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Now in our eighth calendar year!

PCR #385. (Vol. 8, No. 32) This edition is for the week of August 6--12, 2007.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! Apologies for the delay this week. Flooded basement has me scrambling.. Shall we begin?

"Becoming Jane"  by Mike Smith
Operation: Woronov  by Andy Lalino
What's In A Name?  by Lisa Ciurro
Forgotten Horrors: “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”  by ED Tucker
Happy Birthday .... Passing On .... Is This Logical?... Barry Bonds .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 27: Delayed Until Next Week  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
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Happy #52 to the man in charge. Wow! You're really old. Hope you have a great time celebrating. Wish I was there. (Thanks, Mike! I wish you were here, too. --Nolan)

One death that was missed on the home page was that of Academy Award-winning make up artist William Tuttle, who passed away at the age of 95. After apprenticing on such films as "Mark of the Vampire" and "The Wizard of Oz," Tuttle went on to create make up designs for such films as "Young Frankenstein," "The Fury" and "Logan's Run." In 1965, he received the first honorary Oscar for achievement in make up for his work on "The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao."

Rumor has it that JJ Abrams has convinced his "MI:3" star Tom Cruise to cameo as the young Christopher Pike in the new "Star Trek" film. Fascinating.

You know, this column is called "Mike's Rant," though I really don't "rant" as much as I used to. Until now.

This week San Francisco Giant's outfielder Barry Bonds hit the 756th home run of his career, passing the great Henry Aaron as major league baseball's all time home run king. Whoopie.

I was hoping to find something that I could share with the readers but was unable to find it. What it was is a piece of paper from a scrapbook I put together as a kid. On the paper I had written, in very terrible 13 year old penmanship, "On April 8, 1974, I saw Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run off of Al Dowling on NBC." I think there were a couple more lines written, then my signature. Obviously I had no concept about videotape and the future, that anyone who wanted to would be able to watch this event as often as they wanted. To me, as a fan of baseball, I documented a significant moment in my young life, one that I still look back on with great memories 33 years later. This week, I could care less about Barry Bonds and his "achievement." Why, you ask? Because it's tainted. I am convinced in my baseball loving mind that Barry Bonds cheated his was to the record. He has chemically enhanced his body to the point that he is virtually unrecognizable from his playing days in the early 1990s. After the age of 35, his hat size increased from 6 3/8 to 7 1/2. In the same period his shoe size went from a 10 1/2 to a 13. At the age where most athletes begin slowing down, Bonds shot up the ranks, hitting almost half of his record home runs in a seven year period. It is almost ironic that Clay Hensley, the pitcher who gave up 755 had himself been suspended in his career for using steroids. OK, Mike, you say. So what if Bonds was juicing. Wasn't everyone? Probably. But that doesn't make it right. I will say right here and now that steroids or human growth hormone does not help you catch up to a 95 mile and hour fastball. That is talent, pure and simple. But it does make you stronger and also allows your body to heal much faster. The fewer games you miss the more at bats you get. The more at bats means the more swings you get at reaching that elusive home run record. A great moment devalued by a cheater.

I've been very fortunate as a baseball fan. I was able to see Mays, Aaron and Clemente, among others, play in person. It was towards the end of their careers, but I can always say that I "saw" them. I've also been very fortunate to have many great games committed to memory because I attended them. All star games. Playoff games. Games 2130 and 2131 during Cal Ripken, Jr.s streak. I can even remember that September night in 1998 when my son and I stood in St. Louis' Busch Stadium and watched Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run of the season, setting, for a short time, the new one season home run record. We cheered with the other 50,000 people there, happy at being a part of history. But the smiles were soon turned to frowns. While testifying before Congress about the use of "performance enhancement" drugs, McGwire was asked if he had ever used them. "I'm not here to talk about the past," he replied. Guess they got their answer. This past weekend, McGwire should have been standing next to Cal Ripken, Jr and Tony Gwynn when they were enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame. Instead, mostly due to his statements, McGwire barely drew 25% of the needed votes for election. Maybe next year, big guy. Or maybe not.

As a baseball fan, you have players you like and dislike. Most of this dislike is based on loyalty. As an Oriole fan, I HATE the Yankees. I loved Mike Mussina all the years he pitched for the O's, but as soon as he traded in his orange and black for the dreaded pinstripes, he became the enemy. On the same token, I would LOVE to have Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter on the Orioles. All would be forgiven the day that happened. I also hate Barry Bonds. The man is a phenomenal ball player, but his attitude is one that brings the rest of the team down. I mean, how many championships did the Pirates and Giants win with him? Exactly the same number I've won. ZERO. You may have heard stories about Bonds cheating on his wife or refusing to sign autographs for white players. I remember once a fan hung up a poster that said, "Barry, hit it HERE." The image was of Barry Bond's first wife, with a black eye. Oh yeah, he's a wife beater too (they call it "Roid Rage," just ask Chris Benoit's family.). But I've also experienced the surliness of Bonds first hand. One October night in 1991, a friend and I drove to Pittsburgh to take in a playoff game between the Atlanta Braves and Bond's Pirates. After the game, we waited outside the stadium in an attempt to get some autographs. While waiting around, I happened to notice Bobby Bonds, Barry's dad, who was one of my baseball heroes as a youngster. My friend and I went over and had a nice conversation with him. Long story short, it's almost 1:00 am and we are still there. Joining us is a little girl of around 12, who is still milling around with her parents, hoping to get her favorite player's autograph. Finally, the player's entrance door opens and out steps Barry. Almost immediately, the little girl asks, "Mr. Bonds, would you sign my ball?" Completely ignoring her, Bonds waves at his dad, gets in his car and drives off. The little girl is heartbroken. I looked over to Bobby Bonds and he just shrugged his shoulders.

Some players are bad guys. Ty Cobb was a renowned racist who once attacked a fan in the stands for heckling him and beat him badly. The fan in question had no hands and was in a wheelchair. Babe Ruth was a classic partier who was known to have five or six beers and hot dogs DURING a game. Hell, my old high school buddy Wade Boggs confessed to Barbara Walters that he cheated on his wife because he was addicted to sex. Nobody's perfect. The three players I just mentioned are some of the best that ever played. And they did it the right way, with talent. Nothing more.

So if we're going to celebrate great achievements, let's turn our eyes to Tom Glavine, who just won his 300th game, or A-Rod, who just hit his 500th home run. These moments are truly great. They were achieved with guts and perseverance and talent. Items you can't put into a syringe. Hopefully Bond's "record" will one day fall to someone more deserving of the honor. Until then, Hank Aaron is still the king in my book. His crown isn't tarnished.


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.