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Nolan's Pop Culture Review
PCR Archives 2004
PCR Archives 2003
PCR Archives 2002
PCR Archives 2001
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A Visit to the North Florida Patron Saint of Pop Culture
 by William Moriaty

"I, Robot"
 by Mike Smith

Don't Fear "The Reaper"
 by Andy Lalino

Kerry Gets the Dead Vote....Liberal Financing....Japanese Economy Unveiled....Trickledown Economics....Column Correction
 by Vinnie Blesi

Can You Give me A Helsing OF That?....Bush Speak
 by Matt Drinnenberg

The Automobile Song....Wanted--A Director With No Vision....Passing On....Money Well Spent....Sci-Fi Dumb....Flame On....Meet The Beatles, Part 25
 by Mike Smith

Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2003!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our fifth calendar year!
    Number 225  (Vol. 5, No. 29). This edition is for the week of July 12--18, 2004.

Back On Schedule! Also..."Assembly of the Gods" by Hugo Morley

Whew! Nutty couple o' weeks there, eh? Between all my other web commitments and traveling to Jax and everything, the old apple cart threatened to topple once or twice, but your fearless leader stole himself a few precious naps---and the PCR is back on schedule.

Well, more or less. Somehow, my already weird topsy-turvy sleep schedule got reversed again and I'm falling asleep in the daytime now. Kinda like the recent news that the earth's magnetic poles are fixin' to shift. I know the feeling.

So, the front page is going up with this much anyway in the early morning Wednesday, July 14. I did have an ambition to toss in a couple more PO Box Reviews, and will as soon as I can, but they will have to wait until I get a few web jobs out of the way, sorry. I have to put in a few hours at the hell-pit of despair (my "real" job), so I need to cave-in early.

Feedback on Jax
Thanks to everyone who wrote about the Jax trip William and I took to see Ed Tucker. I must admit it was nice to get out and see some of the world, which I rarely get a chance to do. I'm happy so many of you enjoyed the story, I really didn't think something that personal would get much feedback. For more on the trip, and to experience it from Will Moriaty's perspective, be sure to catch this week's La Floridiana!

"The World of Nolan" on Track for a Comeback
Oh yes, it certainly is. It has been WAY too long in coming due to bad time-budgeting, technical problems, and a particularly tough year work-wise. Enough progress has been made on several levels that I think I can safely announce its imminent return---and the return of the occasional filmmakers' frolicks I usually throw in for fun!

Odds & Ends
I am happy to report on the latest manifestation of my study of interactive web scripting languages: The TREE, Inc. mailing list is now fully-functional! Anyone wanting to receive Will's quarterly newsletter, Arbor Bio, currently up to issue 3, along with any other news regarding special events, plantings, and the like are encouraged to sign up. The form is on the TREE homepage.

Although we had two serious inquiries, One CURE Ticket is still available for the Tampa concert of July 25th (FL Ampitheater, 5:00pm). Section 304, Row P, Seat 36. $40 (was $60). Please contact Terence Nuzum at CTHULHU05@aol.com while there's still time! Other acts featured are Interpol, The Rapture, and Mogwai.

July Romeo Coffeehouse Meeting
Well, it was the most under-attended meeting yet, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a good show! Personal business matters sent Pete Guzzo to Boston and Simon Lynx to Jacksonville, so two regulars were out right off the bat. Gus Perez and I nearly didn't make it ourselves, but at the last minute we caved. Chris Woods was there and his friend Craig Leitschuh, who I haven't seen since the January meeting, was there as well. I wasn't really expecting Andy Lalino, but I've seriously given up on ever seeing Steve "Uncle Creepy" Barton again (whatever happened to that guy?).

Very unusual mushroom cloud formation seen from Bayshore Blvd. on the way to the Coffeehouse. Just wanted to share this unnerving image with you.
Diane Berryman and Chris Woods are justifiably happy with the feedback their films got at the July 8th meeting.
First up: Diane Berryman (3rd Eye Planet Productions) presented Ricky and Luke and The Red Dish. Diane is a student at St. Pete College and both of her films showed a lot of technical proficieny and humor. While both shorts were enjoyable, maybe a little less emphasis on the fancy editing tricks might help focus more attention on the subjects she obviously cares about. That notwithstanding, I expect really great things from Diane in the future!

Next is another entry from what I facetiously call "ICON's closet", where older films from their catalog are re-exhibited. That's not a put-down, don't misunderstand, I get a bang out of seeing where Chris and Simon come from. Tonight's film, Chameleon, is, according to Chris, his first "real" film, made about 1998 while still a student at the University of Tampa. In Chameleon, our main featured players are one by one taken over by an evil force that can assume their consciousness, while an FBI agent tracks the case. I really liked this movie, and Chris's direction here is much more aggresive than I'm used to (and I'm used to a lot!). He got a lot from his actors (he himself cameo'd in one brief role) and his camera is in constant motion. Some clever shot set-ups and deft editing made for a chilling horror/crime thriller. I'm guessing since this was a first film he really pulled out all the stops. The audience, myself included, made no secret as to how impressed we were with his directorial debut.

The TOO Productions Presents: Romeo Coffeehouse Film Series is scheduled the second Thursday of every month at the Romeo Coffeehouse 1515 7th Ave. in Ybor City (a website, designed by the Romeo's daughter Chloe, is in production). For information on how to get your films entered, write to paulguzzo@hotmail.com

Guest Editorial

The PCR welcomes back old friend and raconteur Hugo Morley, he of deep show-biz roots and mixer of fine spirits at Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Here, Hugo tells of his recent trip to Las Vegas.--Nolan

Assembly Of The Gods
By Hugo Morley

Is it possible that the Romans & Ancient Greeks were correct & that there are in fact more than one God? Is it also possible as our forefathers once believed that some of these gods walk amongst us? In this increasingly unsettling Twenty First Century there can be little doubt that there are gods of war working there evilness here on earth on a daily basis. But what about other present day deities - gods of music, gods of design, gods of beauty - do they exist & would it be possible to find them & their work?

A couple of weeks ago I went to Sin City itself. Rather than a latterday Soddom & Gomorrah, as many people seem to view Las Vegas I found a nirvana of beauty & talent unrivaled by any other city in the world. Vegas does lack any long term history but it has more than made up for it over the last hundred years from the early settlers & goldminers through Bugsy Siegel's early dream of an entertainment district in the desert and the halcyon days of Sinatra's Rat Pack to today's melting pot of tackiness, style, pre-fabrication and entertainment.

The new school of Las Vegas pioneers led by Steve Wynn have created some of the most spectacular hotels in the world. It is true they lack the old world charm and true style of London's Savoy or New York's Plaza hotel but even the Disney Imagineers of Epcot must be insane with jealousy when they view the Strip's recreation of Paris & Venice. Less theme park-like and & more stylish lodgings are provided by the good people of Mandalay Bay & the Bellagio.

However it wasn't the hotels or even the gambling that took me to Las Vegas. I went to see some shows. It is almost unfathomable to think that on one night a single town can offer such variety of entertainment. Both Madonna & Prince were appearing that weekend as were Lewis Black, George Carlin & Jay Leno and Dido was playing at the Hard Rock hotel. These were all in addition to the long running attractions of The Blue Men, Wayne Newton, Lance Burton, Danny Gans and three different Cirque Du Soleil shows.

I went to the House Of Blues to see the comedy god that is Lewis Black. I have over the last three years seen him live four times and he never ceases to amuse and amaze me. I believe Black to be the funniest comic on the touring circuit and although I have heard him tell the same jokes on a couple of occasions he has an incredible ability to constantly re-write his act. A lot of comics could learn from this - Dave Attell, take note. Last year alone Lewis Black released two comedy CDs as well as a DVD & this year saw his first HBO special "Black On Broadway". His weekly "Back In Black" segment on Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" is a highlight of that programme. There are lots of things that annoy Lewis Black and luckily he takes the time to tell us. A particular peeve at the moment is the nation's obsession with bottled water. When water was free we were never told how much to drink but now that we pay for it we are supposed to drink fifty six bottles a week. If not a full time job that alone is an assignment. Black suggests that should we fall short of our alloted amount we need to shove a hose up our rectum on Sundays to make up the defecit. The makers of bottled water kindly print on the back the ingredients - amount of calories, fat content - they are all zero. Then they print percentage values based on a 2,500 calorie diet. These are also zero. So it doesn't matter if it's a 2,500 calorie diet, a 5,000 calorie diet or even a diet consisting purely of wood. IT IS STILL ZERO.

I have been a huge fan of Cirque Du Soleil since seeing "Mystere" in Vegas nearly ten years ago. I enjoy their shows so much that I am willing to forgive their French heritage. A few years ago I saw "O" at the Bellagio. This was a very different venture for Cirque as it takes place in an enormous swimming pool in its spectacular purpose-built theatre. Likewise "Zumanity" at New York, New York breaks away from the regular Cirque formula by being their first "adult" show. It is by most (and especially Vegas) standards really quite tame and the eighteen and over stipulation a little excessive despite some toplessness and a little bit of dildo juggling. This is Cirque's celebration of all things erotic (but aren't all Cirque shows erotic?). The programme's introduction says:
Eroticism is a cry for ecstasy, for freedom and we have chosen to celebrate it joyfully, naturally, with splendour and humanity. With pleasure we offer you a bead of sweat, a seductive wink, a torrid kiss, a racing pulse, a flushed face, a curious hand, and feather soft fingertips....a love letter from us to you.
They deliver all this with a very good sense of humour. A transvestite M.C takes us on a ninety-minute journey of discovery or maybe re-discovery. A lot of the style and staging appears to owe a lot to the recent Sam Mendes/Studio 54 revival of "Cabaret" (metal spiral staircases included) but maybe the Cirque team just took their inspiration from the pre-war nightclubs of Berlin where the Kander & Ebb musical was set. Two beautiful, lithe topless beauties open the show swimming, sliding & contorting in an oversized fishbowl. Later, a beautiful lady dressed in a plaid skirt to appeal to the schoolgirl fantasists manages to not only keep a dozen hoola-hoops spinning around her body, she does so hanging over the stage on a rope. The show doesn't only cater to the vanilla fantasies of men - women (and gay men) are offered finely chiseled male body builders - one "dislocation artist" is capable of wrapping his thighs around his neck, an obvious unasked question is answered by the emcee: "I know what you are thinking & yes he can". The show's finale is an incredible acrobatic display by a Danish couple who said goodbye to sixty some years ago. Two more Cirque shows are planned for Vegas over the next few years. What will they think of next?

A very minor but nontheless enjoyable show currently running at the San Remo hotel is "The Showgirls of Magic". In an intimate cabaret theatre five topless showgirls do magic tricks. What could be more Vegas? The girls are beautiful and the magic if not original is certainly accomplished. The girls are joined by a couple of specialty acts very much stooped in old Las Vegas tradition. A four-hundred pound drag act serenades an embarrassed audience member with "Somewhere Out There" before dressing up as Cher - in her "Turn Back Time" garb to duet with a midget Sonny Bono with "I Got You Babe".

I'm not sure that I have ever really understood Performance Art and I'm not sure that I really want to. There is a scene towards the end of act one of the musical "Rent" about performance art which made me loathe the very idea of it. Steve Coogan's glorious English creation Alan Partridge describes Performance Art as watching people paint. Whatever it is, The Blue Man Group have certainly encapsulated its commercial edge. They have permanent shows running in New York, Boston, Chicago & Las Vegas as well as hugely successful national tours and television ads for IBM. I saw the show in Boston a couple of years ago and despite a more elaborate stage set and more musicians I was disappointed to see that the Vegas show is exactly the same. I did quite like it in Boston but would never have gone a second time (especially with tickets at $100 a piece). It is strangely beautiful watching the three men play drums full of paint and the effect of the lighting on the spraying paint. The first few rows are provided with ponchos so as not to have their clothes paint splattered. The playing of "White Rabbit" on bizarre tube instruments is no less impressive and the audience interaction is inspired. I just wish that they would come up with some new material. However, I'm sure that as they count their nightly box office take they live by the maxim - If it ain't broke don't fix it.

I've saved the true Vegas deities until last. It seems almost obscene that Penn & Teller should be playing Vegas at all. By their very nature should they not be anti-Vegas, anti-establishment, Punk even? The owners of the Rio hotel made the inspired decision of replacing David Cassidy's "Night At The Copa" with an open-ended residency by this eccentric duo. I was privileged to first see Penn & Teller in New York eighteen years ago. They were playing a tiny off-Broadway space and tickets were rarer than gold. Here were a very strange couple an oversized Jock and a small mute in identical gray suits doing card tricks involving knives & blood, swallowing needles, mind reading - with the help of a labotomised monkey, playing electric guitars & firebreathing. It was as if Siegfried & Roy had been blended with the Sex Pistols in some bizarre midway experiment. Over the last eighteen years they have gone from strength to strength even becoming household names without losing their dangerous edge or compromising their beliefs. On their cable show "Bullshit" they expose all the liars & frauds in our community - salesmen, advertisers, quack doctors, etc. They even manage to remain cool whilst guesting on Hollywood Squares. However, to see what they do best you must travel to the Rio hotel where most weeks they perform six nights in a theatre that is soon to bear there name. Before the show a heavily-pierced pianist entertains & invites the audience on stage to look at boxes. These boxes are used in the first trick of the evening. Teller still doesn't talk but Penn Jillette more than makes up for his diminutive partner. They show you how some tricks are done but only to create an even more amazing illusion. They are the first to admit that there is no such thing as magic and all they are doing is tricking us. A trick that begins with the simplicity of a disappearing handkerchief becomes a lecture in the importance of free speech and the greatness of America. One trick remains from eighteen years ago and that involves Teller cutting the shadow of a plant and really defies description. It needs to be seen and then it is easy to understand why he still does this incredible & beautiful trick. Penn breathes fire and now juggles bottles which he breaks in front of us so that on no two nights is he juggling the same size, shape and weight. For the last few years Penn & Teller have been finishing their show by firing bullets through a sheet of glass into each others' mouths. People have been catching bullets in their mouth since the beginning of vaudeville. A book called "Seven Have Died" written in Victorian times tells of the inherent danger of performing this trick. As they could not decide what would be worse - to be shot dead or to shoot your friend dead. Penn & Teller decided to do this double bullet catch. When Harry Houdini announced that he would be catching a bullet in his mouth the head of the Magic Circle wrote to him begging him not to do it. The world could not afford to lose Houdini either as a magician or a friend. When Penn & Teller announced that they were to do the same trick a letter from the current head of the Magic Circle reads simply "Dear Penn & Teller, Go for it. Regards, Ken". They are the first to say that, like everything else, they do this as a trick but they defy us to work out how this is done.

Please consider making a donation to help support Crazed Fanboy! Click on the "donate" link below and give whatever you can. I sincerely thank you for any and all consideration.---Nolan
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"Mike's Rant" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2004 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino    "Splash Page" is ©2004 by Brandon Jones    "Couch Potato Confessions/Vinnie Vidi Vici" is © 2004 by Vinnie Blesi      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova    
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