Friday, May 13, 2011

TV Greats

A friend and I were talking today about the best characters to ever grace the small screen. Not actors. Characters. The fictional creations of an unappreciated writing staff. Since I'm a big fan of lists AND television, here are my Top 5:

#5: Alex P. Keaton
Hilarious in how unrealistic this character was, yet perfect when you realize there are actually people out there that are just like him: Young Republicans. (Only not as likable)

#4: John Locke
Out of the main 14 characters in the hit show LOST, this mysterious Man of Faith was my favorite. Zen-like in the way he knew nothing, yet was 100%, and correctly, in tune with his surroundings at all times. If the others had only listened and believed...

#3: Tony Soprano
Total bad-ass, which made everyone wish to be like him. Yet completely human, which made everyone realize it may actually be possible. A perfectly written character who properly, yet clumsily balanced both of his "families."

#2: Kramer
Supposedly based on one of Seinfeld's real-life neighbors. The character was written so perfectly with the right amount of wit and charisma, no matter how bizzare and "out there" he may have been, you, like everyone else on the show, couldn't help but like him.

#1: Michael Scott
So flawed in every way imaginable, yet still a good human being and perhaps an even better boss. Despite his accidental racism, his amazing ability to ruin every holiday celebration, his incompetence in the workplace and the fact that he was the worst secret holder ever, deep down, you know he meant well. I think like everyone else, he just wanted people to like him. Turns out, they all did in the end. That's what she said.

Runner Up:
Ron Swanson
Hater of big government and balloons. Meat eater.
How can anyone NOT like this guy?

Your turn! Who are some of your favorite TV characters? Leave suggestions in the comment section below.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Many Faces of Twitter

After admittedly getting caught up in the addiction that is Twitter, I've begun to start noticing decisive personality types among other users. My own Tweeting habits range wildly: from snarky observational humor, to plugging my blog, to casual conversations regarding travel, sports, or politics. I'm not saying I've written the book on the perfect use of the social network, but I would like to think the way I use it isn't too obnoxious to all those following me. I'm not selling anything, so I guess all I have to market are my thoughts, opinions and ideas. Much like real life, I suppose. Which is what I've always felt social networks were, only over a computer, rather than face to face.

Some people, however, choose to use it differently. This is for them.
-The Self-Promoter: How do you know this person has a blog? They will tell you. No less than 100 times a day. Sure, they're obviously good with words, but the only time they use them on Twitter is to tell us that they've written something new about their amazing life as a single, female traveling the world. Yes, we get it. You have a great life and for that we're all jealous. But truth be told, people are only looking at your blog because of all the pictures you include of you and your friends wearing bikinis.
(I've been ridiculed for using Twitter to plug this blog. I try to keep my self promotions down to 3 or 4 times a day, preferably 6 hours apart. And only on the days that I write something new. I think that's fair, knowing that the site's audience changes drastically throughout the day.)

-The Vegan: This person is as obnoxious online as they are in person. Much like their diet, their Tweets have no substance aside from pretentiously asking around for new and exciting vegan recipes. Chances are good this person will also let you know that they don't own a TV, or that they live in Canada.

-The Non-Published Self-Promoter: This person doesn't have anything interesting to promote other than the fact that they just ate lunch at Sonic. They make great use of FourSquare to let everyone in the world, who couldn't possibly care less, know exactly where they are and what they are doing at all times. The most popular possessor of this personality trait is the thin female who likes to eat. She will let you know every time she opens that pint of ice cream. In your face, everyone that doesn't care! Another is the bar hopper. (I'll admit, I've been known to drunk FourSquare on a night on the town and regret it deeply the following morning.)

-The Social Media King/Queen: These could be some of the most obnoxious people on the internet. These are people who may have taken a couple marketing classes at the local community college and now think they hold all of the answers and know-how to properly market yourself, your business and your products using new media. Truth be told, 14 year olds are far more advanced in using the internet to get information out. As for Twitter use, it's hard to tell if these people are real humans with individual personalities, or if they're just computer programmed robots, randomly sending out articles on the latest social media marketing techniques. You want to know a secret? No matter what you're selling, marketing works best when you create personal relationships. Try that, robots.

-The King of Blogs: I'm writing this specific blog post because of this guy. I so wish I could remember his Twitter handle. This guy writes and Tweets about his blogs on how to properly write a blog, since, naturally, he holds all of the knowledge on how to do so. I want so badly to find him so I can congratulate him on being the most pretentious asshole in cyberspace. He once said that he doesn't respect writers who use free blogging sites (like this one). Words are words, douchebag. How are yours any better than mine since you chose to spend $8 a month to have them posted. He also doesn't think blogs should consists of lists. This one's for you, prick.

-The Chronic Retweeter: I don't even know why this person spent the time creating and profile or adding a picture, as they have no individuality whatsoever. The only time you see them pop up in your feed is when they copy and send something that they, for whatever reason, found worthy of seeing again. Let it be known, I am a fan of the retweet when necessary. Just don't let it become who you are and the only thing you're known for. Be yourself. But not if you're the Chronic Retweeter.

-The Promoter of Other Peoples' Stuff: This person scours the internet in search of articles they like that they feel other people should like equally as much. Again, no individual personality of their own.

-The Quoter: This person is all over Facebook too. Rather than using their own words to describe their thoughts and feelings, they use other peoples. Usually dead, famous people. I dig a good quote every now and then, I even use them from time to time. But, again, be your own person.

-The Compliment Seeker: I dated a girl like this once. When you fish for compliments, I'm not going to give you any. We didn't last very long.

-The Chronic Thanker: It's always good to be polite. Especially when using Twitter to build personal relationships to help push your brand. (Which I feel is what it's best used for) But when all we see on our feeds is you thanking your different followers for things we never saw, it just makes us wonder what we missed.

-The "New" Poster: There are some radio stations out there who still promote themselves as the "New Buzz 105" years after the format change. There are a number of bloggers who do the same. Not only have they plugged the same story multiple times throughout the day, but for days on end, they're still calling it a "new post." Eventually, it has to stop being new. Plug your work, that's cool. But do it honestly. After a day or so, it just isn't new anymore.

I'm sure I've missed some. These are mainly the ones I see on a daily bases. Is this you? If so, defend yourself in the comments section below. And if you get annoyed by a Tweeter type that I missed, feel free to add it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Songs About Travel

CNN Go had a recent article titled the 10 Best Travel Songs of All Time. I was excited to see their list. Sadly, that excitement didn't last long. So after complaining about it on Twitter for a bit, I felt it necessary to produce my own.

Note: This is just a quick, off the top of my head list dealing with songs about traveling. Not songs to travel to (I'll save that for a different time, as there is a big difference.) Feel free to add your own in the comments section below if you feel I have left anything out.

1. Holiday Road. A catchy song from a kick ass movie. Shame on your, CNN Go for missing this. I hear this and I immediately want to head to Wally World and punch a Moose.

2. Holiday. Classic Weezer and an even better travel philosophy. "We're going where the wind is blowin', not knowin' where we're gonna stay."

3. Wendy Clear. "Let's take the boat out on the bay, forget your job for just one day." Yes, Blink182. Let's.

4. Midnight Train to Georgia. Having Gladys Knight and the Pips makes any list better.

5. Ramble On. Led Zeppelin's "I'm goin' round the world, I gotta find my girl" speaks to many a journeyman's reasons.

6. Ramblin' Man. Sometimes it's impossible to try to get the rest of the world to understand your love for traveling, or your reasons for not wanting to be tied to one specific place. This Allman Brothers song gets that. "When it's time for leaving, I hope you'll understand. I was born a ramblin' man."

7. Carolina in My Mind. This is so classic I shouldn't even be commenting on it. When I'm not traveling by foot, I'm traveling by mind. This James Taylor song captures that perfectly.

8. Life is a Highway. From the opening drum beat, who can't like this Tom Cochrane song? Not you.

9. Proud Mary. I linked the CCR version. The Tina and Ike version will do as well. This song is what you'd get if Twain's Huckleberry Finn and Kerouac's On The Road made a musically-gifted baby. Two of my favorite books about freedom and adventure, put to sound. Awesome.

10. Time to Move On. "What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing. But under my feet, baby, grass is growing. It's time to move on. It's time to get going." -Tom Petty.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blood Alcohol Level: Irish

St. Patty’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Kind of like Cinco de Mayo in the way that it’s a completely borrowed celebration that has nothing to do with me or my heritage, but provides a perfectly accepted reason to drink. Not to mention, you don’t have to buy anybody anything.
This March 17th will mark the 1 year anniversary of last March 17th. And the 4 year anniversary of the following story. A day that opened my eyes to the lengths a woman will go to not have to spend the night with me. A day that gave rise to a story so rich in delight for my friends (who spent days making fun of me for it) that I suppose now, 4 years later, it deserves a blog of its own.
At the time, I was living in Birmingham. I had met a girl who I quite liked and was spending a lot of time with, but we had yet to take it to that next level. The sleepover. We both had full time jobs that were not conducive to late nights of stealing covers and cold feet, so it was seen right off the bat as not much of an option.
For those that know me, you know that it takes an act of God, or the planets aligning for me to actually find a woman that I’m interested in enough to spend any great deal of time with. Either they talk on their phone too much, watch shows like "The Bachelor," or expect me to pay a hefty amount of attention to them. But this girl, I liked. Misty. She was out of my league: attractive, successful and she had that kind of laugh that was contagious.  Try as I might to find fault with her, I just couldn’t do it. So it was only natural that we make plans to celebrate St. Patty’s Day together.
And celebrate we did. It was a Saturday, so we took full advantage. I wore a green shirt with a picture of two turtles mating with the words "Slow Poke" underneath. She wore a tight, green little number with a shamrock on it. Her friends had gathered for lunch and drinks...if I remember correctly, before noon.
For you LOST fans, consider this next part my story-arc flashback. To truly understand the great irony of this tale, I need to take you back about 12 hours to the previous night.
I had met up with some friends from work the night before in a shit-hole Alabama town known as Bessemer. We were at the local Ruby Tuesday’s bar. Despite the recognizable name, the place was a bore and filled with way too many toothless people with "The South will rise again" T-shirts on. It was a place that I gladly would never make the 45 minute trip from Birmingham ever again. In fact, I made that declaration in the parkinglot as we all parted ways for the night. I let it be known that not even a beautiful woman would ever get me to come back to Bessemer again. Ever. It was nearly an hours drive. And there was nothing there. Why on Earth would I ever go back?
Flash forward, back to the green beer for lunch.
The day went probably the exact same as many peoples’ did. After lunch we went and watched some Irish bands, played some pool, sat and chatted with other partygoers. By 6pm, it was time to go. Drunk, tired and hungry, Misty and I decided to go back to my place and order a pizza. As I called for the delivery she went to the corner store for cigarettes. (OK, so I lied. She did have one major fault. But that laugh...despite the fact that it was a smoker’s laugh, it was still enough to make me over look that horrible flaw.) She would later return not only with the cigarettes, but with a case of beer and a bottle of wine as well.
It looked like my holiday wasn’t ending as early as I had though.
Now, in the mind of a man, this is all playing out very well. A girl that I am in to and who is in to me is now suggesting that we add to our drunken state. She CLEARLY must understand that she can’t drive home in her condition. Add that to the crisp, spring, Saturday night and no work the next day and you can see where this is going.
(Insert record screech here)
After the pizza and wine she insisted that she had to get home. I told her time and time again that she was in no shape to drive and even went as far as hiding her keys in between the couch cushions. But she searched. And searched. Adamant that she leave and not stay over. She ended up finding the keys and with a kiss good-bye, stumbled up the stairs to her car.
I knew there had to be a way to stop her, but tying her to a chair just didn’t come to my already inebriated mind. And with that, she drove away.

Taken moments before the premature exit. She wouldn't be smiling much longer.

As with many nights after our dates, I waited about 10 minutes for her to call or text saying she made it home ok. The call didn’t come. So I called her. Nothing still. I figured she made it home, passed out and we would talk the following day.
So, on the morning of March 18th, I called again. Her phone went straight to voicemail. I remember spending the greater part of that day wondering if she had made it home at all. Had she been in an accident? Was this somehow my fault? Should I really have tried to tie her to a chair?
Then the phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize. By the time I picked it up, whoever was on the other line had hungup. So I did what most people do in that situation (or not)...I did a reverse phone number look up on
It was the Bessemer jail.
Now why the hell would the Bessemer jail be calling me? I had been there a couple of nights before, but it had been a normal, issue-free night that certainly didn’t require any representatives from the correctional system to be calling me on a Sunday afternoon. But I still felt it best to call back. The conversation went exactly like this:
"Bessemer Jail, can I help you?"
"Um...Someone from this number just called my cell phone and I didn’t pick it up in time."
"Do you know a little blond girl named Misty."
"Hello? Sir?"
"Is it legal to tie a drunk person to a chair?"
I was informed that the "little blond girl" would be calling me once her mandatory 16 hours were up. You see, in the "great state of Alabama," if you’re charged with a DUI, you have to stay in jail for 16 hours before someone can bail you out.
So 3 hours later I was standing at a Bessemer ATM machine taking out $80 in cash. That’s when it hit me. I had sworn off this God-forsaken place. Not even 2 days prior, I was standing in a parkinglot across the street saying I wouldn’t even come back for the wishes of a woman. And yet here I was. Back in Bessemer. Because of a woman. A woman who, only 16 hours before, insisted she not stay the night with me. It forced me to seriously consider subscribing to the "Never say Never" theory.
On the long drive home, we pieced the story together. Instead of turning left and being home in 10 minutes, she got confused, turned right and ended up getting pulled over more than half an hour later, nowhere near her place (or city, for that matter). She thanked me, paid me back the $80 I had used on her bail and we saw very little of each other after that. The DUI and ensuing record effected her job and, eventually, she had to move away. As I later found out, she had a secret boyfriend in Atlanta the entire time we had dated. Karma’s a bitch.
The moral of the story is this: As you find yourself in the throws of yet another holiday, steeped in drunkenness, come the next morning, it is better to regret who you might have spent the night with than it is to regret your choice to leave.

Happy St. Patrick's matter where you chose to celebrate it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

20 Must-Dos in the Panama City area (that don't involve water)

Because I'm a fair guy, to offset the more negative tone of my "20 things to avoid..." blog, and because some of my friends work in marketing departments aimed at actually attracting tourists to our area, I felt it only right to shed light on the more favorable and maybe less seen side of my home in the Florida panhandle. Most people come here for the beach, but that's too easy.

Whether you're a visitor to the city, or a longtime resident, here are 20 must-dos:

1. Toys for Kids Christmas Ball. I wasn't going to put this list in any order, but the annual TFK party is so much fun, I would hate myself if I didn't put this in the number 1 spot. Held every year the week or two before Christmas, it's more like the prom than anything else. Except we're adults, so we're allowed to drink there, rather than in the parkinglot beforehand. Anyone can attend, as the price for admission is an unwrapped toy to be donated to needy area kids. So this is the party where a local dishwasher can be rubbing elbows with politicians, teachers, business owners...everyone, together, having a great time.

2. Order a Hunch Punch at Ms. Newby's. I'm pretty sure a Newby's hunch punch is a permanent fixture on the food pyramid in this town. It tastes like Koolaid, but what's actually in it still might be a mystery. You'll regret the hell out of the following day, but if you're going to do what the locals do...this is it. Get a t-shirt while you're there, as it may be your only surviving memory of actually being there.
3. Attend a Thursday night Summer Concert at the Park. The bands are never really that good, but the atmosphere is. Especially early, or late in the summer when it's not miserably hot and the grass is still cool under your feet. Bring a cooler full of your favorite picnic food and drinks, a lawn chair and some bug spray and you're set.

4. Eat oysters at Hunts. Even if you're not a fan of raw molluscs, Hunts is the perfect stereotypical seafood shack. I always get the 3-cheese baked oysters, but they also have frog legs, if that's more your style. A cold beer and a loud jukebox just adds to the atmosphere. No matter what time of year, there will usually be a line to get in. And that's gotta tell you something.
5. Get a cocktail at No Name. I shouldn't even be mentioning this here because No Name is a last refuge for us locals during tourist season. It's a quiet, comfortable, house-looking bar with a nice back deck overlooking the bay. The drinks here are notoriously strong and there are free snacks. I'm not going to tell you where it is, but if you blink, you might miss it.
6. Order a shotski at Hofbrau. 5 shotglasses glued to a ski. With polka music playing in the background for good measure. Need I say more?

7. Walk around Rosemary Beach and/or Seaside. About a 30 minute drive west of the touristy-chaos that is Panama City Beach, are these two quaint beach towns. Rosemary looks kind of like a little German mountain village and Seaside is where they filmed The Truman Show. Both also have some good restaurants.
8. Get a Snowball at Dave's Snowball on Front Beach Road. Who doesn't like flavored ice in 90 degree heat?
9. See a country music band at Tootsies. The original Tootsies may be in Nashville, but this one has just as much energy. Not to mention, a lot of the acts that perform here come from Nashville. If you like country music, and what's more, like dancing to country music, this is your place.

10. Walk the new City Pier. For two bucks, you can walk along the newly finished, 1500 foot long pier. It's a nice spot to watch the sunset, or catch a glimpse of the marine life below you.
11. Get a Fat Tuesday's frozen drink on the Pineapple Willy's pier. Unlike the last one, this pier doesn't make it out over the gulf. But it's still a great place to relax and get a popular frozen daiquiri. Check out their live beach cam to see what you're missing.
12. Eat breakfast at Andy's Flour Power. Whenever I have someone visiting, or if a tourist asks me about a good place to get breakfast, I always suggest Andy's. The omelets are great and the portions are huge.
13. Have a glass of wine and play board games at the Purple Grape. This wine bar has been around for a couple years, but I think very few people know about it. Which can be a good thing. It's comfortable and dimly lit and they have a huge selection of wines from around the world. You can open a bottle there, or purchase one to take home with you. Sometimes there will be a jazz band playing in the corner, but I like the stack of board games they have. Good for a group of friends, or breaking the ice on a date.
14. Spend the day walking around Pier Park. There are so many shops, restaurants, bars and attractions at Pier Park that you can spend an entire day there and perhaps not see everything. Want to get out of the heat? There's also a massive movie theater.
15. Get on stage at Sweet Dreams. I may have mentioned this place in an earlier blog, but that was in reference to the bathrooms. As far as just hanging out and singing poorly, this tiny, smokey, karaoke bar is perfect.

16. Get a sandwich at Liza's Kitchen. In all honesty, I'm not a big fan of this place. And I am totally alone in that opinion. This is a very popular lunch spot with the locals. I know the husband and wife team who run it and some of the folks who work there and they're all good people. I'm just not very keen on feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and other staples of the hippie diet.
17. Go roller-skating and/or bowling at Rockit Lanes. Sure, you've been bowling recently, but when was the last time you've been on roller-skates? Rockit Lanes is a huge, indoor entertainment complex with a bar in the back for those of us over 21. Outside of the bar, however, it's ok to act like a 12 year old. I probably shouldn't admit this here, but the music they play there is alway great. If you're skating under a disco ball and this begins to play, you can't deny you're having damn near the perfect night.
18. Grab a burger or a drink at the back bar at Schooners. Thanks to over-development with high rise condominiums up and down the beach, there are very few beach-side restaurants, or bars. Schooners, which bills itself as the "Last Local Beach Club," is my hands down favorite. Good food, great atmosphere, the same, salty locals who've been sitting in the same seat at the same bar for 30 years. And not to mention the view. Get there at sunset for the nightly cannon fire, toasting the end to another perfect day on the beach. Until then, check out the cannon sunset cam. (Save this in your favorites so you can look at it at work all day like I do)
19. See the Tyndall Air Show. I'm not a big, ra-ra military guy, but an air show, live and in person, is definitely one of the coolest things I've been to. Held each spring at Tyndall AFB, it's a family-friendly event that will surely keep you busy with plenty to see and do for a weekend.
20. See a Reggae Band on the outside deck at Reggae J's. In a tropical setting, perched along the outside, second-story balcony of an Island-themed restaurant, directly across the street from the Gulf of Mexico, how could you not enjoy Reggae music? This is how I spend a majority of my summer Saturday nights. And you should too.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Trouble in Turkey - eight stories up.

If you haven't seen the movie The Hangover, and don't want it ruined for you, then stop reading now. If you have seen it (4 times in the theater, like me) then, please, continue.

This was my view. The gray sky had turned blue on my second day in Istanbul, so I wanted to get some good pictures from the rooftop terrace of my hostel overlooking the Sea of Marmara, some of the southern Turkish islands and also the Asian side of the city. Eight floors up gave me the perfect vantage point.

I had been up there the day before and there were a couple people on the outside deck. The terrace was laid out in two sections: the inside seating and bar area and a much smaller outside deck area with a couple of chairs and a porch swing. The heavy glass door connecting the two had been propped open then. (See The Hangover connection now?) This day, however, it was still early and the hostel dwellers hadn't made it to the bar just yet. In fact, I think the only person in the entire building may have been the guy manning the front desk, some eight floors below. 

I didn't think it a big deal when the door slammed shut behind me. I took the above picture (and about 20 more just like it) and then turned to walk back downstairs. I can't describe in words the exact feeling I got when I noticed there were no outside handles on the door. I guess it's kind of like that jolt of adrenaline you get when you pass a cop and you know your speeding. Not the good kind of rollercoaster, skydive adrenaline. More of the "oh shit" kind. There was this moment of confusion, followed by a frantic Indiana Jones-type feel around the perimeter of the door, looking for some magical way to push it open. I never panicked. I knew that, eventually, someone would want a drink and make their way upstairs. But even then, that "eventually" could've been hours since this was late morning and the bar didn't open until late afternoon. I just didn't want to waste and entire day of my trip trapped on a hot roof.

I started knocking. Maybe someone in one of the seventh floor rooms would hear it. I knew it was impossible for the front desk guy to hear anything, so this was my only hope. After about 10 minutes, I gave up with that plan. It was time to go with Plan B.

You'll notice in this picture the set up of tables and chairs. Those are, in fact, not a part of the hostel. I took this picture standing up against an iron fence, separating my roof from the roof a posh hotel next door. You can't see it, but just to the left of this picture is the their terrace, leading into the hotel's kitchen. The door was open. All I had to do was make it onto the neighboring rooftop and I'd be home free. I wish this was the point of the story where, in like most action film chase sequences, I get a running start and leap from the edge of my roof, over the busy street below, and land safely onto the other, but truth be told, there was about a 3-inch gap between buildings. I simply just climbed over the fence.

When I walked into the hotel kitchen, I scared the hell out of some poor, old lady in there cooking. She may have thought I was a super hero, flying from building to building. Or, more likely, a burglar, sneaking in to strangle her and the other guests. She started yelling something in Turkish as I tried to explain, with full-on hand gestures, my ordeal. As we kept talking over each other in languages neither of us could understand, I knew I had to get out of there, fast. Still futilely explaining how I got up there, I was frantically looking for a way out, which I'm sure made me that much more suspicious. I noticed a spiral staircase in a hallway and made a run for it as she picked up the phone. This is when the panic set in. I had seen enough movies and heard enough stories about Turkish prisons to know that that isn't how I wanted to spend the rest of my trip (and possibly life) over a simple communication issue. I ran down the eight flights of stairs and right past the desk clerk who stood and yelled something as I flew by. He was on the phone, I assume with the lady upstairs. 

I made it safely back into the hostel, caught my breath (and wits) and, while telling the story to the guy at the front desk, started laughing about it. The story is almost a year old now, but I was reminded of it earlier this week, during Traveler's Night In (#tni), a weekly Twitter group that posts travel-related questions. One focused on the "biggest travel disaster encountered." I edited this story down to 140 characters (not easy) and then noticed someone else's answer:
There are no disasters. Only adventures.
The perfect response.

Monday, February 21, 2011

20 Places To Avoid In Panama City

Panama City Beach and the surrounding areas are popular destinations for all walks of life. Families, college and high school party-goers, retired seasoned citizens...they all come for different reasons, proof positive that this area literally has something for everyone.

This post isn't about any of that.

I am writing this informative piece as a warning to those who may not be that familiar with the area. Sure, there are plenty of fun events and great things to see and do during your time here and I do plan to touch on that in the future. For now, we'll focus on the things you should avoid. I have made these mistakes, so that you don't have to. You can thank me later, preferably in the comments section below.


1. The ocean when purple warning flags are flying. The purple flag warns of "marine pests" in the water. I don't know what the hell that means, nor do I want to.
2. The bathrooms at Sweet Dreams. You would think that "bathrooms" is a easy, cop-out pick, but the ones in this dingy, but fun, dive karaoke bar have avoided cleaning since the mid 70's.
3. 15th street at 4pm. It's like everyone in the entire city going in both directions got off work at the exact same time and 15th St. is their happy hour.
4. Hooters. Hooters should be avoided in every city, simply based on the low quality, over priced food. Yet, some people still go for the eye candy. So if you do decide to come to our Hooters, allow me to be the first to welcome you to our city and also apologize for your eventual disappointment.
5. Bealls Outlet during Snow Bird season. Have you ever been in a discount outlet store when a tour bus full of old Canadians and Midwesterners unloads? I don't recommend it.
6. Tan Fannies. I'll give you one guess as to what type of establishment this is. Yes, it's a strip club. At least that's what we're told. Rumor has it that they only have one dancer who only has one arm. So she can only spin in one direction on the pole. I can't make this stuff up.
7. Panama City Mall. This is so depressing. Once the hip, new shopping area of Pier Park opened on the beach, the in-town mall began to slowly die, store by store. Now, it's just a pathetic shell of what it once was. There is no need to go there, unless you're shopping for some sort of bling accessory for your cell phone, or those pajama pants that look like jeans.
8. Billfish Tournament. This annual fishing tournament/show-n-tell for yacht owners is like the Alamo (or Holy Grail, depending on how you look at it) for wealthy, pretentious cougars looking for a mate. It is also a popular event for young, trashy gold diggers. The combination of which is akin to crossing the streams for Ghostbusters. If you don't have a nice boat to show off, you're just the Marshmellow Man. And no one likes the Marshmellow Man.
9. Friday Fest. This is actually a decent event, held the first Friday evening of each month throughout the Summer and Fall. What puts this on the list is its popularity among the local, jorts-wearing, rednecks and their litters of unruly children. That's not something I want to deal with after a long work week.
10. Front Beach Rd. during the months of March and April and June and July. This is the main drag along the beach, which passes by a number of bars, clubs and shops. During the spring break and summer crowds, this turns into a cruising strip that doesn't move. For days. Us locals know to get anywhere, you take Back Beach Rd.
11. Parker. Those of us on the beach side know not to cross the bridge into Panama City unless absolutely necessary. Once you do though, the deeper into the city you get, the closer you get to Parker. If you want some old, used tires, or lice, then maybe this is the place for you. Otherwise, avoid at all costs.
12. The pool at LaVela. A night at "the world's largest nightclub" can be a great time. But be sure to follow this one, very important rule: Do Not Touch Anything. And especially don't get in the pool. There isn't enough chlorine in the world to kill the super-virus that may be festering in those waters once the 500,000 drunken college kids have their way with it.
13. Golden Coral during Snow Bird season. (See #5 and add a never-ending food buffet to the mix. Just deadly.)
14. The Outrigger. I've actually had some fun times at this dive bar. Cheap, strong drinks and a good, digital jukebox. Why then, did it make the list? I recently learned that this is the hangout for the local Swinger's club. I no longer go, in fear that they may mistake my presence as an interest.
15. Locos. This is the Walmart of Mexican restaurants. If I am going to have Mexican for dinner, I expect it to be prepared and cooked by real Mexicans. Not some Emo, middle class, white high schooler who can't wait to get back to the Dashboard Confessional on his iPod. This area has some really good Mexican restaurants, where the food is made with love by authentic Mexicans. Locos is Americanized assembly line garbage.
16. The "Kiddie Pool" at St. Andrews State Park. (See #9) Plus, there have been some sightings of hammerhead sharks. The waters are warm, crystal clear and inviting, and truth be told, I'd actually rather swim with sharks than screaming children, but either way, I'm going to avoid it.
17. Dodges Chicken. This is a chicken joint located in a gas station. It's a popular late night spot to get a cheap, greasy meal after leaving The Outrigger, located directly across the street, but c'mon. It's a GAS STATION.
18. No Name on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Located at the foot of the bridge, No Name is one of my favorite hangouts. Good drinks, free popcorn, goldfish and potato chips, and a great outdoor deck overlooking the bay. That said, it's a really small building that can hardly handle the Friday after work crowd. And the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the time when anyone and everyone who ever left this town comes back. And they all know that No Name is the spot for their annual reunion. Do the math.
19. Waffle House. I dig Waffle House, but we have a better alternative here. It's called Corams. So when you're visiting and have a hankerin' for eggs, pancakes and grits at 2am, skip Waffle House and head to a Corams.
20. Super Walmart. The idea of Walmart has always angered me. No,  I'm not a "save the forest," big-business hating, hippie. It's because everyone who ever goes to Walmart always leaves complaining about the crowds. You know there is going to be a crowd there. Be it 2pm, or 2am. And yet you still go. And then I have to listen to you complain about it. Here's a little secret: go to KMart. They still exist, but no one realizes it. You can get the same crap, for the same price and you'll be one of maybe 6 people in the entire store. No KMart in your area? Try Target, Dollar General, or a damn grocery store. We have all of those here in PCB. Same crap, less people. I haven't been inside a Walmart since 2007 and somehow, I've managed to survive. And yes, I'm going to continue to be a pretentious douche about it.