Monday, October 25, 2010

Peaceful Easy Feeling

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Friday night, I met up with my stepsister and her family in Dayton for some good old fashioned family fun. When I got to her house, she & Hallie (my niece) were waiting for me… and offered me a dinner of bacon, cornbread and eggs. Is that nice or what? After that, we met up with the rest of the clan at a park where they were setting up for a night time (6:30 PM these days) soccer game for the kids of the town. They set up some construction lights, brought a few goals, set up a table with chili from the neighborhood, and a good time was had by all. Those nephews of mine are pretty darn good at soccer. Just like their Uncle $teve was for the few years that he played. Oh yeah, I played. I was the goalie most of the time… because I was a big kid who could block anything… and could kick the ball really hard with great accuracy. Also, whenever some kid tried to block one of my “punts” or whatever the soccer term was, they always caught the follow-through with the leg. They only tried it once. Anyway, those were my glory days. Here are some pictures…
My niece Hallie

That night, after the kids went to bed, the grownups stayed up and watched a movie that I hadn’t seen before… but had heard good things about – “The Count of Monte Cristo” starring Jim Caviezel (“Passion of the Christ”) and Guy Pearce (“Memento”) among others. It’s the story of a fisherman (Caviezel) who has a chance encounter with Napoleon while trying to save his captain with his friend (Pearce) who is the son of a count. Long story extremely short (because I want you to go watch this movie), his friend and several others betray him… to protect their backsides as well as steal his fiancé from him. He is imprisoned in Chateau d’If for 13 years and beaten by a sadistic warden (James Remar) but also befriends another prisoner who tunnels throughout the prison (very slowly). During that time, he educates himself with the help of his new friend… and learns of a HUGE treasure. Now all he has to do to exact revenge… is escape. I REALLY liked this movie… and think that you should all go check it out. I’d tell you more… but there’s a lot of twists & turns… and I want you to be on your toes while watching it.

The next morning, we had breakfast and then went to the kid’s soccer games (the official ones). It was actually a lot of fun… you know, for being soccer… and you know how I feel about soccer. Let’s just say that America perfected football. After the games, they got their trophies for the last game of the season, and we went to play Wii and read books at the house. It may sound kind of boring to a lot of you… but I really enjoy spending time with those kids. Sure, the “Look at this”, “Look at what I can do”, “Let’s play this” and all that kind of get overwhelming when there’s four of them at once… but hey, it makes a body feel wanted, right? That afternoon, I drove back to Truckee in the rain… and it basically rained for 36 hours straight… and then I woke up this morning to snow on the ground. New Orleans is less than three days away. Should be a great vacation.
My stepsister grows some of the weirdest carrots ever...

Speaking of vacation, also this weekend, I watched another great movie that I highly recommend called “A Perfect Getaway” starring Timothy Olyphant (“Hitman”), Steve Zahn (“Sahara”) and my baby mama Milla Jovovich (“Fifth Element”). Sure I told you about it back when Milla signed on to star in it… but it’s the story of a newlywed couple (Zahn & Jovovich) who go to Hawaii on their honeymoon… and while there, read in the papers that there have been a few murders on the islands involving couples… and apparently, police say that it’s a couple doing the murdering as well… like Natural Born Killers or something. Well, they figure they’re on another island and do a BEAUTIFUL trail… but along the way they meet another couple (Olyphant & Kiele Sanchez) and are harassed by another (Chris Hemsworth & Marley Shelton) and things just get creepy from there. I really enjoyed it because it was genuinely creepy… while set in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Kudos to director David Twohy (“Pitch Black” & “The Arrival”). Again, I highly recommend that you check this out… especially since it’s that time of year to be scared.

Also over the weekend, I watched “Date Night” starring Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Marky Mark, James Franco, Mila Kunis (aka the other Milla), Common & Ray Liotta. Most of you probably saw it in theatres… but you know me, if it doesn’t have Stallone or isn’t presented by Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino, I can wait until the DVD comes out. It’s about a married couple (Carell & Fey) who “borrow” somebody reservations at a fancy restaurant… and get involved in some serious shenanigans involving a mob boss (Liotta, of course), dirty cops, a shirtless special ops security guy (Wahlberg), and so on. Good for a few laughs… but yeah, nothing out of the ordinary. Check it out once with someone you love. Why not?

Anyway, I’ve got some packing to start doing for my trip… so I will leave you with that. Have a great day everybody!!! SNOW!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chihuahua - More Than Just an Ugly Dog

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

It’s official. I’ve entered the 21st century with my communication format. After being one of only a few of my friends who have used and/or know what a rotary telephone is, and waiting well into my 23rd year for a cell phone, I now have a fancy new 4G phone (whatever that means, 4th generation?) Droid Incredible… and I have absolutely no idea how to use it. Some of the stuff is pretty self-explanatory… but my brother’s been going off all week about all the things that his does… but when I ask him how to set mine up, apparently ours are different… and he has no idea. No worries. I may just swing by the Verizon store tonight (like I did last night for over an hour just to get set up) and we’ll get some of the basic cool stuff down. It does call, text, etc like my old one so I’m not out of the loop. It even plays videos… and can access the internet… and oddly enough, the coolest thing I’ve found… is the Star Maps app. I know, I’m a nerd. Anyway, so that’s what I’ve been up to recently… and watching football, baseball & season two of “Dollhouse” with a few hikes before the weather gets too bad. The nights are cold & lonely but what else is new. Anyway, here’s the news…

Chihuahua Police Chief – I assume you’ve all been watching the news and hearing about the CRAZY sh*t going on in Mexico between the government, the drug cartels, and anybody else down there apparently. Well, here’s a story that I thought I’d share with ya. A 20-year-old smokin’ hot Latina criminology student has been named the chief of police in one of the most dangerous municipalities in Mexico's violence-wracked northern state of Chihuahua. Marisol Valles Garcia, the only person to accept the post, took charge of public security for Guadalupe Distrito Bravo on Monday, according to radio station network Notisistema. The district has a population of 9,148 residents, according to newspaper La Jornada, and comes with at least one police car, Notisistema reported. The state of Chihuahua has borne the brunt of spiraling drug-related violence that has left around 28,000 dead throughout Mexico in the last four years. Guadalupe's former mayor was assassinated in June, and local police have been kidnapped and murdered. At least eight people were slain in the last week alone in Guadalupe, news.com.au reported. The tiny but energetic Valles Garcia says she wants her 13 officers to practice a special brand of community policing. She plans to hire more women (she currently has three) and assign each to a neighborhood to talk with families, promote civic values and detect potential crimes before they happen. "My people are out there going door to door, looking for criminals, and (in homes) where there are none, trying to teach values to the families," she said before she was presented to the public on Wednesday. Is that not some of the craziest sh*t you’ve ever heard? A girl (borderline woman) fresh out of community college is the only person willing to step up and be the chief of police in one of the most hellish communities on Earth. Do you think she did it because they’ll make a movie about it? Mmm… Eva Mendes would be nice in the lead… but then again, she ain’t twenty any more. It’d have to be some chick off Glee or something. Anyway, just thought I would share that with you. Start writing your scripts now… and hopefully this story has a happy ending. Who will costar in this epic tale?

Cage Update - Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage said Thursday that nations must work together in the battle against organized crime. Cage, a United Nations goodwill ambassador for global justice (who knew?), said the threat posed by criminal networks is too big for communities or states to confront on their own so that countries must cooperate with one another. "Organized crime is a deadly infection that preys on human beings," Cage told delegates in a steely demeanor with a hint of badass at a conference aimed at boosting support for a U.N. convention to curb organized crime. "It sows fear and violence in cities, towns and villages around the world." Cage warned that regions weakened by conflict, lawlessness and extreme poverty are especially susceptible to traffickers of illegal drugs, weapons and even humans. "It feeds off instability, and also makes instability worse," he said. Cage described being a U.N. goodwill ambassador as his "most challenging and meaningful role" yet and divulged that he even once considered leaving the movie business to devote more time to helping others. "At some point I wanted to stop being an actor and start taking action," he said. But then he went into mind-blowing debt and instead is doing terrible movies to pay the mortgage. It happens to all of us. Cage was visibly touched when talking about child victims he met in Uganda and Kenya and a 15-year old Somali boy serving a 10-year prison sentence for piracy (not of DVDs). These encounters were "heart-wrenching" and "deeply humbled" him, he said. Cage highlighted the role of NGO's, judges, prosecutors, doctors, religious leaders and others in helping victims of organized crime, saying he now understood "who the world's real heroes are." Yury Fedotov, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, praised Cage as a "humanitarian" who promoted a "victim-centered approach" to tackling organized crime. Way to keep the good fight, Ambassador Cage. We really do need to find a way to stop this craziness. It does sound like something out of a bad movie… not Dinocroc vs. Supergator bad… but you know, pretty bad. Speaking of humanitarians…

Wesley Snipes as MLK? – Hold up, it might not quite be what you think. Passenger 57 himself Wesley Snipes IS getting involved in the 1960's-set true story thriller biopic "Code Name Zorro" though, reports Deadline. The film centers on the final moments in the life of William Sullivan, the man who headed up the Zorro project - a super-covert program initiated by J. Edgar Hoover to destroy Martin Luther King's credibility (oh yeah). From wiretapping to fraud, the group set up numerous illegal schemes and Sullivan intended to air all of the dirty laundry about the project to a journalist. Sullivan was killed in a "hunting accident" shortly thereafter (with Cheney?). Justin Stamm penned the script and Snipes has received endorsement from Martin Luther King Jr.'s son, Martin Luther King III. Snipes will produce, be involved in selecting cast and director, and will likely play a role though which one is presently undetermined… so probably not the doctor himself… though when you’re producer, you do have certain privileges. An incredibly interesting time in American history… and certainly not one of its finest moments… but may be good in bringing some things to light.

Anyway, just a little update. Now I have to get to back to figuring out how to use my damn phone. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Have a great day everybody!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Boardwalk Empire Reborn

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

The cruise is starting to come together… and there’s already over a dozen family members ready to go. It’s going to be EPIC!!! The Big Easy had better watch out. Just over a week away from my Halloween adventure and I’m already making a mental list of the food I’m going to have while down there… and I’m probably going to gain about twenty pounds… all in crawfish & cayenne pepper I’m sure. I’m also planning on visiting the Southern Food & Beverage Museum down by the convention center. Oh yes, I’m THAT big of a nerd. I hope they give out free samples… here’s the news…

Red Celery – Though probably not going to appear in a lot of future gumbos, a Florida-based produce company is looking to titillate the eye and the taste buds by offering a new red-colored celery to give a "colorful crunch" to salads and dips. Celery producer Duda Farm Fresh Foods unveiled the celery variety, to be sold under the brand name Celery Sensations, at the U.S. Produce Marketing Association's annual Fresh Summit Trade Show in Orlando on Saturday. The company said its researchers developed the milder-tasting (milder than celery?) red salad vegetable by cross-pollinating an existing green commercial variety with an old-world heritage celery root, or celeriac variety, whose original heirloom seed could be traced back to Eastern Europe. "It has the same great crisp, fresh flavor as regular celery," Duda Farm Fresh Foods' President Dan “The Dude” Duda said in a statement. So what do you think? Are you going to clamor your local market for that red celery? I’ll admit, it’s nice for the appearance of the salad… and after watching a lot of the Food Network & Travel Channel, I can tell you it’s all about the presentation. Seriously though, a milder taste than celery? The only food you actually lose weight eating? Because it’s like 95% water and the rest is fiber? Interesting to say the least. Next stop: Green eggs & ham… which probably wouldn’t be bad with some red celery, blue cheese & crispy brown bacon. Mmm…

Russian Repo – Speaking of bacon, this little piggy went to market -- to pay off a Russian woman's overdue debt to a bank. Court officers in far eastern Russia have seized a piglet from a woman who owes a bank 13,000 roubles ($432) and put it up for sale to recuperate some of the money, the regional branch of the Federal Bailiffs Service said on Thursday. The woman had been given the seven-month-old piglet for safekeeping, but it was taken away after a court survey of her property found it to be her most valuable possession, the bailiffs service said in a statement. The piglet was seized after the woman failed to comply with a court order to pay off her debt within 10 days, it said. Consumer debt in Russia has crippled local economies in some of the country's poor rural and industrial areas, which have been hardest hit by the economic crisis that followed nearly a decade of rising living standards. A piglet could fetch around 10,000 roubles in Primorye, a Pacific Coast region whose capital is Vladivostok. "At the moment it is awaiting a buyer," the bailiff's service said. Remember a few weeks ago when I told you about them taking a few puppies to recoup payment? Yeah, it’s obviously getting pretty bad there. A piglet is your most valued possession. Think about that. Well, some other countries are looking into different ways to raise money to avoid this kind of thing.

Taiwan Tax It – California may legalize marijuana. Vices such as tobacco & alcohol are getting new taxes. Now, Taiwan's government plans to allow sex workers to set up small businesses in the latest change to laws that had once forced the huge industry underground, the interior ministry said. In a statement on its website, the ministry said it would consider brothels of three to five employees (a small stable) away from areas frequented by children. It will put plans to a cabinet committee by the end of the year. The ministry ruled out earlier proposals to set up red-light districts or allow larger businesses due to concerns among members of its committee set up to study the issue that such measures would turn the sex trade into a regular industry (instead of just underground). Prostitution was legal only in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, until 1997 when the city authorities made it a criminal offence to be a prostitute though not to patronize one. The government began debating new laws two years ago after pressure from prostitute groups over the unfairness of the law (I’m pretty sure I told you about that one too, because a pimp’s gotta keep up on his trade). In 2009 it stopped punishing sex workers (so no more S&M?). Bars and night clubs in older parts of Taipei still teem with sex workers. So just a little travel tip there, I guess. Here’s the amazing thing though. Estimates from activists (so probably completely based on a guess) put the number of people involved in sex-related jobs in Taiwan at over 600,000. That’s about 3% of the population… every man, woman & child… so you can imagine the percentage of women of consenting age in that industry. So yeah, just an update on that front.

Boardwalk Empire Reborn – So they’re making that movie “Monopoly” based on the board game based on Atlantic City, HBO has its new series “Boardwalk Empire” which I hear is incredible… and now, Resorts Atlantic City, the nation's first casino to open outside Nevada, will adopt a roaring '20s theme to capitalize on the success of "Boardwalk Empire," the HBO series about Prohibition-era Atlantic City. Dennis Gomes, who is buying the casino-hotel with developer Morris Bailey, says dealers, cocktail servers, bellhops and others will dress in 1920s-period costumes, music from that period will play, and even the drinks and casino shows will have a roaring '20s theme, so brush up on your Charleston. "A lot of people here are learning 1920s songs now," Gomes told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday morning. Gomes said the new theme is his plan to remake and save the struggling casino, which is being sold because its former owners stopped making mortgage payments due to the poor economy and cutthroat competition from slots parlors in neighboring states. The roaring '20s theme is part of the nationwide fascination with "Boardwalk Empire," but also a nod to Resorts' own history. Its main building was built in the 1920s and the decor is already faithful to that period. The 1920s were "more than just a decade in a history book. It was a decade that defined and shaped our nation," Gomes said. "Beyond that, it was fun, adventurous and exciting, a period in time where people simply let loose to give way to a lifestyle where entertainment was king. Resorts will be all of that. It will define and shape the direction Atlantic City needs to take to survive in an increasingly competitive market. It will be luxurious, it will be fun and it will be one of the leading entertainment spots in Atlantic City." So the way to move forward… is to move backwards? I gotcha. I’m with it. Resorts is based in what was originally built as the Chalfont-Haddon Hall Hotel, which has been shown as part of the skyline in "Boardwalk Empire." A recent interior renovation was done in 1920s style, eliminating the need for expensive construction. Gomes estimates the new costumes will cost about $1 million. "It seemed like such a natural. The property was built in the 1920s and the decor already was from the '20s." Among the touches being planned: a strolling violinist in a zoot suit, wandering around the casino floor and lobby, playing songs from the '20s and '30s. Drinks — heavy on the whiskey that was illegal yet plentiful during Prohibition — will be served, and casino floor shows and many singers will stay faithful to the period as well. The changes will take effect in early December, when the new owner takes over after the sale is approved by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. Gomes and Bailey, a New York developer, are paying $35 million for Resorts — by far the lowest price ever paid for a casino in New Jersey. Resorts was New Jersey's first casino, opening in 1978. In a related development, the City Council in Atlantic City dealt a posthumous diss to the real-life star of "Boardwalk Empire," whacking a plan to rename part of a street near the Boardwalk after Enoch "Nucky" Johnson. The council voted Wednesday night against a proposal to rename part of a street that runs alongside the hotel where Johnson lived and held court, mainly because of the more unsavory aspects of his life. For 30 years, until he was finally sent to prison in 1941 for tax evasion, Johnson dominated Atlantic City — then one of the nation's leading resorts. He controlled not only the Republican political machine that had a stranglehold on government, but also made sure illegal liquor, prostitution and gambling operations flourished under the protection of paid-off officials. Luckily we don’t have any thing like that going on right now. Say what you will, but I like the idea. It’s a great niche market for somebody looking to dress up in a zoot suit (like anytime), and go out on the town having a great time back when broads were dames. I’ll tell you what, if I’m in Atlantic City looking for a place to lose my money, I’ll definitely be keeping Resorts in mind. I guess I’ll just have to do that when I go to an Eagles game at the Link some time down the road.

Anyway, that’ll do it for today. Obviously getting excited for my future travels… and I’ll be sure to keep you posted. Yes, both of you reading this right now. Have a great day everybody!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Take Me to Bed or Lose Me Forever

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

I’d like to start off by wishing everybody a Happy Monday. I know. Mondays typically suck. But hey, the day is what you make it to be. For example, this weekend, I didn’t really have any plans… and it was even going to rain a bit… but that wasn’t going to stop me from a weekend of football and (better for you) some beautiful hikes around the Tahoe area during the fall season. Here’s a little bit of what I saw…
All the previous ones were various spots on the Truckee River...
But this was sunrise this morning from on Northstar
above the clouds...

Other than that though, not a whole lot of stuff going on… unless you count that I’ve figured out how I’m going to celebrate my 30th birthday. Well, in part. Curious? Well… the details are being ironed out… but me, my mom, my grandma (from the Europe trip a few years back), the Wingmans, Filly, and possibly DOZENS of my closest relatives are going to go on a 7-day cruise. Apparently we get a pretty good deal as a group… so for about $1000 per person including airfare, we’re going on a fabulous Caribbean cruise as a family. But wait, there’s more!!! What port are we using? Why, the Port of New Orleans, of course. Here, let me break it down stop-by-stop if you don’t mind.

New Orleans – The Crescent City, the Big Easy, yes, even though I will be there in less than ten days… I will make another trip there six months later to show my family the wonders of this magnificent city. From the French Quarter to the Garden District to the banks of the mighty Mississippi to the bayou to the plantation estates to the above-ground cemeteries to the haunted (fill in structure here) to the food and everything else in between. Obviously I dig it. That’s why this trip would be my lucky number 7th to the city. Where have I visited more? Only Vegas, baby! And even that’s not too far out of reach. Besides, many of my relatives have never experienced Bourbon Street (though I have gone with my mom & grandma before over Mother’s Day Weekend 2005) and that’s like an alcoholic’s Mecca, so that should be fun. Oh… and I’d also like to thank myself for bringing thousands of dollars of tourism money to the city of New Orleans. You’re welcome! Then we get on the boat…

Cruise Ship – Basically a floating city of its own accord, but once we get out into international waters, anything goes (I think?). Casinos, restaurants with all-you-can-eat buffets, bars and lounges of all kinds, pools, hot tubs, entertainment, THREE karaoke rooms, a basketball court, spa & beauty salon, even a foosball table or two. Not a bad place to stay while you’re waiting to land at your next destination. Sure, the rooms are glorified closets with a shower that you would expect to be used to help transport miners in Chile… but like I’ve always said, you can sleep when you’re dead… and if you’re with someone you don’t mind getting a little close & familiar with… then it’s quite alright. Oh… and did I mention that you’re surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico? Not bad, right? (Hopefully) Now for the list of stops on this ocean voyage…

Costa Maya, Mexico – An unspoiled (we’ll see) coastal paradise on the Yucatan peninsula with exotic tropical birds, butterflies, deer, monkeys, even jaguars as you roam through the pristine jungles. Also, I’ll probably be venturing to see the ancient Mayan ruins of Chacchoben… but we’ll see. I may be too hung over to speak after a day or so at sea.

Isla Roatan – Thirty miles off the coast of Honduras is this eco-tourist’s dream. Teeming with marine life and home to some of the best pillar coral in the Caribbean, the Belizean Reef is a diver’s paradise (hopefully still the case after BP). Options there are to chill at Tabyana Beach… or you can swim with the dolphins. Guess which one I might be doing. We’ll see how smart those dolphins really are…

Belize City – Long before the great poet Christopher Wallace said “I be smokin’ trees in Belize when they find me” or the 17th century powers fought over Belizean sovereignty, a complex Mayan civilization flourished in Belize City. Today, many of the ruins of Altun Ha remain in virtually untouched jungles… or you can also go snorkeling in the barrier reef… or the one that I’m probably going to do… you can go cave tubing on a rain forest journey. Yes, you heard right. Cave tubing.

Cozumel, Mexico – This island off the tip of the Yucatan peninsula is well known for fishing, snorkeling & diving… but you can also again, swim with dolphins, explore the ruins of Tulum, or visit Xcaret… which apparently is some kind of eco-friendly theme park in Cancun. Then again, this is towards the tail end of the trip so I may just need to relax and keep down solid foods. Then again, there’s another day at sea before we get back to New Orleans.

So yeah, that’s kind of what I’ll be doing a few days after my 30th birthday. Oh yes, did I forget to start off with that? This will be happening a few days AFTER the big day… and I’ll have about a week off before that… so there’s still planning to be done for a possible road trip down the Pacific Coast (San Fran, Monterey, Napa, Hollywood, Portland, Seattle, Yosemite, who knows?). Or I may just have that Amsterdam-themed party here in Tahoe before start this vacation. Long story short, I’m basically planning vacation six months in advance now… as well as random road trips. I know you’re jealous… and probably hate my guts right now… but if you’d like to be a part of this fantastic voyage, please let me know ASAP and we can get you hooked up. In the meantime, here’s some news… with a slightly nautical theme…

Battleship Update – It’s not breaking news because it happened about a month ago… but Liam Neeson (“Taken”) has joined the cast of director Peter Berg's "Battleship" for Universal Pictures reports the trades. Yes, based on the Hasbro board game, the story centers around a battle on land, sea and the sky between earth's forces and attacking aliens (Hancock?) with most of the action set on the USS John Paul Jones (who I believe played bass for Led Zeppelin). Neeson will play Admiral Shane, a navy admiral and the future father-in-law of the lead officer character (Taylor Kitsch who played Gambit on “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”). Brooklyn Decker (SI Swimsuit Edition cover 2009) stars as Shane's daughter, Alexander Skarsgard (“Thor”) as the brother of Kitsch's character, and Rihanna as a weapons analyst. Yes, pop singer Rihanna will be the supporting actress… to a Sports Illustrated model’s lead. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I’m actually kinda surprised this isn’t directed by Michael Bay but… it is about the navy, right? Brian Koppelman and David Levien is revising the previous script draft by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber. Filming should start… I don’t know… soon. Sounds like a great flick, right? I still think my Ouija story would be AMAZING!!! And let’s face it, if “The Expendables” can have a huge opening weekend… you never know. Speaking of can’t miss movies…

Top Gun Sequel - Things are moving on a sequel to classic 80's blockbuster "Top Gun" reports Vulture with Paramount Pictures having sent offers out to both producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Tony Scott. Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects," "Valkyrie") is being pursued to pen the script and has reportedly found a way to include Tom Cruise's Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell character in a way that's "not too obvious". Cruise has reportedly agreed to take said smaller role. Bruckheimer mentioned he'd been approached about it back in July. Of course the story itself will be tricky as the U.S. Navy's elite TOPGUN program doesn't focus as much on aerial combat anymore but rather targeted bombing runs… but hey, disbelief. The original grossed $353 million at the worldwide box office… and that’s in 1980’s dollars, back when you could go to the movies for the change in your pocket. EW adds to the story, saying that Cruise won't be starring according to his reps but the McQuarrie news is accurate. So let the internet rumors begin… and my guess is that Val Kilmer will reprise his role as Iceman… who ended up getting Top Gun thanks to not only his superior flying skills but also his ability to follow orders and NOT kill his best friend Goose. Look, it’s not exactly a Kaiser Soze twist on the original… I mean, think about it. Where did that movie leave off? They shot down a few Russian MIG’s. They land on the aircraft carrier, they exchange a little male ass slapping, roll credits. “Nice job, Maverick. Forget about that court marshal. You’re alright. Let’s go play some volleyball. Oooh… yeah, sorry. You may want to find a new partner. Maybe somebody over 5-foot-two.” Seriously. Best thing about that movie… was the soundtrack with Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” & the horrible renditions of the Righteous Brothers and “Great Balls of Fire” and of course, the timeless pickup line – “Take me to bed or lose me forever.” By the way, I’m seeing Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) as the lead in this movie… is that bad? Eh, enough talk about dudes, let’s sexy this thing up.

Fox Update – Yeah, we haven’t heard much about her since she went and got married to become the seductive superhero Green-Fox, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for updates in her life. Megan Fox has joined the cast of Jennifer Westfeldt's second feature "Friends With Kids" for Points West Pictures says The Hollywood Reporter. The story revolves around a pair of thirty-something best friends who observe the toll that having kids has taken on the couples they know and resolve to bypass that stress by having a child… and then date other people. Makes perfect sense, right? Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”) and Adam Scott (“Step Brothers”) will play the lead couple, Kristen Wiig (“Adventureland”) and Jon Hamm (“Mad Men” & “The Town”) will play another. Fox will play a girl who Scott's character begins to date. Westfeldt, wrote the script and will produce alongside her partner Hamm. Mike Nichols and Jake Kasdan are executive producing (money). The story may sound a little out of whack but… then again, I know a LOT of people who do this same thing accidentally. It’s just the premeditated decision to have the child that’s a little twist. Anyway, I’m sure it’ll be a horrible chick flick but whatever… you know why I mentioned it… and here are the pictures…

Anyway, that’ll do it for today. Less than ten days until my New Orleans Halloween adventure. Should be a pretty good Monday Night Football game tonight… and probably some baseball. Congratulations to the Eagles!!! Keep up the good work… and have a great night everybody!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dr Love & Genocide

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

The weekend is upon us once again. Do I have plans? Not really. Is there football to be had? Yes, and baseball if I have trouble sleeping. So… I guess what I’m saying is… it’ll be a surprise. SURPRISE!!! No? Okay, well… maybe I will have a surprise waiting for you on Monday. You know that I’m full of them. In the meantime, no surprise, here’s the news…

Swiss Cheese Alps - Swiss engineers smashed through the last stretch of rock Friday to create the world's longest tunnel, sparking a national groundswell of elation over a costly, technically difficult project that has been 60 years in the making. Trumpets sounded, cheers reverberated and even burly workers wiped away tears as foreman Hubert Baer lifted a statue of Saint Barbara (the patron saint of miners) through a small hole in the enormous drilling machine thousands of feet (meters) underground in central Switzerland. At that moment, a 35.4-mile (57-kilometer) tunnel was born, and the Alpine nation reclaimed the record from Japan's Seikan Tunnel. Television stations across Europe showed the event live. "This is the most wonderful moment in my 36 years of tunnel building," Baer said as he paused for breath, surrounded by joyous colleagues in hardhats and bright orange work gear, VIPs and news cameras. The new Gotthard Base Tunnel is seen as an important milestone in the creation of a high-speed transportation network connecting all corners of Europe. First conceived in 1947 by engineer Eduard Gruner, it will allow millions of tons of goods that are currently transported through the Alps on heavy trucks to be shifted onto the rails, particularly on the economically important link between the Dutch port of Rotterdam and Italy's Mediterranean port of Genoa. The tunnel also aims to reduce the damage that heavy trucks are inflicting on Switzerland's pristine Alpine landscape. Peter Fueglistaler, director of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport, called Friday "a day of joy for Switzerland." "We are not a very emotional people but if we have the longest tunnel in the world, this also for us is very, very emotional" he told The Associated Press. Some 2,500 workers have spent nearly 20 years smashing through the rock beneath the towering Gotthard massif, including the 8,200-foot (2,500-meter) Piz Vatgira (Vatgira Peak). When the $10 billion tunnel opens for rail traffic in 2017, it will replace Japan's 33.5-mile (53.6-kilometer) Seikan Tunnel as the world's longest — excluding aqueducts — and let passenger and cargo trains pass under the Alps at speeds of up to 155 mph (250 kph) on their way from Germany to Italy. Swiss voters, who are paying over $1,300 each to fund the project, approved its construction in a series of referendums almost 20 years ago. European transport ministers watched the breakthrough ceremony live from a meeting in Luxembourg, conscious that Switzerland has set the bar very high for future cross-Alpine rail projects. Two further tunnels — one connecting Lyon, France, to Turin in Italy, and the other replacing the Brenner road tunnel between Austria and Italy — are still a long way from completion. Swiss engineers are hoping to complete the rail tunnel even sooner than planned (possibly by the end of 2016) but its first high-speed trains could be delayed by protests in Germany and Italy, where local opposition to new tracks and budget constraints have become an issue in recent months. "Our neighbors in Germany and Italy will have to fulfill their promise and provide high-speed rail links," Fueglistaler said. Asked whether he thought the large, ongoing protests in the German city of Stuttgart could derail the high-speed dream, he said: "Overall I'm confident that these connections will be built in time." The protesters in Stuttgart oppose plans to move the city's station underground, viewing the euro4.1 billion ($5.7 billion) project as a waste of money. Supporters say it will free up the city's packed center and help shorten journeys across Europe. The best part is… they’re both right. All sarcasm aside, I’m REALLY excited to hear this. Being an engineering nerd at heart (have I told you about my bridge thing?), I love to hear about these massive feats in engineering prowess… and when I go back to Europe, it’s another way for me to see more in less time. I rode a bus through the Alps before (including driving the bus onto a train to save a few hours) so saving more time would be even better. I really like the idea of the high speed trains but… yeah, congratulations to the generations of people involved in this project. Now get back to work…

BS in BS – As you well know, I have a BS degree in BS (Marketing Management) so this particular story (also involving Stuttgart, Germany) tickled me a bit… and I’m sure that the Wingmans would agree. Spend a couple of hours overdubbing a scene from Star Wars for a laugh, post it online, and you may end up with so many work offers that you'll wish you were in outer space. Just ask Dominik Kuhn. Since Kuhn spent "two hours, at most" one morning redubbing a tiny part of the popular science fiction film and uploaded it onto video sharing website Youtube, marketing executives have flocked to hire him -- even though he was making fun of them. What started out in 1977 as Darth Vader and the commanders of the Death Star discussing the threat from Luke Skywalker's rebel alliance had 30 years later become a boardroom dispute over an unnamed Stuttgart firm's new advertising strategy. The two-minute clip "Virales Marketing im Todesstern Stuttgart" (Viral Marketing in Stuttgart Death Star) went on to rack up millions of hits online, turning Kuhn's life upside down, he told Reuters in the southern German city. "People always said that stuff I did on the side was just bullshit. Now that bullshit is what I make a living from," said Kuhn, 41, whose previous career spanned everything from advertising to translating science fiction books. Kuhn, a fan of English comic Ricky Gervais, describes "viral marketing" as "word of mouth marketing for the internet age" which also helps explain much of the video's success. Within weeks of it appearing, Kuhn heard children quoting it in Stuttgart, where a major row over the city's train station is afoot (see last story). In a further echo, the opposition has accused the state government of using "the dark side of the force" in the dispute. Job offers came flooding in, and the internet rags-to-riches tale was complete when Kuhn got his own television show (yeah… he got a TV show). At length, he found he needed -- and could afford -- a year off. "I spent ages doing talks at universities about viral marketing," he said. "I got jobs as a director because of the film. Which is absurd. I only dubbed it, I didn't direct it." See? He’s just an average guy with a regular sense of perspective. Yet in this day and age, crazier stuff has happened. On a similar note, did you hear Jackass 3D is coming out this weekend? Anyway, in Kuhn's version, the actors playing planet-hopping villain Vader and Death Star commander Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) bicker in Swabian, the local dialect which Kuhn said was for years associated with "country bumpkins" in Germany. As "Herr Vader" starts choking a boardroom rival with a gesture of his hand, chief executive Cushing orders him to stop, calling the black-helmeted Jedi knight a "Grassdackl," a local term of abuse that literally translates as "grass dachshund." The combination of evil Empire and pastiche of German corporate culture made some friends think the clip could land him in court -- assuming that it was a dig at industrial giant and Stuttgart-based Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes cars. Instead, it turned into another job offer. "Daimler called me up and said, 'Well done, Mr Kuhn. We're laughing at ourselves too,'" said Kuhn, who also hails from the area. "Two or three days after it went online it was on the company's intranet server. They picked up on it that quickly." Daimler then asked him to do some work for them -- though Kuhn is contractually bound not to reveal any details (so I assume it’s an assassination of some sort). "All I can say is they showed they had a sense of humor." Local advertising agencies could not wait to invite him around to celebrate the success of the video -- despite the fact it was intended as a parody of "all the redundant stuff" and faux-English jargon that pepper their talks, said Kuhn. "Then the meeting started and they were talking just like in the film," he added. "'This can't be real,' I thought." Since first posting a Swabian overdub of U.S. TV series 24 -- set in a flat in which special agent Jack Bauer interrogates a roommate for leaving the toilet seat up -- Kuhn has voiced over countless figures from Germany and the rest of the world. See? Sometimes being a smart ass can get you a job. By the way, I wonder if I should send in my commercial idea to Sleep Number beds yet… Some of their current ones are pretty ridiculous. Anyway, congratulations on your success, Herr Kuhn!!!

Captain Hammer for Drake - "Castle" and "Firefly" star Nathan Fillion has tweeted fans to help him get cast as Nathan Drake in the upcoming video game adaptation "Drake's Fortune" for Sony Pictures. On the surface the 39-year-old Canadian actor seems a perfect fit - he's got charisma to burn, an established fan base (650,000 followers on Twitter alone), he can convincingly pull off the action stunts required, he has a physical resemblance to the character, and his onscreen sense of humor is very similar to Drake. Heck, he even shares his first name with the character Nathan Drake. It would hardly be considered acting. The only catch, aside from Fillion's hectic "Castle" production schedule, could be age. The film is seen as the first of a franchise and so the studio will usually go for someone younger (late 20's/early 30's) which also seems to be the game character's age. That approach can backfire though, look at the derision "Superman Returns" received for casting 22-year-old Kate Bosworth as a Pulitzer Prize-winning veteran journalist complete with a pre-teen kid. Fillion is also much closer to the real age of any person in Drake's profession. The critically acclaimed PS3 game series follows fortune hunter Nathan Drake and his quest for famed archaeological treasures. Though the concept sounds familiar (i.e. "Tomb Raider," "Indiana Jones"), the smart execution, clever scripting and witty voice performances often raised it above the level of many other titles of its kind. Besides, Indiana Jones is like 80 now, right? Sorry President Ford… David O. Russell ("Three Kings") directs the project which will likely be a Summer 2012 tentpole for the studio. I have to agree with Captain Hammer… er, Nathan. I think he would be a GREAT fit for the movie. Then again, with it being a tentpole for the studio… there are other fine big money actors in his age demographic that might consider the role. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Marky Mark, Jason Statham (who even has an accent), even Nicolas Cage (who desperately needs the money) are all possibilities. That being said… I have to go with Nathan Fillion. Why? He has IT. What is IT? Charisma, presence, a sense of humor, basically all the usual stuff you think of when you think of me. I mean… come on. Who was Captain Hammer last Halloween? It takes one to know one… with IT.

So how can we help Nathan get the gig of a lifetime (until his buddy Joss Whedon finds him a gig on “The Avengers” as bad guy #3, the victim of a one-liner from Iron Man in a charisma showdown)? Well… that’s a great question. I’ve done my part. I’ve posted my approval on a blog viewed by dozens, baker’s dozens of people across the globe. I don’t know. Write your congressman. Obviously they don’t have anything better to do this time of year besides b**ch about other people who want a dream job. “Senator Reid’s stance on education reform is absolutely appalling.” “Yeah, well Miss Angle here was not only part of the conspiracy behind the separate DVD, 3D-DVD, extended cut re-releases and whatever else with Avatar… but she was ALSO involved in the plot to bring you Jar Jar in 3D with her friend George Lucas.” GASP from the crowd… then the mediator asks, “Miss Angle, your response?” “I… it is the choice of the artist to present their vision in any manner that they see fit… and I just happen to agree with…” the boos from the crowd drown out her response, “Damn you Reid!!!” Then she uses the Force to choke him from across the stage. Am I the only person that wishes more political debates were about this stuff (or maybe even the issues) than a bunch of old people with lukewarm charisma talking about things that were said over a decade ago? “Mister Love…” “DOCTOR Love!” “Excuse me… wait, do you have a degree in medicine?” “No, but I do play one on TV.” “Very well, Doctor Love, in 1997, you were quoted as saying that, and I quote, ‘If abortion is murder, then masturbation is genocide because I would be sending millions of little men & women directly into a warm protein-rich mass grave located on what would later be discovered as my mother’s favorite towel… and later be forced to wash it by hand in what quite possibly may be the definition of ethnic cleansing’ Do you still have those views on abortion and/or masturbation?” “Seriously? Look dude, I was 16 years old when I wrote that social studies report. On that note, let the record show that despite a flawless argument and the structure of a collegiate thesis, I was given a C+ by my prick teacher because I used the term ‘crack whore’ in a perfectly legitimate context. Has a lot changed since I was a teenager? You betcha. I’ll bet a lot has changed since my opponent was 16… like gas being more than a quarter a gallon and coffee being a nickel down at the local haberdashery. However, to get back to the question at hand, pun certainly intended, after all the experiences of my life, I still believe in a woman’s right to choose. Oh… and yes, I’m all for masturbation. I still do. Gladly, I’ve been blessed with a few lovely ladies over the years to assist me… but hey, sometimes you can’t rely on other people to get the job done, so you’ve gotta just fix the problem yourself. Maybe if my opponent felt the same way, we’d be able to get some great things done in government.” Yes, I just likened squeezing out knuckle children to education reform. Deal with it.

Anyway, on that note, I’ll let you all get off to your fantastic weekends. Have a great time!!! Vote Nathan Fillion for Drake!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Fires Are Out But I'm Still Burning

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

I wish that I could effectively communicate the amount of excitement that I’m feeling for this New Orleans trip in now, less than two weeks time. Also, I may have another date this weekend, which is always cool (okay, usually cool, sometimes just plain awkward). Work is busy… and it’s just going to get busier with the snow (shiver). Oh… and there’s a new boss lady. Her name is Boss Lady H… and she seems pretty cool and obviously knowledgeable in the field, so far so good. Haven’t really had a chance to sit & chat with her because of the busyness… but it’ll happen. Believe you me. Anyway, here’s the news…

Hotel Room Record - Want an exclusive venue for your next party? The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo hotel may have the answer: use of the entire hotel, including nine restaurants and all spas and rooms -- for a cool $671,000 a night. The luxury hotel in central Tokyo began selling the plan a week ago as "something splashy" to commemorate its opening five years ago, said hotel spokeswoman Chie Hayakawa. It intends to apply for recognition from Guinness World Records once a reservation is finalized. "When the hotel opened we had an exclusive party like this -- black tie, cocktail dresses. There was music and drinks and food from the restaurants, and it was all quite grand," said Hayakawa, who took part. "We thought it would be fun to offer the same experience to an exclusive group of guests." Under the plan, the entire hotel -- 178 guest rooms, all nine restaurants and all spas -- would be reserved from 3:00 in the afternoon to noon the next day. It would include a cocktail reception for 500 people. The price tag is 55 million yen (about $671,800). Hayakawa said the hotel has already received a number of inquiries, mainly from companies, though individuals would be welcome as well. "The only thing is, you have to pick a date where there are no reservations already," she added. "It's not as if you could just request it for later this week." So if you can plan ahead, you can hold your family reunion here for under a cool million. Sound a little out of your price range too? Well... maybe you might want to consider a second job...

Courier, Not a Transporter - We all like "The Transporter" movies with Jason Statham, right? Sure, you can't really tell one from the other... but still, you know what you're getting. The only great action movie series I can think of that the exact same mold is "The Bourne (blank)" series with Matt Damon. You can be watching it on TV and someone will ask you what you're watching and the response is always "The Bourne... Supremacy? (check channel listing)" Same camera angles, same badass fight scenes, same car chases, looks like the same city (because they're usually all shot in Prague) and the only thing that changes is usually a different chick. "Saw" has the same problem. Anyway, this isn't about "The Transporter" but rather a completely different new action series. I don't even know why I mentioned it. Til Schweiger ("Inglorious Basterds") and Mickey Rourke ("Iron Man 2" & "Sin City") have both signed on for the new thriller "The Courier" according to The Wrap. In this movie, Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Watchmen" & "The Losers") plays a courier with a penchant for dangerous assignments. Hired to deliver a briefcase to a notorious crime figure who hasn't been seen in years, he finds himself being chased by corrupt cops and federal agents along with rivals from the criminal world. Like I said, COMPLETELY different from "The Transporter" series. Schweiger will play an FBI agent, Rourke's role isn't specified... but I don't think it'd be a stretch to say he's the criminal figure who hasn't been seen in a few years (remember the 90's after the bike accident?). Schweiger also recently joined McG comedy "This Means War" in which he'll play an arms dealer. Hany Abu-Assad ("Paradise Now") directs from a script by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt ("Wanted"). Filming kicks off this month in New Orleans... so I guess you know what that means, right? Guess who's probably going to bump into more celebrities during his Halloween vacation in the Crescent City? What could rival meeting Brian Westbrook this past weekend? How about a photo op with Marv, Hugo Stiglitz & the Comedian (or John Winchester if you're a "Supernatural" fan like I am)? Can you tell I'm excited about this trip?

What's In A Name? - A New Zealand television host has quit after sparking a diplomatic row when he ridiculed the name of the chief minister of the Indian capital of New Delhi. I mean... is it really his fault that her name is Sheila Dikshit? Television station TVNZ came under heavy criticism after its "Breakfast" show host Paul Henry mispronounced Dikshit, despite being told by the lead anchor that it is pronounced "Dixit." Get it? Like 'Diks-hit', not the other way. India summoned New Zealand's high commissioner on Thursday to formally protest against what it said were "racial remarks" involving Dikshit who was asked last month to take charge of the floundering Commonwealth Games preparations. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Monday that Henry had resigned after several hundred complaints to the broadcaster regarding his Dikshit comments and questioning whether the nation's Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, who is of Indian descent, was "even a New Zealander." Yeah, that can get you fired... but on Fox News you can say the same thing about Obama and it's perfectly acceptable. "He has made that decision and I guess over the last week he's had some time to reflect on the comments," Key told breakfast television on Monday. Key said there had been no pressure from himself or the government on TVNZ regarding Henry's future (right...) and it was "good that he has personally made that decision." The prime minister said Henry's resignation would help repair any damage caused to New Zealand's relationship with India but it stressed these were comments from one person. TVNZ's Chief Executive Rick Ellis said he accepted Henry's resignation on Sunday after seven years as a breakfast TV host and apologized to anyone who had been offended by the presenter's "inappropriate on-air comments." "I will be apologizing in person to the Governor General. I also apologize to the Indian community, both here and in India," he said in a statement. Henry, 50, who was suspended from the TV station on October 5, said he had apologized twice and accepted he had inadvertently crossed the line of what was acceptable from time to time. "I do not want to continue to be used as a lightning rod for racial disharmony in this country. Likewise, I certainly do not want my elderly mother staked out at her nursing home by tabloid media, as has happened this weekend," he said in a statement. There are more than 100,000 New Zealanders of Indian ethnic origin, almost 3% of the population. The row was the latest in a series of problems for authorities in Delhi who have struggled with a chaotic run-up to the Games where corruption, shoddy construction, health and security issues brought into question India's ability to host the event (remember the condoms choking the city story last week? That was a good thing). So yeah... go ahead and say it with me. Dikshit!!!

Internet Babies - They may not know how to use a computer yet, but a recent poll revealed that some children as young as six months already have an online presence, including their own email address. Antivirus maker AVG conducted a poll of mothers with children under two years old to see when they began uploading pictures of their kids to the web (does in utero count?). The results, taken from mothers in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, show that there's no time too early for parents to post their little tots' pics. According to the survey, the average age children acquire an online presence is six months, with more than 70% of mothers posting baby and toddler pictures online and sharing them through social networking sites. By the time they are two, 81% of kids have what AVG CEO J.R. Smith called a "digital footprint." The study revealed that 33% of children have had pictures posted online from birth. And it goes back even further - 23% of parents uploaded their child's pre-birth scan to the Internet (see? You thought I was joking?). Not that they could use it, but 7% of babies even have an email address set up by their parents at birth. Okay, the email address thing is a little surprising... but the 81% with pictures posted, that's actually a little low. Then again, not everybody has internet access, ladies & gentlemen. Even in developed countries like those surveyed. Anyway, just something to think about. Eh, what do you say we sexy it up a bit?

Putin Calendar - While some were bearing gifts for Vladimir Putin's 58th birthday on Thursday -- others bared their flesh. Several female journalism students from a prestigious Russian university posed in slinky lingerie for a calendar filled with warm -- sometimes steamy -- birthday greetings for the prime minister. The calendar is the latest and one of the flashiest pieces of publicity for Putin, who has assiduously developed a manly image by posing shirtless on horseback, stalking a tiger through Siberian forests and climbing into jet-plane cockpits. It drew swift and severe criticism from a separate group of journalism students from Moscow State University (GO FIGHTIN' COMRADES!!!). Hard to find in stores but splashed widely across Moscow's tabloids, the cheesecake calendar features a photograph of a woman for every month in 2011, each with a word bubble addressing Putin. "Vladimir Vladimirovich, WE LOVE YOU!" reads the cover, which shows a close-up of a woman's chest above barely concealed cleavage. "You only get better with the years," third-year Moscow State University journalism student Nastya Klabukova, posing in a black-and-teal bra and panties, says on the September page. "The fires are out, but I'm still burning," the March model says -- a risqué reference to wildfires that killed more than 50 Russians this summer, and which Putin helped fight by dropping water from a plane. Hot, right? Well, as always, there's another side to the story. In a retort, other journalism students from the same school posted a calendar with photos depicting them in dark clothing, their mouths taped, with captions asking questions about issues that are the focus of criticism of Putin and his era. "Who killed Anna Politkovskaya?" one asks -- a reference to the unsolved slaying, on Putin's birthday in 2006, of an investigative journalist who exposed human rights abuses (by opening her eyes). "When will (Mikhail) Khodorkovsky be freed?" asks another about an imprisoned oil tycoon whose fraud and tax evasion trial was seen by Kremlin critics as a punishment for challenging Putin. Critics have accused Putin, who was president in 2000-2008 and has hinted he may return to the Kremlin in a 2012 election, of encouraging a personality cult. Technically subordinate to the successor he steered into the presidency in 2008, Dmitry Medvedev, Putin is widely believed to be the final arbiter of Russia's policy. Putin and his spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment about the calendar (as he was thanking the models of the calendar personally... and thoroughly). Its creators said they had not consulted with Putin's office or anyone else in politics before publishing the calendar. "We wanted to create a colorful project and at the same time make a present for his birthday," Vladimir Tabak, a co-head of the publishing company that put out the calendar, told Reuters. Tabak said he and colleagues at the company, Fakultet, are graduates of the Moscow State University journalism department but that the calendar had no connection with the department. A spokeswoman for the department told Ekho Moskvy radio that it was "tactless" of the publisher to use the department's name for the calendar, but that the students would face no punishment. Nine of the calendar girls are current students at the department, two are graduates and one is to enroll there soon (aka jailbait), Tabak said. He said all were at least 18 except one 17-year-old who was more fully dressed than the others (whew...). Not a bad birthday present, right? Ladies, still wondering what to get me for MY 30th birthday? Hint hint...

Poe Update - Rising British actor Luke Evans ("Tamara Drewe") and British mega super babe Alice Eve ("She’s Out of My League") are in negotiations to join the period thriller adaptation of "The Raven" for Intrepid Pictures and FilmNation reports Heat Vision. Set in Baltimore in 1849, Evans will play a detective who partners with famed macabre author Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) to search for a serial killer who has kidnapped the author’s fiancé (Eve) and has gone on a murderous spree that mimics the author’s work. Evans replaces "The Hurt Locker" star Jeremy Renner who was tipped to take the lead but opted to do the fourth "Mission: Impossible" instead. James McTeigue directs while Travor Macy, Marc Evans and Aaron Ryder will produce. Shooting kicks off November 9th in Budapest and Serbia. Sounds like it’s starting to become a pretty serious movie… and in other Alice Eve news, she will replace Margarita Levieva ("Adventureland") in the female lead role in Chris Sparling's "ATM" reports Bloody Disgusting. The story follows three co-workers who, on a common visit to the nearest ATM to get some money, find themselves terrorized by a large menacing man in a parka who won't let them leave. Eve, Brian Geraghty and Josh Peck will play the trio in the low-budget feature. Sparling wrote the recent coffin-set thriller "Buried". It sounds… like a low-budget horror flick… but hey, what do you expect? It’s not like she’s afraid because her cell phone is going to murder her (only slowly give her brain tumors) like in some of these other cheesy horrible horror flicks. I have an incredible idea for a horror movie that will make MILLIONS and become the stuff of Legend… but you’re just going to have to wait until I can fund it myself. Trust me though, some great eye candy like Ms. Eve would be perfect for it though. Ooh, speaking of eye candy…

Angelina Update - Bosnian officials have reportedly revoked the filming permit for Angelina Jolie's war film after protests reports Digital Spy. Gavrilo Grahovac, Culture Minister of the Muslim-Croat federation, told a local radio station that he had prohibited the actress from filming in Sarajevo and Zenica and that the production will only receive authorization if "they send us the scenario with a story which will be different from what we have been told by people who read it". What do they have a beef with? Well, the story apparently centers on a love affair between a Muslim woman and a Serbian man… as reported before on this blog. The problem? The story goes that the Serbian man raped the Muslim woman… and THEN they fall in love. Kind of a different story now, isn’t it? When that information was leaked, women's war victims groups were up in outrage, calling it "misleading history... we will not allow anyone to falsify our pain." Jolie, who penned and is currently directing the film in Hungary, planned to complete scenes in Bosnia over the next few months. So… yeah, good luck with that. Wow!

The other day, I saw a documentary on TV called “Once Brothers” (yes, the ESPN 30 for 30 series) and it was about the civil war that took over Yugoslavia after the fall of the Soviet Union… but primarily about the basketball team and the relationship that they had. See, in 1988, the Yugoslavian team got a silver medal (US got bronze) behind a team that included Vlade Divac, Dino Radja, Toni Kukoc, and the late great Drazen Petrovic (who would all later have pretty productive NBA careers, but at the time were all kids). At that point, they were on the fast track to super stardom not just in Europe, but across the world. Vlade & Drazen were best friends… but when the wall fell in ’89, things changed a bit. See, though they were all Yugoslavian, their ethnicities were Croatian & Serbian, which apparently meant that they were sworn enemies or something once the nation didn’t have an overlord and they all wanted their independence. It really came to a head when Vlade tossed a Croatian flag away from a fan on the court after Yugoslavia won the 1990 European Championship. He said that it was because Yugoslavia won the championship, not Croatia (kinda like if the Confederate flag was waived if the U.S. had won the gold medal or something) but it became a HUGE thing. Vlade was basically an enemy of the state of Croatia… and his Croatian best buddy Drazen never forgave him. War is horrible. It divides brothers, families & nations like nothing else. Also, a few years later, Drazen (who was one of my favorite players as a kid by the way) died in a car accident in Germany… which was tragic on many levels. Anyway, I know it sounds depressing as all hell… but at least there wasn’t any raping of a Muslim woman involved… so I guess it’s okay to film there. A lot of those “30 for 30” series flicks are actually pretty damn good, even if you’re not that into sports.

Sigh… sorry to put a downer on everything… but I think I know how to cheer you up. Not everything related to Eastern Europe is depressing. Remember the Putin Calendar? Well, I do. Here you go!!! Have a great day everybody!!!

Okay, so the last few are more Alice Eve but...

I'm pretty sure that you ladies out there can do better...

and there's still 6 months until my birthday...

Let's show Russia how it's done!!!

Where Should I Go Next?