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PCR #296. (Vol. 6, No. 47) This edition is for the week of November 21--27, 2005.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! Sincere wishes for a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Shall we begin?

Summary of My Fall TV Show Picks
 by William Moriaty
 by Mike Smith
Happy Thanksgiving....Ironic, Isn't It....No Survivors....I'm Sorry....Beatles Remembered....You Can't Hold On Too Long....Passing On....Next Year....Jaws: The Story, Part 43
 by Mike Smith
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I hope that everyone has a great day! And for readers who may be somewhere where they don't celebrate Thanksgiving (or at least not in November) I wish you a great day as well.

Sadly, I'm saddened to report the death of retired home economist Ruth M. Siems, who passed away recently at the age of 74. The irony is that Ms. Siems invented the very tasty Stove Top stuffing. She helped develop Stove Top in 1971 while working at General Foods' technical center and was listed first among four inventors when the patent was awarded in 1975 for the quick and easy way of making stuffing without actually stuffing a turkey. Kraft Foods, which now owns the Stove Top brand, sells about 60 million boxes each year around Thanksgiving.

Have you ever said to yourself, "I wondered what happened to Peter Weller, Steve Guttenberg, Bryan Brown, Rutger Hauer and C. Thomas Howell?" That's ok, neither have I. But I discovered them this past Sunday night in the television remake "The Poseidon Adventure." Instead of a cool tidal wave it's terrorists that cause the ship to capsize. No horny Red Buttons. No Carol Linley in hot pants. No panty shots of Stella Stevens. And worse, no Ernest Borgnine yelling, "Preacher!" and lamenting about how he lost "his Linda." In fact, Borgnine's Mike Rogo went from New York cop to Homeland Security agent (makes sense, with all of those terrorists aboard).

Which reminds me of a very funny story. Well, to me anyway. I've often mentioned how Matt and I met in high school when he overheard me listening to a cassette tape I had made of the movie, "Jaws." But I had actually seen him before. While happening by the gym I noticed him hanging from the rings. But he wasn't doing any kind of exercise, he was just hanging there. Hanging there and yelling. Curious I listened and realized that he was reciting Gene Hackman's final lines from "The Poseidon Adventure." Cursing God and asking why "Akers wasn't enough. Or the girl. Now Mrs. Rosen!" After a few more lines Matt cried out, "TAKE ME!" and dropped to the mats below. Ha ha. Funny stuff, don't you agree?

Last week I commented on an upcoming NBC Dateline episode that purported to be a "tribute" to John Lennon. Instead, I was horrified to watch a two-hour fuck fest that almost honored his killer. It's been almost four years since George Harrison passed away. In recounting the rest of the Beatles, Nolan commented on Lennon's murder and mentioned the killer, adding, "tho the TV press has been reluctant to dignify him in the least by mentioning his name, and I had second thoughts, too." And the much-hyped "exclusive" interview with the killer turned out to be tapes made in the late 1990s which were turned into a book I had already read.

For the curious, John Lennon was murdered because:

  • He had said the Beatles were more popular then Jesus Christ
  • In the lyrics of his song, "GOD," Lennon wrote, "I don't believe in Beatles"
  • The song, "Imagine" was blasphemous
  • The killer thought he was Holden Caulfield, the main character in "The Catcher in the Rye." In the book the word "phony" appears 47 times. Holden HATES phonies. In a 1980 interview Lennon commented that sometimes he felt like "a phony."
  • The Devil made him do it.

    I was very surprised that he didn't blame the little people who often visited him. The ones he communicated with through his television and who thought of him as their president. In fact, the little people told him NOT to do it.

    I should say here that I've read "The Catcher in the Rye." Twice. And ironically the only person I feel like killing is Lennon's killer. I was a 20 year old kid when John Lennon died. To me he was one of the Beatles who had a new album out with a song I liked. Today I'm a 45 year old man who, in the past quarter century, has learned that John Lennon really WAS the voice of his generation.

    So today I apologize for giving his killer even one second of the attention he so dearly craves by mentioning him by name last week (and alluding to it twice more in discussing an actor). I promise that the next time I mention his name will be to report the hopefully very tragic and painful circumstances of his death.

    This Tuesday, November 29, will mark the 4th anniversary of George Harrison's passing. Shortly afterwards, on December 8, the world will pause and honor John Lennon's memory on the 25th anniversary of his death. I am very happy to announce that, in addition to my thoughts on Lennon that week, my friend, Edward McCormack, will contribute his. Eddie was born and still lives in Liverpool, England and will not only share his thoughts but will relate his family's associations with Lennon, which go back to the days of the Quarrymen.

    Fans of the group The Cars will recognize the title of one of the songs from the "Candy-O" album. Sadly, group co-founder Ben Orr died several years ago and fellow co-founder Ric Ocasek is now producing instead of performing. But that hasn't stopped a couple other band members from planning a Cars tour, with the front man position being offered to Todd Rundgren. Sadly, this line up is not Magic.

    Link Wray, recognized by rock and rollers as the father of the power chord, passed away November 5 in Copenhagen at the age of 74. No cause of death was given. Born Frederick Lincoln Wray Jr. in North Carolina, Wray developed a style considered the blueprint for heavy metal and punk music. He is best known for his 1958 instrumental "Rumble," 1959 "Rawhide" and 1963 "Jack the Ripper." He has been cited as a major influence on everyone from Pete Townshend to Neil Young to Bruce Springsteen. Though his career stalled in the 1960s, his music was rediscovered after it was featured in films like "Pulp Fiction, " "Desperado" and "Independence Day." His new popularity allowed him to tour the US again and he had done 40 shows this year. For the curious, the power chord is created by playing fifths: two notes five notes apart, often with the lower note doubled an octave above. In 2002, Guitar World magazine elected Wray one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

    After last year's series on the Beatles and this years' on "Jaws" (you can tell me, you've learned more then you ever thought you could about one film, haven't you?) I thought long and hard about what to do next year. After much consideration I decided that each week I would highlight one of my favorite films. But I'm going to do it with a twist. Each week I'll invite a co-writer to share their thoughts on the chosen film as well. I should have a list of the films I plan to cover and when I'll be covering them. I encourage ANYONE that sees a film they really enjoy mentioned to drop me a line. I'm not looking for a review. I'm looking for what makes the film in question one of YOUR favorites. Films to be covered (and which already have interested contributors) include: "Halloween," "The Exorcist," "Rocky," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Groundhog Day" and "Smokey and the Bandit." I'll have 47 more listed soon (there will be 53 PCR issues next year) so I hope if something catches your eye you'll let me know. Speaking of "Jaws"...

    I know that I've mentioned the fan documentary currently in production entitled "The Shark Is Still Working." But I never really got around to the behind the scenes story, so here goes. "The Shark Is Still Working" is not only a tribute to the film, "Jaws," but a tribute to fans of the film as well. It helps that the film is being lovingly crafted by four men who enjoy the film as much as I do: James Gelet, Jake Grove, Erik Hollander and Michael Roddy. Both Jim and Erik are established documentarians. Jake works in software and Internet development, and is the creator of the JAWSmovie.com site, which recently celebrated it's 10th anniversary. Michael is a writer/director who has created shows at theme parks around the country, including Hershey Park, Universal Studios Florida and Busch Gardens.

    The documentary's title is taken from Richard Dreyfuss' often told story about how, during the production of "Jaws," you couldn't go anywhere on Martha's Vineyard without overhearing a walkie talkie announcing, "The shark is not working...repeat...the shark is NOT working!" Speaking of Dreyfuss, he is one of the many talents that brought "Jaws" to the screen interviewed for the project. To my knowledge, every major (and minor, for that matter) contributor to the production of "Jaws" has been interviewed, from director Steven Spielberg to composer John Williams to producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown to Chief Brody himself, Roy Scheider. In fact, Scheider was so impressed with the production that he signed on as an associate producer.

    While the film is certain to feature many scenes from our favorite film, I think the highlight is going to be the section devoted to the fans. I've had the sincere pleasure of meeting "Jaws" fans from literally all over the world and a greater bunch of people you will never meet. Many fan interviews, mine included, were filmed at this past summers' JAWSFest, which provided a perfect background for the stories being told.

    If you are interested in learning more about "The Shark Is Still Working," please head to www.sharkisstillworking.com There you'll find some great photos as well as the trailer. Enjoy!

    Well, that's all for now. Have a great Thanksgiving (and rest of the week as well). 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.