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Now in our eleventh calendar year!

PCR #522 (Vol. 11, No. 13). This edition is for the week of March 22--28, 2010.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Sorry for the delay...AOL ate the first version. Shall we begin?

"How To Train Your Dragon"  by Mike Smith
FANEX Files: Samuel Z. Arkoff  by ED Tucker
Album of the Month: Jimi Hendrix-Valleys of Neptune  by Terence Nuzum
FANGRRL Goes To The 2010 Gasparilla International Film Festival  by Lisa Scherer
DVD Review: Cave of the Silken Web  by Jason Fetters
Lampin' Goes To Wild Splash 2010  by John Miller
Movie Notes .... Passing On .... Toy Story .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith


The latest from tinseltown:

Last time anyone saw Butch Cassidy (the late, great Paul Newman) he and his partner were heading into a hail of bullets courtesy of the Bolivian Army. Apparently they were all aiming at Robert Redford's Sundance Kid. According to The Independent, the upcoming film, "Blackthorn" will follow a much older Cassidy, this time played by Sam Shepherd as he plots one last caper to get him out of Bolivia and back to the United States. And for those fans who say the last time they saw Butch on screen was in the guise of Tom Berenger, remember, that was a prequel.

After much searching, it appears that Chris Evans has been picked to play Captain America. Evans, who has superhero experience by playing the Human Torch in the "Fantastic Four" films, has been signed to a multi picture deal that may include up to nine films. The contract includes three "Captain America" films as well as appearances in various other projects, including any "Avengers" films. I will admit, as I often do, to not having a lot of knowledge about comic books. That being said, it appears to me that Evans, who turns 29 in June, is just too young to play Captain America. Bucky maybe. To me the perfect choice would have been John Hamm of "Mad Men." Definitely has the look and the acting chops. But of course no body asked me!

If you were lucky enough to live in California 35 years ago, you may have been in attendance at the last sneak preview of "Jaws," which was held March 28, 1975. Bonus: you got to stay and see "Young Frankenstein" afterwards!

The process of finding a director for the sequel to "Paranormal Activity" is finally complete. After directors ranging from the great (Brian DePalma) to the schlocky ("Saw VI" helmer Kevin Greutert) to the untried ("A Beautiful Mind" screenwriter Akiva Goldsman), little known Kip Williams has been chosen to direct "Paranormal Activity 2." Which of course begs the question why? This will no doubt be a useless sequel to a film that certainly doesn't need one, ala "Blair Witch 2."


Imagine your the officer in charge one night when a couple of privates keep telling you that they are picking up unknown large blips on their radar screens. Imagine that your reply to these constant blips, "Don't worry about it," will soon make you the biggest ass in uniform. Oh, and don't forget to imagine that you're stationed at Pearl Harbor and it's very early in the morning of December 7, 1941. Such was the fate of Kermit Tyler, who died at the age of 96 after suffering a series of strokes. Lieutenant Tyler and his deeds were featured, unflatteringly, in the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

Jim Marshall, rock and roll photographer who was the chief lensman at Woodstock, died this week in New York City at the age of 74. No cause of death was given. So reknown was Marshall that he was the only photographer allowed backstage at the Beatles final concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in August 1966.

Very sad to report the passing of television and film star Robert Culp, who passed away after falling outside his home and hitting his head. He was 79. Best remembered as Kelly Robinson in the hit series "I,Spy," Culp starred alongside Bill Cosby, who played Alexander Scott, as a pair of spys who used their tennis alter egos (Robinson was a player, Scott his trainer) to solve cases. Culp earned three Emmy nominations for Best Actor for his work on the show, each year losing to Cosby. He also starred in the 1980s television show "The Greatest American Hero." His last recurring television role was as Ray Romano's father in law on "Everybody Loves Raymond." He also appeared in such films as "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" and "The Pelican Brief." I had the privelge of seeing Mr. Culp at the Chiller Theatre convention in October 2008.

Robert Culp at the Chiller Theatre in October 2008

One of my favorite show biz stories: During the summer of 1980 the talk around the country was "Who Shot J.R.," courtesy of the last episode of television's "Dallas." Eager to cash in on his fame, star Larry Hagman informed Lorimar that he wanted a large raise and a new contract, otherwise he would not return to the show. The producers called him back and scheduled a Monday morning meeting with Hagman at the studio. When he arrived he was shown into a screening room, where he was met by the producers. Before negotiating with Hagman, they wanted to show him some "ideas" they had for the coming season. That being said, the film started. It showed Hagman's J.R. Ewing being shot. The next scenes showed the body being carried out to an ambulance and loaded on. The ambulance drives off but, a few moments later, is broadsided at an intersection and bursts into flames. Fade out. Fade in. Over a dark screen a voice intones: "You were very badly burned in the accident, Mr. Ewing. In spite of the best efforts of our plastic surgeon, you may not look exactly as you did before the accident." With this they take the bandages off of "J.R's" head to reveal...Robert Culp! Needless to say, Hagman honored his contract.


FINALLY! “Star Wars” fans like myself were overjoyed 30 years ago when given the chance to send in proof of purchase seals from the toys we bought to receive a special figure of the bounty hunter Boba Fett, who had made an appearance on the “Holiday Special” and was set to appear in “The Empire Strikes Back.” The cool bonus was that Boba Fett would come with a real firing rocket launcher. Sadly, this wasn’t to be, due to fears of kids choking on the rockets. When mine arrived, the rocket was securely glue inside the launcher.

With the 30th Anniversary of “The Empire Strikes Back” fast approaching, a new line of toys is on the way, including a new action figure set based on “Empire” characters. The figures will feature a new design but will come in vintage packaging that features a photo of the 1980-era toy on the back. And once again, you can mail in proofs of purchase to get a Boba Fett figure. But this time, THE ROCKET LAUNCHER WILL REALLY WORK! According to Lucasfilm Head of Licensing Howard Roffman, “(the launcher not working) was a big disappointment at the time. They couldn’t do it within the safety standards. But they have been able to make it work now. It took 30 years for the dream to be realized.” I know mine will be!

"George Harrison" by George Harrison

"A Hard Day's Night" - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

This week's visit to Mike's Record Shelf is inspired by the events of the past few weeks, events that make me want to return to a more enjoyable time, both in life and at the PCR. This week I came across a CD that Matt made me many years ago, full of film clips and songs that pretty much make up the "soundtrack" of our youth. Among the songs included is George Harrison's "Blow Away," which is featured on his self titled album, a follow up to his much more whimsical "Thirty three and a third," which had included the song "Crackerbox Palace." The new album found Harrison more concentrated on life and love, with the breakthrough song being "Blow Away," which went on to hit #16 on the U.S. charts. The song became an indelible memory in my life. Here are some excerpts from PCR issue #89, which commemorated the life and death of George Harrison:

Matt wrote:

I think back many years ago and recall Mike and I hanging at the Paddock Lounge in Downtown Tampa just days before our induction to the service. Knocking down cold ones, shooting pool with some writers for the Tribune, and playing "Blow Away" on the jukebox all night long. Everyone was feeling pretty good as the evening wore on and, eventually, Mike and I had the whole damn place singing "Blow Away" with us as it played on the jukebox. Ah, life's great memories.

I wrote:

If I have one distinct memory of Harrison's music, it's of the many hours Matt and I spent in a bar in downtown Tampa, shooting pool and singing along to the most frequently-played song on the jukebox, George Harrison's "Blow Away."

Nolan commented:

Readers: Matt's Rail and Mike's Rant arrived simultaneously. Separated by thousands of miles, they still carry this important memory. Cool moment.

Cool indeed. Give it a listen:


When our little band, the HATS, used to play together, I used to imagine we were the Beatles (though not sure who I would have been - Stu?). In fact, my tribute to Harrison began:


March 1979. Our little band is in Corey Castellano's kitchen and, as usual, we're fumbling around for the next song to learn. Being the least talented, I used to love it when Nolan would show me a little thing or two that would make me feel like I was contributing something. On this day, he would teach me the most recognized chord in rock and roll: G7sus4 -- the opening chord of "A Hard Day's Night." 16 years prior, George Harrison had pulled out his brand new 12-string guitar and taught the world the same thing! In a way, if our group had been the Beatles, Nolan would have definitely been George........quiet in his way but so very confident of the music he created. Plus, he drove us crazy with his damn sitar! (I never owned a sitar, but I admit to driving you guys crazy!---N)

That brings us to "A Hard Day's Night." Hollywood had been churning out "rock and roll" movies almost from the day the genre' exploded (to me the first such film is "Blackboard Jungle"). Most of them would take a singer or band and put them in rediculous situations, made only more rediculous when they broke out into song at the most inoportune moment. Then came "A Hard Day's Night." Directed by Richard Lester, the film does something the ones before it never thought of. It put the band in a situation it dealt with daily: making a public appearance. The title song was written by Lennon, who had used the phrase years before in one of his vignettes in his book "In His Own Write" titled 'Michael':

"There was no reason for Michael to be sad that morning, (the little wretch): everyone liked him, (the scab). He'd had a hard day's night that day, for Michael was a Cocky Watchtower."

The film also showed the Beatles as they really were: Paul the whimsical one, John the "cheeky" one (the bit where he "snorts" his straw that is in a bottle of Coke never would have made it past the censors today), George the quiet one and Ringo the loveable one. In fact, critics praised the short scene which features Ringo walking along the water while the music for "This Boy" plays on the soundtrack. The film served as a jumping off point for Starr, who enjoyed a very successful film career after the band broke up.

The music is classic early Beatles, with fine instrumental interludes by George Martin. The film is basically a day in the life of the Beatles, showing them battling the early stages of "Beatlemania" while still keeping their good senses of humor. It climaxes in a mini-concert at a local television studio with an audience of 350 extras including, if the stories are to be believed, an young 8-year-old named Phil Collins. The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards, including best screenplay, which is a tribute to writer Alun Owen, who shadowed the boys for a long time to get their vocabulary and comraderie down pat. Here is a brief bit of the film. Notice how "very clean" Paul's grandfather is!


"She looks more like him then I do." Classic Lennon!

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.