Thursday, May 31, 2012

Latest CREDO Action Petition

On the Rick Scott voter purge as reported by Think Progress:

"[I]n Miami-Dade county alone, 1638 people were flagged by the state as "non-citizens." Already, 359 people on the list have provided the county with proof of citizenship and 26 people were identified as U.S. citizens directly by the county. The remaining 1200 have simply not responded to the letter informing them of their purported ineligibility. Similar problems have been identified in Polk County and Broward County.

It is worth nothing that Gov. Scott's voter purging effort was considered so "flawed" that his Republican Secretary of State Kurt Browning resigned in February rather than participate in the suppression of voters.

We need as many Floridians as possible to protest Gov. Rick Scott's scheme to disenfranchise voters and call into question the integrity of Florida's elections.

Governor Scott's voter purging tactic is reminiscent of the one deployed by former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. The notorious Republican provided the winning margin for Bush in the 2000 Presidential election, by helping to "wrongfully" remove 7,000 Floridians — the overwhelming majority of whom were African Americans — from the voting rolls prior to the 2000 election."

CREDO Action invites you to: 

Tell Governor Rick Scott: Immediately suspend your efforts to purge thousands of eligible citizens from the voter rolls. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

I clicked and I signed the petition just on general principles, but who in their right mind thinks that the prick who bought Florida, Chief Executive Orifice Scott, really gives a rat's patootie what you and I think? And, the petition? I would doubt very seriously that he ever sees it. He has minions to shield him from the opinions of the commoners in the State of Florida.

It's a case of mind over matter. Scott don't mind and we don't matter - but hope springs eternal, or so they say, so I signed and we can wish for the best.

Personally, I wish someone would tar and feather the bastard and ride him out of state on a rail - at this point, figuratively or literally. I am getting cranky in my old age so either would work for me.

Airport Greetings From Florida CEO Scott

If you thought that air travel could not get any worse or more annoying, along comes this tidbit from Tallahassee:

"Rick Scott wants a state ethics panel to say it's okay for him to greet visitors with recorded messages at Tampa International Airport. Scott's acting general counsel has asked the Florida Commission on Ethics whether or not it would violate state law to play the recorded greetings by Scott on airport shuttles."

The ethics commission will rule on the request during its June 15 meeting.

To have this bozo greet people coming in to a state that he knows nothing about should be, shall we say, amusing? I can only imagine how that recording would sound:

(The Scott recording) Greetings filthy rich people looking for a government handout to relocate your business to my state. I say "my state" because I bought it with my own money, so it's mine, mine, mine! (heh-heh-heh)

I am Rick Scott, the CEO of Flo-rida, the correct pronunciation I have been told, and I welcome some of you to wherever the heck you landed - somewhere in the Bay, I'm guessing.

If you are here on business and have a boat-load of money - glad to see you. If you are here on vacation and have a boat-load of money - please leave it with the gate attendant and go back to wherever you came from. We have enough unemployed people just wandering about as it is. If you have no money - just leave.

And, to all - please excuse our dust. We are in the process of paving over the state and eliminating all that annoying environment. This is a work in progress that should be completed by the time I'm done doing it.

Have a great time here in...wherever...and don't shoot any elephants. (chuckle, chuckle) I amused myself on that one. The King of Spain thought it was a real knee-slapper, too. Let me tell you about that trip........
(TIA shuttle recording) Oh, please shut-up! We have reached the land-side terminal. For your safety, stand clear of the doors.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Exposé: Socialism Exposed

For three and a half years now this country has been assailed with jibber-jabber about the evils of socialism; how it will undermine our capitalistic society, how it is the scourge of freedom, how our socialist president is planning on destroying the America we all know and love with his socialist agenda.

Let us pause for a few minutes to further examine this evil. To help in our understanding, the Oracle is pleased to present The Best F#@king Network Newsman Ever, Jon Stewart:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain

For months now I have been watching the garden here at the Oracle's south Tampa ranchero drying up and getting ready to just blow away in the scorching winds of spring. Hope was almost gone, and then...!

A most miraculous thing just happened in SOG City:

A Brew And A Burger In South Tampa

Editor's update 1/10/2012: Obviously we have not been back to Brewburgers since the original review as it came as a surprise to us that the name has already changed. We shouldn't have been too surprised though, as nothing else in that building has lasted very long. After reading so many negative Urbanspoon reviews I'm having doubts about this new incarnation, Reilley's Westshore Taphouse.

A brew and a burger - what could be finer - especially if you are starving and there is no food in the house? Such was our predicament the other day, as we had just returned from a trip to the Caribbean and had yet to visit Publix to replenish the pantry.

There was an article in the Times that morning about a new burger joint that recently opened in south Tampa - Brewburgers on the corner of South Westshore and Euclid Avenue. We were a bit surprised since that address had not too long ago been an Irish pub, and not too long before that something else preceded by even something else.

We decided to give them a try before the place changed again.

Brewburgers has a really nice outdoor seating area and we will probably give that a try later in the year when the heat and humidity subsides just a tad - a really big tad. The indoor seating area is very pleasant and we were invited to sit where we pleased. Eva, our charming server, presented us with menus and inquired as to our drink preferences.

Well, if you are going to partake of the bill of fare at a place called Brewburgers it just makes sense to order a brew. So we did! A Miller Light for my bride and Franziskaner for moi. The Franziskaner is a fruity and aromatic weissbier from Munich. Brewburgers has several imported and domestic beer choices by the bottle or draft. Wines, by the glass or the bottle, are also on the menu, but burgers and beer just seem made for each other.

Once presented with our adult beverages we made our food choices. There are a number of Starters, Salads, and interesting Wing choices available, but we were there for the burgers. The Belle of Ballast Point chose a Build Your Own with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheddar cheese cooked "hockey puck" done. I still poof and eye-roll at the thought of chewing on a hockey puck, but to each her own. She also had a side of potato salad.

I requested "The World Renowned BREWBURGER" a six ounce Guinness burger with portobello mushroom, roasted red peppers, and pepper jack cheese. We shared an order of onion rings and tater tots.

We were delighted to discover that both of our burgers came out exactly as ordered. She got her hockey puck and I got a tasty and juicy patty of meat. The tots were good, but the onion rings were a bit under cooked on the inside. The batter could have used a little more time in the fryer.

We enjoyed a very nice hour and a half lunch. This was not a problem since we had nothing else of importance on our agenda that day. I could see a problem if one was on a one hour work day lunch break though.

Our bill for food and two brews each came to $45 and included a 20% gratuity.

Brewburgers on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Pro - Obama Veteran

Recent polls seem to indicate that a majority of older military veterans support Mitt the Romney over President Obama.

Well, hot damn, they didn't ask me!

I am an older veteran of two wars. One was the first Bush war.

This country doesn't need another air-head in the White House. Bush the junior was more than enough, but now the country is contemplating another one - Mitt the Witless.

I can't think of anything more disastrous for this country than a puppet as president controlled by filthy rich special interests with a Republican dominated House and Senate to push through an agenda that has all the potential for wiping out the poor and the middle class.

I am a veteran who volunteered for service in both the Army (1968 - 1971) and later the Air Force (1984 - 1997), and I support President Obama.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Puerto Rico In A Day

Wanting to treat my trophy bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, to something special to celebrate her impending birthday this month, I decided to take her out to dinner at a restaurant noted for it's exceptional Puerto Rican - Carribean specialties - Restaurante Raíces.

Raíces is located a mere three and a half hours away from Tampa on Calle Recinto Sur in Viejo San Juan. This sorta-out-of-the-way dining spot simulates a typical country home circa 1940, with wooden ceilings, open window views to murals of the Puerto Rican countryside, and traditional masks of ‘Vejigantes’. Raíces’s staff also dons the traditional ‘jíbaro’, or peasant attire, to complete the illusion.


It is said that one has not been to Puerto Rico if one has not eaten mofongo, a mashed mound of plantains into which a combination of seafood, meat, or vegetables is added. It can be served as a side dish or a main course accompanied typically by beans and rice. The Belle enjoyed her mashed plaintain wad topped with chimichurri steak. I tried a bite and the steak was very good. To me, mofongo was uninspiring, though she seemed to like her meal choice.

My reason for traveling all the way from Tampa to old San Juan and Raíces was to have my way with their Kan Kan Pork Chop. This is a large chop served with ribs and cuero, or fried pork skin. The Kan Kan is delightfully crunchy, yet tasty, tender and delicious all at the same time. In Puerto Rico they don't breed all of the fat and flavor out of their pork, so you are not left with a tough and dry gob of meat like back home.

Holy moly was that chop ever good! Normally the Kan Kan is served with the traditional rice and beans, but I chose the Mashed Yuca and Garlic.

This was a memorable meal accompanied by several Medalla Lights, a pale lager beer by Compañía Cervecera de Puerto Rico.

While Raíces may seem a bit far from the paradise that is SOG City, a visit is do-able in a day. Depart Tampa around eight in the morning and you are in Puerto Rico around eleven. Do a little sight seeing, then have a late lunch or an early dinner and you can be back in Tampa by ten that night. What a great day trip!

Truth be told, we did not intend to make this a day trip to Puerto Rico. We had planned on several days to eat and explore, but really horrible weather and 'a sniffles with scratchy throat bug' that we picked up before leaving home made us decide to cut this visit short.

We had scheduled several days touring Viejo San Juan, but found that a day of wandering around narrow streets with run down buildings and boarded up store fronts was enough.

Particularly disappointing was the boarded up store front of La Bombonera. This family-run bakery and coffee shop was founded in 1902, and was a favorite of both tourists and locals. We were anxious to try the mallorca con mantequilla (a round, flat pastry dusted with confectioner’s sugar and served with butter), but alas the restaurant had shut down abruptly a week before our arrival.

On the lighter side:

We had wanted to get out of the city to experience the more natural Puerto Rico, but the El Yunque Rain Forest was getting way too much rain, and the wind and waves were making a snorkeling trip iffy to say the least. After two days we decided to cut our losses and head for home.

If we ever make it back to Puerto Rico we will stay far away from San Juan. The people are absolutely wonderful, but from the airport to the city and back reminded me a lot of a similar trip some years back that included Newark, New Jersey, which reminded me of pictures of Beirut, Lebanon. Decay and miles of barbed and concertina wire can be expected in a war zone, but not in a vacation paradise.

The boat people probably got the better deal - chug into harbor, hop off the cruise ship for a couple of hours and then chug on your way.

Polluter Welfare

From CREDO Action:

How much money will you give to the fossil fuel industry today?

A lot — even if you don't fill up your gas tank. $30 million of our tax dollars go to oil, coal and gas polluters every day in the form of subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes.

Two weeks ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison introduced the End Polluter Welfare Act to end these wasteful giveaways. Congress' inaction has already cost us over $430 million, and the price goes up another $30 million every day.

Congress' continued inaction will cost us $110 billion over ten years, in needless giveaways to the most profitable on the planet.

Just the five largest oil companies alone made more than $1 trillion in profits, just in the last five years. Some of these companies paid no taxes for some of these years.

These fossil fuel companies don't need the extra help. But for them, the math is very simple:

• Oil, gas and coal companies gave $106,993,686 in direct campaign contributions to Congress, and spent $1,077,417,6933,4 on lobbying over the last 10 years.

• Congress gives them $110,000,000,000 of our money in polluter welfare over the next 10 years.

Polluters get a huge return on their investment. We pay the price.

As Republicans and some Democrats continue using growing budget deficits to call for brutal cuts to vital social programs, it is astonishing and shameful that these same politicians are protecting billions upon billions in wasteful polluter welfare to the richest, most dangerous industry on the planet.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Week

Actually, the entire month of May should be dedicated to celebrating the birthday of my bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, but the Oracle is just going to take this one week off to devote my every waking hour to satisfy her every whim no matter how inconvenient or annoying that may be.

What that means to my valued readers is that for this week you are going to be playing second fiddle to my trophy bride. Sorry!

Those who feel they are getting the short end of the stick on this may leave a comment - but, direct your ire at her, not me. She has the last word in many things a lot of things every thing, and besides which, she keeps an eye on me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Git Yer Willy On In Why-bo

Editor's update 9/4/2013: Sadly, Willy's is no longer. They have permanently closed. On top of that, the venue that took its place has also closed.

Your Hot Willy's Sausage and Italian Beef Superstore that is, on the corner of 17th Street and 5th Avenue in Ybor City.

The Belle of Ballast Point and I stopped in for lunch today and were duly impressed. The ambiance was reminiscent of one of our favorite places on earth, Key West; the beer was cold and our meal was superb. Yeah, I know, it probably seems a little hyperbolic to refer to a tube steak as superb, but that is no exaggeration.

My Belle is seen here drooling over the BACON CHEDDAR WILLY - Bacon cheddar cheese sauce on a steamed bun. And, what doesn't taste good with bacon? She got an up-grade to a basket that included crispy tater tots with a perfectly cooked center.

On top of that, the Chicago-style Italian roast beef sandwich dipped in a flavorful au jus was practically orgasmic.

This sandwich was served wet, the traditional Chicago way, with the beef and bread dipped in "Italian Gravy". I asked for this Willy's treat to be topped with a slice of Mozzarella and a side of Italian giardiniera. This is also called "sotto aceti", which means "under vinegar", a common term for pickled foods.

Hot Willy's is an excellent reason to get off of 7th Avenue and away from the maddening crowds of tourists just wandering aimlessly back and forth. Visit Willy's for good dogs, a cold beer, and a relaxing atmosphere.

Lunch with a couple of brewskis and 20% gratuity came to a bit under thirty bucks.

Hot Willy's on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Friday WTF!

Last night's American Idol proved to me that this is not a singing contest, but instead a popularity contest. Some of the best singers ever to appear on Idol have been voted off, including the latest casualty, Joshua Ledet.

Of the remaining two contestants, Jessica is cute in a bubble-gummy sort of way, and when she gets a little more mileage I am sure she will be amazing like so many other all-fluff-no-stuff pop 'stars' out there.

The Belle of Ballast Point thinks that Phil Phillips would be great in a bar in Key West doing his own material. I agree, because he doesn't come close to the range, power, and emotion of Ledet. Besides, R & B needs a new hero, and Ledet's the man.

Speaking of Joshua:

And, four parting words for American Idol voters to meditate on before next season: UGLY EAR WAX BUILDUP!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer's Gone

LaDonna Adrian Gaines (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012), known by the stage name Donna Summer, was an American singer/songwriter who gained prominence during the disco era of the 1970s. She had a mezzo-soprano vocal range, and was a five-time Grammy Award winner.

Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the US Billboard chart, and she also charted four number-one singles in the United States within a 13-month period.

Summer died on May 17, 2012. The Associated Press reports that she died in the morning at her home in Key West, Florida at age 63 following a battle with cancer.

During my disco days with Tampa's premier mobile disco, Disco Graphics, Summer's music was always guaranteed to pack the dance floors. The excitement was palpable when we spun one of her hits on our turntables.

Even though the disco era is long gone, her music will live on.  She is missed.

Editor's note for historical accuracy: While AP reported Ms. Summer's death in Key West, a subsequent report stated that she died in Naples after having resided a number of years in nearby Englewood.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Student Loan Rates May Double

From Progress Florida:

Student loan debt recently surpassed $1 trillion nationwide, yet that didn’t stop Florida Senator Marco Rubio and other Republicans last week from blocking a bill to stop student loan interest rates from doubling.

Why did Rubio and his extremist allies vote to double interest rates for college students? The proposal they voted against would have closed a loophole that lets wealthy individuals avoid paying social security and Medicare taxes on some of their income. Sen. Rubio would rather crush students and their families with debt than ensure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes.

If Congress does not act by July 1st, many student loan interest rates will double, saddling an estimated 453,000 Florida students with an average of $979 more in debt. It would be the height of irresponsibility to allow this to happen while America’s working families are struggling to get by. 

Meanwhile, wealthy corporations and the top 1% are cheating the system to avoid paying taxes and doing better than ever – which is why closing tax loopholes for the rich is the most sensible way to keep student loan rates low.

This Republican attack on student loans should serve as a wake up for all Americans, both Republican and Democrat. Whether you disagree with President Obama or maybe even simply hate his guts, you haven't seen a disaster like having a Republican in the White House, and a Republican controlled House and Senate with the wealthy 1% pulling their strings.

Consider this: One party cannot produce any other system other than autocratic/dictatorial power. A state where one party rules would include the remaining communist states of the world (Cuba, North Korea and China), and Iraq (where the ruling party is the Ba’ath Party). The old Soviet union was a one party state. 

One of the more common features of a one-party state is that the position of the ruling party is guaranteed in a constitution and all forms of political opposition are banned by law. The ruling party controls all aspects of life within that state. You are living in a fantasy world if you think the ruling Republicans won't strive for that goal. 

As a side note, the belief that a ruling party is all important to a state came from Lenin who believed that only one party - the Communists - could take the workers to their ultimate destiny and that the involvement of other parties would hinder this progress.

I do not believe the ruling Republicans would lead this country to communism. An oligarchy would be more likely. 

And, you think having a black man in the White House is bad?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

$2 Billion Sucking Sound

Dateline: Today in Tampa

Members of the Great Unwashed have gathered today in our fair city. Their purpose is to hear the words of wisdom that are expected to emanate from the $23 million dollar a year pie hole of Jamie Dimon.


Jamie Dimon. You know, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, the bank that just lost $2 billion in dangerous trading practices similar to those that caused the 2008 financial meltdown. Dimon, one of the directors at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That Jamie Dimon.

Jamie is expected to wow the crowd of shareholders at the bank's annual meeting. Either that or the crowd of these investor rabble-rousers are preparing an old timey tar and feathers party followed by a ride out of town on a rail. Tune in to your evening news on the teevee for the rest of that story.

While the shareholders were checking in for the meeting with the Mortimer Snerd of Wall Street, the Federal Reserve is busily crafting and implementing some of the most important aspects of the 2010 financial reform bill. Unfortunately, as a director, Dimon has used his position to become the leading voice against increased regulation of Wall Street.

So, what we have here is a case of the fox guarding the hen house. With any luck though, he will be easy to spot. He should be the one with the tar AND the feathers.


Alarmed by the PPP (piss-poor-performance) of Florida's little darlings on FCAT, the Florida Bored with of Education has decided to convene an emergency meeting to come up with a "fix".

The grand solution to this problem? Come on, this is Florida - you know what is coming next:

"Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson proposed reducing the FCAT writing passing score from 4.0 to 3.5. Under that standard, 48 percent of fourth-graders would have passed the test with a 3.5 or better, along with 52 percent of eighth-graders and 60 percent of 10th-graders." (Tampa Bay Times)

Yepper! That'll sure fix the problem. Our youth may appear smart, but it is only an illusion. 

We are well on our way to becoming the land of the immensely fat and terminally stupid.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Romney The Bully

He bullied classmates as an entitled high school senior, and he bullied workers by wrestling away their jobs and benefits to make himself a millionaire.

Here is a great video from Robert Reich that explains how Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, and other private equity firms, stomp on workers and skip taxes to fill their wallets. It's so good that a group dedicated to defending Wall Street firms like Bain has attacked Reich over the video.

And, that is how Romney got so obscenely rich.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Way Beyond Sick

A George Zimmerman supporter decided to show his support for the man charged with second degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin by selling gun range targets meant to represent the slain teen.

Trayvon Martin gun targets sell out in Florida
The Orlando, Florida "businessman," (aka: ASSHOLE) says he has sold out of the targets, which feature a silhouetted character with a black hoodie and a target drawn on its chest, along with a bag of Skittles candy and an iced tea can in the pockets.

The seller, who did not identify himself by name, told an Orlando news station he thinks Zimmerman "is innocent and that he shot a thug." 

He admitted that his "main motivation" in creating the targets was to "make money off the controversy," according to WKMG Orlando. The targets have been linked back to the Hiller Armament Company in Virginia Beach.

Just when you think Florida couldn't sink any lower in the gene pool we get this sorry excuse for a human. Short of painting a bulls eye on this sewer rat's back, is there a course of action to stop him?

Probably not - this is one of those unfortunate byproducts of the 1st Amendment.

But, Skittles brand candy is clearly depicted on the targets. The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, a division of Mars Inc., produces and markets Skittles. They could stop the sale of these targets by taking legal action against the Hiller Armament Company, which sells the targets online.

The Duck Is Dunn: A Sad Passing

Bass player and songwriter Donald "Duck" Dunn, a member of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame band Booker T. and the MGs and the Blues Brothers band, has died in Tokyo. He was 70.

Miho Harasawa, a spokeswoman for Tokyo Blue Note, the last venue Dunn played, confirmed he died alone early Sunday. She had no further details.

Dunn, who was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1941, performed on recordings with Eric Clapton, Neil Young and many others, and specialized in blues, gospel and soul. He played himself in the 1980 hit movie "The Blues Brothers."

He received a lifetime achievement Grammy award in 2007 for his work with Booker T. and the MGs.

Dunn and guitarist Steve Cropper were on tour together in Tokyo.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

No Frickin' Frackin'

Across the country, the risky method of gas drilling known as "fracking" is causing polluted air, explosions, earthquakes and even flammable tap water.

But incredibly, as frackers rush to expand the practice, it remains totally unregulated by federal health and safety officials.

The Obama Administration has begun the process of passing some rules, but it's clear they are bowing to pressure from the gas industry at every turn.

Last week, the Department of Interior released a draft rule to regulate fracking on federal lands, and like a number of opportunities before it, the Obama Administration caved to the gas industry to allowing major loopholes that fail to protect us from the dangers of fracking. The agency is now accepting comments on the rule, and we need to urge them to protect public land, water and health -- not the gas industry.

I just sent a message urging the Department of Interior to protect our water -- not the gas industry. Join me and add your name HERE.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Feliz Cumpleaños Sr. Dali

Salvador Domènec Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis de Púbol (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989), known as Salvador Dalí, was a prominent Spanish surrealist painter born in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain.

In honor of the artist's birthday, here is a Disney Dali:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Marriage Equality Card Of Thanks

President Obama came out publicly in favor of marriage equality for LGBT couples. It's the first time a sitting president has spoken in favor of marriage equality, and that is historic.

The president is already feeling the heat for taking this stand in an election year. If we want politicians to take progressive stands, then we need to stand up in overwhelming numbers to support them when they do.

I signed a thank you card to President Obama to let him know that I support his stance for marriage equality. You can join me by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

President Obama Supports Gay Marriage

Marriage is not a religious institution unless the people engaging in it want it to be. My bride and I have been married for close to a quarter of a century. Our bond is personal and is no one's business and has nothing to do with someone else's archaic beliefs.

We were married by a gay notary and we sealed our bond with a bottle of Scotch as witnessed by her daughter and sister.

To put this into perspective:

In Remembrance: Bill Ratliff

Longtime Tampa television anchor and newsman Bill Ratliff died Tuesday surrounded by his family. He was 63. Described by friends and co-workers as the "consummate newsman," Ratliff's broadcasting career spanned more than 40 years.

Remembering The Wild Things

The Dirksen Award For Marigold Excellence

Sometime in this country's distant past, like the last century, there lived a Republican politician who, unlike today's Republican politicians, had a redeeming quality. Senator Everett Dirksen liked marigolds. I mean, he really liked marigolds. He even pushed to have marigolds declared the national flower.

Probably the only reason the marigold was never declared the nation's national flower was Congress, I mean all of Congress, fell asleep during Dirksen's presentation. I have included a short video of the senator that may prove my point. It's only a minute or so long, but imagine a 40 minute speech. You can also find that one on YouTube, and if you suffer from insomnia I highly recommend it.

Why do I bring up this ancient history you may ask?

While pausing to smell the roses I discovered that there are no roses in bloom. What is blooming in the SOG City garden are marigolds - a whole shit-load (official unit of southern measurement) of marigolds. If Ev were alive today I think the backyard would have garnered the Dirksen Award for Marigold Excellence. He isn't, alive that is, so I am empowering myself to bestow the award in absentia.

Well alrighty then, you have seen the marigolds, now it is time for the senator. Take it away...zzzzzzzzzzzz

And, then there is this:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cajun Cafe On The Bayou

It was one of those lazy Sunday afternoons when you want nothing more than to sit out on the screen porch overlooking an idyllic bayou setting with some kids frolicking in the water across the way.

A kind gentleman saunters over and inquires if we would fancy an adult beverage. As the two beers we requested arrived, so did our delightful dining companions Sweet Polly of Epicurean Perils fame and her macho hero Underdog.

The last time we had a food bloggers "convergence" was at the Carmel Cafe. This time around we decided to try something totally different, and that suggested a trip to the Cajun Cafe on the Bayou at 8101 Park Boulevard in Pinellas Park. The Cajun Cafe offers "indoor, outdoor, and waterside dining in our charming old shack on Cross Bayou. At Cajun Café on the Bayou, we are proud to serve freshly cooked, authentic Cajun and Louisiana Cuisine, and offer a fine selection of Craft Ales on draught and in bottles".

The beers and ales on draught change periodically, so what we consumed may not be available when you pirogue over to the Bayou. We four tried several different varieties and were impressed with the selection.

We started our gastronomic adventure with an order of Boudin Balls (I never knew that Boudins even had balls) but these balls were made with "the traditional boudin filling of pork, pork liver, onions, special seasonings and rice, then rolled in a cracker meal coating."

The Cafe then dunks them in craft ale and gives them a light dusting of their seasoned-flour blend before deep-frying. The six Boudin Balls are then served with Rémoulade Sauce.

The sauce was a tad on the spicy side, but if you can stand the heat, they are delicious.

Sweet Polly had her taste buds geared up for the Crawfish Cornbread, loaded with crawfish tails, cheddar cheese, corn, onions and jalapeños. I do not believe she was disappointed. I know I wasn't. This was a tasty delight and big enough to share.

For me, the main event was something I have been longing for ever since a trip to Billy Goat Hill, Louisiana some years ago - boiled crawfish with taters and corn.

For the novice, here is the proper way to enjoy these crustaceous delights:

Just rip off their heads and suck the spicy juice, then pinch near the tail of the crawfish on the underside and mash firmly to break the meat loose. With the shell still partially intact, bring the tail meat to your mouth and sink your teeth into the exposed meat. Chomp down, and it should pop into your mouth as you leave the tail behind.

Notice I said "should pop into your mouth". These didn't, which tells me that they were overcooked. They tasted great, though. They were just hard to get out of the shell, and that is my only negative for the day.

The dainty damsels amongst us manly men eschewed the crawfish and instead Sweet Polly chose the Big Tail-on Fried Shrimp. I tried one and while fried shrimp are not a favorite, these were excellent. There was a picture, I swear! Somebody musta ate it 'cause it looked so good.

My bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, chose the Creole Roasted Pulled Pork.


Even later that evening, as a snack, the pulled pork was superb.

As full as some of us were at this point, the ladies had already set their sights on dessert - not just any dessert.

What elicited all the smiles were the two orders of Whiskey Bread Pudding. Said the Cajun Cafe, "We hate to brag, but people tell us this is the best they’ve ever had! Our secret ingredient? Real French bread from our local French bakery, Café Croissant. Once baked, the pudding is soaked in our own whiskey-butter sauce, then topped with French vanilla cream just before serving. Rich and big enough to share!"

Holy moly, that was a wad of bread pudding, and it was out of this world good!

And, what a fantastic day - good food, ice cold beer, and our friends, Sweet Polly and her Underdog. Life doesn't get much better than that.

Food and beverages for the four of us with gratuity came in a bit under $200.

Cajun Cafe on the Bayou on Urbanspoon

Cajun Cafe On the Bayou

Editor's disclaimer: Neither Sweet Polly nor myself announced to the staff and management that we are world class food bloggers (well, she is anyway) before or after. If we were recognized as such, it wasn't apparent.

A couple of last thoughts: Even if the crawfish are out of season, there are so many other menu items that just scream TRY ME! I know I am going to have to go back to the Cajun Cafe and do just that.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Orange Bosom Special

I was looking around YouTube for some video on the Cajun Cafe on the Bayou over in  Pinellas Park. The Belle of Ballast Point and I are supposed to met up with our buddies Sweet Polly and her macho Underdog tomorrow, and I wanted to check out the place. I found a terrific video from the cafe that I will post at a later date.

While surfing the Tube, I stumbled across The Well Oiled Sisters. The name all by itself piqued my interest, so I opened the video. The Sisters "are a sassy bunch of cowgirls from the United Kingdom" who just blow the train right off the tracks. Fasten your seatbelts, 'cause here are The Well Oiled Sisters:

The drummer, Caroline, just knocks my socks off.

The Fifth Of May - Party Responsibly

No way, Jose!

Party like there is no Sexto de Mayo. We may only get one donkey ride in this life. So, gimme the bird*, Joe.

*Translation: cuervo in Spanish is raven.
(My paronomasias ain't near as funny if'n I got to 'splain 'em)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mañana: Feliz Cinco De Mayo

The holiday of Cinco de Mayo, The 5th Of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico, and especially in U.S. cities with a significant Mexican population.

It is not, as many people think, Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually September 16.

So on the 5th, my fellow gringos and gringas, stuff su boca con tacos, tortillas y burritos; y abajo un par de margaritas; and party like there is no mañana!

You may provide the tequila, but I've got the food covered with my:

Copper Canyon Fajitas

 Los ingredientes

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce -- or, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
16 ounces skirt steak -- cut in thin strips against the grain
1 medium green bell pepper -- cut in thin strips
1 medium red bell pepper -- cut in thin strips
1 medium onion -- cut in thin strips
1 tablespoon peanut oil
salt -- to taste
4 large tortillas

Y ahora las direcciones 

In a shallow dish, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, com syrup, hot sauce, cumin, and pepper. Add steak, bell peppers and onion and toss to coat.

Cook immediately or place in a zip lock bag and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Set a large skillet over medium heat. Coat with oil and add steak and vegetables with the marinade. Saute 5 to 7 minutes, until vegetables are tender but crisp and the meat is done to your liking.

Meanwhile, warm tortillas in the microwave or according to package directions.

With a slotted spoon, place a serving of the meat mixture on a tortilla and gently roll, tucking in the ends as you go.

Serve on a plate or if you are in the Sierra Madre, eat out of hand.

We had these fajitas cooked in a huge wok over an open fire next to the continental divide near the rim of the Copper Canyon in Mexico. They were delicious then, and they still are. We do miss the vista, though.

Viva Mexico, y'all.

Editor's note: This is the 800th post since starting the Oracle two years ago.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Magnolia Interpreted

Today the Oracle celebrates spring with something beautiful. The magnolia tree in the front yard just sent forth its first bloom of the year.

In honor of this much anticipated event we are just as pleased as punch to present three interpretations of this flower: as a photo, a watercolor painting, and in a song.

Digital photo - JLR

Watercolor by Magic

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Concealed Carry Dream World

Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano wrote an opinion piece the other day on concealed carry entitled, Get ready for new face of gun owners. Romano's article elicited a spirited debate between my bride and me. I suggested that this was a typical mainstream media piece of fluff, because it didn't address what I believe are the vitally important issues involving concealed carry.

The Belle of Ballast Point took the position that the thrust of the article was just that we are becoming a society of scaredy cats (my term, not hers, or his) and that, according to Romano, "it isn't all rednecks and bikers. It isn't all weekend warriors and criminals. It isn't all machismo and ego." In today's world it is, "The teacher. The widow. The student, the homemaker and the businesswoman" who are buying guns and signing up for concealed weapon permit (CWP) courses.

Well, fine said I! But, my point is that all these articles, like Romano's, do is to encourage more people to start packing heat with the mistaken belief that a gun will somehow, in their world of dreams, make them safer.

Watch the following video and you will see what I mean, and then we can continue the discussion.

What I have not seen in print or on televised news is an in-depth report on exactly how easy it is to get a CWP in Florida. Mr. Romano touched on this point in his article, and he did mention a CWP class in Clearwater that sounded a lot more comprehensive than many I have come across. But, what about that 90 minute class conducted by some bozo just down the street who is just doing it to make a fast buck?

Florida is treating the CWP like a BOGO coupon - just ask, and it's yours. In the Times article Romano wrote that all you have to do is take the state approved CWP class, "then just fill out the paperwork and pay the fees. As long as your record is clean, there is no state examiner waiting to take you on a test drive."

Well, there should be a state examiner, and there should be some sort of state oversight on who is conducting those classes, and the classes should have a prescribed curriculum that includes gun safety and handling, proper concealed carry, marksmanship, conflict avoidance, and quite possibly the most important element of all, the law - specifically Florida Statute 790.

We, as a society, take gun ownership too lightly. We seem to feel that guns are the answer to many, if not all, of our problems and concerns. This shoot out at the OK Corral mentality has gone way beyond the pale of reason. The gun laws in Florida and the nation need to be advanced to the 21st century, not pushed back to the bloody past.

I will close this rant with a couple of self defense suggestions. One is from internationally known self defense expert Massad Ayoob, and the other from Jon H. Gutmacher, a Florida attorney who is considered to be one of the premier authorities on firearms and self defense laws in Florida.

Wrote Ayoob in one of his books, and I paraphrase, if you are attacked while in your car, forget about firing a gun if you have one. In an enclosed vehicle the report will deafen you for a considerable period of time, and probably hurt like hell. Instead, if it's a matter of life or death, use your vehicle as a weapon. A couple of tons of motor vehicle can do some damage, and provide you with a protective shell. If life and death aren't the issues, then be smart, just drive away.

In his book, Florida Firearms, Gutmacher, on page 274, suggested that "a cell phone may be your best defense against the nut-cases that inherit our streets and highways. If someone is doing strange things, dial 911 just so you have a record of your fear -- in case it really happens."

And, my suggestion - watch the video, do some serious soul searching on how you would feel if you put a bullet into someone and whether you could even do it, but first know Florida Statute 790. One final thought: after that bullet leaves the barrel of your gun, it is still your bullet. You are liable for any bodily injury or damage it may cause. Hit an innocent bystander by mistake and you are going to prison. Since this is the United States, you will be sued.