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THE SPECKTATOR

I’m not abandoning the Jaguars.

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for my hometown team. It’s just that I’ve never had much of a personal connection to football. I didn’t watch it growing up. In high school, I went to exactly one football game. And Jacksonville University didn’t even have a team when I went to school there. Honestly, I haven’t even watched the Super Bowl since 2005—no, not even for the commercials.

Accordingly, I have decided to make it official and announce my retirement as a partially-semi-barely football fan to become a pro soccer (or “football,” as the rest of the world calls it) fan, specifically a fan of the Fulham Football Club (or "soccer" as we refer to it). And here's why:

1. Shad Khan. I. Love. This. Man. Everything he says, thinks, does and spends his millions on. Love.

2. Less complicated rules. Or so says this article on livestrong.com. And my British expatriate friend. 

3. Shorter games. There's a pretty good chance I could make it through an entire soccer game without switching the channel more than three times (90 minutes plus 15-minute half vs. three hours-ish of football). 

4. Recognizability. Football players wear all that padding and those giant helmets that obscure their faces: It's difficult to know who's who if they aren't wearing a jersey with their name in giant letters on the back (subliminal message: soccer players show more skin, which brings me to...)

5. Better bodies. Seriously, how many people fantasize about seeing a 400-pound man naked? In related news, Fullham goalie David Stockdale and I are now dating (unbeknownst to him ... and his wife).

6. Foreign accents. I'm a sucker for them, and Fulham has players from Austria, England, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Ireland, Mali, Switzerland and Venezuela. Jaguars guard Austin Pasztor is from Canada.

7. …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

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

THE SPECKTATOR

One Spark kicks off this week. And while people with far more money, intelligence and business savvy than I are looking to the five-day festival for the next big thing, I am most excited about meeting the people who came up with the ideas in the first place.

By "plugging" these creators, I'm not saying their projects are going to save the world or anything (actually, one of them might) — or if they're even financially viable. I do know that they and their projects will certainly make it a much more interesting world to live in.

To learn more about the creators and their projects, as well as where you can find them, click on the links below.

Antonio Allegretti

Instant Beard Cream

Why it gets my vote: I've often wondered what I'd look like with a Shad Khan-style mustache. This colored shaving cream can make that happen. 

Angel Ayala Torres

Aurora

Why it gets my vote: I love discovering new music and supporting independent artists. I also love how one song can completely change your mood or perspective. This app does all that.

Liz Gibson

1've Got Your "One Spark" Right Here-Baby!!!

Why it gets my vote: Gibson, who was born with only seven fingers, created her own unique form of artistic expression called "deformance art" that is clever, educational and inspiring.

Barry Maurice Givens 

MiBar

Why it gets my vote: A mobile robotic mixologist that lets me order and pay for drinks with my iPhone—and not worry about ignored by a bartender? Cheers to that! Bonus points for having two of the three Bee Gees' names in his own.

Michael Hosto

The Guardian Project: Sexual Assault Victim Therapy Dogs

Why it gets my vote: Being able to give a survivor of a sexual assault any sense of security and confidence truly is priceless. Which is exactly why they need funding...

Jordyn Jackson

Flagship Romance

Why it gets my vote: Forget that Jackson and Shawn Fisher are way talented …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

By now, you probably know (whether you want to or not) Tim Tebow is unemployed. As the sports pundits continue to speculate if he'll get picked up, move to the AFL or work the register at PDQ, a fast-casual restaurant chain specializing in chicken sandwiches that he plans to invest in, I, for one, am not worried about Tebow following in the footsteps of his idol and Heisman Trophy winner turned NFL flop Danny Wuerffel. 

If nothing else, he has a promising career in YouTube video cameos to wit "Basketball Diva," the adorable Jason Yee's tribute to Washington Wizards center Jason Collins for revealing he is gay. Tebow's shirtless photo appears around 49 seconds during the lyric: "Be proud of who you are, even if you're a famous sports star, live ur luv out loud, cuz we only have now."

Interpret away, pundits...

    More

THE SPECKTATOR

Elisabeth Hasselbeck barely had time to take the Mitt Romney posters (and Kathy Griffin dartboard) off her dressing room walls and remove her egg whites and energy bars out of the "The View" lunchroom before Jenny McCarthy started moving in.

With a Bankers Box full of anti-vaccine brochures, Razzie Awards and Gas-X, McCarthy is already making herself at home, which is great for maintaining the show's momentum. But I am slightly disappointed that no local women were even considered for the gig. Northeast Florida is full of sassy, opinionated women, many of whom have experience on TV and public speaking.

Take, for example, Grandma Lee: how entertaining would it be to watch the foul-mouthed, chain-smoking 79-year-old comic try and make it to the first commercial break without suffering nicotine withdrawals or dropping an "F" bomb—or 10? 

Check out all of my picks in the photo gallery above.   More

THE SPECKTATOR

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 SPECKTATOR

It's tempting to say that Ms. Senior Jacksonville "ain't your grandmother's pageant," but actually, it is: as long as your grandmother is at least 60 years young.

Pageant director and founder Kenyonn Demps created the pageant in 2009 to enable senior women an opportunity to take center stage—literally. "The pageants allow these women to reinvent themselves, strut their stuff, feel more confident and show our community that seniors still have a whole lot of living to do," she says. 

Contestants compete in four categories including talent (which, for the record, will not involve crocheting afghans or washing anyone's mouth out with a bar of soap): In fact, one contestant will do a Michael Jackson-inspired dance number.

To truly put these ladies' participation in perspective, however, the "least young" competitor, who is 76, was born the same year the Spanish Civil War started and the Hindenberg crashed. FDR was president, a new car cost less than $700 and the average annual income was $1,700. 

And before you even ask, no, there's not a swimsuit category.

The pageant takes place June 29 at FSCJ Downtown Campus.Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. To purchase tickets, email kdemps@aseasonedaffair.com.

Check out the contestants in the photo gallery above.   More

THE SPECKTATOR

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

July 18-21

Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament, Jim King Park & Boat Ramp, Sisters Creek

Aurora Jacksonville Black Arts Festival, Gateway Town Center

July 19

Cedric the Entertainer, 8 p.m., Florida Theatre

July 20

The Bridges Run 5K, 7:30 a.m.,Hemming Plaza

The Kung Fu Evolution, 7 p.m., Times-Union Center

Sublime with Rome, Pennywise, 6 p.m., St. Augustine Amphitheatre

July 24

Toad the Wet Sprocket, 8 p.m., Ponte Vedra Concert Hall

 

Yours truly rocks the mic on WJCT's First Coast Connect every Thursday around 9:50 a.m. Tune in. Look out.   More

THE SPECKTATOR

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

June 27-29

Keenan Ivory Wayans, Comedy Zone

"Father of the Bride," 8 p.m., Amelia Community Theatre 

June 28

Leon Washington's Poker Face Casino Night, 7-11 p.m., WJCT

 

ESPN Friday Night Fights: The Big Brawl in Duval, 7 p.m., Veterans Memorial Arena

 

"Grease," 7:30 p.m., Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens 

 

June 29

 

"Steel Magnolias," 2 and 8 p.m., Theatre Jacksonville

 

Freedom Festival, 5-9 p.m., Orange Park Mall

June 30

Northside LOVE Arts & Vendors Market, 2-6 p.m., Lonnie C. Miller Park

Mary J. Blige, 8 p.m., Arena

July 1

Breakfast of Champions, 9-11 a.m., Jacksonville Golf & Country Club

Yours truly rocks the mic on WJCT's First Coast Connect every Thursday around 9:50 a.m. Tune in. Look out.   More

THE SPECKTATOR

I assume you're "supposed" to go to The Players Championship to witness the best golfers in the world do what they do best (which, as far as I can tell, is knock a small ball into a hole using metal stick). While I'm not going to dispute the athletic ability required to accomplish such a task (especially considering I was +13 the last time I played miniature golf), I am going to suggest that there are other less obvious motives for making the drive to TPC Sawgrass.

1) Tasty grub. Not that burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches wrapped in foil and served out of a backyard shed don't have their place in the culinary world, but this year's tournament is stepping it up with offerings from some of the area's most popular restaurants. The Taste of Jax pavilion includes Thai and Southeast Asian-inspired dishes from Indochine, good old fashioned comfort food from Metro Diner and award-winning Neapolitan pizza from Pele's Wood Fire.

2) Party atmosphere. It may not be the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," but The Players Championship comes pretty darned close. Besides the golf course itself serving as a grass-covered pub crawl, the post-play shindigs are way above par, which—in this case—is a good thing. My recommendations? The Cut Party (Friday, May 10, 6-11 p.m.), benefiting the Boselli Foundation with barbecue, libations and a live performance by country star Darryl Worley; and the Fancy Pants Party (Saturday, May 11, 6-11 p.m.), benefiting Blessings in a Backpack, featuring wings, full bar, raffles and a live performance from the awesome '80s band, Yacht Rock Review.

3) Cute guys. Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but I think we can all agree the grass should burst into flames beneath Adam Scott’s feet. You may not agree with my other picks in the photo gallery above, nor can I  guarantee that all of them will actually play in the tournament. But I can assure you that …   More

 
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