Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The New Television

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Photo Credit: David July — My new television, a 16:9 Panasonic TC-28WG25H GAOO Wide DDD, Tallahassee, Florida, 18 June 2009 Thanks to my friend Keith, I now have a Panasonic TC-28WG25H GAOO Wide DDD 26-inch widescreen CRT television to replace the 19-inch set Chris gave me, which over time developed a green hue, horizontal lines and occasional flickering. Actually Omar's old TV, the Panasonic was made in Osaka, purchased in Pakistan Dubai and later moved to Tallahassee. It may not be new, but it is modern, well-traveled and the picture looks great. The native 16:9 aspect ratio means that movies and television shows filmed in 1.85 nicely fill the entire screen without stretching or black bars. Movies filmed in larger formats like 2.39 (anamorphic widescreen) still look great, but with horizontal black bars. Interestingly enough, I found the picture of standard television looks good stretched to 16:9 from 4:3, although I have only been able to test this with my That '70s Show DVDs. Equipped with a Belling-Lee connector instead of the US standard F connector, I will have to use RCA if I ever get cable or an antenna. Otherwise, it is loaded with numerous S-Video and RCA connections perfect for my needs. All I have left to do now is rearrange my living room setup to accommodate it. Currently sitting on its stand, neither entertainment center I have can support the width, which has to be the best problem ever to have with a television.
Photo Credit: David July

The Moveable Feasts

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Photo Credit: David July — Tommy's Joynt at Geary and Van Ness has been a San Francisco institution since 1947 and is one of my favorite places to eat in the bay area, 1101 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, California, 22 May 2009 While driving to visit friends last night, I noticed a new restaurant had opened at the recently shuddered Nino's. Carl's On The Parkway at 6497 Apalachee Parkway opened two weeks ago and offers a moderately priced menu of steaks, prime rib, seafood and house specialties. It is no coincidence this eatery started-up at a time when many are closing for financial reasons. Owner Carl Bengston says this is probably the best time to open a restaurant, hoping to build a clientele and later thrive when conditions improve. Besides Nino's, another recent closure was the Silver Slipper, 531 Silver Slipper Lane, a Tallahassee institution since 1938. Well known as the place where government officials and lobbyists brushed elbows to meet and dine in secluded booths, Silver Slipper owners cite the 2005 gift ban legislation PDF Document prohibiting public officials from accepting gifts as a reason for closing in April 2009. It will be interesting to see what the Kalfas' bring to the next iteration of their family tradition, a restaurant slated to open in 2010. Photo Credit: Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau: Official Visitor's Guide (2000) — Old advert for the former Apalachee Parkway location of Marie Livingston's Steakhouse, Click to EnlargeReturning to their roots on Apalachee Parkway (see old advertisement, right), Marie Livingston's Steakhouse is currently remodeling the former location of Durango Steakhouse, 2705 Apalachee Parkway, for a planned autumn opening. I have been a fan of the 2714 Graves Road Days Inn location since before I moved here in 2005, but Marie's opening on the Parkway will herald the return of the steak lunch option to those of us working on the east side. The folks at UrbanTallahassee are posting the latest news and information, plus excellent photographs of the site spanning the past year. The last time I headed to ItZa Pizza, 3551 Blairstone Road Suite 124, for lunch I found it closed. Having dined at the Italian eatery for over three years, I was disappointed to lose yet another lunch staple. Fortunately, their website says they moved to 2714 Apalachee Parkway in the Corners at Cross Creek strip plaza across the street from the brand new Super Suds Express carwash. The Steak Bomb, Chicken Bomb and Grilled Chicken sandwich are all absent from the temporary menu posted online, so I hope to find them available when I stop by soon. I also wonder if they replaced the decent Peruvian/Cuban Las Brasas Restaurant or moved in next door. All this talk of restaurants opening and closing has me thinking about The Tales of Stories Past III, my January 2008 article on the same topic. Just under a year and a half have passed, what a perfect opportunity to post updates on the locations discussed then. So here they are, ordered by their appearance in the original article. Updated 08 November 2010
The Past...   ...and Present  
B. Merrell's 1433 East Lafayette Street The Hour Glass
Southern Fixin's 2840 Apalachee Parkway IHOP
Back Yard Burgers 2014 Apalachee Parkway Verizon Wireless
Durango Steakhouse 2705 Apalachee Parkway Marie Livingston's Steakhouse
The Original Italian Pie 1140 Capital Circle Southeast Pepper's Mexican Grill and Cantina
Philly Connection 1490 Apalachee Parkway Nail Salon
Uncle Ed's Subs & Salads 3551 Blairstone Road #132 Vacant
The Main Ingredient 1710 West Tharpe Street Monk's/Wells Brothers Bar and Grill
Five Guys Burgers and Fries No Locations 1872 Thomasville Road, Suite B
Jersey Mike's Subs No Locations Now Open!
1801 West Tennessee Street 32304
El Chico 2225 North Monroe Street IHOP
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Big Bend Photo Trip

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Photo Credit: David July — Claire's camera sits on fallen wood at the beach of Cape San Blas, near 142 Keepers Cottage Way, Port St. Joe, Florida, 14 March 2009
Throughout this article you will find hyperlinks followed by the photolink icon. These links take you directly to a picture from the trip. You can also browse the entire 117-image Big Bend Photo Trip album.
The past few weeks in Tallahassee have been absolutely beautiful. As always, spring break means an entire week with no students so the population drops significantly. It is wonderful how quickly one can zip around town with the student body dismissed. It was about then the temperatures finally started to warm up, bringing to an end the winter that would not relent. There is a very similar student exodus and weather trend that occurs in the Fall as well. Around that time last year on Saturday, 04 October 2008, Claire and I went out for an afternoon of picture taking and driving around. Meeting at my apartment, we had breakfast at Jenny's Lunchbox before heading to the Tallahassee Amtrak Station. Originally built in 1858, this site on the National Register of Historic Places has been closed since Hurricane Katrina when damaged tracks truncated the Sunset Limited service route. New Orleans is the eastern terminus to this day, although Section 226 of the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007 PDF Document gives Amtrak nine months starting 16 October 2008 to "transmit to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a plan for restoring passenger rail service between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Sanford, Florida." After an hour at the station we drove up to Havana to walk around the shops and galleries of the historic downtown district. Finally, I took Claire to see the protected oak trees photolink on SR 12 between Havana and Quincy. The venture was an unqualified success and we afterward vowed to select some new destinations and do it again soon. In February, we started discussing possible dates and destinations. Assembling an itinerary of local sites, several of which I have wanted to visit for a while now, Claire and I settled on Saturday one week ago. As Claire had arranged an entire day's availability, we were able to venture out further than Havana this time. Our first stop was Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park, photolink site of the second largest Civil War battle in Florida. During the engagement that saw Tallahassee area volunteers including Confederate soldiers, old men and young boys, Union troops were forced to retreat to the coast leaving Tallahassee the only un-captured Confederate capital east of the Mississippi River. We walked around the monument photolink and then continued down the wooded Natural Bridge Road photolink on foot. The area is an apparent hit with locals, many of whom were fishing or boating in the nearby St. Marks River. The State-owned Rakestraw property sits fenced in photolink on the opposite side of the road, shaded by trees and vegetation of many varieties with ponds and creeks photolink running throughout. There is even a resident gnome photolink with the best setup I have ever seen. Next on the itinerary is a location I have been to frequently, one I was surprised to learn Claire had never visited, the nearby Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. photolink Approaching the main parking area at the lodge, I could see there were many more cars here than usual. We continued past over to the additional parking areas, which was just as well because it gave us a nice walk through the park. photolink We hit all the usual spots: the boat dock, photolink the view from the high dive tower photolink and the lodge, photolink enjoying the day more as the sky cleared and the temperature warmed. We also noticed there was a wedding taking place on the grounds, no doubt the source of the excess cars. Although they have a pretty good restaurant at the lodge, part of the trip plan was to have lunch at a restaurant I drove past a few years ago while Mom and Ross were visiting me one weekend. Back in the car and on the road, we set our course for Carrabelle ready to enjoy barbeque at Hog Wild Bar-B-Q on Highway 98. The drive from Wakulla Springs was nice but took us twice as long as expected because of slow moving vehicles. Soon enough however we arrived, sat down and perused the menu. I have enjoyed some damn fine BBQ before so my expectations are generally lowered, but Hog Wild photolink was an enjoyable find. From the expansive menu I ordered the pulled pork plate with baked beans and cole slaw, a standard platter in my book. The meat was flavorful, tender and without fat. Of the four sauces available, I only tried the sweet variety—a typical BBQ sauce with a nice flavor and not too sugary. The baked beans were good but could have used a hint of marmalade. The Texas toast was crisp and buttery. And the cole slaw, well the cole slaw was like no cole slaw I ever encountered before. If you ask me, cole slaw is shredded cabbage in a creamy, mayonnaise base and often mixed with purple cabbage, celery seed or pineapple. I do not like it too creamy, but what I was served substituted a watery vinegar base for the mayo sauce all together. The cabbage and celery seed were there but it was a fraud. Suffice it to say, I hope I never encounter this "cole slaw" again. In all, it may not have been completely "worth driving 100 miles for" photolink as their slogan claims, but Hog Wild is certainly worth a stop if you are driving through. The next time I do so, I will try the potato salad instead. Continuing toward our final destination, we took time to stop at the Carrabelle Beach parking area that has a nice view, photolink picnic tables, photolink grills and is also the former site of World War II D-Day training. photolink We sat in the sun and enjoyed the breeze off the Gulf of Mexico before walking back to the car. On our way, a young boy and his brother saw me taking pictures and precociously attracted my attention. Upset that his older brother got a photo photolink snapped, the younger boy ran up and said "cheese" repeatedly until I took his picture as well. It was a brief but entertaining exchange. The second detour was in Apalachicola where there are cool shops photolink and restaurants somewhat like in Havana, except here you are on the river and boats are docked photolink nearby. We walked around the boats, through a shop and by an old, overgrown structure photolink for twenty minutes or so and then resumed our course to the lighthouse at Cape San Blas. Located on the property photolink of Eglin Air Force Base, the Cape San Blas Light has an interesting history of destruction and relocation which ultimately resulted in the (I think unusual) framework design. photolink Approaching the two structures photolink on site, one of which I already knew to house a gift shop and museum, I noticed there appeared to be people walking up toward the lighthouse. The gift shop was unfortunately closed but next to that sign was another advertising lighthouse tickets for sale inside. Everything online had led me to believe there was no public access photolink inside the lighthouse so I was quite pleased to see this. I spoke to the man who opened the door for a few people to climb up and he said they only started permitting access a few months ago. Having only enough cash for myself, I took Claire's camera and climbed up the extremely narrow spiral staircase photolink to the top. photolink The view was nice photolink although by now the weather was starting to change, the clear sunny skies replaced with darker and darker cloud cover slowly moving in from the west. The nearby beach photolink was deserted except for two men fishing. It looked like a hurricane had just blown through by the trees and other natural debris. photolink Jagged remains of tree trunks poked out photolink of the sand, seashells speared photolink and broken throughout. We sat on a long downed tree photolink listening to the Gulf waters peacefully crash upon the shore until deciding there would be no sunset. photolink The drive back was pleasant and soon enough we were back at my apartment. Since Claire had borrowed my memory card, I made her a copy of the pictures she took before bidding her farewell. Our next little trip should happen one weekend in April, during which we will visit the Tallahassee Antique Car Museum and then take a drive through the scenic eastern part of the county around Capitola. We are both looking forward to it.
Day Trips with Claire Smith The Georgia Plantation | The Florida Caverns Trip
The Big Bend Photo Trip Photographs  Pebble Hill Plantation | Florida Caverns State Park
Tallahassee Antiques Museum | Big Bend Photo Trip | October Day Out
Photo Credit: David July

The Book Club

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Photo Credit: David July — At 2319 hours, a red LED "Books" sign is the only illumination inside Voltaire Books, 330 Simonton Street, Key West, Florida, 09 November 2008 If asked to identify myself as either a book or movie person, I would have to say movie. This should not imply I do not like reading, I do, but there is something about a well-designed film that captures my attention. Perhaps aiding this is the advantage film has in diverse creative mediums. Although under the direction of key individuals like the director and producer, the movie is a product of many different artists. Even a poorly written feature has the potential to be enjoyable when say the cinematography or art direction exhibit aesthetic talent. When I started hosting a movie night with two friends, I was excited at the prospect of seeing movies I may never have watched otherwise. Knowing I may not enjoy every title, I appreciate the fact that there is bound to be some redeeming qualities. Besides the films I picked for screening, most of the selections to date have been good. And as predicted, the few I did not particularly enjoy were at least ridiculous or funny enough to justify the experience. It was with this same open-mindedness I recently accepted an offer to join a small, private book club of friends. At our first gathering the evening of 15 January 2009, the group of seven discussed some of the parameters such as selection criteria, meeting format, dates and the like. I am far less interested in the rules than in reading books, something I have been wanting to do more of anyway, so I mostly listened and chimed in only to say pretty much that. For the next seven months and thereafter if we decide to continue, we will each select a book for the group to read and discuss it at a monthly gathering. I had planned to write a review of each book, but there are many better sources out there for critical literary analysis and I, frankly, find the meeting itself satisfies any need to provide retrospective remarks. At tonight's meeting to discuss the book, which was widely panned, we read the suggestions for a group name. The winner is Read 'Em If You Got 'Em, a reference to the humorous Rick Moranis line in Spaceballs among other things.
Photo Credit: David July