Saturday, July 31, 2010

A eureka moment!

This fine Saturday morning found yours truly in downtown Orlando, visiting with the archivist at The History Center.

As some of ye socks may be aware, I have been working for quite some time on a book about Will Wallace Harney (the fellow who built the original Pine Castle south of town).

Anyway, I have been trying to track down a collection of letters he wrote back in the 1870s.

Well, I found them!

Having fun reading them and hoping the curator will allow me to borrow/copy them!!

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 30, 2010

Poker Night

There was a time, not SO long ago, when yours truly enjoyed a weekly poker game.

Nothing high stakes, mind you.

It was really just a good excuse to eat too many nachos and pretend that the coins we ante'd were c-notes, instead.

I don't know what got us started talking about it today, but it has me itching to play a few hands of cards . . .


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting better all the time?

That's the upbeat message those of us fortunate enough to live in this little corner of heaven get to hear whenever they play a Winn Dixie commercial on our airwaves.

Today, it rings about as true as the piffle and nonsense coming out of Washington, DC.

It seems Winn Dixie will be closing thirty stores by September 22nd, including four here in Orlando:

* 2103 Americana Boulevard
* 4400 Hoffner Road
* 4520 South Semoran Boulevard
* 10535 East Colonial Drive

I'm just glad not to find the ones on Curry Ford and Bumby on the hit list.

Hope and change, y'all!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pine Castle Pioneer Days

Just a reminder for ye socks who have been keeping tabs on such things.

Our Finance Committee will be holding its monthly meeting today at 11 in the council chambers of Belle Isle City Hall (1600 Nela Avenue).

Join us if you can!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Land of the Lost

So, tonight's selection from our friends at Netflix was the recent Will Ferrell flick "Land of the Lost."

Let me preface what I'm about to say with the assurance to ye socks that I generally appreciate Ferrell's humor.

But, this film serves only to prove that one should never attempt to mix comedy and science fiction.

It just doesn't work, at least not in this household.

If Mel Brooks couldn't pull it off in "Space Balls," no one can.

Not even the incredibly funny Will Ferrell.

There is a reason why this movie was such a flop at the box office, folks.

Bottom line: skip it.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Cake!

It used to be one of the great perks of working in an office environment that, at least once a month, someone was celebrating a birthday.

And, of course, birthdays mean birthday cake.

Unfortunately, there's been a thinning of the herd around this little corner of heaven . . . as, I suppose, there has been everywhere else since the advent of The ObamaNation.

But, I refuse to digress into another soapbox rant.

Why should I when I'm hopped-up on refined sugar?!

That's right, someone around here is marking a fairly significant birthday today. And, yours truly is celebrating!

Now, pass the ice cream . . .

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thanks, EMI!

Well, ye socks, yours truly planned to toss a YouTube link into the dryer today.

It was what I thought was a harmless little spoof of the annoyingly ubiquitous song "New York."

Actually, it was more of a spoof of the town of Newport in Wales set to the tune of said ubiquitous song.

Anyway, by the time I logged on to blogger to post the link, the video had been removed at the request of EMI Music Publishing, Ltd.

Wow, those copyright lawyers work fast . . . hope EMI compensates them commensurate with their speed!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weak tropical storm, weak.

I suppose given the horrific tropical season we endured in this little corner of heaven back in 2004, yours truly should never pooh-pooh all the hullabaloo the local news teams make over the slightest disturbance in the atmosphere this time of year.

But, Tropical Storm Bonnie was pathetic.

All we got was a bunch of rain. Much needed rain, actually.

The only bad thing about the rain is that it kept us indoors this weekend.

I'll take that over getting roofs ripped off any day!

Labels: ,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Away We Go

That's the title of the latest selection from our friends at Netflix.

What else is there to do on a Friday night than to sit at home and watch a DVD, right? Gotta love this recession . . .

Anyway, this flick centers on a couple who are expecting the birth of their first child. The baby-daddy is played by John Krasinski, the tall goofy guy from "The Office." The expectant mother is played by Maya Rudolph, of SNL fame.

Sidebar. Two pieces of trivia on Ms. Rudolph that make me like her: 1. She was born in Gainesville, Florida (GO GATORS!); 2. Her mom was Minnie Riperton, the lady who hit the high notes in that old soul song "Lovin' You."

Ok, back on track, now.

So, this couple finds out that the paternal grandparents (Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels) are flaking-out and moving to Antwerp at the last minute. That gets them to thinking they should consider moving somewhere new themselves. So, the film follows them all over North America in the quest for a nest.

First stop: Tucson, Arizona. There they quickly learn they do not want to live anywhere near a former co-worker and her husband (hillariously played by Allison Janney and Jim Gaffigan).

Second stop: Madison, Wisconsin. There they discover a cousin (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) has grown up to become an insufferable militant neo-hippie. Scratch cheeseland off the list.

Third stop: Montreal, Canada. Here they actually have a pretty good time with old college buddies, and seriously consider moving to the great white north. But, then they get a call from the baby-daddy's brother . . .

Fourth stop: Miami, Florida. They find baby-daddy's sister-in-law has left the nest. A bunch of interpersonal issues fly around, centered on a trampouline in the backyard.

Final stop: . . . . wait, I'm not going to give away the ending! Watch it yourself!

Bottom line: Until the economy turns around, this'll do for a Friday night.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

180? He doesn't look a day over 40!

It was on this date back in 1830 that this dapper fellow was born in rural Campbell County, Virginia.

My ancestor James Lorenzo Morgan went on to have some pretty interesting adventures.

If ye socks don't believe me, pick up a copy of the book I wrote about him:

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fishing for a Cause

Yours truly was pleasantly surprised at the regular Wednesday breakfast roundtable this morning, when someone offered to sponsor/organize a fishing tournament to benefit Pine Castle Pioneer Days.

Looks like it's going to be scheduled for October 9th on Lake Conway. More details will be forthcoming, so keep checking back or email .

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Into the Storm

The latest DVD selection from our friends at Netflix was this WWII biopic of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

Not necessarily one I would have chosen myself, but I gave it a shot since the leading role won Brendan Gleeson an Emmy Award.

And, with a Gleeson in the film, how bad could it be, right?!

Basically, every American's favorite Brit is in France in the days immediately after the war . . . waiting in dread for the 1945 election results that would throw him out of office.

Through a series of flashbacks, the audience learns what brought him to that point . . . and, on a more personal level, what brought his marriage to the brink of failure.

The great thing about Churchill's story is that both his marriage and his political career survived the calamity of 1945. Indeed they both rebounded rather nicely.

But, this film doesn't let the audience know that.

It does, however, quite accurately portray FDR as a socialist suck-up to Stalin. For that reason alone, it should be shown to every high school student in America.

Bottom line: If you're a history buff, you'll probably like it.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tree-hugger Tour Map

We natives know there is much more to appreciate about this little corner of heaven than the much-hyped theme parks.

As proof, and as encouragement to ye would be tourists, yours truly is pleased to offer this link to a downloadable map produced by the City of Orlando:

Said map can serve as a great guide to finding some of the oldest trees in The City Beautiful.


Labels: ,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"The Stab," by Will Wallace Harney

On the road, the lonely road,
Under the cold white moon,
Under the ragged trees he strode;
He whistled and shifted his weary load--
Whistled a foolish tune.

There was a step timed with his own,
A figure that stooped and bowed--
A cold, white blade that gleamed and shone,
Like a splinter of daylight downward thrown--
And the moon went behind a cloud.

But the moon came out so broad and good,
The barn-fowl woke and crowed;
He roughed his feathers in drowsy mood,
And the brown owl called to his mate in the wood,
That a dead man lay on the road.

(This poem, published in the Louisville Courier in 1858, is the earliest example of Harney's writing that yours truly has been able to find in preparation for Pine Castle Pioneer Days. Can any of ye socks find one earlier?!)

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jackson genealogical brick wall

Ye socks who despise my family history related posts may tune out now.

Today, I managed to chip away at a longstanding brick wall in my research on our Jackson forebears, if ever so slightly.

In the 1850 Census of South Brunswick (Middlesex County), New Jersey, yours truly discovered the following family enumerated on page 386:

Jackson, John, age 45, laborer, real estate valued at $200, born in New Jersey.
Jackson, Catharine, 35, born in Ireland.
Jackson, John, age 1, born in New Jersey.

These are definitely my ancestors who subsequently settled at Princeton, New Jersey.

But, I can't trace them back any further.

The only other clue I have is Catherine's maiden name, and it's not much of a clue as it is given variously as Rourke, Roarke, O'Rourke, and O'Roarke.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ever heard of chocolate wine?

We had about a half-hour gap between yesterday's memorial service and the Chik-fil-A fundraiser for Pine Castle Pioneer Days.

Fortunately, there was a (new?) wine shop nearby. Not sure if it was new, but this was the first time I remember seeing it. At the very least, I figured it would be air conditioned. And, maybe they would be offering free samples?!

Anyway, I wound up buying a bottle of "ChocoVine." Basically, it's cabernet sauvignon meets Dutch chocolate.

They weren't offering samples, though.

Curiosity compelled me to buy a bottle, and 'twas sampled in ye olde wine cellar this fine Friday evening.

It was okay. Just okay.

For future reference though, I think I'd be better off sticking to Bailey's Irish Creme . . .

Hope ye socks have a great weekend . . . cheers!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Full life = full house

This afternoon, yours truly had the sad obligation to attend the memorial service of a dear family friend.

It was held in a little Methodist church near the Leu Botanical Gardens here in Orlando.

Given the turnout, it could have been held in one of the area megachurches.

I arrived about 15 minutes before the service was scheduled to begin, only to find a line of folks waiting to get inside. Said line wrapped itself around the block, patiently sweltering in the summertime heat.

When I finally made it into the vestibule . . . and the AIR CONDITIONING . . . the pastor came swooping down the aisle to seize the guest register. I guessed it was to blame for the line, and quickly scribbled my signature before she slammed it shut and told everyone behind me that they would have an opportunity to sign it at a reception after the services.

Then the take-charge pastor in her flowing robes began directing us like a traffic cop, pointing us to the various pockets of standing-room-only that remained in her small church. The place was full to the rafters!

Surveying the members of the crowd who were fortunate enough to be seated for the service, I was struck by what an eclectic group they were: aging hippies with long grey pony tails; Daughters of the Confederacy in their prim hats and white gloves; uniformed police officers and military members; every shade of the human spectrum, and every age from 3 months to 103 years.

The service itself kicked-off with a video, featuring a gut-wrenching Beatles tune. It was followed-up with some great eulogies by a small town mayor and his chief of police. Then, members of the family spoke and sang. And, finally, the authoritative pastor delivered her message.

All the while, yours truly craned his neck from the back of the chapel. The air conditioning began to fail. And, a thunderstorm erupted outside.

Yes, we all might have been more comfortable in a bigger facility with more seats and a better cooling system. But, then the service would not have been quite so unique and memorable.

In that way, it was very much like my dear friend.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pencil-in Chik-fil-A for dinner tomorrow

Just a reminder to ye socks that the two South Orlando locations of Chik-fil-A (on Orange Avenue and on Orange Blossom Trail) are supporting Pine Castle Pioneer Days.

Tomorrow from 5pm to 8pm, anyone who tells their order taker that they support PCPD will have the proceeds donated to reviving the annual festival.

If you need more information/directions, email:

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Invention of Lying

Yours truly was fully prepared to enjoy the latest DVD selection from our friends at Netflix: Ricky Gervais's "The Invention of Lying."

Wow, was I disappointed.

The premise seemed so interesting, the story being set in an alternate reality where no one has ever lied (and thus, has never been lied to). But, Gervais stumbles across the benefits to be gained by fibbing.

He is able to win the affections of an otherwise-unobtainable hottie played by Jennifer Garner.

And, he is finally able to put annoying co-workers (played by Rob Lowe and Tina Fey) in their place.

But, then the film veered off the path of cute romantic comedy and ventured into atheist propoganda.

Bottom line: If you are a person of any kind of faith, prepare to be offended. If on the other hand you're planning to spend eternity in hell, you probably won't mind wasting a couple of hours in preparing for it by watching this film.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What's a coupla decades between friends?!

Yours truly had a special lunch guest today, an old family friend that I haven't seen in at least twenty years.

The great thing I've found about really good friends is that if you have to go a long time without seeing each other, when you finally are reunited it feels like you are picking-up right where you left off!

Sure, each of us have some grey hair and a couple of wrinkles that didn't exist when last we met. But, all of them quickly disappeared as we reminisced and caught-up.

Best rejuvenation secret I've come across in a long time.

Try it yourselves, if you get the opportunity!

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I hope ye socks will indulge me as I rant about something that happened today while yours truly was driving around this corner of heaven listening to a local radio station that shall remain nameless.

There was a particular song on their airwaves that featured an innocuous refrain that warns the listener, "Don't trust a ho." At least I thought it was innocuous. But, somebody over there evidently doesn't like the term "ho," because they insisted upon bleeping out every single instance of it frequent usage. If they found it that offensive, why didn't the censors just take the whole song off their playlist instead of ruining it completely?

But, that's not what really bothered me.

Immediately following the de-hoed song, the station went on to play several other songs that I felt were much more blatantly offensive.

But, I guess subject matter is wide open, as long as you choose your words carefully?!


Labels: ,

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Shannon's has ice cream!

Yours truly was invited to lunch with a true Pine Castle oldtimer this afternoon.

The venue was Shannon's Causal Cafe on South Orange Avenue.

Now, I've been there plenty of times before, for both breakfast and lunch.

But, today was the first time I ever tried one of their old-fashioned ice cream sundaes.

They have several varieties, all with quirky local names. Of course, I had to try the "Pine Castle," which came with a layer of crushed pineapples.

Even without the desserts, our table would've had a great time at Shannon's this afternoon. As it was, the ice cream proved the perfect ending. And, it's one of the best ways we've found to combat the summertime heat around this little corner of heaven . . .

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 09, 2010

Left Behind: The Movie

Disclaimer: Yours truly does not buy-in to the whole millenialist hoopla that has fueled the last few decades of pulp fiction.

So, I was fully prepared to suspend reality for the hour and a half or so that it was going to take to watch the latest DVD selection by our friends at Netflix.

Kinda like what I had to do to watch adaptations of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons.

But, this flick (released in 2001) apparently lacked the budget of those aforementioned bits of fiction. The special effects weren't even laugh-worthy, provoking only cringes around this little corner of heaven.

And, whereas Brown's works were brought to life by superstar Tom Hanks, the poorly-written dialogue in this film was delivered by a cast led by 80s teen icon Kirk Cameron.

Bottom line: If you must entertain such notions, pick up one of the books and skip the film version.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Big Brother premiere tonight

If like me, ye socks may be looking for some mindless entertainment to take your minds off weightier matters.

In which case, the folks over at CBS have stepped-up in a big way this evening with the premiere of the favorite summertime guilty pleasure in this neck of the woods: Big Brother.

Starts at 8pm for those of you fortunate enough to live on the east coast. The rest of you will just have to check your schedules.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

One day of blog silence

In memory of Belinda "Be" Bateman (1950-2010).

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Remember PCPD meeting tomorrow!

If you can make it, the monthly general planning session for Pine Castle Pioneer Days will be held tomorrow afternoon at Belle Isle City Hall (1600 Nela Avenue).

We start at 3pm.

For more information/directions, email:

Labels: ,

Monday, July 05, 2010

The horse eats no cucumber salad.

In watching The History Detectives on PBS this evening, I learned that peculiar phrase was the first one communicated by telephone.

Actually, it was probably more like, "Das Pferd isst keinen Gurkensalat." That is, if my college German still serves.

At any rate, it was spoken by the fellow pictured here, one Johann Philipp Reis, NOT Alexander Graham Bell.

Until tonight, I thought it was Bell who deserved the credit for the more mundane command, "Watson, come here, I need you!"

Learn something new every day . . . or, at least relearn something you thought you knew!

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Saluting the Signers

Fifty-six patriots signed the Declaration of Independence that we Americans celebrate on this, our national holiday. They were:

President of the Congress: John Hancock.

For New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, and Matthew Thornton.

For Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, and Elbridge Gerry.

For Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins and William Ellery.

For Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, and Oliver Wolcott.

For New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, and Lewis Morris.

For New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, and Abraham Clark.

For Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, and George Ross.

For Delaware: George Read, Caesar Rodney, and Thomas McKean.

For Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, and Charles Carroll.

For Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Francis Lightfoot Lee, and Carter Braxton.

For North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn.

For South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Thomas Lynch, and Arthur Middleton.

For Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Spirit of 76

No, ye socks, yours truly does not refer to the fact that tomorrow will mark 76 days of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil leak.

I had enough time atop the proverbial soapbox yesterday.

Today, I refer to the revolutionary spirit of our founding fathers and mothers, which will be officially marked tomorrow as Independence Day.

The folks at The History Channel have gotten an early start, however.

They're running a marathon broadcast of their series on the American Revolution.

Compelling stuff.

It is all too easy as we scramble to get to the beach or neighborhood barbecue to overlook the guts it took to stand-up and topple an oppressive government 234 years ago.

The good news is that the guts displayed by our forefathers and foremothers allows us to freely engage in said scrambling.

And, when we feel oppressed by our government, we don't have to pick up our muskets and march off to the tune of fife and drums.

Because of their great sacrifices and those that came later, we can simply "remember in November" and cast our ballots to find the relief we need.

Still, there is something to be said about the accompaniment of fife and drums . . .

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, July 02, 2010

Delusions of Competence

It is no mere coincidence that the updated jobless numbers were released this Friday before a long holiday weekend. The ObamaNation would rather not trumpet the fact that 125,000 more people are without work and the unemployment rate still hovers around 10%.

If too many people were focused on the report, they might start asking questions. And, the answers would inevitably reveal that things are even worse than the official statistics. The truth is there are more like 24 million unemployed and underemployed, a much higher rate of misery.

This is not the sort of "hope and change" they promised, is it?

Poor Christina Romer. She's the unfortunate soul who chairs the president's Council of Economic Advisors. So, it was her unenviable task to spin the dismal results of her advice on all the cable news outlets today. When the folks at Bloomberg TV pressed her on what the administration is going to do now, her frightening response was: "We're always talking about what more we can do."

What MORE they can do?!?

One might argue that all the tinkering they've already done is exactly what is prolonging this great recession. And, if they want the business environment to improve, the best thing they could do would be to exercise restraint. Romer et al would do us all a great service if they encouraged the president to pursue a simple three-point strategy on the economy: (1) extend the low '01 & '03 tax rates, (2) stop discouraging banks from lending, and (3) repeal the many and onerous mandates of ObamaCare.

Instead, she is busy sputtering her flimsy defenses and laughable claims that her boss still has job creation at the top of his agenda.

Actions speak louder than words.

Since taking office, Mr. Obama has made socialized medicine and relaxed immigration policy his primary domestic concerns, not job creation.

Today's jobless numbers reflect that misdirected focus.

And, don't even get me started on the Gulf oil leak. It is, after all, the Friday before a long holiday weekend . . .

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Again, without a mobile phone today!

Just a week ago, yours truly was experiencing high-anxiety at the hands of our friends at SprintNextel because he had no operable mobile phone.

Today, however, I have no one to blame but myself, as I left said phone on the kitchen counter during the mad dash out the door.

Odd how it's not nearly as anxiety-inducing when the culprit isn't a soulless corporation . . .

In fact, it's strangely liberating . . . or, at least it will be until I get home to find out how many "very important" calls and texts were received during our separation . . .