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Jax Gets TED-ucated

So excited for TEDx Jacksonville to finally be here and want to share this amazing experience with those of you who couldn't be here or so I'll be live blogging the event ... because live Tweeting is just annoying. No offense.

10:50 a.m. Host Al Letson opens the show with a quote from Margaret Mead. Something about small groups of people changing the world. [I can't type fast enough to get it verbatim.] Then encourages participants: "Talk to people you don't know. Ask someone a question. One of the first questions I ask people is 'what's the bravest thing you've ever done?'" A memorable response, he says, was a man who saved a chihuahua from drowning in a big fish tank.[Still working on my answer.]

10:54 a.m.: Housekeeping reminders ... Letson points out the exits "in case anything bad happens ... which it won't" [he must have been a Boy Scout]. Turn off your cell phones. Video cameras or everywhere. Keep your droolng to a minimum. And if you're going to be Tweeting from the event, use the hashtag #TEDxJax. 

10:58 a.m.: First spontaneous applause of the day. Letson says he's from Jacksonville and proud to be.

11 a.m. Barbara Collciello speaks on "Improvisation to the Rescue." "Nothing," she says, is more powerful than to be together, your minds and hearts, listening and sharing."

11:05 a.m. Al introduces 5 & Dime, a Theatre Company, who perform an excerpt from Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. [Now would be a good time to look up what "elegy" means. ... I'll be right back.] And don't forget to use the hashtag #TEDxJax.

11:07 a.m. Just as Bruce Ganger takes the stage to discuss "Moving Toward a HungerSolution, the lights go out. The executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank is unfazed. "I can't make you see what hunger looks like. But darkness is one way to portray it. You can't focus on anything else, you feel immoblized and anxious, you can't connect with others. You can't read, study or work. Metaphorically, …   More


The Best of Jax 2013

No sooner than the winners of Folio Weekly's Best of Jax 2013 are declared, then the grousing starts.

"Their food sucks." "That place is lame." "She's an idiot." No doubt, readers all over Northeast Florida are bitching that their favorite restaurant/bar/wacko didn't win (and what do you want to bet 75 percent of those doing the complaining didn't even vote?). 

I, for one, don't agree with all of the winners (if you can call being named "Best Wacko" winning), which is why I've created my own Best of Jax awards. Realizing that we are entitled to our opinions, I'm not disagreeing with voters, per se. Instead, I have taken the existing categories and put my own twist on them, allowing me to recognize my own favorites—without insulting other readers.

Local Hero ... Who Not Only Isn't a Billionaire but Doesn't Even Get Paid for His Valiant Efforts to Make Jacksonville a Better Place

Mike Field, co-founder of Jax Truckies (winner of Best Local Trend and Best Facebook page in the Best of Jax 2013 poll) and Jax Cash Mob

Local Zero ... Excitement 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Local Wacko(s) ... on Twitter

NAME(S) REDACTED (um, hello ... they're wackos ... do you think I'm actually going to name them?)

Best TV Morning Show ...That Aired the Night Before But I Record It and Don’t Watch Until the Next Morning So It’s Technically a “TV Morning Show” to Me

“Project Runway”

Best B&B in Jacksonville ... and by “B&B” I Mean “Bread and Butter”


Best Bartender ... Who Shares My Last Name

Billy Speckman at European Street Cafe, Riverside

Best DJ ... Who Actually Plays My Song Requests 

DJ Chill Will 

Best Bookstore ... for People Too Lazy to Drive to a Bookstore and/or Who Like to Shop at 4 a.m.

Best Facebook Page ... for Posts About Real Life That Will Make You LOLOLOLOL

Tie: Amy Lee and …   More



For politicians, controversy goes with the territory. Just ask Jacksonville City Councilwoman Kimberly Daniels.

Before she was even elected to office, the District 1, at-large, representative came under fire for a colorful past that included drug addiction, drug dealing and prostitution. She's publicly spoken out about the sins of homosexuality, made anti-Semitic remarks and thanked God for slavery. And since taking office, Daniels, a "deliverance minster" who founded Spoken Word Ministries and Kimberly Daniels Ministries International, has been featured on the National Geographic Channel series "Taboo" for performing exorcisms.

Halloween is a particularly sensitive time for Councilwoman Daniels as she opines, among other things, that Halloween is "dedicated to darkness and is an accursed season." While Daniels has countless dedicated followers around the globe, others may find her beliefs to be somewhat extreme. In that spirit (pardon the pun), I invite you, dear readers, to take the following quiz:

"Things Kimberly Daniels Has Actually Said About Halloween or Fake ‘Quotes' I Made Up"

1. Decorating buildings with Halloween scenes, dressing up for parties, going door-to-door for candy, standing around bonfires and highlighting pumpkin patches ... are demonic and have occult roots.

2. Most of the candy sold during [Halloween] has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.

3. I am horrified at the thought of Halloween candy and its demonic intentions, but, at the same time, if you bite a candy corn just right, you can make it look like a tooth.

4. My nickname in high school was Twix. How weird is that?

5. During this season, witches are celebrating the changing of the seasons from summer to fall. They give praise to the gods for the demonic harvest. 

6. The most horrific and unspeakable movie I’ve ever seen is "Halloween." Just kidding ... it’s “Bio-Dome.” I mean, I love Pauly Shore, but even …   More


The Name Game

For the most part, the names of our local pro sports teams have obvious connections to our city.

With approximately 221 days of sun annually, the Jacksonville Suns makes sense. Having at least five players who can't walk through a standard door without having to duck makes the Jacksonville Giants an apt descriptor. And as the county with the seventh highest rate of shark attacks in the state, the Jacksonville Sharks moniker is more accurate than most of us care to think about. (The Jacksonville Jaguars are an anomaly, however, since the Panthera onca isn't even found in Jacksonville or Florida or the Southeastern United States ... but that's another story.)

I bring this up because the city's new North American Soccer League (NASL) team is looking for a name and is holding a contest to find one. The contest runs through noon Dec.1, and the winner (if eligible, of course) wins a trip to a "top-flight professional soccer game" in the UK during the 2013/2014 season (including airfare for one, two match tickets and three nights hotel accommodations). 

Naturally,  I have a few suggestions of my own which can be viewed in the photo gallery above. If anyone wins with one of my names, I expect that other ticket. (P.S. I know my graphics stink, but I'm a writer not a designer.)

Click here for contest rules and eligibility requirements   More


First Coast Connect: Around Town Events

In case you missed my ramblings on First Coast Connect on WJCT this morning, here’s what’s coming up this weekend and beyond—Around Town!

Thursday, October 10–Saturday, October 12 

Jacksonville Junior League's Holiday Market, Jacksonville Fairgrounds

Friday, October 11–Saturday, October 12

JAXtoberfest, Jacksonville Shipyards

Friday, October 11–Sunday, October 13 

75th anniversary of the Jacksonville Farmers Market, FREE

Friday, October 11–Sunday, October 13 

16th Annual Greek Festival, Francis Field, St. Augustine 

Saturday, October 12

Ferry Fest II, 11 a.m.–8 p.m., St. Johns River Ferry, Mayport, FREE

Saturday, October 12

Bill O'Reilly and Dennis Miller: Bolder & Fresher, 3 p.m., Times-Union Center

Saturday, October 12

River City Pride Parade, 4 p.m., Riverside/Avondale, FREE

Wednesday, October 16

Arc After Dark, 6–8 p.m., Hyatt Regency Riverfront 

Wednesday, October 16

Folio Weekly's Best of Jax 2013 Party, 6–9 p.m., BlackFinn American Grill 



Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 .m. for Cher in concert May 14 at the Veterans Memorial Arena.

Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for Blue Man Group in concert January 21–26 at the Times-Union Center.

A limited number of tickets are still avaiilable for TEDx Jacksonville, October 26 at WJCT Studios. 

Yours truly rocks the mic on WJCT's First Coast Connect every Thursday around 9:45 a.m. Tune in. Look out.

If you have an event you would like to be considered for inclusion, email pertinent information to   More


U Cant Txt & Drive Anymore

In an effort to "improve roadway safety ... and prevent crashes related to the act of text messaging while driving a motor vehicle," the state legislature passed the "Florida Ban on Texting While Driving." Despite the law going into effect more than a week ago, many Jacksonville residents are just now hearing about it. One reason is because no one can shut up about the Mathews Bridge or the return of Cinottis' pumpkin donuts long enough to listen (apparently, the federal government shut down too—whatever that means). The lack of knowledge and/or interest regarding the ban might also have something to do with the law's exclusions and limitations, and the fact that it's only a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement can't pull a driver over just for texting.

While I applaud lawmakers for the effort, I'm not sure how much of an impact it will actually have, especially since there are so many other distracting activities done while driving.

Driving while primping: includes but is not limited putting on make-up, shaving, eyebrow plucking, doing your hair, flossing teeth, applying self-tanner and popping zits

Driving while performing: includes but is not limited to singing or lip-synching with or without the use of overly theatrical hand gestures, seat dancing (frequently brought on by Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and anything by Beyoncé), as well as the playing of air guitar, air drums, air keyboard, air bongos, air violin, air banjo, air saxophone, etc. (in addition to endangering the lives of others, you just look stupid)

Driving while listening to talk radio or sports radio: just imagine how many accidents Rush Limbaugh alone has caused by opening his mouth 

Driving while entertaining oneself: even if it's for self-improvement purposes including but not limited to reading newspapers or books (print or tablet versions), doing crossword puzzles or sudoku (especially with a pen), playing Games With Friends (or similar …   More


Beer Me!

Here's an interesting Fakt: Oktoberfest — the real one, in Munich, Bavaria, Germany — actually starts in September and runs until the first weekend in October.

So for all intents and purposes the multi-week event takes place almost equally in September as it does in October.

That's probably why the Germans don't even call it "Oktoberfest." Rather, they refer to it as "die Wiesn," a colloquialism for "Theresienwiese," the fairgrounds at which it's held.

But we Americans have no problem changing a centuries-old tradition to better suit our own needs, which explains these local Oktoberfest events, which all take place in the month of October.

Oktoberfest at Art Walk

October 2, 5–11 p.m. (extended hours), Downtown, admission: free

nearly 50 venues, artists, street performers, etc. spread over 15 blocks

biergarten block party in Hemming Plaza

German, seasonal and local brews 

German-style grub

16+ live music venues including performances by EPCOT's Dan Witucki and Mein Heimatland Musikanten Band



Oktoberfest at European Street Cafe

October 5, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., European Street Cafe (Jacksonville Beach), admission: free

beer from Germany-and around the world

authentic German food including giagantic Bavarian pretzel

live music from The Five Hungry (1–5 p.m.)

KanJam tournament

chicken dancing

photo opps with the Monster German Wiener

** First 100 guests receive a free one-liter glass boot (to drink from, not to wear)

** Wear traditional lederhosen or dirndl and get a free beer.



Intuition Ale's Third Annual Oktoberfest Celebration

October 6, 1–8 p.m., Memorial Park, $20 in advance, $25 at the door, kids under 12 free, VIP sold out

live music from The Swinging Bavarians oompah band with Traditional Oktoberfest songs and yodeling 

slap-dancing and the chicken dance

Intuition's famous beer and special Oktoberfest …   More


Breast Cancer: Are You Aware?

Do you know eight women (seven, if you're a woman yourself)? One of them will get breast cancer in her lifetime (ladies, that one could be you). If that news weren't scary enough, the American Cancer Society estimates 39,620 women in the U.S. will die of the disease this year.

Not trying to be the grim reaper or anything but having lost my mother to breast cancer when she was only 41, makes me an unwitting advocate. All of which leads me to reminding everyone that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There is some good news, though. You can help prevent the disease and possibly find a cure — and you don't need to be a scientist, physician or researcher to do it. So have a cocktail, play golf, support local music or just wear pink: The boobies you save might be your own. 


• Lee Jeans National Denim Day for American Cancer Society, October 4, participating companies, $5

• Sixth Annual Pink Ribbon Symposium: October 5, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Thrasher-Horne Conference Center, Orange Park, free

• Bubble Palooza Celebration of Survivorship: October 5, 10 a.m., Jacksonville Equestrian Center, $40-$47

• Second Annual Breast Cancer Poker Run: October 5, 11 a.m., North Jacksonville Moose Lodge #2134, $15 per rider, $5 per passenger

• Passion for Pink Celebration: October 5, 8:30 p.m., East Touchdown Club, EverBank Field, $20, must be 21 or older

• Pink Ribbon Golf Classic Cocktail Party: October 9, 6-9 p.m., private residence, Ponte Vedra Beach, $75

• Pink Ribbon Golf Classic Women's Tournament: October 10, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, $150 per player

• Upbeat Pink: A Musical Tribute to Breast Cancer Survivorship—"An Evening With James Bond and Friends": October 11, 7:30 p.m., UNF Lazzara Performance Hall, free

• Making Strides Against Breast Cancer—Orange Park: October 12, 9 a.m., Best Bet of …   More


Don't Walk Away

Here’s the thing about musicians who are still performing more than 30 years after their heydey: They have a very specific present-day audience. Case in point, Rick Springfield.

Of the millions of fans Springfield had back in the day, a small percentage are now dead or deaf; others don’t remember the pretty-boy pop star (or won’t admit it, at least, to their friends who were into Morrissey or The Cult); a larger section outgrew his music and now listen to Michael Bublé or Jack Johnson; and perhaps the biggest group are the fans who had fond memories of Springfield but aren’t sure so sure about spending at least $50 on a ticket. And there are the loyal “Rick Chicks” who wouldn’t think twice about dropping $500+ on for a VIP stage pass to meet the man—in the flesh.

It’s a safe assumption groups one, two and three won’t be attending Springfield’s September 26 show at the Florida Theatre—and probably never started reading this post in the first place. And the Rick Chicks already have their seats and have been mainlining “Human Touch” and “Love Is Alright Tonite” since tickets went on sale. That said, I am dedicating this list to group four.

And I’ll see you group five gals (and guys) on Thursday. Florida Theatre. 8 p.m.

1. "Jessie's Girl..." blah-blah-blah. Great song, obviously, but it's not Springfield's only hit. Perhaps these ring a bell...

"Don’t Talk to Strangers"

"What Kind of Fool Am I"

"Affair of the Heart"

"I’ve Done Everything for You"

"Love Somebody"

"Don’t Walk Away"

2. And he's still churning them out, at least according to one Herald & Review reporter: "Springfield has put many of his contemporaries to shame with an excellent new album ["Songs for the End of the World"]. It is superb."

3. Sure, he's a Grammy-winning musician whose sold millions of albums and been a TV star, but Springfield fights his demons just like the rest of us. His memoir, "Late Late at Night," details …   More


Ta-da! It's TED!

Chances are you’ve at least heard of TED.

No, I’m not referring to JFK’s brother or the guy who sang “Cat Scratch Fever” or the Unibomber or the foul-mouthed, beer-guzzling stuffed bear from that movie with Mark Wahlberg. I’m talking about TED, the global non-profit that brings together some of the most creative, accomplished and fascinating thinkers and doers to speak on topics as diverse as the participants themselves.

Founded in 1984 as a conference to unite leaders and visionaries in the fields of Technology, Entertainment, Design, TED has expanded to topics as broad as psychology and race and as specific as origami and cyborgs. (Not to name drop but Bill Gates, Bono, Colin Powell and T. Boone Pickens are a few of the “remarkable people” who have delivered “riveting talks” at TED events.)

TEDx Jacksonville, an independently organized program, hosts its own conference “Connecting Currents” on October 26. Presenters include internationally-recognized Afghan artist Aman Mojadidi ("Geography of Self") and Matt Rutherford, the first person in history to complete a non-stop, singlehanded voyage around North and South America ("Tales From the Ocean's Garbage Patch"), as well as local visionaries former UN ambassador Nancy Soderberg ("A New Global Compact") and JCCI president and CEO Ben Warner ("New Models for Civic Engagement"). 

Seeking creative people who care about our city and our planet, event organizers promise a unique opportunity to “deconstruct, decipher and explore challenges, innovation and realities that shape and are shaped by the currents flowing through our city.” 

What they don't promise, however, is a seat. Applications are being accepted for audience members, and the event is expected to sell out. Final invitations will be sent October 6, but don't delay. TED is waiting.   More

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