Sunday, January 25, 2015



Appetite of Destruction

Competitive eater Jeff "The Beast Man" Butler devours the competition one wiener at a time.

Jeff "The Beast Man" Butler eyes his opponents warily, his gregarious, gap-toothed smile melting into a hardened line. To his left, a petite blonde gauges the mountain of food in front of her like a seasoned climber at Everest's base. Another participant rolls his shoulders and flexes his jaw. As the countdown ends, Butler opens his mouth wide, crams a stuffed tortilla inside and gnashes his chompers up and down like a wood chipper disintegrating a log. He gulps some water to wash the grub down. Butler crams and sips, crams and sips. Ten minutes later, he places fourth at the Western Days Festival World Tamale Eating Championships in Lewisville, Texas, taking home a purse of $250.


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Points in the Paint

“Original Phoenix Sun” Dick Van Arsdale rebounds from a stroke with an assist from painting..

In the world of sports, they like to say “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” Few careers, or lives, illustrate this maxim as startlingly as the past few years in the life of Phoenix Suns legend Dick Van Arsdale. The old line about one door closing and another door opening gets a pretty spectacular demonstration from Van Arsdale, too.


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Badge Company

Former undercover homicide cop Jack Ballentine sparks up a second career as a fire marshal – and a TV hero?

Jack Ballentine. It already sounds like the title of a cop show. Can’t you hear it? “This fall on CBS, action has a new name: Jack Ballentine.”


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Playing Detective

The Valley’s most decorated investigative reporter embarks on a second career as a
private eye.

The spunky West Valley divorcee with a passion for ballroom dancing is in a grateful mood. Yes, she’s broke. Yes, a Nigerian flimflam artist stole her heart and cleaned out her bank account. But things could be worse. She might not have met Paul Rubin.


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Take Two

In the midst of a messy public breakup, Alejandra Amarilla – the former Mrs. Steve Nash – orchestrates a new career as a filmmaker.

On an already-sizzling weekday morning in Paradise
Valley, the only thing Alejandra Amarilla wants to talk about is the children. All 20 or so of them back in the tiny, rubbish-strewn Paraguayan shantytown of Cateura.


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The Fish Whisperer

Chef Shinji Kurita’s combination of traditional and cutting-edge Japanese cuisine earns him industry respect and two James Beard nods.

The first course arrives, a sea of paper-thin raw halibut marinated in grapeseed oil and ponzu. Behind the wood counter, an apprentice slices plump pink tuna in a steady heartbeat rhythm as Chef Shinji Kurita tends a vat of steamed rice, his dark hair hidden underneath his signature blue cap. Kurita is a slight man with a delicate silver-tinged goatee and clear dark eyes that reflect an almost superhuman level of self-control. Shoulders arched back like a sentry on watch, Kurita doesn’t even blink when a server’s tray of glassware crashes to the floor. A sliver of fish is placed atop a small rice ball. As the chopstick of abura tsukuri glides closer, the pungent aroma of garlic, scallion and ginger causes my nostrils to flare in anticipation. The taste of the fish is exquisite.  


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House Master

A new reality show spotlights the Valley real estate scene and a local foreclosure kingpin.

Doug Hopkins, self-styled “King of the East Valley” for his 20-year reign over the Valley real estate market, has yet another jewel to add to his crown: reality TV stardom.


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