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PCR #441 (Vol. 9, No. 36) This edition is for the week of September 1--7, 2008.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Back to work so let's not dawdle. Shall we begin?

"Movies Of My Father"  by Mike Smith
A Sarasota Road Trip Adventure, Part One of Two: The Powel Crosley Seagate Estate  by Will Moriaty
DVD Review: “Phantasm: OblIVion”  by ED Tucker
The FANGRRL Guide To Hurricane Preparedness  by Lisa Ciurro
Dickey Being Dickey .... Chad Ocho Cinco .... College Uni's .... Daunte Culpepper Retires .... Week 1 Picks .... .... ....  by Chris Munger
This Day In History .... .... ....  by Matt Drinnenberg
Dad .... Gilligan .... Politics .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1980 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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Thank you to everyone that took the time to send their kind thoughts about my dad, either through the Reader's Comments or personal Email. My dad was a tough son of a bitch and even though, like most families, we had our rough spots, I never doubted his love for me and I hope he never doubted mine. I thought I'd wait until next week to share my thoughts about my pop. This will also give me time to get some photos uploaded. Again, thank you for your support. It meant the world to me.


Wow! Can it be that long since the start of the ill fated three hour cruise? Another poke in the eye from the stick of age. Of course, I always had two questions about that show:

1. In real life, who would have been nailing Ginger and who would have gone with Mary Ann?

2. If the professor was so damn smart (making radios out of coconuts, inventing a record player for their theatrical productions) why in the hell couldn't he fix a three foot hole in a boat?


I think I'm the quietest writer here when it comes to politics but I must comment on the sham that took place in Denver. For Barack Obama to turn his back on Hilary Clinton and not choose her as his running mate is the final slap in the face to this democrat. To choose Joe Biden, who called it quits during the 1988 Presidential campaign when it was learned he plagerized parts of speeches and presented them as his own, is his attempt to placate everyone that feels he (Obama) has no experience. Not to mention the fact that a year earlier Biden stated that he felt Obama did not have the experience necessary to be president, saying the job "does not lend itself to on the job training." Guess that's all forgiven now that Joe's on the ticket. And what was with the backdrop during Obama's coronation. I kept looking around for Harry Hamlin and Bubo the Owl to show up for the sequel to "Clash of the Titans." Hell, the only thing missing was Obama riding in on a donkey while the faithful chanted, "Obama, hey Bama, Bama Bama O. Bama hey Bama ho Ba Ma" (my apologies to Sirs Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice). This guy is the flavor of the month who has captured the minds of people who are voting for hope...hope that things can only get better. Well, they won't with the Emperor Obama, believe me. I've been voting for President since 1980 and, with the exception of my innagural vote (I went with Independent John Anderson - I had worked long and hard for Ted Kennedy and was still bitter at his defeat) I've voted Democrat. Not this year.


Quite a few noted personalities left us recently. The first one is going to make a man in Wichita, Kansas weep uncontrolably:

Julius Carry, best known as the Kung Fu master Sho Nuff in 1985s "The Last Dragon," died last week from undisclosed causes. He was 56. Though best remembered as the "ShoGun of Harlem," Carry had a long and successful career, mostly in television. He appeared on most popular shows for the past three decades and had a starring role in the series "Doctor Doctor."

Jerry Reed, musician and actor, who turned a successful recording career into movie stardom, died at the age of 71 due to complications from emphysema. After picking up a $2.00 guitar at the age of 8, Reed taught himself how to play, creating his hard to imitate style of finger picking. His work was so hard to imitate that when Elvis Presley wanted to do a cover of Reeds' song, "Guitar Man," he had to fly Reed in play at the session as none of his musicians could imitate the style. So impressed of his ability were his peers that the Country Music Association voted him Instramentalist of the Year in 1970. The next year he won a Grammy for his cross over hit, "When You're Hot, You're Hot," and later won two more Grammys for his collaborations with Chet Atkins. Other hits included "Amos Moses," "Lord Mr. Ford" and "Eastbound and Down," which he co-wrote for the film, "Smokey and the Bandit." A long time friend of Burt Reynolds, Reed made his movie debut alongside his pal in 1975s "W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings." He followed it up the next year with "Gator" and then, 1n 1977, he again appeared with Reynolds in the role he would be remembered for, truck driver Cledus Snow, "the Snowman," in "Smokey and the Bandit." His southern twang and easy delivery made him a fan favorite in the 2nd biggest boxoffice hit of the year, trailing only "Star Wars." He repeated the role in two sequels. Since he considered himself a musician first, Reed only made a handful of films and television appearances. His last role was as the coach who torments Adam Sandler in "The Waterboy." Two of my favorite Reed films are the comedy, "Hot Stuff," and the Vietnam War drama, "Bat-21," where Reed ably held his own on screen with Gene Hackman and Danny Glover. In the early days of the PCR we did a top 10 of our most influential guitarists. Both Atkins and Roy Clark made most lists but I would put Jerry Reed up there with both of them. You know what I'm saying, SON!

Don LaFontaine, voice over specialist best known for his dramatic narration of film coming attractions died from complications of an ongoing illness. He was 68. In his career, he narrated over 5,000 trailers and succeeded Percy Rodrigues as the "voice of the movies" in my mind. He was so well known for his "In a world..." trailers that he was featured, as himself, in a popular Geico Insurance ad.

Dallas, Texas. November 24, 1963. Accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is being led through the garage of the Dallas Jail when he is asked by a newsman, "Do you have anything to say in your defense?" Suddenly, a figure pushes by the newsman, a shot rings out and one of the greatest conspiracy stories in the history of this country begins. The newsman was CBS reporter Ike Pappas. A radio reporter for New York radio station WNEW, Pappas happened to be in Dallas that fateful weekend and was put to work by the network. The gentleman who pushed Pappas aside was the same man who fired the fatal shot: Jack Ruby.


Raging towards an "Ordinary" win!

March 31, 1981. Delayed a day after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Regan, the awards begin with an opening greeting from the former actor, taped before he was shot. The films this year were highly autobiographical, with several personalities, both dead and alive, brought to new life on the big screen. The critical hit of the year was "Raging Bull," based on the life of boxer Jake LaMotta but the film with Oscar buzz was the family drama, "Ordinary People," directed by Robert Redford. On Oscar night the following films were up for Best Picture: Coal Miner's Daughter, The Elephant Man, Ordinary People, Raging Bull and Tess. A good list from a good year in film. Other possible nominees, in my opinion, could have been FAME, The Stunt Man and Inside Moves. Though "Raging Bull" is often regarded as the greatest film of the 1980s, the award went to "Ordinary People."

Best Actor was a battle among the best...five incredible performances. The nominees: John Hurt (The Elephant Man), Robert Duvall (The Great Santini), Robert DeNiro (Raging Bull), Peter O'Toole (The Stunt Man) and Jack Lemmon (Tribute). For Duvall and O'Toole, it was scene chewing and over the top performances that got them recognized. Lemmon was always solid, here as a former Broadway publicist. The battle was down to two actors who changed their appearances drastically. For Hurt, it was donning the necessary make up to transform him into John Merrick, the real life "elephant man" of the story. Born with his deformity Merrick escaped the cruel fates life planned for him to become a true British "gentleman." Hurt, virtually unrecognizable under make up which took 7 hours to apply. On a side note, academy members were so outraged that the film was not recognized for it's make up achievements that they filed an angry grievance with the governing board. The next year, an annual "Best Make Up" Oscar was first awarded. DeNiro also changed his appearance but without the help of make up. In one of the first instances of letting a character inhabit an actor, DeNiro first lost weight for the boxing scenes in the film and then gained an incredible amount of weight to portray LaMotta later in life when his career is over and he's doing a nightclub act. The transformation was incredible, as was the fury of his performance, especially in the non-boxing scenes. A heck of a toss up. Before I pick my winner I want to mention the actor who I feel got robbed this year. No, it's not Jack Nicholson, who gave his first really over the top performance this year in "The Shining," but the highly underrated Donald Sutherland, who scored big points as the father in "Ordinary People." I'm not sure why the studio didn't promote him, unless they were afraid he'd interfere with their decision to nominate co-star Tim Hutton in the same category. Either way, he got hosed. Of the nominees my choice would have been Hurt. However the voters went with DeNiro, who took his second Oscar in five years.

Best Actress saw a mix of old and new: Sissy Spacek (Coal Miner's Daughter), Gena Rowlands (Gloria),Mary Tyler Moore (Ordinary People), Goldie Hawn (Private Benjamin) and Ellen Burstyn (Resurrection). Missing here is Blythe Danner, who held her own and more against Duvall in "The Great Santini." With the exception of Moore, the actresses listed already had at least one nomination in their past, with two of them (Hawn and Burstyn) already owning Oscars. My choice here would have been Moore, who was such a bitch in this film that, when I had the opportunity to meet her a decade later I told her that I still hated her. Thankfully she still signed my "Ordinary People" poster and again crept onto my good side. Sticking with the "real life" theme, the award went to Spacek for her portrayal of country singer Loretta Lynn, who was in the audience to watch Spacek's victory.

Best Supporting Actor was narrowed down to: Michael O'Keefe (The Great Santini), Jason Robards (Melvin and Howard), Timothy Hutton and Judd Hirsch (Ordinary People) and Joe Pesci (Raging Bull). Missing here: Robby Benson, who was fantastic opposite Lemmon in "Tribute." Who shouldn't be here? Hutton, who if I remember right was in all but two scenes in the film. As the suicidal son in a family that is slowly destroying itself, Hutton gives a performance that is both moving and troubling. If I had put Hutton in the Best Actor category (where he technically should have been) my vote would have gone to O'Keefe. Since he was there, I would have taken Hutton, which was the acadamies'choice as well. At 20 years old, Hutton became the youngest winner of the Best Supporting Actor

For the Best Supporting Actressss, the nominees included (5) newcomers: Diana Scarwid (Inside Moves), Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard), Eileen Brennan (Private Benjamin), Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull) and Eva Le Gallienne (Resurrection). Not a strong year for the supporting ladies so I would have easily voted among these nominees. Again, following the theme of real life, the award went to Steenburgen for her portrayal of the ex-wife of Melvin Dumar, played by Paul Le Mat.

Some of my favorite films from 1980: The Fog, Friday the 13th, Return of the Secaucus 7, FAME, The Long Riders, The Empire Strikes Back, The Shining, Urban Cowboy, Carny, The Blues Brothers, Brubaker, The Stunt Man, Airplane, Used Cars, Caddyshack, Dressed to Kill, Middle Age Crazy, Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Special Edition (except I hate the "pour confetti on Dreyfuss' head/it's a spaceship" ending), My Bodyguard, Fade To Black, Stir Crazy and Inside Moves.

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

"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 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 ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.