Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Apartmentversary

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

This weekend is shaping up to be pretty fun. Tomorrow morning, I’m heading to Vacaville with Nurse & some of her friends for some good ol’ fashioned paintball action. Bubbles & I are having brunch on Sunday, then I’ve got a basketball game in the early evening. In between, there’s always different activities that will pop up & I may even start prepping for the big Super Bowl party next weekend. Good times indeed. Oh also, my mom got her PSeye, so she, my brother & I had a nice little family chat over our PS3’s… and even the kids got to see us on the TV. This however caused a problem as it was right after they had been put to bed… but they heard their dad talking to somebody… found out it was us… and then they wanted to stay up, even after a few minutes. Kairi basically had a hissy fit screaming “I WANT TO GIVE THEM HUGS & KISSES, DADDY!” “Baby girl, they’re on the TV, you can’t give them hugs. For the last time, go to bed!” So after we blew her a few kisses, she basically ran up the stairs crying. I think she just hadn’t had a nap or something. She does that. Oh well, they do get to go to grandma’s this weekend too… so I may get to see them again when they’re not so cranky. Ah technology… if only we could hug & kiss it… and not make it feel creepy. Don’t worry, we’re working on it.

Also, today is my 1 year Apartmentversary!!! One year ago today I moved into this happenin’ four-bedroom unit… and I’m the only roommate from that day still here. Not sure what that means… but I’ll take it as they’ve moved on… and three lovely ladies moved in. HOLLA!!! Yet another reason for the big Super Bowl party next weekend!!!

Last night, Nurse & I watched “50/50” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Seth Rogen. The story is about a man in his twenties (Gordon-Levitt) who is diagnosed with cancer and given a 50/50 chance of survival by his doctors… and of course, how he & his family and friends react to news of that magnitude. From what I understand, it’s based on one of Seth Rogen’s best friends who had a similar situation… and of course, making a comedy out of cancer is always tricky… but this movie actually does it pretty good. Seth Rogen plays the best friend who tries to help… while also occasionally using it to his advantage to hook up with chicks at bars as the compassionate caregiver. Angelica Huston plays the mother who is a bit over the top & smothering… but you realize that it’s her baby that has cancer. How would any mother react to that? It’s one of those movies that has it hilarious moments… but it also has points where I actually teared up quite a bit because it reminded me of my Wingman & when he had to go through chemo… and I wasn’t even around for most of the rough stuff. It was a few years back when I had just moved out to Denver & just had to hear about it from afar… and even that sucked balls. Oh well, I highly recommend this movie if you get the chance, just be prepared for a swinging of emotions.

After that, we watched “Real Steel” starring Hugh Jackman. Set in the near future (like 5-6 years from now), Charlie Kenton (Jackman) is a former boxer / deadbeat dad who fights Rock Em Sock Em Robots for a living… sorry, in the near future, instead of men boxing… they have robots do it because they can go all out… and somebody wins as opposed to all the rigged decisions, overly hyped BS (I’m looking at you Mayweather-Pacquaio) & lingering brain injuries that happen in today’s boxing. Okay, so he’s the… I guess trainer / mechanic for these robot boxers… but he’s lost a few fights & generally sucks at life. One day, he gets a call & his ex-girlfriend died… and kazaam, he still has an 11 year old son that he’s never seen cuz he ran away. The kid’s aunt wants to adopt him but the uncle wants to go to Tuscany for a month or so… and Charlie basically sells that month or so for $100,000 saying that he’ll babysit the kid while they go & he can reinvest that money into his robots. Well, the kid’s pretty cool & wants to build that father-son relationship… and the story goes from there. Basically it’s Rock Em Sock Em Robots… meets Rocky, the ultimate underdog boxing movie… with a whole father-son relationship thing that always gets me… sprinkle in the hot chick from “Lost” (Evangaline Lilly) and you’ve got a pretty decent movie. I recommend it. A LOT better than I expected… and here’s some news…

Presidential Grandkids… from JOHN TYLER!!! - This story sounds too impossible to be true… but allegedly, it is. Former U.S. President John Tyler was born in 1790, and he was the 10th president of the United States in 1841. Of course we all know that… and if not, how dare you call yourself an American? Anyway, believe it or not, he actually has TWO LIVING GRANDCHILDREN!!! For a little perspective consider this: When Tyler was born, George Washington was giving his State of the Union address. When Tyler became president, the civil war was still a good 20 years away! But how is this possible? Here's some math for you: Tyler had 15 children, and in 1853 he was 63 when his son Lyon Gardiner Tyler was born. Lyon had six children, with two of them, Harrison Ruffin Tyler and Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., born when he was in his 70s in 1924 and 1928 respectively. Both men, now in their 80s, still live in Virginia. If you think this is unlikely, you are not alone. On Twitter, people are calling this unbelievable and saying it boggles the mind. What’s most remarkable about this… is that not only there being fathers having children in their 70’s… but during times when the average expected life was in the low to mid 40’s… back to back generations… and if Harrison and Lyon jr (I’ll call him LJ) had children in their 70’s, it would be back to back to back (a veritable three-peat of golden year reproduction). Also… the odds that a situation like that involved a former U.S. President, where the chances of that are like one-in-a-billion to begin with. That’s the real math involved with this occurrence. We’re talking basically a one-in-a-trillion shot, maybe more. Those are some tight odds. I wouldn’t place a bet on it. Then again, I’ve got better ways to spend my money…

New Way to Make It Rain - By now, you're probably familiar with the term "flash mob"--strangers simultaneously performing choreographed routines in public places from out of nowhere. I personally did a Where’s Waldo Flashmob Bar Crawl this last Halloween, if you’ll remember. Well, now there's a new trend sweeping the nation - Cash Mob. Similar to flash mobs, cash mobs are organized online through social media, and happen in the same sudden, simultaneous fashion. However, cash mobs are designed to boost local business and they're popping up everywhere from Los Angeles to Norman, Oklahoma. Cleveland attorney Andrew Samtoy created the first cash mob in November, and there are now 36 around the country, with more expected to grow. Here's how it works: A bunch of customers flood a store at one time, grab a bunch of items, pay for them, and leave. Except for those last two steps, we used to call that a snatch & run in high school… er, people I heard about did that… in place near where I lived… by hearsay. Anyway, the cash mobs are not protesting big business chains such as Wal-Mart and Target. Instead their goal is to add a financial boost to the local economy. There's already a cash mob being planned in Brooklyn, N.Y., in a few weeks. Want to start your own cash mob? There are some rules to follow: The event must be announced one week in advance on Facebook or Twitter, the business has to be locally owned, and everyone has to spend at least $20. To find out if there's a cash mob near you, go to Sound like a good idea? I think so. Besides, if you have to get useless stuff, you might as well do it with friends… even if you may have to wait in line for a bit because there are a few dozen people rushing a ma & pa establishment… but you’ll get to meet people while waiting. Not horrible at all. Then people will be passing by & say, “What? What’s in that place that so damn amazing?” Boom! New potential customers. I like it.

Scooby Snacks – Okay, so picture this if you will… a four-year-old U.S. boy who announced to his teacher at school snack time that he wanted to share pulled nine bags of marijuana out of his jacket pocket, police said on Wednesday. Police in Meriden, Connecticut were called to Hanover Elementary School Tuesday afternoon after the young special needs student displayed the drugs, authorities said. Meriden police said the nine individually wrapped bags of marijuana appeared prepared for sale. Hanover Elementary School principal Miguel Cardona called it an "extremely unfortunate" and "isolated" incident that was not witnessed by any other students. "What's so disheartening is this is really an adult issue and problem and adult behavior put a student at risk," Meriden schools superintendent Mark Benigni told Reuters. "This student had no idea what he brought to school or what the substance was," he added. Hmm… the perfect cover… Authorities are not releasing the names of the student or parents and police said there is a possibility for arrests pending the outcome of the investigation. The Department of Children and Families is also looking into the incident. So what do you think? Did the kid get into the parents’ stash? Or did some guy on street hand him the packets and say “Be sure to share with all your friends at school” laughing as he walked away? Seriously… four years old. That’s like my nephew Vinny pulling a dime bag out of his pocket & saying “Wanna get high?” As my boy Kanye would say, “That sh*t cra…”

Anyway, that’ll do it for today. Hope you’re all having a great weekend by the time you read this stuff. First month of 2012 is almost gone already… do you still have your resolutions in place? Still no soda for me… and I’m working out occasionally… and as you heard from last entry, I’m kind of dating… sorta… maybe… at least getting out there & meeting people. So far so good. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is Wayne Brody Gonna Have to Djokovic?

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Funny how the other night I was talking about seeing all those memories in my photo collection… and then later on that night, I find out that my grandma was in the hospital having surgery. She’s okay now but yeah… my mom took it really hard & I didn’t even know until she called me sobbing a bit. Good times there, right? Important thing is that she’s alright & my mom is going to see her today. She may also get a PSeye too, but we shall see. No, literally, we will see… or not.

Last night, I met up with my roommate’s friend Dizzy. See, when I bought myself the Xmas present of a new TV last month, I put my old TV on craigslist to little to no fanfare. Well, she stopped by to say howdy, commented on the TV, and I basically just offered it to her on the spot. The thing was… I was going to be out of town the next week (Christmas in Utah) and then she was going back home to Sacramento for a bit (still haven’t seen my roommate since then but she’s having fun there) so this is when we finally met up for me to allegedly help her with the TV. Turns out she took care of the TV earlier in the day once she figured out how to get it out of the backseat (kind of a big honkin’ TV) and so she was repaying me with dinner. Nice, right? Yeah, pretty good ploy I thought too. So she took me to an East Bay classic called Nations, a pretty good burger joint. I highly recommend it. The bacon was excellently crispy.

So we started chatting and long story short, she ACTUALLY convinced me that visiting Detroit may be kind of cool. How you ask? Well, apparently the whole city isn’t as bad as people think (murder stats will do that) and most of the people even in the bad neighborhoods aren’t in gangs, they’re on welfare & too lazy to really do anything dangerous since everybody else that’s still left is their friend. Of course, cars get stolen & tires get robbed all the time, that’s just a given in former auto capital of the world… but she says basically everybody’s kind of laid back (when not on meth or crack) and downtown has a population of less than a thousand people right now… so you have these giant skyscrapers, opera houses, museum, all that kind of stuff just abandoned. So there’s opportunities to go exploring these massive structures… or possible urban spelunking… but with the vibe of a post-apocalyptic zombie movie come to life. She also confirmed that the RoboCop statue IS also in downtown though there was a lot of debate about whether it should still be there when she moved back to the Bay last year. There are also apparently some great museums with some of the best artwork in the world… because you know, it used to be a thriving metropolis with LOTS of money… and the museums are still owned by the Henry Ford family & used as more like storage facilities that make a few bucks than anything else. Do I plan on going immediately? Of course not… but I may have to do a Midwest Metropolis road trip sometime with Chicago, Cleveland & Detroit as the jewels. We shall see.

Anyway, after burgers we went to Elevation 66 Brewery across the street again and had a pint of vanilla stout while still chatting. We mentioned crazy stories & adventures that we had been on in the city, and some adventures that we have yet to do, and of course she’s already invited to the Super Bowl Party (my roommate & her are best friends from childhood), a horse racing track in Albany, museums that we haven’t checked yet, and oddly enough some crazy thing I found out about earlier that day they’re doing at the San Francisco Zoo during Valentine’s weekend called Woo at the Zoo. Get this. Basically an animal sex expert talks to couples about breeding habits while they have brunch or dinner… sounds like an experience. The list of amenities include: Yin Yang Yippee presentation (intriguing), brunch or dinner buffet for two, two free drinks (more at cost), zoo admission for the day… and a live animal encounter. My God, if there’s interspecies erotica, it’s going to be the shizznit. Oh yeah, 21 years of age & older only… they may say it’s because of the booze… but I’m thinking it’s more beastial than that. Anyway, we talked about stuff like that… so yeah, we’ll probably be hanging out a bit. She lives in El Cerrito across the bay which is about a 45-60 minute drive or about 90 minutes with bus & Bart (probably better during traffic) so we’ll see how it goes. Right now it’s friends… but yeah… you never know. Here’s some news…

National Tragedy in Beer – The King of Beers is making a few changes in the United Kingdom. The company that makes Budweiser, Beck's and Stella Artois brands of beer is lowering its alcohol content in order to save millions in taxes. AB InBev is lowering the alcohol content levels from 5% down to 4.8%. In a report by The Grocer, they say the reduction will only affect sales in the UK. AB InBev says they are making the change to save millions on production costs, which will allow them to avoid a 7.8% price increase that is being imposed by some other beer makers. "Our decision to bring Stella Artois, Budweiser and Beck's to the UK market at 4.8% abv during 2012 is in line with evolving UK category trends," an AB InBev spokeswoman told The Grocer. More from the Grocer: “Industry insiders said some retailers had rejected demands for price increases and producers were cutting abv to offset costs, retain price points and shore up profitability. Some of the major mults have denied price increases for three years, and the brewers' answer is to shift into smaller bottles and move from 5% to 4.8%," said one industry source. It has been estimated that cutting Stella Artois' abv by 0.2% would save AB InBev about £8.6 million (aka a sh*t ton) a year in duty, based on its off-trade sales alone [Nielsen 1 October 2011].” However, it would need to persuade big customers there was something in it for them too, said Tim Wilson, MD of market analysts Wilson Drinks Report, with money being invested back into the brand. The change in alcohol content comes after AB InBev raised prices last year. It was announced today that the company's president, Dave Peacock, would be resigning. Take it how you will… but it’s still better than Utah beer.

Greek Shame Game – Y’all keep up on the economic downfall of Greece, right? Well, here’s the next step in their craziness. A famous singer and a retired basketball star were on a list of 4,000 top tax dodgers released by the Greek government as part of a name-and-shame policy to get evaders to pay up. Tax evasion is endemic in Greece and its international lenders, the EU and the IMF, have insisted Athens improve tax collection if they are to continue bankrolling the debt-laden country. The list released late Sunday includes a host of convicted tax frauds and failed businessmen, a prominent singer, the husband of a former government minister as well as a retired basketball star who was recently released from a two-year jail term for illegally owning an arms cache (hey, kids gotta eat!). Athens has been threatening to publish the list for months and had to change privacy laws to follow through on the threat. It had been kept in a safe in parliament, where lawmakers were allowed to read it without taking notes (what?). Greek authorities have stepped up the prosecution of tax sinners since Lucas Papademos, a technocrat banker, was named prime minister in November with a mandate to push through budget cuts and economic reforms demanded by the country's lenders. Police have already detained a string of businessmen for tax arrears and most of them will face trial over the coming months. Lifting the veil of secrecy that has so far protected tax dodgers will convey a sense of justice to honest taxpayers squeezed by an unprecedented tax onslaught as part of EU/IMF-imposed austerity policies, analysts said. "It will also protect honest people from doing business with unreliable partners," said Dimitris Mardas, an economics professor at the University of Thessaloniki, Greece's second-biggest city, which was rocked by revelations last week that a top local tax official was part of an extortion racket (dun dun duuuuuh…). The 4,000 people featured in the list owed Greece about 15 billion Euros in total (reality check: that’s about four million Euros EACH), but publishing it may be largely symbolic. Much of that money cannot be recovered, Mardas said. "Many just can't pay -- some are even owed money by the government itself," he said. Topping the list with arrears of 952 million Euros is a convicted tax fraud who is already serving a 504-year prison sentence for issuing fake receipts to companies that wanted to lower their tax bill (oddly enough). Greece has about 60 billion Euros ($77.52 billion) in unpaid taxes, a figure equivalent to about a quarter of its economy, according to an EU report published in November. Just 8 billion Euros of that amount can be quickly recovered, the EU said, though even that is a sum big enough to cut the country's budget deficit by half. Well, that’s one way to do it. Put a little public pressure on people to pay their taxes… even if it’s the Top 1%. See? Greece has no problem with class warfare. What’s the big deal? This can ONLY have positive results, right? Ha! Good luck with collecting taxes… maybe you need to consult Sicily with how they settle debts. Coming soon… the Greeks start breaking thumbs.

South African Meteorologist – Ah to be a meteorologist. No, not somebody who studies meteors as the name would obviously imply… but a fancy term for weatherman (or woman). Seriously, if you were a meteorologist in San Diego, it’d have to be the easiest job EVER. “Today, sunny… high in the 80’s… wear sunblock… stay classy!” Done. You could have a stage name like Breezy Jones or Gale Weathers or Sam Maelstrom or something that sounds like some kind of nature-inspired stripper… but when your job is basically guessing what the weather’s going to be… it’s not that way everywhere. Weather forecasts are often unreliable but would you send your local weather forecaster to jail for 10 years? A newly proposed law in South Africa would punish unauthorized weather forecasts with jail time and fines, according to the Mother Nature Network. The law would require state-sanctioning for any weather forecasts issues outside of the government's South African Weather Service (SAWS). More from MNN: As written, the South African Weather Service Amendment Bill would affect not just TV weathermen and online weather sites but also community-based weather services. First offenses would be punished with a fine or up to 5 million rand (about $630,000) or five years in jail. The fines and jail time would be doubled for subsequent offenses. Previously, it was inaccurately reported by several news outlets that meteorologists would be punished for issuing inaccurate forecasts. The proposed law, if put into effect, would affect weather outlets including the SA Weather and Disaster Observation Service (SAWDOS), which relies on weather reports submitted by the public. SAWDOS was recently credited with issuing timely warnings for three storms that may have helped to mitigate property losses and damage. "As the amendment bill now reads, nobody will be able to issue any warning of approaching severe weather," SAWDOS founder Johan said in an interview with the Daily News. "Experience has taught us that to get permission from any institution takes time — that is if you can get hold of the designated person." Yes, bureaucracy may affect your guesstimation of weather patterns in South Africa now. I’m curious how news station will do it on state-sanctioned holidays like Martin Luther King day. WHAT? THEY DON’T HAVE MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY IN SOUTH AFRICA??? APARTHEID IS ALIVE!!! FREE SOUTH AFRICA, YOU DUMB SON OF A BITCH!!! On that note… I present to you… the latest movie list to grace us here between MLK Day & Black History Month…

Denzel Washington Movie List

Medal Winners

Gold – Training Day (2001) – Come on now, it won him the Academy Award! The “true” story about an LAPD detective (Washington) breaking in his new partner (Ethan Hawke) and finding out there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye. A lot of grey area to say the least. Throw in some cameos by Dr Dre, Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray, and (mmm…) introducing Ms. Eva Mendes’ fine ass to the world… yeah, this movie deserves gold for that beautifully bronzed backside. You’ve all seen it, right? Director Antoine Fuqua is still looking to top it too… but next year he’s allegedly doing the Pablo Escobar flick… so keep your eyes & ears open. It could be the sh*t.

Silver – Malcolm X (1992) – The teaming of director Spike Lee & Denzel have brought about some great movies, but probably none better than this biopic of the Black Nationalists leader Malcolm X (not Roman numeral 10). From his beginnings as your average black man in the 50’s, then prison where he converted to Islam & helped lead a revolution, it’s gritty & powerful… as most Spike Lee Movies are. I will warn you… I remember it being a little over three hours… but what can I say? When you’ve lived a life with meaning, you’re biopic is going to run a little long whether you’re Malcolm X, Gandhi, Ben Hur or whoever. We should all hope to have a three hour-plus movie made about us… or better yet, a mini-series.

Bronze – He Got Game (1998) – I’m honestly surprised that I didn’t put this Spike Lee joint higher… as it’s basically the story of my LIFE!!! Okay, maybe not so much… but still, the movie was basically made for me. There’s a Coney Island high school basketball playing phenom Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) who is weighing his decisions on where to go to college… or to just go pro. Well, the governor has released his father Jake (Denzel) from prison on a parole of sorts… to convince his son to go to his alum, Big State. If he succeeds, then maybe the governor pardons him a little early for the convicted murder or his wife (Jesus’ mom). If not, then he might spend the rest of his life in prison. Throw in some cameos from Rosario Dawson, Ned Beatty, Jim Brown, John Turturro, a slough of basketball stars & my baby mama Milla Jovovich as a prostitute… and you’ve got a classic. Some other great movies that didn’t make my top 3 are “American Gangster” (2007) with him & Russell Crowe in another biopic, a surprisingly good Spike Lee bank robbing joint “Inside Man” (2006) & even the New Orleans-based Tony Scott action flick “Déjà Vu” (2006) gets a shout-out. Watch ‘em all.

Suggestion – Virtuosity (1995) – I’m surprised with how many people know about this movie, but it’s a mid-90’s futuristic movie bringing together two guys who five years later would be consecutive Best Actor award winners (Denzel & Russell Crowe). A former cop-turned-convicted murderer (Denzel) is brought back onto the force to save the city & perhaps the world from the ultimate serial killer / mass murderer program… downloaded into a self-regenerating body named Sid 6.7 (Crowe). Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that it sounds REAL cheesy… but it’s actually a pretty good flick. Check it out… then judge me. I’m also a big fan of “The Bone Collector” (1997) but that’s mostly because of the interesting premise of a bedridden detective… and I get to look at Angelina Jolie for most of the movie. NOW judge me.

Flush It – The Hurricane (1999) – Okay, I have to explain this Flush It. Denzel has just been in so many good movies that really none of them have sucked. I’ll throw that out right now. This one gets the flush more for the experience when I watched it. I was in high school & we went to the “dollar theatre” (back when it was really only $2.50) and the movies there always were what you paid for. I remember watching “Sleepy Hollow” there & they didn’t realize that the movie was upside down & out of focus for about ten minutes. This one… I don’t know if they forgot to put the letterbox borders on or something… but you could see the microphones throughout most of the movie. Every time that Denzel would be giving a moving monologue about his character’s past (another biopic) I would be more concerned for him standing up too quickly and hitting his head on the mic. So with that, it was hard to concentrate… but hey, it was still a pretty good drama.

Future Watch – Safe House (2012) – I’m a huge fan of Denzel being a badass… so with him being a criminal mastermind or whatever, going against Ryan Reynolds… I’m all for it. I don’t even care what the premise is… kind of like when I was excited for “Book of Eli” because I knew it was post-Apocalyptic Denzel with a machete going against Gary Oldman… and then they threw in the religion thing. My bad, it was kind of in the name… but still. This too could be a pretty good flick… but we will see. As for future fantasy projects… what I’d really like to see… is Denzel doing a comedy. Is it just me? He obviously doesn’t have to lead it or anything… but something like how Robert DeNiro does comedies like “Analyse This” & “Meet the Parents.” He can let his intensity & deadpan delivery be his angle. I’m just saying… make it happen, Hollywood!

Well, that will do it for tonight. Good times in the life of $teve… only five weeks until Disneyland with the family so I’m really excited about that. Again, you say the pictures last time (if not, pan down) so I’m looking forward to dressing those kids in ridiculous stuff and having blackmail material for decades to come. Have a great day everybody!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Nobody Pays Me in Gum

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

This weekend was a’ight. First & foremost, Bubbles had a great weekend in Tahoe & she and Gretchen are back home safe & sound. It was basically a blizzard but still a great time. It rained here in San Francisco for the majority of the weekend with only a few glimpses of sunshine to remind you what you were missing. Football games were pretty damn good. Unfortunately, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff & 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams can probably never show their faces in public again… but hey, sh*t happens. By the way, they’ll probably soon be FORMER Ravens kicker & 49ers punt returner before the end of the week. So yeah, four years later, it’s Patriots & Giants in the Super Bowl again. I’m sure it’ll be a great game… and the roommates & I are going to host a nice little party for the Game… so yeah, we’ll make the most of it.

Also this weekend, I got my new laptop and transferred over most of my pictures & music to it… as well as my PS3. The best thing about doing that… is it gave me an excuse to go through the pictures a little bit. A lot of them you’ve probably seen on this blog over the past almost five years now that I’ve been doing this. However, some of them I hadn’t even seen in a long time. I went through some of the pictures of me & my brother as a kid… and saw a few with my grandparents & great-grandparents that passed away. Pictures of my mom & dad in their 20’s with two kids. Also, I’m just going to say it… I don’t know if it was the fashion back in the day… but I was in some pretty ridiculous clothes as a kid. Mom, I blame you. Also, ever wonder what I might look like with a creepy ass moustache & aviator sunglasses? Well, all you have to do is look at old pictures of my dad. I think I found my Halloween outfit next year. Here are a few treats on that front…

Me & my baby bro

The family...

I wasn't joking about my dad, right?

Uncle Chuck, Grandma Love, my bro & me

Rockin' the powder blue suit & Dorothy Hamill hair

This one I... I just don't know what to say...

Only five weeks to Disneyland...

and note that I'm 6 & already as tall as Donald Duck

Then there were the awkward teen years… so gangly… total Coke bottle bottom glasses… we’ll just skip over those. Then the early traveling years of my early 20’s… so gangly… total Coke bottle bottom glasses… but I was seeing the world, so hella happy in all the pictures… and yeah, I was for the most part outside of the photo frames too. After that was my trip to China & Lasik surgery, so then the pictures become a LOT more of my friends & I hanging out… and a lot better quality thanks to my new camera back when I started this thing… and then a lot of Kairi & Vinny as little babies & watching how they’ve grown over the past few years (and a little sad that I haven’t seen Kelaudri in a few years, but I’m sure she’s doing good). A few of the past apartments like my sh*t shack in Murray, the 34th floor penthouse in Denver, downtown in SLC, the Tahoe habitat, etc. Just kind of going through the memories. Yeah, pretty cool. I enjoyed it. I suggest you guys do the same… but beware, your heart strings might be tugged at a little bit. Anyway, enough of that… here’s some news…

PIS3 – I’ve been saying it for years that the best way to make a guy improve his aim in the bathroom is to give him an incentive. A few years ago, I got some viral email where they put a fake fly sticker on a porcelain urinal & it apparently helped guys to focus their effort… as opposed to just letting it fly or something, like I guess some guys do. Now, the next step. Three years ago the "Toylet" was just a pipe-dream for developers at Japanese video game maker Sega, but now the urinal video game has been rolled out at pubs across the nation. Users target their urine at a sensor inside the toilet which measures volume and speed, with software then matching that to progress in a selection of five video games in a console mounted at the top of the urinal. "At first, we thought it would really be only young people who would like this kind of game. But ... we're seeing this phenomenon where people are enjoying playing with it, regardless of age," said Hirotaka Machida, the console's lead producer. At 150,000 yen (about $1600) for a single unit, Machida said the original plan had been to avoid the mass market, but tests in pubs and restaurants showed it had broad appeal. An infra-red device cuts off play if gamers stray too far from the urinal, reducing the amount of mess, according to Sega, making it a hit with pub managers as well. Toilet humor and raunchy gags are a staple of far from high-brow variety shows in Japan where Toylets were rolled out on general release. Sega now has its sights on a global expansion plan later in the year. So speak to your local bartender… and get them on this tip. Sega is making a comeback yall… and it’s in the bathroom. Sonic the Hedgehog won’t know what hit him…

Apocalypse Update – An Australian family's dog is being called a hero after it rescued two young girls from a snake attack. 18-month-old River spotted a two-foot-long brown snake hiding under a children's swing just as 7-year-old Michelle Lynch and 2-year-old Kaylee were headed its way. The brown snake is considered the second-most deadly land snake, whose venom is strong enough to easily kill an adult human. "Michelle loves River, and River loves Michelle. Kaylee thinks that River is a fantastic toy," said Ben Lynch. The snake reared its head at the two girls, ready to attack, when River jumped to their defense. "River came bursting out and jumped on the snake," Michelle Lynch said of her rescuer. Unfortunately, River was bitten in the attack and began to suffer from paralysis a few hours later. The Lynch family took River to the vet, where he is receiving anti-venom and is expected to make a full recovery. "They're a pack animal and we're their pack so it's definitely their instinct to get in there, especially when kids are involved," said Catherine Lynch. "She's a very sweet, friendly dog. She's very much part of our family." Good boy, River! Good boy! May you have a speedy recovery. I know you are all skeptical out there of my serpent apocalypse… but now you’re starting to see that it makes sense, right? They’re attacking our youth! “Oh $teve, it’s just an isolated incident. They’re not trying to take out our offspring. I don’t care how many times you’ve mentioned these isolated incidences.” Oh really? This time the dog came to the rescue… let’s look at another isolated incident where they don’t have domesticated canines to protect them…

A-Crocalypse Update: Sh*t is Real!!! - A wild crocodile swallowed a 10-year-old girl while she played in a river (hmm, wasn’t that the dog’s name from the last story?) with her father in eastern Indonesia, the second death in the same place in two months, a local official said Friday. The girl was swimming in Wailolong river on Thursday when the large crocodile suddenly appeared, swallowed her instantly and disappeared into the water, said Viktor Mado Waton, Lembata district head in East Nusa Tenggara province. "They only found the girl's clothes three hours after the incident, some 200 meters away from the attack site," he said, adding that her family members were still trying to find the body. "Her father saw this shocking scene as he was only five meters away in the water." He said the father and the girl's teenage brother were hunting turtles in the river while she was playing. A 12-year-old boy was killed and eaten by a crocodile in the same river in early December when he was playing with his friends. The district head said he has warned locals of the danger and he will work with police to shut the area off to prevent another incident. A truly tragic story… but in an environment where numbers are high & food supply is scarce, animals will get VERY aggressive in order to survive. That’s scientific fact. Say what you will about my conspiracy theories of reptiles forming an evil legion of Doom or something… but I’m just saying that it’s a real issue. My condolences to the little girl’s family. Be safe out there!

Anyway, how’s that for some uplifting news? Tune in next time when I talk about crazy things going on in other countries… and perhaps even a brand new movie list. What? Can it be so? Absolutely! Courtesy of C-Real who started up the idea… thanks for joining the ever expanding universe of the Eclectic Eccentric. Have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

I Can See It In Your Eyes

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Well, it has started raining… and apparently won’t stop through the weekend so that’s cool. We need the water & the mountains need the snow. Freaky stuff up in Washington state apparently with snow double what their previous record was. That’s crazy! Still nothing compared to the other places I’ve lived but they’re not prepared for it… so be safe out there Washingtonians. Aside from that, I’ll enjoy the rainy weather by watching some football divisional championships on Sunday, maybe do some cleaning & cooking, and on Saturday I may be delivering my old TV to my roommate’s friend in El Cerrito. She’s promised me food for my troubles… so how can I say no to that? Also, I convinced my mom to get a PSeye so that we can chat over the PS3… which means that I’ll get to see my niece & nephew (or rather a grainy representation of them) and that’s pretty cool. Technology nowadays is pretty amazing… and only getting more so every day.

Gretchen is going on a trip to Tahoe this weekend. No, I won’t be going with her. Allow me to explain. Y’all know Bubbles, right? One of my best friends for many years now? Well, this time of year is a rough patch for her… as well as she’s had a rough few months recently… and she has a surgery coming up pretty quick… so she could use a vacation. Her family’s in town (brother’s birthday) and they were looking to go to Lake Tahoe for a little ski & spa weekend… but since the NFC Championship is going to be here, rental cars are RIDICULOUSLY priced. She’s a little strapped for cash… so she was going to call the whole thing off… and she really needs it. So… being the ultimate badass that I am… I offered Gretchen’s services… for several reasons:

1) She really needed this vacation & I didn’t want her to have to give up a spa weekend in Tahoe
2) I’d rather have her in a safe Jeep fully loaded, prepared & experienced for Tahoe weather since it’ll probably be snowing all weekend, than in a broken down rental car anyway
3) It saves her enough money to really enjoy herself & I know she’ll be paying for her family too
4) I wasn’t planning on going anywhere this weekend anyway except maybe to El Cerrito to help with the TV, but I can take a bus there & it only takes an extra 15 minutes or so each way & I don’t have to drive
5) I can trust her & I know she’s good for it
6) Karma comes back around
7) Did I mention that I’m the ultimate badass? Cuz I feel like that’s pretty important when I’m entrusting my most financially valuable possession to a friend.

I’m sure she’ll have a great time up in Tahoe & say hello to some of my peeps who may remember her from the Anniversary Party last December. Meanwhile I’ll be chillaxing, resting up my knee that’s still a little sore from basketball last weekend (and walking 2-3 miles a day on slick uneven terrain doesn’t help much), do another good deed by donating my old TV to someone in need across the bay, maybe enjoy a museum or something along the way back through downtown, watching some great football games & hopefully play a basketball game Sunday night. Also, maybe get to see my mom, niece & nephew via PS3. Sounds like a pretty great weekend to me… though I’ll admit, Tahoe may be more fun. Oh well… next time.

Also, pretty big news on the engagement front. No, not for me… at least directly. Remember in November when we went to Vegas for Jackie D’s 25th birthday extravaganza? Well, the couple that we went with… are now engaged. Congratulations to them first & foremost… but there’s more. They live in Philadelphia… but want to get married… in Vegas. Not only that… but they want to get married in Vegas… in the Cosmopolitan hotel that we were staying at… in one of the bars… on Doomsday, December 21st, 2012. Granted this is if the snakes haven’t completely taken over by then (more on that later) but… I can’t help but feel pretty much responsible for this. Like… a LOT. According to Jackie D, I was even mentioned by name ($tev-OOOOH!!!) when she was told about it. So what does that mean? Well, I’m more than likely going to be invited to the wedding… and I may even have to make a speech (excuse me, SPREECH!!!) during the ceremony at some point. The only concern… is that Friday, December 21st date means that I might have to make a combination Las Vegas / Christmas in Utah trip. That may require some of the family parties to tone it down as Uncle $teve tries to recuperate. Anyway, that’s a long ways down the line… so again, congratulations to them, and here’s the news…

Tebow IS Mortal – After being shellacked by the Patriots on Sunday, it appears Tim Tebow actually needed more R&R than anyone thought. The Broncos quarterback played through rib, lung and chest injuries he sustained in Denver’s 45-10 loss at New England in the AFC divisional playoffs last weekend. He won’t need surgery, is expected to make a full recovery with some down time and his offseason training program shouldn’t be affected in any way. ESPN first reported Wednesday that Tebow got hurt on a third-quarter tackle, then had trouble sleeping because of the pain and underwent an MRI on his chest Monday. Team spokesman Patrick Smyth said that while he couldn’t confirm the exact extent or nature of the injuries due to team policy, he acknowledged that Tebow finished the game in considerable pain. Backup Brady Quinn quickly got ready to go into the game after Tebow was hit by Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich, but Tebow stayed in and finished up. “It’s just the physicality of playing football. Sometimes you get hit and it can hurt a little bit. But, I wanted to play a lot of the game,” Tebow said after the game. The outcome had long been decided by the time Tebow got hurt. “I just wanted to show character. You just continue to fight and it doesn’t change who you are, how you play, how you go out there, you should be the same at all times. That’s what I wanted to show, it didn’t matter if it was the first play or the last play or you were down by 42. I was going to be the same player and I was still going to give everything I have. Because that’s all I have to give.” Tebow wasn’t in the locker room during a one-hour media window on Sunday, emerging with a smile from the trainer’s room as reporters were filing out as the players streamed to their end-of-season meeting with coach John Fox. On Monday, Broncos boss John Elway declared Tebow the incumbent starting QB entering training camp next summer and reiterated his plan to work with him during the offseason to help polish his passing game. Tebow went 8-5 as the Broncos starter after supplanting Kyle Orton following a 1-4 start. He engineered a six-game winning streak that included four straight fourth-quarter comebacks that sent Tebowmania into full pitch. He faded at the end, losing his last three starts, including one to the Kansas City Chiefs and Orton, but the Broncos backed into the playoffs nevertheless at 8-8 as champions of the middling AFC West. Tebow had the best game of his pro career in the wild card round, when he averaged 31.6 yards per completion, the best in the NFL in 40 years, and threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime for a 29-23 win over heavily favored Pittsburgh and the league’s No. 1 defense. That was Denver’s first playoff game in six seasons. Tebow, who didn’t get the first-team snaps during training camp or for the first month of the season, realizes he has a long way to go himself. “Just work and improve, fundamentals, understanding defenses, footwork, everything,” he said. Some say the injury was only a matter of time as Tebow’s style of play this year with the read option is very rare because the NFL usually protects their quarterbacks like China dolls 100% of the time… but Tebow noted that he actually takes glancing blows, if any, from smaller defenders while on the run, making him less vulnerable than when he stays in the pocket and might get sandwiched by 300-pound linemen… but for any team to win, you need balance in your running & passing offense. “We’re always looking for balance,” Elway said. “Balance is what we won Super Bowls with.” Elway and Tebow are eager to see what a difference an offseason can make— they didn’t have that luxury last year during the NFL lockout. As Tebow put it, “I feel like I’ve improved a lot in a lot of different forms of my game. And I continue to improve and continue to get a lot better, and I believe I can, and I’m looking forward to putting in work.” Best of luck, Mr. Tebow… and I hope that you feel better soon too. It’s gonna be a lot of work… especially since the team kind of sabotaged your chances by trading away your best receiver the week you became starter & didn’t really have a lot of weapons on offense to begin with. Oh well… still, best of luck in getting the tools you need to succeed. You’ve got the right attitude.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar Update – Okay, since I was a little boy about 7-8 years old, there were two players that I really respected both as players & men. I know that most of you probably think it’s a tandem like Michael Jordan & Magic Johnson or something like that… and they get mad respect… but not them. First & foremost was David Robinson, a Hall of Fame center who had just started with the San Antonio Spurs after being drafted two years earlier… but fulfilling his commitment to the Navy. He also played piano, saxophone & had several charitable organizations that he worked with… and could also play some serious ball. Did you know he scored over 70 points in a game once? MJ didn’t do that. Anyway, he was one… and the other was a man whom I had just read an autobiography about in my spare time at school (while I was waiting for others to learn math that I had been doing for years). It was about a kid named Lewis Ferdinand Alcindor, jr growing up in Brooklyn. He was pretty gangly & incredibly tall… and pretty much made to play basketball as he was nearly seven feet tall by the time he got to high school in the early 60’s during the Civil Rights Movement. He not only became a great athlete but also focused on expanding his mind & abilities beyond basketball, learned from the legendary coach John Wooden at UCLA (while losing like twice in his four years there), was the #1 pick of the 1969 NBA Draft, in a career spanning twenty years, he’s won six championships, six MVP awards, is the league’s all-time leading scorer, rebounder & probably shot blocker except they didn’t keep the stats until he was well into his career… and beyond that he’s written several books, helped countless young stars balance their careers & personal lives as an assistant coach, starred in a movies with the likes of Bruce Lee, Leslie Nielsen & the creators of South Park… oh and somewhere in there he changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Well now, another giant milestone…

The NBA's all-time scoring leader is now a global cultural ambassador. The State Department announced Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's appointment Wednesday. Ann Stock, assistant secretary of state for education and cultural affairs, says Abdul-Jabbar will travel the world to engage a generation of young people to help promote diplomacy. Stock says the appointment is part of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's vision of "Smart Power" that combines diplomacy, defense and development to "bridge the gap in a tense world through young people." Abdul-Jabbar will travel to Brazil on January 22nd for a number of events centering on education, using his own experiences to help connect with young people. Not bad for a lanky kid from Brooklyn, huh? Yet another example of how education, hard work & a little bit of God-given ability can go a long way. Congratulations Kareem!

Apocalypse Update – It has finally happened… Big Brother has found my blog & the US Government is actually heading my advice. God help us all. Tuesday, the United States announced a ban on Burmese pythons, after years of unsuccessful efforts to eradicate the giant snakes from the Everglades National Park in Florida. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has championed the ban, said it would take effect within about 60 days and make it illegal to import the snakes or transport them across state lines. A bit extreme you may be saying? Keep reading. Salazar announced the measure at a news conference at a flood control pumping station in a corner of the Everglades just outside Miami, where he was joined by Florida Senator Ben Nelson and two senior park and Florida Wildlife Commission officials as they held aloft a recently captured 13-foot python. Too extreme now? "The action we’re taking today is a milestone in the protection of the Everglades," Salazar said. Biologists say most pythons in the Everglades are thought to have been released there by their owners once they realized that the "pets" can grow from just a foot to 12 feet long within their first two years of life. So instead of stray domesticated cats & dogs… you’ve got giant irate constrictors prowling your neighborhood. In addition to the Burmese python, which has become one of the most notorious invasive species in U.S. history, the ban affects the yellow anaconda and northern and southern African pythons.

That’s not all you have to worry about as other invasive species in subtropical parts of Florida include dragon-like Nile Monitor lizards and raccoon-sized African rats. That’s right… rodents of an unusual size… combined with apparently fire-breathing, dragon-like lizards have turned the Everglades into a veritable Fire Swamp not unlike “The Princess Bride.” However of all of these invaders, Burmese pythons, which are native to southeast Asia, have become the stuff of legend in the Everglades since they were first sighted in the wildlife haven in the mid-1970s. With their razor-sharp teeth, they have been known to eat practically anything that moves in the park, from small mammals to large wading birds. Last year, a 15.7-foot Burmese was found with a huge bulge from a recently consumed 76-pound deer. Compounding eradication problems, however, the bone-crushing snakes have also bred in the wild in the savanna and steamy swamps of the Everglades. One of the creatures was aggressive enough to try devouring a 6-foot alligator in the park in 2005. The alligator was believed to have been dead already and the snake also died trying to digest it… but that’s not the point. I think the next stop is military action. Sure, they’re using our precious national parks as a hostage in this case so that we can’t completely eradicate the whole area… but I’m sure the military is already coordinating a major tactical movement against this invaders… you know, once they settle all that stuff in other countries. We may just have to grab our machetes & go into the glades ourselves to settle this once & for all. Sure, they have the home field advantage… and their ability to reproduce their numbers gives them an advantage… but I’m sure once they see our camouflage becomes the skins of their fallen comrades, we will strike fear deep into their bile-pumping black hearts & other species will think twice before forming an allegiance with these Burmese bastards. Who will lead us into this battle? I can think of only one man who’s perfectly equipped for the job…

(You’re welcome for the premise of your next movie, Robert Rodriguez…)

G Spot Update – That’s right ladies… read carefully. We about to talk about… the G Spot… and no, not the club on Columbus. Many women swear they have one, but a new review of 60 years of sex research shows science still can't definitively find the G-spot (though they’ve tried many black holes). Researchers have used surveys, imaging scans and biopsies of women, all trying to locate and define the presumably orgasmic area on the vaginal wall known as the G-spot. Based on a review of 96 published studies, an Israeli and American research team came to one conclusion. "Without a doubt, a discreet anatomic entity called the G-spot does not exist," said Dr. Amichai Kilchevsky, a urology resident at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, and lead author of the review, published Jan. 12 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (call now for subscriptions). Kilchevsky conceded the work is not "1,000 percent conclusive," allowing that other scientists could one day find something his team missed. But they would need new technology to do it, he said. Fun fact: The G-spot was named in honor of the late Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg, who in 1950 described a particularly sensitive 1- to 2-centimeter wide area on the vaginal wall. How’s that for a legacy? Having the G-spot named after you? Gräfenberg's description put Western medicine on a quest to define and learn more about the spot, purported to be a few centimeters in from the vaginal opening, on the vaginal wall toward the front of a woman's body. But Gräfenberg wasn't the first to write about such an erogenous zone. The Kamasastra and Jayamangala scripts dating back to 11th century India describe a similar sensitive area, according to the new study. Modern surveys of women on the subject only confounded the search. From a review of 29 surveys and observational studies, Kilchevsky concluded that a majority of women believe a G-spot actually exists, although some of those women also say they can't locate it. Other researchers have looked for physical evidence. Biopsies of tissue taken from the vaginal wall often find more nerve endings in the area of the purported G-spot than in other regions of the vaginal wall. But Kilchevsky and his colleagues also found biopsy studies with inconclusive results, and the authors point out that sensitivity in the human body isn't determined by the number of nerve endings alone. One 2008 study used ultrasound imaging to explore the vaginal wall of women, and found evidence of thicker tissue in the area of the G-spot among women who reported having vaginal orgasms. Women who said they had never had vaginal orgasms had thinner tissue in that area. However, other imaging studies included in Kilchevsky's review couldn't find a conclusive G-spot. Ultimately, Kilchevsky said he hopes his conclusions support women who worry they can't find the G-spot at home. "Women who can't achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration don't have anything wrong with them," he said. Kilchevsky doesn't think women who claim to have a G-spot are crazy either. "What they're likely experiencing is a continuation of the clitoris," he said. G-spot skeptics often point out that the tissue of the clitoris extends into the body, behind it where the G-spot would be located. One study in the review kept "the possibility of a discrete G-spot viable," according to Kilchevsky. A Rutgers University research team recently asked several women to stimulate themselves in a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) machine (you know, I need to be a researcher in these f**king experiments). Brain scans showed stimulating the clitoris, vagina and cervix lit up distinct areas of the women's sensory cortex. This means the brain registered distinct feelings between stimulating the clitoris, the cervix and the vaginal wall – where the G-spot is famed to be. Barry Komisaruk, the lead author of the fMRI study and professor of psychology at Rutgers University, advocates calling it the G-area, or G-region, instead. Why not G-zone? G-plaza? G-park? G-district? Or G-G-G-G UNIT? I’ve got more… "I think that the bulk of the evidence shows that the G-spot is not a particular thing. It's not like saying, 'What is the thyroid gland?'" Komisaruk said. "The G-spot is more of a thing like New York City is a thing. It's a region, it's a convergence of many different structures." Komisaruk said that pressing on the area proclaimed to be the G-spot also presses the urethra and a structure called Skene's gland, which is analogous to the male prostate. "Each of those areas have different nerve sites," said Komisaruk. "I think there's good enough data that a lot of women feel that that is a particularly sensitive region." Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University and author of "Great in Bed" (DK Publishing, 2011), pointed out that ambiguity is nothing new in sexual research. "I'm not sure why some people get caught up in this desire to find this anatomic thing that is the end all be all," Herbenick said. I agree… trying to find it in different ways is half the fun anyway… the other half is finding it. Findings from the well-known Australian researcher Dr. Helen O'Connell show the vagina, clitoris and urethra may act as "clitoral complex," during sex, Herbenick said. Any time one of these parts is moved or stimulated, it moves and stimulates the others. "We don't even have orgasm all figured out yet, I don't why we would expect to have the G-spot figured out," Herbenick said. Here here!!! So ladies… now is the time for us to stand united. I know that together we can find out the mysteries of your last frontier & show the world that your G-spot does in fact exist. I’m accepting applications for a study at no cost to you and the benefits… let’s just say they’re priceless. You’re welcome.

Lionel Richie “Hello” Remix – Since I’ve been talking about the end of the world & the extinction of the G-spot, I just thought I’d end this entry with a little bit of bright side before we prepare for battle. Please enjoy this video combining the legendary love ballad “Hello” with a dozen or so movies… Have a great weekend everybody!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sexy Sexy Science

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Great football this weekend!!! Seriously, the Saints – 49ers game was definitely one for the ages. The home team is now one win away from the Super Bowl… with the bastard NY Giants standing in the way. GO NINERS!!! The Tebow magic has died down momentarily with a humbling loss to the Patriots… but they’ve already announced that he’s pegged as the starter for next year so that’s a good start. Hopefully over the offseason he can become a more pure quarterback… but with undeniable heart & athleticism. Remember, Tom Brady wasn’t always Tom Brady… but he worked hard and it came to be. If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past few years… it’s to never doubt Tebow!!! Thank you & God bless…

Saturday, I searched for a suitable laptop as my current laptop is about a decade old & on its last leg… or whatever the equivalent would be for a laptop. It’s been frustrating me… and so I ordered a new one (costs $200 less online as opposed to directly with my local Best Buy so… yeah, I can wait a week). While I was at Best Buy though, they had a special on pre-owned PS3 games… so basically I walked out of there with four “old” games (Duke Nukkem Forever, Infamous, Dead Rising 2 & NHL 2011) for about $30, which is awesome. I’ll let you know if they’re any good. Oh, I also upgraded my PS3 from a 60GB hard drive to a 500GB drive, so I can start using its full capabilities (music, video, etc) instead of just a few demos downloaded of the Playstation Store. So yeah, Saturday was upgrading my technology… until football started.

Sunday was the start of another basketball season & we played a pretty good game. I wasn’t my best at all… missed a lot of easy shots & free throws… but that kind of happens when I’m matched up against a guy better suited for left tackle & loved taking good, firm cheap shots whenever he could. Seriously, guy had a hundred pounds on me… but I still destroyed him game-wise. I can’t guard everybody though… and like I said I was missing shots when/if they were getting me the ball, but I still had about a dozen points which wasn’t too bad considering the rib shots, getting my knee whacked good & a chop to the throat that all still kind of ache a day or so later. We ended up losing by four points… but we really should’ve dominated. I’m a little disappointed in myself… but hey, next game. Can’t change the last one. We’re still not really playing as a team much… but the only time we see each other is at the games so, no real plan of attack other than whatever comes to mind during the game… and everybody wants to take shots but not do the dirty work.

Monday, I found out that I could do a chat with my brother on his PS3… using my webcam for my laptop & a Bluetooth from a game that he bought me last year called “Warhawk” so that’s okay. Got to see him & C-Rock in a grainy ass way. Why do I mention this? Because my mom has a PS3 as well… and so now once in a while, she can probably do the same thing… and when the niece & nephew visit on weekends, they get to see their Uncle $teve on the TV when they talk to him (and the connection will actually be quite a bit better than my cell phone). That’s awesome to me, so I thought I’d share it with you. You’re welcome! Anybody else who wants to get in on this PS3 chat tip, drop me a friend request at SJK69. That’s right, that’s my ID, deal with it. You know you love it.

Tuesday morning, I did my taxes bright & early because… well, they’re really simple… you know, finally having one job in one state for an entire year will do that… and basically, my return was nearly double what it was last year living in Tahoe. Why? Well obviously I was getting paid a lot more as well as I didn’t go on unemployment for 3 weeks. There were also a few moving expenses deductions in there so yeah, good times. Moving out here to San Francisco has been a fairly good financial situation for me thus far. On top of the taxes, I’ve been ballin’ out of control with several vacations & road trips, but with all the money I’m saving on stuff like gas, I’m able to save a few hundred bucks a month. It would be even better if I could avoid parking tickets, ordering $30 pizzas, extravagant mixology experiments when I’m already buzzed, and other stuff like that… but it’s all part of the experience. I’m really happy here… but yeah, it does get a little lonely… but hey, only one way to change that… and I’m working on it. I’m a charming & good looking guy, I just need to get out there & do something with it. That’s all. Anyway, enough about that, here’s the news…

Jay-Z / Beyonce Update - A newly discovered horse fly in Australia was so "bootylicious" with its golden-haired bum, there was only one name worthy of its beauty: Beyonce. Previously published results from Bryan Lessard, a 24-year-old researcher at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, were recently announced on the species that had been sitting in a fly collection since it was captured in 1981 — the same year pop diva Beyonce was born (and yours truly). He says he wanted to pay respect to the insect's beauty by naming it Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae. Lessard said Beyonce would be "in the nature history books forever" and that the fly now bearing her name is "pretty bootylicious" with its golden backside. "Bootylicious" was the title of a song by Beyonce's previous group, Destiny's Child. It's unknown if the rare species is a bloodsucker like many female horse flies (and other species, I said it!!!). Lessard says he was unable to find any live specimens when he went looking in 2010 in northeast Queensland's Atherton Tablelands, where it was captured three decades ago. However, at least one member of the public has alerted him that he was recently bitten by what's locally called the "gold bum fly." The description of the fly was earlier published in the Australian Journal of Entomology, but the results were announced last week. Lessard says he hasn't heard from Beyonce, who recently gave birth to her first child, but he is a fan and hopes she will take his scientific gesture as a compliment… and maybe say heeeeey? He also said the name was picked to help draw attention to the importance of his field and the need for more researchers to catalog and study insects. Horse flies are "vital pollinators of native plants, not just in Australia, but all over the world. It's extremely important to name all the undescribed species so we can measure our human impact on the environment and hopefully protect it for future generations to enjoy." See? Some nice marketing for scientists out there… even the ones that study bugs, which granted isn’t even the sexiest job in the scientist community (been a while since a sexbot update). However, it is vital important as they say. I know here in California its of major importance with regards to bee populations helping all our fruits, vegetables & nuts to grow so that we can feed the world. Keep up the good work… and I hope Beyonce hollas back… otherwise, I’d rename it to “Bug-a-boo”!!! (PS Also a Destiny’s Child song, just so you catch the joke)

Barbie Update - Iran's morality police are cracking down on the sale of Barbie dolls to protect the public from what they see as pernicious western culture eroding Islamic values, shopkeepers said on Monday. As the West imposes the toughest ever sanctions on Iran and tensions rise over its nuclear program, inside the country the Barbie ban is part of what the government calls a "soft war" against decadent cultural influences. "About three weeks ago they (the morality police) came to our shop, asking us to remove all the Barbies," said a shopkeeper in a toy shop in northern Tehran. Iran's religious rulers first declared Barbie, made by U.S. company Mattel Inc, un-Islamic in 1996, citing its "destructive cultural and social consequences." Despite the ban, the doll has until recently been openly on sale in Tehran shops. The new order, issued around three weeks ago, forced shopkeepers to hide the leggy, busty blonde behind other toys as a way of meeting popular demand for the dolls while avoiding being closed down by the police. Yes, this is the same Iran that’s trying to be a nuclear power. I’m thinking that it’ll eventually work itself into black market Barbie sells. A range of officially approved dolls launched in 2002 to counter demand for Barbie have not proven successful, merchants told Reuters. The dolls named Sara, a female, and Dara, a male (really?) arrived in shops wearing a variety of traditional dress, with Sara fully respecting the rule that all women in Iran must obey in public, of covering their hair and wearing loose-fitting clothes. How have the consumers spoken? "My daughter prefers Barbies. She says Sara and Dara are ugly and fat," said Farnaz, a 38-year-old mother, adding that she could not find Barbie cartoon DVDs as she was told they were also banned from public sale. Pointing to a doll covered in black long veil, a 40-year-old Tehran toy shop manager said: "We still sell Barbies but secretly and put these in the window to make the police think we are just selling these kinds of dolls." See? You have to go to bodegas to get your blonde fix… and sex sells, baby! Yes, even in the doll game. Iran has fought a running battle to purge pervasive western culture from the country since its Islamic revolution overthrew a western-backed king in 1979, enforcing Islamic dress codes, banning Western music and foreign satellite television. As another swipe at the West, Iranians will soon be able to buy toy versions of the U.S. spy drone that it captured in December, Iranian media reported. Models of the bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel - which Iran's military displayed on TV after it was downed near the Afghan border - will be mass produced in a variety of colors, reports said. Eh… we’ve got plenty of the real thing & are always improving on them. Enjoy your toys… and our Barbies.

Laser Clark Gable – Well, it’s been a while since THE Clark Gable has made some news… so now it’s up to his progeny… even if it’s a little on the crazy side. Clark Gable's 23-year-old grandson has been sentenced to 10 days in jail for pointing a green laser at a Los Angeles police helicopter as it flew 800 feet over Hollywood. City News Service says the judge, who gave Clark James Gable credit for one day already served in jail, also placed him on three years' probation. He was sentenced Thursday. Gable pleaded guilty last month to felony discharge of a laser. He flashed the laser three times at the helicopter while riding as a passenger in a car on July 28. Officers aboard the helicopter pinpointed the source of the 52-milliwatt laser and directed officers on the ground to make an arrest. That’s right. You can go to jail for some childish sh*t. Keep that in mind next time you play with those little lasers. I know they’re fun… but if Clark Gable can go to jail for it… you don’t stand a f**king chance.

Most Beautiful Scientific Theories – Okay, this is a warning… but I’m about to nerd up on ya… so prepare yourself. From Darwinian evolution to the idea that personality is largely shaped by chance, the favorite theories of the world's most eminent thinkers are as eclectic as science itself. Every January, John Brockman, the impresario and literary agent who presides over the online salon, asks his circle of scientists, digerati and humanities scholars to tackle one question. In previous years, they have included "how is the Internet changing the way you think?" and "what is the most important invention in the last 2,000 years?" This year, he posed the open-ended question "what is your favorite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation?" The responses, released at midnight on Sunday, provide a crash course in science both well known and far out-of-the-box, as admired by the likes of Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, physicist Freeman Dyson and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Several of the nearly 200 scholars nominated what are arguably the two most powerful scientific theories ever developed. "Darwin's natural selection wins hands down," argues Dawkins, emeritus professor at Oxford University. "Never in the field of human comprehension were so many facts explained by assuming so few," he says of the theory that encompasses everything about life, based on the idea of natural selection operating on random genetic mutations (aka the Platypus). Einstein's theory of relativity, which explains gravity as the curvature of space, also gets a few nods. As theoretical physicist Steve Giddings of the University of California, Santa Barbara, writes, "This central idea has shaped our ideas of modern cosmology (and) given us the image of the expanding universe." General relativity explains black holes, the bending of light and "even offers a possible explanation of the origin of our Universe - as quantum tunneling from 'nothing,'" he writes.

Many of the nominated ideas, however, won't be found in science courses taught in high school or even college. Terrence Sejnowski, a computational neuroscientist at the Salk Institute, extols the discovery that the conscious, deliberative mind is not the author of important decisions such as what work people do and who they marry. Instead, he writes, "an ancient brain system called the basal ganglia, brain circuits that consciousness cannot access," pull the strings. Running on the neurochemical dopamine, they predict how rewarding a choice will be - if I pick this apartment, how happy will I be? - "evaluate the current state of the entire cortex and inform the brain about the best course of action," explains Sejnowski. Only later do people construct an explanation of their choices, he said in an interview, convincing themselves incorrectly that volition and logic were responsible. That’s a pretty interesting theory, in my humble opinion. A kind of scientific explanation for “going with your gut” even if it’s against logic… and then later basically convincing yourself that it seemed like the best decision at the time. Hmm… I don’t see how that could apply to my life at all (please disregard the last 3+ years of this blog). To neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University, the most beautiful idea is emergence, in which complex phenomena almost magically come into being from extremely simple components. For instance, a human being arises from a few thousand genes. The intelligence of an ant colony - labor specialization, intricate underground nests - emerges from the seemingly senseless behavior of thousands of individual ants. "Critically, there's no blueprint or central source of command," says Sapolsky. Each individual ant has a simple algorithm for interacting with the environment, "and out of this emerges a highly efficient colony." Among other tricks, the colony has solved the notorious Traveling Salesman problem, or the challenge of stopping at a long list of destinations by the shortest route possible. Also very interesting… here are a few others mentioned in the article…

Stephen Kosslyn, director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, is most impressed by Pavlovian conditioning, in which a neutral stimulus such as a sound comes to be associated with a reward, such as food, producing a response, such as salivation. That much is familiar. Less well known is that Pavlovian conditioning might account for placebo effects. After people have used analgesics such as ibuprofen or aspirin many times, the drugs begin to have effects before their active ingredients kick in. From previous experience, the mere act of taking the pill has become like Pavlov's bell was for his dogs, causing them to salivate: the "conditioned stimulus" of merely seeing the pill "triggers the pain-relieving processes invoked by the medicine itself," explains Kosslyn. Science theories that explain puzzling human behavior or the inner workings of the universe were also particular favorites of the Edge contributors:

* Psychologist Alison Gopnik of the University of California, Berkeley, is partial to one that accounts for why teenagers are so restless, reckless and emotional. Two brain systems, an emotional motivational system and a cognitive control system, have fallen out of sync, she explains. The control system that inhibits impulses and allows you to delay gratification kicks in later than it did in past generations, but the motivational system is kicking in earlier and earlier. The result: "A striking number of young adults who are enormously smart and knowledgeable but directionless, who are enthusiastic and exuberant but unable to commit to a particular work or a particular love until well into their twenties or thirties." Wait… they KNEW about this & did nothing to help my enormously smart ass? DAMN YOU SCIENTISTS!!!

* Neurobiologist Sam Barondes of the University of California, San Francisco, nominates the idea that personality is largely shaped by chance. One serendipitous force is which parental genes happen to be in the egg and sperm that produced the child. "But there is also chance in how neurodevelopmental processes unfold - a little virus here, an intrauterine event there, and you have chance all over the place," he said in an interview. Another toss of the dice: how a parent will respond to a child's genetic disposition to be outgoing, neurotic, open to new experience and the like, either reinforcing the innate tendencies or countering them. The role of chance in creating differences between people has moral consequences, says Barondes, "promoting understanding and compassion for the wide range of people with whom we share our lives."

* Timothy Wilson nominates the idea that "people become what they do." While people's behavior arises from their character - someone returns a lost wallet because she is honest - "the reverse also holds," says the University of Virginia psychologist. If we return a lost wallet, our assessment of how honest we are rises through what he calls "self-inference." One implication of this phenomenon: "We should all heed Kurt Vonnegut's advice," Wilson says: "'We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.'" True dat…

* Psychologist David Myers of Hope College finds "group polarization" a beautiful idea, since it explains how interacting with others tends to amplify people's initial views. In particular, discussing issues with like-minded peers -increasingly the norm in the United States, where red states attract conservatives and blue states attract liberals - push people toward extremes. "The surprising thing is that the group as a whole becomes more extreme than its pre-discussion average," he said in an interview. So in other words, putting crazy people in the same room make them crazier than the sum of their parts? Don’t worry, the opposite works too like Tony Robbins said, where if you surround yourself with people that you want to be like, then you’re more likely to become like those people.

* Martin Rees, professor of cosmology and astrophysics at the University of Cambridge, nominates the "astonishing concept" that what we consider the universe "could be hugely more extensive" than what astronomers observe. If true, the known cosmos may instead "be a tiny part of the aftermath of 'our' big bang, which is itself just one bang among a perhaps-infinite ensemble," Rees writes. Even more intriguing is that different physics might prevail in these different universes, so that "some of what we call 'laws of nature' may ... be local bylaws." I assume that whoever came up with that idea was probably smoking a joint with some buddies, as I’ve heard stuff like that growing up all the time. Good work, scientists! I dig your ways of thinking.

Anyway, that should do it for today. Gonna be a busy couple of weeks coming up but hey, that’s why I get paid the big bucks… and leads to big tax returns. BOO-YAH!!! Maybe I’ll finally get that chalice to complete my ensemble. It’s been so long since this pimp has had a proper drinking receptacle. This weekend should also be some good times with the 49ers playing in the NFC Championship for the first time since I could drive a car legally. GO NINERS!!! Have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Up Close & Personal in 3D

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Starting off with a funny story… I was sitting with my roommate Pixie and one of her friends watching TV last night… and we saw a commercial for the soon-to-be released “Beauty & the Beast” in 3D, which obviously everybody is going to line up around the block of the movie theatres to see. Well, her friend mentioned that Titanic is apparently being released later this year… also in 3D. So Pixie said, “Are they just going to release every movie with a soundtrack by Celine Dion in 3D now?” Which immediately led to one of the most awkward movie titles ever… starring Robert Redford & Michelle Pfeiffer… yes, it’s “Up Close & Personal… in 3D”. Come on now, you all remember the song. “You were my strength when I was weak… You were my voice when I couldn’t speak…” Seriously though, the title is just awkward… and that got me thinking of a few other movie titles that wouldn’t really work with the 3D addition… such as the new depressing as hell Tom Hanks one coming out “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close… in 3D” doesn’t sound appealing at all. Or “Definitely, Maybe… in 3D” well, is it going to be in 3D or not? Or among one of the lamer movie titles to begin with… but I remember it because it was released on my 21st birthday & stars Angelina Jolie and an oft-accused doppelganger of mine, Ed Burns (I blame the nose) but that movie… “Life or Something Like It… in 3D” just seems pretty vague & pointless to watch. I don’t know… any others out there that come to mind that wouldn’t work with “in 3D” added?

Jay-Z Update – First & foremost, congratulations to Shawn Carter (aka Jay-Z) and his lovely wife Beyonce Knowles on the birth of their first child, daughter Blue Ivy Carter. By the way, I was so sure that she was going to be named Brooklyn… but that’s a side note now. This is also a baby name update, just so you know… because I always thought that Blue was a boy’s name AND color… but still, congratulations to both of you & I understand the need to have distinctive names that nobody else has in the entertainment industry. I’m sure that’s a great significant meaning behind it… or something. Like the initials B.I.C. as a tribute to Biggie. Or maybe it’s just because it’s the colors of the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets, which Jigga partly owns. In further news, Blue Ivy is not even a week old, but she is already making music history. Billboard says that thanks to her dad, Jay-Z, featuring her on his new song, "Glory," Blue becomes the youngest person to ever appear on its chart. Jay-Z released the song about his first-born child with wife Beyonce on Monday, and it immediately became a viral sensation. The song, which credits B.I.C., features the sound of Blue's cries at the end. The song's refrain is "The most amazing feeling I feel/Words can't describe what I'm feeling for real/ Maybe I paint the sky blue/My greatest creation was you. You. Glory." Now, the song will enter Billboard's chart next week at No. 74. Blue was born Saturday, and her parents confirmed her birth Monday... so less than a week old and she’s already rockin’ the charts. It must run in the family…

Beethoven’s Bummer – Speaking of musical genius, a rare handwritten letter by legendary German composer Ludwig van Beethoven complaining about illness and a lack of money has turned up at a northern German institute as part of a bequest, causing excitement among lovers of the composer. The Brahms Institute in the northern city of Luebeck said the six-page letter bearing the composer's signature and original seal was, in essence, an attempt to sell his well-known "Missa solemnis" mass which he completed in 1823. In the letter, Beethoven asks harpist and composer Franz Anton Stockhausen to help find advance buyers for the mass. But most striking are details about his personal circumstances, such as his financial concerns, an eye disorder and an attempt to track down a music-loving dentist who wrote to him, said Stefan Weymar, music researcher at the institute. "My low salary and my illness demand efforts to make a better fortune," said Beethoven in the letter, which has turned yellow with age and needs to be stored in special conditions and handled with gloves. Beethoven, 53 at the time of writing, went on to say that the education of his nephew was costly and that the boy would need support after his death. The black writing, which slopes to the right, looks messy and is marred by corrections and crossings out. "Beethoven was not a composer with beautiful handwriting. It is spontaneous and he wrote things, then crossed them out, his thoughts changed as he went on and that is the impression the letter gives," Weymar told Reuters. At the end, he wrote "all letters to me need nothing more than "To L. v. Beethoven in Vienna," where I receive everything." The missive ended up in the hands of music teacher Renate Wirth, a descendant of the recipient. "The bequest is of extraordinary historic value -- a piece of luck for the Brahms Institute. The value of the Beethoven letter is valued at over 100,000 Euros (about $120,000)," said Institute head Wolfgang Sandberger. Born in the western German city of Bonn in 1770, Beethoven moved to Vienna as a young musician and become one of the most celebrated composers of all time, straddling the classical and romantic eras. His deafness in later life makes his musical accomplishments all the more astonishing. Beethoven died in 1827, four years after the letter was written, and is buried in Vienna. His Moonlight Sonata for the piano and dramatic four-note opening to his Fifth Symphony are among the best known pieces of classical music ever written. His Ode to Joy, part of the Ninth Symphony, has been adopted as the EU's Anthem of Europe. "The appeal of a letter handwritten by Beethoven is certainly very great," Michael Ladenburger, head of the Beethoven House museum in Bonn, told Reuters. That appeal is reflected at auctions -- a shopping list with just six words on it was auctioned for 60,000 Euros last year. His letters are rare and the length of this one, with the insight it gives into his personal life, make it very interesting indeed." The Brahms Institute will put the letter on show from next week. Wow… just think about it. During his life, he was struggling to get by financially (at least by his standards) and stricken with deafness, an eye ailment, so much hardship. Yet now, his music is regarded as some of the best ever composed & little checklists to himself made for groceries are being auctioned off for nearly six digits. By the way, if you haven’t seen Gary Oldman rock his Beethoven in “Immortal Beloved” you seriously need to go rent that tonight. Great flick. Anyway, just a little tidbit about how sometimes greatness goes unappreciated in your lifetime… but if you’re truly great… sometimes you get recognition down the road. Sad but true. Be strong, brothers & sisters.

Greatest Wish Ever!!! – Okay, I’ve worked quite a bit with the Make-A-Wish Foundation back in the college days… and it’s truly a great organization. Life is about experiences and there’s really nothing better than the smile on a terminally ill child’s face when you can make their dreams come true. Most wishes are cute things like going to Disneyland (like I am in March with the niece & nephew), play catch with an NFL quarterback, see the Grand Canyon, stuff like that… but there was one that I read about that I REALLY liked. Why? Because it’s now on my bucket list. A 7-year-old boy with cancer was granted his wish… to blow up a building… more specifically, to push the detonator and implode a massive grain silo in Ohio. WUPW reports that Maxwell Hinton, who is suffering from Neuroblastoma, was granted the request by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. "I got cancer, Neuroblastoma, and I went through treatment and they made a wish for me," Hinton said. "I watch MythBusters and they inspired me to blow a building up." That’s right, even more destruction involving educational programming… and by the way, side note: Where’s Kari Byron at? Doesn’t anybody know she was the real reason people watched that show? Back to point, the ConAgra grain mill was already scheduled to be demolished, making way for the sale of 11 acres of property as part of a four-year renovation project. An estimated 30,000 local residents turned out to watch Hinton help blow up the building. "It's been a great experience for him, but it's a great experience for this whole area," said Doug Studer, who helped to organize the fulfillment of Hinton's wish. Warms the cockles of your heart, doesn’t it?

Well, this weekend is more football as we come down the stretch of the NFL season. The Saints are in town, Tebow goes to New England to work miracles, the Texas go to Baltimore & the Giants will hopefully be dismantled by the Packers. Also, I think this weekend is when I’ll look for that new laptop so I can more readily bring you my updates. Seriously, my current laptop is about to get shanked… but then again, it’s about 10 years old & just pathetic by today’s standards. Also, I’m thinking about hitting up the Contemporary Jewish Museum as it’s the last week of an exhibit about Harry Houdini that I have yet to experience entitled “Houdini: Art & Magic” which just sounds like fun. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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