Monday, August 30, 2010

One eye on Labor Day, other eye on tropics

Labor Day weekend is four days away, thank goodness.

The first weekend of college football, a trip to the casino in Brighton, a pool party with friends.

Definitely looking forward to it.

But there's one other thing I'm thinking about and I'm not the only one.

The tropical weather.

That is, any hurricanes headed our way?

Seems like Florida's always got a bullseye on it around this time of year.

It's no different now.

Danielle, Earl and Fiona looked like a freight train barreling across the South Atlantic the last several days.

Geez, how many can we dodge?

By Monday, Tropical Storm Danielle had already sailed up the east coast, remaining out at sea but kicking up deadly rip currents.

Hurricane Earl, meanwhile, has become a dangerous Category 4 and could become a killer Cat 5.

Right now the "Cone of Doom" has it skirting the east coast, with the chance of overrunning North Carolina's idyllic Outer Banks before it swings toward the northeast.

If it veers just a little west of its projected track?

Don't even think about it.

Then there's Tropical Storm Fiona, expected to follow the same path as the other two, curving up out of the Caribbean and veering north-northeast.

I've always liked that name -- Fiona is Gaelic for "fair" -- but I'll like it more when it's gone away north.

A Labor Day weekend free of tropical tempests would be a tropical delight.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

F$U $eminoles: It's all about money

No more Southeast Seminoles?


Florida State University cannot be serious.

FSU and the Collegiate Licensing Company said Southeast is breaking the trademark law and must stop.

Insignias and logos and nicknames have to come off Southeast helmets, jerseys, gym floor, letterheads and anything else bearing the Seminole image.


Fifty years of shared traditions academically, athletically and musically count for nothing.

It’s all about the money.

The CLC associate general counsel asserted that the Seminoles name, logo, slogans and mascot might cause consumers to “erronously believe” FSU authorized Southeast to use them.


What nonsense.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Marauder fan says: Rain, rain go away

The announcement came mid-afternoon via e-mail.

The Bradenton Marauders' game at McKechnie Field had been postponed because of rain.


No surprise, really. Not with the way the weather has been this week.

Monday's game vs. Fort Myers? Rained out.

Tuesday's game vs. St. Lucie? Rained out.

Wednesday? Ditto.

At this rate, and with the way this rain is supposed to linger, you wonder when the M's will be able to get their few remaining home games in?

It's a tough break for a team in the FSL playoff hunt.

They'll try again Thursday with St. Lucie.

If that doesn't work, then there's the homestand ending series with Charlotte.

Bobblehead Night is Friday. Fireworks, Saturday. Fan Appreciation Night, Monday.

Being season-ticket holders, we've got a few tickets left and we're planning to bring the family and some friends for fireworks.

Be a drag if that got rained out, too.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Give blood? Next time I'll bring lunch

Gave blood Monday at lunch hour.

Probably took 15 minutes. 20 minutes tops.

But that was after 30 minutes answering questions. Or longer.

It felt like an eternity.

Same questions I answered last time I donated blood 14 months ago.

They were the usual "lifestyle" questions that need to be asked.

The kind that draw a string of no's. And no's. And more no's.

As in, no, I don't do drugs.

The questions get more personal after that, if you get my drift.

Anyway, the real hangup came when I was asked if I'd been out of the country in the last three years.

Yes, I said.

Ireland last August.

St. Thomas and St. Maarten last April.

Out came this three-ring binder as thick as the Manhattan phone directory.


The woman searched page after page after page.

This must've taken 10 minutes alone.

She went outside to get another binder.

I figured I might be back to work by 3 p.m.

At last, the woman indicated the Caribbean islands were no problem.

But no matter how she searched, she couldn't find Ireland.

Finally, she gave up and signed me out to give blood.

Thank you, God!

On then it didn't see

Friday, August 20, 2010

Port meeting should be a doozy

Got an idea to raise a few bucks for Manatee County government coffers.

Sell tickets to Tuesday’s Port Authority meeting.

The anticipated fireworks should be worth the price of admission.

In one corner, Port Chairman Larry Bustle.

In the opposite corner, Commissioner Joe McClash.

In another corner, County Administrator Ed Hunzeker.

Gentlemen, let’s have a fair fight.

And keep it clean.

Given the hissing match that’s gone on the past two weeks?


This could be a three-ring circus.

Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Char-O-Lot Ranch a corner of paradise

One of my favorite drives is heading east on State Road 70, past Lakewood Ranch and out toward Myakka City.

God's Country.

I love the spread out ranches, the old Florida growth, the cattle and the horses.

Beautiful horses.

Which I always saw passing by Char-O-Lot Ranch on the south side of the roadway.

I can't remember the names of the other ranches along SR 70 in east Manatee County at the moment, but I can't forget Char-O-Lot.

Especially now that its owner, Doug Schembri, a renowned breeder and trainer, passed Tuesday at 61.

I did not know him, but I admire what he and wife Sue did, the kind of man he must've been.

Respected by his peers. Loved by his family.

I have to believe those horses he raised, the Quarterhorses, Appaloosas and Paints, loved him, too.

Even from a glance while driving by, Char-O-Lot Ranch emanated peace and tranquility.

It must've been like a little bit of heaven.

God speed, Doug Schembri. God speed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Feeling a co-worker's hurt, tragic loss

I went looking for Aretha James, a Herald co-worker, on Tuesday.

I wanted to give her a hug.

It was the day after 19-year-old Daniel Williams had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for shooting and killing James's granddaughter, Jazmine Thompson, almost a year ago.

James's granddaughter was 17, a cheerleader at Bayshore High School.

The Bruins had played the Manatee Hurricanes at Hawkins Stadium that Friday night in the season opener, always a big deal in Manatee County high school football.

Not long after that game, Jazmine was dead, shot while riding with friends in east Bradenton.

An unfathomable tragedy.

That it should happen to one of our teenagers at the start of senior year, a special time for any high school student, was utterly senseless.

Then to find out it was Aretha's granddaughter, a girl she had helped daughter Raechelle raise, drove their hurt home.

We grieved as a community and honored Jazmine as best we could, trying to understand what had happened, and let justice take its course.

On Monday, Williams pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of manslaughter with a firearm.

He never apologized, either.

Jazmine Thompson paid the ultimate price, the public defender told the courtroom. Daniel Williams is going to pay a huge price.

How sad.

So I tried to find Aretha Tuesday.

She's on vacation, someone said.

That hug will have to wait.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Pretend Deepwater Horizon never happened?

Support for drilling ban fading fast in Florida, said the Herald headline Monday.

Since BP had stopped the flow of oil from its runaway well,, voters opposition had cooled, said a new poll.

Oh, yeah?

Well, the pollsters must not have polled folks along Anna Maria Island.

When the runaway oil well in the northwest Gulf Of Mexico was on the verge of being sealed recently, I asked several small business types -- is there any other kind on the beach? -- if they would be OK with the idea of oil drilling platforms just over the horizon from their properties.


So what if our Gulf coast was relatively untainted by the poisons unleashed by BP's billion-dollar bungling.

I guess that means we just forget about it, pretend Deepwater Horizon never happened.

I don't think so.

It is said people have short memories, but we can't possibly shrug off what happened a few hundred miles off our shore these past months.

We just can't.

Drilling off our coast is not going to lessen Uncle Sam's dependence on foreign oil.

Drilling off our coast is not going to make the price at the pump cheaper.

Drilling off our coast will make us vulnerable to the kind of catastrophe that befell the Panhandle.

According to the poll, voters in that region went from 52 percent for a ban then compared to 36 percent for a ban now.

Short memories, all right.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Condominium owners could use a break

The joys of home ownership.

We say that sarcastically after something goes wrong and takes a fortune to fix.

There’s no joy whatsoever for Mainstreet at Bradenton condominium owners and residents at 210 Third St. W.

Make that “evacuated” condo owners and residents.

We feel their pain.

That city building and fire officials ordered the five-story building vacated is the latest turn in an unending case of Murphy’s Law.

What can go wrong next?

After people moved in during 2004, they found the new 36-unit building leaked.

Not a little either.

“Water was coming through the walls — like a waterfall,” one resident told the Herald.

Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cut grass after work? Nuts to that

I was going to cut the grass when I got home Wednesday night.

What used to be an every-other-Saturday routine as a bachelor has moved up to twice a week.

One of the adjustments of married life.

So after pulling into our driveway, I took a look around the neighborhood.

Everybody's grass was as tall as ours.

I checked out the rain clouds, too.

It was sprinkling lightly.

Nuts, I said.

I'm sure the neighbors had the same idea.

Honey, I said to Sherri, if I cut this grass now, with all this rain it'll need cutting again Friday.

I said, Saturday, OK?

Sounds good, she said.

Besides, the guy next door, his dad and another friend were fishing in the subdivision lake.

They were getting some nice-sized bass and throwing them back, too.

I wasn't about to mess up their mojo by cutting the grass.

Good neighbor, huh?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Showtime never far from Snooty

Yours truly has spent almost 40 years in Florida.

Yet it wasn't until I arrived in Bradenton in 1998 that I finally got my first look a real, live manatee.

Snooty, of course.

That was at some function at the South Florida Museum, showtime for the Parker Manatee Aquarium's star resident.

Monday was more of the same.

We were at the aquarium, cooling our heels.

With a bunch of news photographers and TV cameras around the premises, Snooty must''ve sensed something was up.

Company's coming?

Oooooh, yes.

Two young female manatees for some R&R after six months or so at the Lowry Park Zoo's critical care complex.

Snooty acted like he was going to be a one man-atee welcoming committee.

He kept raising his snout out of the aquarium's holding tank, staring right into photog's lens.

He even pulled himself to the top of the wall, to provide a better close up.

"A real ham," joked one official.

That's Snooty, all right.

What a life.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Let Forssell continue as "Voice of Hurricanes"

The anticipation would build on those fall Friday nights as I walked south on 32nd Street West from Manatee Avenue.

The Hawkins Stadium lights glimmered through the trees and the hum of pre-game excitement grew with each step.

Then that familiar voice would float through the neighborhood:

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium.”

Jim Forssell’s bass baritone was a reassuring presence in the grand old stadium on Ninth Street West, whether it was announcing the game or the halftime show in his familiar, understated manner.

The “Voice of the Hurricanes,” indeed.

Is Forssell’s magnificent run done after 47 years behind the microphone?

I hope not.

Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Aerosmith leaves bad vibes from 2009

So Aerosmith is at Ford Amphitheatre -- or whatever they call it these days -- on Saturday.

Ask-Gary? Give me a break.

Won't be there.

Couldn't care less about Steven Tyler being back on stage in Tampa, either.

That he, and the band, didn't make it on stage a year ago is what I haven't forgotten.

A bunch of us had tickets to the July 2009 gig, when it was still called Ford, but it wasn't Aerosmith we wanted to see.

It was ZZ Top, the opening act.

We had been looking forward to the Texas rockers returning to our neck of the wood for some time.

That it was with Aerosmith made no difference.

I doubt we would've stuck around for them, anyway.

We never got the chance.

It was a Friday night concert and I had gone to Council's to wait for my ride.

Pete the bartender said he had a message for me:

The concert had been cancelled.

Something about Tyler suffering an "unspecified" injury.


The concert was supposed to be rescheduled for October, but that never came off, either.

Tyler fell off a stage in South Dakota that August.

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

I hope fans get their money's worth Saturday.

Steven Tyler and Aerosmith won't be getting mine.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

M's season winds down at the Mac

Making the midweek game for the Bradenton Marauders has been a nice season long ritual.

A break from the work week grind with a game, a foot-long hot dog and a beer.

Not even Wednesday evening's rain kept us away from McKechnie Field.

That the game started  45 minutes late mattered not at all.

Nor did the fact it was not a good night for the Marauders, the first-place team in the FSL South.

Home team couldn't buy a break --- or string together enough hits --- against the Brevard County Manatees.

Sherri didn't have any luck with bingo night cards, either.

We stayed for the seventh-inning stretch, as usual, sang "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" and headed home.

On the way out, we noticed there were only 16 home games left on the wall-sized schedule --- unless the Marauders make the playoffs.

Where has the season gone?

We'll back at the ol' ballyard a bunch more before it's over.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Painting for newlyweds a no-no?

Did you hear the one about how couples in their first year of marriage shouldn't paint together?

Heh heh heh.

Now they tell me.

Suffice to say Sherri and I got through it last Saturday -- and Sunday -- and I believe we'll still make it to our first anniversary next April.

"Let's wait and see, buster," she kidded.

I think.

Our plan to repaint the front bedroom --- it'll be my study --- got off to a great start when we argued about the drop cloth.

Sherri wanted plastic.

I always use old sheets.

We did both.

It got better.

I had picked out a nice Salem blue earlier in the week for the room, because it looked so cozy on the brochure.

When we got done painting one wall, I got a baaad feeling.

The color was not going to work.

Sherri sensed my unease.

"If you don't like the color, please say so now," she said.

Ten minutes later I was back at Lowe's for a gallon of ... hmmm.

I liked the merlot, brick dust and tropical nut.

"The last one? That's you," Sherri said when I called her.

So I got three pint samples, we tried them on a wall and decided on brick dust.

I think I made that trip three times before we got the job done --- Sunday afternoon.

We were running low on paint on Day 2, so Sherri said go get another quart.

I did. But it didn't look like it would be enough.

So I turned around and got another one.

Which we didn't need afterall.

Yours truly managed to turn what should have been a half-day's job into a two-day event.

Got a nice, wine-red room to show for it, though.

Anybody need a slightly used gallon of Salem blue paint and unopened quart of brick dust?