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Now in our eleventh calendar year!

PCR #536 (Vol. 11, No. 27). This edition is for the week of June 28--July 4, 2010.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! An exciting week at the movies! Shall we begin?

"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"  by Phillip Smith
Happy Anniversary Video Watchdog!  by ED Tucker
June Album of the Month: Alejandro Escovedo-Street Songs Of Love  by Terence Nuzum
Book Review: The Flamingo Rising by Larry Baker  by Lisa Scherer
Kamikaze Girls (2005)  by Jason Fetters
Staring Down "the Last Airbender" .... Passing On .... Another Thing I Hate .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith


The life of a film critic is mostly boring. Sure, you get the occasional opportunity to talk to people whose work you admire but most of the time is spent watching movies and then going home and writing about what you saw. There are two kinds of screenings that critics can attend: one set up especially for them (these are usually held at 10 in the morning or two in the afternoon and, because I have a full time job, I normally miss these unless it's something I'm dying to see...then I'll take vacation time from work. The other screenings are usually sponsored by local radio stations etc, which give out passes on air. The other night I was set to attend the evening screening of "The Last Airbender." My wife, Juanita, arrived at the theatre, got our snacks and sat down in our seats. About 15 minutes before the screening we were introduced to a martial arts demonstration by a local school. Most of the demonstrators were young kids and you could tell they were having fun with their spinning kicks and chopping of little boards. They got a well deserved hand and ran off stage. 7:30. Movie time. As I settle back in my seat I observe two guys, one tall and skinny; the other short and bald, walk across the stage and stand on opposite ends. They then began to do what I can only describe as a cross between the Bat-tusi and the monkey. Only they weren't engaging each other, they were just waving their arms and spinning around. If you've ever seen those inflatable tubes with waving arms outside the local cell phone store you get the idea. Now these guys had just walked on the stage - no introduction - and I have no idea if they are part of the show or a couple out of work aerobics instructors. Anyway, the tall guy is really beginning to creep me out, slowly reminding me of Ted Levine's "vagina-man" dance in "Silence of the Lambs." So I say to my wife, "what the hell is this?" A woman sitting in front of me, who I wanted to describe as an un-attractive Sandra Bernhard until my wife told me that most people don't find Sandra Bernhard attractive (really? Even "Hudson Hawk" era Sandra Bernhard?), turned around. Thinking about it now I'll have to agree with my wifes description of her, a cross between John C. Reilly and Luis Guzman, only without as heavy a beard. She looked at me and said "you shouldn't make fun of other people." I told her that I wasn't making fun of them, I just didn't understand why there were there or what they were doing. She then told us that the little bald guy was her boyfriend and that I should stop making fun of him. I told her that actually I was commenting on "vagina-man." She then looked at me and said, "you know, you could stand to lose a few pounds." What? Did I just get insulted by the lip ring wearing devil-spawn of John C. Reilly and Luis Guzman??? I turn to my wife and say, "what a bitch!" The woman turns around and says "did you just call me a bitch?" Before I could answer, Juanita leaned out of her seat to stand up for her chubby hubby. I calmed her down and, after what seemed like an eternity but was really just eight minutes (and if I'm going to lose eight minutes of my life I'd rather take up smoking and do it like everyone else) the "event" was over, met with the same stunned silence that it began with. The little bald guy heads back to his seat in front of us and the ReillyMan baby turns to me and says "I'd like to see you say what you said to his face." So when the little bald guy, who I'll describe here as an unattractive Jackie Earle Haley, sits down I lean forward and I say, "Sir, I understand you have a passion for what you do but I have NO idea what just took place up there." He fixes me a glare and says "You should not mock another mans passion!" Now I don't know what was funnier...what he said or the fact that he delivered the line like he was being overdubbed in a bad martial arts flick. Dude, where did you get that line from, a fortune cookie? Then the girlfriend, obviously looking to start something, leans over and whispers something. He turns around and asks, "Did you call my girlfriend a bitch?" Yes. He keeps glancing back at me and she's egging him on. Now the first thing I'm thinking is that, if this guy really knows martial arts, my only chance is to hit him as he's climbing over the seat and then run. Like Robert DeNiro in "The Deer Hunter" I'll only get one shot! So now the film starts and I'm still getting the over the shoulder glances. Realizing that there was no way I could give the film an objective review I walked out. I explained to the studio rep what had occurred and they offered to throw Baldy and Guzly (ok, I like ReillyMan better too) out. Taking the high road I thanked them for the offer and we went home and took Baxter to the doggy park. Next week's it's "Predators." Hope I don't end up with a bunch of red dots on my chest!


Surely we all can remember the Fab Four. John, Paul, George and Ken. KEN?

This week Ken Brown, one of the founding members of the pre-Beatles group The Quarrymen, died at his home in Liverpool. He was 70. When a regular spot openend up at the Casbah Coffee Club Ken convinced his friend George Harrison to bring his mates John Lennon and Paul McCartney to the club and the four played many gigs as The Quarrymen. However, the group was short lived as the boys got into a dispute over money and Ken was asked to leave. Ken then teamed up with drummer Pete Best to form The Blackjacks, but that group also disbanded when Best was snagged by the Beatles shortly before their tour of Hamburg.

Ken Brown (center) jams with fellow Quarrymen Lennon and McCartney


I think I finally found something more annoying then the televised drug commercials that spend 10 seconds telling you how it helps and the other 50 warning you that you could die if you take it. This time the peeve is radio commercials that are supposed to sound like your local friendly disc jockey is reading it. They begin with "That was the latest chart topper...hey let me tell you about gold." They then go into a spiel about the product and when the time comes for the phone number you hear "just call the following number...here it is..." like the d.j. is reading it off of a piece of paper and lost track of where they are.

In a similar vein I hate national commercials that try to sound like they know about your city. One of the most memorable aired when I was living in Baltimore. It was for a cell phone company and it included "you even have coverage after you drop your change into the toll booth entering the Harbor Tunnel. Too bad there were no coin drops at the tool booths entering the Harbor Tunnel!

The Concert For Bangladesh - Music by George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and others

Woodstock - Music From the Original Soundtrack and More - Joan Baez, Joe Cocker and others

Thought I'd take a look at a couple of popular events that helped define the music world.

Long before Live-Aid or Farm-Aid. Even long before the No Nukes concerts, there was The Concert For Bangladesh. Held at New York City's Madison Square Garden on August 1, 1971 the concert was performed in aid of the homeless Bengali refugees of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Financially the concerts were a success, with almost $245,000 being sent immediately afterwards to UNICEF. A figure as high as $15 million was raised through sales of the album and the accompany film. However, the orgainizers had not applied for tax-exempt status and the distribution of money was held up for years by the IRS.

Released as a triple album, the album featured an all star band featuring Harrison, Clapton, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell and Billy Preston. Released shortly before Christmas the album climbed to #2 on the American chart and went on to win the Grammy Award as Album of the Year. The original issue of the album (shown above) came in a box and included a 63 page booklet of photos of both the impoverished people of Bangladesh and the concert performers. On the rear of the booklet is an image of the initial check sent to UNICEF.

Here's a little bit of the music. Please don't be frightened by George's beard. And remember, Harrison didn't tour a lot as a solo artist so this is a rare opportunity to see him live. Enjoy!


Another triple album, the soundtrack to the film "Woodstock" is a rarity in the music business because the artists performing were on various record labels but were allowed to be included here. I say it's rare because in this day and age it's almost unheard of. As an example, if you really liked the movie "School of Rock" and bought the soundtrack you'd be very disappointed because the songs that Jack Black sings in the film aren't included on the album. Why? Because Black is singed to a different record label.

Interspersed with stage announcements by Chip Monck, John Morris, Hugh Romney and Muskrat, the albums features a virtual who's who of the best bands of the late 60s. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Who, Santana, Jefferson Airplane and such solo artists as Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix and John Sebastian share their talents at the Concert for Peace.

In the movie "The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine," Dice Clay describes a guitar as "a 1969 Fender Stratocaster, original pick-ups, maple neck, strung upside down for a left-handed motherfucking genius." That genius was Jimi Hendrix. So, in honor of Independence Day, please stand and salute our national anthem:


Well, that's all for now. Have a safe and happy Holiday and 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.