Friday, November 30, 2007

Central Florida's Melting Pot - The Community of Celebration has Families from New York AND Ohio!


I love watching couples ride tandem bicycles and I hate litter, so as far as “master planned communities” go, Celebration is the bomb diggity.

You can always take a tour of Celebration's Town Hall if you tire of roller coasters and character breakfasts, but for the sake of those whose lives get busy this time of year, I'll give you the Cliff Note version of what you'll find at Celebration: According to Wikipedia, 94% of the population is white, although they do have residents from "all over the country,” including New York, Michigan and Ohio - which makes them pretty diverse, right? There is one gay guy there, too, but he bills himself, simply, "metrosexual" claiming to have an ex-girlfriend in the Niagara Falls area. There are eight senior citizens in Celebration and no single parent families. The women of Celebration aren't allowed to wear shorts above the knee or vote.

Celebration's Dirty Little Secret
One time in the spring of 2004, a man in the “North Village Sector” (Celebration ghetto), used a curse word when he accidentally knocked over a garbage can in his driveway. Subsequently shunned by his neighbors, the man moved out of the community and out of Central Florida two months later.

Rich in History, Too!
Interestingly enough, according to the Celebration website, they have a "History Center" there, which is both impressive and tacky fabulous, seeing as they how they broke ground for the first home in 1996. Don’t you think, perhaps, we should give the town a little time to breathe before getting all nostalgic? Maybe get a few “Founder’s Day Picnics” under the belt, first? I mean, is anyone really talking about the good old days when Celebration was first developed and people used to go to see movies in theaters and heat their food in microwaves?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A public service announcement brought to you by the State of Florida...

Passive-aggressive signs are, indeed, protected by the First Amendment.


That's the big news from Satellite Beach. I know, I know...it's not Orlando, but pack up the kiddies and the family truckster, and take the 45 minute drive east. It’s really worth it for a glimpse of this Tacky Fabulous sign (it also offers a great educational opportunity for the little ones. They'll get to observe Constitutional law in action, Florida-style).

Here’s how the whole thing went down: In July, for whatever reason, "Paranoid Neighbor A" installed security cameras on his property, pointing in direction of "Passive-Aggressive Neighbor B."

"Passive Aggressive Neighbor B" retaliated with an "I'll give you something to look at" message that Local 6 WKMG described as a “homemade toilet sign”. (“Homemade” because the customized toilet signs you buy in local stores are always incredibly overpriced).
"Paranoid Neighbor A" then sensed a code violation and filed a complaint. Brevard County Code Enforcement officials inspected the toilet seat and determined it “protected by the laws of free speech.”

Armed with the wisdom of our founding fathers, "Passive Aggressive Neighbor B" upped the ante this week by posting a new sign. Behold:
It's a butt. Plastic. It's captioned with the phrase, "Thinking of you." I love it because it epitomizes Tacky Fabulous. I want to talk with designer about making a lower-priced knock-off version available here, as an exclusive item.

One last thing: I don’t know anything about the demographics of the people involved, but I’d bet my last dollar they are in the early-bird-special/matinee-watching/black-calf-socks-wearing category. Know what I mean?

(P.S. Thanks for the pix Local 6)

I can't say for sure what Santa is doing...



But the flamingo doesn't seem to mind, so who am I to stir up trouble?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What do you got against Steak and Shake, buddy?

Here in Central Florida, we give you one chance to make things right before we open a can of whoop-ass on you and launch an all-out assault, so consider yourself warned.


Case in point:

Don't even try to clutter up our strip-mall-riddled, car-dealership-overloaded, bar-dotted roads with something so unsightly as a billboard. We're all about being green here, says Dan Bellows. He owns a bunch of land near Tom and Jerry's Lounge on 17-92 in Winter Park. Dan's sick of having to look out at an otherwise picturesque bar-parking-lot scene, and see a billboard for Steak and Shake. (Although, there's nothing to hate about that new Black Peppercorn Bacon burger...Yum!)

In this world, there are those who sit around and bitch and there are those who fight for the betterment of all mankind - and in the words of the Orlando Sentinel, "Dan Bellows is a man of action." He does have his name to live up to, after all, and as anyone with Steak & Shake's Outdoor Advertising Department can tell you, "When he asks, he bellows."

Noteworthy: When Dan the Man plants trees, he doesn't plant just any old palms - he chooses the 37-foot variety! Dan, I love you, but I've always thought guys who plant such big trees might be overcompensating for something, ya know?

As an unbiased outsider, I must say that Dan gets the win on this one. I'm told he's completed a similar environmental project just down Lee Road.

Things are starting to look pretty eco-friendly there already!

There's contact from Scott Powers and it's not a restraining order!

I'm in Scott's Tourism Blog in the Orlando Sentinel today - WOO HOO! My Mom insists it's terrible news because I am now forever attached to the word "tacky". (As if nobody noticed before! The bleach blonde hair and fake tan just may have tipped them off, Mom.)

Now that things are moving forward with Scott, perhaps I could convince him to go to Gatorland with me sometime, seeing as how we both cover the complexities and inner-workings of the Orlando Tourism business.


Plus, I need to replenish my supply of Gator jerky.







Best Friends Forever!

Do NOT eat this snow.

You've got to love the Winter Wonderland that is Central Florida. Not only does it start snowing the day after Thanksgiving, but it snows every night after that until New Year's. And not only does it snow each night, but it begins precisely 6, 7, 8, and 9pm. And not only does it begin at its designated time, but the duration of the snowfall is exactly 10 minutes.

One little catch, though. That snow...well...it's made from soap bubbles, so sticking your tongue out and tasting it will be a reminder of the first time you said the F-word and Mom took the Irish Spring to your dirty little mouth.


The "Now Snowing" event happens at Celebration, the Disney-fied town just a few miles from the main gate of the Magic Kingdom. The place has such a Mayberry vibe that you feel like you've walked onto a movie set. ("Cue the happy children eating ice cream...Now junior, look up and smile at Dad!")

No wonder the sharks and gators are so pissed!


I figured this was some sort of "rubber shark in glass trick," because, really, who would hunt down a baby shark to kill it, put it in a jar of formaldehyde, and sell it in a tacky gift shop on International Drive for ten bucks? And worse yet, who would buy it?

But I had to find out for sure, so I asked the lady at the register. I tried to phrase it in a really upbeat way, so she wouldn't think I was being judgmental and lie to me. "Hey, WOW!" I said, "Look at that! It's not a real shark, is it?"

If you are an animal lover, cover your eyes for this part.

LA LA LA LA LA LA LA...(Ready?)

It is.

AND guess what? I believe the same guy who came up with the "baby shark in jar" concept just might be spending his weekends chopping the heads off baby alligators and covering them in shellac.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Does seafood have to be refrigerated?


This one is a mystery. Is it truly a restaurant or has someone taken a page from the Disney "faux international experience" and created a facade designed to look "London-restauranty"? I'm not up on my British architecture. Is this what their eateries look like?

The fact that the proprietors (with a lot of extra color-coded letters) managed to include F-C-U-K in the name tells me somebody's making a funny.

Is it possible they were able to secure a license from the Orange County Board of Health to sell almond-crusted Halibut? Don't get me wrong, in my college days, that place would have equated to some good post-2am eating...and probably no worse than the plastic coated ham I once watched my drunk boyfriend devour (yes, with the plastic on), but still, I'm not going to this place for my birthday dinner...well, maybe, if it's 2-for-1. After all, the place across the street has a $10 buffett.

Nothing says Orlando quite like a wolf...

I consider myself to be of, at least, average intelligence. I'm college educated and gainfully employed, so it drives me nuts when I don't even have the mental capacity to absorb some of the slogans, mottos, and branding that goes on here in Orlando gift shops. I'm assuming you are operating at a higher level than I am, intellectually, so you'll probably know right away what this is all about. OK, gator stuff, I get. Sharks, HAHA. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck - really, no explanation necessary. But a wolf under a full blue moon? Not usually top of mind when it comes to Orlando tourism. Or this friendly-looking chap. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the typical man you cross paths with in Orlando is wearing the same shirt as every other member of his family...his headgear usually includes (at worst) some sort of mouse ears or (best case scenario) a baseball hat.

Skull caps and a big fat joint...not so much.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Holy Crap!

This article was printed about a month ago in the Orlando Sentinel, but I hope you agree that the message is as timeless as the dead sea scrolls.


Let me start by saying I've never been to the Holy Land Experience. It's not that I don't have an interest in a Biblical theme park, it's just that my life gets busy with other things like flossing my teeth and touching up my roots.

But after reading the Sentinel article, I'm much more interested, now, in visiting the corporate headquarters in Costa Mesa than the park itself. No wait, I want to go to their studio in Dallas - it's a replica of the White House...and then I'll head off to Twitty City in Nashville!

Paul and Jan Crouch are the owners of Trinity Broadcasting and Holy Land, and I soooo want to party with them. They've got thirty houses and a jet, which is twenty-nine houses and a jet more than any of my lame friends. Plus, their former security director calls them a cross between "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "The Sopranos." I feel like I was separated from these people at birth.

The Crouches bought up "the struggling attraction" over the summer. Soon after that, they did a little "employee cleansing" and fired one-quarter of their workforce. I'm sorry - I meant to say they were downsized for the "fiscal health" of the Holy Land. It was a health issue, people - show some freaking compassion!

Let me explain this to you, in case you didn't learn it in high school - when you get popular, there's always some jealous hater waiting in the wings to take you down. Just ask David Hasselhoff. And the Crouches.

To this, I say..."What's there to hate about people who do telethons that have raised more than a billion dollars in the name of the Lord?" Talk about ungrateful -the Christian watchdog organization http://www.ministrywatch.com/ downgraded them from a "C" to an "F". For those of you who don't have an understanding of the evangelical grading system, the "F" stands for "F-You!"

One thing you should know, though, if you ever come face-to-face with the Crouches when they are here in town: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT toss out clever little quips about mistaking them for Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. It's old. The Crouches ask that you sharpen your wit and "up the funny."

Now, to those of you who will certainly label me a blasphemer for this piece, let me just tell you that my kids go to a Christian school, which is the equivalent of saying "I have gay friends" when being accused of homophobia. So there!

And so that we can end on a happy note, I was able to track down Jan and Paul's recent pic from their visit to Glamour Shots in the Altamonte Mall. Enjoy!


But is he naked under his towel?


I have absolutely no street cred in this town, so in an effort to legitimize the site, I decided to tap into the resources of some of our local experts. And who better to chime-in on the eccentricities of our fair city than Kelly Monaghan, author of "The Other Orlando" books and blog!

This guy has seen it all when it comes to tacky fabulous Orlando. It took some work locating Kelly, but eventually, I tracked him down under the Hulk attraction at Universal with a notebook in one hand and a half-naked Homer Simpson toy in the other.

With that said, Kelly's pick for "favorite cheesy Orlando souvenir" is the Homer talking doll, available at Kwik-E-Mart in Universal. He's wearing only a towel (Homer, not Kelly), and if you squeeze his hand (because who doesn't squeeze the hand of a guy clad only in a towel?), Mr. Simpson goes into a little routine of his favorite catchphrases, including a rendition of "Macho Man."

Having seen the Simpsons movie (and Bart's genitalia) this summer, I was tempted to ask if Homer is also anatomically correct, but we'll save that tidbit for a future blog. I must say, though, looking at the doll on the right side in the picture, somebody tried to peek.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We're bucked.

With all the theme-park oriented T-shirts taking up space on the shelves in Orlando, you probably worry, like I do, about where to find camouflage and military fatigues. I'm happy to report that I passed a "store" yesterday that boasts, "Antlers with Attitude".


In case you think I make this stuff up...


The place is called, "BuckedUpShirts.com" and it's the answer to your prayers if you've been looking all over, but still haven't found that "Huntin' Hoes not Does" shirt on your holiday list. That, of course, is for fellas, but they do have garments for ol' ladies and youngins, too.


The store was on Route 46 in the Wekiva area, but I'd hate to send you out there for nothing, because the shop was on wheels. Goodbye Sanford...Helloooooo Deltona!

I Bite

I took the kids to Santa's Christmas Tree Forest in Eustis this weekend for some serious redneck fun. The owners do everything they can to make the children of Florida feel a little better about being in a tropical environment during the holiday season, but is it just me, or is there is something insincere about roasting marshmallows in 80 degree weather with "Winter Wonderland" playing in the background? Will this be the stuff my kids hate me for someday? "Because of my mother's desire for a year-round tan, we never got to experience snow..."

If not for that reason alone, the youngest will definitely have some longstanding issues about the petting zoo that wasn't. The concept seemed great: There was an adorable little pony, a couple goats, a pig, a machine that dispensed 25 cent feed, and even a sink for clean-up.

See, here's a picture. Take in the beauty.

Oh, wait, now let's zoom in a little on that shot. What does the sign say?



Yeah, that sign there - on the left near the pretty pony - it says "I BITE." All caps, apparently, to indicate he bites hard and often. Not to be outdone, the sign near the goat area says "Please don't touch us."

I hate to be a scrooge because I realize this place is all about good cheer, but seriously, it's a PETTING ZOO. There would seem to be nothing else required of the animal than to just be open to the touch of a human. The thing doesn't have to be cute, clean or know any fancy tricks. Just sit there, Wilbur, and realize that, in turn for being mauled by a runny-nosed-two-year old, you will never have to forage for food again.

But that's not how it went down in Santa's forest ,because that runn-nosed-two-year-old belonged to me and he wanted to buy those 25 cent pellets. And without the benefit of actually being able to feed the goats, our only option was to THROW FOOD AT THEM and hope these biting creatures weren't so crazed as to actually bust out of their fences and unleash their fury on us. The whole thing felt wrong.

But since I like the place and I want to be a "problem solver" not a "troublemaker," here's my suggestion: if those particular animals aren't up for the cause, there must be some others that are. And if not, let's just call it a "furry friends observation area" and forget the whole "petting" option.

Please, Please, PLEASE let it be a wax museum!


Only in Orlando can a restaurant change from "a fine Italian eatery with strolling musicians and the feel of a European Opera House" to "a speed-themed restaurant with enough horsepower to shake the earth" - without making any structural modifications.

Back in 1990, when I was a tour guide at Disney, my friend Chris was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. He used to tell me that when he "made it big" in the movie business, he'd take me to dinner at Caruso's Palace, that fancy restaurant on I-Drive with the columns. We both knew when the rich and famous came to town, they'd dine among the elite of Orlando at Caruso's.

Fast forward 17 years later and Chris is now a successful stuntman, living in L.A., directing documentaries and working in films alongside Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage.

He never took me to Caruso's.

It wasn't his fault, really, because Caruso's bit the dust, and was eventually replaced with Race Rock -the race car themed restaurant with all the motorcyclie-boatie stuff inside.

The exterior stayed the same - columns and all, but the new owners (Kyle Petty, Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace, etc) were brand-savvy enough to paint a black and white checkerboard flag on the domed roof. And of course, they put an 18 wheeler in the lobby and parked Big Foot, the Monster Truck, out front. Or was it Gravedigger?

But now, Race Rock is done, too. According to a March issue of the Orlando Business Journal, the new owners, Tavistock, plan to create an "entertainment-oriented restaurant concept." They were supposed to make a big announcement about it in April. I haven't heard anything, so I hope it's not to late to rally the cause...

WAKE UP ORLANDO...WE NEED A FREAKING WAX MUSEUM! Sorry to be crude, but really, enough is enough. It's nothing short of a sin that we don't have one here. I know, I know...there is one in Old Town in Kissimmee, but it's never open.

Or maybe it's not too late to try and return to the glory days of Indian World Museum and Trading Post or Weapons of the World: The Hands-On Experience.


(photos courtesy of vamosparadisney.com)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How utterly cosmopolitan of you, Kissimmee!

One time I booked a reservation at the W Hotel in NYC. Sounds great, right? Except for the fact that the hippest places don't put signs out front, so you have to walk past it 20 times, checking your map and looking for a non-existent address before finally mustering up the courage to ask the bellhop if you are in the right place - only to have him respond, "Why yes, ma'am, did you find us on Travelocity?"

Well, apparently some smarty pants in Osceola county has brought a little bit of that big city flair right here to Central Florida. See, there's the hotel...and there's the pool, but no sign. They do that as a holier-than-though kind of thing to make you feel lucky to be staying there. And to up the ante, they don't even put a bellman out front.

SNOBS!

The Name Game

If you've ever driven down International Drive, you can just feel the marketing energy. Everything from branding to signage (and spelling) reeks tacky fabulous. I believe there is anordinance in town that forces each gift shop within Orlando city limits to have a name that starts with either an outlandishly high number (like 1000) or the word "Bargain." For example, "1000 Shirts Low Price" or "Bargains Here for You."


This place decided to venture out a bit with the name "Best Prices Gift Shop," but that's probably because they had the benefit of high-powered NY ad agencies, focus groups and annoying telemarketing calls.

Not only is the name great, but the shark attacking the fish on the building is a nice touch. It just screams "best prices." When you think angry shark, you think savings. At least I do, and I'm no different from most consumers.

Oh, and look at that! We have a new T-shirt record low price. DING DING DING - WOO HOO!

6 for $9.95. That's 1.6583333 per shirt. Sweet! And if that's not enough for ya, run next store and enjoy 10 entrees for $10.

I'm just numb...

My best friend friend from New Jersey came to visit last week with her husband and kids, and on Saturday morning she and I went out to grab some bagels for everyone. (Cawffee too!) All of a sudden, my friend let out a shriek and an "OH MY GOD!" I had only ever heard her scream that loud once before. It was New Year's Eve, 1989 at a Bon Jovi concert at Giants Stadium.


But this time, there was terror in her voice. "Look over there! Do you see it? OH...NO WAY!"

"What?" I asked. She was pointing in the direction of a strip mall, but I didn't see anything noteworthy.

"Right....there! Look! I just can't even believe it! It's incredible! I mean, never in all my life have I seen something so...well...it's..."

"Oh," I said, looking into the parking lot. Yawn.


Double Yawn.

"So," I asked her. "Who do you think will get booted from Dancing with the Stars tonight? It's gotta be Marie Osmond, right?"

"Are you kidding me?! How could you ask me that, when right next to you is that ENORMOUS, TACKY, CRUSTACEAN-LOOKING THING ON TOP OF THAT CAR..."

Listen up, people. Living in Orlando means it's going to take a lot more to shock me than a gigantic lobster overtaking a Volkswagen bug. That Boston Lobster Feast thing is on every billboard, in every newspaper circular, and I think it even graced the cover of my last phone book alongside an ad for an attorney who's willing to fight tooth and nail on your behalf if you've had a bee sting that wasn't your fault.

Whatever...carry on!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Why do fools fall in love...with lamb curry?


Have you ever traveled to an exotic location only to find you can't get your favorite food? That will never happen when you're in Orlando. Although the staple of our diet is chicken fingers, there are plenty of other international favorites. Let's say, hypothetically, you're craving ....um...."India Diner" food (who doesn't? After all, the people of India are known for their diners), well we've got it here in O-town! And like all great diners indigenous to India, the restaurant is shaped like a jukebox boasting your favorite India Doo-Wop Diner tunes, from "The Twist" to "Unchained Melody." It's almost like being in New Delhi.

Hey Y'all, I'm fixin to lead the parade in New York City!


Clearly, someone at Macy's has an appreciation for Tacky Fabulous, just like we do. Our girl Dolly led the Thanksgiving parade yesterday. Her dress had leaves attached to it. It's a fall fashion statement, and if you don't understand that, I'm not going to even attempt to explain it to you. I'm working on my own knock-off version of it at home right now. In winter, you can replace the leaves with paper snowflakes, and in spring, flowers. Then for summertime, use seashells. If all goes well, I'm hoping it will be one of Oprah's Favorite things in 2008.

Let's go to the Brits for their take on Dolly's look: According to the caption for this pic from Hello Magazine, "Singer Dolly Parton adds a country touch to the parade." Dang right, she do!

Black Friday is Here - and in if you're in Orlando with $12 in your pocket, you can buy gifts for every member of the family.


Here's a little factoid you won't read in those fancy Orlando tourist guidebooks. It's called "souvenir layering". What you see here is a triple threat - the hat trick of gifting, if you will. You got yer gator bell, yer gator ashtray, and yer gator pepper shaker (apparently there was a run on the salt shakers). The best part is, each one includes that ever-popular Florida gatorific saying: "Life's a Croc". I'm not exactly sure what it means, but it does look great, doesn't it?

Now you can cross Mom off the shopping list - she's done.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Something to be thankful for...


Today is the obvious day for me to offer up thanks, and I'm going to try not to get too sentinmental.

Yes, my kids are great and all that, but I'd like to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude to the creator of cut-off jean shorts.

Some might say cut-off's have never been in style, but I would argue they haven't gone out of style since the Daisy Duke era - circa 1979. I stumbled on cut-off jean shorts out of necessity. As a tall chick, my pants always tended to run a little on the short side. Highwaters - tacky. Cut-off shorts - Tacky Fabulous. You dig?

In my world, boyfriends come and go, but cut-off's are constant. They've been with me through my pimply-faced high school days, ill-spent college years, children, divorce...

OK, I can feel myself getting emotional and I promised I wouldn't, so I'm going to stop.

Cut-off shorts are kind of like kids - you hate to pick favorites. But let's just say I'm VERY fond of this particular pair. As a side note, is that not the most tacky fabulous purple bedspread you've ever seen?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Angry Pregnant Rotweiler + Daycare Center + Police Tasers = Orlando Redneck Fun


Today's news headlines show why we, as Floridians, become the butt of all jokes.

Here we go, once again: Two dogs escape an Orlando backyard. Run to "Bear Hugs Day Care Center." Police arrive and taser one dog. Second runs away. School declared "on lockdown". Story makes CNN Headline News with a little chuckle and an "Only in Orlando" look from Chuck Roberts.

Click here for the video.

For those of you keeping score, it's:

Rottweiler - 1; Orlando Police - 1

Now, here's the great news. One of Orlando's own got her 15 minutes of fame on CNN - how cool! Debby Roberts will hereto forth be identified by her CNN tag "Woman cornered by dog."

As Black Friday approaches...some great deals in Orlando!


As a public service, I'd like to point out that you can snag some tacky fabulous T-shirts this holiday shopping season for the spectacular price of 3 for $6.99. Admittedly, I'm no math genius, but with the help of a calculator, I was able to determine that the shirts are just $2.33 each.

I haven't seen them (I try to avoid those shops during flu season) but I'm sure they're delightful, and maybe...just maybe they have some of the really cool, high-demand ones, like this little gem...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What, no butt statue?


Before I even get to the details of this story, I've gotta tell you, I love this guy's name. Bennie Guy Ellis, Jr. Everything about it is just right for Central Florida.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, because if you live in Orlando, it's "same story/different dude." 80 year-old Bennie Guy Ellis, Jr. has a hard time parting with his stuff - particularly random pieces of metal and nine cars, which he proudly displays on his front lawn. (Yes, of course there is a pick-up and a flatbed, silly!)

As you might imagine, he's accrued some fines with the city of Winter Park. About $800,000 worth. If you're thinking of trying this at home, you 'd better be dedicated to the cause, after all, it took a lot of effort on Bennie Guy Ellis, Jr's part - 10 years of work, to be specific.

Bennie Guy Ellis Jr. says, "the city just doesn't like me." Bennie Guy Ellis Jr.'s attorney says, "He's an entrepreneur. An independent guy." The hearing got underway today in Orange County.

Now, I don't want to say he's not doing it right, but he's no Alan Wayne Davis (aka "The Most Annoying Neighbor") who's doing prison time for his "criminal littering issues". Davis' lawn art was much more artistic, though - including a statue of a butt, garbage cans on the roof, and airplane fuselage.

In Bennie Guy Ellis Jr's favor: He looks like Santa, and tomorrow officially kicks off the holiday season.

Sorry ladies, he's taken.

(photos courtesy of Orlando Sentinel & WKMG Local 6)

Gnome-matter how you slice it, this is tacky fabulous...


The Travelocity Roaming Gnome is on the loose in the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, which presents a tacky-fabulous-forced-family-fun opportunity for you and yours this holiday season. Gnome-more worries about how to dress your entire crew in the same outfits either - thanks to an online store where you can get T-shirts for everyone...and...and...red foam hats, too.

A traditional Thanksgiving feast - Orlando style


You can take your carmelized onion cornbread dressing and stuff it. Here in Orlando, we celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional feast of waffles, sausage links, and corned beef hash. Seriously, do you think Native Americans were noshing on the Rachel Ray recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup they found on the FoodNetwork.com? Get real. The Waffle Room does it the old fashioned way.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's just how we roll...


This is the typical pimped-out ride for an Orlando native. Not this exact car, but varations on the decorating theme. Sometimes we use Disney characters, sometimes Marvel superheroes. The more, the better - it's kind of a status thing. It's also important to attach mailbox letters to spell out various scriptures from the Bible and personal mottos. Mine says, "Ignore your teeth and they'll go away" and I also make reference to Corinthians 13.

We also do this to separate ourselves from those tourists in their tacky minivans.


Surf's up Orlando!


Nothing says Orlando quite like saltwater taffy...except for the fact that the closest beach is about 40 miles away. Oh wait a second, according to the side panel on the box, this Florida saltwater taffy is made in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Jesus on the Half-Shell


What Would Jesus Do? I have a funny feeling He wouldn't pose for a cheesy Orlando souvenir. Yes, that is a crucifix on a decorative base made of shells. Take note: there's a gold plate on the lower left corner, reading, "#1 Florida." Just a little something extra to class it up - no added charge for that.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Old Postcard "Funny-HaHa"


You have to wonder if somebody has made money off this, and if so, how much?

Granted, we do tend to profit from tragedy here in Orlando. I've felt guilty from time-to-time about putting my kids on rides that simulate natural disasters, like the popular Twister and Earthquake attractions at Universal. When they start to look a little scared and give me that, "Do we HAVE to" look, I can only respond with, "Come on kids, it'll be fun!" I mean really, what's not fun about flames and the thought of the ground opening up and swallowing you as you scream for mercy?

So, it only stands to reason, the shark attack postcard would be an obvious fit for Orlando.

"Hey kids, look at this one, it's a shark attack postcard...and check it out! The guy is maimed! See all that blood?"
Tacky? Yes! Fabulous? Not so much...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Guy is More Addictive than Heroin




"You Paid TOO Much!"
"I LOVE Appliances!"
"Would You Wash Your Dishes in a Toilet?"
"In the Box...Out of Box"

These are just a few of the pearls of wisdom from Sam, the owner of Appliance Direct. Turn on a TV in Orlando any time of day, and you are bound to see him. His infomercials run 30 minutes long, and for some unexplained reason, you will not be able to look away during that time. Train wreck? Marketing genius? Subliminal messaging? Nobody knows for sure, but these spots have made Sam and Lee (his plaid green dressed partner in crime) nothing short of Orlando legends. Out-of-towners, you can get your Appliance Direct fix with a multitude of videos on YouTube and if that's not enough, head to the Appliance Direct website where you can download them onto your iPod. Yes, I said appliance commercials.

More Tacky Fabulous than Orlando Can Handle



This place is about an hour from Orlando, but legendary, nonetheless. Before Disney, there was "Weeki Wachee Springs: The City of Live mermaids." It was THE Florida tourist attraction in the 50's. Even Elvis went to see the live mermaid show. Whether for nostalgia's sake or a lack of cash, not much has changed since then. If you are interested in seeing how mermaids hold-up over the years, this is the weekend to check it out. "Mermaids of Past Decades" will be reuniting for several performances and showing off their tricks - like ballet, eating and drinking underwater. If you are a single senior citizen, this could be a great place to find some tail.

It's so hard to find a good Orange & Green Hotel anymore



I have this sick fantasy that a hip couple named Piper and Trevor Van Orden from Soho have to book a trip to Orlando for a cool people convention, but they wait too long to make their reservations and there is only one room left in town - at a place called the Nick Hotel. Sounds pretty chic, right? Maybe it's owned by Nick Faldo, after all, he's a golfer, and lots of golfers chill in Orlando. But, it's a Holiday Inn. Hmmm. The Van Orden's typically don't do Holiday Inns, but they have to weigh that against the fact that Puff Daddy is slated to be the keynote speaker at the cool people convention. Ultimately, the Van Orden's decide to forge ahead, thinking "at least every room has a suite..."

They arrive in Orlando on an evening flight, which is when all the cool people arrive. They hop into their convertible rental car, and as they exit off I-4 in the dark of the night, they see something glowing, miles in the distance. It's a fluorescent green color. Could it be a meteor? A nuclear explosion? As they get closer, they see a building in the exact location where their "resort" is supposed to be. On the side of the hotel is the painted image of an enormous, smiling sponge, and it's wearing square pants...

Each suite also has an in-room coffee maker. Pretty cool.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's takes a lot to get into the Griswoldian Christmas category...


To get noticied in this city during the holidays, either you've got to have a lot of lights or you've got to keep them up until it's time to swap them out with Easter baskets.

On that note, hats off to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. The Christmas tree goes up BEFORE Halloween, and doesn't come down until February. And all that time, Central Floridians get the added bonus of Dolly's "Hey y'all, c'mon down!" commercials that run for 12 weeks, non-stop. Admittedly, they are a bit of a guilty pleasure, in a "Head On - apply directly to the forehead" kind of way.

Not Quite Saks Fifth Avenue



If you believe the Orlando guidebooks, you'll be able to take-in some "World Class Shopping" while you're here in town. OK, sure, but wouldn't you agree that the real selling point is the gift shop shaped like an Orange? If that's not exciting enough, Central Florida is also the home of the world's cheapest T-shirt. As of 5pm today, EST, the going rate for 5 T's is $10 on International Drive.

Mind if I channel Ariel for our wedding, honey?



So, how hot would you feel in this little number?


If you haven't gotten over that childhood fantasy about the fairy tale wedding, there's good news: Disney will deck you out for your big day just like your favorite animated princess, big-girl style. As an Ariel wanna-be, you'll have to fork over between $1100 and $3500 for the dress. The whole thing sounds more disastrous than it actually is, and the "inspired" dresses are (thankfully) not much like their animated counterparts, nor do they include any type of mouse ears. No plan yet for groom duds.