Ever since her Grey’s Anatomy contract dispute, I haven’t been a big fan of Katherine Heigl. Let’s just say this movie didn’t reverse the trend. Although based on a popular book, my guess is moviegoers won’t feel the same. Can’t put a finger on it. Should Heigl just stick to her bread and butter, romantic comedies? I just couldn’t buy the poor man’s version of Meg Ryan as a tough girl, wannabe detective. Decent performances from Jason O’Mara, Daniel Sunjata, and John Leguizamo wasn’t enough to rescue the film. One for the Money is more like One for the Rental.
After a tumultuous year in the stock market, it looks like 2012 is starting on the right foot. Last year, I wanted to add dividend stocks to my portfolio. But with all this positive momentum, should I look at riskier plays? Also find out who our listener of the week is. Hint, he blogs at Watson Inc.
I have to admit I was very skeptical of this movie. The only acting I saw from a mixed martial arts fighter was the Iceman Chuck Liddell in Entourage and Dancing With The Stars. Borrowing a line from the classic show Taxi, let’s just say the Iceman can’t act his way out of a paper bag. Sorry Chuck! So how will MMA’s cover girl fare?
Fighter Wannabe Actor
For the first few minutes I kept thinking, “Aw man, it’s just a fighter, Gina Carano trying to act!” Granted she’s easy on the eyes, but please don’t put me in a sleeper hold with your acting, ok? Is it just me or does she kind of look like Danica Patrick. Sorry I digress.
She’s Heating Up
As the story unfolded, I started to get more engrossed in the story. Half of the credit must go to the stellar supporting cast, half goes to the decent action adventure plot, and the last half goes to Carano herself. I was pleasantly surprised!
Not exactly sure what the mindset of the producers and Soderbergh was going into the project, but they did a great job surrounding Gina with some big names to cushion her acting debut. Fassbender and McGregor were great while Paxton, Banderas, and Douglas provided nice support and comedy relief. Tatum is thrown in as eye candy for female viewers, but not much else. Last, but not least, Carano could be in the running for action heroine of the future. She is an above average actor who participated and choreographed some amazing and very realistic fight scenes. A friend of mine who is a big MMA fan was itching to see this movie. This movie was entertaining, but for more bang for your buck, you’re better off catching Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Nothing personal Gina and keep up the good work.
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Times Travel Show, returning to the L.A. Convention Center January 28-29, today announced the schedule of world-class travel experts, hands-on activities, regional cooking demonstrations and cultural performances being presented at the highly-anticipated 14th-annual event. A free mobile guide is being offered for the first time and will put the five-acre show floor in the palm of attendees’ hands to provide timely updates on event information, show-only specials and giveaways. The schedule, list of exhibitors and registration for the mobile guide are now available at latimes.com/travelshow.
Exhibitors representing destinations around the globe, from the warm waters of the Caribbean to Alaska’s glaciers, will present a wide variety of options to satisfy every traveler’s palate. The Travel Show will also feature activities designed to provide a mini-vacation in the heart of downtown L.A. Attendees will have the opportunity to hop on an exhilarating zip line presented by Ecuador Ministry of Tourism, “walk on water” inside bubble rollers, climb a rock wall and glide down a rappel tower. The show’s Culinary Stage, sponsored by Tourism Ireland, will serve samples of regional and exotic cuisine. Performers representing cultures from Africa to Japan will also add to the international atmosphere and The Times’ award-winning Photo staff will be shooting exclusive souvenir photos.
Los Angeles Times Travel Show giveaways include a chance to win an all-inclusive trip for two to Yukon, Canada from Boreale Explorers; an international adventure from Explore!; a “Barefoot Perfect” Vacation Package from the Belize Tourism Board with airfare, dining and activities included; and a visit to the Verde Valley in Phoenix complete with lodging, dining and entertainment provided by The Heart of Arizona.
Tickets for the weekend show January 28 and 29 are $10 each, and for a limited time visitors can redeem discount code “LATPR” to receive $2 off. Registration for the industry conference on January 27 is $30. Additional details can be found online at www.latimes.com/travelshow. Connect on Facebook.com/LATimesEvents and @LATimesEvents (#travelshow) to stay up to date.
Find out who our listener of the week is. Hint, she blogs at Prairie Eco-Thrifter. Would you like to know why I selected Jamaica as Best in Show? Well, stop reading and click Play! For more information on Jamaica, visit http://www.visitjamaica.com.
Last month in BI 003: HMO vs PPO, I thought I made the clear-cut choice for my family health insurance plan by going with HMO. After a month of struggles, I may not be so sure. I know with a HMO, I need a primary care physician (PCP) first who would recommend me to a specialist if the need arises. Since my wife is pregnant, Cigna allows us to select an OB/GYN without a PCP’s referral, or that’s what I thought.
Since we were starting from scratch, we started our search with the hospital we wanted to deliver in. We found the perfect one, one city over. We then scrolled through their roster of doctors and found one that we liked. Simple right? Wrong.
I called up the doctor to schedule an appointment for my wife. The office manager asked, “What medical group are you with?” I smugly answered, “Cigna HMO”. She fired back, “That’s your insurance, but I need your medical group!” After some back and forth, apparently I still needed to track down a PCP, who belongs to a medical group. The PCP and the OB/GYN need to belong to the same medical group to be considered in network. I thought I was a smart guy when I suggested she give me a PCP that they use. Viola!
Although the OB/GYN can deliver at the hospital we selected, it will not work for HMO patients, only PPO. Wow. You get what you pay for.
After a few days, my wife and I decided to switch OB/GYN’s because we only chose the first OB because of her connection to our favorite hospital. In talking to my Cigna rep, the PCP that was referred to me for the first OB would have been out of network so it was very fortunate I called. They belonged to the same medical group, but in different cities. Wow.
After selecting our second OB who was more experienced and had better ratings, I had Cigna match the OB with a PCP in the same medical group. Cigna would make the change to my wife’s PCP. Finished? Not so fast.
Transition of Care
On a Monday, Cigna’s transition care specialist called me up and wanted to discuss two items. She noticed the last PCP we chose was in a city very far from our home. Before she made the change she wanted me to understand that the hospital we would be able to deliver at would also be very far away. Insanity! Secondly, the specialist offered me the transition of care option. In special cases, when a customer switches insurance or if a doctor leaves the network, a customer can file for transition of care, within 30 days, so they can continue to use their current doctor or specialist and have then temporarily be in network. Please check with your insurance company to see if this applies to you.
There was additional stress because my wife needed to get her monthly exam soon. Jumping through all these insurance hoops, I felt we wouldn’t be able to find a doctor for her in time. The transition specialist followed up and found a PCP in the same medical group and the same city as our new OB/GYN. If you are going through similar struggles, your best bet is your insurance company. Doctor office staff are usually the last to know. Our first visit is the first of the month so this saga will be continued. Holy HMO Batman!
I caught up with Suba from Wealth Informatics and she asked about my flight around the world at the Long Beach Convention Center, who hosted the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show 2012. My arms sure are tired! All kidding aside, if you love to travel, this was the place to be. Tons of visitors felt the same as they came in record numbers.
Samantha Brown was back in full force. She spoke to a standing room only audience and her book signing line wrapped around the Taiwan booth a few times over. Andrew Zimmern came fashionably late to his book signing, but that didn’t dampen his fans. People love to travel as they snapped pictures and grinned excitedly as he made his way to the booth. Zimmern reminded his fans to be nice to each other. Way to look out Andrew!
Best of the Best
Are you planning a trip soon? Well there are travel agencies galore. The good news is they are the best of the best. I chatted with one of the Taiwan travel agents and he mentioned that all of the travel agencies at the Taiwan booth were hand selected by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. I didn’t verify with other countries, but my guess is other countries would also follow this same practice. Why would a country risk a public relations nightmare by partnering with a fly by night, one man shop? As always, do your due diligence and verify.
If you are looking for adventure, you could have tried a zipline, a scuba tank, and a new adventure, bubble rollers! For $7.00, you can walk on water in a human hamster ball. There were tons of pamplets, souveniers, food samples, and cultural performances. There was even a jumper for the kids. I visited countless countries and states and will highlight a few in the coming weeks. Most importantly, this show is a great first stop to your next adventure. After you get your personal finances in order, are you just going to hoard all your greenbacks? Traveling creates priceless memories. Last question for you. Got vacation?
Find out who our listener of the week is. Hint, he blogs at KrantCents. How are your resolutions going? If you need a kick start, you will be interested on how I accidentally discovered Pat Flynn’s secret to success. Take a listen to find out what it is and how you can apply it to yourself.
The following is a guest post on behalf of Money Supermarket.
Financing your next vehicle may be a no-brainer, but many people are in the market to lease or even pay for their cars in cash. While these may seem like the best ways to obtain a brand new car without being subjected to a stringent loan agreement, the advantages of financing a car to own it outweigh the rest.
Why Financing is Preferable
Showing up to the dealer, cash in hand is great if you can afford it, but the fact is that many people scrimp and save years to pay for a car in cash. If saving has been this difficult for you, it’s not a good idea to pay for the car in full.
Taking on an auto loan allows you to spread out some of that cost, so you aren’t parting with all of your money at once. You can use a hefty chunk of your savings for the down payment, but wiping out your savings is ill advised. This is because it’s a much wiser decision to leave an emergency fund in your savings account for those unexpected costs that may arise.
Financing will also allow you to get a vehicle that you otherwise cannot afford upfront. This way, you have your choice of safer cars more suited to your family’s lifestyle, rather than settling for something that’s already twenty years old and been through quite a few owners.
This doesn’t mean that you should take on a car loan bigger than you can afford. Compare car loan rates on websites like moneysupermarket.com to see if you can afford the monthly payments of a more expensive car. If your budget is stretching it, reconsider a less costly model.
Financing an automobile will even help boost your credit score. Even if you have had financial trouble in the past, many dealers extend loans to bad credit customers. This means that you can begin to rebuild your credit by making those monthly payments on time, which is something you cannot get from paying for a car in full.
Although leasing does have its advantages, buying a car that has a decent resale value could end up being an investment. You won’t get your money back years down the road when you go to resell, but you could end up with a nice trade-in value to get that next new car.
Regardless of the auto loan you choose, be sure to research the lender information carefully. Know the terms of the loan, additional fees, monthly payments and penalties associated with making late payments or even double payments. Some lenders will not allow you to make early payments without a penalty, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Applying for any loan is a big deal. Be prepared for anything.
This weekend I’m headed to the Long Beach Convention Center. No, I’m not visiting the Queen Mary. I’m going around the world in a day! Southern California’s largest travel show is back for its seventh year. Visitors are treated to top notch presenters, fabulous exhibits, and fun activities for all ages. I also get to see my old friend, Samantha Brown. We go way back. If you’re like me, love to travel, and see the world, make sure you grab a round trip ticket to Long Beach and stop by the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show, January 14 – 15, 2012.