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HAPPYTOWN


;While the rest of you newsies were busy wrapping your heads around shiny performing arts centers and the great Burnham god-kiss, we just happened to unearth the Biggest Story of All Time. And it comes from a divine source: John Martello, aka ARACHIYA, Blue Dragon, Skywatcher Lord of the Order of the Skywatcher Clan. Let's just call him Martello.

;;The Skywatchers (aka "ancient tribe of the dragon, forgotten tribe of the Americas") are currently attempting to raise funds to turn their tribal lands into a park … in Pine Hills! Seems these privately owned parcels may rest on a native burial mound; and they may not. A "ground penetrating radar" search may be pending; and it may not. Martello and his brethren are hoping to raise enough money to purchase back at least some of the magic land for a park that encourages picnics, camping and "powwows."

;;In case you're wondering about the Skywatcher Clan, you can check them out online at www.skywatcherclan.0catch.com, where you'll find out that they were the last folks to vacate Atlantis before that whole thing sank into the ocean.

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;Some residents in the area have reported strange goings-on near the site, which could be a product of burial ground disruption, or simply the presence of "ample earth energy," says Martello.

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;The county is more prosaic. "We know nothing about a burial ground," says Orange County spokesman Steve Triggs, who is clearly not a member of the clan.

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; SEMI-REGULAR FEATURE: ;
; DIARY OF A LYNX RIDER ;

It’s totally hip to ride the LYNX, what with gas prices shooting through the roof and all this chatter about global warming. SUVs are out; mass transit is in. Gov. Jeb Bush even stopped by the LYNX station a few weeks ago to pimp commuter rail. LYNX is all the rage, I tell you what.

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So for LYNX virgins, I hereby present a list of helpful tips to make all of your Orlando bus trips more pleasant. And the fact that there are 13 tips, and 13 is considered an unlucky number, is pure coincidence, I swear. No. 1: Have your money ready. The bus drivers don’t make change, and there’s nothing more irritating than someone holding up travel time by digging for quarters. Preparation is key, people. No. 2: Headphones are essential. Crazy people ride the bus, and so do drunk people, and they will annoy the shit out of you. No. 3: If you pull out your cell phone, stay on it. The second you stop talking, someone will want to borrow it. One guy borrowed mine, supposedly to call his job, and left some greasy film all over it. Ewww. Your phone also works as a good buffer between you and those who would ask you for money. No. 4: The 4 bus from downtown to the Florida Mall is hell — avoid it at all costs. No. 5: Be prepared for stench, especially if you’re on the last 30 bus going to the West Oaks Mall in Ocoee. I don’t know what the problem is, but this bus always smells like a putrid mix of onions, ass and vinegar. No. 6: This is for all of you New Yorkers: Do not talk about how great New York is. Such talk bores the rest of us to death, both on the bus and anywhere else. No. 7: If a bus stop is crowded, and you have time, go to the stop that precedes it on the route. I’ve scored prize seats by not waiting around with my fellow LYNXers. No. 8: Do not rest your arm on my seat. You are invading my personal space, and that is rude. No. 9: Don’t count on your bus being on time. Most of the time, it ain’t gonna happen. Especially if there’s a wheelchair on the bus. That sounds insensitive, but it’s true. No. 10: Be nice to the bus drivers. Their job is hard enough without yet another person being a dick on top of it all. They can, and will, throw you off the bus if you’re belligerent. And the rest of us will cheer. No. 11: You cannot pee or poop on the bus. There are no bathrooms, so plan accordingly. No. 12: Look at the seats before you sit down. You have no idea how many times I’ve seen discarded tissues on them. Gross. No. 13: Try to get another form of transportation as quickly as possible. You may start off thinking that riding the LYNX bus is noble, a way to either express your outrage at gas prices or contribute less to greenhouse gases. But you will soon be disillusioned and discover LYNX to be the horribly inefficient, mind-numbing experience us old pros already know it to be.

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; At the same time that the;city's performing arts center project is experiencing its own hell of public scrutiny, a more heavenly arts program — Arts Worship Sabbath — took place Aug. 27 at Orlando Repertory Theatre. A coalition of more than 150 Christian musicians and artists upgraded their third annual event and changed its name (formerly the Selah Service), aided by producing director Terry Olson, also Orange County's Arts and Cultural Affairs director.

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; ;The atmosphere was Christly, with the Lord's name and crosses of all varieties sprinkled throughout the proceedings. The music and art ranged from that of hobbyists (paintings of flowery praise) to that of professionals (photographs of places of worship around the world). The event stood out because while this town seems to seethe with faceless Christian denunciation, here was an unabashed public glorification, light on moralizing.

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; ;Speaking of Olson, he has narrowed down the applicants for two $50,000 public art projects. Olson selected three artists to give their final presentations for prettying up the exterior of the county's Cooperative Extension Education Building, now under construction on Conway Road, and three more for doing something with the interior of a new senior center being built in Curry Ford Park on South Econlockhatchee Road. Surely Olson is aware that if out-of-towners are chosen, there will be hell to pay from the local starving artist community. May the wisdom of Solomon be with him.

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;This we concede: The Citrus Bowl is old. It's outdated. Its bathrooms suck. Parking is horrible.

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;;And it's usually empty.

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; ;This we concede as well: If Orlando and Orange County wanted to spend $250 million (or more), the Florida Citrus Sports association could turn our ratty stadium into something beautiful.

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; ;Right now, it has three big events: two college bowl games and the Florida Classic. Collectively, those events draw about 180,000 people a year. This fall, the University of Central Florida will play seven games at the Citrus Bowl, but next year, they'll play in their own stadium. Is the Citrus Bowl worth it?

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;Florida Citrus Sports thinks so.

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;In an impressive presentation to the Orange County Commission Aug. 29, the association laid out the benefits: more concerts, more convention space, maybe a Bowl Championship Series football game, maybe even an NFL franchise and — one day — a Super Bowl. Even if those don't come, executive director Steve Hogan told commissioners, the Citrus Bowl's lack of a pro or college team is an "advantage" because it frees up dates that would otherwise be taken.

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; ;It's worth noting, as county commissioner Bob Sindler did, that every single city Florida Citrus Sports compared Orlando to has an NFL team, and thus a reason to dump loads of money on a new stadium. Dallas, Houston and Jacksonville aren't hoping for something to justify the cost; they already have it. Florida Citrus Sports, on the other hand, tells us that if we don't pony up, we'll lose the events we have, and have no chance of moving up the football echelon. And still we must ask ourselves: So?

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; While we're on the topic of ;"Is it worth it?", it's plain our little nation-building adventure in Iraq is getting costly. A few billion here, another special appropriation there, who can keep track?

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;It's tough. But as our Journalism 101 instructor used to say, "Try to make the numbers relevant to everyday life. And for God's sake stop wearing flip-flops to class."

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; And so we present to you, the taxpayer footing the bill, a valuable resource called the National Priorities Project (http://national;priorities.org/). They've had an Iraq war calculator for some time now; it reads $318.5 billion as of this writing, but the numbers grow so fast you have to see it to believe it.

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; ;Now they've added a new breakdown to help you grasp just how much you, Joe and Jane Sixpack of Orange County, are spending on gunpoint democracy.

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; ;As of this writing their figure, based on a report published by the Congressional Research Service, is $1.2 billion for Orange County, computed as Florida's tax contribution to the federal revenues divided by the number of residents in each county. Putting that into perspective, as our journalism prof said we should, the good people of Orange County have already spent enough "liberating" Iraq to pay for the new performing arts center, a renovated Citrus Bowl and a new stadium in which the Magic could continue to suck.

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; ;To put an even finer point on it, each and every citizen of Orlando (2003 population estimate 199,336, according to the U.S. Census Bureau) has chipped in $5,519! Take that, evildoers!

;;;This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes, Lindy T. Shepherd and Bob Whitby.

;; happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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