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 70 (Vol 2, No. 30).  This edition is for the week of July 23--29, 2001.
Murder in Small Town X

First of all, let me remind everybody I am not a big fan of this type of show--i.e., "reality" shows--and the only reason I even tuned in is to see what my good friend Corey Castellano, who was the Key Make-up man, had contributed. Loyalty is a powerful thing, huh?

"Murder in Small Town X" was more-or-less promoted as "The Blair Witch Project" meets "Survivor". After having viewed the premiere episode, I would expand that definition to include "The X-Files", MTV's "Real World" and "Fear", and any one of a million theme parties that take over a hotel or something to act out a murder mystery.

The "plot", as I'll call, it involves our group of 10 volunteers who have agreed to "investigate" the violent murder of the Flint family who lived in the small, quiet town of Sunrise, Maine. Our chief...er...operations guy---the one who tells the volunteers what to do and controls the flow of events---is Sgt. Gary Fredo of a California Investigator's outfit. He looks so incredibly much like The X-FIles' Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea), it took me a second to realize it wasn't. (X-Files-ish already.) He helps steer the focus of the group--and the home viewer.

The upshot is this: the killer took 16mm home-movie footage of his crime (chuckle), some of which has been found, and has left other clues to taunt our investigators to catch him. The footage is among the first thing shown (insert Blair Witch-style shakycam here). It is established there are exactly 15 suspects and our movie photog is one of them. After a while, it's revealed the killer is going to leave clues to his identity every 3 days, but with a twist: they are directions to two locations--one with a clue that will eradicate one of the 15 suspects, and one where he will be waiting. In other words, in every episode, I gather, one of our heroes "dies" (shades of "Survivor"). In the premiere episode, this is carried out for the first time. There are several other "political" ways the remaining contestants advance--voting for/against the others, for example (Survivor, et.,al.).

Every scene change is usually accompanied by titles, often "typing" across the bottom of the screen (a la X-Files). We frequently stop to hear every contestant "examine his/her feelings" to the home audience, which relates to the crime in the beginning, but become personal attacks before even this episode is over (Real World, Survivor). Maybe it's me--and maybe y'all can tell me if this happens on other "reality" shows-- but, to me, it's obvious the entire town is populated by actors. So, the volunteers are actors talking to other actors who are playing the townspeople/suspects. I remember this is how it goes when hotels and such are taken over to play out theme parties. I just don't think that works well on television, but there's no denying the popularity of reality shows, mystified as I am by that. However, it's worth noting 2 additional things: the original Blair Witch Sci-Fi channel documentary was shot with a similar approach, but fooled a lot of people! Secondly, our own Mike "Deadguy" Scott was a HUGE fan of MTV's FEAR and will likely have a different perspective on this. I look forward to hearing it.

P.S. Yes, I did see Corey Castellano's screen credit at the end as it rolled past at a thousand miles-an-hour. While there wasn't much in the way of special FX this episode, that promises to change. I'll keep watching.

internet romance   The PCR welcomes back Dawn Miller for this eye-opening, candid and personal journey into the world of internet dating.
  After 10 years of marriage and another 5 years of separation before the divorce was signed and legal, I was thrown into a new world of "dating". Oh my gwad! Not too much makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up -- but the thought of joining the dating scene after 15 years of seclusion did that in less than a NY second. I had friends who were meeting tons of people either through Personal Ads or the internet.
   My brother is a BAD example of a Personal Ad connection. Met for the first time on a 4th of July and married Thanksgiving the same year. My niece and nephew have a wicked step-mom and my brother is working hard to make his second marriage work.
   On the other hand, I have a handful of friends who met their other half on the internet...... and they all seem blissfully happy. Almost gives you a toothache-type of happy. I decided to give it a whirl.
   The very first contact I made was with someone I chatted to for more than 8 months before I even met him. He was in a loveless marriage where divorce was inevitable. But he had been separated once before and went back to her. There was also the matter of 'the 3 kids'. Two were his and the last was something that happened during their separation......... but he chose to raise this child as his own. Well, we met as friends, but when he started to indicate he wanted things to go further, I said no........ he was still married and talked less and less to him and opened up my dating schedule, so to speak.
   Met someone else online............ he was relocating from Philly to Tampa...... made six figures a year - and the first weekend we met he was gung-ho to go house shopping in New Tampa. WOW! Don't think so. He was as anxious to leave his 4-year-old and 18-month-old as well as his ex. I have no respect for that. I happen to love children.
   Then there was another guy from Chicago who had a condo in Orlando. Retired at 35.......... from a freaky motorcycle accident that took his left leg from the knee down. Got bucks in a settlement. He was too much into "woman should be man's slave"........... yeah! right! Go put your own socks in the hamper!
   An old (65 or so compared to my 42) retired military guy from Nevada kept trying to sell me his retirement package and the fact that I would live comfortably without working......... no thanks! Can't see me sitting around doing nothing.
   There were a few others. One could only talk to me if he was online - gawd forbid if he had to pick up a phone (and it wasn't even a toll call!.) Another had the most magical blue eyes and an awesome personality - but I like hair, not the Yul Brennor look. Another out in Orlando had 2 sons --which was ok, I really like kids--but he and his ex were always at each other's throats, which really affected the kids........ nope--don't want to go there! My life was strained enough without the strain of emotionally unstable children.
   And then it happened. The first person who I broke the "I-don't-meet-people-out-of-chatrooms" rule--even if it did take 8 months of him groveling--was out of the house and the divorce was filed. Oh my! Could it be? Soul-searching for what I wanted and what was best for my 13-year-old son put an end to the cruel "dating scene". Yup......... an internet romance that was coming to a close and the hair on the back of my neck would once again not be standing on end. I 'met' him online January, 1999. This past May we bought a house together--almost 2 1/2 years later.
   I think online meeting can be a good thing........... but I also think you should know what you are getting into if you decide you have found your match and SoulMate. What did I get?? Other than a SoulMate, a great step-dad for my kid -- he's a DenLeader or maybe it's Scout Master now, with the Boy Scouts and very into kids - someone that my son can look up to and be proud, and yet someone strong enough to discipline and guide my son if he needs it ....... I also got an 11-year-old son, an 8-year-old daughter and a 6-yea-old son who absolutely adore me and can't wait to spend their time with dad because then they get to see me and my kid, too.
   Sound like a fairytale?? So far so good........... we both have debt--not a lot--but enough. We can juggle the income better with the bills now that all the money is combined. My one friend though is looking for an online romance to help her dig herself out of her debt. $$$ is all she looks for. I think that's one that will be in the "Online Romances Gone Bad" column.
   Back on 3/5/00 my online romancer wrote to me in an email:

This may sound childish, But the thought of you meeting another guy makes me so nuts. I can't explain it, and I know I have no right to tell you who you can talk to or even see for that matter. I guess once you have found something that you have been looking for most of your life and you find it your own back yard it's hard to share it with some people, do you know what I mean? I guess what I mean is I love you and don't want to lose you. Even though we should've met 15 years ago, we know each other now, and deep down inside, I know someday we will be one, :)
I thought he was nuts........... we had been talking online for about 14 months -- and had only met 6 months earlier. That was when I knew he was getting too serious and I starting dating again. Now look at me! He pursued and waited. I soul-searched and now we are living in sin. Yeah, someday we'll probably be married. I think it was fate........ but for now - I have to admit the test ride is AWESOME!

La Floridiana

   Long-time readers will no doubt recognize the name of my old friend Will Moriaty. Will has contributed to this e-zine several times in the past, but more importantly, we share a 30-year friendship and history in many areas of fandom.    Will began his non-profit T.R.E.E. organizaton in 1983 which he still maintains.
   Will contributed to and published several comics-related fanzines in the late '70s and early '80s.
   I am proud to announce this new column, written by Will about all things Florida.---Nolan
 Before I describe who and what "La Floridiana" is, allow me to first introduce myself.
    I was conceived in the Isle of Pines in Cuba in 1954, and born in Tampa, Florida at Tampa General Hospital in 1955. My ancestry to Florida goes as far back as the arrival of the French Hugenot several centuries ago south of St. Augustine near the Matanzas Inlet. But my love for this State blossomed very young in life after being relocated back home at age 16 after having lived in various parts of the eastern and mid-western United States.
   WELCOME TO MY FLORIDA. The only time I have been "unfaithful" to my wife, Karen Cashon, has been due to this beautiful, sensuous, and all-consumig jealous mistress I have had life-long known as "La Floridiana".  I call the deep love I have for my home State "La Floridiana". I love the diversity, climate, cultures, biology, and history of this blessed land. I love this state from the Two Egg to the Dry Tortugas.
   It is a misunderstood state due in large part to the high proportion of transplanted voyagers, most with little knowledge of its incredible vast history and ways.
   "La Floridiana" is both a spirit and a lifestyle. The La Floridiana lifestyle encompasses the extremes of the white linen, beachcombing ways of Jimmy Buffett in the south, to the leather-and-denim cowboys in the central interior, to the long-lineage rural farm people of the north. It is busy Miami, wild Key West, conservative Polk county, red Georgia clay hills near Tallahassee, space launches at Cape Canaveral and Mickey Mouse in Disney World among many, many other things. It is a land of schemes, dreams, and fantasies. I will delve to serve up portions of these "La Floridiana" facts and fantasies with the PCR whenever possible.

In keeping with the spirit of "La Floridiana", I will be touching among my Florida folk heroes. You will read of their exploits in future issues, but for starters, here's what to expect. If you've heard about any of them, the spirit of "La Floridiana" may already have touched you:
Serge A. Storms
Sonny Crokett,
Gentle Ben
Lincoln of the Everglades
Tony Pizzo
Leland Hawes
Edward Leedskalnin
Tom Gaskins
Dr. David Fairchild
Henry Plant
Henry Flagler
Lynrd Skynrd
Addison Mizner
Carl Fischer
Ben T. Davis
Tony Jannus
Glenn Curtis
Jim Morrison
Julia Tuttle
Julia Morton
Marie Selby
Harry P. Leu
Major Francis Dade
Chief Osceola
Billy Bowlegs
John and Mabel Ringling
Morris Lapidus
Hal Foster
Dik Browne
Denis Lebrun
Dean Young
Carl Hiassen
Tim Dorsey
"Pappy Chalk"
Ralph Middleton Monroe
Ray Charles
Butterfly McQueen
Dave Barry
Ted Baker
Greg Van Stavern
Dr. Robert Montgomery
Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly
Hugh Gramling
Bob Scheible
Nolan Canova and the Hats/Blade
Trader Frank
Jimmy Buffett
John Anderson
John Boy and Billy(OK, they're from North Carolina, but they'd pass for interior good ol' boys)
Beth Dunlop
Don Schula
Allen and Ellen Shapiro
Albert Greenberg
George Merrick
William Lyman Phillips
Barbara Capitman
Leonard Horowitz
Anton Skislewicz
Kichnell and Elliot
Henry Hohauser
Wally Gator
Charles Hosmer Morse
Barron Collier
Edward Bok
Kitty Bits
Miami Mike Hiscano
Don and Lina Levine

I hope you'll enjoy this voyage through "La Floridiana" as much as I'll enjoy relating it to you. Oh yes, I almost forgot, to quote another Florida folk-hero of mine, Jack Horkheimer, until I next see you, "Keep looking up!"

Evolution                     Movie reviews by John Lewis
* * * out of  * * * * stars
Jurassic Park III
* * out of  * * * * stars
It has been a while since my last entry into these hallowed halls but the Castle has been buzzing with activity of late. You know, torch-carrying villagers, etc. (A Creature's works are never left unnoticed.) Anyway, I am going to try to continue with regular contributions as things unfold in that fantastical realm we affectionately call: FANDOM!!!---John

First on the slate is a review of the much-maligned cinematic delight, "Evolution," starring David-with-duck-knees (i.e., David Duchovny...haha.---N), Orlando Jones, and Julianne Moore. I think that in the new millennium people are too busy psychoanalyzing movies to enjoy their contents. Hello: McFly, they are fiction, not today's newsreels. Anyway, I digress. This film is compared most unfavorably with the mighty "Ghostbusters" and for the life of me I don't understand why. There are no ethereal beings in this movie or any other denizen from the spiritual community.
   In a nutshell, this is your basic alien invasion story. A chunk of material from space burns it's way through the atmosphere and impacts the earth near the Glen Canyon Dam in Northern Arizona. Glen Canyon Community College Teachers David and Orlando are told about the event and do some investigating. They find the impact crater which connects to a series of underground tunnels and caverns that honeycomb the area. (David Hatcher Childress and Richard Shaver would be proud.) They cut off a chunk of the meteor for examination in the lab, thus releasing the contents of the meteor/spaceship. What follows is a hilarious roller-coaster ride as the army, in all it's infinite wisdom, takes control of the scene in order to "properly" investigate this continually evolving alien society growing under our very feet. The lovely Julianne Moore steps (or should I say trips) onto the scene as a research scientist for the CDC.
   The movie is a skillfully-blended mix of science-fiction and comedy. I liked it and would give it a solid 3 screams on the Creature scale. The special-effects are good and the CGI blends in very well. Some of the creatures are really interesting. The actors played off each other with perfect timing, bringing life to the characters they portray. Orlando Jones gets 4 screams on the Creature scale for his role as Harry Block. If you're looking for a fun film, "Evolution" will deliver. Since people like comparisons, I would have to say that this movie can be filed with Tremors, Men in Black, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. (Okay, Ghostbusters too, but you didn't hear it from me.)

Next up is Jurassic Park III. Okay, where do I begin. The dinosaurs are back and they look as healthy as ever (as they say: nature will find a way). Since some of you may have not seen the movie, I will not give any spoilers here. The story revolves around a group of people looking for something on the "other island." Sam Neill returns as Dr. Alan Grant and his familiarity with the character has not diminished over the years. William H. Macey and Tea Leoni round off the cast.
   This time around there is a few new beasties added to the mix. First, Spinosaurus aegypticus. He's larger than T-Rex and has an attitude to match. He also can go where no T-Rex has gone before. Also, we finally get to see the graceful Pteranodons (Pteranodon ingens) and their babies for the first time. Making a cameo appearance is none other than that most interesting Ornithyschian, Ceratosaurus.
   I found the movie enjoyable and relatively quick-paced. (You have to be quick-paced in order to survive this Jurassic onslaught.) I do have some complaints though:
   1.) More Dinosaur scenes. The movie is only 86 minutes which is very short by today's standards. They could have rounded it out with a few more minutes of those fantastic CGI Dinosaur herds.
   2.) I think William H. Macey is a great actor but I don't feel he convincingly portrayed his character. (Bring back the "Shoveler", his character in "Mystery Men.")
   3.) The fight between T-Rex and Spinosaurus was way too short and non-spectacular. They need to go back to the Willis O'Brien, Ray Harryhausen, and Jim Danforth school of dinosaur-fighting.

All-in-all I give J.P. III a hearty thumbs-up. The story flows smoothly and a certain guest appearance adds a nice touch. I give it 2 screams on the Creature scale.
   That's all for this week. everybody remember to get out there next week and watch as our Favorite Simians return to the big screen. The Lawgiver has spoken! C-YA!!!

Letters to the Editor
Mike "Deadguy" Scott

Frankly, I wasn't impressed. I failed to see how the "contestants" were supposed to be feeling scared. Did they not realize that they were on a TV show? Nobody's fooled, and they aren't good actors, so STOP IT ALREADY!

This isn't a reality show, it's a freeform murder mystery play with several really bad adlib actors. ("Actors" meaning the contestants). It would be more entertaining if I happened to know some of the contestants or something, like a local gong show, or something. But from here it just looks like strangers that don't know how to adlib yet repeatedly try to steal limelight from each other. The contestants should PLAY the game, rather than BE the game.

The contestants shouldn't be sitting there saying: "Gee, I'm scared, because there's a serial killer running around." They should be saying, "Gee, I'm scared, if I screw up I won't win the money!" I think I can figure-out why they felt that was necessary to do, considering that they're interacting with actors who have to stay in character. However, there are times when the contestants are heard in voice-overs saying things like: "I hate selecting someone to take a 50-50 chance of losing their life."

Let's cut the crap, and let's hear what the contestants think about the mechanics of the show, and the other actors, storyline, and stuff. Like: "I think they're trying to steer us to believe that THIS guy is the guilty party, but I'm not buying it.. Hopefully that's because I'm right,and he's not guilty, NOT because he's a bad actor." Or-- "I keep wondering about that guy over there, because the camera crew keeps zooming in on him." --Or-- 'This is cool! I'm gonna' win some money here and buy a house!"

Just make it work by stating that the actors will NOT interact with the contestants unless the contestants are in character at that time. In fact, being out-of-character will make the townsfolk mistrust and avoid them entirely. Hell, I'd even settle for listening to the whole "making alliances" bullcrap....as long as the contestants were out-of-character. At one point, one of the contestants tried to initiate that topic, but had to do it within the confines of the story, and the confines of her character. It was adlib-acting done by someone who is apparently not very adept at it. My girlfriend and I just looked at each other and groaned.

We groaned even heavier when the female contestant was in the cab, all upset, and in tears over the "fear" of going out alone where a serial-killer lurks. It was especially nauseating because the cab driver was pretty much like: "whatever, lady" until he noted that the lady wasn't going to stop, then he stopped her by saying: "I think you are manipulating me."

This raises the interesting question of whether or not the contestant could cling onto a suspect, thereby possibly eliminating the possibility of being found alone by the killer (a condition required for "killing" a contestant), OR thereby exposing the suspect AS the killer, and possibly ruining the show for the people at home.

Just to be as annoyingly fake as possible, while walking along in the dark, that same lady is saying into her face camera: " If I don't make it out alive, tell my baby that mommy loved her". Man...talk about STUPID. Look...who is it that DOESN'T realize you're a contestant on a "reality" show? Get OVER it! You're nowhere near winning ANYTHING for your performance, and literally irritating the living hell out of me!

I find this "acting contestant" stuff to be immensely irritating. If Corey [Castellano, key make-up,] hadn't worked on this thing, I wouldn't have bothered to watch even another second of it. As it is, I'll probably be watching the next one alone, my girlfriend is certainly "over it." Personally, I'll give it another chance, out of loyalty to Corey, but nothing else. Perhaps the show is just off to a rough start and will improve soon. I sure hope so.

At the moment though, It's not even on par with "Oliver Twisted", though I suppose that's not a fair comparison. "Oliver Twisted" was a film that was never officially released. It was great for a B-budget film, and although I think Corey would now rather pretend that he had nothing to do with it, I enjoyed seeing it, and have actually watched it more than once. Now if that were a real serial-killer on the show, I'd be cheering them on as they took out these bad actors.
   "Oliver Twisted" was an unreleased, low-budget horror movie, shot in Orlando several years ago that Corey Castellano worked on as key make-up in the nascent stages of his career. There were just a few videotape copies made of this film.
    I spoke with Corey the day after "Murder" premiered and he was a little surprised the contestants came off to us as so phony---he assured me they were "real people", like the other reality shows have, but this particular kind of set-up had never been attempted before.---Nolan

Mike's Rant!

Hello gang! Slow news week, but a great one personally. Shall we begin?

Former Beatle Ringo Starr says the group plans to release a new compilation album next year, among other projects. Following the huge success of last years aptly titled "1", the boys are following with the next best thing. "Everybody wants to see the number twos," Starr said. As to the recent rumors concerning George Harrison's health, Starr said "I did see George three weeks ago, and he was fine. If he had been bad, he would have told me." Great news, indeed. (The radio rumor mill has been saying Harrison has complained to friends that he's dying of cancer and that he has only weeks to live.---N)

You may recall that I recently wrote a piece about brothers, inspired by the passing of my friend Rick's little brother, Steve. Rick sent me a note prior to my trip to Chicago thanking me (and Nolan and everyone else) for lending him our strength during his time of grief. He ended the note by telling me to look up my brother. Well, during my trip to Chicago last week, I did just that. According to my mother, who lives just west of the Windy City, my little brother is living in California and fulfilling his dream of being a teacher. He's still kind of distant, but he's doing well, which is all I can ask! (Glad to hear it!---N)

A man who taped his encounter with Mississippi police was recently placed on three months probation for his actions. The man, a performer in a local rock and roll band, had a tape recorder on his front seat and pushed "record" after he was pulled over by his local constable. The policeman is caught on tape cursing the man, asking him if he had any drugs and never really telling him why he pulled him over. He was let go with a warning. The man, feeling he had been harassed because of his appearance (long hair, denim jacket) took the recording to his local chief of police, hoping to use the tape to sustain his claim. To his surprise, he was charged with illegally taping another person without permission. The irony of this story is that if Rodney King had been beaten by the police in Mississippi, the video tape of the beating would NOT have been allowed to be seen at the trial. Pretty bizarre. (What Mississippi has done is deny citizens an avenue of counter-surveillance against the police force, and that reeks. As reported in PCR last issue, The City of Tampa as no problem with video surveillance on every street corner in the area of Ybor City, despite complaints and protests.---N)

Birthday greetings to my son, Phillip, who is turning 17 as I write this! The day will be celebrated with the traditional early morning golf game and dinner later that night at his favorite Japanese steak house. He received an early present when his American Legion baseball team won the zone tournament. He made two excellent catches in the outfield and contributed two hits in the win. It's off to state for he and his fellow Lansing Huskies! This proud pop has his fingers crossed. (Happy Birthday, Phillip!---Uncle Nolan)

Well, that's it for this week. Have a great one!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    La Floridiana is ©2001 by Will Moriaty    The movie reviews of "Evolution" and Jurassic Park III" are ©2001 by John Lewis    Thanks to Dawn Miller for her enlightening piece on internet dating! (©2001)    Thanks to Deadguy for sending in his review of "Murder in Small Town X" (©2001)    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

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