EVENT INSIDER: MEETINGS MAYHEM – a startling reality check behind live events

Meetings Mayhem

Meetings Mayhem is what happens when you tumble dry the principles of Murphy’s Law with surprising mishaps experienced by hospitality, meetings and events, and entertainment industry experts, and then have a professional meeting planner collect and fold them into a passion project ready-made as a “how to respond to nightmare scenarios and come out a winner” book. I vacillated between laughing out loud and gratefully moaning, “Thank goodness it wasn’t me in that situation!”

You don’t have to be in the aforementioned industries to appreciate that “no matter how well you plan, there is always something beyond your control that can drastically upend at the last minute.” What author and professional meeting planner Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP demonstrates is that no matter how dire the situation might seem, the anecdotes contained within the pages of this easy-to-read 182 pages are an amusing guide for what-to-do-if…


This Florida Time Travel Series captivates the imagination and reveals facts about Florida that likely few know other than historical or geological researchers.

16,500 years BP (Before Present time), a bald stranger wearing tight dark blue pants and turtleneck, black boots and black cape appears suddenly before an ancient Indian chief and his son. Before the stranger from 2338 CE (Common Era) departs in the same gust of cool swirling air, he imparts knowledge of wheels and wagons: practical tools to advance their progress as a people and as the first step in preparing them to counter the lethal invasion of Europeans in 1492. That stranger, whom the natives think of as a god, materializes multiple times in later centuries, each time dispensing knowledge for making tools, and techniques and languages for the betterment of diverse ancient tribes. However, not all time travelers proved to be as magnanimous.

Time travel topics have always tantalized my imagination. These were whimsical what-if stories that begged for suspension of known science; yet armed with a cozy couch and a glass of wine, made for delightful sojourns of the mind.

Then I read the Florida time travel trilogy written by John Charles Miller, a Tampa, FL-based author, groundwater geologist in the United States and Latin America for more than 40 years, and an avid birdwatcher with his wife, Mary.

The three books of alternate history (there’s that what-if premise)– Citrus White Gold, The Gatherers, and Deep Florida, are embedded with rich dialogue, colorful characters, articulated technology, and graphic depiction of how events and Florida’s native population’s history might have plausibly impacted today’s Florida. The stories are absorbing, thought-provoking, stimulating fun.

I am awed by John Charles Miller’s proficiency at dialogue to reflect the locations and timelines. His In-depth descriptions of a place or event compelled me to research their veracity, for no reason than just wanting to know if this detail was fact or fiction. Each instance was a factual pivotal moment of Florida history meticulously woven into the stories’ narrative. So, not only did I spend many hours of enjoyable time reading, but I learned about Central Florida, where I live.

Each book can be read on its own, but I encourage you to read them in succession.

Orlando’s Food Scene Outlined in Ricky Ly’s Guide

Food Lovers' Guide to Orlando  I am not sure if Orlando has ever had a food guide before Ricky Ly took on the task. I had heard about Ricky Ly before meeting him at two food events where we were both invited as food critics. Ly is a food blogger who can be found at @tastychomps or on FaceBook at tastychomps. His book is the Food Lovers’ Guide to Orlando: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings.
Like Ly’s day job as an engineer, he tackled this food guide with meticulous organization and verve at getting the project done in a timely manner. Unfortunately, as with a guide of any kind, the listings start to become outdated by the time the guide is published. I noticed that with several of the restaurants mentioned here that are no longer in business.
Nonetheless, for someone looking for descriptions of a restaurant’s cuisine, a bit of background, and where it’s geographically located within the metro Orlando area (which is divided in food zones), this book is a winner. He articulates Orlando into downtown, central, north, west, east and south areas, as well as breaking down further into Universal/International Drive, Restaurant Row/Sand Lake Road, and Disney/Lake Buena Vista. The surprise is a separate listing for Winter Park and for food trucks. He told me he had visited all 300 restaurants listed here. I wish I could more plainly see the evidence of that. I like when he mentions dishes he personally favors at these restaurants. There just should have been more of that.  Instead, many of the restaurants are relegated to general information about what style of cuisine is prepared; information that could be found elsewhere.
I can see this guide as very useful for someone unfamiliar with Orlando restaurants, or someone just looking to try something new when out of their usual vicinity for dining out. Restaurants are delineated as to their price, type of attire (dressy or casual), and which are hid favorites. Specialty markets and stores are also categorized.
The book sells for $14.95 and can be found on Amazon or you can just contact Ly on his Facebook page or twitter name to get updates on where it can be purchased. Tell him you heard about the book in my blog.
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.ThePsychicLady.com. @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.

Food Lovers’ Guide to Orlando

Hollywood The Band, A Tale of Sex, Drugs, And Rock And Roll

hollywood the band coverThere’s a relic of an ironic joke that if you can remember the 60’s, you weren’t really there. The drugs were psychedelic and mind-expanding, the clothes worn as a defiant costume of flowers, paisleys and neon colors, and the arrogance of youth permeated the atmosphere like a clashing haze of ideas and ideals that rose upward and outward from a center core of music that can still be heard on any classic oldies station. The same could be said for the early 70s. Bands that etched their genius onto the landscape like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, The Beach Boys, Grand Funk Railroad, Bob Seger, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Simon & Garfinkle, The Buffalo Springfield, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Santana, and Rare Earth were just some of the names that regularly vied for #1 on music play lists.
On none of those lists would you have found the band, Hollywood, a ragtag group of wanna-be rock ‘n roll stars who fought through their drug-induced sex haze long enough to let their creative musicality and stumbling managers guide them to their dream. You wouldn’t have found Hollywood listed because author Steven Jordan Brooks hadn’t yet imagined them on paper. But the band lives as surely as any fictional character representing a time, a place, and an era. “Hollywood The Band, A Tale of Sex, Drugs, And Rock And Roll” is a story of that band’s journey to secure a record deal. To get there, they had to survive the issues of the day: politics, music maneuverings, unlimited designer drugs, unbridled sex, homosexual awareness, the Viet Nam war, and racial tensions.
Brooks is a classically trained musician who transitioned from rock ‘n roll performer to management and production. Those years before he eventually morphed into an English and drama teacher became the research of his saga. He uses Hollywood, The Band, as the catalyst for telling a story of the 70’s, name dropping real bands and real-life situations into the fictional mix. While the story rings true and is likely a composite of characters Brooks lived and partied with, Read more

Vibrate into the New Age!

I love when certain words slide off my tongue as easily as dipping aforementioned tongue into a delectable Carvel soft chocolate ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Take synergistic, for example, a word that has been rolling around in my head for the past hour, just begging to be released. Synergy to me is when at least two diverse entities converge and the result is more powerful and wonderful than either part individually. Today my past and my present and my future all collided. When I was very young, I had a favorite uncle who was both a widely-respected newspaper editor and a prodigious national book reviewer. When I’d go to visit him, the walls were literally lined with books he’d reviewed. With each visit, he’d stimulate my thirst for knowledge with gifts of these treasures and encourage me to write about what I knew, what I saw, and what I wanted to be in this world. Never did I dream that one day I’d be on publicists’ lists to review their authors’ efforts, Read more