Dems choose new leaders and Jesus comes down off the cross

You'd expect the Democrats to be licking their wounds after Nov. 2, planning a more unified front for next time, right?

Fat chance. On Dec. 1, the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee gathered for one last meeting of the year to choose their new leadership, and the result was little-d democracy at its ugliest.

Nearly 200 of the elected party faithful crammed into the Sorosis Women's Club on East Livingston Street to pick and poke at the newly declared candidates for eight board positions. Adding to the drama was an open nomination process that allowed anyone to run right up until the votes were taken. Each voting member had to declare her choice openly, by standing or calling out a name, guaranteeing fresh new feuds for years to come. So much for the secret ballot.

At first, outgoing DEC chairman – and Orlando's least lovable Democrat – Doug Head put the kibosh on nominating speeches, or even speeches by the candidates themselves. But soil and water conservation district rep-elect Susan Clary delivered a smackdown, citing a thick binder of state party bylaws requiring a minute for each endorsement. Head relented, but allowed only 15 seconds for remarks.

The result was an electorate even less informed than usual, with members going on little more than speculation and rumors about who was more devoted or, in one case, less evil. Days before the meeting, a letter from failed Orange County Sheriff candidate Rick Staly's campaign manager was mailed to county committee members. The letter claimed that DEC state committeewoman Robin Bouey had endorsed Republican challenger Kevin Beary and had called Staly "a racist" at an Eatonville town hall meeting. Bouey lost her seat that night, with no chance to rebut the attacks.

Orange County school board member Tim Shea was elected the new party chair, surprising no one, as Head stepped down after a cantankerous 12-year reign. Shea's demeanor at the podium was immediately warmer, reason perhaps for Democrats to envision a more agreeable future.

But the party people did make some noise. An attempt to streamline the voting process by having everyone silently stand up to be tallied was nixed by another school board member, Kat Gordon, who instructed the crowd to count off and sit down one at a time.

"If third-graders can do it, so can all of you," she shouted.

While it shaved a few minutes off the whole fiasco, even Gordon couldn't keep the clunky process to under two hours. You can bet your ass that if this were a Republican meeting they would have been out in time to catch C.S.I.

This may be the wrong time of the year to contemplate the Crucifixion, but those darn hurricanes messed with more than the order of Mother Nature over at the somewhat obscure Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens in Winter Park. There, the gale forces had the blasphemous audacity to tear loose the nails (bolts, really) that secured the palms of the sculptor's bronze masterpiece "The Victorious Christ" to its decaying wooden cross.

Thanks to a generous private donation and a series of other luck-outs, work began immediately to restore the sculpture, which depicts a crucified Christ moments before he went to the other side, to perfection. A downed 200-year-old cypress tree near Gainesville (another hurricane victim) was miraculously found (it's illegal to cut down live ones), so the 21-foot-high beam for the cross could be milled.

Last weekend conservator John Maseman, of the South Florida Conservation Center, actually got his hands on the sculpture after it was painstakingly removed from the cross, where it's been a fixture since the mid-1970s. Secrets were revealed, including exactly how it was attached in the first place (bolts in the hands, torso and feet). Also, in the process of the high-tech cleaning, stabilizing and waxing of the Christ, Maseman found that it was originally gilded with 23-karat gold leafing. The private donor didn't blanch at the added dollar signs.

So the work continues, and Maseman will be on site to answer questions Dec. 12, at the Polasek (, as it hosts a watch party for the Winter Park Boat Parade. This is an amazing first in itself, as picnicking (they'll even be selling food) and merrymaking will be allowed – encouraged even – on the picturesque grounds of the prim museum that backs up onto Lake Osceola. Judges expect to see the boats around 6 p.m. or so, with the Rollins College ski team's demo at 2:30 p.m. and music around 4 p.m. May the wonders never cease.

There we were on Church Street when a panhandler approached. "Hey, give me the rest of that change," said Mr. P. as we were attempting to park the Happtown™ Mobile Information Collection Vehicle. The things we have to put up with. So much for revitalization.

See, we were downtown to witness Orlando's beautiful people lining up for a crack at a dream job at Club Paris, Paris Hilton's much-publicized new venture. The soft (ahem) opening is set for Dec. 30, while the hard (ahem, ahem) opening happens on New Year's Eve. Both are just up the road, ya see. Paris herself has signed a contract to appear in person twice a month. Dear God, that's more often than we like to be in O-Town … kidding!

The Dec. 4 auditions were for everything from bouncers and bartenders to marketing-wanks/publicists. And the event drew a motley line of folk on a Saturday morning, thanks in no small part to a white-trash sponsorship deal with Real Radio 104.1. The job fair brought out everything from middle-parted muffler-changers to blown-out, power-suited cocaine hopefuls, all in search of something else.

"It would be good to see Paris every once in awhile," smirked one hopeful, with a girl-on-girl lip-bite.

"I hear she has size 13 feet," sneered another, before rethinking. "Er, maybe it was 11."

For us, it was worth the visit just to catch fellow media maven Gail Paschall-Brown of WESH-TV Channel 2 slumming it for the soft news like a pro. She was wearing a purple blouse and a gray skirt and rolling up her own blue cord. That's hot.


Q: Why is the solution to every computer problem to "reboot"?

A: It's a bit of a misconception to say that every problem with a computer can be solved with a reboot. But nevertheless, many problems do seem to magically disappear with a simple flick of the power switch.

There are several reasons this is true. For instance, sometimes you'll have a piece of software that uses a timer that counts milliseconds using a 32-bit number – and after you've counted off 2 32 milliseconds (about 49.7 days), you get an overflow that can cause an application to crash, or even the operating system, as was the case back in the days of Windows 95. Also, sometimes you'll have a program that doesn't correctly release memory back to the system once it has finished working with it. This is referred to as a memory leak, and it can very quickly bring a computer to its knees. The reboot blanks the RAM, and you get to start from scratch – hopefully by patching or deleting the program with the memory leak. Malformed network packets can sometimes cause problems that a reboot will fix. Or, if you've been browsing porn and you get stuck in an infinite loop of pop-up windows, a reboot is often the most expedient way of getting back to the boobies without losing the magic of the moment. Just remember, when you're done, to install the Google toolbar to prevent pop-ups from causing similar problems in the future. (