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PCR #463 (Vol. 10, No. 6) This edition is for the week of February 2--8, 2009.
Mike's RantMike's Bust

"He's Just Not That Into You"  by Mike Smith
2008 Was A Year to Forget, But--December was a Month to Remember! Part 2  by William Moriaty
A Look Back in Wax  by ED Tucker
Byron Leftwich Has A Ring, How ‘bout You? .... The New Greatest Game Ever Played? .... Super Commercials? .... Can’t We All Just Get A Bong? .... Texans Violate Agreement .... Other Notes .... ....  by Chris Munger
Bonggate .... Sponsor Loss .... Suspended .... Hang In There Dude  by Matt Drinnenberg
Good Job Honey! .... What's In A Name .... Roy .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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Very proud of my wife, Juanita, who got quite upset when she learned that Bank of America needed more money to buy peanuts for all of their executives at the Super Bowl and decided to get it from us. This made her angry. And you wouldn't like her when she's angry:


Heath Campbell is angry. Seems the state of New Jersey came and took his children on January 9 and won't tell him why. I wonder if the kids' name has anything to do with it. JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, age 2,Adolf Hitler Campbell, 3, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, who will be 1 in April, were taken into custody because the state felt they were in "imminent danger." You may remember these children and the publicity brought upon them when the local Shoprite store refused to put the boys' full name on a birthday cake. OK, so the parents aren't the sharpest tools in the shed when it came to naming the kids. But what about Frank Zappa, who named his kids Dweezil, Moon Unit and Diva? Or Nic Cage and his son Kal-el. Or David Carradine who named his son, I kid you not, I.P. Freely. Good thing I didn't go along with my wife and name my son Josef Mengele Smith.

This Tuesday, February 10, will mark the one year anniversary of the passing of Roy Scheider. Thought you'd like to know.

As I finish the Rant this week word comes of the passing of James Whitmore, who died at the age of 87 after a long battle with lung cancer. An Oscar nominee in 1976 for Best Actor for "Give 'Em Hell, Harry," Whitmore is probably best remembered by younger fans for his appearance in two Frank Darabount directed films: "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Majestic." Whitmore's early work in the 1950s came because of his voice, narrating such films as "The Red Badge of Courage" and delivering the voice of the Angels in "Angels in the Outfield." He spent almost 20 years as a highly regarded quest star on episodic television until he was cast as a series regular in the short lived "My Friend Tony" in 1969. His next regular role was as Doctor Campanelli in the Cleavon Little comedy "Temperature's Rising." In 1975 he appeared in the film version of the one man show "Give 'Em Hell, Harry," portraying President Harry S. Truman. The film holds three distinct honors. First, it was the first major film to be shot on video tape and then transferred to film. Second, though the film had a very limited release, it was shown repeatedly on the "Z" channel, an early cable channel that served Los Angeles. It is these screenings that allowed Whitmore to gain his Oscar nomination. And third, it's the only major film where the entire cast (Whitmore) was nominated for an acting Academy Award. His last appearance was on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" in 2007.


Blue Thunder
Starring: Roy Scheider, Daniel Stern and Malcolm McDowell
Directed by: John Badham

FIRST SEEN: Yorkridge 4 Theatre, Baltimore, Maryland
FAVORITE LINE: "I had twenty years in this outfit, when your idea of a good time was sittin' in front of the TV tube, watchin' Bugs Bunny and gnawing on your fudgcicle."
FAVORITE SCENE: Blue Thunder rises up to interfere with a police stop.


1984 Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing

"He's out there!" So proclaimed the posters for the film "Blue Thunder." Accompanied by the image of a dark helicopter, the film was one of the most anticipated of the year. The story concerned the creation of a new, armed helicopter which would patrol the skies of Los Angeles as security for the upcoming Olympic games. However, in reality, it was the first in a planned fleet that the government could use in cases of armed insurrection.

I love this film for so many reasons. First off, the cast is a perfect combination of old pros and new faces. Sadly, this was Warren Oates' last film and his performance as Captain Braddock, head of the Astro Division, is stellar and by the book: the tough as nails boss with a soft spot for the troublemaker. His interactions for both Scheider and Stern are both funny and memorable. Stern, coming off an eye opening performance in Barry Levinson's "Diner" is perfectly cast as the fresh faced and wide eyed observer who constantly questions why he must wear a hat that reads "JAFO." Add to the mix Candy Clark in one of her last major roles and Malcolm McDowell, who here is just beginning to mold his "prick" characterization and you've got a winner of a cast. John Badham, already a favorite director of mine (Saturday Night Fever, Dracula) takes to the skies and delivers a film that packs a whallop. Add to this mix a tight script by the co-writer of "Dark Star" and "Alien" and you had a formula for great moviemaking.

One of the little things that make "Blue Thunder" unique is the use of the main characters' wrist watch to progress the story. It was intriguing because this marks one of the first, if not the only film, that Roy Scheider's watch plays a part in the progression of the films story. He checks it to maintain his only sense of timing and to keep his mind sharp, setting his skills to the digital countdown. (added 2/8/09) I apologize for the abrupt ending here. I'm sure it made no sense to readers where I was going. Unfortunately I had to work Saturday morning and was rushing the Rant to be ready on Friday. What I was trying to point out is this: While making "The French Connection," Roy was given a watch that belonged to Sonny Grosso, the real life detective Roy was portraying. Roy wore that watch in the film and wore it for the rest of his life. It can be seen in all of his films WITH THE EXCEPTION of "Blue Thunder," because the watch used was required in the script. Hope that makes more sense. For more on Roy and his watch, click here to a past issue of PCR


Next week we look at the 2nd four time Academy Award nominee, Warren Beatty, in "Heaven Can Wait."

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

"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 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 ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.