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Now in our ninth calendar year!

PCR #457 (Vol. 9, No. 52) This edition is for the week of December 22--31, 2008.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Has it been another year already? Wow. Shall we begin?

MOVIE REVIEW
"Frost/Nixon"
"Valkyrie" áby Mike Smith
RETRORAMA
A Very Fanboy Christmas áby ED Tucker
THE AUDIO PHILES
The Flaming Lips: Christmas On Mars áby Terence Nuzum
SPORTS TALK
Favorite Topics Of Ĺ08 .... From First To Worst .... Arena Football Died? .... Nfl Picks .... Sports Talk Sports Awards! .... .... .... áby Chris Munger
MATT'S RAIL
Merry Christmas .... .... .... áby Matt Drinnenberg
MIKE'S RANT
Thanks And Thoughts .... Show Us!! .... Passing On .... In Case We Missed You .... Coming Next Year .... The Year That Was: Part Ii .... Top Movie Quotes .... I Leave You With This .... And The Oscar Should Have Gone To... áby Mike Smith
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THANKS AND THOUGHTS
Once again, another year at the PCR comes to a close. I still marvel at how this project has grown. It went from a little neighborhood zine to WORLD WIDE DOMINATION!! OK, maybe not yet. 2009 will begin the 10th year that many of us have been writing for the PCR and when I look back I can't believe that my M. Night Shyamalan comments then would be even more appropriate now. So much has changed in my life since I began here. I went from a lonely single guy with a great son to a happily married guy with a great son. We've dealt with happiness and sadness here equally. The losses of friends, parents and folks we admired have kept us grounded in reality, while other projects have allowed us to soar to the highest heights. This year I was on both ends of the scale. My marriage to Juanita on April 26th(happy 8th month anniversary, honey) ranks with the birth of my son, Phillip, as the happiest day of my life. August 29th, the day my father died, continues to be the saddest. I find that I miss him more and more each day. Recently Matt and I both commented on the 20th anniversary of Matt's dad, Louis, passing away. I know in talking with Matt and his brother, Mark, that the hurt will never go away. But I do know that as the years pass the hurt will be tempered by the rememberances of good times and I am looking forward to those years.

Time to say thank you to:

Nolan B. Canova, the boss. It has now been more then 30 years since we began our friendship and again I must thank you for the opportunities you've given me. Readers, in the first Rant's I wrote for the PCR I highlighted my teenage years and the formation of a little band called the HATS. Please don't ask me why we were called that because I really don't know. As the least musical member (Matt once said I was so un-talented that I couldn't play the radio)I basically hung out in the background plunking out the occasional chords. If we were the Beatles, I was Stu Sutcliffe without the cool shades and German girlfriend. But every now and then Nolan would take me aside and show me something easy...a short lead riff or a few distinctive notes that made me feel like I was contributing. It was a thrill to me to listen to a tape of our playing and pick out something I did. From the opening to "Oh, Pretty Woman" (bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum) to the short solo in the middle of "Dream Police" (which I can still play but I'll be damned if I can remember the rest of the song)he always gave me a chance to contribute and he's still doing it three decades later. As always, my friend, my sincere thanks for all you've taught me and for letting me be a part of this great achievement of yours.

Matthew Drinnenberg, my brother. Who would ever guess that two kids who met by chance almost 33 years ago would be almost inseperable from day one? I have spent the past couple of years helping you promote your music and with each small success you achieve my sense of pride grows stronger. Hopefully someone will be in the room with me when your music hits the airwaves since we all know that I can't play the radio! It's coming buddy.........I can feel it!

Juanita Smith, my wife. I never cease to marvel at the plans God has for all of us. He puts everyone on a road and sits back and watches us as we maneuver our way down it. For so many years it felt like I was on a dead end street. And then our paths crossed. Thank you for your love and support. And thank you for marrying me. I love you.

Phillip Smith, my son. What a year you and I shared. You honored me by being my best man. And you brought me to tears with your toast. Then we spent the summer playing baseball on the same team. Warming up before each game, playing long toss and talking about the game we both love, are memories I will cherish forever. That and the fact that the old man can still hit an 85 mph fast ball! You are and always will be my proudest achievement.

My Fellow PCR writers. This year has been the high water mark of the PCR. New contributors Lisa and Chris filled important holes while ED Tucker blew past everyone in the race for writer of the year. Matt and Corey found the time to be consistent while Will and Andy gave us enough of a taste that we all want more next year, though I must say I cringe when I check an early issue and see that both ED and Will have already contributed. Those are the week's I contemplate missing an issue so as not to bring their work down. Now if Terence would only share his passion for music with us on a weekly basis all would be right with the PCR world.

Finally, you. The Readers With the exception of Nolan, who owns this site so he HAS to show up, none of us would be here without YOU. When I sit down to this keyboard each week I do my best to comment on what I think you would enjoy hearing and, sometimes, learning about. The supportive emails and messages you sent me after my father died only helped reassure me that the PCR is a special place. Thank you all for your support. Like the saying goes, I wouldn't be here if not for you.

SHOW US!!
So much is being made about President-elect Obama and his birth certificate that I couldn't let the year end without commenting on it. Especially after reading a column by Diana West of the Washington Times, which provided some information for this piece. The facts as I know them:

1. Grandma Obama is on record (and video tape) as having been in attendance at his birth....IN KENYA!

2. Obama will not authorize the release of his original birth certificate. He has produced a "Certification of Live Birth" which is so worthless that it is not accepted by the Hawaii Department of Home Lands as proof of Hawaiian identity. In fact, the department requires information "that is found only on the original Certificate of Live Birth." In fact, the proof that Obama has provided has the certificate number redacted, which only makes things worse because, according to a statement printed on the document, the alteration makes the form invalid.

3. On Halloween, Hawaii's director of health and the registar of Vital Statistics released a statment verifying that the department of health has Obama's "original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures." Which means what?

SHOW US THE DAMN THING BEFORE JANUARY 20 OR DON'T SHOW UP!

PASSING ON
As the year comes to a close, it's time to remember a few more familiar faces who left us this week:

Paul Benedict, actor best known as the neighbor, Mr. Bently, on "The Jeffersons" died at his Martha's Vineyard home at the age of 70. No cause of death was given.

Robert Mulligan,Oscar nominated director of "To Kill A Mockingbird," died at the age of 83 after a battle with heart disease. Among his other films: "Summer of '42" and "Same Time Next Year."

Dock Ellis, former pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and an acquaintance of both Matt and I, died from liver disease. He was 63. On June 12, 1970 he pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. A great feat, of course. Even greater considering while Ellis was on the mound he was in the middle of a major LSD trip. In 1989 I met Ellis when he played in the winter Senior Baseball League and spent a couple of evenings out on the town with him. A very personable man. I later introduced him to Matt who, as a man who knows shoes, instantly told Dock he could tell he'd bought his shoes at Maas Brothers and told him how much he paid. Always a snappy dresser, Dock found a friend who could get him his kicks at a good price! A man who loved life has left us too soon. Sleep well, Dock.

Eartha Kitt, all around entertainer who conquered Broadway more then six decades ago, died on Christmas day at the age of 81 after a bout with cancer. It is quite appropriate that she passed away on Christmas as her "Santa Baby," recorded more then 50 years ago, is still a perrenial favorite during the holiday season. Of course, she will always be remembered for her purr-fect portrayal of Catwoman on the "Batman" television series.

Harold Pinter, Nobel Prize and Tony Award winning playwright passed away at the age of 78. He too lost his fight with cancer. His best known plays include "The Homecoming," "The Caretaker" and "Betrayal" (which starred Roy Scheider, Raul Julia and Blythe Danner in 1980).

IN CASE WE MISSED YOU
Before I recap the events of the last six months of 2008, here are some of the people that passed away this year that weren't featured here this year:

John Daly, Oscar-winning producer of "Platoon" and "The Last Emperor." October 31. Cancer.

Sid Craig, co-founder with his wife of the Jenny Craig weight loss company. Ironically, he died of complications from obesity. Not really. July 21. No cause given.

Earl Butz, former Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He was forced to resign when a reporter overheard a conversation he was having with singer Pat Boone. Boone asked Butz why more blacks did not vote Republican when it was the "Party of Lincoln." Butz replied, "the only thing the coloreds are looking for in life are tight pussy, loose shoes and a warm place to shit." Oops. Feb 2. No cause of death given.

Herb Petersen, inventor of the Egg McMuffin in 1972. March 25. No cause of death given.

DON'T FORGET THAT PARTICIPATING McDONALDS RESTAURANTS ARE NOW OFFERING THE TASTY EGG McMUFFIN FOR JUST A BUCK!!

COMING NEXT YEAR
OK, I'll be the first to admit that I really did a crappy job on this years "And the Oscar Goes To" serial. I had great intentions but when I chose to do it I had no idea how long it would take to research the years chosen. And, if I had to watch a movie to see a performance I was unfamiliar with, well....it just got out of hand. That being said, in 2009 I'm going back to the popular serial of 2006: MY FAVORITE FILMS, PART II. The first time through we caught the attention of a lot of fans who shared their thoughts on the films as well. While some of the films this year are pretty popular, I've also included some of my quirky favorites....movies that I like and others may not. Once again, guest commentary is highly encouraged. If you see a film you like, please let us know. I'm not looking for a review. I want to know WHY you like this film. Your favorite line? Favorite scene? Why is it one of those movies you watch over and over and over and over?

The list as follows:

ISSUE DATE FILM

1/6 BEST OF THE BEST
1/13 RHINESTONE
1/20 SGT PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
1/27 THE GODFATHER PART III
2/3 CHINATOWN
2/10 BLUE THUNDER
2/17 HEAVEN CAN WAIT
2/24 HARDCORE
3/3 CRUISING
3/10 SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER
3/17 THE GOODBYE GIRL
3/24 BUGSY
3/31 CITIZEN KANE
4/7 COPLAND
4/14 GOODWILL HUNTING
4/21 MARATHON MAN
4/28 GREASE 2
5/5 MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN
5/12 PLANET OF THE APES (1968)
5/19 STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
5/26 PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
6/2 THE OMEN (1976)
6/9 PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE
6/16 BRAZIL
6/23 THIS IS SPINAL TAP
6/30 RESERVOIR DOGS
7/7 DEFENDING YOUR LIFE
7/14 A FISH CALLED WANDA
7/21 EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS
7/28 JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING
8/4 F.I.S.T.
8/11 DOG DAY AFTERNOON
8/18 HEROES
8/25 YOURS, MINE AND OURS (1968)
9/1 SILVERADO
9/8 THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
9/15 HAIR
9/22 TIME AFTER TIME
9/29 PARADISE ALLEY
10/6 JFK
10/13 IN COLD BLOOD
10/20 THE NATURAL
10/27 THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
11/3 SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT
11/10 THE DEER HUNTER
11/17 RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
11/24 LA BAMBA
12/1 ALMOST FAMOUS
12/8 KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE
12/15 LORDS OF FLATBUSH
12/22 LOGANS RUN
12/29 HOFFA

THE YEAR THAT WAS: PART II
Here are the important events of the last six months of 2008 and some of the people we lost:

JULY

The month begins sadly when Jake Walkup, a young man who played ball for me, dies after trying to push his disabled car. He was 17.

"The Dark Knight" opens to great box office and even greater reviews.

Susan Atkins is denied parole 40 years after she and other members of the Manson Family murder seven people.

Juanita Smith (the 15th) and Phillip Smith (the 26th) celebrate birthdays.

PASSING ON:

Dody Goodman, Larry Harmon.


AUGUST


Woo hoo! Vegas baby!

Realizing what a cash cow they have in "The Dark Knight," Warner Brothers not only delays the final "Harry Potter" film until next year but decide that the final film will be shown in two parts.

On August 29th, my father Floyd passes away. He was 75.

PASSING ON: Issac Hayes, Bernie Mac.


SEPTEMBER


PASSING ON: Jerry Reed, Don LaFontaine, Ike Pappas, Paul Newman.


OCTOBER


Cartoonist Berkley Breathed retires "Opus."

I plead with John McCain to get some balls but he doesn't.

The Tampa Bay Rays go to the World Series.

Joe Biden assures the country that Barack Obama will be challanged as soon as he takes office.

My oldest brother, Anthony Gammello, passes away.

Tired of fan mail, Ringo Starr asks fans not to send any more.

A visit to the Chiller Theater convention in New Jersey provide us with our Christmas Card photo (special thanks to Mr. Leslie Nielsen).

PASSING ON: Levi Stubs, Frank Mundus, Estelle Reiner, Neil Hefti, Gerard Damiano.


NOVEMBER


Barack Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States.



DECEMBER

Once again the Baseball Hall of Fame Veteran's Committee hoses Ron Santo.

Hugh Jackman is named host of the next Academy Awards.

PASSING ON: Forrest Ackerman, Van Johnson, Bettie Page, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, Mark Felt.


TOP MOVIE QUOTES
Once again it's time for my favorite movie quotes of the past year. In no particular order:

"Man, I don't drop character 'till I done the DVD commentary."

Kirk Lazurus (Robert Downey, Jr.) explaining his acting techniques in "Tropic Thunder."


"Why so serious?

The Joker (Heath Ledger) in "The Dark Knight."

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"I don't know. Were you thinking, "Holy shit, holy shit, a swordfish almost went through my head"? If so, then yes."


Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) and The Chief (Alan Arkin) in "Get Smart."

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I will kick you repeatedly in the balls!

Brennan Huff (Will Ferrel) in "Stepbrothers."

"No defiant last words, Dr. Jones?"

"I like Ike"


Colonel Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) to Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

"Oh, I've got one. A Mexican, a Jew, and a colored guy go into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, "Get the fuck out of here."

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) sharing a joke with friends in "Gran Torino."

"Are you really saying the President can do something illegal?"

"I'm saying that when the President does it, that means it's *not* illegal!"

"I'm sorry?"


David Frost (Michael Sheen) questioning President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) on his Watergate activities in "Frost/Nixon."

"We cannot set Mick Jagger on fire."

Director Martin Scorsese discussing the placement of the stage lights in "Shine A Light."

"Yeah...I can fly."

Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) after testing out his suit in "Iron Man."


I LEAVE YOU WITH THIS
I thought I would end this year by reprinting another poem by my father. I really don't know how old it is. When Matt and I recounted the "Toga Party" story Scott Gilbert wrote in and mentioned the day we went and saw "Blazing Saddles." Another memorable day for me as when we returned from the film we discovered that my house had burned down. I mention this because the papers this poem is typed on are heavily scorched on the edges and the smell of smoke still hangs on them almost 30 years later. Enjoy.

THE WANDERING WONDERER by Floyd A. Smith

A puritan wind seems to slap on my face,
Coating my senses with honey-like peace.
Silently sitting, I dream of my homeland,
Certainly, Sire, I dream of my homeland,
For it was there that I flew with the geese.

And in the mountains I found my sweet Elsa,
Fair as the flowers which grew on the hill.
Mornings and evenings we walked in the woodland,
Certainly, Sire, for love's in the woodland,
Nature insisted we follow its will.

Words were not needed to promise each other,
Only the kiss that was lathered with love.
Festive the future ahead in my homeland,
Certainly, Sire, I think of my homeland,
But I am lost from the geese up above.

Down from the mountains I glided with Elsa,
Blissfully happy, lighthearted and gay.
Feeling the fullness of love in the woodland,
Certainly, Sire, for she was a woodland,
Filled with a treasure a king couldn't weigh.

Reaching the river that followed the valley,
We were decided to put us a home.
Living and loving beneath the great woodland,
Certainly, Sire, for God is the woodland.
Heavenly graces make up the rich loam.

Speckled with laughter we searched for a setting,
Sipping the flavor of newly-born trust.
Heedless of danger, we danced in my homeland,
Certainly, Sire, my heart's in my homeland,
For it is there that my Elsa is dust.

Well I remember the moan of the magpies,
Then in an instant my Elsa was gone,
Swept with the current and drowned in my homeland,
Certainly, Sire, I think of my homeland,
And how the woodland reached out for her fawn.

I found her body washed up by the willows,
Soft as the summer but cold as the snow,
Weeping, I watched until dusk filled the woodland,
Certainly, Sire, she sleeps in the woodland.
Now I must wander and speak of my woe.

Where are the geese that were with me at one time?
Why must I wander in search of repose?
Where is my birthplace? Perhaps it might help me,
Please tell me, Sire, perhaps you might help me,
What is the reason and what is the close?

AND THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO...

THESE PEOPLE HAVE NEVER WON AN ACTING OSCAR:

RICHARD BURTON, PETER O'TOOLE, WARREN BEATTY, ROY SCHEIDER, HARVEY KEITEL, JAMES DEAN, TOM CRUISE, DON CHEADLE, JOHNNY DEPP, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, MIA FARROW, ED HARRIS, JEFF BRIDGES, WILLEM DAFOE, MICKEY ROARKE.

AND THIS IS JUST OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD!

Well, that brings 2008 to a close. I wish you all a safe and Happy New Year. Have a great week. See ya!



"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 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 ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.