Category Archives: Uncategorized

Beastie Boys

Rock and Roll SatBeastie Boys founder Adam Yauch lost his long battle with salivary gland cancer on Friday. In the world of the Beastie Boys he is commonly known as MCA, a true talent in the hip-hop genre. In a business where hip-hop acts sky rocket like roman candles and fizz out at the height of glory, the Beastie Boys have endured since 1979.

They initially came together as a hardcore punk band in the vein of The Dead Kennedys and Reagan Youth playing hip-hop venues all over the five boroughs of New York.

Beastie BoysThey were barely more than teenagers tearing up the Big Apple music scene. It was not until their shift to more of a hip-hop sound in 1983 that the boys from Brooklyn begin to see moderate success when their 12-inch single “Cooky Puss” (satirical references to the ice cream treat) became a hit in New York underground dance clubs and night clubs.

Beastie BoysIf Cooky Puss was the launching pad, their next release License to Ill was the rocket. They decided to hire a DJ for their live shows, and ended up getting an NYU student named Rick Rubin. Soon thereafter, Rubin began producing records, formed Def Jam Recordings and approached the band about producing them for his new label.

The band recorded Licensed to Ill in 1986 and released the album at the end of the year. The album was well-received, and was favorably reviewed byRolling Stone magazine with the now-famous headline, “Three Idiots Create a Masterpiece.” Licensed to Ill became the best selling rap album of the 1980s and the first rap album to go No.1 on the Billboard album chart, where it stayed for five weeks. It also reached No.2 on the Urban album charts. It was Def Jam’s fastest selling debut record to date and sold over five million copies. The first single from the album, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)“, reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Pauls BoutiqueAfter the success of Licensed to Ill, the Beasties parted ways with Rick Rubin and ended their relationship with Def Jam  to sign with Capitol Records. Their first release on the Capital label is the 1989 release, Paul’s Boutique. The album was a fan favorite and despite going double-platinum ten years later Boutique was considered by Capital Records  a commercial failure. Rolling Stone ranked it No.156 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In 1994 the hit single Sabotage from Ill Communication had multiple nominations at the MTV music awards including video of the year, and award ultimately lost to Aerosmith‘s “Cryin’.”

All in all, Beastie Boys have released eight studio albums including 2011’s Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.  The group had sold 22 million albums in the United States and 40 million albums worldwide, making them, according to Billboard, “the biggest-selling rap group” since 1991.

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012, “just the third rap group to enter the Hall, after Run-D.M.C. (2009) and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (2007).”

Adam YauchOn May 4, 2012 founder Adam Yauch succumbed to a rare for of cancer at the age of 47. The illness delayed release of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two and the subsequent tour.

Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam said that Yauch was “a crazy talent whose contributions with his band were inspirational and consistently ground breaking”.




Summer Action Movies

Friday Films

Action Movies to Look Forward to This Summer

This summer should bring an exciting mix of action movies, from sequels and superhero flicks to fairytale and classic rewrites, there should be something for every film fan. So take a break from your college, job or fun online school classes to check out some of these much-anticipated summer action movies.

[box] The Avengers” – Starting off the summer with a superhero bang, Marvel brings us “The Avengers.” Directed by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon, this early summer film should be a hit. The movie includes a team of famous Marvel characters such as Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Black Widow, and will also feature some great acting talent such as Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, and Scarlett Johansson. The plot centers on S.H.I.E.L.D., an international peace keeping agency, and its fight to save the world from disaster. Release Date: May 4, 2012[/box]

[box]Battleship” – Who says you can only get feature film ideas from a book? Director and producer Peter Berg turns to the classic Hasbro naval combat game for inspiration for the upcoming “Battleship.” When an international fleet of ships come across an alien armada, the men must do battle on land, sea, and air to discover the goals of the unknown “Regents.” Release Date: May 18, 2012 [/box]

[box]Men in Black 3 – Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will team up this summer to star in “Men in Black 3.” If you thought the ending of “Men in Black II” left the series without hope for a sequel, think again. When the fate of the planet is at stake, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back in time to make things right. Get ready for more secrets, guns and aliens – all the components of a guaranteed summer hit. Release Date: May 25, 2012 [/box]

[box]Snow White and the Huntsman” – Kristen Stewart of “Twilight” and Chris Hemsworth of “Thor” face off against evil queen Charlize Theron in the upcoming spin on the classic Snow White tale, “Snow White and the Huntsman.” When evil Queen Ravenna decides Snow White must die, the smitten huntsman instead decides to train her for battle. Release Date: June 1, 2012 [/box]

[box]Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” – Stemming from the popular parody novel mashups like “Pride and Prejudice” and Zombies” and “Jane Slayre,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” turns good old Honest Abe into a vampire hunting superhero. When President Lincoln discovers that vampires are plotting to take over the United States, he must hunt them down to save the country. Release Date: June 22, 2012 [/box]

[box]G.I. Joe: Retaliation” – “G.I. Joe” fans will be happy to learn about the upcoming sequel to the series, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” The Hasbro brand of “action figures” inspires another potential blockbuster this summer with the return of Roadblock, Flint, Duke, Lady Jaye, Firefly, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow. It will also feature Bruce Willis in the role of General Joe Colton. Release Date: June 29, 2012 [/box]

[box]The Amazing Spider-Man” – A new take on the superhero franchise, “The Amazing Spider-Man” changes the traditional story and adds some interesting characters. When Peter Parker discovers a mysterious briefcase that once belonged to his father, he sets out on a journey to find the meaning behind his parents’ disappearance. Release Date: July 3, 2012 [/box]

[box]The Dark Knight Rises – Just when you thought it was safe to put away your Batman mask, the epic tale continues with “The Dark Knight Rises.” Staring Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway, this should be on everyone’s must-see list for summer. When a new villain arrives in town, Batman must put his tarnished reputation aside to once again save Gotham. Release Date: July 20, 2012 [/box]

Movies goers especially interested in the directing and producing process of films might want to develop their skills by completing an MFA Degree in Performing Arts, Studio Arts, or even Film Criticism. Also, check out the sources listed below for more news about upcoming hits.


IMDb (2012)

Flixter (2012)

Moonlight Graham

Moonlight GrahamI remember the first time I watched Field of Dreams. It was like magic from the opening scene in the cornfield to the closing shot of all the headlights in the distance. One of the real joys of Field of Dreams was watching Burt Lancaster in the role of former NY Giants ball player, Archibald “Moonlight” Graham. It was absolutely mesmerizing.

What I didn’t know at the time was Moonlight Graham was a real ball player. The author went to great pains to weave his story into the book.

Graham was born November 10, 1879, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He played college ball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in the minor leagues for three years before joining the Giants on May 23, 1905. On June 29, the Giants were the visiting team against the Brooklyn Superbas at Washington Park.

For the bottom of the eighth inning, Graham was sent in to play right field, replacing George Browne. In the top of the ninth inning, Graham was on deck when Claude Elliott flied out, resulting in the third and final out. Graham played the bottom of the ninth in right field but never came to bat. That game turned out to be his only appearance in the major leagues.

Moonlight GrahamAfter playing in the minor leagues (mostly in the Class B New York State League and New England League) through the 1908 season, Graham completed his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1905. While there, played on the school’s 1904 and 1905 baseball teams. He obtained his license the following year and began practicing medicine in Chisholm, Minnesota.

“Doc” Graham, as he became known after his career as a ballplayer, served the people of Chisholm for fifty years. From 1915 to 1959, Graham was the doctor for the Chisholm schools. The Graham Scholarship Fund, established in his honor, provides financial assistance to two Chisholm High School graduating seniors each year. The award is given to one boy and one girl, $500 to each. For many years, “Doc” Graham made arrangements to have used eyeglasses sent to his Chisholm office. On Saturdays, he would have the children of the Iron Range miners, from Grand Rapids to Virginia, come to his office, have the their eyes checked and then fit them with the proper set of glasses, all free of charge.

Graham died in Chisholm in 1965. He is buried in Rochester, Minnesota.

They told his story in the movie. I thought it was fiction. Knowing it was true gives it unbelievable magic.

Moonlight Graham

Field of Dreams Trivia:


In the scene where Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are sitting in the bleachers at Fenway Park, future stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are sitting in the stands as extras. Neither get any real camera time in the shot and I have been unable to find corroborating photos.[/box]

Source: Wiki

Tony Stewart Wins Vegas

[box] Article first published as Stewart Scores Big Win at Vegas on Technorati.[/box]


LAS VEGAS — Tony Stewart wins for the first time in his career at the mile and a half Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Powering away from Jimmie Johnson after a restart with four laps left in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the reigning Sprint Cup champion took the checkered flag .461 seconds ahead of Johnson.

The victory was Stewart’s first at the 1.5-mile track, leaving only Darlington and Kentucky as active Cup tracks at which he hasn’t won. The win was Stewart’s 45th, 15th all time, in 467 Cup starts.

Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards came home third through fifth, respectively. Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, Trevor Bayne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top 10.

Stewart took two tires during a pit stop under caution on Lap 204 and pulled out to a comfortable lead over McMurray. A caution for debris slowed the field for the fifth time on Lap 228, and Stewart came to the pits for fuel only.

Brad Keselowski and Bowyer remained on the track and led the field to green on Lap 234, but Stewart regained the top spot with a three-wide dive to the inside moments after Keselowski crossed the stripe.

Stewart pulled out to a 1-second lead over Keselowski before Landon Cassill‘s blown engine caused the sixth caution. As Stewart sped away after the restart on Lap 250, Keselowski’s fuel pickup failed, and the driver of the No. 2 Dodge took his car to the garage.

Next Sundays race is from Bristol Motor Speedway. Start time is posted for 12:30 ET on Fox TV.

Source: NASCAR Wire Service

R&R Saturday – Etta James

Etta JamesI saw Etta James a few years back. She played a show with B.B. King, Elvin Bishop, and J. Geils in Nashville. Man, that lady had some pipes! When she started singing At Last, the crowd went crazy. It was a real treat for me and surprising how she absolutely stole the stage from these music legends.

Etta James lost her long battle with Leukemia on Friday. (Jan 20, 2012)

Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins, in Los Angeles, Calif., January 25, 1938, her mother was 14 and her father was never known. James speculated that her father was the pool player, Rudolf “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone. James met him briefly in 1987. It’s noted that Fats never validated nor denied the claim.

Etta’s mother was a bit of a ramblin’ gal and young Jamesetta was raised mostly by a string of caregivers. The bulk of her childhood with “Sarge” and “Mama Lu.”

James received her first professional vocal training at the age of five from James Earle Hines, musical director of the Echoes of Eden choir, at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Even then her talent showed promise.

In 1950 when Mama Lu died, her mother moved Etta to the Fillmore district in San Francisco. A couple of years later, James began listening to doo-wop and was inspired to form a girl croup — The Creolettes. The later changed the name to The Peaches and in 1956, at eighteen years-old, her little girl group from San Francisco earned an opening spot on Little Richard‘s national tour.

In 1960, she signed with Chess Records and recorded for nearly twenty years. Her debut album, At Last!, was released in late 1960 and was noted for its varied choice in music from jazz to blue, doo-wop and R&B. The album also included James’ future classic, “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and “A Sunday Kind of Love“. In early 1961, James released what has become her signature song, “At Last“, which reached number two on the R&B chart and number 47 on the Billboard Top 100.

After she left Chess in 1978 James did not record for nearly a decade as she battled addictions and alcoholism. In 1988 she staged a comeback with moderate success.

James signed with Private Music Records in 1993 and recorded the Billie Holiday tribute album Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday. The album set a trend for James’ music to incorporate more jazz elements. The album won James her first Grammy Award for best jazz vocal performance. In 1995, she released the David Ritz-co authored autobiography, A Rage to Survive, and recorded the album Time After Time. Three years later she issued the Christmas album Etta James Christmas in 1998.

In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her #62 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. James has performed at the top world jazz festivals in the world, such as the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1977, 1989, 1990 and 1993, performed nine times at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival, and the San Francisco Jazz Festival five times. She also performs often at free city outdoor summer arts festivals throughout the US.

In April 2009, the 71-year-old James made her final television appearance performing “At Last” during an appearance on Dancing with the Stars.

James was hospitalized in January 2010 to treat an infection caused by MRSA, a bacterium resistant to antibiotic treatment. During her hospitalization, her son Donto revealed that James had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s  in 2008, and attributed her previous comments about Beyoncé Knowles to “drug induced dementia”.

She was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2011. Etta James died on January 20, 2012, just five days before her 74th birthday, at Riverside Community Hospital, Riverside, California.

There is a void in the music world today. It’s shaped very much like Etta James.


CNN Article from 2002 about Etta James

What Does Christmas Smell Like?

Christmas SmellI heard someone say on a news program that they “love the smell of Christmas.”

So that got me thinking. What exactly does Christmas smell like? What smells elicit memories of Christmas past? I love the smell of Christmas in the morning — it smells like… (fill-in-the-blank)

For me that’s somewhat hard to nail down. That sweet aroma of spruce pine does it. Nutmeg tickles the nose with memories of spiced up egg-nog on Christmas morning.

The smell of rum reminds me of Aunt Ruby’s high-test fruit cake. I miss Aunt Ruby.

Strangely enough the smell of Vienna Sausage reminds me of Christmas. Every December we would pile in the family station wagon and make the dozen hour drive to Alabama to spend Christmas with the grandparents. Dad didn’t much like to stop for anything except gas and if I had to go I’d better plan my pee-breaks around fuel-ups. He was a driver not a stopper.

For meals we had cans of Vienna sausage and saltine crackers. (He would eat sardines but I found the little fish pretty disgusting.) If I was real lucky mother fixed a few PB&J sandwiches for the journey. I don’t remember ever being that fortunate.

Black MariahChewing tobacco reminds me of Christmas, not that I was munching on tobacco as a ten year old. Grandpa Mills chewed it. His brand was Black Mariah and we always brought him a few boxes with us. That stuff was a square that looked a lot like a dark fudge brownie. Papa Mills would pull out his pocketknife and slice off a big hunk of it and pop it into his mouth like it was a piece of chocolate cake. The smell from his spit-can is probably still hovering like a bio-hazard in the skies above Franklin County.

I wish I could put my finger on that smell in the old Mills homestead. That’s the only place on the planet I have ever smelled that smell. It was neither pleasant or unpleasant. It was a reminder that Christmas was just a few days away and I was stuck in Alabama a long way from home.

My conclusion is the smell of Christmas is molded by the path you take getting there. What does Christmas smell like to you?

1965 Mustang

1965 Mustang

Go ahead, admit it. Deep down in your soul where the rubber meets the road this is your dream car. That swept back look and those bucket seats just screams speed. When the model hit the showrooms in late 1964 it sold for nearly $2,400. I was ten wishing I had $2,400. I didn’t understand why my dad didn’t buy one. I found out later mother wouldn’t let him.

Let’s all give Lee Iacocca credit where credit is due. Back in his Ford days Iacocca was the lead design engineer on the Mustang. When it launched in 1964 and a 1/2, the Mustang became the most successful production car since the Model A. In many ways, the Mustang is the granddaddy of a whole class of cars that followed. Without the Mustang we may never have seen the Camaro, the Firebird, the AMC Javelin, or the Chrysler Barracuda.

So if you wanted one today you’d have to go to the junkyard, find one in pretty good shape, and bend, twist, bondo, pound and paint your way to a new Mustang. Well that was yesterday anyway.

1965 Mustang body shellTomorrow you can order the Ford approved 1965 Mustang Convertible body shell. The unit is being manufactured by Dynacorn of Camarillo, CA. For $15,000 you can buy the body and then start going through the classic car catalog and start purchasing everything else, powertrain, electrics, transmission, and all the interior trim and accessories you need to effectively have a brand new 1965 Mustang. (Pardon me while I dab this little dribble off my lip.)

So many men claim to be the father of the Mustang
that I’d hate be seen in public with its mother.
– Lee Iacocca

Rock & Roll Saturday – Nevermind

Nevermind ImageHappy birthday Nevermind.

You’re twenty years old!

You changed the landscape of rock.

You ushered in Grunge.

You made flannel trendy.

You launched a musical genius.

And a short time later saw his demise.

Nirvana – A brief spark in the music timeline.

You were an unlikely success.

This is your story.

“That’s what music is—entertainment.
The more you put yourself into it,
the more of you comes out in it.”
– Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic met while attending Aberdeen High School in Washington. They didn’t connect musically until sometime later after Novoselic listened to a demo tape Cobain gave him of his Fecal Matter project. They got together to form a group and over the next couple of years the rotation in the drummer’s chair was constant. Finally Dave Grohl, formally of the hardcore punk band Scream took his place at drums just before the Nevermind sessions. Nirvana was a band.

Before moving any farther I have to add, I never got on the Nirvana bus. The music was okay but I was not convinced the band worthy of the attention and certainly the atmospheric sales of Nevermind.  Since their debut, Nirvana has sold over 25 million albums in the US, and over 50 million worldwide. My tastes don’t always follow the crowd so on the juke box of life my opinion doesn’t mean squat.

Nirvana’s first release was 1989’s Bleach, recorded at Reciprocal studios in Seattle, Washington between December 1988 and January 1989. When first released it saw modest sales in the 40,000 units range based mostly on the strength of independent college radio airplay.

Expressing dissatisfaction with their label, Nirvana began shopping around for a new production group and finally signed with  DGC Records in 1990. They immediately went to work on the Nevermind project with talented producer/mixer Butch Vig.

NirvanaDGC was hoping to sell 250,000 copies of Nevermind. Talk about exceeding expectations.

Since release Nevermind has gone triple diamond selling over 30 million copies worldwide.

To say Nevermind was a phenomenon is like saying The Beatles was just a band.

“We didn’t do anything. It was just one of those
‘Get out of the way and duck’ records.”

Geffen president Ed Rosenblatt to the New York Times

The band’s next release In Utero which included the singles Heart-Shaped Box and All Apologies deputed in September of 1993. It released at number one on the billboard shart. Although very successful on its own was no Nevermind.

Early in 1994 the band rolled out of town for a European tour and immediately after Cobain’s inner circle grew increasingly worried about his state of mind. At the stop in Rome, Cobain’s wife Courtney Love found her husband unconscious in their hotel room.

The rest of the tour was canceled and shortly after friends and family sprung an intervention on Cobain and he was convinced to enter a treatment program for Heroin addiction. Within the first week he climbed the wall of the facility and returned to Seattle. A week later,  Friday, April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head in his Seattle home. Like Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison, Kurt Cobain was 27 years old.

“It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
– Neil Young

written on Cobain’s suicide note

Happy Birthday, Nevermind.

Weirdo Wednesday – September 21, 2011

Weirdo WednesdayThis is more of a case of being an accidental weirdo. I don’t for a minute believe this lovely young couple is inherently weird. They seem very nice. I think the proximity to such complicated technology as a webcam simply has them weirded out.

Meet Bruce Huffman, 86, and his wife, Esther, 79, of the Hillside Retirement Community in McMinnville, Oregon. They recently purchased a new laptop joining an ever expanding cast of senior citizens on the internet. Things rocked along a few days and then they decided to see what the “Built-in Webcam” was all about.

It went something like this…

Sometime later their granddaughter found the recording and did what any generation-xer would do. She uploaded it to YouTube.  So in the four weeks since the Huffman’s “Webcam 101 for Seniors” video was posted it has been seen 7,253,000 times and counting. The stars of Hillside are officially a YouTube sensation.

The video has it all — song, sex and technology. These happy seniors are exploring the richness of their new laptop and in the process bringing joy to untold millions.

I’m waiting patiently for the sequel “Webcam 102 for Seniors: Bruce Gets an Eyeful.”

A Bad Day at the Dragon

There is a little stretch of curvy road on the southwest corner of the Smokey Mountain National Park called The Tail of the Dragon. Riders literally come from all over the world to this little corner of Tennessee to try to tame The Dragon. This little ribbon of asphalt can be a real challenge for even the most skilled rider.

Occasionally someone will try to ride the Dragon like they ride to bike night and the highway is not very forgiving. Traction is everything and your machine is glued to the pavement on two tiny patches of rubber not much bigger than a big footprint. Lose traction, as this bike did, and it’s all over but the crash.

Crash on the Tail of the Dragon

Considering the positioning of the passengers hand and the impending intersection of skin and pavement, I can only guess this didn’t end well. At a minimum there were only broken bones and road rash, picking out little pieces of asphalt for the next three days. Ouch! At worst… well, we won’t even think about the at worst.

Over the last dozen years baby boomers by the thousands have taken to two wheels. Many fancy themselves to be the next Evel Knievel or Peter Fonda. Some people forget motorcycles are inherently dangerous and will put themselves into a situation outside their skill level. Once there the results can be deadly.

Even the most experienced riders can benefit from the occasional skills development program. You may already know how to ride. They will just show you how to ride safer.

For rider courses in your area contact:

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

or Learn to Ride @ Rider’s Edge

**Thank you to my biker friend Michael for passing along the above photo.