Grandma Party Bazaar

First of all, we need to make a correction to our April 12 Selection about the Grandma Party Bazaar. No sooner had the issue hit the streets than we heard from the organizers via Emily Ruff that there were indeed "real grannies" involved, despite our report that the progressive community arts and music affair was "sans grannies." In addition to the real grannies, there was a "special rocking chair station" at last Saturday's bazaar (April 14) as well as the presence of a "3-foot Grandma piñata" among the booths.

In a Monday-after memo, Ruff said, "the highlight of the event came near sunset with the smashing of the 3-foot-tall Grandma Pinata, filled with granola bars, dried fruit, keychains, and Rolaids." She also says several hundred people popped in and out throughout the day (even though the Sentinel estimated 2,000) and that $300 was raised for the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge and the establishment of an arts grant for a yet-to-be-announced grantee.

The crazy, creative Grandma kids also have vlogs to share with those who didn't make the party, but likely will the next yet-to-be-announced time:

— Lindy T. Shepherd

The New Adventures of Old Christine

Perhaps you recall the "Seinfeld curse," the idiotic notion that the actors who starred in Seinfeld were doomed to failure. True, Jason Alexander flopped with Bob Patterson and Listen Up. Michael Richards failed in The Michael Richards Show (and, apparently, in life), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus had the underrated Watching Ellie tank before finding a modicum of success with The New Adventures of Old Christine. But the only curse this trio has truly faced is that they went on without Seinfeld's writers.

Take a look at the Monday, April 23, episode of The New Adventures of Old Christine (8:30 p.m., CBS) and you'll see what I mean. The plot pieces together two fairly classic sitcom episodes — the one from Friends where Ross marries (or, rather, doesn't marry) Emily and "The Betrayal" from Seinfeld, in which we find out about Elaine's relationship with Sue Ellen Mishke's intended, Pinter.

Did no one involved in the production notice the similarities? It's not as if the writers swiped ideas from obscure or forgotten shows. We're talking about two of the most popular sitcoms of the last two decades, each of which can be seen three or four times a day in syndicated reruns. A word comes to mind: pathetic.

Old Christine has its charms — a wonderful cast that can deliver cutting humor without being nasty; likable characters you enjoy spending 30 minutes with; and a relatable situation: man sheds wife for Version 2.0 — with same name, hence "old" Christine (although Louis-Dreyfus still looks great). And the writers can write jokes — there are a half-dozen laughs in this episode, including two hilarious ones based around the unlikely subject of crashing a car into a wedding reception. But if you don't have fresh plots, even the best actors can't save your series.

The ratings for Christine are so-so, and it seems questionable whether the show will return after this season. If it doesn't, blame the writing, not the curse.


— Marc D. Allan

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros

Just in time for the busy spring-break season, Disney recently unveiled two new additions to their theme park attraction lineup. One is a multimillion-dollar project involving one of Disney's most valuable recent properties; the other a quickie conversion that shoehorned little-known characters into one of WDW's least popular rides. If you think you can guess which one is worth a trip down I-4 for, you're probably wrong.

At the Magic Kingdom, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor has been "previewing" for test audiences since last December but only recently had its official opening. The new show is the most ambitious implementation yet of Disney's "living character initiative," and it's been the subject of an unusually public fine-tuning, with scripts being rewritten on an almost daily basis. Plus, it has the least appropriate acronym ever. The former home of The Timekeeper (a Circle-Vision film featuring Robin Williams) has been transformed into a faux comedy club, where the one-eyed Mike Wazowski is milking laughs to generate power for Monstropolis. Mike and Roz, along with a handful of forgettable new characters, appear "onstage" in the form of CGI projections, interacting with the audience via the same technology that powers Epcot's Turtle Talk With Crush.

Unfortunately, while the surfer-terrapin is a dude, this new show is a dud. The computer animation, though improving, still stutters; best-loved characters Sully and Boo are absent; and the stale puns are aimed at second-grade kids. Some of Orlando's best improv actors are working hard behind the scenes, saving it from being an outright disaster (like its neighbor Stitch's Great Escape). Just don't hurt yourself trying to rationalize how contemporary cartoons fit into Tomorrowland's rapidly dissipating theme.

Over at Epcot, the Mexican boat ride, El Rio del Tiempo, has re-emerged from a brief rehab as Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. By adding Donald Duck and his feathered co-stars from the 1944 Latin American travelogue, much-needed life has been injected into a ride that was formerly only notable for a theme song that burrowed into your brain.

Though the Mexican-American artists who helped craft the opening-day original were attempting to give visitors a taste of their culture, many riders dismissed it as It's a Small World en Español. The video projections of bewildering interpretive dancers and late-'70s-vintage tourist traps have all been replaced with fresh animation featuring Donald and his poultry pals as they race to a concert in Mexico City. The best elements of the old have been retained (the atmospheric riverside volcano and Acapulco cliff divers) while the most cringe-inducing (stereotypical street vendors and creepy marionettes) are history.

The renovation isn't perfect (the finale is sorely lacking in animatronic fowl) but it's enough to give fans hope that the upcoming changes to Spaceship Earth will be worth the wait. (

— Seth Kubersky


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