Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Prophetic Or Coincidental?

Just yesterday the Oracle published The Joke Of The Day. This joke came to me in an email and forces beyond my control compelled me to substitute "Republican member of the Florida legislature" in the place of whatever was there in the original joke.

In the SOG City Oracle title line there is a reference to "prophetic opinion on a myriad of topics". I included that description with tongue firmly next to my cheek. I don't take the Oracle or life too seriously. Both are for fun, but a story in the St. Pete Times this morning makes me think there is more to this prophetic stuff than I realized.

Said the Times, and I paraphrase, eleven Florida legislators have been subpoenaed by a Federal District Court to answer questions in a case involving a lawsuit filed over four controversial provisions of Florida's new election law.

The subpoenas were issued to six senators and five representatives, all of whom are...I bet the suspense is guessed it - Republicans!

I have no doubt that all eleven of these "Congress Critters" will be in church this Sunday asking for Holy help with their hearing.

More Florida Travel: Yeehaw Junction

In the Oracle's Cedar Key travelogue I made mention of Yeehaw Junction and the infamous Desert Inn. After mulling it over in my mind for a spell I came to the realization that I undoubtedly piqued your interest in this fabled Florida destination that everyone has to visit at least once and now you are yearning to know more.

Well, alright then, grab yourself a brew, sit back and make yourself comfortable. This may take a moment or two, but after I am finished I know that you will be chomping at the bit to skedaddle yourselves down to the junction.

I first heard about Yeehaw Junction back around 1976 or so. A coworker at GTE told us all about a trip he made back from a horse show in Miami. Bill and his buddy parked their truck with a horse trailer outside of the Desert Inn and they moseyed inside to quench their thirst with a couple of cold brews.

As they washed the trail dust from their parched lips a scuffle broke out at the other end of the bar. After one of the scufflers was tossed out the door the bar got quiet again. A few moments later Bill and his friend heard what sounded like a lawnmower engine starting up which seemed a bit odd in as much as there was no lawn around the inn. Suddenly the door to the outside splintered open and in comes this wild man with a fired-up chain saw heading for the person who just moments before had tossed him out the door. Bill and his buddy never did finish their beers. They headed for another door to hastily return to Tampa.

Sometime later, back in the 1990s, I read an article in the Tampa Tribune about the Desert Inn. According to the Trib the inn had been placed on the National Register of Historical Places and was the new "in" place to go to experience old-timey Florida. Besides the inn, the article in the paper said there was a dandy motel associated with the property.

The Belle of Ballast Point and I are always up for a new adventure, so based upon that Trib piece I called the inn to inquire about reservations at the motel. It seemed like a great idea to drive down from Tampa and party at the inn with an overnight stay at the motel. The lady at the other end of the line said, "Y'all come on down, we'll be glad to see ya."

The following weekend one of the first things we saw as we approached Yeehaw Junction was a long concrete block building on the left side of the road that reminded me of some of the bunkers I had been billeted in up at Camp Blanding. That was the motel! We decided to go on to the Desert Inn and rethink the overnight stay.

The Desert Inn is a two story wooden building with a lot of character and is frequented by a lot of characters. We'll get to them in little while. We walked in to a nearly empty room. There was a lone customer in a far corner and the lady behind the bar. We pulled up stools at the bar and this very nice lady took our drink orders and asked if we wanted to see the menu. We did!

The beers were cold and the menu featured a lot of swamp food - alligator, frog legs, and catfish along with burgers and chicken. My dining partner opted for the fried catfish and I chose the frog legs. Both orders came with fries and coleslaw.

While we were dining, the screen door to our left banged open and a young fellow almost fell through the doorway and ran into the edge of the bar screaming, "I'm blind, I'm blind! I cain't see a fuckin' thing." The barmaid hollered over to him, "Well, take off them goddamn sunglasses ya fool." He did and said, "Yeah, that's better," and sat down on a bar stool. He ordered a whiskey and a beer. We continued with our meal.

Moments later, the screen door opened again. This time a pleasant looking young couple sauntered in and sat at one of the booths. The barmaid took their drink order and gave them menus. The young lady ordered a steak. "And for you sir?" the barmaid asked the man. Through clenched teeth he replied, "I'll have one o' them goddamn steaks, too, if you can grind it up in that there blender on the bar." He went on, "I got my jaw wared shut. My best friend hit me upside the head with a 2 by 4 the other day and broke my goddamn jaw. Now I gotta suck my food up with a straw."

We looked at each other and silently queried, "His best friend?" The man told the barmaid to "fergit" the steak and just bring another beer and a shot of whiskey. We were beginning to sense a trend here and it was only two or so in the afternoon. The barmaid, as she brought us two more beers, commented that this was nothing. She informed us that a local Indian tribe was having their yearly pow-wow at the inn. She went on to say that, "...the squaws are over at the motel getting gussied up for the evening festivities. The braves are off in the woods somewhere getting drunk and beating the shit out of each other."

My bride and I decided we were not going to check in at the motel and after we finished eating we were going to head back to Tampa. We didn't finish quickly enough. Just then a very tall Indian looking fellow walked up to the bar stool next to my bride. He was dressed head to toe in black with silver doodads adorning his broad brimmed ten gallon hat, his huge belt buckle, and the tips of his cowboy boots. He looked at her, then her purse on the bar stool, then back at her. She apologized and moved her purse. He sat down next to her.

The barmaid took his drink order. No surprise here - whiskey and a beer, "...and the same thing for him," said the cowboy pointing to his friend on the next stool. His friend was short and scrawny with wild, thinning red hair, and what appeared to be just two teeth - both in the front, one upper and one lower. After a shot of whiskey the short, red haired one starts muttering, "I want to kill sumthin', goddammit, I want to kill sum goddamned thing."

Holy shit! We were now desperate to get the barmaid's attention so we could pay our bill and get the hell out of there. The cowboy looked over at my bride, and in a move we will never forget, tapped the finger nails of the first two fingers of his right hand under the brim of his hat. The cowboy leaned past my bride and stuck out his hand to me and introduced himself. Damned if I remember his name. At that moment I was barely able to remember mine, but I said, "Nice to meet you, my name is Jon and this is my wife, Lydia."

"Goddammit, I know she's your goddamned wife. You don't have to tell me she's your goddamned wife", he spat out. Holy shit, again! Waitress, please bring us our bill - pretty please. Thankfully, she did. We paid up and nonchalantly made for the door, then we sprinted to our waiting vehicle.

We made really good time getting back to Tampa.

As I said before, everyone needs to go to the Desert Inn at least once. It's on the National Historic Register for god's sake! And, it can't be too bad these days. Bikers aren't afraid to stop there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Oracle Joke Of The Day

The Oracle received this joke in an email this morning. It practically pleaded for a little creative editing:

The preacher said, "Anyone with 'special needs' who wants to be prayed over, please come forward to the front by the altar."

With that, a Republican member of the Florida legislature got in line, and when it was his turn, the preacher asked, "Congressman, what do you want me to pray about for you?"

The Congressman replied, "Preacher, I need you to pray for help with my hearing."

The preacher put one finger of one hand in the Congressman's ear, and placed his other hand on top of the Congressman's head, and then prayed and prayed and prayed. He prayed a "blue streak" for the Congressman, and the whole congregation joined in with great enthusiasm.

After a few minutes, the preacher removed his hands, stood back and asked, "Well, Congressman, how is your hearing now?"

The Congressman answered, "I don't know. It ain't 'till next week."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Travel: Cedar Key - Historic Or Hysteric

The development of Cedar Key had begun in 1859 in anticipation of the prosperity that completion of the Florida Railroad was expected to bring to the port on the Gulf. I arrived in Florida about 96 years after the fact and though I have lived in this land for some 56 years I had never been to Cedar Key. There had been many trips between Panama City and Tampa plus points south, but never on that 24 mile stretch from U.S. 19/98 over to pencil land (you know, number 2 lead cedar pencils we used to chew on in school).

According to a Wikipedia article, "The old-fashioned fishing village is now a tourist center with several regionally famous seafood restaurants." To bring our week long Thanksgiving staycation to a glorious conclusion, the Belle of Ballast Point and I decided to head up to Cedar Key for a few days to enjoy this "old-fashioned fishing village and it's famous seafood restaurants".

I did my due diligent search on-line for accommodations and stumbled upon the historic Island Hotel. Though I should have known better, I allowed myself to be sucked in by the hotel's description and photos. Will I never learn - what you see on the 'net rarely is what you find in the real world. But we are adventurous, so I booked a room for two nights.

The Island Hotel and Restaurant is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. That should have sent me screaming in the opposite direction since our last visit to a listing in the National Register of Historical Places, The Desert Inn at Yeehaw Junction, resulted in us wondering if we would make it out alive. Really! And, that was before the bikers arrived. As I said, we are adventurous!

We found the hotel with little effort. Cedar Key is not that big. The hotel looked pretty much like it did in the pictures on the Internet. It wasn't until we checked in did we realize why their guest rooms weren't pictured on their web site.

"The Island Hotel has 10 rooms, all of them individual and all having very little in common with any hotel." To say the rooms have little in common with any hotel is a bit of an understatement, but do go on, "To preserve the romantic and traditional ambiance, there are no televisions or telephones in the rooms of the main hotel. Some of the hotel rooms have old fashioned claw-foot tubs (bubble bath provided!), some showers and some tub and showers."

We had one of the rooms with a claw footed tub. It was conveniently located a just few feet away from the bed. This was real handy if one felt the urgent need of a late night cleansing. As there was no other furniture in the room save for an end table or two, this afforded us a choice of reclining on the bed or in the tub.

The bathroom sink in our bedroom added another element of historic or antique charm.

The toilet was next to the sink, but enclosed with scrap lumber and a folding door that was way larger than the entry-way into the water closet. I would have included a photo, but both I and my pocket camera wouldn't both fit in at the same time. The WC was without a light, so your late night urges depended on luck or a hope and a prayer.

Lest I forget, the hotel warned guests that the walls are paper thin. As a consequence, if one of you is a screamer you might want to enjoy your romantic tryst at an establishment with thicker walls. It's just a thought.

For our luxurious and historical room we were being charged $136.25 per night. After the shock of our room and a walk about Cedar Key we made the decision to spend just one night, not two - and one night was a night too many.

While waiting for the bar to open at 5 p.m. we headed down to the waterfront which consisted of a huge parking lot covered with vehicles attached to boat trailers, or vice versa. At the waters edge we discovered the Cedar Key tourist center - a long line of multi-story wooden buildings that I assume were meant to replicate the long lost Cedar Key of old. These buildings housed souvenir shops and a number of restaurants serving enough fried seafood to clog the arteries of an army.

One of the locals suggested that the best of the bunch was Steamers Clam Bar and Grill. We climbed the stairs and wandered in.

Between the two of us we had several medicinal brewskis, the Steamer Salad which resembled a plain old house salad, and the 1 LB bucket of Cedar Key clams.

The bucket and clam shells may have weighed a pound, but there probably wasn't more than a hand-full of those little clams. They were pretty tasty, but it wasn't worth eight bucks a bucket, nor was that house salad worth six bucks. Can you say, "tourist trap"?

Steamers on Urbanspoon

We had intended to take a boat tour up the Suwanee River the next day, but the tour operators said the tide would be too low until December and they would have no captain to pilot the boat until then, either.

The thought of spending a full day in Cedar Key just aimlessly wandering around visiting the plethora of gift shops and antique stores, or drinking ourselves into a mind-numbing stupor didn't much appeal to either of us. We were now really looking forward to heading back to Tampa first thing next morning.

Dinner that night at the Island Hotel Restaurant didn't improve our spirits. While my lamb chops were pretty tasty, the fish served to my bride was way under-cooked, skin side down on too low heat, which gave the fish a slimy texture and a horribly off-putting taste.

Historic Island Hotel on Urbanspoon

We love to travel and experience new places, foods, and cultures. We have traveled around the world and had a hell of a good time. This trip to Cedar Key was not one of those times. I think Cedar Key was probably a paradise before it became a tourist mecca.

Let me end this piece on a positive note. The locals that we met in Cedar Key were very hospitable and friendly. The bar in the hotel was also a plus. The picture of Neptune above the bar had a great deal of history. Some of the water stains were from a really nasty huricane that blew through the area some years ago, and if you look closely you will see little round dots on the picture. Those are bullet holes - presumably left by a patron many, many years ago.

The rest of the pictures were taken in the common areas of the hotel.

And, lastly, a view of the waterfront without the fake fish houses.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sports: Bucs v Titans

One of the great joys in the life of the Belle of Ballast Point is Tampa Bay Buccaneers football. She is a rabid fan - up to and including frothing at the mouth when the Bucs do something abysmally stupid. Needless to say there has been a lot of frothing this season. I asked her what would she would say to the Bucs if she had the opportunity. This is what she had to say:

"Several years ago the Bucs asked the fans to submit questions that they would like the Bucs staff to answer. I submitted a question and low and behold I was selected.

We were treated to a nice reception with food and drink. When it came my turn to ask my questions Bruce Allen was at the podium. I said maybe my question would better be answered by the coaches. He was very offended and said he was very familiar with football. My question:

Why don’t the Bucs run more trick plays? He fluffed me off and never gave a straight answer; I was just a woman, you know.

But, my question still has merit; especially after the Bucs were burned on a kick off play by the Titans where they did a lateral handoff that resulted in a touchdown.

We are so stinking predictable. Run 2 plays and then pass on the 3rd? My husband is not a football person and even he knows what is coming. Of course there was the 3rd and 2 that we passed on, then the 3rd and 27 that we ran on. Jeez, who the hell called that play? That was just plain stupid! Blount probably could have run that 2, but rushing  for 27 yards? Wouldn't a pass play have made more sense? Of course, we have the issue of whether Freeman could have thrown an effective 27 yard pass and then had a receiver who could hold on to the ball.

I am a Project Manager Professional (PMP) and I am here to tell the Bucs that I can write a project plan that would be much better than the game plan the Bucs coaches have come up with lately.

For instance:

Josh Johnson is standing on the sidelines doing nothing. Bring him in along with Freeman. Johnson can block and he can pass. It would give the opposing team something to think about. Flea flicker anyone?

Somebody has really screwed with Josh Freeman’s head - they should be sacked! He had opportunities to run today as well as last week and he didn’t take them. He hung in there and he got sacked. What the heck is up with that?

We need a new offensive coach as well as a new head coach. I have been a fan of Raheem, but he is really not getting the job done now and he is really pissing me off. Blount is doing his best and he is to be commended, but he can’t carry the entire offense all by himself.

The defense led by Ronde Barber is good, but they can’t do it all. They get the ball and the offense doesn’t do squat with it. My project plan would include many more sneaky plays on the offense. The Bucs need a PMP to assist them in game planning. The coaches can call the plays on the field, but somebody needs to manage them, because they are not managing diddly. I’M READY! But, as Bruce Allen condescended, I am just a woman."

It takes quite a bit to get my bride this worked up, but the Bucs have done it. Somebody needs to use some harsh words for the coaches and management of the Buccaneers. And, they need a plan - a method, if you will  We don't see either.

And the Bucs don't need to keep calling to offer to sell her season tickets. A job offer? That, she may accept.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving: Bird Is The Word

Here is the SOG City Oracle bird:

High in our tree tops - bird is a word!
And lest we forget, Americans are still losing lives and limbs in Afghanistan and Iraq this Thanksgiving. The wars continue...

The hawks of war may be grateful for this, but I am not. I will be thankful when these and all wars come to an end.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Food: Dining With John And Mable

The Oracle recently regaled you with a photographic representation of our visit to the opulent crib of the late John and Mable Ringling in Sarasota. We arrived at the Ringling property right about lunch time and as good fortune would have it there was a restaurant located in the same building as the ticket office and the obligatory gift shop.

After paying for our admission we immediately headed for Treviso, a charming, airy restaurant. It must be noted that parking is free and you do not have to pay to get in to the restaurant - it is open to all.

Walking into Treviso from the lobby, one of the first things, the very first thing, I noticed was a full bar just to the right of the entrance. This information will come in handy after you have toured the Ringling grounds, museum, circus exhibits and Ca' d'Zan for several hours.

We have a choice of in door or out door seating. It was a beautiful day so we chose the patio area over looking the pond and fountain. Jennifer was our charming server and after presenting us with menus she took our drink orders - iced tea for my bride and a Yuengling for me.

Treviso has a lunch and dinner menu that you may peruse on-line. Since it was lunch time, we ordered from the lunch menu - a Parma Panini with prosciutto, mortadella, capocollo, Provolone, arugula, dressed with olive oil and balsamic, roasted red pepper aioli, pressed on an Italian roll for her. I chose the Sicilian Tuna Steak with Caponata. This was a tuna steak seared medium rare (I requested very rare and got it), on a salad of caponata, mixed greens and tomato, lemon, coriander vinaigrette, sprinkled with roast pistachio.

Both choices were perfectly prepared and very pleasing to the palate. Our total bill came to $41.46. We tacked on an extra $10 for the excellent service rendered by Jennifer.

We went back to Treviso later that day for a couple of medicinal brewskis to relax tired muscles after hours of wondering about.

I can't say that we would travel all the way from Tampa to Sarasota just to dine at Treviso some evening, but if we were already in Sarasota I would definitely stop in for a dinner of Braised Lamb Shank - slow braised with aromatic vegetables and ripe tomatoes, finished with a natural pan sauce. That sounds yummy!

Treviso Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Travel: A Ringling Adventure

The Belle of Ballast Point has this week off from work which means that I have my playmate back. We decided to pretend that we are retired people and do whatever we want with no cares or obligations. Since neither of us had ever been before, we decided our first adventure would be to Sarasota to visit the John and Mable Ringling crib.

Would that we could afford to live in such splendor! You can get all of the in depth information about the Ringling property by clicking on ABOUT THE RINGLING. In the meantime allow the Oracle to share pictures of our fantastic day at Ringling by the bay.

One of the first sights we visited after passing through the ticket pavilion and gift shop was Mable's rose garden.

The garden is resplendent with hundreds of rose varieties and cast concrete statues.

The most beautiful rose of all.

Near the rose garden are the circus buildings. My playmate was interesting in seeing the one with the private Ringling rail coach. Flash and tripods aren't allowed in any building except for the welcome pavilion, so photography was somewhat restricted. In several places I was able to steady the camera enough for a fairly clear shot. The circus wagon was one of those.

Farther along the Ringling yellow brick road was Mable's secret garden. I was most impressed! Mable's garden looked a lot like the SOG City secret garden minus the statue.

Another statue along the yellow brick road was this one with the guy pointing the way and more than likely thinking, "Hey you little prick, get your freakin' hand out from under my skirt." I know that is what I would have been thinking.

The next several pictures are of the manse, Ca' d' Zan - which reminds me, we really need to pick up a lottery ticket.

Our welcoming committee - after a bit of tweaking in the digital dark room. I couldn't help myself.

Let's go inside.

Of course, the kitchen sink!
John's Tap Room - my favorite room.

John and Mable this ain't. Dammit!

I hope you enjoyed our visit. There is almost too much to see in one day. We never made it to the art museum. We did find the bar. I mean the one where they still serve beer, wine, and cocktails. A couple of cold beers after wondering the grounds was - well, medicinal!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Zook Review

As regular readers of the Oracle are aware, we dine out quite often. When we come across a new dining venue, we like to share our experiences with you in the Oracle. You may also find our reviews on the web site Urbanspoon.

We had a delightful dinner last night with some friends at the China Yuan (you have got to try the duck tongues - they are not on the menu, so ask) and toward the end of dinner one of our dining partners suggested  for our next gastronomic adventure that we go to the Cajun Cafe on the Bayou.

The Cajun Cafe has been on our radar screen for sometime now, but for whatever reason, we haven't made the trip across the bay yet. As a fan of Urbanspoon, I was interested to read what others had to say about their Cajun Cafe experiences.

I stumbled upon the following review and was mildly amused by this Zook character:

August 26, 2011
Doesn't like it
Phone Mobile review
The worst restaurant. Really bad wait staff be even worst owners or management. My 2 year old dropped his toy in the isle and went to get it, and a waiter told me rudely to keep my kids in there seats. I asked if I should just leave and he left and the manager returned and told me my kid was not aloud to leave their seat while in the restaurant. We are not a white trash people, we are professionals and where dressed that way. The bad thing was I was taking my mother out for a special dinner because she is going in for heart surgery next week. My wife and I have gone there many times over the 8 years and like the food, but never again. You are an embarrassment to the Tampa bay area.

Several things the Zookster wrote grabbed my attention. For one, his "professional" grammatical skills could use just tad of polish. Secondly, to "have gone there many times over the eight years" and never once did he take the time to say anything positive about this establishment, or any other (this was his one and only review) - but one little visit that doesn't go his way and he has to log on to Urbanspoon to create an account just so he can drop a brain turd and then disappear forever. That was just rude and very unfair to the restaurant.

Call it a pet peeve, but I believe in the adage, "If you can't say something nice (or constructive), then don't say anything at all."

As a final thought, we appreciate the dining establishments that don't tolerate parents who allow their little darlings to race around with wild abandon. Not everyone thinks they are cute.

And, we will eventually make it across the bay to the Cajun Cafe.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Facebook No More

To the friends of The SOG City Oracle:

I no longer have a Facebook presence. It was one thing to delete my account in error, but not importing my blog posts was another. The whole reason for creating a Facebook account was to give my readers a more convenient way to get to the Oracle. Facebook defeated that purpose.

In addition, their support team was pretty much useless. The latest email from them said that before they could address the importing issue that I would have to do a screen capture and send the picture to them so that they could see the problem. I could do a screen capture, but of what? I would be sending them a still picture showing nothing happening. There were no error messages - there was just a lot of nothing.

I also found myself devoting way too much time trying to work with Facebook. It wasn't worth it.

I hope the friends of the Oracle will keep reading. I am grateful for your loyalty.

Heavenly Second Thoughts

The Dear Abby column that appeared in the November 18, 2011 edition of the St. Pete Times presented a very intriguing theological question. What if you don't like the people you are going to be bunking with for an eternity in the great beyond?

A letter writer from Mississippi was having second thoughts about going to heaven after she dies. Her concerns centered around the possibility that she might be tossed in with a bunch of fellow angels, some of whom, like a few family members, she didn't much like while here on Earth. She is speculating that if she didn't like them down here then she figures she wouldn't like them any better up yonder.

After ruminating on that for awhile, I can see that for the heaven bound a situation like that could put a damper on this whole notion of celestial bliss. Thankfully, people such as I don't have to worry about such things. I mean, I don't imagine they call it hell for nothing!

Mississippi said that if she had to spend eternity with these people then she didn't want to go. She went on to say that hell wasn't a particularly attractive alternative either. I can certainly see how this lady would be conflicted. If I believed in the Christian concept of heaven and hell, I wouldn't be real happy spending eternity in a fiery pit; although, I would be sizzling along with some pretty interesting fellow sinners. On the other hand, spending forever in the company of a bunch of assholes I didn't like before and still didn't like would make heaven a hell of a place.

It should probably be asserted here that just because Mississippi doesn't like certain people that doesn't mean these people are bad or unworthy to sit on a cloud for eternity fingering a harp or whatever the hell they do up there for fun. Who knows, she may luck out and get stuck on a cloud with a whole gaggle of Christian conservative, holier-than-thou, hypocritical Republican Tea Baggers.

My apologies, this was supposed to be a theological discussion, not political. Now, what was I talking about, heaven or hell? I got confused there for a moment.

Thankfully I don't have the same conundrum as Mississippi. Mistress Bachmann has already sentenced me to hell along with all the other liberal-progressive, scum sucking, socialist, anti-stupidity Americans who say she is an idiot. Abby, though, suggested that Mississippi have a chat with St. Peter at the pearly gates and ask for different heavenly accommodations. Maybe tell him, "Michele will put in a good word for you with God."

I'd be interested in hearing how that turns out.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Is A Test...

This is only a test. If this turns into a real disaster, you will hear loud screaming coming from the paradise that is SOG City.

I posted on the Oracle's Facebook wall yesterday the following email sent to us from Facebook:

"Note that we permanently deleted your attached ID from our servers. After investigating this further, it looks like we suspended your account by mistake. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. You should now be able to log in."

Happily, I am able to log in to Facebook now, but an on-going problem was Facebook not importing my blog postings which was the whole point of using Facebook to begin with. I am so frustrated with Facebook I could just poop!

I know...

I love Ronstadt!

The jury is still out with Facebook. We'll see if they import this blog. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Being Awesome Reaps Reward

The Belle of Ballast Point was recently rewarded for her awesomeness by her employer. She came home the other day and announced that the company had given her a $15 gift certificate to be redeemed at her choice of chain restaurants. Fifteen dollars? Come on, she's more awesome than that.

Oh well, not to gander at the mouth of a gift horse, we decided to use her certificate last night. We had a choice of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Seasons 52, I don't remember, and Longhorn Steakhouse. All, except for I don't remember and Olive Garden (too much creamy goo), were worthy choices. We hadn't been to Longhorn for awhile and I was in the mood for a steak, so we headed for cow country - specifically the one at 2055 North Dale Mabry.

It would be nice to think that all Longhorn locations are as good as this one, but I am only speaking here of the one on North Dale Mabry.

We were promptly seated and presented with menus by Sandy, our very pleasant and efficient server for the evening. Sandy took our drink orders, a glass of Cab for her (no, not Sandy) and a Sierra Nevada draft for me. We eschewed appetizers and instead started with the house salad for her and the house Caesar for me. Both salads were crisp, fresh and went well with the basket of bread and butter.

I was surprised that my dining partner chose the Baby Back Ribs instead of steak, but she swooned at the taste and tenderness of those ribs. The sight of barbecue sauce adorning her dainty lips, from ear to ear, attested to the fact that this was a gastronomic delight.

Photo from Longhorn web site
My dinner choice was the Outlaw Rib Eye, an 18 ounce bone-in beauty cooked to a perfect medium rare. I am not sure I want to say that this was the best bone-in rib eye I have ever had, but it darn sure ranks right up near the top.

Another stand out for me was the side order of Fresh Steamed Asparagus drizzled with lemon-butter sauce. It was a real treat to be served asparagus that was perfectly prepared - not mostly raw or cooked to death. This side was excellent!

Our dinner for two with two beers and a glass of wine came to $58.26 before the $15 gift card. We tacked a 20% gratuity onto the non-discounted price.

Longhorn Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waterboarding Just For Fun

Warning: Rhetorical question just ahead!

Will the insanity at the Republican debates never end?

It is obvious from the video clip that Herman Cain's father never taught his son a most invaluable life lesson before the lad left home, to wit, "Son, this is sh*t and this is Shinola." Nor has Cain learned the difference between torture and enhanced interrogation.

To prepare themselves for the position of Commander-in-Chief of America I feel that Cain, Bachmann, and all others who can't differentiate between sh*t and Shinola should be required to submit to a waterboarding session.

Since waterboarding is not torture, this should make for a fun filled, fact finding experience for our presidential wannabes - kinda like a day at Sea World, but without Shamu.

Holy shit, that looks like fun! Even the Master Chief referred to it as an interrogation technique. Come on Hermie and Mishie-boo, why not give it a try? It would make an outstanding YouTube video - free publicity doncha know.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Goodbye Oba, Sleep... hell.

If there is a semblance of justice in this state, Oba Chandler will be departing Florida and the world today. Sadly, he will just be going to sleep around four this afternoon. How very, very civilized.

His victims, a mother and her two daughters, had concrete blocks tied around their necks and were tossed into the waters of Tampa Bay. Autopsies indicated that at least the mother was still conscious and struggled to free herself before sucking the water of the bay into her lungs.

One of these women went over the side of Oba's boat, and then the other, and then one more.

And, Chandler will just go to sleep. Somehow that doesn't seem good enough.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Child Rape At Penn State

There was a discussion on Chris Mathew's Hardball awhile ago about the Penn State anal raping of a 8 (or 10) year old boy "allegedly" committed by Jerry Sandusky.

One of the questions brought up was whether our child abuse reporting laws need to be enhanced.

I have two thoughts on that topic:
  1. As to whether our laws need to be enhanced, I am ambivalent. This shouldn't be necessary.
  2. Because...we, as a civilized people, should have enough moral character to recognize a dastardly act being perpetrated upon anyone in our society, especially a defenseless child, and react in any reasonable manner to stop that act.
To not stop that rape, any rape, and to not immediately report that crime to law enforcement officials calls into question the character and integrity of all involved.

To even have such a discussion makes me, after 67 years, ashamed of my country. I would have thought we were better than this.

The Hawks Of War

I was looking for a video to use as a remembrance for Veteran's Day and I came across the one presented here by The Doors. I decided against using it and instead chose Billy Joel's Goodnight Saigon.

This Doors' video had a great impact upon me. It is one of the best I have seen that glamorizes war. I am being facetious. This video is unbelievably good, but only the war mongers in America will be getting a hard-on while viewing. It should turn the stomachs of those who have had enough of the carnage. That is my hope anyway.

This is not a damn John Wayne movie. These are real people.

As Lennon said, "Give peace a chance." It's time to bring war to The End.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Real Soul Sacrifice

This Veteran's Day weekend got me reminiscing about my early days in the Army and one of the first sacrifices I was forced to make in order to fulfill my military obligation.

After a month of cooling my heels at Ft. Monmouth, N.J. waiting for an assignment, I finally got my orders to ship out to the Strike Command at MacDill AFB - just days before the start of Woodstock.

Damned Army!

I sort of made up for it the following year at the Atlanta Pop Festive, but it wasn't quite the same.

This is one of my favorite Woodstock performances. That 19 year old drummer, Michael Shrieve, just blew my mind. Well, that and some really heavy duty blonde Turkish hash our unit brought back from an overseas deployment to Incirlik.

Hooah for STRICOM!

This isn't about me, though. This is about great music.

On Drinking And Driving: DON'T!

I received the following email from a friend who probably avoided a DUI or something worse.

"As you know some of us have had brushes with the authorities on our way home in recent months. Well, I for one have done something about it. The other night I was out for a dinner and a few drinks with some friends. So, after having far too much vino, and knowing full well I was wasted, I did something I've never done before. I took a bus home. I arrived home safely and without incident, which was a real surprise, as I have never driven a bus before."

Hopefully that was a joke, but let it be a serious reminder to all: Don't drink and drive!

This safety message is brought to you as a public service by the Sog City Oracle - may it serve you well.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Football Blackouts

The Belle of Ballast Point, a rabid football fan, was wondering if the Bucs game this weekend was blacked out. Well, as a public service to her and anyone else who cares, the Oracle is tickled pink to present the following link:

The website has an interactive map showing where NFL televised games will appear around the country.

Yes, the Tampa Bay v. Houston game is blacked out in Tampa and surrounding areas.

The Oracle is not a fan of Sen. Mike Bennett (what can I say, he's a Republican), but Bennett says he's found a little known section of Florida law that requires pro stadiums to be used as homeless shelters in order to receive taxpayer revenues.

"They have to use it for a homeless shelter when it's not being used for a professional sports franchise," Bennett told a Fox affiliate in Tampa. "Not during a hurricane, but anytime. That's exactly what the law says."

I think the state needs to start enforcing that law if for no other reason than "pay-back" to the NFL and the team owners for the blackouts and doing nothing to mitigate the hardships placed on fans who are already reeling from the economic downturn.

It pains me to say it, but another Republican in Florida has come up with a dandy idea. Sen. Mike Fasano, wants to revoke a tax break for any NFL team that blacks out a home game.

To Bennett and Fasano, the Oracle says, "More power to ya! Let's stick it to these bastards."

The Keystone XL Pipeline: Why Not?

Here are just a few problems with the Keystone XL:

• This pipeline will carry oil cooked from tar sands strip-mined from virgin forest that would turn a wildlife-rich habitat into a barren moonscape.

• Producing oil from tar sands is a double disaster for global warming. First it destroys the ability of forests to safely store excess carbon pollution out of the atmosphere. Then it burns extra energy - natural gas - to melt the oil out of the tar. All of this means that oil from tar sands emits twice as much carbon pollution as conventional oil.

• The pipeline will cross 70 rivers and streams, including the Missouri, Platte,Yellowstone, and Arkansas. It crosses aquifers on which millions of Americans rely for drinking water and agricultural irrigation. The likelihood of pipeline leaks and spills is near-certain.

Keystone XL is a bad idea being advanced by oil companies, stripminers, and developers who profit from declaring open season on open spaces. Buoyed by billions of dollars in lobbying, many of these proposals are gaining serious consideration in Washington.

This information has been provided by The Wilderness Society.

Friday, November 11, 2011

LOL From Ellen

I don't text on my cell phone. I have my reasons, but if I didn't before, I do now after watching this clip from Ellen DeGeneres:

Happy Friday, y'all!

Veteran's Day 11/11/11

Today America remembers its military veterans from all branches of the armed forces.

(Note: video has a silent opening - be patient)

Speaking personally, it was an honor to serve my country, and no one has to thank me. I am grateful to have had the privilege of wearing an Army uniform and later an Air Force uniform.

While I enjoyed my time with the Florida Air National Guard I always thought I looked better in Army green. Style is everything. Besides, Army is in the blood.

U.S. Army, Major Lawrence Rector - circa 1944

Major Rector said, "I hope to live long enough to see my son become a soldier." He did not live to see that happen, but happen it did.

If I had it to do all over again, I'd do it in a heartbeat!

December 1968 through August 1969 - Basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia and AIT at Monmouth

38B van, HF High Power, Communications Support Element, U.S. Strike Command, MacDill AFB, Florida - circa 1970

290 Joint Communications Support Squadron, Florida Air National Guard, MacDill AFB, Florida - circa 1988

Members of the 224 JCSS Georgia Air National Guard, 290 JCSS Florida Air National Guard, Joint Communication Support Element, U.S. Central Command, and CINC at the end of Desert Storm

Senior Master Sergeant Rector, Honorable Discharge October 1997