Dead to rights 

Halloween, Halloween ... it makes us all go a little crazy, doth it not? Of courth it doth.

Tops on the list of this year's Samhain strangeness is the flight of Goth apparel boutique Nyte-Mere's from its former home at Magnolia Avenue and Central Boulevard. After a final code violation on the part of the building's landlord, the property (previously the home of the Artistry Marketplace and Freak Shoppe) was left in the care of the lonely ghosts who, according to local lore, ride its elevator up and down at all hours of the night.

Store owner Diana Mucha swiftly moved her inventory into new digs on the first floor of Orlando Fashion Square. She only lost one thing in the move: the name NyteMere's, which clashed with the Christian beliefs of the mall's owners. (Apparently, interrupted sleep is the work of the Devil. Who knew?) The store is now called DiVersions, and the mallies are duly mollified. I wonder how they would have felt about Little Joey Satan's Prophylactic Emporium.

A witches' moon, it seems, doesn't just play havoc with your judgment; it can also mess up your memory pretty badly. A few weeks ago, the Metro Orlando Film and Television Commission circulated a press release crowing that four of the movie industry's major fall/winter 2001 releases were shot in Florida -- including the horror feature "Jeepers Creepers," which was lensed in Lake, Sumter and Marion counties.

"The Metro Orlando region was thrilled to have this project based in our community," the release stated.

Now, I know some folks who worked on that shoot, and they recall it as a rewarding experience indeed. But was the entire Metro Orlando region really "thrilled?" How about the Marion County school officials who complained that they weren't told of director Victor Salva's ("Powder") history as a convicted child molester before he was allowed to film near their educational institutions?

Kevin Christian, public-relations and communications officer for Marion County Public Schools, reiterates the system's position that the film and television commission kept Salva's record a secret until the relevant contract was signed. The result: "Extensive plans" for students to observe and/or participate in the shoot were canceled.

"We're always happy to have film crews showcasing the beautiful area we have here in Ocala/ Marion County," Christian says, "but sometimes the old adage of 'If it's too good to be true' certainly rings prominently."

The moos you've been waiting for

The long-discussed plan to transform the second floor of the Gallery at Avalon Island into a full-time theater is about to become reality. The Mad Cow Theatre Co. has claimed the space as its permanent habitat, announcing a residency that begins shortly after Thanksgiving with "Mole's Homecoming," a holiday show based on "The Wind in the Willows." So where does this leave Pickett & Spiller Productions, which was supposed to be the next troupe to trod the boards upstairs at Avalon? Possibly on the small stage at Guinevere's coffee shop downstairs, says owner Ford Kiene, or even performing in the ground-floor gallery itself. Or he may set the group up in yet another location: He's currently pursuing a second downtown building for use as an arts venue.

Nearly as exciting is the proposal I've heard for a promising startup venue earmarked for College Park. The inside skinny is too slim for detailed discussion -- even the specific site is TBD -- but the talked-about smorgasbord of food, music and cultural activities holds the potential to fill the void left by the defunct Yab Yum complex. And that's no knock on the Back Booth guys, whose still-nameless downtown grotto will doubtless grab the lion's share of Kit Kat Club and Harold & Maude's refugees when it opens later this year. But as their focus is mostly musical, the field is open for someone to ape Yab Yum's artier proclivities.

The seeds of a College Park renaissance are already being sown at the dual-purpose Edgewater Yoga Studio & Art Gallery, which is surprisingly effective in its latter role. Its current show of small-scale watercolors by Christin Ciaccio is up until Nov. 30, when it will be replaced by a group exhibit of landscape images. For the time being, owner Lisa Cook's talent pool consists of artists she met while working at Disney, but when more visualists learn about the highly credible space, the waiting list for her semimonthly shows should be as long as Bobby Brown's arrest sheet.

Movin' on up

A Monday, Oct. 29, bash at Tabu will answer the burning question, "Which Orlando band or solo musician has what it takes to compose the theme song to a cable-TV sitcom?" (Also to be resolved: the even-more-tantalizing "Which ones don't?") A battle-of-the-bands performance will determine the official opening-credits ditty for "Making the Grade," a locally taped series that executive producer J. Anthony D'Aguiar hopes to air on Time-Warner Cable's Channel 98.

The series -- the story of a country boy whose genius-level intelligence grants him admission to an Ivy League school -- is the first of D'Aguiar's sitcom projects to go to the taping stage. The pilot episodes of two of his previous attempts, "The Girl Next Door" and "Family Values," were performed as stage plays last winter at iMPACTE! Productions. He also wrote the 1993 Orlando International Fringe Festival entry "The Business of Souls."

According to D'Aguiar, more than 250 people attended the first "Making the Grade" fund-raiser, held Sept. 24 at Tabu. While the musical lineup for the sophomore soiree had not been confirmed at press time, song submissions had been received from such outfits as Mnemonic Wave Theory, Sol Season and 12 Degree Split. To ensure appropriate lyrical content, the bands were allowed to read the treatments for the series and its pilot.

Reading? Musicians? That's a heck of a lot to expect. I hope the drummers got a nice puppet show.

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