Posts by Chris Stout
Big day today, MANjr fans. Today is our turn to make a move in the second annual Pass the Crown blogger gift battle! So it’s decision time and we got till 4 PM Eastern to make the call. We swipe another gift from one of the 25 participating bloggers or do we open up our embroidered purple bag to see what’s inside?
The gift that’s on the table comes with a hint:
But what does it all mean? Is it NASCAR-related? We know how much fun it can be posting up at a NASCAR event with the good folks from Crown! Indy was a blast. But we also know how much fun a Crown Royal happy hours can be for everyone in attendance. Tough call!
And then you got stuff like iPad Minis, Kindle Fires, Samsung Digital Cameras, Sonos Play 3, and a bunch of other cool gear that we can pilfer from other people. Help us decide what to do! Drop us an email below with your thoughts or hit us up on Twitter @MANjr. Check #PassTheCrown to follow all the gift war action. And this year, whenever the hashtag #PassTheCrown appears on Twitter, Crwon Royal will send out a gift bag to a soldier. Click retweet and support the troops!
Oh, one last thing. Whatever we end up with, we’ll be giving away the same gift to one lucky reader. So chime in if you want to sway our decision!
We love Bear Grylls. Dude was super cool to talk to and he seemed to be the same guy whether he was chatting with you off the air or talking straight to the camera. Guy’s had an interesting life, and it looks like he’s not slowing down any time soon.
Bear is working with NBC on a new reality TV competition series. Billed as “the ultimate outdoor adventure competition,” the new series will feature teams of two competing in a remote wilderness location for the chance to win “a reward of a lifetime” and serious survivalist bragging rights.
Think you got what it takes to hang with Bear and go head to head with other people who love danger? Well good, cause NBC is casting doing an open casting call for the series over the next few weeks. To apply, visit www.nbcbearshow.com.
Here’s the list of remaining casting calls available:
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2012 • 10 AM – 4 PM
THE GEORGIAN TERRACE HOTEL
659 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
Discounted self-parking validation will be available for $5
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2012 • 10 AM – 4 PM
4445 North Atlantic Blvd
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2012 • 10 AM – 4 PM
1135 South Lamar Street
Dallas, TX 75215
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2012 • 10 AM – 4 PM
FAYETTEVILLE ATHLETIC CLUB
2920 East Zion Road
Fayetteville, AR 72703
LOS ANGELES, CA
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2012 • 10 AM – 3 PM
THE BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF VENICE
2232 Lincoln Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
NEW YORK CITY, NY
SATURDAY, JANUARY 12, 2013 • 10 AM – 4 PM
135 West 52nd Street
New York City, NY 10019
SATURDAY, JANUARY 12, 2013 • 10 AM – 4 PM
SUPERSTITION SPRINGS CENTER
6555 E. Southern Ave
Mesa, AZ 85206
Get out there with your partner and go show Bear that you can survive!
We’ve done a lot of cool stuff with Crown Royal in the past, and on Sunday we got to team up with Crown for a sweet happy hour event at Yankee Doodles in Santa Monica. The event was a way to bring folks together to sip some great Crown cocktails, grab some grub and enjoy a great set of afternoon football games.
Crown Royal provided us with a few beverage options for the Happy Hour. We were serving traditional Crown, Crown Royal Black and the newest addition to the Crown whisky line, Crown Royal Maple Finished. The Maple launched last month. It’s finished by running whisky through maple toasted oak, which results in a subtle-sweet maple flavor that’s not too dessert-driven and retains the quality Crown flavor you already know and love. If you want to try this stuff out, look for the copper and auburn label with the maple leaf background. Thanks Canada!
In addition to the Crown options, there was a full menu of signature cocktails available. There was the Crown Royal Press, a brisk mix of Crown Royal Deluxe Blended Whisky with dashes of bitters, squeezed lemon wedges and a splash of lemon-lime soda. The Crown Royal Black and Ginger was a big hit, a simple mix of Black and ginger ale topped with a lime slice. The King George was one of two cocktails that featured the new Maple. It was a combo of Crown Royal Maple Finished, lemon juice, pineapple juice and simple syrup. People seemed to enjoy the Manitoba as well, a combo of Maple with lemon juice, simple syrup and a topper of ginger beer.
So we had great drinking options, good people and great football! The Rams pulled out a surprise victory in overtime. The Colts had an exciting comeback. And, most importantly, the Steelers won. Thirty-seven-year old backup QB Charlie Batch had some awful looking throw early, but he did what he had to do to secure the victory. Good times!
Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the great atmosphere and tasty libations! Special thanks to Taylor and super-star weekend visitor Christina Kavanaugh for coordinating such a fun event.
Stay tuned for more Crown Royal updates, as MANjr will be on the clock soon for this year’s Pass the Crown gift exchange game. Follow this cross-blogger gift battle on Twitter with the hashtag #PassTheCrown.
At Chicago -3.5 Seattle
Cutler’s back and Seattle’s on the road. Nuff said.
Pick: Bears -3.5
At Green Bay -8 Minnesota
No Percy for Minny. Spread’s a bit high but Packers should win.
Pick: Packers -8
San Francisco -7 At St. Louis
Can Colin keep it up? I think so. This game won’t end in a tie.
Pick: 49ers -7
At NY Jets -4.5 Arizona
Without a good QB on the field, I like the Cardinals to get a good game out of Beanie.
Pick: Cards +4.5
Carolina -3 At Kansas City
Tough times continue for the one win Chiefs.
Pick: Panthers -1
At Detroit -4.5 Indianapolis
The Colts are likely going to the playoffs, but the Lions will take this one at home.
Pick: Lions -4.5
At Buffalo -6 Jacksonville
The Bills don’t seem to have trouble moving the ball, and they’ll definitely be able to make plays against this Jacksonville defense. But how bout that Chad Henne story! Picking the Jags to put up more explosive big plays on offense.
Pick: Jags +6
New England -7.5 At Miami
Pats will dominate.
Pick: Pats -7.5
Houston -6 At Tennessee
Texans roll through and get one more step closer to that first round bye.
Pick: Texans -6
At Denver -7 Tampa Bay
Tampa could give Denver some trouble. Hard to not like what Peyton’s doing though.
Pick: Denver -7
At Baltimore -8 Pittsburgh
Batch was so hard to watch. It’s really sad we don’t get to see a legit rivalry game. The Ravens score twice as much at home as they do on the road, and the Steelers can’t do a damn thing without a QB.
Pick: Raves -8
At Oakland PK Cleveland
DMC is back but Cleveland’s just better.
Cincinnati -1.5 At San Diego
I think the Bengals are a better team, but the Chargers always seem to make noise late in the year. Still going with Cincy.
Pick: Bengals -1.5
At Dallas -10 Philadelphia
This game is going to be unwatchable.
Pick: Cowboys -10
NY Giants -2.5 At Washington
I want to believe in the Skins, but I may need to wait another year. It just doesn’t feel like they’re ready to make the leap just yet. That said, this is RG3’s MNF debut. You know he’s going to go off.
Pick: Skins +2.5
Last Week: 6-8-2
Last Season: 140-120-12
At Atlanta -3.5 New Orleans
A 10-1 team hosting a 5-6 team, the Falcons got this, right? I say no. The Saints have won 11 of the last 13 meetings and they handed Atlanta their only loss of the year. In that home victory, the Saints finally gave Chris Ivory a chance to show off what he can do. Guy ran totally reckless and put up 72 yards on 7 carries and he found the end zone, which isn’t easy for any Saints RB. It’s worth noting that Matt Ryan put up over 400 yards and three TDs against the shaky Saints D, but Brees was able to turn in a 298-yard performance with three scores in 20 fewer pass attempts. I know they’re on the road, but I just like the Saints to keep on fighting and eek out a win here.
Pick: Saints +3.5
Last Week: 6-8-2
Last Season: 140-120-12
Everyone’s favorite graphic tee site, Design By Humans, is running a buy two, get one sale today that includes free shipping. I recently received a few shirts from these guys, and I’m pretty happy with what I got. The design options for the graphic tees are all over the place. The DBH Collective features styles that’ll fit anyone’s sense of fashion. Humor, artsy, interesting, tacky, bold, subtle, gaudy, trippy – all these flavors can be found on the DBH site. Here are a couple of styles that caught my eye:
The tee shirts themselves are pretty comfy, too. Soft and thin (without being too thin). The graphic tees will last through multiple washes and still keep a good, tight collar going. Legit XXLs are available for big guys like myself, which is always nice.
If you dig hoodies, you can get the same buy-two-get-one action on those today as well (with free shipping). Just use the code SCOREBIG to save money on the entire tee shirt inventory. There’s a bunch of other deals on the site right now too, so check it out!
At Cincinnati -7.5 Oakland
Will Carson Palmer get his revenge? I think not. Raiders will get Reece going, but the Dalton outshines Palmer
Pick: Bengals -7.5
Pittsburgh -1 At Cleveland
The Steelers can win with Charlie Batch. I mean they were pretty damn close with Leftwich, who was all kinds of hurt in the second half of last week’s game against Baltimore. The Browns got something special with Trent Richardson, who took the blame for last week’s loss for failing to plow into the endzone and instead going over the top of the defense at the goal line, which was not successful. That’s the kind of good stuff you like to hear from a first-year, featured piece of the franchise. But Richardson can’t do it all by himself. The Steelers D has been stepping up of late, and with some combo of basic Batch, steady Mendenhall and battering Dwyer, the Steelers will take this one.
Pick: Steelers -1
At Indianapolis -2 Buffalo
Fred Jackson is back in the mix, giving the Bills a two-headed boost in the run game. The Colts are coming off a Patriot pounding, but they haven’t lost at home since September. The Bills win streak stops at one game.
Pick: Colts -2
Denver -10.5 At Kansas City
It’s a large spread yes, but the Chiefs are riding a seven game losing streak for a reason. Hillman steps in for the Broncos and Peyton continues march this team into the playoffs.
Pick: Broncos -10.5
Tennessee -3 At Jacksonville
Will Chad Henne keep it going and play himself back into a regular starting job? Will Chris Johnson continue his run of quality starts? I’m not really sure on either account. Both these are playing for pride at this point. The Jags are done already, but the Titans could squeak their way into playoff contention if they get hot. With more to play for, edge goes to the Titans.
Pick: Titans -3
At Chicago -6.5 Minnesota
With Cutler expected to start and Percy Harvin expected to sit, it’s safe to trust the Bears again.
Pick: Bears -6.5
Atlanta -1 At Tampa Bay
Even though the Bucs have put together an impressive stretch of games, and despite the fact that I don’t get overly impressed by the championship-hopes of the 9-1 Falcons, I still think Atlanta will pull away in this matchup.
Pick: Falcons -1
Seattle -3 At Miami
The Seahawks need to figure out a way to win on the road consistently. Golden Tate has been doing good things for Seattle, accounting for four TDs in the last two games. Miami has been shooting itself in the foot and that offense just hasn’t been clicking for some time now. Go with Seattle.
Pick: Seattle -3
Baltimore -1 At San Diego
The Ravens are a different team on the road. The Chargers have shown a bit of spark lately. I think the Ravens get edged out in San Diego.
Pick: Chargers +1
San Francisco -2.5 At New Orleans
It’s hard to think back to the 0-4 Saints. They’ve won five of their last six, and even though the 49ers have gotten better after the QB switch, I like the Saints at home.
Pick: Saints +1.5
At Arizona -1 St. Louis
Both teams are in a bit of a tailspin, but the Rams will make a mess of things for Ryan Lindley.
Pick: Rams +1
At NY Giants -3 Green Bay
The Giants have lost two straight. They’re lock on the NFC East is looking a bit vulnerable at this point. In this battle of the last two Super Bowl champs, I like the winners of Super Bowl XLV.
Pick: Packers +3
Carolina -3 At Philadelphia
Steve Smith called this the battle of the bads, a pretty apt description. Who’s worse? Hard to say. You want to believe the Eagles can stop the bleeding and not go out like this, but it’s the end of the line for the season and for the Reid regime. Everyone knows it, and it’s hard to stay motivated when a big house cleaning is right around the corner.
Pick: Panthers -3
Last Week: 6-8
Last Season: 140-120-12
Houston -3 At Detroit
The Texans can win in so many ways. They can pound the rock and eat the clock. They can let Chad Henne throw for four TDs and respond with 527 passing yards from Matt Schaub. This team is going to make all kinds of noise in the playoffs. Lions are at home, yes, but the Texans are going to close the season strong and lock up a cushy playoff spot.
Pick: Texans -3
At Dallas -3 Washington
The NFC East is wide open, with the Cowboys and Redskins gaining ground on the recently slumping Giants. There’s something about the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, though. I don’t think the Skins are going to go into Dallas and dominate. They keep it close, but the Cowboys edge ‘em out.
Pick: Cowboys -3
New England -7 At NY Jets
Like the Texans, the Pats are riding a four game winning streak. Like the Texans, the Pats are going to lock up their division sooner rather than later. The Jets impressed with a big win last week, but they’re likely just playing for pride at this point. They’re not going to get blown out or anything, but this game is going to the Pats.
Pick: Pats -7
Last Week: 6-8
Last Season: 140-120-12
At Buffalo -2.5 Miami
The Bills stood tall against the Pats last week, but they still got the loss. The Fins offense has disappeared of late. Bills take this one at home.
Pick: Bills -2.5
At Washington -3.5 Philadelphia
I’m not sold on Foles, but the Redskins D gives him a chance. If he wins, he’s the future. If he loses, it’s back to the drawing board. It’s lights out in Philly after the season, but I bet they win this one.
Pick: Eagles +3.5
Green Bay -3.5 At Detroit
The Lions start slow and usually finish strong. That’s not going to work this week. Packers win convincingly.
Pick: Packers -3.5
At Atlanta -10 Arizona
The Cards are a mess. They’ve lost five games in a row. With or without Julio Jones, number six is on tap.
Pick: Falcons -10
Tampa Bay -1.5 At Carolina
The Bucs are making noise. They’re above .500 and running the ball with authority. The Panthers are a two win team that just can’t seem to dial up the ground game when they need it. Should be a seesaw battle, but edge goes to Tampa Bay.
Pick: Bucs -1.5
At Dallas -8 Cleveland
I’ve been trying to will the Browns into achieving more, but they refuse. Weeden;s just turned the ball over too much. Boys win at home.
Pick: Cowboys -8
At St. Louis -3.5 NY Jets
I’m not sold on Bradford. Dude looked scared last week. The Jets are a dysfunctional mess, though, and they’re going against their former o-coordinator who’s got to have a pulse on all of their weaknesses.
Pick: Rams -3.5
At New England -9 Indianapolis
The Colts aren’t going to go down lightly. I expect the Pats to win, but not by two scores.
Pick: Colts -9
At Houston -15.5 Jacksonville
The spread couldn’t be high enough,
Pick: Texans -15.5
Cincinnati -3.5 At Kansas City
Arrowhead isn’t an easy spot to visit, but the Bengals are coming off a big win, and I think Brady Quinn will give that defense plenty of chances to make plays.
Pick: Bengals -3.5
New Orleans -5 At Oakland
The Raiders are missing their best player. The Saints can light it up and get to .500.
Pick: Saints -5
At Denver -8 San Diego
There’s something wrong in San Diego. Norv’s about to lose it, Ryan Mathews has a pain in his neck and big free agent acquisition Robert Meachem is riding the pine. Meanwhile, Peyton’s making John Elway look like a genius.
Pick: Broncos -8
Baltimore -3.5 At Pittsburgh
I really want to believe in the Mendenhall-ready, Ben-less Steelers, but it’s just too hard. Baltimore’s D is suspect against the run, but Byron Leftwich is just suspect all round. With no Troy, no Ben and no Antonio, the Steelers might have to wait a couple weeks to get their win against the Ravens. That said, I’m a shameless Steelers fan and I gotta go with my boys.
Pick: Steelers +3.5
At San Francisco -4.5 Chicago
Alex Smith and Jay Cutler both got knocked on the noggin. Cutler’s not expected to play. Smith is expected to start. I’d like Chicago a lot better without Jason Campbell under center. He’s good for a couple of turnovers.
Pick: 49ers -4.5
Last Week: 8-6
Last Season: 140-120-12
If you’ve got vacation days stored away, we’re about to enter the annual sweet spot for taking time off work. It’s about time you cashed in those vacay days, man. It doesn’t have to be an epic trip that breaks the bank. Just figure out a game plan and move on it. Whether you’re meeting family or friends or just trying to experience something solo, spending on travel is never a bad investment. You deserve the joy that comes with experiencing something new and different.
The new and improved Hipmunk site can help you plan your trip without wasting valuable time and energy. Hipmunk has a simple philosophy and travel planning. Everyone wants to find good value when booking a flight or a hotel, but cost isn’t the only consideration. Is it really worth 150 bucks for you to book a flight with two additional stops and a 10 hour layover? Probably not. You want to save money when you travel, but you have to balance cost with pain, travel convenience and a host of other factors.
This is what makes Hipmunk so cool. The site pitches itself as a better flight search and hotel booking engine, and really, it is. If you visit a big aggregator site like Expedia, Travelocity or even Kayak, you are bombarded with information about every single flight available to you. Sure, you can sort by price, duration of travel, non-stop vs. multi-stops, etc. But more often than not, there’s just way too much information to sift through. Hipmunk has some unique features that help you get past the information overload, so you can find a flight plan sweet spot that’s specific to your needs.
A couple weeks back, I started planning a trip to Barbados using Hipmunk. You begin the process by entering in your destinations and desired days of travel. It’s easy to add a plus or minus range to your dates. Next, you take a look at the results. They’re presented kind of like Gantt chart, with price on the right, duration of flights in the middle and expandable results to the left. Take a look:
So instead of looking flights up by price or duration, you get a quick, highly focused view of your options sorted by overall pain (price/duration). If you want to view more results that are similar to a particular flight, click on the left to reveal more options. You can hover over specific flights to get more details and you can easily select the right combo of price and time costs.
I found a flight from LAX to Barbados via New York that was affordable, included minimal layover time (just over two hours each leg) and featured the all-important flight option: Wi-Fi. I clicked on the link and booked directly through the airline site.
Once you’ve selected a flight, it’s time to start checking out hotels. Hipmunk just revamped their hotel search this week. You can view local hotel options that cater to your specific travel interests. Variables include property type, chains, amenities and neighborhood features like family, LGBT, romance, business and adventure. The results are provided by Trip Advisor, so you can dive into user reviews of each hotel pretty quickly. You can also sort the results by price, reviews or “ecstasy.”
It’s a really efficient way to cut through all the nonsense. You get a sense of a locale before you visit, and you can find accommodations that’ll fit your specific agenda.
So I used Hipmunk to book my Barbados trip, and I even checked with a travel agent buddy to see if he could get a better price. The Himpmunk price turned out to be cheaper. This whole process seriously cut down on the shopping around time, and you can sign up for email alerts that will let you know when any price changes to your flight take effect. If you’re still planning a trip by pouring through endless flight search results or hundreds of hotel reviews, try this site out. It’ll save you some time and money during the coming travel-heavy holiday season.