Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bubbles on the Lake

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Awesome weekend. Saturday & Sunday, I basically just stayed home and watched football and cleaned all day. College football’s back y’all. Capping off with a great game last night between Boise State & Virginia Tech. Sunday night, Bubbles and her baby Brutis (and her car Sylvie) came to visit. It was their first time to Tahoe… and let’s just say that they greatly enjoyed it & are already planning to come back soon. We spent Sunday night in South Lake Tahoe but only went to the casinos for about an hour because of sheer exhaustion from the boring ass drive that is from SLC to Tahoe. Monday though, I took her around the lake showing off some of my favorite spots like Emerald Bay, we had a nice lunch at Jason’s Seaside Grill in Kings Beach, walked along the Truckee River (Brutis loved the water, which apparently is unusual for him) and just kicked back and enjoyed the splendor of the Sierras. Here are some pictures…
So many trees... so little time...
I think Brutis like the water
Miss you already, Bubbles

During her drive back to San Francisco, I offered some conversation as she was stuck in traffic (end of Labor Day Weekend) but she finally made it home safely after about 5 hours. I also suffered what apparently was my first migraine. “GASP!!!” Yup, I don’t get headaches. I’m usually too chillaxed for all that mess. So last night, I was exhausted from a busy visit (never sleep much for some reason hanging around Bubbles), was a little stressed about her drive home in traffic, and was watching the football game… when I started getting a little headache. I did my usual routine, “I’m just dehydrated. I’ll get some Gatorade.” It progressed… and now my stomach was upset. “What the hell?” I started going through my diet for the day – waffles, wine, burger, more wine, sandwich, nothing too bad. The game was finally over… so I got up to go to bed at 8:30 PM… and that’s when I had to make a v-line for the bathroom. I’ll spare you the details… but the devil was expunged from my system. So I drank some water (thinking it was still dehydration or something) and tried to go to bed, to really no avail, and then around 10 PM, take two. Slept soundly the rest of the night, awoke refreshed like nothing happened. My mom tells me this is a migraine. So I guess it’s either that… or Bubbles is some kind of succubus and stole all my life force with the slightest touch… but it’s probably the migraine. Anyway, thanks for the wonderful day… and I hope that you & Brutis can visit again soon. Worst-case, I’ll probably come visit in a few weeks for Folsom Fair… and a few weeks later for the Eagles destroying of the 49ers. Here’s the news…

Stressful US Cities – Another thought of the headache, was maybe it was stress induced… but that didn’t make sense. I had just spent a wonderful day with my BFF, I hadn’t been to work in three days (which isn’t even that stressful, just busy), I’m going to visit my family in less than two days, and I live in quite possibly the most stress-free city in the world during the most stress-free time of year. Then I stumbled upon this study that said that Detroit, Los Angeles and Cleveland are the most stressful cities in America. Of course Detroit was at the top of the list, LA has traffic & Cleveland lost LeBron… but they go on to explain. "Detroit has a lot of things going against it. It topped nearly all our standards for our stress test, although it was rarely number one," said Portfolio.com editor J. James Moss. "Across the board, it was bad." Riverside, California and St. Louis, Missouri rounded out the top five stressful cities. Portfolio.com, a national business and news website for small business executives, looked at unemployment rates, personal finance data, environmental, health and living standards and crime rates to compile the ranking of 50 cities. "Detroit has been plagued with high unemployment, a really distressed housing market and is burdened with high crime. It doesn't really seem like it has much hope," Moss explained in the most killbuzz way possible. He added that the list was done using statistical data analysis, rather than interviews with local residents about their levels of stress (for fear of getting stabbed, I’m sure). "We didn't interview residents ... People will have always have some civic pride that could counter statistical figures," he said. New York City captured the No. 6 spot, followed by New Orleans (8 weeks to go), Chicago, Birmingham and Miami-Fort Lauderdale. So what was the LEAST stressful city on the study? Well, at the other end of the scale… Salt Lake City was ranked as the least stressful city, thanks to its low crime rates, high health standing and employment, and its easy commutes. Virginia Beach in Virginia, and Minneapolis-St.Paul also scored high for their low-stress living. Moss said he hoped the list would be useful to both employers, employees, and those without jobs. "I believe that there are a couple of different people who could look at this. For a small business person or entrepreneur, for example, or for most people that want to start a business, the common belief is that less stress leads to happier employers and happier customers, and hopefully a bigger payout. Employees looking for a job would also go to a place where they will be less stressed," he said. Other less stressful cities included Raleigh in North Carolina, Austin in Texas, Denver, San Antonio and Kansas City. Moss noted that stress levels seem to be increasing across America's major cities for a variety of factors, most notably the economy. "Unemployment and the general state of the economy are certainly adding to stress, especially in larger metropolitan areas in which most workers live," he said. Surprise, surprise! Having a job while living in the city tends to reduce your stress. Who’d a thunk it? However, does this mean that money equals happiness? Ah, the age old question… and this other study…

Money & Happiness - People say that money can't buy happiness. Well, those people are wrong. At least up to a point. People's emotional well-being — happiness — increases along with their income up to about $75,000, researchers report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For folks making less than that, said Angus Deaton, an economist at the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University, "Stuff is so in your face it's hard to be happy. It interferes with your enjoyment." By the way, I’d like to point out… that this expert just the phrase “Stuff is so in your face” and I’m picturing him saying it like a valley girl… because there’s really no other way to say that phrase. Anyway, Deaton and Daniel Kahneman reviewed surveys of 450,000 Americans conducted in 2008 and 2009 for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index that included questions on people's day-to-day happiness and their overall life satisfaction. Happiness got better as income rose but the effect leveled out at $75,000, Deaton said. On the other hand, their overall sense of success or well-being continued to rise as their earnings grew beyond that point. "Giving people more income beyond 75K is not going to do much for their daily mood ... but it is going to make them feel they have a better life," Deaton said in an interview. Not surprisingly, someone who moves from a $100,000-a-year job to one paying $200,000 realizes an improved sense of success. That doesn't necessarily mean they are happier day to day, Deaton said. The results were similar for other measures, Deaton said. For example, people were really happier on weekends, but their deeper sense of well-being didn't change. Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winning psychologist, and Deaton undertook the study to learn more about economic growth and policy. Some have questioned the value of growth to individuals, and Deaton said they were far from definitively resolving that question. But he added, "Working on this paper has brought me a lot of emotional well-being. As an economist I tend to think money is good for you, and am pleased to find some evidence for that." Overall, the researchers said, "as in other studies of well-being, we found that most people were quite happy and satisfied with their lives." Comparing their life-satisfaction results with those of other countries, the researchers said the United States ranked ninth after the Scandinavian countries, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland and New Zealand (aka The Usual Suspects). The research was supported by the Gallup Organization and the National Institute on Aging. So there you go, $75,000 is the salary to shoot for. F**k, that’d be sweet, right? Double what I make… which would make sense since I’m doing four jobs worth of work… but hey, then what would I complain about? Luckily, I’m still pretty damn happy most of the time… as you may realize from reading this blog. Do I wonder what would happen if I pursued another career? Sometimes… but then, is there really a career out there that’s more fitting for me? Paranormal investigator? Stereotype scientist? Non-profit gigolo? “That dude” on the Travel Channel? Hmm… maybe my calling’s still out there…

Zombiologist – Sounds crazy, right? Well, the University of Baltimore is offering a new class on the undead. The course is being taught by Arnold Blumberg, the author of a book on zombie movies, "Zombiemania," and the curator of Geppi's Entertainment Museum, which focuses on American pop culture. Students taking English 333 will watch 16 classic zombie films and read zombie comics. As an alternative to a final research paper they may write scripts or draw storyboards for their ideal zombie flicks. Yes, this is a REAL class. Google that sh*t. The only catch… is you have to move to Baltimore. The university isn't the first to have a class on the undead. Columbia College in Chicago has offered a course on Zombies in popular media for years, and at Simpson College in Iowa, students spent the spring semester writing a book on "The History of the Great Zombie War." Now this is my kind of college class. The only thing is… I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen about a dozen of the 16 flicks already (and own a few) so… do I have to show up to class? Or can I just copy & paste from my blog? I’ve already expressed to you why I don’t have a Zombie Movie List… and it’s primarily because there are various genres. Think about it. By the way, anybody else excited that Ali Larter’s joining the series… in 3D this week??? Yeah, I’m surprisingly not either… but I’ll probably still check it out eventually. You know what? Here it goes…

Zombie Movies

Medal Winners

Gold – Resident Evil Series (2002-2010) – Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that this wasn’t the greatest zombie series ever… because you really can’t tell me that there are GREAT zombie flicks out there… because the basis in reality is always a bit of a stretch, so don’t even try with me. Why then does this series that goes from cheesy video game adaptation… to full blown action flick… to “Wait, she has the Force now?” and is now coming to you in 3D with even more eye candy (Ali Larter) get the Gold Medal from $teve? Because his baby mama, Milla Jovovich is the star. End of debate. Now you see why I went the longest time without making one of these lists… but now I’m going to share a bunch of others with you. Oh yeah… for those who don’t know, these were based on a video game (which was actually kind of creepy) and have become increasingly ridiculous as the series continues… but hey, it’s Milla with machetes & Mack 10’s so… enjoy.

Silver – Zombieland (2009) – Remember last year when I said this very well may be the perfect movie? I still stand by it. For those who haven’t seen it, go do so tonight. It’s a hilarious zombedy (apparently that’s what they call zombie comedies now) and just read the previous entry for details if you want. I also highly recommend “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) which I’m sure if you’ve read this far, you probably own and know all the lines. Another personal favorite of mine… is “Planet Terror” (2007) from director Robert Rodriguez as part of the “Grindhouse” double feature a few years back. Now, think about this for a second, the last few movies that I’ve seen with the Wingmans in theatres… are “Grindhouse”, “Zombieland” and then this weekend is Robert Rodriguez’s latest “Machete.” Coincidence? Yeah, pretty much. Great flicks all.

Bronze – Dawn of the Dead (1978) – What would I be if I didn’t give ode to the “real” zombie movies? You know, the scary bloody horror flicks instead of the campy hilarious ones. With that in mind, I have to pay homage to the George Romero classic that has been remade a few times in various names… because it’s basically the one that REALLY made them scary ferocious creatures. Over the last few years, movies like “28 Days Later” (2002) and “The Crazies” (2010) have explained the zombie behavior and ability to seemingly be walking brain-hungry corpses by some disease (or mind controlling parasite?) but I kinda prefer the days without explanations. Don’t ask why the thing is trying to eat your brains, just f**king run away before it does!!! “But if I don’t know why it’s after my brains, how do I kill it?” B**ch, it’s already dead!!! RUN!!! Or hit it with a machete!!! Or blast it’s head off with a shotgun, that usually seems to work!!!

Suggestion – Night of the Living Dead (1968) – I highly suggest the original. Made on a low budget and started the entire genre. Yes, I have this movie as well… but not because of its iconic status… but because it has one of the greatest twist endings in movie history… and originates one of the greatest movie stereotypes in history. That’s all I will say. You need to watch it, at least once. Now, some of you may be saying “What about ‘The Last Man on Earth’ (1964) with Vincent Price? Wasn’t that the original?” Nope… because apparently he was the last man on earth trying to keep vampires from eating him, not zombies. I know, I know. It’s kind of a technicality… especially since they were basically just zombies that were afraid of sunlight or whatever… but still a great flick… and again, a great twist ending. I have this one as well if you’d like to watch it with me. Another one that I remember from my childhood is “Night of the Creeps” (1986) which I’m sure you’d remember if you’ve seen it. It’s the one were the fast-moving slugs crawl into people’s mouths, taking over their minds, reproduce in their heads… and then they EXPLODE to seek out other brains to devour and reproduce (aka Mind-f**k) within. When you’re five years old, that stuff tends to stick with you. Forget that earwig story, I just want to keep brain slugs out of my mouth.

Flush It – I Am Legend (2007) – Not a bad flick. It’s actually pretty damn good. So why does this remake of “The Last Man on Earth” get the Flush It instead of “The Omega Man” (1971) with Charlton Heston starring in a fantastically blaxploitation version where the opening scene of him rattling off a machine gun from the driver’s seat of a Cadillac say it all? Because of the scene where he had to kill the dog. Oh yeah, you all know what the f**k I’m talking about too if you’ve seen this movie. Easily the only time that a zombie flick made me leak out of my face. The worst part was that I had a German Shepherd growing up named Sam… which looked EXACTLY like the dog in the movie. I took it as a personal attack on my childhood memories in what was already an incredibly heart-wrenching scene. Still though, great flick. I’m just not watching it again any time soon. Damn Fresh Prince… but this will probably be replaced in about a year by that Diablo Cody written “Zombedy” I talked about last week. It definitely has potential.

Future Watch – World War Z (2011?) – Since “Zombieland 2” is still in rumor stages, I definitely have to go with this adaptation of the Max Brooks’ book that has been rumored to star Mr. Angelina himself, Brad Pitt… but that’s all speculation right now too. That’s the thing about zombie flicks, because they can be made so quickly, by the time you hear about people being signed to star in them, you’re already seeing the previews on Adult Swim or something. Anyway, I just don’t want to see the genre get too ridiculous… but hey, what’re ya gonna do, right?

So yeah, fantastic weekend… and another one ready to go in T-minus 36 hours. Now’s the time to schedule an appointment with me if you want to hang out at the 1st Annual SLC Beer Festival, followed by sushi & “Machete” or if you want a little alone time with Dr Love himself. I’m only in town for a few days… and my dance card’s filling up fast. You know the digits. Holla at yo boy!!! Have a great night everybody!!!

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