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Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #358  (Vol. 8, No. 5) This edition is for the week of January 29--February 4, 2007.

Florida Extravanganza Collectibles Show 2007  by ED Tucker
"Norbit"  by Mike Smith
The Former Oliva Cigar Factory To Host Art & Film  by Paul Guzzo
FAIL! FAIL! ROCK & ROLL!....Monty Python Invades Tampa (sort of): Spamalot!  by Andy Lalino
The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright....While You've Got Them Crossed....Very Creative....Let The Wookie Win....3Vs and David Lee....Passing On....Congratulations....May 22, 2008....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 6: Geoffrey Lewis  by Mike Smith
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Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Your grandfather makes cooler music than you do.

Sorry, Charlie. That's the stone-cold reality.

You see, I, like other elder columnists (and publisher) of Crazed Fanboy, have lived through our share of decades, and have seen a plethora of musical trends come and go: Classic rock, disco, prog rock, punk, new romantic, heavy metal, ska, reggae, death metal, industrial, etc., etc. Each of us has varying tastes, but presumably all pretty much agree that "rock & roll" was assassinated years ago by rap, grunge, and bubble-gum pop of the late '80s and 1990s. In light of, what I deem, that undisputed fact, I'm calling for an outright kabash to what's still inexplicably called "rock & roll". If you're a regular reader, my Oddservations columns of late have been a reality check of just where we all are in terms of the status of sci-fi/horror/fantasy/fandom here in the hopelessly humdrum year of 2007. The outlook couldn't be more crummy, with filmmakers out-to-lunch as to what exactly makes a good cult movie, the substitution (and addiction) of pixel wizardry for genuine cinematic talent and a bland, anemic pop culture all contributing to a leprous state of fantastic film that has been a drooling vegetable since 1987.

As bad off as genre films are, it can't begin to compare to the hilariously desperate situation "rock & roll" finds itself drowning in. The beginning of the end of rock-n-pop eerily parallels the fall of fantastic cinema, with the turning point being the dread year of 1987. By that time, New Wave was criminally in decline, and rap increasingly popular. Were it not for the "Goth"/Alternative/College bands, the late '80s would have been a wholly nightmarish era. That alternative reign was quick to sink in the early '90s, when 'grunge' defecated its way onto MTV screens. Now, 'grunge' is dead as a doornail, thankfully, and has been replaced by Britney Spears, American I-dull, and Hillary Duff. Even cast members from "7th Heaven" are cutting albums. Current "Alternative" bands that are showcased on 'Fuse' have failed miserably to break the into the mainstream, and are usually greeted with yawns even from rock-hungry youngsters. What's even more hilariously insulting is that many of these wannabes trip over themselves to be the background music for shows like 'Dawson's Creek'! What it all amounts to is that these new bands are just spinning their wheels in a pathetic attempt to emulate The Cars and Kraftwerk; and someone should step up to the plate and let them down with a nice pat on the back from one hand, and a stage hook in another.

I'll be glad to eat my words should a movement come along, hopefully from the U.K., that miraculously be as gratifying as the New Wave movement of the early '80s, but I don't see that happening by a long shot. In the past 17years, there have been only two(!) new bands that have produced music in the true spirit of '80s New Wave: OMC (remember "How Bizarre"?) and Deep Forest. The rest can take their CGI-overloaded videos and start picking your electric twangers in front of the nearest subway station.

It really makes a seasoned music fan sit back and wonder why "rock & roll" is even around anymore. Seriously, people, what are we doing here? Look, I completely concede that the early '80s had its mega-stinkers, such as Madonna and everyone's favorite child molestor Jack-O, but the New Wave generation wasn't exactly known for embracing the mainstream. New Wave was a form of alternative music that was palatable to the youth of the time, the mainstream, and the art crowd - not an easy accomplishment. But as I look back to the days of Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Haircut 100, The Human League, Yes, etc. and compare/contrast those legendary acts with Justine Timberlake, New Kids on the Block, 30 Seconds to Marz and other time-wasters, it actually makes me dizzy to think that rock has de-evolved to such a bastard degree, and is only spiraling downward faster like a runaway toilet.

If young kids need the fix of something to listen to after they've watched The Gilmore Girls, how about some good ol' marching band music? Rock's time has come to be put out to pasture; the sooner we can trounce this turkey the better - its bell has tolled.

Kill it.

Monty Python Invades Tampa (sort of)! Spamalot!
Thanks for the tickets to Spamalot, mom! I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the Broadway hit, whether it was going to be a complete retelling of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" or some derivative thereof. Actually, it was both. If you've seen the '74 classic, you won't be surprised by anything in Spamalot, but it was thrilling to see classic characters from the film come to life onstage: the monks who bang the Bible against their heads, The Knights that say "Nih"!, Tim the Enchanter, the Killer Rabbit, the Holy Hand Grenade - they're all here! Okay, so it wasn't the original Python cast, but you do get to hear recordings of Eric Idle and John Cleese (as God).

The retelling of the tale of the Holy Grail is on-target and wonderful, but where the play takes a nose dive is during the new "Americanized" scenes. In these, the cast does a Vegas-style "Camelot" dance number, spoofs fellow Broadway plays ("Phantom of the Opera"), and has some fun with Jews. To me, the biggest low point was the introduction of "The Lady in the Lake" - a spirit who gives King Arthur Excalibur. Now keep in mind the plays set in England, but the Lady in the Lake looked like a cross between an African-American and an Oriental woman. Why you ask? T-O-K-E-N.

Another uncomfortable element was that Spamalot got a little too preachy, especially during a gay wedding number. If you recall the original film, the scene where Michael Palin rescues the blonde dink (Terry Jones) in Rapunzel's tower was tastefully and artistically understated. You won't find that kind of panache in the year 2007. Guess even the Pythons had to dumb things down quite a bit for today's knumbknutz.

But despite its slight faults, the live trip down memory lane for fans was the true Holy Grail. It's sad to think that Spamalot was probably the closest I'll ever come to seeing the Pythons live on stage, and it's just another example of how the 1970's was such a brilliant bright spot in cinema, comedy, TV, and damn near everything else.

"Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.