Apology as of 01/12/2009

The management of this blog wishes to apologize for the lengthy hiatus that we seem to have taken. It wasn't intentional. It just kind of happened. We are working on getting some new posts up. There are many things that have been discovered in the past months that definitely made life worth living. Bear with us until we can get back on some kind of schedule.

Thanks for your understanding and patience,

The Mgmnt.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Attack

I am going to preface this a little bit. This isn't the normal light hearted banter I usually post. I just didn't really have anywhere else to post this and felt that I wanted to. My dog (a 110 pound akita) attacked me this morning and has to be put to sleep because of it. I didn't really know how to sort out my feelings so I just wrote this a little while ago to try to convey what I am going through. It probably doesn't do a good job and I don't blame you if you skip this post, but I needed to post it.

I don't even really know how to start. I feel weak. I feel so selfish. I know that I didn't do anything wrong. The dog attacked me, and not the other way around. I am the one with seven punctures and five stitches. I am the one that is bleeding. He is the one being put down. But I love that dog, and right now, he is down stairs waiting to be taken away, and I can't find it in myself to even go down and say goodbye. My last memory of him will be him latched on to my wrist refusing to let go. His gnashing teeth going after me as I tried my best to hold him away from me. Our clumsy dance of blood teeth and hair. I know we can't deal with this anymore. If it had been anyone but me, I wouldn't hesitate in the least to have him put down. I would take him myself. I would want it to be me that had to take him. But it was me that got bitten and I honestly can't muster up the courage to be in the same room with him again. And I feel like such a coward for that. I feel weak. I feel selfish. I know in an hour or so he will be gone and my chance to say goodbye, to at least feel like I forgave him enough to be able to pet him and not hold hard feelings toward him. But I simply can't do it.

And now he's gone. My last chance went along with him. Instead I am left with my bandaged arm, a large spot of blood on the floor and hating myself for the fear I hold. I don't know what to do. The tears keep coming. They come in stride with the throbbing pain from my arm. But still. I feel selfish. I feel weak. I can't believe that when the time came for this, I couldn't find it in myself to be there, to say goodbye. And I know that to him it probably wouldn't make an ounce of difference if I told him that I forgave him, if I patted his head one more time, if I told him I loved him. But it does make a difference to me. For me to know that I couldn't even face him again to say goodbye at the end makes me feel absolutely worthless.

I feel weak.

I feel selfish.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Everyone that has ever met me ought to be thinking right about now, “How the hell is he going to write on a topic he has no experience with whatsoever?”

To those of you who are asking yourself that exact question right now, I respond with this: I have in the past been known to clean at least once per residence and maybe once or twice in my life, even twice per residence. Now yes, I will have to admit, that this cleaning is normally when I am getting ready to move out and trash some other piece of real estate, this time, it’s different.

I decided that since I am probably moving in June, I should probably take this time to actually look at my belongings and decide whether or not I want to bring them with me across country instead of saving myself the cost and hassle of moving them with me only to throw them out when I get to the west coast.

Now cleaning does not come naturally to me. I am very comfortable not knowing what my flooring looks like. I think I once even lived in a house that I was never sure whether or not I had carpet. And when I moved to Tennessee, I tried to be more tidy but during a very fateful foray into cleaning, I discovered that I had unintentionally stolen the cremated remains of my old landlord’s mother and grandmother and moved a thousand miles with them. Do you have any idea what kind of strange looks the post office employees will give you when you go in and ask their policy on mailing human remains?

After that experience, I was rather more inclined to stop cleaning again, mainly for fear of what I might find amongst the rubble which is my belongings. I mean, I have essentially already found dead bodies in there, what would possess me to repeat that experience?

But like I said, I am trying to get rid of anything that I don’t want to have to carry with me across the country.

And I have to say, that I was pleasantly surprised by the things that I began to find. Amidst the receipts from vacations I barely even remember and the dirty laundry I started discovering things that I have been missing for some time including my vcr remote, a boot that has been missing for at least three years, scuba diving equipment and my first car.

I was elated. There was treasure in my closet just beyond the event horizon. My expedition began to move further into my closet. I soon discovered my Sega Genesis, a digital camera that actually used 3.5 inch floppy discs, more AV cables than Radio Shack, Jimmy Hoffa, a Boondock Saints poster and no less than four boxes of clothing that I don't even remember owning. And a hookah.

It was like going shopping at a yard sale only I didn't have to spend any money. I have to admit that this cleaning thing has it's merits.

Rating Criteria

What is it meant for: Preventing the spread of disease, finding your flooring, allowing others to enter your home without nose plugs, organization, finding stuff, keeping your house from being reported to the local authorities due to strange smells, returning cremated loved ones to their family.

Achievement of said goals: 10/10

Cleaning does all of these things. And since it is technically considered work and not fun (unless you are a very sick individual) I can't fault it for anything really. Cleaning makes things clean. And that's the goal of cleaning so it is a perfect system.

Learning curve: 5/10

It's a little steep. Not the actual act of cleaning. That's not too bad, but the organization process and the "how often should I" part of it, all that added together and it's not the easiest thing in the world to do. And while it's not rocket science I still need to learn just how long I can put it off without having my friends all talk about me behind my back for the mess maker I am.

Enjoyability: 7.5/10

While I wanted to score this much lower, I had to be honest with myself. Cleaning itself isn't fun, but the discovery of things I hadn't seen in years was fun. The enjoyment I have after a room is clean is fun. The fact that people aren't afraid for their lives upon entering my house is fun. Cleaning has a great deal of satisfaction when it is over, but it just isn't a lot of fun while you were doing it. And even then there are some enjoyable times like when you find all those receipts from vacations you barely remember and you take a few minutes to look over them and then have some memories rush back to you about those times and places.

Overall: Not as good as hiring an attractive scantily clad maid of your gender of preference to do it for you while you have Lillet Martinis and watch in lust but better than having the eight foot tall mountain of dirty laundry actually spawn life and then beat you severely about the head and shoulders while you attempt to run for cover.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Blue Highway Pizzeria

204 North East Highway 442
Micanopy, FL 23667


When I knew I was coming back to Gainesville for a visit, this place was on my list of places I had to have while I was in town. It is off the beaten path as it is about twenty minutes south of Gainesville itself, but well worth the drive down there.

The place is kind of crazy and wonderful. There are strange art pieces lining the walls and a true mix of cultures both working there and patronizing the establishment. The dining room is small and cozy, but acoustically works out so that you can't overhear everything the table next to you says. This is particularly good when you have a loud group (me and my friends) come in and sit next to you. 

Blue Highway serves gourmet pizzas with combinations of toppings that you would have to be completely insane or just really high to come up with, but if you try them, you start to believe that maybe coming up with recipes while high isn't such a bad idea. I mean really, eggplant and prosciutto, who thinks this is a good idea? I do now, after trying it. Also their rosemary cheese bread is a great start to any meal in which you are going to stuff yourself to the point of having to unbutton your pants.

And while Blue Highway is known for their pizza, that is not all they have. Not by a long shot. They have some amazing salads. Amazing and large salads. And their sandwiches are pretty tasty too. Although I have to admit, since I only had once chance to go back, I didn't get a sandwich. I stuck with the pizza. It is cooked in a stone oven and I am not entirely sure what they make the crust out of, but it has almost a fizz to it. I am sure they aren't using live bees or anything, but the crust has a buzz. But in a really really good way.

As I have said, the place isn't that big, and so there isn't much to say about it. Well other than, they have great food and it is cozy. Oh, I also forgot to mention that it is locally owned and the owner is often in the restaurant and I have had many a conversation with him. Everyone that works there is really friendly and the service is fast. And have I mentioned that the food is great? Worth the short drive from Gainesville to try if you haven't already.
4 Carats

The Pirate House

20 East Broad Street
Savannah, GA 31401

Pirate Restaurant... AR!


We left Charleston in the mid-afternoon and were coming up on Savannah when we started to get hungry and figured we would stop in Savannah for dinner. We called a friend who has spent much time in the city and he gave us a few suggestions, one of which was The Pirate House. Having had an obsession with pirates for almost as long as I can remember, I was ready to go to this place.

The directions we received were not that great and at one point we weren't sure we were even on the right side of town and had decided to give up and just find a restaurant on the river, I happened to turn and see the building and we took this as a sign that we were supposed to eat there.

Walking into the restaurant is a little off putting because the entrance way is decorated kind of like a low-rent version of some Disney ride. Luckily for us though, they had the menu out where we could see it and the description of the food sold us on the fact we had to try it. So we went ahead and were seated. As we were led to our table, we found that each of the rooms in the restaurant have a bit of a different theme to them and none of them seem as comical and stereotypically "pirate" as the entrance way. After a short little tour we were seated and not soon after that, we were busy trying to make a very tough decision: what to have for dinner.

They had a couple of specials that evening, one of which was a grilled swordfish steak with cranberry chutney, which is what I finally decided on. However, I soon discovered that the Flounder Belle Franklin is a MUST if you find yourself dining here. That isn't to say that the swordfish wasn't excellent as well, but the Flounder Belle Franklin is to die for. A generous combination of crab, shrimp and flounder and almonds baked under a mixture of butter, melted cheese and an incredible sauce, I honestly can't find fault with this dish. There was plenty of crab and shrimp, and if I had to find SOMETHING wrong with it, I would have to say that for the word "flounder" being in the name, that seems to be the only meat in short supply in the dish, but there was a fairly good sized filet in the dish. As for the swordfish, the chutney was sweet and lent itself very well to the flavor of the fish, but as much as I enjoyed my own food, I kept trying to figure out how to trade plates and get more of the flounder.

We also ordered a desert which was a combination of white and dark chocolate mouse and covered in strawberries. It was almost as good as the meal itself. I am not a big chocolate fan but this dish will make a chocolate lover out of anyone. Like seriously, I dare you to try it and not like it. Half-way through desert we were interrupted by a Jack Sparrow look-a-like who tried to weasel our deserts away from us. I am pretty sure he was there due to the pirate theme of the restaurant, but part of me wants to think that they just let pirate-looking homeless people into the restaurant for historical re-enactments or some such. However, much to my dismay, I later saw "Jack Sparrow" giving a tour of the restaurant. Apparently this restaurant is set in one of the most historical buildings in Georgia and has been an inn and tavern for sea-farers for over 200 years.

Had The Pirate House been just a pirate themed restaurant, it would have been all right. Had it been a pirate themed restaurant with amazing food it would have been pretty damn good. But it is a pirate themed restaurant with amazing food and a very long (and often bloody) history. That to me says that The Pirate House has character and charm coming out the wazoo and a head of kitchen that has the talent to outdo that character. If you are in the area and haven't tried this place, do so. If you aren't in the area, get there. Seriously. Right now. I am waiting.
5 Carats

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

City of Charleston

Before moving on from Charleston, I wanted to review the city. I had never been there before and I guess I was kind of expecting it to be a lot like Memphis or Nashville. Those being the only two southern cities I have spent much time in other than Atlanta, but I don't classify any other city in the same category as Atlanta. 

I was actually really surprised by Charleston. Or at least the parts of it that I spent my time. And I am going to admit, that most of my time was either in the downtown area, a part of town that I was told was called "West Ashley" and then out at the plantation Middleton Place. So I guess I didn't see the WHOLE town. But the areas that I did spend time in were a lot of fun.

Downtown offers a lot for visitors to do, no matter what time of day you want to do it. During the day, there is a shit-ton of shopping to do. Either on King street (which is where most of your high end retail stores are located) or on Market (which was sort of like a glorified flea market), you can find pretty much anything you could care to shop for. 

There are also horse drawn carriage rides around the historic areas of downtown. And I would highly recommend these to anyone. They are a lot of fun and aren't too expensive and you would be surprised about some of the history of the city. Like every Floridian school child, I was subjected to St. Augustine (oldest city in America and every school child is made to go in the 4th grade) a few times and that is fun. Even going back as an adult I had a good time. But I guess I forgot that Charleston has been around almost as long. So there is a lot of history there. The main difference I noticed, was that Charleston has a lot of houses and buildings that date back a few hundred years, while St. Augustine only has a few really historic buildings and then most of the houses and such tend to have been rebuilt at some point. 

But the city isn't just about history. There is a lot more to do than that. The city is also known for its plantations and most of those have exquisite gardens. You could literally spend a week just touring different gardens if you were so inclined. My sister also assured me that many of the plantations have incredible art galleries contained within but my schedule was too tight to fit any of that in although I might have to go back to find out for myself. 

I guess I cannot get through this review without mentioning food, even though for the past two weeks, that is all I have been talking about. I heard somewhere that Charleston is one of the top five cities in America known for food. I don't know if it is true, but I wouldn't doubt it. In the words of my Aunt, "It is possible to have a bad meal in Charleston, but you have to be trying pretty damned hard." I will stand by that quote. There were a few places that I wasn't extremely stoked about, but by in large, the food in this city is amazing. If you go there, I dare you find a restaurant without a single redeeming dish on the menu. And if you find yourself trying new food in this city, be sure to sample some of the "low country" offerings. Similar to creole cuisine, this simple southern style of cooking is decently unique and definitely worth trying, especially if you like seafood.

As for the night life, there is more than enough of that. Charleston is home to a few colleges and universities which lends itself to having plenty of young people out and about however it isn't just the youngsters out making you feel old and crusty. There are plenty of adults out, but it all depends on where you go and spend time, especially after dark.

Now I will admit that the city is pretty image conscious. Dress nicely, and you will find yourself gaining the respect of most of the people you encounter. You can also gain respect and envy of the citizens of this great city by name dropping. Either that you know important people in the town or an expensive hotel that you are staying at, it doesn't matter, but this town respects money. The trick I will continue to use if I ever go back, and feel free to use it as well, just as long as I am not there doing it first, is that your sister/daughter/brother/son/other close relation is getting married at one of the exclusive plantations. Middleton Place works well but there half a dozen others that will work just as well. Pick a relation that works with your age and then tell anyone that asks why you are in town about the wedding and instantly, respect and envy. It worked for me for my entire stay... even though it was the truth.

The only real complaint I had about the city was that on a weekend night, it is impossible to get a cab out of downtown. It took me over an hour and a half to finally get one and then I had to share it with three extremely drunk girls, one of which wound up puking out of the window. I am sure, that I was exactly like this in my college days, but as I get older, I don't want to be subjected to this any more if I can at all help it. It makes me feel bad about my youth. So if you find yourself in downtown near last call, go ahead and get a cab early or you seriously won't be able to find one. But even that minor fault wasn't enough to keep me from having an amazing time in this city.

The city has great food, plenty to do to keep you occupied for at least a week's time and has some good ol' southern hospitality. Before visiting, I had no idea what the attraction to the area was, and I can say now that I have reformed my point of view. I love Charleston. I definitely will go back some day. And if anyone wants to meet up there and have a good time for a while, just let me know, because I only need a small excuse in order to head back. I highly recommend visiting at least once.
4.5 Carats

Joseph's Restaurant

129 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29401

"Lowcountry" Diner


This was place that we had breakfast on our last day in Charleston. So for those of you who want me to stop this reviewing of restaurants, you only have to wait for me to do a few places from Florida and then we will get back to our normally scheduled reviews, already in progress.

Once again, it took a while to get our group together to go out for breakfast. Joseph's was recommended to us, so we thought we would give it a try but we showed up with a group of 7, literally 10 minutes before they closed in order to switch over to lunch. They sat us anyway.

The service was really good (although this could have been in order to get us out more quickly) but no one ever complained that we were there. Apparently one of the ladies who worked there remembered some of our party from the day before when they had eaten there and was asking us all about the wedding and since I had my camera made me show her pictures. It was the little moments like that during my stay in Charleston that made me really understand what "southern hospitality" is. Memphis may be located in the south, but seems to be missing a lot of those southern charms that are associated with the south.

The restaurant itself is kind of quaint. There isn't anything really flashy about it. But when you tasted the food, you realize that the family who runs the restaurant doesn't need flash. My mother and I split two different breakfasts because neither one of us could make up our minds. The kitchen went ahead and split each of the breakfast entrees onto separate plates for us. The little touches in serving really make it feel like you are being taken care of. At least, in my opinion. 

But even if it wasn't for this the food was still very good. They have sweet potato pancakes that are just too good for their own good. They are so good that even though you want to savor them and eat them slowly, there is no way that that is going to happen. I also had half of one of their omelets. It wasn't AS good as the pancakes, but that isn't saying that the omelet too wasn't wonderful. The only complaint that I had about the food was that the hash-browns were a little soggy but I am chalking that up to the fact that we walked in as they were trying to close. 

It would have been nice to stay around and have lunch there, but as we were all trying to get back on the road, there just wasn't time. But I am very glad that I was able to have breakfast at least.

Service was great, and extremely friendly. Food was very well presented and tasted amazing. Minus the hash-browns, but that could be explained away. I wish that we could have spent a little more time but we were trying to rush it a little in order to get out of their hair so they could prepare for lunch. On my next visit to Charleston, I will definitely have Joseph's on my list of places to eat at, and I would highly recommend that you do the same.
4 Carats

Monday, March 31, 2008

Middleton Place

4300 Ashley River Road
Charleston, SC 29414

Plantation & Gardens


As you can tell from the header, Middleton Place is not simply a restaurant. This is an old plantation which is home to "America's oldest landscaped gardens." This is where the wedding ceremony and reception took place and I cannot stress enough how perfect of a setting it really was.

The wedding itself was as close to perfect as anything can come. Wonderful weather. Beautiful surroundings. Solo cellist. My sister looking better than any bride in the history of the world (and I will kill anyone who wishes to disagree!). The only thing that would have made me happier is if I could have stolen the day and used it for my wedding. Alas, simply not possible. I wasn't able to tour much of the garden as I was there for the wedding. What I was able to see was breathtaking though. This place really is magical. 

It is important to note that the restaurant requires reservations for dinner. No exceptions. And dress code is pretty strictly enforced. However, since the wedding was black tie, we all were appropriately dressed so I am not sure what the dress code actually is. Also it is worth noting that the restaurants are closed to the public on Mondays, but if you want to have an event, they are willing to be open to private parties, like say my sister's wedding. Enough about the rules and such and on to the important part... the food. 

There was a bit of a cocktail hour after the ceremony and during this time were some of the best appetizers I have ever had. There was a rack of lamb that was so good I literally followed around  the young girls who had it on their trays for a good forty-five minutes. They also had these little shrimp pastries which were okay and they had a crab dip that was almost but not quite as good as the rack of lamb.

When it came to the actual meal, I have to admit that I was already pretty full but I decided to truck through the meal like a champ in order to ensure I wasn't missing out on anything delicious. The she-crab soup was the first thing brought to me at the table and this alone made my decision to over-indulge in food well worth it. I am not even sure how to describe this stuff but it was very good. As far as the meal itself, I was a little less impressed. I realize that Middleton Place is known for their southern food but I can't say I was really impressed with it. The catfish tasted a bit like dirt, which in my experience either means it was cheapish meat (and for catfish that is saying a lot) or it wasn't cleaned very well. Either way, I couldn't eat that. Also on the plate was a ham biscuit thing that had honey mustard, only the honey mustard had obviously been made by the gods. I have no idea what it actually was but it was very good. There was also something called "Hoppin' John" that wasn't bad but again, not the best food ever. Or maybe I was just spoiled by the rack of lamb.

Now I think I heard someone say that the restaurant had made both the wedding cake and the groom's cake, but I can't swear by it. But for the purposes of this review I will go ahead and make the assumption that I did hear right. The cake was a white cake with a chocolate-raspberry filling, and it was AMAZING. The groom's cake was a French something or other, but was basically pastries with some sort of cream in them and I wasn't as excited about this but it was still good. 

For the most part I was impressed by the plantation. The setting was ideal for a wedding, and the restaurant was more of the same. There were a few food type problems I had, but for the most part, it was extremely good. I am not really that accustomed to Southern cooking, so I have to admit that I am a little at a disadvantage to say whether or not this was excellent or not. But my new brother-in-law's family is very southern and they seemed to more than enjoy. So I will take it that it really was that good. And as I said, there were a few things I wasn't that impressed with, but the good far outweighed the bad. All in all, everything turned out as near to perfect as any bride could hope for and I have never seen my sister as radiant as she was that day, and I am sure that the place helped in making her that happy.
4.5 Carats