Saturday, March 28, 2015

MARCH 29, 2015


To my readers of all faiths, I hope the coming days will be good ones for you and your family.  These are two special occasions, and for once we get to celebrate and pray together.

The 17th Annual SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL kicks off April 10th and runs through the 19th.  The opening night movie stars Richard Gere, so misused in Marigold Hotel, but getting rave reviews for Time Out Of Mind.   It is a somber piece in which Gere plays
a homeless man. Music from the 1997 Bob Dylan album is featured throughout the film. Director Oren Moverman will be receiving the Hearts and Minds of Independent Award during the Festival.
 The closing movie, starring Blythe Danner, is I'll See You In My Dreams.  Director, Bret Haley will be receiving this year's Impact Award.  Both films have been picked up by Independent distribution for later this year.

Tickets are on sale now, and if past festivals are any indicator, most performances sell out.  Some of the other films announced this week are The End of The Tour starring Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segal.   Now playing in New York it has a 93% Rotten Tomato score.  Another interesting Centerpiece feature is Brand: A Second Coming, a documentary about Russell Brand that received raves at film festivals this winter.

Thursday's Herald came with a complete guide.  I know they are available at Hollywood 20 or wherever you pick up the weekly Ticket.
For a complete list of films and other events scheduled around the festival click here. 

Last week I reviewed the exceptional Pops Concerts featuring Michael Cavanaugh singing Billy Joel hits as well as music from Elton John, the Who and others.  A few nights later, we were treated to a totally different performance, but one just as good, if not better than Cavanaugh's.  I am talking about six time TONY winner Audra McDonald who gave a standing ovation performance to another sellout crown .  We are fortunate to have seen her, since her anticipated return to Broadway isn't until Spring 2016.

Lucky for us, the season is still going strong at Van Wezel with some of the strongest attractions in years.  Among the several still selling tickets are Johnny Mathis, Diana Krall, Chris Botti, Boz Skaggs, Memphis and Flashdance.  Plus, one of the major events of this season, St. Petersburg L'Hermitage "Russia Ballet".  Most performances this year have sold out.  I know April winds down the season, but there are still spring breakers and vacationers enjoying our wonderful weather.  To Purchase tickets as well as check monthly calender click here.

As if we needed another fast food restaurant on the University Parkway corridor now comes Freddy's Frozen Custard @ Steak burgers.  It will surely give Culver's strong competition.  Located in the Parkway shopping center which has come alive with recent Detwiler's opening.  Freddy's is currently under construction.

Seems like we just started the season and now many major venues are  announcing next season's schedule.  One of the most anticipated shows next season will be at the ASOLO THEATER.  The Tony winning best musical WEST SIDE STORY, created by Leonard Bernstein  will be running November 13- December 27 with a few nights of previews before the opening.  This follows a long line of musical theater kick-off to the season:  South Pacific, Bonnie and Clyde, 1776 and Oklahoma.  For all Asolo information this season and next click here.

You only have a few more days to see one of SARASOTA'S spring highlights, SAILOR CIRCUS.  One of the most highly acclaimed youth circus runs through April 4th.  If you have any grand kids visiting and want an entertainment experience for them, then this is s. For performance schedule and ticket purchase click here.

Many of you own your home here and are constantly looking for credible repair companies.  We found one several years ago, and believe me, choosing ANDERSON/MODERN services for Home and Business was the best decision we could have made; other than living in SARASOTA full time.
Now known simply as MODERN SERVICES, other than name, nothing has changed.   They are reasonably priced, quick to respond, and will continue to visit until your problem is resolved.  We first started using the company for air-conditioning, but a few years ago signed a service contract for just about everything in the house.  I highly recommend them.  For more information and contact numbers please click here.  Or you can call 888.605.8466.

TELEVISION ALERT:  Tonight on PBS you can see the third season of Mr. Selfridge.  Starring Jeremy Piven in the title role, it details the creation of a department store empire in the early 1900's.  If you've missed the first two years there's always Amazon.   Entertaining, informative and commercial free!!!! 9 tonight (Sunday) through May17.

JIM'S RANT.....I am a strong believer in our system of free speech; even though now and then some wacko will abuse the privilege.  George Zimmerman is currently in the spotlight accusing President Obama for the resentment towards him from the Trayvon Martin shooting.  Making his self righteous statements even worse, our wonderful media from print to television gives him credibility by airing them.   Zimmerman stood his ground and shot Martin dead then in subsequent months was arrested several times for domestic violence, causing a disturbance, brandishing a firearm and more. Go away Mr. Zimmerman, and take the media with you.

Another week, and again thanks to Tracy whose life is complicated these days selling and buying a home.  Thankfully, she succeeded in both.....Until Next Week.......JIM
Look what Tracy found in her attic!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

MARCH 22, 2015


With spring comes the countdown to summer vacation for thousands of Sarasota school age children.  Many are fed during the school year by the various allfaiths food bank programs.  These children need your help again this year....

LEARN HOW YOU CAN HELP FEED  THEM .  Click here now to make a cash contribution, volunteer, or where to drop off food.  School meals stop as does the allfaithsfoodbank backpack program.  They need your help.

NOW OPEN at Target Center at University and Cattleman across from UTC, is renowned shoe retailer, DSW.  When it's difficult to get parking you know something good is happening inside.  People walking out with shopping bags is proof enough.  DSW will bring only more traffic to that area.  Good for the retailers, not so good for the drivers.

Coming back this summer is a program started last May by the SARASOTA Orchestra, a pops concert complete with fireworks along with a special appearance by Syesha Mercado, a hometown girl who was an American Idol finalist several years ago.  ARTS IN THE BALLPARK  is Saturday May 9, 7:30 pm at Ed Smith Stadium.  Last year's event attracted several thousand who enjoyed music, hot dogs and fireworks in a beautiful outside setting.  It was a sellout well in advance of its May performance, and after purchasing tickets today, it will be a sellout again this year.

The concert pays tribute to a wide range of American Idols, not the TV kind: Elvis, Louis Armstrong, Stevie Wonder and Judy Garland.  Order tickets on line by clicking here.  Or call 893-6300. 

There's a new sensational caterer in town.  His company is INNOVATIVE DINING.  His name is Jeremy Hammond-Chambers. Most recently he was featured in an article in the March issue of SARASOTA Magazine.  Not only does he cater private parties, similar to the one I attended, but he has a staff to provide daily meals to your house guests, if you want to treat them like royalty on their visit.

The party we attended consisted of a mixed selection of appetizers.  All different, unique and delicious.  After Fresh Market, Michael's,  Morton's and other established Sarasota catered parties, it was nice to taste something different than the rest. Click here for their web site, menu ideas and contact information. 

While on the topic of food, had the opportunity to visit one of the best here,  The BIJOU CAFE, on a very busy Saturday evening before an Opera House performance.  A few minutes before 7:30 the place began to empty and I thought they were through for the night.......

I was very wrong!  By 8 pm the dinning room was nearly full.  And deservedly so.  Their soups, salads, breads and entrees along with impeccable service makes this one of SARASOTA'S best restaurants.  Though not inexpensive, BIJOU is not overpriced for quality and quantity.

For a birthday dessert they have a neat twist on candles.  Instead they bring a candelabra to the table along with dark chocolate delicacies.  If you've never been at BIJOU you are in for a treat. When downtown for a movie, theatre, opera or an evening of dining; by all means try them.  I guarantee you will be satisfied.

Next weekend is your last chance to see the Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Anu Tali.  She leaves after the Final Masterworks Concert on Sunday to await the birth of her first baby.  There has been zero information regarding her appearances next season; however, I am confident she will be here.  To ensure tickets click here now.

Last week's POPS program...The Music of Billy Joel & More was one of the best performances we've ever seen in SARASOTA.  Michael Cavanaugh, handpicked by Joel to star in the Broadway musical Movin' Out was lights out.  Accompanied by his own group of back up musicians, it was almost non-essential to have the orchestra behind him.  In reality, this was a show better suited as a Van Wezel program than one with a full Symphony Pops orchestra.  If you want to learn more about Cavanaugh who is on constant tour mode at the moment, click here.

JIM'S RANT....Why is it, Sarasota, after granting  a construction permit for necessary commerce on Main St. is now after the fact demanding a traffic impact study before the developer can move forward?? Where was Sarasota County when University Parkway was being developed?? Why not a traffic impact study then???  Do you think politicians react to look important or necessary?? Instead of traffic studies on development of  an unoccupied area, why not encourage more retailers and restaurants to recreate the vibrancy that once existed on Main St.????

Tracy returns to her editing position after her spring break.....until next week....JIM

Saturday, March 14, 2015

MARCH 15, 2017


 HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY ....Your favorite pub will be open early and close late so have a ball and celebrate.....

Hat's off to PEDAL FOR PUPS for a very successful event last Sunday.  The day was perfect and the event well run with ample food and drink for everyone.  Mark your calendar for next year's PEDAL, Sunday 3/ week before Daylight Savings Time. You can preregister now at this address and save $5 in entry fee by registering early.

If you want to make a contribution send your check to Nate's Animal Rescue 8437 Cooper Creek Blvd. Bradenton, FL 34201.

Last week's rant must have hit a nerve, as several of you replied with your own analysis of our horrible traffic. An anonymous reader  writes: "...Your problem drivers are probably snowbirds who rent cars with FL plates........
  I've been permanent for 8 years, and have watched as more and more snowbirds and tourists, some very short term, come year after year.  I'm sick of it, and LOVE the month of May, by which time most of the snowbirds are gone, the last love bug has died, the weather is great and we have our streets and restaurants back."

While I can agree with some of what Helen writes, the snow-birds, for better or worse, have made SARASOTA one of the go-to spots for vacation and recreation in Florida.  Much of our growth is due to their spent dollars creating more restaurants, shops and entertainment for those of us who live here year round.

For two weeks running, I've featured two accomplished artists whose work can be seen in several SARASOTA locations.  I have a very dear friend whose work is limited to his home, but is as good as any you can find in galleries, shops or museums.  Mickey Fox retired to SARASOTA 15 years ago after a successful career in real-estate.  

To keep his mind and time occupied he has been taking courses in art, jewelery, sculpting and glass,  along with lectures and  all types of classes.  What he has accomplished in a short period of time is remarkable.  He is my hero; I envy his ability to be so creative.  I have trouble drawing two lines together. 

The samples shown here are just a few of the many he has created over the past several years.  There are much more  in addition to these and the one at the end of my RANT,  but what you see here  will give you a good overview of what can be accomplished if you set your mind to it!!! It also doesn't hurt to be talented!!!

BREAKING NEWS....BREAKING NEWS...You are seeing it here before any other SARASOTA publication......In a recent bidding for catering and restaurant service at the Ringling Museum of Art,  TABLESEIDE RESTAURANT GROUP was the winner outbidding current provider Guest Services and Paul Mattison.  For those of you unfamiliar with Tableseide, it is the SARASOTA company for  among others Louie's Modern, Libby's and The Frances.  I can tell you firsthand there will be several restaurant changes including decor, name (Treviso) and menu.  The changeover takes effect July 1.  No timetable for specific changes.

Had a fabulous meal last week at MOZAIC on Main street.  For those of you who have been to this restaurant it should be a must before you leave to go back home.  For those of you who have, you know what I am raving about.  From service, to home made  rolls, appetizer, main course and dessert, you won't find a better place in SARASOTA for that special occasion or a great dinner.

If you were eagerly awaiting the sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to be at least as good as its predecessor, you will be sorely disappointed.  The same brilliant cast headed by Judy Dench and Maggie Smith even adds Richard Gere  to the mix only to come up short, flat, boring, and a total waste of talent.  If you did not see the first Hotel, you may enjoy this one, but I doubt it. 
On the other hand, if you're looking for an under the radar movie playing all over town, see McFarland, USA.   A true story starring Kevin Costner and a cast of unknowns, it  takes you through a wonderful journey of courage and determination.  About a high school cross country team determined to qualify for the state finals and concludes with their back stories after high school graduation.  You MUST stay for closing credits, as their later life  achievements will become even more meaningful to you.

Now open at UTC across from Kona Grill is 4D Gelateria featuring several gelato flavors and desserts that look too good to be true.  When we were there on Saturday, a line had already formed to taste the many flavors.   This company has stores all over Florida, including Naples, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. 

JIM'S RANT....What with the Oriole's selling out nearly every game and visitors from Baltimore flocking to our area, you would think someone at SARASOTA  airport would be attempting to get direct flights to and from that area; at least during the winter.  NO WAY!! But a group has formed in an attempt to  make that  happen.   A petition has been started on line with a goal of 1,000 signatures to present to the Sothwest Airlines and airport officials as a dialogue starting point . You can read more and sign the petition here:

Thanks for continuing to read this blog....Until next week...have a good one...JIM

A fitting way to end blog with Mickey Fox's newest glass creation!!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2015




The Oriole's first home game on Wednesday was a record setter. Before a standing room- sell-out crowd on a warm summer like day, it was a  great way to treat yourself or family to an outdoor outing.  Throughout  this month and the beginning of April teams from Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Minnesota, New York and Tampa will be playing the Oriole's to mostly packed houses.  Get your tickets now at the Ed Smith box office or by phone 941-893-6312.

The team claims 85% of sold tickets for the rest Spring Training.  If you don't love standing room, get yours today!!!!

As if Breakfast, Lunch and in-season dinner was not enough, TOASTED MANGO has expanded in their menu  to a FROZEN MANGO store with daily offerings 10AM-8PM daily.  Everything from smoothies to gelato to shakes to cones and more.  In addition there is outside seating for those of us who like to dine outdoors in this beautiful weather.  This has truly become the go to restaurant any day of the week or any night when you have theatre of Van Wezel tickets or just in the mood for a good meal.
Visit their new web site and explore all their different menus. 

The WESTCOAST BLACK THEATRE TROUPE has begun its most anticipated show of the season, Jazz Hot Mamas.  Due to ticket demand, performances have been added, but this one is sure to be a sell-out.  The show is a salute to some of the greatest singers of the 20th century, including Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, and the incomparable Sarah Vaughn.  I believe I've seen them all perform during my youth in Chicago.  The show continues through April 4.  Tickets are $29.50 and can be obtained by calling the box office at 365-1505 or by clicking their web site now!

In a few weeks, The Sarasota Orchestra POPS series resumes with a two night program featuring the music of Billy Joel.  His music is timeless and spans many generations.  He continues to sell-out Madison Square Garden in New York once a month in an ongoing multi-year contract.

  The vocalist who will be singing Joel's material is Michael Cavnaugh, hand picked by Joel for the lead role in recent Broadway musical Movin On The Broadway hit, Movin On includes Joel's hits Just the Way You Are, Uptown Girl, It's Still Rock and Roll to me and dozens more.   You won't want to miss this oneTo purchase tickets for either the Thursday or Friday performance click here.

I am featuring another talented local artist this week,  Randy lasalle Fox.  She has been painting and creating ceramic pieces for several years now.  Some of her work can be seen at St. Armand's Circle restaurants as well as galleries downtown SARASOTA.  A ceramic mirror and painting of two people you may recognize are hanging in our house.  Randy is available for private or group  instruction at her home in Siesta Key.  To contact Randy call 941-586-6968 or email

Pizza....Pizza...Pizza...who doesn't love pizza?  We have so many choices here, I am not going to recommend any, one of which is  EVIE'S. It is really a sports bar more than a pizza restaurant, Evie's does create a variety of Pizza pies to go along with wings, fries and other comfort food. For locations and menu click here. A big feature is for a small charge they will deliver the pizza hot right to your door.

Had the good fortune to see FLY, the current FST production at Gompertz Theatre.  FLY is a powerful story from WW11 involving desegregation of the military.  It follows four African-American pioneers from training to real action.  The acting, staging, lighting, EVERYTHING related to this production is outstanding.  Playing until April 4.  DO NOT MISS IT!!!

JIM'S RANT....What's with all that switching lane business on our overly crowded streets?  All you get for your efforts is a red light at the next intersection.  I'd like to blame this on tourists or snowbirds, but I see mostly Florida tags.  Traffic is bad enough without idiots trying to get one step ahead at busy intersections.  I have no way of knowing what causes all those crashes on 75, but I would bet one of them is lane switching.  Stay in your own lane and arrive at destination a few minutes late.  Better safe than sorry..

If you are reading this Sunday before noon, it is not too late to head to NATHAN BENDERSON PARK to see the conclusion of a very successful PEDAL FOR PUPS.  With the assistance from the Benderson family over $40,000 was raised today.  Thank you for contributing.

And once again, thank you Tracy for editing and correcting...see you next week..JIM....