Monday, March 30, 2009

Coming this Christmas

Labels: , ,

RIP Burt Blumert (1929-2009)

Burt Blumert died this morning from cancer. He had just turned 80 last month.

I knew Burt only peripherally. He was president of the Center for Libertarian Studies, which he founded with the great Murray Rothbard in 1975. He was chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. And he was publisher of the Journal of Libertarian Studies, the Austrian Economics Newsletter, the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, and Of course, over the years, I’ve written for And over the past 15 years, Debbie and I attended many of Burt’s “weekends” in both San Mateo, CA, and even Arlington, VA — for the old John Randolph Club, the Triple-R, and LRC. He was always welcoming, always friendly. And though I only saw him on those special weekends, he always greeted me like an old friend, as he did everyone.

I’ll miss Burt.

[Photo: Burt, Lew Rockwell, David Gordon, and Murray Rothbard]

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Things I miss about the 1960s

Classic private eye literature like this.

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Doc Savage is here!

George Pal's Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975) always disappoints fans of the Lester Dent stories. But I love it. And I'm a big Doc Savage fan. Sure, the movie's silly. But the casting was great; Ron Ely brought back the old pulp image of Doc and played his role perfectly.

I saw Doc Savage at least three times in the theaters during its brief original run. I rented it on VHS a couple of times. I've seen it on TV a few times.

But no DVD release, at least here in the U.S. I understand it's been released as a "full-frame" DVD in Germany. And I've seen a few bootlegs online. But nothing official.

Well, the closest thing to an official Doc Savage DVD release is now available from Warner Brothers through The Warner Archive Collection. This is an on-demand service where you can order custom-made DVDs of WB films otherwise unavailable. Each DVD is $19.95 -- not bad for a movie you're just dying to own. Warners says they're "studio quality," but I don't know what that means. Are they widescreen or pan-and-scan? What condition are these films in?

That all remains to be seen. Since no retail release date has been offered for Doc Savage, I just may order this from the Archive. Then we'll all know.

I'll keep you posted.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hollywood always loves The State

I just caught last year’s Death Race on DVD. It’s a grimmer, less satiric remake of Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000 from the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean it’s less fun. I’m a fan of Jason Statham, who stars in the film, and I’m also a big fan of cars tricked out with enormous weaponry. So this new Death Race is a keeper.

One annoying bit, though. The opening crawl sets the stage, explaining that in the near-future, “private corporations now run the correctional facilities — for profit.” And, of course, they make that profit by sacrificing criminals in automotive death races.

God forbid that anyone could imagine that The State — the most blood-drenched, inhumane institution in mankind’s history — would ever run such horrific prisons (which it already does) or host such death races. No way. It’s gotta be private business, Hollywood’s traditional boogeyman.

C’mon, guys…wake up!

Labels: ,

"Who let the dogs out?"

Yeah, a few people complain about dogs on our local beaches. But this video shows one of the reasons I love living in Pismo Beach.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gratuitous bouncing for a Sunday morning

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A thought after watching WATCHMEN

Yes, I did see Watchmen this past week. And yes, I did like it. Very much.

My fondness for the graphic novel — and I’m one of those who first read it in comic book form back in the mid-’80s — is tied tightly to my love of Steve Ditko. After all, three of the Watchmen characters are based on heroes from Ditko’s run at Charlton Comics in the 1960s. Rorschach is an amped up (but not by much) The Question. Night Owl is based on Ditko’s version of the Blue Beetle. And Doctor Manhattan is pulled from Captain Atom.

So besides enjoying Watchmen the movie as a fine adaptation of the book, my imagination was stretched. I thought how cool it would be to see movie adaptations of the original Ditko source material. Why not a Question movie — or TV series? Why not a Blue Beetle movie?

Just a thought...

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Songs of freedom, songs of revelation...

I’ve always done a pretty decent job keeping track of Jefferson Starship — in whatever configuration it’s taken. These past dozen or more years, though, have been particularly challenging. [Note: When I say “Jefferson Starship,” I’m referring to any music produced under the auspices of the great Paul Kantner.]

In the 1970s, I saw the “classic” band — Kantner, Slick, Balin, Freiberg, et a1. — play live a half-dozen times. And in the past few years, I’ve seen Kantner’s continually morphing group perform everywhere from House of Blues in Hollywood (1995), to Knott’s Berry Farm (1998), to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (2000), to seaside at Avila Beach (2005) — featuring, in various rotations, Marty Balin, Darby Gould, Diana Mangano, Jack Casady, Prairie Prince, David Freiberg, and bunches of others, but always with Kantner, the heart of the group.

I’ve kept up with Jefferson Starship’s sparse CD output over recent years, too — all the live CDs from independent labels and their fantastic 1998 studio release, Windows of Heaven.

But somehow, Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty, a new studio CD released last September, had slipped right past me. I found a lone copy last weekend while skimming through the music bins at Borders. The shame is I lost six months that I could have spent listening to and savoring it. But what the hell…

This CD is a folk collection, mostly acoustic covers, making it unlike any earlier album from the Jefferson Family. And it’s the most politically radical product to come from these people since maybe Airplane’s Volunteers in 1969, the sticker on the outside of the CD reading, “In the spirit of Jefferson Airplane, a clarion call of social conscience.” In fact, Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty opens with the first chords of “We Can Be Together/Volunteers” before launching into the Weavers’ “Wasn’t That a Time.” It raised a lump in my throat when I first heard it. These songs are anthems to rebellion, and I think they arrive at a very good time.

There are 18 tracks listed on this CD, only one of them a full original, Kantner’s “On the Threshold of Fire.” (There’s an Easter egg hidden on the album, too — a Sunfighter outtake from 1971 called “Surprise, Surprise,” featuring Grace Slick.) Even the covers, though, are not quite covers, each of them given such a unique spin that JS might arguably lay claim to them as their own. For example, John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” are cleverly blended together here and sung beautifully by newcomer Cathy Richardson. Likewise, Phil Ochs’ iconic “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” again with Richardson, boasts a new verse and a whole new “sound” for the song.

There are songs here by Woody Guthrie, Dino Valenti, Richard Farina, Richard Thompson, and Bob Dylan (this new version of “The Chimes of Freedom” is one of the most rousing I’ve ever heard). Plus there are some traditional old Irish and Spanish tunes. There’s a LOT more, too much to stuff into this little review. Just listen for yourself.

More than forty years after Surrealistic Pillow, it astounds me that so much vital music can still come from this group of musicians. Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty is one of the best new CDs I’ve heard in this decade.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

"C for Cookie"

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 02, 2009

"Chimes Of Freedom" - Jefferson Starship

Labels: , , , ,