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
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!!!