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Number 48 (Vol 2, No. 8).  This edition is for the week of February 19--25, 2001.
Did we land on the Moon?
Fox special ignores real space research to trot out tired conspiracy theory.
In another of a long line of highly entertaining, but ultimately worthless, "documentary" specials, last Thursday, February 15th, a FoxTelevision special, "Conspiracy Theory: Did we Land on the Moon?", presented the old conspiratorial chestnut alleging the entire Moon landing in 1969 was a gigantic hoax, perpetrated by the US government for the goal of establishing a military presence there or, at least, the illusion thereof.

Don't get me wrong. I worship these specials. I love every Alien Autopsy, Secrets of Magic Revealed, and UFO "Best Evidence" program they can throw at me. For entertainment value, there's nothing like them--save maybe for The National Enquirer. (OK, magicians are still smarting that some secrets were revealed...but don't even get me started on taking alien autopsies and those hoaxy UFO videos seriously.) Once again the host was "The X-Files"' Mitch Pileggi, who's in danger of becoming the next "Troy McClure" after Jonathan Frakes.

I'm responding to the Moon special, because I've heard from a disturbing number of people that did take it seriously. One radio report alleges upwards of 20% of the American public believes the Moon landing was a hoax. You may wonder as conspiratorial as I usually am why I don't agree. Probably because the leap of faith necessary to believe this was a publicity stunt or whatever is far greater than that needed to believe it happened. The government lies about everything. Yes, no argument there. No doubt there are some lies even connected to the Moon program. But that we never made it isn't one of them.

The "Hoax" Evidence........and my response
There's not enough time or space on the web to respond to all of the allegations, so here are just a few of the most celebrated....

The videos fom the Moon are intentionally badly shot and grainy to help disguise the hoax. The state of the art of video cameras circa 1969 was primitive by today's standards to say the least. Considering those cameras were coping with temperature and lighting extremes, using fragile vidicon tubes, it's a miracle anything came through at all. Today's consumer-level camcorders are probably more versatile now than those cameras were then.
No stars are visible in video or film shots.  I believe that's a little problem called film latitude. We're basically looking at "daytime" photography. You can't see stars on Earth in daylight either. Now, you might say "but the moon has no atmosphere to block starlight" and you'd be right as far as stargazing with the naked eye. The film used in those Hasselblads was a unique and highly advanced formula that, supposedly, has never been released to the public. It's exposure latitude was wide enough to capture those to-die-for surface shots of the astronauts and Lunar Excursion Module (or LEM), but could not compete with surface reflections to capture pinpoints of starlight. As for the video cameras (again, circa 1969 video technology) we were lucky to get any decent images at all. And on a related topic....
There's too much detail visible in pitch-black shadows to have been taken on the airless Moon. Yes, unless you count the extremely bright surface reflections bouncing back from the surface and the fact the astronauts' suits were white and the extremely advanced film stock I just referrred to.
Hollywood moon set?The American flag seems to be "waving" on the airless Moon. Especially so with the one- or two-second clips shown. NASA probably figured early on that the flag, left to its own devices, would just hang limp on its pole and not be very exciting to photograph. So early on, wires were inserted throughout the material to make sure the flag "unfurled" on cue, stood straight up and flat for the camera, and made a good hero shot. Yes, that sounds very Hollywood, but better to call it "public relations". Clips shown feature Neil Armstrong struggling with the pole to erect it, which exaggerated the "waving".

I'm being followed by a Moon shadow The shadows on the lunar surface are pointing in several directions, indicating multiple light sources. This is supposed to be a tip-off that we're on a movie soundstage. The shadows are actually pointing in the same direction, but are obscured by surface irregularities and small hills. A 2-D picture can't convey the true situation. Besides, if there were multiple light sources there'd be more than one shadow! Just watch any old sitcom and see the actors are casting at least five shadows in a nearly radial pattern. That's what muliple light source shadows on a soundstage look like.
The Lunar Module left no blast crater. I guess this is supposed to indicate that the module was flown on wires. The thrust at touchdown was maybe 2000--3000 pounds, which despite the dust kicking up shown from the LEM window, left the surface not all that disturbed. Not surprisingly, the LEM had slowed to nearly a stop before touchdown. Additionally, I've read that the depth of dust on the lunar surface had been over-estimated and, in fact, is only a couple inches deep before you hit more solid rock. The LEM did indeed leave a slight, discolored depression according to the best close-up photographs (which you did not see on the Fox special).
And finally....arguably the most ridiculous argument:  You could never hear the roar of rocket engines upon touchdown at "Tranquility Base" (during astronauts communications).  Hmmmm.....ever hear that old movie teaser tag from "Alien": "In space no one can hear you scream?" There's a reason for that. IN SPACE, THERE'S NO AIR TO CONDUCT SOUND!  Funny how the critics are so convinced there's air on the Moon's "movie set" (waving flags and all), they're all confused as to why they can't hear the rockets. Well, because the rockets are firing in a vacuum. Ironically, that alone disproves the critics' entire argument.

Nolan-the-webmaster-dept.  I have designed and uploaded my first "extra-curricular", quasi-professional webpages for someone other than myself. I was hired by good friend George Streets of "Streets and Streets Photography and Video", aka "S&S Video", to create a small website featuring his wedding photo and video price packages based on his brochure. George has been wanting this for a long time, but never had time to attend to it. After viewing Nolan's PCR #47, he pretty much freaked and said I was the man for the job. I was/am honored to take on the responsibility and George is pleased with the results. It's nothing real fancy, kind of basic stuff (I'm being paid in hot dogs, OK). There's one more page being developed, and the graphics compression needs tweaking, but if you want to take a gander, click here: S&S Photography and Video.
This just in...I've been invited to rejoin "UFOs and Metaphysics" on the Tampa Bay Community Network. Long-time readers will remember the checkered history I've had with that show. I'll write an update when I know more.
UPDATE 2-22-01.  My first day back on the job as Tech Director of "UFOs and Metaphysics", working again with UFO researcher Malcolm Hathorne, went very well. (Wed. night's episode, 2-21-01.) Everyone at Public Access welcomed me very warmly and I got a good vibe. I even managed to get on the air with Mal for the last ten minutes! Never say never, eh?
GRAMMY BITS. Posted the morning of 2-22-01. Steely Dan won four Grammy Awards, among them, Album of the Year for "Two Against Nature". U2 scored Record of the Year with "Beautiful Day".

Valentine * * 1/2 out of * * * *    Reviewed by Brandon Herring
Starring: David Boreanaz, Jessica Capshaw, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton,
Jessica Caufiel, Katherine Heigl, Hedy Burress.
Directed by: Jamie Blanks
Running Time: 95 minutes
Rated R: strong violence, gore, sexual content, language.

After viewing the awful "Urban Legends: Final Cut" early last fall, I was skeptical about this film. I mean even though I was a huge fan of the original "Urban Legend", I wasn't even sure if I wanted to see anything that had to do with Urban Legend. So I went and saw Jamie Blanks' new movie "Valentine", loosely based on a popular novel. I must say it is a nice breath of fresh air away from the teeny-bopper horror films. Although not highly original, or even really that great, "Valentine" kept my attention throughout its short 95-minute running time.

The film begins with a prologue of a junior prom, where a young nerdy-looking boy wants someone to dance with. He asks all the preppy girls, and, of course, they turn him down and call him names. He goes over to a plus-sized girl and asks her to dance and she says "yes". It cuts to the two making out under the bleachers. A group of boys catches them, the girl claims this boy attacked her, and the group of boys take him, strip him of his clothes and beat him up. Ten years later, three friends, Kate Davies (Marley Shelton), the smart one, Paige Prescott (Denise Richards), the sexy one, and Dorothy Wheeler (Jessica Capshaw), the shy, rich one, start receiving morbid cards, and learn that someone might be stalking them with Valentine's Day on its way. Could someone from their past or someone they maybe turned down once be stalking them, and threatening their lives?

"Valentine" is a highly entertaining, lively movie that from the opening sequence has great potential. Jamie Blanks put all his heart and soul into this movie, and in the end it shows. The great camerawork, cinematography and acting all shine through to the end of the film. The only major flaw I found with the movie was the poorly written script. Even though at times it has a few witty-if-somewhat-clever lines, the dialogue seems to be forced and badly written. As for the acting, Marley Shelton (who was exceptional in 1998's "Pleasantville" and is currently in "Sugar & Spice") clocks in a great performance, and she seems to like where she is. Jessica Capshaw as the oh-feel-sorry-for-me-rich-girl gives a nice, affecting performance, and Denise Richards is, as usual, beautiful on the outside, but bad on her acting abilities and gives a flat and somewhat off-balance performance. Katherine Heigl is given what she can do, with her 10 minutes of screentime in a pointless, but interesting, opening sequence. In his big screen debut David Boreanaz is good in his role, but he seems too bland--to me highly miscast--but he does the best with the material he is given.

Slasher films have always been a favorite genre of mine. Sitting in your chair, thinking to yourself and somewhat yelling out loud "No look out", or "Don't go in there"! It's fun to sit there and watch the characters get stalked and sometimes killed (that sounds morbid I know), and in this film it's a fun walk through dark hallways, up the stairs, and the chase scenes, of course. The film is noted to be a violent film, and, while it is violent, it isn't as bloody or gory as one would think. The death scenes are very creative and well made, but the film is never scary, or even suspenseful.

I very much enjoyed "Valentine" on the basis of entertainment, acting, and directing. It could have been a whole lot better, but if your a fan of slasher films, then this is your type of movie, let's just hope after seeing "Urban Legends: Final Cut" and "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer", that if a sequel is made to "Valentine", it will be better than those sequels.
Brandon Herring, 2-7-01 © 2001

Letters to the Editor
  Mike's Rant   by Michael A. Smith.
Hello gang! Just a few notes and my Oscar thoughts................shall we begin:
Wow! Can't help but be pleased with the films and performances nominated this year for the Academy Award. May I say in my defense that, unlike some other people, I don't make a prediction based on word of mouth............only on what I have seen. I have yet to see "Pollock" or "Before Night Falls" so I've missed out on three apparently excellent performances. However, as a HUGE Ed Harris fan, I'm certainly not disappointed. Looks like the only prize Michael Douglas gets this year is Catherine Zeta-Jones! Sorry to see my pal Corey slighted in the make-up department.................maybe if he put Mel Gibson in a fat suit he'd have a better chance! I will be catching the films I've missed (providing they make it to KC) and will list my picks (along with Nolan and Matt) in our 2nd Annual Oscar Issue next month.

Sad to report the passing of veteran character Lewis Arquette from congestive heart failure. The son of comic Cliff Arquette, who was known as Charlie Weaver on the long running "Hollywood Squares," Arquette was the father of actors Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia, Alexis and David. He was most recently seen in "Best of Show" and "Little Nicky." Mr. Arquette was 65.

This past Friday saw the passing of William H. Masters, who, with his partner and future wife Virginia Johnson, pioneered research in the field of human sexuality. He was 85. For over 20 years, Masters and Johnson conducted interviews and observed sex, conducting enough research to publish the best seller "Human Sexual Response." I feel a connection to Masters. I, too, have spent the past 20-plus years observing sex. However, the only conclusion I came to was that John Holmes had a pretty big dick!  (Hmmmmm.....OOooookaaaaay!---N)

Utah's new porn czar (?!) says she knows smut when she sees it, even though at age 40 she is a confessed virgin who "rarely" sees "R"-rated films. Critics say Paula Houston's lack of personal sexual experience disqualifies her from passing judgment on what constitutes pornography, however, she claims she is morally qualified. Jeesh! But, what can you expect from a state where video stores "edited" out 10 minutes of "Titanic" to make it suitable for viewing? (WHAT ten minutes? You mean the drawing? The part down in the hold? BOTH? What an outrage!--N)

Or is it? In 1968, a law was passed recognizing George Washington's birthday as a national holiday. In 1971, Richard Nixon issued a proclamation saying the holiday honored all presidents, "even myself." With four presidents born in February I guess it makes sense, though four Mondays off wouldn't be bad either.

On February 19th, 1980 AC/DC lead singer Bonn Scott was found dead in his hotel room. Cause of death was ruled acute alcohol poisoning.

To prepare herself for the position of porn czar, Paula Houston rented several X-rated tapes. In her first statement to the press, she noted "Boy, that John Holmes had a pretty big dick!"  (Congratulations, Paula, on your first glimpse of a man's sexual organ. John Holmes passed away years ago, so, in case you're interested, Mike and I are amply-endowed worthy replacements. However, since you live closer to Mike, I'll understand if you'd rather watch John Holmes porno tapes with him. Matt's going to have a field day with this!---Nolan.)

That's it for now. Have a great week!

SAD UPDATE:  News of the passing of racing legend Dale Earnhardt after a car crash at this year's Daytona 500 came in after this issue went to "press".  I'm including this update out of respect for him and, of course, his many fans who mourn his passing.---Nolan

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith     All contents this page are ©2001 Nolan B. Canova

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