Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Enter the Double Dragon

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Sigh… Well, my mom leaves for her month-long Asian Invasion Trip in the morning…but then I go and read something like this. Remember that crazy sh*t a few weeks ago about protestors in Bangkok? You know, where they were bleeding into jars and leaving pools of it at the steps of their government buildings? Yeah, that’s still going on…and the government has had enough of it…so they’ve basically declared Martial Law in Thailand. Awesome, right? Well, as you can guess, I’ve been in contact with the embassy and they assure me that at this point it’s just more military presence to preserve the peace or whatever…and they’ll keep me posted (via updates on their website). In the meantime, I’m reassuring my mom that it’ll be fine and she’s going to have a great time and ride a f**king elephant or something. I honestly told her that if it gets out of hand, to go hang out with the nearest elephant because those things are sacred to them. Hopefully it won’t come to that though…and she can be out of that crazy town of Bangkok in a few days and see what the world has to offer. Other than that, I’ve just been hella busy trying to get things squared away with work, the road trip, eating, keeping up with friends, women’s basketball championships, all the important stuff. So I guess I’ll just go into the news…

Passing of a Mankiller - Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller, one of the nation's most visible American Indian leaders and one of the few women to lead a major tribe, died Tuesday after suffering from cancer and other health problems. She was 64. Mankiller, whose first taste of federal policy toward Indians came when her family ended up in a housing project after a government relocation project, took Indian issues to the White House and met with three presidents. She earned a reputation for facing conflict head-on. As the first female chief of the Cherokees, from 1985 to 1995, Mankiller led the tribe in tripling its enrollment, doubling employment and building new health centers and children's programs. "We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us, but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us," current Cherokee Chief Chad Smith said. "We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness." Mankiller met snide remarks about her surname — a Cherokee military title — with humor, often delivering a straight-faced, "Mankiller is actually a well-earned nickname." Continual struggles with her health appeared not to deter her. A 1979 car accident nearly claimed her life and resulted in 17 operations. She developed the muscular disorder myasthenia gravis and had a kidney transplant in 1990. Mankiller used some hospital stays to work on her autobiography with Michael Wallis, which came out in 1993. In "Mankiller: A Chief and Her People," she said she wanted to be remembered not just for being the tribe's first female chief but for emphasizing that Cherokee values can help solve contemporary problems. She once wrote, "Friends describe me as someone who likes to dance along the edge of the roof. I try to encourage young women to be willing to take risks, to stand up for the things they believe in, and to step up and accept the challenge of serving in leadership roles." Mankiller had also battled lymphoma, breast cancer and several other health problems. Last month, her husband, Charlie Soap, said that she had stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer. After that, Mankiller said she was "mentally and spiritually prepared for this journey." "I learned a long time ago that I can't control the challenges the creator sends my way, but I can control the way I think about them and deal with them," she said in a statement released by the tribe last month. "On balance, I have been blessed with an extraordinarily rich and wonderful life, filled with incredible experiences." Born at W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, Mankiller moved with her family to San Francisco in the 1950s when their farm failed. The pledge of opportunity turned out to be poverty in a housing project. She married and had two daughters, Felicia and Gina. In 1969, she got what she called "an enormous wake-up call" and took her first step into Indian activism by participating in the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz Island (remember the pictures from my trip a few weeks back? Indians were welcome). Seventy-nine Native Americans took over the site of the former federal prison to protest a policy that terminated the federal government's recognition of tribal sovereignty and the exclusion of Indians from state laws. The policy was based on the belief that Native Americans would be better off if they assimilated as individuals into mainstream American society. Mankiller moved back to her family's land in Oklahoma after getting divorced in 1975. A decade later, she succeeded former Chief Ross Swimmer, who had tapped her as his running mate because of her business savvy. During her re-election campaign, she pledged to improve the tribe's economic interests. As chief of the Tahlequah-based tribe, Mankiller was less of an activist and more of a pragmatist. She was criticized for focusing almost exclusively on social programs, instead of pushing for smoke shops and high-stakes gaming. Mankiller decided not to seek re-election in 1995, and accepted a teaching position at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, where she held an honorary degree. Among her other honors was a Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation's highest civilian award — presented in 1998. A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds in Tahlequah. The world has truly lost a great leader & defender of Native American rights. My condolences go out to her family, friends and the Cherokee Nation.

Double Dragon - Biologists on Wednesday reported the spectacular discovery of a species of giant lizard, a reptile as long as a full-grown man is tall, and endowed with a double penis (oh yeah). The secretive but brightly-colored beast, a monitor lizard, is a close cousin of the Komodo Dragon of Indonesia. But unlike the fearsome Dragon, it is not a carnivore, nor does it feast on rotting meat. Instead, it is entirely peaceable and tucks into fruit (whatever that means…but with a double rudder and the moist interior of most fruit, one can guess). Dubbed Varanus bitatawa, the lizard measures two meters (6.5 feet) in length, according to the account, published by Britain's Royal Society. It was found in a river valley on northern Luzon Island in the Philippines, surviving loss of habitat and hunting by local people who use it for food (and aphrodisiac, twice the meat of the average lizard). How many of the lizards have survived is unclear (head count gets too complicated). The species is almost certainly critically endangered, and might well have disappeared entirely without ever being catalogued had a large male specimen not been rescued alive from a hunter last June. Finding such a distinctive species in a heavily populated, highly deforested location "comes as an unprecedented surprise," note the authors, writing in the journal Biology Letters. The only finds of comparable importance in recent decades are the Kipunji monkey (not the Kwyjibo), which inhabits a tiny range of forest in Tanzania, and the Saola, a forest-dwelling bovine found only in Vietnam and Laos. V. bitatawa has unique markings and an unusual sexual anatomy, according to the study (and anybody else reading this). Its scaly body and legs are a blue-black mottled with pale yellow-green dots, while its tail is marked in alternating segments of black and green. Males have a double penis, called hemipenes, also found in some snakes and other lizards. The two penises are often used in alternation, and sometimes contain spines or hooks that serve to anchor the male within the female during intercourse (not so sexy now, is it?). V. bitatawa has a relative in southern Luzon, V. olivaceus, but the species are separated by three river valleys and a gap of 150 kilometers (95 miles) and may never have met up (or at least don’t speak of it). One reason that the new lizard has gone undetected, the researchers speculate, is that it never leaves the forests of its native Sierra Madre mountains to traverse open spaces. The discovery "adds to the recognition of the Philippines as a global conservation hotspot and a regional superpower of biodiversity," the authors conclude. The giant lizard should become a "flagship species" for conservation efforts aimed at preserving the remaining forests of northern Luzon, which are rapidly disappearing under the pressure of expanding human population and deforestation. How would that be? The conservational spokesanimal for your region is a giant lizard with six legs. So much for balding eagles and impotent pandas.

Blind Speed Record – Can’t get that image out of your head? Try this. Turkish pop-singer Metin Senturk became the world's fastest unaccompanied blind driver on Friday and said he felt he had danced with death. Senturk wept as he emerged from a Ferrari F430 at Urfa airport in eastern Turkey to learn from Guinness World Records officials his average speed of 292.89 kph (about 180 mph) broke the previous record of 284 kph, held by a British bank manager. "I don't think there are any words to describe this feeling. I am really happy. It was really hard, like a dance with death," said Senturk, who has been blind since the age of three. Following Senturk in a separate vehicle was former rally driver Volkan Isik, who guided the blind man by radio. That’s right, blind speed driving. Well, I think this record should be held by an American. So please, somebody get Stevie Wonder out to the Salt Flats, into a rocket car, and just obliterate this record. Oh, it has to be on a track? This was at an airport. It has to be on a road? Okay then, somebody get him to I-80 across Wyoming or Nebraska or something and just make sure he stays straight. Do I have to think of everything? By the way, anybody catch the mention of the blind British bank manager?

Bank Robbing Update – Know where I’m going with this? No, he didn’t get robbed. At least that I’m aware of. A gunman locked bank employees in a vault in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin and left behind a package with flashing lights before stealing cash, while the bank manager unknowingly went about her business. Police Chief Randy Boeldt said the man, disguised with a wig and fake mustache and beard, entered the National Exchange Bank & Trust Thursday and ordered three tellers into the vault where he locked them behind a gate and told them it was no April Fools joke (just to clarify). Boeldt said the man left a box with flashing lights near the vault and told the tellers they would be electrocuted if they left before the lights stopped flashing. The Sheboygan Press reported the manager arrived at the bank, walked into her office and never saw a thing as the robber walked out the door. Do you feel safe? This really happened too. It’s no April Fool’s joke. A bank robber really showed up with a fake wig, beard, moustache, probably in an overcoat, all the usual clichés. The three tellers were really locked into a vault…and were really allegedly help captive with an alleged electro-bomb of some sort with flashing lights, which I’m sure he sacrificed a few children’s toys to collect. The bank manager really didn’t know that anything was going on as she went through her morning routine. And most importantly, the robber really got away with it. Honestly, I’m sure he was as surprised as everybody out there is that it actually worked out. “I can’t believe they fell for the electrocution thing. Oh well, I’m sure they’re paid by the hour…and they’re insured.” There’ve been a LOT of bank robbing stories recently, huh? I’d hate to think I was starting a trend. I’d much rather my legacy by the Pioneer of Panda Porn as it should be.

First Hottie Update – Ah, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. The first lady of France. I never seem to mind when you make the news. So in addition to trying to find the “Termite gangs” that are robbing banks all over Paris, police are investigating who started rumors of infidelity involving President Nicolas Sarkozy and France's first lady that began on a blog (GASP!!!) and spread to newspapers overseas (since journalism is morte), the Paris prosecutor's office said Tuesday. Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said in a radio interview Monday evening that he did not exclude the possibility the allegations of "totally unfounded liaisons" had been planted in a bid to take down the glamorous couple. The investigation was opened based on a complaint filed March 25 by the owner of a weekly newspaper whose blog carried the initial rumors that alleged that both the president and his wife, a former top model, were involved in relationships outside their marriage. Judicial police are handling the investigation, the prosecutor's office said after a complaint was filed for the "fraudulous introduction of information in a computer system," which apparently is against the law in France. The rumors were seeded in early March amid France's regional elections during which Sarkozy's conservative UMP party registered a resounding loss. "Tonight, I cannot exclude a plot or that some people, for personal or financial interests ... wanted to try to destabilize the president of the republic and his wife," Herzog said in an interview with RTL radio. British newspapers were among those that picked up the stories, though the mainstream French press largely shied away — except to write about the flurry of reports in Britain. Sarkozy's whirlwind romance and marriage in February 2008 to Bruni has been closely watched. It is his third marriage and she, in her younger years, famously dismissed monogamy as untenable (mmm… nice). In the face of the rumors, the couple have portrayed themselves as closely united. They were often seen holding hands during a trip last week to the United States that included a private dinner with the Obamas at the White House. The blog in question appeared March 10 on the Web site of the weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. The large media company that owns the Sunday paper, Hachette Filipacchi Medias, filed the complaint, opening the way to the probe (mmm… sorry, back on track). Hachette Filipacchi is owned by the Lagardere group, which is headed by Sarkozy's good friend, Arnaud Lagardere. A close aide to Sarkozy, Pierre Charon, told the Web site of the newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur that "we want to get to the bottom of this. ... As the expression goes, fear must change camps." Reporters at the newspaper took exception to what they said was Charon's threatening tone. A statement from the journalists' union of Le Journal du Dimanche said the paper "has no need to cede to authorities' wishes or to pressure or threats from wherever they may come." It was unclear why the presidential couple did not initiate legal action themselves once the rumors cropped up. Ugh…maybe they had better things to do? Look, the internet is basically around for four things: Social networking, pornography, information & false information. It’s around for starting rumors. Especially about celebrities. Did you hear how Corey Haim really died? It wasn’t overdosing on drugs. He was saving a box full of kittens from an abandoned warehouse while it was aflame. Don’t believe me. Google it. By the way, Jeff Goldblum is watching you poop.

Jim & Jen Break Up – The only thing I hate more than a funny guy & a funny girl breaking up…is Twitter. Alas, the comedic genius Jim Carrey and his superhot girlfriend Jenny McCarthy broke up after five (torrid passionate fun-filled) years. The couple's separation seems amicable, according to their break-up tweets. Carrey posted, "Jenny and I have just ended our (five-year) relationship, I'm grateful (for) the many blessings we've shared and I wish her the very best!" And McCarthy shows her sentiment tweeting that she will, "always keep Jim as a leading man in my heart." Together they have spread much awareness for autism and showed a great love for humanity. Though not together in a relationship sense, let's hope they continue to remain strong in their efforts to lift up society. Now, is this a rumor? Remember my previous story? Huh? Celebrity power couple? Promoting good throughout the world? Guy who talks funny & a model? Similarities? No? Huh? Think about it.

Americanization of Vampires – That’s right, vampires. For centuries, America has taken other nation’s ideas…and perfected them. We took soccer…and made it football. We took pizza…and made it delicious. Then occasionally we destroy things. We take carry-alls…and make them man purses. We take beer…and we water it down (UTAH!!!). We take vampires, lords of great power who rule the night…and we turn them into sniveling teenage p**sies. And yes, I blame Anne Rice & Brad Pitt for starting it…but that’s another story. A British university is to hold a conference on Vampires in an effort to counterbalance the "Americanization" of the fictional genre. Delegates to the University of Hertfordshire's "Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture" conference to be held on April 16-17 will have their food served to them out of coffins (my funeral will have a deli platter on my corpse) as part of a mission to encourage students of all ages to study literature. English lecturer Sam George, who has just launched a Master of Arts degree in vampire fiction at Hertfordshire, said the most famous vampire narrative of all, Dracula, was written by Irishman Bram Stoker and set in London and Whitby in Yorkshire, but that now with the "Twilight" saga and "True Blood," modern vampires have become Americanized (and moody b**ches). "It's amazing how many British actors have played Dracula on screen," George said in a statement on the university's website. "I aim to put the British vampire back on the map." George said she (yes, SHE) is particularly interested in the new teen vampire narratives which act as a useful metaphor for wider teen anxieties about their bodies and the first stirrings of desire. "The new breed of vampires are far from monstrous, they are glamorous and sexy and have an emotional side. Their (teenagers') attraction to vampire figures provides a safe way for them to acknowledge these desires." Conference lectures will be delivered by academics and author Marcus Sedgwick, who writes young adult fiction with a vampire twist. Now, here’s my favorite part. Panel topics during the two-day event will include "Dracula Lives," "Appetites of the Undead," "Undead Victorians," "Undead Teens," "Politics of the Undead," "Undead Romance," "The Gay Undead," "Undead TV," "Undead in the New Media," "Identity, Legality and the Undead" and "Gendering the Undead." I’m sure there will be a series of books titled “Pride, Prejudice & the Undead” will be coming out soon. I would thoroughly enjoy being in that group…but hey, it’s across the pond…and the Wingmans will be hanging with me those days. Also, imagine THAT degree on your resume, Master of Arts in Vampire Fiction. Great conversation starter, I guess. “Ah, so you do have a degree? Excellent. Ugh… really? Master of the Arts…in Vampire Fiction? Are you f**king with me right now? Cuz the last guy that interviewed claimed to have a Masters in Pimpology from Nuttingame University. He even claimed to be a doctor. What kind of a name is Mookie anyway? Yeah, I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. Do you have any references?” Congratulations America!!! We’re locking down the market on vampires. Sure, I think Twilight is f**king retarded (and oddly enough, my stepmother & JL Clyde agree) but hey, dominance is dominance. So what next? We’ve got vampires, zombies, werewolves, Frankenstein monsters, mummies, ghosts (both Poltergeist & Swayze varieties), demons, dinosaurs, sharks, psychos, mutants, time traveling robots, I mean…we’ve got the whole horror industry on lock, right? Kudos! What else is there? Giant lizards that destroy cities? Cameras, video tapes & cell phones that can kill you? You can keep that crap, Tokyo. Well, to celebrate this conquering of the world of vampires (though I may not agree with all aspects), I thought I would celebrate the only way I know how…by showing pictures of sexy vampires…please enjoy…
Morticia was a vampire, right?
It doesn't matter. Gada mia...

So yeah, that’ll do it for today. Pray for my mom, stepdad & their friends…and of course the people of Thailand as well. Hopefully they can all get along peacefully and enjoy the fact that…they live in Thailand. Wish I was going with them…now to protect them more than be on vacation with them (that’s my story & I’m sticking to it). Seriously, the only hope my stepdad has of protecting them is if my mom hides behind him and they think he’s an elephant. “NO!!! Don’t shoot! Don’t hurt him. Let’s go over to the post office and write our names in blood on the sidewalk.” They’ll be fine. Can’t wait to see all of ya on my Road Trip…and my vacation basically starts in a week. Yippee!!! Have a great day everybody!!!

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