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Monday, Dec 22, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: As weather gets cool, it’s time for chili

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I know where Lutz is. I’ve known it since we used to go out to Blaikies steak house at the Nebraska and Florida Avenue apex.

You may not remember the apex as a landmark. When I was a kid the apex meant you were either leaving town on U.S. 41 or coming home.

The other thing is all those naked people live out in Lutz. I was once invited to cover a tennis tournament at one of the nudist clubs in Lutz. “Cover” turned out to be the wrong word.

Best of all I love going out to Hungry Harry’s in Lutz to get ribs. The place just has that “feel” to it.

So they’re celebrating the town’s centennial this weekend with a car show and a chili contest among other events. I get to be a judge at the chili contest along with a few regulars from my big contest coming up on Nov. 16.

One of the judges, Scott “Pinetop” Peterson, actually lives in Lutz.

His mom comes to see him play Beepball against the Lighthouse for the Blind every year and brings in a crowd of ladies from Lutz to watch our beepball team lose to the Lighthouse.

***

With the weather changing and the holidays coming, this is also the start of the chili season.

On Nov. 6, the University of South Florida Office of Veterans Services will be holding its chili contest on the campus.

There are currently more than 1,700 veterans on the campus, many having served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

USF basketball coach Stan Heath, looking for a little fire as the season approaches, will join me as judges in the event.

***

Then the 24th annual Steve Otto Chili Contest, this year as a part of something called “Smoke on the River,” will be Nov. 16 at the great Curtis Hixon site on the river.

The event will feature cigar makers, a craft beer contest, and of course, the bragging rights to the finest chili east of the Mississippi and probably just about everywhere else.

I’m told the event will conclude with a giant bonfire on the river, which ought to be something to see if they use any of the chili dregs as kindling. Get your entries in.

v v

Finally, from around the globe, two items:

◆ How is it the same government is able to tap the private cellphones of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders for 10 years but is unable to get in contact with Americans trying to sign up for health care?

◆ A last observation comes from a cruise ship I got off of a few days ago in Fort Lauderdale. After showing passports and other IDs throughout Canada and down the coast at every port, more than two thousand of us went through Customs with hardly a glance at us or any of the “stuff” we brought in. A sign by the door said that because of the government shutdown there were only two inspectors available.

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