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v_rabbitDuring dinner a couple weeks back my cell phone rang and I found myself in the middle of a telemarketing call.  I was caught off guard not because it’s rare, but because the individual was promoting a new movie and it took me a moment to realize what was going on.

Before I could mentally process the “not interested” I found myself answering a question.  Whoa, how did that happen?!  The dude was good, I’ll give him that.  I was told the plot of the movie is about a lonely boy who wins over his distant father and strict grandmother with help from a brave velveteen rabbit whose one wish is to become a real rabbit someday.  Okay, a movie with stuffed animals and cartoon animation…I tried to explain to the guy that I wasn’t his key demographic and NO I would not be seeing the movie, but thank you for interrupting my dinner.

I made a mental note to research the movie.  These so-called auto-dialers were being used to promote “The Velveteen Rabbit” and that Feature Films for Families was calling potential customers on behalf of a company called Family 1 Films.  According to Feature Films for Families’ website, the company, based in Murray, Utah, produces and distributes “uplifting and entertaining motion pictures that are suitable for all ages.”  So much for another Hollywood ‘ruder’, ‘cruder’ and ‘nuder’ storyline to drag down teenage values!  But, with no profanity or graphic violence how could it possibly succeed with teenage boys?  The film has opened in select cities and opens in many more theaters February 27th and will have a pre-defined theatrical run of less than one month before its DVD release set in mid-March.

It turns out that using aggressive telemarketers has got the film company into some hot water.  It’s a violation of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to use an auto-dialer to make calls to wireless phones, as well as state fraud and privacy laws.  Verizon recently filed a lawsuit alleging that over the course of 10 days earlier this month, nearly 500,000 calls were made to Verizon customers and employees from the telephone number 917-210-4609.  Verizon alleges that the calls were made in rapid succession, sometimes as quickly as less than half a second apart.

Moral:  A stuffed rabbit who finds himself looked down on by other toys learns that in the real world you’re looked down on for illegal telemarketing and text message spamming – it’s not The Velveteen Rabbit way.

Photo courtesy of Family 1 Films

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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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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indian_buttonsOn Christmas day the Paramount Pictures movie starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett opens.  Called “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” it’s a story adapted from the 1920’s story by Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backward.  Looks interesting.

There are a couple of motorcycles in the movie…at least from what I can view in the trailers.  One is a Triumph Twin (Blue) and the other is a Flathead Indian (Red).  Harley was unable to obtain a product placement in this episodic period film (starts at the end of WWI) which will clearly attract worldwide attention.  Why? Very odd.  The entire film is played in flashback manner and I’m thinking that Harley would like to be transported back in time to change the motorcycle props.

It’s been reported that Pitt’s “ol lady”, Angelina Jolie will give him a new motorcycle for his 45th birthday.  According to entertainment news it’s a new Ducati (Monster 1100S)!  The S model features 43mm titanium nitride-coated Ohlins forks.  I wonder if she thought to buy the DDA (Ducati Data Analyzer) accessory?  All top tier movie stars riding the busy streets of Hollywood need to record their riding data and analyze it while sipping refreshments on N. Rodeo Dr.

Photo’s courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

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Money Vault

Money Vault

I’m not an advocate for bailouts.  I think it means responsible people (like me!) will L-O-S-E and end up giving my hard earned money to gamblers, cheats and liars.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been paying your mortgage….it’s now YOUR job to pay for others lack of responsibility. 

It’s reckless and we need to shout out the windows that we’re “mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore“. 

I’m not a cynically deranged “motorcycle enthusiast” ranting revelations or some guy discussing male menopause on The View with Barbara Walters…but folks the BS resonates louder and sounds truer today than ever.  It’s really become crazy!

Can I now expect the federal government to bail me out of my poor stock investments, my poor choices in 401K mutual funds…it’s only fair

Harley-Davidson Ad

Harley-Davidson Ad

And I’d like a little more “chrome” money for the Harley so, how about bailing me out of my “cage” loan?  While you’re throwing around a few billion here and there, my school district wants to put a bond on my home (via property taxes) to help balance the bloated operating budget…could you bail them out too?  Better yet, can you bail me out of my job so that I can shine the chrome and just blog?

Somewhere today a child was born who will spend an academic career figuring out what the effects of the this bail-out week are and what in hind sight should have been done.

And speaking of stock.  A $100 investment in Harley-Davidson at the end of 1986 was worth $15,687 at the end of 2007.  For you mathematicians that means a $10k investment would have grown to be worth $1.569 million in twenty-one years!  Who would have predicted that in 1981 when execs at Harley HYPEN Davidson purchased the company from AMF it would be around for the 105th anniversary?

And did you see Harley-Davidson ask the government for a bailout?  No!  It’s true that in 1983 they requested and received additional tariffs on all Japanese motorcycles when it was determined they were “dumping” to buy market segment share.  President Reagan imposed the tariffs on motorcycles 700 cc or larger.  But, Harley petitioned the ITC for early termination of the five year tariff in 1987.  They succeeded as a private company with improved manufacturing and quality as a new image was formed.  Independent of any government bailout.

Instead of all this talk of tighter regulations by the sleazy politicians, which is clearly pissing in the wind, I say piss on the financial institution graves when they go under for their self-imposed mess.   While we’re at it let’s have a public hanging for the obscene payment of CEO’s who wrecked the companies they worked:

Washington Mutual – CEO Killinger exits package worth $23.5 million

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac – CEO’s Mudd and Syron combined exit packages worth $24 million

Merril Lynch – CEO O’Neal exit package worth $160 million

Countrywide Financial Corp – CEO Mozilo took home $120 million

Citigroup – CEO Prince got $39.5 million in stock, options, bonus and perks.

And if that doesn’t make you angry note that at:

Fannie Mae – CEO Mudd’s predecessor, Franklin Raines, received an annual pension of $1.37 million when he retired from Fannie in late 2004. Raines was also in line to receive $5.8 million in stock options and $8.7 million in deferred compensation to be paid through 2020, according to a U.S. regulatory filing.

Freddie Mac – Former CEO Chief Executive Leland Brendsel received a pay package of more than $50 million.

And both of these CEOs left their companies during a massive accounting scandal.  Yeah, we should all be happy about bail-outs.

It seems to me that most of these greedy, corrupt people don’t know the difference of oversees from oversights!

I need to ride…

Photos taken at and courtesy of HD Museum.

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Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading

Scored tickets to the Northwest premier of “Burn After Reading” last night. 

It’s a new Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, Intolerable Cruelty, LadyKillers, The Big Lebowski, Fargo) movie. 

It’s a black comedy film set to release September 12th and stars John Malkovich, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt.  The odd-ball plot focuses on the world of the CIA, physical fitness in Washington, D.C., and internet dating. 

After the film dud’s of Intolerable Cruelty and LadyKillers, the brothers really needed a big movie to get back on track and No Country for Old Men did exactly that!   However, this new film has proved to everyone that not only do they still have what it takes – they are better than ever!

So what’s the movie got to do with motorcycles?  Not much except for the peripheral fact that only 11 days after his New Jersey motorcycle accident last year, Clooney was on the set filming ‘Burn After Reading‘ in Brooklyn Heights.  He was driving his Harley motorcycle in Weehawken with friend Sarah Larson and collided with a “cager”. Clooney suffered a hairline fracture of a rib and some scrapes, and Larson suffered a broken foot. Ouch!

Clooney didn’t come out of this accident a “changed man” like others who began calls for new helmet laws or changes to existing laws, but officials did suspend 27 workers at Palisades Medical Center for one month without pay for allegedly peeking at Clooney’s files and allegedly leaking his medical information to the press.

I’m a “doggedly faithful” Lebowski fan and this new movie is great.  I highly recommend it…

Film poster photo courtsey of web site.

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Just when you thought Hollywood was done with questionable biker movies (Ghost Rider) along comes an oily jeans, bandana’s pulled real low over foreheads, tattooed up bad boyz, full of angst looking to intimidate or harass anyone within ear shot type film.  It’s unlikely this one will change the street level viewpoint of outlaw biker “clubs” being solid, totally innocent, citizen and humanitarian’s of the world.  Rather it’s a mash-up of Kill Bill charters a motorcycle club as a “beat down” form of entertainment?

The encounters in “Hell Ride” are like a sporting event from the Gladiator.  Billed as a throwback to the Sergio Leone “spaghetti western” day with motorcycle revenge and retribution they leave out the fact that there might be some gore since Quentin Tarantino produced the film.  Larry Bishop wrote and directed the story about this bunch of old guys in need of the “3-B’s” (bikes, babes, beer) riding around and along the way they shoot and knife a bunch of people.  The only thing missing is Dylan’s recording of “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”!  You can preview the movie HERE.

Lending star power credit as a real biker movie, Easy Rider legend Dennis “Scratch” Hopper stars as a rival member of the satanic biker gang.  I guess he took a break from the “Dreams Don’t Retire” advertisements.  Either that or his investment advice from Ameriprise Financial has him working for “scraps” as 60 is the new 35, right?!

I do like Michael Madsen who starred in “Reservoir Dogs” and that was a well written movie.  Hell Ride was released on the opening day of the Olympics and reviews suggests a very quick ship to DVD (without going Blu-Ray!).

With all the issues and tensions in the U.S. on outlaw biker “clubs” it’s clear that Hollywood subscribes to the idea that “fiction is often the best fact”.

Film poster courtesy Third Rail.

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