Daniel Ruth, Times Columnist

Daniel Ruth

Daniel Ruth has been scribbling away for four decades as a reporter, film critic, television critic and columnist for the Tampa Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Tampa Bay Times. He also has worked as a radio talk show host as well as an adjunct professor for the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Columbia College in Chicago. Daniel is a Peter Lisagor Award recipient for his columns in Chicago and has been honored by the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union with the Irene Miller Vigilance In Journalism Award.

Email: druth@tampabay.com

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  1. Ruth: I need a new drug

    Columns

    And now, a word from our sponsors.

    "Do you, like millions of other Floridians, suffer from electile dysfunction? By now you know the symptoms of ED — sudden bouts of drooling, an urge to crawl into a fetal position and a sense of entrapment after being exposed to the same hackneyed political commercial for the 37,867th time when all you want to do is watch Duck Dynasty in peace. Don't despair. This accursed affliction is set to expire on Nov. 4....

  2. Ruth: Lots of talk, very few answers

    Columns

    Do you have the sneaking suspicion that if you asked Gov. Rick Scott to name the color of an orange he would answer with a rambling discourse on his Dickensesque childhood, accusations that Charlie Crist pals around with Boardwalk Empire's Nucky Thompson and the Castro brothers are terrorists?

    Tuesday's tete-a-snit between two presumably adult candidates vying to become Florida's next governor wasn't a debate. A more proper billing would have been "Two Jesters in Jacksonville," as Scott and Crist spent a lost hour on television portraying each other as less qualified to hold public office than Uday and Qusay....

  3. Survey is just silly to call Tampa snobby

    Columns

    Dear Editors at Travel + Leisure magazine,

    For a publication dedicated to wayfaring, you people really need to get out of the office more often. How else to explain your recent judgment that Tampa ranks sixth in the nation for its snobbiness?

    Look, we're many things good and bad.

    We have a lovely Bayshore Boulevard and an emerging, revitalized downtown. We have one of the great world-class airports, not to mention the iconic University of Tampa minarets dominating the skyline. Very nice. But we also are famous for naked trollops cavorting on their brass poles and an annual drunkfest in honor of a fictitious rapacious pirate, which gives everyone an excuse to get randy....

  4. Ruth: Fan dance in Broward

    Columns

    If Rick Scott goes down in defeat two weeks from now, he might well attribute his electoral misfortune to a bizarre night in Davie when the Florida governor had his very own "He-Buffoon" moment.

    The late Gov. Lawton Chiles set the gold standard for dramatic, debate-turning points 20 years ago when he uttered the most famous line of his political career, "The old he-coon walks just before the light of day." His flummoxed challenger, Jeb Bush, looked as if he had found himself dropped into the middle of an episode of Hee Haw....

    Charlie Crist, and his fan, had the stage to himself for a bit.
  5. Ruth: Of gridirons and gray bars

    Columns

    At this rate of cavalier indifference to irritating stuff like, oh, evidence, you have to wonder if the Tallahassee Police Department could figure out who shot Lee Harvey Oswald.

    Oh, sure, Jack Ruby was seen on national television pumping several shots into Oswald as the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy was surrounded by cops in the parking garage of the Dallas Police Department. But if this crime had been committed in Tallahassee, Ruby just might have walked free if the local gendarmes concluded the killer "showed no obvious signs of guilt."...

  6. A successful round of golf, with a view of the Aegean

    Travel

    During our trip to Greece this year, the Bombshell of the Balkans was insistent that I find time to take to the Hellenic links, thus affording me the opportunity to take my meager duffing lack of talents to an international level.

    It is estimated that there are fewer than 10 courses in the entire country, suggesting that Greeks are not gluttons for the frustration, failure and abject misery that golf provides for masochistic Americans. Or perhaps when it comes to conquering a piece of land, Greeks rely on the fond, ancient memories of vanquishing the Romans, the Venetians, the Germans and, of course, the sweetest of all, the Turks. Good times, good times....

    Natural beauty makes up for the greens’ lack of, well, greenness, at the Porto Carras Resort.
  7. Ruth: Far right froths as rest of nation yawns

    Columns

    From all the huffing and puffing suggesting we are all doomed into the embrace of Satan's breast should Biff and Todd and/or Blanche and Mildred get married, you would have thought the U.S. Supreme Court was populated by the Village People, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres.

    In the aftermath of the court's decision not to consider a host of appeals related to the lifting of bans on same-sex marriage around the country, gay unions were effectively legalized in 30 states, with several more soon to likely follow....

  8. Ruth: As Greenlight vote nears, opponents accelerate the lunacy

    Columns

    We have now deftly transitioned from the ditzy phase of the Greenlight Pinellas campaign to the certifiably nuts home stretch.

    There is still time for a last gasp of full blown bonkers before all the votes are counted on the effort to ask Pinellas County voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax to dramatically improve bus service and begin construction of a light rail system.

    First, opponents of the transit referendum compared the supporters of Greenlight Pinellas to Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. ...

  9. Ruth: Rick Scott's web of financial wizardry

    Columns

    It seems Gov. Rick Scott is not just a man of considerable affluence. He also is blessed with a wealth of obfuscation.

    This should not have been all that hard. But this is Florida, the land of the la-dee-dah! So it was that Scott, as the opaqueness in chief, managed to turn what ought to have been a simple, transparent disclosure of all his financial assets upon assuming public office into a Rube Goldbergesque maze of eye-glazing accounting....

  10. Ruth: All this outrage has tuckered me out (w/video)

    Columns

    It's not easy being suitably outraged. More pointedly, I'm tuckered out from all this indignation.

    Over the past few days I had worked up a fairly rolling boil after discovering the U.S. Secret Service had turned into the "Stay here and guard the prince" scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Sure, protecting the president and the White House is not without its challenges.

    But the most intensely guarded building in the world — with attack dogs, rooftop snipers, scores of heavily armed officers and a huge fence around it — could not prevent an intruder making it all the way to the East Room of the White House? You know there is a problem when it's harder to get past security at Helloooo Sucker Stadium for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game than into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue....

  11. Ruth: 'Get Smart' act not working for St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman

    Columns

    Do you have the impression that gaining access to the inner sanctum of St. Petersburg Rick "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Mayor" Kriseman's office looks like the opening sequences of Get Smart meets Raiders of the Lost Ark, with all manner of clanking doors, gates, poison darts, trap doors and a massive rolling boulder?

    Sigh. Once again we have a hizzoner with a le Carré complex.

    A few days ago, the mayor who came in from the cold asked the St. Petersburg City Council to table a discussion on arts funding because, fresh from fending off an attempt by SPECTRE to take over the Pier, he had a secret plan up his tux to solve the problem that he suggested could raise as much as $200,000 annually....

  12. Ruth: The iPhone 6 crisis

    Columns

    Is it too late to bring back the hand-crank phone?

    Apple spends an estimated $2.1 billion a year on the research and development of its products. No doubt a sizable portion of that budget was dedicated to the company's recent rollout of the much-frothed-over iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus gizmos, giving its customers even greater critical access to nude selfies, texts reminding people where one is currently consuming moo goo gai pan and interminable, inconsequential telephonic babble....

  13. Ruth: For whom the roads toll

    Columns

    In the early 19th century the Transcendentalist poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, sadly finding himself in Tallahassee, observed the city was "a grotesque place, rapidly settled by public officers, land speculators and desperados" before quickly getting out of the den of mendacity while he still had a few pennies left in his pocket.

    That is not exactly a carefully crafted lyrical couplet from such a gifted wordsmith, but accurate nonetheless. About the only thing that has changed since Emerson's time in Tallahassee is that the checks have gotten bigger....

  14. Dan Ruth: Kemple may be right, but wrong

    Columns

    Over the course of his third effort to join the Hillsborough County School Board, local political gadfly Terry Kemple has assailed Common Core standards as an "evil" scheme by the federal government to supplant local control of public education and has assailed the Hillsborough County Commission for approving a domestic partner registry.

    Not a fun guy, Mr. Kemple.

    There's a temptation to think that Kemple, the Mr. Dithers of the classroom, winning a seat on the School Board would be like handing over the cafeteria contract to a Borgia. On the other hand, as a scribbler, Kemple on the Hillsborough County School Board would be at least a four-year fodder annuity. These wouldn't be School Board meetings at all. This would be Elmer Gantry meets the three R's: revival, repentance and the route to salvation. You might say I'd be blessed....

  15. Dan Ruth: A rush to clip Albert Whitted's wings

    Columns

    At the age of 15, Charles Lindbergh the Elder started taking flying lessons at Tampa's Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands. He finished his training at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, where he took off for his first solo flight at 16 to earn his initial visual flight rules certification. Now, as a corporate jet pilot, he flies a Gulfstream IV all over Asia and beyond.

    My eldest son has flown into Albert Whitted Airport, nestled on the shoreline of St. Petersburg, on numerous occasions without event — just like the 97,000 takeoffs and landings that occurred at the facility over the past year....