Thursday, February 26, 2009

Barbie Turns 50! Scrutiny & Controversy

Can you believe it - Barbie Turns Fifty next month? That's right, Barbie first appeared March 9, 1959. Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Her parents' names are given as George and Margaret Roberts from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin. American businesswoman Ruth Handler (1916-2002) is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration. Over the years, Barbie has had many occupations including: Astronaut, Flight Attendant, NASCAR driver, Cowgirl, United States President, Doctor, Nurse, McDonald's Cashier, Teacher, Hair Dresser, Military pilot, Super Heroine, and many more.

Barbara Millicent Roberts

Over the years, she's also had her share of controversy and scrutiny.

In 1997, the Danish-Norwegian group Aqua released a song called Barbie Girl. It contained lyrics such as "You can brush my hair / Undress me everywhere" and used graphics similar to the pink Barbie logo. Mattel argued that this constituted a trademark infringement and filed a defamation lawsuit against MCA Records on September 11, 1997. In July 2002, Judge Alex Kozinski ruled that the song was protected as a parody under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Holiday Barbie (No controversy yet?)

One of the biggest issues of late has been one of dimensions. A common criticism has been that the doll promotes an unrealistic idea of body image for young women and girls, perhaps leading the girls to emulate her and increasing the likelihood of anorexia. According to Wikipedia, a standard Barbie doll is 11.5 inches tall, giving a height of 5 fee 9 inches at 1/6 scale. At this scale, Barbie's vital statistics have been estimated at 36 inches (chest), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips). Have you seen anyone like that walking around lately? According to research by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. Further, in 1965 "Slumber Party" Barbie came with a book entitled "How to Lose Weight which advised: "Don't eat." Yikes! Can you imagine delivering that message to you your children? The doll also came with pink bathroom scales reading 110lb, which would be at least 35lbs underweight for a woman 5 feet 9 inches tall according to the experts. Mattel, Inc., the manufacturer of Barbie was sensitive to these issues and in 1997 Barbie's body mold was redesigned and given a wider waist, with Mattel saying that this would make the doll better suited to contemporary fashion designs. I think it was also done to avoid future lawsuits.

Better yet, In September 2003 the Saudi Arabia outlawed the sale of Barbie dolls, saying that she did not conform to the ideals of Islam. The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stated "Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful." Wow, that's pretty harsh don't you think? But I must admit, I've personally seen Barbie in some compromising positions. (See video below) In Middle Eastern countries there is an alternative doll called Fulla which is similar to Barbie but is designed to be more acceptable to an Islamic market. Fulla is not made by the Mattel Corporation, and Barbie is still available in other Middle Eastern countries including Egypt.

Egad! -

Barbie Gives Birth to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!

Speaking of Ken, Barbie has an on-off romantic relationship with her beau Ken (Ken Carson), who first appeared in 1961. Like Barbie, Ken shares his name with one of Ruth Handler's children. A news release from Mattel in February 2004 announced that Barbie and Ken had decided to split up, but in February 2006 they were back together again.

Ken the Fashionisto!

Stylish Clothes of the era

I'm not sure what your feelings are concerning Ken, but frankly, I'm glad he showed up. And I'm glad my sister let me borrow him to be a willing (he never said it wasn't okay) victim to my G.I. Joe antics. Ken (or, Ken Carson) equally had a fashionable line of clothing and accessories. No guns or camo fatigues - just fashionable clothes. As the story goes, Ken and Barbie met on the set of a TV commercial in 1961. Since his debut, Ken has held at least forty occupations, from Olympic gold medalist (1974, 1997), to hair stylist (1991, 1992, 1999. To his credit, Ken endured unlimited judo holds, kung fu grips, and frequent man handling's by my buff and ready G.I. Joe. He was often held hostage and interrogated until Barbie could deliver the ransom. Trust me, those interrogations were brutal. He never uttered a word.

Call me a "perverted westerner," but one of the funniest things I heard about regarding Barbie was a covert operation executed by a group identified as the B.L.O. In 1993 a group in the United States calling itself the "Barbie Liberation Organization" modified Barbie dolls by giving them the voice box of a talking G.I. Joe doll, and secretly returned the dolls to the shelves of toy stores. Parents and children were surprised when they purchased Barbie dolls that uttered phrases such as "Eat lead, Cobra!" and "Vengeance is mine." Naturally, I understand the outrage of the parents who may have purchased the dolls (I would have been as well) but as far as adult humor goes, I do find it funny.

There were other social issues surrounding Barbie and her entourage including the race issue. Colored Francie" made her debut in 1967, and she is sometimes described as the first African American Barbie doll. Though many would argue otherwise. She was produced using the existing head molds for the white Francie doll and lacked African characteristics other than a dark skin. The first African American doll in the Barbie range is usually regarded as Christie, who made her debut in 1968. Black Barbie and Hispanic Barbie were launched in 1980. You gotta keep up with the times. I've yet to see or hear anything about an Asian or bi-racial Barbie but stay tuned.

I'm not sure what the next 50 years will hold for you Barbie.

But Happy 50 TH!

Party like a Rock Star - You deserve it. It's been an interesting journey.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fifty One States?

Fifty is Nifty but is Fifty One more fun?

More LA Times Flashback headlines -Hawaii Wins Approval As 50Th State!

Anyone remember what it was like before we had 50 States? I was born after Hawaii became a state so I have no experience with what it may have been like to talk about "The 49 or even 48 States." I grew up learning the state capitals for all 50 states as did many of you. I can't remember some of them now but at least I can look them up quickly on the internet if needed. Have you ever contemplated what it would be like to have 51 States? I suppose it's very possible that in our lifetime we could see the addition of at least one more star on Old Glory! I know it sounds a bit imperialistic but honestly, it's certainly within the realm of possibilities.

A Few of the contenders for statehood:

When you eliminate some of the extreme choices like - Canada, Afghanistan, Mexico, and Iraq, then some of these other entities seem plausible. Like:
  • Guam -

The territory of Guam, is an island in the western Pacific Ocean and is an organized, unincorporated insular area of the United States. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. The island's capital is Hagåtña (formerly Agana). Guam is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands.

  • United States Virgin Islands -

The United States Virgin Islands is a group of islands in the Caribbean that are an insular area of the United States. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. The U.S. Virgin Islands consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas, along with the much smaller but historically distinct Water Island, and many other surrounding minor islands. The total land area of the territory is about 133.73 square miles

  • The Northern Mariana Islands -

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), is a commonwealth in political union with the United States, occupying a strategic region of the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines. And here's a bit of interesting information - The Northern Mariana Islands have the lowest male to female sex ratio in the world: an average of 76 men to every 100 women. That is due to the overwhelming female majority of foreign workers, especially in the garment industry. A great place to go if you "Really " need a date huh?

  • Long Island New York (Doubtful - New York would never give up this gem)

    Long Island is an island located in southeastern New York, USA, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which (Queens and Kings) are boroughs of New York City, and two of which (Nassau and Suffolk) are mainly suburban. Numerous bridges and tunnels through Queens and Brooklyn connect Long Island to the three other boroughs of New York City. Ferries connect Suffolk County northward across Long Island Sound to the state of Connecticut. The longest island in the contiguous United States, Long Island extends 118 miles (190 km) from New York Harbor, and varies in width from 12 to 23 miles (19 to 37 km) between the northern (Long Island Sound) coast and the southern Atlantic coast.

  • Washington DC -
  • Washington, D.C. formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the Territory of Columbia until an act of Congress in 1871 effectively merged the City and the Territory into a single entity called the District of Columbia. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. The city is located on the north bank of the Potomac River and is bordered by the states of Virginia to the southwest and Maryland to the other sides. The District has a resident population of 591,833; however, because of commuters from the surrounding suburbs, its population rises to over one million during the workweek. The Washington Metropolitan Area, of which the District is a part, has a population of 5.3 million, the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the country.

  • Puerto Rico -
  • Is a self-governing unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico is composed of an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands and keys, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. The main island of Puerto Rico is the smallest by land area and second smallest by population among the four Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico).

  • American Somoa -Is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa. The main (largest and most populous) island is Tutuila, with the Manuʻa Islands, Rose Atoll, and Swains Island also included in the territory. American Samoa is part of the Samoan Islands chain, located west of the Cook Islands, north of Tonga, and some 300 miles (500 km) south of Tokelau.

Well, in my humble opinion, these are some of the more realistic candidates for statehood. Oddly enough, as global economic troubles spread, it becomes more likely that these entities would seek statehood as they seek shelter under the umbrella of the United States Federal Government. Think about the billions of dollars that are being printed and passed out to assist failing industries. In tough times many of these constituents would like to get there hands on some of these dollars.

Still another and equally motivating issue is representation. Take for example the District (Washington D.C.) They've been on all sides of this debate. But today they were put on the fast track to better representation in the federal government and perhaps statehood as Senators decided by a 62 to 34 margin to consider the bill which would give the District its first seat ever in the House of Representatives. Eight Republicans, including Senators Thad Cochran (Mississippi) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted to proceed with the bill. Robert F. Bennett (Utah) was expected to vote yes but for some reason voted no. A similar bill was presented about 3 years ago but failed to pass. We can expect a very lively discussion/debate period before the final vote takes place in the next week or so.

An "interesting party" was heard from relative to this discussion - Senator Joseph Lieberman called D.C. citizens "the only residents of a democratically ruled national capital in the world who have no say" in how their nation is governed. "It's time to right this injustice."

My understanding is that this bill would permanently add two seats to the 435-member House. One would go to the largely Democratic District, and the other would be assigned to a largely "Republican-leaning" Utah through 2012, when congressional seats are reapportioned.

Some opponents argue that the bill is legally unsound. They mentioned the Constitution's instructions that House Of Representatives be chosen by "the people of the several states" - and noted that the District is not a state. (There goes that Statehood thing again). Additionally, it's my opinion that some opponents are looking ahead and see this as the precursor to the creation of two D.C. Senators. That could very easily give Democrats a huge boost in the 100 (or 102) seat Senate.

Let the Statehood Games Begin!

Just a note, In 1967, 1981, 1993, and 1998 the citizens of Puerto Rico voted whether the island should remain a commonwealth, become a state, or become and independent country. In all four votes, Puerto Ricans voted to maintain the status quo.

Seems they like it just the way it is......

More to follow.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Music Monday - Duran Duran!

Jane Turley has sure been a great Blog friend but she gives me a hard time!

So I've decided to give her what she's been asking for. And it's not this..........

A Deep Dark Chocolate Kiss!

This one is for the lovely Miss Jane who's been begging for it!

Simon John Charles Le Bon

There - I admit it publicly! I do like Duran Duran!

But since Jane Turley is such a huge Simon Le Bon fan, I decided to go one step further and help her out with some background information on the pop star!

According to, Simon John Charles Le Bon (born 27 October 1958) is the lead singer and lyricist of the new wave band Duran Duran and its offshoot, Arcadia. Le Bon was a member of the local church choir from a young age, but was also trained as an actor. Simon went to Pinner County Grammar School, (Are you familiar Jane?) the same school that Elton John attended some years earlier. He worked as a theatre porter at Northwick Park Hospital Accident and Casualty, and also auditioned for a punk band at Harrow College.

Several interesting facts:

-He worked on a kibbutz – an Israeli collective community – in the Negev desert in Israel in 1978, and then returned to England to attend drama school at the University of Birmingham before meeting the fledgling band Duran Duran.

-Le Bon's ex-girlfriend, Fiona Kemp (a barmaid at the Rum Runner nightclub where Duran Duran was rehearsing), introduced him to the band in May 1980, recommending him as a potential vocalist. As band legend has it, he turned up for the audition wearing pink leopard-print trousers, and carrying a notebook containing a large collection of poetry he had written - all of which would later become tracks on the early Duran Duran albums. After listening to the songs the band had already composed together, Le Bon spent some time fitting one of his poems ("Sound of Thunder") to one of the instrumentals, and found they had a good match. Le Bon agreed to "try [Duran Duran] out for the summer"; within six weeks the band was playing steadily around Birmingham and London, and a national tour supporting Hazel O'Connor led to a record deal with EMI Records in December.

-The band's first album, Duran Duran, was released in 1981, and they quickly shot to fame as part of the New Romantic movement. Three more albums followed in quick succession: Rio (1982), Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983) and Arena (1984). By mid-1984, the band was ready for a break. Duran Duran's only other work that year was an appearance on the 1984 Band Aid charity single, "Do They Know It's Christmas."

The rest is written in the cryptic pages of music history!

Hope you enjoyed it Jane. We all know what a huge Simon Le Bon fan you are - And that's why I picked this song for Music Monday!

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

2009 Academy Awards - Printable Ballot

Today I was driving up Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills and I noticed a familiar site. Valet parking at one of the homes. I'm not sure who the owner is but every year on the Saturday before the Academy Awards, he/she hosts a party. I've always assumed it was an Academy Awards party. Today I got (perhaps) a bit of confirmation.

As I was passing the home moving along at a pretty good clip, one of the valet parking/security supervisors motioned for me to stop. Clearly this wasn't an officer of the law or even a traffic control official. So I would have been well within my rights to keep moving. It was, however, a nicely dressed gentleman who I gathered was simply doing his job and trying to facilitate the movement of traffic in front of the home. So I opted to comply with his directions but instead of slamming on the brakes I slowed to a gradual stop. This left me about ten feet from him. The guy then motioned for a car to proceed in front of me as I patiently waited. I happened to look at the driver of the car and behold - to my surprise it was the legendary Michael Douglas.

Up close and impersonal. Probably 12 feet from where I sat. If it wasn't Michael Douglas, it was a Really good copy. I smiled and looked at him and expected a smile in return or at least a wave accompanied by a silent lip movement indicating - thank you.... After all, I'm a huge fan. He should know that right? He was great in Falling Down and so many other movies. But sadly, nothing came. Instead, he just pulled his vehicle in front of mine while staring straight ahead and pulled off. I don't think he ever looked in my direction or consciously acknowledged that I had yielded and given him priority. The parking supervisor, who by now had observed this whole thing, looked at me and grinned. No doubt, agreeing with what I was thinking = "How ungrateful and impolite." Oh well, I exhaled and wondered if I was being too harsh. Perhaps he's preoccupied with something else I rationed. After all, you never know what people are going through. And although ungrateful drivers is one of my pet peeves, this really didn't bother me much.

I do know that this is a big weekend if you're in the movie business. Academy Awards Day! A.K.A Mister Oscar Day! There's a lot on the table for people in the business. I'm sure Michael Douglas was crunching the numbers and facts and speculating on who/what will win big.

By 1975 standards, this won't be a huge year for Douglas. Some of you might know or remember that Michael Douglas produced a movie in 1975 that scored Big!

The movie was the first to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, Screenplay) since It Happened One Night in 1934, an accomplishment not repeated until 1991, by The Silence of the Lambs.

And this year's results can't compare to his blockbuster performance as "Gordon Gekko" in the movie Wall Street. The role that scored him the coveted award for Best Actor.

Douglas, playing Gordon Gekko in Wall Street

Mr. Douglas, I'm not sure if you were reliving those moments or what but I'm sympathetic to what you must be going through this time of the year. It's a big weekend and we're all excited and eager as well. And for you, it's got to be tough going through life with beautiful women chasing after you and never really knowing who will catch up with you and boil a rabbit on your stove top a la Fatal Attraction. Or who will seduce you and lead you to wonder if they'll try to kill you with an ice pick per Basic Instinct. Yes - the dreaded celebrity life. It ain't easy.

So hang in there, I'm still a big fan regardless. In fact, I'm looking forward to the release of the sequel to Wall Street - Money Never Sleeps. But next time someone lets you into traffic - Be Polite and show a little Gratitude! Your fans will love you more for it.

And for all of you other Oscar fans, I know you're taking bets and looking for an edge to win the office pool. Well, I've just found something to help you out. No, It's not my lame predictions of the winners but it's a printable ballot sheet to record your choices and the winners. Follow this link to get it

Have fun.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Los Angeles Times - Flashback!

Times Have Changed???

Los Angeles Times -Thursday Morning Final

Thursday, February 16, 1978 - Daily 15 cents

146 pages

Where were you in 1978 when the daily Los Angeles Times cost 15 cents and was 146 pages long? In case you missed it, or can't remember, the headlines read - Spinks Dethrones Ali. According to the story, Leon Spinks, a 24-year old ex-marine won the title fight by defeating Muhammad Ali in a 15 - round split decision in Las Vegas. This was a shocking upset for most boxing fans. Ali was bleeding from the mouth most of the fight as he grew old in the ring at the age of 36 and fell to the relentless pursuit of the 1976 Olympic light-heavyweight gold medalist. This was the eighth professional fight for Spinks.

Thirty one (31) years later, I pulled out my newspaper to view another sports related story. The highlighted story featured Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal who shared the MVP (most valuable player) award for the NBA All Star game in Phoenix, AZ. Another story addressed the Capitol lock down as lawmakers sought to find a budget solution to California's $41 billion deficit.

Los Angeles Times

Monday, February 16, 2009 - Daily 75 cents

92 pages (no charge)

Times have changed?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Can't See You..... I Can't Hear You!

Where are you? Come out - come out -where ever you are!

About a year ago I sat next to a gentleman on an airplane on the way to China. It was a long flight so we had the opportunity to talk about many things. I eventually learned that he had worked on an attack submarine in the U.S. navy during the seventies. That bit of information naturally fueled my curiosity. I've seen lots of submarine movies in my time; Crimson Tide, The Hunt for Red October, Run Silent Run Deep, Das Boot, U-571, Crash Dive, K-19, The Enemy Below, Torpedo Alley, and Torpedo Run to name a few. Now I'm not really a submarine movie junkie, but I can enjoy a good action drama with the best of them. I particularly liked Crimson Tide. Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington were excellent in their respective roles. Having seen those movies doesn't make me an expert in that field, but it did make me wonder.... so I had lots of questions for my incidental traveling companion and he eagerly tried to answer them. I was most curious about the lifestyle on board a submarine. I asked the questions and he provided the answers. He talked about the food and how great it was. At least for the first three weeks he said. Then, they ran out of all the fresh produce like milk, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. After that, everything was canned, dried, or frozen. He said the quarters were tight. Initially, they would start out with a full submarine. The floors were lined with canned food and supplies and all the storage compartments were full. He was a tall guy and was constantly ducking everywhere he went. Generally, the day was broken up into three 6 hour periods. One period on duty, one on break, and one in the bunk. The junior ranks shared a bunk with at least one other person. So maybe while you were working and/or breaking, someone was sleeping in the same bunk that you would sleep in during your sleep period. He called this a "Hot Bunk" system. He said they played a lot of cards, watched movies, read books, and ridiculed their colleagues at every opportunity. Occasionally, there were personality conflicts, but usually everyone got along. He claimed that you had to go through a special screening process to be certified to work on a nuclear/attack sub so most guys were pretty stable. Overall, It was pretty boring. There were no windows to look out and there was no sunshine. Oh yeah, showers were minimal and no girls (except for pictures) .... He said there was a unique smell that permeated everything. Your clothes, skin, hair, books, and personal items all smelled. He described it as a diesel smell only slightly different. Those were lonely times he informed me. He focused on completing his education and the mission which was "to hunt down, track, and kill the enemy" when called. They were attack subs and the Soviet subs were the enemy. It was their job to locate them and be in a position to destroy them should a conflict arise. Our primary target was their (the Soviet's) nuclear subs, he said. By this I understood him to mean the subs that carried submarine launched ballistic missiles, or SLBM's. Our guys were the proverbial cats and the Soviet SLBM subs were the mice. They played the "cat and mouse game" and the yard was the Atlantic Ocean. They would sail for up to 90 days sometimes tracking and following the mice.
I enjoyed my conversation with this gentleman very much and as you can read, I walked away with a wealth of knowledge and an appreciation for what these sailors go through. And naturally, when I read in the paper of the collision between a French nuclear sub and a British nuclear sub, I was instantly drawn to the story. Yes, the French sub Le Triomphant and the HMS Vanguard, the oldest vessel in Britain's nuclear-armed submarine fleet, were on routine patrol when they collided in the Atlantic this month. Officials said the low-speed crash did not damage the vessels' nuclear reactors or missiles or cause radiation to leak. But anti-nuclear groups said it was still a frightening reminder of the risks posed by submarines prowling the oceans powered by radioactive material and bristling with nuclear weapons.......

This event was brought to the attention of everyone when France reported that one of its subs had collided with a submerged object - probably a shipping container. Confirmation of the collision came when British media finally reported it leading some to speculate if France ever really knew about the presence of the British sub. Clearly there are some "secret" capability issues at hand here. If the Brits admit that they were aware of the French sub, and the French sub wasn't aware of the Brits, then that would be yielding that the Brits may have superior submarine technology and vice-versa. This also brings up the question of friends and allies. Are the Brits and the French allies? Granted the French generally march to their own drum, but if indeed they are allies, they should share some information that would prevent such a thing from happening. It really makes me wonder!

France said that Le Triomphant suffered damage to a sonar dome — where navigation and detection equipment is stored — and limped home to its base on L'Ile Longue on France's western tip. HMS Vanguard returned to a submarine base in Scotland with visible dents and scrapes, the BBC reported.

The obvious irony here is that these two subs are supposed to be stealthy and avoid the enemy or be in the position to evade the enemy at all times. It's critical to their survival. Perhaps they both failed in that endeavor.

There will be lots of research done on this accident. You can bet we won't be privy to the majority of the findings.

I'm posting a YouTube video of the story, a link to a slide show, as well as a link to a list of submarine movies.

Thanks for reading!

Slideshow:Nuclear submarines collide in Atlantic

Follow this link for a list of submarine movies.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Misappropriation of Name or Likeness - Obama Style

Okay, try not to get too bored here.

And those of you with law degrees, try not to get too picky.

The past four weeks spent locked in a court room have led me to uncharted territory with respect to the law. (Oh no, Here comes a legal related blog:)

Take for starters, the legal ramifications of using the Name or Likeness of another without their permission. (I had to do a bit of research for this subject - so bear with me)

Here's the background:

In most states, you can be sued for using some one's name, likeness, or other personal attributes without permission for an exploitative purpose. People will sometimes run into trouble when they use some one's name or photograph in a commercial setting, such as in advertising or other promotional activities. For example, if you took a photo of Madonna, pasted it on 5,000 water bottles and sold them for a profit (or a loss) you could be in a bit of trouble. The victim could then sue you for their share of the profits and for damages. Some states also prohibit the use of another person's identity for the user's own personal benefit, whether or not the purpose is strictly commercial. There are two distinct legal claims that potentially apply to these kinds of unauthorized uses:

(1) invasion of privacy through misappropriation of name or likeness ("misappropriation")

(2) violation of the right of publicity. (The "right of publicity" is the right of a person to control and make money from the commercial use of his or her identity.)

Because of the similarities between misappropriation and right of publicity claims, courts and legal commentators often confuse them.

So what's all of that legal Mumbo Jumbo have to do with Obama?

It's all about Shepard Fairey who is involved in a lawsuit that may be the precursor to subsequent suits being filed regarding the use of the likeness of Barack Obama. In a preemptive strike, the street artist Shepard Fairey filed a lawsuit on Monday against The Associated Press, asking a federal judge to declare that he is protected from copyright infringement claims in his use of a news photograph as the basis for a now ubiquitous campaign poster image of President Obama. see the story: Artist sues over Obama image

The suit was filed in federal court in Manhattan after The Associated Press said it had determined that it owned the image, which Mr. Fairey used for posters and stickers. The photo, of Obama at the National Press Club in April 2006, was taken for The A.P. by a freelance photographer, Mannie Garcia. According to the suit, A.P. officials contacted Mr. Fairey’s studio late last month demanding payment for the use of the photo and a portion of any money he makes from it.

I'll be following this case to see if Fairey's aggressive move pays off. I'm also curious to see if this "Name or Likeness" issue holds up for political figures holding a public office.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Music Monday - Train

I've never had a soy latte - But I've always liked this line....

"Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken Your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you're wrong Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance five-hour phone conversation The best soy latte that you ever had . . . and me"

It comes from the song Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) by Train

This hit song came from the group's second album and won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song. The album itself was somewhat of a misfit. It was hard to place in one single genre. Many in the industry place it comfortably in the Adult Contemporary Market but there are others who advocated placement in rock, indie rock, and even country. I won't get into that debate. I just like the song and the catchy lines.

That's why it's my choice for Music Monday this week.

Enjoy -

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Are These Bad Drivers?

Some of these clips are pretty jocular! At least from where I sit in my comfortable little office chair. We all make our mistakes and have our driving blunders... So, is it okay to laugh at these folks? Or is this a serious matter? Should they attend some sort of remedial driving school?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kendall's Brasserie and Bar

Looking for a taste of France in downtown Los Angeles? I was just looking for a place to eat lunch that was close to Superior Court and I stumbled upon a pretty good bowl of French Onion Soup.

If you live in New York City or Los Angeles and you dine out on a regular basis, you're probably familiar with the Patina Group. I've had the luxury of dinning at several of their locations and I just added a new one to my list.

Located right in the heart of the Music Center at:

135 N. Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

It's a good place to stop for an upscale lunch with good atmosphere and service. We were released a tad bit early from jury duty the other day and decided to treat ourselves to something a little more special than the usual eateries. I wasn't overly hungry but was certainly looking forward to a bowl of soup and a salad. I was pleasantly surprised. I topped off the salad and soup with a small order of garlic french fries. They were perfect. My only criticism with the entire meal was the coffee. I had a latte and my friends had cappuccinos. We were all disappointed. I found my coffee to be a bit thin and somewhat tasteless.

Next time I'll skip the coffee but everything else was very pleasant!
Edit: Friday 13, 2009 - Still on jury duty, I decided to go back for another bowl of the French Onion Soup. This time I skipped the coffee.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Senators-Hold Onto Your Seats! Here Comes a Porn Star!

I've heard it said that politics makes strange bedfellows? Or is it - "When it rains, It pours." Perhaps it's - be careful of those Stormy Waters! That's what they may be thinking in Louisiana where incumbent David Vitter prepares to go chest to uhmm..... chest with a leading adult entertainer Stormy Daniels, A.K.A. Stormy Waters.

David Bruce Vitter is the junior United States Senator from Louisiana and a member of the Republican Party. Vitter was elected to the Senate in 2004. In July 2007, Vitter was identified as a client of "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey's prostitution service in Washington D.C. Vitter was born and raised in New Orleans and has an impressive educational resume. He attended Harvard University for his undergraduate studies and Tulane University for law school in addition to winning a Rhodes Scholarship to University College, Oxford. He served as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives before entering the U.S. House.

Ironically, Vitter is a staunch supporter of conservative political views. His legislative agenda includes positions ranging from pro-life to pro-gun rights while legislating against gambling, same-sex marriage, prostitution, funding for abortion providers, increases in the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the United Nations, and amnesty for America's undocumented workers.

Stand back though, a Porn Star may be coming to town.

A group of fans who claim they are not affiliated with the Democratic party are recruiting Stormy to run against Vitter in the 2010 election. Stormy Daniels who is just about a month shy of her 30 Th birthday was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Stormy, is an American pornographic actress, screenwriter, and director. Daniels' parents divorced when she was four. She was subsequently raised by her mother. Daniels attended a magnet school in Louisiana and was the editor of her high school paper and president of the 4-H Club. She began stripping at age 17 at a club in Baton Rouge then expanded to become a feature performer in September of 2000.

So here comes Stormy.....

There’s a Storm a brewin’ at

According to the website this is .......

A Storm that’s gonna sweep Louisiana clean of corrupt politicians once and for all! And that Storm’s name is Stormy. Stormy Daniels.

Many think this is just a ploy to swing popular opinion against Vitter and that Stormy really isn't sincere about running.

Stormy is still considering the offer and has not committed herself but says

"I'm always up for a good fight but I'm not sure I'm up for the pay cut that comes with the office"

See her complete interview here:

There are still a few questions to be answered but we could be looking at another year of excitement in politics. I'll be sure to keep my umbrella handy!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Music Monday - Dirty Diana!

Here's Michael......

I don't think Michael Jackson needs any more introduction than that. There's speculation that he's in poor health but there's also talk that he may be starting a world tour this year. I'm not sure which is more accurate but I can speculate that a sexpot temptress like the one he's singing about in Dirty Diana, just might be a little too much woman for the pop King today.

"Dirty Diana" was a hit song from the 1988 "Bad" album by Michael Jackson. It was the fifth and last number-one hit from the album! Jackson hired Billy Idol's former guitarist Steve Stevens to back him on the track which gave the cut a credible "Rock Flare." For many years, many wondered what Jackson was talking about in the song and whether he was referring to his friend Diana Ross, or Princess Diana of the British Royal Family. Finally, on an interview from the special edition of Bad, Quincy Jones later confirmed that it was about groupies.  Some of us can only imagine!

I love his moves!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chris Brown the felon???

Won't attend the Grammy's

There's a shadow over Mr. Grammy today.
It's Grammy day here in Los Angeles and here comes the News Flash! It seems Chris Brown who was scheduled to perform tonight won't be in the house following his late night escapades. There are reports that around 12:30 a.m., this morning Chris Brown may have been involved in an altercation with an unknown woman in a limousine.

The latest gossip around the city is that Brown and a woman were riding around town (In the Hancock Park area of L.A.) when an argument ensued. The two exited the vehicle and the argument escalated. The woman was injured and subsequently identified Chris Brown as her attacker.

Chris Brown

At the time of this posting Chris Brown is on the run and has canceled his performance tonight at the Grammy's. His Girlfriend, Rihanna, who was also scheduled to perform has canceled as well. Speculation is that she doesn't want to deal with the many questions from the press and others........

Stay tuned as this story unfolds.

Update: 2/9/09

The Los Angeles Times, (see link) citing police sources, identified the victim as singer Rihanna -- Robyn Rihanna Fenty -- a fellow R&B star and Brown's girlfriend. Rihanna also did not show up at the Grammys where she too was scheduled to perform.
Asked to comment on the reports of Rihanna's involvement in the reported altercation and her absence at the Grammys, the star's publicist told ABC News, "Rihanna is well. Thank you for concern and support."
Representatives for Brown did not immediately respond to ABC News' calls for comment.
Brown, 19, and Rihanna, 20, were reportedly all smiles at a pre-Grammy party hosted at record mogul Clive Davis' home Saturday night. The two have been dating for about a year.

It's been a tough week for entertainers and competitors this week.

Michael Phelps - Yikes!

And Alex Rodriguez, - AROD - allegedly caught using a non-recreational performance enhancing drug!

Full Screen Gigapan Viewer - The Inauguration

I'm a bit slow sometimes and many times I get the information after the fact. This is just one such example. I've just recently opened (and and actually read) an email from a friend who pointed out some mutual friends in the crowd at the Inaugural address. These friends were pointed out via -

A 1,474 megapixel panoramic shot of the ceremony composed from 220 images stitched together.

What a feat!

I thought this was a bit overboard but I had a great time snooping around and looking at people in the crowd. It's amazing what you can do with technology now. You can zoom in on people with incredible detail. It's kind of like playing around with Google Earth a bit. It's characteristically voyeuristic I know but I won't tell if you won't. I was surprised at how many prominent people appeared to be sleeping (or resting their eyes) during the speech. Maybe they just blinked from the flash. Makes you stop and take notice...... Big Brother is watching! I didn't see anyone picking their nose but I didn't look at everyone. If you've got a few minutes to kill.......

Follow this link to zoom in on people at the Inauguration address

When you zoom, give it a second to download the high resolution picture.

Did you see anyone you know?

If you're interested in how this was done or purchasing prints Click below:

David Bergman - How I made a 1,474 megapixel photo of the Inauguration

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Courageous Acts - A Dog's Tale!

Courageous Acts must be noted!

"My father was a St. Bernard, my mother was a collie, but I am a Presbyterian."

You may recognize this line from the short story 'A Dog's Tale' written by Mark Twain. The story first appeared in the December 1903 issue of Harper's magazine. Later, it was extracted into a stand-alone pamphlet and published for the National Anti-Vivisection Society. Ultimately, in 1904 it was expanded into a book published by Harper & Brothers.

Here's a brief summary of the story:

When a fire breaks out in the nursery, the dog risks her life to drag the baby to safety. In the process, her motives are misunderstood and she is cruelly beaten. Soon however, the truth of the situation is discovered and she receives no end of praise.

This is a great story but the reality is - It was all conceived in the mind of Mark Twain. Please take a look at the video below for a real life Dog's Tale!

This surely looks like a clip from a Lassie episode doesn't it? I'm not sure what happened to the two dogs but in my mind - This was truly an act of courage.

Hero Dog - I salute you!


The complete text of the A Dog's Tale book is now in the public domain and can be viewed at:

A Dog's Tale. It's a quick and short read. I hope you will take a few minutes to enjoy it.

"In memory of me, when there is a time of danger to another do not think of yourself, think of your mother, and do as she would do.”

From A Dog's Tale

Edit: The video is from a traffic camera overlooking the busy Costanera Norte freeway in Santiago, Chile. The Hero dog is one of approximately 220,000 stray dogs in the Santiago area. The viewing of this video quickly went viral and there were instantly many offers to adopt this dog. Unfortunately, the dog ran away from the rescue workers and has not been located as of this posting. I have no confirmed reports of the injured dog but some unconfirmed reports indicate that the injured dog may have died.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Did you order the Code Red?

The Drama continues!

Yes, I'm still performing my civic duty. I'll admit, it's been a tad challenging - Staying awake that is. Frankly, some of the testimony and questioning have been painfully boring thus far. As much as I try to stay focused on the most minute details of the case, I can't help but drift occasionally off into subconscious thought allowing my creative side to prevail over my generally more proficient technical thinking. During these periods, I've contemplated sketching the room. Sketching the plaintiff. Sketching the Judge. Doodling. etc.... Conversely, I've become a master at just looking around the room and noting the nervous habits of others.

This was our first full week, i.e., five full days without a break. Personally, I couldn't wait to see "Friday" come. We've been slowly peeling this onion and getting deeper into the story. Fortunately, it has unfolded like a classic novel. Slow to get started but thrilling and suspenseful. Not quite the John Grisham caliber but somewhat intriguing all the same.

Today, I watched one of the attorneys go head to head with a witness twice his size. Maybe three times! I couldn't help but think: "If this attorney pushes this witness too much, this witness could jump off of the stand and literally break this guy in half before anyone could do anything about it." A very tense episode was subsequently smoothed over by clever and timely comic relief from the judge.

My mind drifted again...... I remembered the scene from "A Few Good Men" where the character Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise) questions Col. Nathan R. Jessep (played by Jack Nicholson).

Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

Imagine witnessing something like this first hand and sitting 5 feet away from it.

I can't wait until we start our deliberations so I can get the interpretations from the other jurors.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When sorry isn't enough!


As some of you may know, I recently made a remark that the good Miss Jane Turley took exception to regarding "Her Majesty's snow removal system."

(See Music Monday - The Jazz Cafe - London)

As usual, I groveled a bit and apologized profusely but to no avail. Miss Jane demanded satisfaction and I was offered a duel to settle this dispute. She was gracious enough to let me choose the style of combat and the weapons. After careful consideration -I ruled out rocket launchers and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles - I opted for a joust with very sharp lances. After we determined that Miss Jane could not straddle a horse (her determination not mine), our lawyers came up with a compromise. We would each select proxies to take part in a bicycle joust. Miss Jane selected the fellow in the hat and the feather. The other guy was my representative...... You can watch for yourself and see the outcome.

I think we're friends again!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Music Monday - The Jazz Cafe-London

This morning I listened to the news and learned of the wintry storm (read blizzard) that has literally brought London to a screeching halt. Any one who has lived in London can attest to the world class and updated snow removal equipment in place - NOT!
The snow storm which is the heaviest in 18 years led Mayor Boris Johnson to make the following comment:
" This is the right kind of snow, it's just the wrong kind of quantities ."
The snow also caused a Cyprus Airways flight to slip off a taxiway at Heathrow, leaving its front wheel stuck in grass. Fortunately no one was hurt.

see the story

All this thinking about London made me think of the good times I had there -

"For Queen and Country" of course!

I reminisced a bit about a place called the Jazz Cafe in Camden, London.

There I saw Swing Out Sister live and in person! They put on a great show.
Here's a cut from a few years back dedicated to all those who are waiting for the snow to melt.
I hope you enjoy it.

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