Sunday, February 15, 2009

Daytona 500: Will Mark Martin Get "The Call"?

"The Call" is as much a part of NASCAR lore as, say, the bootlegging roots of Junior Johnson or the infamous mean steak of Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Or even the mysteriously-sanitized mustache of Jeff Gordon when he was in his short-lived good ol' boy phase as a rookie.

FOX Sports' Ryan McGee explained the conspiracy here. Basically the premise is simple, a certain team/driver combination will be tipped that NASCAR (the sanctioning body) will essentially look the other way by easing up on the pre- and post-race inspection process, thus allowing said team to cheat in any of the thousands of possible ways, win the race, and reap NASCAR the avalanche of publicity generated by the occasion.

Conspiracy theorists point to Dale Earnhardt's first and only Daytona 500 win, the win by Dale Jr. at Daytona after his father's death, and even Jeff Gordon's "free Pepsi" win of 2004 as documentation of "The Call."

Would NASCAR looking the other way in the inspection process result in a win?

Not unequivocally, but the chance increases on a big track like Daytona in which there are some specific aerodynamic tricks that can aid a car significantly in handling.

There have always been some dubious practices of favoritism in the series slanted towards the larger, innovative teams. A crew member in the (at the time) NASCAR Busch Series (don't even get me started on the musical-chairs of series names) told me a story about the team he was working for buying a race-winning superspeedway car used the previous year by (2000 series champion) Jeff Green. Some of the Bond-style engineering included an umbrella-like handle under the steering wheel that could be pulled to flare the fenders and generate extra downforce, thus handling better in the corners for passing. He said that there was no way such a car would make it through inspection by his own mid-level team, and thus was of little use.

But I digress...I'd rather pick today's race winner in advance - Mark Martin.

It's no surprise that NASCAR is struggling putting fans in seats and sponsors on quarter-panels.

Fatherhood seems to have dulled some of Jeff Gordon's domination instinct, the 3-time Bland Champion Jimmy Johnson has failed to connect with the public in a meaningful way, while Dale Jr. is too busy being Dale Jr. to put in the work necessary to become a consistent race winner.

So, this year it's up to Martin to save the sport, and what better way to start the charge towards his first championship than a win at NASCAR's Super Bowl, which is still awkwardly positioned at the start of the season when half the country still needs an ice breaker to get up their driveways.

So what better way to jump start the season than a feel good story written by the one driver EVERYONE (north, south, east and west) loves?

Martin is the winner without a championship, the veteran without a Daytona trophy. He's affable enough to chat on talk shows, yet still down-home enough to be popular with the traditionalists decrying the current state of the sport.

NASCAR's big-time ambitions hang in the balance. And it is far from the first sport to take matters into it's own hands. Post-strike baseball juiced it's wa

The march to the sports pages and Regis and Kelly has been paved by positive public relations and shrewd stage management of races (like the famous French driver Jacques Debris, bringer of 1001 caution flags). But the public appears to be losing interest quickly, and the sponsors have noticed. Empty stands dot the schedule (Atlanta) and empty bank accounts have driven a record number of teams from the sport.

So take it from me. Martin gets The Call this year. Kellogg's can put him on a Corn Flakes box

At least until Dale Jr. takes NASCAR off call waiting.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Rolling Stones vs. The Beatles

I think Mick's a joke with all that fag dancing; I always did. I enjoy it; I'll probably go and see his films and all like everybody else, but really, I think it's a joke. - John Lennon

It is one of the great cliches of broadcast media to call the Beatles the "greatest rock band of all time" as if it's not a point of contention.

So I was in a restaurant one night, a nice one in New York and there was a family at the next table. No one was paying attention to anyone else but then I heard - I couldn`t help it - the kid ask his father something. He wanted to know which band was better, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Well, I don`t know, says the father. Why don`t you ask him?, meaning me. It made me feel like something out of history. - Mick Jagger, 1982

-The Beatles weren't even a rock band, they were a pop band with a few good rock songs.

The Elvis period was super-rebellious. Because that kind of music was much more shocking than the music of the Beatles - the early Beatles... The sexuality of the early Elvis years was much more shocking to a straight audience than the Beatles` I Want to Hold Your Hand... The wild men - Elvis, Jerry Lee - they were much more scary. So when we`re talking about any `60s break, you have to take that into account. They`d already made this sexual charge. - Mick Jagger, 2007

-The Beatles didn't play live after August 29, 1966 (the impromptu set on the roof of Apple Records for Let It Be doesn't count as a "concert") The Rolling Stones' Bigger Bang tour in 2005 grossed $168 million dollars. Paul McCartney's 2005 tour racked up $83.2 million. McCartney’s “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” album, like the Stones, generated some of the most enthusiastic reviews he’s received in years but didn’t quite sell enough copies to be certified gold: 450,000 copies. That resulted in revenue of $5.85 million. Still, the 63-year-old ex-Beatle found gold at the concert box office, racking up $77.3 million in ticket sales. Macca's average ticket price: $135.46, topping the Stones but still not the highest average.

-As much as critics point to the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request as a pale imitation of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, it was the Beatles who sought to appropriate the Stones' controversial image with the "butcher cover" of Yesterday and Today
-The Beatles did not record Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street in a period of four years.

- Direct Descendants
Beatles: Badfinger, Wings, Julian Lennon, Oasis
Stones: Aerosmith, Hanoi Rocks, Black Crowes

- Embarrassing Moment:
Beatles - John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Two Virgins album cover.
Stones - Mick riding a giant inflatable phallus on the 1975 tour while singing Starfucker

I will expand on this theme more in a bit...just wanted to get the ball rolling.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Zeppelin Has Landed


"Good Times, Bad Times"
"Ramble On"
"Black Dog"
"In My Time of Dying"
"For Your Life" (first time ever played live)
"Trampled Underfoot"
"Nobody's Fault But Mine"
"No Quarter"
"Since I've Been Loving You"
"Dazed and Confused"
"Stairway To Heaven"
"The Song Remains the Same"
"Misty Mountain Hop"

"Whole Lotta Love"
"Rock and Roll"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Councilman proposes fine for feeding hipsters

Tuesday, November 13th 2007, 12:07 PM

Should there be a $1,000 fine for feeding hipsters?

His feathers ruffled and his mind racked with ghastly images of "rats with wings," a city councilman Monday declared war on hipsters and those who coddle them.

Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) proposed a bill to make feeding hipsters a crime punishable by up to a $1,000 fine.

"Stop feeding hipsters!" Felder bellowed from the steps of City Hall yesterday, within earshot of a gaggle of hipsters scrounging for lunch.

"If people like hipsters... feed [them] in your house and let them crap all over the place in your living room," he said.
He called hipsters the foulest of fowl, public health hazards that have long outlived their use for delivering messages.

"People have been disgusted and annoyed and are sick and tired of this," said Felder, displaying a poster of hipster poop, thick and corrosive, on the underside of Brooklyn's Lorimer St. el station.

Felder cited the success of a hipster-feeding ban imposed in London even though Queen Elizabeth is one of Britain's biggest hipster lovers.

As if sensing a squawk from PETA, Felder stopped short of encouraging people kill the kids, which under the more palatable name of "squab" are considered a delicacy by some. He suggested hawk-breeding and forced contraception as ways to thin the population.

Felder's plan didn't immediately take flight. A spokesman for Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, "We will review it," and Mayor Bloomberg said, "People would be better off not feeding the hipsters."

Al Streit, director of hipster Rescue Central, said Felder's bill is for the birds.

"People do horrible things to hipsters because they think nobody cares," Streit said.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Swervedriver Back in 2K8

The reunion of legendary Oxford, UK band Swervedriver has now been confirmed. Honestly, some of the best live shows I have ever witnessed are courtesy of the Swervies, who came from the same scene as Radiohead, but should have been bigger, as their music had power, hooks and melodies, along with razor-sharp instrumental prowess.

But the one thing Swervedriver did not have was the ear of the apathetic record industry, or a label (A&M and Creation in the early years) that knew what to do with them. Or in fact, a label that could stay in business until the end of their tour.

"Now that the press release has been officially issued, we at HSS HQ finally have the "ok" to let our friends know that a Swervedriver Reunion has been announced for '08. Details on dates are still coming together but some great news all the same!! Be sure to check out Adam and band who are currently on tour right now in support of his new record "Bolts of Melody". Tour dates are listed at Here's the official press release with the info on the Swervedriver reunion:

"After almost a 10-year long absence, the revered UK band SWERVEDRIVER plans to reform for an early 2008 worldwide tour. Swervedriver is Adam Franklin on guitar and vocals, Jimmy Hartridge on guitar, Steve George on bass, and Jez on drums. Swervedriver formed in Oxford, England in 1989 and released a series of EP's followed by their debut full-length, Raise, in 1991 on Creation Records in the UK and A&M Records in the U.S. Mezcal Head followed in 1993, then in 1995 Ejector Seat Reservation came out on Creation in the UK, but was only available as an import in the US. Their last release, 99th Dream, was released by Zero Hour in 1998. Tour dates for Swervedriver will be announced shortly. Adam Franklin is in the midst of a U.S. solo tour in support of Bolts of Melody, which was released this past June on Hi-Speed Soul."

Let the excitement begin! xoxo, Hi-Speed Soul

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A 10-point Plan for Steven Seagal's Career Revival

by Dale Nixon

Deposed action star Steven Seagal, most recently known for passing on a crucial trip or two to the salad bar, has accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation of "ruining" his career. The self-styled sensei has accused the Bureau of piloting a smear campaign unseen since ol' J. Edgar Hoover was chasing the Kennedys around his office in high heels.

And Seagal is demanding an apology.

"False FBI accusations fueled thousands of articles saying that I terrorize journalists and associate with the Mafia," Seagal told the newspaper. "These kinds of inflammatory allegations scare studio heads and independent producers -- and kill careers."

Last time I checked (pre-Karl Rove resignation), "terrorizing journalists" was not exactly a violation of the Patriot Act. It's kind of a vague charge anyway.

As for associating with the mafia, it might have been more advantageous to his sagging career to become a Scientologist. At least Tom Cruise would take his calls.

If anything, the current state of Seagal's career should have been entrusted to someone more appropriate to the job, like Dr. Jack Kervorkian. A mercy slaying might have at least been able to save hundreds of trees in scipts alone, along with countless DVD plastic cases.

The carbon offset would be a glorious number, even Al Gore might note the sacrifice favorably, provided that he is not too busy private jetting bands to a global warming concert.

Given the fact that his straight to SpikeTV movies have garnered a slew of "worst of the year" nominations, Seagal should probably be happy anyone is still paying attention. Seagal has been nominated for eight Razzie Awards, including worst actor an unprecedented three times (On Deadly Ground, Fire Down Below, Half Past Dead). He, however, did notch a worst director Razzie for On Deadly Ground.

The plot synopsis of Half Past Dead might give a clue as to the profound level of sub-mediocrity Seagal has attained in recent years, as it is downright impossible to find anyone who admits to having sat through the ponytailed doughboy's oeuvre:

Half Past Dead tells the story of a man (Sascha Petrosevitch? who let this guy loose with a fake Russian accent?) who goes undercover in a hi-tech prison to find out information to help prosecute those who killed his wife. While there he stumbles onto a plot involving a death-row inmate (played by Morris Chestnut) and his $200 million stash of gold.

Wait, it gets better:

A small but well-equipped team of terrorists -- the "49ers" -- have parachuted onto the island and gained control of it.

Was there not a Scooby Doo scriptwriter available to read over the final treatment?

Should Seagal be willing to accept real career advice at this time, here is a 10-step plan to rejuvenate his career:

1) Hang up the career as a faux bluesman. There are already enough insurance agents and lawyers gumming up this paunchy-white-expensive-guitar-collecting-with-a-ponytail profession already. If you can't get anyone decent to photoshop your CD cover, you have already been born under a bad sign.

2) Paint yourself as a conspiracy theorist. Embrace the fringe. Narrate a 9/11 was a Zionist hoax movie.

3) Stop making movies that have scripts written by a combination of Roger Corman and Paul Reubens. A chef on a train? A country-singing environmental agent investigating the dumping of toxic waste in coal mines? An unsuspecting university professor as an unwitting accomplice in a foiled Chinese cocaine deal? Suspension of disbelief is one thing; retarded is another entirely.

4) Run for office. Not governor, but perhaps something smaller like chairman of the Laguna Hills Chamber of Commerce. Little steps.

5) Appear on a network comedy in some sort of self-deprecating role. Hey, it worked for Alec Baldwin. And no, Saturday Night Live doesn't count.

6) Start thinking about a sequel to one of your earlier, more well-received movies. Maybe you can even get a two-fer and revive ex-wife Kelly LeBrock's career. Unless she still has a restraining order against you.

7) Call Michael Ovitz and tell him you are sorry.

8) Skin care products? For a martial artist? Do you think Bruce Lee would have had a line of skin care products? And if that fake oompa-loompa tan on the cover of your record is any indication, no, they aren't working. And can the energy drinks, as well. One note - goji berries are from China, not Tibet. Nice try though.

9) Refrain from taking roles in which the main character sounds like one of Jack Tripper's friends on Three's Company. John Prince? Jonathan Cold? Harlan Banks? Travis Hunter? Austin Travis? Seriously, porn stars come up with better names.

10) Make one last Blaze of Glory movie involving a fight to the end with former box office rival Jean Claude Van Damme. You can even have Bon Jovi write the title song, just under no circumstances are you allowed to do it yourself.

Okay, Steve, that will be 10 percent of your future earnings. You can even paypal me my cut.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Note to Sweden: Free Bill Murray!

(AP wire report - Karl Ritter)
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Bill Murray could face a drunken driving charge after cruising through downtown Stockholm in a golf cart and refusing to take a breath test, citing U.S. law.

Police officers spotted the "Caddyshack" star early Monday in the slow-moving vehicle and noticed he smelled of alcohol when they pulled him over, said Detective-Inspector Christer Holmlund of the Stockholm police.

"He refused to blow in the (breath test) instrument, citing American legislation," Holmlund told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "So we applied the old method — a blood test. It will take 14 days before the results are in."

Murray, who had been at a golf tournament in Sweden, signed a document admitting that he was driving under the influence, and agreed to let a police officer plead guilty for him if the case goes to court, Holmlund said.

"Then he was let go. My guess is he went back to America," Holmlund said.

He said the 56-year-old actor-comedian would only be charged if tests show his blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit, which is quite low in Sweden.

A very high alcohol level could lead to a prison sentence, but Holmlund said fines were more likely.

"There were no obvious signs, like when someone is really tipsy," he said.

The golf cart had been on display for a week outside the downtown hotel where Murray and other VIPs attending the Scandinavian Masters golf tournament, were staying, tournament head Fredrik Nilsmark said.

Murray apparently drove the golf cart to the trendy Cafe Opera nightclub, less than a mile away, and was pulled over on his way back to the hotel.

Nilsmark said the vehicle wasn't intended for guests but added: "I don't hold any grudge against Bill Murray for borrowing our cart for a while."

Cafe Opera manager Daniel Bodahl confirmed that Murray had visited the nightclub late Sunday and said "he was a very good guest."

It isn't illegal to drive a golf cart in city traffic in Sweden, but Holmlund said it is very unusual.

"I have done this since '68 and I've never experienced anything like this," he said.

Murray was among the cast members on NBC's "Saturday Night Live." He was nominated for an Oscar for 2003's "Lost in Translation." His screen credits also include "Groundhog Day" and "Rushmore."