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PCR #414 (Vol. 9, No. 9) This edition is for the week of February 25--March 2, 2008.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Overtime and the first baseball meeting of the season have kept me busy. Sorry for the delay. Shall we begin?

"Vantage Point"  by Mike Smith
Dr. Paul Bearer: The Lost Photographs – Part 2  by ED Tucker
Book Review: Historical Photos of Tampa. Text and captions by Ralph Brower  by Lisa Ciurro
Remembering Dick Fletcher  by Paul Guzzo
Happy Birthday Famous Monsters....Another Icon Lost....Oscar Miss....2 Weeks Left For Rondo  by Matt Drinnenberg
Politics .... Oscar Recap .... Speaking Of Winners (not) .... Passing On .... Corrections .... .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1990 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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Kudos to Matt for pointing out the "borrowing of phrases" done by presidential candidate Barack Obama recently. I fully agree that if he's going to use someone else's words then he needs to acknowledge that person.

With the occasional exception of bagging on President Bush I really don't discuss politics seriously with ANYONE. That being said I am going to raise the question about how far John McCain and the Republicans will go after Obama should he be the opposition. Thanks to people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and their ilk, the cries of racism are sure to be heard as soon as someone hits too hard. If you remember, Senator Joe Biden had to withdraw from the 1988 Democratic run for President because it was discovered he had also "borrowed some phrases" from other speeches. I mean, the man was badgered so hard that he dropped out of the race. Recently much has been made about mentioning Senator Obama's middle name (Hussein) and the photo that shows him in the traditional garb of his African ancestors. "Playing dirty" is the cry. In what way? The man's middle name is Hussein. What upsets me the most about the situation is that John McCain was quick to "apologize" for the use of Obama's last name. What? Why? It's his damn name. If he wins the election he'll be reminding us all when he takes the oath of office, i.e. "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear..." And what's so bad about the picture. I would assume he is proud of his African heritage. I mean, he must be since he goes by his given first name of Barack now. Not like when he was in school where the yearbooks shows him as "Barry" Obama. Make up your mind who you are and what you stand for and then stand by it. That's all I ask. That and a huge hope that elections get back to the candidates telling me what they can do to help this country, not how bad their opponent is going to fuck it up!


That was a text message I received from a friend approximately 10 seconds after the "In Memoriam" segment finished. Of course, sharp-eyed fans saw that the tribute was for deaths between Feb 1, 2007 and Jan 31, 2008. Which means Roy Scheider should be recognized next year. For those interested, it appeared that director Ingmar Bergman had slightly more applause then Heath Ledger, thereby winning the In Memoriam Applauseometer contest this year.

Though the ratings were the lowest ever, it didn't stop people from complaining. First, there was an outcry over the fact that actor Brad Renfro was not in the memorial bit. Then word came that Whoopi Goldberg was miffed because she was not featured in a short bit showing past Oscar night hosts. Hey, Whoop. Get over it. You were featured in the past Supporting Actress winners highlights. And guess what? Neither was Steve Martin. Hell, neither were Goldie Hawn,Gene Kelly, Walter Matthau, George Segal, Robert Shaw, Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn or Richard Pryor, all former hosts.

Overall I was pretty pleased with the major winners. I will say that Paul Thomas Anderson looked NOTHING like I imagined he would. I pictured a more youthful Quentin Tarentino type. And special mention to screenwriter Diablo Cody, who apparently borrowed a dress from Wilma Flintstone to wear to the ceremonies.

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, Eddie Murphy was a leading contender for an Oscar. This year he finds himself the recipient of three Golden Raspberry Awards for his performance in "Norbit," taking Razzies in the Worst Actor, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress categories for his multiple roles. Standing proudly next to Murphy was Lindsay Lohan, who also won three Razzies for her work in "I Know Who Killed Me." Since she played twins in the film, Lohan won two of the prizes by tying with herself as Worst Actress. She (they) also won as Worst Screen Couple for a scene in the film where "both" characters appeared. And congrats to "I Know Who Killed Me" for setting a new record in failure by winning an unprecedented EIGHT Razzies. Along with Lohan's "honors," the film was cited for Worst Director, Screenplay, Excuse for a Horror Movie, Worst re-make and the coveted Worst Film of 2007. This total tops the seven Razzies won in the past by "Showgirls" and "Battlefield Earth."

Buddy Miles, co-founder and drummer for Jimi Hendrix' Band of Gypsys died this week at the age of 60. No cause of death was given. After playing on some of the greatest albums of the 70s and 80s, Miles gained some fame as the lead vocalist singing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" in the many California Raisins commercials. In the late 1980s he was featured as Santana's lead singer on albums and in concert.

Bill Heinz, award winning sports writer who witnessed the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day for the New York Sun died this week at the age of 93, with no cause of death given.
His work was featured in Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Vanity Fair, on ESPN, in newspapers and in other magazines. In the mid 1960s he collaborated with a neighboring physician, Dr. H. Richard Hornberger, on a book about military docotrs that became "M*A*S*H." He also helped legendary football coarch Vince Lombardi write his book "Run to Daylight." In 2001, Heinz was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, and in 2004 to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

As Nolan noted on the home page, author and "National Review" editor William F. Buckley died this week. Buckley and his publication brought the many conservative factions together at a time when they had split over ideals. Founded in 1955, "National Review" helped bring the divided factions of conservatives together. During his re-election campaign, President Eisenhower's campaign slogan was "I Like Ike." The magazine's endorsement read "We Prefer Ike." A strong supporter of Ronald Regan's presidential bids in 1968 and 1976, it is thought that Buckley's influence helped Regan finally win the White House in 1980.

Finally, it saddens me to mention the passing of Mike Smith, lead singer/keyboardist and co-song writer for some of the Dave Clark 5's greatest hits. Over the years I've mentioned Smith was a musical hero of mine growing up because we shared the same name. Often forgotten in the tales of the British Invasion of the 1960s, when the Beatles and Rolling Stones were kings, the DC5 had no less then 16 songs hit the top 30 during their career. Smith, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2003, died of pneumonia this week. He was 64. Sadly, in less then 2 weeks, the Dave Clark 5 will finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a much deserved honor that came too late. God bless, Mike.

Sometimes when I write my mind gets ahead of me and I forget to add what I think are important points. This week there are two:

In my review of "Vantage Point," I failed to continue my thoughts in the last sentence. It should now read:

"do they notify the switched person that an assassination attempt has been confirmed?'

Also, in my first POLITICS segment, I failed earlier to note that John McCain has publicly APOLOGIZED for one of his supporters using Barack Obama's middle name, which was actually my crux for writing the piece. Both items have since been corrected.


Kevin Costner wins for Best Director - sign #53 that the Apocalypse is Near.

March 25, 1991. Oscar night and I find myself in New York City attending a taping of "Late Night With David Letterman." My friend Ben and I have brought Dave an "Oscar," hoping we'll get a shout out. We don't but half way through the show I notice my large head under a Baltimore Oriole hat on the monitor. Later that night, when the show airs, my former wife, living in Kansas, yells, "Oh my God, it's Mike Smith." Her husband replies, "At the door?" Funny stuff.

Meanwhile, out in California, they're giving away some Oscars. Unfortunately, they're giving some of them to the wrong people.
The nominees for Best Picture that year were: "Awakenings," "Dances With Wolves," "Ghost," "The Godfather Part III" and "Goodfellas." Let's break them down, shall we? "Awakenings" was a good film with a great Hollywood story behind it. The story goes that Shelly Winters was interested in playing the mother of Robert DeNiro's character. Apparently director Penny Marshall wanted Winters to audition. When she showed up, Marshall noticed Winters was carrying a paper shopping bag. She sat the bag on a table and proceeded to pull out the two Oscars she had won. She then stated, "Apparently SOME people in this town think I can act." She put the awards back in the bag and walked out. No, she didn't get the part, but a great story. "Dances With Wolves" was the standard epic that always catches the academy's eye. With a running time of three hours (and, God help us, a four hour director's cut) for me the film D R A G G E D for the first hour but I will say that, once Kevin Costner stopped photographing himself against sunsets and got to the Indians I did enjoy it. "Ghost" was the big box office winner that earned enough votes to put it in contention, though I never considered it a serious entry. "The Godfather Part III" was an outstanding continuation of a story that had already earned 2 Best Picture Oscars. Holding down this film was the incredibly bad performance of director Francis Ford Coppola's daughter, Sophia, who took over the role of Mary Corleone after Winona Ryder dropped out of the film. To say she was bad is like saying water is wet. How bad? When she got shot at the end of the film I quietely applauded to myself. That brings us to "Goodfellas," Martin Scorsese's masterpiece about the inner workings of organized crime. It was a very bad year for good movies this year. If I was to replace any of the nominees it would have been with "Misery" or possibly "The Hunt For Red October. The winner: "Dances With Wolves." Boo!

Best Director came down to: Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Part III), Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), Stephen Frears (The Grifters) and Barbet Schroeder
(Reversal of Fortune). Only three of the Best Picture nominees were honored here. "Awakening" Penny Marshall and "Ghost" director Jerry Zucker found themselves out of luck on nomination day. In Marshall's case, that has been the way Oscar has worked for 80 years. Ironically, the bad-acting Sophia Coppola is the ONLY American woman to be nominated as Best Director and only the third woman ever to be honored. And poor Zucker, you know they weren't going to give a nomination to one of the guys that wrote "Airplane!" If I had a vote it would have gone to Rob Reiner for "Misery." Of the nominees I would have taken Scorsese but, like a decade earlier, he lost out to an actor making his directorial debut, big Kev for "Dances With Wolves."
Best Actor saw the following nominees: Robert De Niro (Awakenings), Gérard Depardieu (Cyrano de Bergerac), Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves), Richard Harris (The Field) and Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune). Good performances all, though I would have nominated Robin Williams from "Awakenings" instead of DeNiro. I also felt that James Caan (Misery) should have been nominated. Depardieu was the annual "foreign" nominee (before they kept winning) while Harris was the annual "great performance from a film you never saw". Costner's story was the tale of a man and his mustache. That being said, the winner was Irons, who really had the only fleshed out character among the nominees.

For Best Actress, the chosen five were: Anjelica Huston (The Grifters), Kathy Bates (Misery), Joanne Woodward (Mr. & Mrs. Bridge), Meryl Streep (Postcards from the Edge)and, to me the female Kevin Costner, Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman). With a dearth of great female roles that year, not a lot to add to this list, though I would have dropped Robert's and stuck Laura Dern in her place for "Wild at Heart." At least the Academy got it right when they gave Bates the much deserved cocky-doody Award!

The supporting contests were the most contested. Best Supporting Actor nominees included Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves), Al Pacino (Dick Tracy), Andy Garcia (The Godfather Part III), Joe Pesci (Goodfellas) and Bruce Davison (Longtime Companion). All outstanding performances. In fact, so good that the academy had to snub work by Raul Julia (Presumed Innocent) and John Turturro (Miller's Crossing). My pick was the obvious one, with Joe Pesci delivering possibly the shortest acceptance speech in Oscar history, saying only "Thank You."

For the ladies, Best Supporting Actress came down to Mary McDonnell (Dances With Wolves), Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost),Lorraine Bracco (Goodfellas), Annette Bening (The Grifters) and Diane Ladd (Wild at Heart). Another strong category with five very deserving people. Bracco only hinted in "The Sopranos" the talent being honored here, though credit must also go to director Scorsese, who has led many an actress to an acting nomination. A fine list with no room for Bonnie Bedalia, who was outstanding in "Presumed Innocent." Of course, the winner was the Whoopster, making her the second African-American woman to win this category. An obviously surprised Goldberg shared her award with the audience, commenting that as a youngster she would watch the Oscars and dream about the moment. While I would have cast my vote for McDonnell, I was glad Goldberg won since she was robbed of the Oscar she so richly deserved for "The Color Purple." More on that fiasco and the awards for 1985 next week.

Some of my favorite films from 1990 not in the Oscar race: Cry Baby, Dick Tracy, Die Hard 2, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, The Freshman, Presumed Innocent, Exorcist III, Wild at Heart, White Hunter/Black Heart, Millers Crossing and Misery.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya.

"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 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 ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.