Friday, August 6, 2010

Stardust of Yesterday

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Well, I did end up going to the Natalie Cole concert… and it was amazing, dare I say “Unforgettable.” The concert was at Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort and part of the Tahoe Music Festival… but enough about that, here are some pictures of the concert set around sunset (before the temperature immediately dips into the forties, even in August)…

Over the past few nights, I’ve watched a few movies too. First up was “Hot Tub Time Machine” starring John Cusack, Craig Robinson and even a few cameos from 80’s film stars like George McFly & Fletch (Crispin Glover & Chevy Chase). For those of you who haven’t seen the previews (or read the title), basically it’s about these four guys. Three of which (fourth is Cusack’s nephew) used to be best friends and party animals… but 25 years ago. After one gets drunk & they think he committed suicide, they decide to return to Kodiak Valley, a ski resort with fond memories of their youth. Well, they get drunk, spill an energy drink on a hot tub control panel and get teleported back to 1986 (seriously, were you looking for a plot?). Now they have to relive that time of their life exactly or face a “Butterfly Effect”. Or do they? It’s obviously a comedy… and it’s pretty hilarious at points. The best part is the obscure 80’s movie references because… well, it’s basically John Cusack getting teleported back to “Better Off Dead” as himself. I liked it… and highly recommend it. Does it make my Time Travel movie list? Of course not. Still pretty good though.

The other night I watched a straight-to-DVD sequel entitled “Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball” starring Tom Berenger, Vinnie Jones & the great Michael Parks. Okay, the fact that it’s led by character actors should be a hint… or that it was straight-to-DVD, but don’t write it off just yet. Basically, an FBI pencil pusher (Berenger) has a $3 million bounty put on his head… and nobody knows why, so they put him in federal protection. With a bounty like that, of course all the “best” assassins in the world are coming after him, though I seriously question the true effectiveness of a lot of them, especially the Tremor Family (led by Parks) who are a bunch of hillbillies in a dump truck with a cow pusher… but hey, it’s that kind of movie. They stash the mark in some underground tunnels in Chicago (though immaculately maintained) and as you would guess, the assassins arrive and there’s a lot of shootout and Mexican standoffs and one-liners and all that stuff. Now, if you like that kind of a movie like I do, then I say check it out. If you’re looking for bulletproof storytelling free of loopholes, Academy Award nominated performances or anything resembling a moral to the story, then you should probably seek elsewhere. All-in-all though, it was actually better than I was expecting. I’ll definitely give it that. Here’s some news…

Elvis for Governor – I kid you not, Elvis Presley is running for Arkansas governor. No, not THE Elvis. Elvis D. Presley of Star City filed papers with the secretary of state's office on Wednesday to run as a write-in candidate for governor. Presley indicated in the paperwork that he wants to "supply the people with a broader array of employment and newer chain of state government." He declined to tell The Associated Press how he got his name (parents?) but says he is an Elvis impersonator in his spare time. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe is seeking re-election in November. He faces Republican Jim Keet and Green Party nominee Jim Lendall in November. Two other candidates have filed to run as write-ins for governor. Presley must still file with each of the state's 75 counties… but he’d have my vote. Best part is… if he is elected, I’m almost certain he would give everybody in Ar-Kansas a big “Thank you very much…” Okay, so somebody named after a legendary performer who died over 30 years ago whom he also impersonates is running for governor of quite possibly the most easily mockable state? That’s not so bad. It’s not like a rapper is running for President.

Wyclef for President – F**k me it’s true. Hip hop legend Wyclef Jean submitted the paperwork Thursday to run for president of Haiti, formally thrusting himself into what is expected to be a highly competitive race and ending years of speculation about his political ambitions. Several hundred supporters of the hip hop artist-turned-politician cheered as he arrived by motorcade in a dark suit and tie at an electoral office in this capital city still largely in ruins from the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. Jean, who was born in Haiti but raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., stood on top of an SUV and bowed to the crowd. "It's a moment in time and in history," Jean, who was accompanied by his wife and daughter, told The Associated Press as he went to hand in his candidacy papers, 10 minutes before the office closed. "It's very emotional." As he left the building he was quickly engulfed by supporters and held a rally in the street. "The United States has Barack Obama and Haiti has Wyclef Jean," he shouted to the jubilant crowd, many wearing the free white T-shirts distributed by the candidate's backer's with the campaign slogan "Face to Face." The winner of the Nov. 28 election will preside over the billions in international aid being channeled to Haiti to rebuild after the earthquake, which killed an estimated 300,000 people and destroyed thousands of buildings, including most government ministries. If Jean's candidacy is approved, he will face several candidates who lack his international fame but have more political clout. Among the most formidable is ousted ex-Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis, who secured the backing of President Rene Preval's powerful Unity party this week. Preval is barred from running by the constitution. An eight-member board reviews would-be candidates and verifies whether they meet all the constitutional requirements, including having resided in Haiti for five consecutive years leading up to the election and never having held foreign citizenship (that might be a problem for Wyclef). The list of official candidates will be published August 17th. Jean's U.S. upbringing could be a roadblock to his candidacy, but the singer says his appointment as a roving ambassador by Haitian President Rene Preval in 2007 exempts him from the residency requirement (sure… why not?). Jean was born on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince but left the country as a child and grew up in Brooklyn. He gained fame as a member of the Fugees and went on to have a successful solo career (check out “The Carnival” album). He is known for such hit singles as "We Trying to Stay Alive" and "Gone Till November." With the Fugees, he recorded the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling album "The Score." In recent years, he has been active in Haiti with the charity Yele Haiti, prompting long-running speculation that he would run for president one day. Earlier Thursday, he stepped down as leader of Yele Haiti, which faced criticism for alleged financial improprieties following Haiti's earthquake. Jean tearfully defended the organization in a news conference weeks after the quake. Yele also hired a new accounting firm after the allegations surfaced. The singer helped found the charity five years ago to raise money and build awareness of the myriad problems in his impoverished homeland. It raised $9 million in the wake of the Jan. 12 quake. Of that, it has spent $1.5 million on food, water, tents, clothes and other products for quake survivors, said Cindy Tanenbaum, a spokeswoman the musician said. "I am not stepping down in my commitment to Haiti. On the contrary, regardless of what path I take next, one thing is certain: My focus on helping Haiti turn a new corner will only grow stronger," Jean said in the statement Thursday. Jean is not the only celebrity in the race. Popular musician Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly arrived just ahead of Jean to submit his candidacy papers. He was accompanied by singer Pras Michel, who was also one of the original members of The Fugees and is supporting his bid for presidency (but I still think “Ghetto Superstar” was the worst album I ever bought). Martelly welcomed Jean, a longtime friend, to the race. "I hope politics will not divide us," he said. If approved, Jean would have to deal with voters undecided on how to think about Haitians abroad. Many families are dependent on successful overseas relatives for remittances but often seem them as near foreigners. The singer's American accented Creole and lack of French — for many things still the language of government here — will be constant reminders he did not grow up here. In a Thursday morning interview with the Miami radio program "Bonjour Haiti," which was rebroadcast in Port-au-Prince, Jean explained his vision and defended his qualifications. The show also reported that he has hired a Creole tutor. "In Haiti there are people who can't read or write. There is no electricity. There are no roads. For 200 years people have been governing this country. I don't need that training. I need logic. I'm working with teams in Washington, teams in the international community and teams in Haiti. It is a different training. It is Wyclef's vision.” I like it. In fact, I think Wyclef should be President (by the way, I’ve had a song of his stuck in my head since I heard about this… and long story short, the story doesn’t end well for Wyclef) and Pras as Vice President. Then, in a surprise move, Lauryn Hill is appointed Secretary of State… and the Fugees are now officially running Haiti. Who needs political experience when you have Diamond Records? Besides, isn’t Lauryn still married to Ziggy Marley, who is basically Jamaican royalty anyway? It’s perfect. Who knew that out of a tragic earthquake, we could reunite the Fugees? Nobody, that’s who. I could imagine the follow-up album… with special guests like Sweet Micky. Anyway, don’t act like this couldn’t happen. If he gets his name on the ballot, he’s elected President of Haiti. How do I know this? The governor of my state rose to fame by looking good in a loincloth, decapitating people and saying nothing but “KRUM!!!” for an entire f**king movie. Imagine if he had REAL talent and was born in this country. People in large numbers do ridiculous things… especially when in desperate times. At least I think he would do good for the island. Best of luck, Clef.

Foiled Again – There are pranks… and then there are pranks. A science professor at Gustavus Adolphus College left for a week's vacation this summer and returned to a shiny office. Very shiny. Professor Scott Bur's students had covered his office in aluminum foil. Computer screen, chairs, the ceiling, the floor — all covered in foil. Books and pens were individually wrapped, so was the phone, a ball cap, a bottle and the coffee maker. Bur said it's a sort of tradition among his research group. He goes on vacation and when he comes back there's ... something. That last time it happened, his office was decorated for a fairy princess. Pink fabric and bows covered everything. The pink glow from the office could be seen across campus. Senior Kristen Jahr said the foil prank required ten 200-foot rolls of foil. All I can say is… either it’s a liberal arts college or this professor is a lot nicer than the douches that I had in college. “Oh $teve, you have a work trip in a month, too bad. That’s the week I’m assigning a bunch of things that I can only hand out at that time & there’s no way that you can do it ahead of time… because it’s just stupid f**king handouts that I’ve been using for years and it’s retarded but it’s also 25% of your grade, twa…” Okay, so that wasn’t exactly what was repeatedly told to me by several teachers (including one I’ve actually fantasized died of syphilis) but yeah, I’ve thought about similar pranks. “Oh $teve, that’s funny. You coated my entire office in chocolate. That’s so funny. (sniff sniff) What’s that smell? (tests the chocolate and spits it out) EEEEH!!! Oh God, what is this? Baker’s chocolate?” “Took me a week to brew it all up myself you sum’bich. That’s for not being flexible to my work schedule.” But yeah, aluminum foil. Classic. What the f**k are you researching again? Does it have to do with the gulf? Or the effect of shiny things on attention spans? (There are so many things that I want to research that are based on stereotypes… but I just have to know the Truth)

Gentleman in Red – It has been known for quite some time that I look good in Red. If I could get away with wearing a red suit at the day job, you bet your ass I’d do it. So instead it’s strictly reserved for the pimpin’ hour. However, men wanting to catch the eye of women should also dress in crimson red, a color which new research shows makes them more alluring to the opposite sex. Women in the United States, England, Germany and China said they found men pictured wearing red, or framed in red, more sexually attractive than in other colors, the research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed. Andrew Elliot, an author of the study from the University of Rochester, said red was thought to be sexy color for women only (ugh… not true?). "Our findings suggest that the link between red and sex also applies to men," Elliot said. "For women, the color made a big difference." Despite cultural differences related to the color, the findings of women being attracted to men in red were consistent throughout the countries. The research consisted of seven experiments, some split into two parts, each with a group of between 20 and 57 people aged 19 to 22 years old. Women participated in all the experiments, while men were included as a control group in one (because men find any color sexy). Women also associated red with higher status, a trend Elliot said is analogous with other primates. "In chimpanzees, the highest-ranking male turns more red quite dramatically during a competition for primacy. It's a clear status indicator. Females view that, and they go out of their way to mate with the highest ranking male available." The researchers suggested that for men wearing the color may trigger a change in behavior and that something as simple as wearing a red tie could give a more confident business presentation. I have to agree. I have my power tie… and the matching boxers. However, there is one aspect to the study that I simply need to find out for my own curiosity. Do women find the color red more attractive than the color green? I’m thinking that I need to conduct an unbiased study of women in any natural environment… and see which they notice first – The red shirt that I’m wearing or the hundred dollar bill sticking out of my zipper? Just to make sure that it’s not merely the location, I will reverse the study with a red handkerchief sticking out of my zipper… and a shirt made out of hundred dollar bills. This may prove to be even more interesting to my hypothesis. What do you think the results will be? I thought so. Anyway, here are pictures of ladies in red…

That’ll do it for today. Got some great concerts, great movies, a new roommate & plenty of sunshine to take in… so stay tuned on how $teve spends his free time. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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