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Number 79 (Vol 2, No. 39).  This edition is for the week of September 24--30, 2001.
Restoring Calm

After this, I'm likely not going to comment too much on the tragedies of the previous weeks. There is plenty of coverage elsewhere, but my "staff" and I needed to sound off and we like doing that in public. At this writing, the WTC death-toll estimate is well over 6,000 with less than 300 confirmed dead or accounted for. The Pentagon's official death toll is still under 200 with many cases still unresolved. If the terrorists wanted to stop the clock for a day---or a week---well, they certainly did that. If they wanted to kill as many Americans as they possily could (a Taliban mantra), in as small a space a they could, or call attention to the fact they're pissed off at us, well, they did that, too. However, if they were trying to break banks by destroying their homebases or cause national political dissent due to the perceived inevitable collapse the stock market, among other things--well, they failed.

If their aim was to incite a war....they just may have been successful at that, too. Dubious victory, that--if it was anybody else...

President Bush has the national situration under conrol as does NY mayor Rudy Giulianni on his home turf. These are tough times and, after a bit of initial shell-shocked uneasiness on the part of the President, he has come through with words of encouragement and a call to arms. New York's mayor is showing much strength and resolve. The country is united.

Not to say the CIA gets off easy in this. Not ONLY was there a tragic intelligence failure, but the CIA and bin Laden have been bed-ponies for a while (see Steve Beasley's piece in "Special Commentary", this issue). There's also the matter of lax security in airports which have been addressed exhaustively in the media. Rough wake-up call. None of this should have been possible to happen.

But, security stepped up, and planes are flying again. The economy is recovering from its one week hiatus. And the Taliban are in major trouble. OK, enough of that...

WHO WANTS TO BECOME A PRINCESS?  Ungh! I just have to mention this, because it shows how soon America can rebound from tragedy and see something like this on TV. BUT, I figure it really pisses off the Taliban that we can raffle off princesses, millionaires, millionaires' brides....It's SO American, you know?
   In another of a short line of contests objectifying woman as prizes to be won (or sex-slaves to be had) FOX aired this awful thing "Who Wants to Become a Princess", which, like "Who Wants to Marry A Millionaire" that came before it, hides the rich guy behind a curtain until he decides which of the blushing beauties he will whisk off after a period of questioning and posing.
   The "prince" was announced near the very end, and altho he was certainly much better-looking than John Rockwell of "Marry", I don't believe it was ever announced what country he was prince of! I remember his name was kind of Italian (middle name was "Marconi", I remember that). Even funnier, he was noticably shorter than the tall blonde he selected.
   To their credit, the producers decided against actually marrying them on-air this time, opting instead to send the blissful couple on "a date". Totally forgetable.

GLAD NEWS. One time PCR movie-reviewer Brandon Herring turns 19, I believe, sometime this week. I wrote down that date, and of course, now I can't find it, but I think I'm pretty close. (UPDATE via Mike Smith: Brandon's birthday is Sat., 9-29-01 and he turns 18. Thanks, Mike! See "Rant", this issue.---N)
BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY (again) to PCR star writer Michael A. Smith, who turned 41 this past Sunday, Sept. 23rd. Many happy returns to you both!  (I gotta get better at remembering these.)
SAD NEWS. The guy I remember only as "Angel"--the one who won the Jeep Liberty Sport and $250,000 as the one who cracked the "Murder in Small Town X" case--is one of the missing firefighters in the New York WTC disaster. This tip comes from movie-man Corey Castellano, who got it from someone in the production.

ENTERPRISE    The new Star Trek TV series debuts on UPN
Review by Nolan B. Canova
Episode 1 (2-hour premiere): "Broken Bow".   Wed., Sept 26, 2001   8:00pm   UPN
"Where no man has gone before..."
are the first onscreen spoken words and they are spoken by 12-year-old Jonathan Archer--who will one day helm the "Enterprise"--as he assembles a spaceship model in the safety of his room. It is one of many flashback sequences we see during "Enterprise", but, appropriately enough, it's with those words we kick off this newest Star Trek TV series.
Captain Jonathan Archer:
Scott Bakula   

Sub-Commander/Science Officer T'Pal:
Jolene Blalock   

Chief Engineer "Trip" Tucker:
Connor Trineer   

Dr. Phlox:
John Billingsley   

Ensign Sato
Linda Park   

Zephram Cochrane, special cameo by
James Cromwell   

   The basic angle of "Enterprise" is that it takes place about 100 years before the time of Captain Kirk, or around the year 2151. Warp engines are still being refined, the Vulcans, whom we've only known about 50 years (as documented in the movie "ST: First Contact"), don't trust us to go into space, but nurture us through anyway, other alien species are already known to earth, some living here, and Klingons are just about to make their presence known. Technologically, we're into transporters, but only for cargo, since biological transport is too risky; plasma-discharge pistols are the weapons of choice, but phase pistols are just around the corner. And, arguably the most important point, warp engines are only just now going to Warp 5. That limits the regions of space practical for human exploration and alien contact--which seems to suit the Vulcans just fine.
   After the above-described opening scene, we jump ahead 30 years to Broken Bow, Oklahoma. An extraterrestrial craft has just crashed in a farmer's cornfield. It was manned by a lone Klingon, who is running from unknown, shape-shifting alien pursuers. They chase each other into a grain silo, where the Klingon is able to leap to safety from the roof, turn and fire upon the grain silo, destroying it as well as the aliens still inside. The farmer, understandably jarred by all this, is armed with his own high-tech rifle (funny, that) and, after trying unsuccessfully to communicate with the savage Klingon (universal translators aren't perfected yet), fires, and brings the Klingon down. The plot is now in motion.
   Enter Captain Jonathan Archer (series star Scott Bakula) helming the first warp-ship of its kind: "Enterprise". (The "USS" part is stiil a ways off--no Federation yet.) Enterprise has been drafted to return the wounded Klingon back to his homeworld of Kronos. Since nobody speaks Klingon, understanding what he was doing here has been difficult. The new "ship's linguist", Ensign Sato (Linda Park) is able to help with alien dialogue a little. In a later scene, a renegade in the pursuing alien group tells Archer that the Klingon was delivering an important message to his homeworld. The aliens pursuing him were from the future (I think---that got me a little muddled). Apparently, new alien species, unknown in Kirk's time, will have to be handled creatively to avoid continuity gaps.
   This is as far as I go with the plot synopsis--but suffice it to say, the premiere episode eventually resolves in the typically satisfactory Trekkian way. Heroes are heroes.
STRENGTHS: First, let me say the show is shot beautifully. Maybe TOO beautifully. Is it me or does anyone else feel the show, as a prequel, should LOOK more primitive than the '60s series? There's one more objection I address in "WEAKNESSES".
Second, I like Scott Bakula. The sexual tension between him and Jolene Blalock is good, if a wee bit contrived. It is obvious--to me, anyway--that she is a 50-50 combination of the characters of Mr. Spock and Voyager's Seven-of-Nine.
Third, the dialogue is peppy. There's a good amount of action.
Fourth, the ship is well-designed, and obviously not 23rd-century yet, BUT...

WEAKNESSES: First, the ship is not retro enough! OK, look...I realize George Lucas must've faced this when he made Phantom Menace. You're trying to film something that happened well before a movie you made 20--30 years ago. But, you have new cameras, better computers, more effects available...I guess it's inevitable that prequels, filmed long after the "main story", will look more "futuristic" than their sequel counterparts. Uh...you follow me? It makes visual continuity very difficult.
Second, and this is what I want to address about the filmmaking angle, I'm not sure I'm crazy about the letterbox format. It makes it look like a movie I guess, but it's NOT a movie, and it feels like one more contrived way to "enlarge" the series presence. Maybe other series do it, and Paramount wouldn't want Enterprise to look "cheap" or something. The thing is, TV shows are MADE FOR TV! That means a 4:3 screen ratio--live with it.
Third, the ship's doctor, the alien Dr. Phlox, looks and sounds WAY too much like Ethan Phillip's Neelix character from Voyager. I keep thinking it IS Neelix.
Fourth, and I cannot stress this strongly enough, THAT LAME-ASS MICHAEL BOLTON WANNABE OPENING THEME SONG HAS GOTTA GO!!! Who decided we're going to have lyrics to Trek series' themes now? That will only date the hell out of it. And it's sappy anyway. This is the first Star Trek theme song off all time that I really dislike.

IN CONCLUSION... Yeah, it's got a shot, but it needs more fine-tuning. The filmmaking is great, but drop the letterbox. Get an orchestral theme song and lose the lounge singer. The inside jokes and references are great, keep it up. Watch the contrived sexual situations with Blalock; she's good, but remember, Voyager nearly lost control with the over-emphasis on Seven-of-Nine. Consider a holographic Doctor...oh wait, they haven't been invented yet. Consider a human. The Dr. proto-Neelix throws the chemistry off for me. And is it too outside the envelope to insert an exlanation about why these Klingons look like the "modern" ones and not the ' 60 series' species?

"Enterprise", "Star Trek", and everything else Trek-like referenced in the above review are all trademarks and copyrighted by Paramount Pictures.

Wake Up and Smell the Comics
# 3 Look out! Here comes the Spider-Man!

Ah, the old Spider-Man theme song. Never gets old, really. And that’s the topic for today’s edition of “Comics.” What’s happened to Spidey?

Depending on whether or not any of you were reading comics prior to the present, you may be familiar with some of the greatest catastrophes that brought the fabled “House of Ideas” down around it’s ears. One of them actually lasted from 1992 all the way until March of this year! Allow me to explain.

Around the early 90’s, some very irresponsible decisions were made by Marvel’s editorial based on a growing trend. The rising talents of the industry, composed of artists, had developed styles far more extreme and/or removed from the usual Marvel house style. As the job of an artist includes the influence (or co-plotting) of a comic, they started changing the atmosphere to something darker, more violent and sexual than anyone had ever been used to. Due to the popularity these new styles brought to the company, editorial thought it best if these artists started plotting the books over the writers. Because of this, many of the fan favorite/veteran writers soon took off for greener pastures. At this point, the artists were given complete reign over the flagship franchises (The Spider-Man and X-Men books specifically) and even handed some of them to friends. It took less than three years before all those hot new artists left Marvel to form a creator-owned company called Image. Marvel had now lost most of their leading creative teams, both writers and artists, some forever.

So what was Marvel to do? With Erik Larsen following Todd McFarlane out the door, which both wrote and drew their comics, the company’s flagship Spider-Man title (simply called “Spider-Man”) was without a plotter. Enter Howard Mackie. Fortunately for me, I had dropped out from reading comics at this time. Chris Claremont left the X-Men to Jim Lee, who left within a year. As a kid, I didn’t know who any of these people were or cared… but I knew the books weren’t any good now. That’s why the next couple of history bits will be sparse, as I wasn’t around to follow them at the time. So after Howard Mackie took over Spider-Man, around 1992, there was a gradual buildup to the most infamous comic crossover of all time. It was called Maximum Clonage and would do more damage to a character than any other storyline in the history of comics. Essentially, it went like this…

Then current editorial and the creative teams for all the Spider-Man titles (Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Sensational Spider-Man and the quarterly Spider-Man Unlimited … *whew*) introduced the concept that Peter Parker had been replaced by a clone during a fight back in a 1975 issue. That’s right. They essentially created an idea that it was not in fact the real Peter Parker fans had been reading and collecting over the last 20 years, but a clone created by an old villain to replace the hero. Ok, perhaps it doesn’t sound THAT bad at first. Some might think it could have made for a very bizarre twist of a storyline, handled properly. Well, maybe, if it hadn’t lasted 2 years! Peter’s identity was challenged the entire time, as his supposed original body showed up and took the name Ben Reilly (and operated as the Scarlett Spider). The writers wouldn’t allow any tests to give conclusive proof as to who was the original and the story dragged on until the majority of Spider-Man readers fled in terror. It got so bad that when Marvel hit rock bottom, that editorial had Ben immediately killed off and revealed as the clone, thereby preserving the two decades of continuity. However, it was far too little… too late.

All the bad decisions, content, speculation greed and more had done Marvel in. The company went into bankruptcy as a new Editor-In-Chief took command. Unfortunately for the entire comics industry, that editor was Bob Harras. Harras had been working as the editor of the X-Men comics for the last 5 years. The man was one of the individuals most responsible for the damage done by the “hot” Marvel artists, created numerous unnecessary X-Men spin-offs to squeeze more dollars out of X-brand name, and had a disturbing history of interfering with creators and their work. Needless to say, he brought these problems along for the ride. It was decided that the best way for the Spider-Man franchise to recuperate was to boil the creators down to one writer and the books to three monthlies. Who became the chosen writer? None other than Howard Mackie. He was one of the creators that took part in the clone storyline, but instead of searching out a new writer, they handed it to a longtime friend and ex-editor (yep, he was one of the boys). Just when things were beginning to look up, they took another turn for the worst.

Despite a complete relaunch of the Spider-Man and several new spin-offs (all with conveniently collectible #1’s), the books were unable to pull out of their slump. The third core book (an anthology title) and all the spin-offs were canceled within a year and a half. And between Mackie’s inability to finish a storyline and Bob Harras’ continued meddling in the plots, his two core books became and unending tirade of madness. Several main characters who had died years ago had been resurrected and being that the Mackie couldn’t find a way to portray a working relationship between Parker and Mary Jane, editorial forced him to kill her off in a exploding plane. Tasteless, pointless and just ridiculous, this pitiful storyline put Spider-Man on the brink of madness until even other creators in the industry began to comment about how bad an idea it was. Just as readers finally labeled the franchise as beyond all hope, the unexpected happened. Bob Harras had been fired as EIC, with fan favorite Marvel Knights (a relatively new imprint) editor and artist Joe Quesada took over. Can you guess what the first thing he did was?

After nearly a decade of bad creators and ill-fated editorial decision making, it was time to put an end to the madness and save the character. Quesada made a point of the fact that the downfall of their flagship character would mean the downfall of Marvel Comics. To start the much needed reconstruction, Vertigo (the adult DC imprint) editor Axel Alonso was brought over from DC Comics. The Spider-Man editor Ralph Macchio (who had taken over after the clone debacle) and writer Howard Mackie were told to step down. Macchio went on to edit Marvel’s new Ultimate Marvel imprint and Mackie just plain disappeared after his other ongoing series for the X-Men books was canceled (though he may have written a new series under a pseudonym, but that’s another story). In order to get these comics back into the green, they decided to approach someone, who in my opinion, is the greatest modern writer in entertainment today. His name is J. Michael Straczynski. If this name seems familiar to you, chances are there’s a reason. Straczynski has been a leading writer in television for the last 20 years. His credits include V: The Original Mini-series (uncredited), He-Man & The Masters of the Universe, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, The Real Ghostbusters, Murder She Wrote and Babylon 5 to which he is best known for. Hiring the man was most definitely a stroke of genius. And it was all up hill from there. Starting in April of this year, the entire franchise was given a facelift. The sales are still rising….


The Amazing Spider-ManAmazing Spider-Man - This title functions as the action adventure series. J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5 writer/creator) pens the book with artist John Romita Jr., son of legendary Marvel penciler John Romita (natch!). In an effort to escape the carnage in his personal life over the last several years (readers included), Parker has returned to his old high school and volunteered as a science teacher. While attempting to teach and assist today’s youth by day, he moonlights as the amazing Spider-Man throughout Manhattan. Confronting new and mysterious villains, this book has become a roller coaster ride of storytelling and surprise. This is the character as everyone knows and loves. It gets my highest possible recommendation.

Peter Parker: Spider-ManPeter Parker: Spider-Man- This title delves into the alter ego of Spider-Man, his secret identity as Peter Parker. A bit more psychological in some ways, you get to see more of his social habits, relationships and the effect his superheroism has on those around him… good or bad. A collaboration between writer Paul Jenkins (Inhumans, Sentry) and artist Mark Buckingham (Miracleman), this series runs plotlines of only 1-2 issues each which allows for less complexity and/or confusion. It also operates largely separated from the events in the main book, Amazing Spider-Man. If you’re looking for something simple full of characterization and a pleasant, humorous look at the man behind the mask, then this book is for you.

Spider-Man's Tangled WebSpider-Man’s Tangled Web - Although another attempt at an anthology series, Tangled Web succeeds because it brings in the best of the best for distinct tales lasting anywhere from 1 to 3 issues. The creators to have graced the book so far include famed Preacher scribe Garth Ennis, novelist Greg Rucka (also Detective Comics), and artist Duncan Fegredo (Kevin Smith’s Chasing Dogma). To make it easier for readers to jump into, each story arc is given a subtitle that is follows the cover title. Because to the nature of having various creative teams, it’s difficult to point out which stories will appeal to each individual reader. If you’re not interested in trying the monthly series and want a more selective approach, the best advice I can give is to check what the upcoming issues will feature through the Internet (marvel.com) or try your local retailer.

Spider-GirlSpider-Girl - A bit on the bizarre side, at least when first explained, is this particular offshoot of the Spider-Man franchise. Originally intended as part of an imprint called MC2 (now defunct), it takes place 15 years in the future. Peter Parker (now retired as Spider-Man) and Mary Jane are happily married with a daughter, May Day Parker. A teenage mutant born with various powers like the original and more, she took up the mantle of Spider-Man… as Spider-Girl… to live up to her father’s legacy. This series deals with a bit more history than the other titles, but it has a softer and friendlier style than most of today’s comics. This book definitely garners appeal from older Spider-Man fans, but it’s simplicity also attracts new readers. If you enjoy books about super-powered teens and their trials and tribulations at high school, much like Peter Parker’s beginnings, this book is definitely worth checking out.

That covers today’s topic. I hope you found this edition informative and piqued your interest. If at least one of you picks up an issue due to my ranting… I’ll have succeeded in my goal (as it usually is). Otherwise, I bid you farewell and hope to see you next week.

"Spider-Man", "The Amazing Spider-Man", "Peter Parker The Amazing Spider-Man", and every other permutation of the name and distinctive likeness and all graphics contained in the above article are all trademarks and copyrighted by the Marvel Comics Group and are used here for reviewing purposes only.---Nolan
(...and all the king's horses and all the king's men and all who put Marvel together again.)

La Floridiana by William Moriaty
LOCALLY-PRODUCED FANZINES OF THE '70s AND '80s,  PART 4.  by William Moriaty
NOT TOO LONG BEFORE THE FALL #1: Summer 1982-36 pages. Published by: Wil Mor. Artists: Nolan Canova, Roland Rio, Scott van Sickle, and Wil Mor. Photographer: Merry Moor Winnett. Writers: Alan Rodgers, Wil Mor.
FEATURE STORIES-- "Not Too Long Before The Fall", script by Alan Rodgers, Chapter 2 art by Nolan Canova, Chapter 3 art by Scott Van Sickle, Chapter 4 art by Wil Mor. "The Works of Merry Moor Winnett"--script by Wil Mor, photographs by Merry Moor Winnett.
   Sporting an ink-and-watercolor cover meant to emulate a 60's-style DC Comics cover style, "Not Too Long Before The Fall" came out six months after the story line's debut in "Zeta 1 Reticuli". The basic premise of the story was this: characters "Harry" (Alan Rodgers) and "Jim" (Jim Sams) were at a local youth ranch in a wooded area not far from Hillsborough Avenue (circa 1977 before Westchase and six lanes of highway), when stoned as the two were, they spot a for-real unidentified flying object. Not too long after this sighting they have a close encounter of the third kind. We find out that the pilot of this extraterrestrial craft is a 3" tall green duck named "Sam" who resembled famed Warner Brothers character "Daffy Duck" ("YES, I DO KNOW THAT I LOOK LIKE DAFFY DUCK! MY UNCLE WAS THE ORIGINAL MODEL FOR THE CHARACTER, I'LL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT WHEN WE'VE GOT SOME TIME!"). "Sam" was part of an interstellar "trading" ring that furnished other extraterrestrial types with, shall we say, "recreational drugs". One of these recreational drugs turned out to be pine resin, so "Sam" counterfeited thousands of dollars in order to have our two boys purchase all the "Pine Sol" in Hillsborough County, Florida that they could get their little stoner mitts on!

Not Too Long Before The Fall #1
Ink and watercolor cover for "Not Too Long Before The Fall" issue #1 of Summer 1982 was meant to emulate the DC Comics cover style of the late 50's and early 60's.
"The Works of Merry Moor Winnett" was 3-page article about photographer Merry Moor Winnett, who as well as being a world published artist, was my sister and a best friend. Sadly, she passed away from breast cancer at the relatively young age of 42,in the fall of 1994. A true Florida Folk Hero (though born in Newport News, Virginia, she went to Ballast Point Elementary School in Tampa in the 50's and graduated in 1975 from the University of South Florida with a Bachelors in Fine art), I will tell her incredible story in a future installment of "La Floridiana".

The Unfinished Saga: Similar to the contractual roadblock I ran into with Denis in 1978, Alan Rodgers was making quite a name for himself by the early 1980's. As associate editor of both nationally distributed publications, "Night Cry", and "Twilight Zone" magazine, he soon came to view "Not Too Long Before The Fall" with both apprehension, and even disdain. Sadly, I had penciled and inked an entire next Chapter (Part 5), and fellow fanzine artists were to complete the remainder of the story (Scott Gilbert with Part 6, and Roland Rio with Part 7). What few pages that Scott Gilbert completed by the fall of 1983 for Part 6 were masterfully done, and absolutely gorgeous! Thankfully, Roland Rio did venture very far into Part 7, for in a visit to Tampa in the summer of 1984, Alan Rodgers took Scott Gilbert's Part 6 work back to New York, to rewrite parts of the script--I still have the unprinted originals for Part 5, but Scott's work was never returned to him. "Not Too Long Before The Fall" would die a premature death with no ending or resolve, and with it, my days with fanzines ended also.

Epilogue: As recently as 1995 there was an effort to bring back "Not Too Long Before The Fall". Titled "Long After The Fall", this series, featuring "Harry" and "Jim" as forty-somethings in 1996 would have wrapped up all the mystery surrounding the original series and provided a story line conclusion. Scripted by Nolan Canova and myself, art would be shared between the two of us on an every-other-chapter basis. The story would've been available via the Internet, not through a locally-distributed fanzine. Three pages into the first Chapter of the story, Nolan expressed an interest to put his energies into filmmaking--and after much soul-searching, I decided to leave the past in the past; after all, I am blessed and privileged to assist Denis Lebrun with the inking duties of "Blondie" on a semi-regular basis, so the Good Lord has seen fit to keep that artistic part of my being active, while giving me the strength and knowledge to help repopulate the earth, and Tampa in particular, with trees!

What are they up to now? To find out the latest about some of the people discussed in this column, visit the following!
DENIS LEBRUN- Artist, "Blondie": www.blondie.com
also, www.kingfeatures.com/features/comics/blondie/about.htm
SCOTT GILBERT-Artist and Writer with Apeshot Studios: www.apeshot.com
ALAN RODGERS- Writer: www.sff.net/people/alanr/index.htp#bio
SCOTT VAN SICKLE- Artist: Had artwork published in a comic book several years ago about female wrestlers named "Thunder Girls". His work remains available through www.catfightcomics.com
[WILL MORIATY, the silly boy, forgot to plug himself! The suggested link for Will Moor, Wil Mor, and Will Moriaty (all one and the same) is T.R.E.E..---Nolan]

NEXT WEEK: "La Floridiana" starts a four-part series into the paranormal in Florida. The first series will discuss the first recorded UFO-with-portholes over Hernando County, A scoutmaster in Palm Beach County has a close encounter, and a former Florida Governor chases after a UFO in his press plane over Marion County. All next week in PCR!

Special Commentarywaving flag
   Readers: in all fairness to my good friend Steve, I should inform you that the following missives arrived here last week or so, in a timely manner, but I was deluged with email on the World Trade Center disaster, much of it intended for publication. I struggled with balance between my feeling of duty to publish all WTC-related opinion and my main mission for entertainment news. Steve's writing is overwhelmingly politically-oriented, so I postponed it until now to give a little breathing room for other news and commentary. Quick-and-brief commentary is still invited. But, barring any earth-shaking news updates, this is the last article I intend to publish on terrorism, the WTC incident, bin Laden, and the like. That said, Steve now has the floor.---Nolan.
   Like most of your readers and columnists....the events unfolding on September 11th felt very surreal to me, as if we were all watching a modern day Irwin Allen disaster movie with killer special effects, only....it was REALITY!!! I find it difficult to watch those planes ramming into the towers anymore, it sickens me.
   Working at the bank that afternoon (I work from 1:00 PM until 10:00 PM) the calls from our customers were still coming in, however VERY SLOW. It was (and still is) the talk of the call center AND the customers. Lots of people were calling to ask if they should take their money out, in light of the tragedy, as well as the rumors of bank runs (ala the crash of 1929) and they were asking if they should turn all of their financial assets, nesteggs, etcetera into GOLD as if the FDIC (Federal Depositor's Insurance Corporation) were history, what with the stockmarkets shutting down worldwide. One of my calls came from a gentleman with a very pronounced Mid-Eastern accent, asking about his account and the subject (WTC) came up....because I said, "Terrible News, Eh?", just to see his response. He sounded fairly pissed off and said, " Saddam Hussein AND Osama bin Laden, would BOTH be very DEAD within one year of September 11th, 2001", I asked him to repeat that...and he did. I asked what made him so sure......he quietly says, "Believe me, it WILL happen". I don't know about you but after he hung up, I thought to myself, "You know....a hell of a lot of MiddleEasterners that are now American citizens are probably EXTREMELY PISSED OFF at these terrorists for conceivably placing them in a bad light. They just may be making their own plans to exterminate these two Muslim Extremists and their followers.
   You know that after we royally kicked Saddam's ass back in '92, that he and his two grown sons (Saddam's sons are worse by far than the man himself, but more on that later) are just itching to get us back, to the point that they are assisting bin Laden, who coincidentally was just "officially" named as Commander in Chief of Afghanistan's military.    I have heard the ominous words", WORLD WAR III", many times in the last couple of days, including on TELEVISION!!!
Bin Laden
   The attacks Tuesday on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have shook Americans to their very soul. While we don't know who did these cowardly acts, and may never know for certain, one thing remains clear, it was an well-organized attack. Some of the early evidence points to the terrorist Osama Bin Laden. But just who is Bin Laden and how did he get so powerful?
   Bin Laden was born on March 10, 1957. He was born into a life of privilege and was one of 50 children fathered by Muhammad Bin Laden, one of Saudi Arabia's richest construction magnates. As a young man he was a frequent visitor to the bars in Beirut and made quite a name for himself as a free-spending, fist-fighting youth. He graduated from King Abdul Ariz University with a degree in civil engineering.
   On Christmas day 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan at the request of the Afghanistan government. The United States quickly condemned this military intervention, and in protest, decided to boycott the 1980 Olympics that were being held in Moscow. Bin Laden joined others in the Arab world in a fight against the Soviet Union and godless communism. Soon, they found themselves allied with the American CIA.
   The CIA, with the aid of both Congress and President Reagan, gave billions of dollars of aid to the rebels. In fact, some of the same people who are now in power were part of that campaign. For the Soviet Union, the intervention in the mountainous country was a disaster. It, more than the American military build up, was responsible for the collapse of Communism.
   Professor Rashid Khalidi of the University of Chicago said, "It was like a cauldron, a blast furnace, which shaped not just the organization but the beliefs. What shaped and formed Bin Laden was that war. He and his comrades were the recipients of billions of dollars in training and assistance."
   Bin Laden returned to his native Saudi Arabia a national hero and began to form alliances with other militant organizations. His alliance with the United States ended with the Gulf War.
    Now, he became deeply religious and turned on the United States. We had help creating him but our pact with Bin Laden turned into a pact with the devil.
   Bin Laden is believed to be behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and subsequent attacks on American embassies and military installations in the Middle East.
   If there is anyone to blame for this tragedy, it is the CIA. First, they create this nut, give him billions of dollars of aid and then fail at their job as an intelligence agency by not having a clue about what was happening Tuesday. I ask you, why do they exist? President Kennedy wanted to destroy them after another of their boners, the Bay of Pigs invasion. President Truman stated that signing the bill that authorized their existence was the worst mistake of his presidency. They had no idea just how weak the Soviet Union was and were caught by surprise when it collapsed. They are useless and should be replaced. Like all other Americans, my heart goes out to the families of the victims.
Afghan Military History-
1809: The Afghan kingdom disintegrates into three principalities: Kabul, Kahdahar, and Herat.
1837: Iran, with the support of the Soviets, invade Herat. The Afghan army along with British advisors defeat the Soviet forces.
1838: The Russians offer an alliance to the ruler of Kabul, Emir Dost Mohammmed against Britian. British capture Dost Mohmammed and deport him to India.
1839: Beginning of the first Afghan-British War.
1842: British army is badly defeated. Out of 16,500 British troops, only one made it out of Afghanistan alive. Dost Mohammed resumes control but becomes a British Ally.
1863: Dost Mohammed occupies Herat and restores unity to the kingdom before his death.
1878: Beginning of the second Afghan-British War.
1880: The British are defeated and withdraw from Afghanistan. In exchange for independance and aid agianst Russia, Abdur Rahman accepts British control over his foreign affairs which reunited Afghanistan (again).
1919: (April) Beginning of the third British-Afghan War. Amanullah Khan becomes the new imir in April and immediately declares Afghanistan free from British control. Thus on May 6th, the British officially declare war on Afghanistan.
1919: (October) The British win the war, but are overwhelmed by recently ended World War I, and are forced to recognize sovereignty of Afghanistan.
1923: Amanullah signs the first Afghan constitution.
1933-1946: Through World War II, Afghanistan remains neutral.
1947: Britain withdraws from India and Pakistan is granted independance. Afghanistan votes against a Pakistan memberhsip in the UN.
1953: Prince Daoud becomes Prime Minister of Afghanistan.
1963: Prime Minister Daoud claims Pakistani land belongs to Afghanistan which reulsts in the closing of the border. The royal family demands Prime Minster Daoud's resignation. Zahir Shah becomes king of Afghanistan and institutes pro-western policies.
1964: King Zahir grants a new constitution, which bars royal family from parliment, grants freedom of speech and of the press, and gives women the right to vote.
1973: King Zahir is overthrown by Daoud. Daoud resumes power with support of the Soviets. Daoud suspends the 1964 constitution and proclaims new Afghan Republic with himself as president.
1975: The Shah of Iran attempts to reconcile the border differences between Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Daoud becomes estranaged from Soviet Union.
1978: In a coup attempt lead by Afghanistani communist forces, President Daoud and thirty members of his family are killed. The Soviet Union immediately recognizes the new communist government and later in the year invades Afghanistan to support the communist rule.
1996: The Beginning of the Taliban sect's occupation of Afghanistan.
Hey! I've written all this without using the word, 'Jihad'!
   Let me start by saying that I never served our country during a time of war. I was fortunate to have come of age just as the Viet-Nam war was coming to a close. Having said that, my knowledge comes from both wartime veterans I have known as well as the extensive reading I have done on wars 'round the world, including our own with Viet-Nam.
   If the Bush administration sends 'green' troops into the mountain regions of Afghanistan, as I've heard mentioned......the U.S. troops will be slaughtered in a debaucle much worse than the Normandy Invasion! Any military operations need to be performed with Special Ops, Navy Seals and the U.S. Army's Airborne Rangers in the first wave, let THEM, AND ONLY THEM do their job first! Only after we get the 'nod' from Special Ops, should we even consider sending the others in. We cannot assume that these Afghans are no more than Mid-Eastern version of a redneck, back country rube. That would be fatal if you know anything of their history. Ask any Russian veteran about their own "Viet-Nam", when they invaded Afghanistan in 1979. After 10 long years, the Russians had to accept defeat from a 'puny little country'. As a matter of fact, most foreign correspondents will tell you that Afghanistan shares responsiblity for the downfall of the Soviet Union with the U.S. regardless of what American politicians and the media report to the contrary. The Russians had Regean's brilliant bluff about the 'Star Wars Defense Initiative' to compete with as well as attempting to finance a war with Afghanistan........they essentially went belly up, financially speaking.
   If you recall British/Roman history....you will note that the 'Great Roman Empire' that defeated practically all of Europe had to concede when they reached the far western portion of England known as Wales. Wales is also a small country with a mountainous terrain. The Romans, try as they might, were never able to overtake these Welsh 'hillbillies'. Say what you will, but mountain folk KNOW THEIR TURF! The Romans morale started breaking down and eventually they succumbed, as we all know.
   In my humble opinion, if we do send in 'green' troops first, the Afghans warriors, all of whom are battle scarred, blood-stained veterans of many wars.......will likely use their tried-and-true method of waiting until nightfall, stealthily entering the U.S. encampment and quietly slit the throat of the handfull of sentries posted about the camp perimeter. Then they will gain access and although they will likely kill only a dozen or so and sneak back into the mountains, their task will be accomplished. The Afghans do not plan to kill all of them initially, for they know many years of experience on their own turf that, come morning, the U.S. troops will begin to awaken and realize with horrer that many of their fellow soldiers are dead with sliced throats, and will begin to panic at this horrific sight. That is precisely the type of methods the Afghans have employed throughout history.
   Note: Afghan men train males to fight from the time they are old enough to pick up a twig and pretend its a weapon/rifle. They send them into battle at 12.

Letters to the Editor

Will Moriaty
[Re: last issue]   In addition to this being your biggest issue, this was your BEST issue ever. I'm here to tell you that Drew Reiber's "Wake Up and Smell The Comics" column is one of the finest pieces in this publication! Drew is bringing much needed young blood and enthusiasm back to a part of me that this droopy-drawered Batman fan of old (real old) almost forgot. Time to buy more than just UFO/occult books at Merlin's now-- Great work Drew-- thanks!
   Nolan, although I agree with your take on quoting others about the recent terrorism act on our nation, I thought that Matt's inclusion from the Muslim gentleman was both timely and necessary, however.I work with several Muslims who I know to be considerate, just, sweet, gentle, fine and even noble human beings-- if any headed bigot wants to go after them, they'll have to go through me first! The side of the law abiding Muslim that loves America has to be heard as well as our other world of voices we call the collective United States. Just this past weekend a Muslim wearing a turbin was shot to death at a gas station in Arizona. Whether it's 1 person or 6,000 people, murder is murder-- and a just nation, this last hope for humanity that we are blessed to live in, can not sink to these depths. Retaliation is one thing-- revenge is another. Within the week I will pore out my own unadulterated opinions to you and other PCR readers with no quotes from others-- I promise.
   Lastly, Mike's Rant on this subject was also terrific. It's turning out that the Crazed Fan Boy and Girl community isn't quite as unpatriotic as people may have painted us as being some years ago, huh ("them kids has always got their noses stuck in a comic, or they're twangin' on some darn GIT-tar!")? Guess it has something to do with that "awakening of a sleeping giant". Take care, and thanks for an incredible previous issue!
Thank you, my friend. ---Nolan

Matt's Rail   by Matt Drinnenberg
Seems to be a daily influx of information into the madness that "is" Bin Laden, namely the seemingly "eminent" chemical attack. John Ashcroft warned today that this is the definite plan of El Scumbag. To bring this to fruition, El Scumbags'losers have apparently obtained liscences to transfer chemical weopons across the U.S. It's also been learned that terrorist specifically named by the Gov't have tried, fortunately unsuccessfully, to bring hazardous chemicals into the U.S. via Canada.

This is reality today, folks.

The good news is that every country in the world, sans Iran, has agreed to the priciples of this new alliance against terrorism, and we are currently working toward that end. Sounds quite hypocrytical given Iran is KNOWN for being involved heavily in terrorist activities, but, as we've all learned, the times they are a changin'.
   My personal belief is that the entire world leadership is terrified of Bin Trashin, and therefore is willing to join with ANYONE to take him down. Saudi Arabia today annihalated any chance of this being a Holy War, as Dickweed has been proclaiming, by stating that Bin Suckin' is an insult to Islam and does not practice, follow, or endorse TRUE Islam, and is a fraud to Islam.
   Still, fanatics who thirst for violence and lust for terrorizing innocents arent really interested in truth, their only interested in perverting the truth to fit their warped sense of rightousness. These particular losers actually believed that upon their death, they would be tended to by some 70 virginsHuh?????? Justifiably, they wound up in an entirely different environment.
   This is another one of those times in life, where I am assured of one fundamental truth, as it pertains to my beliefs as a Christian:   No one gets away with nothin'!    Praise the Lord!

I feel its high time we had ourselves another top ten list. And what better list to have than TOP TEN DEBUT ALBUMS. This can include any and all releases of any and all genres. That covers a lot of ground, and should offer up some excellent suggestions. I say "suggestions" because I routinely check out top 10's that didn't make my list. I've yet to be disappointed, and encourage all of you to do the same.

The first annual Fantasy Football challenge is underway and after a brief 2 week stint in the lead, Mike's Rant was surpassed by Matt's Rail, who now leads the head-to-head competition 340 to 278. "Matt spanked me like a red-headed step child," Mike was reportedly heard uttering, as he inflated his seating device.
Till next time, take care, be SUPER careful and watchful, and as always
God Bless,
OK, all Top Ten fans and fetishists! We start taking Top Ten Debut Albums next issue!---Nolan

Mike's Rant!

Hello gang! Trying to settle back into some semblance of normalcy. Shall we begin?

I keep omitting this bit, which I intended to add to PCR about a month ago. The following trivial note was explained to me by a friend who obviously spent TOO MUCH time watching "Land of the Lost" as a kid. If you remember the show, you may remember that the characters were Rick Marshall and his children Will and Holly. My friend noted that the name of Will Farrell's character in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" was "Marshall Willenholly." Coincidence?

Pretty cool to learn that Will helps Dennis LeBrun do "Blondie." I just found out that Don Carlson, who is appearing with me in "Glengarry Glen Ross," has been inking "Doonesbury" for the past 30 years! Don tells me that apparently Garry Trudeau had some serious slams aimed at President Bush for the week following the tragedy that struck America. If you follow the strip, you noticed that last week was a "repeat," as Trudeau had the original strips pulled in support of the president. I tell you, the things you learn in the darndest places.

Hats off to Steve Beasley for his comments in this issue. As someone who has served this country (both Matt and I gave Uncle Sam 6 years of our lives), I too am worried about the majority of our armed forces. To be honest, I spent the majority of my army career playing softball. My job description was unit accountability specialist, but believe me I was appreciated more for the way I played third base then for my soldiering skills. The closest I ever came to war was the day Anwar Sadat was assassinated. I was in Europe and our unit went on immediate alert. As we prepared to move out, our executive officer (who was a big, gangly guy who kept us entertained with stories about his having worked on the set of the original "Star Trek" series) looked at me and said, "I think this is it, Smitty." Three hours later, we were back in the office drinking Dr. Pepper. As the country prospered after the end of the Cold War, many of the armed forces slowly decreased their numbers. Ironically, it is the reservists that are being called up to active duty, just like in the Gulf War. I don't understand the reasoning behind sending people who basically "play army" once a month into war while leaving the majority of "professional soldiers" behind. We still have the 82nd Airborne and Delta Force, the Navy Seals and the Marines. As to the possibility of a "chemical" war, the trucks that were used to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993 were filled with cyanide. Fortunately, the heat from the blasts vaporized the cyanide, or the casualty numbers would have been staggering. Incidentally, I just found out that one of the masterminds of the bombing lives about 5 blocks from me...............in the United States Federal Penitentiary here in Leavenworth. Finally, it seems this country feels the need to help out those who are "with us" at the proper time, without thinking ahead. In 1979, we helped Osama bin Laden and his pals when they tried to keep Russia out of Afghanistan. Now he has wounded our country in a way we may never fully recover from. I hope the powers that be have learned their lesson and look at the big picture in the future.

Congrats to the following for being named first time candidates for inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Talking Heads, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Jackson Browne. My vote goes to The Ramones and Petty. I know Terence is pulling for Jackson Browne.

Yes, indeed, this Saturday, the 29th, our young critic at large Brandon Herring will turn 18. FYI, I turned 41 last Sunday. Keep those cards coming!

I'm starting my top 10 Debut Album list now. Too bad Billy Corgan and Lou Reed can only make the list once!

As hinted at last issue, it sometimes sucks to have my name. I've been stopped for minor traffic violations only to have my car surrounded by police cars because "Michael Smith" was wanted in Texas for murder. The following is one of my favorite stories..................and it's all true. The place: My bedroom in Aberdeen, Maryland. The time: about 730 am. My phone rings. After I say, "hello," the voice on the other end asks, "Michael Smith?" I tell him yes. His reply: "You're a dead man." I ask who it is. "You know damn well who this is," I'm told. "I told you to stay away from her and you didn't listen." "Away from who?" I ask. "You know who! I told you I'd find you." I ask if this has something to do with his wife/girlfriend. He tells me yes. I explain to him that I am currently laying next to my girlfriend and he was more then welcome to talk to her. Again he yells, "I told you I'd find you." I ask him, "How DID you find me?" "In the phone book," he says. "Well," I tell him, "there are 8 more in the book under me. You've got the wrong guy." When he hears this news he calmly replied, "Oh, I'm sorry to have bothered you. Good-bye." I never heard from him again. I searched the daily paper for a while, but never saw any "Michael Smith" attack items. I contemplated calling the other 8 guys but didn't have the nerve. I thank God this guy didn't pull a "Terminator" on me, since I was the first guy in the phone book.

On that note, I'm out of here!  Have a great week.

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2001 by Matt Drinnenberg    "Wake Up and Smell the Comics" is ©2001 by Drew Reiber    "La Floridiana" is ©2001 by William Moriaty    Add'l thanks to Will for his extra input in "Letters"    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of  Nolan B. Canova, ©2001