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PCR #294. (Vol. 6, No. 45) This edition is for the week of November 7--13, 2005.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! Some news and notes, plus the cover songs I hate to hear. Shall we begin?

"Zathura: A Space Adventure"
 by Mike Smith
Chiller Thriller
 by Andy Lalino
"The Fog"...."Doom"
 by John Lewis
Cover Up....Eid Mubaruk....I Was Wrong....Speaking of Being Crazy and Out of Touch....Senseless....Coming Soon....Jaws: The Story, Part 41
 by Mike Smith
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When I made this challenge a few weeks ago, I wasn't talking about William Hung singing "Achy Breaky Heart" or William Shatner reciting "Rocket Man." I was talking about actual singers who, for one reason or another, decided to butcher a classic. Not sure if anyone else came up with a list but here are the 10 WORST Cover songs I've ever heard, in reverse order:

10. "Something" - Frank Sinatra. The Chairman of the Board called this George Harrison classic the greatest love song ever written. Except for when he sings it. Frank once introduced this song as having been written by "two kids called Lennon and McCartney." To make matters worse, when he got to the bridge he made the song "his" by singing, "You stick around, Jack, she might show." Still, a nice song anyway.
9. "American Pie" - Madonna. Perhaps this is what Don McLean meant when he described "the day the music died."
8. "Sweet Child O' Mine" - Sheryl Crow. No wonder Axl Rose stopped singing.
7. "Dream, Dream, Dream" - Andy Gibb and Victoria Principal. Sadly, unlike "Dallas," this wasn't a bad dream. Gibb died after this song was released. Not sure if this song had anything to do with it.
6. "Shaft" - Sammy Davis, Jr. I hear this dude Shaft is a bad mother...SHUT YOUR MOUTH! No, Sammy, I'm serious. Shut your mouth!
5. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" - Britney Spears. And she tries. And she tries.
4. "I Saw Her (Him) Standing There" - Tiffany. Before Britney there was Tif. Now if only Mrs. Federline will follow the '80s mall queen to the pages of "Playboy!"
3. "Behind Blue Eyes" - Limp Bizkit. No one knows what it's like to kill a Who song? Why, Fred? Why?
2. "To Love Somebody" - Michael Bolton. Or "(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay" or "Yesterday" or "When a Man Loves a Woman." Take your pick, Bolton's killed them all.
And the worst cover song of all time:
1. "Once Bitten Twice Shy" by Shaun Cassidy. That's right. Joe Hardy (or was he Frank) started his career with a cover of "Da Doo Ron," and pretty much ended it with this one! Has to be heard to be disbelieved!

Which, loosely translated, means "have a festive day." Kind of like Merry Christmas or Happy Channauka or Feliz Navidad. Pretty sad when the wording on a calendar can cause such an uproar. Like it or not, this country was founded under secular ideals. Changing "Christmas Break" (which is how I remember it) to "Winter Holiday" is like calling a hooker a "lady of the evening." No matter how you slice it, it's still baloney!

Back in issue #8 of the PCR, then called "Nolan's Newsstand," I used the expression "everything is up to date in Kansas City." Well, after the latest Kansas State School Board announcement regarding the teaching of evolution as "just a theory" I may not be too sure. I put up with a lot of things in my little town located in Kansas but only a short bridge ride across the river from Missouri. My son attended high school (and now college) in Kansas and I don't know if the same would have been true if the decision to question evolution had been part of the required curriculum. This is clearly an attempt for those with an agenda to get their ideas into the classroom while dismissing everyone else's. Like Nolan I too attended Catholic school as a youngster. Yes, we were taught to believe that God made the heavens and the earth. But we were also taught that living things evolve. It's called S C I E N C E.

Gotta hand it to Pat Robertson. When he opens his mouth he doesn't try to stick just his foot inside, he goes for the whole damn leg. In a case the exact opposite of the one above, the town of Dover, Pennsylvania dismissed their school board after it was learned that they would be leaning towards the "intelligent design" way of thinking. In a comment on this situation, Robertson said, "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," So Pat, are you saying that the same God you often describe as loving is really a vindictive being, who will destroy anyone or anything that seems to piss him off. Did New Orleans reject God? How about those people in the trailer court this past weekend in Kentucky? Did they spit in God's face. How about Pope John Paul II? I mean the man got shot. Was it because he had failed to say a rosary that day? Jack Kennedy? Martin Luther King? How about the little girl who was found here in Kansas City many years ago with her head cut off? Was it because she had rejected God??? Pat, if anyone should worry about earning God's wrath it's you, buddy. You've lined your pockets speaking out in "His" name for so long that I don't even think YOU know what the message is anymore.

As I was finishing up this week's rant I learned that the executive producer of the film "Halloween" and it's sequels, Moustapha Akkad, and his daughter were killed in the recent suicide attacks in Jordan this week. It's always tragic when someone is taken by the acts of cowards, but it hurts a little more when it's a person who has made an impression, however slight, in your life.

In two weeks I'll have my annual look at the upcoming holiday film season, which is shaping up to be 6 weeks of some great films. I've already seen "Walk the Line," with "Harry Potter," "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "RENT" scheduled in the next few days. After a rather lackluster year I'm hoping the season ends on a high note.

Keeping in the tradition of fan clubs and birthdays I'd like to wish Roy Scheider, who celebrated this past Thursday, November 10th, a very happy 73rd birthday! After experiencing the excitement of helping with Richard Dreyfuss' fan club I set my sights on starting one of my own. The same week I joined Richard's club, I received a note from Mr. Ray Smith. I had written his firm as I was told they represented both Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw. As you can see, his reply was very short and to the point. Fast forward to August 1977. I receive a phone call from a representative of the Screen Actor's Guild telling me that "Jaws 2" is going to begin filming in Florida shortly. I did some research and tracked down the production office and then headed north. I tracked down Roy Scheider's whereabouts and managed to get a letter to him, explaining who I was, why I was writing, etc. About a week later I received a very nice leter from Nancy Seltzer, who was Roy's publicist. The letter gave me permission to start Roy's official fan club. I had mentioned Mr. Ray Smith's note in my letter to Roy and Nancy wrote that she was "sorry I had gotten the run around for so long!" Needless to say, I was ecstatic and began to prepare for what would be a true labor of love for the next 8 years.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to surprise anyone who is a fan of Roy when I say how giving and supportive he was of the fan club. I would bombard him with questions (I would usually type them up and he would write his answers down and then mail them back.) On occasion I would track him down by phone. I still remember talking to him the day he "killed" the shark in "Jaws 2." He was very enthusiastic and seemed very positive. I recall one note from him where he had just signed to do "Last Embrace." He described director Jonathan Demme as an "up and comer" and assured the fans that there was "plenty of yours truly" in "Jaws 2." When Roy was nominated for the best actor Oscar for "All That Jazz," I asked him if I could have his lapel pin from his tux after his acceptance speech. He replied that he knew Dustin Hoffman would win because he had "paid his dues." But, "if I win, it's yours!" Fans of Roy know that he has worn the same watch for years. It was given to him by Sonny Grosso, the real life detective that Roy portrayed in "The French Connection." If memory serves me, Roy has worn this watch in almost all of his films with the exception of "Blue Thunder," where the watch his character wore played a part in his characters' actions. I also think he wore it in "All That Jazz," except with a larger band. One day I jokingly asked him if I could have it when he was tired of it. He laughed and said I could, if he ever did! If I remember one thing about my time with the fan club, it's that Roy was always very genuine. For years I answered his fan mail, usually sending out autographed photos or answering questions. But what surprised me most about the mail was that a lot of it came from people that Roy had met before he became famous. Countless letters from men that had served in the Air Force with him. A note from someone he had worked with in summer theatre. Those were the letters I loved passing on.

It's been 20 years since I last saw Roy. It was Saturday, January 19, 1985. Roy was to host "Saturday Night Live" that evening and I spent the day in New York City. I met with Roy prior to the run through that evening. He greeted me with a huge hug and a kiss on the cheek. During the run through I stood backstage while different skits were tried. One highlight was standing next to Jim Belushi while Steven Wright performed and having to repeat the soft spoken Wright's routine for him. After the show I met Roy again and he returned a pile of photos that had been sent to me from fans, freshly autographed. On top was a note with a New Year's message that I still cherish. We said our goodbyes, exchanged another hug and I watched Roy walk out into the New York night. A few months later I turned the fan club over to a friend in Kansas City and she ran it until it quietly disbanded. But the memories remain and those are the things I cherish most. For eight years I was able to call someone I admire greatly a friend. I'd like to think Roy thought the same of me.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.