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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2007!
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The Tampa Film Review for February  by Nolan B. Canova.
Loren Cass: A Florida Indie Film Review  by Nolan B. Canova
Weird Magic in Sanford, FL!  by ED Tucker
Ginnie Springs - - Skunk Ape Central?...Just What Happened on the Wacaser Farm in 1956?  by William Moriaty
"Breach"  by Mike Smith
Concerts....The British Oscars....Passing On....Movie Notes....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 7: Josh Mostel  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 360  (Vol. 8, No. 7). This edition is for the week of February 12--18, 2007.

Weird Magic in Sanford, FL!
By ED Tucker

The quiet little town of Sanford, Florida wasn’t very quiet on Saturday, February 10. Best known for being one of the largest producers of celery in the nation at one time, the city was celebrating the 50th anniversary of their museum. There was music, ceremonies, displays by local organizations and even free refreshments but the highlight was the entertainment.

The museum is very interesting and features some wonderful exhibits donated by local collectors. I have always found smaller museums to be more enjoyable because of a stronger emphasis on areas of local history that would get lost in the crowd at a larger venue. The Sanford Museum features displays on the history of their railroad hub and items from a restored movie theater (not only projectors and reels but also some personal items from several decades ago that were found when the balcony seats were removed). There is also a spot dedicated to the town’s place in celery farming and a faithful recreation of founder Henry S. Sanford’s huge library that started it all.

The history and exhibits were certainly entertaining as well as educational but my main reason for attending was to meet up with two of Sanford, Florida’s favorite sons – Charlie Carlson and Harry Wise.

I have met Charlie Carlson on several other occasions including book signings and an appearance last year at Megacon. For the museum celebration, Charlie brought out his “Museum of the Strange” that closely resembles a carnival sideshow. While acts performed outside the tent throughout the day, visitors brave enough to venture inside could feast their eyes on ancient mummies, mysterious objects, and even the “remains” of a Roswell space alien!

The items in this garish collection were clearly not meant to pass as authentic but their presentation was delightfully tacky and made suspension of disbelief an easy task. The “alien” was encased in a chamber from his spacecraft that was made of wood and adorned with various electronic pieces. Charlie had designed this display himself using an original sideshow prop and a case that a carpenter created from his specifications. The end result was scientifically amusing but probably historically accurate to what traveling carnivals once advertised.

Amid the treasure of Sasquatch track castings, tribal weapons, and improbable artifacts was one item I found particularly interesting. In a small chest on one end of a display sat a strand of day glow orange seaweed that looked incredibly familiar. The sign for the exhibit heralded this as a prop from the Disney motion picture “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”. I reminded Charlie that this was really from the Walt Disney World ride and had been presented to him last year by my friend Dan Tuchmann and me. I guess a little artistic license never hurt anyone and who’s going to notice next to a space alien and a mummy!
In this day of instantaneous entertainment and digital overload, it is a rare and humbling experience to find yourself in the presence of a true Wizard but Harry Wise is the real deal. With a career history that could easily outshine any ten performers today combined, Wise is a walking encyclopedia on the lost art of showmanship. He was generous enough to interrupt his well earned retirement to give the celebration’s attendees a taste of what real magic is all about.

Mr. Wise is clearly skilled in the magician’s craft but his true forte lies in being able to enthrall his audience with a banter that could only be honed by years of experience on the stage. Along with assistant Melanie Holt (who first saw Wise perform when she was only five) and the aid of a few audience members, Wise demonstrated some of the classic feats of magic including the guillotine routine that closed many a road show. Books can and have been written about his experiences as a magician, television personality, hypnotist, clairvoyant, and (best of all) Ghost Master of spook shows. After one of his performances he was kind enough to tempt me with snippets of stories from his many years on the road in the days when entertainment was a four-course meal and not the microwave side dish it is today!

For any fans of Florida history or interesting collections, the Sanford Museum comes highly recommended. Even if you don’t get the added bonus of a Charlie Carlson side show or a Harry Wise magic act on a regular day, there are fitting displays on both entertainers inside.

"Weird Magic in Sanford, FL!" is ©2007 by ED Tucker. All photos used courtesy of ED Tucker.

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.

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