Can ActiveRecord use native database functions?

Rails 2.3.2

I am using a legacy database (mysql) I cannot alter.
I am converting a legacy app to rails.

In it's SQL, the legacy app uses the native mysql function 'now()' all
over the place,

I need to reproduce this behavior. (there will still be other legacy
apps using the same db)
(yes, I know it's bad to rely on built in database functions, that
decision is out of my hands)

         UPDATE table_common
         SET keyword = #{kw},
                         upd_by = #{uid},
                         upd_date = now()
         WHERE pkid = #{id}

Ideally, I would like to do something like this: (use the native mysql
function now()) {;keyword => kw, :upd_date => now()} )

which of course doesn't work.

Is there a way to do this using ActiveRecord?

I need my update's (create/insert's, etc) timestamp's to go off of the
database server time, not the host the rails app is on, I cant just do
this: {;keyword => kw, :upd_date =>} )

That will use the time of the host that I am on not my remote database

My database is on a remote host and (unfortunately) I can not make any
assumptions about time/timezone, time sync, etc of my rails hosts
(webservers) of my mysql servers, I need to just rely on the time of my
mysql hosts for all database queries times.

I know I can set timestamp/datestamp fields to auto update in rails with
ActiveRecord::Timestamp (touch) but that method
still uses, (see current_time_from_proper_timezone)
      def current_time_from_proper_timezone
        self.class.default_timezone == :utc ? :

Currently I am just using the low level
ActiveRecord::Base.connection.update(sql) which works but misses out on
ActiveRecords helpful features.