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Now in our eleventh calendar year!

PCR #517 (Vol. 11, No. 8). This edition is for the week of February 15--21, 2010.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Just a few notes this week. Shall we begin?

"Shutter Island"  by Mike Smith
Inalienable  by ED Tucker
Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant Review  by Jason Fetters
Lunchbox .... They Write The Songs .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith


Poor Southwest Airlines. Of all the people they could have messed with, it was Kevin Smith. Yes, he's a big guy. And normally he does purchase two seats (mostly for comfort but, as he announced on his podcast, "because he has the money.") but as he was flying standby there was only one seat available. Deemed a "safety risk" he was asked to deplane, even though he could put both armrests down around him (which, according to Southwest, is all that is necessary to require one seat). As much as I enjoy flying Southwest (they are the rare airline that doesn't try to stick you with bullshit fees) I must take them to task for their actions. I'm also a decent sized guy and, though I can still fit comfortably between the arm rests, I would hate to have to go through the embarrassment of being told I was a "safety risk" and having to get off the airplane. I sense either a quiet settlement or a loud lawsuit coming Southwest's way. And I hope Kev doesn't lose too much weight...our physical resemblance has made it easy for me to throw a wig on and play a pretty convincing "Silent Bob" at Halloween!

Myself, Kevin Smith and friend Ben Ryland visit at Kev's comic book store following the premiere of "Dogma"


Congratulations to the latest inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame: Leonard Cohen, Jackie DeShannon, David Foster, Johnny Mandel, and the songwriting members of Earth, Wind and Fire: Phillip Bailey, Maurice White, Verdine White, Larry Dunn and Al McKay.


Of all of the bands hyped as "the next Beatles," none was touted more so then "The Knack." Formed in 1977, the band consisted of Doug Fieger, Berton Averre, Bruce Gary and Prescott Niles. As their popularity grew, they were often highlighted in Rolling Stone magazine for their live shows, often opening for artists like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Stephen Stills and others. In 1978 they were approached by no less then 13 record companies, deciding to sign with Capital. The buzz around the band was so huge that Phil Spector offered to produce their first album. Instead the job went to former Sweet guitarist Mike Chapman. Eleven days (and only $17,000) later, "Get the Knack" was recorded. Keeping up with the Beatles association, the cover and rear album photos of the band were very "Beatle-esqu" in design. Led by the song "My Sharona," which Fieger had written for his ex-girlfriend Sharona Alperin, the album shot to #1. "My Sharona" was named the number one song of 1979, spending six weeks at number one. Eight months after "Get the Knack" was released, the band released their second album, "But the Little Girls Understand." It sold well, but no where near what their debut did. After one more album the band went their seperate ways, reuniting occasionally for gigs and for appearances on tribute albums (their version of "No Matter What You Want" is a highlight on "Come and Get It: A Tribute to Badfinger." In 1994, "My Sharona" became only the 12th song in music history to re-chart when it was featured in the film "Reality Bites." This brief history of the Knack is sadly brought to you due to the passing of Fieger, who died this week at the age of 57 after a long battle with lung cancer.

Dale Hawkins, a pioneer of rockabilly and writer of the song "Susie Q," also passed this week from colon cancer. He was 73.

"Even Worse" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Music composed by John Williams

"Your butt is wide...well mine is too!"

Those are the first words sang in "Weird Al" Yankovics' hit song, "Fat," which was a parody version of Michael Jacksons' song "Bad." Though comedy songs have been popular since the advent of music, no one has become a bigger star then Yankovic. While early songs (among them "Shaving Cream" by Benny Bell, "The Streak" by Ray Stevens and "Junk Food Junkie" by Larry Gross) had some success, the next step in parody songs came from inserting bits of popular songs into a scenario. The biggest hit of this type was Dickie Goodman's "Mr. Jaws." In the mid 1970s, young Al (he apparently wasn't weird yet) began writing new lyrics to existing songs. Thanks to the Dr. Demento radio show, Yankovic got his music heard...and loved. His versions of hit songs like "My Sharona" ("My Bologna"), "I Love Rock and Roll" ("I Love Rocky Road") and "Another One Bites the Dust" ("Another One Rides the Bus," recorded live on Dr. D's show) stuck in listeners' heads. Yankovic got his first big recognition when his version of Madonna's "Like A Virgin," entitled "Like a Surgeon" hit the top 40. But it was his video for "Eat It," a parody of Jackson's "Beat It," that really put Al in the mainstream. He followed that up with other songs and accompanying videos, including the afore mentioned "Fat," which was a clever, almost shot by shot, version of Martin Scorsese's "Bad" video. Yankovic's success has also helped make other acts popular, among them my friend (and first PCR interview) the great Luke Ski, who has placed a song in Dr. Demento's year end top 25 countdown for a record nine years in a row. He also set a Dr. D record when he had the most popular song of the year for two years running. I'm sure "Weird Al" is proud of him.

Bum, bum, bum, bum, BUM! Any film fan will recognize those as the musical notes that begin the climax of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Released the same year as "Star Wars," this was in my opinion John Williams best score that year as the music itself WAS part of the movie. No music, no climactic scene of the alien mothership making contact. Having just won an Oscar two years earlier for his score for "Jaws," 1977 was the second of a record EIGHT times when he would be competing against himself for the Best Original Score Academy Award. In fact, from 1968 through 2006, there were only nine years where he WASN'T nominated for at least one Oscar. Which tells me he was writing during those years! His incredible way of telling a story though music is unbridled in movie history, which is why he is the most successful composer in motion picture history. This is the second Williams soundtrack to make this section. Trust me, there will be many more to follow.

FYI: If you were lucky enough to catch the first pressing of the "Close Encounters" soundtrack you also received a bonus record consisting of the theme from the film. A true collectable for Williams fans.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. Major announcement coming next issue! 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.