Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Yes, you can now play pingpong for free in downtown Tampa

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (left) and Urban Conga founder Ryan Swanson go head to head at the unveiling of Ping Pong In The Park on July 25, 2014.
  • Instagram (@theurbanconga)
  • Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (left) and Urban Conga founder Ryan Swanson go head to head at the unveiling of "Ping Pong In The Park" on July 25, 2014.
Passersby may have noticed a new, big ol' bright pink table in Tampa's Lykes Gaslight Square. Well, it's calling your name. The permanent piece is actually a ping pong table, and it's adding another wrinkle to a downtown Tampa community that seems to grow increasingly more active with each passing week (via 83 Degrees).

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TEDxPoynterInstitute 2014: I'm a Cat. I'm a Kitty Cat!

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 10:22 AM

I CAN HAZ MILLIONS? Kitty meme guru Ben Guh.
  • I CAN HAZ MILLIONS? Kitty meme guru Ben Guh.

TED talks have become a constant cultural presence for anyone who pays attention to ideas. TED started out in 1984 in Southern California, catering to Silicon Valley, but has exploded both in size and scope, with satellite events in nearly every country on the planet. These independently organized "TEDx" events are loosely supervised by the central organizers, and have featured everything from quantum physicists to jugglers.

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The Laugh Tract — who's bringing the funny

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Mike Epps is one of three headliners at Wild 94.1s Shut Up and Laugh event at The Mahaffey on Friday.
  • Mike Epps is one of three headliners at Wild 94.1's Shut Up and Laugh event at The Mahaffey on Friday.

Nationally-touring headliners and local talent make up this week's stand-up fare. The list ranges from comedians with television and movie credits to guys who just have a long resume of making audiences laugh. Either way, there's plenty of talent on tap. Here's the best bets for this week:

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Tampa Bay's weekly literary happenings

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 10:06 AM

New York Times bestseling author Randy Wayne White is at Inkwood Books Wednesday, Aug. 20.
  • New York Times bestseling author Randy Wayne White is at Inkwood Books Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Elizabeth Phillips Goehringer, an accomplished photographer, graphic artist, poet and author, will speak at the next East Lake Community Library Author Showcase Tuesday, Aug. 19, 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Her latest book, Fuel for the Fire: A Photographer Looks at the Psalms, is the first in her Fire Trilogy, which portrays life in a world increasingly ordered by a global government as the planet convulses with earthquakes, disease, corruption and war hurtling ever closer to what appears to be the end of the age. She’s currently working on Blood and Fire, the sequel to Fuel for the Fire.

Wordier Than Thou hosts its next storytelling and prose open mic Tuesday, Aug. 19 at the Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S., St. Pete. Come share your finest prose, or if you’re just in the mood for listening, catch some tales from our area’s talented wordsmiths. The featured readers are Julie Armstrong and Thomas Hallock from USF-St. Pete. They'll be followed by 10-minute long open mic slots. Suggested $5 donation at the door and refreshments available for donation. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Readings begin at 7 p.m.

Inkwood Books' favorite New York Times bestselling author Randy Wayne White is back Wednesday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m. This time he’s discussing and signing copies of Haunted, the third installment in his Hannah Smith series.

Calling all bards! Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College hosts Pause for Poetry Wednesday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m. Enjoy a supportive atmosphere where lovers of poetry share their works and/or read favorite selections aloud.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Do This — The Weekend Top 10

Posted By on Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 12:02 PM


The riverfront spot known as the Water Works Park has been a secret spot to watch the sunset and eat some takeout with a lovely view. Too special to languish in obscurity, the city of Tampa has revamped the park to make it a family-friendly landmark with new landscaping, a water attraction, playground equipment and a bandshell. Celebrate at a grand opening fest on Saturday that culminates with fireworks. More info here. Or watch a cool video with timelapse to get a bird's eye view.

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Review – The Knick, Episode 1, “Method and Madness.”

Believe it or not, white New Yorkers in 1900 were pretty racist!

Posted By on Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 9:36 AM

  • Cinemax

I came to this new historical drama, from Stephen Soderbergh and Cinemax, very, very ready to like it. It’s got so many things I love – antiquated medicine, workplace drama, drug abuse, buckets of blood. Most of all the series, set in New York City’s Knickerbocker Hospital around 1900, promised to explore an important aspect of a time period that fascinates me. Just as the promise of modern science is becoming clear, the surgeons of “The Knick” spend their days running up against the complex, sometimes grim and discouraging reality of progress.

All good on paper. But at least in its first episode, it fails to deliver. The cinematography is schizophrenic, with a handful of frenetic shakycam montages set to electronic music giving way to a leaden, silent parade of two-shots. And whatever his accomplishments, Soderbergh’s direction here is deader than the unlucky patients, midwifing wooden performances from actors stiflingly aware of their presence in a ‘period piece.’ There seems little promise of the kind of moments, so important to the likes of Mad Men or Deadwood, that jolt us with a dose of human subtlety across time.

But what truly cripples "Method and Madness" is the script. There’s barely a recognizable human character in sight. Clive Owen’s John Thackery is a secondhand Bowery version of Gregory House – a quick-tempered, drug-addicted louse who earns grudging respect through his talent and commitment – and he’s a sucking vacuum of interest at the center of the whole thing. Owen’s undefined fog of an accent drives home the character’s predictability like some sort of taunt directed at the audience.

There’s a serious lack of action, given a setting much more inherently physical than our own - anyone coming to The Knick for a Gangs of New York booster is in for a disappointment. We do get one energetic character in the violent ambulance driver Cleary, and another promising (if atrociously acted) thread from the corrupt Health Inspector Speight, but nobody else seems to be having much fun.
It’s telling that these side-plots are more engaging than the episode’s (and presumably the series’) central conflict, a spoonful of racial-tolerance medicine that goes down rancid. Thanks to the efforts of a benefactor’s daughter who comes off as more entitled and naïve than progressive, the highly qualified African-American surgeon Dr. Algernon Edwards is named deputy director of the hospital, against almost universal protest. Used to working with European colleagues who respected him, Edwards quickly decides to resign the post when he faces derision from New York’s surgeons, Thackery most of all.

Then comes the low point of the episode, so bad I’m honestly embarrassed for the scriptwriters. Just before storming out with his head held high, Edwards witnesses Owen’s Thackery perform an impressive surgery using a new instrument he’s made. Immediately, all of the indignity is forgotten, and he declares that he’ll stay at The Knick until he’s “learned everything [Thackery] can teach me.”

So, if you’re looking for a strong black character, you might be out of luck there, too.

Its ham-fisted and self-undermining condemnation of racism is just the worst of the ways the script filters its era through an unsubtle and confused contemporary moralism. We’re clearly intended to feel really bad about the poor girl who has to get to her shift at the garment factory, and we’re shown a good bit of degradation caused by Thackery’s cocaine addiction.

But this tone – so similar to Soderbergh’s Traffic – buries the real complexity of history. For a start, child labor wasn’t universally condemned in 1900 – federal child labor laws didn’t pass in the U.S. until 1938. And cocaine dependence wasn’t even broadly recognized as a problem at the time – Sigmund Freud was a huge fan. A TV show that’s not up to grappling with that sort of complexity isn’t about history – it’s about furniture.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Movie review: Teenagers vanquish our dystopian future (yes, again) in The Giver

Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and more populate the latest adaptation of a YA classic.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 4:44 PM


Perhaps future historians will look at films like The Hunger Games, Divergent and the just-released The Giver as canny counterprogramming against our zeitgeist of superhero movies, cute animal videos and the feel-good-story porn of Buzzfeed and Upworthy. These are hardly times of peace and plenty, but with so many targeted entertainment options for us to mainline from our Facebook feeds, those historians may figure it makes sense that the mediated fear of a slate-gray future run by dull totalitarians would get the blood pumping with vicarious rebellion, even if — or especially because — it was only for 90 minutes at a time.

The Giver, based on Lois Lowery's 1994 Newbery Award winner, joins the growing list of movies about false utopias that meet their match in defiant, caring teenagers. Its basic story is a familiar one, the kind that's been told on the screen time and again — Logan's Run, The Matrix, and Cloud Atlas spring to mind. Each establishes and works against a dystopian future world of conformity and control in order to flatter viewers with a dramatic celebration of human individuality. Except that in the case of The Giver, the drama is sometimes only there in spirit.

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Fluffy family read: The Art of Adapting by Cassandra Dunn

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 10:36 AM

click image Hardcover, 368 pages - Published July 29th 2014 by Touchstone
  • Hardcover, 368 pagesPublished July 29th 2014 by Touchstone
I don't like fluffy reads. When I pick up a book, I want to be gutted, exhilarated, titillated, saved. I want to find myself asking questions I didn't even know to be asking before opening the cover. And once inside, I want my characters to struggle, suffer and endure. I want them to get dirt on their knees and blisters on their thumbs. I don't want their hearts to break, I want those blood-pumps to be ground into a fine powder and blown into the wind.

So when I first glanced at the premise of Cassandra Dunn's The Art of Adapting, I thought it might be right up my alley. 

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

John Waters to headline 25th anniversary TIGLFF event Oct. 4

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Executive Director Margaret Murray announced today that famed film director John Waters will be headlining a 25th anniversary event at Tampa Theatre on Oct. 4, 6:30-9 p.m.

Waters will perform his acclaimed one-man show, Dirty, Filthy World: Dirtier & Filthier.  After the show, the midnight movie master will be signing his bestseller, Carsick, across the street at TECO Plaza, where TIGLFF will host a Mondo Trasho party with DJ "Lounge Laura" Taylor.

More updates and info can will be posted on the TIGLFF's Facebook event page.

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