Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How WAL*MART hi-jacked my business...
I'm guilty as charged; Wal*Mart is $11.88 richer because of me...

Have you ever had something you really, really wanted, but there was only ONE PLACE that you could get it? And then you went to that "one place" to get it? Well, folks, that's how WAL*MART manages to get dollars from people like me who don't shop there, because of principle (like me) or because they don't want to immerse themselves in a crushing sea of humanity in a building that's large enough to hold the entire state of Rhode Island. (Again, like me.) Well, that "one thing" I wanted was the new album by THE EAGLES. And, Wal*Mart is the only retail outlet in the ENTIRE UNITED STATES that is selling this doublt-CD set! It was either, I go to Wal-Mart and get it, or go to Ebay or Amazon, and pay the price, PLUS postage. So I went to Wal-Mart. So that's the third time I've been there this year...and here's what I got for only $ gotta admit the price was right...although, I wouldn't be surprised if this is one o'them Wal*Mart loss-leaders, and they're losing money on it, but that's okay, because while you're in there, you'll prob'ly spend a whole-lotsa money on other stuff...

You heard that right, $11.88 for a double-CD set. That's less than the cost of most single CD's. This is the Eagles' first album in 28 years, and in releasing it, the group provided a valuable public service, because "Long Road Out of Eden", the Eagles' new album, knocked Britney Spears from the #1 chart position, according to Billboard magazine. Now, say what you want about the Eagles: They've never been an exciting concert band; critics have accused them of being pretentious, while still other critics say that the band has a lousy attitude. The group members themselves have had rather violent disagreements over the years, but I guess age has a way of mellowing things...EVERYONE in this band is a great singer. They play their own instruments, and wrote 3/4's of the songs in this CD Set. So I respect them, I really do. Although they were never one of my favorite bands, they've always been pretty good. Pretty great, in fact. (I bought their "Take It Easy" single when it first came out in 1972, and bought all their albums in the '70s, so I'm no 'late-arriving' fan here.) You see, EVERYONE knows who the Eagles are. And, just about everyone wants this new Eagles music, whether they know it or not. I can't see Wal-Mart sewing up exclusive sales rights to a group like, say, the Dead Kennedys or, perhaps, the White Stripes or Twisted Sister...while all those bands are/were very popular, there's no MASS APPEAL. And, face it, the Eagles have mass appeal, and really, they're probably the best group out there these days. Their new material is just as good as their older stuff. Young bands, take note!

If nothing else, Wal-Mart is gonna play it safe. The Eagles will never SHOCK anyone. So, not only does WAL*MART get dollars from folks like me who CAN'T STAND Wal*Mart, they'll also make tons of cash from regular customers who pick up the Eagles' CD along with their weekly hundred-dollar-plus grocery purchases, as well as new customers who come in for the CD and think, 'Wow, they sure do ROLL BACK PRICES in this store!", and then proceed to fill up their shopping basket (or cart) with hundreds of dollars of overpriced trinkets, thinking they're REALLY SAVING MONEY. Well, yeah, the FEATURED items on display in yer typical Wal*Mart are rolled-back, but where the real "rolling-back" occurs is the stuff that's not on sale...often rolled-back to the rear of whatever department the item is stocked in. That way, when you see the featured item on sale, you'll think, "well, if Wal*Mart is this cheap on a sale item, then EVERYTHING here is cheap." Not so! That new-and-improved version of the "on sale" item is typically priced HIGHER than you can find it elsewhere. I watched that Wal*Mart PBS special, so I know of whence I speaketh. If it ain't on sale at Wal* it somewhere else.

This next subject needs all the "HELP!" It can get. Yesterday, November 6th, was the Official Release Date of the Beatles' movie, "HELP!" on DVD. The video is digitally enhanced, the music sounds better than ever, but all the technological improvements in the world can't disguise the fact that as a movie, "HELP!" is pretty awful. John Lennon once said that he and his bandmates were basically "extras in our own movie", and that is painfully evident. The action whirls all around the group, with silly actors and silly actresses, overplayed parts, and helter-skelter location changes which zoom the action from England to the Swiss Alps to the Bahamas. I remember watching this movie on TV several years ago and I fell asleep halfway thru it. "HELP!" is a sort-of action-type movie, and the plot involves some weird far-eastern troupe (who don't look far-eastern) who are trying to kidnap Ringo in order to get a valued sacrificial ring off his finger. (The movie doesn't show how Ringo got the ring in the first place.) Trouble is, you see, the ring is stuck on Ringo's finger. And all sorts of merriment and mayhem result from the Beatles' interaction with the illustrious band of weirdos in the movie who try, but fail, to do all kinds of gory things to the Beatles. Yawn.......

Oh, those madcap Beatles. I read that the only way they could get through the making of the movie was to get STONED all the time, ruining take after take in uproarious fits of uncontrollable laughter...hmmm, maybe THAT should've been filmed. "HELP!" is as BAD as their first movie, "A Hard Day's Night" was innovative, exciting, original and genuinely funny. The music in the "Help!" movie (at least the Beatles' songs, anyway) are just FINE; no problem there. Although it is rather unbelievable to see them doing a song on a Scottish Moor (a cold, flat plain in northern England), or on the beach in the BAHAMAS. And unless you really crave to see the Beatles skiing...the Swiss Alps footage ain't great, either. I love the group's music, passionately, but other than a brief glimpse of genius in "A Hard Day's Night", the group really should have stuck to record-making. That's where their talents immortalized them for posterity.

Our heroes, left out in the cold, taking a break while filming in the Swiss Alps. This movie leaves me cold, too.

Yep, good ol' Apple Corps, who administers all things Beatle, including this DVD issue of "Help!" that I shelled out for. They've found yet another way to fleece me out of thirty bucks. I guess that's what I get for being a collector.

While typing this, the TV was tuned to MSNBC, which was showing an interview with Charles Manson, who's never been known as being the nicest guy on the planet. And, I was taken aback by the realization that, during my lifetime, I've met a whole lotta people in bars and taverns who sound and talk just like him! Everyone's got a tale to tell, especially the DERANGED. Shudder........


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