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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fourth calendar year
    PCR #182  (Vol. 4, No. 38)  This edition is for the week of September 15--21, 2003.

Will's Excellent Water Adventure in Winter Park....End of an Era....Will's Fall TV Picks
by Will Moriaty
"Once Upon A Time In Mexico"
by Mike Smith
Premiere Month?.....Top 10 Reasons to Watch "The Mullets"......Nanites Are Us......Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere DVD
 by Vinnie Blesi
More Notable Passings......Cabin Fever
 by Ashley Lauren
"Jeepers Creepers 2" .... "Cabin Fever" .... Creepy Freaks
 by John Lewis
John Ritter......Happy B-Day
 by Matt Drinnenberg
What's In A Name?....Michael, Val, George, --- CHRISTIAN?....He's Going To Sing!....Slip And Slide And Sue....Congrats 1 & 2....Speaking Of....Passing On....Legends
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
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Will's Excellent Water Adventure in Winter Park

A Piscean Is Always at Home in or Near the Water
Not that I put much stock in astrology, but I must confess, that as a Pisces (sign of the fish) I love the water. I love to be in it, near it or on it. My conception in the Isle of Pines in Cuba and subsequent birth on Davis Islands in Tampa seemed to seal my fate for this attraction to water.

I view water in almost mystical terms. It is a necessary component for life itself. It purifies, soothes and inspires. Just to view clear, pure water boiling out of springs brings out an almost primitive sense of awe and magic in me. To see fish, otters, gators, birds and other wildlife frolic in the water is a joy to behold, a beginning and an end to a fulfilling and beautiful day.

Water in Florida I view with the utmost of respect. The Sunshine State is situated on the same latitude of the world's greatest deserts, yet we are blessed with abundant rainfall that provides us with the myriad of flora and fauna that makes Florida so unique in the world. Whether it is clear coral filled salt water in the Keys, mangrove and sea grass shorelines, beaches, fresh water rivers, creeks, lakes, or springs, such systems provide relief from the scalding subtropical sun as well as providing refuge to innumerable aquatic and vegetative life forms.

Two years ago I embarked in starting on a mission to repopulate a chain of lakes in Orange and Seminole Counties with the native deciduous Magnolia known as the Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) that finds its southernmost outpost in these two counties. Under the auspice of the Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort, Inc., I donated the first five of such trees, raised from seed of Orange County native specimens, to the City of Winter Park to be used at Mead Botanical Gardens near the creek that joins Lake Rowena to the south to Lake Virginia to the north. With the approval and assistance of Parks and Recreation Director John Holland, a true Florida Folk-Hero and fine man, his staff (including another true Florida Folk-Hero and fine man Lee Mackin, the City' s Forester) the trees were planted in October of 2001, and are thriving at that location.

In addition to a donation at Mead's next door neighbor, the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc.) main office, last year's donations installed in September were expanded to included Winter Park's Kraft Azalea Gardens which are along the shores of Lake Maitland, yet another of the chain lakes that are a part of this repopulating program. One of the City's employees told me at that time that the comedian Carrot Top lived nearby on an island located within Lake Maitland (this will prove important later in this story).

The Slow Journey to the St. Johns River
Our featured chain of lakes starts life near the Orlando Science Center, Museum of Art and Civic Theatre of Central Florida near North Mills Avenue (U.S. 92) in Orlando. Lakes Winyah, Sue and Formosa pop off into Lake Rowena where Harry P. Leu Gardens is located. Next, Lake Rowena flows via a creek running through Mead Botanical Gardens, where it joins Lake Virginia, which is also fed by Lakes Mizell and Berry in Winter Park. Lake Virginia has Rollins College as its shoreline neighbor. From there, a series of canals joins Lake Virginia to Lakes Osceola and Maitland. Another creek, known as the Howell Branch then carries Lake Maitland's water through Winter Park and Maitland into Lake Howell. The final aquatic journey carries Lake Howell and all of its previous successors through Seminole County into Lake Jesup, which empties into Lake Monroe in Sanford, and finally into the St. Johns River, which is the watershed where this southernmost population of Tulip Poplar is found.

The Chain of Lakes Scenic Boat Tour
Winter Park Parks Director John Holland recommend that I consider donating this year's Tulip Poplar to the Scenic Boat Tours dock area on the shores of Lake Osceola. I decide on Saturday August 30, 2002 to conduct a review of my previous donations (which were doing great!) and see this new home and possibly ride on one of the tours. I'm delighted that I did!

The Carrot Top/Huntress Close Encounter
When I arrived at the Scenic Boat Tour ticket counter at the end of Morse Avenue, it was 1:30 P.M. The next tour would not be until 2:00 P.M., so I jumped into the Huntress and boogied post haste to Kraft Azalea Gardens to see how last fall's donations were doing. Upon rounding the first bend of Alabama Avenue from Palmer Avenue, the Huntress barely squeaked to within four feet of Carrot Top who was west bound in a very upscale motorcycle. As I passed and we exchanged glances, I continued to observe him from the park. For whatever reasons he would pull in and out of the nearby driveways of the posh homes. He was shirtless, but built like a Sherman Tank. I then checked up on the remaining donations, jumped back into the Huntress, and headed back to the Scenic Boat Tour.

The Scenic Boat Tour
I made it in time for the one-hour journey covering seventeen miles that started at 2:00. I was concerned that the clouds would produce rain, but my fears were unfounded. The tour was delightful - - although it was 92 degrees on land, the breeze on the water felt wonderful - - and it was informative; beautifully narrated by an old man with a Yankee accent who knew the history of the area and told with great heart and wit.

Operating from land owned by the City of Winter Park, there were three pontoon type boats operating the tour. We left from the port at Lake Osceola and traveled through the canal that joins Lake Osceola to lake Virginia. This was more delightful than any Disney boat ride because the lush jungle foliage, homes, buildings and history were all authentic. I found out that Rollins College was actually older than the University of Florida!

After having circled Lake Virginia, we retraced our voyage back to Lake Osceola where I found out that Margaret Mitchell (who was a dear friend of mother - - the two of them used to run around Macon, Georgia way back when, and their friendship was so esteemed that my mother also auditioned for the role of Scarlet O'Hara at Margaret's behest) wrote her acclaimed novel "Gone With the Wind" at a former hotel overlooking Lake Osceola. He also took the time to explain who Chief Osceola was!

The guide also gave us a history on the two canals we would use. They were built to connect the lakes in the late 1800's for a logging operation! The canals are no wider than about ten feet on a good day and enveloped in lush tropical foliage. Tall people have to duck when approaching the Osceola Avenue and Palmer Avenue bridges.

Lastly, we surveyed the largest of the three lakes, Lake Maitland. Upon skirting the Kraft Azalea Gardens shoreline I could see one of my donated Poplars growing contently in its scenic home. On the return portion of Lake Maitland I also found out that the late PBS show host "Mister Rogers" grew up in one of the houses by the shoreline there, was an ordained minister, and went to school nearby at Rollins. Other information and history was too lengthy to even mention here.

As we pulled into port, I shook the pilot's hand for a job well done. He advised us to tell our friends about the Scenic Boat Tours, which I'm doing right now. For more information, click here.

A sunny day of happy Tulip Poplars, a Carrot Top encounter and a scenic boat tour - - it just doesn't get much better than that!

End of Era - - Palios Restaurant
In the not-so -good Department, a South Tampa institution, Palios Brothers Chicken and seafood restaurant shut its doors forever on Wednesday September 3, 2003. Established in 1963 by the Palios family, this institution that hosted such notables as Steve Spurrier and Bobby Bowden had the best fried chicken this side of the old Porter's Restaurant in Plant City. For a wonderful memoriam to this great restaurant of my youth, see Tampa Tribune writer Steve Otto's September 4, 2003 column. Also, see PCR #118 for a reference on this former eating institution.

Will's Fall T.V. Picks
Although I love all seasons, fall is probably my favorite in Florida. Hot, humid rainy summer days finally give way to the respite of drier, cooler brilliant sunny blue days, spectacular sunsets, and starry, starry nights with a distinct chill in the air.

It is also that most wonderful time when a cracker boy's fancy turns to college and professional football T.V. watching.

Lastly, it is when television starts a clean slate with new shows, or new episodes of existing shows.

Although last year's fall picks looked promising, the season degenerated into a dud. "CSI Miami', although wildly popular, is no "Miami Vice" - - quite frankly it's a yawner, and David Caruso has to be the most wooden actor in the history of television. Additionally, two wonderful shows, "Birds of Prey" and the third network remake of "The Twilight Zone" were both cancelled by season's end.

So drum roll please as we survey this Fall's "Will's Picks!"

Karen Sisco
Stars Sarasota native Carla Gugino, and Robert Forster as her father. Based on the character portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in Elmore Leonard's "Out of Sight", Debuts Wednesday October 1, 2003 at 10;00 P.M. on ABC (WFTS Channel 28) http://abc.go.com/primetime/preview/2003-04/karensisco.html The show is about a sexy yet capable Federal Marshall (Sisco) who works the underbelly of crime in the glitzy Miami area, and her mentoring father who had a similar position and is only glad to share his wisdom to his offspring. With an Elmore ("Maximum Bob") Leonard inspiration and a Florida native in the cast, you know it's got to be good!

Good Morning Miami
Returns for a second season now Tuesday at 9:30 P.M. debuting September 30, 2003 on NBC (WFLA Channel 8) http://www.nbc.com/Good_Morning,_Miami/ Ashley Williams ("Dylan") and Matt Feuerstein ('Jake") reprise their roles in this delightful situation comedy.

Returns for a third season, now Wednesday at 8:00 P.M. debuting on October 1, 2003 on the WB (WTTA Channel 38) http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0,7353,||126,00.html Tom Welling ("Clark Kent") and Kristen Kreuk ("Lana Lang") reprise their roles in this hip retelling of the Superman mythos.

True Calling
Thursday at 8:00 P.M. on Fox (WTVT Channel 13) http://www.foxnow.com/truecalling/ Featuring actress Eliza Dushku of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame, Dushku's character is a New York City graduated student with the ability to communicate with the spirits interred at the morgue where she works.

Wednesday at 9:00 P.M. debuting on October 1, 2003 on the WB (WTTA Channel 38) http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0,7353,||139,00.html This final holdover of the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series continues to feature Angel and his ladylove's (David Boreanaz and Julie Benz) newest exploits. Lovable "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" vampire and Billy Idol knock-off James Marsters reprises his role as the lovable but deadly "Spike"

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.