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Now in our eighth calendar year!

PCR #388. (Vol. 8, No. 35) This edition is for the week of August 27--September 2, 2007.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang. So sorry about the delay. I actually had this finished Thursday night and then when I went to send it off a computer error caused it to disappear! I planned to do it first thing Friday after work and ended up working 15 hours because of the upcoming holiday. So, FINALLY, is the week that was. Shall we begin?

"Resurrecting the Champ"  by Mike Smith
So You Wanna Work In The Movies...  by Corey Castellano
DVD Review: "Jason of Star Command: The Complete Series"  by ED Tucker
A Comic Book Saturday: Comic World & Comics & Critters Too / Sat. Terrorthon!  by Andy Lalino
The Week That Was  by Mike Smith
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We had originally planned to spend the past week in sunny Las Vegas with about 30 other friends from our JAWS community. However, my sharp-eyed fiancé noticed that "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" was having auditions in Chicago for a "Let Us Pay For Your Wedding" episode so we decided to spend the weekend in the Windy City, also giving us a chance to see my mother, who lives north of the city. We were scheduled to leave at 730 Thursday night. I called my mom before we left for the airport and she told me that there were bad storms in Chicago. She also told me to make sure my flight was on time before we left for the airport so we weren't sitting in the terminal all night. I called the airline and was told our flight was still on schedule so off we left, arriving at 630. When we went to get our boarding passes I was informed that I was on the "no fly" list. Apparently having the most common first and last name in the English language doesn't always have it's advantages. After answering a few questions and providing my ID I was allowed to enter the security area, certain that we would soon be winging our way to fame and fortune. NOT! When we got to the gate the first thing I heard was an announcement that our flight would be delayed until 800. OK, not too bad. Still time to get to Chicago, pick up the rental car and get to my mom's at a reasonable time. The tryouts started at 900 the next morning and the doors opened at 500 am so we planned to get there quite early. Of course, 800 came and went, as did 900. Finally, we were told that it might be best to make a reservation on a flight scheduled to leave on Friday. When we checked we found out that the first flight to Chicago with seats available wasn't until 700 Friday night, long after the auditions would be over. To help appease us Southwest sprung for a tasty dinner of bottled water and Ritz Crisps. Mmm-mmm. At about 11, with my stomach full (again, NOT) I took advantage of the tiny pillows and blankets being offered and made myself comfy on the floor. Soon I was dreaming of my game show riches! At 130 am an airline rep came to the area and told us that there would be NO flights to Chicago that evening and that if you were local you should go home. Dejected, Juanita and I headed to retrieve our luggage. When we got to the luggage office the attendant called down our claim check numbers. Over the radio I heard the following, "We're doing our best. You ever hear of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Well we're playing who wants to find some luggage." I thought to myself, "Millionaire? What are the odds that of all the games in the world he would mention that one?" Like Roy Neary in "Close Encounters" contemplating his mashed potatoes I said to myself, "This means something." A few moments later the lady at the counter motioned me over. "We just had a plane divert here from Omaha," she told me. "It's going to fly up around the storm and then go to Chicago. Do you still want to go?" Indeed we did! We were escorted back to the waiting area and back to the man who had told us to go home.
Sacked out at the Kansas City Airport.
It took 30 years to introduce my two moms! Marjorie Drinnenberg (l) and Rose Parrish.
The champ!
One of my long time fantasies comes true - kind of.
I finally meet the man I've been most compared to. He's obviously taller.
Juanita and I join the King...Viva Las Vegas!
Me and sometime PCR contributor Greg Van Cott.
Me and Motley Crue's Nicky Sixx. Just kidding, this is artist/sculptor Paul McPhee.
"OK," he said, "we've got seats for 30 people. Let's go." He opened the door and, like a flash, Juanita began sprinting to the gate. I kept yelling after her that we had seats but she wouldn't stop. We boarded the plane and took off around 230 am. We landed about 90 mins later and sat on the tarmac for another hour as there were many planes in front of us. As the rental car company didn't open until 6 we walked around and waited for our luggage to show up, which it finally did around 530. When we qued up to the rental car counter we found out that their computer system had shut down so that they would be doing everything manually. While I waited in line Juanita spotted a lone, empty wheel chair and sat down. At 710 I returned with the car keys. As I approached her she stood up. "YOU CAN WALK!!" I screamed, quite giddy from my lack of sleep. Everyone within 50 feet turned and witnessed the miracle. We walked off, giggling uncontrollably.

After a quick stop for a BK breakfast we headed to the audition, which was being held at the local Medieval Times, a huge castle in the middle of Schaumburg, Illinois. We hit the driveway at 835 and were met by two employees who apparently only spoke two words of English: lot full. Eventually one of them pointed down the road and said "college." Thankfully someone who did speak English showed up and told us to park down the street at Harper College, where a shuttle would bring us back. Off we went, more then a mile, to park where we were told. We looked around and saw several people doing the same thing, looking for the shuttle, or at least a sign that pointed to it. After a few minutes of searching we decided to walk back to Medieval Times. When we finally arrived at 915 I asked the English speaking guy where the hell the shuttle was. "Oh, it doesn't start until 930," was his reply. Prick. After a short wait outside we were ushered into the castle. We were given questionaires to fill out and told that it would be a couple of hours before we got to the tests. At noon we were sent to the main part of the building, a giant room with a jousting pit in the middle, surrounded by tables and chairs. We took our seats and were told the rules. Questions were asked and answered, then the tests began. The first test was movie oriented as they were looking for film fans to compete on a special movie themed show. 30 questions, fill in the letter that signals the right answer. The second test was general knowledge. After the test were graded, it was announced that only four people had passed both tests, including me. Another 7 had passed the movie test and another 12 had passed the general knowledge test. Sadly, Juanita did not pass so we could not compete on the "Pay for your Wedding" show. However, because of my scores, I was eligible for the movie themed and regular show. I was taken before a show rep and interviewed. General questions mostly. I explained the night's ordeal and how I thought it was fate that the baggage guy had mentioned the show. She agreed and sent me on my way. I'll find out in a few weeks whether I'm in the players pool or not. Our mission concluded, we headed to my mom's house where we said quick hellos and then collapsed, with visions of millions dancing in our heads.

Saturday found me on the phone with Matt's brother, Mark, who lived in the next town. As fate would have it, Matt's mother, Marjorie, was in town visiting. My folks divorced right before my dad and I moved to Florida. Because of the animosity between them, I didn't see my mother for almost 6 years. Luckily, I had many moms that looked out for me. Barbara Castellano. Mary Gregory. Jan Gilbert. And, most of, Marjorie Drinnenberg. When things were bad she always made sure I had a spot at the dinner table and a bed to sleep in. Now my goal was simple. To introduce my two moms. We agreed to meet for lunch at a local restaurant. When Marjorie arrived I gave her a big hug and then said, "Mom...this is mom." A nice moment. We had a nice lunch, caught up on things, and said our goodbyes. A nice way to end the afternoon. We spent the rest of the day at my mom's and then prepared to leave for the next part of our journey...LAS VEGAS

We got up at an ungodly hour Sunday morning, my mother having convinced Juanita that it could take days to get to the airport. I maintained that it would only take us an hour, but was out vetoed by the ladies. We have to return the car and check luggage, etc I was told. Though I don't like to brag, I will mention that the car was returned, luggage checked and we were at the gate 71 minutes after we pulled out of the driveway. But what the heck, nothing says "vacation" like watching the workers at Midway airport for 90 mins. We boarded the plane and, after a short stop in Kansas City, landed in Sin City at 1230 pm. After snaking through an impossibly long taxi line, we arrived at our hotel around 2. While checking in, we ran into two incredibly talented friends of ours. Model maker Pat Delaney and artist/sculptor Paul McPhee. Paul's web site is currently being updated but please take the time to visit www.myspace.com/jawsartist to see what this man can do. Absolutely incredible work. Paul also bears a striking resemblance to Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. After getting to our room, we hit the pool, then the prescheduled happy hour. Collared shirts were required, so I made sure to pack accordingly. After dinner and some gambling, we turned in.

Monday began with our scheduled breakfast at 8:30. Nice to have an itinerary. Afterwards we adjourned to the pool. This was the weekly ritual we were to follow the lenght of our trip. A few of us had bought tickets to see the Cirque de Soliel show LOVE that night so we excused ourselves early to get ready. We went to dinner at the Mirage hotel, where the show was also playing. The buffet there was incredible, with everything from cracked crab legs to prime rib. I even got scolded at the salad area because I reached for a bowl. At the Mirage, you tell them what you want and they make your salad for you. Then it was off to the show. If you are not familiar, the show LOVE is built around the music of the Beatles. I'd never been to a Cirque de Soliel show before and wasn't sure what to expect. Needless to say, I was amazed. Producer George Martin and his son went back through all of the Beatles music and combined various tracks to play seamlessly as one. The visual accompaniment was perfect with many of the performances astonishing. Halfway through I thought to myself that this is something John Lennon would have really enjoyed. At least I think so. After the show we walked around the strip and then headed back to our hotel, where the first annual Stripfest (the name given our gathering) bowling tournament was going to be held. During the tournament I almost fainted when I saw Paul McPhee trying to unclog the ball return, with both of his hands deep inside the machine. "Didn't you see "Kingpin?" I screamed at him. "There are 30 other people here that will put their hands in there before you do." Artists. Though a little rusty from not having bowled in a couple years, I'm proud to say that I was the champion and will cherish my trophy always.

Tuesday again brought the breakfast gathering and the pool. We broke off in various groups and spent the day exploring the city. Our group event that night was a nine o'clock gathering at Madame Tusauds wax museum. What was great about the museum was that it was interactive. Where in most places you can't get near the figures, here you were encouraged to pose with them as you please. This gave me the opportunity to fulfill a dream concerning Shirley MacLaine. And yes, I feel much better. Juanita and I also paid our respects to President Bush. Maybe I'll run that photo next week.

Wednesday. Breakfast. Pool. Shopping. We discovered a couple of great memorabilia stores that had lots of things that would look good on my wall. Unfortunately most of the items were a little pricey so I'll have to return after I win "Millionaire." :-) After dinner, we adjourned to the local Irish bar where we endured hours of the worse Karaoke we had ever heard. You'd think with all the shows in Vegas that there would be hundreds of people in the chorus coming up to entertain. NOT! The highlight was an old man who needed help to the stage but did a fantastic Sinatra. As our flight was early, we said our goodbyes and turned in. Home tomorrow.


Well, that's all for now. Next week I'll have my say about Larry Craig and his wide stance. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.