;Playing fetch



;Head to the front of the line to be a beta tester for a new website developed here in town ostensibly to make dates for your lonely pets. Silly, yes, but after browsing and seeing the commercial demo, there's a tongue-in-cheek playfulness to the project that's catchy. And there's so much more on offer than just opportunities to hook up your iguana, ferret or chicken.


;For instance, a registered animal could be the object of your imagination, an artistic creation, derived from a mythical origin or pop culture (ligers included). Really, you don't even need a pet to participate – you can just be pet-friendly and looking for that stud with snakes or that hottie with an accessorized pooch. Or maybe you need to share a sad story about losing that special companion for whom you still grieve; there are forums and blogs for such cathartic sharing – photos and video welcome.


; is the brainchild of owners Darren McDaniel, Kia Misowitz (both formerly with DMAC) and her husband, Michael Misowitz, who've grown the company within the UCF Technology Incubator. Selected for that prestigious program, the Petentials crew says they have benefited from the mentoring, tools and training given to start-ups such as theirs that show high-growth potential.


;The site officially launches world-wide sometime this fall, but there are already 100 beta testers and McDaniels wants to invite you readers to come on board. "I'm really pleased to be making our ‘public debut' via the Orlando Weekly," McDaniel says. Just go to the site to register, and click on the rhinoceros. Be as creative or weird as you wanna be, but know that a possible naughty subsite won't show up until later phases of expansion.

;; — Lindy T. Shepherd

;;Weak muscles


;Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Through Aug. 26
;Mad Cow Theatre
;$20; 407-297-8788



;Action-adventure blockbusters have become a staple of summer, despite their overcooked cliché-ridden scripts. Perhaps that's why Mad Cow Theatre chose to dig deep into Shakespeare's back catalogue and dust off his rarely produced Pericles. Gower (Tommy Keesling) tells the tale of the titular Prince of Tyre (Michael Marinaccio), who endures a decades-long episodic slog around the storm-tossed Mediterranean, finding and losing love and power along the way.


;Lacking the billion-dollar budget to realistically render this far-ranging epic, director Denise Gillman has taken a minimalist approach in an ultra-intimate environment (enhanced by Erin Miner's painterly lighting). On designer Wes Gunn's bare set, Gillman employs a single semicircular "wedge" as everything from ship's deck to memorial marker and uses a conch shell as a recurring visual device. Marinaccio does his usual strong work as Pericles (whose name in Greek means "surrounded by glory"), fully investing in his slide from genial self-righteousness to humble broken-heartedness. The rest of the cast does their best to embody dozens of characters, standing face to the wall like errant children when not on stage. Supporting standouts include Sarah Lockard as Marina, Pericles' vehemently virginal daughter; Mark Edward Smith as a steel-eyed assassin and mirthful king; and Heather Ross as a couple of seriously spiteful women.


;I'm ashamed to admit that until now I'd never seen nor read Pericles, but its lack of popularity is easily understood. The first two acts (widely believed to be the work of someone other than the Bard) suffer strained rhymes and fractured meter, and the plot has more improbable coincidences and remarkable resurrections than three seasons of Lost. A trio of politically minded fishermen and some deus ex marauding pirates add a Pythonesque touch, but for a "tragicomedy," the laughs are few and far between. Conversely, the parade of characters and subplots, quickly introduced and dismissed, blunt the emotional resonance of the moralizing dénouement. Plus, there's barely a swash buckled – it's a mostly action-less adventure. At least it's shorter than Pirates of the Caribbean, less headache-inducing than Transformers and has fewer musical numbers than Spidey 3.

;; — Seth Kubersky

;The aftermath


;Zombie Emergency Defense Tactical Training
Hard Knocks Orlando


;"If you get touched by a zombie, you are dead! Return your weapon and leave the arena!" A brunette beauty in a "Regulator" tank top is barking instructions as I examine my gun, a mass of metal that looks like a pulse rifle out of Aliens. "No running, no punching the zombies! Now, go go go!" Then I'm with a handful of other pseudo-soldiers, stalking through a strobe and smoke-choked maze of office cubicles and warehouse crates, surrounded by ghouls with greasepaint on their faces and blinking bubble sensors on their foreheads. At first I think I'm doing well, duck-walking down halls and checking the corners, and I even manage to bag a couple lurchers. But barely three minutes into the five-minute match, one leaps from an unseen hidey-hole and I am lunch.

;;I stumble back to the lobby, where a score of fellow gorehounds watch Dawn of the Dead or virtually blow the shit out of each other in Counter-Strike. That was the scene last Saturday (July 28) night at Hard Knocks Orlando, a "combat sports arena" near UCF. Their first Zombie Emergency Defense training session, sponsored by Best of Orlando winner A Comic Shop Inc., was a runaway success (and surprisingly not a sausage fest). Hard Knocks owner Joe Wheeler was overwhelmed by the turnout, and suggested future sessions might have an exclusive admissions cap to reduce waiting. Despite my rapid demise, I learned valuable lessons for the inevitable undead apocalypse: Keep calm, keep moving and keep with the group. Now excuse me, I have an odd craving for offal … .

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