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PCR #495 (Vol. 10, No. 38). This edition is for the week of September 14--20, 2009.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! A weekend trip to Minnesota brings me here early. Shall we begin?

"The Informant!"  by Mike Smith
The Fabulous Thunderbird  by ED Tucker
Jackie Chan Retrospective  by Jason Fetters
Joe Wilson The Hero .... Blame It On Racism .... .... Renewed Strength .... .... .... ....  by Brandon Jones
Slow Down! .... Patrick Swayze .... Larry Gelbart .... This Just In .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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This Rant looks like it's going to be an honorary obituary issue. Where to start?

Jody Powell, close friend, trusted advisor and press secretary for President Jimmy Carter, died this week at the age of 65. No cause of death was listed.

Tweet, familiar giraffe best known for playing Geoffrey, the Toys R Us giraffe, colapsed on the set of the film "The ZooKeeper" this week and died. She was 18.

Crystal Lee Sutton, the woman on whom the film "Norma Rae" was based, has died this week. She was 68. Cause of death was listed as meningioma, a form of brain cancer that she had been battling for several years. She recently had been struggling with her health insurance company, which had delayed her treatment. She became a symbol of the American Union worker when, just as depicted in the film, she wrote the word UNION on a piece of cardboard, stood on her machine and held it up for her fellow workers to read. One by one, they shut off their machines.

Henry Gibson, famed television funny man, passed away as the Rant was going to press. He was 73. Cause of death was listed as cancer. A gifted comedian, Gibson began his career with a brief stint on "The Joey Bishop Show." A bit part in Jerry Lewis' classic "The Nutty Professor" earned him guest spots on virtually every television comedy of the time, including "The Beverly Hillbillies," "My Favorite Martian," "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "F-Troop." However it wasn't until he appeared as a regular on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In" that his star took off. He then began working in feature films, lending his voice as Wilbur the Pig in "Charlotte's Web." He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his work in Robert Altman's "Nashville" and shared a Grammy nomination with the rest of the cast for the soundtrack album. He later appeared in such films as "The Blues Brothers," "HealtH" and "Magnolia." He most recently was seen as Judge Clark Brown on "Boston Legal."

Mary Travers, one third of the Grammy Award winning recording trio Peter, Paul and Mary, passed away after a brave battle with leukemia. Travers, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey won 5 Grammy Awards for their music.

Not to belittle the achievements of the above but in my humble opinion both Patrick Swayze & Larry Gelbart deserve their own sections.

After an almost 2 year battle with pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze passed away Monday at the age of 57. The son of a rodeo cowboy and a dancer, Swayze found a way to include both of his parent's professions in his life.

My first recollection of Patrick Swayze was an episode of "M*A*S*H," as, ironically, a soldier that is unable to donate blood to a fellow soldier because he has leukemia. Next of course was Francis Ford Coppola's "The Outsiders." One of my favorite novels as a boy, Swayze was older brother Darryl and held his own against a cast that included Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Emelio Estevez, Matt Dillon and Ralph Machio. I then caught him in "Red Dawn," again in the role of the older brother, this time Jed, who leads his friends against an invasion by Russian and Cuban soldiers. One of his co-stars was Jennifer Grey, who would team up again with Swayze a few years later in a little film that no one thought would succeed.

In 1985 he starred as Ory in the mini-series "North and South" and his rise to stardom was complete. The next year he again appeared with Rob Lowe in the hockey film, "Youngblood." And now a personal story. Before my meteoric rise through the ranks of Hollywood - :-) - I was but a lowly intern at a little public relations company outside Baltimore. One of our clients was MGM and while I was toiling away in the office my boss was escorting Patrick around the city to several interviews. A limo dispatched by the studio was supposed to pick him up at our office at 5:00 to take him to Philadelphia so he could do the same thing the next day. At 5:40 the call came that the limo wasn't on it's way. Hey, let the new kid drive him. Of course I jumped at the chance and the next 90 minutes consisted of he and I talking about everything but movies. He was impressed that I recognized him from Toto's "Rosanna" video. I admired his obvious love and knowledge of horses. Two years later our little firm was hired by Vestron Pictures to help plan and promote the studios first nationwide release, that little movie I mentioned earlier. Of course that film was "Dirty Dancing," and more then 20 years later it still remains a cultural icon for that particular generation. Leaving his dancing shoes behind, Swayze next starred in two rough and tough films, "Next of Kin" (a guilty pleasure of mine) and "Road House," which seems to be the guilty pleasure of every man I've ever met. In 1990 Swayze was cast alongside Demi Moore in "Ghost" and his status as romantic leading man was cemented. That year he also appeared in one of the most memorable skits ever performed on "Saturday Night Live," in which he battled Chris Farley for the last position in the Chippendales dancers. Enjoy: http://www.facebook.com/n/?profile.php&id=1313281122&v=feed&story_fbid=134004918963&mid=11bad3cG2f7

The rest of his career was spent doing the occasional film and working on one of his two ranches. For fans and non-fans alike, here is my list of the essential Swayze:

1. The Outsiders
2. Red Dawn
3. North and South (Both mini series)
4. Dirty Dancing
5. Road House
6. Next of Kin
7. Ghost
8. Point Break
9. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything. Julie Newmar
10. Donnie Darko

Also I give him extra credit for appearing in "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," in which he managed to appear as Johnny Castle younger then he was in "Dirty Dancing" but 17 years later.


A young man who got his start as the lowest man on the incredible totem pole of writers for Sid Cesar's "Show of Shows." But not a bad place to be when you consider that the heads above you consisted of Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and Selma Diamond. He continued writing comedy for such stars as Danny Thomas and Joey Bishop. In the early 1970s he was hired as head writer for the series "M*A*S*H," a show he would write almost 100 episodes for. One of my proudest possessions is an autographed copy of the "M*A*S*H" pilot script, signed by Gelbart. He inscribed it, "May this script bring you as much luck as it has me." I can only hope. He was nominated for an Emmy award 17 times for his various television achievements, winning one as a producer of "M*A*S*H." He also received two Oscar nominations for his scripts to "Oh, God" and "Tootsie."


Kanye West just interupted Patrick Swayze's funeral to announce that Michael Jackson's funeral was the greatest ever!


Hair / Time After Time
Starring: Treat Williams and John Savage / Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen
Directed by: Milos Foreman / Nicholas Meyer

Due to the people at Budget Car Rental fucking us royally (we thought it would be best to rent a car then put mileage on the family truckster but apparently the feeble brained manager has no automotive knowledge - more next week when I don't feel like hitting somebody) I fell behind on the Rant. Next week will feature a very unusual double feature of the musical "Hair" and the very underrated time travel classic, "Time After Time."

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. Celebs, please slow down the mortal coil shuffle while I'm gone. 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.