All contents  2000 by Nolan B. Canova

Number 32.  This edition is for the week of October 30--November 5, 2000.
Editor and publisher, Nolan B. Canova
A belated happy birthday to one of my oldest friends: make-up wonderboy, and ex-HATS drummer, Corey Castellano, who turned 37 October 27th!
Lost-and-found, Halloween in Tampa, Top 10 lists, the unknown Steve Allen, R.I.P.            by Nolan B. Canova
(11-02-00) My friends. As usual, when the current issue of PCR is out late, you can count on the fact that one disaster after another delayed its processing. This week: as I was preparing to write the Halloween issue Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I suddenly became aware of the fact that I couldn't remember the last time I saw my wallet. The one with everything inside --driver's license, credit cards, registration...everything.
  To the best of my recollection, this has never happened to me before. I've had the same driver's license for 9 years. Loved that picture of me.
  Struggling to retrace my steps, I remembered the last time I saw it was when I laid it on the trunk lid so I could handle a VCR I was taking to a friend's house to be cleaned (this is at 2:00am--my normal hours). Evidently, after I put the VCR in the back seat, I must've completely forgotten the wallet was back there. (Remember it's pitch black dark.) I got in the car and drove off. Returning 3 or so hours later, feeling elated that the VCR session was productive, suddenly I was hit with the feeling of dread: did I put the wallet in the car or not? (I haven't actually carried a wallet in my pocket since high school. Too easy to be robbed. Heh, heh, yeah I know.) I turned both my house and my car upside-down before coming to the inescapable conclusion: it was somewhere on the streets of South Tampa at 5:15am!
   Racing up-and-down the streets with brights ablaze and a flashlight handy, I could see neither hide nor hair of the wallet or its contents after 2 thorough trips and several briefer ones.
   I got on the phone and on the computer ASAP to start closing accounts. Made plans to get a new driver's license (which involves photography--another phobia matter--never mind) and a new registration. Got a friend to take me around to do this during the hours I'm normally sleeping.
   The good news: no activity in my accounts during the time all my account numbers (checking included) were not in my possession. With the info in there, anyone could have wiped me out in minutes. So, I didn't lose any money (that I DO carry in my pocket). And I don't think my SS# was in there. (I memorized that ages ago.)
   The bad news: since I couldn't find anything during the time I was driving, someone has my personal property and I have only myself to blame and I feel like an idiot. Anyhow, that's what I spent all Wednesday doing.
   Epilogue: Around 8:00pm Wednesday night (I was still groggy), the phone rings. It's a girl from a local bakery. She found my check card (that's like an ATM card) on the side of the road and wants to know if I want it back! This confirms that I lost it this way. I say "yes!" and I meet with her and tip her a five-spot (well, the card's no good anymore--but it's the thought that counts). I ask where she found the card. It was in the grass at an intersection near my house.
  Epilogue 2: Obviously, searching from a car was pointless. I walked down to the intersection and found the paper with with my bank accounts on it. And I also found my voter ID, totally undamaged! Nothing else for several blocks, but I'm grateful for this much.
  The other items still missing can't be used anymore, but I'd still like to recover them anyway. Especially the driver's license with my picture from 1991. I'm sorry now I didn't think of posting that on this site before now.
  Friday night (the 27th) was an unexpectedly successful Rocky Horror Picture Show 25th spectacular at The Tampa Theatre. The place was an absolute zoo, with standing room only crowds and a stage nearly collapsing under the weight of sheer numbers of live players. In attendance, and leading the party as announcer, was none other than national RHPS fan club president, Sal Pero. I wish I had been a little more on top of this, I would have brought him one of our old "Our Rocky" records!
  Saturday night, Guavaween. Next to Gasparilla, Guavaween is the closest thing we have to a Mardi Gras in Tampa. The great, dry weather (mid-to-high 60s) contributed and made for a memorable event. I heard it reached 100,000 attendees.
  Various haunted houses in the area, both commercial and private, enjoyed much activity. The biggest commercial one in this area is the one at Busch Gardens. They're trying to rival Universal. While this goal is admirable, they haven't quite figured out crowd control yet.
  Monday, on a local morning news show, Al "Grandpa Munster" Lewis appeared from a location in Ybor City plugging some event I don't remember. Also, the interviewer spat out Lewis's age, but I didn't quite hear--he's either 86 or 96 years old! (Anyone know?)
   TV on Tuesday night (Halloween proper) was great, wasn't it? Scores of great flicks with just as many behind-the-scenes shows! Midnight saw a rare telecast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Afterwards VH-1 played a "pop-up video" version of all the songs from it.
  I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to the Top 10 horror movies of all time special 2-part PCR! Not quite as many wrote as I expected, but a good turnout nonetheless, and quite a passionate bunch! I'm still surprised at the writing talent I sometimes discover out there.  
  Regular readers will remember those issues were "haunted" by the worst computer crash I've yet experienced, causing some delays. But, in the end it all worked out.
STEVE ALLEN, R.I.P. at 78.
   There are obits aplenty on the net and on the news about this amazing man. He's written, like, 4000 songs, written several books and was a pioneer of early late-night talk show television, most notably, The Tonight Show. See "Mike's Rant" for a nice piece on Steve-a-rino.
   Of all the contributions Steve Allen made, one that's constantly overlooked--probably because it's "darker" than the light comedy he's identified with--is the contribution he's made to skeptical thought.
  Altho known as a "thinking man's comedian", many readers may be surprised to know that Steve Allen was on the editorial board of Skeptic Magazine! Skeptic is an scientific and educational journal that seeks to investigate and/or debunk claims of the paranormal using scientific methods. Similar to The Skeptical Inquirer that came before it.
  Steve Allen shared this distinction with such luminaries as James "The Amazing" Randi, biologist Stephen Jay Gould, Dr. Michael Shermer, mathmatician Arthur Benjamin, and illusionists Penn and Teller! (Sometimes you need a magician around to expose a psychic) Plus, a host of professorial types, mostly from Cal Tech. Allen's contributions were mostly in philosophy and cult religions. The latter hit especially close to home.
  I wish I had the story handy--and it's been awhile--but the nutshell version is: I believe one of Allen's kids got mixed up in a weird religious cult years ago. Steve was horrified at the changes these "guru" types could have on a formerly bright, independent young person--taking whatever vulnerabilities are present and exploiting them--that he made a decision to research and expose these charlatans and "free" the cultists. He eventually succeeded in reclaiming his son (daughter?), but it was long and painful. His research led him to The Skeptics Society. Yours truly was once a dues-paying member and probably will be again. (Not re-upping had more to do with their fine magazine getting lost in the mail. But I digress.)
  Steve Allen wrote a book called "Dumbth" which is practically required reading for any skeptic, entry level or not. It exposes stupid things people do and say in America. (I don't have a copy of this unfortunately, but I believe it would vaguely resemble "News of the Weird"--just more horrifying.) It so impressed the board of Skeptic, they instituted the "Dumbth Award" for especially aggravating abuses in business, politics, everyday life, and organized religions (the latter a personal favorite). However, there is a "Dumbth news" column edited by Randy Cassingham in Skeptic every month. It will live on to honor this under-exposed side of Steve Allen. He will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.
  (11-03-00) Yahoo! I went back to the intersection that girl told me about and, after thoroughly searching both sides of the street several times, I've made a 99% total recovery of my lost items! Only my Home Depot card is still missing, but I'm not worried about it, it's cancelled. And, ASAP, I'll post the picture from my old driver's licence.


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