Trendy Eats: Mangia Mi

ALIVE | Trendy Eats | Mangia MiWarm, inviting, and executed with understated elegance, Mangia Mi is the hottest destination in Danville for those seeking approachable, quality Italian cuisine. From the moment you walk into Mangia Mi you are welcomed like family. The owner Peter Cedolini or General Manager, Jenny True attentively greet and seat guests as they entertain diners and get to know new faces. Most of the servers have been with Mangia Mi since they opened and speak highly of both their bosses and the clientele that come in. From the moment you are seated, Cedolini’s meticulous eye is apparent. An open kitchen invites guests to take in the aromas and excitement of entrees, as they are prepared. Comfortable banquette seating as well as sleek aluminum chairs give the restaurant a modern, edgy feel. The carrera marble bar, wine bottle artwork and imaginative lighting further the modern flare of the dining room.

On a recent outing to Mangia Mi, Peter and Jenny took us through some of their favorite entrees paired with their wine recommendations. As the dining experience commenced, their attention to detail was carried through into each dish we encountered. We started our evening with their fresh bruschetta, made with oven roasted red and yellow tomatoes over a garlic rubbed crostini with balsamic dressing. We suggest beginning every meal you have here with this delightful starter. They paired the bruschetta with a sparkling wine they offer by the glass, which is the Astoria, Prosecco from Italy. The sweet of the Prosecco contrasting with the balsamic on the bruschetta was lovely. But just in case you don’t like tomatoes, our second choice is the Assaggia di Salumi e Formaggi – plate of mixed artisan salami and cheese.

After that was the Kunde Sauvignon Blanc, reigning from the Sonoma Valley, which we enjoyed along side a fantastic fresh Insalata di Barbabietola, or beet salad including walnuts, tangerines, mint and citrus vinaigrette drizzled over fresh field greens—to die for! Keep in mind that you can’t order wrong here, we are also huge fans of the Insalata della Casa, their wedge salad with Gorgonzola cheese, caramelized onions, and pan-roasted pancetta. Are you getting hungry yet?

The next exciting course brought glasses of the Cupcake Chardonnay, Mangia Mi’s house chard, from the Central Coast. We put that up against the special that night, the Gnocchi Frittati teamed with the pesto/gorgonzola sauces and topped with sun-dried tomatoes. I think it speaks for itself- pesto and Gorgonzola. Realizing many people don’t order three full courses, we recommend this satisfying dish to split with the table. Need other fun ideas for a third course? We suggest splitting up either the wild mushroom or pear and Gorgonzola pizza’s.

ALIVE | Trendy Eats | Mangia Mi

Insalata di Barbabietola — Roasted beets mixed with walnuts tangerines, mint, field greens, and citrus vinaigrette.


For diners looking for something on the lighter side, we recommend the salmon topped with a mango Serrano salsa and served under a bed of their famous garlic spinach, we enjoyed this with the Taz, Santa Barbara, Pinot Noir. And while we highly suggest the salmon, some other main courses that we share an affinity to are as follows: anything with the Gorgonzola cream sauce, Pepperoni Farcito – stuffed bell pepper, Lasagne di Carne – homemade lasagna, and the Pollo alla Griglia – grilled chicken breast marinated in rosemary, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Mmmmmmm.

ALIVE | Trendy Eats | Mangia Mi

Gnocchi Frittati Special — With the pesto/gorgonzola sauces and topped with sun-dried tomatoes.

Here is the bottom line on Mangia Mi: No meal is over eighteen dollars with the exception of some large pizzas. All of the bottles of wine are spectacular and priced right, with most the assortment less that $60 a bottle. With the help of Chef, Chris Wilhelm, Peter and Jenny have built a space that encourages comfortable, quality food at great prices. They strive to build repeat customers and establish regulars. The casual atmosphere lends itself to true family dining. We were seated next to a family where the mom had ordered the lasagna so naturally we asked her what she thought. She had no idea we were reviewing the restaurant and said hands down, it was some of the best lasagna she’s ever had. This is the essence of Mangia Mi; they have cornered the market on creative, delicious, cuisine that people can’t stop talking about.

Twisted Silver

Twisted Silver Jewelry | Deb Mitchell“It started with Spoons!!” She tells me excitedly one morning recently in her kitchen and points to a thing, which to me appears to be a wind chime made out of vintage silverware. Apparently she made it and brought it to a going away party several years ago and by the end of the party the host handed her a list of 15 more orders. And so Debra Mitchell, housewife and mother of three, became Deb Mitchell, of Twisted Silver jewelry and entrepreneur extraordinaire…and yes, still wife and mother of three!

Twisted Silver jewelry is the brainchild of East Bay local Deb Mitchell. Doing jewelry her own way, “perfectly imperfect” she likes to say, with earthy base metals, recycled and vintage asymmetry throughout. This distinctive and edgy indie line thumbs an irreverent nose at conventional jewelry rules.

Twisted SilverA frequent participant in the GRAMMY galas and other prominent events as well as a recurring contributor to Julie Kenney’s company and yet another outstanding local business, Jewels and Pinstripes gift bags; www.jewelsandpinstripes.com. Twisted Silver adorns numerous distinctive celebrities including Maria Shriver, Nicolette Sheridan, American Idol’s Kara DioGuardi, and most recently Twisted Silver received a call from Sheryl Crow, all of whom are head-over-heals for these personality-amplifying designs. But it doesn’t stop there, young fashion mavens to soccer moms embrace Twisted. Featured in a variety of style publications, and often spotted on both TV and runway Twisted has Main Street to the uber hip Hollywood elite energetic about her line.

Twisted Silver

Rocker Earth Necklace $70.00

Twisted Silver

Peace Love Earrings $50.00


Twisted Silver

Vibe Ring $40.00

Twisted Silver

Justice Cuff $100.00

And to think she only started five years ago. When asked about her business plan and where she see’s herself in ten years, Deb answers candidly…”It’s constantly changing, I originally thought that I would quietly grow it, then have a solid business jump when my kids graduated from High School…but it isn’t growing as quietly as I planned. So where do I see myself in ten years? The only thing I am sure of is being the proud mother of three great kids, all college graduates.” She pauses, and then continues, “Twisted Silver, my other child, will then get my undivided attention.”

Wanna Get Twisted??
Visit www.twisted-silver.com to purchase online or visit a local Twisted retailer to touch, feel, try on and fall desperately in love. Available at

2010 Chevrolet Camaro: It’s Back and Hotter than Ever!

ALIVE | Passing Lane

The talk about the re-born Chevrolet Camaro has been the topic of car buffs and automotive journalists for some time. Pictures have been circulating for the past few years and Camaro concepts have traveled to major auto shows across the country. Well, the wait is over – the all-new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro has arrived and looks better than ever.

The last new Camaro rolled off the assembly line in 2002. During its hiatus, engineers at Chevrolet began dreaming up a new semi-retro styled hot rod to steam up the hearts of fans new and old. The 2010 Camaro is rear-wheel drive and shares the chassis architecture with the now defunct impressive Pontiac G8. From any angle, the Camaro is beautiful and is a head-turner—a thumbs up, eye catcher for sure.

The model lineup is divided into three trim levels: LS ($22,245), LT ($23,880) and SS ($30,245). The LS and LT models are equipped with a V6 motor, while the SS is pumping out the horses with a V8. Optional packages include a LT2 ($2,700) and SS2 ($3,185).

We may be in times of elevating fuel prices, calling for small fuel efficient 4-banger engines that deliver enough horsepower to quietly drag you from point A to point B, however, fortunately for us, Chevy chooses to leave that to the other guys; they want – a tire smoking, exhaust rumbling vehicle.

Chevrolet borrowed Cadillac’s V6 that easily generates 304 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic with semi-manual shifting. What; you say you need more power? No problem. Then how about a 6.2-liter Corvette engine tucked into your Camaro SS, cranking out 425 HP with the manual six-speed transmission; or 400 HP, teamed with the optional six-speed automatic transmission?

From the outside, we admire the muscular chiseled lines and powerful stance. The look brings back memories of my buddy’s 1967 Camaro. The front grille and headlamps are tucked under what appears like a visor at the end of the hood. This pushed back design adds to the menacing front smirk as if the Camaro is challenging you – no – daring you to race. The center of the aluminum hood is raised 2.5-inches to form a long scoop (in looks only, since it is non-functioning).

A side view highlights a few interesting characteristics. Starting with the rear wheels moved forward six inches and the front wheels forward three inches, compared with its Pontiac G8 sibling. This wheel adjustment along with lowering the suspension helps to improve the handling. Nice! High rear shoulders give the Camaro a sense of motion while standing still. Four square red brake lights wrapped in chrome sit below the small spoiler mounted trunk lid. Dual chrome exhaust tips complete the rear and alert bystanders that the Camaro is on the prowl with their rumbling effect.

The interior is populated with great and fair attributes. The center console was cool with unique radio buttons and temperature knobs sitting on top of a four gauge pack. The steering wheel was dressed in black and silver with speed and radio controls. The instrument panel lacked inspiration with two large silver ringed rectangles sandwiching a small information center in-between. The rest of the dash felt like it was formed in layers in an ascending style. Our LT model had sharp looking two-tone seats that were comfortable and adjusted easily. However, it is easy to see that even though the Camaro has four seats it is clearly a two person vehicle. At 5’8” I had the seat pushed back to a comfortable position that left only a couple of inches separating the front seat from the back equaling no rear legroom.

Room for improvement:
Extremely tight rear leg room
More creative dash


Cool Features:

Extremely hot design
Four gauge pack
Stitched leather wrapped steering wheel
XM Radio standard

The Camaro may be a muscle car, but it still has a safety conscience. Safety equipment includes electronic stability control with traction control, front airbags, front side airbags, airbag curtains, anti-lock brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system and one year of OnStar Safe and Sound Plan.
ALIVE | Passing Lane
In Summary – The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro is a stunningly gorgeous car with thundering power and rumbling exhaust to boot. It has superb handling and ride on tight corners and begs for aggressive driving to follow its aggressive styling. The Camaro drew smiles and excited faces at every turn. Chevrolet did a wonderful job bringing back an icon.

Specifications
2010 Chevrolet Camaro LT

Base price: $23,880 as driven: $31,015 (estimated)
Engine: 3.6-Liter 6-cylinder
Horsepower: 304 @ 6400
Torque: 273 pound-feet @ 5200 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Rear Wheel-Drive
Seating: 4-passenger
Turning circle: 37.7 feet
Cargo space: 11.3 cubic feet
Curb weight: 3719 pounds
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons
EPA mileage: 29 highway, 18 city
Wheel Base: 112.3 inches
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper
Also consider: Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and Nissan 370Z
Future changes: New for 2010

Everyday Style…Beyond the Fitting Room

ALIVE | Everyday StyleYou’ve seen that woman. You know who she is. She always knows the right thing to wear, and always seems so put together. How does she do it? Her secret is simple: She knows her personal style and is not afraid to flaunt it.

As a personal style consultant, I meet women who claim they have no style. Sound familiar? This (experience has shown me) is, frankly, not true. Perhaps you have not yet discovered your personal style. If this is the case, don’t beat yourself up. Chances are you’ve been busy over the years—obtaining a degree, pursuing a career, raising a family, or maybe all of the above—and fashion/style just has not been your top priority. Well, it’s time for a change!

How does the non-fashionista discern her style? Here’s how…

  • Step One: Listen to your instincts. If you like easy-to-wear, versatile and classic styles, stores like J. Crew, The Gap and Ann Taylor Loft have great separates that can mix and match easily for a natural or sporty vibe. Khakis, washable tees, and flats are staples in this gal’s wardrobe. On the flip side, if you love body-conscious clothing that reveals your figure, you’re going to shop in the likes of BCBG, Max Studio and Cache. But, be careful, especially in the workplace–you don’t want to undermine yourself by not presenting a professional image.
  • Step Two: Look to fashion magazines or catalogs for inspiration. Check out monthly fashion publications for ideas. Look not only at the editorial photos (often fun and wildly artistic), but the ads—they will more likely guide you to “wearable.”
  • Step Three: Ask your best girlfriends how they see you. Sometimes, a fresh perspective from someone who loves you will empower you to make a change. If you have a co-worker whose style you admire, ask her where she shops. The goal is to get ideas.
  • Step Four: Buy only what you love. This is a big one. If you look in the mirror with a sad face and bad posture, and sigh, “It’s ok”, then the chances that you’ll ever wear that item are slim. And if you haven’t worn a new purchase within three weeks, take it back. Clearly, you didn’t love it, and it will most likely sit in your closet (indefinitely) with the tags still attached. You should be excited and eager to wear every new purchase—getting dressed in the morning really can be fun, not frustrating.
  • Step Five: Stay true to your style. “Fashions fade, but style is eternal,” according to Yves Saint Laurent, and there is no truer statement. The trick is to incorporate trends into your look; don’t let them take over. If you are uncomfortable in the “boyfriend jacket,” then wave bye-bye to that particular trend and stick to what works for you.
  • Now, proceed directly to your closet. Analyze every piece in your wardrobe, and ask yourself, “Do I love it?” If not, then toss it (and by “toss it,” I mean donate or consign it). Be ruthless! You should be left with only clothes that you feel good about, and that enable you to feel gorgeous. Finally, write down your observations—and when you’ve completed this exercise, you should be able to identify your style.

    Congratulations! You are now a “fashionista-in-training.” It’s time for some serious shopping!

    Carolyn Rovner, AICI, is a certified image consultant and the owner of C2 Style, a personal style consultation service based in Danville. Email your style challenges to her at Carolyn@C2Style.com, and your question could be the topic of a future column.

Yikes Stripes

Fashionably Yours | StripesAll stripes are hip…Zebra, nautical, even the White Stripes!

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Wow Marissa—stripes—I’m so glad I have your article to tell me something so mundane and monotonous.” OK, OK, stripes may be “regular,” but your approach to them doesn’t have to be.

Take a cue from the French—they’ve been all about the striped boat neck for decades, and what do we immediately think of when we think of French woman? One word: Fashionable!

Besides shirts, I’m seeing stripes on shoes and hair clips and dresses, oh my! Anthropologie even has a whole striped section on their website right now, www.anthropologie.com.
Here is a super cute pair of Sam Edelman wedges that you can get on the site, along with this strapless number that I’m totally crushing on right now!!!

Lastly, I know that most woman think that nothing good can come from wearing horizontal stripes below the belt, but I’m taking a stand and saying, “Yes you can!” Pleasure Doing Business is making a killing on this fact. Pictured is Aubrey O’Day wearing one of the many styles PDB has to offer. Others who have been seen sporting these flattering stripes are Rihanna, Heidi Klum, and Kristen Cavallari, and for under a hundred bucks, you can too! www.boutiquetoyou.com has all the styles of this awesome must have.

Recycle that Old Cell Phone and Save a Life!

The Walnut Creek Police Department is proud to announce its participation in the 911 Cell Phone Bank Program. This program recycles old cell phones so they can be used again for emergency purposes only, and then gives them to community members who could not otherwise afford a cell phone. The free Emergency Use cell phones have proven especially important in assisting domestic violence victims and vulnerable seniors.

Anyone with a cell phone they no longer want—working or not—is encouraged to bring it to the police counter on the first floor lobby of City Hall, 1666 N. Main St., during business hours.

The donated cell phones are shipped to the 911 Cell Phone Bank. All contents on the phone are deleted, and the phone is reprogrammed so it can only be used to connect with local emergency services via 911.

Hundreds of phone nationwide have been handed out to vulnerable seniors and domestic violence victims since the 911 Cell Phone Bank’s inception in 2007.

Persons who cannot afford a cell phone but would like to have access to emergency services through 911 should contact the Walnut Creek Police Department. 925-943-5844.

Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Performing Arts.
Tickets: 925-943-SHOW (7469)
03/05 – 03/28: Glorious Sunset Onstage Theatre
03/19: George Komsky LIVE in Concert
03/20: Mikado Sing-a-long Lamplighters Music Theatre
03/23: School Performance Concordia School
03/26 – 04/25: Oklahoma! Contra Costa Musical Theatre
03/28: Music That Stands the Test of Time – Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra
03/30: Concert – Diablo Wind Symphony
03/30: Rethinking Wellness: Community, it takes a village; Health Medicine Forum
04/01 – 05/01: Noises Off; Center REPertory Company

Walnut Creek Farmers Market
Every Sunday, 8 AM to 1 PM on Civic Dr. by Civic Park.

03/21, Sunday, 3pm: Sierra Chamber Society’s Concert featuring members of the San Francisco Symphony & distinguished guests. Boccherini:String Qunitet Op.30, No.6 “Night
Music of the Streets of Madrid: Gabriel Faure & Henri Duparc: Songs featuring Mezzo-Soprano DONNA BRUNO Cherubini: String Quartet No.6 in A Minor. Grace Presbyterian Church, 2100 Tice Valley Blvd, Tickets: 925-930-8880.www.sierrachamber.com

03/25, Thursday, 5 – 7pm: Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce presents TradeFaire Extraordinaire at the Clubhouse at Boundary Oak, 3800 Valley Vista Road in Walnut Creek. Promote your products and services to hundreds of prospective customers while enjoying a fun-filled evening. This semi-annual event attracts hundreds of local professionals eager to learn about your company. To register call 925-934-2007 or visit www.walnut-creek.com.

04/18, Sunday, 8am – 12noon: Walk MS 2010 at Heather Farm Park. Walk to create a world free of Multiple Sclerosis. Info: 415-230-6678 x2024 www.walkmsconnection.org

4/23 – 47/25, 10am-6pm Fri/Sat—10am – 5pm Sun: 63rd Semi-Annual Sidewalk Pacific Fine Arts and Crafts Festival at North Main, Cypress, and Locust Streets.

READ Bookstore

Read Bookstore
 
Let’s just face each other right now, admit it and move on, shall we? We love to read. We would not be sitting here right now, me writing this piece and you reading it, if we didn’t.

Reading transcends time and space, as we are now, literally, doing. Reading allows us to momentarily stop living our lives in this world, and move into an alternate world. Whether you are reading an adventure, biography, novel, some myth or mystery, all books inevitably take us on a journey. The journey takes us outside of ourselves to the destination that the book reveals to us.

It’s no surprise then, that as readers we find ourselves instinctively drawn to bookstores. Readers—real readers—don’t merely walk into a bookstore. We walk into a bookstore and enjoy the literary ambience of crowded shelves and great minds and authors beckoning us to join their world and journeys, imaginative and literal.

Read BookstoreThere is a new destination for the reader in our neck of the woods, Blackhawk Plaza, to be specific. This classic, new independent bookstore—Read— just across the paseo from Draeger’s, nestled in the former Ann Taylor location, is a paragon of what the browsing experience should be, and I absolutely love it! Probably because it is run by readers like me, and precisely because it is the antithesis of the superchain store we have been forced—no, resigned—to accept.

Read is, first and foremost, an independent bookstore dedicated to the democratic principle of offering access to information to the community at large. This means that if you are looking for a book, and if it is still in print, the well-read staff there will find it for you. Anywhere, with top-drawer customer service. This is the vision that Read’s owners, Jean Paul Wardy and Fred Bruning, who also own Blackhawk Plaza, had in mind when they developed the concept.

A perfect mix of an unhurried browsing experience, new and classic books and unusual non-book merchandise make for a counterpoint to the chain-store harried shopping misery.

The staff at Read. has a strong foundation in the book world. The managers, Vicky Panzich and John Hamilton, and bookseller Anthony Smith, have a combined 55 years of owning their own book shops and being involved in the independent bookseller world at every level. Bookseller, Sherry Ghambari, comes from a library background, specializing in children’s books.

The entire staff is amazingly qualified and extremely helpful. Read BookstoreAlthough brand new, Read‘s inventory is already extensive and eclectic, with over a quarter of the space dedicated to kid’s books. The surprisingly deep art, architecture, photography and interior design section is also impressive. Magazine racks are filling up and will, eventually, top out above 500 publications.

The non-book items focus on the writing arts, with a varied and wide selection of pens, along with the journals, sketchbooks, and cards that beautifully complement them.

Read has a series of special and regular events such as a writing workshop on Feb. 13 with Lynn Hazen on “How to Write a Children’s Book.”

The first meeting of the store’s bookclub took place on Jan. 28th, when local author, Mahbad Seraji, discussed his novel, Rooftops of Tehran. The bookclub will meet every fourth Thursday of the month.

A delightful children’s Storytime with Sherry and musical Singalongs with Carolline Harrison alternate every Tuesday morning at 10a.m.. Also, in February, Read will sponsor the San Ramon Valley Educational Foundation’s Read-a-thon, a fun program for kids which brings books to schools, that includes prizes, gift certificates, raffles, and pizza parties.
 
Read BookstoreRead is in the early, formative stages. Don’t get me wrong, it is chockfull of books. I say in formative stages, because it all depends on how many of us get up to Blackhawk Plaza and allow the literary effect to set in, making it our local independent bookstore, that will no doubt take on some of our collective community character, becoming a reflection of us and our neighborhood; our mirror inner psyches, our metaphysical beings, our will and wonder, represented in the physical form of this beautiful new bookstore. If you’ll permit me to make a pun, you’ve got to come over to Blackhawk Plaza and, literally, Read the experience!
 
See you there! I’ll either be in the spy novel section, or trying to find out of Tom Robbins’ is really insane or a mad genius, or traveling once more to Italy. Who knows, I may just decide to join Hemingway in the Spanish-American War instead. From Read we can set out on countless journeys. Won’t you join me on the road?

For more information, please call the bookstore at 925 736-9090.
 
Reads hours are:
Monday – Thursday: 9am to 8pm
Fridays & Saturdays: 9am to 9pm
Sundays: 9am to 6pm

Trivial Matters

Ben FernandezOne of the nice things that has occurred over the past few months is rekindling a friendship with one, Tim Murphy. Tim and I were teammates on the Cheese Factory of Pleasanton Trivia Team that stormed San Francisco in 1973 and won the one and only championship of the Trivia Society of Lower Battery Street in San Francisco. Tim has made a comeback and is one of the regulars for our monthly session at Grand Oaks Restaurant in Oakland the last Tuesday of each month. Tim has a remarkable memory for old movies and famous radio shows of the 40′s. Come down and join us sometime. Speaking of guys named Murphy, we all know what March means. Having spent a marvelous month in Ireland, the Irish in me is coming out. Don’t be fooled by the name. Me mother was descended from Auld Sod.
 
1. “Waking Ned Devine” was one of the most delightful movies of the past 20 years. What actor, who had been an Oscar nominee in the 1960′s, was the star of the movie?
 
2. He once hit .395 in the National League, but is more famous for managing the San Francisco Seals in the 40′s, introducing baseball to Japan and owning a fine hofbrau on Geary Street in SF. Who was he?
 
3. He danced with Fred Astaire in 1940, but became more famous as US Senator from Californian in the 60′s. Who was he? 
 
4. “If you ever go across the sea to Ireland” are the opening lines to a famous Irish song. What is it?
 
5. Who starred in radio on “The Life of Riley”?
 
6. Who was the star of the TV series “Hogan’s Heroes”?
  

 
FEBRUARY’S TRIVIA ANSWERS:
1.Maurice Chevalier 2. Ellis Valentine 3. “Love, American Style” 4. “Babes in Arms” 5. “Love in Bloom” 6. Love Canal

WIN LUNCH ON BEN!
The first person to email or mail, no calls please, the correct answers to all of the above questions will win a $25 gift certificate at The Uptown Cafe in downtown Danville, compliments of Ben Fernandez! Entries must be received by March 15, 2010. In the event of a tie, the winner will be drawn at random. Please email your answers to info@aliveeastbay.com, or mail to ALIVE East Bay, 199 East Linda Mesa Avenue, Suite 10, Danville, CA 94526. Employees and family members of employees of ALIVE East Bay are not eligible. Restaurant may be changed without notice.

Focus on High Quality Dividend Paying Stocks

Despite the recent pullback in the markets, we have come a long way from the depths of the bear market lows seen back in March of 2009. History has shown that the period just after the turn in the markets can be quite irrational. Often times the stocks with the worst fundamentals will outperform those with the best fundamentals. This latest rally has been no different. Partially due to panicky short covering and trading related to that, the lower quality stocks have lead this initial climb off the bottom. Over time, however, market history has shown that investors will come back to the high quality stocks and they will eventually resume leadership. I believe this trend will continue during the next stage of our current market cycle. Let’s look at some interesting studies that illustrate this point:

According to a study by Ned Davis Research Group, dividend paying companies have dramatically underperformed those with no dividends since the March 2009 bottom. In addition, companies with earnings have also dramatically underperformed those with no earnings! Another study took a look at the rally in the lowest priced stocks, those selling for under $5 a share. Wall Street regards these stocks as “junk stocks.” They typically have lousy fundamentals and have been beaten down by short sellers. From the March 9th low of 2009 through the end of August 2009, stocks priced under $5 outperformed stocks priced over $50 by 400%.1 Now you can understand why some have referred to the initial move up in the markets in 2009 as a “junk” rally.

So will high quality, dividend paying stocks have their day in the sun? History shows that they should. Another study by Ned Davis Research Group looked at bear markets and subsequent rallies going back to the 1970’s. An interesting pattern emerged. The higher quality, dividend paying stocks typically outperformed during recessions and bear markets. However, once the recovery started, the dividend paying stocks had a period of underperformance for the first six months or so. After that, the higher quality stocks that paid dividends resumed their outperformance.1

With all this in mind it is time to focus on the fundamentals. I would recommend investors review the funds and/or stocks they own. Be sure you have a healthy exposure to the types of “blue chip” stocks I have described. High quality companies with good earnings and clean balance sheets should outperform going forward. The dividends that these companies pay on an ongoing basis will also help dampen any price volatility and will likely be a substantially part of the total return an investor enjoys from these investments over time.

1. Pioneer Perspectives, After the Turn: Avoid Mistakes in Irrational Markets, November 2009

Damien helps individuals invest and manage risk. He is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and an Investment Adviser Representative of, and offers securities and investment advisory services through, Financial Network Investment Corporation, Member SIPC 1850 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 170 Walnut Creek, CA 94596. These are the views of Damien Couture, CFP® and should not be construed as investment advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Not all recommendations are suitable for all investors. Each investor must consider their own goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Your comments are welcome. Damien can be reached at 925-280-1800 x101 or dcouture@jbcfg.com.

The Passion of The Christ

The Passion of The ChristEvery year most Americans find themselves celebrating Easter. Whether you are a casual member of the Easter Lily and Poinsettia crowd, participate in another faith or a follower of Christ you know when spring comes, Easter can’t be far behind. Some of you may even remember actually getting new Easter clothes every year so you could look your very best at church with your family on Easter Sunday. While many of the “Easter” named events have been traded in for the likes of Spring Break, community Egg Hunts and just plain Brunch, the event that spurred the Holiday is still embedded in most of us.

My movie pick is The Passion of the Christ. This movie was released on Ash Wednesday 2004 among huge hubbub. Mel Gibson created an impassioned (pardon the pun) view of the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In my estimation, Gibson created a masterpiece. The Passion is a composite account assembled from the four Biblical Gospels of the final hours of the life of Christ.

Filmed entirely in Italy, the outdoor scenes were shot in Matera. The rest was filmed at Cinecitta Studios outside of Rome. Forty percent of it was shot at night or indoors under wraps in order to get an effect of light fighting its way out of darkness, according to Gibson.

The costumes were meticulously researched and hand-crafted by award-winning designer Maurizio Millenotti. All of the characters in the film are heard speaking the languages they would actually have spoken at the time. This means Aramaic for the Jewish characters including Christ and His disciples, and “street Latin” for the Romans. Greek, which was commonly spoken among the intellectuals of the period, was not quite as relevant to the story.

Most of the cast were hired locally except Washington born, James Caviezel, who was cast as Jesus. Chosen for the role because he was willing to commit to this unique project wholeheartedly, the talented Caviezel spent several months preparing himself physically, spiritually and emotionally for the most demanding role of his career. It was a daily struggle learning Aramaic and during production he endured full-body make-up sessions that sometimes dragged on for 10 hours. He spent entire shooting days exposed on the cross in freezing temperatures and during the grueling scourging scene one of his shoulders was dislocated. He was even struck by lightening while hanging on the cross and walked away unharmed. Maia Morgenstern, cast as Mary is a famous Romanian theater actress.

I want to invite you to experience this amazing film. Its breathtaking images, incredible acting and truly inspired directing makes it a top pick of mine. So, whatever your religious views happen to be, this slice of history is definitely worth viewing. Caution: rated R and not suitable for younger viewers. My reviews are archived on my website at www.CarolynHastings.com. I welcome your comments at chastings@rockcliff.com.