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An ancient battle and wandering reporters

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By ERNEST HOOPER, Times Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published December 13, 2002


I can't claim to be a big Discovery Channel fan. But the chance for a college professor to reveal his research on the cable network has to be tantamount to a coach being allowed to showcase his team on ESPN.

USF history chairman William Murray got that opportunity Thursday. Producers from Terra Nova Television were on campus to gather footage for the Moments in Time series set to air next year.

"As a historian, we tell stories," Murray said. "It's a nice opportunity to tell my story through the medium that reaches the most people."

Murray is the principal archaeologist for a special episode centering on the naval Battle of Actium, which helped spawn the Roman Empire and the emergence of Augustus Caesar. Of course, I knew that already.

To re-create the battle, Murray's class used a map produced with the help of the USF geography department and one of Murray's students, Mike Garcia, president of Outdoor America Images Inc. The simulation was set up in the USF Corral.

Using the same process and material his company uses to create billboards, Garcia produced a global map about the size of a basketball court. It was needed, considering the battle involved approximately 600 boats and 200,000 soldiers.

* * *

One of my stunt doubles reports that about 100 supporters turned out to wish John Dingfelder well and nibble bite-sized quiches as he kicked off his campaign for Tampa City Council on Wednesday at Mise en Place. Dingfelder is running against Clay Phillips and Bill Wall.

A few members of the press wandered in, but apparently they were lost.

"They kept floating in here," said his wife, Lynn Marvin.

Reporters were trying find their way to another party, one thrown by Brock Communications in a different banquet room of the same restaurant.

In Brock's favor was a jazz ensemble that accompanied the mingling, but had reporters opted for the political fest, they would have come out even. Mise en Place provided essentially the same finger food at both.

* * *

The talk is that it's going to cost $50-million to bring George W. Bush to town in 2004. But I'm here to tell you, it'll only cost about 30 bucks.

Well, sort of.

For a mere $29.95, you can purchase a 121/2-inch Bush action figure -- clad in a gray suit and red tie -- that speaks 17 actual Bush phrases. California-based entrepreneur John Warnock is selling the doll online for Christmas (you can get information at www.talkingpresidents.com), and some believe it may end up rivaling the singing bass.

Some fish story that would be.

* * *

Here's another shopping item: the newly expanded Georgette's opens Saturday at Old Hyde Park Village. Georgette Diaz and her two daughters run the fashion boutique and recently expanded with a 1,000-square-foot shoe salon.

* * *

I'm willing to go to the ends of the county to find a good column item, and on Wednesday I did just that.

Jim's Galley, nestled inside the Port Tampa American Legion Post 138, is the waterfront restaurant you've never heard of. Jim Curl has leased the space inside the legion post since May, and he uses it to serve up home-cooked meals and cater events at the post.

It's a salt-of-the-earth place on Prescott Street just off of the most southern end of Westshore Boulevard. But explorers with time to kill may not mind the drive.

* * *

Word on the grapevine is that real estate agents are already looking to list the Hyde Park Wonder Bread factory as the perfect place to remodel into tony lofts.

In the spirit of maintaining tradition, I think every resident in such a loft complex should be contractually required to bake bread every morning and let it waft into the South Tampa air.

That's all I'm saying.

-- Ernest Hooper can be reached at 226-3406 or hooper@sptimes.com .

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