We mingle at MegaCon, catch a Buzz at happy hour and slam a puppy mill

Some people refuse to grow up, and there's a convention for them held annually here in Orlando. It's called MegaCon. No, that's not a description of the event from disgruntled participants. That's really the name of the thing. People into comics, toys, TV shows, movies and games come from as far as Japan and Australia to attend. No con.

It's a weekend of sensory overload; aisle after aisle of everything from samurai swords to rare videos, comic books to anime. You'll cross paths with stormtroopers and drag queens. Your inner freak will be reasssured that it's not alone.

But there are really two things that make MegaCon worth the cost and trip: the costumes and the celebrities. You want to see women in fur bikinis? You want to see a naughty schoolgirl parading about on the arm of a Wookiee? You want to see fat people in spandex? Get thee to MegaCon. (You'll have to wait until next year, though; 2005's edition was Feb. 26 and 27.)

As for the celebs, this year's event featured such B-listers as Darla (Julie Benz) and Harmony Kendall (Mercedes McNab) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Incredible Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno.

To quote George Lowe, the voice of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and an attendee this year, "This show is crunk!"

Speaking of down-list celebs, we met the talking heads from The WB's morning news excuse The Daily Buzz last week! In person! Over drinks! The joy that is life knows no boundaries sometimes.

Honestly, the show could be our shot of a.m. vodka, given its cereal-box slogan: "The Daily Buzz delivers news with personality." The one time we tuned in, a discussion of gays in the military descended into an impromptu frat-boy nudgefest involving the phrase "dishonorable discharge." It was intriguing, if a bit nauseating.

To greet their demographic – presumably people who can't rise to the intellectual challenge of Fox News – the show's every-day-is-casual-day hosts (John Brown, Andrea Jackson and pudgy Mitch English) held happy-hour court at Rhythm & Flow Feb. 26. They were anxious to let people know that their brand of forced jocularity actually emanates from Orlando, and not from some soundstage in East L.A. In fact, the show moved here from Dayton, Ohio, last August, right in the middle of our rapturous hurricane season. They, apparently, were blown away by the experience. Well, actually they're still here.

So we mingled a bit, engaging ourselves in pointless discussions with the show's marketing director, Chris Iller, throwing back another swig with each mention of the phrase "younger demographic." The fun continued as we spoke with Jackson (who used to do soaps) about hair, and Brown (whose face seemed to constantly crease into an expression somewhere between Realtor confidence and "totally awesome") about everything being great, man. And just before we could make a full transformation into frosted animatronic morning show pundits, the bottom fell out.

"I've just got to go tell Andrea something," assured Brown. "I'll be right back." And with a quick whisper into her ear, Brown and Jackson took off completely. Ouch. Dishonorable discharge, indeed.

Ken Mulvaney got his ass kicked Feb. 28. Circuit Court Judge Theotis Bronson roundly rejected a handful of motions filed by his lawyers in his ongoing challenge to the 2004 mayoral election, which Mulvaney charges was tainted by the absentee-vote-gathering efforts of Ezzie Thomas and others working on Mayor Buddy Dyer's behalf.

Mulvaney's lawyers wanted to start a summary judgment hearing, wherein they would say the facts weren't in dispute and ask Bronson to order a new election. Problem was, Mulvaney lawyer Frederic O'Neal mailed the hearing notice to Dyer's army of lawyers a few days too late, so Bronson said no. (That hearing will take place March 15, as originally scheduled.)

Mulvaney also wanted the city to stop using taxpayers' money to defend the case. By law, Mulvaney had to name the Orlando Canvassing Board in its lawsuit. Since the canvassing board is an arm of the city, that meant assistant city attorney Amy Iennaco got involved. Later, when the case got a little heavier, the city called in reinforcements, enlisting the services of the high-priced King, Blackwell and Downs law firm, on your dime. Bronson ruled that the canvassing board has a legal right to defend itself. Strike two for Mulvaney.

Yet another motion before Bronson involved city commissioner Daisy Lynum. Mulvaney's lawyers accused her of lying in a deposition when she said she didn't know what political work Thomas had done for money in the 29 years she'd known him. This despite her own 2002 campaign finance report, which lists nearly a half-dozen payments to Thomas for get-out-the-vote efforts. Mulvaney's legal team wanted Bronson to hold Lynum in contempt; he refused. Strike three, and Mulvaney is out. At least for the time being.

Only hours before the ostentatious Oscars Feb. 27, we witnessed a humbler competition at DMAC – the weekly Film Slam – open to aspiring filmmakers from the community who want to showcase their works before a live audience and participate in a feedback session. Said audience on this day (about 25 people, including family and friends of the filmmakers, and the volunteer staff) voted a winner from two offerings. In a close heat, the impassioned Mills & Colonial documentary beat out the catchy Love Dance music video.

The winning footage by UCF student Brian Fieldname is an off-the-cuff capture of the Orlando Animal Rights Alliance Feb. 19 protest in front of The Puppy Store on Colonial Drive, near Mills Avenue. Led by Sarah Miller, activists have been hounding (pun intended, though achingly unoriginal) this reputed puppy mill every Saturday and will continue to do so, Miller says in the film, until the store is closed.

Miller is front and center in the spare minutes of the doc, which leaves much unanswered in terms of hard facts and context. But Miller's tenacity (she called in Fieldman at the last minute to make the documentary) provides a bit of ass-kicking catharsis to those weary of writing off Orlando as a city of apathetic noodles. Visit www.thepuppymillsucks.com for more on Miller's adventures in activism.

Real e-mails from the mayor's in-box!

Dear Mr. Dyer:

Have you noticed how UGLY Orlando has become? After the hurricanes it looks like an abandoned refuse in a lot of areas. I'm concerned about the values of properties. The decline in the pride of ownership. The growing lack of concern for the cleanliness of our communities. The vagrant and crime attraction to such areas. The danger of damage that the hurricanes have left to the properties. And other related problems that come with the decline of an area.

How long will the city tolerate it?

Please do something about this. Orlando is not The City Beautiful in a lot of the communities. It more like the city forgotten.


Mrs. Debbie Rhodes


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