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PCR #471 (Vol. 10, No. 14). This edition is for the week of March 30--April 5, 2009.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Amongst the dust, a short one emerges. Shall we begin?

"Fast And Furious"  by Mike Smith
US 19: The Highway That Time Forgot  by ED Tucker
Movie Notes .... Room Service Included .... Passing On .... Boston .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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Sacha Baren Cohen turned in his first cut of "Bruno" to the MPAA and was rewarded with an "NC 17" rating. Since he is under contract with Universal to deliver an "R" rating, it's back to the editing bay for the former "Borat."

Ever want to meet Wolverine up close and personal? If so, go to
www.x-menorigins.com, find your town and mark it with a digital "X." The town with the most "x"s gets to host a premiere of the film, complete with a visit by Hugh Jackman.

This May 26th will mark the 40th Anniversary of the Bed In For Peace staged by John Lennon and Yoko Ono at Montreals' Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Guests can get a special "Imagine Package" for $199 on up. For $599, couples can stay in the same suite John and Yoko shared. Have fun.

Andy Hallett, actor who played the karaoke loving vampire Lorne on television's "Angel," died of congestive heart disease. He was 44.

Maurice Jarre, Academy Award winning composer, died this week at the age of 84. No cause of death was listed. Jarre was a constant collaborator with director David Lean, and won Oscars for his work on "Dr Zhivago," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "A Passage to India." He also scored such hit films as "Witness" and "Ghost."


Over the past month or so I have been dropping hints about having an adventure in Boston. Not wanting to jinx anything I didn't let what was going on escape my fingertips. That being said, it is now time to finally reveal the excitement.

Most of you who know Matt (my Rail-mate) know that he is a very gifted singer/songwriter. He fronted our early pop music band, the HATS and then sequed into heavier music with Nolan and others in the very popular BLADE. I've known Matt for, roughly, 32 years and 7 months. For 32 years and 6 months, I have done my best to encourage his talents. Whether it was sitting down along the Million Dollar Pier in St. Pete and just strumming his guitar or an impromptu concert for 50 people on Martha's Vineyard, he has always had the ability to grab an audience. I've even tried to get him to audition for "American Idol." Yes, he's too old win, but he's not to old to finish 2nd! If that show had been around 20 years ago, Matt would have done well. He certainly would kick David Cooks' ass. And I feel safe in saying that since Cooks' mother and I work for the same company here in KC. Anyway, back to the story. Last year Matt submitted a DVD of him playing Harry Chapins' "Taxi" to the television show "Americas Got Talent." No response came back but this year we discovered the show was holding auditions again and found there was one in Boston, about a 4 1/2 hour drive from Matt's home in Maine. So the plans were laid for me to fly to Boston and support him for his audition. I landed in Providence, Rhode Island and made a short stop at our friend Jim's home. Over the years Jim has acquired the nickname of "Jimmy Jaws," which is very appropriate as he has the foremost collection of memorabilia from the film ANYWHERE! He has displayed some of his items at the Stegis Film Festival in Spain as well as making materials available for other fans to look at on his website http://www.jawscollector.com/. After looking in awe at some items I never even knew existed, and successfully passing the "pat down" upon leaving, Jim and I headed to Boston to meet Matt. We had a nice dinner at one of the "Cheers" type places and spent some money at a really nice comic book store. Then it was time to call it an evening as Matt was scheduled to be at the audition center by 8:00 am. Matt and I headed back to the hotel while Jim met some other friends for a ride back home. We arranged for a wake up call and a taxi to pick us up at 7:00 (I figured that since we were a short drive from the audtiion center we might as well get there early) and hit the sack.

Saturday morning came early and we decided to grab something to eat after Matt had signed in. When we got to the convention center, I was surprised that the crowd of people lined up for auditions wasn't that large. Last year they had tryouts for "American Idol" here in Kansas City and they had almost 10,000 people show up. When we finally got to where we needed to be, Matt was contestant #150. After snagging some comfy chairs along a wall I went and grabbed us some breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts. FYI: apparently there is a Dunkin' Donuts on every corner in the north east. I don't even think there is one left here in KC, but they sure make up for it in Ba-stan. It was obvious to me that the television crew had overslept, as stuff that should have been set up prior to our arrival was just now being brought in. At about 930 they began to film the crowd(?) and encourage the participants to practice their talents. Matt and several others around us pulled out their guitars and began strumming. A girl behind us asked Matt if he knew Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." Of course he did. He began playing and before I knew it, he had taken over. It was almost surreal to this untalented scribe. When Matt began, he was leading a small group of about 10 people. By the time the 2nd verse started, THE ENTIRE GATHERING was singing along. I'm talking EVERY PERSON IN THE HALL, from contestants to television crew. AFter the song was over, we were approached by more then a few people with high compliments for Matt. I felt like Family Guys' Peter Griffin when he was hanging out with Jesus - when people would point and say, "It's Jesus!", Peter would add "and his best friend Peter!" The rest of the morning was spent meeting other contestants and re-creating parts of the show that the tardy crew had not been there to capture. Running into the hall, signing up at registration. We even had to do the cheesy, "Hey America...Bostons Got Talent" cheer a few times. What made it worse was that apparently there wasn't enough talent in Houston and Seattle because we also had to scream "Hey America...Houstons (and later, Seattles) got Talent!" So if you happen to catch a glimpse of Matt or I shouting out a city other then Boston now you know why. At around 1130 they finally started seeing auditioners. I went and grabbed us a quick lunch and we sat around watching the various contestants. One group of about seven kids were working on an anti-drug rap set to some lousy choreography. I'm not sure how long they had worked on it, but the kids seemed exhausted. Their movements were lazy as if they were just going through the motions. The two ladies in charge kept yelling at them like Roy Scheiders' Joe Gideon in "All That Jazz." Along one wall was a contingent of singers, all seemingly intent on doing "The Star Spangled Banner." On another wall, guitar players of various talents. One guy sitting by himself kept playing "Classical Gas," gut he kept stopping about halfway through. Not sure if that was all he knew or all he figured he'd get to play before the judge stopped him.

Matt calm and cool after his audition.

Finally at about 2:00 they called Matt upstairs to one of the audition rooms. At 2:02 he came running back towards me and I was thinking, "Wow, he must really suck. Maybe now Nolan will let me sing more when we jam." "Paperwork," he gasped. He had taken his guitar but had left the case with me and the paperwork he needed for the show was still in the case. As he sprinted away he yelled over his shoulder, "you can come up" and then he was gone. Those of us accompanying the contestants were originally told we couldn't go with them when they went to audition. Upon hearing this I hightailed it upstairs where there were about 10 different rooms set up. I found Matt sitting with one of the guitarists we had met earlier in the day and struck up a friendship with. We watched as performer after performer came out of the various rooms. One that struck me as funny was a little boy about 10 who was dressed like a matador. He came out of the room carrying a cape while a woman I assume was his mother followed him out carrying a boom box. I guess in some countries being a matador is a talent so good luck kid. Another burly guy pulling a box and carrying a closed 5-gallon bucket came out of the room and muttered, "they obviously have no fucking sense of humor." I asked him what he did and he said he was a "sideshow act." And of course, there was the requisite barbershop quartet, only this was a quintet. Finally it was Matt's turn and he went into the room. In a few moments we could all hear him from behind the door, belting out "One" by U2. I mention we could hear him because, with the exception of a guy who was apparently channelling Eddie Van Halen, riffing up and down on his electric guitar, we hadn't been able to hear ANYTHING from behind the doors. Contestants were given 90 seconds to perform and Matt had calculated when the song would be over. However, the judges let him go on past the time limit and finish the song. Proclaiming "awesome" and praising his strong voice, the judges bid Matt farewell and told him it would take some time before he knew anything. As we left, we did see the quintet and the sideshow guy speaking with show reps, so maybe they did have a sense of humor. I assured Matt that these acts were more specialized so that is why they were getting spoken too. There were probably more then a few guitarists and singers to week through.

We went back to our hotel, changed clothes and headed up to Providence, where we had plans to have dinner with not only Jim but a few other JAWS pals from the area: Dana and Marge (their son, Chris, was responsible for the short films I posted a few issues ago) and Pete, who we had met a couple summers ago on Martha's Vineyard. After dinner (we had an excellent meal at a small Italian place near Jims house) Matt, Jim and I headed over to Petes house to cap off a perfect day. Sometime ago, obviously having too much money in the bank, Pete purchased the deck chair, harness and rod and reel that Robert Shaw used in JAWS. He also purchased the fin that was pulled through the water when only a fin was needed to be seen so that they didn't have to use one of the mechanical sharks. Matt sat in the chair first and just from the smile on his face I knew he was feeling the history. It was like when I went to the Smithonian and sat in the Captain's chair from "Star Trek," only instead of the whole country sitting in the chair, there was probably only 20 and one of them was Robert Shaw!

When I sent this photo out to my JAWS friends I added the message, "I'm moist!" What a thrill.

Hee! The goofiest fisherman on the sea!

BFF! (Best friends forever)

As there was no better way to end the evening (in less Pete also had bought Robert Shaw himself), we dropped Jim off at home and headed back to Boston. The next morning we had breakfast and Matt and I said our goodbyes. I went to Gillette Stadium to take some pictures for a friend of mine at work who is a Patriot's fan and then headed for the airport. As of this writing Matt hasn't heard anything from the producers of the show. He was originally told a couple of weeks but we have also talked with contestants who were told it could be up to six weeks. Either way, he kicked ass (just like I knew he would)!


Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert DeNiro and Ray Liotta
Directed by: James Mangold

Look for another double feature next week, featuring "Cop Land" and the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck creation "Good Will Hunting."

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

"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 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 ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.