Archive for April, 2008

Sox Get Swept

April 30, 2008

On Sunday, my bebe and I went to Tampa to see his beloved Red Sox. Unfortunately, they got their asses kicked by the Rays. I know he wanted to see them win, especially since this was his birthday present. :( I think we both just enjoyed being there anyway. One of his high school buddies and his wife happened to be in the area for a wedding, so we met up with them at the game, which was awesome. Plus our seats were in the 2nd row between the Red Sox dugout and the bullpen, so players were constantly walking by or even stopping to interact with fans. Before the game started, Beckett walked right past us. I wasn’t paying attention, so I had to scramble to get the camera ready to take photos. I managed to get a few, though. And he is definitely hot in person. He’s very TALL! I happen to dig tall dudes! :p

Before I post any pics, let me apologize for the annoying text on the photo. These images are posted in other photo galleries of mine on the internet, and I have learned from experience that if I don’t do this my photos will end up all over the place with no credit to me. I don’t claim to be a professional photographer, but I still don’t want my images stolen. I also didn’t really want to put my blog on there, but I wasn’t sure what else to put! LOL! :)

Me and bebe before the game (I had a good buzz at this point):
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End of the game with Tropicana Field in the background:
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Josh Beckett just a few feet away from me:
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Beckett in action:
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Jason Varitek:
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Manny Ramirez:
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Coco Crisp:
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Jed Lowrie:
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Hideki Okajima:
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Jonathan Papelbon:
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…running back Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois!

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I am surprised but also not surprised about our pick. I’m surprised because we had other needs that were a priority. But I guess there are really two strategies to draft selection… you can either make picks based on your need or you can select the best available player. Apparently we went with the latter.

The Steelers had to have put offensive linemen on the top of their list, but it became obvious in the first round that teams were desperate to pick offensive tackles. People thought we were going to get Otah (just because he was from Pitt??), and after he was selected by Carolina, Atlanta traded to pick up another offensive tackle, so by the time it got to us 6 OTs had been selected already. That’s the bad news. The good news is that all those teams choosing OTs meant that Mendenhall dropped lower than expected. I think he was a good pick. RB wasn’t a priority position for us to fill, but hey, part of the excitement in the draft is that you never know what players are going to be available. Why not pick up a good RB if he falls to you?

The Steelers organization already seems to be responding to fans who are surprised (and some even pissed) about the picks. In a story on the home page, they state that “Helping your franchise quarterback can be accomplished in ways other than picking an offensive lineman on the first day of the NFL Draft.” All night long, I have talked to people and read postings about the disappointment that we didn’t use our picks to surround Ben with people who can protect him. The Steelers point out that “Two reasons why quarterbacks take too many hits are the lack of a potent running game and too much time spent holding onto the ball while waiting for receivers to come open.” Good point. I hadn’t thought of their picks being so strategic.

In analyzing our picks, I was initially just shocked that we picked a running back. Happy, because it is my favorite position, but still just thrown off by the decision. We were lacking a good running back to complement Willie Parker. Ever since Bettis retired, we have been missing someone who can guarantee us needed yards on short yardage plays. After seeing Davis play in the HOF game, I was so excited. Was this going to be our Bettis replacement??? I was so disappointed this season that he didn’t shine the way he did in the HOF game. And Davenport can be good, but he’s not consistent. Plus who the hell knows when his baby mama drama is going to get his ass cut from the team!

From what I have read about him, Mendenhall sounds like a versatile player who isn’t afraid of getting hit and can get inside and make plays even when there isn’t much room to work with. It will be a nice contrast with Parker, who is fast as hell when he gets the chance. Let’s face it, everyone expects Parker to carry the ball and he’s easy to take down. Or he runs all over the field trying to find a hole on the outside. This kid can run inside, break tackles, but he’s also quick to see if there is an opportunity outside to make a play. Plus, he’s FAST! Check out this video of Mendenhall to see what I mean:

Here’s a confirmation. I just read this on Steelers.com, quoted from Coach Tomlin:
“First and foremost, he’s a quality human being,” said Coach Mike Tomlin about Mendenhall. “We were thoroughly impressed with him while getting to know him through the interview process. A very humble, blue-collar worker. Those type of individuals don’t have any problem fitting in. In terms of what he brings to the table – he’s a complete back. He can run inside, he can run outside. He’s a powerful runner. He’s elusive, and of course he has the speed to go the distance. It shouldn’t be too difficult finding ways that he can contribute to this football team.”

For our second pick, we selected wide receiver Limas Sweed from Texas. At 6′ 3″, he is the answer to Big Ben’s “tall receiver” prayers. In a conference call with Sweed, he was asked whether he fit the bill for the height that Roethlisberger was looking for. His response? “Without a doubt. There was a lot of people saying that he was looking for a big receiver and now he has one.”

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In an interview with Steelers wide receiver coach Randy Fichtner, he confirms that the Steelers went after the players who they ranked as the best available. “We were going to take the best available player, and it just so happened that Limas was in that pool… Everyone was sitting there saying that we couldn’t understand why Limas was still out there” (Steelers.com).

To see why Limas is so impressive, check out these highlights of him in action:

Would love to write more, but I have to get up really early tomorrow and head to Tampa for the Rays vs Red Sox. Until then, I will dream about seeing hottie Beckett in person. He is listed as the pitcher, so cross your fingers! Sigh! What a cutie!

So I’m on myspace and I see that “Tom” has posted a new video (myspacers all know who Tom is). I don’t usually pay attention to any crap that Tom posts, but this one had me curious. I click on the video and I’m just cracking up. Matt asks what I’m listening to and I start over again.

I am so impressed by this baby. :) Hope you enjoy the video!

korean baby singing hey jude

We finally got to see Sir Elton last night after he had to reschedule his Tallahassee performance last month due to illness. I was irritated and tired by the time we arrived at the Tall-Leon County Civic Center (horrible, horrible venue plus an almost 3 hour drive on a weeknight) but it was still just amazing to see the Rocket Man perform live. I was further frustrated that nearly everyone had a CAMERA and all I had was my crappy camera phone. : ( And I don’t mean just a little, discreet hide it in your pocket camera. Some people had surprisingly large zoom lenses on their cameras for a concert that banned cameras. I didn’t see anyone have their camera taken away either. Also, Elton signed autographs (LOTS of them). That was pretty amazing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a performer sign autographs, and certainly no one of Elton John’s status.

I managed to find some video on You Tube (thank you fans who had real cameras) and I have a few of my pathetic camera phone shots. Haha! Sadly, we ended up really close during his encore and these are the best we could get. We were so close. Ugh!!! Why didn’t I try to sneak a camera in! I am such a chicken shit!

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Babe-o-licious Beckett!!

April 21, 2008

This Sunday, Matt and I will be heading to Tampa to see the Red Sox take on the Rays. Matt loves the Red Sox and this is his early birthday present (isn’t he so good to himself?). LOL! I am not much of a baseball fan but I enjoy going to any sporting events (bring on the beer!). I have to say that watching Red Sox games with Matt is pretty fun, especially when mega hottie Josh Beckett is pitching (which he should be on Sunday).

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I already told Matt I was going to go in Pirates gear. He argued that he wears Steelers stuff for me, but I would just feel like a sell-out if I wore Red Sox gear. While I’m not much of a baseball fan, I did grow up watching the Pirates.

As soon as Matt said Beckett should be pitching, my enthusiasm about getting tickets soared. We will be in row C near third base, so all Matt will have to do is keep me from running onto the field and into Beckett’s arms! Hahahaha! Hopefully we will be able to get there early to watch them practice. I’ll be sure to post pics when we get back!

He’s dreamy, isn’t he? Cute with a hint of bad boy!

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A Farewell

April 20, 2008

Matt witnessed this ceremony the other day and shared the news story with me. I don’t think we talk enough about what is happening with our service men and women. It’s easy to take things for granted that our happening “over there,” but it’s impossible to ignore when the truth is brought home like this.

The Florida Times-Union

April 16, 2008

A city salutes for a soldier

By Jim Schoettler,
The Times-Union

As the motorcade carrying the remains of Jeremiah Hughes drove down Yorktown Avenue, hundreds of Navy personnel lined the main drag of Jacksonville Naval Air Station to pay their respects.
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Among those who stood at attention Tuesday was a weeping Wade Martin, who said he could only imagine the grief being suffered by the Army specialist’s family. In the procession were Hughes’ parents, two brothers on leave from their Army posts and his wife.

“My son-in-law just came back from Iraq with the Marines. It could have been him,” said Martin, 51, a munitions specialist. “It’s just sad.”

The circumstances surrounding Hughes’ death on April 9 in Iraq remain a mystery. The U.S. Department of Defense said that Hughes, 26, of Jacksonville, died of injuries suffered in an incident that wasn’t combat-related. Officials have offered no other details, and his family has declined interview requests.

The solemn ceremony returning Hughes’ body began shortly after 3 p.m., when a small private jet touched down on a windswept runway as the sun peeked through a mostly cloudy afternoon.

The family stood about 20 yards from the jet as the coffin was lowered into the hands of an Army honor guard, which slowly carried it into a hearse. Nearby, more than a dozen flags held by the Patriot Guard Riders whipped in a stiff southerly breeze. The procession included more than 30 members of the national group of veterans and civilians who welcome home living and fallen soldiers.

Sailors in dress whites lined the tarmac as the procession made its way out, headed by a contingent of police motorcycles from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Those along the route saluted or covered their hearts.

Hughes’ body was taken to a Jacksonville Beach funeral home. A private service will be held this week.

The 1999 Sandalwood High School graduate was assigned to an infantry division based in Hawaii and was on his second tour of Iraq, a family friend said. His father and mother were formerly in the Army. One of his brothers returned from Iraq for the funeral, while the other came home from a post in Japan, said Maj. Patricia Pitts, the family’s casualty assistance officer.

Hughes’ parents live on the Southside across from Sandalwood.

About 40 service members who either lived or were based in Jacksonville have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since the war on terrorism began, said Dan McCarthy, the city’s military liaison. McCarthy said he was impressed with Tuesday’s turnout welcoming Hughes home.

“I’m proud that our city understands that when we send our men and women to war, if they’ve returned and paid the full sacrifice, then we owe them the greatest respect and honor possible,” McCarthy said.

Among those who watched the plane land was Dave Seamans, who lost a son in Iraq in 2005. Seamans is now president of Florida Fallen Heroes, a group that pays tribute to military personnel who die in conflicts.

Seamans offered his prayers for the Hughes family.

“You feel a sense of loss. You feel a sense loneliness,” he said. “But if your faith is strong, it will carry you through.”

jim.schoettler@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4385

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/041608/met_268783863.shtml.

NOLA X 2

April 17, 2008

More pics from my trip with Steph to New Orleans!

Guitar Heroine

April 14, 2008

For months now, Matt and I have been talking about getting Guitar Hero and we finally bought it this weekend! I think we started really wanting it around the holidays and it was difficult to find, so we just put it off. But we used our Best Buy Rewards (probably from our holiday purchases) plus a $60 prepaid Visa that we got as a rebate from a holiday purchase and used it to buy GHIII. So we bought the game Saturday night and played it until about… uh… 3am! Maybe a little later. It’s soooooooo addictive! And I hit my pinky nail several times on the guitar until I finally cut the nail down. My finger was still swollen the next day. It was well worth it!

It’s challenging, but after 3 days I beat the easy level. I’m not sure I’m ready for medium, but I’m about to give it a shot.

If this game has taught (or reminded) me of one thing, it’s that I’ll never be very good at playing guitar. Yes, I have a real guitar, and it makes a pretty decoration, but my fingers are much too short to ever play it well! LOL!

Here I am concentrating hard (for the record, I do end up getting into some songs and really jam out)
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My first time… not very good!!!
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Matt jamming out
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Hooray for Hollywood

April 7, 2008

The end of my long week of travel took back to the Los Angeles area. I met up with my friend Adriana and her cousin, Judy, plus Judy’s hubby and her friend, Maribel. We went to Universal City Walk, which is way nicer than the one in Orlando. We ended up at the Saddle Ranch, where everything is ridiculously huge. The dinner plates were overwhelming and they had huge margaritas that I didn’t even attempt to drink. It was such a blast. We laughed our asses off at people riding the mechanical bull. Judy and Maribel ended up going on it, and they did really well!

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We stayed there pretty late, and afterward I was looking for a hotel in a semi-safe looking area. There were a lot of people walking around Universal, and I don’t mean just the people who were out partying. I ended up in Burbank because I had a short list of hotels that had some good reviews. One was full and another had pretty much no parking. I finally found a Holiday Inn, which may have been the biggest hotel in Burbank with it’s two towers. I called to see if they had availability, but all they had were suites. Oh joy. I needed a bed for like 6 hours and a hot shower, not a living area, kitchen, and separate bedroom. But it was late and I was tired, so I sucked it up and paid the $200, which actually was not bad considering that the crappy motels in the area charged $150 or more for a regular room. However, I got an eerie feeling about my room and didn’t want to sleep there. I ended up sleeping on the couch with the TV on. It may have been all the old cars that were stored in the parking garage, including hearses like the one below. Anyway, I walked into my room feeling like it was something out of a scary movie or like someone had died there. Freaky!!!

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The next day, I headed out for Hollywood, which wasn’t far at all from the hotel. I was in search of Paramount Studios (which I never made it to) and instead stumbled upon Hollywood Blvd. I park near Grauman’s and proceeded to walk around, checking out the Walk of Fame as I walked along.

The historic Roosevelt Hotel hosted the first Academy Awards in 1929. It is alleged to be haunted by Marilyn Monroe, who frequented the hotel. You can requested the Marilyn Suite if you’re feeling brave, but it will set you back a few thousand… per night!
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Me in front of the famous Grauman Theatre!
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Marilyn’s hand and footprints in front of Grauman.
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The Kodak Theatre, permanent home of the Academy Awards. You may also remember the name from the American Idol finales.
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After having lunch and shopping a little, I finally agreed to go on a tour. This guy had given me the child’s price when I first arrived, so I made sure to go back to him. The tour took us through Hollywood and Beverly Hills and the driver was pretty knowledgeable. He said he had been doing tours in the area for 17 years.

The famous Hollywood sign, which once spelled out “Hollywoodland” to advertise a development in Hollywood Hills.
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View of Griffith Observatory, which you may remember from “Rebel Without A Cause.”
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The Las Palmas Hotel, best known for its role in “Pretty Woman.” This is where Julia Roberts supposedly lived and where Richard Gere pulls up in the white limo at the end.
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We also went through Rodeo Drive, which was nice but did not live up to the hype I expected. You can find most of these stores in other major cities. But anyway, I did take a few pics. So… I can at least say I’ve been there, done that.
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I guess you can say I have a “morbid fascination” with the dearly departed. The most interesting part of the tour was a little bit of history about Hollywood, including places that are allegedly haunted and where people died.

However, I did not expect to pass by Charlton Heston’s Beverly Hills home just hours before he died there. I am not very good luck (was also near the UCLA campus around the time that their NCAA Championship dreams were shattered).
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The Highland Gardens Hotel, formerly the Hollywood Landmark Hotel, is where Janis Joplin died of a drug overdose in 1970.
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The Chateau Marmont on Sunset Blvd., where John Belushi died of a drug overdose from a speedball, a combination of heroin and cocaine. The year was 1982.
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The Viper Room, also on Sunset, is the location where River Phoenix died, also of a drug overdose. He also reportedly died from a speedball overdose, dying on the sidewalk outside of the club on Halloween night, 1993.
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This charmingly perfect house was the site of the brutal murder of actress Lana Turner’s boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato. Stompanato was apparently very abusive, and on the evening of April 4, 1958 Turner’s daughter, 14 year old Cheryl Crane, allegedly came to her mother’s defense and stabbed the man to death (I was there one day after the anniversary). Many question whether a young girl could overpower a former Marine and alleged bodyguard to gangster Mickey Cohen. The world may never know what really happened.
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My last stop before heading to the airport was the Pierce Brother Memorial Park, which is the final resting place of several celebrities:

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The next time I’m in Hollywood, I plan to do the “Dearly Departed Tour” and also visited some of the other area cemetaries. I definitely will also make sure I make it over to the Brentwood home where Marilyn Monroe was found dead from an alleged drug overdose. Such a tragically fascinating place, Hollywood is.

Temecula Wine Country

April 4, 2008

One of my favorite places in Southern California is Temecula. Not only is this amazing location an hour or less from the beach, skiing, San Diego, and Los Angeles, but it also happens to be SoCal wine country! Talk about the perfect place to live! On Friday, I stopped in Temecula for a couple hours on my way back up to the Los Angeles area. I tried to stop by some new wineries this time, though I snapped a couple of quick photos of other places I had been to on my last trip. I ended up bringing home several bottles of wine:

Wiens Family Cellars 2003 Syrah
Stuart Cellars 2005 Callista
Bailey Winery 2006 Sangiovese
Hart Winery 2005 Cabernet Franc

Earlier in the week, I visited Galleano Winery (March 31st blog). There, I picked up a bottle of their 2003 Dos Rancheros Zinfandel and a bottle of Weibel Vineyards Almond Sparkling Wine (also available in the Galleano label as well as the more well-known Wilson Creek Winery label).

Wish I had more time to spend in Temecula, but it was a fun stop. I look forward to going back again (maybe even to live). : )