Picture of the Day: Sexy Claudia Verela

Here’s exotic model Claudia Verela in a sexy pose as she wears a silver body suit unzipped to show off her impressive cleavage.

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Did you fill out the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket?

March Madness is set to begin tomorrow, and there’s plenty of buzz around players like Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins of Kansas. But all everyone seems to be talking about is the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket which is insured by Warren Buffet. Buffet has been making the rounds on television, as has Dan Gilbert, the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now Nate Silver is chiming in as he he launches his FiveThirtyEight blog on ESPN. Silver calculated that you would have roughly a one in 7.4 billion chance to win. So basically you have no chance, but I decided to fill one out anyways. Why not? I haven’t filled out a bracket for years, but this promo was just interesting enough to get me to try it.

March Madness has become an institution and filling out brackets an annual ritual. Of course that’s just the beginning as places like Las Vegas will be a zoo this weekend with all the first round games. Around the world it doesn’t quite measure up to events like the World Cup which will have bettors going crazy in every part of the planet, from Canada down to South Africa betting houses. People for that one will be checking every betting site and wiki to find information. That’s what’s going on here this week for March Madness. College hoops gets some attention, but not a ton during the regular season. Then everyone tries to become an expert over a couple of days as they start filling out their bracket.

Of course, your girlfriend who sticks with the favorites and then some of her favorite teams can probably do just as well as you given all the luck that’s involved.

I like to go with my own teams as well. Why not pick teams you like? Winning a bracket pool with lots of people is practically impossible. Of course, in office pools, you do have a real chance to win, or at least get some bragging rights for doing well, so I guess there some research is in order.

But with the Buffett bracket, I blew through it quickly and picked teams I liked. I have just as good a chance as anyone – one in 7.4 billion!

  

Car Review: 2014 Hyundai Equus Signature

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Off a refresh for 2014, the Hyundai Equus strikes an elegant look with V8 power under the hood that will impress on her own. The 2014 Equus premium luxury sedan arrives with enhancements to exterior and interior design, vehicle dynamics, material selection, driver technology displays and advanced safety features. The week behind the wheel of the Equus was a real eye opener as to what affordable luxury feels like!

EXTERIOR

No worries on whether the 2014 Equus Signature can compete with other luxury sedans here, as during our test time with the Equus, this car was even mistaken for a Rolls Royce! The 2014 Equus exterior enhancements convey a premium-sport design message, starting with a new 19-inch turbine-blade alloy wheel design in a polished silver finish that relays motion whether parked or on the open highway. The front grille chrome bars are thinner, with sharper contrast to the blacked-out portions of the grille for a sportier look. The front fascia also has been redesigned, with the former chrome accents removed in favor of a modern premium appearance that includes lower fascia opening strakes. The headlamps offer jeweled design elements and include chrome contrasted with black-out finishes for a distinctive appearance. New LED fog lamps are now standard. Side mirrors have been redesigned for enhanced aerodynamics and tail lamp graphics move to a more horizontal theme.

INTERIOR

Until you drive the Equus, you really don’t appreciate the high-end luxury that is incorporated into the cabin space. The 2014 Equus interior perfectly complements the enhancements to its exterior to the satisfaction of the most discerning car buyer. Thus, the themes of premium and performance again greet the driver behind the wheel. The entire instrument panel and center stack have been redesigned with more premium materials and an ergonomically-correct layout, with new button iconography for quicker and easier feature recognition. The center console and shift lever reveal more premium material selection and contemporary premium-luxury design cues. Steering wheel control layout has been improved, with new low-sheen button designs and icons. Similarly, rear passengers will enjoy a new rear console and button layout, with available dual 9.2-inch, high-resolution, adjustable seatback video screens to enjoy movies, audio media, HVAC or seating functions. Rear passengers can even search restaurant locations and provide navigation system directions directly to the driver’s navigation screen. The premium leather seats and microfiber suede headliner really set the tone for a high-quality space. We drove the Equus in zero degree temperature during a frigid midwest winter and the fast heating seats were our favorite comfort feature of the car! Also, the Lexicon 7.1 discrete surround sound audio system with a whopping 17 speakers is one of the best we have heard in an automobile.

The climate control system now offers three distinct cabin temperature zones for driver, passenger and rear passengers. The standard smart cruise control system has been enhanced to include a full 0-mph stop-and-start function for use in stop-and-go traffic. The smart proximity key now includes both key-fob and card-key types of vehicle entry for greater driver convenience.

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Blu Tuesday: American Hustle, Frozen and More

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“American Hustle”

WHAT: When con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are caught selling fake loans by an ambitious FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), they’re wrangled into working with him on an undercover sting targeting dirty politicians. But despite their deep mistrust in each another, the one thing that threatens to bring the whole thing crashing down is Irving’s wildly unpredictable wife (Jennifer Lawrence).

WHY: David O. Russell has always been a quality filmmaker, but he’s quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with thanks to movies like “The Fighter,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and this farcical con-artist caper. Loosely based on the ABSCAM scandal of the late ‘70s, “American Hustle” is immensely entertaining and features some of the best acting of the year. Forty pounds heavier and rocking the most elaborate comb-over you’ve ever seen, Christian Bale delivers a wonderfully nuanced performance as the straight man of the bunch. The other cast members aren’t quite as committed physically, but they’re just as good, including Amy Adams’ sexy and cunning partner in crime, Bradley Cooper’s short-tempered federal agent, and scene stealer Jennifer Lawrence, who’s an absolute riot as Bale’s unpredictable wife. The whole movie is also a lot funnier than you’d expect due to Russell and Eric Singer’s darkly comic script, and though some have argued that it’s too long, the characters are so richly developed and crackling with personality that I would have gladly spent another hour in their messed-up world.

EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release includes a making-of featurette and some deleted and extended scenes, but sadly, that’s the extent of the bonus material.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY

“Frozen”

WHAT: When her sister Elsa’s icy powers inadvertently ensnare the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter, Anna (Kristen Bell) teams up with a rugged mountain man (Jonathan Groff) and a talking snowman (Josh Gad) to retrieve Elsa (Idina Menzel) from her self-imposed isolation and prove that she’s not the evil witch the townspeople believe her to be.

WHY: In a year of underwhelming animated films, it’s hardly fair to place Disney’s “Frozen” so high on a pedestal, even if it is one of the best things that the Mouse House has produced in almost 20 years. But while “Frozen” is undoubtedly a good movie, it’s not quite as great as the recent love-fest would suggest. It’s also not nearly as progressive, with the lead heroine falling in love with one male character mere minutes after meeting him, and relying on the help of another shortly after. Then there’s the issue of those silly troll rock thingies that threaten to derail the film in the third act, not to mention the fact that it features of the lamest and least threatening villains in memory. With that said, “Frozen” isn’t without its charms. It has a few catchy tunes (particularly the Oscar-winning “Let It Go”), some excellent laughs and a solid voice cast led by Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and the scene-stealing Josh Gad. It’s the kind of movie that has likely empowered young girls around the world, all while selling billions of dollars in merchandise. That’s what you call a win-win.

EXTRAS: There’s a short featurette about the 75-year journey to bring Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” to the big screen, a music video parodying the lack of an actual making-of featurette, some deleted scenes and the short “Get a Horse!”

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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Car Review: 2014 Toyota Tundra 4 x 4 Platinum

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The redesigned 2014 Toyota Tundra has the opportunity to establish new markets, because from the time you see this beast, it makes an impression. For our test model, Toyota upgraded us to a Platinum 4 x 4 version, and it came in handy in the subzero snowy Ohio winter conditions.

EXTERIOR

For 2014, the Tundra sports a new chiseled exterior design that has a distinctive look for the full-size truck segment. Tundra is newly designed, inside and out, representing a major change since the 2007 model year. Each Tundra grade embodies a specific theme through distinct designs that go beyond badging, and that includes the high-end luxury Platinum series. The new front design integrates the hood and grille for a chiseled image. Designers increased the size of the front fascia and tightened up the surfaces and character lines to visually punctuate Tundra’s pulling power and wide stance. The grille has a taller, bolder look, visually connecting the upper intake to the lower bumper. The front lower bumpers are now a three-piece design, allowing for lower replacement costs. In addition, the fenders and wheel wells have been squared-off for a wide and sturdy stance.

A new exterior design helps carry the chiseled character lines all the way down the profile, leading to a rugged new bed and tailgate, with an integrated spoiler and “TUNDRA” embossed into the sheet metal, creating a one-piece forged look. Like the front bumper, the rear bumper changes from one piece to three, for lower replacement costs. Tundra offers a palette of nine exterior colors including three new colors: Attitude Black Metallic, Sunset Bronze Mica and Blue Ribbon Metallic. Popular carryover colors include Radiant Red, Super White, Silver Sky Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Black and Barcelona Red. The Magnetic Gray Metallic that our test model carried fit this truck very well.

INTERIOR

There are no boundaries in the cabin space of the 2014 Toyota Tundra 4 x 4 Platinum, as you need a separate area code for each passenger! Really, this is an awesome interior space with a luxury cap-off from the Platinum grade. Tundra features new contemporary interior styling focusing on differentiation between grades, while improving the availability of features most important to truck buyers. The new interior variations are thematic and cater to a specific customer with a specific budget. Ergonomic improvements include easier driver access to controls as the reach to the audio and HVAC controls was reduced by 2.6 inches. Overall passenger comfort was improved with a new front and rear (CrewMax) seat design and improved front seat ventilation. In addition, front seats have additional travel, and rear seats can now be folded up for additional cargo carrying capability, while maintaining a comfortable seating back angle and lowering load height by more than 11 inches.

Tundra features a number of key standard features and is the only truck in the full-size pickup segment to include a standard back-up camera (viewed from the audio display screen and standard Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming on all grades. Platinum models come with standard dual zone air conditioning with individual temperature settings for driver and front passenger. An auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink universal transceiver is standard on Platinum grades. The Platinum and 1794 Edition come standard with a 12-way power driver’s seat with memory and a six-way power passenger’s seat, both with heat and ventilation, power moon roof, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, front and rear parking sonar, and Entune Premium JBL Audio with Navigation and App Suite. Additionally, the 2014 Tundra is the only full-size pickup with available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert!

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