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Charlie Carlson's "Weird Florida" Unleashed! Book Signing Party
 by William Moriaty

"House of Wax"
 by Mike Smith

"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"
 by Mike Smith

Heading South....The Devil Rays....Infinite Crisis....Free Comic Book day
 by John Lewis

I have to apologize to my readers but I just haven't had time to put together a Rail this week. My work schedule has just about kicked my butt--along with my energy--to the great beyond. While I do have a trip to Pittsburgh this coming week, I'll try to work on a Rail this weekend for next week.
Again, my apologies. Take Care and God Bless.  --Matt Drinnenberg

Hold The Pickle, Hold The Lettuce....Straight Up....Jaws: The Story, Part 17
 by Mike Smith

Flash Fantastic
Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2005!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our sixth calendar year!
    Number 267  (Vol. 6, No. 18). This edition is for the week of May 2--8, 2005.

  • Sunday Night's Animation Domination on FOX

    The Simpson's #350 & 351, Malcolm in the Middle, Family Guy, American Dad
  • American Idol's Scandals Revealed?
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • As most long-time readers know, I haven't bothered watching, let alone reviewing, The Simpsons in many years as I just thought the series had lost its edginess, originality and appeal. (A couple god-awful Halloween "Treehouse of Terror" specials pretty much buried it for me.)

    However, as last Sunday's episode #350 was touted as a benchmark of longevity and I decided to have another look at it, as well as the rest of the Sunday night line-up I'm usually not at home to see.

    Malcolm in the Middle. OK, this is not an animated series (they added a tiny bit at the beginning to sort of qualify it), but it does have quite a hearty fan following. MY GOD have those kids grown up! I didn't think it had been that long since I'd seen this show, but Malcolm's voice has changed, the older boy, Reese, has beard stubble, the little brother with the dumbo ears, is well, bigger, and somewhere along the way, they had another baby brother (don't remember his name at the moment), but he looks like he's about 2 years old. If you figure in the time I've been employed at the hell-pit combined with Sundays being Will's and my drinkin' night, it could very well have been two or three years since I've laid eyes on on this.

    In this episode, Malcolm gets a job at the local mega-market (where his mom is employed), replacing the former occupant: an old alcoholic whose job it was to stand on stilts and play Uncle Sam. He's been fired and he blames Malcolm for taking his gig. In a desperate attempt to get it back he literally kisses Malcolm's ass. (YIKES.) Doesn't do any good, Malcolm needs the job. Reese has applied to several clinics to test their prescription drugs after he found you can get paid for that. The two littlest brothers try and find "the stash", I gather where the mother's missing jewelry has been hidden over the years. Their father has accidentally rung up $800 on phone sex (he didn't hang up the phone properly) and must find a way to explain it to the missus. The ultimate showdown between Malcolm and the former Uncle Sam, Reese's drugged-out stupor, and the confrontational shouting match between the parents all happening at that supermarket is one of the most bizarre sequences ever played out on TV. Very funny and surreal at the same time.

    The Simpsons (Episode #350). This heavily-promoted landmark episode (for longevity) was not all that great, not that poor, but not that great leading me to believe I hadn't missed all that much after all (the subsequent episode was actually better). Ray Romano (The Sopranos) plays a roof repairman who Homer meets at a local bar. Kinda down after a bad day, Homer latches onto him as his only/best friend. They decide to repair Homer's leaky roof together. Unfortunately, the two do much goofing around and Ray the roofer seems unreliable anyway--always late or doesn't show at all, so the roof never gets fixed. Tired of excuses and never having actually seen "Ray", the family confronts Homer with the possibility that Ray is a phantom---a friend Homer made up to fill a need. Since Homer refuses to believe this, he is committed to the local asylum where he undergoes several weeks of shock therapy(!) to purge himself of his fantasy. Its funnier than it sounds. Minutes after he's "cured", he sees Ray outside the building and has a fit. Except this time Ray comes in and everyone can see him! It's explained that due to a series of highly improbable events, Ray was always in a blind spot when someone was looking for him. (The only exception and greatest excuse came from special guest Stephen Hawking who explained "gravitational lensing" that bent light waves as to why Bart couldn't see him at a local Home Depot!)

    The Simpsons (Episode #351). A new set of vending machines with a loud and colorful hip-hop theme is installed at Bart's school. The machines seem to talk to the kids who fall under its spell and gorge on its sugary confections. Bart has fallen tragically hard for it and starts to put on weight at an alarming rate. After Bart suffers something like a heart attack it's suggested he go to a fitness/fat-farm and trim up. There, the Drill Instructor (hilariously voiced-over by Albert Brooks) takes Bart through his paces and scares him straight, so to speak. I know it doesn't sound that funny, but I thought it was funnier than the first episode.

    Family Guy. After a two-year absence, the return of one of the most subversive animated comedies ever. In an opening scene, main character Peter Griffin recites all the shows that would have to be cancelled in order for their show to come back. Seems to take forever, but is hysterical at comparing how many shows came and went (and were truly forgettable) since Family Guy had its heyday---if they ever had a heyday (come to think of it, this show has as close to a cult following as one can get, actually). Peter and Lois decide to spice up their love life by taking a second honeymoon. Somehow they wind up in Mel Gibson's suite at a posh hotel---where they discover a movie reel can containing the sequel to "Passion of the Christ" (Jesus is re-cast in a buddy-cop role opposite Chris Tucker)! They escape with the reels, but not for long as Mel is informed of the situation and kidnaps the couple. They escape again with Mel in hot pursuit and the chase from "North by Northwest" is re-enacted with a stand-off at the top of Mount Rushmore. The jokes fly fast and funny, but may offend those who are not amused by sacreligious humor. (Family Guy is notoriously anti-religion, even more so than The Simpsons).

    American Dad. Debut animated comedy by the same team who brings you Family Guy. Dad is a lantern-jawed, right-wing CIA agent with a retro-typical deep manly man radio voice (Boomers: think Roger Ramjet). The family otherwise deeply resembles Family Guy's family right down to the voices. The exception is a "pet" alien (which I mistook for an octopus) that sort of fills in the flamboyant "baby Nazi" niche from Family Guy. Anyway, the wife wants to get a job and assert herself as a co-breadwinner which does not set well with dad. He tries every trick in the book including abusing his CIA powers to subvert her scheme. Eventually, the house is turned upside down with the kids and the parents vying for power ending up in a "tough guy" fight in the backyard between Dad and a street brawler. Sounds weird, but it works in the context of cartoonland. Lots of spaces for liberal jokes and Dad's jaw is so ridiculously huge it alone makes me laugh. Unfortunately, take away the CIA angle, and you basically have Family Guy which does it better.

    American Idol Scandal
    ABC Primetime Live, Wed, 10:00pm. OK, I awoke too late to see the first half of this, but if the last half was any indication of the whole, it's all about judge Paula Abdul's alleged sexual relationship with 2003 contestant Corey Clark. Host John Quinones (whose name sounds funnily like "cojones"--ka-HONE-ess, Spanish for "balls", like ABC had the balls to air this) interviewed Clark who maintained that Abdul not only influenced Clark's decision of what to sing and what to wear during the events (no big deal, but a little unseemly), but eventually encouraged a sexual relationship in exchange for what Clark called "career advancement" (or something like that).

    Paula Abdul vehemently denies all this and calls Clark "an admitted liar", threatening to sue ABC if the special aired (but they had the "cojones" to get "Quinones" to do the exposé anyway...hahaha, I slay me). Some cellphone messages from Abdul saved on Clark's phone and played during the program seemed to suggest a cover-up of an affair, not an outright denial, but that's subject to interpretation.

    Abdul could be banking on the discretion of the affair being too hard to prove, i.e., "he said, she said". If this does go to lawsuit level and the accusations are proven true, Abdul could lose her job on American Idol and a whole new list of rules drawn up. If its decided in her favor, Clark goes back to being the loser he could be shown to be.

    I am flummoxed why someone as insignificant as Corey Clark would attempt something like this unless he had something to go on. Book deal? Record promotion? All fine and dandy until this blows up in somebody's face. Somebody who won't be taking positive memories home from American Idol.

    Birthday Greetings to former Tampa resident Stephen Beasley, now of Aukland, New Zealand. Steve turned 48 years old May 5th, Cinco De Mayo! Due to a conflagration of events (except forgetting the date this time!), I was unable to post the announcement on May 5th. Apologies to Steve for that, but Many Happy Returns, birthday-wise!

    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    "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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