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Showing posts from January, 2010


The rain started at one o'clock and was steady all afternoon. It didn't seem to dampen spirits but it did impact the crowd that assembled for the 96 year old Gasparilla Pirate Fest.

What is Gasparilla ... you might ask?

To Tampa residents, Gasparilla is ... boats,  parades,  pirates,  booze  and "merriment". Up until this year, it was also ... peeing on the sidewalk and exposing various parts of the body for gifts of beads (just like my old home town, New Orleans). When I say "up until this year" it's because this year, the police did an incredible job of reducing alcohol consumption ... the basic source of evil deeds.

I finally had a chance to experience it first hand. This year ... I was asked to be one of the parade judges (an exclusive "secret" honor) by my good friend and Gasparilla historian, Victor Leavengood and his lovely wife, Lee. Vic was a "pirate" since 1965 and was proud of it. He shared a little of the history of the …

The Joker

My brother-in-law, Tom, is a true practical joker.

He claims to be an attorney ... but based on the number of emails he sends out every day when most of us work, I'm not sure how many clients he REALLY has.  Ninety percent of Tom's emails are interrupted by a screaming face ... which of course fools me EVERY time. He's been known to secretly replace orders in restaurants (like fish bones instead of grouper or Shirley Temples instead of Scotch). He's wrapped his share of toilet seats and scared the hell out of his friends in the middle of the night by putting alarms under their beds.

 I just a got new set of email posters from Tom ... SOME OF WHICH I can share with you below ... you'll love them:


Rough Cycle

When you're a child, you think about life (when you DO think) in very simple stages: diapers, toilet training, teenage years, getting a job, marriage, being a mommy or daddy and death. Seems like it takes forever to reach the pinnacle of  life ... reaching teenage years ... and old age starts at thirty. When you are well past your thirties (OLD), life stages become more health related (and cyclical): vision problems, multiple trips to the bathroom, forgetting words and thoughts in mid- (Hmmm what was that word?) ... eventually, diapers.

If you're married, you might look at life as ... life before marriage and life during marriage. In some cases (mine included) it might be: life before first marriage, first marriage, life after first marriage, second marriage. Obviously some of us could add a few more numbers and even repeat a few here and there (... fifth marriage, life after fifth marriage and repeat of first marriage which becomes sixth marriage ... etc.).

My life is complica…

Off Track Driving

Got stuck in traffic yesterday in the middle of Tampa's new Sinkhole District (I-4). Next to me was a car that literally sat inches from the passenger door. The occupants were probably in their 80s ... thick glasses on the driver's nose ... the top of his wife's head was just barely visible above the dashboard. My heart sunk for a minute as I glanced over. I could have sworn it was my dad.

Fortunately for the entire country it wasn't him. He was resting comfortably at Menorah Manor without access to any motor vehicle.

It wasn't always that way ... of course. And his reputation for bad driving didn't start when he was an old man. There were numerous stories about his driving. Actually ... it wasn't only his driving. When I was about 10, he slammed my fingers in the car door and didn't realize it until he drove down the street (with me running as fast as I could ... screaming). He backed over my father in law's foot when he was getting something out o…

They Said What?

There's a facebook ad today that reads:

Attention Florida Residents.
If you are a 60 year old male you may qualify for $250 in free gas.

Are you kidding? Gas and 60 year old men? First of all ... I didn't know there was a charge for that ... and secondly ... if there is, 60 year old males could go through $250 in about ten minutes.

Here's another one:

California olive oil pressed October 2009! Fresh unfiltered Sevillano has a full flavor and an aroma reminiscent of artichokes!

Is it me ... or do you really want your olive oil to taste like artichokes?

How about this one:

Rolling Razor

Changing Shaving Forever! Holiday specials 30% off & Free shipping

Yeah ... changing shaving forever as you change your FACE forever. This contraption looks like a cross between brass knuckles and handcuffs with a blade on the end! I particularly like "holiday specials" in the middle of January. Must be a BIG seller.

Here's one you WON'T see on Facebook ... but an interestin…

What Happens in Vegas

I was born with a gambling gene that many of my fellow New Orleanians share (my mom had it for sure). The technical name is the "Seeya-Raiseya-Splitem-Hitme Blazing7s gene". Not familiar with it? Then you've probably never been to Vegas.

I visit "kind of" regularly ... although last year, we cut back to 14 times.
On our last visit, we decided to see a couple of shows (a major compromise for me) ... one of which was Donny and Marie at the Flamingo. Debbie was a big fan of Donnie's when she (and he) were going through puberty together. I was never a real fan of either ... then again ... I only discovered puberty in the last few years.

Actually ... I had met Marie many years earlier.

When the Childrens' Miracle Network Telethon was first organized, 28 years ago, I was in Chicago with the 10 other childrens' hospital foundation directors who decided to take a chance on a new concept in fundraising ... a national telethon designed to raise money for the …

A Kick In The Grass

I ran across soccer pictures the other day when I was "cleaning out" some albums.  By the way ... for those of you who know me, "cleaning out" a photo album means moving pictures around and putting them in exactly the same cluttered place  ...

This picture of the three kids was taken at one of Josh's 4,732 soccer games ... They played teams like Mayakka Mullets or Land O' Lakes Butter Eaters.

Actually ... each of my kids played soccer at different times and different places. To be exact: CLUB SOCCER. We soccer parents KNOW the difference between rec soccer and club soccer.
Club Soccer = thousands of miles of travel, celebrating every major holiday playing tournaments in large metro areas like Nohouseformiles, Tennessee or Scaryville, Georgia and meeting interesting people from every part of the world (many were on parole or were kicked out of their anger management classes).

Some of the games got pretty physical. Elbows flying, punches thrown, vicious insul…

I Want A New Drug

I thumbed through the St. Pete Times this morning as I was lying on the gurney awaiting my turn to get a tube with a camera shoved down my throat. Believe it or not ... I did this voluntarily so that my friend and stomache doctor, Scott Halgren could afford to work less days this year.

There's another descriptor for this pagan act ... an upper endoscopy. For those of you that have not had the pleasure of having this procedure done, you don't feel a thing. You get a little Michael Jackson cocktail first and (unlike Michael) you should wake up a half hour or so later (it seems like a only few seconds) feeling "groovy" and a little hoarse.

So ... patiently awaiting my turn ... I focused my attention on the editorial page. There were two big editorials : One was about my present employer (USF)  and the other was about my former employer (All Children's Hospital). The USF editorial was about the end of an era (Coach Jim Leavitt's departure) and the ACH editorial w…

Latkes Anyone?

So here's one for you ....

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Two Midwestern families are hoping for a little leftover holiday spirit -- and cash -- after they found what appear to be crosses inside potatoes. Bidding for the two potatoes kicked off on eBay this week. One was found by an Iowa family and the other by a police detective in Ohio. Jim Gross of Marion, Iowa, says his wife was peeling the potato on New Year's Eve when she found the mysterious cross shape in the potato's eye. It's now on sale on eBay for $2.

Det. Dennis Bort of the Berea, Ohio, police department, says he found the cross shape in the potato on Christmas Day. Bort says he's selling his spud for $1,000. He hasn't yet found any bidders, and says he's happy to keep it if no one buys it.

I found this out from my good friend, Nancy Alexander of WMTX Radio (Mix 100.7) in Tampa. (Being in radio means that Nancy doesn't have a real job ... so she's got lots of time to cut out articles from Iowa newspa…

Oh Canada

Flew in from Toronto the other night.

We were there for the International Bowl ... doesn't ring a bell? Well ... no one in Toronto heard of it either and it was played in THEIR stadium on January 2nd between USF (University of South Florida ... my employer) and NIU (Northern Illinois University ... somewhere outside of Chicago). That should narrow it down ... outside of Chicago ... like the rest of the country, perhaps?

I won't keep you in suspense ... We won.

And the win was the only thing that warmed our hearts and our bodies ... Toronto was cold. I was outside for a total of 5 minutes in the 4 days we visited. Thank God the city is almost entirely connected by underground PATH's. They are not always in a logical sequence but if you leave breadcrumbs you can find your way back to the Fairmont Hotel (which looks exactly like it did 80 years ago ... same plumbing and even thinner walls).

Here are some pics of our trip ...

This was our taxi.

Our driver refused to turn on t…

Toilet Training for the Young at Heart

Just got back from visiting my dad. It's been a few weeks since Mom died and he seems to be handling things just fine at the nursing home.

We bought him a shirt he's been asking for ... it's a lime green beauty from Penney's that has been permanently pressed enough to be worn three hundred and thirteen times without washing or drycleaning. Last week we bought its purple twin and he's been wearing it ever since. He told me that I should really get a few myself because of the way these "simonized shirts" feel. I didn't have the heart to tell him that this one wasn't waxed and polished.

He had company at his table in the dining room this afternoon ... his friend Rita (who also complains about the food, the staff, life ... just about everything) and his only male friend Sidney (a retired physician). Before Sidney arrived, Rita and Sam exchanged pleasantries:

Rita: "Sam ... are you gonna eat this barbeque stuff ... or whatever it is?"

Sam: &…