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Now in our eleventh calendar year!

PCR #511 (Vol. 11, No. 2). This edition is for the week of January 4--10, 2010.
Mike's RantMike's Bust

"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"  by Mike Smith
Forgotten Horrors: Bad Ronald  by ED Tucker
Kokkuri  by Jason Fetters
Death and Redemption of the Message Board  by John Miller
I'm Calling It Par 69 .... Baseball Notes .... Hey Were Frosted.....hey I'm Dead .... The Nominees Are .... Happy Birthday .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith


Word is that Cuba Gooding, Jr. has been approached about playing Tiger Woods in an upcoming film. I can just see it now, Gooding (as Woods) walks into his local HOOTERS and shouts out, "Show me the honeys!"


Not wanting to step on Chris' toes but I'd like to add a couple of Baseball notes this week.

Randy Johnson, the intimidating pitcher known as the Big Unit, announced his retirement this week, leaving the game with 303 wins. Always a hard thrower, Johnson found his sure to be Hall of Fame career resurrected when he got advice from Nolan Ryan, another fire baller who learned there was more to pitching then throwing hard.

And congrats to Andre Dawson. Hawk was finally elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week in his eighth year of eligibility. A well deserved honor.


Sorry to hear about the passing of Art Clokey, creator of "Gumby," who passed away at the age of 89. Gumby made his first appearance as part of a surreal student project at the University of Southern California called "Gumbasia." That project led to him making animated shorts for "The Howdy Doody Show" and other television programs. In the early 1960s, the United Lutheran Church in America, whose leader had put aside $ 1 milliion for a television project, approached Clokey, who created "Davey and Goliath." The show ran sporadically for over a decade, airing a total of 314 episodes. Though animated, the show was one of the first to feature a white child with a black friend (Nathaniel and Jonathan). Actor Hal Smith voiced Davey's father, and it is thought his performance in the famed "lost" episode "Davey's Dad Gets Drunk and Beats His Wife" secured him the role of Otis, the town drunk, on "The Andy Griffith Show."


James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino each earned their second DGA nominations as the Directors Guild of America added them to their list of Best Director nominess for the past year. Cameron, who won the award in 1998 for "Titanic," was nominated for his work this past year on "Avatar." Tarantino was previously nominated in 1995 for "Pulp Fiction." The two join Cameron's ex wife and two other in competing for the big award. Katherine Bigelow was nominated for "The Hurt Locker," as was Jason Reitman for "Up In the Air" and Lee Daniels for "Precious." Bigelow becomes the fourth woman to be nominated for the DGA award while Daniels becomes only the second African-American to be so honored.


Many happy returns to my old friend Matthew John Drinnenberg, who is one year away from the big 5-0! Hope it's a great one, buddy. I love you.


City to City by Gerry Rafferty

Bugsy Malone Original Soundtrack Album - Words and Music by Paul Williams

Besides being a great album, "City to City" holds a special place in my heart because it was the very first thing I ever won off of the radio. I was working the midnight shift at a Farm Store in Temple Terrace and, as I was heading home the next morning I heard the familiar "be the 10th (or whatever) caller" so I picked up the phone and dialed. Surprisingly, I won. Since then I've won various prizes in radio contests, from more albums to concert tickets, but nothing competes with the memory of the first time you get something for nothing!

Born in Scottland, Rafferty began his musical career by "busking" in the hallways of the London Underground. After a brief turn in a band called the Humblebums, which featured soon to be famous comedian/actor Billy Connolly, he released his first solo album, which was not successful. In 1972 he and old high school friend Joe Egan got together and formed Stealers Wheel. They had one big hit, "Stuck in the Middle with You," which earned a second life when Quentin Tarantino used it for the background music of "Reservoir Dogs. The group disbanded in 1975. Rafferty's next project was the solo album, "City to City," which he released in 1978. Selling almost six million copies, it also has the distinction of knocking the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever" out of the top spot on the charts after an incredible 24 week run. The album spawned two major hits in the US. "Baker Street," which was Rafferty's fond rememberance of his days as a busker, hit # 2 on the US singles chart (a position it held for six weeks), while the follow up, "Right Down the Line," peaked at #12. "Baker Street" was the #20 song for the year. The 19 before it had hit #1 on the chart. In early 1979 a third single, "High and Dry," climbed as high as #28 before falling off the chart. His next album, "Night Owl," hit #21 in the states, the highest he would chart again. Though still successful in England, for some reason Rafferty refused to tour to support his albums. In spite of decades of rumors (alcoholism, mental problems) Rafferty continues to record in England and recently posted his own page on MySpace.

Nothing beats free in my book. These fine albums courtesy of WYNF Radio in Tampa and the manager of the Britton Cinema, who had proclaimed Bugsy Malone "a piece of crap."

Even though James Brown was often called "the hardest working man in show business," I'd like to think that moniker belongs to a man who literally does it all: writes, directs, acts and composes: Mr. Paul Williams. It was my genuine pleasure to interview Mr. Williams a few years ago:


Among the topics we discussed was his score for the film "Bugsy Malone," a score that has since taken shape as a popular theatrical musical in England, comparable in popularity to "Grease" here in the states. But before it hit the boards, "Bugsy Malone" was a film musical shot in the style of the MGM classics.

Originated by writer/director Alan Parker as a classic gangster film with children in the lead roles, the film became a musical when Parker sat down at a table in the Fox Deli in Las Vegas to discuss the score with Paul Williams. Six weeks after the intial meeting, Williams had composed and recorded the 10 basic tracks featured in the film.

There is a lot to like on the album, but the two songs that stand out to me are the title song and "Ordinary Fool," a song about love and heartache. It should be noted here that though the film featured a cast of kids (among them Scott Baio and Jodie Foster) the songs were sung by adults, a decision that gave them more emotional depth then might have been derived from a 14 year old. Though the film was not a success here, it took off in England where, as noted above, it is almost a rite of passage to see and perform in for children.

For his work on the film Williams was nominated for an Adapted Score Academy Award, however he lost the award to Leonard Rosenman, who had the music of Woody Guthrie to work with in "Bound For Glory." However, Williams did not go home empty handed that night for later in the evening he received the Oscar for co-writing the years best song, "Evergreen," from "A Star Is Born."

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

"Mike's Rant" is ©2010 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 ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.