Sunday, August 22, 2004


It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech

The latest scuttlebutt in l'affaire Gibson has it that certain online retailers (i.e. Musician's Friend) will be allowed to sell Gibson products online. If so, that's an even greater indication that the memo to dealers disallowing Internet sales is a Really Bad Idea. The FTC will surely have something to say about preferential treatment and anti-competitive practices. As most folks know, Musician's Friend is owned by Guitar Center, a company that has periodic ahem, issues with various guitar manufacturers. There's some talk about Guitar Center being interested in buying Gibson, which would make things rather interesting (they provide most of Gibson's revenue anyway), but the nonsense about telling the Gibson story (Since I own three Gibsons I can easily tell it - Orville; ES-150 Charlie Christian; Les Paul; Ted McCarty; Norlin; Henry), doesn't really apply to McGuitars (you have enough trouble finding a salesman who can get you one of the better instruments, assuming he likes your looks). I should qualify this in saying that Musician's Friend has been excellent in all my dealings with them, and I will certainly consider them for a Gibson purchase if the price is right. However, in certain cases their prices are pretty wacky, case in point being a Gretsch Tennessee Rose 6119-62HT. MF has it for about $2200, where it can be bought from other dealers (with a lot more handholding) who are online in the $1700 range.

One thing that Gibson should realize is that their target demographic is aging, thanks to the idiotic policies of the record industry that put gangsta rap, Mrs. Ritchie, the soon-to-be Mrs. Federline and jerks wearing hockey masks who turn their triple rectifier amps up to 11 for that sludge sound ahead of folks who know about things like harmony, subtlety and tone. Us old farts with the money will probably be a lot more likely to buy something that looks like what Dickie Betts played instead of something with some asinine graphic (Of course, except an SG painted to look like Clapton's "Fool") that someone with multiple repeated consonants in his name plays (unless of course the kiddies want said asinine graphic because it's kewl, us parents do occasionally spoil our broods).

Dave Barry posted a column yesterday that zinged Godzilla on its 50th anniversary. I will admit to using kaiju films as the butt of a lot of jokes, but like the James Bond movies, you have to consider that it really was a pretty successful franchise (Toho claims that they've retired the Big G, however, we've heard that one before). The interesting thing is that Barry probably never took a critical look at the original, both the US Raymond Burr version and the original Japanese Gojira. The movie itself was obviously inspired by Eugene Lourie's "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" (which if you think about it was really the plot line for the 1998 Roland Emmerich fiasco), but it really has a dark fable quality about it. The original Gojira is interesting to compare to the Raymond Burr version, with a vague suggestion that Dr. Serazawa was a war criminal, and Dr. Yemane not being such a nice old man (he actually orders Ogata out of the house when he advocates killing Big G). The language used in the Japanese version is a bit strong for the early 50s (the word "damn" in its various permutations is used quite often), but it's strangely effective. The only odd thing about watching Gojira is that since we're so used to the dubbed voices, it's rather strange to hear the actors' real voices, sometimes jarringly different than the familiar ones. And as to the special effects, all things considered, they were pretty darn good for the time. Perhaps they didn't have the stop-motion perfection of Willis O'Brien or Ray Harryhausen, but then again, it's hard to miniaturize everything (especially water effects) and it's a movie, for gosh sakes, suspend disbelief for a moment. Sometimes I think years of CGI and Star Wars-quality effects have jaded our perspective.


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