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PCR Archives 2002
PCR Archives 2001
PCR Archives 2000
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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2002!

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(Links listed above indicate "final edition" status.)
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The Omnipresent M. Smith homepage and Email                    

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Established A.D. 2000, March 19.  Now in our third calendar year!
   Number 119 (Vol. 3, No. 27). This edition is for the week of July 1--7, 2002.
"...One Nation, under God..."
Is it unconstitutional? My take on it

I pledge allegiance...
I learned The Pledge of Allegiance the way most baby boomers born after 1955 learned it: with the under God part intact. I didn't mind reciting it then and I don't mind reciting it now. "Loyalty Oath"? Whatever. I figured it's a traditonal part of Americana, I like the pledge itself and I can deal with it.

Growing up Catholic didn't help me with any critical thinking skills to apply where God was concerned. I accepted it and thought everyone else did, too. Over the years I changed my position pretty radically on God and religion. I won't bore you again with the details, much of which I've already written voluminously about in these pages, but to put it simply, I fell away from all of that, eventually becoming completely and irrevocably atheist. Day-to-day life didn't change all that much afterwards, except for one thing: I got a new perspective on the extent of hypocrisy and hatred around me, and in the world in general. I could write volumes on that, and someday I will, but right now I'll concentrate on the issue at hand...

Waving US Flag
Happy Independence Day! July 4, 2002
This is kind of a mess of a case, but near as I can make out, it all started when Michael Newdow, a Sacramento physician and atheist, became upset when his second grade daughter was "exposed to religion" via being made to recite the pledge of allegiance which includes the phrase "under God". He filed a class-action lawsuit stating that the forced recitation of the pledge was unconstitutional in that it implies the gov't supports a religion (belief in the Judeo-Christian God), thereby violating the "separation of church and state" (Oh how I do love that little chestnut).

The US Supreme Court has never squarely addressed the issue. It has said schools can require teachers to lead the pledge, but ruled students can't be punished for not reciting it.
Congress approved the addition of "under God" at the height of the cold war after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic men's organization. Americans deluged Congress with mail supporting the change.
President Eisenhower alluded to the religious aspects of the pledge in June 1954, when he signed the insertion of the "under God" phrase into law, referring to "the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty," Eisenhower said.
The pledge itself has deeper roots. It is attributed to socialist editor and clergyman Francis Bellamy, who first published it in 1892 in a children's magazine to bolster the utopian ideal that the middle class could fashion a planned political and social economy, equitable for all.
Until World War II, millions of schoolchildren recited the pledge with a stiff outstretched arm reminiscent of a Nazi salute, but with the palm perpendicular to the ground and fingers pointing to the flag.

The first court to hear the case dismissed it. However, the decision was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, when Circuit Judge Alfred Goodwin said leading schoolchildren in a pledge that says the United States is "one nation under God" is as objectionable as making them say "We are a nation 'under Jesus,' a nation 'under Vishnu,' a nation 'under Zeus,' or a nation 'under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion." The court and Newdow were barraged with hate mail and Newdow and his daughter were forced to go into hiding.

Well, la-dee-da. But then it got even weirder.

Following the predictable public outcry, some objections reaching as high as the President himself (who pronounced the decision "ridiculous"), Judge Goodwin reversed himself and put an injuction (or something) against his own ruling within two days! I don't think I'd ever heard of such a thing before.

Last week's Mike's Rant raised some very interesting angles about what could happen if the decision stuck. So, here's what I think likely happened: the news of the decision reached the White House. After George Dubya said "So what?" his advisors fire back, "But, but, but sir, you're supposed to be a Christian and the nation's supposed to be all Christian and not godless, 'cause only the Communists are godless and we're not them and then there's the founding fathers who were, well, sorta Christian depending on who you ask, and we "swear so help me God" in court trials with our hands on Bibles, we'd have to change that, and now someone's rocking the boat which makes us look bad and un-Christian-like and YOU GOTTA DO SOMETHING! To which the Prez says, "ummm....but a judge OK'd this right?" To which his advisors, now in a blind panic and near convulsing remind him that all our currency has "In God We Trust" emblazoned on it somewhere. "What do you think will come next? They'll sue to have a new currency printed that's not so damned unconstitutional! WE DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS! We have a war on terror to promote!"

Suddenly it sinks in. We can't let this go through. And the major distraction away from the war on terror could prove fatal. Drastic times call for drastic measures. I think The Judge got a personal call in the middle of the night from somebody in power who said basically "reverse yourself---that's an order." He did. Eventually it'll be official and everyone can go back to their comfort zones with their now-radified, gov't supported religious beliefs. Well, the monotheistic ones anyway.

I have long known it is very unwise for an atheist to try a stunt like this. Even if I agree with what he's trying to say, it's just not healthy. Too bad that, amongst all the noise, we never did get to the separation of church and state issue, and likely never will. Which guarantees something else: we're doomed to repeat this all over again when the next atheist-with-child wants to rock the boat.

Time Magazine Cover Story: End Times is big business
At the risk of getting our own Matt Drinnenberg going again with his End Times series, it's worth noting that the current Time magazine cover story is on the nation's obsession with this very thing. I still regard it as a hiccup in pop culture, but I'm forced to admit the "End Times prophecy" business looms awfully BIG in pop culture right now. It's obvious why: the post 9/11 search-for-higher answers.
   There are reportedly no less than ten bestsellers plotted with End Times themes based on Biblical books and/or verses (normally Revelations, but Thessolonians and Daniel crop up occasionally). The most popular, arguably, is "Left Behind" a book about The Rapture, with sales of over 7 million (plus a video).
   And speaking of magazines...

Maxim Magazine's 50 Worst Movies of all Time
Some predicatable ones like, "It's Pat", "Little Nicky", "Rhinestone", "A Gnome Named Gnorm", "Battlefield: Earth", "Spice World", and "Patch Adams" made the list, but there were some borderline cases like "Hook" and "Dune" (altho they definitely had their problems), along with some more surprising ones like "Zardoz", "Erin Brokovich", "Stayin' Alive" (well, maybe), "Godfather III", and The Sound of Music". So there has to be an accounting for taste here.
Oh, and their Number One worst movie of all time? "Phantom Menace"? NOPE: "Batman and Robin"!


Announcements
Good news for Florida Filmmakers! This year has got to be the best I've seen in a while regarding the filmmaking community in Tampa and in Florida. While it definitely had some stumbling blocks along the way (still does), the networking among the movers and shakers is improving. I got the following press release in the mail just recently:

Renegade Films, Inc. Announces Saints and Sinners Film Festival
SAINT PETERSBURG, FL -- 7/2/02 -- Renegade Films, Inc. will be hosting the Saints and Sinners Film Festival on Saturday August 3, 2002 at the State Theatre in downtown Saint Petersburg. The event will showcase local independent feature-length and short films in the categories of Non-Horror Comedy and Drama (Saints) and Horror (Sinners). A festival jury will present awards to the winning film in each category. The purpose of the festival is to gain greater exposure for the local independent filmmaking scene and generate interest in the business of filmmaking in Florida.

The festival schedule features premieres from two Tampa-based production companies, the Icon Studios feature-length film Bleed and the Present Day Productions short film Afterlife. Festival submissions will be accepted through July 31st at no cost to the filmmakers. Submission details, screening information, and a schedule for the event will be available at http://www.renegadefilms.net. We are looking for volunteers to assist in the promotion and still accepting proposals for additional corporate sponsors

CONTACT:
Kerry Hogan
Renegade Films, Inc.
Phone: 727-776-6007
Fax: 253-736-8720
Email: kerry@renegadefilms.net
Web Site: http://www.renegadefilms.net
Troma Entertainment, the oldest and longest running truly independent film studio in the world, is participating in the festival as they present the area premiere of the new Toxic Avenger title Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger 4. The Troma team, including the Tromettes, will be on hand to hype the film, sign autographs, and talk about low-budget independent filmmaking. Troma is also co-hosting Club Troma with Renegade Films and Spunk at the Masquerade in Ybor City on Sunday, August 4th in support of their appearance at the Vans Warped Tour.

This Festival will be a great way to help spread the word about the growing Film Community in Florida so your help in getting as many people involved will go a long way to making it all happen.

Spread the word! Rick Danford
RENEGADE FILMS
C 727.688.5756
www.renegadefilms.com


La Floridiana This week's issue
La Floridiana by William Moriaty
The films of Florida actor Joel D. Wynkoop.
FIRST UP: "BAD COP NO DONUT"---1988.
Full movie review.
"Dirty Cop No Donut" is a dark and gritty journey into the night and the mind of corrupt law enforcement officer Gus Kimball. The imagery of Kimball's face being flashed at rapid-fire velocity by his vehicle's flashing red strobe light, while he rambles angrily and aimlessly at the beginning of the movie, is both powerful and memorable.... ........................Click here for more.

Murder on the Woo Woo Express This week's issue
Murder on the Woo Woo Express by Patty G. Henderson
It's hard to believe MURDER ON THE WOO WOO EXPRESS has been on track since February. We've had some wonderful reviews. I want to encourage publishers and authors who have supernatural/paranormal books to please send them to the Express. We have some great reviewers and readers who are looking for the next great supernatural mystery.
This month we welcome two new reviewers. Teri Davis does a wonderful overview of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series. This guy is popular. His books are good. Michelle Corby does an indepth review of "Back to Salem" by Alex Marcoux. This book was a Lambda Literary Award finalist nominee....... .........................Click here for more.

The Digital Divide This week's issue
Music News and CD Review by Terence Nuzum:
Current news on many different bands, plus CD reviews of Lauryn Hill, Green Day, and Belle & Sebastian! Remembering John Entwistle by Matt Drinnenebrg and Nolan Canova

.............................................Click here for more.

The Unapologetic DVD Enthusiast This week's issue
Introducing, or rather re-introducing Drew Reiber, previously associated with "Wake Up and Smell the Comics" here at PCR. In this new column, still under development, he will hold you by the throat as he sings evangelical about the glory of DVD...and he holds nothing back!!
FIRST UP: All non-believers in DVD, beware: Drew takes on the most oft-repeated arguments in the VHS vs DVD "debate" and decimates them in his own no-holds-barred way! (I can't help but feel our recent argument about this has a tiny bit to do with it.) You may not agree with everything he says, but he certainly let's it rip! ...............................................Click here for more.

Movie ReviewMovie Review
This Week's Movie Review:
"MEN IN BLACK II"
Review by Michael A. Smith with add'l commentary by Nolan B. Canova
If you've read my stuff long enough, you know how ecstatic I was when Will Smith got an Oscar nod for his work in "Ali." Smith has that rare on screen presence. Another actor with the same ability is Tommy Lee Jones. I had him pegged as a star after "Coal Miner's Daughter." Thank goodness both of them bring their considerable talents to this film. Beginning with a television "docudrama" that you could imagine Ghostbuster Pete Venkman running on his show, the film recounts the story of an alien race that attempted to hide the "light of Zartha" on earth, only to be turned away by the Men In Black in an effort to keep the earth neutral.... ...............................................Click here for more.

Matt's Rail This week's issue
Matt's Rail by Matt Drinnenberg
WORLD CON-FUSION. Many of you may recall in a recent Rail that I declared the World Con was coming to Kansas City, and expoused on how dangerous a Mike and Matt reunion could be to the unwitting people of Missouri...not to mention an all out assault that would include Nolan B. Canova, and possibly bring upon the ruin of all of us. As Mike stated last week, this was incorrect...well, sort of.....
TOP 10 SONG COVERS....AGAIN!!!. How in the WORLD I could possibly not include Van Halen's YOU REALLY GOT ME, I'll truly never know. We're talking MASSIVE brain lock.... ...............................................Click here for more.

Mike's Rant This week's issue
Mike's Rant by Michael A. Smith WHO ARE YOU? I was shocked when I checked last week's issue of PCR and saw Nolan's "flash" that legendary WHO bassist John Entwistle (nicknamed "the Ox") had died.............TRAILER NOTES............MAXIM'S 50 WORST FILMS...... ...............................................Click here for more.


Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.
Re: The Top Ten Cover Songs of All Time List from PCR #117 and #118....

O.K. this music trivia crap is a horrible addiction I've had for years. I thought it was under control till your silly ass list came out (Ha ha!--N), this past few days, however, shows how far in my recovery I've yet to go.

1. Because the Night Belongs to Lovers, 10,000 Maniacs cover of a Patty Smith tune.
2. Smokin' in the Boys Room, Motly Crew remake of a Brownsville Station hit.
3. This Magic moment, Jay and the Americans after the Drifters.
4. Pinball Wizard, Sir Elton John via the Who
5. Sweet Dreams are made of These, Marilyn Manson from the Eurythmics
6. A little help from my friends, Joe Cocker retake of a Beatles hit
7. Da Do RUN RUN, Shawn Cassidy's gay rendition of a Crystals song
8. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Bette Midler's take on a Bennie Goodman tune
9. I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston's nasty version of a very sickening Dolly Parton Hallmark card.
10. Wild Nights, John Mellencamp, from a Van Morrison record
11. Move it on Over, George Thurogood, remake of the Hank Williams tune
12. Blue Moon of Kentucky, Elvis version of a Bill Monroe
13. Blue Suede Shoes, Elvis version of a Carl Perkins song
14. Kansas City, Beatles version of another Carl Perkins song
15. This Thing Called Love, Dwight Yokam's Reprise of a Queen hit
16. Uncle Pen, Ricky Scaggs take on a Bill Monroe song
17. All the Young Dudes, Mott the Hoople, from David Bowie's song
18. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Joan Baez, version of a Band hit
19. Please Mr. Postman, the Beatles and the Carpenters take of a Marvelettes tune
20. Smoke Smoke Smoke that Cigarette, Commander Cody, from a Tex Williams song
21. Legs, Kid Rocks remake of the ZZ Top hit

I feel better now that I've gotten those festering little buggers out of my head, thanks.

MACK BEASLEY

Happy to help! And thank you, Mack, for venting this last list---it'll be a while before we torture anybody with another Top Ten list.
Altho, I must say, it's been a long time since we've done the Top 10 movies...or albums for that matter.....but don't worry, I'm not suggesting we start that again! Heh, heh....cough cough,...No sir!---N


Still more on "The Amazing" Kreskin (PCR #116)....

Nolan,
I know this is a bit after the fact - I'm new to your page - but I had to tell you... when I was in college (1970-1974) Kreskin came to my campus - Kutztown State College (now University). One of his biggie tricks? was to have his check hidden somewhere in the hall where he appeared and he would "psychically" find it in before the whole audience and if he couldn't his appearance was gratis!!!!!!!!!!! Sound familiar!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well he must have been having an "off" night because he could not find it - then he sent into a tear accusing them of not having it in the auditorium - yada yada yada!!!! Well after that the rest was down hill and by the way it was there and he got his check although he should not have!!!!!

Silverfiesta

Your story about Kreskin not finding his check sounds remarkably like what a reader sent in to "Letters to the Editor" in PCR #117 (scroll all the way to the bottom)!  He even included a copy of the check. Check it out; looks like Kreskin had quite a few failures! Thanks for writing.---Nolan


Nolan,
Just curious why Kreskin remains a childhood hero of yours. The mentalist acts he used to perform on talk shows (and the "secrets" he sold to unsuspecting kids) were cribbed from old vaudeville books. He was a charlatan then and now.

Paul Snyder

I simply thought he was a great stage performer, vaudeville-derived or not. I never believed what he did was real any more than any other stage magician. I was, however, always disappointed when he claimed genuine psychic powers, but I figured he was trying to preserve a "mystique" of some sort. I enjoyed his appearances on early talk shows, but his type of act is virtually extinct on TV now---too slow-moving, for one. (Street performer David Blaine nearly resurrected it, but got derailed by too many here's-how-he-did-it TV specials.) Thanks for writing.---Nolan


To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan


"Mike's Rant" is ©2002 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2002 by Matt Drinnenberg    "La Floridiana" is ©2002 by William Moriaty    "The Digital Divide" is ©2002 by Terence Nuzum, Matt Drinnenberg, and Nolan Canova    "Murder on the Woo Woo Express" is ©2002 by Patty G. Henderson    The movie review of "Men In Black 2" is ©2002 by Michael A. Smith     "The Unapologetic DVD Enthusiast" is ©2002 by Drew Reiber    Add'l thanks to Mack Beasley, Silverfiesta, and Paul Snyder for their input in "Letters"       All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova ©2002; all rights reserved.