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PCR Archives 2004
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Katherine Leis's "Untitled DVD Project, Volume One"....Gus Perez's “Light of Blood”
 by William Moriaty

"Secret Window"
 by Mike Smith

Goodbye Spalding and Paul....Quickie Horror Film Reviews
 by Andy Lalino

Canada's P.C. Machine....Fox News Alarmist....Satellite TV....MegaCon '04
 by Joshua Montgomery

Social Commentary....Reality Check....Life On Mars, Don't Bet On It....Movie Notes....More On Those FCC Hypocrites....Follow-up To MegaCon....Kerry Wins Florida
 by Brandon Jones

MegaCon....Think I'll Just Join The Eagles, Thank You Very Much....Moving On....Meet The Beatles, Part 8
 by Mike Smith

Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2003!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our fifth calendar year!
    Number 207  (Vol. 5, No. 11). This edition is for the week of March 8--14, 2004.

MegaCon 2004
   by Nolan B. Canova

   Plus...  MEGACONNED TOO! by Ed Tucker

Long-time readers will no doubt recall the tempestuous PCR back issue #154 from last year where a few of us reported being less-than-thrilled with the goings on at one of the largest pop culture conventions on the planet, Orlando's MegaCon. The mixed reaction from the likes of ED Tucker, Christian Dumais, and myself was based more or less on our squashed expectations that we seemed to be spending much more to come away with much less. Mix that with increasing concern that some celebrities wouldn't even allow you in their airspace for less than the $20 they charge for an autographed picture. Years ago it was just the opposite, a great time could be had for a couple o' bucks; celebrities would sign nearly anything for free, only charging for an 8 X 10 glossy for sale at their table. Ah, those were the days.

Well, since last year's experience, Christian has moved to Poland (they have comic cons there?), and ED and I decided to re-calibrate our sights for a more realistic outcome. Apparently, some subtle changes must've been agreed-upon at Convention-central, because everyone seemed a tad better behaved this year, and most of us got what we came for. Most surprises were pleasant ones. The only thing ED and I knew ahead of time we wanted to repeat exactly, is that our two camps---his from Jacksonville and mine from Tampa---meet at the Con and go to lunch at Darryl's on I-Drive afterwards. Apopka-based filmmaker Jason L. Liquori ("Jason's Jungle") and I had been in email contact and we were going to try to meet up as well. The date was set for Saturday, March 6, 2004.

Leaving Tampa
Bouttime Studios guru Scott van Sickle was my ride this year as last, but this time we had quite a few passengers: Lexie Fyfe (lady wrestler and Scott's significant other) rode up front with Scott, I was wedged in the back with youthful PCR columnists Joshua "Black Dog" Montgomery and Clayton "The Ogre" Smith. And I mean wedged, none of us are small, but we were too grateful to mind the pain much. One visit to a strategically-located rest stop helped solve increasingly urgent plumbing problems.

We arrived at the Convention Center from an entirely different direction from last year, where I remember we wound up in a large sandy lot; apparently even that was full as we were re-directed to a paved lot and had to take a shuttle(!) to the Con. Considering we left Tampa later than planned and had to take a shuttle from several blocks away from the center, we made decent time anyway, arriving thru the doors just past 10:30am. I had already bought Joshua's and my tickets online, I thought the others would've done likewise. I was saddened that we'd already be separated at the outset by an hour-long wait before the others could join us. Josh and I walked right in.

Dick Kulpa and Nolan Canova
Photo by Joshua Montgomery
Nolan Canova holding the free issue of Cracked given to me by the magazine's publisher, Dick Kulpa, right. Dick is the first celebrity I met at the Con.
Lost in Wonder
This was Josh's first convention experience of this magnitude (he had attended Tampa's Necronomicon before, though, remembering it mostly for the partying), and seeing his wide-eyed wonder was a joy. We circled the environs a few times, keeping an eye out for our compatriots. There was a lot to take in.

The first celebrity I ran into nearly ran me over first: Dick Kulpa, publisher of Cracked Magazine was practically jumping in the aisles giving away free issues of Cracked. He introduced himself and said that Cracked wasn't Mad. I had just replied that I knew the difference when he dropped some flyers or something and went scrambling on the floor to retrieve them. I said, "Mr. Kulpa, you're a living legend, sir, please, let me and the kid do that." He laughed as we helped him pick up his papers. Super guy. He's making quite a few convention appearances in Florida this year, kinda has me thinking he's basically retired and has moved here. That's fine with me.

Lost In Space
My main objective at this event was to meet and greet the surviving members of the TV show Lost In Space, and get the few autographs and pictures I had not been able to acquire before. Thankfully, this opportunity presented itself nearly immediately as around 11:00am, June Lockhart, Bill Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, and Bob May (actor inside the robot), took their places at their respective tables.

Nolan Canova and Billy Mumy
Photo by Joshua Montgomery
Nolan Canova with Bill(y) Mumy from TV's Lost in Space. Mumy's convention appearances are relatively rare and this was a holy grail experience for me. The picture he's holding is the one he autographed for me.
Bill Mumy and Angela Cartwright were next to each other, but Billy (I keep wanting to call him that, altho he prefers "Bill") seemed to want to get up and wander around, so I seized the opportunity to meet him when I could. I found myself feeling like a 12-year-old again, blubbering hysterically about the show and its impact on me (along with The Adventures of Superman, LIS is my all-time favorite TV show). He seemed cheerfully amused as I regailed my disgust at the 1998 LIS movie (the original cast must get that a lot--they seem uninterested in discussing it). He said while he and the late Jonathan Harris didn't turn down cameo roles flat out, they decided against appearing unless they could reprise their original roles which the producers did not have in mind.

I told Bill how much I liked him and his daughter Lilliana (who I referred to as "Ariana"--duhhhh) in "It's Still a Good Life" the sequel to the memorable Twilight Zone original ("It's a Good Life"), which played recently on the newest incarnation of that series. Joshua's positive (and timely) remarks regarding Mumy's recurring role in Babylon 5 (as "Lanier") was very well received. I should've thought of that, too.

Nolan Canova and Angela Cartwright
Photo by Joshua Montgomery
I'm standing next to Penny Robinson! Angela Cartwright, a super-sweet and gracious lady in real life and another holy grail LIS find.
At least no one in my earshot did anything untoward like scream "Danger, Will Robinson!" which, I imagine, is about the uncoolest thing you could possibly do around him...or any of them actually. Next to Bill was Angela Cartwright who played his sister Penny on the show. I remarked that, yes, I'm actually old enough to remember her on Make Room For Daddy, which illicited an amused "uh-oh!" from Angela. (I later remembered the short-lived sequel, Make Room For Grandaddy, which reunited the cast in the '70s.) And that I remembered her and Bill's websites were designed by a relative of hers. She said "My son?" I about died when I remembered, yes it was her son--duhhh. The picture she autographed was one of her in a hot red number---rooowr! Tell you what, she and the whole cast are still remarkable looking! (I told Billy I wish I had millions of dollars when it counted, I would've made the definitive Lost In Space movie---he replied, "Yeah, me too!")

Mark Goddard and Marta Kristen (Major West and Judy Robinson) were at the table and I recalled with them their appearance at a 1998(?) Florida Fairgrounds baby-boomer convention. Marta remarked she remembered me, which was nice of her to say, but who knows (of course, I am really funny-looking, so hey, maybe...). I got their pictures and autographs at that time, but it's always nice seeing them again. Mark Goddard blew me away with the announcement that a new Lost In Space series is in production!! (I did not know this.) I believe it's going to be called "Space Family Robinson", which would be interesting, as I recall that was the original name of the shooting script (and the Ib Melchoir original, but let's not get into that).

Photo by Nolan CanovaPhoto by Joshua Montgomery
Marta Kristen graciously allowed me to photograph this close-up of her at the head of the table. In background going leftward, is Mark Goddard (white pants), then just make out Bill Mumy's "handler" (bald man), Bill Mumy, and Angela Cartwright (next to pillar). Bob May who donned the LIS robot costume during the series' run, here with me. A delightful gentlemen with terrifc behind-the-scenes stories and pictures.
June Lockhart I spoke to right before I left the Con. I had her picture and autograph from the Fairgrounds appearance, but wanted to stop and say Hi. (And of course belly-ache about the movie, OK OK.) She seemed tired so I couldn't find the nerve to ask for a pic. It was just a nice, intimate moment. At 70+ plus years old, she's still absolutely beautiful, and I mean that.

Lost and Found
Not being able to find our companions nearly ruined the Con for Joshua. (We needn't even have started looking for an hour as it turned out due to the ticket line.) He had bought a gaming card and talked to "Sgt. Boomer" of Battlestar Galactica (he's a big fan of the show) whose table was located next to LIS's Bob May. But he wanted to find Clayton, and I needed to find Scott. Not to mention ED Tucker, Jason Liquori, etc., etc. Already tired of walking by 12:30pm, we pulled up a couple chairs near the celeb area and decided to rest and hope somebody'd find us.

Brad Dourif
Photo by Nolan Canova
Genre star Brad Dourif signing autographs for adoring fans. Although fresh off "Lord of the Rings", I liked him immensly in "Legion: Excorcist III" and "ST: The Next Generation".
About ten minutes later, who came 'round the corner at 90 miles an hour, but ED Tucker! We both muttered profanities at the frustration of finding each other, but, of course, at least we found each other! He excitedly relayed his recent encounters: Sid Haig, Ken Foree, an unannounced Walter Koenig, and more. I introduced him to Josh and we met ED's friend, then together we all left to find the others. Miraculously, that came together pretty quickly. (Fortunately they all remembered me muttering something previously about meeting at the front gate at 1:00pm--thank god.) Will Moriaty had decided to delay his entry to the Con till after lunch and agreed to meet us at Darryl's on I-Drive around 1:00pm. This part, at least, was coming together. So, our now huge group, re-united and cross-introduced, headed for Darryl's.

It took some doing to get enough tables together for this Fanboy Summit Meeting (as ED has dubbed it), but with everyone now together (including the just-arrived William Moriaty), we explored fandom unleashed.
Ed Tucker and Nolan Canova
Photo by Joshua Montgomery
Ed Tucker and Nolan Canova in a very close reproduction of last year's picture! See issue 154 for that one.
From old to new, once we get going there's no stopping. One interesting thing we touched on is the current state of Paul Bearer Productions, who I'd been in some email contact with (and who were mysteriously absent from the Con). The upshot is the production seems to have cleared some road on the way to a new Creature Feature on WTOG's Channel 44, and the introduction of a new character as host, "Professor Paul Bearer II", but was uninterested in any outside help (outside of publicity) in any constructive capacity. My attitude about it has blown hot-and-cold for months.

After Darryl's we decided to split up, with the boys going back with Scott and Lexie to the Con, and the rest of us following Will's direction to go to some out-of-the-way-but-hip place called the Big Bamboo, named after it's particularly potent cocktail. Weirdly off-beat and atmospheric, it is where the Fanboy Summit went full-bore. I confess, after two Big Bamboos, my memory of this segment is fuzzy but very positive. I think I held my own OK, but the fan energy was definitely vortexing between William and Edward.

The Fanboy Summit Meeting at Darryl's. From left: Clayton "The Ogre" Smith, Lexie Fyfe, Scott van Sickle, Joshua "Black Dog" Montgomery (kneeling), Nolan B. Canova, ED Tucker, Byron Rocher (half-squatting), and William Moriaty. Not pictured: Donovan Johnson (who took this photo) and Pat Butler.
In the two photos at right, Pat Butler and Byron Rocher are not seen here, but they are in the room.
Ed Tucker and Nolan Canova getting hammered at the Big Bamboo, a bar named after its particularly potent cocktail. Photo by Donovan Johnson.
I took this picture of William Moriaty and Donovan Johnson across from me and Ed. The notorious drink in question, The Big Bamboo, is that colorful concoction in the foreground.

Nolan Canova and Jason Liquori
Photo by William Moriaty
United at last. Nolan Canova meets Apopka filmmaker Jason Liquori (right) face-to-face for the first time with only minutes to go before the Con closes.
We meet at last
I took advantage of Byron's cellphone to try and contact Jason Liquori. Jason answered and said he'd been there since 1:00pm---or about the time we all left for lunch! He was sticking pretty close to the Virginia Hey (Farscape) table, so to look for him there. William and I didn't make it back through the door until nearly quarter to six. I ran around like mad, but didn't find Jason right away (I'm rather poor at finding faces in this kind of situaton anyway. I have to depend on people picking me out of a crowd; I'm a big enough target.) Finally I heard, "Nolan!", turned around and there he was. Hastily introducing him to William, we ran behind as Will tried to see everything in about 5 minutes. Luckily, Jason remembered where area filmmaker Katharine Leis's table was and I was able to meet her for the first time (we always seem to miss each other at the Renegade film festivals)!  Will bought a DVD from her. He's already sent in his review of it for this issue of PCR.

Leaving the convention, we sat outside in what may be called a food court and Will and I got to know Jason a little better. Very enlightening conversation and there are exciting plans ahead for all of us.

I, Robot
Robot B-9This was not near the Lost in Space tables, but in another area entirely. An outfit called The Sci-Fi Zone was in possession of one of the greatest reproductions of the Lost in Space robot I have ever seen, the legendary model B-9 (photo at left). GortAccording to the information, one of the proprietors I talked to built that himself, as well as Gort (Day the Earth Stood Still). I had no other convenient place to put these shots, but I knew I wanted to share them with you.

He said Gort (photo, right) was the "original production model", but he must've meant "based on" the original production model as that construction would have to be 50 years old by now!

Both robots are taller than they look in the pictures. The LIS machine is nearly 7 feet tall, and Gort is closer to 8 feet! Impressive. I wish I'd've gotten the names of the gentlemen involved, but at least I got the shop's name in the shot.

And in conclusion...

Two views of the Convention room floor after-hours from the glassed-in balcony. In the photo at left you can see the ghostly refection of William Moriaty on the right as the flash goes off. The windows to the upper right are where I take my next picture. The picture at right is from the just-mentioned windows a few yards down from where we were and offer a deeper view of the now empty Convention Hall.

Megaconned Too! by ED Tucker

Byron Rocher and Pat Butler
Byron Rocher, left, and Pat Butler accompany ED Tucker to MegaCon
For those keeping score, 2004 is now my third time at bat for Megacon, the giant comic book / media convention in Orlando. Please see last year’s review for my philosophies regarding comic books, autographs, and “celebrity” status, if you need a primer prior to reading this year’s review. This year my crew consisted of Byron Rocher, Donovan “The Poster Man” Johnson, and Pat Butler. Byron and Donovan are old hands at these shows but Pat was a newbie with extremely minimal leanings in the science fiction and fantasy fields. This made Pat an interesting barometer for the proceedings or the fanboy equivalent of a designated driver. His basic opinion of the con was that he got to see a few things that interested him and a lot of weird stuff he never wanted to see again!

I found this year’s show to be more enjoyable overall than 2003. The “celebrities” seemed much better behaved and the production was a little more organized. The main reason the show seemed to have improved this year may have just been from our learning from our mistakes in the past and not repeating them. The quality of the merchandise this year was down in my opinion. The comic book selection was still very impressive but just not as good as in the past. Bootleg DVD and video dealers, which were prominent last year, had spread to near epidemic proportions this year. While I really don’t purchase much from these types of vendors, the DVD market is just too dynamic to me to buy inferior product, I don’t particularly mind them. The one thing that does bother me though is how many bootlegs I am starting to see for items where legitimate product is readily available. It’s one thing to have the opportunity to purchase a favorite rare movie or television show that has never been released to the public or has been unavailable for many years.
Marc Singer
Marc Singer, "Beastmaster", in person, looking a little different from the hunk everyone remembers, signing autographs.
It is another proposition all together though to be selling films available in any Best Buy or a series currently being shown on television. At $15-$25 each, these bootlegs are often priced above their legitimate counterparts. I hope some better policing, either internal or external, is done in the future before these less scrupulous vendors ruin it for everyone. The guest list this year seemed to be more focused than in the past (i.e. all related to the general themes of the convention), which appeared to translate into happier fans and better moods for the guests who were making more money. Attendees included Brad Dourif, hot off his successful turn in Lord of the Rings, Noah Hathaway and Herbert Jefferson from Battlestar Galactica, B-Movie actor Kenny Miller, whose huge booth sign made sure you knew who he was even though I didn’t see anyone get an autograph, Brian Thompson, the alien bounty hunter from the X-Files, and Glenn Shadix from Beetlejuice. Now the moment you have all been waiting for. This year, the first annual “Gil Gerard Award for Most Haggard-Looking Celebrity at a Convention” goes to, drum roll please, Marc Singer! The cult film and television actor from the V series and Beastmaster films now looks more like The Creasemaster!

Angela Cartwright and ED Tucker
Angela Cartwright, "Penny Robinson" from Lost in Space, shares a moment with ED Tucker
The big treat for me this year was the surviving cast of my favorite television show Lost in Space. I have met everyone from the show over the years except for Bill Mumy and Angela Cartwright. Ms. Cartwright was an absolute doll – friendly, accommodating, and looking very well for her years. Judy may have been the babe daughter on the show (and Marta Kristen still looks good too) but Penny could give her a run for her money these days! Bill Mumy was very professional but seemed rather disinterested in the entire proceedings. I brought a one sheet of the highly underrated Stanley Kramer film Bless the Beasts and Children for him to sign. To the best of my knowledge this was Mumy’s only starring roll (at least he received top billing even though the late Barry Robbins is really the lead), but he hardly said more than “where do you want me to sign”. In all fairness, it was early when I went by his table and he could have had a late night or taken too much cold medicine. The rest of the cast were their cheerful, amiable, selves though and Mark Goddard could probably write a book on the correct way to be a celebrity guest.

ED Tucker and Ken Foree
ED Tucker runs into Dawn of the Dead star, Ken Foree
In the “Nobody Told Me You Were Going To Be Here” department, I went wandering down an aisle and nearly tripped over Ken Foree. The cult actor from the original Dawn of the Dead (who also has a cameo in the sequel), Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, and From Beyond was at a table in the dealer’s area with Walter Koenig (Mr. Chekov from the original Star Trek). According to Mr. Foree, they decided to attend at the last minute but I’m still a little peeved Megacon didn’t at least get it up on their website (which I was checking daily for cancellations). Even though I missed an opportunity to have my Dawn of the Dead one sheet signed by my favorite character in the film, it was still great to spend a few minutes with the incredibly friendly Mr. Foree discussing the new movie. In spite of the logistics problems, Ken Foree always seemed to be crowded when I went by his booth, but Walter Koenig looked bored and lonely.

Virginia Hey
Virginia Hey at her "miniature flea market" signing autographs for adoring fans!
Donovan’s favorite guest was Virginia Hey from the second Mad Max installment, The Road Warrior. I waited with him so I could take a picture for him and I couldn’t help noticing how much her table looked more like a flea market booth. In addition to the expected photos, she was also selling sketches, purses, and perfume! For $40 you could even go to a Virginia Hey meditation workshop after the show. Had I known it was $40 at the time, I would have insisted on going back later that day just to see how many people attended. When it came time for Donovan to get his photo signed, Ms. Hey asked him how he wanted it inscribed. Feeling even more sarcastic than usual, I immediately said just make it out to eBay! She seemed a little confused and befuddled as I tried to explain to her that it was a just a joke. I took a photograph of Donovan with her and we departed. Later in the car, Donovan showed me the picture and we realized she had actually written “To eBay” on it, then crossed out eBay and written Donovan!

ED Tucker and Sid Haig
ED Tucker and House of 1,000 Corpses star, Sid Haig
The other guest highlight for me was character actor Sid Haig. Best known these days for his scene stealing, make that film-stealing, turn in Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses, Haig has appeared in countless exploitation films including Jack Hill’s Spider Baby and almost every “Women in Prison” flick ever made! Mr. Haig was friendly, talkative, and very open about his career path and even his opinions on celebrity shows (which he referred to as his current cottage industry!). Thanks to the quick thinking of Donovan, I now have a fantastic movie poster from Corpses with an inscription from Haig that can’t be repeated (hint: it’s his line from the film’s opening minutes during the hilariously botched robbery attempt).

As I said earlier, the comic book selection this year was not of as high a caliber as it has been in the past, particularly where the silver age is concerned. I noticed more newer comics and items I don’t really consider as rare or key issues being displayed on the backboards. There were also few dealers with unbagged comics, soiled magazines and sun yellowed VHS tapes that looked like they just wandered in from a garage sale. Prices showed a minor increase but there were still a few good deals to be had. This year I tried to gravitate towards pre-1950’s golden age comics and netted one issue of All American (Green Lantern) and four issues of Jack Kirby’s Boy Commandos at extremely favorable prices. There are not many comic book artists that I would be interested in getting autographs from (and the list gets shorter almost every day, goodbye Julius Schwartz) so I tried to steer clear of that area.

Donovan Johnson
Donovan Johnson peruses one of the many collectors' comics booths at the Con.
After several hours of walking, schmoozing with guests, and digging through comic boxes, we were all tired and ready for our traditional lunch at Darryl’s restaurant on International Drive. It was a pleasure to meet Joshua and Clayton for the first time and to get to see Nolan, Will, and Scotty again. After a two-hour lunch we adjourned, at Will’s excellent suggestion, to a local hole in the wall bar called the Big Bamboo. What looks like an abandoned quanza hut from World War II, turned out to be a colorful little dive loaded with more charm than we could take in during a single visit. Our Fanboy Summit Meeting was a delightful few hours of reminiscing and sparking flashbacks that I am still trying to follow up on. The psychic connection in that room was as strong as steel and tempered by an intriguingly powerful white liquor concoction named, appropriately, The Big Bamboo!

Megacon 2004 was pretty much everything you could ask for from a convention these days - a few good deals, a few good stories thanks to some good guests, and a few good friends. Hooking up with Nolan and company increased the fun exponentially and was definitely the true highlight of the event for me. Picking up a few Jack Kirby comics from the 1940’s without mortgaging my house was a welcome bonus. In my review of the 2003 Megacon, I pointed out that these cons are what you make of them. You have to understand the deal and work within the limits. This year I think we followed this advice, were better prepared to cope with it, and had a better time for our troubles.

Virginia Hey autographed posterDon and VirginiaAdmission to Megacon, $15 in advance, cost of a celebrity autographed photo, $20, getting Virginia Hey to sign Donovan’s photo “To eBay”, priceless!

The signed photograph at left and close-up, below, featuring the "To eBay" mistake! Read story above for details. Picture at above right shows Don and Virginia settled things nicely.

To Ebay?

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"Mike's Rant" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2004 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino    "Splash Page" is ©2004 by Brandon Jones    "Deadguy's Dementia" is ©2004 by Mike "Deadguy" Scott    "The Black Dog Bites Back" is ©2004 by Joshua Montgomery    "The Drow" is ©2004 by Dylan Jones    "Nicholas Rex" is ©2004 by Nick King    "The Ogre" is ©2004 by Clayton Smith      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova    
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