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Boogeyman In A Bathing Suit

For Halloween this year I finally answered the question what would it be like if Michael Myers went on a Florida vacation? No way he’s wearing the mask in this humidity. I don’t need it anyway—I’m pale and shapeless enough.

The aerobic figure to the right is actually Laurie Strode herself (click here for proof), though her appearance here is coincidental. My roommate is involved in legitimate theater and as such has an enormous print of Jamie Lee Curtis from Perfect. We stuck it on the side of the fridge a long time ago for reasons I fail to remember. Forgot she was there when I snapped the above pic.

Hope y’all had a spooky ooky Samhain. I sat around the house listening to Slayer and eating pierogies, because I’m an American and that’s my right.

Unsolicited Free Floating Vapors On Feigbusters (GhostFeigers?)

The original Ghostbusters crew had 25 years to make a third movie. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen (and now it can’t happen because Harold Ramis is dead). It’s actually a little weird Sony didn’t force this beloved (and enormously profitable) property into someone else’s hands sooner. I know Murray, Ramis et al had something of a tontine when it came to the rights, but everyone has a price. Chinese Democracy came out before Ghostbusters 3. Do you really believe Axl Rose is more reasonable than Bill Murray?

Still, fans are apoplectic over the announced reboot, as if Paul Feig will simultaneously be erasing the first two movies from history. It’s difficult to comprehend some of the ire. Complaints have already surfaced from die-hards who are upset they’ll now have to share convention space with people cosplaying as Feig’s Ghostbusters; the new technology, you see, will clash with their expertly recreated 1984 proton packs. Guess these costumers never stopped to consider how much some of us detest seeing guys with goatees and backwards Yankee hats parading around as “Ray Stantz.”

I love Ghostbusters so much I’m currently working on a book about its entire history, but I have no problem admitting that up to this point the series has been a rigid boy’s club where female characters aren’t given much to do (even Gozer only takes the form of a woman for about one minute). Paul Feig’s decision to “star hilarious women” in the reboot is refreshing and fun and much needed, and fans who are disagreeing need to cop to their own throbbing sexism. Female-based entertainment is not “a gimmick.” The fictional activity of ghostbusting is not “too rigorous” for women.

Key point: ghostbusting is fucking imaginary. Gender bias in real life is bad enough. Extending it to the land of make believe, that’s insane. “You can pretend to be anything, except this one thing that makes me uncomfortable for some dumb reason, because I’m threatened by change even in a fake world where marshmallow creatures go on rampages.”

I think it’s also worth noting that Katie Dippold, the scribe for Feigbusters, works on “Parks & Rec,” a show I’d consider female-centric but one that also boasts some of the funniest, most fleshed-out, and just plain interesting male characters available. The door swings both ways.

Admittedly, this reboot could crash and burn. Previous experience doesn’t mean jack. Dan Aykroyd has to wake up every day knowing he made Doctor Detroit. Yet, even if Feigbusters turns out to be the new Heaven’s Gate (are my references dusty enough for you?), who cares? It’s just one movie. It’s not meant to replace anything. If it’s really atrocious we can just pretend it never happened, like Rocky V or the Halloween with Paul Rudd or Rob Zombie’s Halloweens or the Dumb & Dumber prequel or Ace Ventura Jr.

My only real investment: I hope they make the Ectomobile cool. I don’t have any suggestions because I’m not really a car person…just make it cool. You know, like stylish but also kinda nerdy. Like the original.

Q: “Twin Peaks” Is Coming Back! Aren’t You Shocked?

A: Y’all probably think I make these questions up in some weird narcissistic game, but they’re all based on true life events. My roommate blurted this out last night, oddly enough, as part of a response to a query I had about his Ghostbusters fandom. Welcome to Pop Culture: The Florida Condo.

No, I’m not shocked that “Twin Peaks” is returning, at all. If you browse Tumblr for more than five seconds you can see this show (along with “X Files”) has managed to captivate a whole new generation of people who crave somber weirdos, damaged beauties, and Jack Nance (who was a little of both). David Lynch has probably always hoped for some kind of do-over on that last “TP” season. What better time than now? It is 25 years after that lady said that thing in the dream. Also, “The Cleveland Show” got cancelled.

It’ll be interesting to see what they do. “Twin Peaks” was one of the first “adult” shows I watched, or was allowed to watch. I’m not sure I understood how odd it was, comparatively speaking, but I enjoyed it because it was a crime drama. There was a point, and they made it captivating (even when it got kinda dumb toward the end). “Northern Exposure,” on the other hand…did they spin that series out of a Folger’s commercial?

If the new “Twin Peaks” is terrible I have dibs on the headline “AGENT FAIL COOPER.” Alternate: “THERE’S A SHIT IN THE PERCOLATOR!”

Ancient Central Florida Secret: The Splendid China Winn-Dixie

Splendid China: one of Central Florida’s more noteworthy theme park failures. “Failure,” of course, is a relative term. The seventy-five acre space that recreated in miniature some of mainland China’s finest attractions (the Great Wall, the Leshan Buddha) managed to remain open for ten whole years. That’s twice as long as Boardwalk & Baseball.

Unfortunately, for more or less its entire existence, Splendid China was plagued by controversy. Critics lambasted the park, which was purchased by the Chinese government before its 1993 opening from Taiwanese American founder Josephine Chen, for appropriating from other Asian cultures, pushing Communist propaganda, and financial mismanagement (the gov’t owners insisted on importing building materials from China, often at sixteen times the cost). Once Splendid China closed its doors permanently it became a hotspot for ne’er-do-wells, who snuck in through the poorly sealed entrance to steal and/or destroy the abandoned miniatures.

What was left of Splendid China was allegedly demolished last year, but there’s still a large satellite monument to the deleted park’s existence. On West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in Kissimmee you’ll find an entire shopping plaza that mimics the architecture we all associate with the Far East (though only in Florida will you find turquoise pagodas). The plaza’s centerpiece is a Winn-Dixie, but you won’t see that grocery chain’s familiar logo anywhere on the building exterior. The only signal anything occupies this space is the presences of Winn-Dixie’s less recognized subtitle, “Marketplace,” above the entryway.

The photo above depicts what you see the moment you enter Kissimmee’s Splendid China Winn-Dixie. Three tiny figures on the balcony of a more realistic-looking pagoda, beckoning you in with warm off-brand “It’s A Small World” charm. As you can see, this store also makes extensive use of track lighting. I’m not sure how true that is to Chinese custom but it certainly gives a grocery store an otherworldly atmosphere.

What’s most interesting about the Splendid China Winn-Dixie is how it seems to cater most exclusively to a British clientele. At any given moment I’d wager a third of Kissimmee’s population is British tourists killing time between laps around the Magic Kingdom. This supermarket is one of the closest there is to Disney, and their selection of imported English products is staggering. Entire endcaps overflowing with big blue cans of Heinz Beans, Lion bars, and slim glass bottles containing a creamy liquid identified only as “salad sauce.”

I didn’t engage any of the employees about what their professional lives are like at the Splendid China Winn-Dixie, but you can sorta see it on their faces. They know they work in a store that’s still modeled after a theme park that closed in 2003. Talking about it isn’t going to make stocking shelves under track lighting any easier.

And yet the place somehow seems decidedly less bizarre than the Planet Hollywood that continues to thrive on Disney property, that drab grey globe surrounding itself with a moat(!) and the miserable spirits of ’90s Hollywood hubris. A restaurant venture between Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis is something that should have remained relegated to the margins of Last Action Hero, not formed fully in our three dimensional world.

Unsolicited Blah Blah Blah On “The Larry Sanders Show”

- following my umpteenth multi-season binge I have to lock “Larry Sanders” in as my second favorite tv program ever; it pulls off the show-within-a-show concept masterfully, presenting top tier Hollywood parody along side deft exploration of humanity’s awkward, painful flashes (Garry Shandling says “Sanders” is really about people searching for love, and he’s right)

- my first favorite tv program ever is “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” which takes the “Sanders” concept and swaps humanity for outer space-themed absurdity (elsewhere in my top five: “The Simpsons,” “Duckman”)

- for a program that ran from ’92 until ’98 it’s hard to sniff out any super dated aspects of “Sanders”; that said, it’s trippy to see the episode where they let a pre-”Daily Show” Jon Stewart take over for Larry and he runs everything into the ground, considering he did the exact opposite in real life

- I’m never prepared for that Garry Shandling/Roseanne make-out scene, and I mean that in the best way; you really get caught up in their attraction (similarly, the Mary Lynn Rajskub/Jeffrey Tambor kissing scene that you expect to be weird turns out very sweet)

- so many great little character flourishes pop up once and are never mentioned again, like Artie’s enjoyment of Pod era Breeders and the fact Paula cuts Darlene’s hair

- watch this show for too long and your head will reverberate with all of Rip Torn’s thunderous growling

- my brain would collapse into its own black hole if you asked me to name my favorite “Sanders” guest star; David Duchovny’s up there, Roseanne’s up there, Bruno Kirby’s up there, Paul Mooney, the Butthole Surfers, Wu Tang Clan, Kevin Nealon…I can already feel neurons dying

- if the holodeck from “Star Trek” was real I’d spend a stupid amount of time lounging around Larry’s office

- my favorite line from this series and possibly from television as a whole is when an exasperated Larry tells Artie, “You know, talking to you is like talking to you”; that’s a top three contender for inscription on my headstone

Unsolicited Musings On GTA V

- my roommate acquired a secondhand copy of this game recently and invited me to play it “whenever”; this is a dangerous thing to say to an underemployed freelance writer

- for all of GTA V’s realism and expertly rendered landscapes it’s still just a dumb video game, something outlined clearly when you want your character to jump a fence but it’s too high so his gangly body just slams against it like a fish out of water (another good example: get enough cop cars chasing you and the game becomes The Blues Brothers in terms of police vehicles soaring through the air and recklessly slamming into things)

- every in-game radio station plays the same five or six songs over and over and over again, which is very true to life

- GTA V uses the T.S.O.L. song “Abolish Government/Silent Majority” on one radio station, but considering the objectives of the game maybe they should have gone with “Property Is Theft?”

- I’ve never been to L.A. so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the game’s Los Santos facsimile; it seems legit, but at the same time certain portions appear to be modeled after specific blocks or areas in other lesser celebrated cities, which maybe the designers did on purpose re: hometown pride?

- the coolest auto I have grand thefted so far is a lifeguard’s pickup truck, which is the closest GTA V comes to offering an Ectomobile (yes, I know there are codes/mods you can put in to make an Ectomobile, but come on, I’m a thirty-five year old ex-gamer who dipped before Super Nintendo came out, I’m lucky to have figured out what all the XBox buttons do)

- according to this game there are vicious mountain lions waiting just off the California freeway, desperate for their next taste of human flesh; if they ever make GTA Connecticut they’re gonna have to change that to deer ticks

- one thing you definitely cannot do in GTA V is throw it all away to become a dancer; you can go into the strip club but you cannot climb up on the stage to show everyone your stuff a la Magic Mike, which is total fucking bullshit and forces me to give this game a C

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