WKMG: Jamie Seh getting sports show – Orlando Sentinel

Bulldog writes: This is a very good development for Central Florida TV viewers, especially folks like me who are loyal to Channel 6. Jamie has been doing very solid work as the weekend sports anchor for WKMG for over five years and she’s definitely ready for prime time!

Ping, aka David Pingalore, was good at his craft but his shtick could get so annoying. So this is good news both because I think it’s a good move and because I had gotten really tired of Ping after ten frickin’ years! Details here on the new 30 minute show:

 

WKMG sports director Jamie Seh will headline a year-round sports show at 11:30 p.m. Saturdays.

Source: WKMG: Jamie Seh getting sports show – Orlando Sentinel

Our Florida Mall in Orlando Thrives While Most Are Dying

Our Florida Mall in Orlando Thrives While Most Are Dying

Tonight I did something I haven’t done in quite a while; I cruised one of our local malls. I know that malls are really struggling in most American cities and at least three of them here in the Greater Orlando area have gone belly up or are just barely clinging to life. The Orlando Fashion Square Mall was a fave of mine. Our family watched it go up in the ’60s. So sad that the mall’s owners declared bankruptcy a short while ago…

I did notice a few months ago that The Altamonte Mall is doing pretty well and is very busy on weekends. That was good to see. Altamonte Springs is a cool town about 20 minutes north of Orlando, for those of you who aren’t too familiar with Central Florida.

So tonight I thought I’d check out the Florida Mall as I was in that part of town. And it was absolutely thronged. It just blew UP! Of course, it is a Saturday night.

That was a good thing to see.

Not only was business good, but the mall is undergoing a major renovation. I’ll have to check back in a year or so and see how that went.

In the meantime, it’s good to see that some of our malls here in Central Florida are doing just fine.

A quick attempt to fill in a bit of the history of malls around here: The Florida Mall, like the newer Millenia Mall, is very, very close to the heart of our tourist stuff in O’do. I doubt there’s a better location anywhere in the country. No, that’s not an overstatement.

So I suppose it’s not too smart to draw any conclusions about national trends. I don’t see things improving much for investors who’re heavily into a typical mall, but here we’re not doing too badly.

The photo is of the entrance to the Spencer’s Gifts at our thriving Florida Mall. Glad they’re still around, too. I don’t spend money in places like Spencer’s these days, but it’s good that they haven’t gone away.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile in Orlando

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Steak ‘n Shake in the Hunter’s Creek Area

Steak ‘n Shake in the Hunter’s Creek Area

Had breakfast this morning at the Steak ‘n Shake location way down So. OBT in the Hunter’s Creek part of South Orlando. Enjoyed every bite. And the fine service. Janet is more than just a good server; her skill, experience and customer manner put her way above most who put on the apron and pour the coffee.

If you’re in the Hunter’s Creek part of the world some morning, stop in. Of course, you can stop in at any time, they’re open 24 hours! Steak ‘n Shake has some new and very tasty menu offerings. Their prices are lower than just about any eatery of that type and if it’s breakfast time, you’ll most likely have Janet as your server. Lucky you.

 

Steak ‘n Shake ~ 13133 So. Orange Blossom Trail ~ Orlando, Florida ~ Dial 407 240-8740

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

UCF knocks off Illinois, advances to NIT Final Four – Orlando Sentinel

I was on the UCF campus yesterday evening to see our Knights take on the Seminoles in softball. No. 1 ranked FSU bested the Knights by a score of 4-0. It was a good contest and I don’t think the UCF softball stadium could have held one more fan.

While that contest was going on, we all could see the crazy traffic on campus, knowing that the crowds were turning out for the Men’s BB game that was going to tip-off at 7:00. I was delighted to hear the Knights won and are now headed to the final four in the NIT. Hope they leave their mark on Madison Square Garden! Charge On!

Great write-up all about their big win here from the Orlando Sentinel:

UCF held off a late Illinois rally at CFE Arena Wednesday night, advancing to the NIT Final Four.

Source: UCF knocks off Illinois, advances to NIT Final Four – Orlando Sentinel

Golf Legend Arnold Palmer Has Passed

Golf Legend Arnold Palmer Has Passed

It’s quite possible that Arnold Palmer was the best-known golfer of all time. He had a home here in Orlando for a very long time and he was well-loved in this part of the world.

Although he was a true legend in the game of golf, he was just as well-known for being a wonderful human being and giving away vast sums of money. The Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children here in Orlando is such a part of our community. I had so many fares to or from that place in my taxi driving years. And The Bay Hill Invitational is a huge event in Central Florida. Arnie, as his friends and fans often called him, just might have been our most beloved celebrity around here; God knows we have plenty. Especially in the world of sports.

I haven’t played golf in over 30 years, but it’s such a fine sport. It’s lots of fun to watch. (I enjoy living on the seventh fairway of one of our many, many country clubs in Florida, but that’s as close as I get to the action.) Now that he’s passed, many will point out that Mr. Palmer had thousands of admirers who have no connection to the game of golf. That’s his greatest legacy. Rest in Peace, Arnie.

By the time you’ve read this, there will be hundreds of obituaries on Mr. Palmer. Here’s one that came out right away, as Golfweek pretty much scooped the rest of the world.

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

The Early Years of the Orange Blossom Blues Society

The Early Years of the Orange Blossom Blues Society

The Early Years of the OBBS

The Orange Blossom Blues Society is getting close to celebrating its twelfth anniversary! My, how the time has flown…  I’m going to take a few minutes and look back over the first two years for our growing enterprise. Join me for this little walk down memory lane if you will…
 
When Jeff Willey put together a new jam at Cafe Annie downtown, many blues fans and musicians who had previously only known one another from jams way back in the day or from on-line forums got to meet and play together and talk about how Central Florida ought to have an organized Blues Society.  “Big Willey” got that event started in August of 2004 and it wasn’t long before the event became ground zero for an effort to launch a real Blues Society. Some of the original conspirators included “MuDDfish Mike”, Edwards, Tim Williams, Jae Futch, Jeff and his sidekick on the Smokin’ Torps, Clay Cole, “Burnin’ Vernon” Miller, Rob Mola, and yours truly, “Bulldog Ben” Basile.
 
By the 3rd of November, Mike Edwards wrote to a contact at the Blues Foundation to inquire as to exactly what a new Blues Society had to do to affiliate. On November 10th, Tim, Burnin’ Vernon, Rob Mola, Jeff and Mr. Bulldog met before the jam, decided to actually “go for it” and passed the hat to try and raise enough cash to actually file. Mike Edwards and Jae were very much involved in these deliberations but both of them were out of town on that fateful evening.  It wasn’t long before Jae and her expert and volunteer legal consultants helped us get the papers submitted and approved; The Orange Blossom Blues Society was born on the most-auspicious day of November 16, 2004! The date was chosen deliberately, as it is the birthday of W.C. Handy, “The Father of the Blues!” Not a bad choice, if I do say so!
 
As many Central Florida blues lovers know, Jeff Willey is not only a fine musician, but an able promoter; Jeff had been hard at work for some time putting together the First Orlando Blues Festival. It worked out well that the chosen date of November 20th came around just as Jeff and the rest of the co-conspirators were able to get the OBBS up and running. The Fest was a huge success in so many ways; though a couple of hundred more attendees would have been nice, Wall Street Plaza probably couldn’t have held anymore! The crowd loved it, and some of the best talent Central Florida had to offer got to shine on-stage. The line-up for that top-shelf local event featured:
 
The Revival Band ~ “Burnin’ Vernon and Wild Blue Yonder
The Midnight Ramblers ~ Red Eye Express ~ funkUS
The Shaun Rounds Blues Band ~ Smokin’ Torps ~ Soul Cactus
The Houseshakers Reunion
 
Our fledgling Society made many new friends that weekend. And many members got started in that volunteer habit, staffing our information table and preachin’ the blues gospel to all who came anywhere near! Mark and Tommy McCoy made it to the Fest and many OBBS-folk who have become fixtures on the local blues scene were all over that show. Jann Childers was on the table for the whole day. Others, including Jerry Waller, Jim Mahoney, web designer Amado Ohland and Jim Manuel were volunteering and helping to launch committees around the time of our official birth and in those first few months of 2005.
 
The very first Election of Officers happened on December 6, 2004. Tim Williams was elected President; Mike Edwards became the General V.P.,  Jeff Willey the V.P. for Public Relations and Jae Futch got the nod as Secretary/Treasurer. Our Officers, Directors, members, friends and volunteers put in untold hours trying to “Preserve, Promote and Present” Blues Music. The first two years had many highlights and successes; it also had some tough times.
 
One highlight for many local blues-freaks would have to be Mark Hummel’s first Central Florida appearance; that show was at the now-defunct Smokee Tavern on March 3, 2005. Mark has played here just about every year since, but that first show was memorable indeed! The jams at S.T. and also at Oyster Bay in Casselberry had long and succesful runs. Those jams and the clubs which hosted them are long-gone, but those were some good times. It was at the Smokee where players like Paul Stott and JoAnna Hudson and a young Selwyn Birchwood first came into the OBBS fold; today there aren’t a whole lot of blues-folk who don’t know these fabulous artists. And there were so many others….
 
Another highlight would be the launch of the official newsletter of the Society, The Orange Blossom Special Edition. She debuted in June of 2005. The OBSE has only had two editors, yours truly and Zaida Zoller, who had the task of getting our journal into print and getting it out to the friends and members for over four years. Susan Bowman, a first-rate graphic artist AND killer bassist, handled the layout for the OBSE for many years as well.
 
Who can forget all the good times at The Alley in Sanford for the last eleven plus years? They’re still helping to keep the blues flame burnin’ bright. That fine venue opened its doors in 2005 as the OBBS was just starting to hit its stride. Blues 4 Hire, featuring Selwyn Birchwood and Jody Hudson played there, as did Stoney and the Houserockers, our own Mike Edward’s smokin’ hot band King MuDDfish and just about any other top-shelf blues band you can name.
 The fund-raiser at Virgin Records Mega Store at Downtown Disney was a very cool and very badly-needed event. Jann Childers helped to get many of our bands booked there. Soul Cactus, and Omado Ohland’s jazz-blues fusion band were among them. If I may be allowed a personal note, it was very nice to play that event with Jann. The crowd was very responsive and a fair chunk of change was garnered for the relief of those knocked flat by Katrina and Rita.
 
The Blues at the Rock series at the Hard Rock LIVE at Universal was a good undertaking. Though it had a relatively short run, it did provide five killer evenings of top-shelf blues. Catfish Charlie, the Jann Childers Blues Project, Big Rick, Blues Crew, Teague Stefan, King MuDDfish and funkUS were just some of the fine local bands that had a chance to tear the roof off the joint at the Hard Rock while we had that going on.
 
Our second Annual Business Meeting was held at the Elk’s Club on Primrose; that was the first-ever OBBS event for future-Present and newsletter Editor Zaida Zoller. The officers elected in that conclave on November 13, 2005 were: Tim Williams, who began his second term as President; Mike Edwards continued as V.P.; and Jae Futch stayed in the ever-important Secretary/Treasurer slot.
 
By now Jeff Willey was off the Board of Directors but he was still promoting some killer events. His second and final Orlando Blues Fest was held on November 19, 2005 and had one hell of a line-up: how about the Smokin’ TorpsSarasota Slim, Beautiful Bobby Blackmon and the B-3 Band, Lucky Peterson — with his Dad, James, no less — and Little Charlie and the Nightcats batting clean-up! I sure hope you didn’t miss that. The rain did little to dampen our spirits that fine Saturday. The OBBS signed up three new members and made a TON of friends; there are active members still on the roll who first learned of our existence from this event. Something I’ll always remember from that weekend: hanging out with Little Charlie and taking his band back to OIA the next morning in my taxi. And, no, I didn’t charge ’em a dime!
 
2006 was only our second full year of existence. It had some highlights too — and one unspeakable tragedy: the murder of OBBS Founding Member Tracy Bennawit. Tracy’s life was cruelly taken on the 24th of June of that year. As many of you remember, Tracy helped to design a tee shirt for us earlier in 2006 but we had not produced any of them, opting instead for a simpler one. We decided to run her design for our Members’ meeting which was held at Oyster Bay on August 19th. The sale of the shirts with her design raised a modest amount of money to benefit Tracy’s then-fourteen year-old son. I don’t think anyone who was there that summer day will ever forget that.
 
On the musical side, the last three installments of the “Blues at the Rock” series made 2006, a more-than-fine year for us. The first-ever local appearance of harp-god Jason Ricci came in November. McWells hosted that show.  (McWells has since been sold; the Freindly Confines at S. Orange and Gatlin now occupies that space.) Many, many gonzo blues shows were held at McWells over the years, most notably with super-promoter and Past-Pres Zaida Zoller. The George Linson Stage at McWells stayed pretty damn busy for quite a while. The IBC competition from this year just happened at Friendly Confines; that brought back some memories. The place still looks very much like it did “back in the day” as the biggest change after the sale was the addition of a thousand flat screen TV’s.
Some other artists who played at McWells in our early years include Bird Dog Bobby, Mark Hummel and Brevard County’s Austin Pettit Band with Debby Boyer. Gary Ingber also graced the stage at McWells; Gary didn’t make a whole lot of appearances in Greater Orlando after that show. There is now a relief fund for Central Florida musicians that was started in Gary’s name. More about that in a future post.
 The year 2006 was also notable for another reason; it was the year the society got approval to operate as a non-profit, tax-exempt entity. Tim, Jae, Mike Edwards and Zaida worked tirelessly to get us to that milestone.
 Next in this series of the history of the OBBS, we’ll cover many other, more recent events, including the Ladies of the Blues series to benefit the Gary Ingber fund, our Blues in the Schools program and much, much more. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this feature. If it helped you recall some good times and good friends from our first couple of years, that would not be a bad thing. Labor Day is right around the corner, with those crisp days (and nights) of autumn not far behind. As we draw closer to our twelfth birthday, I hope you will resolve to “jump in with both feet” and participate in your blues society. The mission of the OBBS is “to Preserve, Promote and Present” the blues. There’s a role for you to play in carrying out that mission.
 “Bulldog Ben” Basile
©2011, 2016 Benjamin Lawrence Basile
Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Bubbalou’s Bodacious Barbecue is As Good As It Gets

Bubbalou’s Bodacious Barbecue is As Good As It Gets

The best I can remember, I first visited Bubbalou’s Bodacious Barbecue back around ’85 or ’86… Not exactly sure. What I know for sure is that I’ve gone back about a bajillion times. And I’ll be going back many, many times more.

At the time I made that first killer visit to this Mecca of Florida barbecue, the Lee Rd. location was it. (If you haven’t been there, that’s just west of where Lee Rd. begins at Hwy 17-92.) I didn’t know that one day Bubbalou’s would have five locations. Or that they’d all be way bigger than the original one. And that people from every corner of the Orlando metro area would come to love their chow the way I did.

I prefer cafeteria-style service at barbecue joints, as you tend to have your dinner in front of you faster that way. That’s the system at Bubbalou’s. But their staff will be table side several times while you’re chowing down even though they’re not actual wait staff. You can tip at the time you order. They tend to fill up for lunch and because seating consists of picnic tables, you may be enjoying your selection with friends you haven’t met yet. But that adds to the charm of the place. And they feature a decent beer selection.

I’ve had five or six entrees, all told. I tend to order my faves over and over so it’s true that there are things on their menu I’ve never tasted. Some of my “stand-bys” that I’ve had a thousand times would include the Pulled Pork Sandwich, The Ribs and the Catfish Dinner. I recommend them all. If you opt for a sandwich, you can go with a bun or the grilled garlic toast you find at many barbecue restaurants; yeah, I know that “authentic” barbecue should come with plain white bread, but that is the one thing about old-school barbecue that I really hate. Give me the not-authentic garlic toast every damn day of the week!

Let me say one more thing about the catfish; it’s been consistently good and I go that route fairly often because catfish is not on the menu at most barbecue joints. So that’s one of the reasons I go to Bubbalou’s often.

Their sides are killer; there are many from which to choose. I especially love the collards and the black-eyed peas. But all the ones I’ve had are top-shelf.

I’ve been to four of the five locations; have not made it out to the Apopka store yet. Give me a little time. I’m not out in the UCF area that much, but the Alafaya location is huge and has a full bar and a substantial patio. You can play bean bag toss after dinner and they feature live music on weekends. I’ve visited that one four times in all; its vibe is quite different from the others. And, yes, you’ll see plenty of UCF kids there. Both as patrons and crew.

If you’d like to wrap a train trip around your lunch or dinner, the Altamonte Springs location is the way to go; it’s within easy walking distance of the Altamonte Sun Rail Station. I’ve gone that route and it was a lot of fun. In fact, they have a train rider special but you’ll have to show your Sun Rail pass.

They are family-friendly too. I’ve always seen every kind of diner on my visits. Check them out whether you’re with family, friends or “flying solo”, as is my usual custom.

You’ve gotta love Bubbalou’s. Five great locations. Top-shelf barbecue and very yummy sides. Fast service from an efficient and engaging crew. What’s not to like?

Bubbalou’s accepts most credit cards. American Express is not on that list, however.

I am not going to list the addresses of the five locations here. For that, I recommend their site. To see the locations and their fabulous menu, just follow this link.