Wednesday, January 31, 2007

This Week's Restaurant Review: Kuleto's in SF

San Francisco is a food lover’s paradise. You can pretty much throw a stone from any point in this city (unless, of course, you’re on the Golden Gate Bridge or in the deepest darkest regions of Golden Gate Park) and you’ll hit a good place to have a meal. I love exploring new places and trying out unique and different things to eat, and invariably a good or possibly great experience is the end result. Kuleto’s in San Francisco’s Union Square really wasn’t one of those instances – from what I had heard from friends and had seen on the Internet, I knew ahead of time that an evening at Kuleto’s was going to be a winner. The place offers Northern Italian cuisine featuring fresh and seasonal ingredients and highlights items like homemade pastas, traditional Italian salads, fresh fish and flavorful meats. The focal point of the place is a 40-foot-long intricately-carved Brunswick bar made in England that was brought around Cape Horn in a clipper ship and survived the 1906 earthquake while installed at the famous Palace Hotel. When I stop to think of how many drinks have crossed that bar, the mugs of grog, glasses of wine and pitches of margaritas, it almost makes me drunk just pondering it. The executive chef at Kuleto’s is Bob Helstrom and he’s been onboard for 12 years. He has worked previously at places like Ponzu in SF and the Jbar in San Diego, just to name a few. He has a total of 35 years in the business, and his influences are evident throughout the extensive menu. Kuleto’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, which in itself is highly unusual in this city. Most of your top restaurants don’t even bother serving lunch anymore, let alone breakfast. I figure if a place is good, why not do it all? Sometimes trying to find a decent breakfast in this town is like trying to find a gas station. I’m getting tired of Egg McMuffins and bagel sandwiches from Starbuck’s, so when I hear about a good location that serves breakfast, it always makes me happy. Hell, my needs are simple. When we went to Kuleto’s, we had a wonderful dining experience. The wait staff is highly skilled, and you can tell that the place is first-class from the minute you enter. But, the most important thing about Kuleto’s is that the food is superb! The appetizers, salads and desserts are all exceptional here, but because of time constraints, I will get right to the meat of the matter and focus on the entrees. I would wholeheartedly recommend the Tonno alla Griglia con Panzella ($23), which is a grilled piece of rare ahi tuna with a Tuscan bread salad served with salsa verde. Everybody makes a seared ahi nowadays, but this is head, shoulders, fins and gills above anything I’ve ever had. The Piccata di Vitello ($21.50), is veal scaloppini with capers, garlic, spinach and lemon. I know that veal is not an animal-friendly thing to eat, but I love it and I promise that the next time I see a calf I’ll apologize. Until they outlaw veal, I’ll be eating it. The meat dishes at Kuleto’s from the Filleted di Mango ($32), or as we call it in America -- filet mignon; to the Tailgate di Griglia ($28), a grilled hanger steak that will have you hanging on for more, are both equally excellent. I don’t usually like duck, but I saw the Anita al Forgo ($23), a Sonoma roasted duck with braised corona beans, rapine and grappa soaked figs, and it looked incredible. Kuleto’s also has a wide array of pasta dishes. I’ve tasted the penne and the linguini there, and I can say without reservation that they’re divine. Nothing beats a place that makes its own pasta. It’s like the noodles know they’ve been loved. Speaking of reservations, if you plan on going to Kuleto’s, you should definitely make them. Being in Union Square means that the place can get crowded during peak hours. Kuleto’s is located ay 221 Powell Street in San Francisco. Their phone number is: (415) 397-7720. For a great meal at prices that aren’t really all that high for San Francisco, where at some places you need to take out a small business loan to eat there, Kuleto’s is a wonderful experience and worth every dime.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

SF Real Estate is a Complete Joke! People Here are Considering Raleigh!

With San Francisco housing prices going right through the ceiling, a lot of people are moving out of the Bay Area. Some of them are seriously looking at Raleigh North Carolina Real Estate. Raleigh is much more affordable, the North Carolinians are just much nicer folks, and it’s a great place to raise a family. San Francisco refugees – take my advice and consider Raleigh North Carolina Real Estate!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Barbaro: A Great Horse Who Will Be Missed

This is such a shame. I love horse racing, but when I see something like this it just breaks my heart. These beautiful animals are bred to be runners and although they’re treated fairly well, sometimes they get hurt just like human athletes and it’s sad. Barbaro was a great horse and made a valiant effort to live. He will be missed.

This appeared today on

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (Jan. 29) - Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was euthanized Monday after complications from his gruesome breakdown at last year's Preakness, ending an eight-month ordeal that prompted an outpouring of support across the country.
A series of ailments, including laminitis in the left rear hoof and a recent abscess in the right rear hoof, proved too much for the gallant colt.Barbaro battled in his ICU stall for eight months. The 4-year-old colt underwent several procedures and was fitted with fiberglass casts. He spent time in a sling to ease pressure on his legs, had pins inserted and was fitted at the end with an external brace. These were all extraordinary measures for a horse with such injuries.Roy and Gretchen Jackson were with Barbaro on Monday morning, with the owners making the decision in consultation with chief surgeon Dr. Dean Richardson."I would say thank you for everything, and all your thoughts and prayers over the last eight months or so," Jackson said to Barbaro's fans.The news that Barbaro had been euthanized first was reported on the Thoroughbred Times Web site.On May 20, Barbaro was rushed to the New Bolton Center, about 30 miles from Philadelphia in Kennett Square, hours after shattering his right hind leg just a few strides into the Preakness Stakes. The bay colt underwent a five-hour operation that fused two joints, recovering from an injury most horses never survive. But Barbaro never regained his natural gait."We loved him. He was great," said Peter Brette, Barbaro's exercise rider and assistant trainer for Michael Matz. "He did everything we ever asked of him. He could have been one of the best. What a fighter he was."
Barbaro suffered a significant setback over the weekend, and surgery was required to insert two steel pins in a bone - one of three shattered in the Preakness but now healthy - to eliminate all weight bearing on the ailing right rear foot.The procedure Saturday was a risky one, because it transferred more weight to the leg while the foot rests on the ground bearing no weight.The leg was on the mend until the abscess began causing discomfort last week. Until then, the major concern was Barbaro's left rear leg, which developed laminitis in July, and 80 percent of the hoof was removed.Richardson said Monday morning that Barbaro did not have a good night."This horse was a hero," said David Switzer, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. "His owners went above and beyond the call of duty to save this horse. It's an unfortunate situation, but I think they did the right thing in putting him down."Brilliant on the race track, Barbaro always will be remembered for his brave fight for survival.The story of the beloved 4-year-old bay colt's fight for life captured the fancy of millions.When Barbaro broke down, his right hind leg flared out awkwardly as jockey Edgar Prado jumped off and tried to steady the ailing horse. Race fans at Pimlico wept. Within 24 hours the entire nation seemed to be caught up in a "Barbaro watch," waiting for any news.Well-wishers young and old showed up at the New Bolton Center with cards, flowers, gifts, goodies and even religious medals for the champ, and thousands of e-mails poured into the hospital's Web site just for him."I just can't explain why everyone is so caught up in this horse," Roy Jackson, who owned the colt with his wife, Gretchen, has said time and again. "Everything is so negative now in the world, people love animals and I think they just happen to latch onto him."Devoted fans even wrote Christmas carols for him, sent a wreath made of baby organic carrots and gave him a Christmas stocking.The biggest gift has been the $1.2 million raised since early June for the Barbaro Fund. The money is put toward needed equipment such as an operating room table, and a raft and sling for the same pool recovery Barbaro used after his surgeries.The Jacksons spent tens of thousands of dollars hoping the best horse they ever owned would recover and be able to live a comfortable life on the farm - whether he was able to breed or not.The couple, who own about 70 racehorses, broodmares and yearlings, and operate the 190-acre Lael Farm, have been in the horse business for 30 years, and never had a horse like Barbaro.As the days passed, it seemed Barbaro would get his happy ending. As late as December, with the broken bones in his right hind leg nearly healed and his laminitis under control, Barbaro was looking good and relishing daily walks outside his intensive care unit.But after months of upbeat progress reports, including talk that he might be headed home soon, news came Jan. 10 of a serious setback because of the laminitis. Richardson had to remove damaged tissue from Barbaro's left hind hoof, and the colt was placed back in a protective sling.On Jan. 13, another section of his left rear hoof was removed. After Barbaro developed a deep abscess in his right hind foot, surgery was performed Saturday to insert two steel pins in a bone.This after Richardson warned last December that Barbaro's right hind leg was getting stronger and that the left hind foot was a "more formidable long-term challenge."Even before the injury that ended his career, Barbaro had earned his fame for simply being a magnificent racehorse.Foaled and raised at Sanborn Chase at Springmint Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., breeder Bill Sanborn fought back tears Monday as he talked about "the privilege" of working with the colt."Everything was looking really, really good, and of course I honestly thought that the horse was going to pull it off," he said. "It just wasn't meant to be. It didn't surprise me that he fought so long. He was a great horse."La Ville Rouge, Barbaro's broodmare, remains pregnant at Mills Ridge Farm in Lexington with a full brother to Barbaro. The foal is expected to be born sometime in the early spring, according to farm spokesperson Kimberly Poulin.A son of Dynaformer, out of the dam La Ville Rouge, Barbaro started his career on the turf, but Matz knew he would have to try his versatile colt on the dirt. He reasoned that if he had a talented 3-year-old in America, he'd have to find out early if his horse was good enough for the Triple Crown races.Barbaro was good enough, all right. He won his first three races on turf with authority, including the Laurel Futurity by eight lengths and the Tropical Park Derby by 3 3/4 lengths.That's when Matz drew up an unconventional plan for a dirt campaign that spaced out Barbaro's race to keep him fit for the entire Triple Crown, a grueling ordeal of three races in five weeks at varying distances over different tracks.Barbaro won the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4, but his dirt debut was inconclusive since it came over a sloppy track. After an eight-week break, an unusually long time between races, Barbaro came back and won the Florida Derby by a half-length over Sharp Humor despite an outside No. 10 post.The deal was sealed - on to the Derby, but not without criticism that Barbaro couldn't win coming off a five-week layoff. After all, it had been 50 years since Needles won the Derby off a similar break. But Matz was unfazed, and stuck to his plan, saying all the time he was doing what was best for the horse.Not only did Barbaro win the Derby, he demolished what was supposed to be one of the toughest fields in years. The 6 1/2-length winning margin was the largest since 1946, when Assault won by eight lengths and went on to sweep the Triple Crown.The 55-year-old Matz, meanwhile, was living a charmed life. Before turning to thoroughbreds eight years ago, he was an international show jumping star, and a three-time Olympian and silver medal winner who carried the U.S. flag at the closing ceremony at the 1996 Atlanta Games. He also survived a plane crash in Iowa in 1989 and became a hero by saving three children from the burning wreckage. The crash killed 112 of the 296 people on board United Flight 232.In Barbaro, Matz truly believed he was training a Triple Crown winner. He often said Barbaro was good enough to be ranked among the greats and join Seattle Slew as the only unbeaten Triple Crown champions.But two weeks later after the Derby Barbaro took a horrible misstep and one of the most extraordinary attempts to save a thoroughbred was under way. The injury was considered to be so disastrous that many thought the horse would be euthanized while still at Pimlico Race Track.Instead, Barbaro was transported that night to the New Bolton Center's George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals and was operated on the next day by Richardson.The injuries were as serious as everyone feared: Barbaro sustained a broken cannon bone above the ankle, a broken sesamoid bone behind the ankle and a broken long pastern bone below the ankle. The fetlock joint - the ankle - was dislocated. Richardson said the pastern bone was shattered in "20-plus pieces."Barbaro, who earned $2,302,200 with his six wins in seven starts, endured the complicated five-hour surgery in which Richardson inserted a titanium plate and 27 screws into the broken bones. After calmly awakening from anesthesia, he "practically jogged back to his stall" looking for something to eat.At the time, Richardson stressed Barbaro still had many hurdles to clear, and called chances for a full recovery a "coin toss."Afterward, though, things went relatively smoothly. Each day brought more optimism: Barbaro was eyeing the mares, nickering, gobbling up his feed and trying to walk out of his stall. There was great hope Barbaro somehow would overcome the odds and live a life of leisure on the farm.But by mid-July, Richardson's greatest fear became reality - laminitis struck Barbaro's left hind leg and 80 percent of the hoof was removed. Richardson recalled recently what it was like when he met with the Jacksons, and Matz, and his wife, D.D., to deliver the news."It was terrible," Richardson said. "I wouldn't have blamed anyone at that point for saying they just couldn't face the prospects of going on."But Barbaro responded well to treatment, and his recovery was progressing until a final, fatal turn.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Keep 'Em Wondering

I can’t believe countries are getting upset over the Seven Wonders of the World. Maybe it has to do with tourist dollars. And who said there has to be seven, anyway? Why not make it a baker's dozen? And why didn’t they include some of the great American Wonders -- like Dodger Stadium, the Golden Gate Bridge, Pamela Anderson and Stevie Wonder? Get real!

This was on today:

CAIRO, Egypt (Jan. 28) - Egypt is scoffing at a global contest to name the new seven wonders of the world, saying it's a disgrace that the Pyramids of Giza - the only surviving structure from the original list of architectural marvels - must compete for a spot.
Top Egyptian officials have lashed out at the popular contest that urges people around the world to vote for their top sites from a list of 21 finalists including the pyramids, Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower and Peru's Machu Picchu. The head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, recently said the "New 7 Wonders of the World" campaign had "no scientific or official stature." The pyramids are "living in the hearts of people around the globe, and don't need a vote to be among the world wonders," Hawass said, according to the state-run Middle East News Agency, or MENA. But contest organizers say the backlash in Egypt is unwarranted, claiming the competition's intentions are to renew international interest in culture and history, not strip the pyramids from their ancient status. "The controversy in Egypt has shocked us," said contest spokeswoman Tia B. Viering. "The contest is not about taking something away, it's about moving something into modern times." The Egyptian pyramids are the only surviving structures from the original list of seven wonders of the ancient world, that also included such places as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia. Choosing new world wonders has attracted ongoing interest over the years, with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, list of World Heritage Sites includes 830 selections. Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber started the "New 7 Wonders of the World" in 1999, collecting nearly 200 nominations from all over the world to compete. That list was first whittled down to 77, before it was narrowed down to 21 by a panel of architectural experts, chaired by former UNESCO chief Federico Mayor. But Weber wanted the masses to pick the top seven, and opened the voting for the final round to the public. People can vote on the Internet, by phone or by sending a cell phone text message until July 6. The seven winners will be announced July 7 in Lisbon, Portugal, and half of the revenues raised by the campaign will go toward restoration efforts including the Bamiyan Buddha statue in Afghanistan , which was destroyed by the Taliban regime. As part of the campaign, Weber is visiting each of the 21 sites, which also include the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, Stonehendge and the Acropolis in Athens. Weber visited Egypt earlier this month for three days, but instead of receiving a warm welcome as he had during other stops on his world tour, he got the cold shoulder from Egyptian officials, who would not meet with him, Viering said. Weber tried to hold a press conference at a hotel near the pyramids, which are located on the outskirts of Cairo, but police shut it down, saying it was not authorized, she said.
"They have not allowed us any kind of dialogue," Viering said in a telephone interview from Belgium this weekend. "We think it's about ego, and we don't know why the hostility is there." Egyptian officials also have made statements discounting the contest to local media over the past month. Egypt's Culture Minister Farouk Hosni called the competition "nonsense," saying it was "meaningless to vote on the pyramids" because they are the most important and most ancient wonder. The contest is "an attempt to seek celebrity and their efforts to meet Egyptian officials to give the contest significance won't take place. They have to understand the archaeological and the historical stature of the pyramids," MENA quoted Hosni as saying. The reception in Egypt was a stark contrast to the one Weber received in Jordan on Jan. 16 at that country's ancient city of Petra, also one of the 21 candidates. During his visit, a ceremony was held to declare Petra a contender, with Weber presenting Jordan's Queen Rania with the site's official candidacy at the event. Though the reception at other tour stops, including the Eiffel Tower and Moscow's Kremlin, was more subdued, Weber appears to also have been warmly greeted with ceremonies at other sites including the Taj Mahal in India, Angkor in Cambodia and the Kiyomizu Temple in Japan, according to his blog on the campaign's Web site. But the cool reception from Egyptian officials may not hurt the pyramid's chances of making it on the new list. With more than 24 million votes so far, Viering said the more than 4,000-year-old tombs are in the top seven. "We know that people all around the world want the pyramids as part of this as do people in Egypt," Viering said. "I think this controversy is a bump in the road, and I hope they will get over it."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

No Tailgating at the Super Bowl?

I cannot believe this. No tailgating at the Super Bowl? Fans are paying big bucks to see this game and tailgating is a huge part of the whole experience. What a bunch of party poopers! The city of Miami should be ashamed. I hope they never get to host another Super Bowl ever again. I’ve been to Florida. It’s uncomfortably humid and they have mosquitoes there that are so big they eat cats! Shame on you, Miami! And shame on the NFL for letting it happen. I’ll be having a much better time watching the game on TV with my buddy Meathead, enjoying some great cuisine and saving the $300-$400 ticket price in the process!
I saw this on AOL:
If you didn't already realize that the NFL shuns the real fans at the Super Bowl in favor of the corporate suits, here's all you need to know: Tailgating is banned at Dolphin Stadium.
"The parking lot and traffic flow will look a lot different than it will during normal season games," [NFL spokesman Brian] McCarthy said. "We're going to have a security perimeter so we can screen people coming in." Among the items banned: containers of any type, coolers of any size, backpacks, bottles, banners, noisemakers and horns."We'll have security people out in the parking lots," McCarthy said. "If they see something that's obtrusive to other fans, they'll say you should put that back in your truck."
To an extent, I can understand this -- the Super Bowl is a different event and different security rules make sense. But it really grinds my gears that the NFL makes all its money all year off the kinds of people who show up at games early with brats and beer, and then in the biggest game of the year, it turns its back on those people.

Friday, January 26, 2007

2007 NFL Rookie Report

Now that their seasons are over and we can reflect on what they’ve done, I think we can all agree that last year’s Big Three draft picks– Reggie Bush, Vince Young and Matt Leinart – really stepped up this season and emerged as top-tier rookies in the NFL. All of them came along with huge expectations, but as anyone with any knowledge of the concept of potential vs. reality can tell you, just because you did well playing college football doesn’t mean you’ll make it in the NFL. As former coach Jerry Glanville once said, the NFL stands for “Not for long” if you can’t adapt to the speed and fierce competition of the Greatest Show on Turf. Just ask guys like Ryan Leaf, Brian Bosworth, Lawrence Phillips, and Andre Ware, just to name a few. First there’s Reggie Bush, the player that the Houston Texans didn’t covet. Not only has Bush brought a new excitement to the New Orleans Saints and help take them deep into the playoffs – he’s also done everything he could to embrace a city that really needs him. He’s selflessly donated his time and money to help the state that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. He gave a local high school a new football field, and has tirelessly made himself available to help the city heal. If his performances against the 49ers and the Cowboys over the past couple weeks are any indication of what Bush is capable of doing in this league -- well, we’re in for a lot of exciting moments. Vince Young, who many NFL teams passed on, has also come into his own, taking the Tennessee Titans on his back and carrying them through a modest winning streak. A one-man show, Young learned the game more quickly than many people thought he could. The rap on him during last year’s draft was that the man wasn’t that smart. Well, he’s bright enough to win games, and at this level, that’s all that really matters. The man can throw, he can run and he has a football instinct you can’t teach. With the Titans’ recent winning binge, he may have also saved Head Coach Jeff Fisher’s job. Leinart couldn’t save Dennis Green’s job as coach of the Cardinals, but he sure is on his way to making a name for himself in Arizona. It’s “I told you so” time for all the teams who passed on him. Leinart is a prototype QB with all the skills required to take Arizona to the Promised Land. He makes quick decisions, has learned to read the complex defensive schemes in the NFL, and is improving every quarter. With a new stadium and young talent throughout their roster, the Cardinals are chirping about next year with renewed hope. Bush, Young and Leinart – they should have been selected 1-2-3. They did it for their teams this year, the ones who were smart enough to pick them, while those clubs who passed on this talented and rapidly improving trio are left crying in their beers.

Are There Any Good Contractors Out There? CalFinder Knows!

Why is it that so many people have problems when they hire a contractor? Every time I hear one of my friends mention that they are getting work done on their homes, the next thing that comes out of their mouth is usually negative. That’s why I was pleased to find a great service on the Internet recently that helps people in the Bay Area find the right contractor. It’s called, and if you’re getting any type of construction done, whether it’s a simple renovation, a new addition or a complete restoration, the folks at CalFinder will assist you in locating and hiring a contractor who is honest, reliable and a perfect fit for you and your particular project. By using CalFinder’s project planning section, you can decide how to get estimates from contractors, who to interview and how to make the entire process problem-free and painless. Besides providing you with the right information, CalFinder takes you through the planning and implementation process, and helps you find the right contractor every time.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

House Painting Ideas

In the computerized world where we live today, house painting ideas have never been more precise and high-tech. By using the latest technology and software, or by simply going online, you can get so many different useful ideas you wouldn’t believe it. We’re planning on painting the inside of our house here in SF, and it’s easier than ever to get great house painting ideas.

Printable Greeting Cards Get Personal

Greeting cards are a nice way to say something meaningful and intimate to someone. I found a place online that does printable greeting cards. They’re very cool and you can customize them any way you want. It saves you the time and money of having to go to the store and buy cards --- you just go online and order them and then when you want to send one, you’re able to put a special message on the card that’s geared specifically to the person you’re sending it to. It makes it so mush more personal.

Red Bull & I

Red Bull really helps me out when I need a boost of energy. When I’m up against a deadline that is approaching fast, coffee just doesn’t suffice. Red Bull is effective, it tastes pretty good and doesn’t have any bad after effects. That’s when I drink a can of Red Bull. In my job, there are a lot of times when I need to do a ton of writing and don’t have much time to complete it. That’s when the Bull & I get things done.

This Week's Restaurant Review: Capers in Campbell

Some restaurants just make you feel good. Whenever you go into the kind of place that makes you feel this way, you leave happy and content in the knowledge that you’ve had a great meal at a reasonable price and that the people who run the place have treated you well. There are a lot of pitfalls and obstacles that human beings can run into when dining out. Maybe the chef is having a bad day. Maybe the bartender just lost a big bet. Or maybe the waitress who is serving you is nursing a hangover from the night before. A lot can go wrong when you eat out. And a lot can go right. I have eaten at Capers in Campbell at least two dozen times and I have never had a bad experience, which says a lot, because anyone can have a bad day. Being consistently good is what separates great restaurants from mediocre ones. Capers is one of those restaurants that takes a professional and compassionate approach to its patrons. As soon as you enter the front door and are greeted by Owner Kam Rasavi, you feel good. Kam has been in the business of serving diners for several decades and the man is just a pleasure to be around – always smiling and always interested in making sure that your time in his establishment is enjoyable and that nothing goes wrong. The food at Capers can best be described as casual continental cuisine. From creative seafood entrees and appetizers to hearty meat and poultry selections, Capers has a varied menu that I’ve never tired of delving into. Sure, I have my favorites – like the Carpacio ($9.95), finely pounded filet of beef with capers, chopped onion, garlic-olive oil, mustard-melon aioli and toastettes; or the Blackened Pork Chops ($16.95), two five ounce chops, blackened and topped with a salsa fresca, are a couple items I’ve had more than once. But, by far the one dish that stands out the most at Capers is the Capers Meatloaf ($12.95), homemade with celery, onion mustard, swiss cheese and smoked ham, topped with a wild mushroom demi-glaze sauce. I am a huge meatloaf fan. Maybe that’s why I’m so huge. But, the meatloaf at Caper’s is by far the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s made with grade prime beef, cooked to perfection and oozes juices that I can only describe as sublime. Meatloaf is the ultimate comfort food for me – it reminds me of eating at home when I was ten years old, watching the Ed Sullivan Show with my parents. I wax nostalgic when I sink my teeth into a good meatloaf – and Capers serves the very best there is. I can also recommend the Grilled Marinated Flank Steak ($16.95); the Panko-Crusted Chicken Breast ($13.95); and the Baked Orange Rough Fettucine ($15.95). All are well-prepared, fresh and unforgettable. Capers is in Campbell at 1710 West Campbell Avenue, Their phone number is: (408) 374-5777. Ask for Kam – he’ll make you feel like his number one customer and you’ll find yourself coming back to see him again. Capers is that kind of place.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mark Your Territory

In places where homes are close to one another, which is what you’ll find in many neighborhoods in Northern California, yard markers are very important. They come in many forms and can be decorative or even functional. That way you can designate where your yard starts and your neighbor’s yard starts.

I'm Overwhelmed By My Own Biz Cards!

I work on so many different projects that I need a bunch of different business cards. Getting new ones can be very expensive, so I try to get a lot at once to make them more affordable. By printing them in batches I can save $$! I need one card for my freelance writing, and different ones for my sports writing, blogging, ad sales, food and restaurant review writing, as well as cards for all my web sites and blogs. Whew!

The Quality of HDTV is Getting Better Every Year!

Man, am I getting excited about the new high-definition TV’s that are coming out. The high-def revolution is moving faster than the speed of light, and the images on some of these new sets are incredible. One of the keys to high-quality high-def is using the right cables. My buddy Todd just bought an HDMI cable for his system, which gives him high-definition video in its purest digital form. We watched a basketball game at his house the other night and his picture quality knocked me out, baby!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Will the Yankees Return to Glory?

The New York Yankees are finally playing it smart and are beginning to look like a team that can make another dynasty-type run once again. The main reason for this is General Manager Brian Cashman. George Steinbrenner is no longer using Cashman like a human puppet, and is letting him do his thing and pull the strings himself, and so far it looks like a very wise business decision. Georgie Porgie has a history of moving personnel around like those little pieces in a Monopoly game. The result is that the Bronx Bombers have spent more time in Marvin Gardens than they have on Park Avenue. Last season the Detroit Tigers embarrassed them so badly that the team looked like that poor sap in Monopoly jail. This year the Yanks may just be able to bypass loser’s prison and move back into the expensive winning neighborhoods they frequented in the late 90’s. A big part of their move back to respectability involves staying away from overpriced free agent bidding wars, stockpiling young pitching prospects, leaving their minor league system alone so that it can develop and unloading old, expensive antiques. Planning for the long-term rather than getting players who are overpaid underachievers in order to try and win today is not a formula for success, and Cashman knows it. His moves this year have been just short of brilliant. Getting rid of Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson, Hall of Famers whose best days are long gone, was the right thing to do. Picking up pitchers Andy Pettite, Luis Vizcaino and Kei Igawa should work out well. Unloading questionable arms like Sidney Ponson, Jaret Wright, Tanyon Sturtze, Octavio Dotel, and Jeff Nelson was a timely survival move. And picking up Doug Mientkiewicz, a utility team player who will enhance the squad’s overall chemistry, was pure genius. By staying away from over-hyped free agents like Jason Schmidt, Barry Zito and Carlos Lee, the Yankees have clearly illustrated that they won’t throw money at the first free agent to pop his head out into the open market anymore. By keeping his team’s core intact and letting them play together for more than just one season, the Yanks will be better and tougher to beat than ever. Watch out American League, because the pinstriped boys are playing it smarter and looking at the big picture, rather than running a closeout sale every off season. The end result could be another dynasty in the Big Apple, complete with solid pitching, timely hitting and a team attitude that’s been missing over the last six years.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I've Been Published!!

My story about the horrific experience I had with online dating (recently published on this blog) came out in a book called "Chemistry and Numbers 2: Sexy, Funny, Horrifying, and Yes, Successful Online Dating Stories from more than 50 Online Daters."

To order the book, go to:

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Bush Monkey Boy? American Idol Has Gone Too Far

American Idol is one of those TV shows that I swear I will not watch and then I invariably end up watching it every week. But, after the first two episodes of the new season aired this last week, I just want to say that I think the show has gone too far. People tune in to see Simon Cowell destroy people’s dreams, but when he told that one kid from Seattle that he looked like a bush monkey, that was going too far. Maybe it'as true, but you don't say it to someone's face. I have a neighbor who looks like a collie, but have I told her? Well, not directly. It’s one thing to be brutally honest about someone’s talent, and some of these people are amazingly deluded, but to bash someone’s personal appearance is unkind and uncalled for. Simon is obviously a multi-millionaire, but really what has he done other than be a harsh critic and wear cheap K-Mart t-shirts? If you look at his achievements in the music business, you’ll find that Cowell’s claim to fame came about when he did records with pro wrestlers and the Power Rangers. How can he position himself as a talent expert? It’s a train wreck each week to watch Simon brutally criticize people with dreams of stardom, but when you go after folks about the way they look, it’s cruel and unusual punishment.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

But Will He Lose His Sense of Humor?

Overweight comedy king Jeff Beacher has set himself a 1-year-goal to lose 100 lbs and run in next year's 3rd annual Las Vegas Marathon. His stomach, which looks like a large ass, has bothered him and others to the point where he has decided to get rid of it completely. He's also promised a "NO SEX" rule, with a $200,000 penalty he'll shell out if he fails the challenge. He told Luxe Life: "Since I moved to Vegas three years ago I have gained over 100 lbs." He now weighs in at a dangerous 370 lbs! Beacher added: "I love Vegas, the people, the lifestyle; and they love my stomach that looks like a big hairy butt, but I now know it's time to change. If I don't I will die and lose everything, I will transform myself from Hollywood Slob to Hollywood Heartthrob." Experts say if that is to happen, he’ll actually have to get a face transplant as well. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is backing him in the arduous undertaking. Odds right now at the sportsbook are 15-1 that Beacher will be able to lose the weight. The resort's Rock Spa trainers have created a special food and physical workout routine for him. Bernie Yuman, chairman of the Las Vegas Marathon has even hired him a dietician for proper meals and a running coach with personal trainer. Beacher is the 1st person signed on with the Las Vegas Road Runners club already for its official training program to enter next year's 26.2-mile Marathon. He'll add a motivational psychotherapist if he starts slipping at any point of the 12-month life-change. Beacher begins four days of running and two days of cross training when he returns from the weekend in Miami on Monday. "My lifestyle just hasn't been conducive to good health. Dining out several nights a week on high-calorie, high-fat meals could have been a killer," he said. "I’ve been asked to leave several buffets because I am such a pig. It's going to be a radical change to the way I've lived, but it has to be before it's too late. Most celebrities keep fit with power-workouts. Instead mine was power-eating." He confirmed that he's going to swear-off sex for the year-long battle and is even offering $100,000 to any female who breaks his vow of celibacy with a matching $100,000 to a charity." It's a total test of will power but at the end I'll be able to celebrate two successes! That's the ultimate goal: svelte, slimmed down and very sexy!"

Friday, January 19, 2007

This Week's Restaurant Review: Tiramisu in SF

San Francisco has every kind of restaurant imaginable – the food from every country and culture, no matter how small or obscure, is represented in this town. But, if I had to pick one specific type of restaurant in which this city really excels, it would have to be Italian. For some reason, maybe because there are so many transplanted Italians living here, the City by the Bay has a plethora of Italian places that are, in my opinion, head and shoulders above anything you’ll ever find in any other city in this country, with maybe the exception of New York. One of these gems is a place named Café Tiramisu, a Northern Italian specialty restaurant. Tiramisu looks and tastes delicious in every way – from the fresco murals of Pompeii that adorn the walls, all the way to the outdoor café seating area that looks like something straight out of Italy. Located on a restaurant row, Tiramisu stands out as the best on the block. It’s authentic, painstakingly prepared and family-inspired food featuring recipes that have been handed down through many generations. Pino Spinoso is the head chef, and he creates food that is from the heart. We have been to Café Tiramisu on several occasions, and I’ve never had a bad or even a mediocre experience there. I usually start off my meal at Tiramisu with a salad. All of the offerings are fresh and inventive. The Autumn Roasted Chiogga Salad with Pecans, Fresh Herbs and Gorgonzola ($9); the Shrimp and Crab Tower with a Sherry Vinaigrette ($13); or the Romaine Caesar Salad with Fresh Dungeness with Saffron Sauce and Arugola Salad ($12) are all outstanding. For some memorable appetizers, try the Foie Gras Pan Seared with Whipped Extra Virgin Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes and Summer Truffle Sauce ($16). It’s one of Tiramisu’s signature dishes and you won’t soon forget it. The Smith Ranch Meat Tartar with Celery, Parmesan and Truffle Vinaigrette ($11), and the Blank Ink Scallops with your choice of Three Sauces ($12) is heaven on earth. For entrees, I would suggest the Monk Fish “Ossobuco” with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Cauliflower, and Sardinian Couscous ($19); the Braised Short Ribs with Caramelized Shallots over Horse Radish Mashed Potatoes ($18) and the Crispy Chicken al Mattone, “Cooked Under a Brick” with Roasted Potatoes and Spicy Broccoli ($17). They’re all beyond imagination with flavor. The desserts at Tiramisu are also amazing – I would recommend the Apple Torte with Raisins and Pine Nuts, Vanilla Ice Cream, Calvados and Zabaglione ($7.50) and the Tiramisu ($8 per person for a tasting for two or more), are not just noteworthy, they’re monumentally fantastic. If I’m running out of adjectives trying to tell you how great Tiramisu is, I apologize. Let’s just say there’s a word for this place that hasn’t been invented yet. Go there and come up with your own! Tiramisu is located at 28 Belden Place, between Bush and Pine in SF. Their number is: (415) 421-7044. They’re open for lunch and dinner and reservations are strongly suggested.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

107.9 The End: My Douche Bags of the Month

I am completely upset over the recent news that a woman died from drinking too much water in an on-air contest held at 107.9 The End, a radio station in Sacramento. This tragedy is another example of how radio is the absolute lowest entertainment form on the planet, right down there with mimes and party clowns. I have some friends who are DJ’s and I consider them to be a little higher quality than most of the pabulum serving hacks out there because at least they act like real human beings and not like robotic reading machines. These idiot DJ’s killed this woman in my opinion. How dumb can they be? Haven’t they heard about other people who have died from consuming too much water? First off, it’s a crazy idea from the very start. Why would you ever make it into a contest? Why don’t they just ask people to burn cigarette holes in their arms or eat feces? It’s just inane to begin with. Radio station DJ’s are untalented as a rule. They are unoriginal and will copy each other because it’s all about ratings. They come on with their phony sounding voices and announce things like celebrity birthdays and entertainment gossip and other assorted meaningless drivel. They show up at shopping malls doing stupid promotions and give away things like buttons and cheap-ass t-shirts. I And then they put on these dumb contests, where listeners will scramble for anything free. They think they are giving folks their 15 seconds of fame, but it’s basically pathetic. The DJ’s for 107.9 The End should be fired and taken off the air forever. Spare all of us this type of idiocy and keep them away from the public. I happily make them my douche bags of the month!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Best Diets Pills are the Ones that Really Work and Don't Contain Harmful Things

I am attempting to lose roughly 30 lbs. but I can’t stop eating! I love food too much. That’s why I’m going to try out what I’ve been told are the Best Diet Pills on the market. I just ordered 2 kinds: Metabo Speed XXX and Hoodia 750. Both are completely natural and are highly rated. Wish me luck!

Metabolism Boosters are a Weight Loss Option

One way of losing weight quickly is by using a Metabolism Booster. They help you burn food faster and thereby you shed pounds. My good friend Timmy “Tiny” Lardner has been using them and lost a bunch of weight last year. I’m going to be looking into the possibility of using one, and I’ll let all of you know how it works!

The Magic Kingdom in Florida

I’ve been to Disneyland at least 15 times in my life, but I’ve always wanted to go to Disney World. That’s why I’m trying to learn more about Orlando vacations. With Epcot Center and all of the incredible resorts surrounding the entire area, I think Orlando would be a great place to visit. There’s just so much going on there.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

NFL Championship Predictions

New Orleans: 31 Chicago: 17
Indianapolis: 21 New England: 20

Monday, January 15, 2007

My Golden Globe Predictions

I like the Golden Globes a lot more than the Oscars. They are just a little more laid back and a lot more fun. Here are my predictions for this year's winners in the major categories:

Best Film, Drama: Babel

Best Film, Comedy/Musical: Little Miss Sunshine

Best Actor, Drama: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Best Actress, Drama: Helen Mirren, The Queen

Best Actor, Comedy/Musical: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat

Best Actress, Comedy/Musical: Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada

Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Departed

Saturday, January 13, 2007

All-You-Can Eat Baseball Seats? I'm in Dodger Blue Heaven!

I read the other day where the LA Dodgers are going to be offering $40 all-you-can-eat seats in a special section of the right-field pavilion at Dodger Stadium. 3,000 fans will have the pleasure of consuming as many hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos and sodas that their bellies can hold. Beer, ice cream and candy will not be included in the deal, most likely so that drunks and diabetics won’t kill themselves in a free-for-all eating/drinking frenzy.

Personally, I am in heaven. I know that I’ll be one of the first fans to try and turn it into an eating contest. Eating contests are something I know a little about. When I was in college I ate 24 plate-sized pancakes in 30 minutes, a fraternity record that still exists at San Jose State to this day as far as I know. Another time on a dare I ate 68 pieces of sushi. (Not sashimi but nigiri – the kind with the rice, which is much tougher to eat a lot of.) The mistake I made with that feat of gluttony happened when I drank a lot of water with the sushi, causing the rice in my stomach to expand. They had to carry me out of the restaurant and I was sick for three days.

Then, of course, there’s the classic thing we do at baseball games called a “Babe Ruth.” This is where you eat one hot dog every inning. If the game goes into extra innings, you’re in big trouble. I know some guys back in New York who actually eat one dog every half inning, but that’s insane!In my younger days I could consume a lot of food and actually got ejected from a couple of those all-you-can-eat buffets. At one time I actually weighed 355 lbs! Man, was I fat! Now I’m down to around 270 and dropping fast, thanks to eating more sensibly with the help of my wonderful fiancée Angelina. The difference between her and I is that we both love food, but it’s just not as big a priority in her life. Plus, she can go without eating meat, which I find difficult. I still eat well nowadays, and I get to have the occasional burger or steak every now and then, it’s just that now it’s a special occasion and not an everyday thing

One person could shut down the Dodger’s decision to provide all-you-can-eat seats and his name is Takeru Kobayashi. Kobyashi is a champion eater and an amazing consumption machine. He doesn’t look like a big eater – He’s a little guy who’s skinny as a rail. But, man can he pack it in. Joey Chestnut from San Jose Calif. is a great eater too, but he will always be in Kobayashi’s shadow as long as Takeru is in the speed eating game. Kind of like when Steve Young was backing up Joe Montana. Young never became a star in the NFL until Montana left the 49ers. Then, he cashed in.

The Dodgers are entering a new era of MLB baseball gluttony. And, I for one, love it! Bring on the hot dogs, baby! And keep ‘em coming!

Re-finding Religion

Lately I’ve been gravitating back to my Catholic roots. One of the first things I did was buy a Catholic bible. Then, I started going to mass again. When I get stressed out or have problems understanding this crazy world, I pick up the bible and read it. I can see why they call it the best book ever written.

We Might Just Do It On the Sea!

Angelina and I are thinking about getting married on one of these yacht charters. We both love the ocean and I think it would be a blast to get hitched on the sea. Some of the yachts that you can rent are amazing and the prices aren’t outrageous. We don’t have a date set yet, we’re thinking maybe next summer. But, when we do tie the knot, why not do it on a luxury yacht?

Hats off to a Quality Company

My company had to get some power supply repair done and I just want to say that ACS Industrial did a great job. It’s always a pleasure doing business with people that are customer service oriented. These guys were thorough, super professional and really great. They do high voltage, low voltage, linear power, switching power and regulated power supply repair and they’re the best in my book.

Paternity Tests Never Lie

Maury Povich has made a living out of doing the Paternity Test thing on his show. At first, he’d do a once a week, but now it seems like that’s the entire theme of every show. He should change the name of the show to “You ARE the father!” It’s so sad and funny to see these young couples messing up their lives so early in life by having kids they have no business having. I love it when the guys are cornered and then try to deny the results of the test. Those things are uncannily accurate, so it’s futile.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Loft Beds are a sleeping solution

When I was a kid, they called it a bunkbed, but now it's known as a loft bed, and they’re not just for children anymore. Since I am notorious for snoring, Angelina has been sleeping upstairs a lot, and I’m thinking that getting a loft bed might be the solution. They have so many cool designs and configurations nowadays, and the prices are reasonable, so maybe that’s the way we’ll go. Then, we have a major decision to make – who will get the bottom bunk?

When Will the Next Big One Hit? And Who Will Be Prepared?

Here in earthquake country, emergency supplies are a big deal. We’ve had two huge earthquakes in San Francisco, one in 1906 and one in 1989, so you never know when the next big shakeup is just around the corner. That’s why Angelina and I are buying an emergency preparedness kit, complete with battery-free lights, vacuum packed food and water and first aid kits. That why while SF falls down all around us, we’ll be safe!

An affordable place to live

With real estate prices through the roof here in Northern California, Angelina and I are looking for a place to live where we might be able to afford a home. One of our friends told us recently about Ellijay real estate and it sounds like a great place to live. It’s in the hills of Georgia and features log cabins nestled amongst gentle green mountains, with sparkling creeks, a moderate climate, full of natural beauty, clean air and low stress living. Sounds like the antithesis of busy, bustling, expensive San Francisco. And best of all, the homes there are affordable!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

This Week's Restaurant Review: Cafe Zoetrope in SF

Café Zoetrope is owned by the legendary film director and winemaker Francis Ford Coppola, who made films like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s named after his famous production company and is located in the majestic Sentinel Building in the heart of San Francisco’s North Beach. Like an entertaining movie, this place has an opening, a plot and a fulfilling conclusion, all of which will send you home saying “Bravo! Bravo!” Café Zoetrope pulls you in with its warm and inviting décor, wows you with professional and attentive service, and then satisfies you with its fine Italian cuisine. It’s a delightful little European style café with a great menu and an extensive selection of Italian and California wines. Memorabilia from Coppola’s films adorn the walls of Café Zoetrope, including the pieces of cotton Marlon Brando stuffed in his mouth when he mumbled his lines as Don Corleone in The Godfather (just kidding). Café Zoetrope offers dining both inside and out, with heated sidewalks, which enable patrons to eat in the night air of San Francisco, regardless of how cold or foggy it may be. The menu at Café Zoetrope is varied and fun – from hearty pastas to creative appetizers and small dishes – all the way to great pizzas and calzones. We have been there several times and tried numerous items, but the Spaghetti alla Putanesca ($11.00) always stands out. It’s a wonderful combination of fresh homemade pasta, tomato sauce with olives, capers and garlic. Another pasta dish of note at Café Zoetrope is the Linguine alle Vongole ($14.50), with fresh clams, white wine, parsley and red pepper flakes. This is not your standard spaghetti with canned clam sauce, which is what you’ll find throughout North Beach. Café Zoetrope’s version of this traditional dish is exquisite, with fresh ingredients and a pasta that’s perfectly al dente and to die for. If you like things like Broccoli Rabe ($4.25), sautéed in olive oil, garlic and shallots; Sauteed Crimini Mushrooms ($4.75); and Radicchio ($7.00), consisting of treviso radicchio, with an orange and balsamic dressing, then this place will knock your socks off with its simple and elegant approach to just about everything on the menu. The pizzas at Café Zoetrope are also outstanding – from the basic Pizza Marinara ($9.00) to the Pizza Quattro Stagioni ($12.50) with fresh tomatoes, ham, olives mushrooms and basil, you can’t go wrong with these amazing pies – people who know pizza will love these marvelous creations. There’s nothing too fancy here, but everything I’ve tried has been excellent. Café Zoetrope is located at 916 Kearny Street in San Francisco, and is open every day for lunch and dinner. Their phone number is: (415) 291-1700.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Painting an Old House

Angelina and I are seriously thinking about painting the interior of our house here in San Francisco. The paint is chipping in a bunch of rooms, and the kitchen ceiling actually collapsed on my head the other day. (ouch!) I found a great web site for picking paint colors, and it’s been really helpful. They have a bunch of pallets for you to choose from and they show you how it will look on your walls. Picking the colors for this old house (which was built in 1888 and has survived two huge earthquakes) will be a lot of fun. I just hope we can hire a painter to do the actual work!

North Carolina, Here I Come!

I just talked to my cousin who lives in Richmond, Virgina, and he said that next year the entire family is going to spend a week in Outer Banks, North Carolina. I had never heard of the place, so I looked it up on the Web, and the place looks awesome. They have what they call Outer Banks Rentals out there, which are beautiful vacation homes that you can rent at reasonable prices, with swimming pools, stocked kitchens, big bedrooms – some of these places are like estates. We’re going to rent a big one and just relax for a whole week – fishing, swimming and just kicking back! I can’t wait!

Monday, January 08, 2007

My prediction for tonight's BCS Championship Game

I would love to see Ohio State lose, because I always pull for the underdog, but I truly believe that the Buckeyes are the best team in college football this year. I think Florida will be able to score a few points against them, but in the end, Ohio State's offense will just be too much for the Gators to overcome.
(But, in the meantime, GO GATORS!!)

Album Cover Wars

This is an amazing and esceedingly disturbing video clip. Someone who is very demented and obviously extremely creative put it together. It must have taken countless hours to conceptualize, edit and produce this 2 minute-plus video, and for that reason alone it's worth watching.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Is Romo the New Buckner?

Tony Romo basically blew the game for the Cowboys yesterday and their season ended. I'm not saying it was as dramatic or heartbreaking as what Bill Buckner did, but it's right up there. Sure, maybe the Seahawks could have come back and won it, but the fact remains -- this guy choked and will be known as Mr. Bobble for the rest of his life. How he handles it will be the defining factor. Life throws us curves and if we can hit them, we win. If we can't -- we strike out!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The NFC Wild Card Playoffs

Some NFL teams waltz into the postseason, while others sneak through by the skin of their teeth. The two dominate teams in each conference get to watch the playoffs on TV this week, but everybody else in this exclusive tournament is playing today and tomorrow. The Bears, Saints, Chargers and Ravens are the luckiest ones, but the way things went in the NFL this season, I think every team should just feel grateful to be there. Yesterday I did my AFC Wild Card Weekend selections, so today it’s the NFC.


Dallas at Seattle

Both these teams are lucky to be in the playoffs and should be thankful that they’re playing each other. The Seahawks are by far the weakest team in the postseason, in my opinion. They have the talent, there’s no denying that. And the team’s core offensive players – QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Shaun Alexander and WR Darrell Jackson – are all healthy, although Jackson continues to be bothered by a turf toe. But, if they are going to win, the Seahawks will have to pass the ball and take advantage of the Cowboys’ suspect defensive backs. Dallas has surrendered 14 TD passes within the last month, so they can be defeated in the air. The Cowboys, once seemingly a lock to win the NFC East title, limped into the postseason and will have to do just about everything right to win this one. QB Tony Romo has looked terrible since the New Orleans debacle, but I believe that RB’s Julius Jones and Mrion Barber, along with WR’s Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn and Patrick Crayton will generate enough offense to upset the hapless Seahawks.

New York at Philadelphia

This will be the most entertaining of the four Wild Card matchups this weekend, in my opinion. Philly QB Jeff Garcia saved the day and the Eagles’ season when Donovan McNabb was injured, and the Eagles have soared since. There’s no team with more momentum, which is huge during the playoffs. With RB Brian Westbrook and TE L.J. Smith to complement Garcia, this team is poised to make a run. Conversely, the Giants are a team in disarray, but because they’re so talented and just grateful to be in the playoffs, I think they’re going to give the Eagles a tough game. NY QB Eli Manning shows moments of brilliance, and RB Tiki Barber is going to be playing like it’s the last game of his career (which it could be.) I like Philly in this one, but only because they’re at home and have the better defense.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Let's Do the Wild Card Thing: The AFC

Once again, it’s Wild Card Weekend, when the pretenders and the contenders begin the NFL playoffs with hopes, dreams, and in many cases, unrealistic expectations. Some teams belong here, some do not, and after this weekend, half of these organizations will be watching the rest of the proceedings on TV, just like the rest of us. Even though I have proven to be terrible at picking winners, I will try once more to shed a little light on what I believe will happen this weekend. Today I’ll do the AFC and tomorrow the NFC.


Kansas City at Indianapolis

The Chiefs got an enormous break when the Denver Broncos pulled one of the biggest choke jobs in NFL history by losing at home to the SF 49ers, and now they are on their way to Indy to play a team that everyone has been able to run on at will. This bodes well for the Chiefs, because they have Larry Johnson, a big punishing RB who can ramble and is highly durable (416 rushes this year). The burden will be on Johnson, because KC cannot throw the ball. KC QB Trent Green has struggled since returning to the lineup after a concussion sidelined him mid-season, and his head obviously hasn’t cleared, because he’s throwing the ball as though he’s wearing fogged up glasses. Indy, on the other hand, is playing fairly good football, even though their defense gives up an average of 173 rushing yards per game. The Colts offense is clicking, however, and they will be tough to beat at home. After watching this one, you’ll be asking yourself, “Whatever happened to defense?”

NY Jets at New England

The Jets surprised a lot of people this year and their head coach Eric Mangini has done a great job getting them into the playoffs. Their offense relies on short quick passes by QB Chad Pennington (average 10.2 per pass), and that just might work against a Bill Belichek defense. Pennington is a quick study and a smart field general, so if they have a shot, he’s the man that can get them there. On defense, the Jets have trouble stopping the run, which means Pats RB Corey Dillon could dominate. New England always seems to take it to another level around playoff time. QB Tom Brady is a master in the big ones, but this year the team has lacked something. Not having a big-play receiver could haunt the Pats in this one, so the pressure will be on Reche Caldwell. They say defense wins the important games, and New England has the superior defense in this matchup, so I like the Patriots.

(This posting gave me a great opportunity to display a photo of the New England Patriots cheerleaders -- some of the very best in the business!)(See above)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

This Week's Restaurant Review: Amarena in SF

Amarena is a classy little Italian joint nestled in the pristine neighborhood of San Francisco’s Cow Hollow/Marina District. It’s not in a commercial zone, which makes it nice. I get tired of restaurant rows. It’s nice to have a choice, but a large grouping of nothing but eating establishments usually means one of two things: 1.) They’re all going to be mediocre or 2.) They’re all going to be really pricey. Things like competition and complacency all have opportunities to rear their ugly heads when you put a bunch of restaurants in one location. Amarena is just the opposite. When you get there, it’s a pleasant surprise. Imagine a fine dining establishment right next door to your house. One of the drawbacks is that finding parking is literally impossible. We had to drive around the block at least a dozen times before we got lucky and found a spot. By the time my fiancée and I walked through the door at Amarena, we were hungry and starting to get on each other’s nerves. Searching for a place to park for 20 minutes will do that to you. But, once we sat down and had a glass of Chianti, we felt just fine. Amarena has tall ceilings, is decorated in warm colors, and the tables aren’t situated too close together, another one of my pet peeves. I had read in Zagat’s that the cute waitresses at Amarena are renowned for flirting with the male patrons. I was all set to flirt, so imagine my surprise and displeasure when we were waited on by the owner, who is male! And then to add insult to injury, he commenced to flirt all evening with my fiancée. Oh, well – at least the food was good. To kick things off, we had a wonderful salad called Arancio & Finocchio. It was a very simple assemblage of mixed greens, fennel, tiny pieces of orange and olives, lightly dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I like my salads this way – basic and not too busy. Some restaurants, for some reason, feel like they have to throw every type of produce into a salad to make it interesting, when in actuality simplicity is the key. Next, we tried some of Amarena’s small dishes, including the Calamari Ripieni, which is baked calamari filled with sautéed Dungeness crab and shrimp, and then finished with a white wine sauce; and Carciofe e Granchio, a baked artichoke heart fillet with crab in an Argula sauce. Both were superb! We then ventured on to try a couple of the main dishes. First, there was the Sugo di Agnello, which consisted of homemade potato dumplings (aka gnocchi) with an awe-inspiring Bolognese sauce, and Spaghetti and Meatballs. Both were hearty and made with fresh ingredients, but the one thing that stood out the most was the meatballs. They were slightly crusty on the outside, but tender and succulent on the inside. A lot of places overcook meatballs and they come out like something just a little rarer than beef jerky, but these were some of the best I’ve ever had. If I were to say anything disparaging about Amarena, it would be that the dessert menu was unimpressive and predictable. Gelato and biscotti are “been there, done that” items, and I was hoping something a little more innovative. All in all, however, Amarena was a joy and I will surely go back when given the opportunity. Amarena is at 2162 Larkin Street (Larkin & Green) and the phone number is: (415) 447-0441.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dodger/Giant Rivalry on for 2007!

Since 1969, the year my family moved to L.A. from New York, I have personally witnessed one of the most intense sports rivalries in team sports – between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. This rivalry is so special because it’s so old, with great tradition and history behind it. This hate-hate relationship can be traced all the way back to the early 1900’s, when the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers (originally the Robins) fought and scrapped throughout many seasons. Names like John McGraw, Zack Wheat, Christy Mathewson, Mel Ott, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Sal Maglie, Gil Hodges, Don Newcombe, Monte Irvin, Bobby Thomson and Duke Snider come to mind when you think about those days. When both teams moved to the West Coast in the late 1950’s the LA/SF rivalry became even more vicious, distinguished in the 60’s and 70’s by huge fights, both on the field and in the stands. When Giant pitcher Juan Marichal clubbed LA Catcher Johnny Roseboro over the head with a bat in 1965, the rivalry reached its apex. Let’s just say that there’s no love lost between these two teams. In 1977, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, but I never gave up my allegiance to the Dodgers. I went to a ton of SF/LA games at windy, uncomfortable Candlestick Park for roughly three decades. After a while, I stopped wearing my Dodger stuff, because doing so meant taking an enormous amount of abuse. Giant fans would throw ice and other objects at me, and one time a guy even urinated on me in the bathroom, for which he received quite a beating. There were frequent fights and Candlestick was one big drunken brawl at times. Over the years, I learned to really despise the Giants and their fans, and I still do. That’s why this off season has been so entertaining. When the Dodgers hired Ned Coletti away from the Giants in 2005, I never imagined that he would be such a fantastic GM. The man is a real wheeler dealer and really seems to know his way around the free agent world of baseball. Last year he picked up players like Nomar Garciaparra, Greg Maddux, Wilson Betemit and Julio Lugo. He also traded for young talent like Andre Ethier. At the same time, the Dodgers farm system began producing with top prospects like Russell Martin, James Loney and Chad Billingsley. In the meantime, the Giants team that looked so promising a couple of years ago when they got into the World Series (and choked to the Angels), was rapidly getting old. Once a solid squad, the team started to look like a senior care facility, with names like Steve Finley, Ray Durham, Omar Vizquel and other assorted old timers. But, after this off season, I have to believe that the LA/SF rivalry will be as exciting to watch as ever. The Dodgers have some new players that should help their club tremendously, guys like Jason Schmidt (who they stole from the Giants), Randy Wolf, Juan Pierre and Luis Gonzalez. The Giants picked up guys like Ryan Klesko, Bengie Molina, Rich Aurilia and Dave Roberts, but the big catch was undoubtedly Barry Zito, who they signed to an incredible 7-year, $126 million contract -- the largest ever for a pitcher in the history of major league baseball. Now I can’t wait for the baseball season to start. April cannot get here soon enough. It should be another interesting chapter in one of the longest and most intense rivalries in sports – and you can bet I’ll be there to watch every single minute of it!