Friday, December 30, 2011

Ten Best Books I Read In 2011

At the end of every year, I will create a blog post of the ten best books I read throughout the year. These books do not necessarily have to have been published and released to the public in 2011, but they were books that were read throughout the year. On average, I read close to twenty books a year, give or take a few books. This year, I was fortunate enough to be able to read thirty, which to me is always a plus. I'm on my thirty first book at the moment, Stephen King's 11/22/63, but will probably finish it in 2012, unless I find a wide amount of time to simply commit to reading. I don't see that happening with the plans on my radar. Coincidentally, I began reading Stephen King's IT at the end of 2010 and completed it in 2011. Reading Stephen King books to complete the year may end up being an unintentionally trend then, eh!

My top ten include books of all kinds. Some of the books are from the horror fiction genre of which I find to be a lost art, a lost art that I hope to pursue success. Some of the books simply caught my eye, whether it be on the mainstream market or because of their simple impression of popularity with the reader's community. Some of the books were simply me broadening my horizons and trying new things. Finally, there were some books that were simply recommendations from other people. If you recommended a book to me and you see it on my top ten list, then I offer my thanks for the recommendation and look forward to exchanging books and titles in the future.

I will present the list in a countdown format, as it increases excitement. Hopefully you thoroughly enjoy the list for what it is. We shall now begin!

#10- Dead Sea by Brian Keene- I discovered Brian Keene when I bought this book at the flea market. He seems to show strong interest in adding his two cents to the zombie craze that is oh so popular at this time. Horror fiction is becoming such a lost art and authors who write in the genre (with the exception of Stephen King and occasionally Dean Koontz) are often looked over. If you like zombies, don't overlook Keene. The protagonist is Lamar Reed, who is black and gay. He realizes that this is the double whammy that makes him somewhat of an outcast to society, but he's a guy that I would most definitely want to hang out with on a regular day. He is blunt and he hates those that add fuel to the stereotypes of blacks and gays. The land becomes uninhabitable, invaded by zombies, and everyone is forced to live in a ship heading out to sea. However, escaping zombie life in the apocalyptic world may be a far more daunting task. Dead Sea is a strong take on a zombie novel that comes off as a light read, but at the same time will keep your attention.

#9- Doctor Rat by William Kotzwinkle- It may be a book of pure insanity. The point of the matter is that this novel is a satire that delivers such a strong message. Take Animal Farm, move it into a laboratory, and you got Doctor Rat. The premise of the novel is animal experimentation and the animals of all kinds (rats, dogs, horses, etc.) have had enough of being used for mankind's experiments. The only animal that sides with the humans is Doctor Rat. He comes off as being a philosopher of sorts and delivers his message with jingles that come off as being hilarious. His motto, which makes sense, is "death is freedom." Makes sense, because you can constantly be tortured, but when you die, you no longer have to live through the torturous hell that comes with experimentation in the lab. The animals engage in a rebellious revolt and can ultimately be summed up with a dose of common sense, something that even a young reader can realize is reasonable (though I would suggest that you don't use this book as a bedtime story for your young one. Enjoy it all to yourself).

#8- When The Wind Blows by John Saul- I am officially a fan of John Saul. His writing can keep you up for much longer than you need to be up and you care for the protagonists and despise the antagonists. In this novel, Christie Lyons moves in to the haunted home of Diana and her mother, Edna. Diana is thrilled to have a new adopted daughter, but Edna is far from thrilled, and does not believe Diana is fit for motherhood. In some instances, she is right. Christie, who is nine, sleeps in a nursery in which she is locked, and in an area haunted by the ghosts of dead children. Things aren't what you would expect in this area. Some of the events that happen in this novel could come off as being shocking. You do have to admit, though, that this novel will attract your attention if anything else. This novel was difficult to put down and it was read through completely in about a week's time. Buy this novel and it'll be very likely that the same will happen for you.

#7- The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde- I've heard plenty about this novel from several people, but have not had the chance to read it myself. After the novel was recommended, I completed it in a week and enjoyed the story of Dorian Gray and his self-consciousness. My issue with classic literature has always been wording. You really have to think deeply when it comes to reading the novel and pick up what is being described in the story. There are also monologue's that generally wouldn't occur in everyday life. I know that I don't walk in my window and give a monologue about the color of the sky and how it compares to my emotions. This novel crosses the paths of such topics as masked homosexuality, the consequence of a misdeed, self-consciousness, and symbolism. The way the novel ends ultimately makes for a strong message.

#6- Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire by J.K. Rowling- I never read Harry Potter in my life. I watched the films, but never read the books. I didn't have interest, because my strong interest in reading began during my sophomore year of high school, and by that time I was mostly reading adult fiction. I met somebody who happened to be strongly into the series and strongly wanted me to read the series. I did so and did it in less than two months. I enjoyed the fourth to six novels the most, but enjoyed The Goblet Of Fire the most. This is the novel in which the Triwizard tournaments between the many schools is being held, and while his participation is illegal, Harry Potter is mysteriously chosen in compete. This novel is the key turning point in the series and shows the most evidence of a bridge that connects the young adult to regular adult readers. I read the series, enjoyed this book, thought the series was well written, and feel that J.K. Rowling could be considered a literary genius. I am not a fanatic, however, and feel that the series was interesting while it lasted. You will not find me on Pottermore or at any Harry Potter convention.

#5- Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury- Bradbury originally wrote Dandelion Wine and Farewell Summer as one product. However, the publisher told him that he could only publish the first so many words and would have to wait to publish the rest. The first part happened to be Dandelion Wine and was released in the 1950s. It would be another fifty years until Farewell Summer was published. The novel could be extremely difficult to grasp, but the premise is just so magical. The summer has lasted forever and Douglas Spaulding does not want to grow up. He decides to declare war against time itself, but time is an unstoppable force. I finished this novel in a single day. This is a very light novel is a very innocent premise that reminds me of a good breath of fresh air. Bradbury has done a fine job capturing the essence the summer time innocence that comes with childhood. I have thoroughly enjoyed his literary genius that he continues to spread to this day.

#4- Dark Mountain by Richard Laymon- I discovered Richard Laymon and his work by engaging in some web surfing of horror fiction authors. I found Laymon's name, bought some of his books, thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and have been collecting ever since. This novel starts with two families going on a camping trip. They encounter a few obstacles, but their key obstacle comes when they confront a monster manchild, whose mother puts a curse of all of them. They return home and encounter several instances of horror. Enough to finally return to the camping grounds and confront the monsters. Richard Laymon's work are a pleasure. His works are much like Burger King, in the way that it doesn't play like the classics, but it's just so enjoyable nonetheless. There is a fair amount of blood, gore, nudity, sex, and what ever the what not, but that's adult horror fiction for you. The novel is just enjoyable to read and will indeed keep your attention.

#3- Life Itself by Roger Ebert- Roger Ebert may very well be the greatest film critic that has ever lived. I enjoy his reviews and how they are casual, yet formal at the same time. I check his take on the newest films each week and collect his yearbooks and other publications when they come out. With that being said, I had to check out his autobiography. He writes about his life and the highlights in it. It isn't necessarily a traditional autobiography, but that's a good thing. Ebert writes about the things that he felt were most important. He writes about his upbringing, going to Catholic school, his alcoholism, his early relationships, his favorite people in the cinema world, Gene Siskel, Chaz Ebert, as well as the cancer and surgeries that left him without a jaw and unable to speak, but still a devoted fan to cinema. Ebert fills us in with things that stood out in his life, and that was what was truly worth reading.

#2- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson- I finally decided to begin reading the Millennium trilogy that Swedish author Stieg Larsson wrote and was published after his tragic death. The novel was supposed to be ten novels, but Larsson died midway into writing the fourth novel, which was never published. As for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, originally called Men Who Hate Women in Sweden, is about journalist Mikael Blomkvist and how Henrik Vanger wants him to look into the disappearance of a relative. Blomkvist is assisted by computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, who has several tattoos and piercings, but not much of a personality. The complete series has been adapted onto the big screen in Sweden and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was adapted in America just this year. The novel delivers much excitement, as well as much of an intelligent background toward each little detail. Including the family tree of the entire Vanger family most definitely helps when it comes to referring. I am definitely convinced to read the remainder of the series.

#1- Destiny Of The Republic by Candice Millard- I have been interested in information about the U.S. Presidents since the first grade. James Garfield, our 20th president, happens to be one of the extremely vague presidents who is not remembered for much, except being in office for a few months and then murdered. There's much more to Garfield than that. Destiny Of The Republic shows the kind of personality Garfield had, his personal life, the people who stood as conflicts (such as Stalwart leader Roscoe Conkling), and ultimately being shot by Charles Guiteau. Even more, it wasn't Guiteau that really killed him, but it could have very well been the doctors and their unsanitary and narrow-minded practices that killed him. This story opens up several doors that only the historians really pay attention to. Destiny Of The Republic is more about the assassination of a president. It gives us far more substance that history books overlook, and presents recognition that is often ignored in favor of the assassinations of more familiar presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. This book will make for an excellent history lesson.

Here is my top ten. It was a bit tougher than you would think, but that's the way lists are. The toughest part was between the ten and eleven area, as that would be the deciding factor. 2011 was overall an excellent year for reading. I strongly hope that 2012 is just as excellent, if not, far more excellent, because reading could only become better. Hope you enjoy these selections and if you have yet to check them out, check them out and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Television Review: Who's Still Standing

In this day and age, game shows have been ruled by the contestants that they choose and not the play of the game in general. It seems like the producers feel that in order for a game show to succeed, it needs to have contestants that can build excitement or create some form of emotion. Simply put, the contestant needs to either act like they overdid it on drinking coffee or they need to have some kind of story that's going to pull on the viewers heartstrings. The latter seems to hold more true for reality talent competitions, the former is generally something that a game show looks for. We know that this is not true, because Jeopardy!, which along with Wheel Of Fortune, is the best game show block on television. Jeopardy! is a show in which the game play and those who play the game well are the ones who stick out. Who's Still Standing, a new game show that originated overseas, has been brought over to America. It is simply another version of GSN's Russian Roulette, only the rules are different.

Who's Still Standing is a game show that airs on NBC and is hosted by Cash Cab host Ben Bailey. This in itself is a good thing. Several game shows have been casting "has-beens" to perform the role of host, as oppose to hiring professionals to do the job. We have seen Howie Mandel, Bob Saget (though being the host of the original America's Funniest Home Videos could count in his favor), Jeff Foxworthy, Penn Jillette, Kevin Pollack, among others hosting shows when there is so much out there, like Ben Bailey. Bailey has a good sense of humor and a personality that makes him someone you would enjoy hanging out with.

On Who's Still Standing, a contestant has to take down ten "strangers" in one-on-one trivia battles in order to win the grade prize of $1,000,000. They each have twenty seconds to come up with the correct answer. As long as you can come up with a correct answer in twenty seconds, you remain in the game. The battle continues to go back and forth until someone runs out of time on a specific question. In that case, that person would drop through their trapdoor. If this happens to be the contestant, then the stranger wins $10,000. If this happens to be the stranger, then the contestant wins money in their bank that depends on how much the stranger is worth. This amount can range from $1,000 to $20,000. The questions are relatively simple, unlike many other trivia based game shows. Some of the occasions in which someone gets stumped is on ridiculous occasions. For instance, someone couldn't figure out Al Gore made a movie about global warming. The contestant is given two passes for the first five rounds, meaning if they are stumped on an answer, they could force the stranger to answer the question. The stranger has no such help. After five battles, the contestant gains the option to walk away if they wish after each battle. They also gain an extra pass.

There are several faults about the show. The first is the simple holiday theme that is being extended past the holidays. Santa's voice as the narrator (and not even a good Santa at that) has begun to get on my nerves. The commercials also occur during the middle of a battle. When they return, they act like they were just taking a break, and then return to the same position that they were once in. I find that to be really annoying. It makes it feel like the curtain between what we see and what really is happening is thin and dainty. Another fault is how the show allows the time to control the game play. On many game shows, either time boundaries already exist or the contestant returns the next week. On this show, the game play is cramped into the one episode, thus we have come up with the pattern of knowing what's going to happen. That and the fact that the contestants on this show walk away pretty quickly. On the first five episodes, three of them walked away after the fifth question and two walked away after the seventh. In the most recent episode (the December 26th episode), the female contestant mentioned that she couldn't stand it when contestants walked away early and didn't take the risk and continue playing the game. The show takes commercial. When they come back, she begins choking up and saying how $51,000 is a lot of money and that it could help her with a down payment. Then she chooses to walk away. This goes to show me that she is either a hypocrite or she was told what to do. I don't want to think the former, nor do I want to think the latter, but the latter could be a possibility.

On many occasions, the remaining strangers participate in a speed round where they have ten seconds to answer questions. Correct answers add to the jackpot and incorrect answers cause the stranger to drop. The last one standing wins the jackpot. It's also exciting to see Ben Bailey dropping through the trapdoor at the end of each episode. It shows that the host has a personality and is open to having fun. Though Russian Roulette host Mark Walberg did it during the Playboy episode and substitute host Todd Newton did the same when he was subbing.

Who's Still Standing will be airing on Monday nights at 8 PM EDT on NBC for at least the rest of January. The show does have a good amount of potential. While there are many quirks that I have, I am a game show enthusiast. For the ordinary viewer, you will have a good time watching the show. You'll enjoy the comedy element of watching different types of people dropping through trapdoors and playing along with fairly simple questions (which is something new for Ben Bailey, because the questions on Cash Cab were fairly difficult). If you can overlook the faults, you'll enjoy the experience. If you can ignore the clock and the pattern you'll form in your head when you don't ignore the clock, you'll enjoy it as well. It's a good option for a current game show, even though I may be looking for something on the intellectual caliber.

Verdict: 7/10

Monday, December 26, 2011

Top Notch Television: The Twilight Zone

Sometimes all of us need to escape into a completely different dimension. We need to escape reality and enter some form of fantasy. When you enter The Twilight Zone, this fantasy isn't always a positive fantasy, but sometimes it is a world that we do not necessarily want to live. This world may very well be a world in which we live in the future and some of these scenarios have become extremely accurate in some way or another. The Twilight Zone is a horror fiction delight, because it plays with the mind and causes a kind of fear. This fear being what we as a society are allowing the future to bring.

The Twilight Zone was created, produced, and narrated by Rod Serling. Serling did a lot to contribute to the feel of the show. Whether it be with his narration or with the stories and scripts that he contributed, many of the stories of which he created. The narration that he gave was generally a bit of background information to start the episode and then to sum it up, he provided a "for instance," that would leave us, the viewer, to think about the entire episode. When Serling wasn't contributing, he had a wide array of writers, such as Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury (best known for works such as Fahrenheit 451 and Dandelion Wine), Richard Matheson (best known for I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man), among many others. What Serling had was a great team that produced such a great show, which had an original run from 1959 to 1964.

There were several highlight episodes in the series. "Time Enough At Last" featured Burgess Meredith, playing a bank teller who loved to read. He would read anything and everything, but it interfered with the way he lived, and those such as his impatient boss and nagging wife felt he needed to stop reading. When an H-Bomb hits and wipes out humanity, he's the only survivor. He finally has time to read, but a specific twist stands in the way.

"The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" delivers a strong message. The episode involves an alien invasion that causes the power to go out in the neighborhood and the neighbors ultimately blaming one another for being an alien. The message has to do with holding prejudices and creating scapegoats for our problems. This episode can be used in each of our everyday problems.

In "Night Of The Meek," The Twilight Zone gets into the Christmas spirit in a sentimental episode about Art Carney playing an alcoholic who plays a mall Santa each year. His alcoholism stands in the way of performing him well, but all he wants is to have a good holiday where all of the children are happy and satisfied. He gains help from a magical sack.

In "A Game Of Pool," Jack Klugman plays a pool player, challenging a dead great, played by Jonathan Winters, to see who's the best. The episode challenges the boundaries between life and death in a way far different from a visit from the Grim Reaper.

"To Serve Man" was in my opinion a strong episode. The story has to do with an alien played by Richard Kiel promising to serve man. Well, he holds his promise to doing so, but there is more than just one way of serving man. How about being served in order to satisfy aliens of another race... for dinner. It's so incredible how something that could be so graphic can be portrayed without being graphic.

"Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" is one of the more memorable episodes. Written by Richard Matheson, it starts William Shatner in his early days as an airplane passenger. He continues to see a hairy creature on the wing of the airplane, but only he could see this creature. This episode has been redone many of times, but as always, the original would be extremely hard to top.

These are only some of the amazing episodes in the series. Other premises that have been touched include physical appearance, computers taking over the jobs of everyday people, and the need to be exactly like everyone else. The scary thing is that this may very well be the direction in which we are heading. Rod Serling was a man beyond his years and provided us with different insights to what the future may bring. It was unfortunate that his heavy smoking would cost him his life at a very early age, but the legacy of The Twlight Zone lives on.

Even in Disney World, The Twilight Zone lives on through "The Tower Of Terror," which is an elevator ride from hell. Just imagine being in an elevator and having the chord snapped. The ride does have different experiences for each visit, making the ride that much scarier.

The Twilight Zone has really made an impact for readers who enjoy taking that extra mile to thinking about what they just read. These are readers that enjoy the experience that lies ahead and is willing to think outside the box. This is top-notch television that should definitely be checked out whenever the opportunity occurs.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Wishes

We are now in the heart of the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Boxing Day, or just a simple off day to be with your loved ones, the holidays are here again. A time to cherish the moments you have with your loved ones and a time to sit back and enjoy everything you worked up to. Sometimes there are things that stand in the way, but Christmas time is a time for everyone to put that aside and show a bit of joy and happiness.

We may better know the holiday season as being a period of time filled with commercialized advertising, crowded stores, scrambling to complete all kinds of shopping, and everything else in between. For many, the holiday season is being promoted by retailers as being a quick way to make a buck. For others, the holiday season is a time to complain about why we call the holiday "Christmas" and how we need to point out politically correct terms. The holiday season is a time where we should just put this aside and let others live the way they want to. I don't think we need to send three ghosts to every misers house now??? At this time of year, let's just ignore this and think about what is great!

For my Christmas season, I have had the complete honor of spending the season with those I cherish. I was able to spend time with my family and will spend even more time with them on Christmas Day. I was also able to either speak with my friends or visit with them, depending on time and distance. Being able to be with these people was the greatest gift of all. That is what Christmas means to me!

I want to extend my Christmas wishes to ALL of my readers and hope that their holiday season is fantastic! I also want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe new year. God bless you all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Big Cheeses: Parmigiano Reggiano

The king of cheeses! I couldn't go without recognizing a cheese that would fall under such a title. That cheese is Parmigiano Reggiano, and it's the one that I have had the most active appetite for. The fact that the best in the market is imported makes it more expensive than something we put together in America, but it's definitely worth it when it comes to finally eating it. Many have tried to interpret Parmigiano Reggiano cheese as Parmesan, and just as many failed to do so. There is much to say about this king cheese, because if there is any all or nothing cheese, this one is definitely it!

Looking at the name alone, you would know that Parmigiano Reggiano comes from Italy. It just so happens that the cheese could only be called Parmigiano Reggiano if it is made in specific Italian provinces. These specific provinces include Parma, Bologna, Modena, Mantua, and Reggio Emilia. Otherwise, the name Parmesan is generally put into use. Parmigiano Reggiano has since spread and been extremely popular with several dishes. Whether it's grated on top of pasta, used in a soup dish, or on a salad in order to make the dish that much better. Of course, my favorite way to eat this cheese is just as it is.

Parmigiano Reggiano has a hard texture and a nutty kind of taste. If it doesn't crumble when you chop it from the block, it will surely crumble in your mouth. It leaves an orchestra playing in your mouth, tempting you to go for more. When it's in the right state, Parmigiano Reggiano is a brilliant cheese. Mario Batali even did his magic with this cheese by creating a bowl and filling it with grappa. There's a lot that could be done with this cheese, and this is a cheese that is difficult to create a disaster with.

If there's anything that's disastrous, it's the interpretations of this cheese. The biggest disaster is the Parmesan cheese that's sold in a container or shaker and laid out on a dry surface. While many practices say that cheese should be kept at room temperature as oppose to the cold temperatures in which it's often kept, the packaging completely hurts the taste of the cheese. Many of times, it's placed in a cardboard container. This causes the cheese to taste like sawdust, or sand, or the cardboard itself. Even when the packaging is dry, it takes the moisture out of the cheese and thus suffocates everything that makes the cheese excellent. If you have any intention of eating cheese the right way, buying prepared cheese that falls under this kind of packaging in a cardinal sin.

When it comes to doing the right thing and enjoying cheese the right way, spending thirteen dollars on a piece of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese shouldn't hurt if you do it on occasion and put the cheese to good use. The fact that it's called "The King Of Cheeses" is indeed an appropriate name and the fact that it tastes good just about confirms the statement. So do yourself a favor and buy a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano if you have yet to do so for the holiday season!

Friday, December 16, 2011

December Republican Debates

There were two debates that were held in December. One of which was aired on ABC and the other on FOX News. Both were held in Iowa and featured Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and for the debate held on FOX News, Jon Huntsman. These were the first two debates that didn't feature Herman Cain, and since this change, it seems as if the polling order within the field has become uniformed.

I will be doing something different than what I did for the previous debates. I will be reviewing how the candidates are doing in the debate and tying it with how they are doing in the race for the Republican nomination. The debates have become battlegrounds for the front-runner candidates, Gingrich and Romney to be specific. I will mention the candidates individually and grading them on how well they have stood their ground in the race.

Rick Santorum- Santorum's numbers are strong compared to his numbers in most other early states and nationwide. The problem is... those numbers aren't very high to begin with. He's running at 5% or slightly higher in Iowa and under 5% elsewhere (with the exception of his home state of Pennsylvania, which he tends to place in third and has polled as high as 18%). In the debates, he's asserting his ground and how he shows no nonsense for issues he feels strongly about. These issues include social issues and foreign policy. If you stand in his way, he'll fight his way through you. He's mentioned that he was consistent with his beliefs and stood by these beliefs whether they were popular or they were not. During the early debates, he was the candidate that didn't stand out in the crowd. Starting in August, when he was participating in a debate in Ames, Iowa, he became assertive with his views and the time that he had to express them. Santorum put most of his time in Iowa and not coming out with 15% or more (which I believe he comes out with 5% and 10% if he hits the jackpot) will be a loss that will result in Santorum's exit from the race. He seems to be a guy that's in it for the long run, but I also think he's a guy who will only get about 1% in New Hampshire and no more than 5% in any other state besides Pennsylvania. The FOX News Debate may have been the last we see of him for the 2012 race, but he could possibly run again. He made an impression during the debates and that's how we'll remember him for now. B

Rick Perry- It was the poor performances in the debates that caused the incredible shrinking of Rick Perry's campaign. It was an ad titled "Strong" that made Rick Perry even more unpopular and maybe even damaged his support from those who weren't social conservatives. In the most recent debate, he compared himself to Tim Tebow and how miracles could happen. He also mentioned how he was finally getting the hang of these debates. Yes, he's finally getting the hang of these debates, but now it seems a little too late. Bashing him in no longer popular in the race. Nowadays, people are looking to bash Newt Gingrich. Perry's numbers in Iowa and South Carolina seem to be in the mid-single digits and in New Hampshire, they are atrocious. I had mentioned that he had until South Carolina to make a splash or his campaign will be over. I stand by it. Perry is not presenting himself well and seems to be more remembered for his flubs than his feats. Getting 15% or more in Iowa, New Hampshire, and/or South Carolina will be key in the race, and Perry MAY get that much in South Carolina, but that's if passionate social or neo-conservative voters come out in the droves. Perry is not doing himself justice in the race and will need to pull something from his sleeves if he's going to want to come near the nomination. C-

Mitt Romney- Romney has consistently remained at the front of the pack. The race has almost always been down to Romney and somebody else. Romney comes off as being the most "politician-like," more so than Newt Gingrich, though being the most "politician-like" doesn't be the most "presidential worthy." Romney has taken his hits at candidates such as Gingrich, but has also been able to fess up to his mistakes and that he is NOT the perfect nominee. He did it last election when it came to his position on abortion and how he was pro-choice in the 90s when he ran against Ted Kennedy. This goes to show you that he does want the voters to trust him on his positions. Whether or not he's to be completely trusted would be up to the American people to decide. We should take what any politician says is a grain of salt, as that's just common sense. Romney's leading in New Hampshire and in or battling for second in Iowa and South Carolina. He will likely be able to clinch the northeast, California, Michigan, Utah, along with other states that generally go to Democratic candidates. If he garners a decent amount of delegates, he will likely be able to stick around until June, when primaries such as California and New Jersey occur. He comes off as presentable at the debates and will be a candidate to look at. B+

Newt Gingrich- In the many earlier debates, Gingrich was the blunt and aggressive debater who went after Obama, Bernanke, Dodd, Frank, the Democratic agenda, the media, and anything and everything else that stood in his way. He was like a freight train that was going in any old direction, but this direction was sure to be the right one. Gingrich is now the front-runner and is leading polls in Iowa and South Carolina. He is also the key target for several of the other Republican candidates. He is indeed a candidate that's going to take a lot of heat, as there are many dark spots to Newt Gingrich. Ron Paul took the first jab at Gingrich with an ad, and Michele Bachmann quickly followed with a pro-choice position of his. Gingrich happens to talk about the Reagan administration more than any of the candidates, as he was one of those who was in public office during the eighties. Gingrich debates well and his good debating has helped him move upward. He should be a strong candidate in the south and winning South Carolina, as every Republican nominee has won since 1980, could really be the decider. Gingrich just has to keep calm in the debates, but at the same time remain firm. He'll be a freight train whose destination could be the Republican nomination and then off to his next route: the White House. B+

Ron Paul- Many people say that Ron Paul doesn't have a chance and that there's no way he could win the Republican nomination. I don't know about that. He was just about a hundred votes from winning the Ames Straw Poll and it was Michele Bachmann that won that. At this point in time, the vote may be a bit more spread out, leaving some open space for Paul to prevail. Paul has taken advantage of the time during the debates. His reply to the fact that many say he doesn't have a chance is that anyone on the stage is more electable than Obama. Paul remains consistent with his views on foreign policy and how we need to stay away from the possibility of going into Iran. He mentions that Switzerland and Sweden are doing a fine job with their history of remaining neutral. This brings for heated debate from the other candidates with the exception of Huntsman, who has a moderate view on foreign affairs in the middle east, but not as severe as Paul. Aside from Gingrich and Romney, Paul looks like he is fighting for the big prize. He was the first to release an attack ad on Gingrich at the time in which Gingrich achieved front-runner status. Paul could very well be a dark horse for the 2012 race for the presidency, it's all going to come down to voters. A

Michele Bachmann- If there's anybody that's taking advantage of the debates and bringing their opponents down to size, it would be Michele Bachmann. She coined the term "Newt Romney" when referring to the skeletons that are hiding in Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney's closets, she fought Gingrich on his lax stance on pro-choice colleagues, she even fought Ron Paul and his stance on staying away from Iran. Bachmann is benefiting from the debate, but whether or not it will garner votes is something that's to be determined. Her support in Iowa is in the mid-single digits and closer to Rick Perry's. It's going to come down to Iowa and how well she could prevail in the first caucus. If she doesn't have a strong showing in Iowa, it could very well be the end for the 2012 Michele Bachmann campaign. Her numbers in New Hampshire are very low and South Carolina is a slight possibility, but nothing as strong as Iowa, which is just south of her home state of Minnesota. Based on how well she's fighting, she's fighting and fighting hard. She's got the spirit and that's what matters most. A

Jon Huntsman- Huntsman was not invited to ABC's debate as he did not meet the 5% requirement in Iowa. He was invited to the FOX News debate and it seems like for Huntsman, it's New Hampshire or bust. Unfortunately for him, the latter is much likely. Huntsman contributed his experience while he was Governor Of Utah and other brief ideas. He was not on the hot seat or engaged in any hot seat confrontations. Huntsman has not put a lot into Iowa, never did, and is likely to not put into Iowa so much anytime soon. New Hampshire's going to be his decider. He's polling at around 10% and will likely garner a vote of a little less. He does not have such a strong showing in any other state, besides Utah, and chances are he will end his campaign after finishing around fourth in New Hampshire. There's nothing Huntsman is really doing otherwise. C

As far as debates go, Michele Bachmann is taking more the most advantage of this time to strengthen her weakening campaign than any of the others and their campaigns of various strengths. However, going into Iowa, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul will be the candidates that will get the most looks. Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman are in the next tier under.

The next debate will not occur until after the Iowa Caucuses, thus the lineup as to who participates will remain in question and depend on which candidates remain in the race. A lot will come down to what happens in Iowa.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Pleasures

The holiday season has arrived, whether we like it or not. For the record, the only part we would dislike is the hectic shopping, the slew of Christmas music, and anything else that may be so fast paced that you think your head is going to blow up. Besides that, the holidays are just a warm and magical time that you get that really cozy feeling. The holidays are a time of year where you feel warm inside when you're able to make someone happy. It delivers the happiness of a good deed.

Another great thing about the holidays are holiday pleasures. I sure have many of those! Some of these pleasures could be enjoyed any time of the year, but there are some pleasures that are simply meant to be enjoyed for Christmas time (which is what I happen to celebrate).

Shortbread Cookies- I whole-heartedly enjoy shortbread cookies! They're like my fuel for the holiday season. I could go to a BJ's and get a tin box full of Walker's shortbread cookies and I will be set. If I put my mind to it, a whole sleeve could be complete in one sitting. The top of the line shortbread cookies come in four designs: fingers, triangles, highlanders, and rounds. Fingers are rectangular looking, triangles are triangular and look like watermelon slice cookies, and the highlanders and rounds are both circular, but the rounds are a bit more smooth in your mouth. Walker's makes what could be called my favorite make of shortbread cookies. The Danish cookies happen to be more popular, but they could sometimes be a bit too sweet. I remember getting a more unique looking tin of those and they were delicious. It's very likely that I consume about 90% of the shortbread cookies throughout the year in the month of December. They're just that good!

European Chocolate- Well, any chocolate lover could tell you that chocolate is great any time of the year. It just so happens that we want December to be a soothing month, more soothing than it actually is. European chocolate just so happens to be soothing. The different between Belgian and Swiss milk chocolates and other types of milk chocolate like the Hershey bar is that European chocolate tastes richer and creamier. It doesn't have the feeling of a sugary rush, but instead a feeling like you can cuddle up inside and feel like you're sailing on the sea. European chocolate could just about be consumed any time. It just so happens that Christmas and chocolate go together very well!

Cheese- Okay, okay, okay. I am a cheese enthusiast. I write a segment about "Big Cheeses" roughly once a month. In my mind, cheese can be enjoyed any time you feel like it. I just so happen to enjoy it so much more around the holidays. I used to attend Christmas Tea events at my high school, where one of the teacher's would make tea and then we'd have several snacks. I would always bring cheese and crackers. The cheese would be a cracker friendly cheese, like a Cheddar, Muenster, or Gouda. Havarti with Dill also went off well. The cracker would be the Shop Rite Entertainment crackers, which are by far my favorite crackers to pair with cheese. It has just the right taste and texture, but yet the cheese remains the star. This year, I bought a block of Parmigiano Reggiano (the king of Italian cheeses!) and cut off chunks to enjoy. Cheese is an excellent way to celebrate the holidays!

Christmas Music- They seriously overdo the music, enough to aggravate people and make them disagree with my opinion about it. They begin playing it right after Halloween, and by Thanksgiving, we're like "CAN'T WE JUST GET RID OF THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC ALREADY!!!" I think that the right Christmas music makes for the right Christmas experience. Listening to "Do You Hear What I Hear" and "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" about a thousand times does stir aggravation. Then you have wonderful gems like "Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy" by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," and even Lou Monte's "Dominick The Italian Christmas Donkey" and your Christmas season has feeling to it.

Reading- Just like the cheese option, reading is a 365 1/4 day pleasure. It just so happens that I have been able to get a lot of good quality reading done during the holidays. Last holiday, I read Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, and thoroughly enjoyed it (in fact, it may be an upcoming "Excellent Read"). This year, 11/22/63 will likely be my holiday read. There's nothing more holiday pleasure than curling up and taking your mind away from reality and placing it in the plot of an excellent book.

So this should be some kind of positive notion as to how I feel the holidays should be spent. We all have our holiday pleasures and these happen to be mine. Well I might as well finish up this post and go forth on accomplishing one or all of these things! I may say this in one post or many, but have an excellent Christmas season!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Prediction: After The South Carolina Primary, Three Will Remain In The Race For The Republican Nominee

After hearing a ton of whiplash for alleged extramarital affairs, Herman Cain decided to suspend his campaign. Suspending his campaign meant one of two things. One, he was actually guilty of engaging in one or more of the  affairs or two, he was eaten up by the news media, who had to spread some dirt on a clean candidate who had a chance to win the nominee. Regardless of what happened, we will not be seeing a 9-9-9 tax plan any time soon.

That was what happened then. Now, it's about what is happening now and what will happen in the upcoming primaries. Seven top-tier candidates and a few second-tier candidates remain in the race. On the top-tier include Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney on the top, and now more than ever, Gingrich is really rising in the polls. Also on the top-tier are Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman. The second-tier candidates include Gary Johnson and Fred Karger. Buddy Roemer has decided to switch to the Americans Elect party, but will continue to compete in the Republican primary, which he will probably garner about a hundred votes, the same number that makes up the maximum amount of money that he allows donors to donate. With that being said, the field has been set.

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are the two candidates of which the Republican has their eye on for the nomination. This will become a fact after the South Carolina primary, with Ron Paul, who still has a viable chance to be a dark horse, being the only other.

The remaining seven will take part in the first three contests. The Iowa Caucus should likely be the key decider as to which direction the race will be heading. If Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum (or both) do not garner a good amount of support in these states, they will likely drop out. They will have to come out with at least a few delegates or 15% of the vote. Nothing else really matters. Bachmann at one point was a strong contender, but her numbers have since slipped. Santorum's numbers never made it far and his aggression was what has kept him around. If he realizes that things aren't going in the right direction, he may call it a day after Iowa.

The New Hampshire primary is going to be the decider for Jon Huntsman. If Huntsman does not come out in New Hampshire, he is done, as there will be little to no support in any of the other states. Gingrich and Romney should have strong numbers in this state, as this was where most of their effort has gone. Romney will likely win this state with Gingrich pulling in at second place. I can see Huntsman reaching between 5-10%,  but that's only a possibility. Gary Johnson will likely make a decision about going to a third party after New Hampshire as well. Fred Karger may think the same way, but he's just going to be a candidate that simply fades.

Rick Perry could very well withdraw from the race after Iowa, but I think he will stick around for the South Carolina primary. This is his territory and he should gain some ground after Cain's campaign suspension. South Carolina has generally decided the nominee and it has also been a conservative battleground. Gingrich should also have a strong showing. In the event that he overwhelmingly wins the state and Perry shows lacking numbers, it may be time for him to drop out.

At this point, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul will remain, and this should be the lineup for awhile. While Paul's name does not pop up as being a candidate to win a primary, I would beg to differ. He could very well prove to be a spoiler in his own right. The primary is going to be decided by the voters that show up and cast their vote. Ron Paul has a growing group of voters and if they show up, he may very well pull ahead. The same goes for the mega-conservatives who seem to back Gingrich and the more laid back moderate conservatives or those who are realists that look for the best option to beating Barack Obama, who back Romney.

In 2008, Ron Paul continued to participate in the race until the primaries were over. Even though John McCain won the nomination in March, Paul stuck around until June. At the moment, Paul confirmed he will not be running for Congress in 2012. I do not know whether or not he will change his mind in the event that things are not mathematically going well this time around. That will be the ONLY instance that he drops out of the race. Otherwise, he is going to be the third candidate that engages in battle between Gingrich and Romney, which may very well come down to the final primaries in June.

I'm calling it right now! The next Republican nominee will be one of the three candidates that I mentioned in the previous two paragraphs. These will also be the candidates that win primaries and make a splash. It will be interesting to see any one of them go up against Obama and fight him for the 2012 nomination, but that in itself will be something we just have to wait and see what truly happens.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CNN National Security Debate

I should start off by recognizing that I did not watch the CBS Debate this past Saturday due to being occupied with another task, but heard that the debate did not live up to certain standards. I did, however, catch this debate and it seems like Wolf Blitzer and CNN brought the flow of debating back on the right track. This being after the mishandling of the CNBC Debate. I believe that CNN and moderators like Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper tend to do the best job moderating, even moderators like Brian Williams on MSNBC tend to be as unbiased as possible.

The debate was held in Washington D.C. and featured the eight top tier candidates. In standing order, these candidates were Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman. The key topic had to do with national security, which included everything from illegal immigration to thoughts on the TSA and the Patriot Act to affairs with countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, and our alliance with Israel.

As always, I will grade the candidates as to how well they did with their performance in the debate...

Rick Santorum- Santorum did not have as much to contribute in this debate, as he has had enough time to contribute in other previous debates. More than his percentage usually allows him to. As usual, he pointed out that his relatives immigrated to this country from Italy in the proper way and that we are not fighting a war on terror, but instead, on radical Islam. Not fighting a war on terror meant that he agreed with Ron Paul on something, as Ron Paul tends to disagree with just about all of the Republican candidates with regards to foreign affairs. However, this only goes as far as the title and not the belief. Coming out of this debate, Santorum did not really affect his place in the race, but didn't support it so much either. B

Ron Paul- Ron Paul was most definitely able to shine in this debate. Paul is known for being the most aggressive Republican candidate on the field when it comes to being vocal against our presence in the Middle East. In the CBS debate, he had just ninety seconds of speaking time. In this debate, he had ninety seconds within the first part of the debate. Given that he disagreed with Newt Gingrich in regards to the Patriot Act, saying that it is "unpatriotic." Him and Gingrich fought over Timothy McVeigh, and how we need to handle these kinds of problems. Paul also stated that terrorism is not a person, but a tactic, which means we cannot rid ourselves of terrorism like it's a person. He also reminded us that the Taliban murders occurred on their land, not ours. Paul had himself a really strong night and showed that he means business, especially when it comes to foreign policy. He stands his ground, no matter who the candidate is that's trying to push him off that ground. A

Rick Perry- Perry had a huge flub in the CNBC debate when he was unable to remember certain points. Since then, his support has slipped. However, his seemed to have recovered from his previous performance. Given his position as Governor of Texas, he was able to be hands on with his approach to handling illegal immigration. Other than that, he is no longer being treated as a front-runner like he was back in September. There isn't much of a foil between him and Romney any longer. Then again, Romney isn't having much of a foil any longer. Perry's performance somewhat improved, especially with his final statement about China, but it doesn't mean his campaign will impact. B-

Mitt Romney- Romney has consistently polled within the 20% range and is deemed as being the most electable in this field of candidates. However, several people want to find an alternate and are having a hard time doing so. Romney has been firm on his support for the Patriot Act, his thoughts about foreign policy, and his thoughts on the other fields of National Security. His key moment was when him and Huntsman got into an argument that stalled anyone else's chances at getting in to the debate. He's sitting pretty at the front of the pack and acting like he's ready to take the nomination and the one-on-one against Barack Obama. All he needs to do now is win in the primaries. His debate performance didn't express much difference. B

Herman Cain- Cain didn't have a lot to contribute tonight, as national security is not Cain's strong-suit. Cain is a businessman and has a lot to contribute when the topic of interest is business. That doesn't happen to be the case when the topic of interest is national security. He did give his three levels of action in regards to illegal immigration and he has stated that he would refer to those who know more about foreign affairs when it comes to handling foreign affairs. This shows a side of honesty on Cain's end. This was not a night for Cain to shine and stir waves among the candidates. Cain's numbers have been slipping after being boosted just recently, being the third person to share a boost factor with Romney that Bachmann and Perry once had, and is now being held by Gingrich. B

Newt Gingrich- Gingrich and his performance in the debate held much of an impact. He is now being treated as a front-runner for this portion of the race. He kicked off the debate by expressing support for the Patriot Act and stopping acts of terror before they even happen. This happened to cause him to get into a foil with Ron Paul and how Timothy McVeigh caused havoc to several people. Gingrich was caught under fire on many occasions, especially with his ultra aggression on the topic of illegal immigration. Gingrich is an aggressive candidate and will most definitely be a president that stands firm ground. It wasn't necessarily a night for him to really stick it to those who needed it stuck to, but that was because the moderating was actually good in this debate, so that offsets things on that end. While Gingrich could have been considered controversial, he spoke his mind and was brutally honest. It could have made some difference, but this is a debate and a debate is where you speak your views and answer what's asked. B+

Michele Bachmann- Bachmann is not a heavy contributor on foreign policy, but did provide foil to Gingrich and his views on national security, mainly when he went off on his thoughts about illegal immigration. Bachmann's debate performance didn't provide any difference as to how her campaign is going to turn out as the debate ends. Ultimately, it's going to be do well in Iowa (with a top four finish) or withdraw from the race. That will likely be her mantra. Otherwise, her and the rest of the candidates will be sticking around for Iowa and New Hampshire at the very least. B

Jon Huntsman- This was a night that Huntsman had the opportunity to shine and he savored the opportunity perfectly. Huntsman was the U.S. Ambassador of China from 2009-2011 and resigned from his position to instead run for president. He expressed how China is a threat to our country and how we need to stop taking care of things over in certain countries when the country we really need to be taking care of is ourselves. He also expressed how we need to withdraw 85-90% of the troops in Afghanistan, only leaving a few to make sure things remain in line. Huntsman got back on track in this debate and showed his area of expertise when it comes to foreign policy and issues of that caliber. Having lived in Asia, he does have hands on experience. He brought a lot to the table and foiled with Romney on these views in what was a good debate performance. A

This debate came down to who knew the most about national security and who was able to contribute the most ideas in that category. Paul and Huntsman had really strong performances, as Gingrich also did a good job standing his ground. The other candidates simply did a fine job, but nothing spectacular.

This debate was indeed a fine debate with good moderation and direct answers as to how things should and would be handled. The next debates will be held in Iowa, as the candidates prepare for the Iowa Caucuses. This should really deliver some from of impact to candidates like Bachmann, Cain, Perry, and Santorum. While Cain and Perry may be able to remain until South Carolina, Iowa will be the decider for Bachmann and Santorum (mainly Bachmann, as Santorum will likely receive under 5% in each state) and decide their worth in the race. We'll just have to see how things pan out as the primaries heat up.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Let's Be Brutally Honest: Can I Have A Thanksgiving Menu With More Pizzazz?

I know a handful of people that could say that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. I'm more of a Christmas person, but Thanksgiving has its strengths. Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family, be thankful for what you have, watch football, and ring in the holiday season. You heard it right: in my mind, Black Friday is when the holiday season begins. However, let's be brutally honest about Thanksgiving. The menu doesn't happen to be a favorite of mine. I'm just putting it out there and many of you will be likely to disagree. However, I'm pretty sure that there is a way to dissect as to why Thanksgiving food is fairly overrated.

First off, Thanksgiving began as a feast between the New Americans (Pilgrims) and the Native Americans (Indians). Their menu was a bit different from what we eat in this day and age, but it's roughly similar. The main entree on Thanksgiving is of course... turkey. On many occasions, turkey happens to be such a dry meat. It's just very hard to make turkey a meat in which you could bring flavor to as is. I used to like turkey sandwiches and turkey subs, but they were good with oil and vinegar or other accompaniments. For the record, I eat Italian subs or hot subs these days, but that's a whole different story. Since turkey is so dry, that's where the popular sides come in and play a role.

Thanksgiving sides are probably more notable than any other... with the exception of famous restaurant appetizers, and I would likely go for a basket of Olive Garden breadsticks before I'd go for food on the Thanksgiving menu. Stuffing is a good side if it's made right. If it's homemade, then you're alright. If it's Stove Top or anything in a box, then you can take your stuffing in a box and give it to the dog to eat, as he'll likely believe that it's just the right topping for his dog food. Then you have gravy, which is used to give the turkey some moisture and taste. That too can taste good if it's made right. Then there's cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes (which would be appropriate with just about any meaty dish), and a few more guests. For dessert, the star is pumpkin pie. I'm not a pumpkin pie person, but that's just me. I'm not a pie person, except for a pizza pie person. 

So I guess Thanksgiving food isn't too bad, but maybe it's just about the right idea to pardon Mr. Turkey for a year and try something new. On many occasions, families have used ham instead. No matter what the menu is, Thanksgiving shouldn't be about what kind of food is on the table. Thanksgiving should be about spending time with your family and thinking about the things you are thankful for, in many cases that happens to be your family. I would be more than pleased if we served lasagna on Thanksgiving, which would surely give the holiday some pizzazz, but then again, I like Italian food on any day. 

It may sound rebellious to stray away from the traditional Thanksgiving food, but as long as you follow the ethics as to how the holiday should be followed, that's all that really matters. If you like the tradition food, have a good time eating the traditional food. If not, the menu shall be yours!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Great Debate

Since beginning my adventures on Blogger, I have been able to write about a variety of things with less limits and my very own frequency. I have been able to come up with a variety of segments that have allowed me to organized my thoughts in such clever segments. Now, I will be introducing a new segments that will allow me to put my opinions to a test of more opinions than just my own. This new segment will allow me to debate and collaborate with my writer friends in topics of which we hold common interest. It will allow me to fight my opinion against other writers who either manage columns, blogs, or other forms of writing hobbies of their own.

This segment will be called The Great Debate, and it is named such, because the segment will be a heated debate of what will most definitely be a great debate indeed. The way this segment will work is that this writer friend and I will conduct our debate in a discussion format on another platform, such as our Facebook inbox. We will compromise on a topic that fits both of our interests and also allows both of us to contribute an equal amount to the writing. After this, we will arrange what we're going to write, and then hold the debate. Some of these could be in a collaboration format, where we simply submit a paragraph after a certain topic. However, most of these are going to be in a discussion format, and it will look like we were actually getting together and having the discussion in person, only we were having it in our inbox.

The topics in which we will be debating could range from just about anything. Whether it be a common topic, a top *insert a number and topic,* a debate on a specific product (book, movie, etc.), one of my previous posts or a point that may be up for debate, or anything else that might be debate-worthy and holds common ground for the both of us. With the right debaters, this could get really exciting. First, you had Questions For Caponomics, now there's the next big thing that allows me as a blogger to connect with my readers, which is The Great Debate.

I engaged in one collaboration during my April 2010 submission of my high school newsletter with a friend of mine, discussing our favorite Mario game. That submission was a collaboration in which we submitted a paragraph. With this, it will be the complete discussion in an arranged format. I will organize our discussion, but will NOT edit any opinions or thoughts. I will take care of spelling and grammar, though.

I look forward to beginning this segment and opening up the newest opportunity that I have in store. I'm sure that I will most definitely have myself a good time.

My first segment of The Great Debate will be with Kevin B., who writes for Kevin's Heaven and co-writes for Road Of The Month. The two of us will be comparing our "Top 10 Songs By The Eagles." This means during my spare time, I will be playing music by The Eagles and catching up on all of their several hits. I know a good amount of their songs I already like and definitely have my top three intact.

Let the games begin for The Great Debate!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roger Craig Wins The Jeopardy! Tournament Of Champions Of 2011

I knew for sure that the 2011 Jeopardy! Tournament Of Champions was going to be competitive. This season had an excellent cast of champions, making for an excellent tournament. The finalists included thirteen of the top winners within the last season or two, along with the winners of the college and teacher tournaments. However, it was Roger Craig who ultimately came on top and won the entire tournament.

Craig, a computer scientist from Newark, Delaware, was dominant in his first games. He won each of his games so far ahead, that it didn't matter how much he wagered in the final round. He wagered such a high amount in the quarterfinals that even though his answer was incorrect, he still won the game. As for the others, Tom Nissley (a writer from Seattle), Buddy Wright (an engineer from Fort Worth), Joon Pahk (the Physics teacher from Massachusetts), Justin Sausville (a urologist from Maryland), Jay Rhee, Kara Spak, Marc Runsvold, and Erin Mathis (the college champ) were good enough to reach the semifinals and collect the $10,000 prize for making it (the quarterfinalists eliminated in round one took in $5,000 each).

The quarterfinals, with a few exceptions, were very one-sided matches. The champions really dominated and there were a handful of powerful wildcards. However, Kara Spak made it to the semifinals as a wildcard who made just a bit over $6,000 in her match. In that case, it went to show you the depth of the matches. The semifinal matches showed why Craig and Nissley were the most dominant players of the season and how Wright is an underestimated contender who plays to win.

Roger Craig, Tom Nissley, and Buddy Wright were the champions in what was a two-match championship. By the end of game one, they might as well have given it to Roger Craig. He made $50,000 in his first match, next to Nissley's $18,800 and Wright's $6,000. Craig's domination came with thanks to the fact he got two daily doubles in a row and decided to make it a true daily double both times. In order for anyone to take this lead from him on the second day, they would have to have had a dominant performance as Craig did. Ultimately, Craig could not be caught.

For winning the tournament, Roger Craig won $250,000. Tom Nissley won $100,000 for taking second place and Buddy Wright won $50,000 for taking third.

Roger Craig could indeed be called a genius. On his first run, he won $230,200 in six days. In one of the days, he broke the record for most money won on an episode with a total of $77,000. He mentioned that he studied which categories come up most often on the show, whether it be about Shakespeare or the U.S. Presidents. Being a computer person, he really stands his ground in knowing a lot of information. Talk about going up against Watson, he would be a prime candidate to accomplish such a task. New Jersey Representative Rush Holt (a five-time champion on the original series) is the only person to defeat Watson. Craig should have a chance to do the same. This may be the end of this season's Tournament Of Champions, but it shouldn't be the end of Craig's time playing Jeopardy! He has $480,200 in game show winnings to his name. It would be really interesting to see if he gets a chance to expand those winnings.

Prematurity Awareness Day

I just realized that there was a Zumba fundraiser in which you would pay $5 to Zumba for the night. I never engaged in a Zumba night before, nor have I had any though to do so. Then I realized that the money was going to the March Of Dimes. Okay, now I should really go to this event. You pay money to dance for the night and the money goes to an excellent cause. I can be such a hardie for certain causes that really don't make much of a difference, but I can also be a real softie for specific causes. The March Of Dimes is an organization with a mission to do their part in ending premature birth and spread awareness to such a cause. It turns out that November is Prematurity Awareness Month and tomorrow is Prematurity Awareness Day. No wonder why there was such an event going on.

Doing what we can to decrease premature birth has been such a strong cause in my mind. I know people who have been born prematurely and I know people who have had premature children. In the majority of cases, those born prematurely have been born undeveloped, most particularly in the lungs. Due to undeveloped lungs, premature babies are often placed on ventilators for a period of time. This time period generally lasts until the time they should have been born. Research show that premature birth is realistically most common among minority groups, the lower class, and among multiple births. This means that those giving birth to twins, triplets, and other multiple births are more common to produce premature babies.

There are other practices that should be avoided when you are pregnant. Smoking, drinking, and drugs are huge no's when you're pregnant. Multiple sources have mentioned that they have contributed to premature birth. Stress has been another factor, so handling your stress and attending therapy if you need to should really be a factor. The Mayo Clinic has even mentioned that keeping your teeth clean is important when you are pregnant. They mention that gum disease has proven to be a factor when it comes to preterm deliveries. Then, you also have to maintain a healthy diet. While you will have to eat much more, that doesn't mean wolfing down four bag of potato chips and then finishing that off with a complete serving of nachos and salsa everyday. We would all love to do this and the baby would probably develop a passionate appetite, but eating healthy would be your best bet for producing a healthy baby.

Tomorrow is Prematurity Awareness Day? What are you going to do? You can find a way to donate to the March Of Dimes or simply learn more about preterm birth. For the women who are reading, this may be valuable information. Of course, sometimes it cannot be controlled, but the only thing that you can do is change the things you can and accept the things you can't. Through learning, the chances of giving birth prematurely will decrease in some kind of way. Not completely, but to some extent. With the progress that we have already made, many babies that are born prematurely grow up to become healthy adults who live a regular life.

Such a cause should be supported everyday, not just one day. However, single days such as tomorrow help us produce such a thought and remind us about such a cause. This cause is one of those important causes. So what are you going to do?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Which Coaches Should Be Fired And Hired In The NFL

This is a little bit past the half way point of the NFL, which means we have somewhat of an idea as to what direction each team is going to go. The Green Bay Packers are 9-0 and the Indianapolis Colts are 0-10 (surprise, surprise), as the San Francisco 49ers have shown that they are the team of the 80's and 90's that just happened to take a decade's long break. Ultimately, a successful team needs a quarterback in which they can build a foundation and a head coach to ultimately help them head in that right direction. When people don't do their job right, they need to be replaced. Being a head coach in the NFL is no different.

I am going to name the NFL coach that will or at least should be fired, even just an examination about the possibility of being fired. Whether it happens or not, that will be up to the league to decide.

Tony Sparano (Miami Dolphins)- The Dolphins are on a two-game winning streak as I write this post, but I still believe that it will not be enough. They are most definitely not making it to the playoffs and if they're lucky, they may go 5-11, but that's about it. Sparano had time to prove his worth during the 2009 and 2010 season, despite the fact that Bill Parcells, who was making executive decisions, decided to leave the team midway through the 2010 season and before they could even head into the right direction that looked like a possibility in 2008. They need a quarterback to build a foundation around and a new head coach.

Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars)- He should have been fired several seasons ago. Del Rio was hired in 2003 and is in his ninth season with the team. During his time with the team, he had just two playoff appearances and no division wins (it's hard being in a division with the Colts, but still) in 2005 and 2007. He postseason record as a coach is 1-2. The Jaguars have made several executive mistakes and may be the poorest run team in the league. They should have been the team to draft Tim Tebow and they have several games with a lacking attendance. Firing Del Rio would help them head in the right direction, but hiring the right head coach is going to be the task ahead.

Jim Caldwell (Indianapolis Colts)- The Colts are NOTHING without Peyton Manning. There, I said it! Jim Caldwell was not necessarily placed in the coaching position to lead the team, but at least he should have some kind of ability to coach. Losing Peyton Manning is an event in which the head coach has to take the lead and do everything he can to pick the right person to fill in for Manning and make it so they can continue to win games. When Tom Brady's season ended with an injury in 2008, the Patriots replaced him with Matt Cassel and went 11-5. They missed the playoffs in a year that was incredibly competitive in the AFC (the south and north in particular). The job the Colts are doing is inexcusable for the fans and the team needs to realize that Peyton Manning will not be around forever. Maybe it's time to build the next generation with a "do something" coach.

Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans)- *but only if he misses the playoffs* Gary Kubiak is in his sixth season with the Texans and has failed to reach the playoffs. They would be the #1 seed in the playoffs if the season ended today, but Matt Schaub suffered a season-ending injury that will force Matt Leinart to take the role of quarterback. There really shouldn't be anything to worry about, because the AFC South is the Texans division to lose. Only the Titans have any chance of contending for the division if the Texans slip. I don't see it happening, though.

Norv Turner (San Diego Chargers)- The Chargers were doing just fine with Marty Schottenheimer, but due to management issues, he was fired and replaced with Norv Turner. He has lead the team to three playoff seasons with a 3-3 postseason record, including a trip to the AFC Championship in 2007. On the flip side, there were many mistakes that were made this season and the AFC West has become anybody's division. If it isn't the Chargers, Turner's days may be numbered.

Mike Shanahan (Washington Redskins)- If Shanahan isn't on the hot seat, under Snyder's circumstances, he should be. Snyder brought Shanahan in to rebuild a struggling team. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened and there hasn't been any direction in which it could happen. Snyder made Jim Zorn look like a disaster, when he delivered decent results in the 2008 season, starting out well, but going into an 8-8 slump. It was in the 2009 season when his lame duck status throughout cost him his job. Shanahan's taking this experience for granted, and is causing more friction than anything. Having Rex Grossman and John Beck as your quarterbacks is not doing you any good, thus the best thing the Skins could do is draft a quarterback and build the team around him. It doesn't look like you're going to find your Elway gold with what you have!

Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles)- Reid has been fairly fortunate to have a team that has been able to come together and make a run into the playoffs year after year, only missing the playoffs in 1999, 2005, and 2007 during Reid's tenure. Ultimately, it isn't Reid that's contributing to the team, but instead it's Marty Mornhinweg, his offensive coordinator. Picking Juan Castillo, who has never coached defense, as his defensive coordinator, is laughable. He's unpopular with the fans and just making the playoffs has saved him. It will take a few seasons of crumbling, though, to watch him get fired.

Tom Coughlin (New York Giants)- *but only if he misses the playoffs* The Giants are currently winning the division, but have a hard stretch up ahead. The Giants have a problem with the long stretch and falling into a slump. The last three seasons are prime examples, the last two of which ended in missing the playoffs. The Giants need the motivation that they had in 2007, when they went on to win the Super Bowl. Otherwise, but Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will be on the hot seat. If they reach the playoffs, Coughlin will have a chance are retaining his job. If not, questions will need to be answered.

Steve Spagnoulo (St. Louis Rams)- Spagnoulo is in his third season with the Rams, which have unfortunately been three lacking seasons. They were 1-15 in 2009, 7-9 and short of the playoffs in an incredibly weak NFC West, and this season could very well have a weak record. Spagnoulo has unfortunately not delivered and the Rams may be better off looking for someone else.

Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona Cardinals)- The Cardinals are returning to regular form, but Whisenhunt and his status with the team will depend on whether or not he could come out with a decent record. If he could do this and John Skelton could demonstrate potential, then he might very well be saved.

Now that the coaches who are on the hot seat have been named, here are the potential replacements that could very well be the best nominees for head coach.

Rob Ryan (Dallas Cowboys DC)- The defensive coordinator is outspoken like his brother, Rex, and sometimes he hasn't been able to put his money where his mouth is. However, he is just the right coaching material, coming from a family that includes his brother Rex and his father Buddy. His brother has also been able to turn the New York Jets into an interesting team that's a powerful force against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Ryan will most definitely have a coaching job during this decade, but putting him on a team like the Dolphins would be incredible, making the AFC East the most exciting division in the league. Even the Colts would be able to benefit with a defensive mind like Ryan's. John Harbaugh has been successful with the Baltimore Ravens, and his brother, Jim, is currently having equal success with the 49ers. Ryan should see some similar brotherly success.

Mike Zimmer (Cincinnati Bengals DC)- The Bengals are a dark horse team this season. I thought they would go 1-15, due to the gaps that made up the team. However, Andy Dalton is an underrated rookie quarterback and the defense is mighty. Zimmer is the mastermind behind this defense and this should be the time that teams look for him to take over the head coaching reigns. While the Jaguars will likely stick to someone currently on their staff, they should look at a strong coordinator like Zimmer. He will most definitely be a contributor to success.

Perry Fewell (New York Giants DC)- I'm positive that Fewell will most definitely receive several head coaching interviews. You have the "Rooney Rule," in which teams must interview minorities. However, Fewell is an extremely talented coordinator who put the Giants back on the right track after Bill Sheridan couldn't fill Steve Spagnoulo's empty space when it took the Rams coaching job. The Giants have produced several head coaches who were defensive coordinators for the team. You had Tom Landry, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick among many others that can support such a statement. Fewell will surely have himself a new run that was not like his interim with the Bills.

Winston Moss (Green Bay Packers LBC)- He would be the second option for the Rooney Rule and would be a good option. While the Packers aren't doing incredibly strong on defense, they are still winning games and the defense is still expressing their presence. The Packers Super Bowl run last season has a lot to do with their defense, and AJ Hawk and Clay Matthews are forces to be reckoned with. Moss will be the guy who comes out of the woodwork and maybe strike big in the league.

Dom Capers (Green Bay Packers DC)- Speaking of the Packers, Dom Capers is the man behind the defense. If the Packers have themselves a strong run deep into the playoffs, there will be many candidates from the team, unless teams make quick decisions. Capers was the first coach of the Carolina Panthers and the Houston Texans. In his second season with the Panthers, he led them to the NFC Championship. While his time with the Texans ended on a sour note, he deserves another chance at simply rebuilding a team. He is definitely the one to perform the job of rebuilding a team.

Gregg Williams (New Orleans Saints DC)- Williams coached the Buffalo Bills from 2001-2003, but has proven that he is a defensive coordinator to be reckoned with in the league. He proved his worth with the Washington Redskins during Joe Gibbs return to the team and with the Saints, he has created something explosive. There are several coordinators such as Marty Mornhinweg, Rod Marinelli, and Cam Cameron that are better off as coordinators, but Williams could probably do well with another coaching stint if he's granted the opportunity to do so. Though I do feel that Eagles fans would like Mornhinweg as their head coach.

Wade Phillips (Houston Texans DC)- Wade Phillips is one of the top defensive coordinators in the league. He injected life into the Texans struggling defense, just as he did with the San Diego Chargers defense. He's also a decent head coach if you could get over some of the decisions he has made (such as the "Music City Miracle"). He's led the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys to the playoffs. With the Cowboys, they won their first postseason game in thirteen seasons during his time with the team. If a team needs some rebuilding, they should give Phillips another chance.

Jeff Fischer (Former Tennessee Titans HC)- Fischer is intending to return to the league somehow, unlike Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden, who are having a fine time up in the commentating booth. Even Brian Billick looks content with his commentating job. Jeff Fischer, on the other hand, is more likely to coach on the sidelines again. He has the record to do so. Despite not winning a postseason game since 2003, he did lead the Titans to their first Super Bowl (even though he did lose). The team that picks him up, we'll have to see.

Tom Cable (Seattle Seahawks OLC)- While his run with the Raiders was cut short, he was coaching the Raiders. You don't get much of a chance if Al Davis is your boss. Cable led the Raiders into the right direction with an 8-8 season. While he fell short in the playoffs, he was bringing the team somewhere, somewhere they haven't been since 2002. Hue Jackson will likely get the credit, as he was brought in to reform the team.

Marty Schottenheimer (Former San Diego Chargers HC)- If anybody deserves one more chance, it's Marty Schottenheimer. While it'll be tough for him to claim it if he even wants a position, the way things ended with the Chargers were rough. Another thing going against him is his age, as he'll be sixty-nine next season. George Halas and Marv Levy were the oldest coaches to coach a game, and they were seventy-two. However, he could very easily inject some life into a struggling team.

In the event that they are let go, there's a good chance that Norv Turner, Andy Reid, and Tom Coughlin could get head coaching positions (at the very least coordinator positions) elsewhere. Granted, Turner is the only one with a strong chance of being let go. Even if he is let go, he'll be a head coach or offensive coordinator next season.

There are surely other coaching nominees, but they are generally coaches that are the hottest coordinators on the hottest teams. The carousel at the end of the season should remain interesting, and the coaches that are chosen will surely be chosen wisely... or at least should be chosen really wisely.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Check This Blog: Rant And Rave

If only all of us could get paid to express our opinion. Just a few select people have such a fine opportunity. For now, people who want to express their opinion and become recognized for doing it can start off by blogging. That's what pushed me to start blogging. I'll probably have a better chance at becoming financially successful writing fiction and my column will get recognition via a blog and then see what opportunities arise from there. Even writing fiction and getting it published is a path, but it's not impossible unless you say it is.

Okay, back to my first point. Being recognized from expressing your opinion. In essence, having the opportunity to rant, rave, complain, what ever you want to call it, and have others read about it. Back in high school, a good friend of mine ranted about various topics. Even I've pointed my finger at certain topics of interest. It's the essence of "Let's Be Brutally Honest" and I'll fit it in some of my other works. "Rant And Rave" brought out the flow as to why we love our freedom to express our opinion. It's a clever blog that will bring out the essence of our everyday complaints. Only in this case, the perspective is a completely different one if you know the person behind the ranting.

At the moment I write this post, there have been four blog posts that were excellent, easy reads. The topics of interest included rainy days (and driving out in the rain), Walmart, old people in the supermarket, and holiday shopping. The holiday shopping topic, which will become a relevant topic of interest very soon, was incredibly entertaining for being a current event. There are also suggestions that express alternate and more intelligent actions, thus this blog does not allow for any excuses.

I enjoy this blog. It's as much of an addictive pleasure as eating a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. One of the best things about this blog is that it's the complete opposite of reading a manual-like submission from someone who sounds like a drone. I feel as if I'm hanging out with someone and we're ranting about random things that just irritate us. Sometimes we get to the point of hanging out where we run out of something normal to talk about, so we just start ranting about a subject. If the person happens to agree with your rant, you have yourselves a conversation. There are so many random topics of interest that could be sprung by this blog, that it's a sure conversation starter.

I will most definitely continue checking this blog, as it's surely addictive. I'm sure you will do the same once you check it out.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The 100th Post

The 100th of anything always comes off as being a special landmark event. There are several celebrations on a 100th anniversary of something, whether it be the 100th anniversary of a company or product, the 100th episode in a series, the 100th of... just about anything. Though I have yet to see a 100th anniversary for a married couple, but that would likely require two people to live past the age of 110. As for Caponomics, this is the 100th post on my blog and it calls for a celebration. I don't have confetti on hand, but feel free to buy some of your own if you would like to celebrate. I had always wondered how long it would take me to submit one hundred posts on my blog. The answer... is eight months. I will likely celebrate many more anniversary, such as the one year anniversary on March 9th or the 500th post, the 1000th post, and so on and so forth. The best way to celebrate is to look back at what was accomplished during the start of such a great experience.

My blogging experience began when I was advised by my high school newsletter editor, Mr. Clark, to start a blog back in March. I created it, started submitting posts, and have been blogging ever since. Caponomics in general goes further back, beginning as a tournament show on my high school television channel back in January 2008. That was when I only wrote about the school tournaments and other events around the school. However, after a key member left the club, I decided I would expand my horizons and write about what ever was on my mind. I originally thought about "Noun Of The Month," but was encouraged to call my last page (aside from the back with the photo poll and word search) editorial section "Caponomics." It was a fine transaction, as my time reporting tournaments on high school television didn't last so long. I continued to write about them for the newsletter until graduating. My first Caponomics was about my distaste for Value City Department Store and how I felt it was a filthy and disorganized place to go to. I found it interesting that it closed just a few months later. Back then, I wrote about similar topics to what I wrote about today, only now, there are many more topics and many more ways to sort these topics.

On this blog, I have had a good time evaluating the previous American Idol season week by week and evaluating each Republican primary debate and each of the debaters. I have also enjoyed writing creative segments such as "Excellent Reads," "Top-Notch Television," "Fantastic Films," "Big Cheeses," "Let's Be Brutally Honest," "Check This Blog," "Thoughts & Points," "My Prediction," "Question & Answer Session," and everything else in between.

According to my stats page, I have had close to four thousand pageviews, which is a big number for a blog that's only on the rise. I have nine followers, though surely more readers. One of my posts, the one about Ebert Presents At The Movies, got several views in just a short period of time. I have heard that this show may be on its way to ending if negotiations don't work out, which is unfortunate, since it is indeed "top-notch television." 

I will most definitely look forward to my many more submissions that are to come within the upcoming time. If anybody wants to suggest ideas or anything they would like to see me write about, feel free to contact me. If anybody has any questions to submit for my question and answer segments, they're also accepted at any time and will be answered as soon as possible on my blog. Feel free to submit any feedback, as it is most definitely helpful. If you also want to share favorite posts thus far or favorite Caponomics memories or segments, feel free to share them as well.

I hope all of you who are reading have enjoyed Caponomics thus far and I promise that I will do everything I'm able to make this an enjoyable, entertaining, informative, and second opinion worthy blog that feeds you just the right second opinion. Thank you.

Excellent Reads: Candice Millard's "Destiny Of The Republic"

I'm an enthusiast for any kind of information pertaining to the U.S. Presidents. I've been this way since I was seven and was introduced through a poster on my refrigerator and a scrapbook of their information. I know as much information as I can about the presidents and if I become stumped with a piece of presidential information once, chances are I will never be stumped again.

A category that is major when it comes to presidential information is about those who were assassinated and ultimately died while in office. When you come to look at it, there were more presidents that had assassination attempted on them, assassination attempts that left them wounded, and assassinations that ultimately assassinated the president. Those under the latter category included Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. The Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations are by far discussed more than any of the assassinations. Both of them were more famous as being presidents and both were pretty much done after they were shot. Lincoln died the day after he was shot and Kennedy was dead within forty minutes. McKinley survived eight days, and could have possibly survived if the lighting in his surgery room was better. However, Candice Millard, who wrote The River Of Doubt about Theodore Roosevelt, decided to explore the much overlooked death of Garfield. Unlike many of the other assassinated presidents, Garfield could have very well survived if circumstances were better and even so, survived two months after being shot. Destiny Of The Republic: A Tale Of Madness, Medicine, And The Murder Of A President, shows that our 20th President Of The United States as being more than just the man who was assassinated soon after assuming office, but a man on a mission to carry out civil service and promote fairness within the government.

James Garfield was born into a poor family and was the last president to be born in a log cabin. His father was dead by the time he was two and he grew up with his mother and siblings. Millard provides just enough information about how he grew up and ultimately went to college to become a professor. Garfield began serving in government, but was soon serving for the Union army during the Civil War. After the war, he joined Congress. To this day, Garfield is the only President to hold the position of Representative while being elected to office. In 1880, civil service reform was the key issue. Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President, was considered a Half-Breed who supported civil service reform, which meant electing people to positions based on merit. He fought against Roscoe Conkling, and the Stalwarts, who supported Ulysses S. Grant and his spoils system, which elected people on personal ties. Hayes, who wasn't thrilled about being president in the first place, had a term plagued by Conkling and his havoc.

At this point, the Republican party was split into the Stalwarts and Half-Breeds. The Democrats were simply the people who dodged being a part of the Civil War by escaping to Canada. There wouldn't be another Democratic president winning the election until 1884 anyway, when Grover Cleveland won. As for the Republican Convention in Chicago during the 1880 election, mean such as Grant, James G. Blaine, and Treasury Secretary John Sherman were possible nominees for the presidency. Garfield had no intentions of running nor any intentions of being nominated. He was just going to give a speech for Sherman. However, support for him began to rise and rise high enough so that Garfield was the Republican nominee. Much to his dismay, he would go on to win the election and assume the office of President Of The United States.

Throughout the book, Charles Guiteau, who was eventually the assassin, was followed. He was an insane man who supported the Stalwart message and felt that God was sending him on a mission to spread the word of such an idea. When constantly barging in to the White House didn't work, then he felt God was sending him a message to assassinate the president. Guiteau was rightfully portrayed as being insane and just a man who was one card short of a full deck and should belong out of the public eye and in the asylum. We learn a good amount about his back story and how he came up.

On July 2, 1881, Garfield was shot twice at a train station by Guiteau. One of the bullets went into his back and lodged itself deep in. However, he was far from being a dead man walking. He had a chance of living if the medical team handled the situation properly. Unfortunately, they did not. Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss, who led the procedure, engaged in some negative practices. They did not have clean hands or tools, which very often led to procedures that ultimately failed. Doctors stuck their hands that were not sanitized into Garfield's wound and only stuck to one side when operating. Even Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, tried to detect the bullet with an invention of his. Garfield would live two months before succumbing to practices gone wrong.

Destiny Of The Republic gives you just the information that you need and does it incredibly well. Reading this book, you not only begin to learn more about Garfield's assassination, but you also begin to learn about Garfield himself. You kind of learn about who Garfield was as a person and how he would likely want to be remembered as oppose to being "The President Who Got Shot A Few Months Into His Term." Garfield was outgoing, loved his family, treated those he was talking to as it they were great friends of his, and an avid croquet player. Speaking of his family, the relationship between he and his wife, Lucretia, was discussed to a tee. Unlike him, she was extremely quiet and reserved. The two of them did not have much of a chemistry when they first met. Garfield at one point went with another woman, but realized that she was the woman for him. She forgave him, as long as he wouldn't have any more affairs. He also was a compassionate father who enjoyed time with his children. If it were up to him, he would be spending time with them while working as a Representative in Mentor, Ohio.

It is very shocking to think that while Garfield's assassin engaged in such a wrong deed, the doctors may have been the ones that ultimately caused his death. Given that had Garfield (or any president in exactly the same position) been shot in the same exact way, they would be out of the hospital quickly. Joseph Lister began performing sanitized surgeries in Britain, but they continued to be ignored for butcher-esque practices. These thoughts can really get you to think and think hard.

Millard also does a fine job on explaining the personalities of the many figures. Whether it be Guiteau and his insanity, Conkling and his self-indulgence and ignorance, Bliss and his narrow-mindedness, Chester Arthur and his inexperience (and how he suddenly changes his stance, signing the Pendleton Acts to bring forth civil reform), Lucretia Garfield and her reserved personality, or Garfield and his jolly, outgoing, and optimistic disposition. The story sticks to telling you what exactly happened while being an animated lesson at the same time. You didn't question whether something was real or not, but at the same time, it wasn't like it was monotone or textbook-like.

Definitely check this out. It will be a history lesson and a fine read all put into one.

An interesting fact about Garfield that I don't remember reading in this book was that he was our first left-handed president. At the same time, he had the talent to write in Greek with one hand and Latin with the other.