Thursday, September 30, 2010

Movie limelight keeps Coach young

Coach Eddie Shannon is enjoying the limelight with “Through the Tunnel.”

METV’s award-winning documentary about Lincoln Memorial High football under Shannon’s aegis makes the 88-year-old icon young again.

Take last night’s screening at the Clearwater International Film Festival.
Showtime was 9 p.m.
“Past my bedtime,” said METV honcho Charles Clapsaddle.
“Not mine,” Coach said.
Read more in Friday's Vin's People.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Southwest coming to SRQ? Yahooooo!

Southwest Airlines at SRQ?


Count my wife and I among the travelers who have given Southwest Airlines our business at Tampa International Airport. One in three TIA fliers use Southwest.

To be able to do it at SRQ would be terrific.

Of course, that they're poised to take over AirTran's flights, if the merger goes through, means a stop in Atlanta. That's something we've tried to avoid over the years by getting non-stop service out of TIA.

We'll just have to wait and see.

In a day and age where flying has become such a wearying experience, I enjoy flying Southwest. So does my wife.

Can you remember the last flight you took where the crew had you laughing practically from takeoff to touchdown?

We can. It was on Southwest, flying to Philadelphia for our annual summer vacation at the Jersey Shore last July.

If we're able to do that just leaving out of SRQ?

Can't wait.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Our fights didn't end up on YouTube

Guys fighting over a girl.

Saw it growing up.

Girls fighting over a boy?

Heard about it, but never saw it.

Until Thursday, that is.

The YouTube video of two Palmetto High 16-year-olds scrapping near Emerson Point was an eye-opener.

Not just the fight itself, but what was taking place around it.

What were those mothers thinking?

And what about all those youths filming the fight with camera phones like it was fun and games.

Fights happen.

I had my share as a kid.

Who didn’t?

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yet another funereal offer I can refuse

Folks complain about the automated political messages they get on their phones.

My wife got another one today.

I don't get them. Never have.

What I get a lot of -- in the mail -- are funeral arrangement offers.

The latest was for a cremation deal from The Neptune Society.

Are these folks trying to tell me something?

OK, I will be 61 in October, battling stress is an ongoing deal, and I'm just getting over a bad cold that made me feel like I was dying a slow death.

But I'm not ready to check out just yet, thanks.

Heck, I just joined my church choir.

When my time does come, I'm cool with being cremated.

I've always said, pour my ashes in an open jar, put it on the shelf of an Irish pub where they play real traditional music, and keep a pint of Guinness nearby so my spirit never thirsts.

Just not too soon, though.

At least not before the 2010 World Series if my Philadelphia Phillies get back into it for the third straight year.

Monday, September 20, 2010

False starts don't derail Sunday NFL TV

So there I was Sunday at the Holiday Inn Express near SRQ.

My wife had just dropped me off and it was about 10 minutes before kickoff of the NFL's 1 p.m. games.

I had my Eagles jersey and visor on, but nowhere to go.

The hotel's Sporting News bar, a favorite of mine on football Sundays, was crowded and it seemed like every game was on, but the one I wanted to see: Eagles vs. Lions.

I'd gotten there a tad too late.

Sorry, bar manager Mike Smith said.

I walked out in the parking lot and called Sherri.

Got shut out, I told her. Would you come get me?

Sherri was at the intersection of US 301 and Tallevast, almost home.

OK, she said, let me turn around and I'll be there in a minute.

There's another joint on Lockwood Ridge I figured I'd try.

Just then I heard someone yell my name.

They'd freed up one TV.

Great, I said. Except I had to call my wife.

"I'm back in the game," I said. "They got a TV for me."

Sherri was sooooo happy to hear that.

She had just turned around after going through the intersection at US 301 and was waiting at the same light, headed in the opposite direction to pick me up.

Sorry about that, sweetheart.

Sherri turned around once more, made it home and watched the Bucs win.

I got a seat at The Sporting News and watched the Eagles win.

Turned out to be a good Sunday after all.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dancer was like a flower gone so soon

“You’re like a flower.

“Pretty and dances in the wind.”

The parting thought was among the heartfelt words written around the portrait of Nancy G. Lopez-Ruiz in the back of St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Dance was Nancy’s gift to her family and many friends.

And, like a flower in the wind, she was gone much too soon.

One week after the vibrant Bayshore High graduate’s tragic death, an air of disbelief permeated Friday morning’s funeral Mass as her pall-covered coffin lie before the altar.

Just 22, Nancy was realizing her dreams after moving to South Florida a few years ago.

She’d gotten engaged.

She’d had a part in Kenny Chesney’s 2009 video: “Went Out Last Night.”

She recently made the Miami Heat dance team.

Friends and classmates, some of them young mothers now, spoke of receiving Nancy’s texts and phone calls sharing her excitement.

Then one week later her life was snuffed out, struck by another motorist while Nancy rode her motorcycle in Fort Lauderdale.
Read more in Saturday's Mannix About Manatee.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Does the cool breeze mean Fall is near?

Is it Fall yet?

It sure feels like it.

The cool breeze the past couple of mornings, combined with the breeze in the evenings is giving me good vibes.

My wife, Sherri, too.

When the weatherman said the low temperature was going to be in the low- to mid-70s this weekend, she yelled, "Break out the sweaters!"

Positive thinking.

While we've been keeping our eye on the tropical storms and hurricanes spinning up the Atlantic the past week or so, we couldn't help but notice the break in the heat and humidity.

If it's something to do with the backwash of the volatile tropical tempests out there, so be it.

Just keep the storms away and keep the cool breeze coming our way.

It sure feels like Fall is upon us, indeed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Former Bayshore dancer's death our loss, too

The headline was one that stops you in your tracks.

"Former Bayshore dancer killed," said Sunday's Bradenton Herald.

Nancy Lopez-Ruiz was just 22, struck by a motorist as she rode her motorcycle through Fort Lauderdale after practice with the Miami Heat dance team last Friday night.

I did not know Nancy, but her name appeared in my column for her birthday when she was with the Bayshore High Honey Bears.

She was a product of one of our county's high school dance programs that serve as a showcase for remarkable talent year after year.

These young women are so full of life, grace and vitality they seem to perform at times above the earthly restraints the rest of us mere mortals.

Nancy's family must've thrilled to her dancing, proud she had taken her gifts so far.

Losing her like this pains her grieving family deeply.

Their loss is our town's, too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bucs' fans got that left out feeling

Poor Bucs’ fans.

The rest of us NFL buffs are getting ready to watch our favorite teams play their first game today and indulge in this annual rite of fall.

Some will be able to watch at home.

Others will head to a nearby sports bar with NFL Sunday Ticket.

Not Bucs’ fans.

Not unless they want to drive to some joint in South Florida with the NFL package to see them play the Cleveland Browns.

Or just listen on radio.

The first blacked-out regular season game in the 13-year history of Raymond James Stadium is why.

Of course, local Bucs’ fans could relent, drive to Tampa and buy a ticket to the game.

Which is what the Glazer family and the NFL want.

I wouldn’t count on it.

Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hero: Thy name is Greg Williams


The word is used so much it loses its meaning --- a man admired for his achievements, noble qualities and courage.

Greg Williams defines that description.

He's the Bradenton man, who rescued 6-year-old Victor Rodriguez  at their apartment complex pool on Sunday.
Reportedly, the little boy had eaten then jumped into the pool and was in danger of drowning.

That's when Williams, an unemployed meat-cutter, bolted from his apartment to assist another man who'd pulled the boy from the pool.

Williams performed CPR, then dislodged food from the boy's windpipe and saved his life.

Victor is recuperating at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg and on Monday he called Williams to thank him.

"I started crying like a school girl," the 47-year-old  said.

There is a saying, "A man never stands so tall as when he kneels to help a child. "
Such a  man stands even taller when saves one.
He is truly a hero.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wha a Saturday from Brighton to Bradenton

What a Saturday.

Went to Brighton to the Seminole casino with my wife and in-laws, made a couple of dollars early, quit while I was ahead and watched college football.

On the way back Saturday evening, we listened to the USF game on radio and had dinner in Arcadia.

From that point on, I fiddled with the radio dial until we were able to get better reception on the game that was really on my mind.

The Manatee Hurricane game in western Pennsylvania.

It finally began coming in near Myakka City and tried to follow it the rest of the drive.

The last score I heard was 10-9, Woodland Hills, early in the third quarter.

Then the signal faded in and out until we got home and turned on the game again.

By then it was Hurricanes 24-10.

Man, that was quick.

We knew Manatee was good, but after thumping Tampa Plant on ESPN's nationally-televised rematch of the Class 5A state championship game in the Kickoff Classic the week before, would Joe Kinnan's players be able to reload?

The Hurricanes 39-16 answered the question.

Yet that wasn't the only Saturday game from which the community felt the flush of a significant victory.

The Bradenton Marauders clinched the FSL Southern Division second-half title with its 4-2 win at Charlotte.

That means there will be a playoff game Tuesday at McKechnie Field.

What a Saturday, indeed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Live oak ban would miss forest for the trees

When I took my regular morning walk in my old neighborhood, I’d pause at this live oak along Sixth Avenue West.

It’s a magnificent tree with mighty limbs draped with Spanish moss that shade the house, the front yard and the street, too.

Kids climb it. Cats, too.

I’d pause, place a hand on its thick trunk, softly say, “Brother oak,” and continue my walk.

It was an intuitive gesture of respect.

I’ve always admired live oaks, icons of Old Florida.

That’s how I feel when I drive under them heading along Manatee Avenue East every morning.

They’re gatekeepers for our community.

Which is why I couldn’t help noticing a small lot being cleared for construction a few blocks east of Manatee Memorial Hospital.

One roadside live oak was being cut down, as well as another in the back of the lot.

That’s why I’m concerned Manatee County is considering changing a land development code and ban live oaks on new single-family lots smaller than 60-feet wide.

Are we losing sight of the forest for the trees?

Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Golf cart would work for this family

If I had a golf cart to cruise down to the 7-Eleven to bring back ice or fetch pizza from Domino's, I'd love it.

They're too far to walk, too close to drive the pickup.

A golf cart would work fine.

Which is why I'm glad Florida has OK'd local governments to permit golf carts on public sidewalks.

And why I'm behind residents of some half dozen mobile home parks along U.S. 301 in Ellenton, who were the catalyst for the new legislation, but are still stymied by Manatee County. County government has balked at the new state law due to federal funding requirements and the cost to upgrade those sidewalks.

The Federal Highway Safety Commission prohibits motorized traffic on sidewalks built with federal funds.

Funds, I might point out, comprised of our tax dollars.

Until that snag is worked out, I like what County Commissioner Larry Bustle said to reluctant commissioners, regarding riding golf carts along U.S. 301 sidewalks.

Lets use common sense.

Golf cart drivers will likely be cautious and follow rules of the road, letting pedestrians and golf cart drivers pass, he said.

If they don't?

Call a cop.