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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2003!
This week's
La Floridiana
Movie Reviews:
   Terminator 3
   28 Days Later
Couch Potato
Ashley's Hollywood
Splash Page
Creature's Corner
Matt's Rail
Mike's Rant

On the CF Homepage:
Florida Filmmaker Update

  Number 171  (Vol. 4, No. 27). This edition is for the week of June 30--July 6, 2003.

Terminator 3: Rise of Summer Profits

US Flag
• Thurmond, Hepburn, Hackett, and Hollywood Longevity
• The Cover of The Rolling Stone
• More trouble at Tampa's public access

Sorry about my hissy fit where I pleaded for mercy in the "emergency" early edition of PCR this week folks---I was cracking under the strain. I've had some rest since then and am better now. Thanks for your patience.

Like anybody else who possibly could, I went to see Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines early Tuesday evening in a "sneak preview" showing. My review is posted alongside Mike's Smith's in This Week's Movie Review. In a nutshell, it's a mixed bag....high-octane action, low-level plot development and middlin characters. After the lackluster domestic box-office take on Hulk last week, it's good to attend a movie that just feels like a traditional blockbuster, and this Terminator won't disappoint in that regard. The weekend box-office take I'm betting will exceed HULK's, but of course it has two extra days to count in too.

I'm soon hoping to catch the zombie-flick-for-the-new-millenium 28 Days Later which has provoked a lot of reaction around the CF compound (in this issue alone, Ashley's Hollywood, Creature's Corner, and a separate This Week's Movie Review by Brandon Jones all cover it to one extent or another, generally very positive).

Passing of the Guard and Hollywood Longevity
The recent passings of Senator Strom Thurmond (100), and actors Gregory Peck (87), Katherine Hepburn (96), and Buddy Hackett (78) are another reminder of an older generation's amazing longevity, ultimate mortality and how these obits always seem to come in bunches. I won't even attempt to cover these amazing people's careers here (Mike Smith is our expert at that, with his Gregory Peck piece appearing in Mike's Rant #169, and Matt had some nice comments in Matt's Rail, same issue). My commentary centers on something else entirely, something so many have in common.

What amazes me is that so many children of The Depression, supposedly disadvantaged from the get-go managed to claw their way into fame and fortune and lived to be such a ripe old age in relatively good health despite early hardships. Look around and see Bob Hope who is 100 years old (but not in good health...still), the late George Burns was 100 when he passed on, Milton Berle I forgot, but I think he was well into his 90s. The list goes on and on. Is it because they had a lot of money? No, I don't think so. Lots of non-celebrity multi-millionaires, or captains of industry who are celebrities drop dead early. Not too many live past 80, let alone 100.

George Burns once said something I'll never forget regarding his longevity and it was advice to a younger generation. He said "Fall in love with your work." He went on to elaborate that the zest of looking forward to your day makes all the difference in the world. He also called himself a very "small eater", referring to a sparse diet, but made that a slightly lower priority in longevity in comparison since that was offset by smoking no less than 9 cigars a day his entire adult life.

It's stress management. Hollywood folk have a different stress management system due to the incredible satisafaction so many have derived from a successful career in entertainment. BUT...and this is an important "but"...that self-satisfaction seems to be contained in the generation that grew up during the Depression. The succeeding generation (let's call them the Jimi Hendrix group) was as hell-bent on self-destruction as the former was on self-preservation! The next group after that (the Kurt Cobain group?) fared even worse.

Despite a modern-day health education awareness unknown in previous generations, I don't see the current crop of Hollywood's elite setting longevity records like their forefathers, I don't care how many Billy Blanks classes they attend. The early damage cause by drug and alcohol abuse (not to mention sky-high divorce rates) has probably skewed the life-and-death demographics of at least three generations.

The WWII generation knew the value of hard work (which they didn't mind), knew the pain of sacrifice, but also knew its rewards. Senator Strom Thurmond was of this generation as is Ronald Reagan (also well into his 90s but suffering from Alzheimer's), and, despite their politics, I can't help but conclude that Depression-era hardships affected them and their longevity in a positive equal measure. If Ozzy Osboune makes it to even 65 it'll be a freaking miracle, and only then because he's had so much help.

I wouldn't wish another Depression on us by any means, but I think we've missed something if Hollywood centarians feel it's important to love your work and know sacrifice, and they lived to be 100 years old (or thereabouts) and loved it.

The Cover of the Rolling Stone
Speaking of stress, mine went sky-high when I saw who was on the cover of the current Rolling Stone: Clay Aiken, the runner-up American Idol winner. Now, I'm sure he's a nice young man, and I agree he has a very pleasant singing voice. But, does he deserve to be on the cover of The Rolling Stone?? He hasn't done anything yet except almost...but not quite...win that f&^*king contest!! I thought it was a more exclusive domain than that, I know it used to be, but now the latest fashionable contest runner-up can be a cover-boy. Great...another measure of how American Pop Culture has decayed.

More problems at public access
Just when I thought it was safe. According to Tuesday's St. Pete Times (7-1-03), Tampa Public Access producer Eddye Bexley is asking a federal judge to reject a settlement agreement between the county and the station, saying its implementation is resulting in censorship. Long-time PCR readers will no doubt recall several features I ran covering last year's embarrassing boondoggle in public access's history--the whole thing revolved around County Commissioner Ronda Storms' vendetta against producer "White Chocolate" (aka Charlie Perkins) over, basically, televised female nudity before 11:00pm. The County attempted to strip funding, but was blocked by an injuction when the station counter-sued. Bexley, one of the parties involved in the original lawsuit says that the final settlement has resulted in a series of petty (and/or unnecessary) formality crackdowns by station managers that have many producers "in tears" as they feel their First Amendment Rights are anything but restored. If you can look up the entire article, please read it, but that's it in a nutshell.

Some old friends at public access recently forwarded me some email exchanges suggesting it comes down to a thorny copyright issue regarding whether Time-Warner or Bright House Networks' BMI and ASCAP music licences cover producers' programs. (Eddye insists they do, the Bright House Network lawyer says they don't, and producers are responsible for securing copyright permission for all their music.)

I was afraid this sort of thing was happening. I have, regrettably, only been at one PA function this year, and that was to help Malcolm Hathorne on one of his UFO shows. I'm not proud of distancing myself, it's simply a growth maneuver. Every town should have something like public access if for no other reason than education. Unfortunately, recent changes in the law suggest no city HAS to have a public access channel anymore (now that the contract wrangling is over and monopolies rule supreme), it's just there out of habit. What I'm afraid is going to happen is we'll wake up to find the doors boarded up one day in the name of "budget cuts" (that's nearly what happened last year during the scandal---coincidentally, of course).

I knew Eddye Bexley and want to support her if this is how she feels, but if the lawyers are right, they're right. I pray this new chapter results in renewed creative vigor the station once inspired and doesn't get used as an excuse to shut the station down for good.

Happy Birthday wishes to Brandon Jones who turned 33 Tuesday, July 1! Many happy returns my boy! You've "Urn-ed" it--har har!
I regret jumping the gun on announcing ED Tucker's retrospective on G.I. Joe knock-off figures of the 60s and 70s when I wrote the "coming attractions" page Tuesday. But we will be running that after a wee bit more development. I apologize to ED and toy fans everywhere for any inconvenience my premature announcement caused.
I'm very proud to announce old friend and new columnist Vinnie Blesi's new column "Couch Potato Confessions"! This is the kind of writing about TV we've been slacking on lately and Vinnie's here to kick it into high gear.

La Floridiana
This week's issue
La Floridiana by William Moriaty

Getting From Here To There - - Part 2: The Story of the Bee Line Ferry and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Ashley Lauren's Hollywood
This week's issue
Hollywood by Ashley Lauren

Passings.....28 Days Later.......Other stuff

Splash Page
This week's issue

Matt's Rail
This week's issue
Matt's Rail by Matt Drinnenberg


Movie Reviewmovie review
This Week's Movie Reviews:

"Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines"  reviewed by Mike Smith and Nolan Canova
"28 Days Later"  reviewed by Brandon Jones

Couch Potato Confessions
This week's issue
Couch Potato Confessions by Vinnie B.
A Cat, A Dog, A Rat and a Stripper....Don't Fear the Reaper....Upcoming Couch Potato Picks

Creature's Corner
This week's issue
Creature's Corner by John Lewis
S. FLORIDA ROAD TRIP, part 3............28 DAYS LATER........NEW COMIC

Mike's RantMike's Rant
This week's issue
Mike's Rant by Michael A. Smith
ACTION .......... OOOOOOH - RAH ........ PASSING ON

Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.


Rowling delivers another Potter story with "Phoenix" - it’s "effing" great!

J. K. Rowling’s latest novel in the Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" has been flying off shelves. This highly anticipated book has surprised everyone selling five million copies on the first day. A warning though, this isn’t the same, gangly, uncomfortable wizard prodigy that has translated well to the big screen. Harry is fifteen now and Rowling reveals teenage angst and a fiery temper in our hero.

As with the other books, the story begins with Harry trapped with his muggle relatives on Privet Drive. Unlike its predecessors, action in the "Phoenix" begins immediately with a spontaneous attack by two Dementors. Harry fends off these evil creatures, but now will face possible expulsion from Hogwarts for using his incredible talents -- a dramatic storyline that reveals Harry’s feelings of abandonment.

Voldemort has returned, but not everyone agrees. If fact, while some fear the rumors of "Death Eaters" (thus the group called "The Order of the Phoenix"), others deny the return of "You-Know-Who" and have been painting Harry as a liar in the wizard tabloids. The Ministry of Magic have managed to impose Dolores Umbridge on Hogwort’s to suppress the curriculum and "spy" on the Dumbledore-led academy.

An older Harry, now with a teenager’s tongue, deals with wizard exams (O.W.L.S.) yet questions how applicable his teachings will be in the "real" world. Jealousy ensues as his close friends Hermione and Ron were selected "prefects" over Harry. Likewise, Potter’s nemesis, Draco Malfoy has also been named prefect and revels in the opportunity to antagonize Harry. Discovering girls, fearful of tyranny in the school and constant uncertainty keeps the pages turning - truly Rowling’s biggest gift.

Harry has matured, dealing with witnessing a murder in book four and battling evil, often times alone. Being a hero can be a lonely place and Rowling has adapted well.

A special note that early in the book, page thrity-two to be exact, stopped me immediately and had me re-reading the following line:

"Enough - effing - owls..." muttered Uncle Vernon distractedly, stomping over to the window and slamming it shut again.

Effing? Effing? Do we need an "F-word" reference in Harry Potter? Do I need to explain to my kids what "effing" stands for?

I respect Rowling’s creative liberties and her talent as a writer. Asking her to deviate from her artistic vision is the last thing that I would normally request. However, Harry Potter is above this. This was a book campaign directed at our pre-teen children not adults. While it’s not a true "F-bomb", it is an envelope that didn’t need to be pushed. There’s been no publicity and I may be overreacting somewhat -- this is NOT a campaign against Harry Potter, but pointing out a poor decision for a kid’s book.

Overall, this is another great send-up to a fantastic franchise. Sure, I hated the three-year delay, but it just added fever to the desire. I was little late to jump on the Harry bandwagon, but I would always recommend Rowling’s world of wizardry.

Brandon Jones

Another dandy issue, Nole.
Putting S&S to bed

Glad we're able to put the Saints & Sinners issues to rest. I thought Rick Danford did a great job addressing the concerns of the film festival's patrons. Ultimately we all have to be grateful that Renegade Films hosts this great cinematic event, and the State Theater, who has been very supportive. In this case, the good outweighs the bad, and I personally know that steps are being taken to address Christian's observations. Moving on...

Greatest Hits
Congrats, Nolan, on PCR collecting 30,000 hits - it's well-deserved. I know that I check in to PCR several times a day...I'm a junkie. Updating the site every other day is a good idea; I try to do it too on www.filthythemovie.com (heh, heh, Nolan...). "I want my PCR!"

Brandon's Splash Page
An exceptional edition. I thought it was really neat that Brandon brought up the places where we first remembered buying our cherished comics and monster mags.

Back in the '70s/early '80s I recall buying most of my comics/mags at grocery and drug stores. I mostly frequented Eckerd Drugs at Gateway Mall (which was in St. Pete.), now a Target/Office Depot behemoth, which is where I purchased the very first issue of FANGORIA back in '79 (with the Godzilla cover). Back then, you could actually buy Fango at a drug store, not to mention it was only $1.95 (now it's $8!!! That's another story...).

Eckerd's sold comic books too; I bought the bulk of them in the mid-'70s when comics were a quarter. I remember when they shot up to thirty cents - I thought that was highway robbery! Now look at the prices!!! That's the main reason I don't collect comics anymore...the runaway prices of anything printed on paper. I simply refuse to pay two bucks (or more) for a thin comic. It's ridiculous. Fangoria and the Canadian horror mag Rue Morgue are my only two exceptions (I'm subscribers to both). Paperback novels too...I remember seeing the novelization of the sci-fi film "Damnation Alley" at Publix (back in '77) - it was $1.95 I think at the time. Months later, Irwin Allen's "The Swarm" novel debuted, with a $2.25 price tag...again prices for books went up! When will it end? For crying out loud, the new Harry Potter hardcover is $25!!! What the? If people would stop buying this stuff, maybe the prices would go down...Why pay $25 for a Harry Potter book when in four months you can find them at garage sales and pay a quarter for it?

Someone told me that it's the regulations they put on paper manufacturers that account for the high prices of printed materials. I just don't understand how a comic book can cost 25 cents in the late '70s and TWO BUCKS nowadays. A paperback novel in '78 was $2.25; now it's like $7!!! Same with magazines. I'm proud to say I haven't purchased a book for myself (I do buy gifts sometimes) in well over a decade, probably longer. I just don't see where publishers get off on charging exorbitant prices like that. CD's cost an average of $18 when they debuted back in '85/'86...they're roughly the same price today. VHS movies actually went down in price over the years from when they first went on the market in the late '70s. Printed materials remain ridiculously expensive.

Oh, wasn't I reminiscing about where I bought my first comics? Grocery stores were another good option. Gateway Mall had a Publix (they still do; it's now next to a Target store...) which is where I bought my Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines. Yes, youngsters, you could actually buy monster magazines at your local Publix. Once, a long time ago, the chain drug/grocery stores actually did have personalities and were somewhat rock & roll. Back then I didn't live near a comic book store (which were few & far between in the day), so I relied on nearby chains to carry those wonderful genre magazines.

When I did hit the comic shops, my favorite places were: Haslams Books (on Central Ave. in St. Pete.) and Wilson's Book Store (I think it was on 9th St. in St. Pete.). Haslams held some great memories for me; back in the '70s they used to have a section where they kept their more beat-up comics in these little cubby holes & sold them for a dime. Once in awhile you'd find a gorgeous monster mag in the bunch, which was a real treat. As a matter of fact, my oldest FM's came from the "cubby holes" at Haslams (one had Karloff & Lanchester from "Bride of Frankenstein" on the cover, the other had a version of Mr. Hyde; Matt Drinnenberg would know which issues they were). Over the years I got to know Mr. & Mrs. Haslam, who were very good to me. They used to let me peruse their special comics room (which was not open to the public at the time) to purchase their premium-condition comics. I recall Mr. Haslam acquiring malaria in the '80s when he and his wife visited Africa, which he died from.

One really fond memory was getting to see SPIDER-MAN who was making a SPECIAL APPEARANCE at Haslams back in the mid-'70s!!! Okay, he was actually an actor in a Spider-Man suit, but who knew the difference at 8 years old! We got our Spidey autographs and special buttons (I still have them!). In attendance were my brother Doug Lalino, and FILTHY alumni Tom Linkiewicz (award-winning editor) and Kevin Bailey (award-winning Art Director).

I have to give an honorable mention to a weird little book store that used to live on Haines Road in Pinellas Park (in the heart of redneck country) called BOOK VILLA. It was a little wooden house that carried a strange array of different things: paperbacks, comics, mags, Playboys, hardcovers, old video games, knick-knacks, beat-up toys, etc. Just some really weird stuff. The thing I didn't like about the store is that they priced their used comics with crayons on the cover.

Maybe next letter I'll do a similar retrospective on where I bought my Star Wars, Moonraker, and Jaws 2 gum cards...

I was really sad to hear about the closing of Merlin's books. I discovered Merlins a little late, after my interest in collecting comics waned. But there were many other reasons to visit Merlins aside from comics; they carried some neat genre hardcover books, some out-of-print and very hard to find. Merlins also had a great line of role-playing game merchandise, including used material (for what cheapos like me look for). If you're a pagan/new-ager, Merlins was for you, providing the purchaser with TONS of great books, statues, and other fu-fu knick-knacks for the goddess in you. Only problem with the store were their prices - they were not cheap. The inventory was a little thin on monster mags too. It was worth the drive from Pinellas County all the way up to near USF to visit Merlins. Yet another great store, sadly, is history.

To Terence
"...maybe I'm just a kid of the dark '90s..."
...and what Andy letter would be complete without a jab at Terence? I see the issue here...Terence grew up in the '90s; the dullest decade since the '40s. I don't at all blame Terence or his generation for the Goo Goo Muck that are the years of 1987 - today; I blame my generation. For those of us who grew up with cool bands such as Duran Duran, Japan, The Ramones, Simple Minds, etc. why are we churning out performers like Britney Spears and "Lil' Kim"? Back in the REAL Punk/New Wave days ('76-'86), we would banish/put down/insult people who listened to Micheal Jackson, Michael Bolton, and the Beastiality Boys (akin to the Britney Spears/Aguleras of today). Kids today seem to embrace the mainstream and those sappy, horrible ballad divas (Celine Dion, Whitney Houston); that was unheard of back in the '80s; our slogan was "f**k the mainstream". When New Wave did inevitably break into the mainstream (something Punk was unable to do), it was a perfect blend of art and pop, which satisfied everyone. It was the old notion of Michael Jackson selling all these records but you didn't know anyone who owned one (or would admit to owning one).

The only way I see relief from the plague that has inflicted pop culture since 1987 (the fall of New Wave in favor of rap, dance, grunge, and bubble-gum pop) is another bona-fide British invasion, which is what took the world by storm in '76 (Sex Pistols) and which was accelerated by MTV's heavy rotation of New Wave from '81-'86. The current Britpop scene is pretty dismal still (The Corrs? Give me a break -), and still relies on the U2's, the Marc Almonds, and The Cults to let the world know they're still musically relevant. Don't see a musical revolution happening anytime soon.

I will admit that the White Stripes and The Strokes have an appealing look; if only MTV would play their stuff so I can actually give it a listen. You know, back in the days when MTV actually played music videos.

By the way, Terence, I'm 36 and NOT a baby boomer. Baby boomers were born in the late '40s after the troops got back from WW2 and they scrogged like rabbits. They tried calling us Generation X, which I like because it was named after Billy Idol's original Punk band.

-- Andy Lalino

I recently watched that old 1948 thriller "Key Largo" with Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, and Lionel Barrymore. It's always been a favorite of mine. I practically fell out of my chair at one point when Robinson (playing a gangster as only he could) says to the good guy (Bogart):

"Let me tell you about Florida politicians. I make them out of whole cloth, just like a tailor makes a suit. I get their name in the newspaper. I get them some publicity and get them on the ballot. Then after the election, we count the votes. And if they don't turn out right, we recount them. And recount them again. Until they do."


Stephen Beasley
Auckland, NZ

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 ©2003 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2003 by Matthew Drinnenberg    "La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty    This week's movie reviews of "Terminator 3" are ©2003 by Michael A. Smith and Nolan Canova for their respective columns---the "28 Days Later" review is ©2003 Brandon Jones    "The Digital Divide" is ©2003 by Terence Nuzum    "Ashley Lauren's Hollywood" is ©2003 by Ashley Lauren Lewis    "Creature's Corner" is ©2003 by John Lewis     "Splash Page" is ©2003 by Brandon Jones    "Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2003 by Vinnie Blesi    Add'l thanks to Brandon Jones, Andy Lalino and Steve Beasley for their input in "Letters"      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova ©2003; all rights reserved.