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Posts Tagged ‘Entertainment’

Triumph -- Jolie -- Salt

The persona projects a take-no-prisoners ferocity along with unapologetic James Bond intelligence.

I’m talking about Angelina Jolie and her movie ‘Salt‘, a spy thriller where she plays Evelyn A. Salt, a rogue CIA agent who tries to clear her name after being accused of being a Russian sleeper spy.  The movie released this past weekend to fairly positive reviews and attendance figures.  Being a mom of six you’d think taking the kids to see Toy Story 3 would be the goal of the day vs. getting back to gunslinging and fistfighting while clinging to the side of a building, leaping from a balcony or racing a motorcycle.  But actors need to earn a living too and this is a chance to show off the action-star talent again in what many see as another franchise – can you say ‘Salt 2’?

Scoring a major product placement opportunity in the film was motorcycle manufacture Triumph.  Jolie was filmed in a motorcycle chase scene as the ‘Salt’ character rides a 2009 Triumph Street Triple R in the film.

Photo courtesy of Triumph

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ZZ Top at Aquarius Amphitheater - 2007

On Saturday the Portland area recieved yet another blast of winter.  High wind warnings, low 40’s and over an inch of rain so, I’d been pushing the buttons in the automobile. 

From country to soft rock and then I settled on this little gem from XM DeepTracks channel. 

With its stuttering intro and swagger…it’s about living in the moment, enjoying the ride.

“Well I was rollin’ down the road in some cold blue steel
I had a blues man in the back, and a beautician at the wheel
We going downtown in the middle of the night
We laughing and I’m jokin’ and we feelin’ alright
Oh I’m bad, I’m nationwide
Yes I’m bad, I’m nationwide”

The cool cat musicians I reference are ZZ Top singing “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” from the 1979 “Degüello” album.

I cranked up the volume to revel in the magic and was instantly reminded of the Aquarius Amphitheater at the 2007 Laughlin River Run. It was the 25th Anniversary of the motorcycle rally and ZZ Top headlined the largest bike rally in the western U.S. 

Thinking back to the concert I remember the stadium steps were sticky.  The people were sweaty.  The liquid refreshments were warm.  But we were thrilled to be there. There wasn’t a special section for hedge funders, no separation of the classes, we were one, motorcycle enthusiasts from across the country reveling in the music.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Laughlin, NV rally then it’s a must add to your riding “bucket list.”  It’s four days of wall-to-wall bikes, exhibits, vendors and entertainment. The rally is distinctive with 10 major casino resorts along a two-mile stretch on Casino Drive and everything is literally at your hotel doorstep.   The desert makes a great backdrop and riding bonus for the event. 

Sure there have been moments of negative, but in about 3 weeks it will be time for the 2010 Laughlin River Run.  I’m looking forward to a quick drive-by and then it’s on to a scenic tour around the canyon.  Grand Canyon.  I’ve previously posted on the 2009 Laughlin Rally HERE and 2008 Rally HERE.

Photo courtesy of ZZ Top, at Laughlin River Run.

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or_trailWestward, Ho!  In the old days west coast settlers would cross the Snake river ford near old Fort Boise and travel across what would become the state of Oregon. Today Interstate 84 roughly follows the original Oregon Trail from Idaho to the Dalles.

Do you remember the computer game Oregon Trail?  Gameloft has taken the original and built upon the details as well as made it available on the iPhone.  Reading through the instructions of the game and premise — you and your party are traveling from Missouri to Oregon in 1848, a time of limited technology and rampant disease as you trek west.

It seemed to me that this virtual wagon-based road trip is a lot like prepping for a motorcycle trip!  For instance:

Wagon Load: How many oxen do you need? How many shotgun pellets?  For a motorcycle trip — the oxen is a metaphor for the fuel in the tank, and the shotgun pellets is your knowledge base. You can kill more buffalo (or squirrels/rabbits if you are in a non-grassy area) with more bullets. Motorcycle travelers are better supplied if they research the journey and prep for the unexpected.  Clearly a motorcycle has limited space compared to a wagon.  Long distance riders are often forced to make compromises on how much of what items they will need or take.

Travel Pace:  Are you going to travel at a slow, medium or fast pace? In the Oregon Trail if you leave too late you risk being caught on the trail during the winter (thus decreasing the amount of things to hunt.) Motorcycle travelers determine if the route is freeway or two-lane back roads.  Is the trip is covering long distance they’ll want to build in flexibility to revise trip plans to either optimize for speed vs. scenery and reduce any risk of inclement weather. 

Hunting: This was every kid’s favorite part of the game.  Are you going to eat meager portions or full portions? You have to be a cautious hunter though — if you killed everything on screen (knowing you can only carry back 100 pounds), chances are the next time you needed to hunt there wouldn’t be any buffalo or rabbits around.  If you eat meager portions on the Oregon Trail, your food supply will last longer (unless it rots) but you will become frail.  Motorcycle travelers decide eat on the go vs. a more relaxed pace largely depends on trip time.  As for quantity of food…there are eating establishments everywhere these days so, becoming frail on the trip has little merit.  However, bringing an energy bar or tail mix and water will come in handy and keep riding skills sharp.

Wagon Repair: In the game if your wagon gets busted up or you come across a downed traveler, you can opt to manually patch things up and use your supplies.  For a motorcycle traveler – don’t over plan, but  many are tempted to just hit the road and follow their nose.  Few are prepared for a break down.  Supplies are always limited.  You’ll need to decide if “credit-card repair” is the best approach or if you have enough supplies and storage in your “wagon.”

Typhoid Wagon-Mates: In the game if you catch a disease or get bit by a snake you’ll see a tombstone lying next to the trail.  As a motorcycle traveler you or your “wagon-mate” might become ill, but hopefully never observe a ‘stone’!

The Finish:  I don’t know that I’ve ever made it to the end of the Oregon Trail. I usually quit breathing about three-fourths of the way through the game.  But that’s probably just as well. I need to spend more time on the Wii Fit mastering the ski jump anyway!  As a motorcycle traveler I recall one trip where I didn’t make it to the end destination on the motorbike.  A board, a nail and air challenges on the back side of Mt Hood challenged my journey.  But, like on the Oregon Trail you learn from each run thru the game and every time you get a bit better.

So happy trails, my fellow wagoneers. I hope you reach your finish!

Photo courtesy Gameloft.

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grave_diggersThe term refers to Australia films of a particular genre that were released during home-grown tax advantage days for film producers.

In looking at films during this era I ran across Stone which was made about the same time, but is not an ocker and is much different from other biker movies.  It contradicted the Hollywood biker films of the day and was more of a “thinking man’s” motorcycle club movie that dived into biker values.  The time was 1974 and the film reflected on the disillusionment that ex-servicemen felt after Australia’s earlier withdrawal from Vietnam.

The Australian motorcycle club was called the Grave Diggers.  All members of the club were returning soldiers, either from the Vietnam War or the earlier Korean conflict.  The patch of the club was a skull wearing the hat that made Australian troops famous in both World Wars, the slouch hat.  The patch was first used as an advertising icon for the film, but has since become the patch of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club in Australia and supposedly is the only patch that can be worn across other motorcycle (outlaw) clubs territories without an issue.

The movie was written and directed by Sandy Harbutt, and starts out with the posse cruising by an open-air speech from a politician on environmental issues. They stop to heckle him and a member (Toad), high on illicit drugs, wanders off and climbs onto the roof of the city hall. There he becomes witness to a sniper’s fatal shot of the politician. Over the coming days, several members of the motorcycle club are killed by an unknown assailant, seemingly in an attempt to kill off anyone who might have seen the assassin. A policeman, Stone, is sent in with the intention of posing as a member of the group to try and find out who is behind the killings.  Yeah, it’s farfetched and a typical cinema story. Luckily YouTube has a trailer posted.

Using the biker community, Harbutt was able to assemble large casts of extra bikers which were used in several scenes, most notably the opening burial procession and the fighting sequences. The locations were actual biker hangouts and there are no set shots, giving the film an authentic atmosphere.  The Grave Diggers rode four-cylinder Kawasaki KZ 900’s.  Clearly high speed races around the streets of Sydney mark Stone as a different movie than the typical Harley-based choppers of Hollywood ilk (Devil’s Angels (1967); Hells Angels on Wheels (1967); Easy Rider (1969)).  Stone’s ride was a Norton Commando twin and Harbutt provided some unique angles on-board and behind the various bikes.

Stone is a great example of Australian filmmaking and a biker movie which has achieved cult film status.  If you’ve not seen the movie I suggest you grab a copy and/or see the documentary Stone Forever (1999).  The documentary provides a good background and recreates the funeral run with an estimated 30,000 motorcyclists.

Photo source courtesy of Sandy Harbutt.

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cycle_movieOne thing I’ve noticed over the last year is the popularity of electronic devices targeted toward the geriatric-age bracket.

Now I’m all for helping out Grandma, but does she really need a Bluetooth diabetes monitor? Isn’t there enough on her plate with the upcoming digital channel transition and now we want to burden her with wireless medication, too!

And since we’re chatting about products and a subject I’m fond of — motorcycle “gizmo’s” — these days either mounted on or embedded in the dash is cruise control, GPS, XM Satellite, Alarms, remote starters, radar detectors, iPod music, intercom radio, video camera, CB radio, Bluetooth headsets and heated hand grips.  I’ve even seen a number of “pimptastic” motorcycles with a mini-home theater/video system!  It’s easy to imagine the future and the day of web-enabled motorcycles is just around the corner.   Being able to interact with the internet, get email or stream video content at the push of a button – all from your motorcycle dash.  It seems that all we’re missing is parking sonar!

In 2006 about 250M wireless phone subscribers in the US sent nearly 158 Billion text messages (Source: HERE).  I’m sure some of the those originated from a motorcycle.  And since 2001 the average age of motorcycle owners has increased from 40 to 47 (Source: JD Power).    So, if the average guy buying a motorcycle is getting older and if you follow the logic that implies age effects attentiveness and response times then a logical debate is older motorcycle drivers don’t need any more “bright and shiny” objects on the motorcycle to distract them, right?

Believe me when I say that I struggled to bite my tongue on this, but does anyone see these electronic devices as potential cause of accidents?  Motorcycle driver inattention due to text messaging seems obvious enough, but government legislation may not stop there.  What about those “entertainment” type devices that are behind or on the handlebars?  Many legislators believe that ANYTHING which can distract you from motorcycle driving is considered hazardous and they want to ban use and protect you…independent of reasonable people not engaging in such behavior.  And here you thought after market exhaust pipes with the EPA stamp was your biggest concern.

As the industry continues to struggle to attract and qualify younger first-time motorcycle buyers the future for “older” motorcyclists may be more about eating popcorn at garage parties and watching a movie.

Photo courtesy of Retro Thing.

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steely-dan-albumIt will change my family’s life….that’s what several of the “contestants” stated after winning a ticket to Hollywood the last couple of nights on “American Idol.”  

I’m sure we’ve all had our share of musical aspirations or dreams.  Mine is to backed up Tim Reynolds and jam with Dave Mathews or Steely Dan and if all went well I’d make a lot of money!  However, in an era where Malcom Gladwell reports that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be any good I don’t see those artists showing up at my house this week.  Meanwhile musicians complain that today everybody plays.  You’re competing with amateurs employing GarageBand and posting material on MySpace, yet on the “idol” somebody’s going to win.  

How much money can a person truly make?  It’s an industry where most people have no idea what the number one album is?  “American Idol” is a television show.  First and foremost.  It’s bigger than any contestant.  I think it’s glorified karaoke.  Yet, I find it fascinating to watch because it perpetuates the myth that there’s a singular filter, a gate, which if you can pass through, solves all of your problems and you’re a star.

So thousands turn to the “Idol” and plead their case.  Typically it goes something like…I’m beautiful, I can sing like Beyonce, this is America, I get a chance for stardom, right?  I want my chance!  That’s what everybody is jockeying for on the “Idol.”  Please, use me, make me the next big whatever.  This is just the opposite of classic rock and the sound that still fills arenas.  Classic rock (Pink Floyd, The Ramones, Led Zeppelin) was about doing it your own way, giving the man the middle finger.  But now Simon Cowell gives us the middle finger and the businessman is the star.  You’ve got to hand it to Simon, at least he’s honest.

“Idol” is not reality.  It’s entertainment and fake like so many other things America TV specializes in.  Rather than show us the nitty-gritty of the music industry, they pull heartstrings, try to make you laugh, you had a good time, right?  The hoards of people who line up to play the producer’s game of a contestant on the “Idol” think they deliver the hope that people still care.  They don’t, because winners on the show become 4th tier celebrities that most people just don’t give a rip about.  These soon to be newly-minted “idols” enter a world where train-wrecks are posted all over the internet, almost instantly, and are then forgotten.

They should take a lesson from Harley-Davidson.  If you want to last, you’ve got to build slowly.  You’ve got to be selling something beyond your desire to be rich and famous.  You’ve got to get fans on your own merits.  And, you’ve got to be satisfied with who you are, because today, even if you’re on the cover of “Time”, you may still have to work 9-5.  Being famous is easy.  Making people care is much harder.

If you put being rich and famous first, you’ve got nothing that makes you attractive or makes you desirable.  And we need more.  A pretty face is not enough even if it’s in a bikini – Simon! 

I hope you didn’t ruin your laptop keyboard by spitting up your morning coffee.

Photo courtesy Steely Dan.

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terminator21All right motorcycle movie fans, here’s your chance to weigh in.   

Since first watching McQueen flea the German’s in The Great Escape I’ve always been intrigued by motorcycle chases.  So, I’ve pulled together this little poll where you can select what you think is the greatest motorcycle chase in movie history?

Photo courtesy of Sony/Tri-Star Pictures.

 

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