Photos: Orlando Holy Land Experience

This was actually a difficult shoot to chose pictures from as their campus is quite striking (even if there’s nothing to DO there). I couldn’t find any really good photos from Universal portion of my trip so I’m quite lucky these turned out as well as they did. I would have preferred a little more variety, but it’s not exactly a big park (it’s roughly the size as the OPEN portion of DHS).


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Categories: adventures, entertainment, florida, museums, Orlando, theatre | Leave a comment

Theatre review: Hoop-dee-Doo Revue

Full disclosure: I’ve seen this show before, but it was a very long time ago. So long ago that I only remember two things about the show: 1) it was my mom’s birthday and 2) I got my very own washboard to play in the finale 😎 (okay, so it was a very, VERY long time ago).

I can’t remember if I enjoyed my previous viewing of the show or not, but I definitely did NOT enjoy the one I saw last night. I know it’s probably because I’m a former theatre critic, but I immediately picked up on the wooden acting, flat singing and complete lack of chemistry amongst the cast. Honestly, the audience members who were recruited for the Davy Crockett bit were better actors than the people onstage – and I’m not saying that because the woman playing “Dolly Drew” looked like Anna (Frozen) borrowing Belle’s ball gown from Beauty & The Beast.

But it’s not just me being a “god-damned humorless, narsasistic [sic] asshole” (as one of my ex-FB “friends” put it). My five year old niece spent most of the show playing Angry Birds on her mom’s iPhone and her younger brother fell asleep during the show – twice (to be fair, he’s only two). Heck, our server looked like she’d rather have a root canal in the middle of the real “frontier territory” than work there. Seriously, I’ve seen cheerier employees at Gracey Manor (though having to watch dreck like this twice a night who could blame her).

In fact, she came by to collect our plates (the second of three times we saw her) while I was still eating so I had a full plate of chicken bones in front of me for the duration of the show including a bit where the entire cast made a circle around our table singing some song that I’ve already completely forgotten. I do remember that the spotlight was directly on me the during that bit, and I looked like a damned pig.

That being said, I was able to tolerate most of the god awful show – keyword “most” – but the last number (I don’t even know what it was supposed to be) was literally painful. I don’t mean the acting and singing – I mean the wait staff hand out washboards and other noise makers for kids to play during the song which caused me to hold my ears in pain. I’m not normally “hypersensitive” (though I have the same reaction whenever emergency vehicles pass), but I tend to avoid the comments section of my posts anyway.

For the record: my mom, brother, sister-in-law and especially her mother all claimed to “love” the show… but I’m NOT coming back anytime soon: * ½ out of 5

Categories: attractions, Autism, disney world, entertainment, family, florida, Orlando, theatre | Leave a comment

Editorial: Updating the Carousel of Progress

“Tomorrowland” is probably one of my favorite areas of the Magic Kingdom, it’s also one of the most dated. There is no attraction more glaringly dated than “The Carousel of Progress.” The venerable theatrical ride is a veritable time capsule of early 20th century innovations that most of us take for granted, then suddenly it plunges 50 years forward to a “futuristic” (from a mid-90s perspective anyway) “alternate reality” version of 1999.

Don’t get me wrong. The information in the first three scenes is extremely important both historically and culturally. However, it would be a smoother transition if they substituted a few more modern scenes to make that final scene a lot less jarring.

1955 – Opening of Disneyland Resort in California. Script for this year does not exist, but they can move the existing third scene to this slot as no specific year for it is given (but is estimated to be somewhere in the late 40s-early 50s).

1971 – Opening of Walt Disney World, Baltimore Colts win Super Bowl V, Joe Frazier beats Mahammad Ali, Final episode of Ed Sullivan Show, Amtrak begins commercial rail service, Nixon announces trip to Cuba, and the Pittsburgh Pirates win World Series. A script for this year already exists (“The Medallion House”).

1985 – IBM releases first personal computer (1981), Macintosh releases first computer with “graphical interface” (1983), VHS wins home video wars over Betamax (1985), MTV launches (1981), John Lennon is shot (1980), Soviet Union boycotts Olympic Games in Los Angles (1984). A script for this decade exists (“The House of the 80s,” 1981) and can be easily modified for this later year.

1999 – Keep existing scene.

Categories: disney world, editorials, entertainment, florida, theatre | 1 Comment

Closing time

Wow, I just forced myself to check the site stats on my blogs: Only 338 unique visitors for my mobile gaming blog since October of 2012 (the art\theatre blog is around 1200 but it got an inherited readership… and a six month head start).

I don’t care how many people read THIS blog, but for the other two that number it is downright discouraging – to the point that it makes justifying their existence next to impossible. That’s why today when I posted on a story I wrote back in December (and dated as such), I followed it up with a simple graphic dated two weeks later (Dec 29th) with the caption “sleep tight…and Servus.”

I also plan on doing the same for the art\theatre blog when the theatrical season ends in late May, and the truth is: it’s a long time coming. I’ve been increasingly bored with the whole routine lately. Seeing shows ONLY because I feel I HAVE to, and I realized that not only is that unfair to the actors\set designers\etc. but, more importantly, it also isn’t a very compelling reason to continue writing a blog I have zero passion for.

The only problem real problem I see with this decision is that it means I’ll be unemployed (again), but like the saying goes:

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…

Categories: announcements, art, editorials, entertainment, movies, news, ramblings, theatre, writing | Leave a comment

Birthday recap 2013

I admit that I got off to a late start today – particularly since I woke up after I had expected to leave for the day’s festivities. So like it or not, I was going to have to rearrange my schedule – considerably.

By the time I was showered, dressed and ready to leave it was already 11:25am. I made my way down the hill to the light rail where a northbound train was already waiting for me to board. I had planned on going to the Harbor East, but why argue with convenience?

I arrived at Hunt Valley at 12:11pm and immediately headed over to Caribou Coffee which offers a “free medium coffee on your birthday.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my ID to prove it was my birthday, but they decided to waive the requirement for the sake of moving the line. The coffee was actually really good, and the young woman who gave it to me was the first person today to wish me a “happy birthday” without me prompting her.

I finished my coffee and decided to wander around the shops (which weren’t all that crowded for a weekend in December). Then I made my way to the cinemas at the back of the mall and bought a ticket for a nearly sold-out matinee of Disney’s Frozen. I won’t get into details about it here, but, suffice to say, I was a little disappointed in the film (particularly since I own stock in Disney).

The movie got out at 3:12pm, and I slowly made my way towards the light rail station again. Just like earlier, the train was already sitting there, but this time it took another 10-15 minutes for it to depart the station (as of 3:35pm, not one person on Facebook wished me a “happy birthday”). It got me back to Mt Royal at 4:35pm and from there is only a 10 minute walk up the hill to my apartment…

But that didn’t mean my day was over. I went downstairs, got a shower, got dressed and was back out the door by 6pm. This time I knew ahead of time where I was going… I just didn’t know how I was getting back (as light rail and the city’s free circulator bus end service at 7pm and 8pm respectively).

My first stop was the mini restaurant row there on Charles\Preston Streets. I would have preferred a real sit down restaurant, but I knew I couldn’t risk it time wise. I was somewhat surprised by how quickly I had finished my food, and even more surprised that no one had wished me a “happy birthday” on Facebook yet.

After disembarking the circulator at 7pm, I made my way up St Paul St, across the street and around the corner to the large brick building that dominated the block because I knew if there was ONE institution that wouldn’t let me down on my birthday – it was Center Stage. They even offered me “rush” tickets without me having to ask.

I was wrong, but I’d rather not discuss it here. You can, however, read my very low opinion of their show here. Fortunately, there was an intermission about halfway through the show so I was able to make a quick exit (something I don’t normally do as a drama critic) and since it was a rush ticket, I was only losing half of what I would have paid if I bought in advance.

When I got back to my apartment at 10pm, I had a notification on my phone – someone had finally written a birthday wish on my wall. J

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, holidays, light rail, movies, ramblings, retail, theatre, writing | 1 Comment

Disappointment all around

It was a beautiful sunny day outside today. Unfortunately I spent most of it stuck inside doing laundry, and then I decided to go out and go out and do something productive. In fact, I pretty much bolted out of here as soon as the machine buzzed; you know Carpe Diem and whatnot.

I took the fifteen minute walk to the circulator stop, and I looked at my watch realizing that I had a lot of time on my hands. As I looked up again the bus was just pulling in, and surprisingly enough there were still a few seats left towards the very back. See, this wasn’t so bad.

I get off at Inner Harbor and walk into The Gallery. I knew what wanted, I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to get it at a dollar store. Heck for a dollar, I could get anything else I wanted – yah for wanton spending!

I get behind an angry woman yelling at her restless toddler. I finally get up to the cashier, put my 4 items on the counter and the bored looking woman rings it and it comes out to just under $15.

“Huh, four items is $15? I thought this was a DOLLAR store.”

She rolls her eyes and gives that same “you’re a moron” look I get from every retail clerk. She then points to the price column on the receipt while shoving my bag to the side and calling the next person in line.

She clearly had this conversation more than once today, but I didn’t feel like letting her ennui ruin my day. Not to worry, I would have other opportunities for that as the evening continued.

I look down at my watch and it was just after 5pm. I cross the still barricaded Pratt Street and make my way to the Banner stop at Conway Street where I quickly discovered that the barricades blocking off most of Light Street as well – including the stop.

Fortunately, they had cleared up enough space for a stop two blocks south at Lee Street, and as I was walking it I felt drops slowly falling on my head – good thing I left my umbrella at home. One Purple Route came then another one and finally after 15 minutes of waiting in the rain, the Banner Route finally showed up and it was empty and remained so for most of my journey.

I arrived at a rain-free McHenry Row at 5:45pm and immediately made my way to the Green Turtle on the main corner. I opened the door (which had a large colorful sign on it advertising “$3 Game Day Apps”) and about five staff members were just sitting there at the maître de stand. Finally, one of them looks at me skeptically and asks if I wanted a table.

I was tempted to say smart to their stupidity, but I was not about to piss off someone who can spit in my food. The maître de grabs a menu and leads me off to a booth with a view of the dark sky and completely dry patio.

The waitress does arrive, and I as her about the $3 appetizers.

“Actually, if you look at the sign, you’ll see that it says ‘Saturday and Sunday only.’ Today is THURSDAY.”

“Great,” I said trying (and failing) to match her enthusiasm (mom always said I can’t be disappointed in something that is my damned fault). “I guess that means…uh…full price….what a deal.”

“Yep, now what can I get you to drink?”

I order an iced tea, and a sandwich. I felt somewhat bad about not ordering an appetizer, but truthfully I really wasn’t hungry for one anyway. Besides, if it were as bad as my sandwich then I made the right call (usually I like their food).

She drops the bill off on the table, and I felt bad again. Then I realized, it was 6:25pm and I didn’t have time for pity. I was on a schedule, and I was determined to keep to it. I left the bar as the southbound Circulator zoomed by which meant I wouldn’t be waiting too long for a northbound bus.

It took just under ten minutes for the northbound bus to arrive, and I rode it all the way back to Oderbein where I got off in time to be caught in a sea of people heading over to the Orioles game (that I seriously forgot was going on tonight) and the various street vendors that serve them. Yes, having a Light Rail station at Camden Yards can be so convenient at times.

I walked over to the ATV and swiped my Smartcard. When I turned around, an empty “Penn-Camden” train was just pulling into the station. I get on, and as I’m checking FB on my phone, the operator comes by talking on her phone. She stops in front of me, points at me and says “where are YOU going?” Her tone sounding more like an accusation than a question, but I told her “Everyman Theater” and she walks off mumbling about “not knowing where THAT is.”

I was about to tell her when I noticed the northbound Hunt Valley pulling into the station. I remembered that normal MTA trains (non-Penn-Camden) have priority on this line so I crossed the platform and waited for the fans to get off before talking one of the few empty remaining seats on my two stop journey.

I got off at Baltimore Street and took a moment to get my bearing as I’d never been to Everyman’s “new” venue (it opened last year to HUGE fanfare). I look left, and as I turn to head right I nearly run into a man standing a few inches in front of me.

“You don’t understand how bad of a night I’m having,” he pleaded. “All I ask from you is some change: 10-cents, a dollar, anything you can spare. Please I’m begging you.”

Yep, that’s me the default ATM of Baltimore’s poor and disenfranchised. Every time I leave my apartment…but on the plus side, it was nice to hear other people having problems. With him gone I was able to find the theater in peace…and wandering all the way to UMD Hospital without seeing it I finally pulled my smart phone out, checked the map and realized that I had just walked three blocks down the wrong street. I made it to the theater with twenty minutes to spare, and a damn near miracle they still had seats left. All that being said…

There is a certain amount of irony in being disappointed by a play about disappointment. Unfortunately for Everyman, I hate irony… almost as much as I hate sitting here trying to justify why I disliked a show with no “objective” flaws. Sometimes I hate this job… but then again I’ve always been, as one of the characters in the play said: “a good Christian martyr.”

After a seeming eternity in the theater, the show let out after only 90 minutes (it felt like a lot longer) – just in time to get caught up in the wave of people coming out of the Orioles game. In fact, the first train was completely full. The second one, which arrived about 4 minutes later, was crowded, but there were still a few visible seats near the back.

Yah, I was going back to the apartment. I could rest, unpack my shopping bag and begin coming up with reasons to not hate this evening…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, Inner Harbor, light rail, locust point, sports, theatre, transportation | Leave a comment

Final Friday in Station North

It took slightly less than 20 minutes to get from my apartment in Bolton Hill to the new Annex Theater\Station North HQ on North Avenue. It wasn’t the most impressive space I’ve ever seen, but considering it was only drywall and ceiling beams they could only improve (fortunately painting and moving furniture are two things that can be done relatively quickly).

However since there was no-one there I slid back out and headed into the McDonald’s next door. Who cares if it’s “healthy,” it was next door! Normally, that location takes 10-15 minutes for me to get my order, but today I was lucky as I get my food in less than three (there were five people ahead of me). When I returned to the theater, there was someone inside giving a tour of what little there was to see, but I’m sure it will look different by the time “Macbeth” opens sometime next month.

The walk over to Baltimore Node seemed to take forever, but I eventually made it there. Naturally, they were serving free pizza and Boh in a space that looked like a combination machine shop and frat house. The people there seemed nice enough even if I had no idea what they were talking about which is such a downer since I always considered myself at least somewhat smart.

Next door was the new Station North Tool Library and whose opening was the excuse for holding this little night out. It was exactly like I pictured a tool library to look… except the crowd inside was standing room only. I like the idea of the space, but I hate crowds so I went back to watch little kids set off rockets outside Node.

If I wanted to, I could go all the way back to Charles Street to see a bilingual play about Peruvian miners. Speaking two languages is great, but anyone who’s ever talked to me can tell you that I barely speak one…that is unless I’m talking to myself in which case they can magically understand me perfectly.

Fortunately, there was one other theatrical option in the area, and it was located almost directly behind my apartment. It was the “classic” 1989 musical “Meet Me in St Louis” at Memorial Episcopal. The play was a little overlong with spotty acting, but, on the plus side, I can take Missouri off my “bucket list.”

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Bolton Hill, Station North, theatre | 1 Comment

Editorial: “Equus” and Autism

I recently attended a staging of Peter Schafer’s 1973 play “Equus,” and one thing that struck me was the lack of a clear diagnosis for Alan. In fact, Schafer went out of his way NOT to offer any clear solutions to Alan’s case. The critics immediately jumped to this being an allegory on homosexuality. Possibly, but I also think it is possible that Alan suffered from a moderate form of Autism (which wasn’t understood – even in psychiatry – until 20 years after this play after written).

Inability to communicate with people – particularly when under stress which leads to inappropriate social behavior such as singing familiar songs (in his case radio jingles) particularly when faced with a situation in which he has no idea what to say\do (such as a cross-examination in court). The behavior is inappropriate in context, but the court could understand the words being sung.

Inability to express emotions in appropriate or healthy ways – this is related to the above as poor communication skills can be extremely frustrating, and the equal lack of communicating feelings is often perceived as a lack of them. Not that anyone actually cares how people with Autism feel, they are emotionless robots incapable of any human emotion and are often hurt for proving this painful stereotype wrong. In Alan’s case, the horses are.

He is extremely bright and is determined to make others see him as such – this is may be why he taunts the doctor when he discovers the tricks Dysart used against him. This is often played as arrogance on stage, but the show I went to got it right – playing Alan as both a rebellious teenager trying to act cool and a scared little boy trying to prove that he’s smart.

Obsession with some topics with a complete lack of interest in others – Alan is obsessed with horses and extensions thereof (like cowboys and westerns), but shows little interest in movies (other than westerns), electronics (he has no idea what a tape recorder is) or even sex (Jill comes onto him pretty strongly before he reluctantly agrees to fuck her).

He is hypersensitive (to noise) – this is one of the key symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and is demonstrated throughout the play – particularly in the scene with him in the hardware store where he is shown struggling to deal with the noise of the store as well as the demands of his customers. His hypersensitivity is what causes his impotence with Jill (as he was startled by the neighing of a horse in a nearby stall)

His affinity with horses – he cannot communicate well with people, but he is described as being a “natural” with horses, spending hours brushing and grooming the animals in the stables. Equine therapy had been around for several years when this play was written (the concept of Hippotherapy was around in ancient Greece, but not seriously studied until the 1960s).

Also, “horses are natural,” Alan says: they don’t hurt you (his mom slaps him at one point in the play) or put on airs (like being in an adult theater for “marketing reasons”) nor do they enforce their religious beliefs or non-beliefs on him (though it is Equus himself who supposedly interrupts Jill and Alan’s climactic sex romp for desecrating his temple).

Ability to perform tasks he has never been trained to do – he is stated to be able to ride horses, despite no formal training in that regard. This is a classic trait of Asperger’s Syndrome as they think asking how to do something makes them look “dumber” (note the “-er” – people with Autism know full well how they are perceived by the public) so they will learn a desired skill on their own to make themselves look smarter.

His use of violence to solve perceived problems – this is more media sensationalism than anything else, but aggression is often the only outlet children with autism have as they can often neither speak nor act in ways normal people understand (which is why they repeat phrases they know will be understood, even if they seem inappropriate in context).

I personally don’t think it belongs on this list, but others do. It should also be noted (as Dysart does in the play) that Alan attacks – but doesn’t kill – the horses not Jill nor other any persons in the ward, the hardware shop or the stables who were shown as being mean to him.

Alan’s problems are ultimately blamed on bad parenting – this is a psychiatric stereotype that even Alan’s parents call Dysart on, but Schafer goes out of his way to drive the point home anyway. This is still a common misperception made by the general public that Autism is simply the result of “poor parenting.”

Of course, it should be noted that his mother is portrayed as being icy, a common theory on autistic behavior in the early 50s-60s (interestingly enough, his mother blames television for her son’s behavior, another popular explanation for Autistic behavior in the early 70s).

Dysart claims that there is nothing really “wrong” with Alan – this one I sort of agree with. This play is about the passion Alan has towards life, love and sexuality, and Dysart states that his continued treatment of Alan would likely kill these very qualities. This is currently a relatively popular belief in the Autistic community.

However, the sad fact is at 17 there really isn’t much that can be done for him as programs for adults with Autism aren’t offered in most areas (children yes, because it is easier for donors to sympathize with a precocious six year old than with an “uncanny” adult).  Pennsylvania has a statewide program for individuals with milder symptoms, but comprehensive care is only offered in four counties (Dauphin, York, Chester and Lancaster).

Now can I say for certain that this is what Alan has? No, particularly since the direct cause of Alan’s episode was a delusion of grandeur ruined by an untimely vision of his now former god Equus. Auditory and visual Hallucinations aren’t generally considered one of the hallmarks of Autism, but it is not uncommon to find Autism overlapping with other disorders (which are often diagnosed first).

Categories: editorials, entertainment, ramblings, theatre | 1 Comment

My online half-year in review

As most of you know, I’m a freelance writer\photographer by trade and thus spend much of my time writing for my other blog – “Aisle Pass.” This is the list of stories I’ve done in the past six months (the theatre season begins in August).

The half season of theatre: August – December 2012

I don’t have enough material for an “art” or “movies” list. 😦


I also launched a new video game review blog in October.

My list of Android game reviews

My List of Facebook game reviews

Categories: entertainment, games, theatre, writing | 1 Comment

An almost normal Saturday: Part 2

I left the apartment (again) at 4:25pm, returning to the same Circulator stop I stood at less than three hours before. Fortunately for me, the bus arrived pretty quickly and I was walking along the promenade by 5pm.

There was a performance of some sort in the amphitheater. Tours of the visiting NE Brazil had just ended, but there was a huge crowd at the Ripleys across from said ship.

However, I was here for dinner so I went into the relatively new Bubba Gump Shrimp at the Light Street pavilion. The service was fairly good, but the sandwich I ordered wasn’t. Whatever, I was out of there by 6pm, and crossed over to the other pavilion to hit the ATM before heading off to Fells Point.

I wasn’t sure what the best way to get there was. Taking the Orange Route to the Green Route seemed a bit convoluted. I could walk over and catch the Green Route at Market Place, even though I wasn’t entirely sure where the stop for that was.

I browsed through Barnes & Noble for about a half-hour to think it over, and then decided to walk over to catch the Green Route in Harbor East. It’s only 4 blocks, and you can tell when you’re getting close because the putrid smell of the harbor intensifies to almost lethal levels.

Fells Point is one of those odd neighborhoods that you can hear well before you reach its famously cobbled streets. Drunken costumed revelers, tone-deaf karaoke singers and crappy cover bands: it’s no wonder I avoid this area on a Saturday night – especially around Halloween.

I arrived at Vagabond Players just after 7pm. However, it took a while for them to print my ticket due to the “new system.” I’m left standing there for twenty minutes of:  “no…go back… now try that…no, that’s not it either…”

Hopefully, they’ll figure it out by the next showing, because it is otherwise a nice looking theatre with a similar layout to FPCT (but without the wood paneling). The lobby had just been remodeled, and I kept hearing other patrons remark about how much nicer the space looked.

The show started at 8:07pm, with an intermission an hour later. They did have cookies and coffee in the lobby along with light chatter, I almost felt like I was at an NA meeting (not completely inappropriate given the subject matter of the play). The show restarted, and I left the theatre when the show ended at 10:29pm.

I make my way to the Circulator stop on Caroline St, but it’s closed so I walked back along the promenade to the Orange Route at Harbor East. I got off the bus at President Street, made my across the ripped up sidewalk past a broken retail window and down the steps into the subway.

It took about 15 minutes for the westbound train to arrive, and even then it moved slowly, prone to sudden starts\stops that doubled the time it took to travel requite 3 stops back to State Center. I got off the train, climbed the surprisingly well-lit stairs and began the walk back to my apartment as Saturday slowly faded into Sunday.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, Fells Point, metro subway, theatre, writing | Leave a comment

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