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...
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!!!