I'D LIKE TO THANK
Once again, it's time to give thanks for those that keep me showing up each week. They are:
Nolan B. Canova - Editor in Chief and a friend for more than half of my life. Each week he gives me the opportunity to do something I enjoy and for that I will always be grateful. I've given him more then enough gray hairs over the past couple of years, but he knows I wouldn't be as much of a pain in the ass as I am if I didn't care about him and the PCR. I'm hoping that the coming year brings him the success he has worked so hard for. And, on a selfish note, I'm looking forward to taking the stage with him one more time this year!
Matt Drinnenberg - my brother. I could basically copy and paste this dedication every year. We are approaching 30 years of friendship together. Where did the time go? Hope to see you on stage too! I love you, bro!
Phillip Smith - my son. It has been almost 10 years since I moved to Kansas to become a full-time dad. I've seen my son go from boy to man before my eyes. From elementary school to college, with hundreds of baseball games in between, we've shared good times and bad together. I don't regret a minute of my decision and wish I'd had the balls to do it sooner. I love you, son.
The PCR "gang." Will, Terence, Andy, Brandon and the many that came and went over the year. Will, once again you stood head and shoulders above the rest of us. I wish you much success with your book project. Terence, as much as we argue at times I think you and I have the most in common. We are both passionate about our friend and the PCR. Keep the fire, young man! Andy, glad you came aboard full time this year. I enjoy sharing memories of a Tampa/St Pete that has slowly changed before our eyes. I have a present for you later in the Rant. Brandon, it's nice to see a father bringing up a new generation of youngsters, and sharing the bond of baseball with them. I had that with my father and I have it with my son. Cherish these days. They don't get much better. Vinnie, we miss you. Please come home.
Benzini, pull some comic news out of your hat. Creature, come out of the dungeon more often.
The readers. That's right, YOU! When I get an email from someone who has read one of my Rants it really makes me feel good. Not only did you take the time to read what I, or another PCR pal has written, but you thought enough about it to drop me a note. As someone who studied to be an actor (another story for another time) I consider each letter to be a piece of fan mail. Sorry I don't have any 8x10 glossies to autograph for you! But I will make you this promise.......if you keep reading, I'll keep writing. Hell, I'd probably keep writing even of no one read it. Probably!
I wish everyone a safe and happy 2005. May God bless us all!
THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS
My most sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the recent earthquake/tsunami disasters. Nice of President Bush to break away from his vacation and recognize the tragedy. Even nicer of France to pledge a whopping $136,000 to help aid the victims.
About 2 inches ago I mentioned getting emails from people that have read the Rant. This week I received a letter from Mike Ransom of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He stumbled across my mention of the old General Cinemas trailer jingle and darn if he didn't send a link to his site so that I could download it. Those interested can go to
Please take the time to look over Mike's site. It's very interesting. (I got the same note from Mr. Ransom, it's already posted to this week's Lettercol, and you're right: it's a terrific website!---Nolan)
Received word through another email this week that legendary television wrestling announcer Gordon Solie is up for admission to the WWE Hall of Fame. If you would like to learn more about how you can help enshrine Mr. Solie, click here:
Sadly, two people that I greatly admired passed away this past week.
Johnny Oates, former manager of the Baltimore Orioles, died this past Friday from a brain tumor. He had been diagnosed some time ago. While manager of the Orioles, Mr. Oates lived right near the theatre I was managing. As fate would have it, we would both often arrive at the local 7-Eleven when we got off work, me coming from the theatre and he from the stadium. Many a summer night was spent talking everything baseball.
Jerry Orbach, song and dance man extraordinaire and star of television's "Law and Order" died this week at the age of 69 after a long battle with prostate cancer. The son of a vaudeville actor and a radio singer, Orbach first came to prominence in the off-Broadway musical "The Fantasticks." He won a Tony Award for his work in "Promises, Promises" and originated the role of Billy Flynn in "Chicago." In 1981, on my way to Germany, I spent a couple days in New York City and saw my first Broadway show. The show was "42nd Street" and I can still clearly remember Mr. Orbach leading the cast in the rousing number "Lullaby of Broadway." He also sang "Be My Guest" while voicing the candlestick Lumiere in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." He appeared in such films as "Prince of the City," "F/X" and "Dirty Dancing." But it was his portrayal of Detective Lennie Briscoe that brought him fame. After 12 seasons on "Law and Order," he left the show and was filming episodes of a "L&O" spin-off, "Trial by Jury" when he became ill.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Here is just a brief sampling of those that left us this year. Whether through their work or their courage, these people had an effect on me: Bob Keeshan (Capt. Kangaroo), Pat Tillman, Tony Randall, William Manchester, President Ronald Reagan, Ray Charles, Marlon Brando, Fred Ebb, Johnny Ramone, Rodney Dangerfield, Christopher Reeve and Cy Coleman.
Another year has gone by and Osama bin-Laden is still on the loose. However, we did manage to put Martha Stewart behind bars.
WORST THING TO HAPPEN THIS YEAR
Censorship! Thanks to Janet Jackson's right breast, we are slowly reverting to puritanical times. Songs that have played un-edited for 25 years ("Money," "Who are You," "Cinderella") suddenly find their lyrics altered or completely deleted. People got up in arms over a harmless sketch featuring a football player and a woman clad only in a towel. Heck, Dr. Demento is even bleeping out words that SOUND nasty. Get over it!
THE YEAR IN MOVIES
Here are my top 10 films of the year. With the exception of the first film listed, they are in no particular order:
- Sideways - a perfect combination of acting and writing. I wouldn't be surprised if the four principals were all nominated for Oscars.
- The Aviator - is there a better filmmaker alive today then Martin Scorsese? An almost 3 hour epic that flies by thanks largely to the work of Leonardo Di Caprio and director Scorsese. Will this finally be the year the Best Director Oscar actually goes to the BEST director?
- Million Dollar Baby - Like a fine wine, Clint Eastwood just keeps on getting better. Not only is his work as a director top notch, Clint also gives the greatest performance of his acting career. Throw in Morgan Freeman and Hillary Swank and you have a solid contender.
- Collateral - Jamie Foxx's first great performance of the year with director Michael Mann doing for Los Angeles what he did for Miami on "Miami Vice." Tom Cruise takes on the rare role of villain and is easily this year's best bad guy.
- Fahrenheit 9/11 - forget about the election, this film stuck a nerve that is still raw almost 2 months after President Bush was re-elected. Next up for Michael Moore - the health care industry.
- The Incredibles - boy is Disney going to miss Pixar. The beauty about this film is that you don't even think of it as an animated feature. Pixar is 6 for 6 with their movies, a streak that NO film company has ever pulled off.
- The Phantom of the Opera - a lavish big screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway creation, "Phantom" features Emmy Rossum in the break out performance of the year! Like "Evita" and "Chicago" before it, the film features a great score and a talented cast to perform it.
- Kill Bill, Vol. 2 - Quentin Tarrantino wisely divided his story into two parts. While action dominates Vol 1, story and dialogue take over here. Uma Thurman is both beautiful and deadly while David Carradine proves there is indeed life after "Kung Fu."
- The Passion of the Christ - they told Mel Gibson he was a fool for spending almost $30 million of his own money to make a film detailing the brutal last day in the life of Jesus Christ. $370 million dollars later, Mel could do "Lethal Weapon 5" in Aramaic and no one would doubt him. Along with "Fahrenheit 9/11" the most talked about film of the year.
- Team America: World Police - like last year's "Love Actually," this film is my guilty pleasure of the year. It's also the funniest.
AND THE 5 WORST
- Alexander - where have you gone, Oliver Stone
- Catwoman - Halle, the academy called. They want their Oscar back.
- Exorcist: The Beginning - and hopefully the end.
- Soul Plane/Johnson Family Vacation - tie as worse use of talent. Snoop and Cedric deserve so much better.
- The Punisher - more like the punishment! When I hate a film that features my favorite actor, Roy Scheider and my hometown of Tampa, Florida, you know it stinks.
PHILLIP SMITH'S TOP 8 FILMS OF 2004 (in no particular order)
- Life Aquatic
- Manchurian Candidate
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Starsky and Hutch
FAVORITE FILM LINES OF 2004
"For you baby, I can be." Puss in Boots to Princess Fiona who is looking for Shrek in "Shrek 2."
"I'm a fingerprint on the window of a skyscraper." Miles (Paul Giamatti) describing his insignificance in "Sideways."
"Behave yourself, will ya? Go find real work." President George W. Bush to Michael Moore in "Fahrenheit 9/11."
"Go get 'em, Tiger" Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) to everyone's favorite web-slinger (Tobey Maguire) in "Spider-man 2."
"You're not affiliated with me!" Mr. Incredible to young super hero wannabe Buddy in "The Incredibles."
"Go ahead, make your jokes Mr. Jokey...joke maker." Ben Stiller to Vince Vaughn in "Dodgeball."
"Did you see my underwear? Do you want to?" Patrick Star to Princess Mindy in "The Spongebob Squarepants Movie."
"Gary is the kind of man that understands, when you put another man's cock in your mouth, you made a pact!" Team America leader Spottswoodie explaining Gary's dedication to the team in "Team America: World Police."
To Michael Nesmith (62) and Davy Jones (59) of the Monkees, who share a December 30 birthday. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the band. I wonder if I can find enough info for a 49 part series on them! I'd at least like to research where Mike got that damn stupid hat he used to wear!
MEET THE BEATLES - PART 49
Januray 4, 1970 - With John on holiday in Denmark, Paul, George and Ringo gather for the last time to put the finishing touches on the "Let It Be" album. With the exception of Eric Clapton's wedding reception, this will be the last time the three play together until the 1995 release of "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love." On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney will confirm to the world that the Beatles have broken up.
I hope you have enjoyed this series on what I consider the most influential band in music history. Remember, the love you take is equal to the love you make!
Well, all for now. Again, have a safe and happy New Year. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2004 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 ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.