RARWRITER PUBLISHING GROUP PRESENTS

CREATIVE CULTURE JOURNAL

at www.RARWRITER.com      

--------------------"The best source on the web for what's real in arts and entertainment" ---------------------------

Volume 2 -2017

MUSIC    BOOKS    FINE ARTS   FILM   THE WORLD

ARTIST NEWS    THIS EDITION   ABOUT   MUSIC   MUSIC REVIEWS  BOOKS  CINEMA   FASHION   FINE ARTS  FEATURES   SERIES  MEDIA  ESSAY  RESOURCES  WRITTEN ARTS POETRY  CONTACT  ARCHIVES  MUSIC LINKS

                                 

What happened to the list?

As the CCJ transitions to a model better geared to leverage social networks, we are moving away from our past use of email notification services. If you would like to be added to our internal email distribution, please send your request to Rick@RARWRITER.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, which we will use to keep you notified of new features and news articles.

 

ABOUT RAR: For those of you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites. Use this link to visit the RAR music page, which features original music compositions and other.

Use this link to visit Rick Alan Rice's publications page, which features excerpts from novels and other.

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RARADIO

Use the RARADIO link to go to our radio page, where you will hear songs you are not likely to hear elsewhere.

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Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page

ATWOOD - "A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance" -AVAILABLE NOW FOR KINDLE (INCLUDING KINDLE COMPUTER APPS) FROM AMAZON.COM. Use this link.

CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively called ATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance is the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.

 

EXPLORE THE KINDLE BOOK LIBRARY

If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves at NOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.


 

 

ARTIST NEWS

The Musical Revolution that Gave us the world today

1980'S MODERN ROCK FEATURE - USE THIS LINK

Bay Area Cool

Sal Castenada

You want your Creative Culture, I give you Sal Castenada.

I love this guy. He has been a figure in the elite San Francisco media market for decades, even longer than I have lived in the area, which has been since early 1984.

I knew him on the radio as a traffic guy back then, but then he got a midnight shift on The Quake (as I remember), which was a predecessor to today's less interesting Live 105 Alternative Rock radio channel. That struck me, at the time, as the most amazing bit of miscasting I had ever heard of, because that station was the epitome of cool, and Sal was so apparently its opposite.

Somehow I was wrong about Sal's cool quotient, and over the years this has become more and more apparent.

I love this guy for a hundred reasons, not the least of which is that he seems to be of some ethnic group that I can't place. He reads, in terms of physiognomy, as an international man of mystery. Certainly he is Hispanic, and has a Hispanic surname, and yet it seems like there is some other tricky ethnicity in there. He has a subtle, undefined quality that makes  quietly exotic.

Sal has this underdog thing about him. One perceives him as a nerd or geek who is utterly over-matched by the shiny alpha types that rule the City by the Bay - and yet Sal prevails. Others come and go, but somehow Sal Castenada is still there, every morning, doing the traffic report as part of the extremely unpretentious KVTU Channel 2 morning team. I love all those people, and I usually hate TV news teams.

Finally, I love Sal because over the years he has developed this sneaky wit that confirms for me something I had always suspected about him. While we may have been snickering at what might be seen as his humble assets, Sal has been enjoying a fantastic ongoing victory, executing a quiet success story that now seems to have presented itself in his quiet personality as an inner calm, a sense of perspective, and a positive bearing. He seems a little above all the fray now. It's as if Sal doesn't have to act cool, because whatever he's got he owned it ages ago.

My hat is off to you, Mr. Castenada. - RAR

Stranger Things

Have you been watching Stranger Things on Netflix? If not, and if you have been looking for a binge-watch opportunity, this is well worth your time. It is imaginatively conceived, cleverly written, full of surprises, and it has a tremendous cast of actors, young and old. It is doing for Winona Ryder what Breaking Bad did for Bryan Cranston. She delivers one stellar performance.

Butt Call

Chrissie, Accursed Cell Phones, and Being Herself

The signs are posted everywhere. Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders are not welcoming to people using cell phones to record video of their performances. But all one can do is ask.

In Dubai a few weeks ago, Chrissie threw a fit over that cell phone etiquette, responding with her own breaches of etiquette that make unauthorized cell phone video seem like child's play.

According to The Sun, the Pretenders had only just started their show at Dubai’s Irish Village venue when she saw people openly ignoring her request that they not use cell phones during her performance, and she went nuts!

The Sun reports that Hynde got angry and vulgar, calling people in the audience “cunts” for recording her. She reportedly taunted them by saying she "didn’t give a fuck" because she already had their money. She also reportedly flipped off phone users and, as she was leaving the stage, “cocked her leg” and told the crowd to “take a picture of that.”

The National reports that, according to people who were in the crowd on Thursday night, Hynde also told people in the crowd to stick their phones up their ass and informed them that the Pretenders “ain’t Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, so if you wanna use your fucking phones, go and see them.”

Fantastic! Chrissie managed to get a lick in at rude concert goers while also getting a lick in at younger celebrities who grew up in this modern age of copyright infringement and extreme bad manners.

In a post on Facebook earlier this month, Hynde apologized for cussing out fans with phones on a recent UK tour: “I do want to apologise for being a bit of a bitch when it came to camera phones and just being myself in general. As you probably know by now, when i’m not on the stage, i like to retain a very ordinary profile and get embarrassed by uninvited attentions. So if I told anyone to ‘get lost’ – it’s just me being the citizen God intended me to be.”

Even more spectacular, God made her do it! Though is it also possible that God also made those citizens who use their cell phones to record any damned thing they want? That's the thing about entitlement: it feels like God meant for it to be.

Hip-Hop Most Streamed

According to Forbes, R&B and hip-hop—which are technically considered two separate genres—have been responsible for 25.1 percent of the music consumed in the U.S. Rock checks in at 23 percent.

Forbes says this shift in consumption has something to do with the surging popularity of streaming services. Rock is still "far and away" the most popular genre when it comes to the sale of albums, earning 40 percent of all sales in the U.S. But album sales have sunken little by little, year by year for a while now as streaming services become more ubiquitous. Hip-hop/R&B are reportedly responsible for 29 percent of all on-demand streams across the country. In 2017, streaming services are the only platforms still growing at a steady rate.

Big Bang Effect

Kids Don't Want to be Musicians

Do you suppose it could be called The Big Ban Effect? Do they even get that show in Britain? You cannot turn on the TV in the U.S. without finding it on some channel.

The Big Bang Theory makes leading characters of a group of young physicists and scientists, and their blonde friend, not because they do anything special, but rather because they are so socially awkward. They are us, you get it? Their saving grace is their STEM educations, which make them valuable in a society that might otherwise shun them, except for their blonde friend.

It could be that a nexus of social reconditioning is coming to fruition in the form of a new generation of young people who are focused in ways different from their predecessors.

A recent survey of British youngsters revealed that 12% of the survey respondents selecting becoming a business leader and entrepreneur over any other career aspiration.

Of 1,534 kids, just 8% are set on being a teacher, while only 7% want to be an actor and a further 7% are intent on becoming a musician. Just 2% of children want to be an athlete when they grow up.

That adds up to only 36%, I believe, so if there is anything to my Big Bang Theory then 64% of all young people yearn to become either an awkward science nerd, or a blonde friend.

The Exploitation Game

Noticing that story above, about how young people are losing interest in what have previously been considered glamour careers, maybe it has something to do with the Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, and other scandals rocking the creative side of the entertainment community, and what has been happening at Hollywood's top talent agencies.

Over the past six months, ICM and CAA have forced out male agents accused of sexual harassment of co-workers. Last month, APA talent agent Tyler Grasham (pictured) was fired for alleged sexual misconduct that has expanded into a criminal investigation by the LAPD. 

It seems that in the entertainment industry, people are predator material all along their career development paths. An agent might exploit you when you sign, an actor may molest you at rehearsal, a producer may assault you at dinner, and when you go to out them all to the media you find Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly waiting for you.

PERVERSION REPORT

If you are like most folks, you are having a hard time keeping up with all the reports of aberrant behavior in the media these days. Here is a brief overview of the depravity that is responsible for so much of American culture.

Comedian Louis C.K. gets his kicks by masturbating in front of people. He did that for Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov and other female comedians, and he admits all that, but his defense is that he always asked first (the vampire defense), before taking off all his clothes and jerking off all over himself.

Victims of these sorts of behaviors routinely describe themselves as "frozen" by the events taking place before their eyes, and unable to extricate themselves from perversion's way. So Louis announced his intentions, asked if it was okay, and like deer frozen by the blinding light of Louis C.K.'s testicles, they saw something that cannot be unseen, which they then talked about to all kinds of people, but somehow Louis' life of weird went on.

John Stewart laughed off the notion that his friend Louis C.K. was a pervert. He knew Bill Cosby was a predator, but he wasn't watching the social networks so didn't know anything about this guy he had known for 30 years. Stewart teams with George Clooney and Matt Damon in that "Hear No Evil", "See No Evil", and whatever it was that other monkey didn't do to evil, in that monkey triad.

Factory-level predator Harvey Weinstein has employed former Mossad agents as spies to befriend people he allegedly raped, like Rose MacGowan, to figure out how to shut them up about his predilections. Harvey apparently starts to physically shake at the sight of an attractive woman, which should probably be one of those things your doctor checks for during annual physicals. He should show you a photo of an attractive person, and make some sort of a note if the patient begins to have a seizure, in case it might mean something. I'm not sure if Harvey's back-stabbing brother Bob Weinstein is just a seriously inadequate predator, or just a normal guy, but he is accused of asking a woman to dinner, to his hotel room, and to his home over a three-month period. In our present period of witch hunting, that counts as evil.

Kevin Spacey apparently does not get the shakes when he sees fresh young men; in fact, he goes into overdrive, plying them with drinks, and carrying them around like new brides. He offers no excuses, just makes announcements. He has finally come out as gay, and so these accounts of past digressions were just part of his hero's journey to be himself. He's in a rehab clinic in Europe now, with Harvey Weinstein, except that Harvey isn't really contrite or trying to resolve his issues, but just checking in to rehab should be enough. He took steps, right?

Back when he was at ABC, Mark Halperin also used to like to masturbate in front of co-workers, though as an important political reporter he liked to keep a desk between he and the objects of his weird compulsions. It probably looks more professional that way. Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner hired writers who would have gay sex with him, according to writer Ben Ryan, for whom time stood still when the publisher stuck his tongue in his mouth.

Ellen Page says director Brett Ratner is a rat, which sort of follows. Six women have brought sexual assault allegations against him, and he grossed Ellen out on the set of X-Men. Along those same lines, Andy Dick is a dick, of course, as are the gropers Ben and Casey Affleck. Jeremy Piven is in there, too, groping women.

Corey Feldman says Charlie Sheen molested a way-under-aged Corey Haim (not that one comes of molestable age), and he has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise a bunch of money to out a bunch of pedophiles.

Richard Dreyfus was once a penis exposer, and George Takei drugged a young waiter/actor and tried to pull off his pants. Really.

David Guillod may be the most creative of drug-and-orgy crowd, somehow mixing mystery blood into his partying ways.

But never forget the great James Toback, who has 300 women accusing him of sexual assault. It's like Thermopylae with female Spartans, standing firm against the philistine Persian demigod Toback. Julianne Moore, Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams all have Toback stories. In fact, it seems like every famous actress or actor has tons of these Hollywood experiences and now feel liberated to talk about them, all because of the great Harvey Weinstein, who recognized the perversion within, popped a bunch of pills, and erected his defense. And so issued forth a sheet of cleansing revelation.

One assumes Hollywood will be reset to normal after these flood waters reside and all the entertainment industry Nephilim have been exposed (pardon the expression) and jerked off the gravy train of power, money and fame.

Entitlement - I, Me, Mine

Apparently the last great recession wasn't sufficiently devastating to reset the native expectations of those young people we call "Millenials".

Research has discovered that large amounts of young people are developing an entitlement complex, this according to Psychology Today. Numerous websites have picked up on this press release and reprinted it verbatim, which is the source for this piece.

According to the article, the psychological trend comes from the belief that you are superior to others and are more deserving of certain things.

This form of narcissism has some significant consequences such as disappointment and a tendency to lash out.

Psychology Today reports that some examples of entitlement range from the disregard of rules, freeloading, causing inconveniences and like to assume the role of leader when working in groups.

So called "Millennials", who were born roughly between 1988 and 1994, tend to have this characteristic as a 2016 study found.

The University of Hampshire found that youngsters who were studied on issues of entitlement scored 25 per cent higher than people aged 40 to 60 and 50 per cent higher than those over that age bracket.

Dr Joshua Grubbs, who conducted the research, which was published in the Psychological Bulletin is quoted by Spring as saying: "At extreme levels, entitlement is a toxic narcissistic trait, repeatedly exposing people to the risk of feeling frustrated, unhappy and disappointed with life."

Often times, life, health, ageing and the social world don’t treat us as well as we’d like.

Confronting these limitations is especially threatening to an entitled person because it violates their worldview of self-superiority.

The study looked at 170 cases and determined that entitlement leads to a cycle of disappointment, anger, negativity and a constant need for that person to tell themselves that they are special.

Paul is Dead Industry

Paul McCartney Lives!

Even as a person who loves The Beatles and feels that theirs has been the only band who has ever really meant anything, I must confess to loving the "Paul is Dead" story.

It won't go away - in fact, has been with us for 50 years. The whole world knows the story, that in 1966 Beatle Paul McCartney died in an automobile accident and was replaced by a look-alike, who is the guy the world has known ever since as Paul McCartney.

The story is so absurd as to seem implausible. It asks the reader to believe that the biggest, most well-known band in the world could be reconstituted with a replacement who looked and sounded like the original cast member, and who could perform the role to such perfection that the band's legion of fans would not notice the change. It reduces the reality of The Beatles to the surreality of Beatlemania - just a work of performance art so well executed as to seem authentic. That, of course, would be an enormous breach of trust between the band and the fans who love them.

Over the last few years, and since the web became omnipresent in our lives, the Paul is Dead story has been recast as a conspiracy theory. The Beatles, some very serious researchers would have you believe, were a thought control tool of the Tavistock Institute, and a tool of Britain's intelligence services MI-5 and MI-6. Other suggest that the story was a Brian Epstein marketing ploy to try to keep his boys interesting to the public as they changed from being a pop act to being something more like an art project.

The Beatles' arty change started in 1965 with Rubber Soul, but could really be heard in Revolver, released in August 1966. The car crash supposedly happened in January 1967, which in The Beatles carefully documented time line occurred during a period when Paul had dropped off the radar, gone missing. He later explained, in an interview, that he felt like he had done enough press and public appearances to last a lifetime and had just taken some time off. But to conspiracy theorists, who have turned the Paul is Dead story into a publishing industry, the Paul who came back from that period of self-imposed exile was a different guy, literally.

The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, after having earlier released Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane as the A and B sides of a single. With Strawberry Fields Forever you start to get these weird, embedded mystery clues, that were liberally sprinkled throughout Beatles material for the rest of their days, until they disbanded in 1970.

It is never clear why The Beatles, including the replacement Paul, would have felt compelled to go to great lengths to rat themselves out. It would have taken engineering help, and it would have taken the complicity of the artists who worked on their album covers. The media is now littered with late-life confessions of the surviving band members, admitting to the whole thing, their explanation being that The Beatles were a giant corporation under the control of directors, and so it made sense to keep the enterprise alive by integrating this replacement band member. None of those confessions are viewed as legitimate by the mainstream press, though that raises another interesting aspect of this story.

As a marketing scheme, this has to be the most successful campaigns of all time. Fifty years after its launch, people are more obsessed with this than ever, so why don't you hear advertising agency gurus talking about it with extraordinary reverence? But you don't. In fact, what you get is derision. Serious academics and media people treat this story as if it is a joke.

Forensic analysts have noted many anomalies in photographs of young Paul and photographs of his alleged replacement. The Paul after 1966 is taller, has green rather than brown eyes, has a different shaped head, different ears and teeth, and a different arch to his eyebrows, some of which gets explained away by cosmetic surgery. Paul McCartney, as we know him today, looks pretty great at 74 years of age, and his rumored replacement was 5 years older, so the guy we are seeing could be almost 80!

Most interesting to me is an analysis of a professional bass player who noted differences in the way pre-66 McCartney played live versus what he sees in the post-66 version. He points to old film of The Beatles playing live in which McCartney, playing bass, demonstrates extraordinary casual virtuosity. He sings, twirls around at one point, and never once looks at his hands on the neck of his guitar, even has he plays sophisticated lines up and down the fretboard. The later McCartney watches his hands constantly, prompting the analyst to ask an interesting question: What musician masters his instrument and then begins to change his behaviors to pay close attention to his fingering? People who believe there was a replacement Paul answer that question by saying that the replacement had to be taught to play left handed, and he never demonstrated the casual virtuosity of the real Paul.

Paul is Dead people point out that Britain, and even Germany, had a few Beatles-like acts who were playing that Mersey Beat sound that brought The Beatles fame. Those band members could have been viewed as under-studies, and the notion is that the Paul replacement came from one of these sound-alike bands.

The name that often comes up is William Campbell, and there is a Scottish musician named William Campbell, Jr., who goes by Junior Campbell. (Remember "Junior's Farm" from the 1975 Venus and Mars album, which was a reference to McCartney's rural Scottish getaway?) He is a left-handed musician who plays guitar, bass and piano, and in the 1960s he wrote numerous hit songs for his band Marmalade. That is him, pictured right in 2016.

Campbell co-wrote the music and lyrics for the internationally successful children's TV series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. The first series of 26 stories premiered in October 1984 on the ITV Network in the UK, with Ringo Starr as storyteller.

Crikeys! Do you suppose Thomas the Tank Engine was a Tavistock mind control project, a manipulation by the British government? I joke, of course, or at least I think I do.-RAR

Stephen Swenson Discusses His Life in Music, Dusty Drapes and the Dusters, and Cocktail Stevie

Magic Music

Lee Aronsohn Documentary Wins at Napa Film Festival

IMDB: TV writer/producer LEE ARONSOHN tracks down the scattered members of a beloved early 1970's band with the hope that, 40 years after they broke up, he can get them to play ONE LAST SHOW.

Congratulations to Lee Aronsohn on his award in the Special Presentation category at the Napa Valley Film Festival. His film "40 Years in the Making, the Magic Music Story" received an Honorable Mention award at the annual festival, November 7-11, 2017.

This documentary, about 1970s Boulder, Colorado band Magic Music, is Arohsohn's first film festival entry, though he is well connected in the television community. His Wikipedia entry reads as follows: "He has written for many sitcoms, such as The Love Boat, Who's the Boss?, Murphy Brown, Grace Under Fire, The Big Bang Theory, and Cybill. In 1997, he co-created the sitcom starring Rick Reynolds and Pam Dawber, Life... and Stuff. In 2003, he co-created the sitcom Two and a Half Men and wrote the original music for the series as well. Besides writing scripts, Aronsohn has also worked as executive producer and directs one show per season. He is also executive producer and writer for The Big Bang Theory."

Magic Music was around for a brief time in the early 1970s, when Aronsohn was a student in Boulder, and they obviously left an implression on him. Aronsohn showed this film earlier this year at the Woodstock Film Festival, and here is a video of him talking about what was behind him making this film.

Magic Music band member Chris Daniels posted this on Facebook: "Kurt Vonnegut: 'Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.' This weekend Magic Music had the experience of a lifetime. "40 Years In the Making, The Magic Music Story" won an award at the Napa Valley Film Festival, we performed there in the Uptown Theater for 400 brand new fans and went to some of the most amazing parties and dinners - right out of a Fellini film - and some of the nicest and most creative people you could ever meet."

Legendary San Francisco Singer

Johnny Mathis Drops a Big Box

 

When I was growing up, Johnny Mathis seemed omnipresent. He was on my parent's record player at home, and it seemed like he was on TV all the time. My mother adored him, and was really surprised to learn much later in life that he was gay. It wasn't that Johnny was hiding anything so much as America just wasn't paying that much attention to such personal attributes for years, with gay people often living closeted, private lives, and the general public not having a great awareness of all that.

Johnny grew up in San Francisco in a musical family, one of seven children, with a father who had experience in Vaudeville. He recognized and supported his son's natural talents, and it was arranged for young Johnny to take six years of formal voice training from a teacher who educated him in all of the musical genres, including opera. By 1965, the 19-year old boy wonder, who was gifted with a preternaturally smooth, sweet tenor voice, was ready for the big time.

Johnny Mathis went from one mother figure, in voice teacher Connie Cox, to another in club manager Helen Noga. She saw Johnny singing at a Black Hawk Club Sunday afternoon jam session, became his manager, got him a weekend gig at Ann Dee's 440 Club, and got him signed to Columbia Records. He went on to become one of the most respected and successful singers in music history, with 62 albums to his credit, including classic singles such as "Chances Are".

The Voice of Romance: The Columbia Original Album Collection, due out December 8th on Legacy Recordings, features the entirety of Mathis' recordings for Columbia Records, beginning with his self-titled 1956 debut.

Among the 62 remastered albums – including 25 albums that have never been released on CD in the U.S. – are the unreleased 1981 LP I Love My Lady, which Mathis recorded with Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, and 1989's The Island, a collaboration with Sergio Mendes.

The box set also features Mathis' recently released Johnny Mathis Sings The Great New American Songbook, featuring covers of songs by Bruno Mars, R. Kelly and more. Additionally, the box set includes two discs containing 40 unreleased recordings.

Knave New World

A Thousand Dollar Emoji

When the first new iPhone X owners emerged from the iPhone store in San Francisco on debut day, a reporter asked a buyer if he could see his new phone. The young man told the reporter he wanted to open it in the privacy of his home, that it was sort of personal. The reporter asked why he felt it was worth putting down a thousand dollars for this new product. What feature did he really yearn to use?

It was the new emoji. This kid was thrilled to have emoji that he could personalize with his own face. One thousand dollars.

In the United States, some reportedly fought outside the San Francisco Apple Store to figure out who was first in line. Others used the hype around the iPhone X to make some fast cash by offering to stand in line for enthusiasts.

The iPhone X, Apple's 10th anniversary offering, is loaded with plenty of high-end hardware and new features, including Face ID that unlocks the phone when users look at it. It is also pricey, starting at $999 for the entry-level model.

Apple CEO for President?

A new "Draft Tim Cook 2020" website was launched on Friday as an apparent effort to convince Apple's CEO to launch a presidential campaign. The website, which provides no information on who is behind the effort, features a modified red, white, and blue Apple logo and highlights speeches Cook has delivered in place of a campaign platform.

The website also highlights tweets Cook has sent that indicate he is part of the movement to "#Resist" Republican President Donald Trump. Other tweets are shown to illustrate that Cook has taken a position on DACA, the Charlottesville protests, the transgender military ban, and the Paris Climate Accords.

The End of the Movie Theater

Movie going was once a wonderful, soul-refreshing experience. That ended long, long ago, when movie going became a multi-plex experience, and after that things started to go really wrong. As the chart below shows, ticket sales have been declining over the last 20 years, and as those total numbers do not adjust for inflation you can see that the cost of distributing films is outweighing overall receipts.

There are plenty of old movie fans who would tell you that they just don't make any movies worth seeing anymore. I suspect that is true, but with the additional note that there are few movies worth going to see in a movie theater given the public that you will experience in those places.

With Hollywood staking most of its chips on big budget movies targeted to young comic book fans, the cineplex attracts a lot of traffic that doesn't know anything about the etiquette required for the appreciation of mature cinema. Quiet movies rarely are made. Better to stay home and watch PBS, or maybe Netflix if you really feel a need to get beyond your comfort zone, or maybe Amazon.

Madison

"XM Radio has been through many changes in the past couple of years. After merging with Sirius Radio, all who listened hoped for the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, Madison is still on Sirius/XM radio. She is on 2 channels: Alt Nation and 1st Wave. Since this is the case, we lose two stations that we cannot listen to because she is annoying, rude, crude, doesn’t talk about current music, unprofessional, and is very disrespectful to her listeners." - Courtney White

Wendi "Madison" Rickman got a bachelor's in communication, and another in theater arts and broadcasting from the University of Miami, before becoming a deejay on Q101 in Chicago for a year. Then, in 2002 she landed a job with Sirius XM radio, where she has arguably become one of the biggest personalities in the business. She is currently hosting a daily show on the Alt-Nation channel (34), and has previously hosted the 80s First Wave channel (33). In a world in which radio deejays are like historical artifacts, Madison has an extraordinary presence in our lives.

Her personal style is pretty much free of artifice, and perhaps it is her vanilla nature that accounts for her extraordinary longevity at this level of a cut-throat business. Madison's naif qualities - her nonchalance at being her uncool self - drives some people crazy. She likes to sing and does so all the time, even in acknowledging that she gets complaints. There are petitions online (see the text above) to pressure Sirius XM management to take her off the air because, to the petitioner's mind, she is just so annoying.

I like her, for some reason, and I hate deejays generally. Most can add nothing to their time on the air beyond a personality that half will like, and half won't. Madison's is right at the Golden Mean, not too cool and not too hot. She is just sort of goofy and friendly, which in the current radio world is about as good as one could hope to be.

Is Anyone Aware of AXS TV?

Not me, not until recently, that is. Doug Strobel told me about it, so I checked it out.

It turns out that AXS TV (pronounced "access") is an American cable and satellite television network that is managed by film company 2929 Entertainment (through AXS TV, LLC)—which they founded as HDNet (through HDNet, LLC) in 2001 before it was rebranded as AXS TV in 2012.

Partners include Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), Ryan Seacrest (through Ryan Seacrest Media), Creative Artists Agency, and CBS Corporation. The network's programming specializes in live music events, as well as comedy, movies, and mixed martial arts, among others. The AXS TV company includes the channel HDNet Movies.

What caught our attention was a show called "The Big Interview", in which legendary journalist Dan Rather interviews leading entertainment figures. You can use this link: http://www.axs.tv/programs/the-big-interview/ to vist the website to see the schedule for upcoming shows. It is an interesting business model, in which you can buy viewing rights to these interviews.

Lost in the Brambles

Searching for Bigfoot and Losing Ourselves?

For some reason, we human beings have a strong need to believe in things that frighten us, and so there has long been a publishing industry exploiting our lust for horror in story form. Our many cultures are fecund with weird tales of ghosts, vampires, werewolves, banshees, snakes, dragons, giants, and the wide range of other supernatural manifestations. That those creatures are all pulled from our own cultural foundations gives all of those stories a visceral power, which we respond to with increased heart rates and a base desire to get more of what we hear, see, and read. Danger that isn't really going to get to you is intoxicating, a Peeping Tom's view of extreme weirdness that feeds on itself.

One of the universal fascinations is the search for the forest creature known as "Bigfoot" in the Pacific Northwest, which personalizes the more generic term "Sasquatch". Bigfoot aren't really in the same class as all of those ethereal creatures (other than ghosts) because people keep running into them, with reports going back at least as far as 986 A.D. Leif Ericson, the Viking who visited North America, reported an encounter with hairy men who towered over he and his men, and scared them mightily - and it's worth noting that the Vikings were unusually large themselves, for people of the time, and rather well known for scaring others.

Teddy Roosevelt had a Bigfoot story. In fact, they are common as fleas! Just a few weeks ago, local media reported that three Sacramento families, none of which knew each other, all reported a group of five such creatures moving through an orchard near their homes.

However common sightings may be, believing that there are nine foot tall human-like apes walking around in the woods all around us usually gets you odd looks. It is professional suicide to take these accounts seriously, which makes the work of Utah State professor Dr. Jeff Meldrum seem somewhat heroic, for he has drawers of plaster casts made of these creatures' footprints. It is pretty difficult to fake the imprint of an 800 pound creature, and Meldrum is expert at spotting frauds. He believes that Sasquatch are out there. There are not many of them, they are elusive, reclusive, and they migrate in family units. And like great apes, they exhibit certain behaviors, including territoriality. They are the apex predators of the forest, and that's a lot of what makes them so fascinating to us. On the one hand, people want to think of them as something to be understood and protected - they have been here a lot longer than we have. And on the other hand, they disable prey by snapping its legs, and they eat animals raw.

YouTube has many videos related to Bigfoot, but only recently have I noted films like that above. I am not sure who made it, or how long it will be available, but it does an interesting job of depicting the weird hold that Bigfoot has on those who dare to research it. This film is like any of those "lost video" types of movies, so it's no Citizen Kane, but it explores the strange psychology in this quest that overtakes so many enthusiasts. In the case of the characters in this film, it does so with disastrous consequences, but don't let that dissuade you from watching it. There are no really great Bigfoot movies out there, so this one is kind of different and fun. A little gory. - RAR

 
 
 

 

 


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