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PCR #475 (Vol. 10, No. 18). This edition is for the week of April 27 -- May 3, 2009.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang. Short and sweet this week. Shall we begin?

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" †by Mike Smith
FX 2009: Another View †by ED Tucker
State of the Nation †by Brandon Jones
Priced Out Of The Business .... What The Hell Happened In One Year? .... Gruden Hasnít Left .... Sprung! .... Canít Get It Straight .... Nfl Draft Goes Primetime? .... Itís Not A National Championship .... †by Chris Munger
I Didn't Catch The Name .... Passing On .... So Proud .... Boldly Going .... Last Week .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2... †by Mike Smith
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Here's a tidbit I wanted to mention last week. Recently it was announced that Paul McCartney would headline the opening of a new concert theatre at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. Macca sold 4,000 tickets in SEVEN SECONDS!

Dave Arneson, co-creator of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, passed away last month from cancer. He was 61.

Bea Arthur, Tony and Emmy award winning actress, died as the Rant was being published last week. She was 86. A fan of actress June Allyson, Arthur got her start in episodic television in the late 1950s, often appearing in shows directed by her husband, Gene Saks. After a year playing opposite Sid Caesar on "The Sid Caesar Show," she concentrated on stage work. Close family friend Norman Lear begged her to guest on his new sitcom, "All In The Family," but it wasn't until the show was in it's second year that she agreed. Starring as Edith Bunker's cousin, Maude Findlay, Arthur proved the perfect foil to Ediths' husband, Archie. Her appearances were so well received that Lear created a series around the Maude character, called, simply, "Maude." During hiatus, she reprised her Tony winning role in the film version of the musical, "Mame," opposite Lucille Ball. She earned five Emmy Award nominations for her role on "Maude," winning the Best Actress in a Comedy award in 1977. The next year she starred as cantina owner Ackamena in the "Star Wars Holiday Special." After "Maude" was cancelled, she appeared on various television shows, including the title role for one season of "Amanda's Place." In 1985, she landed the role of Dorothy Zbornak in "The Golden Girls," earning another four Emmy nominations and one more win. When the show left the air in 1992, she semi retired, doing the occasional guest shot. In 2000, one of those guest shots, on "Malcolm in the Middle, earned her her last Emmy nomination.

You may remember my frequent mentions of a film entitled "The Shark Is Still Working," a fan created docmentary on the film "JAWS" and it's impact. After much haggling with Universal Studios, the producers (James Gelet, Erik Hollander and Jake Gove)have been allowed to show the film to a paying audience. This weekend the film will have it's world premiere at the Los Angeles United Film Festival. Good luck, guys! Wish I could be there with you.

As I write this, it is t-minus 8 hours 40 minutes until I see the film "Star Trek." To say that I'm excited is a gross understatement.


In my piece on "Grease 2" I noted the long standing internet rumor that Peter Frechette had died of AIDS. I actually watched the film last night and realized that both Tom Villard, who has a small role in the film (during the "Reproduction" number he says "Oh I think I'm gonna be sick") and Dennis Stewart (he was the rival motorcycle gang leader here and the guy who took Rizzo (Stockard Channing) to the big dance in "Grease) who actually both died of AIDS complications in 1994. Fans may remember Villard from the series "We Got It Made." He was also one of the writers in Vada's class in "My Girl" and played Profile in "Heartbreak Ridge." He had a distinctive voice which served him well.


Monty Python's Life of Brian
Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle and the rest of the Pythons
Directed by: Terry Jones

FIRST SEEN: Landing Four Theatre, Leavenworth, Kansas
FAVORITE SCENE: The sermon on the mount.
FAVORITE LINE: "You mean you were raped?!" "Well, at first, yes."


Sadly, none.

November 1979. Imagine you've just arrived in Kansas and find yourself stuck inside with nothing to do. That was me at 19 when I arrived at my first duty station after I enlisted in the Army. Fort Leavenworth was a nice place to be but VERY boring on a Sunday. As the post theatre played films much later in their release, the only thing playing there that weekend was the "prequel" "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days," which I had actually already seen. In glancing at the local paper I was shocked to see that not only did Leavenworth have a movie theatre, but they were playing a film I had missed when it came out in August, having been stuck with Matt running around South Carolina in basic training: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The many Saturday nights spent at Scott Gilbert and Ben Gregory's house watching "Python" on PBS, as well as Scott playing his albums non stop, had whetted my appetite for anything Python. Told the theatre was "right off post" I decided to hoof it, having not yet been there long enough to even look for a car. The first show was set for 1:15 so I thought if I left at 11:30 I could stop on my way and have lunch before the film. NOT! At 1:10 I approached the box office, gasping for air. Thank God I could run then. My little jaunt "right off post" had consisted of more then 6 miles. I bought my ticket, got my snacks (since lunch was now moot) and headed inside. I was at first shocked to see only about 5 other people seated. I was thinking, "this is the Python...this place should be packed." It then hit me that the film had actually opened three months earlier so maybe everyone that wanted to see it had done so. From the opening scene at the manger to the final crucifiction I was giggling like a school boy. Often times I was the only one laughing but I didn't care. I had already been tested that summer during basic training when Matt and I went to a screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" during some down time. The theatre was packed and we expected a fun time. Unfortunately, only Matt, myself and about three other people had seen the film before and were yelling out the various phrases ("Asshole!" "Where's your neck?"). Soon we realized that most of the people there were just there because it got them out of the barracks. Bummer. The only other movie we got to see while at basic was "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure," which I still remember because of the dramatic trailer that ended, "and KARL MALDEN.....as Wilbur!" Needless to say, our fondest memories of basic don't include the post theatre.

It's amazing to think of the comedy that comes from the members of Python. They are all learned men who had bigger careers ahead of them. Graham Chapman was a doctor. John Cleese a lawyer. Terry Jones and Michael Palin were History majors while Eric Idle taught English. And Terry Gilliam, God love him, was in America at first and dreaming about animation and films. That these six people came together and created some of the funniest films (and television shows) of all time is truly a blessing.

"Life of Brian" is the tale of Brian Cohen, who was born on December 25th in a manger in Bethlehem. Apparently while he was being born another woman was giving birth in the manger next store, which caused some confusion, especially among the wise men. When told her son is a Capricorn, Mrs. Cohen asks what they are like. "He is the son of God, King of the Jews" she is told. "That's Capricorn, then, is it," she queeries? When Brian grows up he joins the Jew's fight against the Romans, only to find out that his father was a Roman (see my favorite line above). Still he fights against the Romans, going so far as to join the Peoples Front of Judea (which should NEVER be confused with the Judean Peoples Front.....wankers!) As he gets drawn more into the group his path often crosses with the other young man born next door, usually resulting in hilarity. At the end of the film, Brian is crucified, but not before he's serenaded by a group of fellow cross hangers, being told to "always look on the bright side of life." To quote the Guiness Beer guys....BRILLIANT!

The boys followed this film with the also hilariousy fun "The Meaning of Life." Together they create a world of laughter from which no one is immune.

When the film was over I asked the manager why he was playing it so late. He was a younger man who had wanted to play stuff to attract a younger audience. Two weeks later he ran a double feature of "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Mr. Mike's Mondo Video." Again, I was one of only five people in the auditorium, but this time a few more laughed with me.

Next week we'll journey with Charlton Heston (and hopefully some guest writers) when we visit 1968s "Planet of the Apes!"

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.