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Your Hawaiian vacation of pop culture
Copyright 2014-2016 by Dr. Mike Rickard





        Ever go off on a tangent when you're talking with your friends? Your conversation goes something like this:

Anthony: What'd you guys think of Captain America: Civil War?

Jerry: It was pretty much non-stop fight scenes but the Russos managed to squeeze in a good story too.

Chris: Speaking of non-stop fight scenes, did you think it was better than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice?

Jerry: The cast of Civil War was far superior to Batman. Robert Downey Jr. vs. Ben Affleck? No comparison.

Anthony: Affleck was good in Hollywoodland.

Chris: Speaking of George Reeves. Was he related to Christopher Reeve?

Jerry: They both played Superman. That's the only similarity.

Anthony: There was the Superman curse.

Chris: Oh, don't get started on that.

Jerry: Yeah, we'll be here all day arguing about that.

Anthony: George Reeves' suicide, Chris Reeve's accident. That's two major Superman disasters.

Chris: The real disaster was Superman III.

Jerry: Richard Pryor killed that franchise.

Anthony: Did you know Eddie Murphy was originally going to be in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Jerry: Yeah, I heard about that. That could have been good. They did have a lot of humor in Voyage Home.

Chris: Couldn't have been any worse than Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

Anthony: I heard Sean Connery was supposed to be in that.

Jerry: 1989, what a great year for movies.

Chris: So, getting back to Civil War.

It's so easy to go off on a tangent when you're discussing pop culture with your friends. Factor in the power of the Internet and there's no telling where your conversation will take you. Recently, I was doing some research for an article on Robert Vaughn. I was aware of Vaughn's work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and his supporting role in Bullitt but never saw him in anything except in Bullitt and The A-Team. Next, I saw him in the fantastic BBC series Hustle and decided it was time to check out some of his earlier work. I watched The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and enjoyed it.  I know Vaughn is one of those actors who has been in some good stuff and some really bad stuff.

        I discovered Vaughn was in another British show, The Protectors, which aired on the old Associated TV (ATV) channel from 1972 to 1974. I got a great deal on the complete series (52 episodes for under twenty bucks) at Amazon and started watching it. It was an enjoyable show, largely due to its use of location shooting in Europe and its thirty-minute long episodes (I wish more action series ran thirty minute episodes as hour long episodes often seem padded). The show was produced by Gerry Anderson (of Thunderbirds fame and Space:1999 shame) and featured Vaughn and two other adventurers fighting bad guys across Europe.

        What really caught my attention though was the show's theme song, "Avenues and Alleyways." The singer sounded like Tom Jones. I checked the credits and learned it was by a gentleman by the name of Tony Christie. I found the song on YouTube, including a performance on some music show from the 1970's. They also had some other songs from Christie and I watched the videos, discovering this guy had some good songs including "Is This the Way to Amarillo?" and "I Did What I Did for Maria."

        On the surface, Tony Christie reminds me of Frank Sinatra at times, Tony Orlando other times, and Tom Jones. If you listen closer, you'll realize he has a voice and style all his own. He can sing just about anything. I picked up his album "The Definitive Collection" which contains a mix of originals and covers. He does a great job on all of the songs. As a musician once told me, if you don't put your own spin on a song, it's karaoke, not a cover. Christie covers "Solitaire" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," making them all his own.

        The tangent trail doesn't end there though. I discovered a music video set to Christie's song "Avenues and Alleyways," discovering the British film Love, Honour, and Obey used the song. The video contained clips from the film, intriguing me further. I decided to check the film out.

            Love, Honour, and Obey is a British crime film starring Jude Law and Jonny Lee Miller. The story involves Miller's character, a courier who tires of delivering mail and wants to work for his friend's (Jude Law) crime boss uncle. Unfortunately, Jonny is a complete maniac and when he finds that a gangster's daily life isn't all that exciting, he spices things up by starting a gang war. The film is a very black comedy that walks a tightrope between brutal violence and comedy. It's strange because most comedies play down the violent side of crime. Not this film. One moment you're laughing at something, the next you're recoiling as someone is tortured. You see the humor that's involved but you also see the reality that bad things can and do happen to people involved in crime.

So, I started with Robert Vaughn, found myself listening to Tony Christie, and then watching a British crime film. It's amazing how you can go off on a tangent with the power of the Internet at your disposal.

Check out my new book, Laughing All the Way to the Bank Robbery: My Education in Con College.
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