NFL Week 7.

October 27th, 2004

O Daunte Where Art Thou?

Was it out of spite that Daunte Culpepper took this week off? Could he have possibly known that I renamed my fantasy team The DaunteCulpeppers in his honor? Vikes won easily so there was not much production out of Culpepper.

Kansas City set all kinds of records with Holmes and Blaylock rushing for four (4) touchdowns each. Yes, each. That means that the Chiefs ran for eight (8) touchdowns in the game! Had Holmes' ankle not been slightly tender, maybe all 8 would have been his... Needless to say they annihilated the Atlanta Falcons.

Maybe that wasn't the Atlanta Falcons after all, however. How else do you explain a team that started out so hot and has gone ice cold since? Was the dominating defeat they suffered at the hands of the now 3-0 on the road Detroit Lions that devastating? Or is this what I like to call the "Villanova Syndrome?" (Allow me to explain: the Villanova Syndrome is a situation in which the Villanova men's basketball team would beat a team and shock the country. The team they "upset" would then have a less than .500 remainder of the season, thus completely devaluing the Villanova win.) The Detroit Lions beat a Falcons team that was to that point undefeated and is now apparently unable to win even an intrasquad scrimmage. I hope Atlanta is able to pick up the pieces some.

The Jacksonville Jaguars do not have any flashy superstar players, they do not blow other teams out of the stadium, what they do is win games. This team digs deep and comes out with victories. Week in and week out the Jags go down to the wire. I am not sure a team has shown this much heart in a long time.

Congratulations to the Miami Dolphins for saving what appeared to be an 0-16 season with a win in week 7 over the St. Lous Rams.

(My fantasy team is once again named "Privatjokr," Culpepper can go back to throwing 6 tds...I'll need it in week 8.)

The Smoke Jumper - Nicholas Evans

October 26th, 2004

The Smoke Jumper - Nicholas EvansThe fire that was to change so many lives was so utterly started with a single shaft of lightning. It struck a mountain ridge on a still and moonless night and nestled like a pupa of death in the desiccated heart of an ancient pine. There were witnesses no doubt to this sudden splintering of air and wood, but none that was human. The woman, camped nearby with her group of troubled teenagers, slept on and heard nothing.

She has brought them here by court order on a youth program to help them find themselves. But one among them will be lost forever. For soon the cocoon of fire will hatch to engulf the entire mountain and exact its deadly toll. And into this inferno will come...

THE SMOKE JUMPER

His name is Connor Ford and he falls like an angel of mercy from the sky, braving the flames to save the woman he loves but knows he cannot have. For Julia Bishop is the partner of his closest friend, Ed Tully, an ambitious young musician. Julia loves them both but the tragedy on Snake Mountain forces her to choose between them and burns a brand on all their hearts.

His blond, blue-eyed looks an laconic cowboy charm, Connor is the only child of a Montana rancher and a rodeo queen. Until that fateful day, he has been happy to spend his winters nurturing a career as a photographer and his summer vacations with Ed, "smoke jumping"--being dropped by parachute to fight remote forest fires.

In the wake of the fire, he embarks on a journey to the dark heart of human suffering, traveling the world's worst wars and disasters to take photographs that find him fame but never happiness. Reckless of a life he no longer wants, again and again he dares death to take him, until another fateful day on another continent, he must walk through fire once more...

I have wanted to read this book for a long time now. Nicholas Evans has written two other books besides The Smoke Jumper, The Horse Whisperer and The Loop. I read The Loop some time ago and was very impressed by not only the story, but also Evans' writing. This led me to seek out his entire catalog, thus guiding me to The Smoke Jumper.

On the surface the only difference between The Loop and The Smoke Jumper is that one has a good story and the other does not. The Smoke Jumper has the same beautiful writing Nicholas Evans poured into The Loop though I feel as though the plot was lacking.

"The important things in life always happened by accident. At fifteen she didn't know much, in fact, with each passing year she was a lot less clear about most things. But this much she did know. you could worry yourself sick trying to be a better person, spend a thousand sleepless nights figuring out how to live clean and decent and honest, you could make a plan and bolt it in place, kneel by your bed every night and swear to God you'd stick to it, hell, you could go to church and promise properly. You could cross your heart seven times with your eyes tight shut, cut your thumb and squeeze it and pen solemn vows on a rock with your own blood then throw it in the river at the stroke of midnight. And then, out of the black beyond, like a hawk on a rat, some nameless catastrophe would swoop into your life and turn everything upside down and inside out forever."

That is the first paragraph from The Smoke Jumper. To put it simply, Evans writes the way I want to read. The book was not bad, I feel as though my expectations may have been too high. The bar was set high in The Loop.

Buy The Smoke Jumper $7.99
Buy The Loop $7.99
Buy The Horse Whisperer $7.99

| Forum |

Hot Deal from Amazon: A Bronx Tale

October 26th, 2004

J.W. Marriott Resort Desert Ridge - Phoenix, AZ

October 25th, 2004

Link: http://www.jwdesertridgeresort.com/

J.W. Marriott Resort Desert Ridge

This is a great place to stay in Phoenix. The resort itself is huge, it is more of a compound. The setting is magnificent: as you sit at a table in the back you overlook the resort's aqueduct (for lack of a better term) with a backdrop of palm trees and mountains. Although I was not there with a second to relax, I can imagine that given the opportunity to do so there are few places better. An incredible pool, a golf course designed by Nick Faldo, 900 rooms, a desert setting, multiple restaurants of different genres; what does this place lack?

My only recommendation, however, is to rent a car if you stay in Phoenix. The onsite restaurants are nice and the food is good, but there are others in the area I would recommend more, such as the Old Town Tortilla Factory in Old Town Scotsdale.

On a Thursday evening shoot down to Old Town Scottsdale and enjoy the art walk exhibit as the strip of art galleries are open extended hours and some have artists in store to talk, work, and answer questions.

Click HERE to visit the Official site for the J.W. Marriott Resort Desert Ridge.

Book of the Month - November, 2004

October 24th, 2004

The Millionaire Mind by Dr. Thomas Stanley

The Millionaire Mind - Thomas J. StanleyIn the 1996 best-seller The Millionaire Next Door; written by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, one of contemporary America's most firmly held beliefs was shattered. According to Dr. Stanley, wealthy individuals do not all belong to an elite group of highly educated and exceedingly lucky people who often inherit their money and spend it on lavish purchases and pampered lifestyles. The Millionaire Next Door showed us that a significant number of America's wealthy are far more likely to work hard, save diligently, and live well below their means.

Now, Dr. Stanley takes us even further with a new, groundbreaking study of America's wealthy. In The Millionaire Mind he targets a different segment of the population: those who have accumulated substantial wealth and use little or no consumer credit; yet live in houses valued at an average of $1,400,000. Exploring the ideas, beliefs, and behaviors that enabled these millionaires to build and maintain their fortunes, Dr. Stanley provides a fascinating look at who America's financial elite are and how they got there.

-What were their school days like?
-How did they respond to negative criticism?
-What are the characteristics of the millionaire's spouse?
-Is religion an important part of their lives?

The author uncovers the surprising answers to these and similar questions, showing readers through concrete examples just what it is that makes the wealthy prosper when others would turn away dejected or beaten.

The Millionaire Mind promises to be even more transformational than The Millionaire Next Door, delving deeper into the minds of America's welathy and answering the universal questions with solid statistical evidence in an approachable, anecdotal style.

This book offers a very unique perspective as it peers into the lives of America's wealthy. Dr. Stanley offers demographical information that may surprise any reader. Not everyone worth more than one million dollars is an ivy league graduate; they have not even necessarily graduated from high school. Is it education or courage to take risk that is more common? The Millionaire Mind contains answers to many questions you may have about how to make money and how to hang on to it once you have it.

Buy:
The Millionaire Mind $11.87
The Millionaire Next Door $10.50

| Forum |

The Ladykillers

October 19th, 2004

The LadykillersAcademy Award-winning Tom Hanks turns in a hilariously original performance in THE LADYKILLERS, the laugh-out-loud comedy that explodes with outrageous wit and slapstick humor from the Coen Brothers. Underneath Professor G.H. Dorr's (Hanks) silver-tongued southern gentleman persona is a devious criminal who has assembled a motley gang of thieves to commit the heist of the century by tunneling through his churchgoing landlady's root cellar to a casino's vault of riches. But these cons are far from pros. As their scheme begins blowing up in their faces, their landlady smells a rat. And when she threatens to call the police, they figure they'll just bump her off. After all, how hard can that be? Wickedly funny from start to finish, it would be a crime to miss THE LADYKILLERS.

I anxiously anticipated this movie's release in theaters, but was unable, for whatever reason(s), to see it there. I was forced then, to wait for the DVD release. My time came last night to watch The Ladykillers. A very unique role for Hanks who appears to be journeying slightly from his stereotypical "good guy" roles. Combine his genius (yes, I'll be so bold) with the unique stylings of the Coen Brothers and you have got my attention.

The writing, as expected, was hilarious...at times. There were lulls in the story, though that happens often in Coen Bros' films. In my opinion Tom Hanks has only made one bad movie; this was not it (The Terminal). The Ladykillers seemed to follow a "Coen" path from start to finish, though understand this is not a bad thing. The "Coen" path you do not necessarily notice until the movie is over and then everything makes sense. Their stories always come full circle. It is always worth your time to see how their movies end. Still not convinced? Marlon Wayans is funny in The Ladykillers, who else but the Coen Brothers could make that happen?

Buy The Lady Killers $22.49 from Amazon.com

| Forum | Other DVDs by the Coen Brothers
O Brother, Where Art Thou? $14.99
Fargo $14.99
The Big Lebowski $11.24
The Hudsucker Proxy $15.98
Raising Arizona $14.99

NFL Week 6.

October 19th, 2004

There is not very much worth noting about week 6, however I will do my best.

Permit me to start with the Bills v. Dolphins showdown Sunday. This was a matchup of two undefeated teams to see if there was an actual way two teams playing each other could both lose. As it turns out, this is not possible and the Bills had to win. Can I interject that the screen pass the Jay Fiedler intended for someone other than Takeo Spikes may have been the worst pass I have EVER seen thrown, and that is at any level of play.

Ben Roethlisberger appears to be the real deal in Pittsburgh. I have loved this kid since his days at Miami of Ohio. He has the talent and he has a level head on his shoulders. Sure he was handed a team that is pretty capable on their own, but I still give him the benefit of the doubt. The test will come soon when they are scheduled to play against teams that actually pose a threat. I would like to see him thrive in Pittsburgh, but maybe that depends on how much he has come to like IC Light...

I have officially renamed my fantasy football team to "The DaunteCulpeppers." He continues to be the reason I win games. Sunday night he set an NFL record for three (3) games with five (5) touchdown passes. He still cannot dance, though. And he keeps on trying...

Welcome back Lions. My boys in Honolulu Blue brought my feet back to the ground. I was all nostalgic watching that game. Why I actually watched the whole thing I cannot say.

I would like to finish this week with a small rant about a growing trend in the NFL. Please put and end to the increasing popularity of the halfback pass. Emmitt Smith threw a touchdown in a previous week and now every RB in the league thinks he's Joe Montana. I will opt against bringing up the td pass Ahman Green threw to Donald Driver Sunday. Even Mewelde Moore of the Minnesota Vikings is throwing passes now. When the season began was he even on this roster? Fourth string RB? But come on, why when you have the most potent passing attack in the league as you rest on the shoulders of Culpepper do you feel the need to let Moore throw the ball? I think Mike Tice is a great coach, this is the first point on which he and I have disagreed.

Chicago, Ill.

October 18th, 2004

Chicago is arguably my favorite big city. It was hands down my favorite until I lived in Philadelphia for even just the short time I was there. For a few days last week I was back in my element. There is nothing like being able to walk freely through the downtown area of a big city. Chicago is a city where you can go time after time and never be forced to do anything twice. Each day I was there, I walked for at least a mile. From the central location of the Hyatt Regency of Chicago I walked up and down Michigan Avenue and down by the water. If shopping is your thing, then Michigan Ave. is for you. There are bars and restaurants all over the city, many chains, though more that are unique to the area. Chicago has a tremendous amount of character and caters to visitors of any interest. The weather was not ideal, though decent enough in which to walk and enjoy the city. The architecture of the old buildings is breathtaking and the contrast of the color changing leaves was beautiful. And on top of all of this, how can you not love a city that is so clean? There were not even many cigarette butts on the streets. You cannot beat Chicago.

Keefer's - Chicago, Ill.

October 18th, 2004

Link: http://www.keefersrestaurant.com

Keefer'sAfter such a great dinner at Gene & Georgetti's, I was under the assumption that dinner in Chicago could not get any better. I was under the assumption that steak could not get better. I thank the concierge from the Hyatt Regency in Chicago for showing me the light. She essentially talked me out of a reservation at a different steakhouse in Chicago as she told me of her personal favorite: Keefer's (20 West Kinzie). This is a more modern/contemporary restaurant, dress is more business casual to professional. I have never known a more informed wait staff. Our server knew his menu so well that he was able to detail the exact preparation steps for the items. If you have ever looked at an item description written on a menu and found yourself suddenly hungry, imagine a more interactive version of the same where an individual actually describes it for you. He had us at hello. The only thing I would have asked for differently would have been chunks of lobster in the bisque instead of the "seafood dumpling," my steak was out of this world. I think it is safe to say that the steak I had at Keefer's was the best steak I have ever had. For that I thank Chef John Hogan.

Visit Keefer's website HERE.

Gene & Georgetti's - Chicago, Ill.

October 18th, 2004

While in Chicago last week, I was taken out to dinner at Gene and Georgetti's (500 N Franklin St.). This was a great dinner at a great restaurant. If you are looking for a place with the feel of a private club and/or the feel of a family owned Italian steakhouse you will not be disappointed. Prices were high, though the atmosphere was obviously included. The service was very attentive and courteous and the food was delicious and well presented. I had the bone-in ribeye steak and some garlic mashed potatoes. The steak was large and well cooked. Others had the fillet which was easily 4 inches tall and still exactly how they wanted it prepared. They are apparently known for their tiramisu, though for dessert I simply had the chocolate mint ice cream. It was very good.