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Now in our eleventh calendar year!

PCR #512 (Vol. 11, No. 3). This edition is for the week of January 11--17, 2010.
Mike's RantMike's Bust

"The Lovely Bones"  by Mike Smith
Kingdom of the Spiders  by ED Tucker
Comic Book Craze Part 1: The Marvel Years  by Chris Woods
Toy Shopping in Japan: Toy R Us Osaka  by Jason Fetters
Hypocrite Part Ii .... Movie Notes .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith


Last year I commented on Tiger Woods and his hypocratical attitude, blaming the media for his problems...not the fact he can't keep his dick in his pants.

This week Mark McGwire confessed to using steroids while he played baseball, possibly the worse kept secret since Elton John came out. If you're a baseball fan you must remember McGwire testifying before congress about the dangers of steroid use. The highlight came when, everytime Big Mac was asked about using performance enhancing drugs he'd reply that he "wasn't here to talk about the past." Now he claims that he only said that because he didn't want to got to jail, since using steroids or any other type of controlled substance without a doctor's order is illegal. What galled me more is that McGwire then went on to state that he used them to keep himself healthy...not to increase his power. He even went so far as to state he would have hit all 583 of his home runs without juicing. On that, the survey says "NOT!" If you didn't think you were cheating, Mark, you wouldn't have called Roger Maris' widow, Pat, and apologized for tainting his record. You owe me an apology too, buddy. My son, Phillip, and I drove to St Louis and were in Busch Stadium on September 8, 1998 when McGwire hit his 62nd home run of the season, then eclipsing Maris' record. A great memory is now just a footnote because of the circumstances.

"Looking back," McGwire said, "I wish I had never played during the steroid era." Hey moron, YOU'RE one of the reasons they call it the "steroid era." Can't wait for the Cards to come to KC this year so I can boo your ass!


Director Joe Johnston, has announced plans to direct "Jurassic Park IV." Johnston, whose film "The Wolfman" is due in February and who is currently working on "The First Avenger: Captain America" says the film will be the first of a planned second trilogy.

Note to Stuart Townsend...get a better agent. For the second time in his career Townsend has dropped out of a film for "creative differences." Townsend was on board to play Fandral, one of the Warrior's Three, in the upcoming "Thor," but has now been replaced by Joshua Dallas. The first time Townsend left a movie he thought would suck was when he walked out on the part of Aragon in the first "Lord of the Rings" film four days into filming. Stuart, Viggo Mortensen and film fans all over the world thank you. Maybe now you have the time to do that sequel to "Queen of the Damned" you talk about so much.

The Writer's Guild of America released their nominees for best screenplays this week. They are:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: The Hurt Locker, (500)Days of Summer, Avatar, The Hangover and A Serious Man.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Star Trek, Up in the Air, Crazy Heart, Julie & Julia and Precious.


Al Bernardin, the man responsible for me being overweight, died this week at the age of 81 after suffering a stroke. A long time McDonalds employee, Bernardin created the quarter pounder sandwich in 1971. He was also the first to recommend and introduce the frozen french fry. Until then, restaurants had to store potatoes in their basements.

Teddy Pendergrass, soul singing legend who still performed after being paralyzed in a 1982 auto accident, passed away this week from colon cancer. He was 59. He was still in his late teens when he joined Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and became front man on such hits as "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "The Love I Lost" and others. He went solo in 1977 and produced such hits as "Joy," "Two Hearts," "Turn Off the Lights" and his signature song, "Love: TKO." In 1982 the brakes on his Rolls-Royce failed and he hit a tree. Despite being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life he continued to record and perform live, returning to the stage in his hometown of Philadelphia at Live Aid.


Running On Empty by Jackson Browne

The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Once again, in a bit of coincidence, this week's two selections have something in common.

First up is Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty." This is a special album to me for many reasons, the first being that it is the first, and I believe only, recording that I have owned on album, cassette, 8-track AND CD. I bought the cassette while still in Tampa, the album after I joined the service, the 8-track while visiting Scott Gilbert in Texas (the car I had at the time had an 8-track player) and the CD sometime after CD's came out. Another thing that's special is that it is an album I can listen to front to back and enjoy every song. When I was a youngster my criteria for buying an album (unless it was by a group or artist I loved) was that it had to have at least two hit songs on it, because usually the other 5 or 6 songs on the album wouldn't be memorable. A rare exception is "Running On Empty," which doesn't have a bad tune in the lot. Radio listeners will remember the title track as well as the combined "The Load Out" and "Stay." More coincidence here in that both songs were recorded live at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, a venue I saw many a concert at when I lived in Baltimore. The song is truly a live album in that the songs that aren't performed on stage are sung on a bus, in various hotel rooms, even backstage. Pretty much anywhere the mood struck Browne and his band. Included here is a song I considered a great love song when I was 17, "Rosie." Sample lyric:

"Rosie you're all right, you wear my ring
When you hold me tight, baby that's my thing
When you turn out the light I've got to hand it to me
It look's like it's you and me tonight, Rosie"

Pretty, huh? I thought so. It was only many years later that I realized it was a song about masturbation! Still, a great song.

It's a rarity now, since I really don't care for rap, hip hop or the ilk, but back in 1978 I owned all five Grammy nominated albums for Album of the Year. The nominees:

Running on Empty by Jackson Browne
Even Now by Barry Manilow (please, no snickering)
"Grease" the original soundtrack
"Saturday Night Fever" the original soundtrack
Some Girls by the Rolling Stones

"Fever" won but it's nice to know the recording industry had a good ear.

JB and MP....both courtesy (kind of) by SAG

I was introduced to Monty Python by Scott Gilbert (see, I told you these two tied together). We would spend many an afternoon at his house after school and on weekends listening to the wacky Brits (and one American)go on and on about dead parrots, cheese shops, lumberjacks and, of course, spam, spam, spam, spam, eggs, sausage and spam! Then one late Friday evening, the local PBS station ran "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Classic! I don't think our group laughed that much together in a two hour period as we did that night.

The album is great because, unlike most soundtracks, it's not just composed of music, but the actual dialogue. You can actually listen to this album and then tell people you've seen the film, which is how complete it is. Such highly repeated bits as "Bring Out Your Dead," "A Witch!," "Camelot" and, of course, the taunting Frenchman.

Another thing that makes this one of my prized albums comes courtesy of the signatures on the front. During a promotion I did for "A Fish Called Wanda," I was very fortunate to work with John Cleese, who signed the sun rising on the cover. Many years later, while working as a P A on "Twelve Monkeys," the film's director, Terry Gilliam, also added his name, and a cool drawing of a pencil "signing" his name. Thanks, Pythons!

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.