Either your browser's javascript has been disabled or it needs an update! Please re-enable your javascript program or update your browser to view this page as designed. Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2001 Banner! Number 60 (Vol 2, No. 20).  This edition is for the week of May 14--20, 2001.
Another nutty week, huh?
Robert Blake--XFL--McViegh
also: Perry Como, Douglas Adams--R.I.P.

In what may be yet another bizarre case of a celebrity murder of a spouse by a spouse, as of this writing, actor Robert Blake is still considered a suspect--altho a lower priority one--in the murder case of his wife, Bonnie Bakely. (For some additional details on this, see "Mike's Rant", issue 59.)

The police and the press seem to have concentrated their efforts on exposing the shady character that was Bonnie Bakely. Friends and relatives of the deceased have been coming out in droves to describe her as a "celebrity-chaser" and golddigger. She always had plenty of money and traveled, even when her employment was scant. Defenders say, and rightly so, that it's unfair to put the victim on trial in the press when there's still a murderer at large. The feeling one gets is that Bonnie pissed off the wrong guy. Now, I'm not saying it's gotta be Blake, but...

Baby-boomer TV fans will no doubt recall Robert Blake's odd and disturbing personality on talk shows during the time he was promoting the '70s TV-detective/cop show "Baretta" (among other things). "You can't judge an actor's true personality by the roles they play" I keep telling myself. After all, he was also "little Mickey" on the Our Gang comedies. Never mind when he grew up he was a cold-blooded killer in "In Cold Blood" and "The John List story" and....well, you get the idea. But then again, by that logic we'd have to subpoena every actor who played Lee Harvey Oswald for possible tie-ins to present-day assasination attempts.

If Blake is indicted, his name will be added to the sadly growing list of recent Hollywood tragedies like The Phil Hartman murder and, of course, the Simpson case.

The XFL: no more
I only ever mentioned this foolishness once before (issue 46), and that was due to initial enthusiasm from friends. Now it's already over. Great! Lets move on....

The Timothy McVeigh execution
This was originally a much longer article on what has always bothered me about this very strange case. But, due to a self-imposed policy to only touch lightly on political topics, I've truncated it to simply this: There's every reason in the world to want to hate this guy and want him dead, yet I can't shake the feeling we never learned the whole story and, likely, never will. What he did was wrong, abominable. There were many, many victims that day, many of them children. They absolutely deserve justice.
   McVeigh wanted to die for his crime. Now, he's not so sure. The FBI "misplaced" (or something) a carload full of documents pertaining to his case his defense lawyers never saw. They moved for a stay of execution--which they won--which was then overturned again. I think, as it stands now, his execution is June 11. Inevitable, in any case. But have we found out everything? He's just a nut, right?  I'm reminded of Lee Harvey Oswald for the second time in the same issue.
   Whereas the detonation of the Federal Building occurred on the anniversary of Waco, it's predictable that Tim McVeigh's execution date will likely start another anniversary time-bomb for like-minded individuals.

Rest-in-Peace:  To classic-era crooner Perry Como who died in his sleep at the age of 88. And to author Douglas Adams (A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) who died at the age of 49. Their presences will be sorely missed.

Terence's Tirade
The Enlightenment
The rise and fall of the body-count genre

(A.K.A. Bay of Blood, Carnage, Last house on the Left II)
Director: Mario Bava
Year: 1971
PLOT: 13 characters! 13 murders! After a rich woman is murdered by her husband and he is in turn killed, her heirs come to collect but each one is in turn murdered by each other until there is no more.

Loosley based on the Agatha Christie novel "Ten Little Indians" (originally titled "Ten Little Niggers" but changed due to ridiculous civil rights demands), this film single-handedly invented and ended the body count sub-genre later copied by the "Friday the 13th" series. In fact, "Friday the 13th" must have used this film as a blueprint for the entire series' brutal murders.

From machetes to the head, spears through couples having sex, knife slashes to the throat, strangulation, axe murders, and even one they didn't rip off, a shotgun blast. "Friday the 13th, part 2" is the main offender here, with a complete rip-off total of five scenes. It takes the skinny-dipping female murder, spear through teens making love, machete to the head, a wheelchair-ridden victim, and even a part where a guy pops out with a native mask and spear to scare his friends.

What TWITCH boasts that Friday the 13th lacks, are great visuals and black comedy. The visuals in this film rate it way above your usual body-count films. Bavas' camera glides along the lake surrounding the house creating a feeling of an uneasy calm. His murders, while just as absurd as any in the Friday the 13th series, let us know by the tone of the last murder that even the artsiest of slasher films should not take themselves so seriously. If only the creators of the Friday the 13th series had taken note of this and not the grisly murders in "Twitch", then maybe the series wouldn't be in the same sad state it's been in for the last ten years.

Jason X
"Jason X obligatory action-figure pose!"
Sad state!

Brandon Herring failed to mention two underground/indie films that are coming out this summer (re: Brandon's "Hits-or-Misses, 2001" from last issue---N) --I feel obliged to represent the art-film crowd here in PCR.

August:  GHOST WORLD-- from the director of CRUMB, Terry Zwigoff. Based on the well-known comic, GHOST WORLD tells the story of neo-cool Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) who, faced with graduation, take a hard look at the world they wryly observe and decide what they really want. When Enid takes an interest in the offbeat Seymour (Steve Buscemi) and Rebecca focuses her attention on their mutual romantic fixation Josh (Brad Renfro), the girls' friendship is forever changed. Its based on the underground comic by Daniel Clowes (underground comics god, in my opinion) and directed by the guy who did the Robert Crumb documentary, so it has to be good. Besides, it's Clowes, and he even wrote the screenplay. Official site: Ghost World

September:  STORYTELLING-- New film by Todd Solondz of WELCOME TO THE DOLL HOUSE, HAPPINESS fame. This will hopefully not disappoint and put Solondz on the throne as the greatest indie filmmaker ever.

I just thought that I'd enlighten you all on the fact that there are actually two interesting movies to see this summer. So go see them and if they suck you can at least bitch at me. Or go see them for no other reason than the fact that TOMB RAIDER (female Indiana Jones!) is drivel, PEARL HARBOR has Michael Bay once again directing films like army-recruitment commercials, and the main reason--(drumroll, please)--JURASSIC PARK 3! Those sequels are hell on earth!
I'd rather have Satan urinate in my gouged-out eye sockets than see that fodder!

Terence Nuzum ©2001  Viddywell Productions

Lisa's Lambast!
Throw-away kids
Should children be tried and punished as adults? How young is too young?

As I write this week’s column, the Florida jury in the Nathanial Brazill murder trial have begun their deliberations. 12 people, all adults of course--a jury of your peers doesn’t apply to juvenile offenders--are in the unenviable position of deciding the fate of this now 14-year-old boy on trial for shooting and killing teacher Barry Grunow. Charged as an adult, Brazill faces a possible life sentence without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. But the jury can find him guilty of lesser charges, including second-degree murder, third-degree murder or manslaughter. (When we went to "press" earlier this week, 5-16-01, the jury was still out. UPDATE: 5-17-01: I received word that, late yesterday, Brazill was convicted of second-degree murder. He was also convicted of aggravated assault for pointing a gun at another teacher. For the murder charge, Brazill faces 25 years-to-life imprisonment WITH a chance for parole. HOWEVER... the aggravated assault charge could add up to 10 more years. Since Florida law requires serving at least 85% of your sentence, Brazill is looking at a VERY long prison term. Sentencing is set for June 29th.---Nolan)

Brazill has never denied shooting Grunow last May, but he DOES claim that the shooting was an accident, that he never meant to shoot the teacher, but rather he brought the gun to school to scare Grunow into letting him say goodbye to his class mates. It was the last day of 7th grade for Brazill, and he’d been sent home earlier that day for throwing water balloons. Nate went home, borrowed a hand gun from a family friend, then returned to the school to say his summer farewells to his friends. When he stopped by Grunow’s English class, the teacher asked Brazill to leave. Nate then pulled out the gun, aimed it and fired a single shot, killing 35-yr-old Barry Grunow. Brazill then fled the scene, but flagged down a police officer a quarter mile from the school and turned himself in.

Only a month ago, another juvenile, 13-yr-old Lionel Tate (also in Florida) was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his 6-yr-old cousin by practicing wrestling moves on her.

I want you to ponder for a moment LIFE in prison for a 13 and 14-yr-old child. That’s 70% of these kid’s LIVES spent in an adult correctional facility! How did this happen? When did we as Americans decide that THIS is the best way to deal with juvenile offenders? Now, if the kid is 16, or 17 and has been in trouble for most of his life, and then decides to go on a killing spree, maybe I could see trying him as an adult. But a 13 and 14-yr-old?! Is this REALLY the America we want? Do we REALLY want to lock up these kids and throw away the key? What happened to re-habilitation? Do we really feel that a 13-yr-old kid is beyond redemption? And how young is too young? Would we try a 12 yr old as an adult, how about an 11 yr old? 10 maybe?

I am not for ONE minute here suggesting that these kids should just walk, with nary a slap on the wrist, but LIFE IN PRISON WITH NO CHANCE OF PAROLE?! Have we all gone insane? IS our thirst for justice SO unquenchable as to demand that a child who commits murder just be thrown away like yesterday’s trash? And if we will so easily and callously put a kid in prison for the rest of his life, will it really stop there? How long before this country sentences a child to death-row for murder? It’s not out of the realm of possibility at this point.

So then, what SHOULD be done with kids who kill? What would be a fair punnishment, without abandoning the child to the harsh penal system forever? Some say a juvenile correctional facility (good old Juvenile Home, what ever happened to that? Are there even any of those left in this country?). Some have suggested that we punish the parents instead. Not an altogether bad idea, in fact when I was a kid (when Moses still had acne) parents DID bare much of the blame for a kid’s wrong-doings. If your kid ditched too much school, YOU were the one getting arrested. If your kid stole a car, guess who was ultimately held responsible? That’s right: Mr. and Mrs. Corporal Punishment, cause you’d better BELIEVE that if the cops came to your house because of something you did that you KNEW you ought not to have done, you were getting an old-fashioned ass-whipping. (And here I’m talking about spanking, not beating the HELL outta little Johnny.)

We, as kids KNEW this, and as a result, the majority of us towed the line for the most part. I dunno, folks, I don’t have the answers here, but I DO know that the current solution is unacceptable.
What do YOU think?

Brandon HerringThe Mummy Returns
Critic's Rating: * * * out of * * * *
Rated PG-13: adventure violence.
Starring: Brenden Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Oded Fehr, Freddie Boath, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, The Rock, Patricia Velazquez.
Directed by: Stephen Sommers
Written by: Stephen Sommers

Ah yes...finally the Summer Movie Season is here, and it starts with a BANG. In 1999 I remember seeing "The Mummy" waiting in line for an hour, then trying for another 20 minutes to find a seat in the 450 seat auditorium. Finally I did (at the very front) and what I saw was a new Universal classic. Two weeks later I saw it again and it was even more rousing than before, so of course when they announced a sequel was being made I was ecstatic! Now it is finally here and believe me "The Mummy Returns" does not disappoint.

It's been 10 years since we last saw Rick O'Connell and Evie Carnahan O'Connell. It's been 10 years since their encounter with Im-Ho-Tep, the evil Mummy, who tried to kill them before. They have since been living with their son in London, still exploring ancient pyramids, and lairs of pharaohs. When Rick and Evie find a bracelet that belonged to the mythical Scorpion King (The Rock in a five-minute role), they unknowingly resurrect Im-Ho-Tep (Arnold Vosloo), who once again goes on a rampage to find his dead love Anck-Su-Namun, who has been reincarnated and once again wants to be reunited with her love. Im-Ho-Tep's men of several thieves wants the bracelet that Rick and Evie's son Alex (Freddie Boath) has put on his wrist and can't seem to get it off. He himself knows the whereabouts of the ancient Scorpion King, and Im-Ho-Tep's men will stop at nothing to get it off.

Surprisingly enough, the movie is not as plodding and complex as the summary above makes it out to be. There are several flaws in the storyline, and sometimes the story just doesn't make any sense. The special effects, grand spectacles, set pieces, and action sequences seem to overpower these flaws, and what we are left with is a largely entertaining summer movie that will stop at nothing to make us sit in our seat in awe. There are so many entertaining moments, hilarious hijinks and fantastic performances that even the hardest of all people on movies cannot say they didn't have somewhat of a fun time at this movie.

Brendan Fraser is a great actor himself, and he really was brought out in "The Mummy" and here he reprises his role as Rick O'Connell and does a damn good job at it. He fits the role perfectly and has great chemistry with his costar, the beautiful Rachel Weisz who was also made a big star in the first film. Here she is energetic and the two seem to be having a great time together. In his first starring role the young Freddie Boath plays their son, and I must say he is quite annoying. With his little English accent and his "one-liners" after a while you just want to hit him.

John Hannah has been seen in several films, but his real comic highlight was in his role as Jonathan Carnahan, the brother of Evie and the comedic relief in both films. The two performances that stick out like a rock are Arnold Vosloo as Im-Ho-Tep himself and Patricia Velazquez as Anck-Su-Namun. The two are so great, and so good that they match the two lead stars. In lesser roles Oded Ferh is good, but somewhat bland and The Rock is good in his big five-minute role (not to mention his somewhat CGI performance at the end).

Besides being a huge spectacle of CGI effects, and fantastic sound-editing "The Mummy Returns" is an endlessly entertaining, and imaginative film that Stephen Sommers (writer and director) has made. It may not be as good as the first film, mostly because of the chicken-thin plot and the endless action sequences that at times go on and on and on. The major flaw of the entire production is the end fight sequence, and it was getting great until they showed their surprise character who looked so ridiculous that I started laughing out loud.

"The Mummy Returns" really could have been a greater film. Maybe with less special effects and more plot it would have made more sense, but for what it's worth, it's one hell of a ride! Hang on because The Mummy has returned.
Reviewed by Brandon Herring 5-4-01 ©2001

Letters to the Editor

Re: the top 10 (or so) guitarists of all time challenge from last year(!)
Will Moriaty
Okay, so I'm about a year late, but better late than never! Here are my top 25 "picks" in loose chronological order. Please forgive any misspellings...
1. Django Rhinehart
2. Robert Johnson
3. Les Paul
4. Wes Montgomery
5. Chet Atkins
6. Roy Clark
7. B.B. King
8. Chuck Berry
9. Bo Diddley
10. Muddy Waters
11. Dick Dale
12. The Ventures
13. Eric Clapton
14. Jimi Hendrix
15. Jimmy Page
16. Jeff Beck
17. George Benson
18. Jeff "Skunk" Baxter
19. Robert Fripp
20. Larry Carlton
21. Eddie Van Halen
22. Rick "Rick's Allright" Nielson
23. Mark Knopfler
24. Stevie Ray Vaughan
25. Nolan Canova
Hey! I wuz robbed! LOL! No, seriously, that is very generous of you to include me as number 25, old friend! Now I'm glad you took your time with your list!---Nolan

Dawn Miller
From Deadguy's Dementia by Mike Scott, last issue: "Keep that in mind next time you get irritated at your child for "interrupting" your television time, or you're too busy to hear your son's story. Set them straight NOW, before it eventually becomes someone else's job, because someone else simply isn't going to care about your precious kid when he pulls a gun on them."

As for Mike's article.......... AMEN! That article was very well-written and as thought-provoking as Lisa's original article. I've forwarded the webpage to all the moms and dads I know who need to read what it says ....... and I told them to take it to heart!

And Lisa............. I think there is still prayer in schools. Just ask any student who has to take an important test and hasn't studied.

To Brandon: I'm already in deja vu mode for "Atlantis: The Lost Empire". The talk over at RodentWorld is that it's just not going to cut the cheese. Poor Mickey - looks like he's gonna starve again on the profits. PS: Robert Blake had a part in it! (Of course, once again, just my 2 cents.)

Terence Nuzum (Re: Lisa's Lambast from this issue)
Hey Lisa! You commit an adult crime, you pay with an adult punishment.
Brandon Herring (Re: Terence's Tirade from this issue)
I have to solely agree with you, Terence, on "Twitch of the Death Nerve" or, as I know it, "Bay of Blood". Maria Bava is a brilliant director, and I knew nothing of this film until I made a trade on the internet a long time ago. I loved the movie and found that "Friday the 13th" both "parts 1 and 2" ripped it off.

As for my not mentioning "Ghost World" and "Storytelling", it totally escaped my mind, and both I am looking forward to. Considering the fact that Todd has made classics in the past as "Happiness" and "Welcome to the Dollhouse" I highly doubt that "Storytelling" will disappoint. Ghost World is gonna be great as well, especially with the cast. My thoughts on "Jason X"? Its all New Line's way to try to make the money they wasted on the huge hit "Town and Country". Lol...just kidding, but they have had a ton of flops in the past ("Dungeons and Dragons", "Thirteen Days", "Little Nicky" and now "Town and Country"). I do think though that "Rush Hour 2" will make them money as well as "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Mike's Rant!

Hello gang! Some news and notes for this week. Shall we begin?

Congratulations to the Lansing, Kansas High School baseball team, which won it's first game in the state 4-A regional tournament. Hopefully the momentum will carry them all the way. In the final game of the season, my son, Phillip, had the game of his young career. As of this writing, the article is not on the local paper's web site, so if I may paraphrase, the headline reads: "Smith drives in five to lead Lansing to 14-1 blowout victory" He is currently tied for the team lead in runs batted in and is second on the team for batting average. Interested readers can go to www.leavenworthtimes.com and click on the "local sports" link to see how things work out.

Shocked to hear about the passing of playwright/actor Jason Miller, who died this past Sunday of a heart attack at his home in Scranton, Pa. He was 62. His 1973 play, "That Championship Season," won both the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize as best play that year. 1973 was Miller's own championship season. Not only was his play successful, but that year he also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Father Karras in "The Exorcist." (A role he reprised--sort of--in "Legion: Exorcist 3".---N) Miller was also the father of actor Jason Patrick.
Douglas Adams, the British author whose cult classic, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," sold more than 14 million copies, died this past Friday, also of a heart attack. He was 49. The book centers on the search for the answer to life and the universe............which turns out to be "42." (Right...but no one knows the question!---N)

Jamie Lee Curtis has signed on for the eighth film in the "Halloween" series, "Halloween: The Homecoming." A 30-minute "montage" of scenes from the upcoming epic "Lord of the Rings" was met with thunderous applause when it was screened recently at the Cannes Film Festival. While scenes from all three films was shown, the highlight was a 14-minute segment of the hero's journey through the mines of Moria, where they confront legions of fierce goblins called Orcs, a giant troll and the monstrous Balrog. Director Darren Aronofsky, who's "Requiem for a Dream" from last year was one of the best films of the year, has been set to direct the next chapter in the "Batman" series. His choice for the caped crusader................none other then the last man to don the cowl, George Clooney. ("Holy miscasting, Batman! This'll bury the franchise for SURE!" "Caution...old...chum. This Aronofsky is a crafty...fellow. Remember "Pi" and "Requiem"....Quickly, to the Bat-Studio! We may still be in time to change his mind!"--N)

Blondie, Cheap Trick and The Cramps will headline a tribute concert entitled "Life's a Gas in New York City". The event, which will honor the late Joey Ramone, will be on May 19th, which would have been Ramone's 50th birthday. Calling it a "silly rumor," Michael Jackson says he would NEVER sell the music catalog he owns, which includes all but six of the Beatles songs. Taking a hint from Paul McCartney (how ironic) in the '80's that a good way to invest his money is to buy the publishing rights to music, Jackson outbid Sir Paul and Yoko Ono for the Beatles catalog. Since then, he has pretty much pimped them out to anyone with money, from Nike to General Motors.

In a surprisingly funny commercial, Popeye the Sailor and his old enemy Bluto appear to have kissed and made up, literally. The commercial, for Minute Maid orange juice, show the rivals bonding on a seesaw and at the beach. They even ride off together on a bicycle built for two, completely oblivious to Olive Oyl in the background. Dave Linne, who created the commercial, says he never intended to depict the duo as a gay couple. "If people see it and think it relates to them, that's great," he says.

Yes, indeed, like the musical that promised to be here "now and forever," I am happy to announce that filming began May 14th for the FIFTH "Star Trek" television series. Simply entitled "Enterprise," the show will be toplined by former "Quantum Leap" star Scott Bakula, who will portray Captain Jonathan Archer. Paramount describes Archer as "a physical and intensely curious captain with a bold personality" and "a bit of a renegade." Apparently, that is the main requirement to helm the Enterprise. Though not confirmed, the series is thought to be a "prequel" to the original "Star Trek" series. (They've been talking about a Trek prequel since the '70s, if that's what this turns out to be. Sigh....I had actually gotten used to the idea of a "Trek-less" universe after Voyager's final episode. Well...here we go again! Good luck, Paramount.---N)

I held off for so long on commenting on Timothy McVeigh. I didn't want to give this murderer any more recognition then he has already received. But this past week's revelation that the FBI did not turn over all of the material they had on him to his attorney has just floored me! For a country that purports to have the best law enforcement system in the WORLD, we are repeatedly being made to look like fools to the rest of the planet every time something like this happens. What galled me the most was McVeigh's attorney stating how hard this was on his client. "He had made preparations. He said good-bye to his family. He is distressed that he may have to go through this process again," is the statement lawyer Nathan Chambers made to the press.
Boo Hoo...........he has to say good-bye again. Too bad the 168 people he killed didn't have that chance!  President Bush thinks McVeigh "should say that he is lucky to be in America, that this is a country that will bend over backwards to make sure his constitutional rights are guaranteed." What he should be doing is kicking every ass in the FBI that allowed this to happen. And as far as that smug bastard McVeigh is concerned, I hope he keeps to his original plan and dies as soon as possible. If I was in charge, I'd have a little surprise waiting for him in the death chamber. Instead of just going to sleep and not waking up, I'd have him strapped to a wall, and let a family member from each of the 168 innocent people he murdered throw a rock at him, killing him slowly like the people he killed under a mountain of rubble!
I am awaiting the outcome of the Brazill trial in Florida before I add my feelings to the fire!

No one wrote me with the answer to my "Alien/You Are My Lucky Star" question. The significance of the line is that "You Are My Lucky Star" is the song that Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is singing to herself as she puts on her spacesuit at the end of the film. (Ah yes, of course.---N)

Yes, indeed, I was privy to an "exclusive" screening of the first episode of "Radioactive Television™... Episode 1:  "The Horror Writer."  As Nolan mentioned, I found it to be quite good, especially for a first feature. I did have one question about some of the camera angles, but that's just me. I was honored that Nolan made the time to show it to me. I can't wait for his next one. (Thanks, Mike!  Hopefully, we can at least THINK about episode 2 this summer. Ha ha, deja vu, George Lucas-style!---Nolan)

Well, all for now. Have a great week!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "Terence's Tirade" is ©2001 by Terence Nuzum    "Lisa's Lambast" is ©2001 by Lisa Zubek    The movie review for  "The Mummy Returns" is ©2001 by Brandon Herring    Thanks again to Will Moriaty and Dawn Miller for their letters...keep 'em coming! Thanks to Brandon Herring and Terence Nuzum for taking the time to send additional commentary, also in "Letters"   All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova, ©2001