We were back in the air headed toward warmer weather in early December. I was in a festive mood, determined not to let those awful versions of Christmas music that wash over U.S. airports at this time of year invade my happy space. The 12 Days of Christmas done by what sounded like Box Car Willy does not put anyone in a good frame of mind—well, maybe small children do not recognize the violence being done to these songs. Anyway, my fellow travelers seemed upbeat too. It was too early in the month to witness the mob of families headed to Orlando and a date with the mouse.  There were a few flight delays, but no harsh words about missed connections or lives ruined. I even met a Cleveland Browns fan. He was not suicidal over the fact that his Brownies were still winless.

Our connection was in St. Louis (Lambert Field), again my favorite fly-through airport because the Southwest gates are so close together. By the time we were over the gulf (it was a clear day), the anticipation of a much warmer few days rendered me giddy. The views off the left side of the aircraft, aqua blue water, white sand beaches, the sponge docks at Tarpon Springs, McDill Air Force Base, and finally the air field brought back memories of previous trips to Clearwater Beach, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and other places in the region.

clearwater_beach_8

While airborne, I lamented, again, the loss of Sky Mall buying opportunities. Also note that Southwest The Magazine no longer carries Sudoku puzzles, a terrible exclusion in my opinion. Anyway, without Sky Mall, the only option for buying stuff at 37,000 or so feet is Southwest The Magazine, a glossy publication filled with stories so short that I wonder why they were written at all. However, there are many high altitude buying opportunities, including:

  • Mdrive (re-find your prime by boosting testosterone and burning fat)
  • Hair Replacement/Rejuvenation
    • Ultimate Hair Growth Lazer, 82 Lazer diocles, 90 seconds, 3 times a week (just strap it on your head), only $795, give as a gift and $125 off
    • Lazer Band 82, strap it on your head and smile like the folks in the pictures below
    • Capillus, 82 lazer diodes, 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week (put on the Capillus Ball Cap), $799, FDA cleared, whatever that is
  • Standing Desks (two ads)
  • Earn a Doctorate in business administration (DBA on-line)
  • Jesus Always talking books
  • Pinto Ranch cowboy boots for women (why not cowgirl boots?)
  • Lasik and Cataract Surgery (eight options)
  • It’s Just Lunch (date smarter)

There’s more, but I will stop here.

Amalie Arena is home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, an NHL hockey team that last won the Stanley Cup in 2004. The Bolts, as they are known, are having a tough season, and on December 10 had lost two in a row, and six of their last seven games. We had excellent seats in the lower bowl. The Bolts shot out to a 3-1 lead. Bad penalties, the inability to clear the puck, and unforced errors led to the Pittsburg Penguins eventually winning 4-3. Andres Sustr, a former UNO player and once a student in our college, is a defenseman for the Bolts. He took one of the bad penalties and it led to a goal for the Penguins. We saw three fights, and one ejection. Tampa Bay was outshot 37-13, and had 32 penalty minutes (Pittsburgh had 18). The best part of the arena is the generation of lightning in the ceiling that zaps away now and then not unlike that found in scenes from Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein (the movies).

frankensteinamalie-arena

I experienced three days of fog, sometimes the heavy version, while on this visit. In all of my travels to Clearwater beach, I have never witnessed this much fog. Moreover, it lasted until well into the afternoon on two days. Seeing that zero visibility view (what view?) one morning brought to mind Stephen King’s 1980 novella, The Mist. As in typical King style, there’s bad stuff in that fog, real bad stuff. The story has and interesting twist (sad) at the end and if you don’t know the story, check it out.

the-mist

We (Janet, my mother Jean, her husband Sid, and our friends Gary and Becky) went to Raymond James Stadium to watch the Bucs beat the Saints 16-11. We saw a very rare occurrence. Neither Drew Brees nor Jameis Winston (for his first time) threw a touchdown pass. And, the Saints did not score a touchdown at all. They, the Saints, made up for this lack of offense by scoring six touchdowns the following week. Our seats, in the lower bowl, were close to the end zone that is home to the craziest of fans (in a fun way). That end zone is the one that has the pirate ship that shoots off its cannons when the Bucs score (you’ve seen it on TV). The fans were all decked out in pirate garb and Santa gear. They also a happy bunch, spontaneous, and definitely oiled up for the occasion, very much unlike the plastic bunch we observed the following week when we saw the Bucs play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

bucs-pirate-ship

A final bit of news. For those of you who keep up on the latest bits of news from the world of Scientology, a recent rumor around Clearwater has it that Tom Cruise is having a new luxury condominium built, complete with an automobile elevator (who doesn’t need one of these?), built right smack dab in downtown Clearwater. The entire complex in which Mr. Reacher’s condo will be located is projected to generate much needed economic activity in downtown Clearwater. Stay tuned for an update given that I will be back at the beach soon.

jack-reacher-poster-international

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