Saturday, July 31, 2010

This Week's Hershey Squirt: PricewaterhouseCoopers

The big weener of this week's SOG City Oracle Hershey Squirt Award goes to PricewaterhouseCoopers of Tampa.

It is one thing to lay off 500 workers in today's economy because business is bad, but to dump these folks so that you can shift their jobs to freakin' India just to boost your bottom line is indefensible. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a special place in Hershey Squirt Hell waiting for you.

This decision is a slap in the face to our hard working men and women and a disgrace to the United States of America.

Friday, July 30, 2010

From Verizon FIOS: A Special "Thank You"

I opened the envelope and got the warm fuzzies when I read, "Thank you for being a loyal Verizon FIOS customer." I have seen a lot of the "Special Rewards" Verizon has been advertising on TV and I figured that Verizon was giving me something special...and they did!

After years of being a loyal customer of Verizon cable, Internet, local and long distance, and wireless I got my reward:


Thank you Loyal Customer, and please kiss our happy derrières.


Dustin Kroeger
Director, Customer Relationship Marketing

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fishing Report: The Gulf of Mexico

We took the day off yesterday and went fishing aboard the Cajun out of Pasadena, Florida. Captain Bob took us 8 miles out into the Gulf and I am happy to report that we saw nary a drop of BP's oil...didn't see many fish either, but what the hell. Some days you do and some days are meant for drinking beer.

Guess who baited her own hook on this trip? Besides, squid and fish guts are supposed to be good for the nails, or so someone said.

That isn't bait. That was a catch. Woo - hoo!

We landed on top of Grouper Nurseryland and caught a shit-load (official unit of Southern measurement) of these babies. On the downside, had to throw'em all back. On the upside, had to throw'em all protect the species from over-fishing.

My contribution...Moby Minnow. Reminds me of the saying, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day."

 And then, "Teach a man to fish and he will sit out on a boat all day drinking beer." ~Anonymous

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hero: Another Word Bites the Dust

When I was a young lad, many moons ago, when we sang, "Don we now our gay apparel," it meant dressing up in our happy Christmas clothes. Today those lyrics conjure up images of putting on swishy clothes in preparation for a night out at an Ybor City alternative lifestyle night spot. Don't misunderstand, I am not attacking that lifestyle. I have been to gay clubs in Tampa, Ybor and Key West, and I have had a gay old  a great time (see what I mean)  partying with vibrant, creative, thinking people who in many cases epitomize the word style. I am just bemoaning the loss of a perfectly good word that had been applicable to the masses but now is the exclusive domain of a select group.

I have pretty much come to grips with the loss of the word "gay" but along comes another word and it's derivatives that is being bastardized and this one really pisses me off. In today's world, it seems if a person can manage to drag themselves out of bed and get to work on time they are referred to as a HERO (a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities), and their effort as HEROIC (worthy of a hero; bold; daring; brave). The word has truly lost its meaning. He did his job and nothing more. He is a hero! He pitched a team record no-hitter. It was a heroic effort! He went to war for his country. He is a hero! He was killed, by friendly fire or enemy fire; it makes no difference. He is a hero!

Based upon that criteria, minus the no-hitter and the getting killed part, I am a hero. I enlisted in the U.S. Army (1968 to 1971). I did the job I volunteered for. In 1981, I enlisted in the Florida Air National Guard and I did my job. I volunteered for Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I did not wait for my unit to be called up, and in the combat zone I did my job. Am I a hero? Hell no! In all cases I knew what I was doing and what I was getting myself into and I just did my job...honorably, but I just did my job.

Like any other compassionate human being I am saddened by the loss of a human life, but error in judgement, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or forgetting to duck does not a hero make. This horrid over use of the word is a tragic disservice to those, military and civilian, who have truly earned the honor of being called a hero for their heroic actions.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Florida's Next Governor: Rick Scott?

It is probably a bit premature to congratulate Floriduh goobernatorial candidate Rick Scott (R - Florida. Isn't that down near Naples?) on his victory, but based upon reaction to his whirl-wind tour of our fair state it looks as if he may have succeeded in buying the election.

The fact that Scott has shared his "wish list" with the populace, in person and in advertisements (ad nauseum), with nothing substantive to back up his "dreams" seems to have had no negative impact on his campaign. Take the Republican activist in Miami who gushed, "I think he understands us. He looks nice. I like him." He looks nice? You are going to elect a person to run the state because he looks nice? A resident of the enclave of conservatives with dementia, The Villages, described his impression of Scott as "very favorable." Based upon what?

A Miami public relations director stated that, "From what I've seen, he has a purpose." Well, I have to agree with that. From what I've seen his "special purpose" (see: The Jerk) is to buy the election. Scott says, "I know how to create jobs. I've done it before." He also knows how to get ousted from his hospital chain that was accused of ripping off tax payers. He has done that before, too. And, like The Jerk, he too came from humble beginnings.

Oh well! We have so many self-serving, "let them eat cake" politicians running around Tallahassee, one more can't hurt.

Or, can it?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday Date Night: Dinner at Timpano Italian Chophouse

I had intended to take my bride out to dinner and a movie last night at the Hyde Park Cobb CineBistro. I had purchased the tickets in advance, on-line, for the new Jolie flick Salt that opened on the 23rd. The hostess at the Cobb didn't even snicker as she pointed out that the 23rd was Friday, not Thursday. Well, did that happen? Who the hell changed the calendar? My precious spouse is still snickering...nay, guffawing over this little, hardly worth mentioning, screw up on somebody's part. To salvage our Thursday date night I suggested we go across the street and have a strong adult beverage and maybe dinner at Timpanos. I figured a shot of alcohol would help my bride regain her composure.

We have been to Timpanos on a number of occasions and have had mixed feelings. As the crowds build, the noise level increases exponentially as conversations get ever louder to compensate for the conversations getting ever louder. After awhile the noise level renders conversation pointless. Yesterday was different. Timpanos wasn't as crowded in the early evening so we could hear each other talk and not only enjoy each other's company, but also our meal.

To start, my bride ordered a Chilean Margarita and I, a Gin Rickey. The margarita was served in a martini glass with a splash of red wine floating on top...a surprisingly tasty combination. I was totally surprised that our server actually knew of the Gin Rickey, a refreshing cocktail from the 1890s. I have had wait-staff and bartenders in other establishments give me a blank stare when I have asked for this drink.

As an appetizer I ordered a dozen Blue Point oysters on the half shell. Again, a very pleasant surprise. The oysters were served properly shucked and presented, a novelty in Tampa, and they were salty and delicious. While I enjoyed my Blue Points, my date enjoyed the watercress and arugula salad which she declared was excellent.

For the entrees we ordered the bone-in rib eye for me and the Lasagna Bolognese for her. The lasagna was tasty and filling. The 20 ounce rib eye was cooked to a perfect medium rare with a nice char on the outside. Our server said that the Timpano's steaks are prime, but my rib eye chewed like a Publix choice cut. The flavor was there, but the tenderness wasn't. We also shared a very satisfactory bottle of Argentine Malbec during dinner. We were both too stuffed to even consider dessert.

Dinner for two with cocktail, wine and tip came to $180. We did manage to salvage our Thursday date night. Now if "she" would just quit looking at me and laughing, life would be perfect once again.

Timpano Chophouse and Martini Bar on Urbanspoon

Timpano Italian Chop House on Foodio54

A New Feature: The SOG City Oracle Hershey Squirts Award

The hershey squirts? We've all had them, usually accompanying severe gastric distress and certainly most unpleasant...for everyone.

That description, I think, accurately describes our first winners:

1. Blogger Andrew Breitbart for posting a character defaming video clip of Shirley Sherrod.
2. Fox, the manufactured news network, for perpetuating this libelous attack on Sherrod.
3. The Department of Agriculture
4. The NAACP
5. President Obama

The last three won because of a lack of BALLS...cajones...testicles...the guts to stand up against stupidity and racism. Maybe, just to stand up instead of just limp-dicking over.

I expected nothing from squirts number one and two. The last three truly disgust me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

God: Proof that she has a sense of humor.

The girls will love this....

While creating husbands, God promised women that good and ideal husbands would be found in all corners of the world..........
And then God made the earth round.

Thanks to my dear friend and law professor for sending this gem in an email.
(Author unknown)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Palin: The New Shakespeare?

The bardess of Wasilla-overlooking-Russia has taken a bit of flack lately over her use of the non-existent word: refudiate. In her defense, Palin likened herself to William Shakespeare (a comparison beyond the pale of reason) by stating that this literary giant also made up words. Actually, Willie is credited with adding anywhere from 1500 to 2000 new words and phrases to the English language. A fair minded person might argue that if it was alright for Shakespeare then it is alright for Palin. In this case, I am not going to be fair minded. For one thing, Shakespeare was a genius who crafted words into timeless poems and plays. Palin, like our former president George the clueless, is a linguistic idiot.

It has been discussed over the centuries that if Shakespeare truly did make up words that no one had ever heard before then no one would have understood what he was trying to say. A counter argument that makes a great deal of sense is that intelligent people would have considered the context of the new word and given it logical meaning. We can do no less for Palin. So, instead of refudiate might we substitute repudiate? We could, but I am not sure that asking New Yorkers to disown, cast off, or refuse to acknowledge the existence of a mosque really conveys the proper message. Personally, I think the word "reject" would work quite well although it doesn't sound nearly as intellectual as "refudiate" but one must appeal to one's base.

"Hey Booger did you just hear Sarah say one of them there big words?" "I shore did Billy Bob." "What's it mean Booger?" "Hell, I don't know, but it shore does make my wee-wee hard when she talks talk like that there."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Music: Memphis Blues

Well, I survived the weekend; it's Monday and I've got the blues.  The Memphis Blues, that is. I broke down yesterday and downloaded this new Cyndi Lauper MP3 from Amazon. Let me just say that I love the blues and it takes really good blues to impress me. I was absolutely blown away by this latest effort by Lauper.

I can't say I have ever been a fan of Cyndi's music. It has always seemed too "bubblegum" for me, but this recording is a perfect fit for her voice...gritty and believable. The tracks are solid and soulful. Lauper is backed by blues giants B.B. King, Charlie Musslewhite, Johnny Lang, and many others. Unfortunately, Manny Others wasn't a contributor (sorry, old joke from my radio days).

Since I am not a professionally trained music critic I will let others dissect each of the tracks on this recording down to the individual flats and sharps. I am a professional music listener though and Memphis Blues is a stellar performance by a "pop" star who truly has something worthwhile to contribute to today's music scene. It sure as hell isn't American Idol pap! Or is that crap?

If you love the blues, I think you will love Memphis Blues.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Politics: In the Land of the Absurd

Oh my, where to start since this is such fertile ground?

What the heck, let's start in Gulfport, Florida where Marco Rubio (R - Say or do anything to get elected) concluded his July 13th speech at the Habana Club with "...if you think it's good to have people in Washington who will say or do anything to get elected..." then you shouldn't vote for Rubio. I certainly never intended to vote for Rubio, but isn't this one of those moments where the pot called the kettle black? And, didn't Rubio cover pretty near all politicians, on both sides of the aisle, not only in Washington, but also right here at home?

Speaking of home, it is interesting to note that in Florida, goobernatorial candidate Rick Scott's (R - Florida? Haven't a clue) TV ads he state that he retired, unscathed I might add, from Columbia/HCA before the proverbial poop hit the blades. Outside of the TV ads, the word ousted replaces the word retired. As in "Scott was ousted by Columbia/HCA's board of directors in 1997 in the midst of the nation's biggest health care fraud scandal." Ousted, by the way, means 'to force out' as opposed to voluntarily withdrawing from one's work position.

Turning to Washington, House Minority Leader Boehner (R - the boner with the dandy tan) suggests that one of the best ways to save Social Security is to increase the retirement age to 70. Boehner has a few more ideas to add to the mix, but the one thing he and other Republicans can't seem to wrap their minds around is the idea of raising the Social Security tax cap or better yet, eliminate it altogether. The current cap is $106,800 and anything over that doesn't get hit with SS tax. Isn't that a great benefit? Don't you wish it applied to you? The Heritage Foundation, a conservative (what a surprise) think tank, thinks that this would be a bad idea because it would mean a rather large tax increase...for the uber rich. What a freakin' nightmare!

The foundation also weighed in on the issue of unemployment insurance on the July 12th edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews. Ivory tower dweller, James Sherk (rhymes with jerk) opined among other things, that "...if you want to find a job, a lot of the workers now...unemployed are going to have to move to another state...say Nebraska, or to Texas, or to one of the other states where the economy isn't doing as poorly." So, for you slugs here in Florida drawing unemployment; instead of sitting around on your lazy asses because you can't find work the Heritage Foundation suggests that you pack up bag and baggage, sell that devalued dump you live in (if you can), load the wife and kids into that beat-to-crap car (if you still have one and can afford to drive it), and go to Alaska, or go to hell or anywhere that the jobs are plentiful. Oh, and enjoy a piece of cake when you do. I was pleased when Matthews nailed this guy's ass to the Hardball.

I caught a little snippet from the Rachel Maddow show last night where she was interviewing Dr. Allen Stewart of the New York Presbyterian Hospital concerning the heart pump planted in the chest of Dick Cheney (Darth Vader of the Beltway). Dr. Stewart stated that Cheney will not have a pulse. Maddow responded, "...Cheney won't be expected to have, literally, a pulse." To which Stewart replied, "...if someone were to feel Mr. Cheney's wrist, Mr. Cheney would have no pulse." Holy crap! That begs and pleads for two questions: How will they be able to tell if he is alive? and (I know I will be damned to hell for this one, but..) Has he ever had a pulse?

And, don't even get the Begonia of Ballast Point started on the tax payer subsidy of Florida politicians whose rivals are outspending them. I damn sure won't argue the point. Neither of us would vote for McCollum, but to have our tax dollars go to help his campaign is a damned insult. And, how many others are we going to have to bail out?

Coño! I need a beer.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Food: Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe

At this year's Tropical Heatwave we enjoyed the music of a fantastic local blues band, Nervous Turkey. Not too long after I read that the band had disbanded (band, disband...never mind) and Ernie, that shimmering bundle of low down blues, was going to devote his time for awhile running his restaurant, Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe on north Nebraska in Tampa.

We finally got around to going to Ella's last Sunday. You have to understand that Ella's is north of Gandy...that is, it isn't in SOG City and since SOG City is at the center of the universe, we really have to want to venture away. Well, we really wanted to venture, and we were not disappointed. The food at Ella's is terrific, or at least it is for Soul Food Sundays when the menu leans towards barbeque and southern specialties.

I finally got the fried chicken on Belgium waffles and a maple syrup gravy that I have been aching to try. It was delicious and was complimented with a side of collards greens with bacon. My cholesterol may have been jacked to the heavens, but my taste buds were all a-quiver with excitement.

My gorgeous bride, who thinks she needs to be on some sort of health food diet, had the Southern Spring Salad with Gorgonzola, cranberries, candied pecans, green apples with a creamy sweet dressing that she deemed, "Out of this world." In keeping with the "cut calories" concept, she had the chocolate covered bacon for desert. As any man with a brain knows, chocolate for a woman has no calories. That is my story, and I am sticking to it.

One of our dining partners had the Pork Sammy...sliced BBQ pork on a bun. I had a taste and it was superb. Our other diner had the beef brisket on a bun and that was another winning selection. There are many more choices on the Soul Food Sundays menu, but alas I only have one stomach and it wouldn't hold any more food.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Ella's has a quite adequate beer and wine selection. There is both indoor and outdoor seating. Outdoors looked inviting, but that will have to wait until next time. We sat indoors so that we could enjoy the incredible sounds of Hymn For Her.

The menu at Ella's for Tuesday through Saturday is more expansive than the Sunday menu and it certainly cries out for another visit, so we will have to "cowboy" ourselves up and leave SOG City for a return visit to Ella's.

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe on Urbanspoon 

Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe on Foodio54

Monday, July 12, 2010

Music: Hymn For Her

We went to Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe on North Nebraska in Tampa yesterday to party with Ernie on this Soul Food Sunday. We had heard that the food at Ella's was tasty and delicious, and it was; however, what really drew me to Ella's yesterday was the entertainment. Hymn For Her was playing from 4 to 7. Who and what is Hymn For Her you might ask. I certainly did when our daughter Mish mentioned they were going to be at Ella's. I pulled up their web site and checked out their video.

I was hooked! But, that was just a small taste of what I experienced at Ella's. It is still hard to believe that so much fantastic, original music was generated by just two people.

Of course, to be fair, it should be pointed out that between Lucy and Wayne there were at least six instruments involved, though not all at the same time...but close. There were several guitars, a banjo, harmonica, bass drum, top hat, and the most versatile three string cigar box guitar. Hymn For Her also possessed two more amazing instruments, and those were their beautiful voices alone and in harmony.

Trying to define their music is somewhat akin to trying to identify all of the subtle nuances of a Domaine Romanée-Conti, arguably the most rarefied and expensive wine in the world. Was it rock, country, blues, folk? Yes, and with refined hints of jazz, metal, and new-age all of which lifted their melodies to energetic heights that contrasted and blended and were pleasing to my musical palate. Holy shit! I think I just impressed myself.

Most importantly, though, is that Hymn For Her is totally original. They have their own style and their own compositions. And, they put on one hell of a great, energetic performance.

A couple of final thoughts:

Far be it for me to pick nits, but while Wayne played as many as four instruments at the same time, I never saw Lucy play more than one at a time... albeit superbly and interchangeably. Possibly Lucy needs to kick it up a notch? Possibly I need to sit down and shut-up?

While Hymn For Her is currently a duo they could be a trio sometime down the road. Wayne mentioned to me that their very precious daughter told him the other day that he needs to teach her the guitar. So, get to teachin' Dad. 

And for the rest of us, we need to support talented and original performers, not just Hymn For Her, but all of those who are ignored by the main stream music media, radio, TV, and the record labels simply because they don't sound like everyone else...such as the crap typically presented by American Idol.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Food and More: Stumped by Stump's

Editor's note: Stump's is CLOSED!

 One hundred and fifty or so years ago before the tankers, cargo and cruise ships plied the waters of Tampa Bay, the residents along the shores of Ballast Point (south of Gandy) could watch as the tall masted sailing vessels dumped the rocks used as ballast overboard before picking up cargo in Tampa.

We got the chance to relive a little history yesterday before lunch as three sailing ships puffed in to port. These ships are used as training vessels by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Columbia Navy, and the Uruguay Navy. We didn't see whether or not they tossed their ballast overboard, but it was an impressive sight none-the-less.

The Gloria from Columbia

The other two ships wouldn't have sailed up Garrison Channel for several more hours, so my bride and I decided it was time for some food and an adult beverage. We went to Channelside and wondered around for a bit trying to decide which food venue to patronize. We spied the new Greek restaurant, Opa, and decided to try lunch there.
Unfortunately it was closed.

Instead we went across the courtyard to Stump's. Stump's Supper Club has, or maybe I should say had, a good reputation. Our lunch wasn't horrible, but what was off-putting was having to cool our heels waiting for the hostess to seat us. She was too busy on the phone to bother with us. When we were finally seated, service was fairly speedy and efficient, though the place was nearly empty.

I had the fried chicken with waffles and syrup, and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy . The mashed potatoes and gravy were very tasty. The chicken not nearly as much. I was given a choice of white or dark and I chose dark. I got four skinny little drumsticks with a thin, flavorless breading that may have sat in the fryer a little too long. I think the waffles were the frozen kind from Publix that one would heat in the microwave. I may be wrong, but I was not impressed. I saw this dish served to Anthony Bourdain on his show, No Reservations. What he was served in a L.A. restaurant and what I had were two entirely different dishes based upon appearance alone. My spouse had the fried chicken salad which she declared was good. The beer was cold and the prices were reasonable though.

Stump's appears to be getting a little "long in the tooth" so to speak. It looked a little worn and our booth had foam rubber and cotton padding poking out from a number of ripped seams.

While lunch at Channelside left a bit to be desired, those tall sailing ships were definitely the highlight of our adventure north of Gandy.

Stump's Supper Club on Urbanspoon 

Stump's Supper Club & Howl at the Moon on Foodio54

Friday, July 9, 2010

Well, ain't that amazin' Gracie?

I woke up this morning with the startling realization that I put The SOG City Oracle on-line four silly little months ago. My, how time flies! And, in those four months what have we accomplished? Not much in the over-all scheme of life, but in those four months this blog has been visited by hundreds of people across this great country. Most of those hits have come from the east coast, but Texas, California, the Northwest, and the Midwest are well represented.

What has surprised me the most are the hits that the blog has received from visitors in other countries. Great Briton has shown up several times, as has France and Germany. Mexico, Brazil and Chile have visited, and so has Spain. The ones that really amazed me are the hits the blog received from Russia, Cypress, and New Zealand.

A rather far-to-the-right blog has linked to one of my posts. This is not because he agrees with me about anything, but rather he wants his readers to know that the Internet is still infested with cootie-carrying, scum-sucking liberal puss-wads. I truly was honored that he picked The SOG City Oracle to use as an example. I mean that in the nicest of possible ways.

My restaurant reviews have been picked up by Urbanspoon and they drive a lot of readers to the Oracle, something I am truly grateful for. I discovered today that the Oracle has reached the number 12 (out of 45) spot on their Tampa Bay Blog Leaderboard. What really got me orgasmically happy was discovering that the Oracle is numero uno on the Apalachicola Blog Leaderboard. I calmed down a little when I discovered that there are but five blogs up there. In Panama City we are number two out of three.  Oh, well! I am just happy to be in the company of these great bloggers.

To all visitors to The SOG City Oracle: I very much appreciate the fact that you stopped by and I hope you will continue to do so. And, remember, the blog does accept comments. You have the option of posting anonymously if you choose. Unless a comment is too gross, disgusting, or insulting, it will not be censored. The confirmation word is only to prevent automated spammers from inundating the blog with their sales pitches.

Thanks again for your support.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Food: It Was Greek To Me

Editor's update 1/11/11: The Santorini Greek Bar and Grill has closed, but in its place is Dimitri's On The Water.

The fifth of July was another one of those soggy days in SOG City and the Camellia of the Cuyahoga was getting cabin fever. Remembering a previous soggy day's adventure, I suggested we go Greek at the Santorini Greek Grill and Bar in Tarpon Springs. The Lily of Lima jumped on that suggestion, so off we went.

We have been going to Santorini's for years. We love their food and enjoy sitting at one of their water-side tables. We are always reminded of a meal we had at a little taverna at water's edge in Amoudi Bay on the island of Santorini. It was there that we met our own "Shirley Valentine." That was also where a waiter took a seafood order at another table, stripped to his underwear, donned a wetsuit, and with mask, snorkel, flippers and a spear gun, jumped into the bay to provide the patrons with the freshest of seafood. No one at Santorini's in Tarpon has ever done that for us. Our only disappointment!

We have dined from all over the menu. My bride loves their Greek Salad with a blob of potato salad while I prefer the traditional Greek salad without lettuce, horiatiki. The lamb shank is a real winner for me and the Oleander of Ohio enjoys the mousaka and chicken souvlaki. I salivate over their pan-fried smelts, but my all time favorites are the octopodi, either the char-grilled octopus with a side order of horta or the Mediterranean octopus. Both are tender and delicious and my mouth is watering even as I type. I believe I should have another glass of perfectly chilled Greek Retsina.

I cannot speak with authority on Santorini's fried calamari, but a sweet four year old lady at an adjacent table pretty much polished off a complete order and proclaimed the dish to be quite satisfactory. Would that more children be as mannerly and well bred as this charming lass.

We had a very pleasant outing yesterday to Tarpon Springs and to the staff and management of Santorini's we say, efharisto.

Santorini Seafood & Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Date Night: Dinner and Dancing

This past Friday was another date night with my beautiful bride. We had discovered earlier in the day that songstress Lisa Casalino was going to be entertaining that night with her "band in a box" at one of our favorite restaurants, Lynn Love's Artifacts.

We explained to the host at the door that Lisa would be heartbroken if we weren't seated near the performance area, so he seated us right up front. If we had been any closer we would have been sitting in Lisa's lap which may have been a distraction for her.

While waiting for our superb steak dinners to be prepared and served, Lisa appeared and began setting up her sound equipment. She had apparently given her road crew the night off, sweetheart that she is. She did need assistance acquiring power, so she enlisted me to climb on a chair and stick a plug in the AC outlet. I was all atwitter! I had never been anyone's roadie before. I can only hope the stage crew union doesn't find out about this.

Our dinner was excellent, as usual at Artifacts, and to be serenaded with timeless classic melodies by this charming and talented performer made this a night to remember. I am not sure if Artifacts is licensed for dancing, but we did and we were not accosted by Tampa's Dancing Police...if there is such a thing.

You can get more information about Lisa by visiting her web site where you can hear some of her musical repertoire and get a list of her show dates. Lisa has a CD coming out sometime this year and I can hardly wait. In the meantime, check out her show dates and catch a performance. You will be glad you did and tell her that her one-man road crew from this past Friday sent you.

My bride, Lisa, and her Road Crew. That is a new microphone, by the way. Cute, isn't it?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Travel: The Copper Canyon

We received a snail-mail letter yesterday from Skip McWilliams. Skip who? The name was familiar and when we opened the envelope we discovered that he is the Director Emeritus of the Copper Canyon Lodges (oh, that Skip McWilliams) and his news was good.

The Riverside Lodge in Batopilas and the Sierra Lodge in Cusarare are back open again and the threatened take-over of the canyon properties by the party-till-you-puke, all-inclusive crowd has been thwarted and replaced by "independent, seasoned, world travelers."

One of the most exciting and rewarding vacations we have ever experienced was at these two properties. We stayed at the Sierra Lodge for a few days before taking a white-knuckle drive down to the bottom of the canyon and a stay at the converted hacienda in Batopilas.

Getting ready for our descent to the canyon floor. If you are brave enough you may ride on top to fully enjoy the breath taking views...of one side of the vehicle verging on skidding off the road and a shear drop to the bottom.

Approaching Batopilas.

The hacienda's limo and a ride in the countryside.


Maya, her son, and the band singing a traditional Mexican song celebrating the day of my wife's birth. There wasn't a dry eye in the hacienda.

Our's was the Alberto Suite.  

To get to the Copper Canyon from Tampa we flew into Dallas and then took a puddle-jumper to Chihuahua. The lodge folks met us there and drove us to the Sierra Lodge. After the trip to Batopilas we were driven back to the rim of the canyon and then we reversed our trip from there.

This trip wasn't for the faint of heart. We had to sign a waiver beforehand since the nearest medical facility was closer to BFE than Batopilas. We were also advised that the indigenous population, the Tarahumara Indians were friendly, but not particularly helpful.

We took that to mean that if while hiking we fell off a cliff and were lying there in a bloody puddle and a few of the Tarahumaras ran by that they would wave hello before moving on and leaving us to our own devices. Thankfully we never had to find out one way or the other.

A Tarahumara homestead with the cave in the back that is used as a barn and wine cellar. Well, maybe instead of wine they used it for food storage. I could have been mistook here.

If you are into excitement, adventure, honest Mexican food and cold beer, plus warm and friendly people then you would enjoy the Sierras, Batopilas, and the Copper Canyon. This definitely isn't one of those plastic plug-in resorts cropping up all along the Yucatan coast.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy 1st of July

On July the fourth in the year 1776 the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence that had been signed two days earlier and we became a "free country." That is to say, a country free from British tyranny. And so, in a few days we can expect the night time sky to be illuminated by "the rocket's red glare" as hundreds of thousands of true American patriots exercise their constitutional right to blow their fingers (and other body parts) off with backyard fireworks. Is this a great country, or what?

I swear, it was just last year that one of these "patriots" screamed at the news cameras that the government could not deny him his constitutional rights to set off fireworks. He might have been the same one that I saw in a video sticking a bottle rocket in his naked butt and having his friend light it. Holy crap, did that not look painful? You should thank me for not including that video in this blog.

Since I enjoy dabbling in UPL (the unlicensed practice of law) I felt compelled to verify whether the rocket-in-the-ass fellow was indeed guaranteed by the Constitution the right to set his derrière ablaze. It turns out that he does have the right to be an idiot, but fireworks, legal or otherwise, are not mentioned in the Constitution.

As long as we have our copy of the Constitution in hand (you do have a copy, don't you?) why not mention a few other issues commonly attributed to this document? Alright, since you insist.

Separation of Church and State: Nope, it's not in there. Thomas Jefferson did write that the 1st Amendment created a wall of separation between church and state but that phrase itself isn't in the Constitution.

God, Creator, Jesus: These three words do not appear in the Constitution. The word "Lord" does but only in the context of "...The year of our Lord..." which was a common way back in the day of expressing a date, and the Constitution damn sure doesn't state that this is a Christian nation. We are given the right to believe or not any way we, as individuals, choose.

The United States of America - it's a free country: Read your copy of the Constitution! There is nothing in there that states that this is a free country, and be damned glad it doesn't or there would be anarchy in the streets. If this were a free country we could ignore traffic laws, carry guns when and where we choose, and shoot people for any reason or no reason at all. Holy shit! We already do those things, so maybe we truly are a free country. Realistically, we are granted many freedoms, but we are not allowed by law to just run amok without having to answer for our actions.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty: Another big NOPE! If you did the deed, then you are freakin' guilty. Our legal system does grant you the "presumption" of innocence until a jury of your peers (also not a constitutional guarantee) can nail your crusty, guilt-ridden ass to the wall.

I could go on since constitutional misconceptions run rampant in this country. Instead, the next time some "patriotic" nut-case, who has never read the Constitution, screams, "Read the Constitution!"...well, whip out your copy and set this clown straight. Good luck with that, though.