Friday, August 1, 2014

Movie review: Guardians of the Galaxy is an antidote to the summertime blues

Fresh, fun and full of fireworks, Marvel’s latest might be its best.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 2:20 PM


It’s 1988, and young Peter Quill must say goodbye to his dying mother. Face streaked with tears, he takes comfort in his Sony Walkman and the mixtape — Awesome Mix Vol. 1 — she’d made him of her favorite pop songs. Then he gets beamed up into a spaceship; exactly what a newly orphaned kid needs to become well-adjusted.

Flash forward a couple decades and young Peter has grown into a legendary outlaw, adopting the moniker Star-Lord. His latest heist is an orb of unknown origin and purpose; all he knows is someone will pay enough for it for him to double-cross his surrogate dad Yondu (Michael Rooker), the blue-skinned alien leader of the Ravagers.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Vin Diesel's Groot is a tree of few words, but in many languages

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 12:04 PM


Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters this weekend, poised to set the summer box office on fire. Boasting the likes of Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel — yes, the two biggest names on the project have zero face time — Marvel's latest has enough star appeal to succeed on that alone. It just so happens to also be an awesome, straightforward flick that will have you begging for more.

Naturally, the cast are doing the press tour in anticipation for the release of GotG. Diesel stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to discuss his exhausting role as Groot, one that included three whole words.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gulfport's 14th Annual Geckofest: A How-To

Re-live the 1920’s throughout the month of August at Gulfport’s “Roaring Geckos” themed End-of-Summer Bash

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 2:17 PM


Grab yourself a room-temperature glass of bathtub gin, toss on an old recording of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (1924), and prepare for the impending Great Depression, because the unsustainable extravagance of the roaring-twenties is alive and well once more with the arrival of this year’s 1920’s, “Roaring Geckos,” themed Geckofest, Gulfport’s annual salute to the end of summer.

Here’s how you do it:

Start out with a pub crawl. Regimented drinking is a great way to limit your decision making while getting a little tipsy. It’s a great way to get out and meet new people too. If it’s sunny, sport a vintage bowler or straw-boater hat to impress; or, if you’re a lady, perhaps an old French cloche will do nicely. If you’re not into playing dress-up, then at least be keeping the twenties in mind — compliment the bartender’s hooch, be nervous about contracting tuberculosis or scarlet fever or about getting busted all blotto at the speakeasy by some teetotaling prohibition agent; and don’t forget to congratulate all the women on their newly acquired right to vote.

It’ll all be the cat’s pajamas at this year’s Gecko Pub Crawl. From 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., on Aug. 9, around the Gulfport Waterfront Arts District, you can get a free drink, perhaps an old fashioned or martini, at six separate blind-pig establishments: Beach Haus, Little Tommie’s Tiki, Mangia Gourmet, Neptune Grille, O’Maddy’s, and Salty’s. Just make sure none are one of those seedy clip-joints before you walk in and start shelling out the dough. And feel free to visit each speakeasy in any order you please, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Just don’t forget to grab your poker-run card from the Crawl Ambassador at each location. Best five-card stud hand wins a two-night stay at the Sirata Beach Resort on St. Pete Beach. Prizes will be awarded, and a raffle drawn, at Salty’s after-party, from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Pub crawl tickets are $20 and available for purchase from the Gulfport Beach Bazaar’s Box Office.

Next, hit up Gulfport’s Saturday, Aug. 16 Art Walk. It’s free and there will be oodles to do. You can heckle the hell out of the Harry Houdini-inspired street performers, or discuss Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Dos Passos and the rest of the greats from the “Lost Generation” with some local authors who have set-up-shop. You can look around for art, amongst the plethora of works by local artists who will be in attendance, for something as meaningful as Picasso’s Three Musicians (1921), or Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (1923); or pretend whoever has their cheeks inflated around the trumpet’s mouthpiece playing in the background is as good as old Satchmo, Louis Armstrong. The action kicks off at 6:00 p.m. and runs until 10:00 p.m. All the artists, artisans, craftsmen, authors, entertainers and musicians, along with the throngs of enthusiastic Geckofest patrons, will be sprinkled all along Beach & Shore Boulevards.

Once you start feeling high-society enough, channel your inner Jay Gatsby or Daisy Buchanan at the “Roaring Geckos” Gecko Ball. The party starts at 6:00 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 23, and goes until 11:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 and available at the Gulfport Beach Bazaar’s Box Office. Cocktail specials, a cash bar, a costume contest, hors d’oeuvres, a dinner buffet, a commemorative photo booth, the Z Street Speakeasy Band, dozens of silent auction items, and the popular live auction of geckos created by local artists, will add to the extravagance of the night. Don’t hesitate to discuss any array of hot social issues either, such as the Irish Civil War (1922 – 1923), Jack Dempsey’s mean left hook, Marx’s brand of communism, Mussolini’s fascist March on Rome, André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto (1924), Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. DuBois and the Harlem Renaissance, or even America’s immigration act of 1924.

Then, finally, close it out like Black Tuesday’s just around the corner and you’re about to lose it all. Why not party in the face of certain demise? It’s always so liberating. Pretend you can smell the dust and feel the tumbleweeds that carry with them the Great Depression and then laugh like all those who actually lived it that never could. It’s your one last chance to take that make-believe stab at attaining the elusive American dream. So throw it all out there at this year’s Geckofest conclusion. It’s going to be one big, huge, fun-for-all-ages party-parade that lasts all day, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 30. There will be a costume contest, parade, fire and acrobatics show, and one emotionally-organic street dance to cap off this year’s Geckofest. But even the most colorful description can’t do the event justice. You just have to strap on your two-tone wing-tips, and get ready for one last Charleston, because this whole month is going to be the bee’s knees out in Gulfport.

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The Laugh Tract — who's bringing the funny

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 1:27 PM

D.L. Hughley is at Tampa Improv this weekend.
  • D.L. Hughley is at Tampa Improv this weekend.

If you like your comedians to have television credits, you're in luck this week. A couple of heavy-hitters are in town, as well as other experienced, nationally-touring performers. Here are your best bets:

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Movie review: Richard Linklater's Boyhood achieves its lofty filmmaking ambitions

In his lengthy film culled from more than a decade of shooting, Linklater pulls off a nifty cinematic magic trick.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Newcomer Ellar Coltrane ages memorably in the magical Boyhood.
  • Newcomer Ellar Coltrane ages memorably in the magical Boyhood.

Amidst the unending march of CGI-fueled superheroes through the multiplex, one has to look to the Tampa Theatre this weekend to find the real magic. The movie is Boyhood, director Richard Linklater’s ode to adolescence. It was shot over a 12-year period, with the same core actors regrouping annually to add scenes, the passage of time etched on their aging faces. There’s something in the way the movie was made, and the performances Linklater got out of his actors over such a long time frame, that makes Boyhood special in a way all that summer blockbuster brouhaha just isn’t.

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High On Style: Accessorize your life (with advice from the interns)

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 12:39 PM

DARING TO BE DIFFERENT: VERTICAL photo intern RaLisha Ann Wilder says her most powerful accessory is her hair. - KARLTON ROBERTS
  • Karlton Roberts
  • DARING TO BE DIFFERENT: VERTICAL photo intern RaLisha Ann Wilder says her most powerful accessory is her hair.

“Any opportunity to adorn oneself is human, and accessories are an easy way to do it.” —Marc Jacobs

My mother asked me what I was writing about today.

“Accessories,” I said.

“Maybe you can come into my closet and help me pair some outfits with accessories,” she said, “It’ll be fun! We can play!”

And that’s the idea.

For me, the first rule of the game is to pick one accessory to be the star. Everything else should hold it up.
(Insert non sequitur: I am “accessorizing” writing this article with “All She Wants” by Duran Duran playing in the background.)

EASY DOES IT: CL summer intern Amy Daire describes her personal style as bridging the gap between preppy and hipster.
  • EASY DOES IT: CL summer intern Amy Daire describes her personal style as bridging the gap between preppy and hipster.

“Don’t overdo it” when it comes to accessorizing, cautions CL intern Amy Daire, who contributes blog posts to Amy describes her personal style as bridging the gap between preppy and hipster. “I really like classic stuff like pearls and plaids, but I also really like combat boots and piercings.”

She’s excited to pair her favorite new earrings with a black romper and gold sandals — a simple backdrop to set them off. “Sometimes now, the dainty stuff is what really stands out,” she says.

Accessorizing is a matter of priorities. And if you have so many favorite things it’s hard to count them, avoid looking like a haute mess wearing everything at once and put them on a rotation.

“Dare to be different,” says VERTICAL Tampa Bay photography intern, RaLisha Ann Wilder. “Be bold.”

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The CL Intern Issue: Step up to the (open) mic

CL intern Jackie Braje looks into the wide-open culture of Tampa Bay’s open mic nights.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Performances at Boba House's open mic night range from acoustic guitar to stand-up comedy to solo slide trombone. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • Performances at Boba House's open mic night range from acoustic guitar to stand-up comedy to solo slide trombone.

"For my performance tonight, I will pantomime a porn star making a pizza delivery to someone’s home. Here we go, folks.”

The Rathskeller, located in the basement of the University of Tampa’s Plant Hall, was scattered with tables full of writing professors and anxious young students prudently reading and re-reading to themselves the poems their classmates had goaded them into presenting in front of everyone. The vibe was laid-back, and a muted orchestra of snaps followed every reading. This was UT’s open mic night, sponsored by the student literary journal NEON — the one night a month when antisocial groups of undergrad writing students all leave their caves.

Tampa has built up a culture of open mic nights, each attracting a unique demographic. You can find anything from a singer-songwriter to a balloon animal artist at these gatherings, and things are inclined to get slightly weird. But after carousing through a few different places, it became easy to distinguish some of the traits — and distinctive characters — that are specific to each venue.

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Water born: Community Stepping Stones' "I Am River" mural project

Sulphur Springs students discover the Hillsborough 
through a unique arts project.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:27 AM

RIVER VIEW: Dilon Bristol canoeing the Hillsborugh River in one of the murals created by 
Community Stepping Stones students.
  • RIVER VIEW: Dilon Bristol canoeing the Hillsborugh River in one of the murals created by 
Community Stepping Stones students.

Somewhere between learning how to right an overturned canoe and conquering his concerns about alligators, 17-year-old Dilon Bristol picked up another concept on the Hillsborough River: inference. Like each of us, Bristol explained to me at HCC’s Ybor Arts Gallery last week, the river teems with activity that isn’t always apparent on its quiet surface. Listen, watch — and you just might glean a few insights into the life swirling in and around its waters.

Bristol is one of a dozen middle and high school students who attend Community Stepping Stones in Sulphur Springs, a neighborhood north of downtown Tampa that is one of the city’s poorest. While the Hillsborough River winds its way through Sulphur Springs and into the backyard (literally) of Community Stepping Stones’ campus, Bristol and most of his classmates had never explored the river by canoe. Until January, when they embarked on a six-month project called “I Am River.”

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Do This: Mary Lynn Rajskub at Side Splitters

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Say Her Name: Mary Lynn Rajskub steps away from her hit show 24 and onto a comedy club stage for a slate of shows this weekend.
  • Say Her Name: Mary Lynn Rajskub steps away from her hit show 24 and onto a comedy club stage for a slate of shows this weekend.

Mary Lynn Rajskub doesn't have a name that flows off the tongue, but how about the show that helped make her famous? 24 is enjoying good reviews for its comeback season, and computer genius Chloe O'Brien is still an important character.

But is she funny?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tampa Bay's weekly literary happenings

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Books and Brews will discuss Lord of the Flies on Wednesday, July 30.
  • Books and Brews will discuss Lord of the Flies on Wednesday, July 30.
The Clearwater Writers Meetup Group gathers at the home of its organizer in Belleair on Tuesday, July 29, 7 p.m. Discuss publishing trends, blogs and websites of interest to writers, and receive constructive criticism of your work.

Join Inkwood Books and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities for an evening of science and literacy Tuesday, July 29, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meet two young women, Avalon Theisen and Dani Bowman, who founded projects that hep humanity, animals and/or the planet before they were 18. They were both featured in Kerryn Vaughn’s book Magnificent Kids. The first 30 teachers to register and be present on the day of the event will receive a free copy of the book as well as a copy of the award-winning CD Pacha’s Pajamas - Volume 1. Refreshments will be provided. Inkwood Books is located at 216 S. Armenia Ave., Tampa.

Books and Brews, Tampa FreeSkool’s monthly classic literature book club, will meet Wednesday, July 30, 7 p.m., at Tampa’s Coppertop, 5112 E. Fowler Ave. The group, led by instructor Emily Adkins, will focus on books that are generally considered part of American cultural knowledge and deserve a second look after being read in high school or college. This month’s book is Lord of the Flies.

Share your poetry, stories and songs at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church’s bi-monthly Poetry & Open Mic Night, Wednesday, July 30. The evening kicks off with a potluck at 6:30 p.m. So get there early to sign in and snack; readings and performances begin promptly at 7 p.m. The church is located at 3747 34th St. S, St. Pete. Call (727) 452-2369 for more information.

Felicitous Coffee & Tea House hosts its monthly outdoor open mic for poets, spoken word artists, artists and musicians Wednesday, July 30, 7 to 10 p.m. Sign-up begins at 7 p.m.; readings and performances begin at 7:30 p.m. The open mic will be moved indoors for inclement weather. Felicitous is located at 11706 N. 51st St., Tampa.

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