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PCR #281. (Vol. 6, No. 32) This edition is for the week of August 8--14, 2005.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! Quite a few people passing on this week and newspaper comic strips gone serious. Shall we begin?

"Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo"
 by Mike Smith
Midnight Movies: From Margin to the Mainstream
 by Andy Lalino
Crypto-Animals....The Black Wolf Of Clearwater
 by John Lewis
The Big 5.0....Cheater, Cheater, B. S. Eater
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Happy Birthday....Why Do They Call Them Funnies?...Makes Sense....Passing On....Say What?...Jaws: The Story, Part 29
 by Mike Smith
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This was to be the weekend of NolanCon and, more importantly, a milestone birthday for our esteemed publisher. Sadly the main event will be more low key then planned but the sentiments remain the same. As the big 5 0 arrives this Saturday it occurs to me that I have known Nolan for more then half of his life. In our band days he took my guitar playing with good natured humor. What I remember most is that he would always find something special for me to do so that I would feel part of the group. I remember his hilarious Don Kirschner imitations and the way he and I would trade quips in faux British accents. I can still vividly remember one evening standing quietly with the rest of the group while Nolan played the instrumental "Maleguenua." Watching the concentration on his face as his fingers raced across the strings of his guitar I realized that in moments like that he was at his happiest. Back in the days Nolan played a Univox guitar and, when I decided to buy an electric guitar of my own, I purposely searched out a Univox. Sure, I couldn't even tune it without help but it was my own kind of tribute. Jumping to the present day, I find myself more and more involved with Nolan due to my participation in the PCR. In the past two years I have tendered my resignation from the PCR twice, both times over what I considered major slights in the way my input was being received. Both times Nolan endured my ranting with genuine concern and compassion and both times I returned home, feeling humbled. At the top of this page is the line "NEVER MISSED AN ISSUE," which is something that I am sincerely proud of. I don't send something in just so I can keep the streak going. I do the Rant because it allows me to be a little bit closer to my friend. Happy Birthday, buddy! May the next 50 years bring you the happiness and attention you so richly deserve. Love ya!

If you're like me, you spend a portion of your day glancing over the daily comics in your local newspaper. Over the years I have followed several long running strips and it stunned me to find out the state of some of my favorites. I would like to think that the majority of people who read the comics do so to be entertained and maybe have a little laugh. However this week the following is going on:

  • FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Elizabeth is being sexually harassed at work and was actually attacked by the guy.
  • FUNKY WINKERBEAN: While on a journey to the Middle East, Funky has stepped on and activated a land mine.
  • BRENDA STARR: After having been poisoned Brenda is in the process of being buried alive.
  • MARK TRAIL: Mark is leading a group on a hiking/canoe adventure unaware that the wife of one of the men is trying to convince her husband to murder his boss so that he can take over his company.
  • THE BOONDOCKS: Who gives a shit? Definitely stuff to bring a smile to your face, no?

    Universal has announced the title of the previously unnamed Steven Spielberg film about the murder of the Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics held in Munich, Germany. The title: MUNICH.

    A quartet of talent left us this past week:
    Like Nolan, I'm old enough to remember when we took our news as gospel from the nightly anchorman. My father preferred Walter Cronkite while my grandfather was a Chet Huntley/David Brinkley fan. I have always been an ABC fan. Not sure why. Maybe it's because it was the home of everything from "The Partridge Family" to "Welcome Back, Kotter" to "Rich Man, Poor Man" to "NYPD Blue." But when I took an interest in following the news, I followed Harry Reasoner and, eventually, Peter Jennings. As noted on the front page, Jennings lost a courageous battle with lung cancer this past Sunday at the age of 67. Born in Canada, Jennings began his broadcast career at the age of 9, hosting a radio show entitled "Peter's People." After becoming one of the most popular newsmen in Canada, Jennings came south and joined ABC in the early 1960s. Still in his 20s, Jennings was, for a short time, the anchor of ABCs evening newscast, making him the youngest ever to hold that position. However, after a short while, both he and the network agreed that he needed to return to the field, to earn his dues. His youth betrayed his talent. Viewers felt confident when hearing the news from the much older NBC and CBS anchors, men they had grown up with and trusted. Jennings concentrated on field reporting and there was no one better at finding stories. Even when covering a large event, Jennings would often take a cameraman out on a road trip and, more often then not, find a story worth reporting. I watched most of the major news events in my adult life through Peter Jennings eyes. From the Challenger disaster to the fall of the Berlin Wall all the way up to 9/11 and the war in Iraq, Jennings was my insight into the events of the world. He will be missed.
    Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award-winning actress Barbara Bel Geddes, probably best known as the spirited Miss Ellie Ewing on TV's "Dallas," also died this past week from lung cancer. She was 82. She had many achievements in her 50 plus years as an actor. In 1948 she earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for the film, "I Remember Mama" and later originated the role of Maggie the Cat in the Broadway production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." But it was as Miss Ellie that she will best be remembered. Despite terrible reviews, "Dallas" rose to the top of the ratings. In 1980 Bel Geddes won the Emmy as Best Actress In A Drama Series and she remains the only star of the nighttime soaps to be so honored. In 1984 she suffered a heart attack and was replaced on the show for six months by Donna Reed. She returned the next seasons and remained on the show until 1990, a year before the show left the air.
    Judith Rossner, author of "Looking For Mr. Goodbar," passed away Tuesday at the age of 70. The novel, a story about a quiet teacher who spent her evenings pursuing sex, was one of the first novels showing a woman as the aggressor. It also introduced the phrase "Mr. Goodbar" as a term for a one night stand. Her 10 novels also included the No 1 bestseller, "August."
    Matthew McGrory, an actor who possessed the world's biggest feet, also died Tuesday at the age of 32. Cause of death was listed as natural causes. Probably best remembered as the gentle giant in the Tim Burton film, "Big Fish," McGrory was working on a film biography of wrestler Andre the Giant at the time of his death. The Guinness Book of World Records lists McGrory as having the biggest feet in the world with a shoe size of 29 1/2. (Mr. McGrory was also over 7 feet tall. Still, no other men in his height range had such shoe sizes. ---N)

    No fewer than two members of the jury that acquitted Michael Jackson have come out and said that they actually felt Jackson was guilty of the crimes he was accused of. WHAT?? Then why in the hell did you vote to find him not guilty? Were you in such a hurry to go home that you forgot your oath to render the verdict you decided on? It should be noted that both jurors have upcoming books about their jury experience due out soon. If I'm the prosecutor I'm looking for a way to put these idiots on trial!

    Jaws puzzleLong recognized as the grandfather of the summer blockbuster, "Jaws" not only changed the way people go to the movies but also in how studios and theatres market them. For those not in the know, most films are given a predetermined advertising budget. That money goes for everything from the printing of posters to the amount of commercials run. Prior to "Jaws" most exhibitors only had to share in the newspaper advertising. Example: Film A is opening in a major city at 10 theatres. The advertising budget for opening week is $10,000. The agency placing the ads increases the budget by half, and then divides the extra $5000 between the 10 theatres, meaning each theatre contributes $500 towards the advertising. This continues each week until display ads are no longer needed. Sensing they had something big, Universal decided that local exhibitors should also share in the cost of the local television advertising and made this requirement part of the contract to run the film. Jaws itemsNow this is pretty standard but in 1975 it was basically unheard of. The success of "Jaws" also helped spawn the very successful ancillary business of toys, books, posters and the like. Seeing the success 20th Century Fox had the year before when it licensed everything from action figures to trash cans to capitalize on the reissue of the "Planet of the Apes" films, Universal authorized everything from belt buckles to gum ball rings. Mr. Jaws coverRubber sharks, iron on patches (which were pretty popular in 1975) and shark tooth necklaces were only some of the many items available at your local store. For a much better peek at some of the items available, please visit either of these web sites: www.jawscollector.com or www.jawsmoviearchives.com.

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

    "Mike's Rant" is ©2005 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 ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.