Friday, October 21, 2016

2006 San Diego Chargers Preview

Maybe Philip Rivers turns out to be the next Johnny Unitas and maybe he doesn’t. All I know is that the San Diego Chargers pulled off one of the dumbest moves in all of football in at least the last decade.

By letting former starting quarterback, Drew Brees, walk via free agency, the Chargers set their franchise back, at least two years, if not more.

The Chargers are still a talented team and should still be a legitimate contender in the AFC – if Rivers plays like a veteran and not the first-year starter that he will be in 2006.

Personally, I think if Rivers can guide this team into the playoffs, it will be an absolute miracle.

Quarterbacks
It’s not that I don’t like Rivers. By all accounts, he’s a fine young man with a big future ahead of him.
However, if he fails as a starting quarterback in the NFL (which is always a possibility with any young quarterback) then the Chargers will have mud all over their faces.

Remember, if the Chargers need to turn to their backup, it will be the much-maligned, A.J. Feeley who will be taking the snaps – and that is about as tenuous it gets when it comes to backup quarterbacks.

Running Backs
Rivers should be thanking his lucky stars that he gets to hand off to the best running back in all of football 25 times a game. Not only that, but Rivers will also have get to dump the ball off to Tomlinson on safe swing patterns at least another five times per game.

Fullback Lorenzo Neal has done a wonderful job as the lead blocker for Tomlinson the past couple of seasons and will be back in his familiar role in 2006. The Chargers also have a great change of pace back in Michael Turner, who, like Tomlinson, is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.

I will say that if the Chargers overwork Tomlinson this season in an effort to ease Rivers into his new role, they will be making a mistake of major proportions.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
It may seem like Keenan McCardell, has been playing for two decades now, but the truth is, all McCardell does is get open and catch passes, despite being 37-years-old.

Eric Parker starts on the other side and is a lot better than most people know. However, the star of the Chargers’ receiving group is undoubtedly tight end Antonio Gates.

Gates is arguably the best tight end in all of football and one that should take some pressure off of Rivers with his presence in the middle of the field as well. Vincent Jackson, Kassim Osgood and Rashaun Woods will fight for the number three spot.

Offensive Line
Although the Chargers have Tomlinson gaining yards seemingly at will, San Diego fired their offensive line coach following the 2005 season and will be looking for more consistency from the unit this season.

Center Nick Hardwick and guards Mike Goff and Kris Dielman are mediocre at best. Marcus McNeill, Roman Oben and right tackle Shane Olivea fill out the rest of this uninspiring unit that had better get their pass-protecting act together quickly for the young Rivers

Defensive Line
Jamal Williams, Igor Olshansky and Luis Castillo may be the three most underrated defensive linemen in the NFL. All three players are above average at their respective positions and form the foundation for the Chargers defense, which is one of the best in the league. I will say that, should any one of this trio go down with an injury, the Chargers could be in trouble up front.

Linebackers
Boy, did the Chargers ever get it right with their selection of Shawne Merriman last season. Merriman is already the Chargers best linebacker, although veterans, Donnie Edwards and Randall Godfrey are still serviceable. Steve Foley and Shaun Phillips are both pass rushing specialists who can get to the quarterback at any time.

Defensive Backs
Starting cornerback, Quentin Jammer, a former fifth overall draft selection, has not lived up to his expectations and Drayton Florence, the team’s other starting corner, is a nickel back at best.

Antonio Cromartie, the Chargers’ first-round draft selection out of Florida State, could challenge Florence for his position while safeties, Marlon McCree, a free-agent from Carolina, and Bhawoh Jue, are also competent defensive backs as well. However, the Chargers will need to force more turnovers from this group in 2006.

Special Teams
Kicker, Nate Kaeding and punter Mike Scifres are both rock steady veterans who have proved they can get the job done.
The elusive Darren Sproles is also a fixture on kickoff returns while Parker handles the punt return duties quite capably.
Coaching
If Marty Schottenheimer doesn’t get the job done this season (which he won’t) and the Chargers take a step back form the past two seasons (which they will) then “Marty Ball” could become a thing of the past in San Diego.

As a matter of fact, I’m going on record right now to say that Schottenheimer had better start packing his bags right now because he is in a no-win situation. If the Chargers fail to make the playoffs this season, Charger fans will be calling for someone’s head – and unfortunately – it’s usually the head coach who gets served up on a platter.

Tags:2006 San Diego Chargers Preview

2006 Summer Festivals in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

There are lots of things to do in the Washington DC Area this summer. The beach is always a popular activity for the entire family, but cultural festivals that celebrate heritage, and arts are always good choices for your family as well.

Latino Fest
Patterson Park
148 S. Linwood Ave.
Baltimore, MD

Beginning on June 24 and Ending June 25, Patterson Park will host the annual Latino Fest. The Latino Fest is a weekend full of Historic Hispanic Arts, Hispanic Cuisine, and live Latin music. Dance lessons and many contests are available as well. On Saturday, the Latino Fest begins at noon and ends at 10pm. On Sunday, the event starts at noon as well, but ends at 9pm.
For more information call: 410-783-5404

Old Dominion Beer Festival
Old Dominion Brewpub
44633 Guilford Drive
Ashburn VA

For the beer drinkers, the Old Dominion Beer Festival is the event for you. There are over 50 breweries that you can sample from. You can listen to live music from the Waco Brothers, Robbie Fulks, and the Iquanas as well. Live music and beer, it doesn’t get much better than that. The event begins on Friday, June 23rd and ends on Sunday, June 25th. Tickets are $12 dollars a day and each sample beer is one dollar. You can visit www.olddominion.com for more details.

Caribbean Carnival
Druid Hill Park
800 Wyman Park Drive
Baltimore, MD

Last year I attended the Caribbean Carnival and parade that was held in Washington, DC. It was one of the best parades I attended. This year the Caribbean Carnival will be in Baltimore Maryland. The Costumes and Trinidad style music is awesome. The event begins on Friday, July 14 from 5pm to 10pm and July 15-16 from noon to 10pm. You can find more information by calling 410-230-2969

25th Annual Artscape
200 Block of Mount Royal Avenue
1200 block of Mount Royal Avenue
Baltimore, MD
Information: 877-225-8466
Price: Free

The Artscape Festival is celebrates the performing, visual, and literary arts. The Artscape Festival is the largest festival of its kind in the Maryland Region. There are dozens of musical performances, dance shows art exhibits, short films, and arts and crafts for the entire family. Special guest such as Teena Marie, and Common will perform at the Artscape festival. The Artscape Festival is free and begins July 21st and ends on July 23rd.
For more information on the event, visit http://www.artscape.org

Comcast Outdoor Film Festival at Strathmore
10701 Rockville Pike
North Bethesda, MD

From August 11th until August 20th, the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival at Strathmore popular movies that are family friendly and enjoyable for all ages. The festival is free and metro accessible. The gates open at 6:30 and the movies begins approximately at 8:30pm every night.
http://ift.tt/1b5BUYV

Here is the 2006 Movie Schedule
Friday, Aug. 11: “King Kong”
Saturday, Aug. 12: “Madagascar”
Sunday, Aug. 13: “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”
Monday, Aug. 14: “Curious George”
Tuesday, Aug. 15: “The Maltese Falcon”
Wednesday, Aug. 16: “Batman Begins”
Thursday, Aug. 17: “Walk the Line”
Friday, Aug. 18: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
Saturday, Aug. 19: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”
Sunday, Aug. 20: “The Princess Bride”

Tags:2006 Summer Festivals in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

2006 San Francisco 49ers Preview

The San Francisco 49ers have nearly turned over their entire roster since head coach Mike Nolan took over last season, but whether that fact translates into more wins for the Niners in 2006 than it did last season, remains to be seen. One thing for sure, I certainly don’t envy Nolan and the task ahead of him. Here is my 2006 preview on the San Francisco 49ers.

Quarterback
All I can say about the San Francisco 49ers is that, they had better pray that No. 1 overall draft pick, quarterback Alex Smith, suddenly transforms into a quarterback that actually has a clue or the Niners will be looking at starting another quarterback search all over again in another year or two – which doesn’t bode well for a young team looking to build from the ground up.
Smith struggled immensely last season in his seven starts, but I have to give him the benefit of the doubt because much of the time, the young man was running for his life.

Smith should benefit immediately from the addition of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who is one of the game’s best offensive coordinators. If Smith can’t succeed – or show improvement this season under Turner’s tutelage, the Niners could be in big trouble.

The 49ers wisely acquired veteran Trent Dilfer in a trade, but this is clearly Smith’s team – and he will be given every chance to succeed over the next couple of seasons.

I will say that if San Francisco fans are expecting Smith to turn into the next Joe Montana – it’s not going to happen.

Running Backs
Frank Gore had an impressive rookie season last year, but is coming off of two shoulder surgeries that required four months of rehabilitation. Gore can be downright explosive at times, but like many of the Niners young players, need to become more consistent. The Niners also have a young man that I believe is as elusive as any back in the league in youngster, Maurice Hicks, who averaged 5.2 yards last season on only 59 rushes. Another young player, fullback Chris Hetherington is now the starter and appears to have a promising future in the league. With no veteran running back, the Niners could be at a loss for leadership. However, if you’re going to go “young” I guess this is how you do it.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
I firmly believe that if recently retired, Hall of Fame bound wide receiver, Jerry Rice, were presently on this team, he would instantly become the Niners best receiver.

Arnaz Battle and Antonio Bryant are both undeniably talented. However, both players have their own respective issues that have kept them from becoming clear-cut No. 1 wide receivers.

San Fran’s best receiver could be first round draft pick, tight end Vernon Davis, who the Niners picked up after Davis wowed every player personnel guy in the league at the NFL combine.

The team’s other tight end, Eric Johnson, is a solid receiver who will also help Smith immensely – if he’s healthy.

Offensive Line
The 49ers offensive line is about as bad as it gets in professional football – and I’m not sure if they’ll be any better in ’06 than they were last season.

San Francisco signed aging veteran, free agent guard, Larry Allen and will also have left tackle Jonas Jennings, back in 2006 after missing 13 games with a shoulder injury.

Another young player, Eric Heitmann, will start at center along with Justin Smiley at right guard and Kwame Harris at right tackle.

All I know is that if this group doesn’t grow up in a hurry, it wouldn’t matter if the Niners had Montana under center, Roger Craig at running back and Rice split out wide.

Defensive Line
Nose tackle Bryant Young and ends, Anthony Adams and Marques Douglas combine to form a line that is solid but certainly not spectacular. Young is aging and Adams and Douglas are limited players. San Francisco had better get some stellar play from their linebackers because this group isn’t going to stop many people up front this year.

Linebackers
Speaking of linebackers, the Niners went out and grabbed the talented Manny Lawson with their second, first round draft pick this year. Brandon Moore, team co-MVP Derek Smith and Jeff Ulbrich, will combine with Lawson to give the Niners a linebacking group that has the potential to be very good. Hopefully, they won’t be asked to do too much because of their weak defensive line.

Defensive Backs
Speaking of weak, San Francisco’s secondary is downright dreadful. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer and strong safety Tony Parrish are two young players who appear as if they will have solid futures in the league, but beyond those two, San Francisco is holding their collective breath that. An underachieving Mike Adams will start at free safety and veteran Walt Harris at the other corner.

If the Niners can’t stop other teams from throwing at will, it’s going to be a long winter by the Bay.

Special Teams
The Niners special teams aren’t half bad. Kicker, Joe Nedney is very solid and punter Andy Lee is going to have a lengthy career in the league if he continues to punt like he did last season. Long-snapper Brian Jennings is a Pro Bowler, but the Niners desperately need one of their young players to step forward and grab either of the Niners’ return positions by the throat.
Coaching
I’m not sure if Nolan is the right man for this rebuilding project or not. Personally, I don’t think so. However, Nolan’s decision to bring Turner aboard was a move that should pay immediate dividends in 2006.

In Nolan’s defense, I will say that, being given anything short of three seasons, would be an injustice to Nolan.

Tags:2006 San Francisco 49ers Preview

2006 Taxes - Uncle Sam Loves DDs. Direct Deposits that Is

Direct Deposit, whether it’s your paycheck or your tax refund check, is much safer than waiting to cash or deposit your funds in a standard bank transaction. Direct deposit has become one of the most popular ways to receive your 2006 tax refund and one of the most convenient. Every year people file their taxes through a CPA, or one of the many tax services offered or by themselves using preferred tax software. Generally, if you receive a tax refund you’ll want your money as soon as possible. The old adage of “the checks in the mail” doesn’t sit well with most people. Sometimes our tax refund has been spent already or funds are allocated to purchase something or go on a much-needed vacation as a reward.

Since a direct deposit is electronically processed, you can get your funds quickly and without waiting for a physical check in the mail. What you do with the monies received is your option, since 2007 the options to have it split into other accounts has become a new choice. Most direct deposits are generally targeted for one account; upon the completed transaction through your bank, you then have the option to move your funds around. The newest choice is to have those tax refund monies split into three different accounts, savings, mutual funds or your IRA. There is a time widow for some deposits so you’ll need to make sure that you file within the allotted time. An extension will not grant you the privileges given to those who file on time.

In order to take advantage of this newest direct deposit option you must fill out Form 8888 and file it with your 2006 tax return. This form instructs the IRS which accounts you want your tax refund deposited into and what each amount should be. Double check the information you give the IRS, it is not their responsibility to verify the information you give them. If you are not receiving your funds, you can still track them through the IRS 1-800 number. Since refunds vary from year to year, you’ll need to fill out a new Form 8888 each time you file your tax return.

The option to split monies into different accounts gives you the choice of making sure your tax refund goes where you want it go. There are some restrictions regarding filing a split of monies for a 1040-EZ-T in your 2006 tax return so you’ll need to check with the IRS to see about those limitations. If you’ve wanted to start a savings account for the kids or want to open a mutual fund for yourself, take advantage of this option. Giving you the option to decide which accounts you want money directly deposited into makes you gives you the power to feel like you’re managing your money a little better.

To file your late 2006 tax return online go to filelate.com

Tags:2006 Taxes - Uncle Sam Loves DDs. Direct Deposits that Is

2007 Dodge Caliber Review

The Dodge Caliber is said to be anything but cute, right?

Well, this car is totally awesome! So, I bought a 2007 bright yellow Dodge Caliber sxt. My particular Caliber had the 2.0 litre 4 cylinder with the new and amazingly powerful cvt transmission. Oh boy, I totally loved that car! I put a K&N cone filter right onto the hose coming out of the intake manifold.

It was super loud and caught alot of attention! It was louder than some aftermarket exhausts on other cars. All of my friends agreed that the Dodge Caliber offered the loudest ram air intake scream ever produced. The cvt is just like a typical jetski-type. Get all over the gas pedal and just go!

All you heard was whhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa until you had to let off the gas to step on the brake because you were going 85 miles per hour within a few seconds and you were about to ram into the rear end of another vehicle. Yikes! That would not be so great!

It has a low mode, which acts as an overdrive off kind of deal. When you slide the shifter into the low mode, it allows a good amount of extra torque.

Especially around 30 miles per hour shifting it down from drive to low mode. It is great when you are passing an old beater. haha. I managed to get my Caliber to max out at the top speed of 120 miles per hour! That only happened twice within a year and a half driving 22,000 miles. The day before my first time going 120 mph, I was accidentally in low mode and I happened to race it out to 115 miles per hour! That is pretty cool!

Another amazing thing about this particular Dodge Caliber is that even with all of my intensely rough driving habits, I still managed to carry out great gas mileage. My lowest for a gallon of 87 octane gasoline was between 24 and 25 miles. So, I was totally happy about that! The Dodge Caliber has a 5 star crash rating which save mine and my friends lives when a big 4 door pickup truck smacked into us while they were speeding. I Thank Dodge for making their Calibers so safe and reliable and anything but cute! I totally reccommend everyone of all ages to consider buying any model of the all new Dodge Caliber, because to the point it is awesome! I loved my Dodge Caliber and all of my friends loved it too!

Some of my friends were not highly attracted to the bright yellow color that i picked. I love my blues and the day i bought my Caliber there was a blue one and my yellow one to choose from. I just didn’t like the way the Caliber looked in blue, and i loved the awesome yellow contrasting with the black molding and pinstriping.

Have yourself a wonderful day. Thanks for reading!

Tags:2007 Dodge Caliber Review

2007-08 NBA Team Preview -- Boston Celtics

The 2007-08 NBA season is just around the corner and the Boston Celtics cannot wait to get underway. It seems the pride has returned to Celtics, and optimism is at an all time high around Boston. That is what happens when you add two bona fide superstars to your roster in the off season. The Celtics are a team to be reckoned with again, and the Eastern Conference should take note.

Key Additions – Boston should throw Danny Ainge one heck of a tea party after an off season for the ages. He not only brought in one of the most feared shooting guards in the league in Ray Allen, but also nabbed arguably the most well rounded player in the NBA in Kevin Garnett. The addition of these two superstars will do wonders for incumbent superstar Paul Pierce. Garnett in particular will open up the floor for Boston’s shooters, and when they are named Allen and Pierce, that is a good thing. Another notable addition will be James Posey. Posey is a defensive stopper, and will compliment the others nicely.

Key Losses – When you trade for players the caliber of Garnett and Allen, you expect some losses. The largest loss was that of Al Jefferson. Jefferson is an up and coming player that was key to the off season moves. The team also lost the fifth pick in the draft which went to Seattle. Many others were lost, but these were the two big ones.

Weaknesses – In a word, depth. If any of the big three go down, depth could become an issue. Garnett going down would be the toughest loss, as the Celtics have no real depth to cover this. The Celtics built themselves to win now, and provided that they stay healthy, they should do just that.

Strengths – Where to start? Garnett is a monster in every area of the floor, and should relish playing in the Eastern Conference. With his tenacity inside, he should draw a slew of double teams. This will open up the perimeter for Allen and Pierce, and also should provide some strong lanes with which to drive. If they try to cover the perimeter, then Garnett runs wild. Either way, the Celtic lineup is deadly.

Wild card – Chemistry will be the main focus of this group playing together. Along with three fantastic talents come three strong egos as well. Garnett is about winning, and should blend well. Allen and Pierce should mix well, but they are both used to carrying the scoring load. Will they mesh and defer to the other on a given night?

Prediction – I predict that the Celtics will be a wild success this season, and not only do I think they will win their division but they will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals at season’s end. The Celtics are back, and they look unstoppable.

Tags:2007-08 NBA Team Preview – Boston Celtics

2007 Finalist Phil Stacey Keeping Busy After American Idol

What does one do after being a finalist on America’s favorite singing competition television show, finishing sixth out of 103,000 contestants? Phil Stacey, who was a finalist on AmericanIdol in 2007, continued to serve his country in the Navy, went on singing tours, released two albums and continued serving Jesus Christ.

Stacey believes God used him during the show, even though he may have been singing country songs, with lyrics not specifically about his faith. After one performance, which some say may have not been his best, prompting one judge to criticize him, the camera showed Phil Stacey’s wife smiling at him and him smiling at her. A lady watching on television, who had been ready to get a divorce, went to Christian marriage counseling, inspired by the scene on television. The couple is now attending church, and the marriage has been restored. The lady wrote to Stacey about the incident.

Phil Stacey got text messages from pastors who were critical of a Christian being on American Idol, because of the title of the show, if nothing else. Last year’s winner, Kris Allen and second runner up Danny Gokey both came from church backgrounds, however, and several previous contestants–including Mandisa and Chris Sligh–now have Christian singing careers. For his part, even though Phil Stacey is reluctant to recommend American Idol as a springboard for a Christian singing career, he and his family prayed about every step along the way and felt God guided him.

After going so far on American Idol, Phil Stacey released a self-titled country record on Lyric Street Records, which is owned by the Disney company. Stacey says that even that country record had a bunch of songs based on Bible verses. After that he released a Christian record, Into the Light, on Reunion Records, the same label that puts on records by well known Christian singer Michael W. Smith. Brown Bannister, who helped Smith and Amy Grant have so many successful records, worked with Stacey on recording the record.

Stacey said he was intimidated working with Bannister, but he noted Bannister was once a youth pastor and has the heart of a servant. The two would talk about the verses in songs and the Bible, and the former Idol contestant felt much more comfortable. Stacey has also gone on tour with Michael W. Smith.

“He’s been so encouraging,” Stacey says of Smith in an online article at http://ift.tt/HRd9oA. “He’d send me texts like, ‘Phil, I really like this record,’ which meant the world to me.”

When he was on American Idol, Phil Stacey worked every day from January to October, with only Easter Sunday off. He realized, more than ever, the importance for a Christian of reading the Bible, attending church, and being around other believers. He also learned to depend every day on Christ and learned just how important it is to tell others about his faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son, Who he believes died on the cross and rose again to give a home in heaven to believers. Receiving the letter from the woman who almost got the divorce reinforced the need to always be willing to share his faith with others. Stacey also realized more than ever how he needed God’s mercy every day. Stacey is a pastor’s son and has been a Christian since age seven. His two grandfathers were also pastors. His pastor and his grandfathers all influenced his life and his faith greatly.

Psalm 46 is the theme for Stacey’s Christian album. He believes the verse, “The Lord is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” contains an important message for Christians, who will walk through both mountains and valleys on their way to heaven. He wants to encourage them to remember that God is still in control. A single on the album, “You’re Not Shaken,” has made Billboard’s list of Top 20 Christian songs. It was written with the idea in mind of Psalm 23 and the words, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear because you are with me.” It was also inspired by the life of Job.

Long before he was on American Idol, Phil knew he wanted to sing for

God’s glory. Even as a young boy, he sang in churches. Before becoming a pastor, Phil’s father had played the trumpet and keyboards professionally. Phil learned more about the business by working in a record studio.

As a college student he sang with the Lee Singers, from his school at Lee University in Cleveland, and the even more exclusive group from the college, the more exclusive group from the college. In college he learned a lot about a lot more kinds of music than just gospel and country–the only kinds of music he knew.

After September 11, 2001, Phil joined the navy to protect his family. He became the lead vocalist of the Navy Band Southeast and sang for memorial services of those killed in action.

“I’ve always wanted to sing Christian music and I almost signed with a label when I graduated from college, but God had a plan for me, and God is anything but predictable,” Stacey said on the Web site, www.philstacey.com. “There were times along the journey when I was wondering where in the world God was taking me. Now I see why he took me through all the turns and I’m so grateful that he did.”

Citations: Former Idol Phil Stacey Goes ‘Into the Light’ With New Christian Album and Tour, by Rich Copley, Kansascity.com

Phil Stacey Goes ‘Into the Light,’ No author listed, CBN.com

Phil Stacey Bio, No author listed, Philstacey.com

Tags:2007 Finalist Phil Stacey Keeping Busy After American Idol

2007-2008 NBA Season Preview: Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic of 2006-2007 had the makings of a great, dominating squad. At one time holding the first-place spot in the entire Eastern Conference, the Magic collapsed and barely held onto one the of the last spots available in the East to compete in the Playoffs, losing to the Detroit Pistons in the first round.

For 2007-2008, Orlando has rebuilt the team with Star Wars-like ambition: A Search For A New Hope.

The first order of business was to give All-Star center Dwight Howard someone to pose a threat to the opposing defense on the perimeter and in the post. That someone became jettisoned Seattle SuperSonic swingman Rashard Lewis. At 6’10” and with deft shooting ability, Lewis has the ability to play anywhere from the shooting guard positions to both forward spots. Lewis’ arrival also offsets the departures of former All-Star guard Grant Hill, who only recently had been able to significantly contribute to the Magic, and of on-the-verge forward/center Darko Milicic, who went to team up with Pau Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies as a Twin Towers tandem. With such at hand, the Magic can rely on the steady force of their core players to make a continued difference.

The guard positions in Orlando are heavy in stock, as well. Starting point guard Jameer Nelson will be looking to make a large impression on management with his play so that he remains a Magic; fellow starting guard Keith Bogans also intends to make a strong impression on the team with an expanded role in the offense after having been a steady presence as a backup shooting guard with Orlando for the past two seasons. The punch that the Magic have shown in the backcourt isn’t just limited to the starting guards, as Puerto Rican national hero Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling have proven to be more-than-competent players coming off of the bench. In Arroyo, Orlando basically has a battle-tested starting point guard who can put up points in bunches from anywhere on the court, due to his good shooting and penetration abilities; Dooling compliments all of the Magic’s backcourt players with his on-court savvy, length, and experience.

The Magic forwards also have zest and athleticism in abundance. Rising star Trevor Ariza is making a name for himself based on his developing offensive game that is blended with a repertoire of dunks, drives and a mid-range game. Hidayet Turkoglu is virtually a Rashard Lewis with three-point touch, a standing height of 6’10” and the ability to play not only the 2, 3 and 4 positions, but act as a legitimate point guard.

In all, Orlando has the ingredients for a special mixture for a magical season, but will the collective brew be effective upon the rest of the Eastern Conference?

Tags:2007-2008 NBA Season Preview: Orlando Magic

2007-2008 Eastern Conference NBA Preview

#1 – Detroit. The starting five and Antonio McDyess are back – which makes them the preseason favorites. The road to the conference championship goes through Detroit. Arron Afflalo, a physical guard out of UCLA, will fit right in with Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups.

#2 – Miami. Shaq and D-Wade give any team a chance for a title. Will this be their last opportunity for awhile with Shaq aging and Alonzo Mourning leaving after this season?

#3 – Boston. The Celtics did more for themselves than any other NBA team in the off-season, but we haven’t seen them on the court yet. Many are crowning them champions already. Hold on just a minute. While Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are great players, chemistry, staying healthy and playing defense are key components to winning basketball in May and June. No matter what, the Celtics will be far improved from last season.

#4 – Cleveland. Lebron James looks like a clutch player with good weapons around him. The expectations have been raised to NBA title-level after their surprise season in 2006-2007. Their lack of depth and the three above-mentioned teams will keep them from the promise land this year.

#5 – Chicago. Not getting Kevin Garnett has to leave Chicago with a hangover. They have a good nucleus of quality, young talent but are a notch below the top teams in the East.

#6 – New Jersey. Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter have seemingly played together forever without much to show for it. They have playoff-level talent, but getting older by the day. They need an inside presence – like most teams in the NBA outside San Antonio and Miami.

#7 – Washington. Gilbert Arenas can carry a team to the post-season, but that’s where it ends for the Wizards. Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison are solid at the forward position.

#8 – Toronto. Chris Bosh is the headliner, but the show stalls after that. Anything above .500 for Toronto will show the weakness of the Eastern Conference.

#9 – Orlando. Other than Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis, can you name anyone on the Magic? Okay, next.

#10 – Indiana. Jermaine O’Neal is great when he’s healthy for a long stretch, but this team sure misses Ron Artest’s on-court presence (outside of the fighting with fans part of course).

#11 – New York. After the hoopla of Isiah Thomas’ incident, the Knicks actually have to field a team and play basketball this season? That’s a shame for the city of New York and the level of competition in the NBA. They need John Starks and Patrick Ewing, but they have Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry. Oh well.

#12 – Milwaukee. Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd are nice, but where are they going to get wins from? Go Brewers!

#13 – Atlanta. Good young talent, but that leads to talking about potential in the NBA more than results on the court. Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford will be a good trio in a couple years if they stay together on the Hawks.

#14 – Philadelphia. Now that Allen Iverson is gone they can sit back, relax and lose while not talking about practice. Hello Draft Lottery, I’m the 76ers, nice to meet you.

#15 – Charlotte. They are so young, point guard Raymond Felton looks like a veteran on this team. Charlotte has been one of the worst franchises in the NBA and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

Tags:2007-2008 Eastern Conference NBA Preview

2007 Iowa College Football Season Preview

With 47 days until the kickoff of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ 2007 football season, the magazines are out, the media has spoken, and now it’s my turn! I’ll go through the Hawks’ schedule game by game and give my predictions, as well as what I think the hawks need to do to reach the top of the big ten once again.

Pre-Season Perspective
First off, there is no reason why the Hawkeyes shouldn’t be able to “bounce back” from last year’s disappointing 6-7 season for a number of reasons.

First, this is Kirk Ferentz. I shouldn’t have to say more, but I will. His teams have been characterized by solid fundamental play in a steady scheme that works. I believe last year’s losing record can be attributed mostly from losing that kind of swagger his teams have always had in the past, even when we were 1-10. What I mean is, by watching last year’s games, the hawks didn’t come out with all the confidence, energy, and passion that should be easily felt, but was for the most part absent.

The Hawks seemed less prepared than usual in many of our losses last season. A lot of this can be attributed to the coaching staff, which Ferentz acknowledged when he talked about his preparation for last year’s Alamo Bowl, a game that Iowa probably should have won *cough* Chandler *cough*. While many fans last season directly criticized the schemes we ran last year, I believe we were simply not prepared well enough. Criticizing the scheme is a shallow way of looking at the problem. Watching over last year’s games, a sharp eye can see many different things that Iowa has never run before, namely plays specifically designed around Albert Young, Tom Busch, and blitz packages for the linebackers. People can say all they want about our simple schemes, but as it has been proven in many years in the past, with the right execution and people, it can win championships. I believe if the Hawks approach every game like they approached the ’06 Alamo Bowl we would have a double-digit win record this season without a doubt.

Realistically, no matter how good the schedule looks this year, the fact is, we have a new starting quarterback and the rushing game is still a big question mark. While Iowa’s last three starting quarterbacks each had 9+ win seasons in their first year as a starter, can Hawk fans expect that lightning will strike for the fourth time when Jake Christensen goes under center for the first time as a starter? The running game is also a major concern. Returning from injuries last year, Albert Young was hardly the same back. His production dropped significantly from the year before. Damien Sims, his back-up, is a home-run hitter with explosive potential, but he can’t hold on to the ball to save his life. It doesn’t take a genius to know that Iowa’s success this season is highly dependent on the running game. On top of that the O-line will be made up mostly of first-time starters, which doesn’t bode well for a new quarterback and a struggling running back core.

With that said, Iowa’s staff has a knack for recruiting good QBs. Christensen is perhaps the best QB Iowa has recruited in terms of raw talent since Chuck Long. When he did see action during last season, he looked sharp, and made sound decisions. The Quarterback position could be Iowa’s strength come Big Ten season.

September 1 vs Northern Illinois (at Soldier Field in Chicago).
This is a win without a doubt. The Huskies lost star running back Garret Wolfe and Offensive tackle Doug Free to the draft. They will not be the same team as last year, that is certain. Tickets for this game are sold out, and expect at least half of the stadium to be Hawk fans.

What could trip the Hawks up?
A conspiracy, paid refs, and a tornado hitting the Iowa sideline.

September 8 vs Syracuse
The kickoff is slated for 7:00 pm. It can’t be denied that Iowa historically has a hard time playing with a late kickoff. One only has to look back to the embarrassment suffered during the ’04 game against Arizona State, to see what I mean. Last year’s Syracuse scare will only motivate the Hawks not to look past them this time around. I believe will go from “The Stand” that was last year to “The Blowout” this year. Another win.

What could trip the Hawks up?
A less than enthusiastic crowd will deflate could deflate the hawks into performing subpar enough to result in a loss.

September 15 at Iowa State
No matter what anyone says, I believe the Hawks will win this game for one reason: Dan McCarney is no longer there. He was always one step ahead of the Hawks in almost every contest he and Ferentz coached against each other. He practically had our playbook in the huddle. However, without him on the opposing sideline with his insider knowledge, it will be tough for the ‘clones to stand up to us. The Cy-Hawk Trophy stays in Iowa City.

What could trip the Hawks up?
If the Hawks allow the Cyclones to hang around, it could spell trouble. It’s also important to score first. The thought of a potential game-ending field goal in the wind-tunnel that is Jack Trice scares me.

September 22 at Wisconsin
Expect the Hawkeyes to be double digit dogs in this one. This could be the toughest game on the schedule this year. Not only do the badgers have a better team (the way it looks right now), but there are a lot of other factors going against the Hawks. In the first Big Ten game of the season, Iowa traditionally struggles. Also, it’s the first Big Ten road game of the season, and at Camp-Randall no less. Bunch all that with a wide-eyed first year starting quarterback, and you have Iowa’s first loss of the season.

What gives the Hawks a shot?
Watching early in the Big Ten season over the past few years, I have learned that you predict exactly what will happen. Any given team can break out and make a statement. With all the questions and great potential this season brings for the Hawks, there is no reason why the Hawks couldn’t win this game. Another important factor is Wisconsin’s starting quarterback. While former quarterback, John Stocco, wasn’t the greatest QB, he provided a stable foundation for the badger offense. If the Hawks’ front seven can bring the heat early, they will have a good chance to win.

September 29 vs Indiana
Indiana was going to have a tough season without having to deal with the death of their head coach Terry Hoeppner. While the young team from last year will be improved from the team that defeated the Hawks last season, they will be coming to Kinnick this year. Facing a Iowa team with something to prove, Indiana won’t be able to avoid losing this game.

What could trip the Hawks up?
Another home collapse like we saw last year versus Northwestern.

October 6 at Penn State
This game is total mystery to me at this point. History shows that Kirk Ferentz has JoePa wrapped around his finger, but that same history shows that the games are close with Ferentz at the helm. I can’t say how this year’s Penn State team will perform. I believe they are on a similar level to the Hawkeyes. Penn State’s offense is led by quarterback Anthony Morelli. He displayed flashes of brilliance last year, but Penn State’s offense has been an enigma for the past few years. The defense will always be solid, and will keep Jake Christensen on his toes. I’m giving the edge to Penn State right now, since the game will be in Happy Valley along with their unforgiving student section.

What gives the Hawks a shot?
If the Hawks don’t do their typical “turn the ball over three times on the road” routine, they will have a very good shot at winning.

October 13 vs Illinois
Another rolling victory for the Hawks is the only thing I can expect here. Another game at home, and it’s against Illinois. On top of that, Kirk Ferentz owns Ron Zook.

What could trip the Hawks up?
The Zooker’s amazing recruiting ability have produced top recruiting classes each year he has been at Illinois. If this talent suddenly realizes their potential, who knows what will happen?

October 20 at Purdue
During the past few seasons, Purdue has given Iowa some close games. Joe Tiller’s offense is known as one the best in the country. While Iowa has had Purdue’s number over the past few seasons, I think this game is a dangerous one for the Hawkeyes. As a Hawk fan, I know anything is possible on the road. Combining the Hawks’ road woes with Purdue’s dangerous offense, this game could very well be another loss. I’m calling it a loss right now to be realistic.

What gives the Hawks a shot?
The key to this game is getting good production on the ground. If the Hawks can keep the ball out of Purdue’s hands, they will have a good chance of winning.

October 27 vs Michigan State
The Spartans have been the poster-child of disappointment in the Big Ten, consistently underachieving. With the departure of head coach, John L. Smith, and some key players including quarterback, Drew Stanton, they will have a rough season this year. The Hawks should roll at home.

What could trip the Hawks up?
If the defense doesn’t show up and vastly underperforms.

November 3 at Northwestern
Kirk Ferentz teams always perform their best in November (except last season). I don’t see anything different this coming season. Northwestern will be an improved team from the version last year that beat the Hawks at Kinnick. However, I believe this year will be different. The Hawks’ veteran defense will shut down the Wildcats’ offensive attack en route to a road win.

What could trip the Hawks up?
More typical road woes combined with looking ahead towards Minnesota.

November 10 vs Minnesota
Another team with a new head coach, Minnesota has a solid team this year. Minnesota, traditionally has a hard time in the second half of the season. With new head coach, Tim Brewster, the Golden Gophers are hoping this problem will be remedied. However, they will have to come to Kinnick this year for the Battle for Floyd of Rosedale, which gives Iowa the slight edge at this point. Hawks win back Floyd in a close one.

What could trip the Hawks up?
Rivalry passion from the Golden Gophers will be on display in Kinnick. The only question is how it will manifest itself on the field. Another nail-bitter game could go either way.

November 17 vs Western Michigan
A tune-up game before the bowl season, this game will be a nice break from the brutal Big Ten season. Iowa gets the luxury of watching the climax of the Big Ten season in the annual Michigan vs. Ohio State game. Oh yeah, and they will play a game too. The Hawks roll as they pad their bowl resume.

What could trip the Hawks up?
Another tornado…

Projected record 9-3

Not too early to start thinking of 2008
If Hawk fans thought this year was going to be good, next year looks exponentially more promising. The schedule is even easier than this year’s, with Iowa’s four toughest games all at home. Another factor to keep in mind is the fact that Iowa’s top 10 recruiting class from 2004 will be in their fourth year at Iowa. Veteran talent plus easy schedule could equal Big Ten title.

2008 Football Schedule

Aug 30 Maine
Sept 6 Florida International
Sept 13 Iowa State
Sept 20 at Pittsburg
Sept 27 Northwestern
Oct 4 at Michigan State
Oct 11 at Indiana
Oct 18 Wisconsin
Nov 1 at Illinois
Nov 8 Penn State
Nov 15 Purdue
Nov 22 at Minnesota

Tags:2007 Iowa College Football Season Preview

2007 Christmas Events in Oakland, California

Christmas is a very special time of year for most families. But instead of only staying home this holiday season, why not branch out and go to a holiday event? There are several Christmas Events in Oakland, California to take your family to, this article lists five Christmas events you may want to take your family to.

2007 Christmas Events in Oakland, California #1: Fairy Winterland

Children’s Fairyland transforms into a magical Winterland for one week in December every year. This year it starts on December 14th and ends on the 23rd, from 12 PM until 7 PM. Admission is only $6 dollars for adults and children over the age of 1. Fairy Winterland pays tribute to the winter holidays for several cultures such as Christmas, Kawanzaa, Chanukah, Las Posadas, Diwali, and the Chinese New Year. There will be holiday lights, music, free hot chocolate and apple cider, one goody bag per child, a visit from Santa and much more! Children’s Fairyland is located at 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610. For more information, you can call Fairyland at (510) 452-2259

2007 Christmas Events in Oakland, California #2: The Christmas Revels

The California Revels will be putting on a play this year celebrating the Winter Solstice. It will highlight the music, traditions, dance and drama of 19th century English countryside. Tickets start at $15 dollars and go up to $50 for tickets with better seats. Event dates are December 7th at 7:30 PM, December 8th & 9th at 1 and 5 PM, December 14th at 7:30 PM and December 15th & 16th 1 and 5 PM. The Christmas Revels will be at the Scottish Rite Theater, 1547 Lakeside Drive in Oakland. You can buy tickets online by visiting their web site.

2007 Christmas Events in Oakland, California #3: Oakland Holiday Parade

Oakland’s Holiday Parade will be held on December 1st this year, starting at 2 PM. There will be huge helium character balloons, Cartoon and storybook characters, marching bands, festive floats and more. This is the 8th annual Holiday parade and it is know as the premier children’s parade in the west. There are over 70,000 people who watch the parade on the streets so be sure to go early so that you can get a good place to watch. I recommend taking a folding chair so that you don’t have to stand the entire time. The parade will start at Broadway and 11th Street in Oakland.

2007 Christmas Events in Oakland, California #4: Montclair Village Holiday Stroll

Montclair Village will be having a Christmas event on December 6th from 6 PM to 9 PM. There will be an ice skating rink for children ages 10 and under, street entertainment, wagon and cable car rides, as well as store sales and receptions. Montclair Village is a charming place to visit and do all your Christmas shopping. They are located at 1980 Mountain Blvd in Oakland.

2007 Christmas Events in Oakland, California #5: 31st Annual Lighted Yacht Parade

The 31st Annual Lighted Yacht Parade will be on December 1st. It starts at 5:30 PM and lasts until 10 PM. It will be along the Oakland & Alameda Estuary. You can watch the Yacht Parade from any restaurant that is located on the Estuary, although if you pick this option, you’ll probably want to check into making a reservation. Or you can watch it at Wind River Park in Alameda and Jack London Square in Oakland by standing along the shoreline. For more information, call 510 522-6868

Tags:2007 Christmas Events in Oakland, California

2007 College Football: 7 National Championship Dark Horses

Week 5 of the College Football season saw many ranked team lose. Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Clemson, and West Virginia were all victims. With so many teams losing there are a few dark horses out their looming. Watch out for these dark horses when it comes to the National Championship race.

Arizona State
We all know about USC and California but they aren’t the only Pac-10 teams that are undefeated. Arizona State has quietly had one of the best seasons, scoring 33 points or more in every game and more than 40 in three games. They beat a Colorado team that just beat Oklahoma by 19 points; a pretty good Oregon State team by 12 points and in Week 5 beat Stanford 41 – 3.

Boston College
Do I think Boston College is going to go undefeated? No. But it’s not impossible. Anybody in the ACC is certainly beatable. Miami didn’t look good against Oklahoma. Florida State hasn’t looked great. Virginia Tech didn’t look like they were as good as they thought we would be and Clemson got upset this week. It’s possible that Boston College could run the table.

California
Okay so maybe calling the number three team in the nation a dark horse is a little bit of a stretch. I still don’t think many people are picking California though simply because California winning the National Championship means getting past USC in the Pac-10. It could happen though.

Georgia
After the early loss to South Carolina everybody put Georgia on the back burner. The kind of win they had over Alabama is the kind of game that can ignite a team. In Week 5 Georgia destroyed an Ole Miss team that a week earlier nearly beat Florida. Georgia does have one loss already but I don’t think there are going to be any undefeated teams this year so Georgia can still be in the National Championship hunt if they can get past Florida and LSU in the SEC Championship game.

South Carolina
If Georgia is a dark horse than the team that beat them has to be too. South Carolina has played pretty good defense so maybe they’re the team that can stop Andre Woodson. We saw last year that South Carolina can play with Florida as well. Like Georgia they’d probably have to play LSU if they go to the SEC Championship game but if they somehow won that then they’d have a pretty impressive resume.

South Florida
South Florida is the Cinderella story in 2007. South Florida has upset Auburn and West Virginia. Louisville doesn’t look as good this year so I don’t think they’ll be a problem. UConn and Cincinnati are teams to be careful of but South Florida can beat both of them. The big test is whether or not they can beat Rutgers.

Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech had a disappointing start to the season but I wouldn’t count them out of National Championship race just yet. Clemson and Georgia Tech have both struggled lately and Miami and Florida State aren’t the powerhouses they used to be. Boston College is good but Virginia Tech gets them at home. If Virginia Tech wins out they can definitely get back in the race as long as there aren’t any undefeated teams this season.

Tags:2007 College Football: 7 National Championship Dark Horses

2007 Emmy Fashion Best and Worst Dressed

The Red Carpet is half the reason that many people watch Hollywood award shows and the Emmys are no exception. Everyone has different reasons for watching. Some people love the glitz and glamour of hollywood looking its finest. While others wait with baited breath for the ever famous awful red carpet disasters. Then you have people like me a combination viewer, I enjoy both the fabulous and the funky dressing stars. So, on that note my picks for the best and worst dressed at the 2007 Emmy Awards.

This years Emmy attendees all seemed to play it pretty safe for the most part. Many of the gowns looked simple and classic. I had a few favorites, instead of one stand out this year. Felicity Huffman looked great in an asymmetrical hot pink draped neck number designed by David Meister. I also like Eva Longoria’s Kaufman Franc gold sparkly cocktail dress, it looked fun and stylish. Jennifer Love Hewitt looked beautiful in a classic black strapless style dress by Reem Acra. I really liked the dress Kate Walsh was wearing, it was a red Pamela Denis gown with a draped neckline. Heidi Klum also looked great in a deep red strapless Couture Dior gown with long front leg slit. Katherine Heigl had a very clean classic off the shoulder white Zac Posen gown that made her look really glamorous. I have to give credit to Minnie Driver and Julia Louis Dreyfus for their bold choices in color. Julia chose a deep purple gown that looked really great on her and Minnie wore a bright yellow wrap style gown that was one of my favorites.

My worst list was a real disappointment for me this year, because I really like most of the celebrities on this list. Non the less here are my picks for the worst 2007 Emmy gowns. The worst in my opinion was young Hayden Panettiere. The dress she chose was just to big for her tiny frame. It looked like she was drowning in it. The Marc Bauwer creation just didn’t work for her body type. Vanessa Williams dress was also off the mark for me. Some people liked her gown, but I hated it. The color of her Kevan hall gown was fabulous on her, but the abundance of feathers needed to go. Edie Falco also made a bad choice in my opinion. It wasn’t so much the style of the dress, but the black flowered pattern that I didn’t like. I also didn’t like Mindy Kaling’s dress. Mindy Kaling is from the office and she is hilarious, but her dress didn’t look right for her shape. It looked to tight and I hated the lace. My last worst pick was hard for me as well. I really like Elizabeth Perkins from Weeds, but that floral patterned gown with the high color was awful.

Tags:2007 Emmy Fashion Best and Worst Dressed

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