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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our sixth calendar year
    PCR #277  (Vol. 6, No. 28)  This edition is for the week of July 11--17, 2005.

The Sanford Summit---Part 2
 by William Moriaty
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
 by Mike Smith
"Fantastic Four"  by Nolan B. Canova
The Business of Horror
 by Drew Reiber
Rock Star: INXS - Yet Another Major New Wave Disappointment...."Fantastic Four" Review...."Land of the Dead" Review
 by Andy Lalino
Latest Reviews and Shohei Imamura
 by Peter Card
"War of the Worlds"...."Fantastic Four"
 by John Lewis
King Kong 2005....MOH Meltdown
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Empty Nest .... Hypocrites .... Coming Soon....He Can Keep "O Bla Dee, O Bla Da"....Jaws: The Story, Part 25
 by Mike Smith
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The Sanford Summit, Part Two

The Summit Begins
In PCR #275, I covered the prelude to this extraordinary event. If you did not read Part One of this story, click to this PCR link provided by our fearless publisher Nolan Canova in order to capture the complete essence of that magical evening on June 24, 2005!

Attendance Roster:
1. Charlie Carlson, author and historian
2....and his wife Dot
3. Susan Thompson, spiritualist medium
4. Lisa Clardy, author, artist and e-entrepreneur
5. Brendan McWilliams, props designer and installer for theme parks and private parties
6....and his girlfriend Anna.
7. Owl Goingback, Native American author
8....and his wife Nancy.
9. Myself, author and founder of an environmental organization
10. Drew Reiber, UCF student and columnist for Nolan's Pop Culture Review
11. Peter Card, UCF student and columnist for "Nolan's Pop Culture Review

As noted in Part One, magician Harry Wise, as well as Florida Folk Hero Tom Begley and his wife Elise were not able to attend. In addition, journalist Jim Robison was not able to attend either.

But First, An Apology to Brendan McWilliams
I pride myself at trying to be as factual, fair and correct in my writings as possible. Prior to submission of Part One of this saga I asked my wife Karen Cashon how Brendan spelled his first name. Was it with an "A" or an "E"?

Being that my wife is 200% Irish, I felt for sure that if anybody knew the answer to that question, it would be her: Wrong!

Even my Spell Check disagreed with her, but years of marriage have taught me that when in a dispute with your wife, you must yield to the princess (this same adage applies to my cats as well)!

Better yet, to be a better writer, simply pick up the phone and ask the person you are writing about how they spell their name, don't blame your wife, admit to your own oversights, and apologize to the misspelled party, which is what I'm doing now…

I apologize,
Love ya Brendan,
Mean it!

On With the Show...
Summit attendees PCR writer Drew Reiber (L), theme park and party props guru Brendan McWilliams (M) and Anna Everhart (R) pose for photographer Lisa Clardy while a couple in the background indulge in snugglebunnies.
As planned, Florida Folk Hero, Sanford native son and "Master of the Weird", Charlie Carlson and his lovely wife Dot (a colorful Cracker girl if ever there was one, originally from Paola, Florida) were already there along with medium extraordinaire Susan Thompson. The three of them were already engaged in conversations with Native American writer Owl Goingback and his wife Nancy.

A striking-looking gentleman, Mr. Goingback is of Cherokee and Choctaw heritage and relocated several years back from Nashville, Tennessee to Florida. He was generous enough to furnish me with signed copies of two of his books, "Breed" and "Evil Whispers". One of the Summit attendees, Anna Everhart, was so awestruck by Mr. Goingback's writing in "Breed", that she had read the first seventy-eight pages by the time dinner was done that evening, and ordered a copy of the book the next day!

I can see why - - set in the old section of St. Augustine, "Breed" is one of the scariest stories I've ever read! In addition to his painstaking research of local and regional history, Mr. Goingback brings a mood and ambiance to his writing that is truly superb and truly earning of a Bram Stoker Award, which he received for his novel, "Crota". Another book of his, "Darker Than Night" was also nominated for this coveted award.

Folks, I'm here to tell you that Owl Goingback is one of the best!

Charlie Carlson's Weird Florida Re-Unleashed!
Florida's "Man in Black" and author Charlie Carlson thumbs through "William Moriaty's Florida" while medium Susan Thompson is engaged in a discussion at the first Sanford Summit on June 24, 2005.
Charlie Carlson never fails to amaze!

It was incredible to hear the family history of this tenth generation Floridian and exchange stories of the paranormal, such as the "I-4 Dead Zone" near Sanford. In addition to Susan Thompson, whose car broke down twice at the same location in the "I-4 Dead Zone", it turns out that Anna Everhart's car did the same thing at the exact same location, not once, but twice!

Truly weird! I don't know about y'all, that puts bumps on my chill bumps! That place is a haint if ever there was one!

Book, book, book...

In a word, Charlie Carlson's Florida is...


The content is superb and the graphics are absolutely top notch. My favorite tales include the Oviedo Lights; Xanadu, House of the Future; Lake Placid's ornate trash receptacles; and of course, the Florida Skunk Ape and U.F.O.'s.

As a testament to the power of this book, I showed it to a waiter at the Chili's restaurant here in Plant City (named after the railroad magnate, not the strawberry, y'all) who immediately wanted a copy of it. I greedily held on to my own copy, mentally claiming a use of deadly force against said waiter should the new "Carlson convert" try to remove it from my evil clutches - - actually the waiter was a really cool guy, but Charlie autographed this copy the night before at the Summit. Like the waiter, you'll need to drop by your local Barnes and Noble bookstore, or order this great book on-line.

Dot Takes on the Patels!
Yes, it's a weird world after all (wouldn't that line go great sung to the tune of that Disney classic about a small world?)…

Whoda thunk that fate would've directed me to someone brave and caring enough to stand up to bulldozers in order to defend endangered Gopher Tortoises from being buried alive in their burrow dens so that a Best Western hotel in Edgewater, Florida owned by one of the Patels could be constructed?

I'm a believer in property rights people, but I also believe that we, as sentient stewards of this planet can also take a little time out to work to preserve life here and there and not just stomp on, crush or kill anything that we feel gets in our way to economic prosperity or convenience.

But sure enough, on this ultra freak out night, I had the honor of sitting next to this noble down home Florida girl who didn't just talk, but got involved, even at risk to her own physical well being and possible legal action.

Florida's natural beauty left an indelible mark on Dot as she recounted with a gleam in her eye tales of hearing, when she was a child, Florida Panthers howling off in the distance along the Wekiva River, not far from her rural Paola, Florida farm house. We both opined that contrary to the official state party line, this magnificent big cat is not limited to extreme desolate South Florida, but often follows riverine and creek systems well north of that part of the state.

Yours truly and author Charlie Carlson (R) celebrate at the end of a successful Sanford Summit.
Dot was not about to let some out of town (or out of country person for that matter) bulldoze a part of what little vestige of natural and cultural Florida heritage still exists.

It is so rare and wonderful to meet a person of such integrity and conviction in this day and age…

Ratchet the evening up to ultra-ultra freak out.

In the parallel universe that was the Sanford Summit, at one end of the collective table we were speaking of Florida, ghosts, Florida Panthers, gopher tortoises, and family genealogies, while participants at the other end of the table were immersed in conversations about Florida's independent movie scene, and schlocky movies such as "Manos - - Hands of Fate" (did y'all know that "manos" is Spanish for "hands" - - makes the title even more compellingly stoo-pid, don't it?).

PCR writers Drew Reiber and Peter Card, along with F-Bod Studios e-entrepreneur Lisa Clardy, and Anna Everhart also had an opportunity to see Brendan McWilliams story board drafts of a haunted house theme park he would like to see one day be built.

Canovas Beyond the Grave and Beyond Tampa
While described my French Huguenot heritage to Charlie, I mentioned that PCR editor Nolan Canova had lineage dating back to the late 1500's in Florida. Medium Susan Thompson perked up when she heard the name "Canova" and exclaimed that "the photo of the grave that you see on the back of the New Smyrna Beach Ghost Tour pamphlet was taken on Canova Street!"


Ultra times three freak out!

It turns out that one of Nolan's multitudinous Canova relatives, this one being the actress and country singer Judy Canova (see PCR #110) owned the land where the grave was located and planned on putting a mobile home park there! Susan's revelation pretty much completed the evening's freak out circuit of incredible coincidences and kindred spirits.

As employees of the Blue Dahlia began to close the restaurant located in historic downtown Sanford, the Sanford Summit ended around 10:30 P.M. with "Florida's Man in Black", Charlie Carlson, shaking hands with me, the person magician Harry Wise calls "Florida's Man in White", in an evening that was fun and memorable for all that attended.

But That's Not The End Of Our Saga!
A daylight view from the balcony of the historic Park Plaza Hotel.
Feeling a warm afterglow after such an incredible forum of writers, artists, film students, a film professor and a magician, Lisa, Brendan, Anna and I drove back to the hotel where I was staying, in order to unwind and reflect on the evening.

Overlooking the shops and bistros of Winter Park's Park Avenue from the balcony of my room at the gorgeous and historic Park Plaza Hotel, every one of us that night made a vow to attend more Sanford Summits, even if some might be at a restaurant in Key West or a coffee house in St. Petersburg. As Florida's Man In Black said to me in an e-mail the next day, "this could be the start of something."

Yes, I feel confident that it will indeed be the start of something...

When In the Greater Orlando Area, Stay at the Park Plaza Hotel
Two things prevented me from doing my usual stay at the Best Western hotel on Orlando Avenue in Winter Park;

One is my lack of support of Best Western due to the gopher tortoise buffoonery over in Edgewater, and the other is now that tourist season is over, I was finally able to book a reservation at this historic and romantic hotel that has more character and charm than any hotel I have ever stayed in.

I highly recommend to everyone that when visiting the Orlando area, that you stay at the Park Plaza Hotel, where I had a wonderful if albeit too short a stay during the Sanford Summit! Thanks to Robert and his staff for their gracious and attentive service.

This Tiffany lamp and mirror highlight the classic elegance of this 1921 historic Winter Park landmark.A streetside view of the 1921 Park Plaza Hotel taken from Park Avenue.

"La Floridiana" is ©2005 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 ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.