Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Other Kind of Stoned

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Not a whole lot the past few days. Been watching “Ghost Adventurers” on Travel Channel, which for those of you who don’t know, is basically three dudes who lock themselves into allegedly haunted places across the world overnight…and basically try to contact and/or pick fights with ghosts. It’s mildly amusing to me. They get these white noise blurbs on digital recorders and…sometimes they try to stretch it out into something. For example, they’ll be in an abandoned hospital in East LA…and be yelling down a hallway “Are there any ghosts here?” and their recorder will pick up some quick random noise for half a second. Then they look at the camera all excited, “DID YOU HEAR THAT?” “Oh my God, dude. That was totally a woman screaming.” “Yeah, that was definitely a woman’s voice down the hallway, screaming possibly singing.” Then they’ll replay it on enhanced audio…and I think sometimes they forget that they’re in East LA and that sounds like somebody using the horn of their automobile two miles away. Occasionally there are some real interesting things that happen…but yeah, it’s a little overdramatic & therefore hilarious to me sometimes, much like a soap opera. I still watch it though. That stuff intrigues me. That may explain my fascination with New Orleans a little bit too, besides the food, culture, architecture, women, music, environment, women, history, hospitality and ugh… there was one more thing. Oh yeah, the women. Anyway, check the show out if you want…or maybe these movies.

The other night I watched “Shutter Island” which is a horror flick from director Martin Scorsese (“Goodfellas”, “The Departed”, etc) and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo among others. The story is of a Boston detective (DiCaprio) who is sent to an isolated mental institution island with his new partner (Ruffalo) to investigate the disappearance of a “guest” in the 1950’s. From the beginning, the staff seems very secretive & non-compliant to their requests for information…and it really doesn’t help that there are a lot of rumors about the place…or that the man responsible for the detective’s wife’s death is allegedly an inmate in their psychotic prison ward. The way that the story is told is quite slow, methodical & bone chilling…which is pretty much what you want in a psychological thriller like this. However, have you ever watched a movie…and had it figured out in the first ten minutes…and it goes on for two hours trying to throw you off? Yeah, me neither. I was just asking. I’d still recommend checking out this movie. It’s pretty good.

Last night, I watched a movie that was pretty different in a lot of ways. It was “The Crazies” starring Timothy Olyphant & Radha Mitchell. Set in Ogden Marsh, Iowa, it’s about a local small-town sheriff (Olyphant) and his pregnant doctor wife (Mitchell) who are caught up in some crazy sh*t. Opening scene: You’ve seen the commercial, I’m sure. Baseball game, whole town is there, guy wanders into the outfield with a shotgun, sheriff confronts him, guy looks at shotgun awkwardly, raises it, sheriff has to put him down. Best part about the movie, it really doesn’t slow down much from there. The next day, a man randomly burns his house down with his wife & son inside…and then while locked in the town drunk cell, he starts going really batty. Then the government comes in to start cracking down on this behavior…and it basically turns into “28 Days Later” with rednecks. Pretty good little horror flick. If you’re into that stuff, I’d recommend it. It’s not completely stupid like most of them…but then again, don’t look too hard into the plot at some points too. You know, standard horror protocol applies. Here’s the news…

Denver Update - Police responding to reports of a man leaping between cars in a Colorado supermarket parking lot didn't need a detailed description of the suspect. Boulder Police Sgt. Fred Gerhardt said witnesses on Wednesday reported a man was dressed as a leprechaun and pretending to shoot at people with his fingers (or as the kids are calling it these days, “fingerbanging”). Witnesses told police the man may have made obscene gestures (“Top o’ da mornin’ love. Would you like to touch my shalalee?”). Gerhardt said they likely called police because the man "was acting bizarre." Officers did not find anyone matching the description of the leprechaun (no redheads in Boulder?). Gerhardt said this is the first time Boulder police have received a complaint about a leprechaun…which having been to Denver’s St Patty’s Day Parade, I seriously doubt. I wonder if it’s some kind of advertisement. You know me, always looking for the angle in a story like this. Think about it. Where did it happen? A grocery store. Then you have some fingerbanging leprechaun in the parking lot saying “You’ll never get me Lucky Charms now. It’s a shame too, cuz they’re on sale in the cereal aisle, pkyoo pkyoo (that’s him firing his pistols)” and then running off to the next family. Good show, General Mills. Good show.

Dolly Parton: Fairy Godmother - If the superstardom Miley Cyrus has experienced by age 17 sounds like a fairy tale, maybe there's a good reason. "I'm her fairy godmother," exclaimed Dolly Parton after they recently performed together at Dollywood. Parton has known Miley since she was a baby. Her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, met Parton in the early 1990s when he shot to fame with "Achy Breaky Heart." He credits Parton for inspiring his acting career (his what?) and is thankful that she has been a role model for Miley. "It's great that she has someone like Dolly to idolize, someone to look up to," said Billy Ray in a recent phone interview. "Having that type of influence in her life, it's so amazing and so special." In late May, Miley, Billy Ray and Kenny Rogers joined Parton in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., to shoot the hour-long TV special "Dolly Parton Celebrates 25 Years of Dollywood," which airs Saturday on the Hallmark Channel. The special is filled with performances, glimpses of the theme park and unscripted moments between the stars, including a part where Parton and the Cyruses play guitar and talk in an attic (completely unscripted). It also includes tributes from friends — Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, and others. "There are a lot of wonderful things," she said. "It shows the park really great, and the audience and all the people that work here, so we've really covered it in every respect." One highlight featured Parton and Miley turning the song "Jolene" into a spirited duet, with the two fighting over the same man. "I was blown away when they did 'Jolene,'" Billy Ray said. "It was amazing, it was just a moment of going, 'Wow, listen to how great they sound together.'" Parton said she considers Miley to be like one of her nieces or a little sister. "I'm just real proud of her. She does not need my advice, but she's often asking for information and advice, and I tell her what I know, but I think the girl's doing all right without me." I sense a spin-off coming out soon titled “Cinder-Ellie May” starring those two…but I’m wait for CMT or the Disney Channel to call me for the script. What’s that? Never thought you’d hear me talk about Hannah Montana on my blog again since she ransacked my dreams & I gave her career advice? Apparently you were wrong. Don’t worry. She’s not going to be the next Adriana Lima or Megan Fox on this blog…by which I mean, appearing sporadically in obsessive updates until she marries some douche who doesn’t know how to shave. See, I’m like that stupid Dane Cook movie, what’s it called? Oh yeah, all of them…but specifically the one where I’m good luck to any chick I have sex with… only there’s no sex involved, it’s just a stupid blog. You know, I’m nothing like that movie. Why would you even say that? And Dane Cook is hilarious in small doses. How dare you?

Stoning? Really? – Update from the Middle East, a realm of the planet that I just don’t understand at all. The Iranian government has announced that it will NOT stone to death Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani for adultery. I repeat. The government has announced that it will NOT STONE A WOMAN TO DEATH FOR ADULTERY. As in, they were originally planning to…but are deciding another form of execution…for adultery. It's not clear whether the death sentence against the 43-year-old mother has been lifted…or whether she still faces execution by another method (possibly the chopping block or being torn limb from limb by Arabian horses). Ashtiani, a widow, was convicted in May 2006 of having an "illicit relationship outside marriage" with two men (simultaneously?) and then punished with 99 lashes. Her case was reopened after a court suspected her of murdering her husband but she was acquitted. A death penalty was handed down on the adultery charge, however, based on a "judge's knowledge," Britain's Guardian writes. Remember, she already got 99 lashes…and THEN was sentenced to death because…wait, what? Judge’s knowledge? Was he one of the two guys? I’m confused. News of the medieval punishment that Ashtiani faced generated international opposition and pressure on Tehran. A statement by the Iranian Embassy in London denied that stoning was ever considered, calling such reports "false news." The Guardian also reports that 12 Iranian women and three men imprisoned for adultery still face execution by stoning. Let’s take a moment…and really think about some of the liberties that we have as Americans…or really anywhere outside of what I like to call, the Crazy Oily Sandbox. Now, it’s been a while for me since I’ve felt the warm soothing touch of a woman (please don’t look back in the blog to see how long…because it’d only make us both cry a little) but in Iran, having never been married, I would be damn near a 30-year old virgin…or face getting bludgeoned to death instead of blue balls. No wonder everybody’s so f**king cranky over there. I could see them doing some kind of cruel punishment where a guy gets a dozen lashes while a belly dancer performs in front of him. What was his crime? Masturbating. I guess it’s still better than beheading (which in this case would be more like circumcision). So… when the legal system gets you down here in the States, just remember, it could always be worse. And to all the single ladies out there, I think that we should celebrate our sexual freedoms whenever possible…like say, 8 o’clock Wednesday, my place, bring some wine & we’ll watch the sunset… and maybe get the other kind of “stoned” while watching a movie. Sound good? You know it does.

Meanwhile in Vietnam… - More international “craziness”, an acupuncturist who claims she can detect a man's virginity based on a small dot on the ear has become a minor celebrity in Vietnam, where she is credited with helping to free three convicted rapists from prison. Wait, wait, let’s read the story first, then jump to judgment. Traditional medicine practitioner Pham Thi Hong started lobbying for the men's release, pleading their case all the way to the president, because she believes all three men are virgins and therefore could not be guilty of rape. "They all had small red spots on the back of their ears," said Hong, 54. "The spots should have disappeared if they had had sex. My many years of experience (giggidy?) told me that these men did not have sex before." Her claims are unusual even for a country where acupuncture and traditional medicine are still common remedies, but Hong's determination to have the case reopened — even threatening to light herself on fire — led to prosecutors re-examining the case. The convictions eventually were suspended due to flaws by initial investigators. "Thanks to her efforts, investigators revisited the case which otherwise could have been buried," said Nong Thi Hong Ha (no relation), a lawyer for one of the freed men. Hong says she discovered the spot on Nguyen Dinh Kien's ear the first time he visited her for treatment four years ago. He was brought to the hospital from prison, where he was serving a 16-year sentence after being convicted of gang raping a 20-year-old woman in 2000. After seeing the spot on Kien's ear, Hong believed his insistence that he was innocent. She later examined his two alleged accomplices (the other alleged gangbangers) and began a campaign for their release. Eventually, President Nguyen Minh Triet ordered that the case be re-examined. Investigators who revisited the case discovered flaws, including the fact that testimonies of witnesses indicating their innocence were not included in the case's files, according to the local Pioneer newspaper. The three men, having served 10 years in jail, were released in January. Vietnamese newspapers have dedicated profiles to Hong and her virginity test, crediting her with helping to free the men while not expressing any skepticism of her ability. Earlier this week, she went on an online chat on Pioneer newspaper where readers expressed their "great admiration" for her efforts. She says she was first taught how to determine if a man has ever had sex by feeling their pulse (and if he blew a load in his pants, then the answer was no). She later developed the ear-spot method on her own. She says the spot will only disappear after heterosexual intercourse and is not affected by gay sex or masturbation. "I never thought that one day I would use this method to help the three men prove their innocence," said Hong, while treating a patient in her home on the outskirts of Hanoi. Her virgin-detecting claims have drawn skepticism from other traditional medicine practitioners, who work with needles, herbs and other methods using centuries-old techniques to manipulate energy, or chi, in the body. "I have never heard of this method before," said Nguyen Van Hao, 60, an acupuncturist who has practiced for 14 years. "From the medical point of view, it's impossible to determine whether a man has had sex or not by feeling the pulse or examining the red spot on their ears (now if you’ll excuse me, I have to cure this woman’s consumption with gingko and leeches)." Hong, however, said she's convinced her method works after years of testing it on her students. Hong says her reputation has now prompted other convicted rapists to seek her help in appealing their cases. "I'm not planning to launch a campaign to clear innocent people who were falsely convicted of rape. But I'm willing to help people to prove their innocence, if they really are (paying in cash)." Okay, now you can pass judgment. So the three rapists were actually released because of poor police work…which sadly does happen. However, this would’ve never come to light…if the President of Vietnam…wasn’t convinced that this 54-year old woman…could determine if a man was still in possession of his V-card…by a freckle or a spider bite behind his ear. When you go home tonight, check behind your son’s ear. What’s that? Your six-year old doesn’t have the red dot? Grill him about who he’s been playing doctor with…because that child’s been adultering. Oh, your son still has the red dot? Then REALLY grill him about who he’s been playing doctor with…because he may be why your towels are no longer soft…or it may be Timmy from down the street. Yeah, kind of ridiculous…but hey, at times like this, I think WWJD? He wouldn’t judge them, right?

Jesus Update – Ever seen the episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia titled “The Gang Exploits a Miracle”? If not, you should. It’ll make this story even funnier. A Catholic priest in New Hampshire plans to visit a Candia water park to see if he can see the face of Jesus in the park's lifeguard flag. The owner of the Liquid Planet Water Park said that when the flag was unfurled earlier this season staff saw what looked to them like a shadowy image of Jesus Christ. Kevin Dumont said he had been praying for a miracle to improve business. Since the flag was opened, there have been a string of perfect days and business is up 200%. The New Hampshire Union Leader said Father Volney "Von" DeRosia from St. Joseph's Church in Epping will visit the park Thursday to try to determine if the image could have been intentionally fabricated. Wow, business has TRIPLED since Jesus appeared on the lifeguard’s flag? Hmm… There may be something to this. Maybe they haven’t exploited it enough. Maybe if it’s confirmed, the priest can bless the water…and then it’ll be Liquid Planet Holy Water Park. They could even open a sacramental wine bar next to the adult pool…which they top off with a hard plastic cover in the evenings so that they can enjoy the blood of Christ…and then dance on water to “Jesus Walks” or something. Hey now, I’m just throwing out ideas here. Patent pending, Mr. Dumont. Anyway, just goes to show that Jesus loves water parks…just like everybody else.

Dino Update – Also in the picturesque Northeast, in Post Mills, Vermont, an interesting question is raised? Does a 25-foot-tall, 122-foot-long dinosaur need a permit to avoid extinction? That's the unlikely dilemma posed by "Vermontasaurus," a whimsical sculpture thrown together with scrap wood by a Vermont man. The oddity now faces opposition from neighbors and regulatory challenges from government entities that he fears could force him to dismantle it. It's art, not edifice, says Brian Boland. "They should leave me alone. It's a piece of artwork," he said. Boland, 61, is a former teacher, hot-air balloon designer and pilot who runs the Post Mills Airport, a 52-acre airfield. Last month, he decided to turn a pile of broken wooden planks and other detritus on the edge of his property into something more. Boland says the idea was to build a sculpture that could be a community gathering place, with no admission and no commercial element (What? No money? That’s un-American). Using a dinosaur model as his inspiration, he put out a call for volunteer helpers and went to work. He cut a huge pine tree into four pieces and, using a back hoe, planted them as the bases of the four feet. Then, over nine days and using dozens of volunteers, the ersatz sculpture began taking shape. A splintered two-by-four here, the rotted belly of a guitar there, half a ladder from a child's bunk bed here, Boland and his volunteers worked under basic ground rules: No saws, no rulers and no materials other than what was in the scrap pile. Also, anything nailed into place couldn't be removed. And nothing was to be level or plumb. What emerged from the random carpentry was a Smithsonian-sized slice of roadside Americana. "It's an interesting piece of art, but personally, I don't find it all that appealing," said neighbor Mary Wilson, 54, who lives down the street and wishes it could be removed. On the poster Boland circulated to seek volunteers, "it looked pretty neat. But when you look at it now, it looks like a messy piece of art." Dirk Koppers, 40, who lives next door to Wilson, said he loves it. "It shows such creativity. You just don't go to places and be surprised anymore. Everything's always so controlled or so governed." Speaking of which, government officials are not amused. The Town of Thetford told Boland his sculpture was really a structure (akin to a shed or a gazebo) and that he needed a $272 permit for it. The state Division of Fire Safety, meanwhile, told Boland that if he couldn't get a structural engineer to attest to the sculpture's safety, he could not allow people to congregate underneath it. Boland has since wound a strap around the legs to keep people from walking under the belly of the beast. "There's enough weight there that if it collapsed, somebody would probably be hurt," said Michael Desrochers, regional manager for the Division of Fire Safety. The Vermont Natural Resources Board weighed in with a notice of alleged violation that said the wooden dinosaur was a substantial change to an existing development and may therefore need another permit, at a minimum of $150, under an ultra-restrictive state land-use law called Act 250. The state will decide this week if such a permit is required, according to Boolie Sluka, District 2 assistant coordinator for the Board. Boland says he's been told he might have to dismantle it entirely. In the interim, he has won cheers from passers-by, some of whom drive up to take pictures. It was an onlooker from Boston who dubbed it "Vermontasaurus," which Boland has adopted as the structure's name. On Thursday, Peg Perkins, 77, of Gaysville (yes, a real city), and cousin Diana LeClair, 59, of Hardwick, pulled up next to it, cameras in hand. "It's very, very ingenious," said LeClair. I like it. I hope it gets to stay. When I visit Vermont for the first time, I hope I get my picture taken with Vermontasaurus. I think Ben & Jerry should step in and help out, maybe a tie-in with a local flavor or something, like the Vermonster. I think they’re done with my suggestions though. I told them to help Save the Tatas a few years back with a special human mother’s milk ice cream…and for some reason, they said it wasn’t cost effective. I worked out the kinks in my plan…and then I found out what a cease & desist order was. I’m sure they’re nice guys and it’s all lawyer communication… but hey, this is a little easier. Save up donations with the factory tours there in Vermont for a few weeks…and anything more than the $272 permit costs for Vermontasaurus, donate to the Susan Komen foundation. There, free fundraising advice from Dr Love. You’re welcome.

REAL Killer Whale - Scientists have discovered an ancient whale whose bite ripped huge chunks of flesh out of other whales about 12 million years ago… and the best part, they've named it after the author of "Moby-Dick." The prehistoric sperm whale grew to between 13 and 18 meters (up to 60 feet) long, not unusual by today's standards. But unlike modern sperm whales, Leviathan melvillei, named for Herman Melville, sported vicious, tusk-like teeth some 36 centimeters (14 inches) long. The ancient beast evidently dined on other whales, researchers said in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. They report finding a skull of the beast in a Peruvian desert. The researchers named it in tribute to the 19th-century author and his classic tale of the great white whale, which includes frequent digressions on natural history that punctuate the action…yet perhaps now prove prophetic. "There is a chapter about fossils," one of the paper's authors, Olivier Lambert of the Natural History Museum in Paris, said. "Melville even mentions some of the fossils that I studied for my PhD thesis." Anthony Friscia, a paleontologist at UCLA, who wasn't involved in the discovery, said scattered finds of huge fossilized teeth had long hinted at the ancient whale's existence. But without a skull to fit them in, the creature's shape, size and feeding habits remained a mystery. "The fact that they have found the entire jaw — well, almost the entire skull — is what's pretty unprecedented," he said. Friscia said the ancient beasts "were the killer whales of their time, although on a much grander scale. They were close to the biggest things around." Friscia also said he thought the choice of a name was fantastic. "You gotta love any time you get a nod to literature in taxonomy. It was a big whale, so why not?" Not so sure about mixing allegorical tales with my vicious gargantuan bloodthirsty prehistoric beasts… but hey, I hear Jurassic Park was a book once. (FYI – I did actually read both Moby Dick AND Jurassic Park back in the day) Anyway, just wanted to nerd out real quick.

That’ll do it for today. I hope this proved educational and entertaining for you. If so, let me know. If not, please leave comments as to how I can make this blog better…and then kindly go tell somebody who cares. Softball tonight. What? That’s right, it’s Tuesday nights now, which frees up my Wednesdays for basketball in Incline Village if I so choose. Yay summer! Have a great day everybody!!!

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