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Number 89 (Vol 2, No. 49).  This edition is for the week of December 3--9, 2001.
George Harrison remembered
George Harrison remembered.

There are few things in life that can depress a fan of popular culture more than the premature death of a childhood idol. For the baby-boomer generation--my generation--those born at the right place and time to witness it, there was no singular, greater influence on pop culture during the revolutionary 1960s than the mop-top quartet from Liverpool, England known as "The Beatles". Of the original four, there are now only two left; John Lennon was shot by a deranged fan in 1980 (Mark David Chapman--tho the TV press has been reluctant to dignify him in the least by mentioning his name, and I had second thoughts too), and now George Harrison, who ironically harbored the greatest fear of being shot, has died of "natural causes" at a friend's home in Los Angeles.

My journalistic sensibilites tell me to start with the known facts, so even tho they're covered elsewhere, I'll reprise last week's announcement that George Harrison died at the age of 58 from, basically, cancer. As a responsible publisher I'm obligated to rehash that Harrison was known to be undergoing chemotherapy for a brain tumor, but that his battle started about 2 years ago with being diagnosed with throat cancer.

While the media at large has been fairly generous with post-mortem kudos to ex-Beatle George Harrison, it has been reprehensibly conservative in its description of his song-writing contributions. While not quite as successful and certainly not as prolific as bandmates John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Harrison's songs, to me, rate as neo-classics in their own right. "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun" are, to me, two of the greatest pop songs ever written. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with its wistful guitar lines (wasn't Clapton on that also?). "My Sweet Lord", which, recorded soon after the Beatles broke up, re-packaged Harrison's spiritualism for the masses (and was only somewhat tarnished later by a plagiarism lawsuit charging the tune was lifted from the Chiffon's "He's So Fine"). I associate it with the Concert for Bangledesh, where he played that benefit concert with fellow ex-Beatle, drummer Ringo Starr. Harrison's deeply religious nature would have a profound impact on, not only his personal development, but that of The Beatles as well. That whole episode with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and later, the popularization of Indian sitar music come to mind as just 2 examples.

The media frequently refers to George Harrison as the Beatles' "lead guitarist" and altho he might have argued the point that the group was more-or-less-equally versed as musicians, I can tell you his lead parts--especially his slide work--were modern masterpieces of graceful understatement. They were hugely influential.

The rock world has lost one of its founders and innovators. George Harrison will be sorely missed.

George Harrison, the "Quiet Beatle"        by Steve Beasley
   George Harrison was every bit as talented as John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Having said that, George's influences were very likely to be far-ranging and eclectic. Were it not for George, the Beatles far-eastern mystical period would likely not have happened, for it was he who first met and became a follower of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (I hope I got that name right), although after some time ( a few months), the Fab Four realized that the Maharishi was merely using them to get chicks! Although John, Paul, George and Ringo (Starr) made a hasty exit from the Mahareshi, George remained an avid visitor to that region of that world. For many years, perhaps until his recent passing, he became a disciple of India's Hindu religion. Taking an interest in music from that part of the world, Sri Lanka and India, etc. The famed stringed instrument from India, known as a "sitar", was even used on Beatle albums from around the 1967-1970 era, just before they broke up. George, in my opinion.....helped bring about the appearance of Ravi Shankar at the Woodstock Festival on August, 16th,17th and 18th of 1969.
   Harrison's post-Beatle career was not marked by either numerous "Top 10" hits, nor many albums, however what music he did produce was always first-rate to pop/rock music connoisseur's of the world. Harrison's music was very fluid and occasionally mesmerizing to boot. Practically every guitarist from 1965 on, learned how to play, "Here Comes the Sun"......a legacy to the man and a testament to yet another tragic loss from the music world.

GEORGE HARRISON TRIBUTE        by William Moriaty
   Not unexpectedly, former Beatle George Harrison, 58, died from cancer on November 29, 2001. Harrison would be the first of the "Fab Four" to die from natural causes.
   I have previously given commentary on the life-altering impact that the rock group he belonged to made on an entire generation, so I will not rehash that, but rather look at the man and his music.
   Although pegged as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison's songwriting abilities and works spoke volumes.Of the "Fab Four", Harrison was the most profound, introspective and spiritual.He produced beautiful melodies and lyrical statements both in and out of the Beatles that will live on for many years to come. Although not a virtuoso guitarist, Harrison had an incredibly understated talent and versatility in that genre. His work could range from the caustic and manic attacks on "Revolution" and "Taxman" to the gentle embrace of "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun".
   The last major hit that I remember from Harrison was "Fab" in 1987/1988-- I had always enjoyed the self-effacing quality of that song and its author-- Harrison could never be accused of not being humble, unlike his Lennon-McCartney counterparts.The sitar ending was fabulous. By the time of that song Harrison was between 44 and 45 years of age, one to two years younger than I am now. But unlike myself, Harrison packed many more experiences and accomplishments by those mid-forties years. Harrison had many fine solo efforts in the 70's, but my fondest memories of of the Beatles will always be the pre-Sergeant Pepper years, when I was a child caught on the wave of this radically different approach to music and culture-- rock was almost DOA at that time until the Beatles breathed new life into it.
   As a person, George Harrison is who I consider the finest of the Fab Four. He stood for good things and always exuded a silent inner peace rarely seen in most people, particularly in a domain as bombastic as the recording industry.
   Favorite Harrisong- "Here Comes the Sun" (tough to listen to now, though). Other favorites- "Don't Bother Me", "I Need You", "Within Without You", "Flying", "Blue Jay Way", and "Crackerbox Palace".
   I am saddened in an earthly sense over his loss, but heartened to know that he will finally get to see and be with his sweet Lord after a relatively long and productive pilgramage in this world.

   "Ginger" or "IT" or however you remember the top-secret invention of inventor Dean Kamen, promoted as revolutionizing commuter travel, was unveiled Monday morning as a high-tech scooter, much like has been speculated in the press and on the internet.
   Apparently the "gimmick" is that you step onto this little platform flanked as it is by two large bicycle wheels and stabilized with gyroscopes, lean on the steering..er...pole...and an onboard computer senses you want movement and it moves you in that direction up to 17 mph. While Kamen seems absolutely convinced this will revolutionize inner-city short commutes, the $3000 price tag may impede that a bit. Looks like a fun ride, tho.
   The Lord of the Rings TV special. I wasn't going to comment on this, but Terence asked me a couple times about it so I thought maybe it deserves mention. Yes, I liked very much what I saw on last week's promotional "Lord of the Rings" behind-the-scenes special (last Wed. FOX, I think?). I think director Peter Jackson will go down in cinematic history as pulling off what is arguably the greatest feat of moviedom: filming the "unfilmable" Lord of the Rings trilogy, where so many had tried and failed before, and having filmed all three books at once...AND BE GREAT.
THE GILMORE GIRLS. 12-4-01 episode synopsis and review by Lauré
The Gilmore GirlsThe Gilmore Girls is the latest hit on the WB (and the only show they have worth a damn, if you ask me). It airs Tuesday nights at 8:00 right before Smallville.
Please see my series synopsis, which goes into more detail, in The PCR Spotlight, issue 86. When you're all caught up, fast forward to this week's review!
Tuesday night's episode of Gilmore Girls felt to me to be out of place in the string of recent episodes. It was, according to gilmoregirls.org, a rerun from last season... I suppose it was, but this week's episode seemed as if it would have fit more snuggly earlier in this new season than here in the first week of December.

We begin at Elizabeth Gilmore's home watching Lorelai and Rory and Elizabeth have another of their lunches which poor Lorelai loathes. They bantered about some mischief Lorelai pulled at seven years old: She had a fat head, as a baby, and hating all her baby pictures, she plunked every last one in the fire. Lorelai vehemently denies doing any such thing. Elizabeth further complains that there is not a decent table set in the whole of Connecticut, and how she found three matching chairs but not four and you have no idea, girls, how much she paid for this incomplete set. Lorelai rolls her eyes, but to head off another fight, Rory invites her grandmother into Stars Hollow to peruse the lovely antique shops to be found there: specifically, Lane's mother's shop.

Elizabeth comes to Stars Hollow and Lorelai, suitably disgusted, refuses to be seen in public with her mother. Equally disgusted, Rory takes off for the day to escort Elizabeth around town (who is appalled to be talked into wearing a pair of Lorelai's tennies--what she will do for her granddaughter!). She explains all the sights and sounds and marvels to finally get her grandmother into Mrs. Kim's (played by Emily Kuroda) antique shop where Elizabeth and Mrs. Kim vigorously barter over a chest of drawers Elizabeth must have. In the midst of this little sparring match Rory sneaks out of earshot to speak with Lane, who is concerned that Henry (played by Eddie Shin) has not called her. Rory points out that a myriad things could have happened between last night and now and that Lane should give him time and off Rory and Elizabeth go to the Independence Inn... Where Lorelai is having a general meltdown.

It seems Sookie has offered Jackson's (played by Jackson Douglas) annoying and rude cousin Roan a job at the Independence and no matter that Lorelai is still smarting from their horrid blind, double date, Sookie wants Roan out of Jackson's house and now! Hence she offers him the inn. Elizabeth and Rory bounce into the middle of their fight and Lorelai introduces her mother to Michel and is shocked to see them adore each other from the first. Rory giggles and takes her grandmother on the grand tour which leaves Elizabeth in shock. How could Lorelai have raised Rory, for two years, as she did, in that squalid little tool shed in the back of the Independence Inn when she had a perfectly comfortable home with her family? This realization sends Elizabeth into a fit of guilt (she tells Rory she's ill and runs away, literally) and she starts decorating a room in her home for Rory--complete with Cosmo Girl and Backside Boy posters (I'm not kidding, they referred to them as the Backside Boys--LOL), none of which is Rory into. Meltdown number two and Elizabeth and Lorelai scream at each other about that.

Meanwhile, Lorelai's rival, Rachel, comes in with pictures she had taken at the Firefly festival which Lorelai perused. In the stack she finds a photo of an old colonial house and marvels at its beauty. Rachel explains it was an old inn and offers to take Lorelai to see it, while along the way, Lorelai and she compare notes on Luke. Miserable at the prospect of being a bad mother, and possibly losing Luke to the more worldly and exotic; but she gives Rachel some tips on how to handle her old friend and--lo and behold, now she's staying for an indefinite amount of time! Lorelai is miserable, not only that, but something about Luke's coffee tastes different!

Well, they decide whatever will come will come and in the meantime, they have plans of their own. Lorelai shows the Dragonfly Inn to Rory and they while away the evening planning their own glorious future as happy owners of a successful inn.

La Floridiana by William Moriaty
The Paranormal in Florida.
This Boxcar Will Give You the Willies!
Part Two of a new five-part series.
by William Moriaty
U.S. Air Force C-119 "Flying Boxcar" vanishes somewhere on the way to Grand Turk Island
On June 5, 1965 a twin engine Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar" piston cargo aircraft on a routine mission from Homestead Air Force Base south of Miami to the Grand Turk island near the Bahamas became another victim of the infamous Bermuda Triangle. The last call received from the aircraft carrying a crew of ten gave its position of being about 100 miles from its destination with an estimated time of arrival of one hour. This was the last message from the aircraft, and a five-day search for it proved fruitless. The aircraft, which originated out of Billy Mitchell Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was hauling engine parts from Homestead to the Grand Turk Island when it disappeared. The Miami Herald newspaper of June 8, 1965 quoted an old-timer at Homestead as saying, "It's strange that the planes that go down in the south Bahamas never leave a trace." The article went on to state that ".not a piece of wreckage or evidence of life..." was found, and that "Not a flare at night, though seven planes scored the area Sunday night."
The majority of the story mentioned above appears to be true. The Herald article with its quotation from an unnamed Homestead Air Force Base pilot is genuine, and no evidence of the plane was ever found. In the October 15, 1973 edition of "Midnight", published by the International UFO Bureau, a series of articles begged the question in which organization members "could not help but wonder if the C-119 had been captured by a UFO." This was conjectured as at the time of the C-119's disappearance the Gemini IV rocket was orbiting the earth and astronaut James McDivitt was reported to have spotted a UFO with arms in the Caribbean area in and around Grand Turk Island. McDivitt admitted in a letter dated January 22, 1974 to author Lawrence David Kusche that he saw such an object, but stressed that it was "unidentified" and not necessarily extraterrestrial in origin.
January 1967-a dark week in the Bermuda Triangle
In the course of just one week in 1967, three planes with eight passengers vanished in the Bermuda Triangle. The first to disappear was a Chase YC-122 cargo plane from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Bimini. The twin-engine plane had been chartered for use in a Lloyd Bridges movie produced by Ivan Tors called "The Unkillables". Three days later two couples took off from Miami International Airport in a Beechcraft Bonanza for a short pleasure flight to the Florida Keys and back-- they were never seen again. Three days after that, a chartered Piper Apache disappeared on a one hour flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
The Miami Herald of January 12, 1967 reported that a search plane spotted debris from the YC-122 floating about 30 miles south of Bimini. Oil drums, unopened parachutes, motion picture film cans and pieces of the plane, but no sign of survivors, were found by rescue teams. The cause of the crash could not be determined, however. In a January 22, 1967 article in the Miami Herald it was disclosed that guests at the Key Largo Ocean Reef Club both saw and heard the Beechcraft Bonanza take off from the island. They said the blue and white plane was making a labored and sputtering sound as it headed out over the ocean. Civil Aeronautics Board investigator John Rawson stated that if it went down at sea, "it wouldn't stay up too long" as that model of plane is not designed to float. Your La Floridiana author and his friend Greg Van Stavern had the unfortunate experience of watching this same type of aircraft fall 90 degrees from a height of about 500' down into a Drew Park neighborhood north of Tampa International Airport in July 1986 killing all three passengers aboard. I have seen firsthand how rapidly and mercilessly such a disaster can occur. Lastly, the Piper Apache's pilot did not file a flight plan. By not filing such a plan, search and recovery workers had no specific idea on where the presumed downed aircraft might be.

Next week: In Part 3 of the Bermuda Triangle series we will explore the myths and facts behind one of the most unusual disappearances of all in the Bermuda Triangle. A total of five Navy TBM Avengers with fifteen souls on board, and one Navy rescue aircraft, a Martin Mariner PBM Flying Boat, would all leave Florida soil on December 5, 1945 never to be seen by human beings again. Their vanishing act would launch one of the biggest air-sea search operations in American history and become the catalyst for the Bermuda Triangle legend! Stay tuned here in seven days in the NCPCR!

NEW TOP TEN LIST     Mike's Challenge.
   I think it was just chronic bad timing, but in recent issues of PCR, stalwart contributor Mike Smith issued two top-ten challenges that were soundly ignored by both me and the readers of PCR. This is inexcusable and will be rectified.
   Challenge #1 was amazingly obvious and I'm surprised it never surfaced before now: The Top Ten TV shows/series of all time. Shockingly, it was never followed up. However, I'm pleased to announce to you that that challenge will kick off the new year's PCR 2002! Consider yourself warned.
   Challenge #2 he actually credits to me, even tho I don't even remember how it came up now: The Top Ten Holiday/Christmas specials of all time which follows below.
   Out of respect for Mikes' Top Ten Challenge, I tried to overcome my adult-onset revulsion for this time of year by trying to even remember ten holiday specials at all. All I could come up with are the five cartoons from the '60s that have stuck with me since childhood, I'm still fond of, and will come as no surprise to anybody. Please forgive me, it's the best I could do:
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas. No-brainer. Not only the most holy-of-holy classics, but the theme song became a separate classic in its own right.
2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Still eminently watchable, and eventually became the basis for a major motion picture. Boris Karloff narrates and did the Grinch's voice.
3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rankin-Bass). Altho Charlie Brown's Christmas seems like it came first, actually Rudolph came out a year earlier. It took me years to get over "Bumbles bounce!" and the elf dentist and the Island of Misfit Toys. Weird.
4. The Little Drummer Boy. I think this was Rankin-Bass, too. Same stop-motion technique as "Rudolph" but with the drummer-boy mythology.
5. Frosty the Snowman. Arguably comedian Jackie Vernon's greatest legacy to mankind (is he even still alive?). Notable for using a MAD-magazine artist (Paul Coker, Jr.) for character sheets and that Frosty inexplicably says "Happy Birthday" upon achieving consciousness.

Will did not include any commentary with the top 5; probably felt it redundant or unnecessary, so I assume he agrees with my assessments. ---Nolan.
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas
2. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
3. Frosty the Snowman
4. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
5. The Little Drummer Boy
1. A Christmas Story.
My favorite Christmas movie. Written and narrated by Jean Shepherd (who passed away about year ago). Based on his book "In God we Trust--All Others Pay Cash". Evocative feeling of being a young boy at Christmastime. Starred Peter Billingsley and Darren McGaven and a certain Red Ryder B-B Gun.
2. Christmas Vacation. Good family-fun movie and one of Chevy Chase's best roles. Third in the National Lmpoon's "Vacation" movies.
3. It's a Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart (in a near career-defining role) and Donna Reed. On one level, good vs evil. On a more important level, an examination of the impact of one man's life. Stewart's George Bailey is a good man beset by tragedy.
3. Gift of the Magi. Basically a love story--the gift of a man/woman relationship. You might remember this one about a couple so poor, the woman sells locks of her hair to buy her husband a Christmas present.
5. Santa Claus Versus the Martians. Sorry, I'm a tacky-film lover. I even remember the original ad campaigns. Science-fiction mixed with the Santa Claus mythology. Starred Pia Zadora in her earliest film role. Still watch it if I can find it.
Honorable Mention:Miracle on 34th Street. Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle manages to melt the heart of skeptics (including a very young Natalie Wood) to convince the world that he really is Santa Claus.

Matt's Rail    by Matt Drinnenberg
Greetings one and all. I FINALLY have time to think about something other than work, of which I am currently seeking. Thus my haitus. I've been fortunate enough to have some recruiters call me, so hopefully something will come up soon. The reason I'm pausing to greet you on these pages is, of course, George Harrison.

You all must easily know by now, if you're a regular to the Newsstand, that I love The Beatles. I just can't believe the early reports were true, but I guess prayful hopes don't always come to kind realities.

I think back many years ago and recall Mike and I hanging at the Paddock Lounge in Downtown Tampa just days before our induction to the service. Knocking down cold ones, shooting pool with some writers for the Tribune, and playing "Blow Away" on the jukebox all night long. Everyone was feeling pretty good as the evening wore on and, eventually, Mike and I had the whole damn place singing "Blow Away" with us as it played on the jukebox. Ah, life's great memories.

Since his passing, we've learned that George Harrison was the genuine article. A man much like Lennon, in that his life's hope was that man could love, instead of hate. A man who believed, and once stated, that all of life's quests are secondary to mans individual search for his relationship with God. A man who will have no skeletons coming out of his closet to make the National Enquirer richer.

The ironic thing, personally, is that I was just starting to appreciate this guys solo efforts. Not just the songs heavy on airplay, but the entirety of what he had to offer us. The last time I started appreciateing a beatle other than Paul, he ended up dead, too. That, of course, was John Lennon.

Needless to say the last couple days listening pleasures have been devoted to Mr. Harrison, and I suggest everyone try to pick up a copy of All Things Must Pass. You'll discover, if you didnt know already, that this man was as much a musical genius as John and Paul. So much so that it looks like I need to revise my top 10 albums of all time!!!

I'll spare you the commentary on these as it pretty much matches Nolan's list, the sentimental saps that we are.
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas: Okay, okay, I'll at least admit I have NEVER missed this!!!
2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rankin-Bass).
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Ya gotta love Boris Karloff. Helluva narrator.
4. Frosty the Snowman: Yes, aside from "Amazon Women On the Moon", this is Jackie Vernon's greatest achievement. I searched the 'net and learned that Vernon has passed away, yet strangely can find nothing else, as in dates and the like. (See "Mike's Rant", this issue, for the final word on Vernon--N)
5. The Little Drummer Boy (Rankin-Bass).

As was the case the last time we met, I am spanking Mike like a red-headed step-child. He is, one could say, going down like a rock!!! The score is Matt's Marauders 2170, Mikes Spankbaby's 1653. Of course, now that I'm talking such trash my team will probably start to suck worse than the movie "Moment by Moment", which sucked. Oh yes....it did suck.

That's it for now, so till next time....
Take care, much love, and God bless.

Mike's Rant

Hello gang. Holiday TV specials and the passing of a legend. Shall we begin?

March 1979. Our little band is in Corey Castellano's kitchen and, as usual, we're fumbling around for the next song to learn. Being the least talented, I used to love it when Nolan would show me a little thing or two that would make me feel like I was contributing something. On this day, he would teach me the most recognized chord in rock and roll: G7sus4 -- the opening chord of "A Hard Day's Night." (In an earlier-in-the-week edition of this issue of PCR, I "corrected" Mike with a (mis-remembered) D7sus4...but, creeping Alzheimer's aside, it is indeed a G7sus4.---Nolan) 16 years prior, George Harrison had pulled out his brand new 12-string guitar and taught the world the same thing! In a way, if our group had been the Beatles, Nolan would have definitely been George........quiet in his way but so very confident of the music he created. Plus, he drove us crazy with his damn sitar! (I never owned a sitar, but I admit to driving you guys crazy!---N)

But while we mourn his passing, we should remember his words, "Life goes on within you and without you." As Nolan has mentioned in his editorial, many of the facts of Harrison's life have been documented over and over in other publications. I'd like to point out some things that may have been missed:

February 23, 1943: George Harrison is born in the Wavetree borough of Liverpool, England.
August 1958: Paul McCartney introduces Harrison to John Lennon. After playing the song, "Raunchy," note for note, Lennon invites him to join their band, The Quarrymen.
August 1962: Now calling themselves The Beatles, the band replace drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr. A month later, the band's first proper recording session takes place at Abbey Road Studios and "Love Me Do" becomes the band's first single.
February 1964: The Beatles arrive in America for the first time.
July 1964: The film, "A Hard Day's Night" premieres. An early sign of George's wit: when asked what he calls his haircut, he replies, "Arthur."
January 1966: Harrison marries Patti Boyd, whom he met on the set of "A Hard Day's Night."
December 1969: "Something," written by Harrison, becomes the first single released by the Beatles not written by Lennon/McCartney. Frank Sinatra calls it the greatest love song ever written.
May 1970: After the Beatles break up, Harrison begins recording his solo album, "All Things Must Pass," with an all-star backing band that includes Ginger Baker, Billy Preston and Eric Clapton. The album's first single, "My Sweet Lord," will be a number one hit in the US seven months later.
January 1971: "All Things Must Pass" hits number one in the US. It is the first album by an ex-Beatle to reach number one.
March 1971: George, along with the other three Beatles, wins an Oscar for Best Song Score for the film, "Let It Be."
August 1971: More then a decade before "Live Aid" and "We Are The World," Harrison organizes "The Concert For Bangladesh" to aid victims of famine and war in Bangladesh. Held at New York's Madison Square Garden, the concert features Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Ringo Starr and Ravi Shankar.
March 1973: The three-record set, "The Concert for Bangladesh," wins the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
June 1977: George and Patti Harrison divorce.
August 1978: Harrison and his girlfriend, Olivia Arias, have a son, Dhani. The couple marry in September and remain together until George's death.
May 1979: Two months after they are married, Eric Clapton and his new wife, the former Patti Harrison, hold a belated reception. The music is provided by McCartney, Starr and Harrison in their first appearance together since the rooftop concert in the film, "Let It Be."
August 1979: George forms HandMade Films. He produces and has a small role in "Monty Python's Life of Brian."
January 1988: In one of rock's most significant comebacks, Harrison scores a number one hit in the US with "Got My Mind Set On You." On January 20 he is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Beatle. His acceptance speech is short because, as he points out, "I'm the quiet Beatle."
November 1988: Harrison makes his debut as "Nelson Wilbury" on the album, "Traveling Wilburys: Volume One," in a group including Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan. Is lead singer on the hit song, "Handle With Care."
June 1997: Harrison has a cancerous lump removed from his neck.
December 1999: An intruder breaks into Harrison's mansion in Oxfordshire and stabs him in the chest. His wife helps disarm the attacker. Their wounds are not severe.
May 2001: Harrison announces he has undergone surgery again for lung cancer.
October 2001: Harrison records a new song, "Horse to the Water," that he co-wrote with his son for his friend Jools Holland's album "Small World, Big Band."
November 29, 2001: George Harrison passes away.

If I have one distinct memory of Harrison's music, it's of the many hours Matt and I spent in a bar in downtown Tampa, shooting pool and singing along to the most frequently-played song on the jukebox, George Harrison's "Blow Away." (LOL! Matt, did you see this? Readers:  Matt's Rail and Mike's Rant arrived simultaneously. Separated by thousands of miles, they still carry this important memory. Cool moment.---Nolan)

'Tis the season, indeed, for a multitude of seasonal television specials. Like Nolan, I couldn't even remember 10 that I enjoyed, but I managed to give credit to the ones I did. They are, in descending order:
7. Bing Crosby's 1976 Christmas Special: Of course, along with Perry Como, Der Bingle was pretty much an annual event during the holidays. This special sticks out in my mind for one part: A duet on "The Little Drummer Boy" by Bing and David Bowie. Sadly, Bing died on the golf course two days after this special aired.
6. Santa Claus is Coming to Town: The first of three Rankin/Bass shows to make this list, it is the story of how Kris Kringle came to be. Narrated by the great Fred Astaire, it included such hummable songs as "First Toymaker to the King."
5. Frosty the Snowman: Happy Birthday! I still don't know why Frosty said that when he came to life. Guess it was better then, "Gee, my balls are cold."
   FYI to Nolan: Jackie Vernon passed away on Roy Scheider's 54th birthday, November 10, 1987. (Now Matt and I and the readers of PCR know. Thank you.---Nolan)
4. Year Without a Santa Claus: Rankin/Bass project #2. Most memorable to me because of the dueling brothers, Heat Miser and Cold Miser!
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The voice of Boris Karloff and the wit of Dr. Seuss mesh perfectly in this classic.
2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Rankin/Bass #3. From Herbie, the elf who wants to be a dentist to Yukon Cornelius, who taught us all that Bumbles Bounce, this special is everything you could ask for. With Burl Ives as the snowman-narrator, who sings such great songs as "Silver and Gold" and "Holly Jolly Christmas."
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas: The best of the best. From Snoopy winning first prize in the house decorating contest to Linus's biblical reading at the Christmas pageant, this is the best example of what a special should be. Sadly, almost 40 years later, there hasn't been anything produced that comes close. Loo loo loo, loo loo loo looooooooo. Loo loo loo, loo loo loo loo.

Well, that's it for this week. I promise to be here early next week. I'll be spending the majority of it with my son visiting my mom in Chicago. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith     "La Floridiana" is ©2001 by William Moriaty    Special thanks to Steve Beasley and Will Moriaty for their tributes to George Harrison    "Matt's Rail" is ©2001 by Matt Drinnenberg    The episode synopsis and review of The Gilmore Girls is ©2001 by Lauré    Thanks to everyone who sent in a top ten Christmas special list    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2001