Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Sweet Sounds of Music and Lyrics

If you are a fan of light hearted romantic comedies like The Wedding Singer or You've got Mail, check out Music and Lyrics. It stars Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), and Kristen Johnston (3rd Rock From the Sun).

It is similar to The Wedding Singer since it has many references to 1980s music and culture, it stars Drew Barrymore, and it's a sweet feel good romantic comedy.

Hugh Grant plays a washed up singer who peaked in the 80s. He was in a Wham-like group called Pop and is stuck singing his hits at amusement parks and high school reunions. Barrymore was hired to care for Grant's plants in the film, but she ends up teaming up with him as a lyricist. They are writing a song for a Christina Aguilera-type young singer whose career is on fire.

It's a refreshing, funny movie with quirky characters. You will leave the theatre smiling and humming the tunes. It won't win any Academy Awards, but it's a delightful film that I would recommend.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

XM/Sirius merger will happen, probably, eventually...

Hopefully an XM/Sirius merger will make the 2 weak companies strong enough to turn a profit. In 2005 XM lost $863 million and Sirius lost $667 million. Since 2001 both companies have accumulated more subscribers, with 7.6 million for XM and 6 million for Sirius at the end of 2006. So the 2 combined would have 13.6 million listeners, and enemies Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony would work for the same employer. At $13 per month per subscriber, that is $169 million coming in per month. Hopefully the consolidation of facilities will work to their advantage, but there are many hurdles to overcome. XM is currently based out of Washington DC and Sirius has a home base of New York. They would need to produce a new receiver that could pick up all programming from the new combined service. The merger would give the new company a monopoly on the satellite radio market. Having no competition would be a bad thing in my mind, since they could raise subscription costs and they have no adversary to drive them to be better and attract the best programming. We have seen how a monopoly in the cable TV industry or the phone industry can detrimental. If there is no alternative, customer service is often poor. I think we will see more and more commercials on satellite radio unless they can attract more subscribers. The money has to come from somewhere. I would love to see the union be successful since I enjoy my XM and am also a shareholder. Regulatory agencies need to approve the merger still, but a timeline of when we will hear both services on one receiver is still unknown.

A favorite group of mine, Van Halen, was supposed to reunite with David Lee Roth and tour this summer. But as of this writing I have heard that the tour has been postponed. The lineup was to include Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang on bass in place of Michael Anthony. Anthony has been with the group since the beginning in the 70s, but he (and Roth), must have done something to upset Eddie and Alex Van Halen. David Lee Roth has worked as a New York paramedic and had a failed radio career, and was replaced by Opie and Anthony. Believe it or not he also did a bluegrass CD last year which had versions of Van Halen songs.

CBS started out the February sweeps period strong with the Super Bowl, which was viewed by a staggering 93.2 million viewers. American Idol is still strong for Fox, drawing 33.7 million viewers on Tuesday and 31.8 million viewers for Super Bowl week. Fox has other hits with House, 24, and Bones pulling in good numbers. CBS has done well with CSI, NCIS, Numbers, Criminal Minds, Shark, and 2 and 1/2 Men. Hits for NBC include Deal or No Deal, Heroes and ER. Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty are winners for ABC. The Grammys were watched by 20.1 million people on CBS, finishing 6th for that week.

*Some material from Entertainment Weekly and Associated Press.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

An "old fogey" watches the Grammys

At age 37 I don't feel that old, but watching the Grammys made me feel ancient. I liked the reunion of the Police, and the tribute to the Eagles, and it was good to see The Dixie Chicks win several awards. But beyond that I could care less. I have no interest whatsoever in Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige or Gnarls Barkley. Grammys are given out for all types of music but only the most commercial artists are showcased on the program. Many people probably do not realize that awards are given out for jazz, classical and bluegrass music. You can have the music of today. I'll stick to the classics like Van Halen, Rush, Chicago, The Who, Led Zeppelin and others.

In her death Anna Nicole Smith has received more publicity than she ever received in her living years. It seems like after death celebrities are often glamorized ad nauseum. Shows like ET, The Insider, Access Hollywood and Extra have treated the story like it's the biggest development of the century. It may sound greusome, but they are probably glad that such an event happened during the all-important February sweeps period. Even "legitimate" news sources like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have jumped on the bandwagon with endless tabloid type coverage. Smith's idol was Marilyn Monroe, and she died in her 30s, just like her. I'll bet that drugs had something to do with the death of Anna Nicole. Smith had an unhappy life, growing up with no father and with an estranged mother in poverty. She no doubt turned to her former elderly husband not only as a father figure but as a source of unlimited riches that she figured would fill the void of unhappiness. It did not, and neither did the drugs. Things like money, alcohol or drugs may mask feelings of emptiness temporarily, but they will cause more problems in the long run every time.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Political Commentary Regarding Iraq and the Direction of our Country

What are we doing in Iraq? The war has cost $363 BILLION DOLLARS at the time of this writing! The national debt is $8.7 TRILLION DOLLARS! What if you or I handled our personal finances the way our government handles theirs? Saddam Hussein was not behind 9-11. The people on the planes on 9-11 were Saudis. But the Bush family is close with the Saudi royal family and the Bin Laden family as well. We would not invade Saudi Arabia and Bush does not need to "find" Osama. He knows where he is. Weapons of mass destruction were not found. The Iraq war has become a quagmire that is the Vietnam of the 21st century. Bring the troops home and stop the killing! Remember almost 4 years ago (over 1400 days have passed), when Bush landed on the aircraft carrier with the banner behind him that declared "Mission accomplished"? What a dope! If it was accomplished then why are the troops still there? I am not anti-soldier in the least. Those in the military are America's heroes and they risk their lives for this country. The bravery and honor of our military is unparalleled. My dad was a pilot in the air force, my brother was in the army, and my other brother was in the air force for 20 years. I just hate to see American soldiers dying for an unjust cause. Over 3,000 have been killed and countless others have been maimed and/or they are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. It breaks my heart to think of all of the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters and sons who have lost family members fighting in this unjust war. You may have seen the bumper sticker that says "I love my country but I fear my government." That's the way I feel. This is the best country in the world, but I have problems with the leadership. What gives us the right to go into another country, demolish it, and build it back up again the way we see fit? You say that Iraq is an evil empire and we are "spreading democracy"? There are evil empires all over the world led by brutal dictators just like Saddam was. Are we going to invade every country that does not agree with us? That's a long list-including Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, Cuba, and many more. People in Africa, Central and South America are struggling due to immoral leaders also. We have enough issues here at home without sending our young people around the world to die in a senseless war. Who made the United States the watchdog of the world? We're not even the biggest country. China and India have over 1 billion people. I wonder if the Katrina response would have been more effective if we had our military here instead of abroad. Let's focus on issues here and keep our noses out of the business of others. You don't see our neighbors to the north, Canada invading other countries and forcing them to think the way that they think. Do you think that our president would be leading this country if his father had not been there before him? Not a chance, he obviously does not have the intellect. Besides, he's just a figurehead, there are others behind the scenes who are really making the decisions. We have not been told the truth about 9-11, the meetings of the elite at Bohemian Grove in California every summer, the Skull and Bones club at Yale, the United Nations'agenda 21, and many other topics. This is not a republican vs. democrat issue. Whoever is in charge will take us toward the ultimate goal of an Orwellian new world order/one world government in which freedom will perish. The fear of terrorism has been a handy excuse for the current administration to erode our civil liberties.

Also for an eye-opening documentary on what really happened on 9-11, check out the video titled "Loose Change 2nd Edition." It is about 90 minutes long and it is something that all Americans should see. This is NOT "conspiracy theory" stuff. As you will see in the movie the claims made are factual. Not enough people know about what is really happening, and people need to open their eyes. The link is