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Scary Movie 4  by Mike Smith
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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 316  (Vol. 7, No. 15). This edition is for the week of April 10--16, 2006.

A Most Divisive Time

  • Memories of a Videotape Trader by ED Tucker
  • I'm getting a very late start on PCR this week, and it will be fleshed out later, but there are a couple things I must comment upon immediately as my "constituents" are upon me for remaining silent so long. In my defense, I'd like to say it's not that I've been "silent" it's that I've had other priorities. But enough excuse-making...

    Immigration and Border Security                
    This is quite likely the hottest topic in the nation right now and is causing plenty of trouble. In an effort to control, or more specifically, adjudicate the millions (10? 11? million) of illegal immigrants in this country, primarily from Mexico, political pundits and desperate policy-makers have come up with "solutions" guaranteed to satisfy no one, but then again, in a mess like this there is no perfect solution. The basic problem is the situation that has resulted from loose Mexican border security has gotten so far out of control as to render it a crisis.

    Solution 1: Send 'em all back home. I wish it were that easy. Though it sounds great on paper to extremists, there's no way 10 million Mexicans can be located, let alone shipped back. The end goal is punitive, of course, for them coming across illegally. Make 'em go back and come across the right way. How do we do that, though?

    Solution 2: Have 'em all arrested. There is, or was, legislation proposed to make illegal immigration a felony. I'm a little hazy at this point in time as to how retroactive it's intended to be, if at all. If it's retroactive, then same as above, sounds great on paper (well, to extremists), but there's no practical benefit outside the punitive. Again, that's assuming you could find them to round them all up in the first place. Then we'd need to build prisons big enough to warehouse all these felons, and put 'em on the government dole. Which is what I thought we didn't want.

    Solution 3: National ID Card. This sort of works similarly to having 'em all arrested, just taking a more genteel way to do it. Any Mexican looking to buy, sell, eat, or get a job, would have to present his proper papers or be arrested and/or shipped back, end of story. The obvious problem is similar to #2, we'd have more problems trying to enforce that than we'd have simply trying to round 'em all up.

    I believe the preceeding is what is causing the riots in the Southwest right now. The alternatives do not sound much more encouraging or practical.

    Solution 4: Forgive them? Grant total amnesty, welcome them with open arms to do "jobs Americans don't want to do". More like "jobs Americans aren't willing to take rock-bottom wages for," but whatever. This is currently the LEAST popular "solution" as it obviously ignores the laws that were trespassed. If we grant amnesty to them, we'd have to grant amnesty to equal-level offenders, wouldn't we? Worse....MUCH worse....is how this looks to the thousands of legitimate legal immigrants trying to come over from Europe, currently on long waiting lists and told there can only be a few at a time? This brings us to a rather odious, but increasingly likely scenario developing, very similar to forgiving the Mexicans...

    Solution 4-a: Changing the Immigration Laws. Like Solution #4, to many Americans, this is too much like surrendering. Like so many other issues plaguing us now, this is a situation that has been overlooked and allowed to fester and now we're in too deep. Although there is much resistance from the public and the government, this, in my opinion, will be the likeliest end game. We can't find them and arrest them all, and we couldn't conquer the logistics of sending them all back home, even if we could get them all. I know re-designing the immigration laws around illegals sounds too much re-writing burglary laws because we've run out of jail space, but I see it as likely.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee returned on Monday to hash out an agreement on a immigration reform bill, the result was an immigrant-friendly measure that increases the number of temporary work visas and creates a path to U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants. Nevertheless, protests on both sides of the issue continue, some of it creating a backlash against, well, both sides of the issue.

    Gas Prices              
    Hey, am I the only one noticing the gas prices are inching upwards again? I know there's been a teesny bit of talk about it on the news, but what's really disgusting is that at this time last year (well, summer, actually) we were howling at similar prices and calling for heads to roll. The fat-cats who head the oil companies were called on the carpet and prices miraculously rolled back. Now, with the heat off, here they go again and everybody's OK with this?? Are we that whipped?

    Joe Six-Pack on the Street: "Well....I dunno what I'm supposed to do about it.....gotta get to work, ya know.....gotta have my playtime on weekends, ya know...." OK, great, Joe. So, we all turn over and let them send the prices up to sky-high and do nothing, because we're so whipped? Where does it end? $5 a gallon? $10? Never?

    It's time to devote much more energy to alternative transportation, fuel sources and general philosophy. People are working overtime to make Shell and Exxon rich. That's ridiculous. I say the revolution starts at $10 a gallon. Don't think it'll get there? Did you think you'd ever pay $3.50 to $4.00? That's predicted for this summer!

    Memories of a Videotape Trader by ED Tucker 1982 was a landmark year for me. In addition to being my sophomore year in high school, it was also the year my family bought its first VCR. While we may not have been on the cutting edge of technology, we certainly kept up. It's hard to imagine the state of video technology almost a quarter of a century ago, but to give you an idea, this was a two head mono VHS VCR with a WIRED remote control and it cost somewhere in the vicinity of $450! Videotapes were around $10 each back then so recording a television show or movie was a serious undertaking.

    Video technology was changing rapidly at the time and we had purposely avoided a Beta machine because the VHS format was clearly gearing up to make them obsolete (which it did only a few years later). By 1984 I was graduating high school, getting ready for college, and my family shelled out about $275 for a second VCR, a four head unit with a wireless remote. Video stores were now popping up everywhere and budget grade blank tapes could be had for as little as $5 on sale, so the option of being able to copy films was getting too attractive to pass up.

    Just prior to purchasing our second VCR, I had been made aware of the growing community of videotape traders sweeping the country by a friend who seemed to spend his entire life two steps ahead of me on the technology curb. It may seem hard to believe in this age of almost instant everything thanks to the Internet, but 20 years ago only a small percentage of the films and especially television shows made up to that time were available for rental or purchase. In response to this, a gray area network was created among fans to acquire and trade the programs they could not find elsewhere.

    While trade magazines like Video Review and papers like Video Shopper helped to launch newcomers into the hobby, most sustained contacts were made by word of mouth. It was not uncommon in those days to get a phone call out of the blue from someone in Syracuse, New York who got your name from a person in North Carolina who told them you had a sizeable quantity of episodes of “Doctor Who” taped from your local PBS station! The standard protocol was to then exchange trade lists and local TV Guides and a trading relationship was born.

    There were still independent television stations all over the country in these days and every one of them owned a different package of films and television programs. Local television stations had to fill the 15-20 hours a day they broadcast with their own programming and the dreaded infomercial was just a dark cloud on the horizon. It was still possible to catch the original AIP version of “Destroy All Monsters” on the Saturday afternoon movie or back-to-back episodes of “Mission: Impossible” or “Combat” at 3AM (sometimes without commercials)! These stations also produced their own local programming so you could still see the Three Stooges and the Little Rascals sandwiched in between “Bugs, Woody & Friends”. If you were lucky, the show might even be hosted by some local celebrity like Safari Sam or Skipper Ed!

    I was fortunate enough during this period to have a winning combination of aggressive trading style, excellent resources for material, and a part time job while I was in Community College to fund my preoccupation. Money seldom changed hands among traders unless it was to spring for blank tapes. It seemed the enthusiasm for actually being able to watch your favorite episode of “Lost in Space” any time you wanted was enough to stave off most profit hungry gougers. There were also so many people involved in the hobby in the late '80s that it really wasn’t necessary to pay for anything because someone always had something more valuable to trade.

    It is safe to say that just about everything that could be recorded from the late 1980’s on, at least on a national level, was and is still preserved in collections to this day. Many programs from before the wide spread use of VCRs were available on 16mm film and collectors of this media began furiously transferring their collections to videotape for use in trade. This was how many episodes of the long running British television show “Doctor Who” were found and rescued after the BBC conducted a massive purge of its video archives in the mid 1970’s. The source material for many an unaired pilot, promotional sales film, or outtake footage found on today’s collectors DVDs was most likely preserved in this fashion.

    As the '90s marched in it seemed that almost everyone had a VCR, blank tapes were a dime a dozen, and Goodtimes Video was no longer the only company selling feature films for under $10 (and some titles weren’t even public domain)! Independently owned television stations were dropping like flies and their network owned replacements carried almost the same programming all across the country. Hour long commercials for psychic hotlines and get rich quick schemes devoured late night broadcasting time like Pac Man on speed. It was during this dark period of transition from hometown heroes to generic dots on a corporate planning map that many stations discarded or recycled most of the local shows we had come to love. There was no place for uniqueness in this new world of syndicated order and the cherished pop culture icons of local broadcasting were the unlucky victims.

    Nowhere is this more evident than in the great WTOG 44 video purge that attempted to eliminate any trace of “Creature Feature”. Fortunately Dr. Paul Bearer had enough fans with VCRs and good foresight that at least a handful of his over twenty years of broadcasts still exist today. Most television stations no longer had any employees who even remember these programs, let alone made any attempts to save them. Several years ago when I contacted WCJB Channel 20 in Gainesville about their local “Creature Castle” program, I was told that no such show had ever existed at their station! When I located my T-shirt from the show with their logo on it and sent them a scan, I never even received the courtesy of a reply!

    Now close to a quarter century after American families first gained control of their television viewing with videotape recorders, it seems that almost everything shown on TV or in a movie theater is available on a bootleg DVD the day after it comes out. When a film or television show is released on the new DVD format it usually includes extras like commentary tracks, trailers, stills, deleted footage and bloopers. No self respecting producer today would dare let one scrap of their product be thrown away for fear it could used as bonus material on an anniversary collectors edition DVD release. For those movies and shows produced before this era of all inclusiveness though, their best friends are still the videotape traders who rescued everything from obscure outtakes to entire motion pictures and television series from the jaws of extinction in their quest to have their favorites on home video.

    The Countdown Begins! The countdown to the Florida Collectibles and Vintage Memorabilia Show on Sunday April 30, 2006 in St. Petersburg has begun. For the most comprehensive information on this event, link to http://www.hulahula.biz/pages/11/index.htm. Admission for adults is only $6.00, and the event is being held at the historic St. Petersburg Coliseum at 535 4th. Avenue North between 10 A.M. and 5 P.M.

    True stalwarts of all things Weird and Florida, Lisa and Lynn, of the Weird Florida Fan Club also provide their own narrative below on this bellwether Florida event if you're too lazy or too distracted to click the link above!

    Weird Florida Fan Club
    We're now 4000 online from Georgia to Key West!!
    Lisa Sanchez & Lynn Gilbert Coordinators

    This is it! Don't Miss it Weird Florida Fans! It's the largest & best! Florida Collectibles & Vintage Memorabilia Show, Sunday, April 30, 2006, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

    Over 80 exhibitor booths, all featuring old Florida souvenirs and memorabilia!!

    A never-ending lineup of Florida personalities; everything from old roadside attractions to antiques to Weird Florida stuff.

    Take a nostalgic trip back in time as you shop for collectables from Florida's past. Bring your antiques for free appraisals. Hey, this is the main show for history buffs and collectors!

    Sponsored in part by WEDU, Florida's most-watched public television station.

    Come meet in person many of the original Florida Highwaymen! See a screening of the documentary film "The Highwaymen."

    Charlie Carlson, of Weird Florida. Master of the Weird, autographing books & speaking on wacky mysteries and myths from kitschy Florida. Can it get any crazier? Y'all better be there!!

    Dr. Gary Mormino, author of Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams, will give a talk on "Florida: From Old South to New South to Sunbelt." Writer Tim Dorsey author of Stingray Shuffle, The Big Bamboo, and others. Meet Wayne Ayers, author of "Tampa Bay's Gulf Beaches: The Fabulous 1950's and 1960's"


    William Moriaty, author of William Moriaty's FLORIDA will be signing his book. This fascinating book provides a view of Florida through the eyes of Mr. Moriaty, a native son influenced by baby-boomer pop culture.

    Larry Roberts, author of Florida's Golden Age of Souvenirs: 1890-1930.

    Plus!! Several local Florida historical societies will be exhibiting, along with continuous screenings of 1950's Florida tourism film ads, including Weeki Wachee mermaids, water skiers at Cypress Gardens, alligator wrestling at Ross Allen's Alligator Farm, and much more. Live entertainment with jazz and blues by Bill T. & Friends, as well as a cash bar.

    The Coliseum is located at 535 Fourth Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida. Admission is just $6.00, kids under 2 $3.00. Free parking. All lectures, entertainment and films are included in the price of admission. For information, call 727-363-4852 or visit www.hulahula.biz

    Happy Easter, Everyone!

    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 ©2006 by Michael A. Smith     "La Floridiana" is ©2006 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith    "Citizen X" is ©2006 by Vinnie Blesi    "My Middle Toe Is Longer Than Yours" is ©2006 by Mark Terry      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova    
    Crazed Fanboy dotcom is owned and operated by Nolan B. Canova

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