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"William Moriaty's Florida" Near Completion
 by William Moriaty

 by Mike Smith

My First UFO....Long Time Radio Show Favorites Return After 20 Years!
 by Vinnie Blesi

"Sin City"....Countdown to Infinite Crisis
 by John Lewis

Go Ahead Wal-Mart, Make My Day....My UFO Story
 by Matt Drinnenberg

The Pope....Movie Notes....Next Week....Jaws: The Story, Part 13
 by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2005!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our sixth calendar year!
    Number 263  (Vol. 6, No. 14). This edition is for the week of April 4--10, 2005.

Death of a Pope

"Silence In The Aisles", revisited
"Brain Robbers From Outer Space"
Hugo Morley on the death of comedian Mitch Hedberg

It always amazes me how the activites, and the life an death of The Pope can so mesmerize even non-Catholics. As I've frequently said in these "pages" many times, even though I'm no longer practicing, in many ways I'm still the Catholic boy I grew up as. Once a Catholic always a Catholic? Not really, but it does sensitize me to the goings-on of the Church.

We've lost an amazing pontiff, Pope John Paul II who passed away over the weekend at age 84 after a very long illness. His 26-year reign is usually remarked upon as being "conservative", and while that's certainly true about many things (abortion, the continuing celibacy of the priesthood), many of the faithful felt he was too soft on more controversial issues (the rampant pedophelia of parish priests exposed in the news over the last two decades). I, however, remember him for accepting evolution as "more than just a theory" (remarkable, that), and for speculating on the existence of extraterrestrials.

On a larger and more important scale, he was a most well-traveled holy man, one of the most if not the most well-traveled pope in history.

Athletic in build and very healthy until a gunman's bullet nearly killed him in the early '80s, Pope John Paul II was never quite the same and the last two years especially saw a very frail and fragile man still attempting to carry on as if nothing was wrong.

World leaders respect the papal position and through history were wise to consult with the Vatican on many issues, knowing the world (at least that side of the world) was very very sensitive to papal leanings.

Polish in desecent, John Paul II had the option of being buried in his native land, but last I heard, I believe he is going to be buried in the Vatican mausoleum where most of his predecessors reside.

At this writing, there is no word on a successor, as there is a mandatory time of mourning to be observed before the college of cardinals moves on that issue.

Joe DiCanio's "Hunted", "Silence in The Aisles", revisited
At the last Romeo Coffeehouse meeting, Joe DiCanio of A few Short Productions (formerly Rykar Films) presented me with a special "Nolan Edition" DVD containing both his very first short film "Hunted: A Zombie Short" and his latest, "Silence In The Aisles". The DVDs have a few extras and several gags not seen in the video still on The World of Nolan. To Joe: I LOVED the behind-the-scenes extras, those were really funny.

I think my favorite thing about your moves is the hundreds of little text jokes you stick everywhere, particularly regarding your low/no budget, ha ha. (The gag before the menu comes on about beating up somebody's mother for payback is terrific.) Your production values are always suprisingly high, and you always get a good perfomance from your actors. The DVD's brightness level is much higher than the web video version (which is normal) or the Coffeehouse projection (which always throws me). For example, the "Dead End" sign was almost totally black on the web video (which I brightened a little in an editor) and just barely readable at the Coffeehouse (but perceptible enough to read). I'm not sure why this happens, but I know it makes levels balancing a harder job when you're trying to make a video compatible across the board. (My early "World of Nolan" videos are generally WAY too hot for TV.)

Thanks for including "Hunted". An excellent first video (and believe me I've seen FAR worse first videos!). I still prefer your original music track, but the newer one's grown on me. Funnily, some scenes look like film and some scenes look like video, but I think we talked about that before. Like the others vids, it was brighter on the DVD, but I've just seen so many versions, you know? I think some of that has to do with the TV itself. Have you ever noticed TVs have a way of leveling out levels? Ha ha. I'm dreading having to balance my old videos for release---I've learned a lot from you guys.

And, of course, I sincerely appreciate the mention in the credits for "Silence" ("Thanks to Nolan at crazedfanboy.com for pimping us out", ha ha you slay me). I'd love to meet the stars someday, Desiree and Rex, maybe at the Coffeehouse.

Note:  Andy Lalino's "Oddservations" column is on hiatus this week as Andy is on vacation. Look for its return next week. --Nolan

At Long Last!
Brain Robbers From Outer Space, Part 1
Part 1.
Brain Robbers From Outer Space To say I've been waiting for the release of "Brain Robbers From Outer Space" a long time might be an understatement. I remember ten years ago when strange ads appeared in The Flyer (a home-delivered classified ad booklet) for "camera people with their own Hi-8 cameras to film a sequel to 'Plan 9 From Outer Space'", the wacky Ed Wood flick frequently described as The Worst Movie Ever Made (although I disagree with that--that singular honor belongs to "Smokey & the Bandit III"! But I digress....). Starring in this new picture was one of the few surviving cast members of the original, Conrad Brooks, who played Officer Jamie. Another issue of The Flyer had an ad that said something like "Conrad Brooks needs a ride to his movie shoot in Brandon". I cut that piece out, enlarged it and made copies for some friends as I couldn't believe how weird that was. On a dare, my brother called the number listed for a cameraman but no one ever answered. There but for a fluke of fate, I might've been on the crew of "Brain Robbers"!

The movie comes out at a whopping 3½ hours on two discs. This review will be done in two parts, this week's covers disc one. Next week, the conclusion.

The opening menu of the just-released Collectorz Zone DVD contains an in-your-face aural assault by local punk-rock band Boney Fiend. It's hard to resist listening to the whole song as scenes from the movie play in the background underneath the little menu squares. My advice: don't rush thru that, listen to Boney Fiend's theme for the movie, it's pretty cool!

OK, so now we're underway. A collection of strange rotating pop-art figures dances in front of you while a distorted voice says something about getting the right head for seeing the movie. In other words, if you've got any mind-altering dope around, now's the time to ingest them, ha ha ha.

As the voice-over trails off the first twirling spiral of pop-art dissovles into a B&W scene, a super close-up of "Detective Gus Perez" (played by Gus Perez, no foolin'), laying on a gurney in what's either a hospital room or sanitarium. He's telling an off-camera presence, who may or may not be human, the story of the movie as a memory. Included are many references to Tampa and Brandon Florida landmarks.

As pictures of ancient world monuments are displayed, Detective Gus regales via voice-over a history of the world from millenia ago to present detailing interaction between humans and aliens. The Bible, secret societies and conspiracies are touched on. Then, 50 years ago, some wild atomic scientific experiments to create a race of supermen were conducted around "Marsh Lake" leaving the area contaminated. This concludes Gus's intro, but he'll return near the end of this part one disc.

We cut to present day where three fisherman are leaving Marsh Lake with their catch of the day. Suddenly the sky gets dark and a UFO is sighted (a very obvious model on a string as a nod to Ed Wood). As the UFO lands near the fisherman, they all fall in a faint (a nod to "Plan 9 From Outer Space").

Cut to Officer Jamie (Conrad Brooks, reprising his role from "Plan 9") at home with daughter and grandaughter as he's commenting on the phony-looking aliens in The Weekly World News. He is an expert on aliens, after all, since the late '50s, when he first encountered the Brain Robbers.

Next we're introduced to Evelyn and her very goth-looking sister Lilith, two young 20-something women visiting a local researcher on the paranormal. The woman patiently explains to the two girls some information on the occult, particularly the origin of "Lilith". This is the last we'll see of Evelyn for this go 'round, but Lilith will return.

Cut back to Officer Jamie who's being visited by one of the three fisherman, who's reporting a UFO landing near the area. Jamie is intrigued at the prospect of being back on the case and is off to investigate---but first, he inexplicably dons a coonskin cap, tail an all! He keeps this on through most of this first part when he's not wearing his "Bowery Boy" black hat. Very strange.

Near the landing site an alien artifact is found from the saucer. Looking sort of like a piece of PVC pipe with some wires (or maybe a Pringles can spray-painted gold), Officer Jamie is off to have his police scientist friend examine it. The scientist confirms it is indeed a highly complex alien artifact.

Out at the cemetary, the deadbeat "guard" discovers something strange on the grounds: opened graves.

Next comes my absolute favorite parts of this movie. The spaceship interior. Here we meet the Alien Leader, "Her Highness", Morphea (sp?), (played by a transvestite actor named Walter I remember from my Rocky Horror days) and her two henchman, one of whom is played delightfully over-the-top by the late Joseph Miller, veteran of many an ancient B-movie. Apparently, the PVC pipe/Pringles can, referred to reverently as "the cylnder", is a vital piece of architecture from the spacecraft needed to make it run. Ordered by the alien leader to find the cylinder lest they be stranded, Joseph Miller and his partner, dressed as Men In Black, adopt their roles with great relish, particularly Miller, as he and his cohort "F-word" their way around town looking for the alien artifact. They remember Officer Jamie, but start with his friends first.

Meanwhile Lilith and stoner friends, having seen the cemetary guard on TV commenting on the open graves, plans to take their party to the local cemetary. Her boyfriend (played by a guy I used to know in the '80s, a comic artist...I think his name was Dave, not sure) is not so keen on the idea and bails. The cemetary soire eventually turns gruesome and some members don't make it out alive. Lilith is captured by the aliens.

Once back on the spacecraft, Lilith is connected to Her Highness via a brain transfer device and the light show begins the brain robbing. This excercise in drug-trip-like psychedelia goes on for several minutes with many eye-popping effects.

Detective Gustavo retuns via voice-over to continue the history of the demonic aliens with catchy phrases like astral vortices and dimensional rifts and such. And that Officer Jamie was hip to their shenanigans.

Exasperated that her two incompetent henchman have bungled the job at retrieving the cylinder, Her Highness decides to find it herself. She pays Officer Jamie a visit at home. While Jamie is distracted getting coffee for his obnoxious guest, Morphea finds the cylinder under the sofa! She quickly puts it outside the door and returns to the sofa. Jamie (who inadvertantly refers to Morphea as "he", ha ha) and his daughter return from the kitchen and decide to throw the obnoxious alien leader out, unaware she has stolen the cylinder.

Once back at the spacecraft, Morphea gives her two bumbling henchman the cylinder and asks that it be put back into the appropriate place so they can return to full power.

This concludes Part One. Stay tuned as next week, we see what happens next!

Guest Editorial
MITCH HEDBERG 1968-2005       by Hugo Morley

"I used to do drugs. I still do but I used to, too"

In a week full of death; Terry Schiavo finally granted peace and the Catholic Church's loss of their Pontiff the world of comedy lost one of it's brightest stars, Mitch Hedberg at the far too young age of thirty seven. On his website a note dated April 1st from his family simply stated

"We are heartbroken to let you know that Mitch passed away on Wednesday March 30th 2005. He dedicated his life to comedy and bringing joy to his fans. Mitch loved all of you"

This was sadly no April Fool's joke. One of the most unusual, eccentric and innovative comics the world has ever seen had indeed left us. Often likened to Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg was really a unique act beyond compare. His long hair, dark glasses and propensity for looking at the floor kept his face obscured from the audience for much of his shows. He was a very popular chat show guest appearing on Letterman ten times. Time Magazine called him "the next Seinfeld". His obscure style made him hard to cast on television and in film but he did appear on "That Seventies Show" and in the movie "Almost Famous" where he smoked fake pot with Peter Frampton, which he said was like:

"Smoking real pot with someone who looks like Peter Frampton - and I've done that a lot"

Alcohol and drugs were a big part of Mitch's act as they also appeared to be in his life. On stage he often seemed drunk and last summer fell off the stage one night at the Tampa Improv. His drinking habits were strange to say the least. One night I saw him alternately drinking from two large glasses, one of vodka and one of orange juice. On another occassion he was drinking whisky from a baby bottle. The drugs that he often joked about were a burden on his real life and in May 2003 he received a felony possession of heroin.

It is reasonable to assume that his death from heart failure was drug related but that is not really the point. As fellow comic and friend Doug Stanhope said "It's not how he died, it's how he lived" and Mitch in a tragically short time lived a very full life. He spread happiness with his comedy throughout the States and was one of the hardest working comics on the club circuit. He was due to play Baltimore this weekend and was scheduled to play the Tampa Improv in June. I consider myself very lucky to have seen him live on three occassions. Originally I saw him open for Dave Attell & Lewis Black on a Comedy Central tour. Later I saw a very strong headlining performance at the Improv and last December I saw him for the last time at the Performing Arts Centre. On that occassion he seemed very uncomfortable, sat on a stool throughout and barely acknowledged the audience. Even on a bad day Mitch was still more entertaining than most comics on a good day. His unique act has been immortalised on two CDs, "Strategic Grill Locations" and "Mitch Altogether". It is also worth checking out www.mitchhedberg.net.

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 ©2005 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2005 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "La Floridiana" is ©2005 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2005 by Andy Lalino    "Splash Page" is ©2005 by Brandon Jones    "Creature's Corner" is ©2005 by John Lewis      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova    
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