Friday, December 31, 2010


One of the worst parts of this job is when I have to sit through rather awful movies . That's 2 hours of my life that I'll never get back. And it sure seems to me that the RESIDENT EVIL franchise has really "jumped the shark" some years ago. Now, this latest installment in the series comes along, with little real plot, just throwing a bunch of 3D action gimmicks at the screen of actress Milla Jovovich doing plenty of wholly unrealistic stunts. This film was merely a silly excuse to make a 3D film for the franchise. It cost a reported $60 million to make, but only grossed about $120,000 more than it cost to make. So the producers are pinning their hopes of the DVD and Bluray sales to recoup some more money.

As a 3D Bluray disc, this zombie-killing, horror/sci fi trash film is probably worth one look for the computer generated stunts and visuals. But, in the normal 2D picture, there just enough here to recommend to any serious fan of decent horror or sci fi films. And as much as I like zombie films, the fact of the matter is that George Romero just makes far better zombie films on sometimes much small budgets than the $60 million spent here.

Russian-born actress Milla Jovovich does look as good as ever. She has a new look for this film. But, that's hardly good reason to recommend this. Her family left the old Soviet Union when she was just five years old. Her grandfather and father both spent time in jail or prison, and even Milla admits to credit card fraud as a teenager. But, in the West, Milla Jovovich has been a successful model and actress. And at age 35, her career still looks bright. She has plenty more good films ahead in her career.

But, there's just not much to be seen in RESIDENT EVIL AFTERLIFE. It's just not a very good film at all.

The Bottom Line: For the love of everything holy, avoid this "Evil". It's a real turkey in 2D. However, I can certainly imagine it as having a few good moments in the 3D Bluray version.

+1/2(One and a half stars for the 2D version. ++(Two stars for the 3D Bluray version).

The Judds Set For Huge Comeback In 2011

The very popular 1980's country music mother-daughter duo, The Judds, are posed for a huge 2011 comeback. A big reunion tour is planned. A new album is on the way. And a new reality series on Oprah's new network, OWN, should just about cement this trifecta reunion effort together. It would be hard to see this thing fail.

In the 1980's, The Judds were huge. The mother and daughter team of Naomi and Wynonna had tight harmonies and great material to work with. They churned out huge hit after hit. But, then some health problems hit the mother, Naomi who had worked as a nurse prior to her signing career, where she had contracted hepatitis C working with patients. The potentially fatal liver disease sidelined their music act at their very peak. A pay-per-view farewell concert on cable for the duo had become the biggest selling cable musical show ever aired.

Naomi Judd had since worked as a motivational speaker, and regularly would tour religious television shows such as Robert Schuller's HOUR OF POWER professing her Christian faith. She is also a well known Republican donor and leans conservative in her politics.

Daughter Wynonna continued a highly successful solo recording act. Her seventh and latest solo album, SING:CHAPTER 1, released in 2009 peaked at #5 on the country charts and #37 on the overall charts, and managed to successfully weld combine country, Southern rock, rockabilly and bluesy gospel styles together to create a very fine album. Her cover version of "I Hear You Knocking" is one of the better versions of that classic rock song ever recorded. With her big booming voice, it's indeed a very powerful song, although the single failed to chart on most charts. Her follow-up single, "Sing" did hit #4 on the U.S. dance charts though.

Ashley Judd, the half sister of Wynonna continues to have a strong career in film, and is known for her strong support for humanitarian causes helping many organizations. Unlike her mother, Ashley leans Democratic in her political support and is a well known Hollywood liberal. Ashley isn't part of The Judds, but is a powerful entertainer in her own right, only proving that The Judds are one of the greatest family acts in entertainment.

The Judds kick off their new concert tour on New Years Day, and hopefully can reclaim their spot on the country charts as a top selling act once again. 2011 sure looks like their year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

BLUE VALENTINE Gets It's R Rating Wish

BLUE VALENTINE, the controversial new film set to open on December 31, got it's wish after a MPAA appeal for an R rating. Previously, the MPAA gave the film a NC-17 rating due to a graphic oral sex scene between actors Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. This might also rate as the first time in film history that a graphic sex act has ever been allowed into any film with an R rating.

Critics have hailed BLUE VALENTINE with excellent reviews. And the MPAA might have seen that this is a significant film that is not really exploitive in nature like some more trashy films that proudly proclaim themselves as being for adult audiences. With such high reviews, the R rated film is award worthy and might garner some nominations that might escape it if it would have gotten the dreaded NC-17 rating. Generally, the NC-17 is the kiss of death for many films, condemning the films to low box office numbers and playing in very few theaters.

While some independent films sometimes slip in explicit sex scenes, such content has been extremely rare in more mainstream films. Hollywood just isn't comfortable in testing such limits.

After the 1973 Supreme Court decision regarding obscenity, many films faced prosecution for explicit sexual scenes. However, in more recent years, most prosecutors, judges and jurors seem to no longer regard most sexually explicit heterosexual conduct as obscene, only opening the doors to more of this content in some independent films as well as merely pornographic productions. Standards for what is judged to be obscene is a moving standard, that varies from time to time. What might be viewed as criminal obscenity in one year, might be viewed as constitutionally protected and acceptable some years later. But, in 1973, the R rated film CARNAL KNOWLEDGE faced an obscenity prosecution in Georgia, despite any content that approached the purely pornographic.

One strange story of independent films testing limits for what is acceptable is that of Vincent Gallo's BROWN BUNNY. Roger Ebert and other critics at the Cannes Film Festival thought it to be one of the worst movies they had ever seen, and the audience at the festival broke into boos and jeers as the film ended with an explicit, but totally uninteresting, if not entirely stupid oral sex scene between Gallo and actress Chloe Sevigny. The scene actually seemed more like a final insult after such a terrible film. However, an edited DVD of the film with the scene still included seemed to be a much improved film, where even critics of the film, like Roger Ebert gave the DVD version of the film a positive review.

Hollywood isn't quite ready to embrace explicit sex scenes as a regular feature any time in the near future though. Such scenes will continue to be rare in mainstream films. But, BLUE VALENTINE has become a sort of pioneer here. Critically reviewed films seem to be able to test some new limits much more than some trash film could not.

FORBES #16, Russian Yukos Oil Tycoon Sentenced To Prison

The billionaire former head of Yukos oil, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was sentenced to a further six years in prison in a trial that has been viewed as being largely orchestrated by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to eliminate a potential opponent who might challenge his return to power for the Russian presidency in 2012.

Khodorkovsky rose to become the wealthiest man in Russia, rising to #16 on FORBES list. And in many ways was viewed as being a lot like the Russian Bill Gates for being known for his philanthropic efforts. However, it was his close association to the Communist Party organizations, Komsomol, The Communist Party Of The Soviet Union and also The Communist Party Of The Russian Federation, of which helped him to achieve his wealth, and which he paid back through large political donations, which made him an enemy of Putin's United Russia Party. Khodorkovsky also donated to the social liberal political party, Yabloko, as well.

The charges and trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, claimed that he stole $30 billion in oil from Yukos and laundered the money. However, many world observers including in Washington viewed the charges as highly suspect, being orchestrated by Putin, and as a way to silence a political critic.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had promised judicial reform, where the courts would become independent of the government that Putin controls, but so far that just hasn't happened. Putin uses the legal at will to suppress his political opposition, proving that modern Russia is hardly yet a true democratic state. Yet, Putin and his supporters are viewed as political conservatives compared to the more leftist opposition parties in Russia. But, United Russia is viewed as holding on to power by tight controls on the press and abuses of the legal system such as the trial of Khodorkovsky.

Russia might have a strong rising class of billionaires, however the lack of true freedom in the country, along with the continued strength of the Communists as the second most powerful opposition party, despite their decades of terrible rule, makes the country very undesirable to many foreign investors where economic investment in China looks far more attractive by comparison because of much better political stability and predictability. Certainly, most in Russia want the economy to advance for the sake of jobs and economic expansion, yet the cat and mouse struggles of United Russia and their Communist opponents only hampers true economic progress.

In the U.S., some like Bill Gates become the most admired citizens. In Russia, billionaires of the same caliber often become political prisoners unless they support Putin's political rule.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Classic Cd Review: Jimi Hendrix ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?

Jimi Hendrix's fantastic 1967 debut album recorded with English musicians Noel Redding(bass guitar) and Mitch Mitchell(drums) over in London, has well proved itself to be one of the greatest hard rock albums ever recorded. ROLLING STONE and many other authoritative sources place this album right among the top 15 all time best rock albums ever.

The May 1967 UK release of this album on Track Records differed greatly from the American release eventually issued by Reprise Records in August , however a 1993 Alan Douglas compiled cd release includes all 17 tracks associated with the original 11 track UK and U.S. releases of this classic album, along with all of the associated singles and B sides that were released from era-associated recording sessions that were not included on the album.

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED reads more like a greatest hits collection with so many fantastic songs. It's hard to believe that one single album could ever be this good. Included on the 1993 compiled cd are classic Hendrix tracks such as "Purple Haze", "Foxey Lady", "Stone Free", "Can You See Me", "Highway Chile", "Fire", "I Don't Live Today", "Hey Joe", "Are You Experienced" and much more. That's one heck of a fantastic line-up of debut songs for any act ever. Most acts don't write or have that much good material in a lifetime.

Sadly, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell have all died. Mitchell was named one of the greatest drummers of all time, and died in 2008 in his Portland, Oregon Benson Hotel room while touring with the 2008 Experience Hendrix show of natural causes. Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 from complications from a German brand of sleeping pills that he was unfamiliar with, from an accidental overdose. Only four albums were issued during his lifetime, ARE YOU EXPERIENCED, AXIS:BOLD AS LOVE, ELECTRIC LADYLAND & BAND OF GYPSIES, a 1970 album that was recorded live. However, Hendrix left behind a wealth of other recorded material that found it's way on to a mountain of posthumous releases. Noel Redding continued to record after the death of Hendrix and remained active in music until his 2003 death.

Few albums come as good as this one does. This is classic rock in it's purest form and right up there with the very best of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors and other great classic rock acts.

The Bottom Line: One of the very best classic rock albums ever recorded, bar none. ++++(Four Stars, excellent. Classic rock albums come no better than this).

Ellen DeGeneres Makes Huge Donation To Shelter Pets

Ellen DeGeneres only continues to prove that she's one of the nicest people on planet Earth. Ellen along with the pet care brands she co-owns, HALO and Purely for Pets has donated one million meals to shelter pets across the nation. This should greatly help the struggling budgets of pet shelters, where the cost of feeding animals is straining their recession-wrecked budgets to the limits.

Ellen also helped to promote a stamp series for the USPS that promoted awareness to adopt shelter pets. Since that point, she's been involved in increasing efforts to improve the lives of the shelter pets.

More than 100 shelters across the nation are expected to receive the free meal aid from Ellen and her pet brands.

For all intents and purposes, Ellen is like the "Mother Teresa" of pets.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Aretha Franklin & Charlie Sheen Dead?

Unfortunately, some news has been circulating around the Web this evening claiming that soul legend, Aretha Franklin has died from her battle with pancreatic cancer. THE NEWS OF THE WORLD was one of the first sources to run this as a news flash. However, a family source discounts this story claiming that the singer is ill, yet very much alive.

A second story without any reasonable basis is that actor Charlie Sheen was killed in a ski accident in Switzerland. However, there is no reason to believe that this is correct either.

How do stories like this start anyway? Credible news sources such as CNN, FOX, or others will verify more facts before running a story. But, lesser news sources and information services such as TWITTER just don't care. Some think that something is news, and just run with the story regardless of verification of facts.

So rest easy fans, it appears that both Aretha Franklin and Charlie Sheen are both alive this evening.

High Drama With FOX Animation

You might think that the animated shows over at FOX are just all fun and games. But, no way Jose. This is serious business here. And even though the low rated, but critically acclaimed AMERICAN DAD has it's fans, FOX is looking around the corner for a new series with bigger ratings numbers to retire the series. Further, FOX has refused a full year commitment to the series as well. If this isn't some handwriting on the wall, then I don't know what the heck is.

In January, FOX will test run BOB'S BURGERS for a few weeks and see what it does ratings wise. If it's a big hit, then say goodbye to AMERICAN DAD. FOX is also working on an animated version of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE with the voices of the original actors including John Heder.

FOX will likely throw the trap door on AMERICAN DAD as soon as a stronger replacement is found.

Saudi Arabia Intends To Enter The Auto Business

Move over, U.S., Japan, China, South Korea, Brazil and Europe. Saudi Arabia now wants to enter the world auto business and be the new kid on the block. The world's largest oil producer is looking for new ways to diversify and expand their economy, and entering the auto business appears to be the next logical step.

Strangely, the new cars will be produced from a Saudi university based plant site, where students will no doubt study new technology to make the vehicles world class. The first models will be a Mercedes based SUV. However, Saudi Arabia is attracting technological help from an unnamed South Korean auto company to build a low cost mass produced economy model car. That sounds a lot like Hyundai or Kia may provide Saudi Arabia the technology to start their foothold in the auto industry.

The new attempt at the auto business is slated to have an initial investment of $500 million. However, expect this dramatically increase if the auto industry in Saudi Arabia begins to pick up some steam. Saudi cars in American showrooms might be a few years away, expect the Chinese to set up shop in the U.S. before that happens. China produces nearly three times as many cars as the U.S. does and currently is the world's largest motorcycle producer, with over 50% of the 50 million motorcycles produced coming from China.

It only seemed logical for the world's largest oil producer to eventually enter the auto business. However, historians might remember that the U.S. company Studebaker did just the opposite. They started with two blacksmiths in 1852, building covered wagons, and eventually automobiles, but became a defunct car brand by 1967, only producing the STP engine additive after that date for a few years. They went from building cars, to producing a product that goes into cars. Saudi Arabia hopes to go from producing oil, to producing the cars that oil goes into.

The KING KONG Of Movie Flubs

No movie flub can quite compare to the KING KONG of all movie flubs. The 1933 version of KING KONG contains perhaps the most laughable classic movie flub of all time. During the scene where King Kong crashes through the gates of Skull Island , the most absurd comedy drama takes place on the corner of the screen if you look carefully and zoom in with your DVD player.

Unfortunately, in the 1933 film, the natives of Skull Island were mostly played by white male actors in blackface. This seemed to be a sad state of race relations in those days. But, the film was intended to be a pleasant diversion from the woes of The Great Depression. However, the film provided one of the most unintentionally funny scenes ever during the dramatic scene of Kong tearing open the gates of Skull Island with his raw brute strength.

As King Kong tears through these huge gates on the island where he's worshiped as a God by the natives, they run fleeing him in terror. In the right hand corner at the bottom of the screen, one of the extras playing a native turns out to be a white actor in blackface who falls off the edge of the set, getting his wig caught in some chicken-wire set material. You see this guy missing his wig with white skin and blond hair clearly visible above his dark native blackface makeup frantically jumping up and down attempting with no luck to grab his wig back. It's probably the most ridiculous scene ever included in a movie that wasn't edited out and left on the cutting room floor.

For 1933, KING KONG, was a great depression era achievement. It was amazing that a film this good was made in the days when money was so tight. However, this sloppy editing work along with the 1930's era of poor race relations cast some new light on this classic film. Next time you watch this classic film on DVD, spend some time examining this absurd movie flub.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Leonardo DiCaprio Named Biggest Grossing Actor of 2010 By FORBES

FORBES has compiled the biggest grossing film actors of 2010, and Leonardo DiCaprio tops the list with two big films that brought in way over $1 billion worldwide. INCEPTION alone brought in $825 million, and SHUTTER ISLAND was even more box office gold for the actor.

Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska helped make more than $1 billion worldwide for the visually stunning ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

Robert Downey, Jr. continues to be a hot box office item, with his twin hits of IRON MAN 2 and due date bringing in lots of revenue for the producers.

Some actors are really worth their pay. And Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Downey, Jr. have all more than proved their box office worth in 2010. Gus Van Sant must feel pretty happy picking up Mia Wasikowska for a bargain basement price for his upcoming release, RESTLESS, before ALICE IN WONDERLAND dramatically improved her worth as an actress. Some guys like Gus Van Sant have all the luck.

Bristol Palin Will Attend Arizona State University

Bristol Palin claims that she will enroll at Arizona State University next year. Students at the college are voicing bipartisan support for their new celebrity student. However, you only have to wonder whether she'll follow mom's lead and quit in the middle of her first term?

Fresh from her strong runner-up performance on DANCING WITH THE STARS, the celebrity student should be very popular on campus. Especially so if she brings the drinks. What clubs will she join? BTW, Is there a Jack Daniels club at ASU?

GULLIVER'S TRAVELS Gets Shipwrecked In Big Christmas Weekend

Jack Black's latest failed attempt at doing comedy got a little bit shipwrecked in this big Christmas weekend's estimated box office draws. The simply awful, GULLIVER's TRAVELS, pretty much got the ratings it deserved when it came in at seventh place with an estimated $7.2 million dollar take. However, the even worse, LITTLE FOCKERS, came in at #1, with an estimated $34 million draw, proving that some folks will pay to see anything.

But, some audiences proved that they rather pay to see a good movie, and the excellent and Oscar worthy,TRUE GRIT, drew a healthy $25.6 million dollar take coming in at #2. Look for this strong box office take to build some real momentum for some Oscar nominations for the worthy Coen Brothers entry. The pretty fair Sci Fi feature, TRON LEGACY took in an estimated $20 million dollars for third place.

The latest film in the NARNIA series, THE CHRONICLES OF NARDIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, took in $10.8 million bucks. And hey, hey, hey, it's YOGI BEAR with $8.8 million dollars. And the Mark Wahlberg boxing film, THE FIGHTER, took in $8.5 million.

Some good films made some good money this weekend on one hand. On the other hand, more than a few folks were happy enough just to watch any sort of crap that was playing at the theater as long as it was new. Christmas was decidedly better for some folks than others.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The History Of Candy Canes

As this Christmas 2010 season winds down, it's so nice to take a moment to reflect on the history of candy canes. The practice actually dates back to the 16th century when food began to be used to decorate trees used to celebrate Christmas. However, the early candy used was straight in shape until around 1670 when some churches began to give candy shaped like Shepherd's hooks at church services.

The familiar red stripe on modern candy canes actually didn't appear until around the early 20th century, and quite possibly might have originated in the U.S. And some say that the white and red stripes have some religious significance as well.

Regardless of the origin of the candy cane, I'm just so delighted that they were invented. No matter how old I get, candy canes bring a real smile to my face.

Christmas In China

Even in Communist China, Christmas is becoming an increasingly important holiday. The Chinese even have their own Santa Claus, Dun Che Lao Ren(Christmas Old Man) who brings gifts. And many Chinese decorate their homes with bright lights and paper lanterns. On one of the official Chinese news websites, XINHUA, there are plenty of Christmas good wishes and cheer were to be found.

The Christmas Old Man brings gifts for children who are the main focus of this holiday for increasing numbers of Chinese citizens. And increasingly, stores and employees in China show signs of the Christmas holiday as well.

The USO: Providing Christmas Cheer To Our Troops Since 1941

In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt requested that an organization be founded to provide entertainment and morale for our troops. And some patriotic entertainers such as Bob Hope immediately stepped up and selflessly volunteered his time for 50 years doing free shows.

Despite shows during WWII, Korea, Vietnam and more, Bob Hope actually found a 1990 show that he did to honor the Gulf War troops to be the most challenging of any because of the strictly religious Saudi government. The U.S. State Department carefully monitored his jokes placing heavy censorship restrictions on content. And because women were not allowed to seen in public without veils, female performers such as Ann Jillian, Marie Osmond and the Pointer Sisters could not perform in the show, and had to stay home. Yet, Bob Hope did his best to make the USO tour as memorable as possible for the troops.

In recent times, entertainers as diverse as Kid Rock, Rose McGowan, Robert Patrick, Robin Williams, Jack Black, Jason Biggs, Gary Trudeau, Stephen Colbert, Avenged Sevenfold, Dane Cook, Ben Stiller, The Killers, Rascal Flatts and many, many more, representing all political views and both political parties, were more than willing to come together as volunteers to make Christmas more enjoyable for our troops.

Santa And His Sled 2010

Ho Ho Ho, kids. Now, I mean it. I'm not kidding here.....Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Worst Christmas Gift 2010: Shake Weight

The award this year goes to that dumb $20 neo-phallic-shaped exercise toy that's supposed to tone and shape the arms and shoulders with just a few minutes of jerking motions each day. Well, even SNL had a lot of fun with this one with a great parody that made it look like the very worst porn ever shot(and, believe me there's been some really bad ones!).

Maybe, the Shake Weight actually works. Or maybe you're just some weird guy who gets off watching your lady use this thing. Regardless, for the $20 asking price, probably lugging around the laundry or a gallon of milk at the supermarket might just do just about as much to tone up the muscles.

But, when all is said and done, nothing looks quite as silly as this thing being used.

The Little Hooters Girl

Well, it's certainly not your little drummer boy here. No, not by a long shot. And, NOW(National Organization Of Women Who Look & Act Too Much Like Witches To Suit Me) is hardly amused that Hooters serves children in the California cities of San Francisco, San Bruno, Sacramento and Orange County. It seems that Hooters has classified itself as an adult entertainment business in these cities and counties, and NOW has filed police complaints and even may file lawsuits claiming that minors aren't allowed in adult entertainment businesses according to the local laws.

And, I know that it must make some parents so proud when their little girls get to put on the coveted trademarked Hooters' chicken wing bib or T-shirt that says to the world, "Future Hooters Girl", but NOW says, "No way, Jose". Kids shouldn't be subjected to this they say.

So Hooters is caught in Mr. In-Between-land here. They want to be known as a sort of adult entertainment business on one hand, but also love the cash flow that comes from hosting parties as though they're sort of like Chucky Cheese, but with big breasts. And chicken wings, too.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Iran Silences Great Filmmaker Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi is one of the world's greatest filmmakers. The only problem is that he lives in Iran. Now, the government has sentenced him to six in prison and banned him from leaving the country or any involvement in film for at least 20 years, effectively killing the career and the excellent quality artistic creations he might have created.

Panahi was arrested at a Tehran cemetery for mourning the death of a pro-democracy proponent on charges of creating propaganda against the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Panahi will held at the notorious Evin Prison in Iran, where rape and other tortures are commonplace. Even photographing the prison is a serious crime in Iran. Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died during interrogation after arrest for simply taking some pictures of the prison complex. Iranian government officials claimed that she experienced a stroke. But, an autopsy proved rape, torture and a skull fracture at the hands of Iranian police.

The world film community is beginning to voice condemnation at the Iranian government over the prison sentence for Panahi. He has won many film festival awards including awards at Cannes for excellent films such as THE WOUNDED HEAD(1988), KISH(1991), THE FRIEND(1992), THE EXAM(1992), THE WHITE BALLOON(1995), ARDEKOUL(1997), THE MIRROR(1997), THE CIRCLE(2000), CRIMSON GOLD(2003) and OFFSIDE(2006).

In Iran, many want to be part of the modern world, and intellectuals and artists often find their creations greatly stifled by the repressive religious dominated government. The world film community is only likely to create a growing anger over this latest example of repression, where religious conservatives like Ahmadinejad only hold on to power in Iran through brutal repression of democracy and Western styled freedoms.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Greatest Rock 'N' Roll Performances: T.Rex "Bang A Gong(Get It On)"

When Marc Bolan and T.Rex decided to shed their much softer acoustic psychedelic hippie duo roots of Tyrannosaurus Rex towards a more full blown electric sound, "Bang A Gong(Get It On)" became the huge worldwide smash hit single off the ELECTRIC WARRIOR album. "Bang A Gong(Get It On) was also the only really big U.S. hit single that T.Rex ever had, reaching #10 on BILLBOARD, although they had many other top ten hits in the U.K. and worldwide.

And "Bang A Gong(Get It On)" was also very controversial with many long time fans of the acoustic oriented Tyrannosaurus Rex as well. Longtime friend of Marc Bolan, BBC disc jockey, John Peel, virtually ended his friendship with Bolan because he so disliked this song and the change of direction for Bolan's now electric band.

Despite only reaching just #10 in the U.S., "Bang A Gong(Get It On)" continues to be one of the most enduring rock anthems of all time. The song had it's own unique "T.Rex groove" guitar signature of Bolan along with hot lyrics that strangely compared a girl to a car in a sexual way. It was a hot song on many levels and great rock and roll.

Musically, the song had a unique saxophone punch to it, as well as backing vocals from former Turtles and Mothers Of Invention members, Howard Kaylan and Marc Volman. And, although the backing vocals of Kaylan and Volman were important elements in the successful sound of "Bang A Gong(Get It On)", as well as other great songs from the ELECTRIC WARRIOR album, penny pincher Marc Bolan was so outraged to find out that these guys expected payment for their work that he arranged with record producer Tony Visconti for the two of them to impersonate these backup vocalists for THE SLIDER album to save money.

Bolan had a few more strange quirks. He was interested in automobiles in a sexual sort of way on one hand, but never had a driver's license himself, although he bought a Rolls Royce to own. And he added one musician, Mickey Finn largely because the musician owned a motorcycle and because thought the guy was good looking, rather than for any musical talents. Bolan was an unusual and eccentric musical genius.

Live in concert, Bolan always made "Bang A Gong(Get It On)" as his huge signature concert closer piece. Sometimes the song became a nearly 15 minute jam piece, where Bolan would abuse his guitar onstage with a bullwhip and finally throw the guitar into an amp rigged to set off a pyrotechnic explosion onstage. It seemed like every T.Rex concert was an event for Bolan to stage a wild performance reminiscent of Hendrix during "Bang A Gong(Get It On)". Audience fans worldwide would sometimes get injured during T.Rex concerts as Bolan so excited the fans at his stardom peak. He was a huge star at one point in 70's U.K. rock history.

"Bang A Gong(Get It On)" was known as "Get It On" in much of the world. However, another song by the American group headed by Bill Chase called Chase had a single out called "Get It On", and this forced the U.S. version of the Bolan song to be retitled as "Bang A Gong(Get It On)" to avoid confusion.

Part of the magic of the song was the contagious and catchy chorus along with the added sax punch. "Bang A Gong(Get It On) has been covered by many musicians including Blondie, Robert Palmer's Power Station, and even by Howard Stern & The Losers. "Bang A Gong(Get It On) was indeed a magic song. It made Bolan a super star and continues to get strong airplay worldwide even today, many years after it's 1971 release date.

More Good Rating News For CONAN

TBS and CONAN O'Brien have to be pretty happy that the good rating news only continues for the show. Among young adults 18-34, CONAN now has nearly twice the viewership of any talk show. And for it's sixth week, CONAN actually increased viewership slightly, which may mean that he's beginning to build on his core audience of fans. Conan's audience now ranks at 1,309,000 average per episode. This may be down significantly from his huge premiere numbers, where huge casual audience curiosity did inflate the numbers. But, his core of fans has solidified his rating numbers into a powerful and loyal base of support for the show.

Time shifting is also important hidden demographic among CONAN viewers, by DVD recorders, TiVo and computer viewing. Many college age viewers need to watch the show at another time than late night because of school. Data estimates are that as many as 254,000 additional viewers watch CONAN through some sort of time shifting over live viewing, giving the show additional hidden strength.

Conan now has a median viewership age of just 33, making it the youngest demographic group of any talk show. Further, the show has managed to be the huge hit among the 18-34 demographic age group as well. TBS has to be ecstatic about these numbers. And Conan has the satisfaction of knowing that a huge core of loyal fans are making his new cable show a big success.
What can I say? Some fans just love CONAN.

Lee Harvey Oswald's Coffin Sold For $87,468

Maybe someone needed a last minute Christmas gift, and just didn't like the holiday gift selection over at 7-11, so they spent an incredible $87,468 on-line for the simple wood coffin that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was buried in from 1963-81. Nate D. Sanders, the California auction house that offered the coffin up for sale refused to name the anonymous buyer, or what they even wanted the stinking coffin for. You know the aroma had to be lovely.

The brother of the accused killer, Robert Oswald, 73, is pretty angry about the entire auction, and wished that the coffin would have been destroyed years ago. But, after someone spends $87k on something, it's highly unlikely that it will go out with next day's garbage.

The auction house hoped to draw in bids of at least $60,000, so the huge $87,468 selling price was a complete surprise. And maybe it's a sign of a better economy, if some folks suddenly have an extra $87k to throw around buying rotten pine boards. The auction house gets a 20% cut off the auction as well, only encouraging more terrible auctions in the future. And hey, someone's gonna wake up Christmas morning and be so happy when they get that Lee Harvey Oswald coffin that they asked Santa for.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hollywood Gears Up For Huge Holiday Weekend

Hollywood is making the most of this holiday weekend with four major films set to debut. TRUE GRIT, COUNTRY STRONG, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS and LITTLE FOCKERS will all do battle with other top films such as TRON that were only recently released. Hollywood could potentially set some new total weekend box office records with so many huge films set to debut. Expect huge box office numbers from this holiday weekend regardless of whether one single film breaks records by itself .

TRUE GRIT looks to be far and away the best reviewed western so far this year and should draw the biggest box office numbers. You can expect important award nominations for this film as well. And Gwyneth Paltrow should make a major return to the big screen in the acclaimed, COUNTRY STRONG. It should draw pretty respectable numbers. And even though both GULLIVER's TRAVELS and LITTLE FOCKERS have gotten terrible reviews, both should draw big numbers and have their fans regardless of whatever the critics think.

With some signs of the economy improving with increased consumer spending for this Christmas season, expect consumers to spread some of that cheer by going to a movie as well. Hollywood is seeing nothing but $$$$ this weekend!

Steve Landesberg Dead At 65

Steve Landesberg, the dry-witted and intellectual former stand-up comic who starred as Detective Arthur P. Dietrich in the ABC comedy, BARNEY MILLER, has died from cancer. He was 65. Landesberg was also well known for his extensive voice-over work as well. His voice was one of the most recognizable in TV history, although not everyone immediately recognized the actor behind the work.

BARNEY MILLER was one of the greatest comedy series successes for ABC, and ran for eight seasons from January 23, 1975 until May 20, 1982. Few mid-season replacement shows have been as successful as BARNEY MILLER was. The show's success even spurred a spin-off series named after the character Detective Sgt. Philip K. Fish(Abe Vigoda). FISH ran for two seasons. At the age of 89, Abe Vigoda continues to be the oldest surviving cast member of this show, and was popular for numerous comic appearances on Conan O'Brien's old 12:35 comedy talk show.

Steve Landesberg leaves us laughing with this great quote: "Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense".

Greatest Rock 'N' Roll Performances: Ten Years After "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl"

While many great classic rock acts were blessed with at least one standout guitarist, Ten Years After, actually had two of the greatest guitarists of all time, the legendary lead guitar work of Alvin Lee and the great talents of bass player, Leo Lyons. And no song by Ten Years After better illustrated the talents of their great bass player than "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl".

Most songs by Ten Years After were easily viewed as a showcase for the awesome talents of Alvin Lee, both as a guitarist and as a lead singer. He made the ultimate front-man for this band. But, the unconsciously powerful bass guitar work of Leo Lyons on "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" is simply astonishing. It's one of the most awesome bass performances in all of rock history. In several live concert footages of the band filmed over the years, Leo Lyons simply owned this song, with the frantic energy and expertise he displayed on bass guitar, which is to this day considered one of the greatest performances of this band.

Unlike many bands, Ten Years After, was often at their very best performing live. And a fan favorite was always, "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl". It was simply an astonishing display of bass guitar mastery. And any serious student of the bass guitar could learn from this classic.

And one of the very best little comments I ever heard from a loyal fan of Ten Years After was that after yet another exceptional show in the U.S., Alvin Lee was gracious enough to spend several minutes time backstage just talking to an average fan. The fan recalled what a "proper English gentleman" Alvin Lee was. He was an incredibly nice man besides being one of the greatest rock performers of all time. Where Sugar Daddies & Sugar Babies Meet would sure like Kelsey Grammer to act as their celebrity spokesman. He's their perfect role model they claim. He's an attractive older wealthy man who loves the young attractive women. And, that's what is all about, wealthy older men willing to spoil some young women who need help with rent, bills, school or other pressing financial issues. is a unique on-line dating service because it has eight times as many women on the site as men looking for women. Generally men have incomes in the six figures on up way into the millions of dollars to join. On the other hand, young women with serious financial need hope to land one of these guys to improve their lives.

Sugar babies even post some of the great gifts that they have received from their sugar daddy dates. These items include diamond watches, Gucci purses and expensive designer shoes, etc.

Hopefully, these mutually beneficial relationships result in real love. And if not, then at least two people had themselves a little fun.

Hey, if you're an older guy, who's not completely shopworn looking, and have a healthy financial account, and you love the young women, then you might consider joining and become one of their sugar daddies. And if you're an attractive young woman in some serious financial need, and looking for a wealthy older man to help your life, and shower you with expensive gifts, then you might just want to become a sugar baby over at

Sounds like a win-win relationship for the right sort of people.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Paris Hilton Sponsors A Motorcycle Racing Team

Paris Hilton is loaning her name to the sponsorship of an Aprilia motorcycle racing team. The SupermartXe racing team uses Aprilia R125 motorcycles with two stroke 125cc engines. With six speed manual gearboxes, these motorcycles perform far better than one might expect despite such small displacement engines. SupermartXe also has some 50cc class racers according to the team's download link.

The Aprilia 125cc motorcycles are able to post an awesome 110mph top speed, and feature highly advanced aluminum frames and suspensions. For years, Aprilia has been the dream of many teenagers who wanted to enter sports bike racing.

Aprilia is one of seven brand names owned by the Italian company, Piaggio. And whether, Paris Hilton's involvement with this motorsports racing team will lead to something big remains to be seen. And Paris Hilton doesn't appear to be any expert on racing, as her Twitter account offers up this highly technical statement from the socialite, "I can't believe I have my own racing team! So Cool".

I know that highly technical jargon like this is hard for the lay public to digest.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Lady Gaga Without Makeup!

If you're a farmer in need of a suitable scarecrow, then you might just try this here one. It's pop star Lady Gaga without makeup! Take away the outrageous costumes, the wild makeup, well .... I guess not much is really left.

NBC Was Better Off With Conan's TONIGHT SHOW Ratings

You don't hear any talk about it at NBC, but the disturbing and honest truth for the Peacock network is that Jay Leno's version of the TONIGHT SHOW continues to lag behind the ratings that Conan O'Brien drew when he hosted the TONIGHT SHOW only a few months ago. The fact of that matter is that NBC gained absolutely nothing by giving Conan O'Brien the heave-ho, and has actually lost ground in the late night talk TV rating wars.

True, Conan O'Brien managed to lose about half of Jay Leno's old TONIGHT SHOW ratings, yet his version of the TONIGHT SHOW drew a 1.1 rating with adults 18-49, which is hundreds of thousands of viewers better than 1.0 share that Leno currently pulls. And the news for NBC only gets worse, as Leno's show runs only slightly better than the 0.8 rating that Conan's new TBS show pulls down. CONAN continues to pull down numbers just about equal to what David Letterman's CBS show does. Both CONAN and THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN draw a virtual tie at 0.8 18-49 audience numbers, which translates into around 1.5 million viewers overall.

The good news here is that CONAN draws really decent numbers for a cable show to head-on compete with Dave Letterman's numbers and runs only slightly behind the Jay Leno figures. The bad news for NBC is that Jay Leno seems to be permanently damaged goods now, where less viewers than ever care to tune in and watch. Further, CONAN now cuts itself a nice piece of the late night ratings pie, leaving only smaller pieces for both Leno and Letterman to share. Conan O'Brien must feel some vindication right now. He looks like a big winner here when the ratings are given the fine toothed comb analysis.

Not bad news for the self-deprecating giant red head who has bragged about looking a little bit like Big Bird.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Goldie Hawn Without Makeup!

Ok kids, this is going to get pretty rough here. Not for the faint of heart. It's Goldie Hawn without makeup. We warned you not to look!

Captain Beefheart Dead At 69

Don Van Vliet, the avant garde 1960's rocker who was a pal to Frank Zappa and so many other experimental conceptual music artists, has died at the age of 69 from complications related to multiple sclerosis. Billing himself as Captain Beefheart, Van Vliet managed to get critical acclaim for producing some bizarre recordings such as TROUT MASK REPLICA. Van Vliet and Frank Zappa had a long association.

The strange story behind the TROUT MASK REPLICA recording is a fascinating one. Although the music sounds like a bizarre and disordered mess, it was actually carefully planned, practiced and recorded over a month long period in a house where the musicians became virtual prisoners. In fact, two of the musicians were so hungry that they sneaked out of the house and were arrested for stealing some food from a grocery store, so Frank Zappa had to bail them out.

As unusual as Van Vliet's music was, artists as diverse as Kurt Cobain to Joan Osbourne were either influenced by it, and some even did cover versions of songs written by Van Vliet.

From 1964 until his retirement from music, Van Vliet produced a number of critically significant albums that ranged from SAFE AS MILK(1967) to ICE CREAM FOR CROW(1982). But some his albums during the 70's such as CLEAR SPOT were dismissed by some long time fans as being more commercial sounding compared to the far more inventive material around the TROUT MASK REPLICA era.

Van Vliet continued his love for art during his reclusive retirement years since his 1982 retirement from music. He was such a self-critic of his own art that he used to destroy any art of his his that he didn't feel that met his self-set standards.

All musicians are loosely called artists. But, few like Dan Van Vliet truly were an artist.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Keith Richards On The Cover of RELIX

A picture is worth a thousand words here. Who could have guessed that the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards would ever appear on the cover of a magazine named RELIX. Some jokes just write themselves.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Real Toys For Real Men: Rewaco Trikes

Las Vegas based Rewaco Trikes, LLC has to be one of the finest high end producers of great custom trike motorcycles. Some models such as FX6 with the big rear mounted chromed Harley V-twin engine, are simply rolling art. And special options for handicapped riders are even available, making Rewaco brand trikes friendly to these riders, who may include disabled military veterans.

Some huge trike models such as the RF1, seat three, and are like a luxury car version of a trike. This model is a really big production, with a long wheelbase.

Naturally, Rewaco products don't come too cheap. But, you get awesome quality products that are actually a good value for the asking price. This company is so good, that wealthy motorcyclists the world over, especially in Britain and Germany, are huge fans of this brand and sales are brisk over there. If you have to ask the price of some great products, then you probably can't afford it. But, there's no substitute for quality.

Classic Cd Review: The Doors: BOOT YER BUTT!

The guitarist from The Doors, Robbie Krieger, compiled a collection of his favorite bootleg Doors recordings back in 2003 that was released through Bright Midnight Records(a division of Rhino) that is a little hard to find these days, but a fascinating compilation of rarer performances. And although longtime Doors recording engineer, Bruce Botnick did his best to clean up the sound on these recordings, the result is still far below normal studio quality. But, still this a great compilation of some rare recordings for true fans only here.

Included are the earliest known live recordings of The Doors from the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco back on March 4, 1967 and the rare early live performance at the Danbury High School Auditorium back on October 11, 1967. The album follows through up to 1970 with upcoming songs from the L.A. WOMAN album, with the songs "Love Her Madly" and "L.A. Woman". Surprisingly, "The W.A.S.P.(Texas Radio & The Big Beat", from the same album was performed live as early as 1968, yet didn't appear until this 1971 album release.

Robbie Krieger includes some interesting liner notes about each performance, something that is sorely missing from the Amazon music download version of this album. Further, with the music compression of digital song downloads, the quality is even worse. Enjoying this album on true cd form is the only way to go here, although the rarity of the album makes the much lower priced Amazon music download seem tempting.

The Bottom Line: Casual fans of The Doors might want to avoid this expensive and fairly hard to find collectible four disc box set like the plague. But a true fan of The Doors won't want to live without this. +++(Three Stars, Good. A little bit rare. Expect to pay a good price on Ebay for a copy).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TIME Names Conan O'Brien As One Of The "People That Mattered" In 2010

Conan O'Brien didn't make the cover of TIME Magazine as Person Of The Year this year, but he still made a big impression as was named as one of the "People Who Mattered" for 2010. And that's a major victory of sorts.

After the TONIGHT SHOW ratings disaster over at NBC that led to the network wanting to move him back to after midnight and bring Jay Leno back, O'Brien walked away from NBC, banned from TV work for months according to the terms of a legal agreement with NBC. And with a $30 million dollar settlement in hand, and only doing a low-key road show comedy act with most of his writers and musicians, Conan returned to TV, besting the ratings of rival Jay Leno on his first night premiere of his new cable TBS TV show.

An army of fans have stuck with Conan, through the good times and the bad. And with friends like that, O'Brien is still on the air, and should remain so for years to come. Conan's fans are as loyal as they come.


The ill-fated FOX comedy, RUNNING WILDE, has been pulled from the schedule for the second time since November. FOX claims it will run the remaining five episodes at some point, probably during the Summer dumping ground period for canceled shows. Bad reviews and ratings plagued this show, which did at least try to tread new ground as a comedy. Last week, an episode with a comic knight theme was at least acceptably interesting and ran in the 7:00pm hour time slot before a new SIMPSONS episode. But, even that fairly decent time slot didn't help the sorry series very much.

Will Arnett(the husband of Amy Poehler) and Keri Russell star in RUNNING WILDE which at least is a well produced, but a critical failure of show. One critic seemed to think that the show had showed some promise, but simply introduced way too many confusing "moving parts' to really fit all that well together as a cohesive piece. But, Will Arnett has proved the intelligence to be able to produce a good product if he can create a better package for those ideas. Arnett is yet to hit gold on his own since his roles as a supporting cast player on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT or 30 ROCK.

It's back to the drawing board for Arnett and for FOX.

Cd Review: Kid Rock: BORN FREE

As if Kid Rock didn't shed enough of his white trash rocker image with the 2007 smash album, ROCK AND ROLL JESUS, toying with country music and other softer styles, 2010's BORN FREE really goes for the country sound, hardly seeming like a rock album at all. The first few songs might seem a little bit like rock music, but then the album simply becomes just another of those endless country music releases. It quickly becomes nothing special to this listener, although the album did hit the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 Rock Albums chart, which is sort of surprising for a mostly country music album.

Martina McBride, Sheryl Crow, Zac Brown, Bob Seger and Trace Adkins all loan their talents to this album, which does feature much better than expected vocal work by Kid Rock. He's a far better singer than I had previously realized, and much of the song writing is more intelligent here than I expected. And, although this album is definitely far more grownup sounding than his days producing white trash music classics like "Cowboy", I still miss that sound. "Cowboy" type of hard rock or rap songs are much more of what I'd like to hear from Kid Rock. He used to be a hard rocker not all that long ago.

Strangely, Kid Rock toyed with the idea of making BORN FREE into a three disc set. I thank my lucky stars that didn't happen. Listening to one album of this was enough to suit me. I like the rocker Kid Rock much more than listening to this type of stuff. This album is just too soft to suit me.

The Bottom Line: Not the Kid Rock I expected. Yet, musically a very decent album if your thing is that country music thing. ++1/2(Two and a half stars, or slightly better than fair, nearly good if you like country music. But, an old rocker like me was left absolutely unfulfilled and empty feeling).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cd Review: The Blackeyed Peas: The Beginning

After producing 2009's THE E.N.D. which spurred some successful singles and was prematurely purported to be the last physical cd The Blackeyed Peas would ever produce, they follow up in 2010 with the disappointing new album, THE BEGINNING. Maybe, they should have quit when they were ahead.

The new album just lacks many real knockout pieces, although the lead-off new single, "The Time(Dirty Bit), seems pretty good. It successful samples the classic song, "'(I've Had )The Time Of My Life" from the DIRTY DANCING film. It recently peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. But, overall the new album by The Blackeyed Peas is simply their weakest effort yet. Their chart-topping power will be put to the test with this new album which is no better than most of your run-of-the-mill hip hop acts. Even Fergie was far better with her solo effort album than this.

The album is available in two versions, a standard release and a deluxe version with three more songs for a few more dollars. That's sure to make fans real happy. Offer a stripped down release of a mediocre album, and then have the nerve to charge a few dollars more for an expanded album with three more weak songs. Anything to make the fans happy, huh?

The Bottom Line: It's back to the drawing board time for The Blackeyed Peas to put some more time into producing a far better effort than this. While not totally bad, this album just doesn't live up to the high standards this group has set for itself in the past as one of the very best hip hop groups. ++(Two Stars, or just fair. You can probably skip this album unless you really need a $17 coffee coaster).

The 1000hp Supercharged Hemi Rocket II Trike

Even Jay Leno is very impressed with this awesome 1000hp Rocket II trike. British expatriate sculptor Tim Cotterhill who now lives in California, had some sketches in mind for about 30 years of his dream machine and was able to see his dream brought to life as this awesome machine. It builds on his previous Rocket 1 creation, a Honda CBX1000 six cylinder powered three-wheeler.

The Rocket II features a 426 Hemi with a BDS 8-71 blower, with the obligatory two spark plugs per cylinder design. The bike has been driven up to 160mph, and even includes a Simpson parachute if you need a little more slowing power than just mere brakes can provide. With the big Mickey Thompson rubber, the Rocket II, returns just 3mpg, proving that some dream machines might require rather frequent refueling.

As unique as the steering looks on this big boy toy, it actually steers beautifully in a straight line with no side pull when you change speed.

Strangely, the beautifully machined fins on the trike come from an aircraft salvage and metal crusher business that were actually bomb casings. Yet, they flow beautifully on this wild creation. And to an experienced car spotter, the '59 Caddy taillights might be immediately recognizable as well. And a trike this fast will usually be seen from the back as it leaves you behind in traffic.

What an ultimate toy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Paul McCartney Rocks A Lifeless SNL

Paul McCartney took a rather ordinary and uninspired episode of SNL and made it into a big event last night by performing a shopping list of Wings, Beatles and John Lennon classics. Paul McCartney made this a great episode and saved this episode from the so-so and lifeless bin. It was simply great TV.

The aging former Beatle was in fine form last night, and certainly helped to water the tastes for his newly released deluxe three disc anniversary box set of BAND ON THE RUN. If you haven't gone out and bought a copy as a gift or for yourself, then you're really missing something. This is a great reissue of a great album.

But, perhaps the most interesting moment was Paul McCartney performing A DAY IN THE LIFE doing the John Lennon part and then performing John Lennon's GIVE PEACE A CHANCE. In many ways, it didn't appear to be so much a holiday call for world peace as it was a sign that Paul McCartney had finally made peace with his former band mate and misses the guy terribly. And I can't think of a better holiday sentiment than that. Making peace with someone.

Real Toys For Real Men: The Eastwood 110volt MIG Welder

Eastwood makes great welding units for a low price. And a great gift for that real man on your shopping list is this entry level $299.99 MIG welder capable of welding together 1/4 thick, 24 gauge metal. The big advantage here is that this unit plugs into your regular 110 volt house or garage current. And, if you want more welding power(like, who doesn't), then spend $599.99 for some nicer and bigger models made by Eastwood.

Eastwood quality is legendary. They make great stuff. You can't go wrong with Eastwood.
BTW, Eastwood has an interesting on-line poll going on where 41% of respondents claim that they name their cars, and another 19% name the one's they care about. That's some guys that love their cars.

China Becomes The World's Largest Motorcycle Producer

China has now taken over Japan as the largest producer of motorcycles in the world. Yearly, 50 million motorcycles are produced worldwide, and China now produces at least 27.5 million of that figure or a little more than 50% of the total world production. China has already taken over the top spot in world automobile production by producing 13,790,994 units in 2009, compared to 7,934,516 from Japan and just 5,711,823 from the U.S., and Germany at 5,209,857 and South Korea at 3,512,916.

Interestingly, some historic American companies like Harley Davidson are moving ahead for plans to produce motorcycles in China, but whether they will be exported to the U.S. or simply sold in this Asian market is not quite known yet. But, given the nature of so much production of goods for sale in the U.S. made in China, the eventual production Of some legendary U.S. brands is probably only a matter of time.

The Chinese city of Chongqing, which has about 10 million in population may not be household name in the U.S. But, this modern city has become China's motorcycle production center, with more than 10 million motorcycles a year coming out of this city alone. In fact, four of five of the largest Chinese motorcycle brands that produce over 1 million units a year come out of this city. China has more than 130 motorcycle brands.

The biggest issues for China are to produce higher horsepower more powerful and modern motorcycles, as so much of Chinese production has revolved around largely simple one cylinder air cooled models. But, with more and more high tech equipment being produced in China, better motorcycles will be coming from China as this nation seeks to become the largest and most powerful economy in the world.

Chinese motorcycle brands are even beginning to better understand just what Americans really want, and more and more products solely tailored to U.S. buyers such as choppers and trike styles are getting more and more popular as export items due to the popularity of American TV shows such as AMERICAN CHOPPER. What looks like a $100,000 custom bike is suddenly affordable. However, most of these need bigger engines. But, you know that China will improve there in the future.

China is the new up and coming player both with automobiles and bikes. You can expect horsepower and quality to improve over time, and for one day some Chinese brands to be known for their quality and performance both. Chinese products continue to improve each day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

TRUE GRIT Returns To The Big Screen

December 22, is the expected release date for the new 2010 version of TRUE GRIT, the great Western novel from 1968 by Charles Portis that was adapted to the screen as the award winning 1969 John Wayne classic. Wayne was honored with the best actor Oscar that year.
The author of TRUE GRIT, Charles Portis only wrote five major works of Western-oriented fiction despite a cult-like following with many fans. NORWOOD made for a rather comic film with Glen Campbell playing the lead. Kim Darby starred in both TRUE GRIT and NORWOOD. Darby is forever remembered as the young character Mattie Ross in TRUE GRIT opposite John Wayne, although she is now 63 years old. Portis has been somewhat reclusive in recent years, although he reportedly enjoys frequent trips to Mexico. Born in Arkansas, Portis skillfully spun the Southern dialect for NORWOOD, making it a wonderful work of regional-setting fiction.

Once again, young 14 year old Mattie Ross(played this time by young actress Hailee Steinfeld) goes on a quest to seek revenge on the drifter who killed who father by recruiting old alcoholic Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn(Jeff Bridges). Josh Brolin plays the villainous drifter, Tom Chaney. And Matt Damon plays La Boeuf.

The buzz around TRUE GRIT is that it may well be the best Western this year. Jeff Bridges also turns in a performance that may be Oscar-worthy as well, making a rarity where two actors might win for playing the same role. Western fans have to be excited about this major new film. As enduring and popular as Westerns continue to be as novels, few good new Westerns make it to the big screen these days.

Paul Rudd & Sir Paul McCartney Do SNL

Actor Paul Rudd and music legend Sir Paul McCartney will give SNL their very best shot tonight. Comic actor Paul Rudd will appear in support of the new film, HOW DO YOU KNOW, which also stars legend Jack Nicholson and Reece Witherspoon . Paul McCartney is also expected to appear in support of the great new reissue of the 1973 masterwork album, BAND ON THE RUN, which has been reissued as a deluxe three disc set that includes a feature film DVD as well.

The BAND ON THE RUN reissue was given a very good review here a few days ago, and is a highly recommended Christmas gift.

Expect a few memorable laughs when SNL goes wall to wall Paul for some great jokes and music tonight. Few details have leaked out about tonight's episode, so apparently some big surprises are being kept under wraps tonight for maximum surprise. Even by SNL standards that's unusual, probably meaning this will be a great holiday gift for SNL fans. Jeff Bridges hosts next week, then SNL takes the holiday off.

THE CLOSER Will End In 2011

Season seven in 2011 will be the end of the very popular detective drama, THE CLOSER, Wizbang Pop has learned. And the decision to end the series was made by none other than actress Kyra Sedgwick herself. Apparently, she wanted the series to go out on top as a fan favorite and not go through some creativity decline. Sometimes, a very popular show leaves when it's at the top of it's game, such as NBC's SEINFELD. THE CLOSER will now join that elite club next year after season seven ends. Expect full DVD sets of each season as well as a possible complete series box set to be issued.

TNT probably isn't really all that happy to hear this news. It puts them in a real spot to find some show that will equal THE CLOSER in both audience appeal and quality. But regardless, TNT President Steve Koonin had nothing but kind words for the cast and creators of the landmark series for the network.

It was a great ride while it lasted.

Friday, December 10, 2010

HIV Scandal Closes Clinic Meant To Protect Adult Entertainment Actors

AIM, a clinic meant to make the adult film industry safe for the actors was shut down by California health authorities after a 24 year old actor who starred in both Straight and Gay adult films complained about poor treatment after he contracted HIV in October. It wasn't immediately clear whether the actor contracted the condition because of his work in adult films or from sexual activity in his private life, but actor Derrick Burts complained to Los Angeles health authorities claiming that he got hung up on when he called AIM for medical help for his new HIV condition. Burts believes that adult actors need to wear condoms while performing in adult films. Six years ago, another HIV scare in the industry led to many films being produced with performers wearing condoms, but customers of adult films were unhappy with this practice, and condom use started to disappear once again with the adult industry using the AIM clinic to help make the industry safe for the actors.

Evolving "community standards" conditions make most depictions of sexual intercourse legal for sale in most adult oriented books, magazines and films sold in most U.S. states and cities right now, where not only the adult films, but many mainstream men's magazines also depict sexual intercourse now. At one time, many mainstream men's magazines such as SWANK or others wouldn't even depict bare female nipples, let alone full intercourse. But, that's the nature of evolving "community standards", where depicting some sexual activity might be considered a serious crime one year, and as constitutionally protected free expression a few years later.

This latest HIV crisis problem for the adult entertainment industry could once again pressure the industry to mandate condom use for the actors. But, in real business terms, this recession-damaged industry would only take another big financial hit if this should happen. Customers like their porn much better without condoms. But, this might put the actors in some danger. Expect a big debate about this in coming weeks. If government can force alcohol drinks to remove caffeine, then government mandated condoms could be just around the corner.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Zombie Stripper Film Shoots In Vancouver

Gilbert Gottfried has reportedly decided to decline a role in a new film that is a sort of parody of ZOMBIELAND. However, Daniel Baldwin will play a role in STRIPPERLAND, fighting off the advancing hordes of zombie strippers. Lloyd Kaufman, Troma pictures CEO (read major league king of schlock B grade films) will also appear in a role in the independent film made on about a $300,000 budget that should appear in around 160 theaters according to the purported distribution deal.

This past Sunday, two streets of downtown Vancouver were closed off as filming for street scenes continued for the film. The movie is aiming for an R-rating, and avoided public nudity on Vancouver streets. But, an insider's tip claims that you can expect plenty of skin as well as laughs from this outrageous send-up of ZOMBIELAND.

Baldwin also gets the best movie line of the year in this film with, "They won't eat me, because they have to stop and strip". Okay.

Surprisingly, STRIPPERLAND is set to debut February 22, 2011 on DVD as well theaters. This seems like a mad rush production working against a tight schedule. But, in order to keep the project on budget, expect to see it on time and not a moment late.

Jim Morrison Pardoned For Notorious Miami Concert

The late legendary front-man for The Doors, Jim Morrison received a pardon today from the Florida Clemency board for conduct during a drunken 1969 Miami concert that resulted in his arrest and conviction after he was accused of lewd public behavior during the show. Morrison had to surrender to FBI agents days after the show on one felony count of lewd and lascivious behavior as well as three misdemeanor counts related to his public drunkenness after a newspaper ran a terrible review of the show. Morrison was later convicted of two misdemeanors, indecent exposure and open profanity, and sentenced to six months hard labor in jail and a $500 fine. While appealing the conviction in 1971, Morrison left the U.S. for Paris but died suddenly, effectively ending the case. Morrison was offered a plea bargain deal for the band to perform a free Miami concert, but rejected that fair offer, because a lot of fans of the band expected much better than the drunken behavior of Morrison that evening.

During the concert, some claim that a drunken Morrison asked the crowd, "Do you want to see my cock", and supposed pulled down his signature leather pants and briefly simulated masturbation for the audience and also simulated oral sex with guitarist, Robbie Krieger. The incident not only resulted in the eventual arrest and charges against Morrison, but took The Doors off parts of their concert tour as shows were canceled and many mainstream stores stopped selling records by The Doors in response to "decency groups" exerting public pressure(read extortion. Public law just doesn't allow someone to threaten to do something to someone unless you do as they demand). 1969 also was a difficult year for the band as well, as critics weren't very happy with THE SOFT PARADE album for the most part, although the album spurred four singles including the smash hit, "Touch Me". But singles such as "Runnin' Blue" with Robbie Krieger's hillbilly voiced chorus seemed just plain weird.

By 1971, The Doors performing with Jim Morrison was probably over. His alcohol and drug abuse, and wild living just seemed to be too much of a strain for the highly disciplined musicianship of the other band members. On one hand, Jim Morrison was their star, and they were his backing act. On the other hand, such fine musicians deserved much better conduct from their front-man and far less problems. Morrison was both good and bad for business.

Outgoing Florida Governor Charlie Crist read a statement which seemed to indicate that Morrison could not appeal his conviction due to his death, and numerous witnesses backed up Morrison's account of the Miami event, but the judge cutoff testimony during trial. The governor also cited that Morrison wasn't allowed to present a "community standards" defense, although such a defense was generally part of the 1973 Supreme Court decision regarding obscenity. All of these issues seemed to demand that the case be dropped. But, the real untold story here is that Jim Morrison was a true music legend, and no doubt all of the Florida Clemency board as well the governor remember being raised with The Doors on the radio or in their record collections. And whatever drunken nonsense Jim Morrison got himself into at this concert that evening should probably be overlooked for his contribution to music and to American culture. Jim Morrison was a troubled genius. He had his own demons. But, now he has one less. And that probably makes both his family and fans feel much better today.

Regardless of all things, the Miami show had to one for the legend books. Few shows are talked about years later like this one. And Jim Morrison certainly cemented his "bad boy" image with legendary concert shows such as this, making him an original rock and roll rebel.

Conan O'Brien's Ratings Stabilize

The good news for Conan O'Brien is that the ratings freefall seems to have stopped and stabilized at an average audience of about 1.5 million viewers per episode. In addition, CONAN continues to attract the youngest audience of any late night talk show, making the talk show desirable to advertisers as well.

Although this audience is only about half of the premiere episode, TBS has to be grateful that this average of 1.5 million viewers is relatively acceptable enough for a low budget talk show and hopefully can be built on over time. TBS is likely to give O'Brien much more time to develop his show than NBC did. However, by cable standards CONAN is hardly any great success story. AMC's WALKING DEAD drew a staggering 6 million viewers last week, and the Shakespearian-inspired biker drama, THE SONS OF ANARCHY drew 3.6 million viewers.