Monday, February 22, 2010

Captain EO Returns for Your Children

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

As you know, the weekend was a lot of fun…and then Sunday was basically just relaxing and watching movies and stuff. I’m about half way through Season 3 of “Dexter” and watched the remake of “The Taking of Pelham 123” with John Travolta & Denzel Washington. The story is about a NYC subway train getting hijacked and held for a $10 million ransom by Travolta and his band of merry men…and Denzel is the controller who gets the call. You’ve seen the previews, I’m sure. It was pretty good. What you would expect from a Tony Scott directed movie like “The Last Boy Scout” & “Déjà vu” but it was no “True Romance”. It was better than the original (where Walter Matthau was the star) especially from an action standpoint but…yeah, give it a glance if you like that kind of stuff. If not, you’re not missing a whole lot. Anyway, that was my boring weekend. It was two degrees when I drove to work this morning so there was a little ice from the light snow yesterday but nothing too bad. Honestly, I’ve been here the worst three months of winter thus far…and there’s really only been like four storms that have come through where I even needed to shovel and the sun the next day didn’t melt away the snow. I’m sure it isn’t typical of this area…and I know there’s still like two months left…but I’m glad that Gretchen’s been able to get me through the bad times with relative ease. Anyway, here’s the news…

It’s A Small World Record - A man who is only 22 inches tall left his home country of Nepal on Sunday in a quest to be recognized as the world's shortest man. Khagendra Thapa Magar is traveling to Europe to campaign for the Guinness World Record title. He applied to London-based group for a place in the record book in October, soon after turning 18, but said he has not received any response (does FedEx go to Nepal?). Magar's family initially filed a claim when he was 14, but it was rejected because he was not an adult and there was a chance he might grow. They say doctors in Nepal have not been able to explain why Magar is so small (my guess, drinking coffee & smoking four packs a day since he was able to grip). "We are going to Italy to try to record his name in the Guinness Book of World Records," his father, Rup Bahadur Thapa Magar, told reporters in Katmandu (yes, it’s a real city…and the capital of Nepal). They plan to appear on an Italian television show to talk about his bid for the title (hopefully with a translator). Once in Italy, Magar, his father and a supporter will decide on their next destination (after stops in Venice, Rome & Florence, might I suggest Cannes?). His supporters saw him off from the Nepalese capital on Sunday, offering flower bouquets and garlands. The current record is held by He Pingping of China, who is 29 inches tall. Wow. So not only is this probably the smallest man in the world…but by a full seven inches. Pretty impressive. Good luck with your journey, Mr. Magar.

It’s A Tall World Record - A 250-pound blue Great Dane from Arizona gives new meaning to the term "big dog." Guinness World Records says Giant George from Tucson is the tallest dog ever on record. Guinness said Monday that he stands 3 feet, 7 inches tall from paw to shoulder, which is three-quarters of an inch taller than his closest rival — Titan, a white Great Dane from San Diego. The 4-year-old Titan took the title of world's tallest dog in 2009 after Gibson, a Great Dane from Grass Valley, California, died of bone cancer. Guinness officials say there were conflicting reports about Giant George's height, so they sent a judge to verify it. The 4-year-old is owned by David Nasser. So now we at least know that there’s a dog that Mr. Magar can ride around on if he so pleased to. That’s really all I’ve got on this story other than to say “That’s a HUGE b**ch!!!”

Elvis / Vegas Update – As if any of us needed another reason to visit Vegas, here’s one more. Three decades after Elvis Presley took his last bow on the Las Vegas Strip, where he once reigned as king, the magicians of Cirque du Soleil have tried to summon back the power of this supreme entertainer in a show titled, "Viva Elvis." They have mixed a dizzying array of dance, acrobatics, live musicians, over-the-top stage sets, and glitzy costumes with gigantic videos of Elvis in his most legendary performances and memorable life events. The 45 candy-colored, whimsically designed jumpsuits worn by a dance troupe are fun to watch. And the show has 120 costume changes, including a Follies-like Las Vegas number. So yeah, if you’re into Cirque du Soleil…or Elvis, there you go. I’m still thinking that Zumanity will be my first intro to Cirque du Soleil when/if I give it a shot…but hey, Elvis or the Beatles couldn’t be too bad. It’d be like Zepparella…if they were contortionists. Hmm… I think I’ve got a few calls to make on that idea. Speaking of the dead rising from the grave…

Captain EO Returns for Your Children - "Captain EO" and Michael Jackson are returning to Disneyland. The park says it will show the 1986 Jackson musical film beginning Tuesday and running indefinitely. On the Disney Parks blog, Disney executive Heather Hust Rivera says the park will show a 70mm print of the 17-minute movie in the Tomorrowland theater, with enhanced sound. However, Rivera says the showing won't feature some special effects from the original presentation. She would not elaborate (leaving me to speculate there will be less pelvic thrusting in 3D). The original presentation included lasers and smoke. Jackson, who died last year, plays the role of a spaceship captain who uses love and music (as opposed to lasers & smoke bombs) to fight a wicked witch queen played by Anjelica Huston (“Addams Family”). The original ran at Disneyland from 1986-1997. The new showing replaces the 3-D show "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience." It was only a matter of time really. Now, I remember Captain EO vaguely from my first trip to Disneyland when I was six…but I don’t plan on watching it when/if I go back to Disneyland on my road trip this April (currently not on the list). I’m curious how this will be received by parents in the next little while…but hey, it should be fun. I can’t wait for the first group of kids to watch it and go, “Michael Jackson was BLACK?!?” Ah, Disneyland. Where a kid can be a kid (or is that Chuck E. Cheese?). To be a kid again and blissfully ignorant & happy to all around you. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Well, that may never be again for most of us (at least until Alzheimer’s set in) but…there’s no need to fret.

How to Be Happy - The pursuit of happiness is sometimes easier said than done. God knows (as well as some of my friends) that I’ve had my moments of loneliness and Gloomy Gus Days. Luckily not that often but still, it creeps up on ya when you’re 500 miles from your closest friend and/or relative (well, I do have my stepsister in Carson City but…) Some scientists have argued that happiness is largely determined by genetics, health and other factors mostly outside of our control…but recent research suggests people actually can take charge of their own happiness and boost it through certain practices. "The billion-dollar question is - Is it possible to become happier?" said psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside. "Despite the finding that happiness is partially genetically determined, and despite the finding that life situations have a smaller influence on our happiness than we think they do, we argue that still a large portion of happiness is in our power to change." Lyubomirsky spoke in San Diego Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS?). She and colleagues last year reviewed 51 studies that tested attempts to increase happiness through different types of positive thinking, and found that these practices can significantly enhance well-being. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. Here are five things that research has shown can improve happiness:

1. Be Grateful - Some study participants were asked to write letters of gratitude to people who had helped them in some way. The study found that these people reported a lasting increase in happiness - over weeks and even months - after implementing the habit. What's even more surprising: Sending the letter is not necessary. Even when people wrote letters but never delivered them to the addressee, they still reported feeling better afterwards. You know, similar to when you write an angry letter to somebody…and don’t send it…but they tell you that part too late…and then the real fun begins and you’re grateful that you still have your health because your ass just got fired. Only vice versa. Being grateful for what you have and what others have done for you will help you through some rough times. Just remember to pay it forward.

2. Be Optimistic - Another practice that seems to help is optimistic thinking. Study participants were asked to visualize an ideal future - for example, living with a loving and supportive partner, or finding a job that was fulfilling - and describe the image in a journal entry. After doing this for a few weeks, these people too reported increased feelings of well-being. Yeah, I know. It sounds like “The Secret” but again, it’s visualizing the positive outcome. You know me, normally I’m Optimist Prime but we all have our moments. The key is to focus on the good and just know that you can do it. You’re awesome. And if you ever need anybody to help you know it, you know where to find me.

3. Count Your Blessings - People who practice writing down three good things that have happened to them every week show significant boosts in happiness, studies have found. It seems the act of focusing on the positive helps people remember reasons to be glad. For example, Lilie & JL Clyde have gotten me in the habit of asking people for their “Best Thing Today?” It’s simple, sweet & shows interest in another person. Whether it’s big news like a new job or finally paying off a bill…or something like, a stranger was giving you the eye or a compliment that somebody paid you that day, reliving those great moments again really helps you to realize how lucky you are. Also, I’ve found that every once in a while, just cataloging your numerous blessing really helps to overcome & outweigh the problems that you might have at that time. You know me, the logical approach…but it really does help. When you go over stuff like your family, friends, where you live, your health, the smell of rain, you make the world’s best sandwiches, how people can’t help but smile when they see you smile, all the wonderful gifts that you have…and then compare it with something like, your job is unfulfilling or your car broke down. Even if it’s something huge like…a loved one passing. Keeping it all in perspective will help you realize that you should focus on the good times during the time that you had with them…and maybe reconnect with others that you haven’t been around in a while. I know that’s a horrible example…but I’m just saying, even if you don’t realize it, you truly are blessed. Sometimes it’s just hard to remember when your mind’s going 100 MPH. Believe me, my mind’s ALWAYS doing Indy Car speeds. Do I have ADHD? Probably…but I call it Imagination.

4. Use Your Strengths - Another study asked people to identify their greatest strengths, and then to try to use these strengths in new ways. For example, someone who says they have a good sense of humor could try telling jokes to lighten up business meetings or cheer up sad friends. This habit, too, seems to heighten happiness (and I can personally attest to that example). Why do you think I do this blog? Boredom? A little bit. Mostly it’s because I like to make people happy…and even think a little bit…but not too much. I know there’s a few of you out there that enjoy my little rants (and the price is right…for now). My strengths, as I see them, are numerous…and this blog helps me to use some of them like my sense of humor, my ability to open up to people…and therefore help them to open up (not over the internet obviously), find the positive (or perverted) in just about anything, offer sincerity & sweetness not often found in most people, and most of all, help people to get a good hearty workout by literally laughing their asses off. Seriously. I’m expecting a call from that Jillian Michaels from the Biggest Loser to call me up as a special guest trainer or something. You think your sides hurt from stomach crunches? Just wait until I’m through help you bust your gut all over the room. Oh…and I can turn just about anything into a sexual innuendo (in your end-oh).

5. Commit Acts Of Kindness - It turns out helping others also helps ourselves. People who donate time or money to charity, or who altruistically assist people in need, report improvements in their own happiness. Yeah, donating money, time, blood, semen, hair, all that stuff can be very rewarding to your soul (I think you can guess which one’s the most fun). Those sayings where “you get what you give” and “better to give than receive” all come from somewhere…and not just Christmas commercials. Heck, even just little things like holding the door for somebody, or asking them how their day is…and really wanting to know, or helping somebody with their groceries, or giving away your 2nd Twix bar, or thanking somebody at work for doing their job, or saying “Your hair looks great today”, or some other thing that, I know for me, can seem like it would come across as a little weird and possibly disastrous if they take it the wrong way (“Quit looking at my hair, stalker!!!”) can really make somebody’s day. Later on, they may just have a little story that they share with their friends…and get to relive it again. “So I was having a horrible day…and basically preparing my speech for quitting that f**king job today…but then, Cindy came up to me and told me I’ve been doing a great job…and offered me a Twix bar. Then we chatted for like twenty minutes about my streaks. I was surprised that anybody even noticed. Hell, my husband hasn’t yet. I don’t know, maybe I’ve got that place all wrong. There really are some nice people there, it just seems so busy all the time that I miss the little things.” It’s like CRACK (Commit Random Acts of Contagious Kindness) to some of us. Sure payment is usually in smiles & thank you’s…and that sure don’t pay the bills…but it’ll help you keep your mind fresh & ready and full of that lovin’ feeling. Whoaoo, that lovin’ feeling. Anyway, Lyubomirsky has also created a free iPhone application, called Live Happy, to help people boost their well-being. So if you’re tech savvy, give it a shot too.

Also, a big happy birthday to the Great Emancipator himself, Abraham Tiberius Lincoln. Okay, I don’t think he had a middle name…so I went with one that sounded good. It seemed like just over a year ago when I rambled a bit about him & how I hoped Obama would be the next great President. I still have hope…but it seems politics are just too damn ridiculous to get anything done without just saying “F**k the rules” and doing whatever you want. Still Obama, I respect what you’re trying to do…and do things the right way. Keep your head up…and if I might make a suggestion, try rocking a hat. No, not one of those top hats…but you know, maybe a Kangol cap or a nice pompadour or something. Give it a shot. They’re not going to impeach you for a fashion statement. Fine, just keep it classy. And don’t be afraid to throw in a “B**ch please” every once in a while when somebody says something idiotic in one of your meetings. “President Obama, why do you think there has been so much resistance by the Republicans for your health care plan?” “B**ch please, you know why. Because it’s not their idea & it takes money out of their pockets. Just another case of Whitey holdin’ us back when they should be holdin’ us down like WHOA!!!” Sorry to turn Obama into Black Rob like that…but hey, it’d be refreshing. What was my point? Oh yeah, happy birthday Mister former President. May Marilyn give you a lap dance in heaven. Still can’t wait for your movie to come out.

Anyway, that’ll do it for today. Hopefully this little rambling brightened up your day a bit. I’m glad to report that Bubbles’ mom is out of surgery and doing just fine. May she have a speedy & complete recovery. Other than that, I shall bid you adieu…and remember to count your blessings. Have a great day everybody!!!

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