gardens staff to risk their lives in the face of a pandemic for the City of Orlando. Things might not be so bad if people were practicing social distancing, but they are not. As one expert said, “If it were possible to wave a magic wand and make all Americans freeze in place for 14 days while sitting six feet apart, epidemiologists say, the whole epidemic would sputter to a halt.” It is human nature to want to hug and shake hands to greet friends. or to hold each other tight when grieving a loss.

“Our outdoor facilities, such as our city parks, Leu Gardens and Dubsdread Golf Course are open to the public, but residents must follow necessary social distancing measures while there,” said Karyn Barber, a city spokeswoman. “We encourage residents to use these facilities responsibly to get fresh air and exercise, which are important for physical and mental health always, but especially during this uncertain time.” I am left wondering, who enforces responsible social distancing? Does this responsibility fall on Leu Gardens staff?

Florida State Governor Ron DeSantis wants to avoid a state wide lock down leaving local governments to decide what should close and what should remain open. DeSantis still believes targeting the counties hardest hit by the Covid-19 for the most extreme measures is the preferable path.

The Florida Department of Health said Monday 3/23/2020 that there are now 1,171 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Florida with 14 deaths. I put 14 caskets in my sketch in their honor. Stay home, Stay safe.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, March 23, 2020

Pre-Pandemic: Inbetween Series, Bongus

CityArts (39 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801) presented Bongus as part of the Inbetween Series. These monthly shows happen inbetween the art being hung in the galleries.

Bongus is an improvisation collective based out of Orlando, Florida. Combining elements of free jazz, electronic noise, and no wave styles, Bongus’s music is high energy and textural. It’s core members include Thomas Milovac (double bass) and Syoma Klochko (electric guitar). They are joined by Jim Ivy on wind instruments. 

For some reason the drum set was covered in fabric as the audience filled in the space. Once the drummer stated performing, it was bundled up on the base drum. I had a blast letting the lines flow to the music. Of course the next Inbetween series has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is now impossible for me to find such public performances to draw. I may have to start doing still lifes. 

Listen to the Tic Toc Hamster, Stay Home, Stay Safe.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Pre-Pandemic: Cruz N Car Show on Plant Street

The Cruz and Car Show was in Downtown Winter Garden (300 West Plant Street Winter Garden, FL 34787).  The Orlando Urban Sketchers met at the Winter Garden City Hall and then branched off to eplore the car show with sketchbooks in hand. After cruising the streets, all the artists fueled up and cooled off in the Plant Street Market and the event was finished off with a Drink n Draw at the Crooked Can. This sketch outing was free of charge, with all skills welcome.
The sketchbook throw down was at  the patio of the Crooked Can (426 West Plant Street, Winter Garden FL). After sharing sketches, lingered for a social hour with a drink and or meal from the many fabulous options within Plant Street Market.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, March 21, 2020


In Lopburi, Thailand hundreds of monkeys who are usually fed by tourists swarmed the streets fighting for scraps of food following the Covid-19 Pandemic which kept tourists away. On a normal day in the city, hundreds of tourists would feed the monkeys but after the outbreak of the virus, tourists have stayed away leaving the monkeys to fend for themselves. The virus outbreak had sparked a 44% decrease in tourism in the country.

In America people have been swarming the supermarkets to hoard toilet paper and also getting in fights. In Central Florida we are familiar with the human desire to hoard supplies before a natural disaster like a hurricane. There seems to be a special angst among humans about not having enough toilet paper. Toilet paper has a primal, and infantile association for people. Some research has shown that the virus has been present in stool samples. It is therefor prudent to always wash your hands when leaving the bathroom.

For the first few months of the outbreak, President Donald Trump assured people that Covid-19 would pass by like a miracle with very few cases. Many were reassured by this gas lighting, while ignoring the scientific community how had a very different outlook. Suddenly the news changed and people were told to stock up in supplies for an unknown period of time. Just like mixed messages resulted in a rush at the airports, the mixed messages resulted in a rush on supermarkets. Because the administration dragged it's feet on a response to the pandemic, people have no faith that supplies will be restocked. With no leadership, people are left to fend for themselves, and fear the worst because they hear only lies from the president.

As anxiety rises, gun sales are also skyrocketing. In the past few days, the number of background checks in Florida has gone through the roof. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a run on gun shops. Saturday’s (March 14, 2020) total of more than 6,200 checks was 74 percent higher than the average Saturday, and the single busiest March day since 2012, according to the data provided. Ammunition is also becoming harder to find. When people get scared, they just want to feel the warm comfort of a gun in their hands.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, March 20, 2020

Business as Usual: NO Weekend Top 6 Picks

There are NO Weekend Top 6 Picks for March 21 and 22, 2020 due to Covid-19 Virus Pandemic. Stay home. Stay Safe.

The president recommended that gatherings of 10 people or more in the US be canceled or postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The nations top infectious disease official said he would like to see a 14 day national shutdown imposed, but it does not seem that President Donald Trump will order that. We need to change our routines for a threat we can not see. If we wait many will die needlessly. The United States has some 45,000 Intensive Care Unit beds, and even in a moderate outbreak scenario, some 200,000 Americans will need intensive care.

Here are some of the the Florida attractions that remained open after the pandemic announcement, despite the CDC recommendation to close. All the large Orlando theme parks closed (Disney Theme Parks, Universal, Sea World, Lego Land) but some smaller venues ignored public safety concerns and remained open.  

Fun Spot Orlando was business as usual. They added some hand sanitizing stations and did some housekeeping measures. Riding a roller coaster might be as fun as riding a subway car in NYC next to a coughing passenger by your side.

The Pirates Dinner Adventure remained open during regular hours. Attendance is lower because of virus concerns. They hope to maintain six to eight foot distances between guests in the dining area. Other changes include, the servers will be wearing gloves, food will arrive covered, and hand sanitizers are available. The trouble with this venue is that guests have to wait like cattle in a crowded common room before being allowed into the main staging area. The second show (8 p.m.) for Friday, March 20, has been cancelled.

Icon Park on International Drive, with  the Wheel, the Starflyer (the world's tallest swing ride) and the restaurants remained open. The seats, the handles, anything that people can come into contact with were constantly being wiped down. A networking event is scheduled to happen on March 24, 2020 at Icon Park. I will not be going to sketch and rub shoulders.

These venues are insane to remain open, they are ignoring the numbers and science not caring that they are risking guests health by remaining open for business. Two Florida mobile hospitals are ready to deploy when needed. Public beaches in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale are closed.

A 34 year old man flew to Orlando on March 2, 2020 for a conference and decided to stay several more days to visit Walt Disney World and Universal. Before flying home, he developed a cough and started coughing up blood. Back in Pasadena California, he was diagnosed with symptoms of  pneumonia. He tested positive for Covid-19 on March 13, 2020 and died on March 19, 2020 . It is not yet known if the man caught the virus in Orlando, but he was certainly contagious while he vised her and was in the theme parks. The virus survives on cardboard and copper surfaces for 24 hours, and for 72 hours on stainless steel and plastics. Now think of all the surfaces that were touched while waiting in a long line. It becomes clear that many others were likely infected in the parks and on the airplane.

Disney's college internship program has shut down and students are being told they must leave by 11am Wednesday March 18, 2020. Disney World has donated it's excess food to Central Florida food banks like Second Harvest Food Bank. Volunteers are needed at Second Harvest since there has been a surge in need since the public school closures mean that many students will go hungry. Summer BreakSpot locations are being set up where children can find healthy nutritious meals.

The National Guard Medical Technicians are being deployed in Broward County which is now the hot spot of outbreak of the virus in Florida. They will be setting up drive through test sites. Miami Mayor Francis X Suerez has tested positive for the virus. Stay home. Stay safe.

Post Script:
Fun Spot America will close all locations until further notice beginning Monday 3/23/2020, the company announced Sunday evening.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, March 19, 2020

onePULSE Design Presentation

onePULSE Foundation held three public presentations to give a detailed look at and solicit feedback on preliminary designs for the National Pulse Memorial, the Museum and Education Center, and the Orlando Health Survivors Walk. The first of the meetings was held at the Orlando Repertory Theatre (1001 East Princeton Street Orlando FL).

Following the presentation, representatives from the design team and onePULSE Foundation will answer questions from the audience. Attendees were also invited to submit written feedback on comment cards available at the meeting.

In October 2019, onePULSE Foundation selected Coldefy and Associés with RDAI, Orlando-based HHCP Architects, Xavier Veilhan, dUCKS scéno, Agence TER, and Prof. Laila Farah to design the National Pulse Memorial and Museum. Since October, the design team has been working closely with the onePULSE Foundation to develop a project timeline and master plan that will ensure design and construction is coordinated with other public improvements already planned by the city.

The concept design from Coldefy with RDAI | HHCP features water, greenery, and a reflecting pool encircling the Pulse building. In memory of the 49 victims, a palette of 49 colors lines the basin and radiates towards a peaceful garden planted with 49 trees. The design also envisions a spiraling, open-air museum and educational center with vertical gardens, public plazas, and a rooftop promenade. The museum was designed with a flower like an Easter Lilly in mind but it tends to look like a nuclear power plant cooling tower with an undulating upper rim.

Thomas Coldefy stood at the podium as I sketched. He traded off with associates Julia Capp, Zoltan Neville, and Michael Chatham, as they each outlined various phases of the design,  The club itself will be transected by a walkway with granite walls allowing people who want to walk through the space, the option to do that. The removed section will become a part of the Pulse Museum and the club itself will remain empty for no but renovated and air conditioned with no views inside. Musical vibrations are to be present in the walk through when you tough the granite walls. The project is slated to cost almost $49 million dollars and construction could begin within a year.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Flooding into the Country

When President Donald Trump announced a travel ban on flights from international countries into the United States, Americans abroad panicked and rushed to get back into America before the deadline. More than 40,000 people flooded into US airports. These Americans were forced to wait in long lines in the airport crowded together which of course was an ideal place for the Covid-19 virus to spread. Some people had to wait 7 hours to get through customs and health screenings. People with symptoms were not separated from the crowd. Workers did not have protective gear. It is hard to imagine a better scenario for spreading the deadly virus all across America.

Walt Disney World made the right decision to close all its theme parks but on Sunday, (3-15-2020) the final day Walt Disney World was open, they decided to go out with a bang by having the huge crowd press together for a fireworks show. Abigail Disney, the niece of Walt's brother Roy Disney, saw a photo of the huge crowds and commented on twitter "Are you fucking kidding me?" Since that comment, Disney has taken down the photos from Twitter.

As I write this, there are  203,521 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the world. At 9am today there are already 6,417 new cases of people infected with the virus. 8,205 people have died. President Trump announced that there are to be no gatherings of 10 people or more. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer suspended the sales of all alcohol at any bars, clubs restaurants and hotels or other venues where alcohol is typically consumed.

The Democratic Primary voting went on as planned in Orlando. Five other states postponed voting, but Florida decided to proceed despite the pandemic. My poling place was in a Methodist Church. I parked near some headstones, but was afraid I might be in the wrong place, since there wasn't a soul in sight. I noticed a woman walking past the cemetery to a building next door and decided to follow her. Sure enough this was the poling place. I approached the community room entrance with two very old gentlemen. One man looked like he might have crawled out of his death bed to get to the poling place, his eyes were so bloodshot. On a bench at the entrance someone joked that we looked criminal as we walked in. The one elderly man said he had done this many times in his life. He stressed that point several times as we walked down the hall. Yet, it was rather criminal to have the elderly going out to vote when the rest of the country was on lock down.

A line of chairs separated the community room in half with police tape tied along the line they created. Anyone on the West side of the main street the church was on, had to go to the reception tables to the left and anyone on the east side of that street were supposed to go to the other reception table to the right of the dividing line. As I stood in line I realized I was not giving myself a cushion of 6 feet behind the men I had entered with. To pick up my ballot I had to hand over my drivers license. There was some hand sanitizer on the table but the pole worker handled my card and handed it back without using it for herself. I squirted some sanitizer on my hands and rubbed it in, then put the license back in my wallet. Voting only took a second since there were really only 2 candidates. I didn't stay to sketch, deciding to instead get back to the studio to self isolate, and finish the sketch above.

Governor DeSantis announced that the State Florida ordered an additional 2,500 test kits to supplement the resources already available to test for COVID-19. These additional test kits will enable the Department of Health, working with Florida health care providers, to test up to an additional 625,000 individuals. Florida recently partnered with private laboratories around the state to expand COVID-19 laboratory testing capacity. To date there are 160 Covid-19 cases in Florida and 5 people have died. Those numbers will rise as testing begins. The Florida Department of Health reported 1,483 people have been tested for Codid-9 as of Monday (3-16-2020). To contrast that news, South Korea has been doing over 10,000 tests a day. The World Health Organization’s top official, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, criticized some nations for not doing enough to detect and contain the deadly Covid-19. “We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test. Test every suspected case. If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in contact with two days before they developed symptoms and test those people, too,” Tedros said.

With little leadership coming from the President, I turn to Governors who are responsibly gearing up to the unimaginably large number of cases that are to come. New York Governor Cuomo pointed out that, "This in an extraordinary time in this nations history. It will go down in the history books as a moment of true crisis, confusion and chaos. In a single moment your whole concept of life and society can be shaken. This is a character test for all of us. Life has been turned upside down. This is a hard time on every level."

A CDC projection estimated that the U.S. Covid-19 pandemic could infect between 160 million and 214 million Americans over a period of more than a year, and kill anywhere from 200,000 to 1.7 million people in the United States. This is a worst case scenario if nothing is done to slow the curve of infections through social isolation and adequate testing and treatment. That higher CDC estimate is more dead than in WWI, WWII and Vietnam combined. We are fighting a war for survival against an unseen enemy. Stay home. Stay safe. Be calm and caring.

"What did you do when all around you lost their head? - Rudyard Kipling

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Love and Kindness on the Lawn

People gathered in Seneff Plaza (445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801) across from City Hall for Love and Kindness on the Lawn hosted by The One Orlando Alliance. The goal was together in gratitude to celebrate community and the spirit of #OrlandoUnited. It was a free event offering time to enjoy local music, food trucks, share some hugs and create happy memories while remembering those who continue to need our love and support. At 1:30pm there was a special giant "human heart" photo opportunity.

People in the crowd were each given red poster boards and they were instructed to stand inside a giant heart that had been outlined on the lawn.  At the assigned time everyone was instructed to hold up their cards, much as you might see in a football stadium so that from above they created a giant red heart. A drone with a camera was sent up to shoot the photo. I never noticed the drone while I sketched.

The big announcement from the main stage was that Barnie's Coffee was releasing a 49 Special Blend which would benefit those impacted by the Pulse tragedy. Proceeds from the sale of each bag of coffee will go directly to One Orlando Alliance to benefit those impacted by the Pulse tragedy. The 49 Special Blend was priced at $12.49, and was available beginning June 12th at and can be shipped worldwide. It was also be sold at Barnie’s Café in Winter Park, Florida and various retailers around Orlando.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, March 16, 2020

12th Annual John R. Hamilton Mock Trial: The Crown v. Falstaff

Falstaff was put on trial at the Orlando Shakes, (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803).  He is a disreputable an rather rotund character in Shakespeare's Henry IV. The judges in this trial were to be Alisa Smith, Chair of the Department of Legal Studies at the University of Central Florida, Judge Frederick Lauten, former Chief Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit for Orange and Osceola Counties, and Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel Columnist. When introduced, Judge Lauten did an admirable and hilarious job of disinfecting his fellow judges and the entire judging area.

Hosted by the Bard’s Board Barristers, the Margeson Theater was transformed into a hilarious, interactive courtroom. Actors from Orlando Shakes’ production of Henry IV, Part 1 took the unpredictability of live theater to a whole new level in an over-the-top, rollicking trial amidst the panel of celebrity judges.

To start Falstaff recounted his heroic fight with some highwaymen who robbed him of the loot he had just hoisted himself. He brandished his sword recreating his every movement in the battle that ensued. With each telling the number of foes he had fought off grew. Then a cloaked figure read off the litany of charges against Falstaff which included larceny, robbery, thievery, lewd and lascivious behavior, public drunkenness, foul oderocity fraud, deceit, embezzlement, false accusations, abuse of power, obstruction of justice, impersonating the king, conspiracy and four counts of claim to murder. The list was hilariously long.

The trial itself began with Darth Vader as the prosecutor and Princess Leia as the defense attorney. Light sabers replaced the more timely swords. During the trial Falstaff got to discuss how honor has no place on a battlefield. The funniest moments came when Bardolph, Falsaff's side kick was put on the stand to testify. He was incredibly drunk and a very easy witness to sway.

In the end the entire audience was the jury and after our jury instructions, we had to vote on Falstaff's guilt or innocence. We had to raise out hands and make a guttural Wookiee call when we voted. Despite his clear guilt on many of the counts, he was an important character in the upcoming play, Henry IV Part 2. I voted to acquit, but the final decision was not clear based on the the noise in the theater. Chaos was breaking out. Then Falsaff bounded center stage and shouted, "I have been pardoned!" He ran off stage to murderous applause.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Pandemic Dining Expererince

FusionFest hosted a Diversitastic Dining Experience at Veggie Garden (1216 E. Colonial Drive, Suite 11 Orlando, FL 32803) which offers Vietnamese food. You’ll receive a full meal, chef talk about the food and eating customs, entertainment, presentation about the culture and more. Each month FusionFest will offer patrons a chance to immerse themselves into exploring the tastes, sights, sounds and mindsets of another part of the world. Each experience is approximately $50 all included.

Earlier this day the World Health Organization had announced that the Covid-19 virus was a pandemic and to avoid the spread of the disease we should  practice social distancing.When I arrived I just kept thinking that crowding together on a deck next to Colonial Drive might not be a great idea. Until Pam arrived I sat a a distance of a bout 20 feet away on a cement bench in the courtyard. The DJ was busy adjusting lights and rubbing his nose with his hand. The music was LOUD to blast away and threat the virus might have had.

The tables were about half as wide as any other table I ever sat at. My knees almost touched the person across from me and when I leaned over my plate and blew on my soup, I just about butted heads with the person across from me. This was not the 6 foot distance that the World Health Organization had advised. Regardless the food was delicious, being cooked by a Buddhist monk.

The appetizers to begin consisted of Bò Bía (Summer Rolls) consisted of rice paper, sauteed carrot, jicama, tofu, fresh lettuce, herbs, peanut sauce. Also offered were crispy Chả Giò (Spring Rolls) which had crispy deep fried roll with shredded vegetables, mung bean, tofu, plum sauce. The main meal was served inside buffet style. That meant I would have to use the serving utensils everyone in the crowd was using, a fine way to transmit a virus hand to hand. There was some hand sanitizer on a counter and I squirted some on my hands after getting my servings. A main dish was, Mì/ Hủ Tiếu Xào which consisted of Sauteed noodle, Soy protein Ham, Tofu and Vegetables. Another dish was Cơm Chiên Thập Cẩm which was Fried rice with mixed vegetables. Everything was vegan.

Terry Olson introduced the evening and a couple performed music which was oddly Italian in theme. Italy has experienced 15,000 cases of the virus as of March 13. 2020. World wide as of March 13, 2020 there have been 200 deaths in Italy as of March 14, 2020 and 5,429 deaths world wide due to Covid-19. Those numbers will be exponentially higher by the time you read this. At my table someone reached out to shake my hand and I offered an elbow bump. It became a joke, but that is how we all greeted each other. The gentleman next to me had just flown back to Orlando From California. He practiced the only social distancing that evening by covering his nose and mouth with a bandanna while he was in the serving area. I respected him for that.

The most impactful and emotional moment of the evening came when Cindy Pham told her story of escaping from Vietnam as a child. She had to travel in a small sail boat and was sea sick for the entire voyage. When in America she had to start life over, not knowing the language. A family in Colorado took her in and she worked her way through college becoming an electrical engineer. She visited Orlando and loved the weather which reminded her of Vietnam. She volunteered at a Buddhist temple and now volunteers at Veggie Garden. The chef came out and spoke for a bit but she knew no English. Cindy translated.

The piano player also performed on a string instrument, walking among the crowd and offering some people the microphone for karaoke. Ugh, three separate people sang into that mic without it being cleaned or disinfected between performances. No one seems to be taking the warnings from the World Heath Organization seriously.  Egon Schiele, one of my favorite artists died at the age of 25 from the epidemic of 1918 right after the First World War. I always wonder what amazing things he might have created had he lived longer.

On a more positive note, the food was delicious and the performances were a delight.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, March 14, 2020

A Dinner Conversation: Best Show

Pepe (Rob Ward) acted at the MC for the evening for Play in a Day. The auditorium was packed but I found a good spot on the sidelines to sketch from. Nine plays were presented all with the common theme of "Men". Playwrights had 12 hours to write their plays and the actors and production team had 12 hours to polish and produce the plays. I followed the play written by Tracey Jane, titled The Dinner Conversation. I knew from sketching the rehearsals all day that this was a warm hearted romantic and very funny production. I was of course rooting for them to pull together and create magic on stage.

Pepe introduced each ply in turn and a bongo player accompanied him at one point. Genevieve Bernard choreographed a beautiful dance piece titled, Our Bodies Our Choice. Four woman dancers and on man performed a dance the told a story of abuse followed by a woman's empowerment. It was bold and left me thinking. They won as the best ensemble for the evening.

Jac LeDoux and Ken Preuss were on a date at the Family Pizza Corral. The set simply consisted of a long red table on which were a series of trays where custom pizzas could be made. I was rooting for their happiness after starting life afresh after divorce. Tracey Jane made the script super easy for the actors because the characters were simply named after the actors playing the part. There were no new names to memorize. When Bennet Preuss and Melanie Leon entered things heated up. Melanie was hilarious with her sexual innuendos and double meanings behind everything she said. She just loved poking fun at her mom and embarrassing her. Melanie's hilarious performance won her an award as Best Actress. 

While Mel was poking fun, her brother Ben was sullen and resentful.  His mom got divorced while he was away at college and now that he was back she was starting a new relationship with another man.  Jac was loving and caring at every turn and wove an analogy between personal pizzas and individual tastes. However when Ken considered putting pineapple on his pizza, the family had to unite against his pure insanity. He was a food critic and should have known better. Food and family drama were perfectly combined. For this performance I just sat as an audience member to soak it in without the struggle of sketching to distract me. I was delighted and laughed out loud.  I knew where the rough spots in the production might be, but everything flowed smoothly. 

This show directed by Kaitlyn Harrington, and with Destiny Sam as the stage manager won the top honor as the Best Show of the night. I felt so proud, because I knew the blood sweat and tears over 24 hours that went into the magic that happened that night. "Don't count the days, make the days count." -Mohamed Ali

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, March 13, 2020

NO Weekend Top 6 Picks for March 14 and 15, 2020

Due to Covid-19 their are NO Top 6 Picks for this Weekend! Orlando is on lock down. STAY HOME. Say Safe.

The World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic. The number of cases of the virus outside China had increased 13 fold. The number of affected countries has tripled. There are no more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries. 429,100 people have died. Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals. The number of cases, deaths and countries affected will continue to climb. WHO has been following the outbreak and they are alarmed by the spread and severity of the disease and they are alarmed by the inaction by governments.  This is the first pandemic caused by a corona virus. 

County Mayor Jerry Demings announced that an Orange County Florida resident died while traveling abroad in California. As of this morning, Demings has declared a local emergency for Orange County. The emergency operations center has been activated and is fully staffed. He compared this outbreak to the three hurricanes that ravaged Central Florida in 2004.   
  • Gatherings of 200 people or more have been canceled. The goal is to stop the spread of the Covid-19 Virus
  • The Parks Department will cancel all programs for seniors.
  • Orange County Spring Break camps will continue as planned, but field trips have been canceled.
  • County Special events have been postponed, including Fort Christmas Bluegrass Festival and other events.
  • County run Use Force Leagues have been suspended. Little leagues and youth soccer leagues have started suspensions on their own.
City Mayor Buddy Dyer issued a state of emergency for the city of Orlando.
  • All City events have been canceled through the end of the month, including the plant sale a Leu Gardens, The Sunday Farmers Market at lake Eola.
  • All activities related to seniors have been suspended. 
  • Youth activities will go on.
Disney announced that Walt Disney World will be closed starting Sunday March 15, 2020 through the end of the month. Employees of the Disney theme parks will be paid despite the closure. The hotels at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice. The retail and dining complexes, Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and Disney Village at Disneyland Paris, will remain open. All Disney Cruise line departures have been suspended. The release of Disney's live action remake of Mulan is being delayed with no determined release date due to Covid-19 concerns. Disney has also pulled the release of New Mutants and the Guillermo del Toro produced horror movie AntlersA.

Universal Studios also announced the Universal Orlando Resort will close on Sunday. Hourly employees will be paid for any work scheduled through the end of March, a company spokesperson said in a statement. Universal Orlando’s hotels and Universal CityWalk will remain open.

Legoland also announced closure due to Covid-19.

As of today the City of Orlando has not canceled any city-hosted events and or meetings. I was at a city hosted diversitastic dining event just last night. As we ate dinner, the Theme parks announced closures. The city says they are taking the decision to cancel or postpone city-hosted events very seriously. There are ongoing discussions that are happening every day as they continue to monitor and evaluate the situation.

CDC’s recommendations to reduce your risk of exposure:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 

Should you see a doctor?

Ask yourself:
  1. Have you traveled outside the U.S. in the last two weeks?
  2. Have you been in close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19?
  3. Do you have a fever greater than 100 degrees?
A fever alone does not indicate that you need to be tested for COVID-19. But if you've traveled or come in contact with a COVID-19-positive person, you need to be tested. Call your medical provider first and get instructions on how to report for a test. Symptoms of Covid-19 may include fever, cough difficulty breathing and sore throat. Symptoms generally appear in two to 14 days after exposure. Health officials said most patents experience mild symptoms and can recover at home.
However some patients, particularly those with underlying medical conditions, may experience more severe respiratory illness.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Play in a Day Running Lines

At Play in a Day, the pressure started to build in the afternoon as the actors started running lines to memorize the script of The Dinner Conversation by Tracey Jane. At times they would go through the script at breakneck speed and other times they would run through at pace. Sometimes actors would pare off and work together in another room to help each other in cementing the lines into memory. Some actors knew their lines forward and backwards right from the start while others had to work hard to commit the lines to memory. The drama of these artist supporting each other grew more pitched as the opening curtain loomed around 7pm that night.

On the fence outside there were inspirational sayings from celebrities written on the fence. One was, "I can accept failure, but I can not accept not trying." -Michael Jordon. Another was "Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one." -Bruce Lee. Each saying seemed directed towards the actors as they pulled together to produce a play in just 24 hours. The script had heart, sincerity and humor. I knew I was watching some amazing theater magic. They might stumble through lines in rehearsal but on stage some undefinable force would pull everything together.

"Mistakes are proof you are trying." -Unknown. Every sketch I do feels like a series of mistakes. It is reassuring and inspiring that live theater is as human an art.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Play in a Day Tech

After lunch the cast of The Dinner Conversation had a chance to walk through the production on stage for lighting and sound cues. Tracey Jane wrote a magnificently simple everyday family drama set in a Family Pizza Corral where you can build your own pizza. Because of this there were no complex lighting cues, making Blue Estrella's job fairly straight forward.

At the end of the show Jac (Jac LeDoux) and Ken (Ken Preuss) are working on a slice of pizza together. It was decided that a reference to the potter's wheel scene in Ghost would be funny at that moment. In that scene in the movie Demi Moore it turning a pot and Patrick Swayze snuggles up  behind her and together they sensually finger the clay together. The same sensual moment was recreated only with pizza. I can't imagine a more sensual moment. In my sketch I put Mel, (Melanie Leon) on house left. Her hilarious stage presence lit up every scene.

Tech was quick and efficient, leaving the rest of the afternoon for the actors memorize their lines before the curtain went up at 7pm.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Pineapple Pizza Deviant

 At the Play in a Day rehearsal for The Dinner Conversation written by Tracey Jane, Jac (Jac LeDoux) and Ken (Ken Preuss) are on a date at Family Pizza Corral. Jac was opening herself to the possibility of a new relationship after being divorced for a year. The date was interrupted by the sudden unexpected arrival of Jac's two children, Mel (Melanie Leon) and Ben (Ben Preuss).

At the Family Pizza Corral, you get to make your own custom pizza. In this sketch Ben is mashing his dough with far more brute force that is needed. He is angry to find his mom with another man. He went to college and while he was gone she got divorced. The restaurant used to be a place that the family went to, representing some of the happier memories with his father and mother together.

Mel was a bit more playful, choosing to tease her mom about her "needs." Jac is between a rock and a hard place in hoping her children can accept Ken. Ken can't win. When he offers Ben some sausage, Ben angrily shoots back that he is a vegetarian. When Jac defends him to her son, she explains that Ken is a good man and that they should give him a chance. Then Ken hold out a tray of Pineapple.

This is a bridge too far. Melanie shouts out PINEAPPLE does NOT belong on pizza! Jac has to agree this is one thing that everyone in the family can agree on. Jac tries to smooth over the situation by trying to get Ken to just pick another topping. She is sure that people are watching. This is a pure comic relief. All the pent up family drama dissipates as the family rallies behind this strange and unexpected pizza deviant. It was the contrast between sweet and savory. I've been known to want a burst of sweet even on a slice.

As Jac tries to explain that everyone has their own personal tastes, Ben suddenly shouts out that he is gay. After a pause to take in the information, Jac is caring and accepting. She then goes on to say she is proud of him because at that moment he was a man in her eyes.  It was a heart warming family moment which Ken missed as he obsessed over his very strange pie.  The warmth of the message was so powerful because is was proceeded by so many laughs. The pain of growing up was welcomed with open arms.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, March 9, 2020

The Dinner Conversation

At Play in a Day, I spend the entire day sketching the rehearsals for The Dinner Conversation by Tracey Jane. After the cold reading at the blue round table the cast moved to the main staging area, a long red table with a series of trays lined up. I loved that the long table and the round table visually created an exclamation point. Everyone still had the script in hand but director Kaitlyn Harrington stood on the opposite side of the table guiding the actors for the staging. The setting was a Family Pizza Corral. All-You-Care-to-Create Buffet. “You Make It. We Bake It!” Jac, (Jac LeDoux) was on a date with her "Special Someone" Ken (Ken Preuss). She was a recently divorced mom of two college kids who were returning home, on the brink of consummating her first new relationship after
the end of a long marriage.

Every line of their playful exchange hinted at sexual innuendo. Ken was a food critic but had never been in the Pizza Corral. He and Jac had spent time getting to know each other but this was the first night out with the possibility of desert. However Jac wanted her kids to meet Ken before "going there." She wanted her kids to meet Ken the following night. Being a gentleman, he was fine with waiting. As they snuggle close, pressing their fingers in the dough, Jac's kids, Ben (Bennet Preuss) and Melanie (Melanie Leon) entered the restaurant.

Melanie brought a delightful level of comedy to the awkward exchange. Woman to woman, she spoke of enjoying toppings and of courser some sausage. Melanie had learned all about men with some healthy experimentation in college. While Melanie was playful and teasing her mom, Ben was sullen and angry that his mom was out with another man a year after the divorce. At one point he shouted, "That man is definitely NOT my dad." The irony in that statement is that Ken, in real life, off the stage, IS Ben's father. There were so many multi layered meanings and insider jokes in this 10 minute production that made it such a delight to discover. I watched the play performed over and over all day long as they rehearsed and it never grew old. I just loved the characters more as they were fleshed out. I was lucky to have encamped myself with this clever and fun script and cast.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Play in a Day

Play in a Day is as its name implies a fast paced day where the the plays are written and produced in just one day. The nine writers were given the theme and their individual ‘twist’ at the beginning of a 12-hour period of their own choosing and that was their window for creating the script for their original 10 minute play. The directors and performers knew nothing of their script until it was unveiled to them bright-and-early Saturday morning, they then had one day to produce the work by that evening's opening curtain at 7pm.

Play in a Day 2019 had 107 participating artists, 82 of them, including every playwright, director and stage manager, were women. In addition, each production team was assigned a title under the umbrella theme "Men". The #MeToo movement inspired a female empowered cast and crew since women are a powerful force in the Orlando theater community.

When I arrived all the actors and crew were gathered in the Lake Howell High School (4200 Dike Rd, Winter Park, FL 3279) cafeteria. There were donuts, beagles and other breakfast items. I sipped some caffeine to get my drawing hand twitching. Each production crew already seemed to be grouped together and I wondered which production team I should sketch. Since I had sketched actress Melanie Leon before in various shows around town, I asked if she could talk to her director about having an artist shadow their rehearsals for the day. The director agreed and soon I was sketching them as they performed the first reading of the play at a small round table.

The table was already a perfect setting since the play written by Tracey Jane was titled "The Dinner Conversation." Tracy had worked remotely and couldn't be at the rehearsals but her humor and heart felt writing, affected every scene and interaction between the characters. Around the table sat director Kaitlyn Harrington, who was open to suggestions as the actors became familiar with their parts, yet she guided them deftly. The stage manager was Destiny Sam. The actors were Ken Preuss, his son, Bennet Preuss, Melanie Leon, and Jac LeDoux. Over the course of the day I got to see the challenges overcome as the cast committed lines to memory and transformed into their characters. The tight deadline created a level of team work and support among artists that was absolutely inspiring.

100% of the proceeds from Play in a Day went directly to the BMP Theatre Scholarship Fund and TOP TEENS. This money allows teens to attend master class intensives on all areas of theatre, film/TV, arts administration, activism, acting, directing, play writing, tech, education and leadership. The artists get to study for the month of June and then present a showcase. Scholarships are given to the artists to use to pursue their respective areas in the arts as they wish.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at