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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2003!
This week's
La Floridiana
Movie Reviews:
   Charlie's Angels 2
   Sinbad: The Legend
Couch Potato
Ashley's Hollywood
Splash Page
Creature's Corner
Mike's Rant

On the CF Homepage:
Florida Filmmaker Update

  Number 172  (Vol. 4, No. 28). This edition is for the week of July 7--13, 2003.

Hollywood Longevity, part II: the passing of Buddy Ebsen
Conjoined twins' surgery fails
Bout Time Studios celebrates its first year a success
Stan Lee still frequents stripper bars?

Isn't this the way it's always been? For as long as I can remember, when you hear about one Hollywood celebrity dying, almost immediately you hear two, three, four more, all in a row. Not to make light of it by any means, it's just always creeped me out how that always works that way.

Last week's PCR on "Hollywood Longevity" and the recent passings of Strom Thurmond, Katherine Hepburn, Buddy hackett, and the week before Gregory Peck (among others), was barely a memory when word came over the radio that TVs "Jed Clampett", and "Barnaby Jones", Buddy Ebsen, had passed away at the age of 95.

95! Aside from the wonderful memories we have of Buddy Ebsen (and I'm sure all PCR writers will say something). here's another child of the Depression, started out in a poor economy, but worked hard and had a successful career, and lived to be 95.
Come and listen to my story.....
It is probably a forgone conclusion that every baby-boomer's strongest memory of Buddy Ebsen is as the father of the Ozark Mountain clan, the Clampetts, in the phenomenally popular Paul Henning production "The Beverly Hillbillies", broadcast from roughly 1963--1970. Ebsen as Jed Clampett, struck oil "while shootin' at some food" and became a multi-millionaire overnight and subsequently coaxed into moving to Beverly Hills. This comedy basically used one of the oldest plot devices known to man: the fish-out-of-water angle. It also sported one of the catchiest theme songs of al time (seems like nearly all the catchiest theme songs came out of the '60s!). But during the turbulent '60s, the innocense-by-way-of-surrealism that producer Paul Henning exceeded at ("Green Acres" was also his, I believe) was a welcome distraction and contrast from revolution and made this show a huge success.

That Buddy Ebsen made it to the age of 95 is equally amazing in that a small role in a legendary fantasy film almost killed him. He was originally cast to play the Tin Man in 1939's The Wizard of Oz. After about 10 days of filming, he discovered he couldn't breathe during a make-up session. As he tells it, "I could move my lungs, but no air seemed to be going in!" Panicking, the crew rushed him to the hospital, where it was determined that Ebsen had breathed enough aluminum dust (used in the Tin Man's make-up) to coat his lungs, rendering them useless! Fortunately, he made a full recovery. His successor in the Tin Man role, Jack Haley, was never told about the incident (they changed make-up techniques by then), but learned it well after filming wrapped.

The last big role of Ebsen's life was most likely that of private detective Barnaby Jones, which began broadcasting in the early '70s at a time there was a glut of other detective and cop shows (Cannon and Kojak spring to mind), but his folksy charm and sly wit made it believable that this old man could be an effective crime fighter.

Buddy Ebsen played Barnaby Jones one last time in the 19? big screen version of The Beverly Hillbillies and again played Jed Clampett in a small TV-movie based on the Beverly Hillbillies TV show.

Iranian "Siamese Twins" attempt to separate fails
Laleh and Ladan Bijani, 29-year-old conjoined twins from Iran, died Tuesday in Singapore shortly after neurosurgeons separated them in the third day of surgery. This is an amazing and tragic story and most unusual from the fact that you more frequently hear of conjoined twins that old pretty much accepting their lot in life. But these two sisters wanted to separate to have a chance at a normal life. It was the first time surgeons tried to separate adult craniopagus twins - siblings born joined at the head. The surgery has been performed successfully since 1952 on infants, whose brains can more easily recover.

Apparently, once inside, surgeons found the two twins' brains had fused more progressively than first thought, especially regrading a main vein that the two shared. Something like 28 surgeons and 100 assistants worked around the clock trying to make this a success. But soon after completion, ealier instabilities escalated. The Singapore hospital announced Ladan's death first, then, a few hours later, a nurse involved in the surgery said her sister Laleh had died.

This leaves two big obvious hypothetical question: what if the operation had been successful? Could they indeed have become settled in two separate bodies? Or is it more psychologically complicatd than that? Conversly, what if they'd abondoned the notion of separating -- would it have looked so bad if the'd somehow known the operation was doomed to failure? This procedure obviously meant a great deal to them as they were prepared for the risks. But I will always wonder what had pushed them to that point.

The Iranian government said they'd pick up the $300,000 tab for the operation.

Bout Time Studios celebrates its first year
Good friend Scott van Sickle's Bout Time Studios, a women's wrestling/boxing/catfight...ahem...appreciation website...I helped architect last summer turns one year old this month. To celebrate, Scott took cast-and-crew, yours truly among them, out to dinner at Tuson's in Clearwater, where we all got our first Bout Time T-shirts. Bout Time is a paid membership site, with a free "preview" club over at Yahoo. The main site is able to sustain itself primarily through the paid memberships. I am very proud to have been involved with the site's creation, and happy for Scott on his accomplishments--he has been doing his own updates since last Fall. (Reminds me of the time around 1979 when I showed him a few licks on bass guitar---within 2 years he was a monster.)
Congratulations to Scott and all the girls at Bout Time Studios for a job well done, and best of luck in the future!

Congratulations to Will Moriaty for winning a great job: throught he auspices of the Florida Department of Transportation, Will has been assigned the new landscaping project for the Sunshine Skyway Bridge! We are all very happy for Will as this assignment certainly raises the bar on his professional resumé! For more on the history of the historic bridge, see this issue's La Floridiana.

Happy birthday to Christian Dumais who turned 29, Friday, July 11. (Legion Studios turned 2 July 10th!)

Regarding the altered look of the Bravenet Hitcounter at pagebottom here and on the CF homepage. No, I didn't go looking for that lame design with an ad banner, you know I hate those things. I literally woke up one day and it was changed. I modified what I could of the look (the original was totally unacceptable), but I'm forced to take the ad banner or pay $100 a year to remove the ads. A brief search around the internet revealed everybody else is doing about the same thing, so I guess I was lucky they delayed this long on it. Interestingly, my old free counter at TheCounter.com is no longer even available! Their extant free counters expire at the end of this month. I've always liked Brad and Dave at Bravenet, and their counters (and other web-tools) function reliably well, but I think I'll go back to the drawing board soon on counter codes.

Better late than never? Before I get pelted with any more emails, I plead no-contest to the charges of non-commentary of two hot fan topics in the news: That Princess Di is supposed to be a new Marvel Super-hero, and that Stan Lee is being sued by a Tampa stripper over charges she actually created the strip. I'm posting this down here in Announcments because earlier in the week I simply was too distracted to recall the former and didn't even know about the latter until no less than THREE PCR contributors notified me in the last 48 hrs (Mike Smith, Ashley Lauren, and yes, even Scott Gilbert).
Re: "Super-Di". I only caught the tail end of this on the news and thought it was ridiculous. Marvel somehow brings Di back to life to battle villains wit hte X-Men or something. How necrophiliac! How desperate! Is the comics industry in such dire straits that we have to trivialize a great public persona with this ham-handed reintroduction of her to pop culture? Hey, remember the time they tried to make Jesus a super-hero? "Son 'o God" or something? Or was that a hoax? I can't remember. (Word's just com in via Chris Dumais that Marvel may have backed out of this deal. More later.)
Re: Stan Lee and the Stripper. I don't know what's funnier--that a stripper comes up with Stan's ideas for him, or that Stan Lee is still frequenting stripper establishments at 80+-years-old! That it happened in Tampa's notorious Tanga Lounge is just icing on the cake. Scott G. theorizes Lee was likely hawking wares on the Home Shopping Network and somebody dared him to accompany them. Or he could've been negotiating with CrossGen Comics, also located in Tampa, and got the urge from there. Whatever, the stripper doesn't seem to remember Stan all that well ("I see lots of men") and her testimony will likely falter under cross-examination. To read the whole mumbo-jumbo, Scott sent me a good article from the Daytona News-Journal: http://www.n-jcenter.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/Local/03AreaEAST01070903.htm. Thanks to Scott and everyone else for the head's up.

La Floridiana
This week's issue
La Floridiana by William Moriaty Getting From Here To There - - Part 3: The Story of the Bee Line Ferry and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
This week's column updated with pics!

Ashley Lauren's Hollywood
This week's issue
Hollywood by Ashley Lauren

Splash Page
This week's issue

Matt's Rail
This week's issue
Matt's Rail by Matt Drinnenberg

No column this week

Movie Reviewmovie review
This Week's Movie Reviews:

"Charlie's Angels: Full Trottle"  reviewed by Mike Smith
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas  reviewed by Ashley Lauren

Couch Potato Confessions
This week's issue
Couch Potato Confessions by Vinnie B.
The Dead Zone, or a former Brat Packer makes good.... ....Twilight Zone Overload........Joan of Arcadia

Creature's Corner
This week's issue
Creature's Corner by John Lewis

Mike's RantMike's Rant
This week's issue
Mike's Rant by Michael A. Smith
RAMBLINGS ...... WHAT'S IN A NAME? ...... BECAUSE HE CAN ...... NOW APPEARING ...... ROYAL BULL ...... PASSING ON ... ................................Click here for more

Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.

(Re: Brandon's letter, "The effing word", last week's PCR--N), It's only a word and as we all know, words hurt no one. If it weren't for the way the law was written just after the Anglo vs. Saxons battle....there would be no curse words, or "cuss words" as I my Pa learnt me.

I mean this to be a friendly suggestion. If you don't let your kids know about words like that then they grow up overly sheltered. I'd rather they learn from their parents about such things....than on the streets. Our generations' parents were apparently happy for us to learn it in the streets.

Parents should want to protect their children from the "bad" in society....it's a natural instinct as we both know. But to worry about a little "dirty word" seems childish by my standards. Teach 'em to worry about bad PEOPLE because the words are only considered dirty because of our unfortunate Christian mindset. I've had enough Bible crap pumped in me to puke for an eternity.

Steve Beasley

Hey John, Will Moriaty here.
I can't remember if Nolan published my Kudos letter about your column (Creature's Corner), particularly on your South Florida road trip series or not.

In a nutshell I bragged about your road trip and gushed of how it reminded me of our blabfest halcyon days at Moccasin Lake Nature Park in 1982 where you related to me such groovy stuff as seeing a 'Nile Monitor roaming near Miami International Airport, the gathering of green Iguanas from the campus of FIU, and piranha in the canals in the Glades.

Please be advised that I would be honored if you ever did a pinch-hitting series on the herps of Florida in La Floridiana! Especially in the evocative language such as used in your road trip series.

Incidentally, for real good Iguana hunting (they're big, up to 5', and darn near tame at this spot) go to the Pandanus Lake Bahamas Plot at Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables just south of Miami. The ground literally moves when you're close enough to these magnificent beasts when the scatter into the lagoons and mangroves. You truly feel like you've been transported to a mini version of Jurassic Park.

Anyway keep up the great educating us on another significant part of La Floridiana!

Re: Andy Lalino
I really enjoyed Andy's letter last week (PCR- June 30-July 6), as well as everything else he has done to date.

Now the big question, Andy-- why not just bite the bullet and write a column for PCR? Let's see, we have a Rant, a Rail, and a Tirade, maybe something starting with the letter "A" or "L" would do the trick (I could never figure out if Nolan or the authors came up with those titles - - I guess I need to just ask Nolan one day).

Ennywho, on the subject of comic book stores, in the 70's my path was similar to yours. I purchased my comics either at Eckerds or at Tampa International Airport's newsstand or most typically at God's-own "Your Book Nook Newsstand" in south Tampa, which was ably hosted by such crazed fanboy luminaries as Pat Freda (circa 73-75), Tom Bowles (circa 75-77), and the grand meister of them all, Nolan Canova (77-89(?).

By the early 80's comic book frenzy era I also frequented such hot spots as Tom Bowle's "The Fandom Zone" in Tampa, a comic shop in Tampa on Fowler pre-Merlins run by two brothers (help me on this one Nole), Haslam's Books in St. Petersburg (which you know is haunted by the great Jack Kirouac), Merlins at Keene Plaza in Largo (remember Bob and Pat over there?), and the Paperback Palace in Searstown in Clearwater (former home to Creature's Corner denizen John Lewis). Yes, listening to MWH sing "Antarctica" over a loud speaker while thumbing through "Flaming Carrot", "Lloyd Llewllyn" or "Detective Comics" penciled by the great Gene Colon was as good as it got!

I agree that most all things cool started to crumble by the late 1980's. I believe that the advent of cable TV and the rise of smaller networks such as Fox, UPN and the WB, destroyed the more artistic and creative talents that local and independent TV had to offer (much like how there are two communications mega corps left now - - Clear Channel and Viacom). Think about it-- WTOG, home to Dr. Paul Bearer is now UPN 44 (yawn), WFTS, Tampa Bay's Independent that used to have "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark", is now the WB (double yawn) - - not that these two networks don't have some dynamite shows, but any local programming left in these two stations simply sucks.This just reinforces my vehement hatred for the rise of uncontrolled and uncontained "Korporate Amerika" which is dedicated to the vanquishing at all levels of the human spirit just to make a buck - - they are truly Un-American, unconstitutional and an enemy to fair trade and fair competition, but no one seems to yet be figuring this out - - or worse yet, gives a damn...

Another factor thrown into the fray is that I believe the late 80's also heralded the end of the World War II and Depression era generation running the show. That generation had a much more finally tuned moral compass than the baby boomers and it showed in their willingness to make sacrifices and take bigger creative risks - - yet, they had a much more stable approach to living. Today's baby booming bean counting bastards only want what's safe and what they feel is sure to make a quick buck (hence why a zillion movies in the past decade have been remakes of old TV shows and are sterile, lifeless, listless, lusty and uncreative, unartistic crapola), and care only about the here and now - - to Hell with the future!

Although I am a baby-boomer (boomers were actually considered to be those born between 1946 and 1963, others say as late as 1964, with the highest proportion being born in 1956) myself and loved growing up in that era, I share much of the disdain that other generations both older and younger have toward our self absorbed antics-- Nolan did a great job of pointing some of them out in his Hollywood Longevity column last week. To use the old "Pogo" slogan "We have met the enemy and the enemy is us!"

I concur (with the exception of Elvis in the 50's) that it has sadly taken two British invasions to force a change to the sound of our music and revise our culture (although America has had its shining moments with home spun surf music in the 60's, heavy metal in the 70's, big hair metal in the 80's and grunge in the 90's). Frankly as a progressing form of popular culture, I think rock music has fully run its course and it may be time for a whole new musical paradigm - - what that will be and who will lead it, I have no idea.

Looking back is natural as one grows older, but looking forward is even more life affirming and exciting - - I wish I saw developments on the horizon in the pop culture world that had me feeling more confidant about the future again.

Anyway, keep the letters or columns and memories flowing Andy, they're always enjoyed!

William Moriaty

And now, ladies and gentlemen: THE ONE, THE ONLY...

Hey, Nolan...I've got a great idea for a new product - the Katherine Hepburn bobblehead! It's a sure-fire winner. Best of all, it's art imitating life. Did Hepburn ever do a horror film? I can't recall one, unless you count "On Golden Pond". I've seen two of her movies: "The African Queen" and "Bringing Up Baby". Both could have used some zombies. Nothing can make me reach for the remote faster than seeing Hepburn on the tube. At least Bette Davis was in "Watcher in the Woods" and "Burnt Offerings"; plus in her old age she looked like a real-life monster (then again, I'm sure Hepburn did too...).

I'm much more bummed about Buddy Hackett's death (one of the great comedians) and the African actor who played the little Bushman in the classic comedy "The Gods Must Be Crazy!". They will be sorely missed.

Rolling Stone Cover
Give it up, Nolan. Reading RS is about as depressing as watching VH-1. Stick a fork in it. If in this day and age Rock & Roll = American Idol, then rock is truly and completely dead.

Happy Birthday to Brandon Jones!!!
I dug Brandon's take on the "Best Movies Inspired by Comic Books". I haven't seen a whole lot of comic-turned-movie films (for good reason); but I'd have to place "Spider-Man" as #1, with the '78 version of "Superman" right behind. Am I correct that the top 10 on Splash Page was Wizard's, and not Brandon's, list? I can't believe they put "Superman 2" over the original "Superman"! The scene on the moon (with the moon landing backdrop & aluminum foil-covered lander) was phonier than the old rear projection scenes in '50s sci-fi movies! I always loved the story about how the filmmakers shot S2 the same time as S1 - and paid the actors the same fee! They were wise not to include profit-muncher Marlon Brando in too much of S2.

I would have ranked "From Hell" and especially the original "Conan the Barbarian" a lot higher. Would a movie like Robert Altman's "Popeye" count? It's a comic strip, not a comic book. Guess not. "Conan" was based on Robert E. Howard novels; would that be considered based on a comic book? If that's the case, you'd have to include "Tarzan", H.P. Lovecraft, and other authors whose characters appeared in comics.

...and how much would a "Speed Buggy" lunchbox be worth? I used to have one back in '75.

Matt's Rail
I liked Matt's musings about his early theater experiences. I was especially envious of you guys seeing the APE-A-THON!!! How cool is that? I saw EVIL DEAD at Crossroads 2 Cinemas (I used to work there, but not in '83) in St. Petersburg. "A Nightmare on Elm Street" I saw at Pinellas Square 3 Cinemas in Pinellas Park.

28 Days Later
...was very good. It was shot on video (supposedly before 9/11/01), and you could really tell; it looked like you were watching something off Windows Media Player. In the case of "28 Days Later", I think the video format helped. The initial feeling I got was that I was watching one of those wonderful European gore movies from '81-'85 on VHS (such as "Burial Ground", "Demons", "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie", etc.) , because the video format made it look like a VHS tape.

The movie was short on ideas, borrowing liberally from NOTLD, "Day of the Dead", ROTLD, "12 Monkeys", "The Omega Man", "Last Man on Earth", "Demons", "Dawn of the Dead", "The Stand", and others. What it lacked in story, it made up for in style. The crazies were pretty scary and the editing/cinematography/sound/soundtrack were very good. Best of all, it had that same European feel as from that aforementioned early '80s time period. I strongly recommend it.

- Andy Lalino
Director / Producer / Screenwriter "Filthy"
President, Metropol Productions, Inc.


Hello Andy, Will, Nolan, And the rest of the PCR family:
There, I believe that should cover just about everyone. This is the second time I've written this letter. Hopefully this time it will make it. The last one is lost somewhere in the ethereal world of internet connections. More about that subject at another time.

The reason I'm writing this is to thank everyone for the kind words and reactions to my reminiscing (or ramblings, depending on your mindset) about theater excursions of my youth. ( actually, I'm still young and still going to the movies.) I truly enjoyed writing that piece. There's more where that comes from as time permits. You know, it's amazing how much we take for granted. The seemingly insignificant events of our past actually do mean something in one way or another. They help shape our lives and actually mold us into the people we become. By sharing these experiences we give a glimpse of how things "used to be." If someone of another generation can read that and come away with something then that's a good thing. If not at least they're still reading and that's a good thing. It's hard to bridge generation gaps because people of different times grow up with different sets of circumstances making it difficult to relate to things foreign to them.

Pop Culture is always changing with the times. When something new takes hold, those who are still enamored with the last thing continue to embrace what they like, scoffing at the idea of anything trying to replace it. What was horrifying in the early years of film was very different from what scared people in the thirties and forties and so on, and so on.

Today everything is extremely visual. In the past they relied on heavier story plots and implied images. This kind of storytelling can be frustrating to the modern movie watcher. Another part of the problem is that with so many of the greats from the past either being dead or not working anymore there's no news or gossip about them anymore. That's where journalism and relating past experiences help to fill that gap. If even one person developes an interest then that's great

I was lucky enough to grow up during a time of transition so I can understand both sides of the debate. I was watching black and white television shows and movies while being witness to the invasion of color onto the screen. It's not like none of the things I saw in my early impressionable days were in color. It was just a time when higher budget material was filmed in color while the run-of-the-mill stuff was still being done in B&W. I developed an appreciation of both. It's like growing up on the fence between a feud of the "Hatfields" & "McCoys."

Twenty years from now, when technology between the viewer and the screen becomes interactive, we can all recall, with fond memories, the theater experiences of today and the blockbuster movies we saw. Remember, it was only a couple years ago that many of the area's smaller cinema complexes closed because of the pressures imposed by modern multi-plexes with their state-of-the-art, stadium-style seating and cutting-edge sound. Just some food for another round of "Movie Experiences."

Have a Great Week!!! See you in the "Castle."
The Creature From Clearwater,
John Lewis

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    "Matt's Rail" is ©2003 by Matthew Drinnenberg    "La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty    This week's movie review of "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith   This week's movie review of "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas" is ©2003 by Ashley Lauren    "Ashley Lauren's Hollywood" is ©2003 by Ashley Lauren Lewis    "Creature's Corner" is ©2003 by John Lewis     "Splash Page" is ©2003 by Brandon Jones    "Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2003 by Vinnie Blesi    Add'l thanks to Andy Lalino, William Moriaty, Steve Beasley, and John Lewis for their input in "Letters"      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova

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