Wednesday, August 31, 2011

$teve, Tall and Plane

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

So yeah, back on the grind since the family’s visit last week… and yeah, I already miss them… well, most of them. Not much else going on right now. No dating or anything. Here’s the thing though… I’m really bad at telling the difference between genuine care, concern and/or flirtation… and feigned customer service. For example, I go to my bank this morning to cash the rent checks… and there’s a cute girl behind the counter. Then again, there always is… because that’s why cute boys & girls are put in front of counters… and the ones who do the paperwork are stuck in their closet offices with fluorescent light (like me). Anyway, she was starting the small talk, asking about the upcoming weekend & such while running the checks, and of course I’m trying my damnedest to focus on her eyes & not her chest (but to no avail, quick glances, very nice) but it just seemed… I don’t know, flirtatious. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’d say it was just me… but this isn’t the first time that I’ve gone to the bank & have gotten the same feeling. I thought maybe it was just the Asian girls that liked me… but yeah, a lot of glances at me from the other ladies too (possibly for security risk?). Anyway, in the end, she asked me about my last name, I explained it’s Czechloslavakian & pronounced just as it’s spelled, she giggled & asked if there was anything else she could help with. Oh… if she only knew… but alas, I just wished her a good day & was off to work. See… being in an industry that’s a lot to do with customer service & building a hospitable atmosphere, one side of me thinks that she has done this kind of interaction 40 hours a week, for several years, and it’s nothing out of the ordinary… not unlike I do on a regular basis… but the other side says “$teve, you’re never going to get laid ever again unless you make a move on a girl that’s interested. The worst she can say is no, right?” Actually… the worst she can say is “Seriously?” and then start laughing… but that’s not likely & then you know she’s a C U Next Tuesday, so no real loss there. Just another day in my life… making a mildly intriguing observation about absolutely nothing. A few things that I forgot to mention before the family came…

Last week, I watched “Blow Out” starring John Travolta, Nancy Allen & John Lithgow. This movie is as old as I am… but still pretty good. The story is about a movie sound guy (Travolta) who is out recording wind noises in a park… when he records a car going off the road & into the water. He dives in to save the passenger (Allen) but the driver dies. Later he finds out that the driver was actually a Presidential candidate… and then finds that there may be a cover-up into the whole thing… and possibly murder. He sets out to find out the truth… but by doing so, also puts himself & the passenger in danger. This is one of the earlier movies of director Brian DePalma (“Scarface”, “Carlito’s Way”, “Untouchables”, etc) and you can really tell. There’s a lot of the great continuous shots, eerie angles, and that distinctive DePalma style that I personal think is among the best out there. I really enjoyed the movie… with the exception of Nancy Allen’s voice. It was that VERY whiny Jersey accent maybe… like purposely bad maybe… and the only other thing I had seen her in was the “Robocop” movies so not what I expected at all. Other than that though, Travolta rocked that sh*t, Lithgow was a creepy killer, and the whole story was just great in my personal opinion. Hell, he even drives a Jeep… through City Hall… and in a parade… oh spoiler alert? Eh, go check it out. I’ve given away NOTHING!!! Great flick.

Wednesday night, I watched “Take Me Home Tonight” starring Topher Grace, Dan Fogler, Anna Faris and something that I had asked about YEARS ago… and it finally happened… MICHAEL BIEHN IN A NON-ACTION MOVIE, A RAUNCHY ROMANTIC COMEDY OF ALL THINGS!!! Anyway, the story is about a brilliant MIT graduate (Grace) who moved back home & works at a video store (it’s 1986 or so, by the way, they still have video stores). He’s been obsessing over this high school crush (Jessica Palmer) since they were kids, but never made a move. Well, he’s an adult now… and he still doesn’t make a move. However, thanks to his best friend (Fogler), a party thrown by his twin sister’s (Farris) fiance, a stolen Benz, a bag of cocaine, a boost of confidence, a few obvious hints from his crush, he may just get laid tonight… but will he puss out? Who knows? Watch to find out. It was pretty hilarious at some points… but yeah, like all rom-coms there’s the usual drama that really isn’t drama but whatever. The moral of the story: Have some balls! And most importantly, SOMEBODY’S READING MY BLOG BECAUSE MICHAEL BIEHN WAS IN A NON-ACTION MOVIE!!! YAAAAY!!! HOLLYWOOD IS LISTENING!!! (or at least Mike’s agent, big ups!!!) Also…

Take the Scenic Route - Life is short -- so why not take the scenic route? That is the message BMW Financial Services seems to be encouraging with its new app, The Ultimate Drive. Released last week, the free app allows users to discover, share and rate the world's most interesting driving routes contributed by users worldwide. By incorporating GPS, the app is also able to find routes surrounding a particular location, and will alert users when new routes are discovered in their neighborhood. "There are plenty of sites that will show you the top roads to drive", said Pawan Murthy, of BMW Group Financial Services, which provides financing for BMW and MINI vehicles. "The roads that are filtering up (in the app) include others that very few people have ever heard of, and that's what makes it so exciting." So far more than 600 routes had been added to the app. Murthy said the most interesting routes are those with the best scenery and, for drivers with sporty cars, include many twists and turns. Points of interest and restaurants or cafes with good food, also get a lot of mentions. One user, who added a route just west of Denver that runs along North America's highest elevated public road warned drivers to "watch for bighorn sheep". Another route takes drivers along a trip that concludes at Arkansas' oldest continually operating general store. "It starts getting very granular from a user-experience standpoint as to what people will share on the app," said Murthy. He said this release is the first iteration of an app moving further toward "gamification," -- introducing game play elements to increase customer participation (like Grand Theft Auto IV?). A future version set for release in early October will be more interactive and include a point system aimed at giving customers greater incentive to participate. "We wanted to get Version 1 out so we could expose it to the world and initiate crowd sourcing of routes. Succeeding versions will have a closer connection with financial services", said Murthy. Most car companies provide free apps for a wide variety of purposes. One from Nissan, for example, allows owners to remotely manage and maintain their vehicles. Another from Mazda puts drivers in direct contact with roadside assistance. One drawback to The Ultimate Drive is that directions are not provided natively within the app. But routes can be exported to Facebook or through email, and can also be ported to another GPS-based maps application for directions. The Ultimate Drive is currently only available in North America. So there you go… if you’re like me & enjoy the occasional road trip, maybe check out this app. I just downloaded it but have yet to check it out. Got a few suggestions though. PCH from here to Cambria isn’t too damn bad with stops in Half Moon Bay, Monterey, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, etc. You’ve all seen the posts from last year’s big road trip. Anyway, suggestions for great road trips? Probably going to do Vegas to Grand Canyon in November, but I’m sure that’s just desert in between the two destinations, but you never know until you try, right? Get out there & travel… by land, by sea, or even by air…

What Women Want… On A Plane - The in-flight entertainment on some planes run by Australian airline Qantas currently contains a somewhat unusual offering… a movie that purports to elucidate the mysteries of female sexual pleasure. The 50-minute French film "The Female Orgasm Explained," which includes naked scenes, is carried on long-haul "Video on Demand" aircraft in the airline's "The Edge" channel -- complete with a warning that it is for mature audiences only (whew). "In general programs are selected according to quality of content, box office/ratings, topicality and Qantas customer demographics," Qantas said in a statement, adding that programs were screened by their program team before licensing.
"With the Edge, we source programs that are out of the ordinary across all genres." Airline crews are able to block content to the seats of minors and at the requests of their parents, it added. The film will be run until November (so book now). The choice of film may be a bit risky given the fact that airlines are usually quite careful about what they show, said Catriona Eider, an associate professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Sydney University. "I think sociologically it's interesting they are showing something that has the potential in that quite confined space to have people say 'Oh, what are you watching?' or shows that might be understood as titillating as porn," she said. But she added that changing social norms mean that off-limit topics have shifted. "'In Sex and the City', the orgasm is something pretty much spoken in everyday levels. It's no longer the taboo subject it was." Way to use a decade-old reference to defend your soft core porn, Qantas. Blame it on those b**ches! I applaud it. Now, you know I’d watch it on an airplane. Seriously, what the f**k else am I going to do? Then again… I’m the kind of guy that would watch a multitude of movies that wouldn’t really be appropriate for an airplane. You know… like “Cast Away” or something. Hmm… I may just bring the DVD with me & watch it on my laptop on my next flight over the Rockies in the winter. Some little kid asks, “What are you watching?” “It’s this great flick called ALIVE!!! You see, these people are on this flight over the mountains, not unlike where we are now, and this storm causes them to crash. Then, because nobody can get to them, they have to survive… so they make shelter, eat what little food they can find… and when that runs out… oh look at that, right on queue.” Kid witnesses his first act of cannibalism on my computer… immediately followed by the plane shaking slightly… the pilot warning of turbulence… and then he freaks the f**k out & I die a happy twisted man. However, this a great tie-in to my next Movie List…

Airplane Movie List (and my favorite lines from them)

Gold – Airplane! - “Billy, have you ever seen a grown man naked?” - Fittingly enough, the movie that’s exclamatorily named Airplane! tops my list. Why? If you have to ask, then you’ve never seen it. From the writers/directors team that would later brings such classics as “The Naked Gun” trilogy, “Hot Shots!”, several “Scary Movies” & “Baseketball” comes this story of redemption, courage under direst, and Love against all odds. Also you have everyone from Peter Graves, Robert Stack, Leslie Nielsen & even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar saying some pretty hilarious & ridiculous sh*t in this satire. Also, check out the sequel too. You deserve it.

Silver – Air Force One – “Get off my plane!” – The timeless classic of a President (Harrison Ford) whose plane is taken over by terrorists (led by the great Gary Oldman) and now he has to save his family, his council, & his nation. You’ve probably seen it… and if not, it’s worth a gander. Also worth a gander is the similar “Executive Decision” starring Kurt Russell, John Leguizamo and (briefly) Steven Seagal. Another plane being taken hostage movie… but they send in a special forces team to get him out this time to stop nuclear weapons from hitting the East Coast or something. It’s been a few years, gimme a break.

Bronze – Con Air – “Put the bunny… in the box” – It’s my Catcher in the Rye (“Conspiracy Theory” reference). When I see it on TV, I pretty much have to watch it. A Marine/prisoner (Nicolas Cage) is on his way home to see his wife & daughter after serving some time in prison. He’s on the flying equivalent of a maximum security prison bus, with some of the top nasties in the world, and of course… they take the plane over & he has to save the day. It’s a Jerry Bruckheimer production, so you know there’s explosions, one-liners, bad accents and a pretty remarkable ensemble cast too with the likes of John Malkovich, Ving Rhames, John Cusack, Colm Meaney, Dave Chappelle, even Machete… er, Danny Trejo. I also liked George Clooney’s “Up in the Air” but if you’re wondering why “Top Gun” isn’t higher on the list… it just isn’t. Deal with it. My list.

Suggestion – Turbulence – “I changed my mind!” – After a shootout on a plane transporting passengers, a stewardess (Lauren Holly) has to outwit a smooth-talking serial killer (Ray Liotta) and land the plane herself. Sounds pretty cheesy, right? Well, it sort of is… but still a pretty entertaining flick. Wesley Snipes’ “Passenger 57” almost got mentioned here… but I pretty “Turbulence” because you kind of expect Wesley Snipes to kick some ass… despite having a very Welsh name. Lauren Holly, you don’t really expect much more than for her to be hot. Anyway, give it a gander if you’d like. “Amelia” was okay, starring Hillary Swank (as Amelia Earhart) & Richard Gere (as the guy). Leonardo DiCaprio rocked the sh*t in “The Aviator” but that was more about eccentric tycoondom than airplanes.

Flush It – Soul Plane – “Yeah, it was a cold day” – Oh yes, the obvious choice would be Samuel L. Jackson’s epicly bad classic “Snakes on a Plane” and believe me it was considered… but everybody rags on that movie. So I’m switching it up to “Soul Plane” which is an equally horrible movie about a guy who gets a lot of money, buys an airline (NWA – NorthWest Airlines or something), caters it to a certain African-American clientele, and on its maiden voyage hyjinx ensues. Starring the likes of Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Kevin Hart, DL Hughley, John Witherspoon, Tom Arnold, Godfrey, Mo’Nique, Loni Love, Terry Crews, and so on… you know it’s going to try to be funny. It has its moments… but pretty bad & unmemorable. I was only trying to keep from ragging on Samuel L. Jackson more for “Snakes on a Plane” because… it’s just so goddamn horrible.

FutureWatch – Top Gun 2 (2012?) – Okay so… I’m not really excited about the proposed sequel to Top Gun 2… with a cameo or more by Tom Cruise… and who knows, maybe Val Kilmer too (ICEMAN!!!). The first one was okay… Goose was the ultimate wingman (until he died), Kenny Loggins had a hit, as did Berlin (and memories of my junior prom), and you have to give it up for anybody who makes reference to the Righteous Brothers. As for a sequel, what can you expect? Well, Tony Scott might direct… so there’s probably explosions & now with CGI, maybe they’ll be shooting down aliens instead of Russian MIGs. Don’t knock it… wait for the trailer. Anyway, I just didn’t know of any other airplane related movies coming up any time soon. Maybe something about “The Wright Brothers” reuniting Ben Affleck & Matt Damon… with moustaches. It could work. Has there been a really good “DaVinci” movie made? Eh… I’m out of ideas right now… but I’m sure more will come up in time.

Anyway, that should do it for today. Next basketball game is on Thursday… and I’m kind of at the point where if they don’t start coming up with a strategy other than heave threes & let me rebound, I may just do pickup games… but we’ll see. Still no plans for Labor Day, so let me know if you hear of anything. Have a great day everybody!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hobo Stops Begging, Demands Change

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Continuing on the week, let’s see… when I last rambled, I had just had an unexpected goodbye from the family… oh and then almost on queue after that, my brother called to tell me that his car got towed because he parked in a yellow zone to go check out a store for some Gundam figurines. Oh wait, did I not mention that part? I must’ve left that out. $439 later (of course not his) he got his car back… and I got to hear about it for the next few days because he can’t read signs. Tuesday night though, once he calmed down, wasn’t that bad. We ordered a pizza, played some video games, and watched “Paul” starring Nick Frost & Simon Pegg as two ComicCon geeks who go on a road trip to alien hot spots… and stumble upon a real life alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) and hijinx ensue. That’s really all you need to know about the movie other than it’s absolutely hilarious… so go check it out.

Wednesday was work again… and then afterwards, I met up with my brother & C-Rock downtown to go see a pre-screening of “Contagion” (which looks like “Outbreak” but with Matt Damon instead of Dustin Hoffman). First though, they walked from my apartment to my work… which is about 4.5 miles. Why? Well, my brother was scared to drive apparently now because of the towing, okay I can see why you wouldn’t want to… but why not take the bus? His excuse: He didn’t have two dollars. Really? Then why are coming to meet me downtown? Oh yes, so that I can pay for everything, I forgot. Fine, just don’t b**ch to me about the blisters on your feet… oh wait, of course that’s going to happen… for a few days. It’s a good thing that I love that big b**ch. Anyway, we met up, went to the theatre… and there was a line around the block, so we (they) decided to just go back to the apartment & have fun there. First though, we stopped by Del Taco to grab something cheap to eat. Well… you get what you pay for… as I found out the next morning…

Basically a few hours later, my stomach was not doing so hot… and it led to my backside not doing so hot… and then basically most of the evening, I was up in my bathroom (and occasionally the shower just to cover both bases). Not a great night at all… and I couldn’t even blame drinking this time, but a 1 lb. Macho Chicken Burrito. So I had to call in sick the next day… but I’ll say one thing for my brother, at least he was willing to stop by the store & pick me up some Gatorade & bread before his 16 hour drive back to Slick City (with a scenic route wrong turn around Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe). So yeah… that was a fun day… and my throat still burns a bit. Friday was catching up at work and then catching up on sleep.

Saturday, I did some hiking around the Presidio (about 3 miles worth), got some Chinese food on Clement (3 miles roundtrip walk also), then went to the Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine concert at Bimbo’s 365 Club on Columbus. Wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, but got a last minute bonus at work on Friday, so I thought I’d make an evening of it… even if by myself. Took the bus, met a few people waiting in line, chatted it up, sat at a table, and was later joined by three British gentlemen about my age (Griff, Devin & Mike). We got a few drinks, and they were on a trip across the U.S. with stops in New York, Miami, New Orleans, St Louis, Chicago, San Francisco & then heading to LA the next morning… so we naturally chatted about their adventures… and we talked about New Orleans the most since it was their favorite stop & my expertise in visiting the area. The show was phenomenal, we had a great time, and then afterwards, we went to the International Sports Bar across the street, had a few more drinks, wished each other well in our journeys, & parted ways. Pretty good evening for what was otherwise going to be staying at home. Got back… and Nurse was there, so we watched a bit of “30 Rock” before she passed out on the couch & I snuck upstairs to my bed.

Sunday, I woke up, took the bus & then a ferry… and went to Angel Island. Not nearly as popular as Alcatraz, but this 720 acre island is now a national park & was the “Ellis Island of the West” so for many Asian immigrants, this was their gateway to America. It was also a historically strategic fort location for several civilizations throughout the years as well… and before that, home to the Miwok people. There’s some great hiking trails, but this time, I just took the tram tour. Also, just an FYI, their nachos at the café were pretty damn good. They had con queso sauce, ranch, jalapenos, tomatoes, etc… but surprisingly good for no meat. A little steep at ten bucks, but I ended up splitting it with two other people I met there so it worked out well. Anyway, here are some pictures…

Sunday night was basketball… and we started out great. By which I mean, they were giving me the ball on offense… and I scored 11 of our first 14 points, was shutting them down on defense (probably 5 blocks at that point & a dozen or so for the game), and we had a lead. Then, they started popping the threes again. I would come up to pick & roll (as we decided in the timeout a minute earlier) and they would tell me to get out of the way. Nobody else on the floor was moving… and I was the only player inside the three point line. So they would pop the threes… and I’d be trying to outrebound at least three guys. It just wasn’t working… as usual. I was still holding it down on defense… until they took me out with about 7 minutes to play. Why? I guess they had given up. We really need to get a strategy down… but nobody sticks to anything we decide. It’s frustrating… but somehow, I’m still having fun because I enjoy playing… and yeah, I end up working harder to try to give them a fighting chance… but hey, obviously I’m not too butt sore about it. I’d just like to win once in a while, you know?

After the game, I decided to watch a movie that… I probably couldn’t really watch with the roommates. Luckily the apartment was empty… so I took a shower, changed into something more comfortable, got some strawberries & a refreshing beverage and watched… “Hobo With a Shotgun” starring Rutger Hauer. What? Did you think it was going to be something a little sexier? Chil’ please! I watch all the sexy shows WITH the roommates. Have you seen “Nip/Tuck”? Anyway, back to last night. So yes, Hobo with a Shotgun is the latest of the trailers from the epic “Grindhouse” to be made into a real feature length movie (“Machete” being the largest grossing thus far). As you might expect, it’s primarily a plot loosely based in reality & is more for paying homage to the grindhouse genre movies with all of their filthy language, grotesque violence and over-the-top acting… but it can still be well-done (as far as setting tone, etc) and just purely entertaining on a primal level. This movie was that. As you might guess from the title, the story is about a Hobo (played by the legendary blue-eyed Rutger Hauer) who comes to make a fresh start in a town… and there’s a lot of drugs, violence & random killing spectacles… so stands up for himself, gets scarred, befriends a prostitute, buys a shotgun… and starts to clean house. I highly recommend this movie if that’s your thing… it really is a LOT better than it sounds… but yeah, still pretty bad.

After that, Pixie & Nurse came home as I was looking for the next selection… so I went with a movie that had been on my queue for a while, but never got around to watching it. The movie was “Misery” starring Kathy Bates & James Caan (KAAAAAHN!!!) and I had never seen it before. WHAT? That’s right, never. I had seen a few parodies of it over the years on various shows & movies… but never the original. For those who don’t know, it’s the story of a famous author (Caan) who is at his mountain retreat to finish up his latest book. He’s driving back to New York, but gets caught in a blizzard and slides his Mustang off the road. He’s saved by a woman (Bates) who claims to be his biggest fan… and she is… to the creepiest Nth degree. He’s bedridden… and she takes care of him… but when she reads his latest book… and finds that he’s planning on killing off her favorite character Misery… that’s when it goes from creepy to nuckin’ futz. It’s a great suspenseful creepy flick… and I highly recommend that you check it out… preferably with female roommates so that you get to hear the screams & watch them freak out. That’s almost as entertaining as the movie was.

Anyway, that’ll do it for today. It was a pretty good week for the most part… and Labor Day weekend is coming up so I’d better get my plans ready. Carmen mentioned doing a cookout a few weeks ago… but haven’t heard much on it since. It still will be nice to have three days off. Have a great day everybody!!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Family Visit

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

So before the family even came in this weekend, Lilie came into town with her family… and we met up for breakfast at Honey Honey Café & Crepery a few blocks from where she was staying. Great little place, fairly priced, and have a wide selection of crepes, eggs Benedict & I can personally attest to their great crab cakes Florentine with a side of breakfast potatoes. It was great catching up with her since she’s been living the dream the past few months with her fiancé, trips to France, moving back home to Utah from SoCal, few trips to Vegas, like I said… living the dream. I couldn’t be happier for her. But enough about her… this isn’t her blog… then again, I don’t think she’s updated hers in almost a year she’s been so busy actually having a life. Back to me & my family’s visit to the Bay Area.

Thursday night, my brother & C-Rock drove 13 hours straight to get to my house around 7 PM, so I took them on a hike around the neighborhood, ordered some Chinese food, cracked open a few beers & we watched “Your Highness” starring Danny McBride, James Franco & Natalie Portman. This movie is a hilarious, raunchy retelling of the usual medieval magical tales. Basically you have two princes, one who is the perfect heir to the throne Fabius (Franco) and the other who is a bit of a spoiled pompous ass who enjoys too much of the weed, Thaddeus (McBride)… so kind of like the Spin Doctors song. Anyway, Fabius is engaged to a beautiful maiden (Zooey Deschanel, rrrrrrr…) but she is kidnapped by an evil sorcerer. Now the brothers must join forces to rescue her. Along the way they meet a superhot warrior princess (Portman) and blah blah blah. I don’t do a good job of expressing how funny the story is… but it really is. Think of “Pineapple Express” meets “King Arthur” or something. Did I just blow your mind? I knew it.

Friday, I worked, but then met up with my mom, stepdad, niece & nephew in Chinatown for some dinner at R&G Lounge and some wandering through the shops. I’ve missed those kids… and they’ve missed me (even saying so repeatedly) so we had fun. They’re getting to be little chatterboxes too. After that, we met up at my apartment with my brother & C-Rock, and basically, I went with them to their hotel because we were going to go to Six Flags in the morning… and my brother apparently needs to be near me at all possible times… because he misses me too. Too bad that I can barely stand him. He’s just such a douche to my mom, and really anybody in general, and he’s a bigot, and a hypocrite, and really has to no money, job, life, reason for being, means of providing for his children, couth, etiquette, logical deduction abilities or personality… but hey, somebody has to give a damn about him, right? Don’t worry, he’s about to burn that bridge too, I’m sure of it. I had to tell him to stop talking to my mother in a berating tone or he was not welcome in my apartment… so we left so that my mom & the kids could have fun… and we had fun for a bit at the hotel. Yeah… couldn’t see my niece & nephew much that first night… because my brother is a giant worthless child. Great start, right?

Saturday, Kiel, C-Rock & I went to Six Flags… and we had fun, even though I play a little game sometimes with my brother. I count how many nice things he can say in an entire day… even when it’s going to a theme park for free like today… and he got to three… the entire day. The rest of the time, he was complaining about traffic, other people, other races, the state of California, how expensive everything is (that he’s not paying for), why he has to drive everywhere (because it’s his car & he insisted, by the way), the temperature (too hot AND too cold), my job (because he couldn’t talk about his), what other people are wearing, why everything’s in Spanish too (and occasionally Mandarin), just blah blah blah… and the three good things said were “That ride was pretty cool”, “These chicken tenders aren’t too bad” (followed by rant about how expensive they are), and “That line was pretty quick”. All of which were said once. Again, because I’m used to it though, I still had a great time… and just learned to zone him out most of the time.

Aside from all of that, Six Flags Vallejo is pretty nice. I highly recommend it and the thrill rides are great. Weird thing was the height limit on the adult rides… so I claimed that I was 6’3” a few times. “Could you stand up against the measuring wall please?” “Absolutely.” Just made it… and luckily they weren’t even paying attention to the bent knees and/or wide stance. “Okay, enjoy.” Sorry, didn't take my camera. After the park, we eventually made our way (through traffic that Kiel insisted on driving through despite my warnings, so that was fun to hear about) to my apartment, and then I got to have some fun with the kids. Apparently they got to go on a boat ride in the bay and under the bridges (so f**king jealous) and then the aquarium. Yeah… the day that I wanted to have with them, I spent listening to my brother b**ch about a theme park & how it’s full of people on a Saturday. Love my life sometimes. Anyway, that night, I slept downstairs with the kiddies like a little sleepover. Good times.

Sunday, we went out to Fairyland in Oakland & the kids LOVED it… that is, until my brother came in & caused a huge fuss because… not sure, I think because he had to wait five minutes to get into the park because we arrived early & rather than sit in the car, went in without him & he’s a worthless b**ch without a dime to his name & couldn’t get into the park. Yeah, I think that was why… but he caused a little scene, until I stepped in again, told him to unbunch the panties, because I didn’t pay $8 for him to come into the park & ruin everybody’s time. He calmed down, then we had fun. The park was pretty sweet actually. Here are pictures…

"Don't do it, Humpty!!!"

Snow White looks like she just got back

from a sorority party...

Why this picture?

Read the sign...

Simply majestic...

After Fairyland, we drove over to the U.S.S. Hornet, an WWII aircraft carrier that is now a museum in the port of Alameda (also featured on “Ghost Adventurers”) and that was a lot of fun too. Here are pictures of that… sorry, no ghosts... but very similar to my trip to San Diego & the USS Midway...

Downtown Oakland

After that, we went into Oakland’s Chinatown and had dinner at the Silver Dragon Restaurant… and again, my brother caused a bit of a scene. Why? Because he snapped at one of the kids for pointing with a chopstick or something, my mom said something like calm down, and he proceeded to tell her in very profane language that he has no idea how to be a parent, she should remain quiet at all times & his children are not to listen to her (only be watched & provided for by her apparently), he’s in control of everything (sun, moon, sky, whatever?), blah blah blah… so I polite told him to close his mouth, enjoy this wonderful vacation of which he hasn’t spent a dime on, including the meal he was about to receive, keep his criticisms to himself as he is the only person who wishes to hear about them, & allow his children, who are not his pets, to have fun as well. He then tried to stare me down & tell me what was what… but that b**ch apparently has no idea how little I care about him personally. I’m not even phased by his comments anymore… because I consider the source. Anyway, food was great. He calmed down. Maybe he just needs more naps like his kids or a change of his diaper or something. Or maybe just checked by his brother. I don’t know. The important thing is the kids had fun once he learned to shut up & enjoy himself.

Sunday night, he & C-Rock stayed at the hotel, the rest of us were at my apartment watching “Toy Story 3” and other movies. I’d tell you what they were about… but I really don’t know because the kids were too busy showing me what they could do & were just too excited to watch the movie. They just wanted to play with Uncle $teve… and then my brother showed up again… because he wanted to do the same… no joke… and so I tried to split time with them before he left & we went to bed.

Monday, I spent the day working but afterwards met up with the whole family at the Thirsty Bear Brewery. Great little place with some pretty good beer (I recommend the Golden Vanilla), games upstairs like pool, darts, etc, great service… but just be warned that it’s Spanish Tapas menu. Which if you’re chilling with friends with exotic & explorative taste buds, then it’s absolutely perfect. However, if you’re having the first real meal of the day for a family of rednecks, expect to hear a few comments. Luckily there were a few items like meatballs & mini hamburgers for the kids… and once they tried some of the food that I recommended, they enjoyed it. I didn’t know about the Spanish cuisine… but luckily it worked out pretty well. Definitely a great place for hanging out though.

After dinner, we went to the hotel for a dip in the pool & hot tub. Kairi & Vinny loved showing off their swimming abilities (and their floaties) and we just had a great time. After the dip, it was bedtime, so I gave them my hugs & kisses goodbye because they were leaving in the morning… and I wouldn’t see them until Christmas (but given the way work has been lately, even that’s in question). Then I dropped Kiel & C-Rock off on my way back to my apartment. First night in my bed in a few so it was pretty good. Apartment still looks like a mess, but hey, Kiel & C-Rock will be staying until Friday morning, so I’ll take care of it over the weekend.

Tuesday morning, I went to work… and about an hour into my shift, I hear my boss talking to someone behind me… and it’s a familiar voice… my mom’s. Apparently Kairi & Vinny wanted to give me more hugs & kisses before they drove back home… so my mom stopped by my work, walked in the door, asked the first person she saw about me, and it so happened to be my boss who escorted her to my closet office. So I said bye to the kids again, shook off a few tears while doing it, gave em all hugs, and they drove off while I went back to work. I’m gonna miss those little scamps… but I’ll see them again soon hopefully. You never know how things work out.

Anyway, that should do it for the weekend portion. There’ll be more updates to come with my brother’s continued visit… but apparently not a trip to the Rock because I couldn't get time off approved through work. Lame I know... but honestly, I'm not too broken hearted about it. I've been there. Just would nice for my bro & C-Rock to go... and apparently they won't go without me. Oh well. Have a great day everybody!!! To be continued...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Marishka Hargitay, Marishka Hargitay!!!

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

This weekend was pretty relaxing. Did some cleaning around the apartment for when mom comes to visit (still expect a little gentle nagging, but hey, the girls are the messy ones, no playing). Also went to check out the Lincoln Park area which is absolutely gorgeous… and stopped by the Legion of Honor art museum where they had Dutch & Flemish masters on display. By the way, no there’s not a Flemland in Europe now. You didn’t miss the news. It’s a dialect of Dutch from a few centuries ago, I believe. I’m full of useless knowledge. Regardless, the building is amazing too… and there’s lots of ocean views in that area. I also wandered around the National Cemetery Sunday morning for a bit. Why? Because I didn't have anything better to do & wanted to go for a walk. That's not creepy. Anyway, here are some pictures...

Modern Art...

Sunday night was our latest basketball game… and we did a LOT better than usual. We actually had the lead pretty much the entire game… and then lost it with about 3 seconds left because the referees refused to call fouls for us. Whatever. We did great as a team for the most part… even though our strategy still seems to be pop threes & hope for the best. Our defense is pretty solid though… and given that there were only five of us, we did damn good.

Monday night though… was my first softball game of the year… and here in San Francisco with the company team. Apparently the schedule is Monday nights after work for the next few months… but luckily today was a late game at 8:30 (better due to my later schedule & because it’s across town in Daly City). I got there a little early & met a lot of my coworkers from other departments (which was kind of why I joined the team) and warmed up. Long story short, we destroyed the other team like 24-2 in a shortened game and even I did pretty well. I went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs & two RBIs while playing right-centerfield (only two came out my way). Pretty good start to the season, but they’re not all going to be like this. Really surprised how good we did given that the majority of us didn’t really play except for this league every year. I’m excited… and we have fun anyway whether win or lose so… it’s all good.

Friday night, I watched the new “Arthur” remake starring Russell Brand, Jennifer Garner & Dame Helen Mirren. For those not familiar with the story, Arthur Bach (Brand) is a millionaire playboy who is basically a man-child and just wants to have fun & drink all day (don’t we all?). Well, his mother is tired of it & gives him the ultimatum to either clean his act & marry a business savvy woman (Garner) whom he doesn’t love… or just be broke. The same day, he meets this cute ragamuffin (Greta Gerwig) at Grand Central Station and apparently fall in Love… or really, they just like each other, I don’t know. Anyway, the story goes from there. The original with Dudley Moore & Liza Mannelli, I’m a huge fan of (and the sequel). This movie had its funny moments… but I didn’t particularly care for it. It was one of those were you kind of want the childish lead character to fail, so that he really would learn his lesson & be forced to grow up. I don’t know, maybe I’m just mean that way. Also… a billion dollars to marry Jennifer Garner? Is that REALLY a horrible ultimatum? Oh… and Dame Helen Mirren plays his loyal nanny who raised him (originally played by Sir John Gielgud, so that’s why a respectable lady would consider this movie). Because of some of the dialogue, there were a few points in the movie where I would turn to Nurse and say… “Wow, that’s a British Dame that just said that.” Anyway, it’s okay for a few laughs… but there are better movies… like the originals.

Next movie was “The Love Guru” starring Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake & Sir Ben Kingsley. Yes, this movie was on my list of worst movies of the decade that I wanted to see… and so I saw it. The story is about Guru Pitka (Myers) who has a line of best selling self-help books using his teachings & he’s asked by the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Alba? Really?) to help with their star player so that they can win the Stanley Cup. Now, the movie did have a few funny moments… but more often then not, it was really just a bunch of bad jokes about poop, sex organs, Verne Troyer, the Hindu language & culture, but then again… you know I like those jokes in moderation. The great Stephen Colbert makes an appearance too… so you can’t hate that, right? So far, this was the best worst movie of the lot… but still pretty bad. Also, apparently Mike Myers has signed on for a 4th Austin Powers movie… so keep an eye out for that. Here’s the news…

Number One Super Guy – How can we discuss bad movies without mentioning Eddie Murphy? Yes, the man is a legend… but aside from “Shrek” really hasn’t had a hit on almost 20 years (though I liked “Norbit”). Next up, Eddie Murphy is set to voice the great Hong Kong Phooey in a feature film based on the classic 70's Hanna-Barbera animated TV series for Alcon Entertainment says The Hollywood Reporter. The combination live-action and animated feature revolves around a dog, Penry (Murphy) who is granted mystic powers, including the ability to walk, talk and do kung fu. Donning a costume to become Hong Kong Phooey, he sets out to combat criminals. Alex Zamm is directing while Broderick Johnson, Andrew Kosove, Jay Stern and Brett Ratner will produce. You have been warned.

Attack of the Grease Devil – No, it’s not M. Night Shamalyan’s newest thriller, it’s far more sinister… yet still a little hilarious. Panic over nighttime assaults blamed on "grease devils" has struck across rural Sri Lanka, leading to the deaths of at least three people this week, prompting women to stay indoors and men to arm themselves, police and local media said. See? People dying & arming themselves? But I know you’re asking yourself, what’s a grease devil? Historically, a "grease devil" was a thief who wore only underwear and covered his body in grease to make himself difficult to grab if chased. But lately, the "grease devil" has become a nighttime prowler who frightens and attacks women. "The story we hear is he comes and bites young women's necks and breasts. Despite several complaints, the police have failed to act on that and in fact in two places have released the culprits," a 36-year-old airline ticketing agent from the Hill Country district of Matale said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting authorities. On Friday, police said they fired tear gas to disperse dozens of people who besieged a police station in the eastern town of Potuvil, demanding the release of four men who had captured and planned to lynch a suspected "grease devil." Police had arrested the four after they beat officers who rescued the suspect from the mob. Two men whom villagers identified as "grease devils" were hacked to death on Wednesday by a mob in the central Sri Lankan village of Kotagala, in a tea-growing area, police said. A 22-year-old man hunting for a "grease devil" in the jungle died after stepping into an electric trap set for wild boars, the Tamil-language newspaper Sudar Oli said on Friday. At least 30 incidents have been reported across seven districts from Sri Lanka's east coast and across its tea-growing regions in the central Hill Country. Police have arrested 47 people since last month. "There is no grease devil as such. It is a human among us with an ulterior motive of stealing or to engage in some illegal activities," police spokesman Prashantha Jayakody said. Jayakody also said some people with "mental disorders" were posing as grease devils: "In one instance, a person was arrested wearing more than 20 (pairs of) women's undergarments." The panic has nonetheless been enough to prompt men to arm themselves with clubs and sticks to stand guard at night, and women to stay at home. On Tuesday in the eastern village of Ottamavadi, six people including two police officers were injured in a melee after angry residents stormed a police station after the release of a suspected "grease devil." Traditional Sri Lankan beliefs about spirits and devils remain strong in some areas, where invocations upon them to cure illnesses or curse enemies are common. Traditional devil masks remain favorite tourist souvenirs. State TV has been broadcasting a photo of a man the police say is a suspect, his face covered in white greasepaint, with the message that the grease devil is not real. So basically… everybody’s going crazy in Sri Lanka. There’s one pervert going around & apparently biting girls… and there’s a bad photo out there of a guy in greasepaint… and so somebody goes “That’s him!” They get arrested, lynch mobs are involved (oh yes, there are still lynch mobs in the world), people end up dying… and not because of the grease devil, but rather because they’re scared stupid. It’s tragic in a way… but hey, hopefully they’ll figure it all out in the coming weeks before anybody else innocent is hurt. Seriously, it’s almost like a flasher causing a deadly riot at a college football game. Although… in the hands of a master storyteller… it could be the sequel to “Devil” or something…

What a Twist! – Spoiler alert! Have you ever watched a movie… say “American History X”, and you’re about five minutes into the movie… and somebody says, “Is this the one were the kid gets shot?” Thanks mom! Or let’s say that the first time you watched “The Sixth Sense” you got home when they were 10 minutes into the movie… so when the big reveal that he was dead the whole time comes in, you’re response is “What? When?” “Oh, in the first few minutes there was a birthday party or something & a guy shot him.” “Oh… well yeah, he’s probably dead then. That’s why the wife wasn’t talking to him. Usually even when they’re being a b**ch they’ll at least yell at you. I thought that was weird.” Obviously those were real personal instances of when spoilers can go wrong… but if you are angry that someone spoiled the plot of a movie or revealed the ending of a book, don't be. A new study by researchers from the University of California at San Diego shows spoilers may enhance enjoyment, even for suspense-driven story lines and film plots. After studying three types of stories -- ironic-twist, mystery and literary -- by authors such as John Updike, Roald Dahl and Agatha Christie, they found readers preferred versions with a spoiling paragraph written into the story. "I was quite surprised by the results," researcher Nicholas Christenfeld said in an interview. "Like most people, I don't turn to the end of a book to see who dies or what happens." For the study each story was read by up to 30 people and presented in two formats -- in the original version and with a spoiling paragraph inserted in the story. Readers of all three story types preferred the spoiled versions of the stories more than the unspoiled originals. What a twist! "Plots are just excuses for great writing," Christenfeld explained. "Nonetheless, plots are important, like a skeleton or a coat hanger. You need it to display the things that are important but the plot itself isn't critical." Christenfeld said in many cases a book or movie can be re-read or seen multiple times and still be enjoyable (I’ve seen “Sixth Sense” a few times, still awesome). "As a film director, your job isn't really to come to the conclusion that the butler did it. A single line would do that," he said. Once viewers know the ending of a film, they may want to view if again to see things that had meaning or didn't have meaning the first time they saw it (and occasionally you find loopholes in the plot but whatever). The researchers said in the study, which will be published in the journal Psychological Science, they found that the success of entertainment does not rest on suspense alone. "Stories are a universal element of human culture, the backbone of the billion-dollar entertainment industry, and the medium through which religion and societal values are transmitted," they wrote in the report. Christenfeld and his co-author Jonathan Leavitt added that the findings could mean that commonly held perceptions about suspense may also be incorrect. "Perhaps," they said in the study, "birthday presents are better when wrapped in cellophane and engagement rings are better when not concealed in chocolate mousse." Perhaps. What do you think? Would you rather not know how it ends? Do you get the rush watching CSI or Law & Order when you figure it out? Or when the characters do? Or in how they cause the guilty culprit to crack & confess? I don’t know… but one point I liked that they said was that great writing & storytelling is what makes you want to watch or read something over & over again.

This past week was also the induction ceremony for the 2011 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame… and boy was it an eclectic mix of players. Artis Gilmore finally made it, along with “Satch” Sanders, “Goose” Tatum of the Harlem Globetrotters, coaches Tara VanDerveer & Ted Magee, & owner Tex Winter among them… but the stars of the class were: Chris Mullin, probably the last of the great white ballplayers to come out of NYC & a legend in these parts from his days with the Golden State Warriors. Arvydas Sabonis, probably the last of the undiscovered European phenomenons. Seriously, this guy was apparently a 7-foot-3 LeBron James in his 20’s but because of communism & being in Lithuania, he didn’t make a splash on basketball’s biggest venues until he was well into his 30’s & still was a force. Lastly though… was Dennis Rodman, probably the last of his kind. Period. From humble beginnings and overcoming lots of adversity, he was a 5-time NBA champion and the epitome of hustle, perseverance, being a dominant defensive force even though he was undersized… and of course everybody will remember his flamboyant antics on & off the court. His acceptance speech though… tear-jerking. All about how others helped him to get where he is & overcoming his demons. I highly recommend that if you’re a fan of sports and/or the human condition, that you check it out. Congratulations gentlemen… and Ms. VanDerveer!!!

On that note, apparently I am an athlete after all. Still trying to get into top shape… but age may be wearing out my feet a bit. That’s about the only part that’s still giving me trouble. Perhaps it’s the constant wear on them everyday… but I just have to be careful out there & stay working out. I’m starting to get ripped like Jesus again. Now if only I had a pretty little thang to show it off to. If you don't hear from me the next few days, don't worry... it's because my family's coming into town on Thursday. Yippee!!! Have a great day everybody!!! Marishka Hargitay!!!

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