"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Saturday, January 31, 2009

SNMR 6.4: "Eight Men Out"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "Eight Men Out" (1988, PG, 120 minutes), starring John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, David Straithairn, D.B. Sweeney and John Mahoney. The film was directed by John Sayles.

PLOT SUMMARY: This film tells the alleged story of why and how the 1919 Chicago White Sox threw the world Series to the Cincinnati Reds and the aftermath, including eight members of that team being banned for life by newly appointed Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis for conspiring with gamblers and betting on baseball, even though they were acquitted in the civil trial.

MY OPINION: This is, arguably, the best baseball movie ever made. At the very least, it's in the top five best baseball movies ever. The screenplay is pretty straightforward and is based on Eliot Asinof's book. The ensemble cast is superb - full of top name stars. The 20th anniversary edition that I watched has some excellent supplementary material.

Even if sports is not your thing, you can still take something away from this part baseball, part court room drama. Highly recommended.

***** out of *****

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A not so funny joke

The Math Test

A foreigner with an accent wants a job as a construction worker, but the foreman won't hire him until he passes a little math test.

Here is your first question, the foreman said. 'Without using numbers, represent the number 9.'

'Without numbers?' The foreigner says, 'Dat's easy.' and proceeds to draw three trees.



'What's this?' the boss asks.

'Vot! You got no brain? Tree and tree and tree make nine,' says the foreigner.

'Fair enough,' says the boss. 'Here's your second question. Use the same rules, but this time the number is 99.'

The foreigner stares off into space for a while, then picks up the picture that he has just drawn and makes a smudge on each tree. 'Dar ya go,' he says.



The boss scratches his head and says, 'How on earth do you get that to represent 99?'

'Each of da trees is dirty now. So, it's dirty tree, and dirty tree, and dirty tree. Dat is 99.'

The boss is getting worried that he's going to actually have to hire this foreigner, so he says, 'All right, last question. Same rules again, but this time represent the number 100.'

The foreigner stares into space some more, then he picks up the picture again and makes a little mark at the base of each tree and says, 'Dar ya go. Von hundred.'



The foreman looks at the attempt. 'You must be nuts if you think that represents a hundred!'

The foreigner leans forward and points to the marks at the base of each tree and says, 'A little dog come along and pooped by each tree. So now you got dirty tree and a turd, dirty tree and a turd, and dirty tree and a turd, vich makes von hundred.'

'So, ven do I start?'

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Time for a change anyway.

Since I seem to be having problems with my profile pic these last few days, I'll do now what I was going to do in a few weeks anyway. Namely throw in a new picture of moi for the remainder of MMIX.

This pic of me was actually taken back in July, when my company hired me full-time out of the realms of temp-hood. What makes it good is that I actually like this picture of myself. Normally I don't like (hate is such a strong word) the way I look in pictures, which is one of the reasons why I went with out a pic for the first two years or so of this here blog.



I may even decide to keep the orientation of my pic normal for once. We'll see though. I make no promises in that regard and reserve the right to change my mind if the mood so strikes me.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

SNMR 5.1-5.30 Index Page

Okay. Now that we're safely into series six of SNMR, here's the complets list of links to the 30 movies I reviewed in series five. Enjoy!

  • 5.30 Rendition 3½ stars


  • 5.29 Closer 3½ stars


  • 5.28 The Nativity Story 3 stars


  • 5.27 Scrooged 3 stars


  • 5.26 Surviving Christmas 2½ stars


  • 5.25 The Holiday 3 stars


  • 5.24 Sliding Doors 3½ stars


  • 5.23 Fletch 4 stars


  • 5.22 Charlie Wilson's War 3½ stars


  • 5.21 Back to School 4 stars


  • 5.20 Ghostbusters 4 stars


  • 5.19 Primary Colors 3 stars


  • 5.18 Amazing Grace 4 stars


  • 5.17 The Italian Job (1969) 2½ stars


  • 5.16 The Gameplan 2½ stars


  • 5.15 The Natural 4 stars


  • 5.14 The Phantom of the Opera 2½ stars


  • 5.13 Raising Helen 3 stars


  • 5.12 Fools Rush In 3¼ stars


  • 5.11 An Ideal Husband 3½ stars


  • 5.10 The Spirit of St. Louis 3 stars


  • 5.9 The Name of the Rose 2½ stars


  • 5.8 Being John Malkovich 3½ stars


  • 5.7 The Simpsons Movie 2½ stars


  • 5.6 Bruce Almighty 3 stars


  • 5.5 Alfie


  • 5.4 The Italian Job 5 stars


  • 5.3 Failure to Launch 3 stars


  • 5.2 Sweet Home Alabama 3½ stars


  • 5.1 The Pursuit of Happyness 4 stars
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    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    SNMR 6.3: "Coming to America"

    Tonight's SNMR feature is "Coming to America" (1988, R, 116 minutes), starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Allison Dean, Madge Sinclair and Shari Headley. The film was directed by John Landis.

    PLOT SUMMARY: Prince Akeem (Murphy) of the African nation of Zamunda is looking for a wife. When he disregards the mindless woman chosen for him, he and his best friend Semmi (Hall) decide to travel abroad to find his bride. With the blessing of the King (Jones) and Queen (Sinclair), Akeem is given a month to "sow his royal oats" abroad. And where does one find a suitable future queen? In Queens, of course.

    MY OPINION: This comedy, made when Eddie Murphy was one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood, is really quite funny. The plus side of this film is that (according to the special features included on the disc) this is the film where Muphy learned he could play multiple characters in the same film. Rick Baker does a fantastic job with Murphy and Hall's make-up for the different characters they play. The downside of all this is that as a result of this film, Murphy brought us such unmitigated disasters as "Big Mama" and "Norbit." The script/story may not be totally original but it is executed brilliantly by director John Landis and the comic talents of the cast as a whole. John Amos is understated but brilliant in his role as the owner of McDowell's restaurant. The rip-off parody of fast food grease pit McDonald's is great. James Earl Jones is excellent in just about everything he does. And who wouldn't love a film that has Samuel L. Jackson in it? - granted he has only one scene but hey, what can you do? You gotta start somewhere. If this film has a liability, it is Shari Headley, who plays Murphy's love interest, Lisa McDowell. But we can cut her some slack because it was her first big movie role.

    I found this film to be extremely funny. My favorite minor characters are Arsenio Hall's Baptist minister and Eddie Murphy's old Jewish guy.

    I enjoyed watching the extras included on this special edition release. They are well made and informative.

    *** out of *****

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    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States.

    Has a nice ring to it, does it not?

    Now I can take the bumper sticker off of my car that promotes today as King George's last day. But that will have to wait until tomorrow because the Jag is in the shop, as the saying goes.

    ----

    I think that Inauguration Day should be made into a National holiday, where businesses and government offices must close. I would have liked to watch today's festivities live, but instead had to settle for a clandestine, choppy Internet feed on my work computer. I'm going to find the video on-line again and watch the swearing in and inauguration speech again - uninterrupted.

    I would have loved to have been there freezing my butt off standing on the Capitol Mall listening to everything going on - and enjoying the celebration.

    However, now we must take care of some unfinished business!

    In honor of Sir Deer-in-the-Headlights, his not-so majesty King George, leaving office at noon today, I'd like to present him with a choice of his very own Presidential seal:

    Choice #1





    OR

    Choice #2





    What do you think? They're both real nice but personally, I like #2 best!

    Now let's leave the real Presidential Seal to a man who was not controversially elected by Hanging Chads, Supreme Court votes or Ohio recounts. To a man who I believe, some 25 years from now, history will judge as one of our best Presidents.



    Did you notice that indeed Obama said "So Help Me God." at the end of his taking of the oath of office? I sure did.

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    Sunday, January 18, 2009

    Conference Championships - 2008 NFL Playoffs

    #6 Philadelphia (-3½) at #4 Arizona: It's safe to say that no one expected this matchup for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Historically, the all time series is 54-54-5. The Cardinals last won the championship in 1947, when they were based in Chicago. The Eagles were in the Super Bowl in 2004 but lost to the Patriots and have not won the Championship since 1960.

    Both teams are playing as well as you can in the playoffs, and this should be a close game, even though the Eagles stomped the Cardinals by 28 points on Thanksgiving. The first key will be Arizona's defense controlling the line of scrimmage and keeping the Eagles offense in check. The second key is turnovers. While I'd love to see Arizona win, but I don't think they'll be able to do it. A late touchdown by Philadelphia will make the score not as close as the game will be. Prediction: Philadelphia 30, at Arizona 21. Actual result: at Arizona 32, Philadelphia 25. When Arizona went up big I was shocked. When Philly came back late to take a one point lead I wasn't surprised, figuring it was time for Arizona's house of Cards to fold. That they came back to win was very satisfying, considering the futile history of this franchise. I'm pleased to have picked wrong here.

    #6 Baltimore at #2 Pittsburgh (-6): Pittsburgh leads the all time series 17-10-0 thanks to two close wins vs. the Ravens this season. It's awfully hard to beat the same team three times in the same season. This is going to be a real tight, low scoring defensive battle. The winner of this game will be favored to win Super Bowl XLIII in two weeks. It will be tough but I think the Ravens will win. Prediction: Baltimore 14, at Pittsburgh 10. Actual result: at Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 14. This was, as I predicted a close game throughout. Unfortunately the rookie Ravens QB had a mistake filled day - the last one sealing the win for the Steelers.

    I'll have my Super Bowl XLIII prediction for you in two weeks.

    With one game to go, I'm 3-7 on picking winners both straight-up and vs. the point spread. I haven't been this inept at football picks that I can ever recall - and I've been doing it every season since 1996. Tell ya what. Whatever my Super Bowl pick is, do the exact opposite. Your odds are better. Much better.

    ----

    Happy 44th Birthday, C!

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    Saturday, January 17, 2009

    SNMR 6.2: "The Story of Us"

    Tonight's SNMR feature is "The Story of Us" (1999, R, 96 minutes), staring Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tim Matheson, Rita Wilson, Julie Hagerty, Rob Reiner and Paul Reiser (uncredited). The film was directed by Rob Reiner.

    PLOT SUMMARY: Ben and Katie Jordan (Willis, Pfeiffer) were a happily married couple who had it all for fifteen years and now can hardly speak to each other without it turning into an argument. Voices raised, accusations fly and two people who once loved each other hover on the brink of the dreaded d-word.

    MY OPINION: Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer are excellent in the lead roles and are very believable as a couple, so you can feel for them when they go through the struggles that they do. It also rings true that these are two people who still love each other very much and want to fix their problems but just don't know how to begin or who should start the ball rolling. The supporting cast is full of big names, and they all work to make the story realistic. Rob Reiner, as I believe I've said before in this space, is one of the greatest directors of this generation because he was an actor and can relate to his cast on a level that some directors struggle to do consistently.

    I really liked this movie a lot because, having gone through marital struggles that eventually ended in a divorce, I can relate to what is happening on a personal level with these characters and want to see them reconcile. This movie will bring out the range of emotions in you if you've ever been in a relationship that has gone through ups and downs.

    **** out of *****

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    Friday, January 16, 2009

    Remember when I told you about

    my "as close as I'll probably ever get to Hollywood" experience?

    What, you don't?

    Refresh your memory here.

    That movie, for better or worse, opened in theaters nationwide today for all to see.

    Normally, this would be a movie I would not have any interest in seeing in the theater. It's probably funny because of Kevin James but it also looks unbelievably stupid. I'll definitely go see it and take V and M with me, simply because I like movies shot locally. However we're not going to see it for a few weeks, until I'm able to use the three movie passes that I have. I might even review it in a SNMR column after I see it.

    If I do eventually add this movie to my DVD collection, it will be because I found a copy of it in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart. This will probably happen sometime this summer, I'm guessing July or August.

    ----

    V, M and I happened into BJ's tonight where I stumbled upon the complete five season series of a television show on DVD that was recommended to me in the past based on my past blogging interest in another, similar show. So I purchased the first two seasons.

    The topper for me was that I was able to pick them up at a great price, at least in comparison to what amazon.com has them selling for. Such a good deal, in fact that I'm leaning heavily on the possibility of picking up the remaining three seasons at similar savings, before they go out of stock.

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    Monday, January 12, 2009

    #14 makes it on the 15th (and final) try

    Okay, I admit it, I'm a homer. I've thought that Jim Rice should have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame ten or twelve years ago. But it's official, he's in now and that's just fine with me. Granted he squeezed in with 76.4% of the vote (75% needed), but that's all it took.

    Maybe some of you who live in other parts of the country aren't as familiar with Jim Rice as I am. After all, the man retired from playing Major League Baseball 20 years ago this year.

    But I can tell you, growing up in the Boston area and being a lifelong Red Sox fan, watching Rice play both in person and on television was a treat. When Rice batted, you paid attention. The stadium always grew quiet and people at home stopped what they were doing to watch. Every time. Picture what happens now when David Ortiz comes to the dish. That was how it was with Jim Ed.

    Sure you can read all kinds of stories both for and against Rice's HOF worthiness, which forever more will be debated when others with similar achievements are up for Hall consideration, so I won't rehash most of those arguments here.

    Rice followed in the great tradition of power hitting Red Sox left fielders, some slouches (also HOFers) named Williams and Yastrzemski. From 1975-1986 he was as dominant a hitter as you'll ever see. His defense in left field at Fenway may not have been flawless, but he wasn't nearly as bad as some critics will maintain. Could you play a carom high off 'da monsta like Rice (or few others) could? I doubt it. I know I certainly couldn't.

    Yes, it's true his last three years he was not nearly as good. Failing eyesight made him a shadow of his former playing self and he retired after only 16 seasons, knowing he was not the player he once was. This shortened career left him 18 homers shy of 400 and .002 below a lifetime .300 hitter, two standards that virtually ensure a plaque at Cooperstown.

    Heck, my mom even knows who Jim Rice is and she doesn't even like baseball. For sure, my nine year old son knows who Jim Rice is. Every time we play catch now, M uses my old Jim Rice signature model glove. M's glove now; passed on from father to son like the treasured heirloom it has become.

    I even have had the opportunity to meet Mr. Rice on several occasions at baseball card shows, and have his autograph on three or four cards and two baseballs.

    And for what it's worth, in the 20 years since Jim Ed hung 'em up, no one has worn or might I assume, even dared to ask for Red Sox jersey #14.

    Now the Red Sox need to do the right thing in 2009 and place Rice's number up on the right field facade with Williams (9), Yaz (8), Doerr (4), Cronin (1), Fisk (27), Pesky (6) and Jackie Robinson (42) and ensure that no one will ever wear #14 for the Red Sox again.

    Congratulations, Jim, on your election to the Hall of Fame today. It's a well deserved honor for you and makes us proud to root for the Boston Red Sox. Thanks for the memories.

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    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    SNMR 6.1: "Juno"

    Welcome to Saturday Night Movie Reviews, series six. This is the 151st review that I've done for this weekly feature.

    Tonight's SNMR feature is "Juno" (2007, PG-13, 96 minutes), starring Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, JK Simmons, Allison Janney and Olivia Thurlby. The film was directed by Jason Reitman. Writer Diablo Cody won an Oscar for best screenplay written directly for the screen in 2008. Juno was also nominated for three other Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress in a lead role.

    PLOT SUMMARY: Sixteen year old high schooler Juno McGuff (Page) has sex with her best friend (Cera) and finds herself pregnant. Realizing she's not ready to be a mom herself, keeping the baby is not realistic. That leaves abortion or adoption as the options. What should she do? Once the course of action is decided, Juno tells her dad and step mom (Simmons and Janney). The rest of the film follows Juno dealing with the aftermath of her decision.

    MY OPINION: When I watched the 2008 Oscars and saw this film getting lots of acclaim, I thought it was crazy. I mean, who wants to see a film about teenage pregnancy, right? Still, it had Jennifer Garner in it and well, that meant I had to see it eventually. What I didn't realize is how good Ellen Page was going to be. She is the reason this movie is as good as it is. The 21 year old actress going to be a force in Hollywood for a long time to come. Michael Cera is perfect as the goofy looking, awkward teenage best friend/love interest. Diablo Cody's script is excellent and director Jason Reitman (son of director Ivan) keeps the story moving crisply. I highly recommend this entertaining film.

    ****½ out of *****

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    Friday, January 09, 2009

    Conference Semifinals - 2008 NFL Playoffs

    Ok, here's the way I see it shaping up for this weekend's NFL playoff games.

    Saturday: #6 Baltimore Ravens at #1 Tennessee Titans (-3): Tennessee went into Baltimore during Week five and won 13-10. All-time, the series is tied 9-9-0. Historically, these are two evenly matched teams. My pick this week is Baltimore because I think their defense is slightly better. Plus, any team with Kerry Collins as their starting QB is suspect. I think Tennessee's league best record came about from playing a relatively light schedule. This should be another low scoring game, So if you like defense, you'll like this match up. Prediction: Baltimore 14, at Tennessee 13. Actual result: Baltimore 13, at Tennessee 10 This game played out pretty much the way I thought it would.

    #4 Arizona Cardinals at #2 Carolina Panthers (-9½): Arizona is not a team that likes to play on the east coast, as evidenced by their games this season, all losses. Granted they played Carolina tough here in Week eight. Carolina is 6-2 all time vs. Arizona, but the Cardinals two wins did come on the road. I think that this game could get ugly early. Carolina QB Jake Delhomme is a savvy veteran who has played in the Super Bowl. His team is far superior in all three phases of the game.
    Prediction: at Carolina 35, Arizona 10. Actual result: Arizona 33, at Carolina 13 I knew the game would get ugly quickly, but I picked the wrong side it would get ugly for. Three first half Panther turnovers gave the Cardinals a 27-7 lead at the half and even an average team can win easily with that kind of advantage. Amazing that, if Philadelphia wins Sunday, the Cardnals will host the NFC Championship game.

    Sunday: #6 Philadelphia Eagles at #1 New York Giants (-4½): These division rivals hate each other and know each other so well from playing twice every season. These teams split their series this year, with each team winning on the road. The Eagles are playing as well as anyone right now, but I think Eli and his mates will bring their A game and force QB Donovan McNabb into mistakes. It's possible that they will and I'd love to see the Eagles win, but I just don't see it happening. Prediction: at New York 28, Philadelphia 21. Actual result: Philadelphia 23, at NY Giants 11 Congrats to former Patriot and current Eagle CB Asante Samuel for his key interception. So now we have an NFC title matchup which nobody could ever have predicted.

    #4 San Diego Chargers at #2 Pittsburgh Steelers (-6): These teams met here in Week 11 and it doesn't get any uglier than that game, which Pittsburgh won 11-10. The Steelers defense is one of the best in the game and will carry an inconsistent offense. Look for a higher scoring game this time around, but the Steelers will prevail. Prediction: at Pittsburgh 28, San Diego 20. Actual result: at Pittsburgh 35, San Diego 24 Key statistic: 3rd Quarter time of posession - Pit 14:43, SD 0:17 Game Over.

    Well, I did do better this week, going 2-2 both straight up and vs. the point spread. That makes me 3-5 on both counts so far this post season. I need to go perfect the rest of the way to avoid a losing record. I'll have my Conference Championship predictions for you next Saturday.

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    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    BIG Screen turns 50!!

    Yes, that's right. We're about to do our 50th review over on BIG Screen, the utterly fantastic, gotta read it now movie review blog that the Scribester and I write.

    Why am I telling you this?

    Simple.

    We're eliciting your votes for which movie we ought to review for the big 5-0!! All you have to do is go over to the comments section on BIG Screen and cast your vote. We want to know what you think! VOTE HERE.

    We are, however, restricted to the movies available to us from the DVD & video collections at our local libraries and from whatever movies we happen to own, because we're like birds... Cheap, cheap, cheap! Well, Scribe is anyway!






    Oh, yes he is!! Just ask him!!




    Even if you read that blog and never comment, we'd still like to hear your opinion! Come on and break your vow of silence!! Now is the time! Heck, while you're at it, you could even bookmark BIG Screen and become a regular reader! If you have a blog of your own, then you could even link BIG Screen to your sidebar so others can see it, too!

    VOTE HERE VOTE HERE VOTE HERE VOTE HERE VOTE HERE VOTE HERE VOTE HERE VOTE HERE

    The polls will be open until they're not, so act now and cast your vote for the movie you'd like to see Scribe-o-rama and me review for #50!

    VOTE NOW!!!

    Sure, it's a shameless self promotion, but I don't care! If you can't promote your blog on your very own blog then, well..... why wouldn't you promote your blog on your own blog?

    Free advertising and all, you know??.

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    Sunday, January 04, 2009

    Perihelion

    Today the earth is at perihelion, which is the closest it will ever get to the sun this year. That's only 91,400,936 miles. Break out the sunblock.

    Aphelion will come on July 3rd, when the earth will be at its farthest distance from the sun - a mere 94,505,009 miles away.

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    Saturday, January 03, 2009

    SNMR 5.30: "Rendition"

    Tonight's SNMR feature is "Rendition" (2007, R, 122 minutes), starring Omar Metwally, Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, Moa Khouas, Zineb Oukach and Alan Arkin. The film was directed by Gavin Hood.

    PLOT SUMMARY: On his way back from a conference in South Africa to his wife in Chicago, Egyptian national Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Metwally) is apprehended by the CIA and taken to a secret detention facility outside the US where he is beaten and tortured for a confession. Witnessing the interrogation is CIA agent Douglas Freeman (Gyllenhaal), who is troubled by the treatment of the prisoner. Meanwhile a pregnant, worried wife (Witherspoon) frantically inquires about her missing husband, enlisting the help of a friend who works for a senator who has connections.

    MY OPINION: This is a good film which shows the ugly underbelly of politics and international relations. That the United States government is portrayed as the bad guy is mildly disturbing. That the United States government could actively participate in and condone such extraordinary rendition which clearly violates human rights is sickening, despite denials from the Bush administration (in a documentary supplementing the movie).

    The script is well written and the inside view of a middle eastern, Islamic culture is fascinating. Witherspoon is great as the wife desperately searching for answers. Streep and Simmons are wonderfully callous as the CIA baddies who orchestrate the whole scenario.

    This is another film that, while I'm glad I've seen it, is not one I can see watching again anytime soon.

    ***½ out of *****

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    Friday, January 02, 2009

    Wild Card Weekend - NFL Playoffs 2008

    Admittedly this years NFL Playoffs hold slightly less interest for me than if the Patriots were involved. Still, football is football and the games ought to be good.

    So here's how I see this weekend's games shaping up:

    Saturday: #5 Atlanta Falcons (-2½) at #4 Arizona Cardinals- Atlanta is my team to root for on the NFC side this year because of #2. Former Boston College QB Matt Ryan has had an unbelievable season this year. Who knew a rookie would have such a positive impact on a franchise and region that just last year was devastated by the Michael Vick disgrace? Arizona played miserably in Week 16 against the Patriots and wasn't very convincing last week. The bonus for the Cardinals and their fans is that this is a rare home playoff game for them, courtesy of winning the weak NFC West. Still, Atlanta is playing as well as anyone in the league right now and riding positive momentum can be huge in the playoffs (see 2007 New York Giants, who rode momentum all the way to the (still painful) upset win in Super Bowl XLII.) Prediction: Atlanta 24, at Arizona 14. Actual result: at Arizona 30, Atlanta 24 Did anyone tell the Falcons that you have to play 60 minutes of football in order to win? The Falcons lost because they took the 3rd quarter off. Who will Arizona play next week?

    #5 Indianapolis Colts (-2½) at #4 San Diego Chargers- The Chargers come in having won three in a row to close out the regular season and win the weak AFC West. At 3-4, the Colts looked pretty washed up, and now are riding a nine game winning streak, including wins over my Patriots and a three point win here in San Diego. The Chargers always give Peyton Manning and company trouble but have faced way too many injuries this season. If LaDanian Tomlinson doesn't play, that will make it worse for the Chargers. Prediction: Indianapolis 21, at San Diego 16. Actual result: at San Diego 23, Indianapolis 17 OT Overtime losses are tough. Overtime losses in the playoffs are even worse.

    Sunday: #6 Baltimore (-2½) at #3 Miami- Miami has had a remarkable season, going from 1-15 last year to 11-5 this year. But that remarkable season ends with this game. The Ravens defense is one of the best in the league and their offense finally has found a franchise QB in rookie Joe Flacco. That, plus the confidence of winning in Miami in Week Seven should put them in Tennessee next weekend. They'll just use the same strategy they used in their week seven win. Miami's wildcat offense will struggle. Prediction: Baltimore 31, at Miami 17. Actual result: Baltimore 27, at Miami 9 Turnovers will kill you every time. Ask Chad Pennington.

    #6 Philadelphia (-3½) at #3 Minnesota- Admittedly, I never thought either of these teams were good enough to make the playoffs, but here they are. Philadelphia, under QB Donovan McNabb,is playing well right now. But their 3-4-1 road record does not inspire confidence. Minnesota's 6-2 home record does. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson will have a good game and will be the difference maker. Prediction: at Minnesota 27, Philadelphia 10. Actual result: Philadelphia 26, at Minnesota 14 I didn't get to see much of this game, cuz I had to take my kids home. But I did see Brian Westbrook's 71 yard catch and run TD that effectively sealed the win for the Eagles. Man that boy is good.

    UPDATE: Ok, so I was 1-3 for the weekend both straight up and vs. the point spread. I almost have to do better next week, right? More predictions on Friday.

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    Thursday, January 01, 2009

    Books of the Month - January 2009

    Happy New Year everyone!

    The first Books of the Month selection for 2009 will be "Fabricating Jesus" by Craig A. Evans. Evans specialty is the historical Jesus and the Jewish background of the New Testament era. He is a Professor of New Testament and director of the graduate program at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.



    Sensationalism sells books, newspapers and Hollywood movies. Has sensationalism also reached the colleges and universities, such that exaggerated claims about Jesus, unheard of even a century ago, are now being popularized by scholars as true facts? What are some of the outrageous claims being made about Jesus? For example, was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? Was Jesus a cynic, mystic or even Gnostic? Did Jesus never claim to be the Son of God? Did Jesus fake his death on the cross? Did Jesus really ever exist? Evans addresses these and other questions being raised today by scholars who should know better and convincingly argues why such claims should be soundly rejected.

    Purchase your copy here or here.


    The second Book of the Month feature this month is "Jesus Among Other Gods" by Ravi Zacharias. Born in India, he is President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and has lectured in over fifty countries and is widely known as one of today's leading apologists for the Christian faith.



    You can believe anything you want from a religious standpoint these days, and be accepted in most circles as long as you do not claim your beliefs to be true and exclusive. Why? Because that's not tolerant of other people's beliefs. Zacharias points out that unquestioning acceptance of all things spiritual is absurd, for plainly and simply, all religions cannot be true. Logically, only one can be true and the rest must be false. But how are we to know what is true and what is not?

    Zacharias deals with some important questions, such as:

    Aren't all religions fundamentally the same?

    Was Jesus who He claimed to be?

    Can one study the life of Christ and demonstrate conclusively that He was and is the way, the truth and the life?

    Two of my favorite chapters include 'The Anatomy of Faith and the Quest for Reason' and 'Is God the Source of My Suffering?'

    Purchase your copy here or here.

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