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Silence

March 6, 2009

Ever take a moment in your busy, workaround day to just be still? To tune out all the noise and distractions and commotion. To leave your Blackberry, your iPod, and your flat screen off for a minute.

I’ll admit it, I don’t. Sure, I spend 5-10 minutes a day in prayer, but a lot of that time, there’s a radio going on in the background or a cell phone that’s ringing incessantly. There’s almost always something that distracts me from my silence and my quiet time.

But, I’m gonna commit to change that. I’m gonna try to spend 15 minutes a day silent. No tv, no radio, no cellphones, no iTunes. Just sit and be still.

Because – to paraphrase Pastor Marc Driscoll of Mars Hill Church – maybe its in the silence that God is waiting for me to hear Him.

Hold me to it, please. Keep me accountable.

Have a great day!

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10 Things: New York, New York

March 5, 2009

My missus had a conference up in New York last week, so after a week of bumbling around Atlanta, bache-ing it, I joined her on Friday to take in one of my favorite cities.  I was only there for 40-odd hours, so we packed in a ridiculous amount of stuff in a ridiculously short time frame.  10 Highlights:

  • One of the greatest things about NYC is that each little borough has its own feel and flavor.  From the upscaleness of Central Park, to the chaos of Times Square, and the alt-vibe of Greenwich Village and Soho, I love ’em all.
  • Anyone’s first time trip to NYC should include a stop at the World Trade Center site.  We must never, ever forget the brave people lost on that day.
  • What exactly makes bagels better in New York?  We stopped by Daniel’s Bagels on 3rd Avenue for breakfast Saturday morning.  Dee-li-cious.
  • The musical Avenue Q is like Sesame Street on crack.  Puppets swearing and makin’ love…hysterical!  I’m really not sure how Jim Henson’s estate never sued over this. 
Trekkie Monster

Trekkie Monster

  • Standing on a street in Chinatown is like standing on a street in China itself.  The sights, the sounds, the smells literally can transport you there.  And the food.  Best Chinese food ever.
  • My favorite building in the world is the Flatiron Building (yes, I have a favorite building).  For whatever reason, I just think its incredibly cool looking.
Me & the Flatiron

Me & the Flatiron

  • And one of my other favorite buildings is Grand Central Station.  Its a wonderful place to sit and just peoplewatch.
Grand Central Station = People Watching Central

Grand Central Station = People Watching Central

  • Didn’t get a chance to run Central Park this time around.  Besides, it was too cold.  Still, we enjoyed walking around it.  Couldn’t bring ourselves to take a carriage ride though.  The horses looked miserable.
  • One year, I’d like to take a walking tour of all the gorgeous churches in the city.  They’re simply amazing.
Reverence

Reverence

  • There’s a good bit of buzz around the Yankees’ and Mets’ new stadiums.  Regarding the former, I wonder if they’ll call it “The House that Jeter Built”.  On the latter, I think that CitiField is a great name, even if it cost a lot to license it.

And one final thought on our journey last week.  Who da thought there’d be more snow on the ground in Atlanta than in New York on the day we returned.  Landing in a blizzard is always, always fun.

Peace.

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An Actor’s Perspective

March 2, 2009

You’ll never guess who said the following recently.  Its totally out of character.

“You can’t pray to get an acting job or a nomination or an award, because other actors need those things too and you can’t expect God to play favorites.  What you do pray for are the important things, like the health and safety of your loved ones, or for God to intervene in some of the really awful things going on in this world.”

Any guesses?

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10 Things: Post-Valentine’s Day Edition

February 18, 2009

I came home from work Saturday to find these on the counter:

009

I know its a Hallmark holiday, but any day I get cupcakes is fine by me.  Thanks honey!

Married life has been great, which is why its been awhile since I’ve blogged about another “10 Things”:

  • The Braves might sign Ken Griffey Jr?  Count me in for a couple more games at Turner Field.
  • Hey Chris Brown.  Please let me share something with you that I learned from my dad.  You don’t hit girls.  Ever.
  • So when its all said & done, how is the United States going to repay China for all the money they’ve lent us?  Can we give them California?
  • Even before you saw her, didn’t you just know that the “Octuplet Mom” would look crazy?  Fourteen kids and no job: now that’s a winning strategy.
Koo koo for Coco Puffs

Koo koo for Coco Puffs

  • You can take the animal out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the animal.  Chimpanzees are not pets, people.
  • I can’t believe that Target had St. Patrick’s Day stuff out the day after Valentine’s Day.  Let’s just get things out of the way and put out the Christmas gear already.
  • Former Michigan starting quarterback Steven Threet decided to transfer from my alma mater this week.  With not one, but two, spread offense quarterbacks enrolling, I guess he just saw the handwriting on the wall.  Good luck to you, young man.
  • To quote Charles Schultz:  “Happiness is a warm puppy.”
Le-rooz-ya-la

Le-rooz-ya-la

  • Man, I could use a Chick-Fil-a milkshake about now.  Better go workout instead.
  • The Fine Brothers are geniuses.  Absolute geniuses…

That’s all for now.  Have a great week everyone!

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The Great Sandy Springs Mexican Restaurant Debate

February 15, 2009

So, if you live in Sandy Springs, Georgia, at some point or another you’re likely to get embroiled in a major discussion of epic culinary importance:  what’s the best Mexican restaurant in town?  On the one hand, you’ve got Taxco, about two miles inside the Perimeter (that’s ITP for those of you in the know), nestled between a bank and a bagel shop.  On the other, you’ve got El Azteca, one mile north of the freeway (OTP), sitting in front of a big-box home improvement store and across from an upscale grocer.

Both feature your standard fare of Americanized Mexican food, combination lunch specials, festive atmospheres, large adult-oriented beverages, and endless baskets of tortilla chips.  Both also feature their loyalists, customers who swear by one over the other as the King of Mexican in town.

Now ever since I can remember, I’ve been an El Azteca man.  I was introduced to it (and a rather immense Texas Margarita) by my old roommate Jimbo several years ago.  I’ve spent many a warm summer’s eve on their deck, sucking down cheese dip and a 32-ounce Dos Equis’.  However, of late, I’ve had several Taxco fanatics insist that I give their place a try.  “Its so much better,” they’ll say.  “You don’t know what you’re missing”,  a common theme.  So last Saturday night, the missus and I trekked to Taxco to give it a try.  And, to give ourselves a clean comparison, we rolled into El Azteca on Thursday.

(Brief aside:  I have no idea how neither of us are 300 pounds either.  It’s either clean living in other aspects of our lives or the early morning workouts that are keeping us svelte.)

Here’s my comparison of the two contenders on several key attributes:

Chips & Salsa:  Its chips.  Its salsa.  Its not actually served in Mexico, but who cares?  To me, El Azteca’s chips seemed a little more flavorful and its salsa a little hardier.  Taxco’s salsa was a tad watery.  Winner: El Azteca.

Cheese Dip:  Is there nothing better than melted cheese?  Add a few jalapenos and its like heaven in a bowl.  El Azteca’s version was as basic (and delicious) as they come.  Taxco’s had a sweet little aftertaste.  I have to admit, I kinda liked it.  Winner: Taxco.

Texas Margarita:  What makes a Margarita Texas-style?  A splash of Cointreau and/or Orange Juice, so I’m told.  El Azteca’s Texas Margarita was a treat, a perfect blend of tequila and other liqueurs.  The Taxco edition, a little heavy on the tequila.  Winner: El Azteca.

Beer Selection:  Any place that serves a 32-ounce beer is fine by me.  For Mexican fare, Dos Equis Amber is best IMHO.  Just don’t drink and drive people; actually know your limits (they’re about a third of what you think they are).  Winner: Push.

Tamales:  I love me a good tamale.  For dinner, I think they should be made of pork.  I could not get this at Taxco.  I could get this at El Azteca.  Winner:  El Azteca.

Mmmm...pork tamales

Mmmm...pork tamales

Service:  Both places had friendly and courteous wait staffs.  However, the speed of service at El Azteca is always absolutely amazing.  You could literally be in and out of there in 20 minutes.  Or you could linger for hours.  I’ve done both.  Winner: El Azteca.

Atmosphere:  Taxco’s a little smaller than El Azteca, giving it a more intimate (and genuinely Mexican) feel.  El Azteca nearly always has a fiesta-atmosphere, with a mariache band often playing on the weekend; its loud and boisterous.  Winner: Push (depends entirely on your mood, I suppose).

Prices:  Having dinner for two?  You’ll get out of either place under $30.  Winner: Push.

As far as the great Sandy Springs Mexican restaurant debate goes, El Azteca remains the champion in my book.  I’m not opposed to a visit to Taxco now and then, mind you.  But if I’m selecting the place, I’m going OTP rather than ITP.

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The Best Sammich Ever…

February 6, 2009

Ever been to Central Grocery in New Orleans?  You get one the best sandwiches in the world there – an olive, salami and provolone-filled masterpiece called the muffaletta.  Now, thanks to Trader Joe’s, you can make your own version of this classic.  I took my cut at the recipe the other day and have to say its the best sammich I’ve ever made.

Here’s how its done.  You’ll need:

  • Any type of crusty bread or rolls
  • Trader Joe’s Mixed Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta
  • Sliced Genoa Salami
  • Sliced Provolone Cheese
  • Sliced Ham
  • Trader Joe’s Olive Bruschetta
Ingredients

Ingredients

Slice the bread (duh).

Spread some of the Vegetable Bruschetta on the lower half.

Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta, meet crusty bread

Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta, meet crusty bread

Layer salami, provolone & ham over the Bruschetta.

Layering meats & cheeses

Layering meats & cheeses

Add Olive Bruschetta to top half of bread.

Olive Tapenade (tastes better than it looks)

Olive Tapenade (tastes better than it looks)

Smush two halves together and tightly wrap with cling wrap…

Wrap once

Wrap once

…then with aluminum foil.

Then twice

Then twice

Place the wrapped muffaletta in the fridge so the olive oil in the bruschettas can soak into the bread (I put a twelve-pack of sodas on top of the sandwich to really press it together). 
Beats a peanut butter sandwich any day of the week.  Delicious.
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Buy T-Ro-Dub’s House

February 4, 2009

So, when you get married as a grown-up, odds are you’ll have lots of duplicate stuff.  Stuff like dishes, sofas, and say, oh…houses.

Anyone looking for a home in the Grant Park area?  ‘Cause we’ve got one.  Really nice one too.

Here are the details:

Immaculate Townhome in the Enclave at Grant Park


Open House Information
Open On:
2/8/2009 at 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
 
Listing Information
Bedrooms: 3
Property Sub Type: Townhome
Square Ft: Not Disclosed in GA
  Bathrooms: 3.5
Year Built: 2005
 
Listing Description
Located in Historic Grant Park, within walking distance to the Park, the Zoo,the upcoming Beltline and just minutes to Downtown, the Enclave at Grant Park features stunning 3 level townhomes with brick accents and energy saving features. This immaculate home features an open floor plan with over $35K in upgrades. On the main level, the kitchen with its granite countertops, designer cherry cabinets, top of the line stainless steel cabinets and tile backsplash opens to the dining room and its covered porch on one side and to the living room on the other side leading out to a beautiful deck perfect for grilling and al fresco dinners. Upstairs, the romantic master suite features a large walk-in closet and the master bathroom boosts a double vanity with beautiful, upgraded sinks and cabinets. The secondary bedroom also has its own private bathroom, making it an ideal roommate floor plan. This wonderful home also offers finished living space on the terrace level. The flex room/bedroom suite with direct access from the garage, leads to a fenced private patio with gate for direct access to the greenbelt. This townhome offers all the bells and whistles. The Enclave at Grant Park also has very low association fees. Call me today to go look at it and make it your next home.
 
Additional Information
     
 
Additional Features

• Hamilton II floor plan with finished terrace level
• Stainless Steel Appliances
• Kitchen Pantry with Shelving
• Granite Double Vanity with Balck Kohler Sinks in Master Bath
• Hardwood Floors on main and terrace levels
• Upgraded Carpet and Pad on second level
• Iron Ballusters, Crown Molding, Shadow Box Molding in Dining Room
• Carriage Style Steel Garage Door with Remote Door Opener
• Front Covered Porch, Rear Deck, Private Patio
• 9′ Ceiling Height
  • Upgraded Granite Kitchen Countertops
• Upgraded Diagonal Backsplash with Bone Grout
• Cherry Cabinets with Black Knobs in Bathrooms
• Jetted Tub in Master Bath
• Upgraded Diagonal layed tile in bathrooms
• Door from garage to flex room
• Energy Saving Features
• Master Sprinkler System
• Double Sided Cedar Privacy Fence with Gate
• Smoke Detectors on all Floors, Security System