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Number 85 (Vol 2, No. 45).  This edition is for the week of November 5--11, 2001.
November sweeps

Ah, yes. It's that time of year again...that season when the bloodshed begins on ratings highs that may determine if a series even survives to another seaon or not. There's one in February, one in May, the season premieres in Fall, and November.

Technically, I think it gets into full swing next week, but Tuesday night's TV made me think someone's jumping the gun: Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned musical production, and The Simpsons Halloween Special XII, which played directly across from Buffy's second half.

First, the delayed Simpsons Halloween Special XII. Why it's one 1--2 weeks behind is not clear, but, like last year, it turned out pretty lame for me.
   The first segment, "Hex and the City", a gypsy fortune-teller casts a curse on The Simpsons for Homer insulting her as a phony. The curse: Homer brings bad luck to everyone he encounters (big difference?). The resultant sight gags are satisfying, but predictable for long-time fans. Homer learns he must secure the services of a leprechaun to reverse the curse. He lures one out of the forest with a box of "Lucky Charms" cereal (after a false start with "Trix"--d'oh!), but the leprechaun falls in love with the gypsy and they get married. The wedding ceremony is a freak show of everyone Homer has turned into freaks--and our alien friends show up (this is really disappointing...the last 2--3 Halloweens, the producers just stick those two anywhere to get them out of the way. Not right). Yoda was the minister.("To take this woman in marriage do you..hmmm?")
   Segment two was a 2001: a Space Odyssey spoof, except it's their house that's advanced, not a spaceship. "Hal" the computer is voiced by Pierce Brosnan. Basically, "Pierce" (as Marge addresses the computer) falls in love with her and conspires to get Homer out of the way. The "deactivation" scene is an anemic reprise of the movie.
   Segment three, "Wiz Kids", was basically a Harry Potter spoof where Bart and Lisa go to wizard school to learn to be wizards. In one memorable scene, everyone in class can transform a toad into a prince, except lazy Bart whose incorrect incantation transforms his toad into a larger, misshapen, vomiting toad that begs to die. Yikes.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER as a musical. I can predict fellow columnist Drew Reiber will give me major guff for even screwing with this. I only recently learned how much he hates this show. I'm enough of a fan of the show that I admire this effort to be WAY different. And movie make-up friend Corey Castellano is the biggest fan of the show I know personally, so I decided to tune in to see if this was the "Rocky Horror" spoof that I predicted they were going for.
   Wrong! It was more like a retro-sixties "Hair" or something. For some reason, and with rare exception, to me, everything resonated as one of those musical plays that used to be big, but are now performed only in high schools! That being said, I hope none of the cast leaves their day-jobs to pursue singing as a career! LOL! Of the cast, only Niles, the "adult" mentor, has anything approaching a true singing voice, although Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) wasn't too bad. And she danced well. Series producer Josh Whedon (who also wrote the songs) deserves "A" for effort tho--this was a ballsy move. My favorite numbers? By far the one where Buffy's sister sings of her love for Willow. Lesbian overtures notwithstanding, this was a moving piece. And Gellar's song, which was reprised several times during the show was lilting enough to be satisfying.
   I talked to Corey after the show, and he said he hopes some important story developments weren't lost on the fans distracted by the song-and-dance approach. Two things stand out: turns out when Buffy was resurrected earlier this season, she was actually in heaven and would have preferred to stay there. Her misguided friends assumed she was in hell for some reason and thought they were doing her a favor by bringing her back to life. Secondly, there's been sexual tension between Spike and Buffy for some time. Their lip-locked kiss at show's end was a major breakthrough.
   At least unless they pull a boner next week and explain this was all a dream or something. Nawww....nobody's THAT stupid.
This is likely my last BOSTON PUBLIC update until further notice. But I had to tell you how all the mystery behind Jeremy Peters' mother's hand amputation came out. As all of you may remember I developed quite an obsession trying to figure out what the strange relationship between Jeremy and his abusive mother was--last season we left her tied up in their basement and left for dead. This year she's alive, but missing one hand. And they're both OK with this. The teacher's were not, but an investigation turned up nothing.
   WELL.....seems Mrs. Peters (Kathy Baker) and assistant principal Scott Gruber (Anthony Heald, the great Dr. Chilton from Silence of the Lambs) are both seeing the same shrink. Later, while pouring her heart to him in private, she confessed that Jeremy had her tied up in the basement for three weeks and, clumsily, she tried to free herself with a chainsaw!! It wasn't clear how she got free enough to operate a chainsaw, presumably her hands were tied in front, but I don't remember. She regarded her self-amputation as an "accident". Scott saw it as a desperate attempt to get free. In any event, she blamed herself for pressuring Jeremy into snapping like that. She currently wears a hook on her right...er, stump...and somehow became a teaching assistant at Boston Public!! (There are also vibes that she and Gruber could become romantically attached.) TOO WEIRD.

Another belated birthday wish to once and future PCR columnist Mike "Deadguy" Scott who turned the big 3-0, last Sunday, October 28th. I gotta get better with these dates. Mike's personal situation is improving, but likely will not be rejoining our ranks until very late this year, possibly early next year. Then, I'm sure, he will make up for lost time!
Sometime this month, occasional PCR contributor--and old band-mate of mine--John Lewis, turns 47.
Movie News: Our own Terence Nuzum called to confirm that not only his experimental short film, "Room 109", a go, but the filming date is set: Sunday, November 18, 2001. Terence seeks to complete filming the entire movie in a single evening! Plot details are secret, so far.

La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
Will Moriaty
   January 1, 1914-- the daytime skies are bright, blue, clear, and cool over Tampa Bay. A single-engine Benoist flying boat lazily lifted off the water heading from St. Petersburg to Tampa. Twenty three minutes later, Tony Jannus directs the flying boat earthward to the waters adjacent to Tampa. Upon completion of this flight, scheduled commercial aviation would be born. This one, solitary flight would usher in a new vibrant industry that would become world wide in scope, providing jobs and commerce for millions of people and making the world more accessible for its citizens.
   Later on that historic day in 1914, Mr. Jannus would transport his first passenger, St. Petersburg Mayor Ab Pheil from Tampa back to St. Petersburg. Typically, Jannus' scheduled airline transported ham and bacon across the Bay for grocery stores, as well as transporting the U.S. Mail. This hauling of freight would also constitute the world's first air cargo operation! In addition, for a hefty fee of $5.00, anyone could ride with Jannus in his flying boat's spare co-pilot's seat!
   Over 11,000 flight miles, and numerous passengers later, Tony Jannus' Tampa to St. Petersburg Air Line shut down operation in April 1914. Although Jannus died during World War One when his plane disappeared over the Black Sea, his historic inaugural flight over Tampa Bay would forever change the world and how it does business.

Little known to most current day Tampa Bay residents, this area was host to several major commercial airports and air bases that have since been shut down or become private airfields. Sky Harbor Airport was carved out of the mangroves of Weedon Island north of St. Petersburg in the 1920's. It was served by Pitcairn (forerunner of Eastern Air Lines) Aviation, hauling passengers to destinations such as New York, Miami, and Washington D.C., until the 1930's when it was replaced by the larger Albert Whitted Airfield in downtown St. Petersburg. Once abandoned, Sky Harbor's hangers were used to house floats used in St. Petersburg's "Festival of States" parade until the 1980's. By the late 1980's, the State of Florida purchased the former municipal airport's land to create the Weedon Island Preserve. The terminal was torn down years ago, but remnants can still be seen near the Preserve's main parking area. Spookier yet are the long-abandoned and barely discernable telephone poles traversing through the mangrove swamps that stand like weathered sentinels in the woods that have not carried human voices on them for over 70 years.
   Albert Whitted Airfield was where National Airlines began business. Throughout the 30's until the mid 40's this was a major commercial airport until the St. Pete-Clearwater Airport was built. Now Albert Whitted is limited to general aviation and a few Coast Guard helicopters. On the other side of the Bay, Peter O. Knight Municipal Airport, located on Davis Islands in Tampa was the primary commercial airport from the 1920s until the mid 1940s when the Drew Field Army Air Base became known as Tampa International Airport. Peter O. Knight also had a seaplane base adjoining it. Like Albert Whitted, Peter O. Knight is now limited to general aviation.
   Henderson Army Air Base was located between Busch Blvd (then known as Bullard Parkway) and Fowler Avenue in the area that is now Busch Gardens, as well as part of the Group Tech, and Alcoa Aluminum complexes. This was a very active base during the Second World War that was used as an adjunct to both MacDill Army Air Base and Drew Field Army Air Base. It was not uncommon during the War to see entire bomber wings make practice runs by visiting all three fields in the same day. Old abandoned runways can still be seen along parts of Bougainvillea Street and McKinley Avenue where this base once resided. It, like the Drane Army Air Base in Lakeland, now known as Lakeland Linder Airport, where the Fun-N-Sun Festival is held annually, was decommissioned soon after the War. Drane Field, however, would survive as the large airfield that it is now, serving primarily general aviation. Other notable Army Air bases in this part of Florida now serving as general aviation airports can be found in Brooksville and Zephyrhills. One former Army Air base of note was converted into an automotive raceway down in Sebring!

Incredibly, the Airbus Consortium plans to fly a four-engine double-decker aircraft within the next few years called the A-380. The A-380 is slated to carry up to 800 passengers, making it the world's largest commercial aircraft. Florida visits of this behemoth will probably be limited to Miami International Airport and possibly Orlando International Airport (although the snake-oil salesman who gave us the Friendship Trail and helped lead the failed 2012 Olympics bid also lobbied for a "super airport" in rural Polk, Hillsborough and Hardee Counties to house the aircraft for freight and passenger operations-- I know that the people in London are dying to see Ft. Lonesome!)

Who would have thought all of those years ago when the Army Air base was so common here that one plane would be able to transport close to 1,000 people over the world's oceans? That one plane could carry more passengers than could be matched by military personnel at one base alone? We've truly come so far since Tony Jannus-- a true Florida folk hero!

Letters to the Editor

   I have completed the Dr. Paul Bearer piece and it is on the way to the publisher. Here is an exclusive piece of info for you, because I know you will appreciate it.
   According to the Kawanis guys who got the props for the haunted house (i.e., the official "Dr. Paul Bearer's Haunted Mansion" attraction in Mulberry, FL---N), the good Doctor's coffin was accquired by a restaraunt. They filled it with ice and used it to serve seafood on a buffet! The weight of the ice caused the aged wood to split and the whole thing fell apart! It makes me feel glad I have the costume preserved. That's not in the article, it's an exclusive for you. As soon as they magazines hit the shelves I will send you the piece for the website.
I appreciate that a lot Ed, and I'm sure all my readers are grateful as well! And thanks especially for the behind-the scenes on the Haunted House and the tragic fate of good Doctor's coffin! You'd think, knowing the historical value of that prop they'd know better than to load it with ice! It would be funny if it weren't so sad.---Nolan

Mike's Rant!

Hello gang! A few notes and bits of news. Shall we begin?

Thanks, Matt, for backing me up on George Brett. Glad you remember our fun in the Senior League! But I must point out that Doc Ellis, as impressed as he was with my baseball knowledge, was even more impressed with Matt's shoe knowledge. Once Matt noticed his shoes, and told him he could get them for him at half price, we definitely had a friend for life!

A quick hello to long-lost pal Chuck Fresco, who, along with Matt and I, made up the "Three Stooges" of our Army basic training company. I tracked Chuck down through classmates.com, and was surprised to learn that we had both lived in Baltimore at the same time for many years. Can't help but wonder if we passed each other in the mall sometime and never realized it.

If you've kept up with the news lately, you would have heard that inhaleable anthrax was discovered here in Kansas City. I was surprised to hear that. But not as surprised when I discovered that it was discovered in the Post Office substation from which my business mail is delivered! Apparently a few bags of canceled stamps had been sent here from the contaminated station in Washington, D.C., and the anthrax came along for the ride. Happy to report that no one was contaminated and that the area has been thoroughly cleaned and is reopened for business.

Victor Wong, a character actor best known for his work in the "3 Ninjas" series of films, passed away recently at age 71. Cause of death was listed as heart failure. Popular with children for his portrayal of the wise grandfather in the "3 Ninjas" films, Wong also had major roles in "The Golden Child" and "Big Trouble in Little China."

Our old friend and Utah Porno Czar, Paula Houston, has been directed by the state legislature to create model obscenity laws that would be adopted by towns across the state. Who better to create laws on obscenity then a 38-year-old confessed virgin. You've got to love a state that allows Gary Gilmore to be executed by a firing squad but removes the nude scenes from "Titanic" videos for the public safety.

To two-time Academy Award nominee Roy Scheider, who turns 68 this Saturday. Roy spends most of his time now on Cape Cod with his second wife, Brenda, and his young son, Christian. Roy has played a large part in my life, both on the screen and personally. Happy Birthday!!

Well, that's it for now. Have a great week.

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "La Floridiana" is ©2001 by William Moriaty    Thanks to Ed Tucker for his letter and Dr. Paul Bearer info    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

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