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Nolan Pop Culture Review, 2003!
This week's
La Floridiana
Movie Review
Digital Divide
Mike's Rant


NEW!! On the CF Homepage:
Florida Filmmaker News!

  Number 150  (Vol. 4, No. 6). This edition is for the week of February 3--9, 2003.

Does space travel have a future?


 The case against Iraq

and on the lighter side...

 "The Raging Bells" premieres in Clearwater

Saturday, February 1, 2003 was Gasparilla Day in Tampa. Following a week of celebratory madness in the wake of the Bucs' Super Bowl victory, this year's festivities were supposed to pretty much eclipse anything else in recent history.

About the same time as the parade was getting underway, however, something profoundly disturbing was happening in sub-orbital flight to the Space Shuttle Columbia, which was making its decent towards earth, for its final touchdown in Florida.

Any news of Gasparilla, or Groundhog Day for that matter, which was the next day, were soon rendered lowest pritority, eclipsed by something far more dire than anyone predicted. And predictions come into play down the line.

It would've been really cool under normal circumstances. The old freighter, the first shuttle ever to fly commercially, was scheduled for retirement after this flight. 22 years of steady, active service, coming to an end, upon touchdown, to be decommissioned into, presumably, an air-space museum exhibit. The seven astronauts aboard, one an Israeli scientist, would disembark onto the tarmac and into history books.

Alas, it would never be...

Close to 9:00am that morning, all contact was lost, literally in mid-sentence, with the Shuttle. As NASA scientists scrambled to find out what was happening to transmissions, the people of Texas were shocked to witness a very unusual light show. The Space Shuttle Columbia was breaking apart, merely 207,000 feet over their heads, into a fiery cluster of debris.

Texans knew what happened before Mission Control did. They had the debris fields to prove it. So did Louisianna, but they just didn't know it yet.

Now, according to the latest knowledge, pieces of the shuttle may have been breaking off as early as the pass over California. Early observers reported seeing what they thought was debris in the wake of Columbia vapor trail. It is unlikely the astronauts had any clue what was to happen. However, as of his writing, evidence is still being collected.

Upon take-off, 16 days earlier, a piece of foam insulation chipped off the main fuel tank and hit the left wing of Columbia. This collision was, at first, dismissed as inconsequential. However, it now looks like all the problems the shuttle had upon re-entry focus on problems with the left wing. The current likely scenario: the wing sustained damage enough to dislodge or severely damage or compromise its heat-protection tiles. Upon re-entry, as the auto-pilot noted temperature and drag changes, it automatically adjusted to compensate. But these compensations were well outside normal parameters, never seen before. Sometime between California and Texas, the shuttle started falling apart, some of the landing gear became damaged or inoperative (possible blown tires), and the leading surface areas of the left wing and wheel well heated to an alarming degree. The over-compensation could've started the shuttle spiraling (some witnesses noted spiraling, but this is unconfirmed), and moments later shook the craft apart over mainly Texas and Louisianna, merely 16 minutes away from touchdown. All seven astronauts died.

Of course, this recalls the horror of The Challenger disaster from 1986, when les than two minutes into the flight, the craft exploded, killing all on board, including schoolteacher Christa McAullife (sp?), onboard, ironically, to prove space travel was safe.

I do not think these two disasters compare, except in the obvious fact they ended tragically. The Challenger's problems were basically design flaws. That "O-Ring" thing or whatever, plus the fact that NASA was struggling with a production schedule it couldn't meet, so skimped on last-minute inspections. That's my take on it anyway. The Columbia is far different. One school of thought says The Columbia, for all intents and purposes, was doomed from the start: how could they abort a mission that was already underway? The insulation hit the wing at lift-off. Even if they had decided that there was too much damage to the wing to proceed, isn't the shuttle "ejectable" over water or something? Or is that another design flaw? Another school of thought says there is nothing you can do to prevent an old airship from failing due to old age---when it's done, it's done. We are supposed to be able to predict things like that, but, as we've seen, that's a design flaw too. Maybe they have more in common than I thought.

I don't think this should stop the space program, or even the shuttle program, any more than the Challenger accident did. Space exploration is dangerous, not for the weak of heart, and even though we enjoy the most advanced science man has ever known, errors--and accidents--will happen.

Rest in Peace crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia:
David Brown Rick Husband Laurel Clark Kalpana Chawla Michael Anderson William McCool Ilan Ramon

The Case Against Iraq
As I'm writing this, the news conference from the United Nations is still playing on TV, but it doesn't look good. The evidence that Saddam Hussein has ignored and deceived weapons inspectors and is still building and hording proverbial "weapons of mass destruction" is formidable. I'll be back tonight or tomorrow with my total reaction to this latest nuclear threat.

OK, it's the next day now, and altho the case made against Hussein by Gen. Colin Powell is strong, apparently it's not strong enough to gain the support of many other United Nation's members.

This one I'm putting on standby till next week. Hope we haven't been nuked off the planet by then.

I'm proud to announce a new addition to the Crazed Fanboy homepage: Florida Filmmakers news and updates. This will replace the "Classified Ads" section I recently started here in the PCR, but am discontinuing. As I got more news, that format became unwieldly, hence the move to the homepage, where it will arguably get better exposure anyway. Where appropriate, short announcements will likely find their way right back here in, appropriately enough, the "Announcements" section. Occasionally, a special feature may be included in two sections. "The Raging Bells", below, is one such example.

Also new this week is a new Schlockarama addition, delayed from last week, I think you'll all enjoy. Will Moriaty's take on "Beat Girl"!

Focus on Florida Film by William Moriaty

Orlando may claim to the eastern seaboard's answer to Hollywood, but I challenge that notion!
Orlando may have "N' Sync", but Tampa has gifted independent film producers Mark A. Nash and Steve Pena.
Orlando may have the mouse that roared, but Tampa has great actors like Gustavo Perez, Garland Hewlett, Tina Frankl, Joel D. Wynkoop (brilliantly nabbed from Florida's east coast by Florida film star Katherine Holseybrook) and Kevin Bangos.
Orlando may have Shamu, but Tampa has the musical genius of John Matheny.
Orlando may have "Sheena', but Tampa has "The Raging Bells"!

A Summary In Two Words or Less
To summarize the quality of this movie in two words or less, it would be absolutely superb! Actor-producers Mark A. Nash and Steve Pena continue to demonstrate their maturing and proficiency as professional film artists who deserve recognition outside of the geopolitical borders of the Sunshine State.

"The Raging Bells" is a well-acted, well-scripted and fast paced journey into the dark side of humanity. The premise of the movie is about a serial killer, chillingly portrayed by Mark A. Nash, who escapes from a Texas penitentiary and begins a killing spree in the Tampa Bay and Miami area. The serial killer is obsessed with horror writer Edgar Allen Poe, leaving tiny bells on, in or near his victims. His obsession with bells is derived from Poe's story, "The Bells".

The serial killer's arch nemesis is a Tampa private investigator named Roman Boulder, who is outstandingly portrayed by Tampa veteran film star Gustavo Perez in his best acting to date. Also right up there with Gus are actors Kevin Bangos, who plays the nerdy, yet endearing computer geek Eugene at the Boulder Investigations company; Garland Hewlett who wonderfully and comically portrays Thonotosassa trailer denizen Mr. Taylor; and actress Tina Frankl, who gives a stand up performance as forensic expert Samantha, also an employee at Boulder Investigations. The chemistry between Perez, Bangos and Frankl as the primary investigation team is first class.

Just Thought I'd Drop In
In addition to the players listed above, there are also wonderful, but shorter cameos by Florida film legend Joel D. Wynkoop as Texas Sheriff Delano. Wynkoop delivers the role of Delano in a menacing manner similar to his great work in the "Bad Cop" series. The scene of friction between Delano and Boulder under a bridge at the Courtney Campbell Causeway is one of the more memorable to me-great work again guyzos1

Also thrown into the fray is the divine Ms. Tina Nash as the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner; Joe Mackowski who admirably (with very short notice) portrays an auto mechanic in Coconut Grove who has a video tape of abuse from the Texas prison that the serial killer was detained in; and Andrew Vingo, who also turns in a great performance as loose cannon, alcoholic F.B.I. agent named Luther Becker who also has a penchant for a kinky life style and fascination with the occult.

The Family Perez
Good looks and acting must both run rampant through the blood and household of the Perez family. In addition to his great acting and looking his dapper best in some shots (when Gus wears sun glasses, jump back Joe Cool!), Gus is joined by his mother Ofelia, who portrays an Hispanic lady who slams the door in Boulder's face, and is also joined by his beautiful sister Marcy, who along with Florida folk hero Richard Sousa, portrays one of the several news reporters dotted throughout the movie.

I Got The Music In Me
"The Raging Bells" is truly a triumphant team effort, and I apologize that I have not recognized everyone associated with this movie for his or her contributions. There is one element to the movie, however, that has earned its own separate award of excellence, and that is the marvelous musical score by Film Editor Mr. John Matheny. Matheny's jazz rifts and synthesizer score truly add to the ambiance and tension of this fine film effort.

Support Your Local Florida Independent Film Producer
For years the remainder of the country and the world did not pay attention to our NFL franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But as time went that team evolved into being Super Bowl champs-it just took the right people, timing and circumstances. Tampa Bay's independent film community is also evolving and has also become deserving of much needed and earned recognition. You can do something about this by supporting your local independent film industry by attending their movies. "The Raging Bells" will make its public debut at the Channelside Theater in Tampa on April 10, 11, 12 and 13, 2003. Check local listings for play times.

In closing, Misters Nash and Pena of Infinity Productions receive my highest honor for the film that I saw along with 50 others in Room 116 at the La Quinta Inn in Clearwater on Saturday February 1st. I just wish Nolan were there too!

Indies Film Updates
A DVD version of film producer Tim Ritter's "Bad Cop" series is due out around April 1st. In addition to featuring the first two "Bad Cop" movies, brilliantly acted by Joel D. Wynkoop as corrupt law enforcement officer Gus Kimball, Katherine Holseybrook portrays a psychiatrist who psychoanalyzes Kimball, using clips from the movies as part of that process. Gustavo Perez portrays Officer Montrose, who is commissioned to protect the psychiatrist from the mercurial Kimball.

Although on temporary hiatus, writer and major producer Michael A. Albano's movie "Shadows of Doubt" is being restructured. Steve Pena will direct this film, and Albano has sent out Letter's of Intent to actors Bo Hopkins, Terry Moore (a former wife of billionaire Howard Hughes and child actress in the movie "Mighty Joe Young") and Lee Benton to be cast in this movie. Hopefully, producer Albano will update us with the progress of this undertaking.

Filmed in Morocco and in Florida, Moroccan film producer Ziad Ahmed is filming an action adventure movie with undertones of witchcraft and the mob in the movie "Real Premonition". And lastly, we were treated to a premiere glimpse of the Nash-Pena movie "Forbidden Tango", which is to be released at a future date. The songbird in this clip really gives a great performance!

Click on images to see enlargements
All photos by William Moriaty

PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS: PHOTO #1: Actors Gustavo Perez (Roman Boulder) and Zulmali (one of the killer's victims).
PHOTO #2: The Good Guys! Law enforcement and investigators portrayed by L-R: Kevin Bangos (Eugene of Boulder Investigations), Tina Frankl (Samantha of Boulder Investigations), Andrew Vingo (F.B.I. Agent Luther Becker), Gustavo Perez (Private Investigator Roman Boulder), Steve Pena (Texas Prison Guard), and Joel D. Wynkoop (Texas Sheriff Delano).
PHOTO #3: Film Editor and Musical score Composer John Matheny takes time to talk with actress Susan Spencer, who portrayed Louise Stewart, mother of one of the first murder victims.
PHOTO #4: A profile shot of the Devil himself! Well actually it's of the versatile and gifted Mark A. Nash who not only wrote and produced this great movie, but also impeccably acted three different roles!
PHOTO #5: The Masters of Florida Cinema! L-R: Mark A. Nash and Steve Pena, producers of "The Raging Bells".
PHOTO #6: Actor Kevin Bangos shares a moment of levity with film editor and musical score director John Matheny.
PHOTO #7: It's a family affair! L-R: Poet Venus C. Fish, who is writing an eclectic screenplay called "Scar Tissue" about a schizophrenic fallen angel; daughter Melissa Godfrey, who portrays one of the serial killer's abducted; and actor-producer Garland Hewlett who stars as trailer dweller Mr. Taylor.
PHOTO #8: From left, actor Malachi Hoskins whose movie portfolio includes "Oceans Eleven" (with Brad Pitt), "Out of Time" and "Bad Boy's II", as well as roles in the TV shows "Second Noah" and "Sea Quest DSV". Not to mention that Malachi is a heckoffa nice guy! Writer and producer Michael A. Albano, of "Shadows of Doubt" fame, and Moroccan film producer Ziad Ahmed, who is filming the adventure movie "Real Premonition".

Regretably, my group shot of Garland Hewlitt, Susan Spencer, Tina Nash, Rebecca Holycross and Melissa Godfrey did not transfer from my digital camera into the computer and was somehow lost. As there are now no photos of Ms. Nash and Holycross in this collection, I promise to get still shots of them both from the movie once it's video is available. I sincerely apologize for this bizarre technical glitch.

La Floridiana
This week's issue
La Floridiana by William Moriaty
Book Review: "On The Whispering Wind" by Dan Allison. To the best of my knowledge the first fictional Florida noir story to leave the race gate in 2003 is Florida Folk Hero and Pinellas County author Dan Allison's newest novel, "On the Whispering Wind". (As this goes to press, his fellow Florida noir writer, Tim Dorsey, should have his newest novel, "The Stingray Shuffle" released for public distribution).... .................Click here for more.

Movie Reviewmovie review
This Week's Movie Review:
Bowling For Columbine

Review by Mike Smith.

.................Click here for more.

The Digital Divide
This week's issue
The Digital Divide by Terence Nuzum

CD Review: Lou Reed: The Raven .................Click here for more.

Mike's RantMike's Rant
This week's issue
Mike's Rant by Michael A. Smith
TOUCHING THE STARS........#1 WITH A BULLET........OSCAR NOTES........TAKE A CHANCE .................Click here for more.

Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.

To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

"Mike's Rant" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith    "La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty    "The Digital Divide" is ©2003 by Terence Nuzum    This week's movie review of "Bowling For Columbine" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova

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