Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Captions for a Rainy Day

Me at the recent Star Trek Into Darkness showing. 
If you're a hearing impaired resident or visitor to Key West and want to catch a movie, you're in luck! The local Regal Theater behind the Wendy's off Roosevelt on the north side of the island, has closed caption glasses. All you have to do is ask for them at the box office, when you buy your ticket. If you don't have a Regal Rewards card, they will ask you to sign a checkout form.

The glasses are easy to use. The manager will set them to the correct channel (theater number) and all you have to do is hang the receiver around your neck and put on the glasses. Sometimes, the cord for the receiver won't be attached to the holders on back, if it's not, just slide the cord under the clips and you're good to go. 

Captions are a light green and appear to float in the air in front of you. If you move your head, the captions move with you. A nice plus, if you have to reach for the popcorn. 

You can adjust where the captions appear by holding onto the black piece on the side of the glasses and clicking it up or down. 

If you're watching a film that's longer than 90 minutes, the top of your ears will get a little sore. I slide the glasses on so that some of my hair is over my ears and that helps. 

Some caption glasses out there are also for the visually impaired and they will describe the action on the screen. I am not sure if these glasses have that ability, but I did have one manager ask if I needed the audio turned on, so they probably do.  You can check with the theater, before you go, if you have any questions. 

Regal Theater 3338 N. Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL - (305) 294-0000

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Happy Hour - Alonzo's Oyster Bar

I can't count the number of times we've walked past A& B Lobster House and Alonzo's Oyster Bar, on our way to someplace else. In the last year, Mark had suggested dinner a few times, but the word Lobster always made me leery of prices.  And then, a couple of days ago, he pointed out that the two were separate entities and suggested happy hour at Alonzo's.  Oh yeah. There's that word bar at the end of the sign.

Alonzo's is located in a great spot, on a corner of the pier in the Key West Bight,  next to where they feed the Tarpon everyday at 4 pm.  If you've never watched a swarm of Tarpon (many topping 150 pounds), fight over super sized chunks of fish, you're missing one of the best shows in Key West. Occasionally, you'll spot a Nurse Shark or Manatee gliding through the scene. Feeding starts promptly at 4, so arrive 10-15 minutes early for a good spot. After the show's done, at about 10 minutes after 4, turn around and hit Alonzo's.

There wasn't room at the bar, so we asked if we could get a table for happy hour. Some bars in Key West won't honor the happy hour menu unless you're at the bar, so it's always good to check. Alonzo's didn't mind and we were seated at an inside table after about a ten minute wait.

Happy hour is from 4pm - 630pm daily with all appetizers and drink specials half price. Mark went with a mojito, his favorite, and I jumped onto a key lime martini.  The mojito wasn't as perfect as Bahama Bob's mojito over at the Rum Bar, but he thought it was pretty darn good.  My key lime martini was the best, by far, that I've had on the island. It was sweet and creamy with the traditional graham cracker rim. Some places skip the graham cracker rim which violates all sorts of happy hour rules and thusly nullifies their ability to call their monstrosity a key lime martini.

More importantly, it's a direct violation of the Key West By-Laws,
Rule 4, sec 4,
For a drink to be declared a "Key Lime Martini", said drink must have graham cracker crumbs around the rim.  A drink without graham cracker crumbs, can, however, call itself a Lime Martini but must omit the term "Key" from the name.  

Just like every sports bar in the world has buffalo wings, every eating spot in Key West has their own versions of fish dip and ceviche.  Since we're fans of both, we had to order one of each and neither disappointed. The fish dip was on the mild side, light on the spices, and topped with capers and chunks of red peppers. It was served with 3 different type of crackers. The ceviche was a excellent with onions and peppers with the conch meat, giving it a decent kick. Still hungry, we ordered the fish fingers and were a bit disappointed. They were okay, as far as fish fingers go, but the sauce was basic tartar and there was really nothing that stood out about the dish.

In the end, my fears of an expensive bill were unfounded. We ordered two specialty drinks, two sodas, three appetizers and the bill was only $30.  On our next visit, I'll request an outside table for some people watching. A true spectator sport here in Key West.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tourists on the Crawl

We had a great visit, yesterday with Candy Gandolfi Martin and her husband Bob.Those goobers drove all of the way down from the Sarasota area during the wee hours of the morning for a day trip!  That's dedication.

We met them at The Green Parrot. The Parrot is a great old historic place that has been there since 1890. 
It's a popular spot with a great story so I'll save that for a full post. 
When we first arrived, Bob was in the shop getting a T-shirt.  When he came out, we ordered drinks and settled in to catch up. Candy was looking forward to some beach time but, it only took a few minutes befor Bob declared his intention for full Bar Crawl credit. I liked Bob. 

Here's a pic at the Parrot with Candy, Melissa and I.  

Melissa left us here to go write for a few hours.

From The Green Parrot, we headed up to show them the place we think is the most interesting bar in Key West, Capt Tony's.

Although it trumpets itself as the original location of Hemingway's old hangout, Sloppy Joes, Capt Tony's back story is  much richer.  I won't tell the whole story here, but it includes pirates, hangings and Jimmy Buffet.  How is that for a tease to another post?

After that stop, Candy wanted drinks at the Smallest Bar but, for some reason, it wasn't open. Instead we stopped at the famous Sloppy Joe's and grabbed seats at the front bar.  Candy almost went for just a soft drink!  No kidding. We were all just as shocked as you guys.  Props to her, though, she quickly changed her mind and added a dose of rum.  Her crawl lived on! I'll break here for your applause..........

Three down.  That's a solid Small crawl. Two more stops and they would earn official credit for a full Bar Crawl. Candy talked about maybe heading over to the beach before they hit their final stops but, I pointed out that it would be a violation of Rule 3, sec 6 of the Key West By Laws.

Rule 3, sec 6
         “All activity must be consecutive.  The Bar Crawl or Small Crawl shall be deemed terminated for a participant in the event of any of the following;
a.   A participant enters and departs a drinking establishment without ordering an alcohlic drink
b.   A participant departs the establishment for 20 or more minutes.
c.   Participants enter any establishment with a liquor license and fail to order drinks.  In the event that it is a food stop, participants must also order a drink at the restaurant.  In that event, the stop is counted toward the Crawl.

That clinched it,  We pressed ahead. The lady's a trooper. The final two stops were easy. The Smallest Bar still hadn't opened so we diverted into The Bull. This is the place where Melissa and I go to hear Dawn Wilder sing. Melissa rejoined us here and Stop #4 was soon complete.

From there we slid on down to Caroline's for Cuban sandwiches and rum.  Not only was the Crawl complete but we had finished before 3pm.  One of our earliest ever!  That even gave them enough time to get Candy to the beach.

 Bob and Candy, you guys were tons of fun and you're welcome back any time! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Shore Fishing: The Original Social Network

One of my earliest memories is fishing with a cane pole along the river which ran through my Grandparents farm in Wisconsin. My Dad never risked mentioning fishing unless he had already decided to go - and right then! I was a little guy and I dearly loved everything about the experience. I was thrilled by every wiggle of the bobber and every Creek chub I caught was a trophy. Of course, I also loved hanging out with Dad. I was even thrilled about digging the worms for bait.  I wasn't particularly thrilled about digging at the base of the manure pile but that was where the worms lived. I'm sure they knew what was best.

Maybe it's my Tom Sawyer intro to the sport but I've always found something special about fishing from shore. When you're not in a boat, no one's a stranger. You're with friends who are there for the same reason; you love being out by the water. You chat like casual old pals after just a few minutes and you enjoy their catches almost as much as your own. It's pretty cool.  Shore fisherman are one big extended family.

Today Melissa and I took a brief drive and I fished alongside James. When we arrived, he had already caught a couple fish that he happily showed me but the action had slowed down. Luckily for both of us, I had some different bait. My live shrimp stirred up some more action.

James was down from Miami for a few days with his girlfriend. She went shopping and he went fishing.  What an awesome arrangement! 

Just after my second fish, we heard a kid calling, "Grandpa, Grandpa, Hurry up." We looked around, confused, but it was James' ring tone.  We all laughed. Then he sheepishly hit, "Ignore" and we laughed again. Something tells me he doesn't take many calls while he's fishing - at least until he's ready to go. James was funny.

Today we fished at the “inner Mole Pier" on the west end of the Key West. It’s just one, of many, local spots with lots of fish (and plenty of big ones).   The Lower Keys have tons of other piers and bridges, too, and they're all lined with brothers and sisters I haven’t met yet.  Maybe tomorrow is a good day for another family reunion.