Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thunder - Twolves

Unless I win the lottery and go traveling the country in search of great games, I feel pretty safe to write that after last night I can cross one spot off my top games of 2011. Last night's Thunder-Twolves overtime game was a great game to watch, and one that I was lucky to have seen from the 4th row.

I had wanted to go see Durant and Westbrook play, so I worked out a deal with a guy on craigslist for Lexus courtside club tickets right on the baseline. My friend and I worked out a plan to go early and take full advantage of the free drinks and food before the game and during halftime. Well, our plan worked to perfection. We were in the Lexus lounge as early as possible (5pm) and had enough time to enjoy a few beers and more than a few ahi tuna on bread appetizers. The food (tuna, chicken, chips and guacamole, London broil and mashed potatoes) was excellent and the whole experience made me wish I was one of the *super-rich people who normally own courtside seats.

*Waiting for the valet afterwards was kind of funny. There was a steady string of Range Rovers, Lexus cars (I don't know the plural of Lexus) and then my 2007 Honda Civic.

Anyway, some quick thoughts on the game before a few pictures:
  • Durant is incredible. It is hard to believe how someone so tall can be such a great shooter. The Twolves defenders looked like they had no chance in stopping him. It was really fun seeing him take and make so many shots, while scoring a career high 47 points.

  • Kevin Love has to make the All-Star team. His 3 point shot has improved to the point that it is a surprise if he misses one. Also, it isn't a stretch to say he is the best rebounder int the league by a wide margin. Yesterday he pulled down 21 rebounds and seemed to keep a few other possessions alive for his teammates.
  • Nikola Pekovic seems lost out there. For those of you who don't know who Pekovic is, don't worry because you probably won't here about him again.
  • Can someone tell me Darko Millic's shooting % on left handed hooks compared to right handed hooks? He seems like a legitimate scoring option when he shoots with his left hand, but when he goes to the right hand he doesn't look much better than Pekovic.
  • Bad teams like the Twolves seem to find ways to lose the game. This time around it was a few missed free throws (one by Ridnour and one by Brewer) and a few missed possessions that doomed the home team.

Anyway, below are some pictures from the game:

Westbrook going in for a dunk after a steal. This was a lucky picture and probably my favorite of the bunch:

One of the Twolves in-arena hosts and new traffic girl for a local news station (WCCO) was kind enough to take a picture with me and my double chin. I am not sure why I look so awkward, but I'm blaming it on the flash delaying the actual picture. (That didn't seem to affect her, but whatever)

Two former #2 picks in the draft...and that's where the similarities end.

Durant on his way to 47 points and a game winner.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

ESPN - Paul Millsap

Yesterday morning I emailed Henry Abbott of TrueHoop with a link to the Millsap article I wrote and a couple questions trying to get his opinion. He responded in a couple hours with his comments (mostly positive) and a question on my business title of Super User - Forecasting. If that is all that happened it would have been a perfectly good day. Any time I can get someone I regularly read like Henry Abbott to not only read what I wrote, but comment on it is enough to make me happy.

However, the real surprise was that he took my post and highlighted it on's TrueHoop blog. You can see his write up of my post Western forward All-Star candidates, in a handy chart. When I saw this I had one of those look twice, is this real looks on my face. I read his post about my "pretty chart" and called out my bullet point on LaMarcus Aldridge. Not too surprising considering ESPN's readership my comments section on the post starting blowing up. A few people seemed to miss the *point with the comments.

*The point was that Millsap might not be an All-Star, but he at least should be in the discussion. That's it. I wasn't saying the other players were bad or that even Millsap was definitely better than the others, but that the numbers suggest he should be in consideration for a spot on the All-Star team.

Anyway, in what was probably an amateur move I tried to answer the comments. I feel like if they took the time to write in then I should try and answer their questions and concerns. Most of the comments added something to the discussion (should Aldridge get more credit for being a #1 option? should extra credit be given to Aldridge playing better lately?) and for those comments I really enjoy debating an answer. In the future I probably should let my post speak for itself and try not to get caught up in the comments. Regardless of any mistakes I made (with my post or with my comments on the post) I am very happy with the progress. I think my writing has improved and that if I continue this pace I might be able to add a little of my perspective to Jazz related subjects. That is enough for me to be happy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Is Paul Millsap an All-Star?

For those interested I wrote another blog post on Salt City Hoops trying to answer the question Is Paul Millsap an All-Star? I enjoyed writing another article about one of the more underrated players in the NBA. Check it out and let me know what you think. Comments are always appreciated.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Favorite Years

Over the course of my life there have been certain years that have stood out as being really good years. For some reason the stars aligned and most things seemed to break my way. I am going to rank my favorite calendar years as ones that I wouldn't mind going back in time and repeating. One note is that there are no years from my childhood. This doesn't mean I didn't have a good childhood, since from all accounts I was very happy during this time. All this means is that I have no idea how to separate out the years. Was 1986 better than 1989? I have no idea. Anyway, below is my list of what years I could easily remember and separate out

Best Years of My Life:
  1. 2010 - Yes, I just finished the best year of my life. In June M and I tied the knot.

    I have written about this before, but it was great having so many friends and family in the same spot at the same time. In addition to that 2010 was a pretty good year for trips including; Kansas City, Spain and Las Vegas. Finally, in sports Duke was able to win the 2010 National Title in dramatic fashion and in almost as good of news watch UNC's season go down in flames as they didn't even make the NCAA tournament. Oh yeah Duke beat UNC 82-50 at Cameron, which was even better because I finally was able to use the Henry wearing a Duke jersey picture that I had been saving for the right moment. Finally, I don't want to forget was the Jazz decision to trade for Al Jefferson. Jefferson has been one of my favorite players since I saw him play for Prentiss High School in the Coliseum in Jackson, MS.

  2. 2003 - I loved my sophomore year in college. While my freshmen year was more about survival, my sophomore year was about enjoying college. I had a steady group of friends and a new girlfriend. Life was good.

    Also, in 2003 was the first semester of junior year, which also just happened to be an unbelievable season for the Miami Redhawks football team. After losing their first game at Iowa the team won thirteen straight (the most in the nation) including a MAC title victory and a Bowl victory. I was able to attend most of the games including the last two I mentioned and loved every moment.

  3. 1999 - It seems like really great years can follow pretty tough years. In 1998 I was a dorky high school sophomore. I had glasses, no girlfriend and received no meaningful playing time on the basketball team. In the summer of 1999 I made the switch to contacts, became a starter on the basketball team and in the process happened to pick up a girlfriend. The switch from one year to the next was incredible for a 16 year old kid. This really was the beginning of having a great high school experience as both my junior and senior years were so much better than my freshmen and sophomore years.

  4. 2006 - I have started to notice a pattern on what makes a great year. It seems like the great years involve some type of relationship change combined with sports success. 2006 was no different. In 2006 I met M and started dating in May of that year. I knew from our first date that I wanted to date M for a long time. My friend Brooke and I talked on the phone of our first date and she remarked that I sounded so happy that she might be telling this story at our wedding. Anyway, on a relationship side of things I was extremely happy to have met and dated M.

    On a sports side of things 2006 was the year of the Minnesota Twins. The little team that could had one of those incredible years where they seemingly won every game. I had started the year off as a minor Twins and baseball fan and ended the year as a huge Twins fan. That passion and support of the Twins has continued to this day. Same could be written about M.

  5. 2005 - This is the one year that doesn't fit the pattern of the above. Any relationship changes that I would write about would be negative. Same goes with any sports changes considering 2005 was the year UNC won the title AND Tyler Hansbrough started his reign of terror. If anything both of those starts would seem to suggest that 2005 was one of the worst years. However, three things trumped all of that negativity. I graduated from college after a great senior Year. Not that graduating from college was ever unexpected, but still I took it as a big accomplishment. The second thing is that I was able to get a job with Target Corporation in Minneapolis.
    This was a considerable weight off my shoulders since no part of me wanted to have to move back to Jackson and live with my parents. The final thing was that because my job didn't start till September I was able to take the entire summer off. That was a great summer. I watched movies, read the paper, played ping pong and hung out with my friends. It was the perfect transition from college to the working world.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Favorite BBQ - Twin Cities and overall

Based on my experiences (limited nationally and pretty extensive locally) below are my rankings of favorite BBQ places:

Best BBQ in the Twin Cities:
  1. Ted Cook's 19th hole - I've written about this place before, but I will write it again - this place serves the best BBQ in the Twin Cities. The sauce is unique and that combined with the ribs, pork and sliced beef make for an excellent meal.

  2. Q'Fanatic - I just made it back to Q'Fanatic for the 2nd time yesterday and again I loved the food. This small spot in Champlin was recently featured in Diners, Drive-In's and Dives and also earned the 2nd spot in Minnesota Monthly's best BBQ in Minnesota. All of the food is really good (including the sides, which isn't normally the case at BBQ restaurants) except maybe the pulled pork. Also, the only other disappointing thing is that they serve a lot of sauce options. I know this might be a positive for a lot of people, but I tend to like places that don't have too many sauce options. For instance Ted Cook's has one main sauce at three levels of heat - mild, medium and hot. Q'Fanatic offers everything from a chipotle BBQ sauce to a vinegar Carolina sauce. There are too many options and by the time you figured out what sauce is your favorite you are almost finished with the meal. The good news is that the BBQ is so good, you really don't even need to deal with the sauce.

  3. Pastor Hamilton's - After Q'Fanatic there is definitely a drop off in BBQ. You can find really good options at all of the next three, but there aren't as many consistently great options as the top 2 listed above. I enjoyed the ribs and the sauce at this hole in the wall spot in St. Paul. It is one of those places that I have been meaning to go back to, but for whatever reason I have only been once. It was definitely really good, but when I am looking for BBQ I normally just drive to Ted Cook's.

  4. C&G's Smoking BBQ - This spot opened up right next to where I used to live and serves excellent sandwiches. Also, an added bonus is the fact that you can get crispy, salty fried okra, which serves as the perfect compliment to a good BBQ sandwich.

  5. Rooster's (for the pulled pork/ribs) and Market BBQ (for the brisket) - For my last spot, I am going to combine the pulled pork sandwich/ribs from Roosters in St. Paul with the sliced brisket sandwich at Market BBQ. I have gone back to both places for both options and would do the same again.

Best BBQ in the nation (based on my limited experience):

  1. Pappy's Smokehouse - St. Louis - After finishing our Big Ben platter we had to ask one of the workers at Pappy's whether or not they sold the dry rub they put on their ribs. The guy kind of laughed, told us no and said that he is asked that question many times a day. It didn't really surprise us since the ribs we had at Pappy's was the unanimous favorite meal of my friends BBQ tour of Missouri. While we loved the 2nd spot on this list, Pappy's was different.

  2. Oklahoma Joe's - Kansas City - There are a lot of great BBQ places in Kansas City that I haven't tried yet. However, on my 2nd trip back to Kansas City I wanted to go back to Oklahoma Joe's for the second time. It isn't like I didn't want to try the other places that I have read about, but I guess I just wanted to make sure to go back to Oklahoma Joe's. It was that good the first time and the thankfully the second time didn't disappoint either. It is definitely worth the hour long wait inside a convenience store in a nondescript part of Kansas City, Kansas. The ribs were that good. The rest of the BBQ was that good. The place lived up to the considerable hype. (It was named as one of the 13 places you need to eat before die by Anthony Bourdain.) Really, it was very close voting between Pappy's and Oklahoma Joe's for the best BBQ I have ever had.

  3. Ted Cook's 19th hole - Minneapolis - see above. The best Minneapolis has to offer.

  4. Central BBQ - Memphis - One time flights into Jackson were so expensive that it made more sense to fly into Memphis. This was kind of a logistics pain, but it did give me the chance to sample one of the best BBQ spots in the city. If only I had known about places like Central BBQ earlier I would have made a few more trips from Jackson to Memphis when I had the chance.

  5. Arthur Bryant's - Kansas City - The BBQ is almost as good as the workers are unpleasant. It really is kind of like the "soup nazi" episode in Seinfeld. The service is poor and the food completely makes up for it. I especially remember liking the brisket sandwich and fries.

Just missed the cut: Q'Fanatic, E&L's BBQ (Jackson, MS), Bullock's BBQ (Durham, NC)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Favorite fast food

Part of me wants to write 1000+ words about Duke's loss last night to Florida State. Considering it had been 315 days and 25 straight games since Duke had last lost it was tough watching the game last night. There are many things to complain about (Mason Plumlee = Josh McRoberts 2.0, the lack of elite atheltes on the team and the dumb turnovers are three I can think of right away), but considering that during that same 315 day time span UNC has lost 7 times then maybe I should just move on and be happy. Hopefully by the time I get ready to write about Duke again Kyrie Irving will be back in the lineup and one of the Plumlees will learn how to complete a successful post move.

In honor of how quick and unsatisfying last night was I thought I would focus in on my favorite fast food restaurants of all time. The places below transcend the normal, boring fast food and make food that I crave.

  1. Chick-Fil-A - Was there any doubt what would come in at number 1? Chick-Fil-A is the best of the best when it comes to fast food. The fact that they only offer chicken sandwiches is a plus in my opinion. Some restaurants try to offer everything and end up being mediocre in a bunch of things. Chick-Fil-A perfected the chicken sandwich and every product offering is based off of that. Back in high school I would eat one or two of those chicken sandwiches before every basketball game. Now when I am back in the South it is almost required to make a visit to Chick-Fil-A. And one of my favorite things about the chain is that all the stores are extremely clean with extra friendly staffs. I think some of that has to do with Chick-Fil-A being a private brand with a very tough franchise application process. It only costs $5,o0o to start a Chick-Fil-A franchise, but less than 1% of applicants are accepted. From my experience at the chain you can see the quality in the owner, the staff and the food. *Just writing this makes me wish I could easily get one here in Minneapolis. *There is one Chick-Fil-A on the University of Minnesota's campus on 300 Washington Avenue
  2. Skyline Chili - Along with Chick-Fil-A this is another private franchise that is absolutely amazing. Also, like Chick-Fil-A this chain focus on doing one thing well and that is chili and cheese. I absolutely love the chili cheese conies (3 if I'm hungry and 4 if I'm starved) and wouldn't mind eating the same thing meal after meal. Something about the flavor and the stack of cheese makes me want to text my friends to brag about how I am at Skyline. (And I normally do text two friends in particular when I am at Skyline.) For those of you who don't know Skyline is a Cincinnati based chain with restaurants primarily in Ohio. There was one location in my college town of Oxford, Ohio and I was known to go there after the bars closed at 2am for the $1/coney special. Between that and Bagel & Deli there might not be better eating in the world than what is offered at 2am in Oxford. Since college it isn't a stretch to write that I have been to Skyline on average once per trip back to Ohio. It is a go to spot now and for the foreseeable future.
  3. In-N-Out Burger - I have only been to In-N-Out Burger (another private franchise) once on a trip to Las Vegas, but I came away very impressed. The excellent, cheap burger definitely lived up to the considerable hype. This chain also doesn't try to do too many things and instead just works on perfecting burgers, fries and shakes. They do a great job of that and next time I'm on the west coast I will probably have to go back to In-N-Out Burger.
  4. Chipotle - The only thing better than a well-timed Chipotle burrito is if you would have bought Chipotle stock (CMG) a year ago (up 128%). A lot has been written and said about Chipotle and let be another one to chime in on how much I enjoy eating one of those 1000 calorie burritos. It is basic, simple and excellent. Notice a theme? I enjoy fast food restaurants that do one thing and do that well.
  5. Quiznos - This is the first fast food place that I don't go out of my way for, but there is a good reason why it made my top 5 list. The reason is that back in my senior year of college I worked 9 hours a week at Quiznos. Most people probably hate working in the fast food industry, but I loved it. My boss was excellent (she gave me a lifetime 50% off coupon to that Quiznos as a graduation present) and I loved making sandwiches for people. A lot of the work that is done in the corporate world is so far removed from the end customer that you can sometimes get jaded. At Quiznos there was a lot of satisfaction in making something that you could see brought joy to the end customers. Also, another point in Quiznos favor is that I actually liked the subs. When I worked there I would make up my own combinations and enjoy my own creativity. Now I have to settle on the normal sandwiches, but still I enjoy what is offered and don't mind going back to Quiznos.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fan Rules (updated)

Back in the early days of this blog I tried to create a guideline for fans with my Rules for a Sports Fan post. Below are the condensed version of the original 15 rules:
  1. Take into account your favorite team when drafting your fantasy team. No Jets or Patriots players for me.
  2. Switching favorite teams is similar to getting a divorce. There has to be a reason why, a grace period and then a valid reason for a new team/relationship.
  3. One must carefully choose the reasons why you pick a favorite team since that will be a question you will have to answer for the rest of your life.
  4. You can follow multiple teams, but only have one favorite team.
  5. Check out the player's contract and standing on the team before buying his jersey.
  6. Along the same lines don't ever wear a jersey of another team or sport to a game.
  7. If a foul ball comes your way then catch it with your hands or relinquish your right for the ball. Don't use a glove. Don't drop it and then scramble for it knocking over women and children in hopes of getting a $13 baseball. Act like you have been there before.
  8. If your team wins a big game then a cigar is necessary if not required.
  9. It is perfectly acceptable to root for individual players.
  10. Don't bet against your team.
  11. Wherever you go to undergrad is your favorite college exceptions. You had a choice to pick this school and you should stick by that school no matter what. They are your favorite college team in every sport and if they play another school you are required to root for your school.
  12. Your childhood favorite college teams can still be your 2nd favorite teams, but if by chance they ever play your school then refer back to rule 11.
  13. When their is an important game (Duke-UNC, Super Bowl, etc) involving your favorite team there are only 3 acceptable excuses for not watching the game: getting married (and if so pick a better date), attending a funeral or if someone is in labor.
  14. If you have a significant other who is not into sports you should try and make them root for your favorite teams.
  15. When rooting for a team, seniority matters. I take someone who has been a Red Sox fan for 30 years more seriously than someone who has been a Red Sox fan for the past 3 years.

And here are a few new rules to be added to the list:

16. There is a time and place for novice sports fan to ask dumb questions. That time isn't the last 2 minutes and that place isn't while watching the national title game. Don't be the person who asks if Auburn has to go through all four downs even if the time has expired right before the winning field goal.

17. Some people take sports way too seriously. For those people the best rule of thumb is to treat big losses by their favorite teams as if there was a death in the family. Don't ask too many questions and let them come to you when they are ready.

18. If you don't really care who wins then don't take joy in the other team's failure in front of that person. One big caveat though is if they deserve it. If they have been sending you daily emails telling you how Wisconsin was going to beat TCU then feel free to let them have it. If they have been normal and are just cheering for their favorite team then there is no reason why you should be a jerk.

19. If your team makes it to the College World Series for the first time ever then try as hard as you can to drive to Omaha and attend a game.

20. Supporting your team when they are a visitor carries an extra set of rules. Be respectful of the home team. Be extra hospitable to your team's fans.

21. Make a reasonable effort to follow your team. You don't have to watch every game, but every now and then (and especially if it is important) it is worth going to bed a little late to watch your favorite team.

22. Enjoy the wins and try to forget the losses. Most of the time fans treat it the other way around by forgetting the wins and agonizing about the losses.

23. If one of your close friends (think wedding party) has a team playing in a big game that you otherwise wouldn't care about then it is acceptable to throw your support around that team on an interim basis.

24. You can like a way a player performs on the field without liking how the person acts off the field. In an ideal world the best players would also be the best people, but that isn't always the case.

25. Extra points are given to any fan who goes to see one of their favorite players get inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Salt City Hoops directory

A quick break from my favorite series to highlight the work I have been doing on the Salt City Hoops blog. I doubt many of my readers really care about the latest and greatest in statistical analysis of the Utah Jazz, but just in case you missed out below are the posts I have contributed to the site:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Favorite Trips

My favorite trips of all time

  1. Pac Rim (2004) -

    The best of the best and not just just because it was the most expensive or the most memorable. There are very few trips (if any) in your life that imagine having quite as much impact on your life as this one did on mine. In terms of friendship I was able to gain some of my closest friends that I still talk to you on a regular basis. It was amazing how close we all got on the trip and how even after the 6.5 weeks were over we still kept in touch. We were the only study abroad program that continued its listserv (a collection of everyone's email addresses) after the trip was over. In fact we still have the same email listserv going today. One of the most amazing things that I like to quote is that I invited 11 Pac Rim friends to my wedding and there was an 100% attendance rate. In terms of wedding attendance there were literally more friends from 6 weeks in Asia than there were from almost 6 years in Minnesota. The trip also served as a great interview answer when applying for jobs and is still something I can reference in conversation. I don't know if you heard, but China is apparently a large, growing country that is kind of important in the business world. That is especially true when you go work for a large retailer that sources most of their low cost products from China. Besides China the trip included South Korea, Japan and Hawaii. I loved this trip.

  2. Roadtrip to Canada (2002) - Coming out of high school I hadn't really been to many places that I actively remembered. Sure, my family had been on my trips, but as a kid you are really too young to appreciate most of the things you see. (There is the famous story in our family of my Mom nearly throwing my Gameboy out the car window in Colorado, because I was playing RBI baseball instead of looking at the Rocky Mountains.) When I went to Ohio for college I came to the realization that I hadn't really seen much of the country. I then decided to plan a roadtrip and invited the eventual best man in my wedding along. Being college students it needed to be cheap, so I looked at where we had friends, family or pretty much anyone willing to host us. The trip ended up being from Jackson, MS to Atlanta to North Carolina to Virginia to DC to Pennsylvania to Boston to Maine to Quebec to Montreal to Ottawa to the Niagara Falls to Cleveland to Oxford, OH to Nashville and then back to Jackson. It was 4,620 miles over 16 days. We saw both the basketball and football Hall of Fame's. We saw both the Unites States and Canada's capitals. It was a great trip with many funny stories that I enjoy retelling if you are ever interested.
  3. Austria/Budapest (2007) -

    My first two trips on the list were pre-M, but that doesn't mean I haven't been on some great tips with her. In fact one of my favorite things about M is that she is great to travel with. She matches my personality well and we both complement each other in planning/executing the trip. One of those trips was our first overseas trip to go see Nancy and Nicholas's wedding. Part of the reason for the trip was that I was going to be a bridesman in the wedding. This was in the early days of the blog, so if I ever want to go back and remember what I was thinking I can look back at my old posts; Hooked on a Feeling, Blue Jean Blues in Budapest, Things are looking up, Vienna is Vonderful, Graz, Countdown till the wedding, Always a Bridesman. It was my first time in Europe and definitely something that was memorable. I would recommend Austria to anyone looking for a great place to visit in Europe.
  4. Spring Training (1994) - As I wrote before I don't really remember many of the trips my family took because as a kid I didn't really appreciate things as much as I do now that I am an adult. One of the the trips that I do remember and did appreciate was our family's (minus E) trip to see Spring Training in Florida. Wow. I remember seeing the Dodgers, Phillies, Blue Jays and other teams and was just amazed. This was back before the strike when baseball probably was my favorite sport. I still remember Raul Mondesi tossing me a ball and me running back up to my parents to show them my treasure. The trip was even highlighted by a stop in St. Petersburg to see the 1994 Duke team led by Grant Hill. We were able to watch one of their practices, which again as an 11 year old boy was about the coolest thing ever. If kids are ever in my future I think a trip to Spring Training would definitely be something fun to do.

  5. Spain (2010) - Another really fun trip that came during the blog years. Unlike the Budapest/Austria trip I didn't take my computer with me to blog on the trip. Therefore when I got back I did a summary of what I liked and didn't like on the Honeymoon in Spain post.

Just missed the cut: Thunder Bay (2007), Bemidji (2006), Kansas City (2010), Vegas (2010), Grand Canyon (sometime when I was a kid), one of the family's Florida trips.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Favorite TV series

My favorite TV series of all-time:

  1. Sports Night - Great acting, pretty good script and a few episodes that years later I still remember. I loved watching Sports Night and am still upset that it was canceled after only 2 seasons. Natalie might be my favorie female character of all time. High school me couldn't think of a better girlfriend than Natalie. Glad that my high school girlfriend didn't know that I guess since she was nothing like Natalie.
  2. Dawson's Creek - Another show from my high school days. What is it about the importance media (music, tv, movies) plays in your high school days? Dawson's Creek was one of the shows that meant more to me then than shows do now. I remember comparaing my friend group to Dawson's Creek and finding some striking similiarities. Along with Sports Night I have rewatched episodes, which speaks to how much I like the show. In fact right now M and I are halfway through season 5 (it lasted 6 seasons) after starting from the beginning. We thought this was a good idea after going to the place (Wilmington, NC) where Dawson's Creek was filmed for her brother's wedding.

  3. How I Met Your Mother - This is a current show that still might go through some decline (similiar to The Office) but right now the show is still a must watch. I love the characters and the actors/actresses do a great job with them. Barney specifically is one of the funnier characters I can remember. Also, I love the relationship between Lily and Marshall.

  4. The Shield - I just finished the final season (season 7) of The Shield about a month ago. From the very first episode it was one of the best shows I could imagine. It is the only real action drama (Dawson's Creek was more of a emotional drama) on my list of favorite TV shows. Vic Mackey is another great character who walks line between good and bad. This is an important disctiontion because while the shows above are more black and white The Shield exists in a world of grey. I don't want to give away any plot lines, but I will write that the show was much better Seasons 1-5. I did not like the end of Season 5 even if it might have been the only logical move for the writers to make. Still overall as a whole this show was incredible.
  5. PTI - This is a little bit different of a show to choose since it is non-fiction as opposed to the four above. However, it wouldn't be a complete list of my favorite shows without mentioned PTI. Specifically I am writing about the PTI with Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser since I am not as big of fan as the guest hosts like Dan Le Batard or Bob Ryan. However, when it is Wilbon and Tony commenting on sporting events for 30 minutes it is worth the permanant spot on my DVR recording. In fact that show is perfect for the DVR since they list the topics on the right in addition to including a countdown clock. If there is a subject that I don't care about (ex. Tiger Woods) then it is really easy to fast forward to the next subject I care about without having to guess.

Just missed the cut - The Daily Show, The Office, Saved by the Bell, Modern Family.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My favorite series

I am going to try a new series going over my favorite things in certain categories. Right now I was thinking about my favorite fast food, sports games, BBQ, ballparks, burgers, trips, meals, years, fictional characters and TV shows. If you have any suggestions on what to add to my list then feel free to leave a comment.

My first "my favorite" will be the My Favorite Dishes in the Twin Cities. Now when I write about my favorite dishes I am talking about meals that I order again and again and always with a certain level of anticipation. Meals that are so good that they would be on my list of things to do if I were to ever come back to Minnesota as a visitor. These are my standard go-to meals when trying to impress someone from out of town. Now what makes the meals so excellent is that they take what might be a normal food (ex. pizza) and make it extraordinary. It is pretty easy to make a good steak, so unless a steak is miles above other steaks in terms of taste then it isn't on the list. I am looking for the restaurants that add the most value to their dishes by how the prepare them.
  1. Amore Victoria - Gnocchi con pistachio e Gorgonzola - A simple pasta dish as evidenced by the description - "Homemade Italian potato dumplings tossed in a rich, savory cream sauce with Gorgonzola cheese and green pistachios." It is one the cheapest entrees ringing in at only $14.50 and is absolutely amazing. There is a reason I picked this place for M's and I's first meal as an engaged couple.

  2. Ted Cook's 19th Hole - Ribs with medium sauce - The best BBQ stays with you and Ted Cook's ribs with medium or mild sauce is one that keeps coming back in my mind. The medium sauce definitely has the right amount of kick in it, but the mild sauce is excellent as well. The thing that stands out about these ribs is that they are different. Most of the BBQ places I go to have standard fare and I enjoy their BBQ, but none of them taste like Ted Cook's. It is the one BBQ spot in Minneapolis that I keep going back to despite the fact that there are other BBQ options closer.

  3. Cossetta's - Lasagna - If you go to Cossetta's during normal hours you stand a good chance of seeing a long line out the door. There is a reason for it. Cossetta's serves great Italian food. It doesn't matter that the there isn't one cook making your meal specifically for you or that the food is served to you cafeteria style. All that matters is that the food is excellent and worth the price and the wait. While the pizza is really good it would be a shame to go there and not get the lasagna.

  4. Brasa - Rotisserie chicken - the chicken has a Creole style dry rub and is something that goes very well with cheese grits, cornbread and some sweet tea. It is just a good, simple meal that is very enjoyable.

  5. Andrea's - Chicken bacon ranch pizza - One of the things I miss most about working downtown are the variety of places to eat over lunch. One place that was always in the discussion of places to was Andrea's pizza in the skyway near Macy's. I would always get one slice of the Chicken bacon ranch (or the Chicken Alfredo) and one slice of the Gyro pizza to with lemonade. This remains my favorite pizza in the Twin Cities.

Just missed the cut - Zen Box's potato croquette. The Nook's Juicy Lucy. Target Field's Tony O Cuban sandwich.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Arkansas - Ohio State (halftime)

Ohio State leads Arkansas 28-10 at halftime of the Sugar Bowl. This is a pretty big game considering that Ohio State is hoping to *finally beat an SEC team in a bowl game.

*Miami University in contrast is 3-0 against SEC teams in bowl games with wins against Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the Tangerine Bowls of 1973-1975.

With 4 seconds left in the half coach Bobby Petrino had a decision to make. Does he go for the touchdown from three yards away or does he kick a field goal? A td would make the game 28-14, while a field goal would make the game 28-10. He chose the field goal and describes his reasoning to Holly Rowe in his halftime interview:

Rowe - "Coach - what made you decide to go for a field goal in that situation?"
Petrino - "Well get to three possessions...makes it 18..we got a chance now."

Huh? It was three possessions before he kicked the field goal (all touchdowns) and three possessions after he kicked the field goal (still all touchdowns...unless you assume a two point conversation). Nevermind that it was probably the wrong decision, but his reasoning has to make Razorback fans (those who caught it) nervous.