Wednesday, November 23, 2016

NOVEMBER 27, 2016

LET THE GAMES BEGIN....................................................................................

 UTC is once again crowded with shoppers!!!

If you took in last weekend's Craft Show at Five Points, and still have any money left, you are in for a treat.  Beginning Friday and running through Sunday, Robarts Arena is home for the American Fine Craft Show.  Now in its 8th year, it is bigger than ever.   Over 120 Jury selected Contemporary Artists and Designers.  Jewelry, wood, fiber, wearable art, photography,mixed media, ceramics, sculpture, paintings and more!!!  Open 10am-5pm Fri-Sat, 4pm Sun.  Tickets are $11 adults, $10 seniors. 

I have some exciting news for those of you shopping at Westfield Southgate Mall, Trader Joe's or many of the shops on or around US 41.  ANDREA'S, 2085 Siesta Dr., a very popular dinner spot for fine Italian cuisine is now OPEN for lunch. 

Serving from a large and diverse menu  11:30 AM-2:30PM  Monday-Friday.  Choose your favorite soup, salad, pasta, panini or piatti. 

Pasta...what else!
Nizzarda salad
 I am very enthusiastically recommending Andrea's, having been there for lunch with my Romeo group a few weeks ago.  Most of us had a Nizzarda salad which is similar to salad nicoisse; only better.  And you must have a side of the home-made potato chips; maybe the best in Sarasota.

Andrea is back from Longboat, and is in total supervision of restaurant.  For lunch or dinner reservations  call 941-951-9200.

The Nutcracker 2016, has not generated the publicity it's entitled to.  The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School is premiering their holiday season production of The Nutcracker at the historic Sarasota Opera House on Friday December 2 at 7pm.   Featuring  their students,  this holiday classic was conceived by the school's artistic directors and resident choreographer. 

A yearly tradition of the school,  this is  the first  time they have performed at the best venue in our community.   To order tickets call 941-328-1300 or click here to purchase tickets on line. A perfect venue for this traditional Christmas classic.

Another Christmas classic is returning to Westcoast Black Theatre, this time by "popular demand".  BLACK NATIVITY, adapted and directed by Nate Jacobs, has sold out each year, and 2016 should be no exception.

The show is a celebration of the Nativity story with gospel, blues, spiritual and Christmas music, paired with poetry of Langston Hughes and the creativity of WBTT.  This is a high energy performance; something we've grown to expect from this company.

Don't wait a moment longer to get great seats for this month long theatre experience. Just click here.  Or visit their box office at 1343 Main St.  Ste 402.

If your interest is classical music, then the Sarasota Orchestra's Masterworks program 12/2-4 is where you should be.  With Anu Tali, conducting and international phenom Vadim Gluzman on violin, this
Anu Tali with Vadim Gluzman
promises to be one of the season's best.  Music by Copland, Prokofiev, and Dvorak  should be recognizable to most of you.  With all three concerts at Van Wezel, tickets are still  available.  Call 941-953-3434 or click here to reserve your tickets on line.

I'm breaking a promise made two weeks ago re: NO MORE CUBS until next year.  However, for those of you who will not be going to ballet, symphony, or WBTT and will be at home on Friday read further.  

You must have access to FS-1 or a DVR.  If so, please join me as I watch the television premier movie  of the CUBS  World Series win over the Cleveland Indians.  Highlights and interviews with narration from long-time CUBS fan, Vince Vaughn.  The festivities begin at 7:00 pm.  You know I'll be watching and recording. 

Paul Charlesworth, neighbor and friend wants to thank all of you who participated a few weeks ago in the Sarasota Alzheimer's Walk.  Close to 1,200 of you walked,  raising  nearly $200,000.  Simply AMAZING!!!

JIM'S RANT....Grabbed Thursday's Sarasota Herald Tribune from driveway and boy was it heavy!!  With all those circulars, it was difficult to find the NEWS.  But I did, and much to my chagrin,  it was obvious the paper was printed at least 24 hours earlier.  No Wednesday stock closing numbers, no television sports schedule for Thanksgiving, nothing about the Trump appointments.  We're paying way too much money to have all those advertisements without any content to go along with them.

Hope you have a great week.....only 29 days until CHRISTMAS.......JIM 


Thursday, November 17, 2016

NOVEMBER 20, 2016

A Randy Silagy creation


A few weeks ago, I wrote about Florida Studio Theatre  and their first show of the season,  Million Dollar Quartet.  Little did I expect it would open to rave reviews from not only Jay Handelman of the Herald Tribune,  but several blog readers as well.

 Jan Coleman writes "Do NOT miss Million Dollar Quartet.   Everyone in it is superb; however Jerry Lee Lewis is outstanding.  Easily the first hit of the season." 

 Brian and Joan Wides saw the show last week and had this to say "Jerry Lee's antics with the piano were sensational.  The whole ensemble took us happily down memory lane.  One has to remember how great the originals were and how difficult it can be to emulate them."

 Debbie Yonker and Mark Freed write," ...this is not to be missed!  The talent was incredible.   The cast fully deserved the standing ovation from the audience.  We could see it again if only for the encore by Jerry Lee Lewis."

There are several publications available throughout SARASOTA with monthly listings of events.  I should know as the Visit Sarasota County desk at UTC has an up to date  ARTS Calendar available as does their location downtown 1710 Main St.  The Observer's Fall SEASON issue may still be available with their winter issue out early January.  The Herald Tribune inserts a similar magazine the first Sunday of  each month.

CINE-WORLD Film Festival is history.  Of the four movies we saw only one seems destined to make it back to Burns Court next month.  JACKIE is an extraordinary  look back at Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's travails  from Dallas to Washington to funeral.  Natalie Portman's portrayal of Jackie is incredible as is the entire movie.  This one will definitely be mentioned around Academy Award time.  Release date is 12/2, with no guarantee it will be here before 2017.

Over-all, I was disappointed with this year's film selection.  Outside of above, there were few  mainstream movies; most were art-house which with our limited screens for those type movies,  will never play here.

  In past years Cine-World was the place to see movies before being released in  general distribution.  This has not been the case for at least three years now. And will Burns Cinemas ever learn that it's difficult to enjoy a movie in a freezer!

While going to Cine-World four of us tried OWEN'S FISH CAMP, and much to our delight the restaurant has improved its food quality and selection substantially.  Service was never a problem, but crowds were and continue to be.  

Open daily from 4, my suggestion is to get there before 5:30 or after 8:30.  Situated adjacent to Burns, the crowd is young and lively.  As is with most Sarasota restaurants, the noise level can be deafening at times. However, after all these years I am able to adjust to noise so long as the food is good; and it is VERY good at OWEN'S.  For reservations of parties of 6 or more call 951-OWEN (6936).

This next item will shock those of you who are familiar with my lunch eating habit of salad, salad, salad.  Good friend and fellow biker Randy Silagy took me to his favorite
fast-food restaurant Steak n' Shake.  Armed with discount coupons for EVERY menu item we drove to nearest location off Bee Ridge and Cattleman.  I was literally knocked over with the quality, taste, variety,  and SERVICE!!  Yes, Steak n' Shake is a sit-down restaurant unlike all their poor imitators. 

Randy's meal with salad $5.99!!
My choice of double Steakburger with Cheese, Fries and Regular Soft Drink was $3.99 with coupon, and was equal if not better than Culver's or Smashburger.  I would rate Five Guys a step or two above, but you cannot beat the Steak n' Shake  price.   Randy had a Shake with his meal, and though I normally do not indulge in shakes, a taste was all it took to convince me: NEXT TIME!!!

Look for Steak n' Shake coupons each month in your mail box or favorite Sunday paper.  And when you go tell them "Randy sent you."  I think he's famous there!!!!

 Like several of you, I am eagerly awaiting the opening of California Pizza Kitchen across UTC in an out-parcel under construction.  Though a continuation of a long list of franchise restaurants in that area, it is still one of the best.  Right up there with Cheesecake Factory.  Saw "now hiring" signs all over UTC and was told hiring now for January 9 training and an anticipated opening of January 23, 2017.

Crowd waiting at Target for "bargains"
BLACK FRIDAY isn't the event it use to be.  So many stores have been bombarding us with BF specials already and with several open on Thanksgiving, no longer is it necessary to stand in line after dinner for bargains.  True, there are door busters beginning at midnight; but only for the first few in line.  Best advice is to wait until further discounts make it  impossible for you to resist buying those gifts.

JIM'S RANT....I know many of you will empathize with this week's rant.....dealing with Comcast via telephone  is a full time job.  One that may take you to The Philippines ,  Milwaukee or Minnesota.  Almost never Florida.  Where I live we actually were given a "dedicated"  phone number!!! BOGUS.  For all the money we are paying for all the channels we do not watch you would think we'd be entitled to better customer service...WRONG... 

 Look who's back this week; former editor Tracy who is responsible for any errors this week.   Just a cameo appearance during her visit to Sarasota.  In closing, eat hearty, shop til you drop, and I'll see you again next  Saturday evening......JIM 

Family celebrates my BIG birthday

Friday, November 11, 2016

NOVEMBER 13, 2016

Bleacher wall at Wrigley Field says it all!!!  See you next year.

The November moon will light up the sky Sunday night into Monday


Called a "Supermoon",  it  will be as close to Earth as any have been for 70 years.  The next moon of this magnitude will be in 2034.

 Single tickets are now on sale for VIOLINS OF HOPE February 1-16.  A limited "Full String" pass for all events at several venues is $100.  A great value when you consider the price of opening night Ritz performance tickets.  However, the pass tickets are limited, so I encourage you to either call 866-465-3995 or go to their website for tickets and additional information to what follows.

 Opening night's kick-off of Hope begins with the Len Mazur Memorial Concert in the Ritz ballroom with a yet to be announced featured soloist and members of the Sarasota Orchestra.  Price range for the Ritz Ballroom concert  is $36 or $54.  The higher priced ticket includes your choice of one additional performance featuring Perlman Music Program/Suncoast Alumni along with a conversation with Amnon Weinsten and James Grimes.  Full details at above site.

My advice is go for the $100.  It's a small investment for several days of entertainment and education.

By now most if not all of your should be aware the ASOLO season kicks off this week with one of the most popular musicals of all times GUYS AND DOLLS!!!    Last year's opening musical , WEST SIDE STORY set box office records.  Previous  year's hits 1776, My Fair Lady and Bonnie and Clyde all were exceptional productions.  

If you see only one show this year, get tickets now for this one!!!  Call 941-351-8000 Click here for more information, including a calendar for best seats, or order on line as well.

 With all the great theatre  and cabaret in Sarasota, it's easy to forget that there are several other venues in cities close by.  One is Venice Theatre where Billy Elliot the Musical is playing through Dec.4.  This area premier of the smash Elton John hit captured 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  Before its Broadway performances, Billy Elliot was a wonderful movie.  Jay Handelman's recent Herald-Tribune review was one big RAVE!!  

Those of you who went to Venice for Ben Vereen's Hair last season were not disappointed.  To purchase tickets call 941-488-1115.

Easy  way to get to Venice and avoid I75 is to take the South Trail.  And if you want a meal before or after the performance then Marlene Meyer recommends Nokomis Crab House 920 S on that Trail. 

Dial 941-485-2722 to reserve crabs
 She writes: "If you want a small joint with no atmosphere but great Hard Shell Crabs (Maryland Style) this is the place.  The chef/owner if from Annapolis area.  Always busy and filled with people from MD.  Crabs are $60.00 per dozen. 

 Table reservations not allowed, but crab reservations are!! (Jim states:"figure that one out").  Marlene continues "Love their soft shells even though fried." 

While on the subject of crabs, have you tasted this year's Stone Crab catch?  I did last week, and as advertised, the best in several seasons.   Had  dinner at longtime friend's home and feasted on a fresh catch from Star Fish Company located 12306 46th Avenue West-just off Cortez Road.  A long way to travel for some of you, but it's well worth the ride.

And who couldn't use a good LAUGH these days?  Here comes one from Chabad of Bradenton. The fun starts Sunday December 4 7:30 PM at the Chabad House 5712 Lorraine Road.  That's when national comedian Marc Weiner takes the stage with his acclaimed comedy show.  Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by calling 941-752-3030 or by clicking here. Tickets are $40 and include appetizers and desserts. You'll have to buy your own drinks at a cash bar.

Rasa Saldatis will be at Craft Show
Those of you who missed the St. Armands Circle Arts Festival Saturday- Sunday should not lose any sleep over it.  Next weekend you'll be able to do it all over again, when close to 100 talented artisans move across the Ringling Bridge to Main St. SARASOTA  for one more event.  Running Saturday and Sunday 11/19-20 around Five Points and beyond giving you one last  outside shopping event before the American Fine Craft Show December 2-4 Robarts Arena.  This time of year, it's impossible to go a week WITHOUT a craft show.

JIM'S RANT....It's finally over!! Who would have thought Christmas music along with those inevitable Christmas commercials would sound so good?  The transfer of power from one administration to another is a time honored tradition that in spite of bitter rhetoric goes on without a hitch.  What makes our country great is our ability to come together in moments of good and bad....God Bless America!!!!

Thanks for reading and putting up with me.....JIM


Thursday, November 10, 2016

NOVEMBER 6, 2016




Turn clock back one hour NOW!!!


Our nightmare of a campaign is almost  over!!!

Alec Baldwin and Kate Mckinnon
If you are a political junkie and want to follow the results and more, here are a few suggestions for this week..... The 2016 SNL Election Special NBC Monday 10p.m. featuring Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump and Kate Mckinnon's Hillary Clinton along SNL'S  best clips form this election as well as ones from campaigns past.

Stephen Colbert
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Live on Showtime Tuesday 11 p.m.  Since CBS is pre-empting Stephen due to election coverage he is taking his act to cable for an event called (deep breath) Stephen Colbert's Live Election Night Democracy's Series Finale : Who's Going to Clean Up This Sh*t?

Trevor Noah
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, who has found his footing since replacing John Stewart, Live Tuesday Comedy Central 11p.m. for a one hour edition.  He states "I expect the race won't be called early because the rigging takes a certain amount of time."  You can guess who he's not supporting Tuesday.

Bill Maher
Real Time with Bill Maher November 11, 10p.m. on HBO.  In Maher's last show before seasonal hiatus his panel will include Martin Short, David Axelrod, Thomas Friedman and Eric Holder.  This is a MUST-see as by Friday you will be sick of the pablum served up by cable-news and the networks.

There are more specials, but I have to move on with SARASOTA information as well as a recap of last week's birthday surprise!!

Who else but the CUBS celebrating

I have been asked lately, "don't you ever eat at home?" and the answer is yes.  However, due to my ROMEO group meeting for lunch on Tuesday as well as a few dinner dates during the week, I am able to store reviews for blog. 

 For instance, a few weeks ago,  we ate at Mattison's City Grille 1 North Lemon Ave along Main St.  I had been there for breakfast and dinner, but never lunch.  The group was pleasantly surprised with menu, quality and service.  And, on a mid-October afternoon was very busy.

Their outside  seating gives you views of both streets.  And as traffic builds during season this is a fun place to people watch.  If you go in the evening, be aware of the live music on weekends and canned music other days of the week.  Can get loud at times.  Our consensus  was an 8!!! 

SILL is continuing to sell tickets for the upcoming season.  Sessions include an array of global issues lectures and musical conversations with former WQXR personality,  June LeBell.   You can view the entire 2017 season by clicking here. 

Program venues remain the same, and that information is available as well on their website.  One addition next year is a Lakewood Ranch location for lectures for Thursday evenings at 7pm at the Cornerstone Church on Covenant Way.  AND, as with most series a complete ticket saves you many $$$$.  The season begins Monday January 9, 2017.

W Crouse Art Deco Poster
Mark your calendar for Wednesday, November 16 when The Ringling College of Art and Design presents a lecture featuring the William W. Crouse  Art Deco Posters collection.  For over 25 years, he has amassed a collection of over 300 posters many from the period between WW! and WW11 and reflect the modernist graphic design that once was featured on billboards and brand marketing across the world.  Many will be on display that day.

This event takes place in the Auditorium, Academic Center Building and is $10 for members and $25 for Non Members.  To order tickets call 941-925-1343.

CUBS go from rags to riches!!!

Jim, Roberta, Marti and Joe
 NASHVILLE is much more than country music and bars.  It is a dynamic sprawling market with great food, spectacular attractions, an NFL and NHL franchise, sight seeing galore, a building boom that make's SARASOTA'S pale in comparison,

If you watched the 50th Anniversary CMA awards on Wednesday you saw a little of the city as well as all the talent associated with country music.  As some of you know, I was there last week along with Roberta, Joe and Martha Marsh for a surprise birthday getaway to celebrate Joe's and my BIG birthday!!!

Bob Dylan Nobel Prize Winner
  We visited The Country Music Hall of Fame which was within walking distance from our hotel;  a modern building dedicated to the history of Country Music from the beginning to present stars like Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert and more. Just one of the many attractions within walking distance from our hotel.

Our meals were outstanding.  Among the restaurants were Southern, Merchants, and Etch.  Way too much food, but oh so good!!

JIM'S RANT....A story known by few which  I am going to share with you this week.  In 1945, the last time my beloved CUBS were in the World Series, I was an 8 year old fan anticipating walking to Wrigley Field with my father.  Came down with Chicken Pox, and the rest is history.  Wednesday in the quiet of my den, I finally got to that game......

I appreciate your indulgence this week as I celebrate a long overdue CUBS World Series Championship.  I've now witnessed a Bears Super Bowl, A White Sox World Series, several Bulls and Blackhawks championships;  but this one is the BEST!!!  Until next week.  Thanks for reading JIM.............