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Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2008!
   Assistant Editor:  Terence Nuzum.                                                          HOME     ARCHIVES
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our ninth calendar year!
Number 417  (Vol. 9, No. 12). This edition is for the week of March 17--23, 2008.

"Drillbit Taylor"
OzFest 2008
Book Review: Letters From A Dead Armadillo by Wendy Boucher
Rondo Awards Result....Paul, Paul, Paul....Politico....Van Halen Resumes Tour
Oz .... Ahead Of The Game? .... Speaking Of Whores .... Bye Bye Barack .... Barry Bonds (again) .... Passing On .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1939 Should Have Gone To... z
Arthur C. Clarke, R.I.P.

Wright is Wrong for Obama

I was shocked and saddened to learn that one of the most influential science-fiction writers of our time, and a personal favorite of mine, Mr. Arthur C. Clarke, died at his home in Sri Lanka at the age of 90.

In the mainstream press, the word "iconic" is used to describe either the man, his accomplishments, or both. To a baby-boomer such as myself there are quite a few "iconic" images from the '60s. Just a few that come to mind are The Beatles, JFK, Vietnam, the moon landing, Peter Maxx posters, and, indisputably, 2001: A Space Oddysey.

"Open The Pod Bay Doors, HAL"
That last one, a collaboration between Clarke and iconic director Stanley Kubrick, broke new ground in the way space-themed pictures were made, taking five years and $8-10 million by the time of its release in 1968 (around $100 million or better in today's money). Based on several of Clarke's stories (The Sentinel and Childhood's End, among others) and discussions with Kubrick about what would make the (insert Kubrick making big air-quotes here) "proverbial good science-fiction movie", the two introduced two main ideas: 1. That extraterrestrials not only influenced our evolution, but would reveal themselves in due time. And, 2., that a sufficiently advanced computer, programmed for artificial intelligence, could develop a mental disorder and maybe even have a nervous breakdown.

Even the theme music for 2001 is iconic: the haunting Thus Spake Zarathustra builds from a near whisper to what amounts to orchestral power-chords in an ingenius implementation of classical music inextricably associated with the movie. But....I digress.

I read a few Clarke novels. Besides 2001, another one that made a big impression on me was Rendezvous With Rama, another tale of an encounter with an alien civilization that sort of drifts into our solar system in a most unique way. This is currently being developed into a movie with Morgan Freeman, as I understand it.

I think why Arthur C. Clarke so appeals to me is he stuck with "hard-science"-type stories, shying away from injecting much fantasy (no "warp speeds" or anything). This built worlds that were admittedly purely speculative, but not impossible.

While it's commonly known Clarke was visionary in his prediction of global communication satellites, writing about them as early as 1945, it's less commonly known that he was a big fan of underwater exploration and marine diving, a big reason he moved to Sri Lanka in 1956. Besides the research benefits, he loved the weightlessness diving brought him (Clarke suffered debilitating effects of post-polio syndrome). He rarely left Sri Lanka afterwards. (A close friend of mine once received a hand-written reply to a fan letter he'd written Clarke. In it, Clarke stated he'd been to Florida for a diving expedition in the late '50s! That's pretty cool.)

Arthur C. Clarke won a plethora of awards for his writing and was knighted in 2000.

Toward the end of his life, he admitted he had no further professional ambitions, but expressed three personal wishes to close friends and associates: 1. That extraterrestrial life would make itself known, or at least be proven to have existed. 2. That we abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and embrace cleaner and safer energy. 3. Closer to home, that his beloved adopted home of Sri Lanka would unify its violent and divided political factions and know peace.

Like other grandmasters of his generation who are no longer with us, Arthur C. Clarke was a giant and will be sorely missed.

I have been slow to comment on this latest scandal and I apologize. It has been the rage of talk radio and TV. This week's Mike's Rant has some great commentary on it. Before my absence on this important political development becomes more conspicuous, I would like to briefly comment, and it will be brief, because Mike does a great job. I just want to go on record about it.

I am, of course, talking about the firestorm of controversy surrounding Barack Obama's minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose inflammatory anti-American and racist remarks (recorded and played on TV and radio) have negatively impacted Obama's presidential bid, perhaps fatally. Wright has been Obama's minister for 20 years and is credited for getting Obama into the Christian church. (Obama's previous religious affiliation is another hot-button topic we'll save for another day.) When the Rev. Wright gave a fire-and-brimstone sermon about how America invited 9/11 to happen and how the black man has been kept down by the whites, it was capped off by the extremely memorable line, "Not God Bless America, no no no. It's God DAMN America!"

When confronted by this, Obama distanced himself from his preacher, but only slightly, saying something kinda lame like "he's my spiritual advisor, not my political one." He disagreed with the expressed sentiments, said he'd never heard the Reverend speak this way before, and added that this is how many black people think. His recent noteworthy televised speech rebuking the comments was a wonderful effort at damage control, and as the New York Times said, "couldn't have handled it any better," but the damage has already been done.

The comments about Wright's feelings being a big surprise to Obama are simply not credible. By all accounts, Wright's sermon was a typical one and it's not possible to believe he's never talked like this before! Obama will not disown the preacher (admirable, although he'd look even worse than he does now, if he did), any more than he will disown his wife (for her remarks about being ashamed of America), or his white grandmother (who commented on being afraid to encounter black men). So here it is, kids:

The young Illinois senator has gracefully handled every barb and accusation up to this point, because people wanted to see him do well, I think, and give Hillary Clinton some worthy opposition. But, the tidal wave of negativity is about to submerge him and I don't think this latest chapter is recoverable.


Readers' Comments

The Readers' Comments section for this issue of PCR is now closed. To continue to interact, please use the Message Board or write a Letter to the Editor! The comments below are listed starting with the most recent. Thank you.

Crazed FanComments -- We Welcome Reader Feedback on any article(s) on this page.
Nolan [21-03-2008 19:25] 
John, re: Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is it not he who is running for President -- Obama is. We have a right to know what he really believes.
Nolan [21-03-2008 19:14] 
John, I have commented endlessly about the futility and hideousness of the pointless Iraq war on the message board and in these pages for years. I did neglect to observe this week's being the 5th anniversary of it on the homepage, and I should've , true (maybe next week). It makes me sick to think of what we've pissed away over the war in Iraq that could've been used for greater things, not to mention the mountain of lies upon which it was built and sustained. It's been my experience that the hawks among us will continue to defend it, and those against it will be derided as naive or something. History will paint Bush as the monumental failure he is regarding foreign policy. Let's hope he does better in his waning days getting us out of this era's Great Depression.
terence [21-03-2008 16:20] 
i dont defend the rich bastards in office or Wright. and before anyone here runs to vote think about this.....Hilary is a rich senator, McCain is a rich senator, and Obama is a rich senator. none of them speak for you or I. everyone needs to stop fooling themselves and just go vote for your favorite rich Senator based on race or gender or just plain likability! just like American Idol!
J.MILLER [21-03-2008 11:42] 
Its amazing...This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war and after lie after lie after lie, 4000 dead American soldiers, tens of thousends wounded, millions of Iraqis dead or displaced, billions spent...Not to mention the mortgage crisis, gas crisis, the travesty that was hurrican Katrina, etc, etc....The thing that finally fires up the anglo middle class is Obamas pastor!..A black man yells about the head crackers in charge that are fisting yall in the anus with no vasoline and you run to defend them...Maybe I just dont get it...
Michael [21-03-2008 05:57] 
Folks, I apologize for the incomplete RANT. I kept losing my Internet connection last night and really only partially finished my Obama story (hence the abrubt ending - I hate Time/Warner cable). There is much more to come I promise.
Paul Guzzo [20-03-2008 20:39] 
Continued .. I thought Johnny Blue was one of best films we'd ever shown though ....

I am completely fired up for April ... the scenes from Pete's Weekend Film School are fascinating ... all seven teams had the same script, yet they all look and feel different.

Again, Pete, Joe and Dan Brienza need to be commended for the job they did with the school and I think you will all agree after seeing the scenes.
Paul Guzzo [20-03-2008 20:35] 
You simply mentioned with rain you didn't expext much and with a month filled with events and film fests, it is known for bad turnouts ... which it is ... Pete and I were actually blown away by the attendance in rain... I just read into it too much, but was never ANGRY about it - the problem with typing and not talking is things get misread. I was just telling The One that I am always happy to have over 100 people. Pete and I always say, we will do it if we have 10 people a month. No issue Nolan.
An FYI though, we had 100 chairs and they were all filled and we had people standing ... tables are a little different.
TFR, as I always say, is like a bar band event ... we only do as good as the filmmakers can draw. Ironically, our best attendance months are usually when we have AWFUL lineups. First time filmmakers bring great crowds. BUT, films lineups were not strong at end of 2007 despite big crowds,so I have been stressing good films over attendance lately.
Nolan [20-03-2008 20:26] 
To Paul: Sorry for the confusion, but where did I say the TFR was a poor turn-out? I said the line-up was not quite as strong, meaning the films themselves. As far as attendance, I said traditionally February and March are low turn-out months which we've talked about before. I thought I went on to indicate that TFR had a good turn-out, only I speculated some of it was inherited from Brienza's group at the start, that's all. The next line, "the net result of a solid house renders the point rhetorical" may have been too vague, but by "solid house" I meant "a good turn-out"!
terence [20-03-2008 18:56] 
hey matt. yeah it is pretty appalling that Zombies terrible remake won the award. i wouldnt argue about any Nosferatu restoration and im pretty sureTim Lucas' book on Bava deserved to win. though i havent read it i want to. too bad its like $100 something and some change.
Lisa C [20-03-2008 18:20] 
To The One, re: "Lisa is a good writer, and I respect her for that. She is one of the best reviewers that I have seen on here." -- Thank you very much.

Re: TFR attendance -- I sat in the second or third row, so I honestly have no idea how many people were there. I wonder if having tables there factored in anywhere...either making it difficult to assess the number of people in attendance or perhaps limiting the number of people who could be seated or even driving people away if they didn't quickly see any open spots?? This is pure speculation, of course.
Paul Guzzo [20-03-2008 16:16] 
BTW, if anyone thinks we can EVER average 300 people a month, that's crazy. The event will continue to average 100-150 a month. That seems to be par and we are fine with that, as long as the filmmakers are.
Paul Guzzo [20-03-2008 16:12] 
Actually, we had well over 100 people ... which is our average. since moving to the Bazaar. Not sure why it was reviewed as a lesser crowd.
The One [20-03-2008 15:48] 
Very good review of the TFR. Although I am not at all fond of some of you and your biased politics, I will say this. Lisa is a good writer, and I respect her for that. She is one of the best reviewers that I have seen on here.
ED [20-03-2008 04:53] 
Steve - if you check out his IMDB entry, you will see that Jerry Maren has worked as an actor steadily from the late 1930's until he retired in the early 1990's. This was all in addition to his work as a spokesperson / character actor for McDonalds, Buster Brown Shoes, and Oscar Meyer.
Steve Beasley [20-03-2008 02:03] 
Arthur C. Clarke is an icon. I've spoken to a few Sri Lankans here that I work with and they all know who AC is. They speak of him almost as if he's the king of Sri Lanka. I'm not sure exactly what he did for them, but apparently he didn't go to Sri Lanka to retire in peace and quiet. I assume he was a philanthropist of sorts.
Steve Beasley [20-03-2008 01:59]  
I was curious as to whether or not Jerry Maren, has had any success since Wizard of Oz and found that he also played one of the Mole Men in George Reeves "Superman" pilot and Buster Brown on television and radio during the 1950s and 1960s and has also been doing McDonald's commercials under the heavy costume of Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar for several years.
[31-12-1969 16:00] 
End of Comments    

"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2008 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith    "FANGRRL" is ©2008 by Lisa Ciurro    "Retrorama" is ©2008 by ED Tucker    "Filmlook" is ©2008 by Paul Guzzo    "CANOVA: The Online Comic Series" is ©2008 by John Miller      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova    
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