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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 474  (Vol. 10, No. 17). This edition is for the week of April 20--26, 2009.

"The Soloist"
FX 2009
FANGRRL Goes to FX 2009
B Low Me .... Torture? At Least They Still Have Their Heads .... Passing On .... Just A Heads Up .... Happy Anniversary - To Me .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...

F/X Con and Other Updates
The Florida Extravanganza Collectibles Show
About Online Networking Inquiries
Readers Comments

In the days of yore, Ye Olde Editor was a regular attendee at local comic and sci-fi conventions (such as Tampa's legendary SunCon) with great regularity. Usually held at one of the area Holiday Inns, but along the way, USF, the armory, other hotels and, heck, even the occasional small rented conference room would play host to these seminal fanboy events. Sometimes a popular actor or behind-the-scenes tech would spice up the act with free autographs. Those days seem hopelessly long gone now, with the notable exception of our homegrown Tampa Giant Comic Con. The really big conventions all went corporate years ago and the "big business" aspect that on one hand guaranteed meetings with major TV and movie stars, will eventually doom it in the current economic downturn.

I say all this as a preamble to my brief review of this year's Florida Extravaganza and Collectibles Show, aka, F/X Con, billed as "The Coolest Show On Earth". It is very cool, and certainly huge, but rising prices and falling attendance gave me a feeling I was watching a dying artform, one that will have to downsize considerably to continue.

But, I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Before this year, the biggest Florida convention I had ever attended was MegaCon. (Conventions outside of Florida is another story for another day.) Both are located at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, so that at least gave me a familiar geography to work with. I didn't go to this year's MegaCon due to financial and health problems, and I had low expectations of making F/X. But with F/X re-scheduled for the better weather in April coupled with ED Tucker's sky-high recommendations and the promise of meeting Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy, I had a change of heart. I managed to convince co-editor Terence Nuzum to accompany me (he's never been to of these either), and after Brandon Jones dropped out of the running as our teammate and transportation (long story), we were delighted to be able to carpool with FANGRRL Lisa Scherer Ciurro, who was most enthusiastic. Well, the possibility of meeting Buffy the Vampire Slayer's James Marsters had a lot to do with that ('cuz he's dreeeeeeeamy).

Terence, Lisa and I anticipated having a great time, as we always do when we're out together, and this marked a first for doing something together this far out of town. Arrangements were made to meet up with our Jacksonville contingent of ED Tucker and Byron Rocher at the Con.

The first positive surprise of F/X Con was having press passes waiting for us at the gate. Wonderful in that I'd inquired about it through emails, but never got any response, let alone confirmation. (That they had us on the passes list was a major relief also in that your absent-minded editor-in-chief didn't remember to bring a photo ID or even a business card!).

Best I could get of Leonard Nimoy from about 20 feet away.
Best I could get of Jonathan Frakes from about 20 feet away.
When I originally called the F/X staff to follow-up about passes, I learned of the first negative surprise: Leonard Nimoy -- Spock from the original Star Trek series and the primary reason Ye Olde Editor made this...er...trek -- was charging $65.00 per autograph. That ruled out getting his personal scribbling, but I figured I might be able to get some snapshots (rumors abounded about Con security interfering with that, but that didn't turn out to be the case). Believe it or not, even though I've been a lifelong Trekkie, this marks only the second occasion I've been in the presence of an original cast member; the first was George Takei (Sulu) thirty years ago (nearly to the day) at a Tampa SunCon. Back in those days there was no charge for autographs. What a difference thirty years makes, eh?

Within seconds of entering the main hall, we were greeted by ED Tucker and Byron Rocher who pledged unwavering support and guidance in an effort to enhance our experience (old hands as they are at F/X Cons). While Terence and I were skeptical about how much "guidance" might be desired, ED did save us a little time in getting to some desired spots and offered commentary on what had transpired so far (they'd been there since Friday).

I immediately made a bee-line to Nimoy's table. While I encountered no interference from the Con staff (my press pass maybe helped there?), I could only get just so close because of the crowd of fans. Adding to this was that Star Trek: The Next Generation commander Will Riker, aka, Jonathan Frakes was sitting at the neighboring table. I was able to get only middlin' pics because of the distance, sorry to disappoint (ED's got a better shot of Nimoy in this week's Retrorama), but it was something. The picture I got of Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman) turned out to be so distant as to be unusable, but I got a decent one of Lost in Space cast member Mark Goddard (I have better ones of him from past Cons).

Lost in Space pilot, Mark Goddard
In fact, the only celeb I actually spoke to was Goddard, who was very courteous. I went up during a break in his line to offer support and congratulations on his successful teaching career. I'll throw in he looks pretty damn good for 60+ years old. An old pro at being a guest at these conventions, he went immediately into a pitch for a self-published book on his life (about $30), but I respectfully declined. I made a mental note to maybe get that from him next time, just 'cuz he's a cool guy.

In closing about celebrity autographs, I'll just say this: at the last MegaCon I attended, just a few years ago, no one was charging more than $20 per autograph and that included a picture. From what I understand, all autographs from celebs of this caliber (an important qualification) exceed that figure and may no longer include photographs.

All article photographs below are enlargeable by clicking on them. A new browser window will open.

The Florida Extravanganza Show is primarily about toy collectibles. I can see why ED felt totally in his element here. The rest of us aren't quite so much into that, but I wanted to see what it was like here. To Terence it seemed like a massive flea market on steroids. He stuck pretty much with the bootleg DVD vendors while yours truly was checking out mainly old comics and magazines and socializing with familiar faces known to inhabit these corridors. ED seemed frustrated that I wasn't so much into shopping as much as I was into hanging out, but that is 95% percent of what I do. It's not that I would never think of buying anything, it's mainly that anything I'd set eyes on that's rare and desirable is going to be WAY out of my price range. But I do like to keep a finger on the pulse of the ebb and flow of the market, that's what I'm there observing.

While I don't have the toy-collector acumen to personally score any of ED's or Byron's acqusitions, I'll compliment ED on finding some decent-looking issues of Warren's Screen Thrills Illustrated. I bought some of these issues directly from the Captain Company years ago, but not all of them. Unfortunately, my memory always fails me on which issues I'm missing, a problem I always have.

For the expert's view of the F/X Con and its toy merchandise, definitely review Retrorama.

Horror authoress Andrea Dean Von Scoyoc with Ye Olde Editor, Nolan B. Canova.
Terence and I were both rather shocked at how many familiar faces and dealers we remembered from Tim Gordon's Tampa Comic Con that just relocated to Largo. Authors Andrea Dean Von Scoyoc and Tony & Glenda Finklestein, actors Joel D. Wynkoop and Jeffrey Bresslauer, comic artists Joe Leone, Mitch Hyman, and Alex Saviuk, our regular bootleg DVD dealer (don't know his name), NONE of whom were at the Largo-transplanted Con in March were all here! Only Tim Gordon himself was here AND there. I spoke to Tim briefly about the state of major Cons, and it seemed that if the so-so turnout here was any indication, they may be in trouble.

Comics entrepreneur Terry Cronin at his Students of the Unusual booth
We intially lost Lisa for about an hour, but she rejoined us well before lunch. After some more meandering, we adjourned to lunch at about 1:30pm and headed to a local Chinese buffet ED recommended. Our Fanboy Summit was decently animated and the food was very good, but we were all very tired (being nocturnal, staying up all day still isn't natural for me).

ED and Byron departed for other territory after lunch, but Lisa, Terence and I returned to the Con, primarily so she could catch the James Marsters panel. We left soon afterwards and discussed the day's events on the way home. Lisa actually returned to Orlando to catch the 8:00pm concert by Marsters. I'm sure she'll have some commentary of her own in this week's FANGRRL.

FANGRRL Lisa Scherer Ciurro peruses some toy collectibles.
Tampa Giant Comic Con's Tim Gordon and friend!
ED and I argue about the root causes of fewer dealers, empty booths and a lower turnout, but to me, it's flat out simple: we're in a recession! Yes, some dealers did well, and money was changing hands, but generally all but the most serious collectors are out of the running. Casual collectors and Con mall mavens just don't have the discretionary income to spend at an event like this anymore.

Veteran fangirl, Trekker, and former PCR contributor, Patty G. Henderson, left, with her nephew, our own Terence Nuzum. Patty secured Leonard Nimoy's autograph on a beautiful pencil portrait she drew of a young Spock!
Dawn of the Dead  "Hare Krishna Zombie" Mike Christopher, left, with The Underground Lounge's Shade Burnett.
Since Terence and Lisa took care of parking and gas (thanks guys), and the F/X staff took care of my press passes (thanks guys), my net spending for the day wound up being about $10 for lunch. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have sampled at least one F/X Show, and in retrospect, the MegaCons were at their peak a few years back. This was likely my last trip to Orlando for the forseeable future, but I don't want to leave an unfairly negative impression.

ED Tucker, left, and Nolan Canova meet in their traditional Convention Center portrait.
The Crazed Fanboy Jax/Tampa FL Extravaganza Group '09. L-to-R: Lisa Scherer Ciurro, Nolan Canova, Byron Rocher, ED Tucker, and Terence Nuzum.
The F/X Show is the be-all and end-all for Florida toy collectors, and over the past few years, the celebrity guest list has improved over MegaCon's. However, there are currently no celebrities whose autographs are worth more than $20 to me, and with my fragile health and dicey money situation, the local comic shows bring me enough satisfaction to keep me closer to home, at least for the time being.

To everyone who over the past few weeks has sent me repeated invitations to join Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and countless other networking groups: YOU CAN STOP NOW. I mean, thank you for your invitation and everything, but I have NO desire to join any more networking groups after a less-than-stellar experience I had with MySpace. I'm just not into it and really don't have the time for it anyway. Please continue to correspond through regular emails.

On a related topic, I was horrified to discover over the past few days at least two talk show guests who were "discovered" via Facebook or Twitter. I thought talk show staff were supposed to be, like, you know, busy with running the show. That they've got that much time to f*ck around on Twitter to the point where they're booking guests they find on there is a Brave New World this old codger doesn't recognize and, frankly, rejects. Those who succeed me on Nolan's Pop Culture Review may be of a more lenient persuasion.

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.
Nolan [27-04-2009 23:36] 
Thank you, backbiter. I am indeed a lucky webmonkey to be surrounded by the talent we have here. Thanks for sticking with us.
backbiter [27-04-2009 21:51]  
I read an interview with J.J. Abrams on antoher site, and it was painful reading to say the least. Grammar errors and misspellings all over the goddamned place. At the risk of repeating myself, Nolan. You know why I keep coming back here. You and your writers are brilliant.
ED [27-04-2009 16:33] 
Chris - it would have been nicer if you really had been there.
Chris Woods [27-04-2009 16:25] 
Nolan, Lisa, ED - Great articles from all of you. I enjoyed them very much. Reading them made me feel like I was there with you all.
ED [27-04-2009 06:05] 
My mother always referred to my comics as "funny books" too. I think she finally stopped a few years ago after she realized how much some of them are selling for these days! I think Wolverine is going to come down to who wants to see the film more, general audiences or comic book fans. I guess the moral of your story is don't get recognized!
Michael [27-04-2009 05:26] 
ED, I hope everyone that see's the film writes something. I like it when Nolan and others see a genre' film and write it up. I didn't really grow up reading "funny books" (my fathers' expression) so sometimes I'll miss something in these films. Unfortuantely, as a recognized member of several film critics groups I'm held to a little stricter policy enforcement. My understanding is that the bootleg version didn't have a lot of the completed effects but otherwise was fine. I do know that one of the Fox News people reviewed the film and got booted for it. Obviously no sense of humor in that company.
ED [27-04-2009 03:54] 
LOL, so Michael does that mean I shouldn't publish this review of Wolverine I just wrote on Tuesday? Actually I did watch the film this past weekend but I am not going to review it. The bootleg just saved me some money because I wasn't impressed with story enough to want to pay to see it in the theaters or even track down some screening passes. I am not well versed on Marvel comics lore but I have a feeling it is going to seriously tick off people who are. I do plan to see Trek this Saturday in the theater at the preview so I hope it fairs better. I hate having to demand my money back from the theater after a free preview screening!
Michael [26-04-2009 20:19] 
ED, I know what you mean. Usually the studio's don't really care about early reviews, especially if they're positive. Several years ago I caught hell from the studio because Nolan ran a submitted review of "Life Aquatic" before it opened. It was written by someone who had caught a sneak preview two weeks before it opened. We dodged the bullet because I wasn't the one who wrote it. Usually my reviews are up on Tuesday night, plus quoted on Rotten Tomatoes that evening, but they are really touchy on these two films, especially "Wolverine," because of the early bootleg. I've actually been offered a DVD of the film but prefer to see it in a theatre and finished.
Paul \"The Cat\" Guzzo [26-04-2009 18:57] 
ED [26-04-2009 12:39] 
Mike - that's funny about the studio restrictions. There has been a bootleg of Wolverine in circulation for at least two weeks now. The Star Trek preview is Saturday May 1 around here.
Michael [26-04-2009 09:02] 
Great issue, as usual, everyone. Love the different takes on the Con. I would love to have been with you. Nice to see photos of old friends.

Glad to find another "Grease 2" fan. The story is up so enjoy. I do agree with Nolan on Mark Goddard. He was also at the Chiller Con and I wouldn't have pegged him for a day over 45.

Very sad about Bea Arthur. More on her in next week's Rant I promise.
Nolan [26-04-2009 07:21] 
Ditto to the R.I.P. on Bea Arthur at 86.
Lisa (Scherer) Marsters [25-04-2009 14:32] 
R.I.P. Bea Arthur

Mike -- I love Grease 2! Looking forward to reading what you have to say about it.
The Future Mrs. James Marsters [25-04-2009 14:26] 
Nolan -- Having some technical difficulties (on my end) loading photos, but at least I was able to finish my column. I'm gonna give my computer a stern talking to -- and maybe sacrifice a chicken or two -- and will try again later this evening.
A Tampa Tweeter [25-04-2009 14:18] 
@Puff Chrissy-Do u or ur tweeps ever have tweetups? Do u tweet using Twirl? Do u know if James Marsters is on Twitter? Cos I heart him!
Twittering Puff Chrissy [25-04-2009 04:30] 
I only have 140 characters to properly express my thoughts and feelings and it's important that I be clear and concise. With that said, it n
Twittering Puff Chrissy [24-04-2009 13:11] 
Going to bed soon.
Twittering Puff Chrissy [24-04-2009 13:10] 
Brushing my teeth and preparing to ride my bike.
ED [23-04-2009 03:46] 
Thanks Mike, I will be sure to keep you in the loop on FX next year. Scott Schwartz was actually selling a few autographs at this show on both Friday and Saturday. It may just be that he hasn't been in Orlando before and this was a new market to tap. Mark Goddard was there too and I only saw him sign one thing but he has been at shows here multiple times in the past few years. It's nice that they think to have guests from the old Irwin Allen shows but it needs to be someone everyone in the area hasn't already met four times.
Michael [22-04-2009 20:51] 
ED, just read your piece on FX. Great job, as usual. Nice to see Scott Schwartz is getting by. He was at the Chiller Con in NJ last October and was having no luck selling anything. He was actually bartering with other celebs there for autographed stuff, i.e. 3 Scott Schwartz signed photos for one Ralph Maccio. Great photos as always. I've actually got the Monkee finger puppets and the talking Pee Wee Herman figure. Nice to know I've got something others seem to want. Great job on the "Battlestar" goodies. I need a heads up next time there's a cool con happening so I can swing home and mingle. The guy who puts on the lame ones here seems to think that old Playboy centerfolds and Kenny Baker/David Prowse/anyone else from "Star Wars" will pack them in. To quote Wayne Campbell (and myself, circa 1978) NOT!
Michael [22-04-2009 15:37] 
65 BUCKS??? I'm SO glad I had a friend in the con business and got Nimoy's autograph for free! SunCon?? Wow, that takes me back. Did you know that Takei (rhymes with gay) stayed at Dusty Hess' house that weekend? Oh, yeah....

DYING TO KNOW!!! [22-04-2009 13:01] 
[31-12-1969 16:00] 
End of Comments    

"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2009 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith    "Retrorama" is ©2009 by ED Tucker    "Growing Up Fanboy" is ©2009 by Chris Woods    "FANGRRL" is ©2009 by Lisa Scherer Ciurro    "Sports Talk" is ©2009 by Chris Munger      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova    
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