March 5 Editorial

Although the weather may not be cooperating just yet, visitors and locals alike are making plans for fun in the sun. That can only mean one thing: spring break is officially upon us. While thousands of people will hit the beaches for some fun in the sun, not everyone will be prepared for their trip. So whether you’re planning to stay here in Pensacola, or you’re ready to hit the road, here are some easy ways to prepare for the holiday that can save you money, keep you out of trouble, and ensure that the good times don’t end until it’s time to head home.
Don't forget sunscreen-
The sun is almost triple its intensity on the beach due to its reflections off the sand and the water. You can be sure to avoid a nasty burn (and that oh-so-attractive rock lobster look) by slathering on plenty of sunscreen and wear protective gear like your favorite shades to prevent burning sensitive areas. Tanning in short intervals will help promote a more even, longer lasting tan. Not to mention you'll be able to mingle with people without punching them after slapping your back!
Drink responsibly-
This one can be tricky. No one wants to ruin your fun, but none of us locals want a bunch of unruly drunken idiots running around our town either. Having a few drinks can be fun during spring break, but remember.....all things in moderation. Besides, how embarrassing would it be to have to call your parents to bail you out of jail.....or worse...pick you up from the hospital? Do yourself a favor and save the regret. Watch out for them and make sure that they keep any eye on you as well. Acting responsibly will help you enjoy a lifetime of celebrations.
Know basic water safety-
While the beaches usually offer a beautiful and safe experience the overwhelming majority of the time, there are times that they can be very dangerous. Here are some water safety tips to help you on your trip this spring break.
A GREEN flag means that the water is calm. The undertow is slight to non-existent and it is safe to swim using the proper amount of caution!
A YELLOW flag indicates the presence of light surf or currents and additional caution should be used while swimming in the Gulf.
A RED flag indicates the presence of strong surf and currents. Swimming in these conditions is not recommended as it presents a very high hazard to all swimmers.
A DOUBLE RED flag, however, means that the water is closed to the public! No one is allowed in the water when a double red flag is posted!
Finally, a PURPLE flag indicates the presence of marine pest in the water such as jellyfish, stingrays or dangerous fish.
Use common sense, if the waves look dangerous, they probably are. Remember that even small summer thunderstorms can cause local dangerous conditions with the surf. Seek shelter when storm clouds become visible. Avoid the water if you see lightning. Be safe and exhibit caution if you can’t swim or are a beginner.
Respect our home-
Hey, we don’t throw our trash where you live. Don’t throw your garbage in our backyard. While you may just be passing through, remember that there are thousands of people just like you and your loved ones who live here year-round. When you scatter your waste on the roads and beaches or vandalize our facilities, you hurt the locals and contribute to their resentment. Make sure that you leave our area beautiful so its stays that way for the next time you visit.
Have a happy and wonderful Spring Break season and take time to be thankful that we all get to stay and play on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world right in our own backyard. Now, let’s get this thing started….to the Bushwhacker machine!

February 26 Editorial

This week, some of my girlfriends decided that it was time to buy into the hype and head to the theaters to see ‘50 Shade of Grey’. When asked if I wanted to come along, I didn’t just say no….I said that I’d rather chew my own leg out of a bear trap. And here’s why.
Although I’ve never read the books, I know what they are all about. Do I have some pent up issues with sexuality? No, but I do however find it laughable that women who cringe at the mere thought of discussing sex, even with their closest friends, are panting like dogs in heat to see it on the big screen.
Furthermore, many of these women are the same women who scoff at the thought of their husbands viewing erotic material or even commenting on women dressed provocatively, but see no problem with running out to catch a big studio production of S&M. If you ask me, that seems pretty hypocritical.
And don’t even get me started on the debate of “does Anastasia really want this, or is he abusing her because she is weak”. Here’s the bottom line….any woman who walks into his “red room” and isn’t interested in indulging is going to either leave and never call the guy again or she’s going knee him in the crotch and call him a creep. She’s not going to give it a try so he’ll like her.
Look….Anastasia (or whatever they call her) got down and dirty with this guy because she wanted to, then she wants to play the “shy good girl” card. I’m not buying it. From what I’ve seen and heard, 50 Shades of Grey is nothing more than a grown up version of Twilight, full of forbidden love and angst of being torn between the life you had before and the life you’re about to exchange it for. Blah, blah, blah.
It’s all been done before.
I personally have enough fun and unpredictability going on at my house (and I’m not just talking about my love life) that I don’t feel the ‘desperate housewife’ need to get out and fantasize about a life that is only sexy on screen. Face it ladies, there are real people who are into this sort of thing, and it is not glamorous at all. It’s actually kind of sad.
If you take away the fact that Christian Grey is a billionaire who never works and set the same movie to a guy name Jim Bob who sells meth and lives in a trailer, the tables get turned pretty quickly. Not so sexy anymore, is it?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it is all about perception. I personally think that while you shouldn’t be ashamed of exploring new things, it doesn’t belong on the big screen (certainly not a major motion picture).
I personally think that instead of glorifying a meek, indecisive, impressionable moron like Anastasia, we should be portraying women who are strong enough to make decisions in relationships without feeling pressured or fearful.
Most importantly, I personally think if women “watered the grass” in their own relationships so to speak, they wouldn’t be rushing out to the theaters in droves looking for something that’s missing in their own bedrooms.
I just find it interesting that we ridicule men on a daily basis for objectifying women, yet we can’t wait to allow ourselves to be objectified on screen? What planet am I living on? And no, I’m not some crazy bra burning feminist. It just seems to me like everyone is forgetting that Christian Grey is a borderline sociopathic rapist and we are calling it passion? It seems totally hypocritical as to how most women claim they want to be treated in relationships.
In the end, to each his own. If you like this sort of thing….more power to you. You are probably the same women that went nuts for ‘Magic Mike’. I saw that one, and I think my IQ went down at least 10 points. I hated myself for weeks.
I guess I’ll skip the movie and spend another boring evening at home with my husband in our onesie pajamas snuggling while we watch Real Housewives. Now that’s intimacy.

February 19 Editorial

Few things go together like a bucket list item and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. This weekend, I marked that one off of my own list, but not without learning a few life lessons that only a Mardi Gras romp on Bourbon Street can teach.
We arrived around noon and quickly met up with our friends at the Marriott hotel which happened to be right on the parade route. Feeling ready to revel, we tossed our bags in the room and headed out to catch our first beads of the day. Within minutes of hearing the sounds of sirens and marching bands coming our way, we had found ourselves up against the barricades and so deep in the crowd that there was no getting out until the parade was over.
This was lesson #1. Don’t stand right up front near the railings. Not only will you not catch as many beads because the floats generally hurl them deep into the crowds, but you will get pushed, poke, and prodded by the surging crowd behind you. And if you decide you’ve had enough or need a bathroom break….well…good luck.
Which brings me to my next lesson…If water or beer is your friend, so too should be Depends. Although I am kidding about the actual use of adult diapers here, the sentiment is real. You DO NOT want to use public restrooms in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. You will see things you never wanted to see, and you might catch something you never want to catch. And I’m not talking about beads here!
I held it as long as I could as we walked for miles all over the city. I thought that since it was still day time that a public bathroom might not be so bad. I was wrong. I walked in and immediately walked out, clutching my hand sanitizer as if I were a mystical creature and it was a golden ring. My husband swears he even heard me mumbling, “My precious!!!!” If you go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, bring lots of hand sanitizer and be prepared to take a lot of showers.
And speaking of showers, that brings me to lesson #3. Do not, under any circumstances, wear flip flops to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. When I got myself dressed and packed for the trip, it never crossed my mind that the streets would look like something from a 19
th century saloon town after a mudslide. Aside from the random trash and bodily secretions all over the sidewalks, the streets are about an inch thick with sloppy, black sludge that contains things that probably don’t even exist on this planet.
After trudging through the muck for hours on end, my feet looked like they had been covered in tar. I jumped in the shower the second we got back to the hotel, scrubbing for nearly an hour to get the city off of me. The tub was black. I had never felt more disgusting in my life. I threw my shoes in the garbage and once again slathered myself in hand sanitizer. I thought about going out to find bleach to soak my feet in, but the thought of venturing out onto those streets again after dark gave me goose bumps.
Lesson number #4 I learned is if you are going to drink, make sure that you do it in moderation, even while at Mardi Gras. By the end of the night I found myself in full costume, (Which ended up being a real hit. I highly recommend it if you want the “good beads” on bourbon street without completely losing your dignity.), with a horrible painting of a horse on my face that a woman named “Sunshine” said would make me look “regal”. I guess that’s what I get for taking advice on looking “regal” from a woman who had rainbow hair and an imaginary friend named Ted.
The next morning, I woke up and immediately scrubbed my feet again. Still black. We piled our things in the car and headed back to Pensacola. It was the longest car ride of my life. I should’ve listened to lesson #4.
As I laid in the back seat desperately trying to keep my breakfast down, I reflected on Mardi Gras in New Orleans. While an epic time, I realized I’ve done it once…..let that be enough. I haven’t been able to hang in crazy situations like that in quite some time. I guess that’s just part of getting old…..although I did see some elderly folks doing things that I’m pretty sure were on their own bucket list.
In the end, New Orleans is a magical city with some amazing people and Mardi Gras there really is something to behold. Just be prepared to smell like a port-o-potty for a few days upon your return. I don’t think my feet will ever be the same. So what’s on my agenda this week now that the party is over? Pedicure and penicillin.

February 12 Editorial

Kanye West is everything wrong with America.
That seems like a strong statement, and I mean it. Between his abundant publicity stunts and reckless abandon that associates itself with the self-proclaimed, “Voice of Our Generation”, West has not only shown himself to be a detriment to music but also an abysmal role model demonstrating that if you don’t get your way, make a scene, kick, scream, and have no respect for others around you in the wake of your own arrogant ego.
I’ll admit, in years past I have found myself nodding my head to a Kanye tune or two. I’ll even go so far as to say some of his songs are catchy. That’s before Kanye fell off the edge of the Earth, if the Earth was a metaphor for mental clarity and righteousness. I have no problem with people like Albert Einstein or even the lady who invented Spanx calling themselves a “genius”, but seriously…..where does this guy get off? Genius or not, Kanye needs to learn a lesson in humility. He must’ve missed that ‘School House Rock’ special.
If you live under a rock and haven’t heard about Kanye’s latest debacle, well here it is. When West leapt to the stage Sunday night after Beck’s “Morning Phase” won Grammy’s album of the year award – and then quickly turned around and returned to his seat — it looked for a moment like Mr. Kim Kardashian was just poking fun at his notorious 2009 bum rushing of a victorious Taylor Swift at the VMAs.
It wasn’t until the after show when Kanye backed up his actions saying, “Beck needs to respect artistry and he should’ve given his award to Beyoncé.” He went on to express his distaste for the Grammys by saying, “When you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyonce album and they feel like it takes them to another place.”
Really bro? Really?
What blows my mind is that this wasn’t his first time stealing a once in a lifetime moment away from another artist, yet we as a society keep listening to this idiot. And worse yet, someone keeps inviting him to come to these events. Why are we doing this to ourselves, America? I liken it to that of a car accident. We don’t really want to see something bad, but we can’t stop ourselves from taking a look.
The worst part about Kanye West in general is that he is teaching an entire generation how to be ungracious losers with overly inflated egos who have no self-awareness or respect for others. And the media crams him down our throats constantly as if he were a breath of fresh air. If you ask me, something stinks.
Even his wife, the “why are you famous again?” Kim Kardashian looked horrified as she watched her husband dig himself into a hole he couldn’t climb out of with a 100 ft. ladder. If you make the girl who got famous off of her own sex tape uncomfortable, you’ve really crossed the line. Yet not one person standing in the midst of his rant said a word.
Enter lead singer of the band ‘Garbage’, Shirley Manson. She wrote an open letter to Kanye on Facebook, saying:
“It is YOU who is so busy disrespecting artistry. You disrespect your own remarkable talents and more importantly you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all artists when you go so rudely and savagely after such an accomplished and humble artist like BECK. You make yourself look small and petty and spoiled. In attempting to reduce the importance of one great talent over another, you make a mockery of all musicians and music from every genre, including your own. Grow up and stop throwing your toys around.”
Go Shirley! I think she expressed what the majority of employed, tax payers over the age of 30 are feeling. Maybe it’s time for a little more ‘Garbage’ and a lot less Kanye in the world.
Yes, I realize that there are much bigger issues in the world that we could be focusing on. I do understand that in the grand scheme of things, Hollywood and the people in its spotlight should be irrelevant. But the fact of the matter is, to your kids, they are not irrelevant. They are who they look to for fashion advice, inspiration, and attitude. Kids (and by kids I mean anyone under 21) need better role models, and we should hold those in the public eye accountable for their behavior.
The moral of the story is this….even if you are a celebrity, if you can’t act right….you should get a time out. And when you can calm yourself down and be an adult, we will allow you back into our homes. But I’m afraid Kanye’s own song said it best in his case, you “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”.

February 5 Editorial

How To “Woo” Your Sweetheart This Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is just two weeks away. Let's face it; some of us can be pretty "romantically challenged." When it comes to shopping for gifts? Well, most of us probably rank that right up there with a trip to the dentist.
But, there's a Romeo inside each of us, just waiting to get out. Valentine's is our chance to shine. We can melt hearts, even in freezing winter weather. All it takes is a little planning and a phone call or two.
February 14. It's the big game. The Super Bowl of love. You can be a hero if you remember. Forget it, and you could be left out in the cold. So, open your calendar and circle the date. Here are a couple of sure-fire strategies that would make even Cupid proud.
The traditional game plan will be to go for a Game Day Touchdown. Send flowers, candy, a card, or more, for delivery on Valentine's Day. This strategy can be especially effective for gifts to the workplace, where they can be enjoyed by the recipient, and envied by others, during the workweek.
However, keep in mind that half the guys in America will have the same brilliant idea. So, play it safe, order the week before. Remember, there will be a lot of Valentine's gift deliveries that day; some in the morning and others in the afternoon. A thoughtful phone call, e-card, or romantic email message in the morning is definitely a great idea as well.
Another strategy is the pre-game Romance Blitz. Send her a card a few days early. Treat her to a romantic dinner that night. Place candies on her pillow the second evening. Then, surprise her with flowers the day before Valentine's so they will be enjoyed more throughout Valentine's Day. The first card might say "I Couldn't Wait Till Valentine's To Say I Love You," or "I Can't Think of Anyone I'd Rather Spend Valentine's Week With Than You." Eat your heart out, Cupid!
Some of the most thoughtful gifts are those that will last long past the big day. A live miniature rose plant that will remind them of you long after cut roses have gone, a longed-for novel with red ribbon around it, a poem written by you, or a photo collage of the two of you can mean more than diamonds and gold.
Some say the way to the heart is through the stomach. Treat your sweetie to a fabulous meal. A recent survey by urbanspoon.com ranked the top romantic restaurants in Pensacola to book your night of love. Coming in first was the Melting Pot. Although it is a chain restaurant and most men shudder at the thought of cooking their own food right there at the table, the setting is intimate and most of the tables are semi-private, offering you and your sweetheart a private dinner of several courses.
Other front runners included Dharma Blue, The Grand Marlin, The Fish House, and Jackson’s Steakhouse. Some of these restaurants will be accepting reservations, but not every restaurant will. Be sure to call ahead and make a plan as Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest restaurant days of the year.
If going out into the thick of mushy romance isn’t your thing, cook at home. Show your date how dedicated you are to a memorable evening by crafting an elegant meal yourself. This way, you can customize the food and make exactly what you and your date want. Think of some heartfelt ways of presenting the food like arranging the salad in the shape of a heart or using a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out bread pieces. Nothing can be more romantic than creating a fabulous meal together.
Just remember that the real star of the day is ‘love’. Take the time to make sure that special person in your life knows how deeply you feel for them whether it be through words, a hug, or a snuggle under a blanket by the fire. Some people are romantically challenged. Just do your best to share your heart. If all else fails, you can always google “romance” for ideas. Just don’t be the guy who passes instead of running it in for the guaranteed score. Nobody wants to be that guy.