PCR's past banners
Now in our eighth calendar year!

PCR #355. (Vol. 8, No. 2) This edition is for the week of January 8--14, 2007.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! Lot's of awards talk this week and James Cameron returns! Shall we begin?

"Alpha Dog"  by Mike Smith
DVD Grindhouse: Horror Classics - 50 Movie Pack DVD Collection (Part 2)  by Andy Lalino
Happy Birthday....Hall Of Fame News....Passing On....Movie News....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 2: Barry Miller  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR

A very happy birthday to my brother from another mother, Matthew. I tried to call you most of the day but your line was busy!

And while I'm on the subject, birthday greetings this weekend to bassist extraordinaire Scott Van Sickle. And his flowing mane of hair!

This past week saw two different halls of fame introduce their new inductees. This year the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will welcome Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., The Ronettes, Patti Smith and Van Halen into the fold. With all the infighting it could be Eddie and Alex on one side of the room with David, Sammy and Michael on the other.

Closer to my heart, longtime Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken, Jr joins Tony Gwynn in July to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Ripken received the highest total votes for a player EVER (537) and his 98.5% vote total is the third highest of all time. Missing the vote badly this year was Mark McGwire, whose "non-answers" at a March 2005 Congressional Hearing into steroid use in baseball may have doomed any chances of him entering Cooperstown. I was a big McGwire fan and was even fortunate, with my son, Phillip, and a couple of friends, to be at Busch Stadium in 1998 when he broke Roger Maris' single season home run record. Though the memory is still strong, it's tarnished by the image of Big Mac sitting silently, refusing to "talk about the past." What makes this year's induction special to me is that Cal Ripken, Jr. is the first player I cheered for whose career I followed almost from day one. Cal is one of the all time great ambassadors of the game and I have many incredible memories of his baseball career. My top three:

September 5/6, 1995: Having played every game for almost 14 years straight, Cal Ripken, Jr. plays in his 2130th and 2131st consecutive game, breaking the record of New York Yankee great Lou Gehrig. On both nights Cal delivers home runs as the O's win both games. When game 2131 was made official, the crowd of 48,000 plus, which included my son (whose mother graciously allowed him to miss school so he could come to Baltimore and witness history) and I, gave Ripken a standing ovation as he slowly took a lap around Camden Yards, shaking hands with fans as he circled the field.

July 26, 1995: My son is visiting Baltimore for his birthday and as we head to Camden Yards he remarks that, in all of the Oriole games he has seen, he's never seen Cal hit a home run. That night, Ripken hits two. We hang around the park after the game to get some autographs and then head home. As we head across the almost deserted parking lot, a truck comes up out of the underground garage. I instantly recognize it as Ripkens and we wave when he slows down. He stops and Phillip walks up to the drivers side and says hello. For the next five minutes Phillip, a future all league outfielder, and Cal talk baseball, even discussing what pitches Cal hit for his home runs. Surreal.

September 1989: The Orioles are in a tough battle with the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the American League East. As the season winds down, the two teams are virtually tied for first. Having watched the O's win that night at Memorial Stadium, I join other fans near the players parking area. Because the game was important, the Baltimore radio station has picked up the feed of the Blue Jays game. After Cal has signed some autographs he turns on his radio and rolls down his car windows. For the next 45 minutes, about 10 of us sit around Cal's car and listen to the rest of the game with him.

I'm already working on plans to travel to Cooperstown at the end of July. I'm also hoping that in March the veteran's committee finally select former Cub Ron Santo for induction as well. Seeing two of my three all time favorite players (the third is Fred Lynn) enter the hall of fame on the same day would be sweet indeed.

Very sad to hear of the passing of Yvonne DeCarlo, who is probably best remembered as Lily on the television series, "The Munsters." She passed away this week at the age of 84. Though she was also known for her film (she played Moses' wife in "The Ten Commandments") and stage (Stephen Sondheim's "Follies") work, it was her role on "The Munsters" that gave her international fame. Ironically, she only accepted the role to help support her stunt man husband, Bob Morgan, who had been seriously injured filming "How the West Was Won."
Iwao Takamoto, director of the 1973 animated film "Charlotte's Web" and the creator of Scooby Doo died this week in Los Angeles at the age of 81. Before helping create characters for Hanna-Barbera, Iwao was an assistant animator for Walt Disney Studios. Some of the films he worked on there include "Sleeping Beauty," " Cinderella" and 101 Dalmatians."


  • This week the Director's Guild of America announced their five nominees for the DGA award and the big surprise was who WASN'T nominated. The nominees: Martin Scorsese for "The Departed," Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris for "Little Miss Sunshine," "Bill Condon for "Dreamgirls," "Stephen Frears for "The Queen" and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for "Babel." Missing from the list was Clint Eastwood, who had two great movies this past year in "Flags Of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima." It should be noted that 51 of the last 57 DGA winners went on to win the Oscar.
  • James Cameron has announced his return to the big screen with a sci-fi adventure entitled "Avatar." Set 150 years in the future, the film is set on Pandora, the moon of a giant gas planet. The movie will be shot with digital cameras which will allow Cameron to see almost instantly how his live action footage melds with special effects.
  • M. Night Shyamalan's next film is also titled "Avatar," though this one is based on the current cartoon "Avatar: The Last Airbender."
  • Never say never. New Line honcho Robert Shaye has nixed the rumors that Peter Jackson might make "The Hobbit." Saying he doesn't want to work with Jackson anymore, Shaye told SciFi.com "He will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I'm still working for the company." Of course, Eddie Murphy was once quoted as saying, "Vic Morrow (who was killed in an accident on "The Twilight Zone" movie) has a better chance of working with John Landis again then I do." Years later, the two (Murphy and Landis) teamed up for "Vampire in Brooklyn."
  • Alan Rickman has joined the cast of Tim Burton's "Sweeny Todd." Rickman will play the man who sends Benjamin Barker, played by Johnny Depp, to jail. After his release, Barker becomes the deadly barber Sweeny Todd.
  • Abe Lincoln fans will have to wait for the Steven Spielberg directed bio pic starring Liam Neeson. With an approved script finally in hand, Spielberg has bumped "Lincoln" to the back burner to begin pre-production on the fourth Indiana Jones film.


    WHERE YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM FROM: "Saturday Night Fever," "Fame."

  • 1985 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role for "Biloxi Blues."
  • 1991 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for "Equal Justice."

    The son of long time television actors Sidney Miller and Dorothy Green, Barry Miller was the face of the troubled young man in the late 70s and early 80s. After appearing in a few episodic television shows, he was cast as Bobby C in "Saturday Night Fever." As the quiet, emotionally tormented (his girlfriend is pregnant and he doesn't know what to do) friend of John Travolta's Tony Manero, Miller gives the best performance among the supporting cast. Roles in films like "Voices" and "The Chosen" gave him added exposure. However, it's in the 1980 film "Fame" that Miller shines. As a would be comedian with a Freddie Prinze fixation named Ralph Garcey, Miller tries his best to hide his Latin heritage (his real name is Raul Garcia), often making himself the class clown when challenged by the faculty. Sadly, like Bobby C, Ralph/Raul has too many problems in his personal life and finally breaks down.

    Miller continued to work in film and television (most notably as the class nerd who made good in "Peggy Sue Got Married" until 2001 when his last film, "The Devil and Daniel Webster," was released.

    Next week I'll look at the career of the leader of the Cutters in "Breaking Away"...Dennis Christopher.

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

    "Mike's Rant" is ©2007 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 ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.