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 …
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.
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!
Last night, NBA Hall of Famer turned author, advocate and founder of The Skyhook Foundation, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, spoke at the Times-Union Center as part of The Florida Forum benefiting Wolfson Children's Hospital. As inspiring and eloquent as KA-J was, I wondered what Lance Armstrong, originally slated to speak at the event, would have said. And I couldn't stop thinking about a local man's poignant — and pointed — open letter to Armstrong following his confession about using perfomance-enhancing drugs, that I discovered on Twitter …
It is with great regret that I'm compelled to write you this seemingly antagonistic letter although I assure you that isn't my intention at all... Empathy, then, is my goal for you after you read this letter.
They say that empathy is knowing how a person feels regardless of whether or not you've ever been in their situation. Martin Luther King had empathy. John F. Kennedy had empathy. And for the most part, it seemed that you did too. But now, after your confession [aired] on the Oprah Winfrey Network, I fear that you won't realize exactly what people like me are going through. My fear is that you won't recognize the embarrassment you've caused us, and I don't want to sit on the sidelines, not affording you the opportunity to hear what I have to say. I fear that you won't feel our pain. Thus, begins my open letter to you...
For the better part of the past decade, I have aspired to what I thought was the LiveStrong way of life and the embodiment of an attitude that says anything, no matter how difficult, can be accomplished so long as you combat it with the iron will that we're all born with yet fear to use. I believed in that lifestyle — and I believed in you.
As a young plebe at the United States Naval Academy, I was given my first LiveStrong bracelet by my squad leader JD Dunivant. I wore it with pride as it was a reminder that regardless of how difficult life was as a young …
Since my recent foray into snooping around Governor Rick Scott's Twitter account was so well received (see sidebar), I decided to start "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 First Coast News Sports Director Dan Hicken.
• In his Twitter profile (@DanHicken), he describes himself as: “sports guy, father of three awesome kids, hubby of BWR, friend to all, YOU KNOW IT!” ("BWR," for those who don't follow Hicken, is "beautiful wife Reagan." All together now: aw!)
• At this moment, Hicken has 7,141 followers which is pretty impressive considering legendary WJXT sports director Sam Kouvaris has fewer than 2,500 — and Action News’ Steve Wrigley doesn’t even have a Twitter account.
• He’s currently following 217 accounts including the PGA Tour, Cecil Shorts III, Florida Gators, Scott Van Pelt and Ryan Lochte.
• The first Twitter account he followed was Tony Boselli. (Can you say "bromance"?)
•According to his Twitter timeline, his first post was on May 27, 2012 at 5:36 p.m. in response to a coworker’s Tweet about heading to the beach: “be careful out there big guy … stormtracker!”
• Since then, he has posted 8,562 times.
• Gramatically speaking, he does not like to use uppercase letters but is a big fan of double question marks, double exclamation points and ellipses.
• Regarding college sports, he hates Miami. (I mean, "he hates miami!!")
• But judging from a recent Tweet, he is a big fan of cheesy reality TV: “i don't know about you....but i simply can't wait for the reality tv show SPLASH to debut this week … #MUSTSEETV!”
• Finally, I would caution Hicken about some potential awkwardness around the newsroom. First Coast News colleagues Phil Amato, Shannon …
Dubbed the “coolest thing ever” by Folio Weekly (and we would know), the Riverside Arts Market reopened last weekend with a full-on parade led by RAM founder Wayne Wood and Mayor Alvin Brown and featuring the Stanton College Preparatory School marching band. RAM staff, volunteers and some kooky blogger with a penchant for orange Ray-Bans who made the mistake of mentioning that she used to twirl the baton in elementary school also participated in the festivities.
Despite the chilly weather, hundreds of folks came out to the event to shop, eat and be entertained. Check the photo gallery above for a small sample of the day's activities and characters.
Or better yet, come out and see it for yourself. RAM is located under the Fuller Warren Bridge at Riverside Avenue and is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. every Saturday through December.
Since 2011, the members of PB&J (Party, Benefit & Jam) have been raising money and awareness for area non-profits—in non-traditional ways. They’ve organized a pop-up party under the Fuller Warren Bridge for Sustainable Springfield and Riverside Avondale Preservation, a county fair at Intuition Aleworks for Forsaken Generation and Go Skate Day at Hemming Plaza for Kona Middle/High School. But it’s the group’s latest event — PB&J Presents: A Dirty Spelling Bee — that truly epitomizes its members’ desire to “think outside the box.”
Modeled after the Scripps National Spelling Bee, this 21-and-up-only version will have participants spelling actual medical terms, not slang, with The New Oxford American Dictionary serving as the official source of words and the final authority on spelling not urbandictionary.com. In other words, don’t expect any references to an oxidized brass instrument or men’s neckwear named after a city in Ohio. P.S. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just keep reading: You’re better off that way.
Up to 30 contestants are expected to participate in the “oral competition” (hey, that’s what Scripps calls theirs!) with contestants ranging from a business owner and hair stylist to theater director and teacher. As a contestant, I can only hope there won’t be any gynecologists or urologists on the stage.
That’s not to say I haven’t been, er, boning up on my anatomy and physiology vocabulary. Sure, there are some folks who think I may have an advantage considering I’m a writer and should know how to spell, but I can assure you that “uterine infundibulum” and “corpa cavernosa” are not words I have ever typed until this very moment. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know I had a mons veneris, let alone how to spell it. The one small asset I do bring to the …
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 …
In case you missed my ramblings on First Coast Connect this morning (or you're still trying to grasp that Tim Tebow is unemployed), here’s what’s coming up this …here’s what’s coming up this week — and beyond — Around Town:
Times-Union Center, 7:30 p.m.
Jacksonville Magazine Model Fashion Show
Casa Marina, Jacksonville Beach, 6:30 p.m.
Jacksonville's Dancing With the Stars
Times-Union Center, 8 p.m.
Folio Weekly's Margarita Fest
Morocco Shrine Auditorium, 7-10 p..m.
Tee Off Downtown
Kentucky Derby Party
St. Johns Town Center, 5-9 p.m.
Chris Botti with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra
Times-Union, 8 p.m.
Movies in the Park: "Brave"
Wyndham Jacksonville Riverfront Lawn, 8 p.m.
5 Points Springfest
5 Points, 2-10 p.m.
Through May 4
"Tea and Sympathy"
Yours truly rocks the mic on WJCT's First Coast Connect every Thursday around 9:45 a.m. Tune in. Look out.
The Jacksonville Suns are holding auditions for national anthem performers 1-4 p.m. March 16 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Singers will be asked to perform the song "in a traditional fashion and in its entirety," where instrumentalists will be given "more flexibility with their rendition." Vocal groups are also invited to audition.
Lip synchers and crotch-grabbing, spitting Roseanne wannabes need not apply.
So you know what you're up against, here are the six most viewed performances on YouTube.
And a special shout-out to Victoria Zarlenga, whose video has the least...