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Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2009!
   Assistant Editor / Co-Moderator:  Terence Nuzum.                 HOME           ARCHIVES
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our tenth calendar year!
Number 507  (Vol. 10, No. 50). This edition is for the week of December 7--13, 2009.

Time Warp Toy Box 09 Part 2
The Star Wars Holiday Special
The Thai Warrior
Book Review: Mistletoe and Mayhem:Horrific Tales for the Holidays edited by Richard Dalby
Remembering Roy .... Happy Stanley (get It....stan Lee) .... Oops .... Passing On .... Now I'm Upset! .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2 e
Home Stretch
British Military Shuts Down UFO Hotline
Disturbing Michael Jackson Painting
PCR Writers Alert: Year-End Issues Ahead
Readers Comments

Ye Olde Editor-in-Webmonkey's severely sprained ankle (reported last issue) is healing nicely, the pain is diminishing daily, and I'm almost walking normally now. Thanks to everyone who called or wrote expressing support and/or gave helpful suggestions, it was most sincerely appreciated.

And now for a couple of nutty headlines that caught my attention this week...


Long-time readers are aware of my fascination with UFOs and the probability of extraterrestrial life. Publicly, I've never taken a hard-core position on the existence of UFOs, preferring instead to say we "need to do more research" on the topic.

America had its "Project Bluebook", a UFO reporting and investigative agency, which closed in the '60s. Most other countries have some sort of alien-monitoring agency, even if it's just for show.

Citing the high costs of operation, the British military has shut down its UFO hotline and associated email contacts. This brings to an end a half-century commitment by the United Kingdom to helping UFO witnesses find a sympathetic ear.

According to the Ministry of Defense, ditching the UFO office will translate to an annual savings of around $73,000 a year, money much better spent supporting the 9,500 soldiers the country has deployed to Afghanistan. No jobs were lost as a result of this decision, and the military isn't taking a position on the existence of UFOs or alien life.

Naturally, some of the British public are upset at the decision, UFO clubs charging they are now helpless to involve the military should aliens invade us. Officials state that in fifty years of reports, no evidence for a national security threat related to UFOs ever surfaced.

Now, I can't fault the Ministry their logic for finding better uses for the money, but seriously: $73,000? That's it? If they're having to look at that little sum to bolster their army they're in worse financial shape than realized! I figure for that sum it's worth keeping the Hotline open, if for nothing else, to give the nuts and screwballs a destination for their ravings.

Still, it signals the end of an era of sorts, one of several that fans of the paranormal may have to painfully endure over the coming years as some of our most cherished subjects are routinely discarded as the hoaxes and marketing gimmicks they likely always were.


I didn't think anything I discovered about this talented but looney individual would surprise me, but, it just goes to show, you never know.

Recently released was an image of a painting by David Nordahl depicting Michael as a nearly naked religious figure surrounded by child-like cherubs -- all male --who are placed closely around, some putting flows in his hair. According to sources, there are around 75 other Nordahl paintings commissioned by the King of Pop. Some cast Jackson in the light of Peter Pan, King Arthur and a superhero.

The most distressing thing to me about Michael Jackson (I won't even address sexual issues, that's too out there -- and speculative), is that no matter how much success he enjoyed, or money he amassed, or property he acquired, or famous he got, it was never enough. The man hated himself. He hated how he looked, he hated his ethnicity, and never felt accepted.

The man who lived a storybook version of American success himself had to build and re-build an artificial environment to surround himself with the fantasy life he so wished he could be a part of. He had to remake his own face dozens of times to distance himself from .... himself.

The Jackson family is not crazy about the images of these paintings being released to the public, and it's not hard to see why.


It's hard to believe the year 2009 is almost over. As 2010 looms ever closer, it is time to take stock of what's happened, thank those whose contributions helped bring us this far, and look ahead to the future.

To this end, I'm alerting all PCR writers that, after this week, there are only two issues left in the 2009 Archive Calendar. Please consider this when planning and composing your final two issues for 2009, #51 and #52.

As always, the two-part year-end PCR wrap-up begins with issue #51, next week's issue. I will try and summarize this nutty year in as few words as possible, always a challenge, along with mentions of highlights and lowlights. Awards and citations will be given for most valuable players, recognition given for newer columns that stood the test of time, and, of course, the "PCR Graveyard of Fallen Columns" has several new tombstones.

It's been a most trying year, more than I ever anticipated. Hopefully, 2010, where we here at CF/PCR celebrate ten solid years on the web, will be truly glorious.

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.
Steve [14-12-2009 11:51] 
Great piece this week, Lisa! Mistletoe & Mayhem sounds like it could be adapted and turned into the next "Night Gallery" TV series...if there was one.
Nolan [13-12-2009 15:44] 
Gene Barry, aka, Bat Masterson, will be sorely missed.
Chris Woods [13-12-2009 12:44] 
Lisa - Mistletoe and Mayhem sounds like a great book. Always horror stories that take place around Christmas time are always creepier. Also, lots of great authors that contributed to the book.

ED - I enjoyed part 2 of your Time Warp Toy Box. Some cool pics of the old toy ads. Looking forward to part 3.
Simon Lynx [13-12-2009 10:19] 
Ed - I liked your article on the toys. I use to have the Star Trek, disc thrower.
The Golden Age [12-12-2009 18:51] 
Longtime veteran tv actor Gene Barry passed away on Dec. 9th.
J.MILLER [12-12-2009 17:37] 
Nole -- Cant say I blame the Brits for shutting down the UFO hotline...In the grander scheme $73,000 doesnt seem like that much to waste...But when the govt is setting aside $73,000 just to accomodate weirdos and oddballs who report UFOs it just seems like money down the drain...Besides...Im sure the military has a system in place that keeps track of the skies and is prepared for something like a invasion from outer space...
Michael [12-12-2009 16:09] 
T, you are correct...it is a hard drive...though it comes in what looks like a large VHS tape cassette. What I found perplexing was that I was told the hard drive was twice as big as the theatres BRAND NEW computer system could handle. The right words escaped me, probably in my frustration of having paid $10 to park at the overpriced new AMC theatre in Kansas City only to be greeted by a studio rep with the words, "Bad news..." I'm not going in expecting too much....hopefully better CGI then the stuff Zemeckis gets out of his "Polar Express/Christmas Carol" experiments.

ED, looking forward to the spy toy issue. Something about those kind of toys fascinated me as a kid, probably because someone actually put some thought into them. I mean, come on...a transistor radio that turns into a rifle? Sweet!
Granasanamana [11-12-2009 11:18] 
Avatar reminds me too much of that Final Fantasy movie, with higher resolution CGI. Cameraon didn't quite agree with making CG actors who look real. Close, but no cigar, and I agree with T.
Terence [11-12-2009 09:33] 
Mike- I believe you meant that the film is not on digital cassette but a hard drive. as for Avatar...wasnt this crap the film that Cameron has been working on for years and its big selling point was how it was going to look so realistic that it would replace human actors and yet by the footage Ive seen it looks like a crappy Pixar or Disney film. you said hope it doesnt suck...bet your money on it. it will suck.
ED [11-12-2009 07:06] 
Michael - the Man from UNCLE toys were a little before my time but I am familliar with them. There was also a similar line called Agent Zero-M. I would have loved to have had the UNCLE lighter gun. It looked like an ordinary cigarett lighter but when you pressed down on the igniter, a gun barrel popped out of the front. I just love the idea of a toy cigarett lighter for kids to play with. I will do an article on spy toys next year just for you.
Michael [10-12-2009 20:01] 
Well, apparently technology sucks. My screening of "Avatar" this afternoon was cancelled when it was discovered that the computerized system AMC installed in their BRAND NEW THEATRE was not powerful enough to project the film properly. Yes, instead of film the movie showed up on a digital cassette. Ah, how I miss the good ole days. Unsure if they will screen this again before opening, especially since the theatre is scrambling to update their brand new system.
Simon Lynx [10-12-2009 19:43] 
Chris - Ya the sweetheart thing was weird. Atleast they never incorporated those characters into any of the films. I also remember years ago on the Muppet Show, when Hamill was the host. He did some singing there too and variety type stuff. There is actually a figure out there of Boba Fett from the cartoon with his "Y" shaped staff, I used to know a guy who had one. Not sure where he got it though.
matthew [10-12-2009 16:30] 
MAJOR Famous Monsters of Filmland news!!!

Phil Kim has hired Michael Heisler to be the new editor in cheif of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.

They have also hooked up with IDW, which will ensure the magazine high profile status as it rocks into your town sometime this summer.

Since the settlement between Kim and Ray Ferry, many were wondering if the magazine would survive. We have our answer.

Go to www.famousmonstersoffilmland.com to get the scoop!
Chris Woods [10-12-2009 15:15] 
Thanks everyone, glad you liked the article. The special is hard to watch and the only thing worth looking at is the cartoon.

Terence - I didn't know about the outtake. Some of that stuff in that segment kind of looked like stuff I never seen, because I know they used a lot of stock footage from the film.

Mike - I remeber hearing about the accident Hamill got in way back when and I remeber him looking a bit different from Star Wars to Empire.

Simon - I wished Darth Maul did last and go on to the other films, oh well. Remember when I first got the bootleg of the speical and we saw how bad it was. Remember Han calling Chewie's son sweetheart a few times.

ED - The special was a let down for all Star Wars fans. At the time when I saw it I was happy to see something new of Star Wars, but also noticed it was a bit odd.
Nicholas Rex [10-12-2009 14:49] 
Does someone place flowers on my column's tombstone? It's probably worn down with age.
Michael [10-12-2009 14:01] 
ED, great piece this week as usual. I know I used to have the "Trek" gun. What I would most like to have again was a "Man From U.N.C.L.E." portable radio that folded out into a rifle. They were the coolest toys. Anyone else ever get dirty looks from the teacher for putting your pen near your mouth and saying, "Open Channel D?"
Michael [10-12-2009 13:58] 
Yes, Mark Hamill had a car wreck. If you look at his face in "Star Wars" and his face in subsequent films you will notice a difference. In fact, all of the pick up shots of Luke in the land speeder in "Star Wars" are filmed with a double as he was in the hospital when they were filmed. Hamill actually appeared in the pilot episode of "Eight Is Enough" but was released from his contract after the accident.
Non-Filmmaker Lisa [10-12-2009 12:49] 
FYI -- The Ybor Festival of the Moving Image is now accepting submissions and is "providing cash awards in three categories to Florida filmmakers for films made from 2008 to 2010". Check the Tampa Bay Area Indie Film News for more info. [DISCLOSURE: I'm one of the judges.]
ED [10-12-2009 06:59] 
Curious - you should have been here on Black Friday. It would have blown your mind!
Curious [10-12-2009 06:34] 
So what is everyone BUYING for Christmas?!?!??! I NEED TO KNOW!!!!
ED [10-12-2009 05:47] 
My understanding is that the cartoon segment was a part of a failed television pilot that never got completed. They tossed it in as padding and as a teaser for Boba Fett since he was going to be the first action figure they released who did not appear in the first Star Wars film. Don't forget that the lame Droids and Ewoks cartoons turned up on Saturday morning a few years later after Jedi. If this cartoon was going to turn out like those I am glad they scrapped it.
ED [10-12-2009 05:44] 
Chris - thatnks so much for that gut wrenching trip down memory lane with the Star Wars Special. I still have vivid memories of the night it first aired and how excited my classmates and I were about seeing it. After it was over, I could not believe how badly it sucked! I called a friend the next day and he said the same thing. Do you have any idea how hard it was to disappoint a 12 year old boy with something Star Wars related in 1978? Well it was pretty darn hard but Lucas did it in spades. I have always considered it's non-release on home video his way of apologizing to the fans!
nelson [10-12-2009 04:59] 
maybe the truth will come back and due a year end review for 2009!
mark hammit had a car wreck?
Michael [09-12-2009 23:10] 
The "Star Wars Holiday Special" is an annual event in the Smith house. I would have rather seen Itchy in the prequels then Jar Jar! I also think this was Hamill's first on screen appearance after his car wreck, which is why he looks different. Oh well, it kept him off of "Eight is Enough." Seeing "Avatar" tomorrow afternoon....please God, don't let it suck!
Major Major [09-12-2009 19:13] 
Bea Arthur in a Star Wars production? I must see this. If only they included Furley-era Don Knotts...
Esteemed Art Critic [09-12-2009 19:11] 
I wonder how long it will be before reproductions of that Jackson painting start appearing in Targets and Spencer's stores across the country...
Terence [09-12-2009 19:01] 
besides the cartoon the coolest part of the Holiday Special was seeing some Mos Eisley footage of some long legged monster walk by the camera. that shot is acutually an outtake from A New Hope that was never used. im sure most fans recognized that. if not you can thank me later lol
Simon Lynx [09-12-2009 14:40] 
Chris - liked your article on Star Wars X'mas special. I agree the Cartoon portion was the best part. All the musical stuff was horrible. I agree also that they should have ran with a series for the cartoon. Boba Fett could've played a bigger role. His character could have been "in the grey" and worked for both sides, like a double agent. It would've made for some interesting stories. I would have to say that the x'mas special is way worse than Phantom Menace. I enjoyed Menace, but it would've been way better if Jar Jar wasn't there and if Darth Maul atleast survived to Clone Wars. I would've liked to see Maul vs Anakin in "Clones" Just a tease to see if he was worthy of taking his place down the line.
Simon Lynx [09-12-2009 14:33] 
Yeah! I'm 1st
[31-12-1969 16:00] 
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"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith     "La Floridiana" is ©2009 by William Moriaty    "FANGRRL" is ©2009 by Lisa Scherer    "Retrorama" is ©2009 by ED Tucker    "Growing Up Fanboy" is ©2009 by Chris Woods    "Sports Talk" is ©2009 by Chris Munger     "The Asian Aperture" is ©2009 by Jason Fetters     "Lampin' @ the 6th Borough" is ©2009 by John Miller      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova    
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