Thursday, April 07, 2005

GET THE FAITH OUTTA HERE! the title of my piece on religion and media in this weeks LA CityBeat, and, I hope, it may be of some passing significance, and worth the read...

And in the same issue, Chris Morris has a sweet piece on Gene Vincent and even gives me a name check on my book Gene Vincent – There’s One In Every Town. (So buy the book, damnit! It’d be so nice to be solvent.)

And our pal hipspinster has a new blog which is a paean to the character Starbuck in Battlestar Gallactica.

The secret word is Synergy

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

While the Papacy continues to inundate my TV, making me grateful for the reruns of Law & Order, and not even History Channel is providing any hot Vatican back stories like all of those infinitely corrupt and decadent Borgias and Medici, not to mention the really murderous papal bastards like Gregory V, who had the English mercenary Sir John Hawkwood massacre the entire population of Cesena, or Clement V who burned as many of the Knights Templar as he could get his hands on because he owed them money, or the amazing Innocent III who, while slaughtering the Cathars coined the phrase – "Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius" – roughly translated, "Kill ‘em all and let God sort it out." (You learn a lot if this kind of stuff while researching four Victor Renquist vampire novels.) Thus all I can do is follow the betting. Irish bookies’ favorites to succeed Pope John Paul II are Dionigi Tettamanzi of Italy and Francis Arinze of Nigeria, both listed on 11-4 by by Paddy Power PLC, Ireland's largest betting shop chain. I am, however, again totally convinced that Opus Dei already has the fix in.

Master Bass Guitar Doug sends the following from Celia Hirschman on KCRW about the music industry in general and Warner in particular...
Last month, the UK newspaper Financial Times outlined the salary and bonus packages for five of the Warner Music Groups' top executives, totaling over $21 million. What did these executives do to earn such extraordinary compensation,during one of the most difficult periods of the music business? Warner executives delivered to its investors, an expected savings of $250 million, achieved primarily by firing or laying off 1600 employees and dropping 93 musical acts. There's nothing wrong with adjusting one's business model, to reflect a more contemporary economicclimate. But to be compensated so lavishly for the misfortunes of so many, is just another example of the highly imbalanced world of the major label business. Even more astonishing, is that according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, last year's total executive compensation was more than 3 times higher than Warner Music's $7 million operating income for the 10 months prior. In other words, Warner Bros paid their 5 highest executives more than 3 times the annual operation budget to make the cuts. And, we should call it an advance on services to be rendered. Warner Music was privatized just last year, so this is compensation based on the promise of a far bigger future, not results garnered to date. Up until five years ago, the music business was a great business to be in. The benefits made most young adults drool with excitement. Business was carried out in luxurious boardrooms, in nightclubs, on cell phones, and at recording studios. Everyone affiliated wore a mantle of being hip and cool. Meals and entertainment easily fell into business expense accounts. Most executives in the music business found that their social life revolved around the business and its associates. There was little time for family life or balance. But about five years ago, the record business changed dramatically. The shift was caused by a number of factors, including limited play lists on commercial radio airwaves, rising marketing and promotion costs, consumers demand for lower prices, fear of illegal downloading and piracy, and so on and so on. Did the record business adjust to these new financial paradigms? Certainly not proactively. Since most major label contracts run for 6 or 7 album cycles, a contract may stay in enforcements for well over a decade. Therefore, what labels promised in a signed contract in say, 1997 might lock them into delivering on services for many years to come. Consider the point that major labels often sign young bands for a fraction of their potential worth, to see if the first couple of records might deliver a financial upside. With each subsequent release, the contract calls for higher and higher escalations of compensation. If the artist cannot meet a profit and loss statement by the end of the marketing cycle for album two, the label rarely has the passion to insure an investment for album number three. More and more, the answer is drop the artist, hold onto the catalog and hope some other label is more fortunate marketing them. In this highly volatile world of the music business, where luck, persistence and talent meet on the road to success, it's discouraging to see that executive cost cutting is valued far more than spotting and nurturing talent. Somewhere we've forgotten what business we're really in.

Or maybe the sons-of-bitches never knew what business they were in, in the first place, except the "more-obscene-money-for-me" business.

The secret word is Swine

Monday, April 04, 2005


Sunday, April 03, 2005

I found this tale from Canada while wandering the web. (Not quite as lonely as a cloud, but definitely floating on high.)

A Christmas toy intended to spread the peace and love of the holiday apparently spews hatred. As first reported by The Columbian, a Vancouver, Wash., family discovered that the toy they unsuspectingly attached to their son's crib utters the words "I hate you" amid the rhythmic ocean sounds designed to lull the baby asleep. Blanche Skelton told WorldNetDaily she was giving her 6-month-old, Alex, his medicine the other night when she heard the soft voice of a woman or little kid repeating the nasty message over and over. "The voice has a softness to it. It sounds hypnotizing. ... I think it's creepy," Skelton said. "My husband thought I was crazy until he heard it." Skelton's in-laws and everyone who has visited the house since have heard it. Skelton describes the toy as being shaped like a boat, blue and white with a big red anchor on the side where you push a button to make it play either music or the ocean sounds. The front has pictures of fish and water. Blanche does not remember the name of the toy, but said the box bears the Wal-Mart brand label Kid Connection. She said the toy appears to be a Wal-Mart version of a similar "Ocean Wonders Aquarium" toy made by Fisher-Price and sold by Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's website ranks the Fisher-Price toy as its third best-selling product among toys for infants age 0 to 6 months. The box indicates Wal-Mart's Kid Connection toy was made in China. "You know China is not friends with us," Skelton said, speculating about the explanation for what she fears is a subliminal message hidden in the toy. "They're trying to get back at us. What's the best way? Teach kids when they're young to hate. It's scary." "How many kids are lying in their crib listening to that?" Skelton's father-in-law, Gary Skelton, posed to The Columbian. Blanche Skelton said she and her husband went to the local Wal-Mart in Hazel Dell the next day to report the bizarre phenomenon. Finding four or five identical toys on a clearance shelf, Blanche said she played the toy for an assistant manager who, she says, "could hear something," but wasn't sure the phrase was "I hate you." Still, he pledged the toys would be removed from the shelf and said if the couple would bring in their toy, they could receive a full refund. The store manager declined to comment for WorldNetDaily. The Columbian reports the toys were gone from the shelves the next day, but Wal-Mart spokeswoman Karen Burk said no toys were pulled from the shelves in Hazel Dell. Burk said this was the first time she'd heard complaints about the toy and said she was having difficulty investigating the Skeltons' claim due to lack of information.
"I have relayed this information to our merchandise team," Burk told WorldNetDaily. "We're looking into it to the best of our ability. This is an important situation. Any product that is not performing properly is important." "We are always sorry that a customer is not happy with a product they purchased at our stores, and we encourage the customer to come back for a full refund," she added. The Skeltons don't plan on taking Wal-Mart up on the refund offer.
"It still plays music," said Blanche, "and if we take it back we lose our proof."


I really thought the Pope would hang on the feeding tube a while longer, which makes some of yesterday’s post a little redundant. On the other hand, I never did like the guy and the ceremonial mourning will still drag on and on, I’ve already head him credited for "winning the cold war" and how he’s a sure thing for canonization. And I don’t see the C of C electing anything but an arch-conservative, which puts the tin hat on any mitigation of the population disaster.

The secret word is Huh

CRYPTIQUEOnward Christian soldiers.