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First Coast Connect: Around Town Events

In case you missed my ramblings on First Coast Connect this morning (or you’re still busy counting your pennies to buy the new Jags jersey), here’s what’s coming up this week — and beyond — Around Town:

April 25

Jaguars Draft Day Party

EverBank Field, 6 p.m.

April 25

Guts & Glory: An Evening With Anthony Bourdain

Times-Union Center, 7:30 PM

April 25-27

Rob Schneider

Comedy Zone

April 26–28

Citywide Pet Adoption Event

Jacksonville Humane Society and Animal Care & Protective Services

May 4

Tea and Sympathy

Theatre Jacksonville

April 27

Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championship

EverBank Field, noon-5 p.m. 

April 27

River City Challenge 

Friendship Fountain, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. 

April 27-28

RAP Spring Tour of Homes

Riverside/Avondale Historic District

April 27-28

Welcome to Rockville

Metropolitan Park, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.










Jacksonville'z Fynest

Lynyrd Skynyrd and Limp Bizkit formed in Jacksonville—albeit decades apart—and became extremely successful in their own genres including appearances on RIAA's top 100 albums. On April 27 and 28, the iconic bands will return to their hometown to perform as part of Welcome to Rockville at Metropolitan Park. But that, dear readers, is not where the comparisons between the long-haired, good ol’ boys who introduced the world to Southern rock and the angry young men with tattoos who pioneered nü metal end.

In addition to the run-ins with the law, reports of drug and alcohol abuse, and breakup/reunion/breakups that go hand in hand with the business rock and roll, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Limp Bizkit have more than a few not so obvious similarities.

1. Both have been referenced in "Weird Al" Yankovic songs: Limp Bizkit in "Angry White Boy Polka" and Lynyrd Skynyrd in "Trapped in the Drive-Thru."

2. Each had a member involved in a public sex scandal. I'll let you Google those stories for yourselves. I don't need that kind of stuff showing up on my search history.

3. They've recorded songs that are long enough for a DJ to make a bathroom run and squeeze in a catnap—assuming, of course, radio stations still employed actual DJs who actually selected and played actual songs anymore. The original recording of "Freebird" clocked in at 9 minutes, 22 seconds, though, with live versions nearing 15 minutes; Limp Bizkit's "Everything" is even longer: 16 minutes, 26 seconds.

4. Both were part of tragic accidents during their heyday. A teenager was crushed to death at a Limp Bizkit concert in Australia in 2002. In 1977, a plane crash in a wooded area in Mississippi killed Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Other band members and crew suffered serious injuries.

5. If name meanings are to be believed, Fred Durst and the late Ronnie Van Zant were destined to be lead …   More


Jaguars Debut New Uniforms

With my football knowledge limited to recognizing little more than a touchdown is worth six points and Tim Tebow looks better with his shirt off, I'm certainly not qualified to say whether or not the Jaguars new uniforms will help them play better. And considering my closet is filled with Oscar the Grouch T-shirts and Old Navy flip-flops, I really don't have any business offering my opinion on how the uniforms look either. 

But here are my observations anyway about today's unveiling of the 2013 uniforms.

1. The uniforms are black. Again. But this year, the jerseys use a pointy font!

2. Apparently, the designers are fans of Bob Mackie as the uniforms also feature "over-the-shoulder details" and "embellishments down the leg."

3. That said, I have to give credit to Nike Creative Director Todd Van Horne for keeping a straight face while describing the uniforms, especially when using phrases such as "claw-inspired" and "speed stripe." He also described the helmet as the "crown jewel" of the new look without so much as cracking a smile. 

4. Clearly the new gloves were designed specifically for Blaine Gabbert. Putting the Jags logo on the palms is a much more subtle way of helping him find a receiver than "Throw the ball here, Blaine!" with a big fat bullseye.

5. According to the new logo identity, we are now the "Jags," which is actually a good thing since half of the people who live here can't pronounce "jaguars" anyway.

6. When asked about his thoughts on the new uniform, Justin Blackmon referred to the new logo identity placed over the heart in homage to the fans: "...the patch right there on the right, over the heart." Uh, Justin, your heart is on your left, not your right, unless, of course, you meant stage right. 

But don't let my thoughts influence you. Check out the the entire press conference and photos for yourself (or just forward to 4:42 to hear Blackmon prove …   More


Spark Plugs!

One Spark kicks off this week. And while people with far more money, intelligence and business savvy than I are looking to the five-day festival for the next big thing, I am most excited about meeting the people who came up with the ideas in the first place.

By "plugging" these creators, I'm not saying their projects are going to save the world or anything (actually, one of them might) — or if they're even financially viable. I do know that they and their projects will certainly make it a much more interesting world to live in.

To learn more about the creators and their projects, as well as where you can find them, click on the links below.

Antonio Allegretti

Instant Beard Cream

Why it gets my vote: I've often wondered what I'd look like with a Shad Khan-style mustache. This colored shaving cream can make that happen. 

Angel Ayala Torres


Why it gets my vote: I love discovering new music and supporting independent artists. I also love how one song can completely change your mood or perspective. This app does all that.

Liz Gibson

1've Got Your "One Spark" Right Here-Baby!!!

Why it gets my vote: Gibson, who was born with only seven fingers, created her own unique form of artistic expression called "deformance art" that is clever, educational and inspiring.

Barry Maurice Givens 


Why it gets my vote: A mobile robotic mixologist that lets me order and pay for drinks with my iPhone—and not worry about ignored by a bartender? Cheers to that! Bonus points for having two of the three Bee Gees' names in his own.

Michael Hosto

The Guardian Project: Sexual Assault Victim Therapy Dogs

Why it gets my vote: Being able to give a survivor of a sexual assault any sense of security and confidence truly is priceless. Which is exactly why they need funding...

Jordyn Jackson

Flagship Romance

Why it gets my vote: Forget that Jackson and Shawn Fisher are way talented …   More


Jillian Michaels Brings Motivation to the Masses

Ask anyone who's ever seen NBC’s “The Biggest Loser" who Jillian Michaels is and chances are they’ll say something like “the really mean trainer.” Some might even describe her as … a “B” word.

What’s funny is that Michaels is actually quite pleasant, warm and easy to talk to. And she doesn’t even think of herself as a personal trainer; she considers herself a life coach, hence her Maximize Your Life Tour, which she brings to the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

In this “intimate and uniquely personal evening,” Michaels will discuss topics like living in your truth, redefining your self-image and improving confidence, creating a winning attitude, build willpower and, of course, losing weight and getting in the best shape of your life.

“So many people hate their jobs. They dread getting out of bed. They’re barely able to pay their bills. They ask themselves ‘Is this all there is?’” she said in a recent phone interview. “I know this because I’ve been there, and I want to help you to connect with your passion and learn to believe in yourself!”

And here are some things you might be surprised to learn about Michaels.

She’s only 5’2”.

Other than on "The Biggest Loser," you’ll never catch her in spandex at the gym: sweats only.

Her guilty pleasure is chocolate, especially brownies and truffles.

She has 952,074 followers on Twitter: More than twice as many as TBL coach Bob Harper.

In eighth grade, she weighed 175 pounds.

She lives in jeans but has been known to sport designer duds and accessories from Michael Kors, Burberry, Alexander McQueen and Jason Wu.

Her traveling companion is her parrot, mostly because the bird hates everyone but her and can’t be left with the pet sitter.

In 2002, she opened Sky Sport & Spa with fellow trainer cum reality TV star Jackie Warner of …   More

The Specktator

Public Nuisance

I’m pissed. And it’s not like it’s one thing that has me miffed.

As much as I love Jacksonville, there are so many things that irritate me about the city—and my fellow residents, such as...

1. City streets that change names. My personal favorite is in San Marco where Gulf Life Drive becomes Riverplace Boulevard, changes back to Gulf Life for a block or two, reverts to Riverplace, before turning into Hendricks Avenue which becomes San Jose Boulevard.

2. The misprounciation of "jaguar." The preferred pronunciation, assuming you trust, is "ja-ˌgwär." For those of you not up on diacritical marks, you can listen to the audio pronunciation on their website. Granted, there are other "acceptable" pronunciations—"jag-gyə-ˌwär" and "jag-gwər," but "jag-wire" and "jag-u-wire" are not two of them. 

3. Not knowing how to merge into traffic. I know this isn't specific to Jacksonville, but it's such a common—not to mention, dangerous—aspect of driving in this city that it bears mentioning. (I would, however, like to give a special shout out to the 1-95 North and South/Fuller Warren Bridge area for being a complete nightmare for merging ... and changing lanes ... and not accidentally ending up at the airport.) Instead of griping any further, I will simply encourage you to watch the video "How to Merge Into Traffic."

4. Adding an "s" to names and places where it doesn't belong. Case in point: Lanes Avenue, Wonderwoods Drive, Scott Mills Road or Dunns Avenue; MOJOS, TacoLus or Tavernas. And while we're on the subject, for the love of sibilance, stop with Walmarts, Kmarts, Barnes & Nobles and Victoria's Secrets. Sssssssso annoying.

5. The nickname "Bold New City of the South." Jacksonville gained its new moniker in 1968 when the city and county governments were consolidated. For starters, it wasn't really a "bold" decision considering …   More

The Specktator

The Joke That Keeps Rolling

You know you've executed the perfect April Fool's Day prank when it's a week later, and people still don't know it's a joke. Case in point: the amusement park proposed for the Shipyards property "reported" by members of the WJCT 89.9 news team. 

Programmer and News Director Karen Feagins said staff members were discussing the launch the station's new website — — when they realized the go-live date was April 1.

"NPR has a tradition of doing [fake] stories on April Fools' Day, so we thought it would be fun to do one of our own," she said. "And it would help get people to our new website."

The team agreed that the story had to be believable and on a topic that local residents would be interested in. The amusement park idea came out of a brainstorming session with Feagins, senior reporter Kevin Meerschaert and First Coast Connect producer/online editor Sean Birch.

In addition to creating a fictional amusement park developer — Houston-based Funtime Inc. — and "CEO Jack Gilliam" (voiced by WJCT Senior Vice President of Content & Operations Anthony Padgett), the cunning crew tweaked the name of the mayor of Natchez, Miss., and also "quoted" him on a similar project in his city (which doesn't exist either).

But it was the participation of the real Florida Sen. Aaron Bean and the real Jacksonviile City Council President Bill Bishop that truly made the story believable, Feagins said.

"We are so grateful they were wiling to play along." 

The online version included a mock-up of the Next Level Roller Coaster (a nod to one of Mayor Alvin Brown's signature phrases) with cars designed to look like the JTA Skyway, complete with a "Funtime Inc." logo on the image (created in Photoshop by Birch).

While Feagins was surprised that the story spread so far (even being pitched in TV newsrooms, I heard), she's said she's happy that folks took it in the spirit in which it was …   More

The Specktator

Spring Weather Report

The first printed reference to April showers bringing May flowers dates back to 1860 in a collection songs, ballads and short poems edited by Thomas Wright: “Aprell sylver showers so sweet, Can make May flowers to sprynge.” As it turns out, April showers can bring a host of other benefits besides ushering in the arrival of calla lilies, daffodils, lilacs and peonies.

Higher aquifer levels. The Floridan aquifer provides billions of gallons of water each year to Jacksonville. The water that comes from underground aquifers, however, is limited and must be refreshed by rainfall. Of course aquifer levels could also be helped by obsessive car washers putting down their hoses (note to my neighbor: It doesn’t matter how shiny it is, it’s still a Ford Fiesta.)

Adorable footwear. Typically, the only folks seen walking around in rubber boots are firefighters, janitors and the cast of "Deadliest Catch," but just the slightest sprinkle also gives fashionistas an excuse to slip on splash boots (even the name is adorable!) decorated with polka dots, flowers or lady bugs. 

Abundance of mushrooms. Moisture disperses the spread of mushroom spores which makes them sprout and spread, which is great news for fans of the morel, portobella and cremini. Not so much for mycophobics, however.

Crime reduction. A major study conducted by the Daily Record and Standard Mail found that reported crimes decreased by nearly 25 percent on the rainest days. Violent crime, in particular, fell almost 45 percent. The report did not specify the effect of rain on splash boot pilfering.

Better fishing. When the weather is warm, rain affects the temperature on the water surface which tends to bring fish up. Anglers, especially those using top water lures, swear fishing just after a healthy rain fall is one of the best times to drop their bait.

Changes in pollen count. Allergy suffers may experience some relief with increased rain washing pollen …   More

The Specktator

On the Tweet Beat: Aaron Bean

It's time for another edition of "Tweet Beat." Like a sworn officer of the law, I will patrol the Twitterverse protecting and serving the Tweeters, their followers and the community at large. On today's docket is State Senator Aaron Bean.

• In his Twitter profile (@AaronPBean), he describes himself as: "Senator for Senate District 4, which includes Duval and Nassau Counties. Husband, Father of 3 Sons." Say what you want about him, but Bean is no long-winded politician: He has 41 characters remaining in his profile description.

• Bean currently has 560 Twitter followers, more than twice the number of his District 9 colleague, Senator Audrey Gibson but 17,549,765 fewer than Kim Kardashian.

• He’s following 99 accounts including Gov. Rick Scott, John Thrasher, John Boehner, Jeb Bush, Karl Rove and CNN. His first follow was Florida Senator Rob Bradley.

• According to his Twitter timeline, Bean's first post was May 19, 2011 and referenced his visit to the TIger Academy Charter School.

• Since then, he has posted 164 times, which, according to my calculations, is once every 4.17 days.

• The majority of Bean's Tweets were posted during his senatorial campaign. So basically, his feed is an exhaustive list the annoucements of his supporters including Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Nassau County Tax Collector, Florida Retail Association and "Jaguars legend" (and fast food impresario/St. Vincent's Medical Center pitchman) Tony Boselli. 

• Unlike certain other Florida politicians (I'm talking to you, Gov. Rick Scott), Bean's Twitter account is pretty non-controversial—other than the fact that he follows me. 

• I do have one piece of advice for the senator, though: With all do respect, change your header photo to include the entire American flag, not just the stripes. Unless, of course, you want people to think you're standing in front of the flag of Malaysia …   More


Look What He Can Do!

During his 10-year stint on "MADtv" (the longest in the show’s history, for the record), Michael McDonald played colorful characters ranging from Stuart, an incorrigible little boy with a bowl cut and heavily-rouged cheeks, to the self-explanatory Depressed Persian Tow Truck Driver. These days McDonald is gaining recognition for his talent behind the camera, as well. In addition to writing, directing and producing “Cougar Town” for several seasons, he’s directed episodes of “2 Broke Girls” and ABC’s new sitcoms “Family Tools” and “How To Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life.” Later this year, he will co-star in “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. And now, he’s touring the country doing stand-up comedy, or as he refers to it, his “summer job.”


Kerry Speckman: With your success as an actor, director, producer and writer, what would possess you to try your hand at stand-up?

Michael McDonald: You have total creative freedom. You can say any word or talk about any subject. There’s no network or studio or producer telling you what you can do or say. The only people who matter are the audience. If you make them laugh, then you did it. If a joke doesn’t work, you can change it right away. The immediacy and creativity — it’s really intoxicating.


K.S.: You’ve been doing stand-up for less than five years. Is treading into uncharted territory something new for you?

M.M.: [Before getting into acting,] I worked as a loan officer at bank. I majored in business and had no interest in show business. Then, I went to a Groundlings [improv/sketch] show and thought, “Oh, I’d much rather be doing this.” After that, I worked as a waiter and, on several occasions, had to wait on people who I had turned down for loans. It’s not like I yelled at them and said, “Ha ha! …   More