Friday, March 31, 2006

Breaking News !!! - The New AOL/Time Warner?

From Fiat Lux NewsCenter 4
"We distort, you decide"

(courtesy of our AP subdivision and KOB)

Whirlpool Completes Acquisition of Maytag

By DAVID PITT, AP Business Writer
1 hour, 12 minutes ago

DES MOINES, Iowa - Whirlpool Corp. completed its acquisition of Maytag Corp. on Friday and said it will immediately begin integrating the two appliance companies.

..."The addition of the Maytag, Jenn-Air, Amana and other brands, and the people who support those brands, will allow Whirlpool to more fully deploy our innovation capability across a wide assortment of high-quality products and services," said Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool's chairman and CEO. "The combined companies will create substantial benefits for consumers, trade customers and shareholders through continued development of innovative products, improved quality and service, and cost efficiencies."...

This is quite a stunner for those of us from the washing machine hobbyist and collector communities. Can you just imagine the hum of a Whirlpool motor, now combined with sleek Maytag lines and stylings? We knew that the rumours had been floating about for quite awhile now, but to actually see this day...well,'s just a little bit emotional...

Ted Brockman, Fiat Lux News 4, signing out...

Saturday, March 25, 2006


While listening today to This American Life on NPR Radio (broadcast weekend afternoons), I heard that they were doing a rebroadcast of a previous program, which I had already heard and was extremely good, as the program always is: small slices of American life. This one was about pulling one over on people, perhaps your friends, or just the public at large. In the first segment, a small rock band, The Ghosts of Pasha, which had only been together for a few months I believe at the time, gets it first New York City gig at some small bar. Now this group had just been formed, a true garage band, and it was typical that maybe 4-5 unknowns would show up at their gigs, along with a few friends. And they really had done only a couple of gigs. Now, the big break, a shot in New York City. Well, a "performance art" group, thought, what if we gave some unknown band the experience of a lifetime. And so they did. When Ghosts of Pasha showed up at the bar, the crowd began to steadily trickle in, and soon enough maybe around 100 people were packed in the small space. As the band began to perform, the crowd roared; masses of people were at the stage swaying back and forth, singing every word to their songs (in reality, nobody knew the words to their songs), lighters were held up, flames flickering in support of this great band, near the stage on an end corner a guy had taken his shirt off, and, while drowning in sweat, was swinging his shirt around his head, rockin' out. Remember, that this is about a 3 month old group, whose typical performance was in front of maybe 10 people, if they were that lucky. Between songs, band members were looking at each other, trying to figure this out, "what's going on here?" Has word of us really spread around, are we really this good? They decided just to just ride the wave that night, not knowing why this was happening, but going with it. Then, after the last song, the crowd then seemed to just kind of pack up, and exit fairly quietly. The band members went out to the curb to sit and wait for their van after packing away their equipment, sitting outside smoking cigarettes. They looked at each other, saying "Do you know what just happened?", "No, do you?" They just sat there, quietly, and smoked.

Several months later, the group received a call letting them know that they had been part of an "experiment", let's say. Some were very angry; some with the passing of a few months, were not as upset, maybe at least grateful to finally understand just what had happened on that very strange night in New York City.

In another segment, a guy invited a friend to a bar to celebrate said friend's birthday. Well, soon enough, people start to trickle in, congratulating "Ted" on his birthday, remarking how good he looked, rehashing memories of college and old times, in great, extensive detail. This guy's name in fact was not "Ted", which he told several of the arrivals, but no one was taking him seriously. "Ted, always the jokester, huh?". This guy's thinking, "am I going mad?". I'm not Ted, I don't know who Ted is, but everyone here thinks I'm Ted. As the hours went by, "Ted" stopped resisting, he could not understand what was happening, but as it was fruitless now to explain anything to these people, he decided to just become "Ted", going along with the stories, shaking hands and drinking with his old "friends".

Down the road (I think like a year later), this guy was told that he too was part of an "experiment". "Ted" was almost psychologically damaged by the experience; he could never explain it, other than something must be very, very wrong with him. He even had told his friend the following year, that whatever he did, DO NOT invite all of those people over to celebrate his birthday again; he could not go through such an experience again. He never quite got over the experience.

Can you imagine if your life was just turned upside down like this? Where everyone seems to know "what's going on", but you are completely out of the loop, in ways that seem to be just not possible, not merely only small misunderstandings?

I'm watching out now, for any sort of "unusual" events. They're not going to get me, that's for sure.

Or, are they?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Starry Starry Night

Today I was semi-watching a program on one of the local public broadcasting channels, with Dr. Wayne Dyer, who does a lot of work on positive thinking, awareness in living, inspiration, and that sort of thing. Near the end of the program, Dr.Dyer began to tell the story of Vincent Van Gogh. Probably most of us know at least some of the story, of a struggling artist, plagued by demons of the mind, who had never achieved success during his short lifetime as an artist and a painter. A man who ended up tragically taking his own life. One of the things Dr. Dyer relayed as he spoke about the life of Van Gogh was that he had never sold a single painting during his life, not a single one.

I never knew that.

A man who is so revered today for the genius and brilliance of his work, and he never sold a single painting, not a one.

I was left stunned by that.

Another thing that Dr. Dyer mentioned about Vincent was that the day on which he shot himself in the heart, the act which ended his life, was July 27th. July 27th, the day of my birth.

This, I never knew before, either.

At the end of the program, Dr. Dyer's daughter, Skye, then sang the song made famous by Don McLean, Starry Starry Night, named after one of Vincent's most well-known paintings.

Yet another painting for which he could find no buyer, but which we now know could never really have been purchased or bought at any price, for in all of the world there has never been the money sufficient enough to ever truly begin to pay its real worth, and there never will be.

Vincent (Starry Starry Night)
Don McLean

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they did not how
Perhaps they'll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do,
But I could have told you Vincent,
This world was never meant for one as
beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget
Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow
Now I think I know,
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free
They did not listen, they're not listening still,
Perhaps they never will

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Stone Reader

"Mark Moskowitz’s Stone Reader is, quite simply, an unalloyed treasure for any viewer who has ever felt transformed by reading a good novel. The irony is that this film, with its technologically subversive passion for print literature in an age supposedly suspended somewhere in cyberspace, has been brought to the screen by a media person par excellence: a maker of television commercials.
When, at last, he’s ready to deliver the solution to the cultural "crime" of literary annihilation, Mr. Moskowitz does so with an overpowering emotional kick that left me close to tears: Here was a supposedly defeated human being without a trace of bitterness or self-pity. Very real indeed, with a vibrant and active mind, Mr. Mossman is a sublime reminder of how much we owe to the good and great writers who have enriched our existence.
I’ve often written that the cinema will never die. Mr. Moskowitz gives us hope that the novel will never die either, and that books will never become technologically obsolete. Stone Reader is more than a film—it’s a labor of love in the best sense, and a gift to civilized life on this planet."

I found this apparently truncated review of the film "Stone Reader"today by Andrew Sarris of the New York Observer, and thought that it perfectly compiled my feelings about the film. If you are a bibliophile, a lover of books and reading, then you will relate with this film. It was made a few years ago by Mark Moskowitz, and in short, it's about a book Moskowitz began to read in the '70's, but did not finish. Later in life, he reads the entire book, and is stunned by quality and power of the novel. Moskowitz decides that he must locate this "non-famous" author, to see what has become of him. What follows is the film itself, as Moskowitz begins a quest across America to locate the author of the book, "The Stones of Summer". It is indeed a very touching film, one that probably only the book lovers will understand.

As I say, the film is powerful. I too, later tried to read the book, and like Moskowitz, could not really get into it the first time around (and I had a lot of school stuff at that time to do also). I probably will also attempt it once again, but in any event, the film itself is really an ode to the life of reading and writing, those joys that many of us can remember from almost as early as we have any memories at all, and that live with us right up until this very moment.

I lent the DVD to a friend and filmaker who is now on a tour of their own across America. As it is not necessarily the easiest film to get a hold of, I do hope that I get it back one day! I guess that I just felt that the power of the impact of the film, outweighed even the risk of losing it. Films are replaceable, impacts though, last a lifetime.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Has anyone seen the Sonic Drive-In commercials? I usually think they are pretty funny, but the latest one really cracks me up for some reason. It's the two guys at the Sonic drive-thru order box, and these guys are always so, I don't know what you'd call it, "superficial", in their commentaries. Lots of heat and vision, but no light, I guess one could say. In this new one, they're at the box again, and they've just gotten their order. The blond guy's eating his sundae with whipped cream heaped all on top of it, and he's commenting on how they put the whipped cream piled up on there, like it's "magic"; like the magic that he does at the parties that he attends. He says this in an airy, "magical" sort of way, all while waving his hands about. The other, dark haired guy, kind of looks down a little, scratches his forehead slightly, and kind of mumbles hesitantly, in a low voice meant only to be half-heard out loud, " You know what's magic is, is that you get invited to attend any parties", and then they do that big THWACK sound, and put up that big red X over the blond guy that they always do at the end of these commercials. Blond guy, as usual, is completely oblivious to the whole situation and the zinger that he just got thwacked with. This one has me laughing out loud when it comes on.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Some Recent Movies (He's Back!)

Hold on there partnar! Don't hit that Next Blog button or I may have to draw on ya!

Well, I've been able to watch a few videos recently, including some old but true favorites, like the Lone Ranger episodes. As some of you already know, when I was in 7th grade, my morning routine always included an episode of the Lone Ranger at 6am weekday mornings, on local Denver channel 2, before heading off to school. Now that I am in graduate school, it seems that I still find great pleasure in slipping off into a mythical Old West, where lawbreakers and other wrongdoers must answer to the only man who can stand up for the Truth, in a wild and treacherous land. I found the original pilot movie to the Lone Ranger TV series on a recent sojourn to the dollar store, and have been watching how the Cavendish Gang ambushed those valiant Texas Rangers, leaving only one, sole Lone Ranger, still living, to seek out justice and avenge those dead lawmen.

Now that I'm older, I notice a little more some of the things in the episodes; like the bad acting, the fake fighting, the six shooters that can shoot 30 bullets without reloading, Tonto's really bad English (me go now, me help kemosabe against bad men, etc.), and so on. And you know, the Texas Rangers, in reality, committed what we would today consider to be "atrocities" against the Mexican and Indian peoples of Texas, and many times really weren't the heroes that the mythology has made of them. Still though, I don't think I'd change a thing in the episodes, if I had the power to do so (although I would educate people on the "realities" vs. the "myths" of history). The "kitschyness" of how they were put together is part of what makes them so good; like in those old Buck Rogers movies, where a model space ship is "flying" by, sparks shooting out of the back. All of the peculiar qualities of the episodes is what takes me back in time, I think, to a time when I would get completely lost in a black and white, cactus-filled "Old West", for about 22 minutes, minus TV commercial time.

Another movie I watched recently was, "Finding Neverland", with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. I had heard that this movie was not so good, but that turned out to be from a person/source who turned out to be what could probably be considered to be "not so good" themselves, so I guess it's always good to consider the source when a movie gets panned by someone; it may be less movie and more person, that lends itself toward a bad review. I found this movie to be very good; a little slow at times, especially in the beginning, but a real tearjerker towards the end of the movie (not saying that I cried, the Lone Ranger doesn't cry, he just gets dust in his eyes from those dry river beds, that's all), and very imaginatively put together in telling the story of the writer of "Peter Pan", J.M. Barrie, and the family that provided to him his inspiration to write the story. I would say that although I probably would not give this one my highest rating possible, I would definitely watch it again, this time of course with my mask on, so that no one could see the dust getting into my eyes.

I have two more to watch still; "The Quiet American", based on the novel by Graham Greene, with Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser, about the American invovement in Vietnam before that war exploded into the tragedy that it eventually became, and "Garden State", with Zach Braff and Natalie Portman, about some goofy kids living in New Jersey, near as I can tell so far.

Coming soon, from my local library; "Mad Hot Ballroom" and "Gigli" (just kidding about "Gigli").