Friday, November 30, 2007

Even Jan Says It's Better With A Moog!

A while back I was on a Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson kick. It seemed as if almost everyday there was some new, or not so new (Re-released) material by these guys. Being a fan of both of these great musicians I was in hog heaven.

I was so excited, I knew I just had to interview them! Even Jan got into the act, and managed to be rude to Keith Emerson on the phone, but thats another story.

After the reviews and interviews were done, I still had the urge for more, so I wrote a contemplative piece about how It's Better With A Moog. Nothing beats a Moog in my mind!

Jan of course had no idea what a Moog was, they don't use a lot of them at the Grand Ole Opry!

This morning as I was writing up a review about a new Johnny Cash DVD Jan was listening to her music, headphones on, but set loud enough to wake the dead, and I heard 'Lucky Man' start up. I waited till half way through the song and then tapped her on the shoulder. Before I could say anything she said "It's better with a Moog"! We got another convert!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Week In Review(s)

What an interesting week it has been. Yesterday Jan and I actually ventured out to a theatre to preview a movie. Well the price was right $zero. Free is always a good price. Redacted, opens wide next Friday, and is a very disturbing movie on many levels. Although a work of fiction it centers around some factual events in the current Iraq war. It is made in the style of a home made camcorder documentary, rather rough around the edges, nauseatingly fast pans, ad hoc dialog, and stark footage. I recommend that you watch this one only if you have a strong stomach. It contains some very disturbing themes. You would not want to take your kids to see this one. But from a critical point of view it is excellent. It will be interesting to see how this one fares at the box office.

Unfortunately you will have to wait till next Friday to read the review, damn movie people always want everything held till the day it releases!

Week 5 of Mars Rising premieres on the Science Channel next Tuesday, this episode has the title 'Six minutes of terror', and deals with the most perilous part of sending a manned craft to Mars, getting the thing down on the planet surface and not killing the crew in the process. This series from the Discovery people is well worth a look. You can find my review here.

In the music world I found an absolute gem. There is a new 3 DVD set out The McCartney Years, over six hours of music videos and live concerts by Paul McCartney. I was never a Beatles fan, in fact I can honestly say that I have never owned a Beatles album. I have and had, no use for them whatsoever, George Harrison and John Lennon were just pretentious little pricks, and Ringo was a ho hum drummer. Paul McCartney though was, and is a great performer. You can check out more info and even sample the trailers here.

Do you remember Donovan? Mellow Yellow, The Universal Soldier, and a string of other big hits from the 60's. Well he has a new DVD coming out in January. This is a great DVD, yes he is a little older, and his voice has lost a little of its range, but he is still a spectacular performer. This is a 'must have' DVD. Unfortunately I have to sit on it till mid December. But trust me, it is really damn fine! The PR company claims they have no access to Donovan for an interview, but that doesn't bother me. I'll find a way!

Books are fun right now. I have two hot ones, and promises of interviews. Target by Kathleen Willey deals with her time at the hands of the Clintons. Yes, she was one of the people involved with the impeachment, she was also a victim of Bill's 'wandering hand syndrome'. She has nothing good to say about Bill, but what she says about our potential next woman president Hillary is even worse! I think this will make for an interesting interview.

The other hot book is the OJ book, 'If I Did It'. This one the book that Fred and Kim Goldman went to court over and won the publishing rights. According to OJ Simpson this is a book of pure fiction, a fantasy about how he would have committed the murders, the Goldman family view it as something else, a vicarious admission of guilt, a confession if you will. By sheer luck it turns out that the owner of the small PR company that asked me to review the book knows the Goldmans, and I have been invited to do an interview with them. With OJ being in the spotlight again, over an armed robbery in Las Vegas, I can't wait to do this one.

I also have a pre-release copy of Legerdemain, alas this book does not hit the streets until mid January, so I have to sit on it. But it is a wonderful read, all about the Cold War, Atom Bombs, and Morocco, better still the author was actually there! You can find my teaser here. This book is being published by a small, but influential house History Publishing Company, I had a chance to talk to Don Bracken who is the owner of HPC, the interview was quite interesting.

I have no idea how many things I have reviewed this year, but I do know the book count alone is over 80, so when you figure in the music and video side, it has to be several hundred. Most people are pretty happy with what I have to say, in fact last week the author of Landmark Status Alan Rolnick sent me a signed copy of his book in appreciation of my review.

I knew it was only a matter of time though before someone took umbrage at a review, and that happened this week. I watched a particularly insipid piece of pro Muslim and anti Christian junk 'Farewell Israel', this was garbage of the first order, and said that in my review.

The US based publicity company didn't like my review, and so sent a nasty e-mail to the editor of Blogger News Network requesting the Mr Barrett's review be taken down. Oops, I am the editor! Needless to say my response was to tell em to go pound sand! If you can't stand the heat, don't go in the kitchen!

Other than the bad Disneyland ride in the MRI, it has been a great week!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Medical Device Review: MRI

Normally I publish my reviews on but when I checked the categories I did not find one for MRI's. And I was too lazy to go set one up. I had the chance to review one of these $1,000,000 machines today. I had to pull in a lot of favors to do this. The current waiting list for a trip in this Disney inspired ride is 18 months here in Alberta!

The nice folks at Foothills Hospital were sympathetic when I explained that I was a reviewer and managed to squeeze me in within a couple of weeks. Of course I had to fool the medical system to achieve this, I feigned having a numb arm, and through amazing Uri Geller techniques managed to fool several blood pressure monitors so that it appeared the I was 240/129, the hardest part tho was the CAT scan, I had to appear as if I had had a stroke!

Well I managed all of these things without a problem, well other than the fact that my right hand is still messed up! But this is a cheap price to pay for a review of a million dollar machine.

My lovely wife Jan decided to accompany me on the adventure, as a result we actually made it there first, my preference was to go to the bar first and have a couple beers. I filled in a questionnaire explaining that I was neither pregnant nor breast feeding.

Then the fun began, the told me to change, but, all they wanted me to do was take off my pants! I suspect that the entire operation is run by some very odd people. Shoes and Socks were ok, golf shirt was fine, but the pants had to go! Of course I was about to explain that it was the 'other head' that they were supposed to be looking at, but, who can argue with a Doctor?

Next step was to lay on this rather narrow and not terribly comfy bed with my head in a funky cradle thing. Then they sprung the needle surprise! The bastards always to that! Apparently red wasn't a good color for my blood, and they needed to add a dye! Or some other equally bull shit reason, I think they just like sticking people!

"Oh, and stick these ear plugs in. it gets pretty noisy in there", was the sage advice. OK, so stuck like a pig, ear plugs in it was off to the world of wild adventure. As the machine inserted me into what seemed like a rather large Cuban cigar tube my first thought was that if these machines cost a million dollars each they could do something with the interior design. A white tube with a gray stripe is pretty damn boring! I right about then also thought the ear plugs were overkill, the cigar tube was making a rather peaceful 'woop woop' sound. Not quite Moog synthesizer, and a little repetitive for my taste, but quite harmless.

Then the world changed, the gentle 'woop woop' was replaced by what I can only describe as really bad 'heavy metal' interspersed with Keith Emerson playing a mean Moog. The climax tho had to be the 3 minutes relived from the movie 'Earthquake'. If you saw 'Earthquake' you probaby remember the rather strange bass speakers that the theatres used. So low that your clothes rattled. Well an MRI can do that, it was like being on the Disney ride from hell! Your whole head is vibrating and planning on exploding anytime soon!

When they removed me from the cigar tube, I was out of that hospital like greased lightning! I needed a beer!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Privacy and the Internet

These are two concepts that really do not compliment each other. As an experiment I spent a few minutes Googling myself. I am not hard to find! There are traces of me on many sites, in fact there are thousands of mentions, from, to, there are links, either directly or indirectly to me. Now as it happens I don't mind. I am a reviewer and publicity is good for business.

Not all online publicity is good though, and a fine example is the coverage that Megan Meier's suicide has created. She is the teen that hung herself following some uncalled for comments left on her Myspace page. It transpires that the comments were made by the mother of a girl who had recently fallen out with Megan. A deplorable act, by someone old enough to know much better.

Over on Bloggernews we have a number of articles running about the sad story, and they have received great readership. The problem that Jan and I were faced with was the comments that were being left by some readers. I don't like to act as censor, but sometimes you just to. For example any comment that uses profanity is going to end up in the 'bit bucket', not because I am a prude, but because not all of our readers want to read bad language.

The comments left on the Megan Meier's stories though had a different kind of problem, and one I find very disturbing. The mainstream media has gone out of their way to not reveal the name of the woman responsible for the death. Likewise, we decided to tag along. There are many facets to the story that have not been revealed, and to subject someone to even more misery seems reasonable. We had people not only naming the lady, but her street address, home and cell phone number, the company that she runs, who her clients are, etc, etc,

There is no way I am going to publish this information. But i'll bet some sleazy websites will. Although I am deplored by this woman's actions, to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion with no chance to respond seems unfair.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Did OJ Do It?

Pretty much if you have an IQ larger than your hat size you would say yes. Now I have never met OJ but I was stuck in LA traffic when his white Ford Bronco decided to go on the worlds slowest car chase. In fact I was on the damn 405, which at the best of times is miserable, but that white Bronco stopped the 405 in it's tracks. Even first gear was too fast!

We all know the outcome, Johnny Cochran explained 'If the glove doesn't fit you must acquit', and indeed walk he did. One of the people that has relentlessly persued OJ is Fred Goldman, losing justice in the criminal court, the Goldmans won in the Civil Court. OJ was ordered to give the Goldmans more money than I can even conceive of. Here we are, more than 10 years later, and the amount of cash OJ has shelled out is exactly $zero.

OJ has been hunted down by the Goldman family, while OJ has played almost every Golf Course in North America, no doubt looking for that illusive one armed golf caddy that actually did it, the Goldmans have been equally active preventing OJ from profiting from his endeavors. The OJ sponsors dropped him quicker than Dog Chapman got dumped from A&E.

His attempt at publishing a book, "If I did it", was quickly closed down by the Goldman family, preferring to take the product and publish it themselves.

In a million to one chance, the publicists that I work with know the Goldman's, I get the book, and an interview with Fred Goldman.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Laura Saves The Day

Well the hunt for a VHS tape player was mercifully short. Jan tracked one down at the local thrift store for $20, however on a long shot I called my daughter Laura. She has never thrown anything out in her entire life, and sure enough she had a VCR that I could use. Better still she even delivered it.

Life is good, I can now do the reviews.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The VHS Is Dead, Long Live The VHS

It has been a number of years since I owned a VHS tape player. In fact I know I have not had one since I moved back to Canada, and that was 2002. VHS has gone the way of the Dodo, and the 8-track, right?

Well that is not quite so! I am doing some work for the Discovery channel, and was getting worried that some screeners had not arrived. Generally TV wants their stuff reviewed a couple of days before it airs. So I fired off an email explaining that I really needed these screeners becuse the show airs next Tuesday, and next Monday is a holiday in Canada, so no deliveries.

Within minutes I got the response 'The will be there today'! Sure enough UPS delivered the items this afternoon, four VHS tapes! hahahahaha

Now the monkey is on my back! I have to find a VCR in the next 48 hours! The good news is... I have several plans.....

The Week In Review(s)

It has been a pretty interesting week. And I had a truly unique thing happen with an interview. Allthough I have not heard any recent material from the prog rock group Hawkwind I thought it might be fun to interview the one remaining original member Dave Brock. This band has been around for almost forty years, playing their very spacey synthesizer oriented style of music. I got hold of the bands manager and she readily agreed to get Dave to participate in a quick email interview. his is a really simple format, I send a list of questions and he sends back his answers, it could not be easier.

So, a couple of weeks ago I shipped off my list of 10 questions and sat back and waited. Yesterday I received the reply from the manager, 'I have attached Daves answers'. I have to admit that I was surprised to see that the attachment was a PDF. I hate PDF's because you can not copy/paste the damn text. Oh well, guess I'll have to do some typing was what I was thinking. I opened up the file, and what I found had me rolling on the floor laughing!

They had obviously printed my email, Dave then hand wrote his answers, they then scanned the document and emailed it back! Now that's a creative use of technology! You can read the interview here.

Do you remember the 60's TV show The Man From UNCLE? Well Time Life are releasing the entire 4 season set on DVD. 41 DVD's containing all 104 episodes, plus the pilot that was never aired! It comes in a snazzy aluminum case! This is a must have for any Man From UNCLE fan. You can find my review here.

I don't have it in my hot little hands yet, but I am on the list for a review Chumby! What the hell is a Chumby I here you ask. Well it looks more fun than a barrel of monkeys. It is the size of a small clock/radio and it connects to the internet, you can play music, watch video clips, access web sites, etc. At just under $200 this is the gizmo for the geek, check it out.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me!

Well folks, I am officially now as old as Jan! Combined we have 104 years of experience. Of course Jan does not brag about her age, but a simple calculation can figure it out! 104/2 or 52 to help the math challenged!

The good news is that I will only be as old as Jan for 6 months, then I can go back to referring to her as 'The older woman'!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Thanks Duane

Duane "Dog" Chapman is probably feeling pretty bad right about now, lets face it, it is not everyday that the National Enquirer 'outs' you for using the infamous N-word. But it sure does wonders for the ratings! over on blogger news we had at least 4 articles about Dog, and they all scored big in the ratings. Nothing makes news like bad news! Way to go Dog!

There is also a hot rumor that Duane has taken to misspelling son Tucker's name, inadvertently replacing the letter T with an F.