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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
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Thumbscan purchases....Superman is gay?....On Dan Rather....Stem cell research breakthrough  by Nolan B. Canova
"Click"  by Mike Smith
Lisa on the Left  by Lisa Zubek
Are Film Festivals a Scam/Waste?  by Mark Terry
Passing On....Lost In Translation....Ratboy....My Favorite Films, Part 25: "Bull Durham"  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 326  (Vol. 7, No. 25). This edition is for the week of June 19--25, 2006.

Headlines of Note

By Nolan B. Canova

  • Coast to Coast Stores offer thumbscanning for purchases
  • "Superman is Gay" nonsense
  • On Dan Rather leaving CBS News
  • Stem Cell research breakthrough

  • Thumbscan Purchases Available at Coast to Coast Stores
    This is one I caught on the local FOX early evening news and nowhere else, and I even tried a search for this rather alarming development. A store that's new to the Tampa area, Coast to Coast Department Store, is now offering registered members to bypass credit cards and debit cards by offering thumbprint scanning!

    One registers for the process (read: not a mandatory requirement) by giving the store all your banking information to enter into their database. Once that is done, your fingerprint is taken and registered into the same database. Theoretically, all you have to do afterwards to make a purchase is put your finger, thumb, whatever onto the scanner, the scanner verifies your identity, and, voila, the deed is done. (I believe at this time this is for debit action only; I don't think this is related to credit. I couldn't find more information so this is all from memory.)

    According to the TV news report, the process has proven quite popular with customers, although there have been a few who complained of its intrusiveness and declined the offer. A cashier who was interviewed on-camera commented that there was talk of the "Mark of the Beast" and government spying, but she recalls those customers being in the minority.

    Indeed! Minority? Well now that's very interesting. Imagine if this catches on (I hear Wal-Mart calling) and more and more people are prepared to surrender their personal information to databases in the name of "convenience". (I certainly can't believe this is related to "security"; and forget about "privacy".) It can be only a matter of time before Dubya and his Patriot Act hooligans figure this is just a swell idea for national security and requires a database registration for every American's fingerprints so that no one can make a move without scanner verification. Terrorist deterrent, likely. Besides, "Hey, cash is so inconveeeeenient and insecure, boys and girls, whotawunnerful world it would be without it." (?!?!?!)

    Latest Buzz:   Is Superman Gay?
    Well, well, well. Only a week before the movie event of the year, Superman Returns, opens, and about the stupidest rumor I've ever heard has gained enough traction to make CNN Reports.

    I remember the magazine The Advocate started this bullshit a few weeks ago. It's a gay magazine, and one of decent national repute, but nevertheless I blew it off as tabloid fodder, something to sell magazines. (Perhaps "blew it off" is not a good choice of words here.)

    Later, I remember having blogs sent to me trying to make a connection between the costume redesign (the most form-fitting one yet) and that the movie's director, Bryan Singer, is gay. Of course there's always the tried-and-true "Superman's a loner, has problems with women, his best friend is a teenager/20-something (Jimmy Olsen), yada, yada, yada."

    This is all aggravated by the lingering ghost of Batman and Robin, the movie directed by the openly gay Joel Shumacher who seemed hellbent on gay-i-fying every bat-thing in the movie (don't even get me started on the costume's bat-nipples). To make matters infintely worse, George Clooney, post-facto, announced he deliberately "played Batman as gay." Gee, thanks, George, just what us comics fan needed: more stigmatization!

    OK, let's just put on the breaks, folks. First of all---and I cannot emphasize this enough---Superman and Batman were originally created for children, specifically, pre-pubescent boys, to whom girlfriends are YUCKY!!! The last thing they want to see is superheroes delaying saving the world 'cuz they have to be home in time for dinner so the wifey won't get mad! Secondly---and this is just as important---the boy side-kick, or teenage best friend was an identification model, so kids could more easily put themselves into the story by identifying with Robin/Bucky Barnes/Jimmy Olsen/Marvel Jr., or whatever. Tight costumes were more convenient for rope-trapezing between buildings and fighting the bad guys once you found their hideout. (Loose-fitting shirts would never do -- Doc Savage always tore his up in fights, but the image works for him.)

    What collectors and comics fans of the baby-boomer generation (like myself) didn't count on is that, evidently, we were the last major purchasers of those big titles in the classic sense, and we aged. So as those heroes were put into motion pictures, well, they had to be more (gulp) **makes air quotes** "adult" **closes air quotes**, which causes a conflict: they weren't originally designed to be adult. So now we have a bunch of creative people, and some adult fans, trying to reverse-engineer and psycho-analyze symbolgy that doesn't exist. Or is read too much into. (It would've helped if the Kryptonian crystal that Superman brought with him to Earth wasn't phallic-shaped, and it goes from there.) Or just can't help having their snickering, naughty fun (like Shumacher and Clooney).

    Superman Returns is going to be a blast of good, innocent fun; don't ruin it with bullshit like this.

    "Quickly, Robin! To the Bat-Poles!" Sigh.

    On Dan Rather Leaving CBS
    I, for one, am very sad that legendary newsman Dan Rather is being ousted from his job at CBS News after 44 years due to, among other, lesser things, age and scandal.

    The 74-year-old Rather, while certainly being a bit of an oddball at times ("What's the frequency, Kenneth?") has been there at most every newsworthy event of my lifetime.

    He was recently made aware his services weren't needed anymore at CBS. He remarked that he still "wanted to work". Apparently, rather than being outright fired he decided to resign.

    The saddest thing is that he leaves CBS under the stigma of scandal. In 2004, he reported that President Bush's military record was suspect and may have been modified so that he wouldn't see any action in Vietnam. This very issue became a target during the 2004 election campaign where opponent Senator John Kerry openly boasted of his own service record and three purple hearts. Bush's service record had to be researched heavily as many papers, some identifying his specific whereabouts during that time, were lost or misplaced for months.

    It must've seemed like a slam-dunk, then, for Rather to broadcast a hastily-read and poorly researched document that purported to verify that Bush's public military record was, in essence, a fraud. This was later discredited (the document itself was a fraud) and Rather was forced to apologize on the air. It was a nasty blow to an otherwise colorful career, and one from which he never truly recovered.

    Rather stepped down as CBS anchor in the Spring of 2005 and was replaced temporarily by Bob Schiefer. Former Today Show co-host Katey Couric becomes the permanent CBS anchorperson this Fall.

    I know he had his weird moments and his dry, folksy humor was lost on many folks. But I'll miss Dan Rather.

    Stem Cell Research Breakthrough
    Dr. Scott Whittemore, researcher and scientific director of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville, successfully showed that by grafting stem cells onto damaged spinal cords in rats, paralysis can be partially reversed and in some cases corrected.

    I saw an amazing video of this on AOL, but neglected to bookmark the page. Hurriedly, I did a quick search for more information and found this page on The Sci-Zone if anyone wants to do more research themselves.

    Basically, the AOL video showed a subject rat crawling around on its two front feet only, its hind legs completely useless from spinal cord damage. After stem cells were placed into the rat, remarkable mobility was shown to have occured after a brief healing time. The stem cells, in effect, closed the gap between separated nerve tissue and actually regrew damaged nerves. Additionally, (and if I remember this correctly) only about 60% new growth was required to facilitate a near complete recovery.

    This is tremendous news for those of us discouraged after some stem cell research from overseas was shown to be fraudulent.

    This is a great day for science. I wish Christopher and Dana Reeve could've lived to see it.

    All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.

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