Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bottles of Rotten Grape Juice

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Well, it’s finally come to the end. Tonight is the last game of our softball season (and apparently it didn’t come soon enough given our horrible record). I’m really hoping that we can pull out a 2nd win to this season and end on a high note… so we’ll see. Then after tonight, I think the basketball season starts in about a month… so that should be fun too. I’m a MUCH better basketball player than softball. Despite my lackluster performances (though better than expected… and my cheerleading was incredible) this year, we had a lot of fun for the most part. I’m guessing there will be some drinking tonight after the game… if just to forget.

So… I’m REALLY wanting to go to the Eagles – 49ers game on October 10th. The only thing is… I don’t want to go alone… and nobody else can seem to justify $100+ for tickets. With the 49ers signing former Eagles stallion Brian Westbrook yesterday, I REALLY want to go to the game in my Westbrook jersey. “Who are you voting for?” “Isn’t it obvious?” “Ugh… no.” That’s when I break into song, “FLYYYY EAGLES FLYYYYY, on the road to victoryyyy, FIIIIGHT EAGLES FIIIIIGHT, score a touchdown 1, 2, 3… Hit ‘em low, hit ‘em high, and watch our Eagles flyyyyy… E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!” So… I guess I’m asking… does anybody want to go with me? Let a brother know… here’s the news…

Short French People – Now that I have Lilie’s attention, France has ended restrictions barring people under 1.6 meters (about 5 ft 3 in) from joining the police force. The country of Napoleon imposed minimum height requirements for police centuries ago, raising them over the decades as the average size of Frenchmen rose, but the rules have come to be seen as discriminatory. "Entry into all active categories of the national police is no longer reserved for candidates whose height exceeds 1.60m," the French Labor Ministry said in a statement. "From now on the conditions of entry will be linked exclusively to the ability to carry out the relevant duties." According to the national statistics office INSEE, the average French man stands 1.75 meters and the average woman 1.63 meters, compared to 1.66 meters and 1.54 meters, respectively, in 1900. French President Nicolas Sarkozy's height is estimated at around 1.65 meters, roughly the same size as French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Police union Alliance Police Nationale welcomed the move, saying the previous requirements had prevented candidates who were "morally, physically and intellectually" capable of working as police. Weird, right? That they had to abolish something like that. Well guess what. France still has height requirements for joining the military which remain in place. Now you know… and knowing is half the battle.

Bunch of Rotten Grapes – Speaking of France, much like gold, top wines are highly prized, represent wealth and are selling near their historical highs. Prices of the five premier cru Bordeaux -- Chateaux Lafite Rothschild, Haut-Brion, Margaux, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild, and the grand crus of Burgundy, particularly Romanee-Conti, are at or above 2007 levels. "During times of economic stress and worry, buyers look to safe investments and gold is seen as a defensive strategy. It's tangible, has intrinsic value and is a good diversifier ... The same can be said for the top growth Bordeaux and for the same reasons," said Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, an independent wine consultant. "With markets such as China coming on board with eyes only for the top growths, it is a promising outlook for them." Promising for the auction houses, too. Sotheby's four Hong Kong wine auctions last spring were successful, according to Robert Sleigh, the company's vice president of wine. "Obviously, Asia continues to drive the prices in wine." Christie's wine auctions in London, Hong Kong, New York, Geneva and Amsterdam, had sales of $13.9 million in the first half of the year, up 18% from the same period a year earlier. Asian wine buyers represented 43% of the sales figure, Christie's spokeswoman Erin McAndrew said. Christie's is starting its fall season early with its first auction on Sept 18 in Hong Kong followed less than a week later by another in New York, according to Charles Curtis, its head of wine sales. "I'm an optimist," he said. "I'm feeling overall very positive about the fall season - and even 2011." Prices at spring auctions exceeded expectations. Seventy bottles Chateau Lafite Rothschild, which auction house Acker Merrall & Condit expected to fetch between $125,000 and $175,000 in Hong Kong sold for $320,250 - including the buyer's premium. That's $4,575 a bottle (for old grape juice). Sotheby's has 2,000 bottles of Lafite coming up for auction in Hong Kong in October with a pre-sale estimate of between $1.5 million and $2.5 million (again, for about 250 gallons of grape juice). One Singapore-based wine broker, who managed to get a case of each of the top five growths for roughly $77,000 during spring sales, said they were being snapped up. Saeed Shah, who works for Premium Liquid Assets Pte, Ltd, described the Asian demand for Lafite as an "obsession." "As we get more and more millionaires worldwide we see that these same people drink these wines," Shah said, adding that with their limited production the law of supply and demand takes over. As for gold, it is nearing its record high of $1,264.90 that it touched on June 27. Crazy, right? You can’t make a house payment… but there are people buying bottles of wine at those prices. Sigh… oh well, it’s not like they’re spending massive amounts of money on useless sh*t that was once within several feet of a celebrity…

Auction Update – That’s still headed by America!!! Back off China!!! You’re out of your league!!! What’s up for dibs soon? Marilyn Monroe's chest X-rays (ugh… full color pictures of her breasts have been my wallpaper). Barbra Streisand's houndstooth cap from the film "What's Up, Doc?" Elvis Presley's empty prescription bottles (he emptied them for you). Alfred Hitchcock's driver's license. Who wants all this stuff? And why would they pay thousands of dollars for it? Hollywood memorabilia auctions have become big business around the globe, with a seemingly endless supply of celebrity relics — and celebrity collectors who will pay big bucks for them. In what's become almost routine around town, hundreds more items will be up for sale this weekend, when props and costumes from TV's "Lost" hit the auction block.
"This market is fun because it's probably the most accessible market that's sold at auction today," said appraiser Laura Woolley, president of The Collector's Lab. "You don't need to have a huge history of connoisseurship to get the visceral reaction to the ruby slippers, and you don't need to be told why they're important. These pieces just have an instant connection with people." For collector David Davis, it all started with Streisand's houndstooth cap. Davis heard on the "Today" show that the wool cap she wore in 1972's "What's Up, Doc?" was going up for auction a few years ago, and on a whim, he called and placed a bid. "I thought I could never possibly afford or win something that Barbra Streisand wore in a movie. I thought it was out of my league," he said I’m assuming with a heavy lisp. But his bid won the cap. Five years later, his collection includes several Streisand costumes, along with those worn by Cher, Carol Burnett and Paul McCartney. Davis displays the iconic outfits around his home on mannequins custom-made to look like the stars (is it a stereotype if it’s true?). While Davis says his collection obsession "is bordering on insanity," the 58-year-old is at the heart of a booming business. "What keeps this industry alive are the fans who love this stuff," said Darren Julien of Julien's Auctions, which specializes in celebrity memorabilia (and famously sold Michael Jackson's bejeweled glove for $420,000 to a buyer from Hong Kong last year). "Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe popularized the idea of what memorabilia was," explains Joseph Maddalena, president and owner of Profiles in History, which will administer the "Lost" auction in Santa Monica. "It's the same exact thing as what you'd do with a Van Gogh: You buy it, hang it on the wall and look at it. It's pride of ownership, the bragging rights and the fact that you want to own them." "There's something about having it in your house, in your possession," said Davis, who's spent… wait for it… $300,000 on his collection. "You feel a connection to the celebrity." Other collectors see themselves as custodians of history. Scott Fortner has been collecting Marilyn Monroe books and photos since he was a kid. One of those books was an auction catalog, and it inspired him to place bids and start buying Monroe's costumes, clothing and keepsakes. Fortner doesn't display the items at home because they're fragile and sensitive to light. But he has lent his vast collection to museums, including an exhibition at the Hollywood Museum that closes Aug. 31. "I feel more like a curator, a holder of Marilyn's goods, rather than buying them to be close to her," he said. But he's not immune to the intoxicating charm of her celebrity: "It's pretty amazing to be able to hold a garment or article of clothing that still has Marilyn's perfume on it and you can smell what she smelled like." I go to JC Penney and get blasted with Chanel No. 5 but that’s just me. None of the collectors interviewed for this story saw their purchases as financial investments. Though Julien tells a story of a Michael Jackson fan who bought one of the pop star's jackets for $4,000 in 1989 and sold it this year for $271,000, auction experts agree that collecting celebrity memorabilia is more for the fun than for the money. A bad economy could inspire some to sell, Woolley said. Generational changes, too, affect what's valuable and what's popular. It used to be that collectors sought only old Hollywood memorabilia, she said, but now modern day props and costumes can generate just as much interest. More recent celebrity memorabilia is often more affordable, too. Because nostalgia drives the celebrity memorabilia market, emotion could overtake reason for some shoppers, inviting fraud, Woolley said. Collectors who aren't scrupulous with their research could, for example, think the reissued "Gone With the Wind" poster they just bought is actually an original from the 1939 film. Anyway, allegedly it can be an investment… but so can an education… or starting your own business… unless you’re surrounded by dicks…

Lemonade Stand Crackdown - A county official in Oregon has apologized after a 7-year-old's business venture was soured because health inspectors shut down her lemonade stand. Oh yes. It happened. Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen, the county's top elected official, said Thursday that running a lemonade stand is a "classic iconic American kid thing to do." He says he called Julie Murphy's mother, Maria Fife, to offer his apology and says she appreciated it. Fife helped her daughter set up a lemonade stand last week at a local arts fair in northeast Portland. They had to pack up and leave after being approached by two inspectors who said the stand lacked a license. Cogen says while the inspectors were doing their job, the rules are meant for professional food service operators. He adds he ran lemonade stands as a child. You know what? No. No, I’m not going to back the kid on this one. If you want to sell food, you have to follow the rules. You know who sells things without following the rules? Pirates & drug dealers. Is that what you want the kid to be? As for this whole lemonade stand being a “classic iconic American” past time or whatever, do you want to know what else is “classic iconic American”? Slavery, child labor & killing Injuns… and they were following the rules when that was going on. What’s my point? It’s pretty easy to justify just about anything. I just said slavery was better than a lemonade stand… and basically called a 7-year old girl a drug dealing pirate. The best part was… I’m absolutely correct… in one context. So yeah, just wanted to give you the image of a few health inspectors kicking down a lemonade stand in front of a 7 year old girl… and then they walk away from an evil smile below their barhandle moustaches. “This is our turf, see?” Oh… and gangsters are “classic iconic American” too. Not gangstas… gangsters.

Adonal Foyle Retires – Even people who follow basketball may be asking “Who the hell is Adonal Foyle?” Well, he’s one of my favorite players since he came out of college. Why? Because he’s a shot blocker. Plain and simple. Well, at least that’s his game (along with averaging about 4 point & 4 rebounds per game for his 13-year career, primarily as a backup center for the Golden State Warriors). However, the man is so much more. Most recently as a mentor to Dwight Howard in Orlando, Adonal announced his retirement today due to a right knee injury keeping him from practicing for about a year now. He will also resign as vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. Foyle also was inducted into the Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame for charitable work with his Kerosene Lamp Foundation, which refurbishes basketball courts and mentored thousands of kids over the years. He even recently finished up a master’s degree in Sports Psychology. Nice guy, right? Well, there’s another reason he’s getting mentioned specifically on my blog. See, back in high school, I had never written poetry. I was raised on rock & roll… and who was I to think that I’d write something that could be compared to Zeppelin, Whitesnake, ZZ Top, or any of the other legends? Anyway, I took a Creative Writing class… and it was required to enter a poetry contest… and I won the f**king thing. No joke. Got a hundred bucks for it too (back when that was like FIVE tanks of gas for my Camaro). What was the poem about? Basketball… or rather my love for the game of basketball. Well, Mr. Foyle announced his retirement… in poem form & I want to share that with you now. Please enjoy…

How should I tell thee goodbye?
What can you say about a love affair to rival that of Romeo & Juliet? This is not just some melancholy ode to a hackneyed love of mortals.
I found our love deep in the entrails of the Caribbean Sea. Love that swept me to a land where our embrace became mythical.
You showed me a world that few have dreamt of.
Colgate’s golden steeple, a sojurn where ancient teachings flooded my mind.
There in the Chenango Valley where 13 sang my soul to flight, basketball laid siege to my soul.
I do not cry for the passing of our love for it stands radiant while my brittle bones crumble through swift time.
I have known you by so many faces; I will spend my end of days recalling.
You have infected so many with the allure of riches and black gold. But I am not angry with you my love. For to a boy who was lost in the bosom of nothing you gave hope and home.
Like the flickering of a light we come and go without much fuss. So I leave you to fend off seekers, hoping they too will cherish your unyielding countenance.
As for me, I will forever live in the glare of your loving embrace. From time to time I hope you will look in on this pitiful fool.
I will miss brothers of a quilt struggling with burning lights. If I offer advice, pierce beyond the glaring lights and see the faces behind the wall. Don't be fooled by the magicians’ nibble fingers. For this is a life with mirrors and screens. Its only truth lies in the understanding it will all end.
The sound I will take home is the symphony of thousands of screaming friends.
Warriors, Magic and yes, Memphis too, I sing you praise, hope, blessings, Flowing from a boy’s songs of thanks to you and you and you, to all I knew.
Please stay my “immortal love.”

Not bad huh? Maybe if you’re lucky I’ll share my award-winning poem of yesteryear someday… but you REALLY have to ask nicely. Anyway, softball in a few hours. I’d better get something to eat before the late game… and late night beers. Have a great evening everybody!!!

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