Friday, April 30, 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill: Part Dieux

Where the hell is Palin and her Palinites?  We should be hearing cheers of joy from them.  They have achieved their goal.  "Drill, baby, drill" has reaped an abundance of cheap oil.  Thousands of gallons are spewing from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico daily like a bad bout of diarrhea and will probably continue for an indefinite period of time. 

So, Sarah, you and your fellow troglodytes need to get off of your sorry asses and grab a bucket and go out to the Gulf Coast and scoop up all of that oil you crave.  It's free! 

Either that or just shut the fuck and forever.

Thanks, a Floridian

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Well slap my ass and call me Spanky!

Since I am unemployed (or is it unemployable, I forget) and I don't have a life, I was putzing about on the 'net and made a surprising discovery.  I made it to Billboard magazine's December 12, 1964 issue and never knew it.  Holy crap, there I am on page 32:

I was so astounded I almost wet my knickers and damn near spilled my beer.  I think that I shall be taking the rest of the day off to bask in my own aura and touch myself fondly.  No, not there.  I was thinking more of a pat on the back.

Got nothin' to say...say nothin'.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a coworker as I began a radio career in 1960.  He said, "If you don't have anything to say, then don't say anything."  Well, I don't have anything to say today, so I am not going to say anything.  "Starting when?" you may ask.

Some time around 1966: WSCM, tall tower town and country radio, 1290 on the right side, the bright side of your dial, Panama City Beach, Florida.

Actually, that coworker gave me some unusual advice even earlier.  He apparently thought I should get into real estate instead of broadcasting because he advised, "Get lots while you are young."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Date Night Too

I was verging on putting fingers to keyboard to regale you with my date night adventures when I noticed that a blog I follow, The Sassy Curmudgeon, had already posted a date night scribble.  Drat!  This poophead, and I mean that only in the nicest of possible ways, beat me to the blogosphere.  Now what the hell do I bore you with?

Well, first off, you should take a gander at this lady's blog.  She is a very entertaining writer.  And, second:  Damn the torpedoes, it's full speed ahead with my date night story.  So there, Sass!

Like Sassy and her hubby, my bride and I went to see the movie Date Night for our Saturday night date night.  We went to the Cobb CineBistro in Hyde Park where the theater polizei do not allow hooter hollering, or cell phoning, or any other miscreant behavior.  To me there is only one way to vacation on a cruise ship and that is with a balcony suite.  Likewise, there is only one way to go out to a movie and that is at a venue like the Cobb CineBistro.  In addition to comfy rocking seats and spacious surroundings the Cobb serves some pretty decent food...and, beer...and, wine.

I sorta enjoyed the movie, especially Tina Fey's pole dance scene.  She has a rather cute butt, but I digress.  My fair maiden had the hamburger and sweet potato fries both of which she said were excellent.  I opted for the ubiquitous, but satisfying, sesame seared tuna salad.  Instead of wine this time we ordered a bucket of beer.  I was pleased that we didn't just get a bucket filled with beer.  There were five bottles of our choice in a bucket of ice, and that lasted to the end of the movie.

A highlight of my evening was a power failure that plunged the theater into darkness.  After the power was restored we were blessed with a blank screen.  An employee came around to say that the projection equipment was being re-booted and the movie was being backed up to where the power shut off.  Why a highlight, you may ask?  This was just like putting your movie on pause at home so that you can take that much needed pee and not miss anything.  There should be a pause button at the Cobb, but I suppose that could create problems unless everyone was on the same pee schedule.  We could be there all evening, and then some.

Even though the food and the adult beverages were better than the movie, we still had a most enjoyable date night.  Thanks for asking.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

No Hos at the NoHo?

Editor's update: The NoHo ain't no mo'. They have closed da do'. They have opened a new restaurant on South MacDill called the Bistro Bleu.

"Hey Babe, I just read on the 'net about a new restaurant, you wanna go there tonight?"  "Sure!" replied my trophy bride, "Where is it?"  I told her that The NoHo Bistro is located on North Armenia Ave. just above the interstate.  "The what bistro?"  I repeated the name of the place, The NoHo Bistro.  "What's up with that", she asked?  "Is this place saying that if you be a ho you aren't allowed to eat there?  I don't think that's right.  Hos are people too and they need to eat just like the rest of us.  That is just not right," she rattled on.  I don't condone discrimination, but we made reservations and went to the NoHo anyway.

This is a small and quaint neighborhood restaurant located in a neighborhood that doesn't have the most stellar of reputations, but it was clean and nicely decorated in a French bistro kind of way.  We were seated and attended to promptly by Tomas, our server for the evening.

We started by requesting a bottle of an excellent Spanish rioja from a small but adequate wine list.  From there my lady ordered the mixed greens salad that she greatly approved of.  I chose the scallop ceviche...I love ceviche.  I didn't love this one.  The marinade was a soupy, gelatinous concoction of unknown origin almost completely devoid of taste.  The thinly sliced scallops were drenched in this mixture and piled on top of a bed of seaweed.  The seaweed was the saving grace here, but grace wasn't saved by much.

For our entrée we both ordered the flat iron steak, a much overlooked cut of beef, with a baked potato and sautéed mushrooms on the side.  The potatoes and mushrooms were very tasty, the steaks, not so much.  Both steaks came out exactly as ordered.  There just wasn't a lot of flavor. Also disappointing was the chocolate carrot cake that my bride had salivated over for most of the day.  The cake was dry as if it had been re-heated in the microwave way too long.  Dinner with 20% tip came to $132.00.

The NoHo Bistro did not provide a memorable dining experience, but we did discover that they do not discriminate against you even if you be a ho.  The restaurant relocated from North Howard Ave. to North Armenia and since The NoArm Bistro would have sounded odd, to say the least, the owners decided to stay with NoHo.

The NoHo Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2010: In An Odd Space

We went out to dinner last night (I'll tell you about that later) and got back home, undressed and in bed in time to see the start of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I haven't seen that movie in over twenty years and didn't really see it then.  We had smoked a jay before going in to the theater and midway in the movie HAL's soft voice lulled me to sleep.  Kind of reminds me of song lyrics, "Got stoned and I missed it."  

Last night I just had some red wine to slightly dull the senses so I was awake for the entire movie, commercial free.It is a great movie with a superb sound track, but last night the movie affected me in a disturbing way.  

I first saw 2001 in 1968 not too long after it came out.  Last night it struck me as bizarre that a 1968 movie was portraying events taking place thirty-three years into the future, and there I was last night watching events unfold that were nine years in my past.  It certainly can't be argued that Arthur C. Clark and Stanley Kubrick were way ahead of their time, but what about the here and now?  

We still haven't caught up with the technology depicted in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  What is even more disturbing, especially after watching and listening to the hate filled protests taking place all across our country, is that we don't appear to be all that much farther ahead of those head bashing hairy apes at the beginning of the movie.  The screeching and grunting that took place around the watering hole reminded me so much of the less-than-peaceful demonstrations we have seen on TV and read about in the papers.

The wild west mentality of those gun toting "patriots" is another sign that we are going back in time, not moving forward.  And, where the hell is Wyatt Earp when you need him?  This country has got to be a joke to the rest of the world and makes the movie Idiocracy seem like a portent of our future.  America, Land of the Dumbed-down. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill

So, with all of our modern drilling and oil extraction technology it is perfectly safe to drill off the coast of Florida. We will have no problems or worries about mishaps befouling our beaches and mucking up our tourist industry.


Of course that is right.  The oil companies and special interest groups all over hell's half acre have assured us of that, and they wouldn't lie or possibly be mistaken.  Right?

I don't know about you, but I believe them!  I also believe that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that is was burning (the damn thing just sank!) and sending an oil slick out into the Gulf of Mexico is purely a hoax promulgated by the socialist, liberal media, and those commie-pinko Democrats.

Yeah, right!

If you believe that, then I have a slightly used and somewhat soggy oil platform to sell you.

It's only Thursday, but...WTF?

Did you read in the paper where Ohio executed a serial rapist recently by lethal injection?  Well, there is a "who cares" moment except that this clown had fought the execution by arguing that he might be violently allergic to the state's execution drug.  It seems he was right.  He died.

The pot has called the kettle black:  "...Gov. Crist has confirmed what most Floridians already knew about him...he's willing to say or do just about anything to preserve his political ambitions," Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-You Fucking Kidding?  Do these Republican meat-heads ever think before speaking?  Ooops, sorry, I was having a senior moment there.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Desert Storm Revisited

It is hard for me to believe that it has been 19 years since my honorable discharge from active duty (18 April 1991) after Desert Shield/Desert Storm ended. That war, the first Bush war, was my very last war. It saddens me to think that we are still fighting that family's wars. I was lucky. That first one was a short one and for me it wasn't the nightmare that our military is blessed with in Iraq and Afghanistan today, but let me take you back to 1991.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

While flying out of Saudi after our tour ended one of my younger team members enthused, "Hey, we have served in a war zone. We can join the Veterans of Foreign Wars when we get home." Yeah, I thought, and we can sit at the bar drinking with vets who fought in the muddy trenches of WWI, clawed their way through the Pacific and across Europe for several years in WWII, froze their asses off at the frozen Chosin in Korea, humped a ruck for a year or more in Nam. Then we can tell them of our hardships in the Persian Gulf AOR (area of operational readiness).

For instance, the Olympic pool in our condominium compound wasn't heated for the first three weeks in-country, and it is cold in January. Admittedly, the majority of those who served in the Persian Gulf War were there a lot longer than we were, many saw some really nasty shit, and more than too many of our brothers and sisters in arms died. My reflections here mean no disrespect to them.  This is just another side to the war.

We lived in the Lockheed compound and were bused with armed escort to the Ministry of Defense and Aviation (MODA) compound in Riyadh where I manned a civilian satellite van that contractors abandoned at the start of hostilities.

We were issued one bullet for our lone M-16 since all security was provided by the military police and some wild and crazy Pakistani soldiers who opened fire on absolutely nothing one night with their M-60 machine gun. My night crew loaded our M-16, though I am still not sure of what we were supposed to do with that one bullet.

The CINC visits our MODA compound.
At the start of the war whenever the Iraqis sent a SCUD in our direction we would all don our MOP gear (carbon suits and gas masks). Once we realized that the Patriot batteries were pretty damned effective and the missiles weren't particularly accurate, we said to hell with those damn suits and headed up to the roof to watch the fireworks. The honchos in charge frowned on this behavior, but what the hell, the Iraqis weren't shooting at us, they were just shooting. The closest they got to us was the insurance office down the street that they hit one night. I can only wish that our comrades at Dhahran had been as lucky.

The Saudi countryside on the outskirts of Riyadh.

Members of the 290th JCSS, Florida Air National Guard, atop the bunker at war's end.

After a bit, the war ended. We spent another month in Saudi enjoying all that Riyadh had to offer, which wasn't much. The food was awful. I was flabbergasted that the local Wendy's was able to screw up a simple hamburger, but they did.  Oh, and there was no beer. That in itself was enough to remove Saudi Arabia from my list of must-do vacation destinations. They do have a hell of a beach though.

The 747 that brought us back home made a refueling stop at JFK. The hundred or so Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines aboard the plane were herded into a closed terminal to wait until the plane was ready to complete the final leg of our journey to MacDill AFB in Tampa. When the airport employees heard who was lounging in their darkened building they cranked up the lights and opened up the bars.  Hot damn, the first beer, cold or otherwise, in a long time. I don't remember much about the rest of the trip except walking down  the ramp and into my Baby's arms.

A few weeks after we got back home, Tampa threw us a big "hero's welcome home" party at Tampa Stadium. Lee Greenwood was there along with Mickey Mouse and General Schwartzkopf.

As I mentioned before, that was my last war. My sincere hope is that all of our servicemen and servicewomen can one day say, "That was my last war."

Note:  Some of the faces in my pictures have been pixelized to protect the innocent.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I have become one with my computer!

It is true, my computer and I have been having numerous intimate moments to start the week.  There has been oral sex:  I have told this monster to go fuck itself several times.  Allow me to elaborate.

Several months ago I dumped Internet Explorer 8 in favor of Mozilla's Firefox.  IE8 has always seemed a little quirky to me and I had heard good things about Firefox.  The fox did seem to be an improvement over IE8, but it didn't always approve of the web sites I visited.  And no, "let's hump and" wasn't one of them.  I was surprised though to discover that Peaches and Herb once recorded a tune entitled Hump and Bump (down where it's at).  Anyway, if the fox didn't approve of a site then it would lock itself up for an indefinite period of time.  So, I dumped the fox and went back to IE8 thinking that maybe Microsoft had fixed a few bugs.  Silly me!

After running for a few hours IE8 began to slo-o-o-o-w a crawl.  I should point out here that patience isn't one of my many virtues.  Out of desperation I decided to try a new browser.  This time I downloaded Google's Chrome.  The download went smoothly and after working with Chrome for awhile I decided to unload IE8.  It could have been something I did, but when IE8 left it took something with it that Chrome seemed to need.  Oh, fuck!

After trying a system restore and resorting to more vulgar language, all to no avail, I decided to try heavy drinking.  Alone or in combination sex, drugs, and alcohol have always worked for me in the past.  Not this time, so I went to bed and enjoyed a semi-sleepless night...until 3:10 this morning.  Then I woke up with a flash.  Actually I had to pee, but it was during this activity that I remembered that IE8 rode on IE7 in some manner too gross, obscene, or otherwise disgusting to contemplate, I am sure.  Anyway, in just two shakes I was back in bed.  Fuck it, I'll putz with the damned thing at a decent hour.

At a decent hour I downloaded IE7.  Chrome now had what it was needing and is perking along just fine.  My computer and I are no longer pissy with each other and life, once again, is good.  Chrome appears to be a speedy little sucker, probably because it doesn't have all of the bells and whistles as Firefox, and most especially IE8.  Sometimes more isn't better...unless we are talking about sex, drugs, beer, and rock n roll.  Or pasta.  Oysters on the half shell.  A thick, juicy, medium rare steak.  I could go on.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Soggy Day in SOG City

We have had a much needed rain all night last night and all day today. It isn't one of those "Holy crap Noah, hammer faster!" kind of rains. It is just one of those slow and gentle and sensuous kind of rains that makes you want to stay in bed and well, stay in bed...all morning long and then some.

Anyway, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in bed and then decided we had to get up to get something more substantial to eat. The ranchero was devoid of lunch options so we had to get dressed and go out. Yes, Tampa is real particular about people wondering around au naturel or butt nekkid even. Go figure.

We wound up in Ybor and agreed that Greek would be great. The Acropolis is a noteworthy Greek restaurant. It is not as authentic as what we enjoyed in Athens (not Georgia, the other one) or on Santorini (the island, or in the restaurant in Tarpon Springs), but it is a lot closer.

We shared a bottle of what my bride refers to as Janitor In A Drum. Personally, I think that retsina has the classic overtones of Pine-Sol. She decided on the Greek omelet, adventurous gourmand that she is, and I chose the grilled octopus and fried smelts.

I would recommend the Acropolis though I do not consider it to be authentic Greek. This restaurant does cater to the watered down taste buds of the typical American quite well I suppose.

Acropolis Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon 

Acropolils Greek Tavern on Foodio54

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Travel: Road trip to Key West

When life gets too hectic and we feel the need to recharge our batteries, what destination comes to mind?  You got it: Cayo Hueso (Bone Island), or what people today refer to as Key West.

We have flown from Tampa to Key West, but flights, while of short duration, are horribly expensive.  To get the full flavor of the experience, I recommend a road trip even though the stretch from Tampa down I-75 is super boring until you get to Alligator Alley where the drive becomes a little less boring.  About half way across the Everglades is a Seminole operated gas station.  We usually stop there to, well...refresh ourselves.

On the western edge of Miami you can pick up the Florida Turnpike which will lead you down to U.S. 1.  Have a SunPass or take plenty of change for the tolls and tune to a Cubano radio station for lively Latin rhythms.  The turnpike joins U.S. 1 near Florida City and just beyond keep your eyes open for the Card Sound Road.  Most of the tourist traffic stays on U.S. 1 and Card Sound provides a pleasant respite, not to mention a great mid-way stop for food, cold beer, and the first opportunity to get into the island state of mind. 

Jimmy Buffet used to stop at Alabama Jack's on his way to the keys.  That's the AJ bar, but them people in the picture ain't Buffet, in case you were confused.

After a beer and some conch fritters you hit the road again, go across the Card Sound toll bridge (cash only) and then into Key Largo and on to Key West.  Heed the speed limits and enjoy the view.

We often stay at El Patio Motel (that's Spanish for The Patio Motel in case you are not bilingual).  El Patio is on the Atlantic side of Old Town and has a real "old Florida" vibe.  It's also inexpensive. 

Our favorite bar is the Schooner Wharf Bar and next on our list is Captain Tony's.  

In this photo we see my bride buying a book autographed by the author,  Capt. Carl Peachey (on the right) with Michael McCloud (on the left).  McCloud and Peachey play together at times at the Schooner bar.  Peachey has a couple of gigs at Captain Tony's.  These two men are musical giants in Key West.  Peachey is probably the best electric guitarist I have ever heard.  Clapton could take lessons. 


Michael plays and sings most days between noon and four.  You can visit the Schooner without ever leaving your computer and hear Michael.  Click here.  If Michael isn't singing, then he is on break.  Grab a beer and come back in a few.

Here are two more island locals:

Our favorite Key West restaurant is Blue Heaven.  I first heard about this place in a Buffet song of the same name.  The song was pretty good, the album sucked, but the restaurant is consistently great.  Another recommendation is Alonzo's Oyster Bar.  I love this place.

Get away from Old Town while you are in Key West and head back over to Stock Island.  This is what Key West was like before it became so touristy.  We enjoyed the Hogfish Bar, but there are other venues for food and music. 

The best advice I can give you for your Key West visit:  Stay the hell off of Duval.  Duval is just for the fancy dressed cruisers and Bourbon Street barfers, not for travelers in the know.

Oh hell, if you must...

But, if you are going to do the Duval crawl, stop in at The Bull and Whistle Bar  (they are in the same building) and then after a few brewskis wander up to the roof and the Garden of Eden.  This place has a fantastic roof top garden bar.  

When that sad moment arrives when you must leave paradise we try to depart no later than eight in the morning.  If the traffic gods are smiling on us then we should hit the Hungry Tarpon on the lower keys side of Islamarada before ten for a spectacular Keys breakfast.  My favorite is Grits and Grunts.

After breakfast, pile back into your vehicle, pop the Michael McCloud CDs (you did buy his CDs, didn't you?) into the music machine and chill out on that long drive back to Tampa.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Illinois Carpetbagger to the Rescue

I see that another Republican has entered the primary race for governor of Florida. Richard Scott (R-Let them eat, cake) from Naples has decided that his 13 years in Florida somehow qualifies him to be our next governor. He is a "hospital tycoon", and he is against health care reform. Now that is a big flippin' surprise, and just what we need...another damn yankee coming down to Florida telling us what to do. Scott would appear to be another shining example of "I've got mine, and you can go...," a sentiment possibly not shared by millions in our state who have lost their jobs and consequently their employer provided health insurance. I am almost certain that Floridians with pre-existing medical conditions would really rather eat cake than have health coverage, though.

What bothers me the most is, like many other Republicans, his only platform seems to be aimed at destroying President Obama and "taking back our country" (presumably to the stone age). Why is it (I ask naively) so hard for the "party of hell-no" to accept that Obama is the duly elected president of the United States and while they don't necessarily agree with him that maybe, just maybe, it would be in the best interests of this country to put aside self-serving politics and actually do something for the good of this country and this state? Maybe just work with the man instead of trying to bring him to his knees.

If we have to have another Republican governor, I'd prefer Dockery over McCollum or this F.N.G.  And, Alex Sink...where the hell are you?  To paraphrase from the climatic dog fight at the end of Top Gun, "...engage, engage, dammit!"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's almost beer thirty!

It looks as though spring has finally sprung. The amaryllis are getting ready to bloom, most of the squash seeds have sprouted as have the asparagus beans. I am trying something new this year, Malabar red spinach. Park Seeds said my life would forever be incomplete if I didn't try this plant. That and the Park promise that this stuff will grow during the summer. I wonder what the summers are like in Malabar? Oh well, a project for another day. I think those seeds have also poked up out of the ground. My apple trees are putting out new leaves and the banana trees are resurrecting themselves. The pool has reached a swimmable temperature. The sun is shining.  And, finally our investments have almost completely recovered from the market collapse, and health care has passed. Life is good in SOG City.

Now we can just relax out on the patio, drink beer, and wonder who it will be that fucks it all up. Yes I know, my beer bottle is half empty. Damn, I think I need a vacation. Maybe Key West. Or, Mexico.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Italian Dining in SOG City

Editor's Update 2/8/2016: Luigi's is no more. I'm sad to learn they have closed. I would hate to think it's because we moved from South Tampa to the Gulf beaches and they missed us so much they could see no point in continuing on.

One of our favorite "go to" places is Luigi's Italian Restaurant, 3324 West Gandy Boulevard, in the space formerly occupied by Indochine. For us, Luigi's is a neighborhood restaurant and since it sits on the south side of Gandy I consider it to be a SOG City restaurant. So there!

The interior is spacious, clean, and modern with tables in the center and booths around the perimeter. Luigi's has outdoor seating and this is the perfect weather for dining au naturel. Hmmm, maybe I should say al fresco? Well, either way there is just too much pollen this year to sit outside. So, sit inside and enjoy an appetizer of succulent crab cakes, mussels Montalcino, or the Italian antipasto salad. We have enjoyed all three, though not at the same time. The servings are large enough to share between two people.

For the entrees, my lovely bride swears by the stuffed shells topped with meatballs, pomodoro sauce, and mozzarella. Again, a huge serving that usually requires a take-home container. My favorite entree is the linguine pescatore with shrimp, mussels, and scallops covered with a spicy marinara.

Last night I chose the 12 ounce rib eye with a side of pasta splashed with marinara sauce. The steak was tender, flavorful, and juicy. Luigi's has a small but adequate wine list and features a happy hour from 5 to 7 with house wines at half price for the second glass.

Editor's update 2/28/2013:

Luigi's no longer has that rib eye on the menu; so on a subsequent visit I enjoyed the tender pork shank osso buco cradled on a bed of linguine with a savory mushroom marinara sauce, and I highly recommend this dish. Also, a special shout out to our server, Mary. She is charming as well as efficient.

Luigi's is definitely our "go to" for Italian cuisine.

Buon appetito, y'all.
Luigi's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Oh, My Gawd!

Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota Psycho, were PMS-ing on stage together the other evening when Bachmann opined that if any nation launches a cyber-attack against our country's computer systems that we then would be justified in launching a nuclear strike against them in retaliation. If that doesn't make you want to crawl under your desk and put your hands over your head, then BOHICA.

That evening on Chris Matthew's Hardball, Chris asked regular contributor Pat Buchanan what he thought of Bachmann's strategy for nuclear war. Pat agreed with Bachmann that if we are ever invaded from outer space then (I paraphrase here) we need to nuke the bastards that did it . Mathews had to explain "cyber space" and the attackers Bachmann was referring to weren't space aliens but computer hackers. Now that is scary!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Cyber-criminals and space aliens, you have been warned! If the lunatic fringe takes over in this country and you are caught or even remotely suspected of hacking into our computers, this country will drop the mother of all nuclear bombs on your sorry asses.

I think I am getting a migraine.

Snowed In In Hampden

I stumbled upon a blog from up north this morning that I wanted to share.  Take a peek at The Daily Breather.  Seeing those photos makes me more glad...gladdest...gladder...uber glad...oh, hell, happier than a pig in poop to live in SOG City.  Let me show you why.

Beans and tomatoes sunning next to the pool.

Admittedly, a few days this winter were cold enough to build a fire.

These pictures are certainly not meant to make The Daily Breather feel bad.  It is just a reminder of why we live in SOG City.  And, I truly hope that Breather finds his car during the spring thaw.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Separation of Church and State

By God, and all that the sanctimonious Florida Republican legislators have decided is Holy, we will have none of that crap in our state. We do not tolerate the constitutional rights of our pregnant pigs to be violated, nor do we allow anyone to display their testicles (chrome or otherwise) on their vehicles. Therefore, we will not tolerate this separation of church and state hogwash. We have standards, they may not be too high, but they are standards.

This "religious freedom" bill that has been pitched by the Republicans as an amendment to the Florida Constitution would remove "an anti-American and prejudicial" provision that prohibits public funds (our tax dollars) from being used directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination. Personally, I don't want to see any of my money financing the next incarnation of that great Christian preacher, the late Jim Jones. I do not want the American Taliban getting any of my shekels, either. But what's to stop these loonies from applying for public funds if this amendment passes? Lawsuits, that's what!

Jesus H. Christ (I am having a religious moment here), that is just what we need...more of our state tax dollars prosecuting, or defending against, law suits. We already have Attorney General McCollum preparing to piss away untold sums of Florida tax dollars on his bid to kiss some tea-bagger ass.

Has the Florida legislature solved the homeowners property insurance crisis, and property tax issues, and no one told me? Have all of Florida's serious budgetary problems been eliminated? Apparently so since the Republicans have time for so many more pressing issues such as the religious freedom bill, and let's not forget the huge tax break to those who can afford $300,00.00 or more for a yacht. Is there no end to the hypocrisy of the Florida legislature? Apparently not.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Open Letter to Tiger Woods

Hey Dude,

You don't owe me an explanation for anything.  It is your life to live as you choose.  Your victories as well as your defeats have nothing, I repeat NOTHING, to do with me.

I have a life that I am enjoying, and that life has nothing to do with you.  I hope that doesn't upset you too much...well, actually, I don't give a rat's patoot.

It amazes me that there are so many in this country who have no lives of their own.  I pity these "Sad Sacks."  What a shallow society we have become if the best we can do is live our lives vicariously through other people.

I wish you a long and happy life.

The SOG City Oracle

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pappas Ranch Review

SOG City (South of Gandy) is blessed with a number of good restaurants, so we usually don't have to travel far when we choose to dine out. But if we do leave SOG City we try not to go too far north, and only under duress do we travel to NOK, the land of the weird. The land of NOK is located north of Kennedy and is inhabited by alien beings for the most part. Two notable exceptions would be my step-daughter and her husband. Oh yeah, and my wife's dear friend Carol. And...but, I digress.

It was to my great surprise recently to find myself not only north of Kennedy, but on the Veteran's Expressway driving north to Holy Cow, Pasco County pasture land. We were on our way to Pappas Ranch. Mind you, that is a thirty mile drive from the paradise that is SOG City and all for their advertised bone-in prime rib. I salivated the entire trip which made for a rather disgusting ride, or so said my lovely bride.

Pappas Ranch is a huge warehouse building that resembles a barn and is situated smack in the middle of nowhere, or at least it looked like nowhere to me. And I have been to nowhere before. The barn was crammed with people, but since I had made reservations the day before we were seated quite promptly and our server arrived soon after. We were queried as to whether we had ever graced their establishment before and we said no that this was our first visit. We then received a rather drawn out history lesson on Pappas. After that long drive from Tampa we would have preferred our medicinal alcoholic beverages first, but our server was sincere and passionate about the place. To avoid the speech just say that you are regulars or some such.

If you order appetizers, be prepared to split them since the servings are generous. Two in our party ordered the famous Pappas Greek salad (recipe from the now closed Tarpon Springs restaurant). My ravishing bride and I chose the Ranch Fries with cheddar-jack, bacon, and Bad Dude sauce. There was enough salad and fries for the four of us to share. And, then came our entrees.

My wife's filet mignon was flavorful, delicious, and cooked to perfection. My bone-in prime rib arrived...without the bone. "Where is my bone," I cried? Without a snicker or missing a beat the server grabbed my plate and headed back to the kitchen. A few minutes later the chef returned with my plate and a humongous slab of prime rib, still boneless. She apologized by saying that they had run out of bone-in prime and she had substituted an even larger than usual boneless cut to compensate for my loss.

Well, alright, I will miss gnawing on the bone, but that beef looked so good doing the backstroke in the au jus. I dived in to one of the most tender and juicy prime ribs I have ever consumed. Too often the meat is tender and juicy around the edges but the center is dry and tough. Not so at Pappas Ranch! Either they do something special with the preparation or they really do serve prime beef, not the choice that I believe other restaurants pawn off on you.

Dinner for two with four or so glasses of house wine came to $82 without the tip and since the food and service was so good we tacked on an additional 20%.  We believe in rewarding good service.

My only complaint about Pappas Ranch is that it is closer to a famed city in Egypt than it is to SOG City. That sixty mile round trip just for dinner was a killer, but I am glad we did it.

Pappas Ranch on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Travel: Bonjour, Y'all

Love New Orleans, but tired of all the barfing buffoons on Bourbon Street? On your next N'awlins trip why not skip the Quarter and visit the Faubourg Marigny instead? We did and we loved it!

The Marigny district begins just below the lower edge of the Vieux-Carre with Esplanade Avenue running between the two. Close by is the French Market  and the Riverfront Line streetcar that parallels the Big Muddy and takes you to the foot of Canal where you can connect with the St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street Line streetcars. We found very little need of venturing outside of the Marigny. This quirky district is blessed with a plethora of fine restaurants and music venues along a four block stretch of Frenchmen Street. The Marigny caters more to local folks than tourists and the rowdy college crowd, although that is changing as more out-of-towners are discovering this charming section of the Crescent City. If you are going to go, go now while the Faubourg Marigny is still not too touristy.

We stayed at the Frenchmen Hotel. This property looked and sounded charming when we pulled up their website. I would like to recommend the Frenchmen, but that won't be happening. Our room was way smaller than the photos on the 'net would indicate, which is about normal. We weren't too put out by that since we don't spend much time in the room anyway. What was truly annoying though were the lack of doorknobs for the bathroom and closet. Our room wasn't cheap and I think the Frenchmen could have afforded a couple of knobs. Do not accept a room next to the pool. You can hear every little ripple, not to mention the squeals of the naked women frolicking at three in the morning. It wouldn't have been so bad if I could have joined them, but my bride didn't approve of that idea.  I tried to explain that from the conversations piercing our slumbers that these ladies were gay, in every sense of the word, so I doubted that they would want to hanky or panky with me.  That made no difference.  Women can be such poops!

One of our favorite restaurants in the Marigny was The Praline Connection, the home of Cajun - Creole soul food. My fried chicken livers and mustard greens were superb and my bride raved over the meatloaf. The servings were won't leave hungry and you will still have bucks to burn.

The Marigny Brasserie is another great dining option. We enjoyed a brunch one day and dinner another. Cajun - Creole style food but a bit more up-scale than Praline's, and they had live entertainment during both of our visits.

We had read mixed reviews on the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. Everyone agreed this was one of the best jazz venues around, but the food left much to be desired. We booked seats for the show and we had dinner beforehand. My wife's filet was cooked to perfection and my spicy barbequed shrimp were sensational. The jazz was hot! This is a much better venue than Preservation Hall for great jazz.

If your taste buds lean toward Italian food with reasonable prices, I cannot recommend Adolfo's at 611 Frenchmen. The prices weren't bad (cash only), but the food was bland and the sauces were watery.

I don't remember food at the Cafe Negril, but you really go there for the music. We enjoyed four local bands on two separate visits...rock, country, jazz, and a mix of each.

It's not in the Marigny, but a few blocks into the Quarter is the Russian themed Pravda...the home of the Green Fairy at 1113 Decatur Street. You must stop in for a drink and dance with the green fairy.

We were only in the Marigny for a couple of days. There wasn't near enough time to try all of the restaurants or live music clubs, but that means there will be more to do on our next trip to the Faubourg Marigny.

And, this last picture?

Perhaps I was dancing with the Green Fairy a little too long.