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Nolan's Pop Culture Review
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Book Review: "Skinny Dip" by Carl Hiaasen....Update on Hurricane Charley and Florida's Landmarks
 by William Moriaty

"Exorcist: The Beginning"
 by Mike Smith

Couch Potato Fall TV Preview....Heinz Ketchup, Made in Mexico?
  by Vinnie Blesi

"Filthy" DVD Release Party...."Exorcist 4" vs. "Open Water" vs. "Benji"...."Genghis" or "Jen-jis"....Will Smiff really did do the "I, Robot" rap!....Psyched by the Furs: Concert Review
 by Andy Lalino

Great Story....The Olympics....Maybe, Maybe Not....No, Really, He's Gone....Meet The Beatles, Part 31
 by Mike Smith

Flash Fantastic
Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2004!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our fifth calendar year!
    Number 231  (Vol. 5, No. 35). This edition is for the week of August 23--29, 2004.

  Another Strange Week
 Russia's 9/11?
 Vietnam Lives Again
"Filthy" debuts in The Last Outpost
Special features:
     20,000 Leagues Into The Toilet
     Jay Mohr at The Improv

Russia had its own 9/11 scare Tuesday when two passenger planes inexplicably crashed within minutes of each other. Further, an earlier explosion on the road to the airport has been acknowledged as a possible indication that all these events were the acts of terrorists.

The suspicion of terrorism came after earlier warnings from officials that separatists might try to carry out attacks before an election this Sunday in Chechnya to replace the war-torn region's assassinated pro-Kremlin president. The rebels have made attacks in Moscow and other cities, hijacked planes outside Russia and allegedly staged suicide bombings.

OK, so these were not al-Quaeda attacks, but terrorist attacks nonetheless, and with the now-fashionable weapon of passenger planes. But wait, hold the phone...

While the crashes are awfully damn peculiar, the Russian government says there is no solid evidence to support terrorism just yet, and the planes could've coincidentally succumbed to age and neglect at the same time. Of course, investigations are ongoing.

UPDATE 8-28-04. News came in over the weekend that both planes showed traces of an explosive named hexogen, further evidence that the crashes were caused by terrorists. --N

This places Russia in a weird position. While I certainly wish Russia no ill will regarding terrorists, and I certainly feel for the passengers and their families whose live ar forever changed by this, I can't help but think (with the memory of a baby-boomer that I have) that if this were pre-glastnost (is that too dated a term?) Russia, the (formerly) Commie slant would be to, first, hide this news altogether, and second, failing that, bend the news to put both Soviet mishaps and achievments in the most positive light possible. Some things have changed since The Wall fell, but I suspect some have not. If the airplanes fell out of the sky because they're old and neglected, that makes them look too poor and disorganized to maintain a safe fleet of planes. Acknowledging possible terrorist action would seemingly be a good diversion, except it now makes them look like their security is wanting or outright impotent. I've no doubt they're scrambling for answers in either case.

However, this is not the same as 9/11 and this was not the action of al-Quaeda (there were no foreigners onboard either flight). If it does turn out to be the work of terrorists (most likely Chechen rebels), I will be very interested to see how Russia develops there own "post-9/11" security plans.

Vietnam Lives Again
Wow, speaking of topics most boomers are still sensitive to. Although warned months ago by Bob Dole not to take his Vietnam heroism too far during his campaign, Senator John Kerry's service record in the long-ago war has inadvertantly become a strange liability in what I can only call the most tragic cross-fire of mudslinging in modern politics. The right wing counters that this serves him (or "them" if we're referring to the Democrats) right for bashing Bush's seeming one-year disappearance during his stateside stationing, to say nothing of the apparent family ties that eased his entry and exit from the service altogether. Further, the right can argue that Kerry came back from 'Nam not bragging about his three Purple Hearts, but condeming the whole war and joining protesters. But the left counters that Bush didn't see action in 'Nam at all, and doesn't have room to talk especially considering the whole smoke and mirrors display regarding his lost military records (some of which miraculously showed up recently).

I hated the Vietnam War then and I hate it now. And I'm on record as saying that the Iraq War was a huge mistake built on hoaxes. I will not re-open that can of worms in this space (but anyone interested can always view The Message Board and look under "Miscellaneous/Your Call"). I find it deplorable that anyone who was roped into going to either war wants to sling mud now. Putting war injuries under a microscope to determine decades later if they "counted" or not is insane. Bush and Kerry are lucky to have gotten out alive and in good health. I'd hate to think that twenty or thirty years from now a new spate of presidential hopefuls will debate whose service in Iraq was more pure and legitimate.

And on a lighter note...

The Last Outpost Expands By One
My online store, The Last Outpost, has recently expanded its population of local artists products' by one: Andy Lalino's "Filthy", a 32-minute gore-fest/shocker, has been released on DVD and is available for sale here. Andy's been a very reliable, if somewhat controversial, writer for this website since January of this year, and I'm glad to help him out.

Yes, there are more plenty more products on the way. I'm determined to reorganize my hideous schedule (again) and my post-nuke office mess (again) so that the online videos and the online store are more frequently updated.

20,000 Leagues Into The Toilet

HERE IT IS! ED Tucker's scathing but enlightening story on whatever happened to Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" theme park ride.

And now, good friend, mad dog and Englishman, Hugo Morley, returns with a review of Saturday Night Live alumnus Jay Mohr's stand-up act visited upon Ybor City's THE IMPROV. Without further ado, take it away, Hugo!

Guest Editorial
Jay Mohr at The Improv
by Hugo Morley

I like Jay Mohr. I like to think that we could be good friends. That said, I have never met him. I have however been fortunate to see him perform live at The Improv in Ybor twice. I have also seen him in many movies, good & bad and I believe his television programme 'Last Comic Standing' to be the only reality show on television worth watching, it has both substance and intelligence and is genuinely entertaining.

In his stand up act Jay Mohr tells anecdotes more than jokes.He is really more of a raconteur than a comic. This isn't to say that his stories aren't hysterically funny whether he's recounting his meetings with Christopher Walken (who he happens to be able to mimic perfectly) or if he's telling us about his swimming with the dolphins in the Bahamas where he was practically raped by a five hundred pound mammal. He manages to remain charming & endearing while discussing his love of pornography - no mean feat. He has a giant flat screen television that he can stand next to when playing a porn tape and pretend he's next in line. One story he tells is about trying to get a refund on a porn tape he had rented because he considered it unsatisfactory. The men were wearing condoms, which though vital in real life he believes have no place in porn & he wanted his $3.75 back from his local independant video store. Lesser mortals would have written off the cash but not Jay. At the time he was returning his tape, 'Paulie', a family orientated film in which he starred alongside a parrot was being heavily promoted & life size cut outs of him were all around the store. Mohr had no problem at all signing autographs for his young fans whilst demanding his refund on "Big Black Dicks & Tight White Butts". If his audience become at all quiet and less than enthusiastic during his dissertation on pornography he is quick to add, "Oh I see, this multi-billion dollar a year industry all comes from my DVD player does it?".

Mohr has now written a book entitled 'Gasping for Airtime', Two years in the trenches of Saturday Night Live. In it he recounts his well paid though overly frustrating two years as an underused member of the Not Ready For Primetime Players. He was twenty two when he got the gig and not a total unknown as he had been an MTV VJ and had begun a respectable career as a standup comic especially in college towns. Unlike so many comics he hadn't even aspired to be on the show. To him SNL was not his dream goal. He had considered the early years over rated & had only really enjoyed the early eighties with Eddie Murphy & Billy Crystal. However when he was offered the position of featured player & writer along with a starting salary in excess of $6000 a week for twenty weeks a year, who was he to turn it down? What followed was two years of well paid obscurity. Whereas Phil Hartman was being Sinatra, Mike Meyers was Wayne, Dana Carvey was Church Lady, Rob Schneider was the xerox man Jay Mohr's main contribution was 'man waving at the back during the goodnights'. His first week on the show was one of his most successful. Charles Barkley was the host & Mohr turned up at the writers meeting without a single idea. Lorne Michaels, the shows founder & producer went round the room asking everyone to pitch their ideas. Mohr was second to last & by the time he was asked to speak inspiration (or panic) had seized him & he came up with the idea of 'Barkley vs. Barney'. At the time Charles Barkley was advertising Nike on television and in the ad he played one on one basketball with godzilla. Mohr pitched the idea of Barkley playing basketball with Barney the purple dinosaur from children's television. The idea was picked up & used as the first skit of the nineteenth season of Saturday Night Live. Even this perfect start was not without it's own anguish. As Mohr was the 'newbie', even though it was his idea he was neither allowed to write nor direct the skit that duty was handed over to longterm stalwart Al Franken.

'Gasping For Airtime' is not the most fascinating book ever written & it is not full of scandalous gossip or wonderful tales of drug excess. This Saturday Night Live seems to have very little in common with the programme that Bob Woodward writes about in his biography of John Belushi. Drugs, according to Mohr were no longer a part of the makeup of SNL although with the benefit of hindsight and Chris Farley & Phil Hartman's untimely death along with musical guests such as INXS & Nirvana it seems that Mohr was either very naive or he's not telling the whole story. There are no great revelations here about his fellow cast members. Farley was funny & would do anything for a laugh, Phil Hartman was the serious leader & father of the group, David Spade was always opting out of skits to give him more time to hit on models and Rob Schneider was a bit of a dick - at times friendly & talented and at times rude & boorish.

As well as being famous for launching many careers Saturday Night Live has also underused a lot of it's talent. Jay Mohr is not alone. Chris Rock during his tenure on the show really did very little & Janeane Garofalo was almost totally ignored & asked to be released early from her contract. Dave Attell, who has proved himself to be one of America's greatest stand up acts was employed by the show but only as a writer & not as a performer.

Jay Mohr's second year on the show was no better than the first except that he managed to be re-engaged just as a performer, no longer a writer. This let him escape from the all nighters that the writers still pulled - a hangover from the drug fuelled formative years of the show. Mohr can't understand that as the writers are no longer partying on cocaine all night why don't they work during the day & lead more normal lives.

His second season was calmer than the first even though he lost his dressing room and was now housed in a disused cleaners closet with no room to hang his costumes. The anxiety & panic attacks that had plagued him were gone thanks to a friendly doctor prescribing him Klonopin. He was also able to watch and occassinally hang out with some of his heroes the rock legends & bands that guested on the show every week. Even with all the discomfort & angst that he suffered, it does seem that Jay Mohr experienced some wonderful times even if he was just a well paid observer and not a television star.

Julia Sweeney once said that working on Saturday Night Live was like having an uncle you hate pay for all four years at Harvard. Mohr concludes that it is more like having an uncle who touched you at seven & then paid for all four years at Harvard.

Earlier this year, I tried a moderately successful experiment. I "hired" four South Tampa neighborhood early-20-somethings, all friends, to write some "punk"-style articles of life and pop culture from their own perspective. I have always enjoyed the postings of Clayton "The Ogre" Smith, Nick "Nicholas Rex" King, Dylan "The Drow" Jones, and especially Joshua "Black Dog" Montgomery, who was also helpful with projects closer to home. You might remember Clayton and Joshua accompanied me to MegaCon this year as well.

Admittedly, none of them have been very active online recently, but I am saddened to say two of them, Dylan and Joshua, are pulling up stakes and leaving Tampa at the end of this week. Dylan just got married (nope--couldn't talk him out of it--ha ha), and is heading to Connecticut. Joshua is catching a ride with them and is being dropped off in Tennessee where he will stay with his father indefinitely (although he did express an expectation to return to Tampa for a Christmas visit). I will miss the boys very much, their youthful enthusiam and fresh take on fanboy life was invigorating and inspiring to this grizzled old veteran. At least we still have The Ogre and Nicholas Rex staying here, in fact they just became roommates over at Georgetown. All four have pledged to keep in touch and continue to write, and I'm glad they expressed that of course, but kids are kids and I'm not holding my breath. That all said, I wish them all the very best of luck with their future lives and future endeavors. Just when we least expect it, one of them, or ALL of them may revive their columns.

MOVING ON, Part 2.
Legion Studios, Inc., a popular Tampa-based website I have mentioned frequently within these pages, is no more. A message from editor-in-chief Derrek Carriveau reports that after he and co-founder Christian Dumais settled into their new digs and new life in Wroclaw, Poland, it became apparent they would not be able to devote the time necessary to maintain the high standards they had established over the years. After intense discussion, the site "went dark", as they say, earlier this week (however the final homepage is still there as a sort of placeholder).

Legion supported themes similar to Crazed Fanboy, but concentrated much more on original fiction, and interviews with movers and shakers of the creative world---and at both they truly excelled (of course I'm a little biased, one of those interviewed early on was yours truly). Christian Dumais also had an admirable knack for bringing people together who didn't know each other previously, and likely would never have met otherwise. The cast and crew of many Tampa-based, fan-related websites met each other for the first time at the New World Brewery in Ybor at an event set up by Christian two years ago. Regrettably, some of those same sites have since gone dark. But the memories will last forever, Terence and I still refer to that party in conversations from time to time.

Three of Legion's founders, Christian, Derrek, and one Scott Pero, were all guests on my former public access show, The World of Nolan during the 2002 Spring season. It is one of my favorite episodes, and scenes from it were transferred to a "best of" CD-ROM Legion sold on their site.

Christian took a position as an English teacher at a university in Wroclaw a year ago, and now Derrek has joined him to do same. I wish them both the very best of luck, and of course, through the miracle of the internet, we can still IM and email each other like nothing happened...well, sort of.

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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