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PCR #338. (Vol. 7, No. 37) This edition is for the week of September 11--17, 2006.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang. A personal matter has me on the road this week, so I apologize in advance for the random ramblings of the Rant. Shall we begin?

The Tampa Film Review for September  by Nolan B. Canova
The True Story of the Royal Guardsmen  by ED Tucker
"The Black Dahia"  by Mike Smith
"Hollywoodland"  by Nolan B. Canova
The 20 Best Heavy Metal Albums of All Time  by Terence Nuzum
Crazed Fanboy Live! The Musical....Andy's Expedition to Tyrone Square Mall....VHS Grindhouse: "Midnight"  by Andy Lalino
Great Company....Set Phasers on Numb....Speaking of Star Trek....Musical History....Speaking of Music....My Favorite Films, Part 37: "Hoosiers"  by Mike Smith
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What a treat to see Terance back in the PCR. And thanks, ED Tucker, for your incredible interview with the Royal Guardsmen. I certainly did not know they were from Florida. Did anyone else?

Did anyone else catch the announcement that Paramount Home Video is going to follow in George Lucas' footsteps by re-releasing the original "Star Trek" television series with updated special effects? Apparently, the effects and battles we all grew up with will no longer are "cool" in today's CGI world. My thoughts? Why mess with a classic. What's next, is MGM going to colorize the first 20 minutes of "The Wizard of Oz."

Last week was a pretty important one in television history, as two of the most popular shows in the history of the medium debuted four days apart. On September 8, 1966, the starship "Enterprise" began it's five year mission, seeking out new life forms and new civilizations. On September 12, the music video was basically invented with the premiere of "The Monkees." Having been canceled earlier in 1966, "The Flintstones" hit Saturday morning, as did "King Kong" (you know the name...you know the fame...ten times as big as a man!). Ah, to be young again.

This week, it was announced that the album "Cornerstone" by Styx had been certified triple platinum, meaning it has sold at least three million copies. According to the bands' record company, this achievement makes Styx the ONLY American band to have four consecutive albums reach that level of sales (Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone, Crystal Ball and Paradise Theater). Yes, they do rock, thank you.

This month the National Review magazine released it's list of the top 50 conservative rock songs of all time. Here are the top 10 George W. enjoys, and why:

10.   20th Century Man by The Kinks - an ode to simpler times.
9.    "Don't Tread on Me" by Metallica - the bands response to the first Gulf War.
8.    "Bodies" by The Sex Pistols - anti abortion.
7.    "Revolution" by The Beatles - Communism isn't cool. Get rid of those pictures of Chairman Mao!
6.    "Gloria" by U2 - a song about faith. With parts sung in Latin.
5.    "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys - Abstinence. "We could be married and THEN we'll be happy."
4.    "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd - fuck you, Neil Young, and the liberal horse you rode in on.
3.    "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones - Avoid the devil. Seriously. Woo! Woo!
2.    "Taxman by the Beatles" - like I need to explain this one.
1.    "Won't Get Fooled Again" by the Who - disillusionment, because the "new boss" is "the same as the old boss."

Starring: Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper
Directed by: David Anspaugh

FIRST SEEN: Yorkridge Cinema, Baltimore, Maryland
FAVORITE LINE: "I love you guys!"
FAVORITE SCENE: The small town team wins it all.

  • Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score (Jerry Goldsmith) and Best Supporting Actor (Hopper)
  • Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Hopper)

    In 1954, the small town of Milan, Indiana took on the big city Munice Central Bearcats in a battle for the state high school basketball championship. An underdog in every meaning of the word, the Indians won a close game by the score of 32 to 30. Inspired by this true story, director Anspaugh, who had cut his teeth on such television shows as "Hill Street Blues" and "Miami Vice," decided to make this story his feature film debut.

    Hackman is perfect as Coach Norman Dale, a one time big college coach that is reduced to coaching high school ball after an incident in which he struck a player. Dale teaches fundamentals, insisting on passes before shots and strict discipline when that shot is taken. When several players balk at his way, the team is made up of only six players, including the equipment manager. Jimmy Chitwood, the star player in town, has decided not to play, making the team even more desperate. After a few losses, the town meets and votes to fire Dale. However, Jimmy steps forward and says he'll play on one condition - if the coach stays. Well, play he does, leading his team to the promised land.

    After a great comedy there is no better movie then one that inspires. The little guy standing up to the big guy. Films like "Rocky," "Remember the Titans" and others stress the importance of following your dreams, assuring you that you will be rewarded for your efforts. In a way, the films' message applies to the cast as well, especially Hopper, who also appeared the same year in "Blue Velvet." Like many, Hopper was surprised that the Oscar nomination he earned that year was for "Hoosiers" and not "Blue Velvet." Whichever film it was, the year would signal the return of a man who had never really left.

    To share his thoughts on "Hoosiers" I welcome my good friend and "Groundhog Day" fan, Dana Goudreault:

    HOOSIERS (1986)
    by Dana Goudreault

    It's Fall in New England, the leaves are changing, there's a cripsness in the morning air and as the burnt orange colors sway in the numerous Maple trees of New Hampshire, I find myself thinking about...basketball. More specifically, the high school team called "Huskers" from the small town of Hickory, Indiana.

    Of course, there isn't really a Hickory basketball team...there isn't even a Hickory, Indiana period. Unless you count the fictional one in Hoosiers, which, in reality, is based upon an actual team from another small town high school in Indiana, Milan. They had quite a Cinderella story when they shocked the entire basketball crazy state of Indiana by winning the state championship.

    Now, being a huge Larry Bird fan (who grew up in the small town of French Lick, Ind), I knew immediately that this movie was going to be something I must see, just from the shots of the small town atmosphere in the trailer I saw either on TV or at a theatre while watching the latest Eddie Murphy movie, I honestly don't remember. But I do remember the feeling that this movie looked as though it would take me to another place and time, a place that my hero Larry Bird knew all too well...and I just had to be there.

    The movie, as described on posters and in newspaper articles, previous to its release, painted a picture that this was a story we have all heard before and that you could smell the beginning, middle and end before even getting your popcorn and soda from the concessionaire. I didn't care. Everything this Bird fan saw, from posters to trailers, made me wanna see it. I still feel that way twenty years later, whenever I see the video box at a flea market or the dvd box in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart.

    The movie isn't so much about winning and losing on the court as much as it is about second chances and redemption away from the gymnasium.

    Gene Hackman plays Coach Dale with such incredible depth, that you honestly feel like you are one of the guys he is about to scream at because you just aren't getting what he's trying to teach you. He's fierce, he's determined, he's incredibly blunt (like my Father-in-law) and yet he's so likeable, you want so much for this guy to overcome whatever issues he has...and he has plenty. And while dealing with his issues, he's reaching out to the kids to help them, he's reaching out to the drunken father of one of the players (played by Dennis Hopper, who recieved an Oscar nod for this) and the exchanges between the three of them is an absolute joy to watch. There's a scene towards the end of the movie, where Hopper's character is confined to a hospotal and his son visits him before the big game and...I cry like a baby everytime I even think about that scene. It's so incredibly well done, so far away from what you would think this "sports movie" is all about, that it really stirs you up.

    But there is so much more to love about this movie. From the protective teacher played by Barbara Hershey, who from the get-go tells Coach dale to "leave Jimmy Chitwood alone"...Jimmy is perhaps the greatest player in the state, yet doesn't play because his teacher thinks focusing on academics is much important that reaching for a pipe-dream shot at an NBA career, especially from such a small, unknown town as Hickory.

    I haven't said much, if anything, about the basketball played in this movie, but...it's without a doubt, the most realistic footage you will ever see in a movie. And if you think you already know the ending and it's a waste of time, well...I've seen the ending twenty-plus times since 86 and I admire this movie all the way through the credits each and every time. It's about as perfect a sports movie as you'll ever see, including Bull Durham, Rudy and Field of Dreams. I love those films too, but this movie is in a class all by itself...a class inside a very small high school in Hickory, Indiana.

    Whenever possible, I try to take a message from a great film and apply it. Several years ago while coaching baseball, my team was involved in a tournament that was played in a HUGE stadium. Seeing the boys' wide-eyed stares, I told the manager to give them "the Hoosiers speech," in which it was pointed out that the while the field may look impressive, the dimensions were the same as our home field. Case closed!

    Next week it's back to the laughs of Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder with "Young Frankenstein".

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

    "Mike's Rant" is ©2006 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 ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.