Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pause to remember and say thank you

Lest we forget.

From the beginning, brave men and women have fought and died to preserve our freedom.

In my opinion, nothing reflects that fact and spirit more eloquently than these lyrics by Francis Scott Key, written during the defense of Fort Henry in 1812.

Forget them at our peril.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sanibel Island Cinema has a new gig.

The all-new Sanibel Island Cinema greets film-goers
with a new face and a new roof.

The venerable Sanibel Island Cinema, lodged next to Bailey’s since the dawn of talkies, or so it seems, is all-new and all-improved. According to the new owners, Randy and Kim Bacik, it's more than a Hollywood facelift.The Baciks gutted the building. Everything, from projectors to box office to refreshment stand to carpeting and seats, was pitched. Even the old electrical system was jettisoned.

In their place are:

• 60 soft, leather-like rocking seats for each of the cinema’s two screens. The seats, 25-inches wide, also have reclining arm rests/cup holders.

• Two high-tech (digital) motion picture projectors.

• Each theater has nine digital surround sound speakers, buffered by acoustical walls.

• Each theater has three ceiling fans.

• New air conditioning throughout.• New box office, including a concession stand.

• New flooring throughout.

• Two removable seats per theater, providing wheelchair accessibility and headphones for those with hearing difficulties.

• Two new restrooms (men and women), plus a family bathroom.

The new facility was opened to the public on November 21, after months to complete the renovations.

We know the next question. Why would anyone go to the cinema on Sanibel when they can see videos or watch TV movies.?

• First, there is nothing quite like a cinema. And thats true in ‘spectracolor’ for the Island Cinema.

• More important, the Island Cinema will present ‘first-run’ films, not the re-runs available on DVDs or on cable. If you want to see a movie while it is still in first tier distribution, and you are on the islands, the Island Cinema is the place to do it.

• Third reason is the killer impact of ‘surround sound’.

• Fourth reason: No one will ask you to change the channel for a minute.

• Fifth reason: Real, movie-theater, buttered popcorn.

Prices are $9.75 for adult evening shows, $8 for adult matinees and $7.50 for children and senior citizens. Call 472-1701 for show schedules and coming attractions.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas is coming on Sanibel

Sanibel and Captiva are gearing up for Christmas. The tree has been trimmed, and we were there. Enjoy this early start to the joyous season.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is your picture on the Web?

There's a recent web site on the World Wide Web, created by island dynamo, Sandy Kostick, of IDEAS.

It's at

Sandy and her crew of chartreuse-shirted minions, looking like so many Harvey Wallbangers on the loose, take photos at local events, collect names and post them to the web site. Of course, permission is requested, so this isn't exactly paparazzi.

Still, if you attend one these events and you see a camera lens staring you in the face, smile. You are just hours away from being on the web, where all your friends and family can see you.

That's what happens. Hundreds, increasing to thousands, of people are clicking through to the web site to see their grinning visages in full color. They are coming to the site from all over the world, reflecting the international flavor of island tourism.

Here's a tip: If you are drinking when approached for a photograph, place your drink behind you or out of the picture frame. The web is FOREVER!

For more about what to see and do on Sanibel and Captiva, visit and We're told both sites are undergoing updates that will be posted shortly.

Sanibel is going to the dogs

It's a good thing.

For as long as there have been rules, they prohibited unleashed dogs in the City of Sanibel .

Now the City has approved creation of a Dog Park, to be funded by the Sanibel Dog Club and contained at a former burn area near the Island Inn.

The scheduled opening is 2011, two years from now. (14 dog years.)

Release the hounds!!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Theatregoers mourn JT Smith

Long time Sanibel visitors and residents will be saddened to learn that J. T. Smith, producer and director of a long list of musical revues at Sanibel's Old Schoolhouse Theater, has passed.

J. T. died on June 12 at the age of 51 in Glen Falls, NY, where he had moved after leaving Sanibel. Services are scheduled for June 21, 2008 in Glen Falls.

His inventive reviews at the intimate (some say, "tiny") Old Schoolhouse Theater would bring audiences back for production after production.

I remember sitting on the very edge of the performance area and marveling at his ability to entertain, while using musical scraps to weave an involving story.

J. T., first the Old Schoolhouse Theater passed, then you. We will miss you. All your encores will be in our memories.

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sanibel is everything, but not the only thing

With apologies to Vince Lombardi, when you visit the sanctuary islands of Sanibel & Captiva, off Southwest Florida's coast (not very far "off"), please don't confine your visit to the islands. There is at least one world-class attraction off-island (but not very far "off").

It is the Edison Ford Winter Estates.

The Edison to which the title refers is Thomas Alva Edison, arguably one of the most inventive and prolific genius to inhabit the planet. Although, in a famous quote, he attributed success to 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

Modesty aside, Thomas Edison was responsible for an incredible body of inventions and discoveries that make our lives today livable in ways that previous generations never would have imagined.

We know about his invention of the incandescent light bulb and systems to illuminate entire cities. We may even know about his invention of the phonograph, which ultimately morphed, the hands of other inventors, into other voice and sound recording systems we enjoy today.

Less known is his involvement with botany and the search for raw materials to make rubber for tires. Learning of that, it is not hard to see how Edison became close friends with auto pioneer, Henry Ford, and tire pioneer, Harvey Firestone. (They came to be known as "Uncommon Friends" and are celebrated by a sculpture in downtown Fort Myers.)

Edison had built a winter home on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River and had boasted about how benign the local climate was. Ford soon built a winter home next door. The two combined to become the Edison Ford Winter Estates, acquired by the City of Fort Myers and operated by a private non-profit company.

So... the Estates have been there for a long time. Why the suddenly resurgent interest?

As a result of Hurricane Charley, the grounds of the Estates were battered and much of Edison's beloved vegetation was either knocked down or stripped of its leaves.

Much of this was the same plants that Edison had imported from distant, exotic lands to pursue his research.

Post-Charley, major efforts went forward to revitalize and renew the grounds. Mrs. (Mina) Edison's Moonlight Garden was rebuilt and replanted. Three additional cottages were renovated and opened for public use and tours.

Just today, we learned that the Edison Ford Winter Estates were awarded the top prize for historical preservation by the National Historic Trust. There is no way to overstate the importance of this recognition. This nationally recognized historical jewel is truly a must see. From the actual Edison and Ford homes to the cottages to the Edison lab, the museum, the botanical features and the relaxing riverine setting, you will be transported to another time in the life of an American giant.

To visit Southwest Florida and Sanibel and not visit the Edison Ford Winter Estates would be like visiting Northern Arizona and bypassing the Grand Canyon.

Don't miss it.