Inspiration and insanity on open mic night (featuring Geri X and Stick Martin)
June 5, 2010

Geri X on the cover of Creative Loafing, 2009

Here's Geri X on the cover of Creative Loafing in 2009, four years after the events portrayed in this article. There was a great pic of Geri with the original article, but I'm not going to pay the Times to use it.

Open mic night has begun at Javatropolis, and if the song’s chorus is any indication, the delicately pretty teenager onstage just might be singing a heartfelt ballad about . . . Mao Tse-tung.

Okay, so it turns out this particular chorus, at least on this particular Tuesday night, is no indication. The chorus’ repeated phrase actually is “Bil Si Tam,” also the song’s title. It’s definitely not Mao Tse-tung, confirms Geri Micheva, the song’s composer and performer.

To be safe, Geri, who performs as Geri X, writes it down: Bil Si Tam (You’ve Been There). She dots the I’s with X’s, just like every nice little high school sophomore should. And she highlights a single, but wide, stretch of her long brown hair with neon green coloring, just like every nice little high school . . .

Hey, wait a minute. Geri’s not so easily categorized. And really she wouldn’t be hanging out on Tuesday night with this crowd if she was.

Not with Carson. Not with A.J.

And definitely not with Stick.



Film review: Splice (2010), a gorgeous train wreck of sci-fi horror
June 2, 2010

Photo from the film Splice

Sarah Polley gets up close and personal with... um... something.

Grade: 5 out of 10

The new sci-fi thriller Splice, a modern-day take on Frankenstein that opens Friday (June 4) in theaters, is a gorgeous film that impresses on many levels.

The visuals are breathtaking, a perfect balance between practical and computer-generated effects. The cinematography and art direction often are stunning.

The stars are two top-notch actors, Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley, in what is essentially a three-character piece for the majority of its running time. And through its first two acts, the film surrounds viewers with a constant feeling of tension and discomfort peaking with one of the darkest scenes I’ve seen in a mainstream film in awhile.

And then the third act arrives, and Splice takes a abrupt nosedive right into the crapper.


Brief thoughts on Lost series finale: Because someone had to do it
May 24, 2010

I know what you’re thinking, and it’s this: “No one else has any opinion on the final episode of Lost, so I sure hope Rick Gershman can help me out with that.”

Happy to help.

It was an interesting experience, because I watched the show with my buddy Chase Squires, formerly the television critic for one of the nation’s top newspapers. (Ask your grandparents about newspapers – they might remember them from when they were little.)

Chase has followed Lost religiously since its premiere. He’s written about it extensively. He’s visited the sets in Hawaii. He even created a popular run of stick-figure recaps for the aforementioned newspaper. (It was like news, but it was written on paper. And you paid real money for it. Yeah, it makes no sense to me either.)

Suffice it to say, Chase knows Lost inside and out. And when tonight’s finale ended, this was his general take:

“That sucked! We didn’t get any answers! Are you kidding? Gershman, get out of my home!”

(That’s damn near verbatim, mind you. I would have been upset, but I live next door, so I stormed off on my 15-second walk home and wrote this up for you.)

Anyway, my take is this: I understand completely where Chase is coming from. And I’m sure many hardcore Losties feel the same.

Regardless, I disagree completely.

I loved it.

I thought it was one of the most kickass, most satisfying, most courageous series finales ever.

I’m not going to waste your precious time going into too many details, but I owe you an explanation for my defense of what Lost masterminds Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse came up with, so here are the highlights:

  1. I don’t need everything explained to me. I just don’t. If I’m watching a mystery or a police procedural, sure, break it all down. That’s required. But the brilliance of Lost always has been about reading between the lines and adding your own interpretations to the mix. Why should the finale be any different? If the writers handed us everything on a silver platter, wouldn’t that be the cop-out?
  2. It hit us where it counts. When you invest six years into these characters, you expect some emotional payoffs, and tonight’s show paid that off and then some. The fact that many of the characters had died in what we can likely consider the true “reality” made those moments all the more fulfilling. I’m not the type to get choked up, but I did several times tonight. It was unabashedly romantic, and unbelievably touching. (more…)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) review by Rick Gershman
May 22, 2010

Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street remake

You can't tell from the poster, but he's 5-foot-5. Ooooh, scary.

Picture the 1984 horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. Now picture that film if it was produced by bombastic Michael Bay, director of Pearl Harbor and the Transformers films.

Now picture all of the worst possible outcomes of that marriage. You don’t have to.

You could just plunk down your hard-earned cash — better yet, don’t — for this craptacular remake.

Not that I can stop you from seeing it. No number of bad reviews (and this is one of many) would have kept me away. Curiosity alone demanded I see the new Elm Street, so when a critic buddy asked if I’d like to tag along to a screening, I did.

I mean, it couldn’t be awful, right? It’s a darker take on a character that had fallen into parody. Its screenplay was co-written by Wesley Strick, who has worked with Martin Scorsese (1991’s Cape Fear). And supernatural killer Freddy Krueger is played by Jackie Earle Haley, an Oscar-nominated actor who was so creepy as Rorschach in Watchmen. How bad could it be?

Really bad, it turns out. Astonishingly, amazingly, how-could-you-possibly-screw-this-up-any-worse bad. (more…)

Lucinda Williams concert review (archives, 2004)
May 20, 2010

ST. PETERSBURG – Six songs into her show Tuesday at Jannus Landing, Lucinda Williams and her band began to hear calls from fans for some up-tempo favorites.

Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams

“We’ll do Changed the Locks and Joy,” she responded, chastising the crowd in good-natured fashion. “We’ve got to work up to it. Y’all just chill out.”

Williams didn’t follow with “like us,” but it would have been appropriate. While she performed selections from her remarkable catalog of blues, country, rock and folk songs in fine form, Williams opened the show in such a relaxed manner that some in the packed courtyard grew restless.

Perhaps the crowd’s calls had some effect, because Williams shattered the leisurely tone with grooving renditions of I Lost It, Still I Long For Your Kiss and Righteously, the latter the lead single from 2003’s Grammy-nominated World Without Tears.


Teen’s pencil toss turns into felony charge (archives, 2005)
May 16, 2010

Patrick Ortiz with his mother, Theresa

Patrick Ortiz with his mother, Theresa

SPRING HILL – What Patrick Ortiz did Tuesday morning got him taken from Fox Chapel Middle School in handcuffs and booked at Hernando County Jail.

It got him suspended from school.

It got him three weeks of house arrest.

It got him charged with a third-degree felony.

And it could get him expelled.

He is charged with battery on a school employee. A Hernando County Sheriff’s Office arrest report details the allegations.

In the section “Weapons,” under the heading “Weapon Type,” the report notes:


Under “Caliber,” it states:


Patrick, 15, faces a felony charge because he tossed a mechanical pencil that struck a school custodian in the shoulder. The custodian, Kevin Gable, was not injured. According to the report, he did sustain a “small pencil mark on (his) T-shirt, on the right sleeve.”

As for the “weapon,” it disappeared, according to the report: “The pencil in question was unable to be located at the scene.”


Valentine’s Day cheaters article (2006)
May 10, 2010

Broken Heart(Originally published February 14, 2006)

On Valentine’s Day, the businessman was determined to be with the woman he loved.

That woman, unfortunately, was not his wife.

The lovebirds nestled in a corner booth at an Italian restaurant in Dunedin, showing little discretion.

Lips locked on lips, on wrists, on ears, shoulders, necks. Hands disappeared into clothing.

They could be seen by diners at only two tables.

At one sat private investigator Kevin Collins, hired by the businessman’s wife. At the other, coincidentally, sat the imperceptive adulterer’s boss.

“(He) asked his boss to recommend a place to take his wife,” Collins recalled. “But he takes his girlfriend. He doesn’t think his boss might go there with his (own) wife on Valentine’s Day?” (more…)

American Idol: Kelly Clarkson / Clay Aiken review (2004)
May 9, 2010

(Originally published February 28, 2004)

TAMPA – Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken followed starmaking turns on American Idol with top-selling singles and albums. Friday at the St. Pete Times Forum, they tested whether their talents could resonate beyond the confines of the TV screen.

It wasn’t presented to be a competition, but come on – these two got their careers from a competition. And while Clarkson was the first American Idol champion, Aiken – the second-season runnerup – easily stole the show.Kelly Clarkson

The co-headliners followed opening act The Neu Sisters with separate sets, except for a show-capping duet of Journey’s Open Arms. They alternate the opening and closing slots each night.

Clarkson was first up Friday, and her set played nothing like a true headlining gig. Instead, it was largely rushed and graceless. (more…)

Note to (currently-but-not-infinitely-nonexistent) Readers
May 5, 2010

Okay, there aren’t any readers yet. I realize this. However, there will be. (I remain optimistic. Don’t crush the light in my soul. That’s what family is for.)

So when readers finally get around to reading this, it is to explain that the posts that follow will include more than a little “repurposed” content. However, it is all content that I originally wrote with my original widdle hands.

So bear with me. We’re going to get some content cranked up, weaving in some original stuff here and there, and eventually we’ll be 100 percent original.

(Well, maybe not 100 percent. But it’s good stuff. Please don’t crush the light in my soul. That’s what girlfriends are for.)

Son of the Mask review 
May 2, 2010

Son of the Mask DVD cover

That dog's just praying Animal Control comes around soon.

(Originally published February 17, 2005)

Finally, after a month of tepid horror flicks (White Noise, Hide and Seek, Boogeyman) we finally have a true terror classic. Son of the Mask is sure to horrify adults and kids alike.

Take, for instance, the scene when bleary-eyed new daddy Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy) comes within inches of feeding his baby son a broken light bulb. Brilliantly shocking!

Then there’s that bit when Avery mistakes his wife for the film’s villain and attacks her, slamming her to the floor and beginning to throttle her. Move over, Raging Bull! Truly chilling stuff! (more…)