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"The Aristocrats"
 by Mike Smith

"Bodies, The Exhibition" at MOSI
 by Mike Scott

Nolan's 50th....Florida Skunk Ape....Supergirl
 by John Lewis

The Cable Guys....Sell Out....Passing On....Paging Major Healy....Photographic Memories....Jaws: The Story, Part 31
 by Mike Smith

Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2005!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our sixth calendar year!
Number 283  (Vol. 6, No. 34). This edition is for the week of August 22--28, 2005.

  • Photos Update
  • Bodies, The Exhibition
  • Coffeehouse Film Review for August
  • THE BIRTHDAY PHOTOS ARE NOW UP ON THE WEB. Please see PCR #282 to review the whole story, now WITH pictures!

    Normally, I'm one of the skeptics who attack those who attach supernaturally bad luck to things like the number "13". Especially since it's the day of my birth. But last year's Hurricane Charlie and this year's aborted NolanCon have me re-thinking that (hey, just kiddin'). Of course, the birthday party that was held at the Best Western that fateful weekend (covered in last week's PCR) went wonderfully well. But as if fate decided to remind me of the awful power of "13", my digital camera started failing at the event and I couldn't get some important pictures.

    Party attendee Ivan Ilaraaza later offered to donate some 35mm prints he had of the festivities. Extremely grateful (and lucky), I fetched them out of my PO Box last week. Sitting down this morning to scan them, however, fate decided to play one last joke on me: my scanner decided to start failing, just like my camera did.

    I finally got it working, but the scans have some minor problems. And all this wrangling delayed my PCR production by several hours, so I was forced to postpone formatting and finalizing the pictures until Thursday of this week. The good news: they're all up on the web and available now---plus I was able to recover some of the pictures from my own camera after all.

    Bodies, The Exhibition
    As predicted (and hoped for) last week, Mike "Deadguy" Scott and I succeeded in attending the grand opening of the controversial "Bodies, The Exhibition" exhibit last Saturday at MOSI (The Museum Of Science and Industry), located across the street from the University of South Florida.

    This amazing display of "plasticized" human cadavers has been ground zero for much political grandstanding and moralizing as the State Attorney's office of Florida attempted to have the exhibit shut down under the pretenses that "we have no proof these people gave their consent to be rubberized and displayed" (or words to that effect). Undaunted by these groundless accusations, not only did MOSI carry on the exhibit, but actually moved opening day forward three days to Wednesday! I'm very proud of them. Deadguy and I, however, were sticking to our plans to go Saturday, the exhibit's original opening day. (This, despite hearing reports of a crowd of three thousand attending on Wednesday.)

    Well, we got there and nearly turned back. The sea of people crammed into MOSI was intimidating to say the least (you know you're in trouble when lines are separated into "cash only" and "credit card" lines to help speed the process). It was a borderline decision, but we figured we'd come this far and partitioned the afternoon for it, so, what the hell.

    Counting the time spent in the ticket-buying line added to the line to see the actual show, I figure we spent about two hours waiting in lines someway or another. No wonder---I later heard on the radio the crowd had exceeded five thousand (Deadguy heard closer to six)!! MOSI had broken all previous attendance records. I congratulate them.

    The process of "rubberizing" cadavers involves removing all liquids from the body and replacing it with a type of silicone. This, in theory, preserves the body forever. What "Bodies, The Exhibition" has done is gone a few steps further, skinning almost all the corpses down to muscle and gristle and even those are further fileted into ribbons and shanks. Most of the specimens are men, a few are women and very few are children. They are posed in what they could've theoretically been in life (although there's no way to tell). The degree of slicing and dicing of the muscles varies from corpse to corpse, but by the end of the exhibit (takes about an hour to tour the whole thing, including reading the placards at every table) you've seen about everything there is to see about the human body from birth to death.

    Deadguy will likely point out that most if not all of the specimens came from China. The legal maze these bodies took to be in this condition is smoke-and-mirrors at best (ergo, the State Attorney's problems with it). But more specifically, individual body parts, normally small-ish looking anyway, seem even more unnaturally small here. Is it because they're Chinese? Not every specimen was small-ish, so I merely adapted my expectations.

    Personal highlights:

  • Handling a human brain. It's heavier and smaller than it looks (Hollywood special effects brains are larger, haha). I was assured that the silicone process did not add weight to the tissue.
  • Seeing the blood-flow path without the flesh of the body. In one room, you can see veins, arteries, and everything having to do with blood, still keeping the shape of a man, but no man there, in different display cases. Due to the fragility of these particular exhibits, the blood system is suspended in liquid.
  • Diseased body parts. Sounds gross, but very educational. Of course the de rigor "smoker's lung" is there, but also tumors on various other organs in various stages of development.
  • The sliced human. Whether it's a body with some skin on it for contrast or a sliced and diced human, both vertically or horizontally, very engaging indeed.
  • Talking with one of the museum directors afterward. After gushing about the show, I got an outstanding interview that would've been a great video for The World of Nolan, but alas, no photography allowed. Which brings us to...

    Personal lowlights:

  • No photography allowed. Deadguy suspected that, but there was no sign for it until you're right up to the entrance. Didn't stop a few sneaky-sneaks from trying it anyway. With no flash I can't imagine they got much.
  • Obviously the long lines and $20-a-pop ticket prices.
  • I didn't expect raw human muscle to so resemble a side of roast beef! I can see how Hannibal Lector equates it with mealtime (but I bet it doesn't taste like chicken!) Sorry, lame joke.
  • Lame jokes. Sorry, but at these prices and in this solemn environment I'm there to see the bodies and read the information, not giggle at every half-wit's attempt at clever reparté. It's obvious and predictable and annoying. Shut up and move along.

    Was it worth the wait? Well, yes, of course it was a mind-blower, but I definitely suggest waiting until the crowds die down especially if you have any foot or back problems. Deadguy and I have already pledged to go again sometime before the show leaves next February---hopefully, we won't have to spend so much energy on conserving our energy!

    For more insight and a different viewpoint on this event, please read this week's Deadguy's Dementia!

    Coffeehouse Film Review for August
    This month we had one documentary and the rest an all-horror preview of the Halloween Horror Picture Show. Gus Perez was back with me for this foray.

    As soon as I got to the Coffeehouse, I spied Chris Woods (who made me a DVD of the only NolanCon TV commercial ever to be produced---thanks Chris!), Rick Danford (he of the HHPS), Neil McCurry (he of the Sarasota Film Festival), and Greg Rivera (goth-horror director extraordinaire).

    Paul Guzzo (TOO Productions) always remembers to announce my presence and the reviews on Crazed Fanboy, god bless ya, son! Almost makes it worth the trip (just kidding). Later I got an all-too-short introduction to the head honcho of Unearthed Films (distributor). Wish I'd've had more time with him! Also, I want to say "Hi" to Lisa ("Fan Film") from the Message Board.

    Health Care: Past, Present, Future – A documentary written and Produced by Javier Prado and directed and produced by Burke McBirnie. A examination of the powerful forces driving the creation, evolution and future directions of the current US healthcare system in a free-market economy and comparison with alternative systems throughout the world. (30 minutes) While I heard griping from a few in the audience about sitting through a documentary (horrors!), I myself found this film quite engaging and educational. Also they took a couple swipes at Prez Dubya which automatically rates them an extra star!
    Batman: Dead End: The clock tower strikes midnight in a rainy, cold and dreary Gotham City… The Joker has just escaped from Arkham Asylum once again. The bat signal has been illuminated and Batman is on the case. He tracks his arch nemesis to a dead end alley somewhere in the industrial district of Gotham City… Joker is no match for the Bat, but what else lurks in the dark shadows of the alley, very well might be. (About 10 minutes) A fan favorite seen at many conventions, this is, pound for pound, one of the best fan films ever made. Highly recommended. After seeing this summer's Batman Begins, I can't help but think Warner Bros took a cue from these guys.
    Black Gulch: Bank robbers roll into the wrong small town and encounter supernatural opposition. It was supposed to be a simple job, but the bank is empty, the town is deserted except for a small boy, and the bank robbers soon find themselves trapped in a desperate struggle to survive. (About 15 minutes) On TV, this might've been featured on the last incarnation of The Twilight Zone (that's a good thing) except for the gory effects (which are well done)! Acting, photography, sets, all top-notch. The end you can see coming a mile away, but it's a great ride nonetheless.
    Fatal Kiss: When successful Los Angeles businessman Richard Clarke sees a TV infomercial on vampirism, he figures out how to get back at his soon-to-be ex-wife. However when he gets bitten by a female vampire, he encounters more problems than he expected. Co- starring "Kato" Kaelin. (About 20 minutes) Excellent film! Lots of fun, great humor. Well shot and acted, cool script. Highly recommended.
    Snow Day, Bloody Snow Day: Snow is falling and group of much-wilier- than-usual zombies have come out to play! Disguised as pizza deliverymen and the Publisher's Clearing House prize patrol they are storming the city, preying mercilessly on gullible housewives and unwary frat boys! Fortunately for all mankind, our saviors appear in the form of a gang of socially inept movie geeks and their new alpha male, the delightfully named ... (Call me Eli.) Armed with a slapdash but surprising effective array of weaponry, our heroes march boldly into the streets to fulfill their destiny! Huzzah! I'd repopulate the Earth with them any day! (About 15 minutes) Despite that dizzying description, this is basically a low-budget but earnestly made Shaun of the Dead fan film (ironic if you consider Shaun itself a fan film) and I think it was made in Canada. Keeping all that in mind, it's very enjoyable for all its indulgences and it won't disappoint.

    Due to an unforseen change in my work schedule, my Fall TV Comments article, originally announced as appearing here this week, will have to wait until next week. I apologize for any inconvenience this causes, but, hey, I AM getting caught up!

    Looks like everyone's having a rough week: Misters Moriaty and Lalino have both been in communication and assure me their columns will return next week. I haven't even heard from Mr. Drinnenberg. And for the first, time Mike Smith's column won't be totally completed until as late as Sunday (although there is a temporary address to readers there now).

    It's unusual for this kind of thing to cluster in such a short time, but occasionally it happens. I personally assure everybody that every effort will continue to be expended, week after week, to maintain a consistent publishing schedule. I appreciate your understand and patience during times like these.

    Thanks! ---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    "Chiller Cinema" is ©2005 by Drew Reiber    "Creature's Corner" is ©2005 by John Lewis    "Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2005 by Vinnie Blesi    "Oddservations" is ©2005 by Andy Lalino      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova    
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