Friday, October 29, 2010

School Board race one rotten campaign

Julie Aranibar vs. Jane Pfeilsticker.

Manatee County politics at its worst.

A school board mired in the muck.

If Tuesday’s ballot offered voters the option “None Of The Above,” that might be the time to take it.

This is supposed to be about the stewardship of our children’s educational system, a trust that is sacrosanct.

There are numerous pressing issues we wanted to be clearly addressed in this campaign.

Among them:

Adequate funding, debatable spending and the proposed school tax.

Classroom size.

Student performance.

Instead, it’s been about anything but as this reprehensible campaign careens off the tracks toward Election Day.

Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NBA ref knows about frequent flier mileage

Every season means tons of travel for Bob Delaney.

Yet by the time the Lakewood Ranch resident started his 24th NBA season Thursday night in Cleveland, officiating the Cavaliers’ 95-87 win over the Celtics, he already had a whopping head start in frequent flier mileage.

Earlier this month, Delaney did the Nets-Rockets exhibition games in Beijing and Guangzhou, China.

“I learned how to say, ‘How you doin’?’ in Mandarin,” joked the Paterson, N.J., native.

Read more in Friday's Vin's People.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Wonderful week in North Carolina mountains

Some postcard postscripts after a wonderful week in the North Carolina mountains:

  • The view from Grandfather Mountain will take your breath away. So will crossing the bridge atop the mountain in a good breeze. Ask my wife, Sherri.

  • Every other license plate seemed to be from Florida, a good thing according to one shop owner on Beech Mountain.

  • Watched Appalachian State beat The Citadel in Boone at The Rock, App State's cool stadium and a worthy football destination for Manatee County prospects besides Gainesville, Miami, Tallahassee and Tampa.

  • Interesting to see real estate prices impacted like they have been here. You could actually fetch a nice mountain home with a heavenly view for $500,000 --- down from $899,000. 

  • Saw white-tailed deer prance across the property just about every day in the evening.

  • Spent a few hours window shopping in Blowing Rock, a charming little town to go with its legendary name.

  • There aren't enough barbecue joints. That's a joke. Pappy's in Banner Elk was finger-lickin' good.

  • If you visit Linville Falls, wear your hiking boots. It's a trek, but a worthwhile one.

    • Thursday, October 14, 2010

      A night in Starkville leaves ears ringing

      Nephew Kevin Haddon and his Special Forces comrades on the Army’s Black Dagger jump team drop into Saturday’s Miami-Duke game in Durham, N.C.

      Their last jump was Sept. 25 at Starkville, Miss., where Mississippi State beat Georgia, 24-12.

      Kevin joked, “You can’t imagine the noise 50,000 people make beating on cowbells.”

      Read more in Friday's Vin's People.

      Wednesday, October 13, 2010

      'Y'all here for the Woolly Worm Festival?'

      True story.

      Sherri and I were lost on Beech Mountain, N.C., three years ago this month.

      We had rented a friend's vacation home, ostensibly to enjoy the fall colors, but could not find the thing.

      It was 9 p.m., pitch dark, and I had  driven all day from Warner-Robins, Ga.

      I was tired, hungry and what little patience I have was gone.

      Upon arriving on the mountain, we had stopped at Fred's, the local grocery store and Sherri got directions to the place.

      No dice.

      We drove 'round and 'round and ended up back at Fred's.

      This time we both went in.

      I explained our situation to the fellow behind the counter.

      My foul mood vanished after what he said to us:

      "Y'all here for the Woolly Worm Festival?"

      The whaaat?

      We found out what he meant the next day, much to our delight, and we're going back this weekend for the 33rd annual.

      It's a delightful fall folk festival in Banner Elk, N.C., complete with music and dancing and shopping for handmade items from Appalachia.

      But the big deal are the caterpillar races.

      They scoot up piano wires strung vertically on a portable wall in a series of elimination races.

      The winner gets $1,000.

      And the following week, the competition and festival are relived on the Mountain TV Network, a homespun cable outfit in nearby Boone, N.C., home to Appalachian State University.

      It is hokey as all get-out, but it's a slice of Americana.

      Woolly Worm Festival, here we come!

      Monday, October 11, 2010

      Radio caller was right about his Rays

      The caller had absolutely no doubt.

      The Rays will win today and Sunday to bring the ALDS back home for Game 5, he told WDAE The Sports Animal Saturday morning.

      I liked the guy's moxie, his conviction in his baseball team.

      I just didn't think it was going to happen.

      I'm a sucker for home field advantage and the Rangers had it.

      They had it, all right.

      Then they lost it.

      The Rays'd always had playoff caliber pitching.

      If their bats ever woke up, they'd have a chance.

      Which is what happened Saturday, a game we enjoyed watching with friends at the Beef O' Brady's in Arcadia on the way back from a day at the casino in Brighton.

      When the Rays won again Sunday, we were thrilled.

      I remembered about that radio caller and thought, good for him.

      Will the Rays make it three straight Tuesday night?

      Can't wait to find out.

      Friday, October 8, 2010

      What a might party it would be

      Ever seen “Waking Ned Devine”?

      It’s an Irish comedy about how 52 villagers hatch a clever plan to share the wealth after one wins the national lottery — and expires from shock.

      Discovering their deceased friend in his cottage, one old villager says to the other with a sigh:

      “There would’ve been a mighty party.”

      When they learn the village’s winnings amount to 7 million pounds — about $10.7 million — they wind up throwing one anyway.

      It’s exactly what I would do.

      Especially if I had the $61.5 million Powerball ticket that hit Wednesday in Lakewood Ranch.

      I’d call John Horne, Sean Murphy or Popi’s and say, let’s celebrate!

      It would be a mighty party, indeed.

      Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee.

      Wednesday, October 6, 2010

      Still hoping for Rays-Phillies World Series

      What a weird day for baseball fans.

      This one, anyway.

      Wore my Phillies' gear, representing for my favorite ballclub, now that the Marauders' season has been over for a month.

      But my attention early was on the Rays.

      I was thinking wouldn't it be cool if we met again in the World Series like two years ago?

      Of course, you've got to get there first.

      The Rays 5-1 loss in Game 1 of the ALDS to the Rangers doesn't mean that can't happen.

      Not that the Phillies 4-0 win over the Reds behind Roy Halladay's no-hitter in the NLDS opener guarantees anything.

      It's just that winning the first game of a five-game playoff series is most desirable.

      Which is why I'm surprised the Rays didn't take advantage of playing at home and ace David Price didn't bring his A-game.

      Then again, Cliff Lee -- the Phillies' best pitcher during their 2009 run to the World Series -- showed why the Rangers traded for him in July.

      The Rays absolutely, positively have to win Thursday.

      Even the team with the best record in the AL doesn't want to go to Texas this weekend down 0-2.

      Monday, October 4, 2010

      A cat man among many dogs

      Where's your pet?"

      A friend snuck up behind me at Monday's Blessing of the Animals at St. Joseph's Catholic School and asked me that.

      Funny, I answered, I don't see any cats here.

      Way too many dogs for that.

      I've always been a cat man, but I adopted mine out before Sherri and I got married.

      That cat made out pretty good, too.

      Not only did she get taken in by a Lakewood Ranch family, but she summers with them at their other home in Minnesota!

      I daresay she's living a lifestyle way beyond Wares Creek which is where I had her for almost five years.

      The next pet we have will be a dog, probably something of the smaller variety.

      Right now, though, there's a Shih Tzu belongs to the neighbors next door named Wednesday.

      If we're both out. she comes charging over, her ears and tail flopping as she runs across our lawn for some lovin.'

      It's a great way to start the work day. Or end it.

      Until Sherri and I get our own dog, Wednesday will do.

      Unless, we kidnap her first.


      Friday, October 1, 2010

      Do hurricane experts play tables at Las Vegas?

      Took a good long look at a scorecard that holds compelling interest for us all, especially on these first breezy days of October.

      It had nothing to do with pennant races, the NFL or Manatee County high school football.

      Rather, it was’s Hurricane Season 2010 Scorecard.

      Thus far Floridians have been lucky, because what a season it’s been, indeed.

      One that’s been remarkably on target for hurricane forecasters whose predictions never fail to get our attention, fill us with dread as June 1 approaches, and always make us ask:

      How do those academic types at Colorado State on the foothills of the Rockies know so darned much about our tropics?

      They predicted between 14 to 18 named storms.

      We’ve had 14.

      They predicted eight hurricanes.

      We’ve had seven.

      They predicted four major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).

      We’ve had five.

      Wonder if these guys have played the gaming tables at Las Vegas this year?
      Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee.