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

  1. FDA regulation of cigars spells doom for simple pleasure


    It was that noted postmodernist philosopher George Burns who once observed: "Happiness? A good cigar, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman — or a bad woman; it depends on how much happiness you can handle."

    These days, at least, there is precious little joy, or happiness, in Cigar City, as those namby-pambies at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ponder implementing rules that could well doom what's left of the very industry most closely associated with Tampa, if you don't count the floozie cartel. In its heyday, Tampa was home to 150 companies rolling out some of the world's finest guilty pleasures....

  2. Welcome to the trail of fears, cameras


    Ah, there is nothing quite like taking in the many charms of nature while on a refreshing and exhilarating bike ride — the birds, the wildlife, the glorious bloom of Florida flora, the blue skies embracing the beauty of our beloved community.

    And let us not forget the occasional mugging, just to make sure the consumers of the Pinellas Trail get the full measure of the urban zeitgeist....

  3. Ruth: Tallahassee's training ground for cronyism


    Sure, at first blush it might appear that Rick Scott is the all-powerful grand and glorious governor of Florida. But as it turns out, the Caesar of Tallahassee is little more than the Wizard of Facade.

    The real power behind the throne, the chap who seems to be in control of things, is the governor's unelected fixer, chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth, who makes Machiavelli look like the palace court jester....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth, right, with Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, makes Machiavelli look like the palace court jester.
  4. Ruth: Doing nothing raised to a high art (w/video)


    Furious with President Barack Obama's declaration that he will rely on executive orders to advance his policies because the Maynard G. Krebs Congress refuses to show up on the job, the House of Representatives has lashed back by announcing it plans to do even less work on those rare occasions when the body isn't otherwise engaged in recesses, vacations and traveling on freeloading political junkets....

  5. Ruth: Plan for grand St. Petersburg museum is an eye-opener


    On this much we can all probably agree. Rudy Ciccarello appears to be a man willing to put his money where his museum is — or will be.

    In St. Petersburg's cultural life this could be as big as big can get. Perhaps even bigger.

    Ciccarello, a little-known but very affluent entrepreneur who lives in Tarpon Springs, has announced plans to develop a new museum to honor the American Arts and Crafts movement. This is not going to be some quaint little boutique on Central Avenue. Rather, the new museum, scheduled to open around 2017, will be a 110,000-square-foot, $35 million structure on 3.5 acres near the Synovus Bank site between Third and Fourth streets N....

  6. Ruth: Mike Suarez's quizzical ramblings on Hillsborough transit,


    It is good to be king. It is also a very bad idea to annoy the king.

    He may not quite realize it at the moment, but Tampa City Council Chairman Mike Suarez ought not to be too surprised if he suddenly discovers one day that his City Hall parking space has been moved to — Two Egg.

    And that may be only the beginning of the price Suarez could pay for going so far off script with his recent ad-libbed mutterings about the future of Hillsborough County transportation needs....

  7. Ruth: Facebook meets Big Brother


    Apparently we're all just bozos on the Facebook bus.

    You might think of the social networking website as the ideal forum to announce to the world that you've just prepared a swell Apple Brown Betty for dessert, or to debut the latest video of your cat tangled up in a ball of yarn (so cute), or to air your thoughts on the latest episode of Orange Is the New Black.

    You breathlessly post this gibberish because you think people actually care about the most mundane navel lint that is your life. Nobody cares, including yourself. You are the one who rolls your eyes every time you are exposed to a "friend's" detailed account of their vacation to Pedro's South of the Border. ...

  8. Review: St. Aubyn's 'Lost for Words' skewers literary prizes


    In the highbrow, hoity-toity book-scribbling racket, unlike the ink-stained wretched world of newspapering, capturing the Man Booker Prize is widely regarded as the Holy Grail and cat's pajamas for writers of thoughtful fiction.

    The Man Booker also turned out to provide rich fodder for Edward St. Aubyn in Lost for Words, a scathing, funny roman a clef exploring the behind-the-scenes feuds, the wheeling and dealing, and the bumptious personalities who come together to award Great Britain's most prestigious literary prize, which may not be so coveted after the author's lampooning....

  9. Ruth: Cochran's big tent vs. McDaniels' pup tent


    Sometimes a political masterstroke proves to be the love child born of desperation.

    A few days ago longtime U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi was widely viewed as the old man and the tea, a veteran Republican about to be defeated in the primary runoff by state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who was so far to the ideological right he made Augusto Pinochet look like Barney Frank.

    But a funny thing happened on the way to the tea party. Cochran dispatched McDaniel, all but assuring him a seventh term in the Senate. How was this possible, when the ultraconservative radio blah-blah-o-sphere had predicted McDaniel would cruise to victory? Even Sarah Palin, the Madame Defarge of the tea party, had endorsed McDaniel. What could possibly go wrong?...

  10. Florida legislative elections rigged for tenure protection


    For an institution held in lower esteem than elephant poachers, you would think anyone serving in the Florida Legislature would be anxious about getting tossed out of office by the voters.

    After all, when you are correctly perceived to be little more than monkeys dancing to the organ grinder beat of Tallahassee's lobbyists, there should be a long line of opponents.

    But no. There seems to be precious little interest in challenging the status quo. There are probably a host of technical explanations for the resounding indifference to the democratic process. But the most obvious reason can be found in the fact there isn't much of a real democratic process when it comes to serving in the Florida Legislature, or as it is otherwise known, a Confederacy of Chumps....

  11. Ruth: There are better ways to give away money than Twitter treasure hunts


    Far, far, far be it from me to get all curmudgeonly about this, but the recent spate of mystery fairies hiding various sums of money all over St. Petersburg was —- how to put this as gently as possible — a supremely stupid idea.

    Too nuanced?

    Furtive benefactors hiding envelopes of cash around cities and then posting Twitter feed clues about where to find the moola has been all the rage in recent months. Think of this as sort of a poor man's 21st century version of the old 1950s television show The Millionaire, in which tycoon John Beresford Tipton secretly wrote seven-figure checks to unsuspecting recipients....

  12. Ruth: Hard to get a kick out of World Cup


    With apologies (not really) to all you soccer fans, the stultifying World Cup snore-fest in Brazil might be better described as The Beautiful Lame.

    I readily admit the idea of enduring a novena masquerading as a sporting event ranks up there with the excitement of sitting on hold with Citizens Property Insurance, or being stuck in the middle seat between two crying babies on a flight to Australia....

    An Ecuador fan cheers for his team against France in Rio on Wednesday.
  13. Ruth: Lies, damn lies, and Dick Cheney


    What could have been an abysmal week for a possible long-shot Democratic presidential candidate, former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, turned out to be only a semi-catastrophic gaffe when a more prominent public figure managed to say something even more addled.

    But then one can always count on former Vice President Dick Cheney — the political patron saint of "What, me worry?" simple-mindedness — to utter something so ridiculous to make all other efforts at linguistic gerrymandering pale in comparison....

  14. Ruth: Downtown Tampa's train problem


    You get a sense that downtown Tampa is emerging as a vibrant urban environment when people start to gripe about all the noise keeping them awake at night.

    For decades the city center has been dissected by various railroad lines where trains are required by federal law to blare their horns as they cross street intersections.

    It never used to be a problem since hardly anyone lived downtown. Indeed, the only real threat to a passing train was the prospect of a tumbleweed getting caught up in the machinery....

  15. Ruth: In lonely Tropicana Field, more cowbell, please!


    When you are a professional baseball team whose attendance figures are somewhere between a reunion of banana republic food tasters and the Wilson Alvarez Fan Club can you really afford to ban one of your more enthusiastic fans on the grounds of being too enthusiastic for the Boys of Bummer?

    Apparently so, which might suggest this is a case of too much cowbell and precious little common sense....