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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our sixth calendar year
    PCR #287  (Vol. 6, No. 38)  This edition is for the week of September 19--25, 2005.

Labor Day Weekend Magic
 by William Moriaty
"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride"
 by Mike Smith
Answering The Creach....The Hammer Horror Series....The Bucs
 by Matt Drinnenberg
What Is Rock And Roll?...Sure I'm Sore, But....Legal Wrangling....Jaws: The Story, Part 34
 by Mike Smith
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Labor Day Weekend Magic  

All the preparations were made for a Saturday September 3, 2005 visit with Florida Folk Heroes University of Central Florida film history Professor Thomas Begley and magician Harry Wise, both residents of Sanford, Florida, an eighty-plus mile one-way trip from Plant City. If all went well, an impromptu “Sanford Summit 2” meeting would be a by-product of this get-together later that evening.

Friday Evening, September 2nd:
The Labor Day weekend of 2005 started off for me with my first trip this school season to the St. Petersburg College planetarium. This was a very special treat because I was the first and only person to attend the College’s very first presentation of the season - - I can truly say that planetarium Director Dr. Craig Joseph put on a show of the universe just for me!

As I sat in the darkness of the planetarium with the stars of late summer and early fall above me, Dr. Joseph and planetarium docent Bob Nizolec and I talked freely about astronomy and even non-astronomy subjects such as the recent Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans. Like myself, this is Dr. Joseph’s favorite stellar season as summer constellations begin to shift westward below the horizon to be replaced by fall and winter constellations. I am sure that somewhere in the northern hemisphere, the leaves of trees are beginning to blush hues of red, orange and yellow in response to the changing orbit of the planet.

I left the planetarium around 8:00 P.M. and walked into an incredible pink and purple sky. The tall and statuesque South Florida Slash Pine grove that defines the sense of place and natural character of the neighborhoods immediately north of the College campus was alive with the deafening roar of Cicadas.

I could tell right then that this was going to be a magical weekend.

Magician Harry Wise opined in his book “Dream Friends Content to Pretend...” that the sound of the Cicada was to announce the emergence of a Unicorn from its invisible portal to the reality of the earth, as we perceive it. In this instance, there must have been a heard of them ready to unleash their beauty and majestic appearance upon the unknowing residents of this tree-covered neighborhood.

I then proceed to the Biff Burger restaurant on 49th Street North for dinner, then on to see Sonic’s Siren Liz Warner and get one of their yummy Strawberry Sundae’s, then headed home to Plant City to go to bed and later awaken to travel with my wife Karen Cashon over to Sanford.

Saturday Morning, September 3rd:
It had become obvious by that morning that all but save Karen, Professor Begley and Harry Wise bailed on the Sanford Summit 2 (although sadly, PCR columnist Drew Reiber showed up all by his lonesome that evening).

Friends Susan Hughes, Lisa Clardy, Brendan McWilliams and Anna Everhart cancelled out by that morning. Owl Goingback had indicated a week earlier that he had a prior commitment to attend a Rob Zombie concert in Jacksonville. Charlie Carlson and his group consisting of wife Dot and medium Susan Thompson cancelled due to concerns of possible gasoline rationing due to effects from Hurricane Katrina, and paranormal researcher Dr. Doris “Dusty” Smith had to cancel during the afternoon due to an unforeseen health problem.

Regardless, the visit that Karen and I had with Professor Begley and Harry Wise was on its own magical...

Saturday Afternoon, September 3rd:
After pulling the Nightstalker into a parking space on Elm Street next to George Touhy Park (see LA FLA, PCR #275), Karen and I walked across the street to the Begley abode where Tom, Harry, and a student of Tom’s named Ava were awaiting our arrival.

Harry and I stood beneath the shade of an Oak tree and talked of real-life walking dead and psychic vampires while Tom, Karen and Ava sat on the Professor’s front porch engaged in their own conversations. Harry told me that he had a magic trick for us as well as gifts, and that he would conduct a tour for us of his Halloween den and Magic room.

Karen and Ava and I temporarily left Tom’s house and walked over to the house that Harry Wise has lived in almost life-long. He demonstrated for us the “Chinese Vase” trick on the front sidewalk. The true magic at work here was the effect that it had on Karen and Ava - - the look of anticipation, wonder and elation was worth the trip alone. Harry then taught me the trick and handed me the small bronze vase and its cotton rope prop as a gift!

The four of us then toured the front porch of Harry’s house that doubles as “Wise the Wizard’s” Halloween den. There were over four hundred Halloween related items in the small room, and before we left, he “gifted” (a phrase I learned from “Florida’s Mister Magic” along with the term “Equine Excrement”, a term that has many applications) Karen with a charming rendition of a forest scene he created using miniature animals and a small mirror of a Unicorn at a pond surrounded by bunnies, squirrels, birds and other sylvan critters.

Ava had to leave by mid-afternoon but not without trying frantically to reach PCR columnist Drew Reiber, also a UCF student to see if he would be attending our gathering or meeting us for dinner at the Blue Dahlia restaurant in downtown Sanford - - there would be no response.

As the afternoon wore on, Harry and I took our own “Magical Mystery Tour” of Harry’s hometown, reviewing where the celery fields of Sanford (formerly the celery capital of the world) used to be, as well as seeing where he and his father used to launch fishing jaunts from the St. John’s River. We then crossed the St. Johns and drove the stunningly beautiful and relatively undeveloped back roads along Lake Monroe that he and his mother would take Sunday road trips on. We even went to the park where Harry does his backwater fishing sometimes catching sixty keepers a day. We then crossed back over the St. Johns and rounded the curvilinear path that U.S. 92 takes along beautiful Lake Monroe.

Saturday Evening, September 3rd:
After Harry and I returned to Tom’s house, the sky turned gray-purple and storm clouds began to gather as we sat on the breeze filled porch reveling in the moment and each other’s company. Professor Begley, always articulate, intelligent, and wondrous and an enjoyable host also “gifted” Karen and I with his own unique style of gifts. Before heading over to the Blue Dahlia to see if any one changed their minds and went ahead to dinner, I surveyed George Touhy Park to find an area where I hope to plant three Tulip Poplar trees by Halloween in dedication of three of my most respected Sanford denizens - - Harry Wise, Charlie Carlson and Thomas Begley. Orlando Sentinel writer Jim Robison wrote a great article about this proposed donation in the Sunday September 18, 2005 edition of that paper!

Harry and I jumped into the Nightstalker on our search and rescue mission. The heavens gave way to white water as rain pummeled the historic homes and businesses of this Central Florida treasure. Once at the Dahlia, there was no one there from our proposed party of eight so we headed back to Tom’s for more porch sitting and conversation. Little did I know that five minutes later Drew Reiber would be the lone figure at a table set for eight at the Dahlia wondering where everyone was.

Karen and I said our good byes after a magical, fun-filled and unforgettable day with some of the most colorful people imaginable. We went to the Blue Dahlia where we ran into poor Drew who pulled an all-nighter the day before explaining why slept through Ava’s frantic phone calls to reach him. The food was its usually fantastic at the Blue Dahlia, and after the Nightstalker made it safely through the infamous “I-4 Dead Zone” had smooth sailing the remainder of our trip back to Plant City.

Sunday Afternoon, September 4th:
I customarily jog Picnic Island in Tampa on Friday evenings and late Sunday afternoons before picking up Nolan for dinner.

This jog would be the most unique of its type in my twenty-one year history of jogging there.

As is customary, I used the remote car alarm on my key chain to activate that system while I was away from the car. After my three-mile run, I ran back to the Nightstalker to grab my gym bag. As has been done countless times, I grabbed the key chain from a pocket in my running shorts and deactivated the alarm.

I grabbed a bottle of water and then began to organize items for my trip to Nolan’s. The bronze vase and rope that Harry had gifted me with the day before was in the rear passenger side seat while work and T.R.E.E. Inc. related documents were in the front passenger seat.

As is also customary, I placed the key chain back in my running shorts pocket so that I would not forget them or accidentally lock myself out of the car while I reorganed the interior of the car. I moved the work and T.R.E.E. Inc. related items into the back seat and moved the bronze vase and rope up the front seat in order to show Nolan and others at dinner the trick.

I noticed that my writing pencil was still in the front seat, so I opened up the glove compartment to put it back in its usual spot and got the start of my life. Staring back at me was the same key chain I had put in my pocket about two minutes earlier! And it was almost red hot to the touch!

I will never be able to explain something that incredibly bizarre, but I will tell you that once retrieved that key chain I looked around and yelled...


Definitely a fitting end to a magical Labor Day week-end!

Esurance St. Pete Beach Tree-Athalon
This upcoming September 24th at 10:00 A.M. kicks off one of my tree planting organization’s most significant and large –scale volunteer plantings to date, the “Esurance St. Pete Beach Tree-Athalon”.

Made possible from a $3,000.00 donation from Esurance, the on-line auto-insurance company from San Francisco, California, forty large-sized trees (8’ to 10’ tall) will be planted at six St. Pete Beach city parks. For more information click to the dynamite publicity page created by best friend and former “Blondie” artist Denis Lebrun at http://www.treeinc.org/treeathon.html. In addition, the event was mentioned in the September 21, 2005 Metro edition of the Tampa Tribune.

Will's Recommended Websites

The Paranormal in Florida
Orlando Ghost Tours http://www.hauntedorlando.com/
The Original Key West Ghost Tours http://www.hauntedtours.com/
Ghost Tours of St. Augustine http://www.ghosttoursofstaugustine.com
Ghost Tours of Historic Haunted St. Petersburg http://www.ghosttour.net/
The Florida Jaguarundi http://www.pangeainstitute.us/expeditions/jaguarundi/
The Florida Skunk Ape http://www.floridaskunkape.com/
Florida Paranormal Research Association http://www.floridaparanormal.com/
SpookHunters http://www.spookhunters.com/
New Smyrna Beach Historical Ghost Tours http://www.nsbghosttour.com/
Daytona Beach Ghost walk http://www.hauntsofdaytona.com/
Florida Ghosts Haunted Index http://www.floridaghost.com/hauntedindex.htm

Good Eatin' in Florida
Cafe de France, Winter Park http://www.lecafedefrance.com/
Maison et Jardin, Altamonte Springs http://www.maisonjardin.com/

Florida's Fast Cars
Florida Camaro and Firebird Association http://forums.flcfa.net/index.php?sid=184f3bac8ac5b4b279c4f413775e4179

Florida Aviation
Plane Boats "Cosmic Muffin" http://www.planeboats.com/
David Henderson's tribute to Shawnee Airlines http://www.geocities.com/pinkdc3/shawnee/shawnee.html

Florida's Photographic History
State Archives of Florida http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/

Tampa T.V. and Radio
Tedd Webb http://www.teddwebb.com/
Mike Clark's Big 13 Website http://www.big13.net/index.html
The Graveyard Shift Radio Show http://www.emisuniverse.com/

Florida Road Trips
Don Ce Sar Beach Resort, St. Pete Beach http://www.doncesar.com/
Marrero's Guest Manaion, Key West http://www.marreros.com/
Florida's Lost Toursit Attractions http://www.lostparks.com/index.html
Scenic Boat Tours, Winter Park http://www.scenicboattours.com/home.htm
Park Plaza Hotel, Winter Park http://www.parkplazahotel.com/index.html
Dinosaur World, Plant City http://www.dinoworld.net/

Florida's Fantastic Gardens
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables http://www.ftg.org/
Harry P. Leu Gardens, Orlando http://www.leugardens.org/
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota http://www.selby.org/
Florida Botanical Gardens, Largo http://www.flbg.org/
Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg http://www.stpete.org/fun/parks/sunken.htm

The Best In Florida Reading
Charlie Carlson's "Weird Florida" http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0760759456/qid=1125458482/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/103-9238911-3327057?v=glance&s=books
Owl Goingback http://www.owlgoingback.com/
Tim Dorsey http://www.timdorsey.com/home.html
Carl Hiassen http://www.carlhiaasen.com/
Randy Wayne White http://rwwhite.com/
William Moriaty http://www.lafloridiana.com/index.htm

"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.