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I Got Plenty of Time fo' This

An apartment fire certainly isn't anything to laugh at. To hear Oklahoma City resident Sweet Brown describe her harrowing escape, though, you can't help but laugh.

The fact that one of Jacksonville's favorite sons makes a brief cameo in the autotune remix makes it all the more amusing.

At two minutes, 38 seconds, you got plenty of time fo' this.

WARNING: This song may cause an ear worm. If your ear worm lasts more than four hours, consult your physician immediately.   More


Mario Batali: 9 Questions, 0 About Cooking

If you want to know how old Chef Mario Batali is  or where he went to culinary school or where he gets his orange Crocs, no offense but Google it. Asking questions that are easy to find the answers to isn't really my thing.

Fortunately, when I told Batali at a Publix Apron's Cooking School event that most of my questions weren't about cooking, he said, "Good. My specialty."

1. How would do you describe yourself in three words? 

[Pause] That’s a good question. [Long pause] Fast, delicious, real

2. What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you? 

I like quiet ... sometimes. As much as I appreciate the cacophony of my life and how busy and intense it is, I like to sit down quietly for 15 or 20 minutes, two or three times a day and try to empty everything. At the bottom of the sea, there are as many interesting things to see as there are at the top of the sea. Everybody likes to see the top of the sea. I like to see if I can find the bottom every once and a while.

3. How many hours do you sleep a night?

Between four and five and a half. I don’t even have an alarm clock. I wake up every day at 5:30.

4. What are your pet peeves?

In the kitchen, it’s people who pretend lazy is rustic. And in life, when someone will ask a question, and they really don’t care what the answer is. They just want to ask the next question. And I do that all the time. It's like the answer seems less significant than me asking the question ... which is pathetic. [Laughs] My pet peeve about myself is not listening. I need to listen more.

5. What's your favorite band?

This week? Disappears. They're really good. 

6. What actor would play you in a film of your life? 

Oliver Platt

7. What is your favorite restaurant that’s not yours?

In the world? Sin Huat in Singapore. But I really like Pearl Oyster Bar on Cornelius Street in Manhattan. And I really like Palm Valley Fish …   More


Jags Should Be Playing in the Super Toilet Bowl

The Super Bowl is today. And if I remember correctly, it's the Whatchamacallits vs. the Who Cares. The reason I don't care is because I'm really not a fan of football — or TV ads (little-known fact: commercials are the reason God invented the fast-forward button on DVR remotes).

I am, however, a fan of the Jaguars, mostly because I love Jacksonville, and I understand their significance to this city—which is why I have analyzed their record-breaking 2-14 season to figure out what went wrong. Knowing very little about the sport, my theories have nothing to do with football and everything to do with nothing.

1. The team's name: The Panthera onca or jaguar, as it is more commonly known, is a solitary animal that lives alone and hunts alone: hence, there is no name for a pack of jaguars. How can you be a team when your namesake doesn't know anything about teamwork? Killer Bees would have been a better choice.

2. Shad Khan and his mustache: Fans, I blame you for this one. If you'd pay a little more attention to supporting the team and players than its dashing billionaire owner and his lip sweater, maybe they'd be inspired to play better. 

3. The uniforms: Even if you don't buy into the theory of dark clothing absorbing more heat than lighter colors, black is associated with mourning and death. Teal, on the other hand, is associated with emotional health and stability. 

4. Mike Mularkey: I know nothing about his coaching experience or skills, but what do you expect from a guy whose last name means "nonsense"? (Yes, I know the word is spelled "malarkey," but it sounds the same.)

5. Twitter: It's great that so many players are on Twitter connecting with fans, but perhaps they should spend a little more time talking about preparing for upcoming games or commenting on their performance. Instead, most of them spend their time chirping about video games or where they are going to eat (80 …   More


There's No 'We' in Valentine's Day But There Is an 'I'

It could be said that Valentine’s Day is the most depressing day of the year for the unattached. Watching co-workers get showered with flowers, listening to friends drone on about their romantic dinners at Wine Cellar or Matthew’s and being subjected to a constant stream of Lionel Richie, Chicago and Air Supply on the radio … it’s enough to make anyone feel unwanted, unattractive and even unloveable.

The truth is havinlag a valentine isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. In fact, those of us without significant others have plenty of reasons to rejoice in our singledom:

1. Saving approximately $139: the average price of the check for a Valentine's Day dinner, according to OpenTable.

2. No nicks, cuts or razor bumps: since there's no need to shave. But if you are feeling amorous...

3. Better chance of having sex: ironic, huh? A survey conducted by Men's Health and Women's Health revealed less than 50 percent of men in relationships expect to have sex on Valentine's Day.

4. More candy: not having to share your Peterbrooke chocolate-covered popcorn. That alone is enough reason for me to celebrate being single. I'd eat that stuff out of a urinal. TMI? (In the alternative, you don't need to consume calories just because someone gave you candy in a heart-shaped box.)

5. Avoiding greeting card anxiety: Valentine's card section = virtual landmine for relationships. Singletons need not worry about choosing between a card that's funny or romantic or — gasp — blank inside. Or trying to figure out if you should even get someone a card, like, say, a friend with benefits?

6. Better service at non-romantic restaurants: assuming you consider Wacko's or Gold Club restaurants. Guys can also expect extra-attentive service at Hooters.

7. Absence of gift-related stress: whether you are the giver or receiver. In addition spending an average of $130.97 for cards, candy and gifts, according to a BIGinsight …   More


Ortega River Run 2013: A Twitter Addict's Story

Until today, I had never "run" a five-mile race in my life (and by "run," I mean "slow jog"), but I'm participating in a 12-week fitness program called We Run Jax, organized by Cross Training San Marco, and I was strongly encouraged to do so by my team leader and teammates. So, despite a recently sprained ankle and chronic laziness, I did the race this morning.

To say it was easier that I thought it would be would be a big, fat lie. But I am glad I did it if for no other reason than I learned something very important about myself: Embarrassment and/or pride don't motivate me nearly as much as annoying people.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I don't mind embarrasssing myself, so being passed by kids, moms pushing strollers and folks old enough to be my grandparents didn't bother me (check the photo gallery above for some of my more interesting competitors). Being around people who irritate me, however, was incentive to move faster and get away from them (I'm talking to you, spitting guy, woman cracking her bubble gum and ladies wearing headphones and talking very loudly because you couldn't hear each other over your music).

Though my time wasn't anyting to brag about, I am proud of myself for finishing — especially in front of the four ladies who told me they took a "couple of shortcuts."

Thanks to my We Run Jax teamies (Brandy, Garrick, Jimmy, Lauren, Natalie, Sarah and Michael) and Marlo for the support.

And to the police officer who said to a group of us as we walked by, "You're cheating. It's called the Ortega River RUN not the Ortega River WALK," you're a jerk.   More


What's in a Name?

The practice of identifying specific hurricanes began back in the 1700s when storms were referred to by the year and the location in which they took place. In World War II, meteorologists named hurricanes after their wives and girlfriends on the homefront (how romantic). A tthe urging of feminist groups in the 1960s, men's names were added to the mix in 1979.*

Today, the National Weather Service has a list of names for hurricanes prepared years in advance. While this system may be great for science types, it doesn’t do much to much to help laypeople keep them straight.

Plus, I always think it’s weird to hear potentially deadly storms referred to by people’s names as if a friend is coming to visit for the weekend: “Chantal should arrive in Jacksonville Saturday morning.”

As a result, I’ve come up with my own local hurricane naming system where storms are given a number and are formally named after they make landfall based on what happened — or didn’t. (Note: By taking this tongue-in-cheek approach to classifying storms, I am in no way intending to minimize the devastation caused by severe weather. Nor am I suggesting that residents disregard severe weather warnings. I'm merely poking fun at local news media and their philsophy that "rain reigns.")

Here, then, are a few of the more recent storms that you probably heard of — but might not remember—and my suggestions for new names.

Tropical Storm Fay (August 2008): A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa toward the Virgin islands and Puerto Rico and within a week was designated a tropical storm. She spent seven days in Florida touching down in the Florida Keys, Cape Romano, Flagler Beach and the Panhandle. But in Jacksonville, Tropical Storm Fay is better known as The One That Caused Corrine Brown to Call the City and Have Sandbags Delivered to Her House.

Hurricane Irene (August 2011): Originating in the Lesser Antilles and quickly …   More


Oscars Schmoscars

As usual, I didn’t see any of the films that were nominated for an Academy Award. Probably because I rarely go to the movies … and the fact that I don’t particularly like musicals, period films, subtitles, action flicks or animation. However, that didn’t stop me from making snarky comments throughout the show (while I do draw the line at poking fun at “In Memoriam” segment, I do pay attention to who gets the most applause). Since I didn’t actually care who won (or lost), I spent most of the broadcast wondering: What if Jacksonville had its own version of the Oscars? Who would win best actor? Best actress? Best picture? Hence, the inaugural presentation of the Sposcars, The Specktator’s own version of the Oscars. 

Check the photo gallery above for all of the winners and losers. 

And if you think we missed anyone, let us know in the comments section!




A Ruckus in the River

Have you ever made plans based on a local weather forecast and then wished you could tell [insert local meteorologist's name here] to go jump in the lake — or whatever body of water is closest — for "ruining" your day? If so, then you won't want to miss River Ruckus on July 6.

In conjunction with St. Johns Riverkeeper, Riverside Arts Market hosts this inaugural family-friendly festival to showcase the river's recreational benefits and the importance of respecting, protecting and enjoying it as a natural resource. In addition to a river flotilla, boat rides, paddle board lessons, river crafts for kids and educational information, River Ruckus features a celebrity river jump including three local weather "authorities":

Jim Alabiso, executive director, Jumping Fish, and long-distance, open-water swimmer

Tony Allegretti, Downtown advocate 

Tim Deegan, chief meteorologist, First Coast News

Bruce Hamilton, co-anchor, "The Morning Show," WJXT Channel 4

Kristin Keen, founder and executive director, ReThreaded

Al Letson, host, NPR's "State of the Re:UNION" 

Justin Riney, founder/CEO, Mother Ocean, and project leader, Expedition Florida 500

Dave Roman, senior policy adviser, Office of the Mayorc

Lewis Turner, reporter/meteorologist, First Coast News

Julie Watkins, meteorologist, Action News, and founder, The Girls Gone Green

The festivities get underway at noon with local celebrities set to take the plunge at 12:45 p.m. 

And in case anyone cares, I will be serving as emcee of the celebrity river jump. To those who don't care, I'll still be the emcee.

Check the photo gallery above to read what the river jump participants have to say about their participation.    More


I Smell Bacon

Based on the theory of six degrees of separation, which suggests that any two people on the planet can be linked by six acquaintances or fewer, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is an entertainment trivia version that attempts to connect the prolific actor to others through movies they've appeared in (who remembers Bacon from "Animal House" or "Friday the 13th"?).

Being the celebrity stalker that I am, I wondered if there are any locals who could be connected to Bacon in only six steps. Turns out, there are a number of people right here in River City who could pick up a phone, call someone, who could call someone, who could call someone, who could call someone, who could possibly get the Baconator on the phone. Some, like actor Ashley Greene of "Twilight" fame, are no brainers, but others, including a politician, "sandwich king," radio show host and college president, are just as connected.

As of yet, I haven't figured out a way to link myself and Bacon, but the whole premise does give me hope that Edward Norton, Alex O'Loughlin and Jimmy Fallon are mere phone calls away.

To see which local folks are Six Degrees of Separation From Kevin Bacon, check out the photo gallery above.   More


Hear Us Roar!

In the last year, Shad Khan has made incredible strides toward building a football team that the fans deserve and one of which Jacksonville can truly be proud. Personnel changes, new coaching staff and bold signings (and cuts) have all set the stage for change, but it wasn’t until the unveiling of the updated logo and uniforms that the city truly began to feel the “new attitude” Khan wants to create. I applaud him on everything he’s done so far, but I believe there’s one crucial element still missing if we are to take the team, in the words of Mayor Alvin Brown, “to the next level”: an official Jaguars anthem.

Fortunately, multi-platinum recording artist/producer — and Jacksonville native — Thrill Da Playa (aka Van Bryant) of the 69 Boyz has “Show Up Show Out” all cued up and ready to go. All he needs is someone in Jaguars HQ to declare it the official anthem. And here's how you can help.

Listen to "Show Up Show Out" and/or sign the petition.

While I await the phone call from Mr. Khan thanking me for bringing this amazing song to his attention and inviting me and Van to join him for lunch on his yacht, I encourage you to check out the other contenders—starting with my personal favorite.

The Lanier Five Duval Jaguars Song


Let's Go Jags

I Rep My City

Rock and Roar

We Are Jaguars

Jag Rag

Jacksonville Jaguars Song

Golden Jaguars

Black and Teal