The Asian Aperture by Jason Fetters sqeaks out his competitiors for uniqueness, reliable consistency and in-depth prose. Jason's "The Asian Aperture" covers Japanese pop culture by an American who lived in Japan. This is quite a find and I feel very lucky to have Jason onboard. Begun in late summer of this year after a chance meeting at the local Publix(!) with Yours Truly, Jason is only the second writer in PCR history to take on Asian cinema (film student Peter Card was the first) and the first writer to know Japan's culture from the inside. Highlights include exhaustive retrospectives of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee films, remembering Black Belt Cinema from '80s cable TV, and, of course, the rib-tickling experience of Japan Fest '09. Ending the year with a look at how pervasive sexplay is during the Japanese Christmas holidays was a weird and...er....stimulating...capper to his collection.
Jason also wins the Mike Smith Award for most reliable performance (hasn't missed an issue since he started).
Highly Honorable Mention:
Lampin' @ The 6th Borough by John Miller is a very worthy addition to the PCR stable. Covering youth culture from an urban perspective, this late-in-the-year creation is still finding its groove, but John's output thus far has been extremely encouraging. If John can keep up the growth spurt he's shown, he'll develop Lampin' into a must-read stop for PCR fans of all ages. It is worth noting that John is also a regular poster on our Schlockarama: Grindhouse section and his reviews are always personal and informative.
Musical Musings by Bobby Tyler. This was exactly what I was looking for when I set out to find a teenager to write us a music column. Very literate and knowledgeable, 18-year-old Bobby output three issues this past Fall before life's other distractions ended his tenure with us---at least for now.
For the second year in a row, ED Tucker wins both the Mike Smith Award for most reliable performance (hasn't missed an issue since he started Retrorama in August '07), and the William Moriaty Award for most consistent standard of excellence. Congratulations, Mr. Tucker!
For the first time (and long overdue, mea culpa) Chris also wins the Mike Smith Award for most reliable performance and the William Moriaty Award for most consistent standard of excellence. Chris's Growing Up Fanboy is the only column currently published on a monthly-only schedule, but Chris hasn't missed one since he started in September of 2008. His retrospectives are thorough, very personal, and highly entertaining. And this doesn't even touch his stellar work on Schlockarama: Grindhouse which has also been reliable, consistent and engaging. Hell, that's award-worthy all on its own! Congratulations, Mr. Woods!
Highly Honorable Mentions:
Chris Munger and Sports Talk. Chris has a terrific knowledge about a wide spectrum of sports, something Ye Olde Editor never had, not being a big sports fan myself. But I know good writing when I see it. When Chris is onboard, it's awesome. Sometimes it's a slow news week, and there's just a little, and sometimes there is tons happening and Chris has it all covered. I'm very proud of sustaining a sports column here at PCR, and feel very lucky to have Chris Munger here. I look forward to his expanded column in 2010 (there'll be a new section added, just you wait, haha).
Lisa Scherer (formerly Lisa Ciurro) of FANGRRL, when she can join us, is always a top-drawer read with witty and very literate prose. Her "Top 30 Horror Actresses" compilation was exhaustively researched and extremely informative. To be fair, life's been terribly turbulent for Ms. Scherer over the past two years and we all hope things clear up for her so she can bring us her insights and humor on a more regular basis!
Brandon Jones of Splash Page and State of the Nation. Despite a controversial history this year, I would be remiss in omitting Brandon from special mentions. He cared very much about his columns and was fastidious about citing sources and eliciting debate, almost to a fault. It is worth noting that although some PCR staffers bristled at the notion of an ongoing political column, Brandon did bring new readers to the site and at least one new message board poster.
Of course, all PCR writers have shown a dedication to the quality and integrity of their columns and to this website or they wouldn't be here. I am proud and honored to have them here.
To Terence Nuzum: I could write volumes, but I know you hate that. Thank you for being there for me every step of the way. Your day-to-day support, help and friendship have been invaluable. Your direct involvment in running this website has kept our standards high even if I wavered, and you've never let me down personally or professionally. Your inspiration keeps me setting ever-higher sights for the future. Thank you.
To Mike Smith: The standard of reliability and consistency by whom all others are measured since, literally, day one. That's a pretty impressive record. All this despite numerous life changes and occasional setbacks. I'm eternally grateful to you, my friend. Keep up the great work.
To Chris Woods: Besides being an impressive fan writer, your more hands-on efforts this year to help Terence help me build and run this website have been inspiring. Thank you so much.
To Lisa Scherer: You were already a legend in blogging circles when you honored me by becoming a PCR staff writer. What I didn't predict is how close we'd become as friends. Thank you for being a shoulder for me to cry on every once in a while. And, as everyone knows....I *heart* you.
To William Moriaty: I don't think either of us predicted our high school creative writing classes would fortell of our adventures on Crazed Fanboy, haha. Together with Mike and Terence, you set an incredibly high standard of excellence early in the game. Thank you for your friendship and dedication.
The Lettercol program I kept up for years here at PCR was unofficially discontinued in its original, labor-intensive form at the end of 2008 with the intention of bringing it back in a modified 4-times-a-year schedule for 2009.
Ahem....oops. So much for the best of intentions. Unfortunately, my workload at home and at work precluded me from investing the time in it it deserved and the section fell into neglect. However, I did save the emails that came in (or were forwarded) to me so that I could compile the whole shebang at year's end. Please check out the results here!
Next year, the aim is to enable all the PCR writers to have direct access to an ongoing Lettercol where they can post their email correspondence at will, sorta blog-style. That's the...er...intention anyway!
Two weeks ago we announced a contest to win a free copy of the graphic novel "Malice" by submitting an email to me containing your thoughts on the character, the basic plot, and the website. The writers of the most interesting emails would be eligible for the prize, and the winner would be announced December 23rd.
At this writing it is December 23rd. There are no winners because there were no emails submitted. Thanks for playing.
POSTED BY NOLAN B. CANOVA, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2009
Despite purging all my religious affiliations long ago, Christmas is still an important holiday to me. How can that be, you might ask, if there ain't no "reason for the season"? Simple. The only important reason is the one where the government and corporations recognize the value of a year-end vacation -- or at least a day off or two -- where friends and families have time and opportunity to get together when they probably couldn't previously.
That...and any reason for a party is a good one.
As far as Christ's birth, yes I recognize it in the PCR birthday roster, but purely as a pop culture institution. We'll never really know to the minute and second exactly when he was born (and I do believe he existed, just not in the way it's come down the pike), but the message he carried was simple and benevolent enough to last two millenia. Reason enough.
I appreciate all the support and enthusiasm I've received regarding my year-end wrap-ups, but I'd like to remind everyone, they're personal -- and brief -- summations only, and not intended to be exhaustive retrospectives of the entirety of the year's headlines. Mike Smith (Mike's Rant) is also doing his own two-part year-ender and covers many more things he found interesting (I regret I overlooked the passings of Patrick McGoohan and Ricardo Montalban in my Part 1). I encourage everyone to check out last week's Rant and this week's (when it's up).
This came in as last week's PCR was "put to bed", so I apologize for the delay in recognizing this important passing.
Roy E. Disney, the nephew of the media titan Walt Disney, died at the Hoag Memorial Hospital (Newport Beach, CA) last week at the age of 79. According to reports, he was battling stomach cancer when he died.
A long-time executive with the company, Disney returned the company to the animation film business after successfully forcing out two top executives and brought back such popular animated fare as The Little Mermaid and the Lion King. The latter went on to be a Broadway play for years. He was also noted for films about nature.
To my knowledge, there are no more Disneys left on the board at Walt Disney. Shame that, and officially marks the end of still another pop culture era.
(On a personal note, about a year or so ago, I actually met either a Disney grandson or grandnephew -- I forget -- when I carded him for cigarettes at 7-Eleven. The Disney name lept out at me and I couldn't resist a micro-interview. Disney is not a name you see often not related to show biz! No big revelations, he and his party were in a bit of a hurry, don't remember why, I was still in shell-shock.)
THE GRAVEYARD OF FALLEN PCR COLUMNS Quite a few casualties this year, not all equal and alike in their passings, but then this has been an unusual year anyway.
Of all the PCR column "obits" I've written over the past many years, this one is undoubtedly one of the most painful. Like his best friend Mike Smith of Mike's Rant, Matt Drinnenberg has been an on-and-off contributor to this e-zine since day one. More on than off, of course. Soon after writing the first of many Matt's Rails for PCR, Matt was inspired to create his own website, a Famous Monsters fan site called Masters of Horror, which he tends to this day. However, it was his late-in-life devotion to revitalizing his musical ambitions (we were in the '80s band "Blade" together) that Matt decided to pursue this road unencumbered by writing assignments. In addition to what I assume is still a full-time job, Matt tours his one-man show in the Northeast US in and around his home in Maine, and we wish him the best of luck. Still a fanboy at heart, Matt's final column for PCR was last March when he reported on the ownership settlement of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Thankfully, Matt still checks in and posts on Readers Comments occasionally, where we can still read his "mini-Rails".
Paul Guzzo and his brother Pete revitalized the local indie film scene in Tampa as no one had before. Inspired by the success of Rick Danford's Saints & Sinners Film Festival (Danford was quite the mover-and-shaker in the early 2000's), the Guzzo Bros initiated The Tampa Film Review in January of 2004. The beginning of 2007 saw the first installment of Filmlook for PCR, basically Paul Guzzo's open letter to the film world at large on the happenings in the Tampa Bay Area. Paul kept this up on-and-off until the end of '08. The workload of his stint as reporter for La Gaceta, maintaining the Tampa Film Review virtually solo, and accepting other writing assignments eventually wore him down, and precluded him from having any time left for his PCR column. The TFR closed in January, and after accepting a major book project soon after, Paul confessed openly that he'd have to give up his PCR column entirely as well as his Indie Film News which he'd compiled for us weekly (that job went to Lisa Scherer afterwards). We still see Paul socially, and of course, wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors.
Bobby Tyler and Jake Tipton were still in high school when we first met at 7-Eleven and they expressed interest in my ongoing search for a regular music-review columnist featuring young reviewers. They started Music Emporium in late summer of '08 when both were just 17 years old, and with unfortunate timing, on their way back to school for their senior year at Robinson. Despite the best of intentions, their workload and social schedule rendered a weekly column impractical, but they did manage to contribute a few columns up until January of this year. In late August of this year, and nearly a year to the day that Music Emporium was created, Bobby Tyler went solo with Musical Musings for PCR, and produced an encouraging three columns in a row. However, a full-time job and a side project with his own rock band caused him to virtually disappear, and the column is, evidently, abandoned. Jake and his mother, Anne (who joined our forum this year), still post on the message board, and I hope to see Bobby return someday as well. All this notwithstanding, they and their friends are a great group of kids and I am grateful for the youthful inspiration they contributed to this 'zine and to my personal life.
Brandon, Brandon, Brandon. Where to begin. We'd begun an email exchange in, I think, either 2001 or 2002 when Brandon Jones was a burgeoning filmmaker with "Clips Productions". My earliest memory of our meeting for the first time was at a Bennigan's to discuss his upcoming film (that encounter, which included Rick Danford, is a story unto itself!). Later, in May of 2003, I made a video of the third Saints & Sinners Film Festival, where, among other things, I interviewed Brandon about his projects. Somewhere around then, he began Splash Page for PCR (his first banner photo was taken from the Bennigan's meet-up). Billed as "where the comics and movie worlds collide" Splash Page was a terrific addition to our stable as Brandon brought to the table his prodigious knowledge of comics, collecting, and interesting news of the day. It only touched on politics here and there. By 2006, Splash Page appearances were getting rarer due to turbulent personal issues, and was unofficially discontinued (with a "question mark" tombstone at year's end). This year, and with a gusto for politics that had been growing during the ensuing years, Brandon began State of the Nation in late April. Using the momentum built up from our Message Board, this was Brandon's -- and our -- first column devoted soley to politics and nothing else. The criticism started almost immediately, but I defended the column for months because I thought the issues discussed were important. Besides, it's nothing we hadn't been doing on-and-off for years anyway. Juiced by writing regularly again, Brandon brought back Splash Page only six issues later, in June. I was thriled by this, but the resentment was still growing from the staff and a few readers over the "downer/depressing" politics of State of the Nation being not what PCR is about. Again, I resisted and encouraged Brandon to press on. I was impressed he was now trying to support two weekly columns, something only Mike Smith had done before. As we approached September, Splash Page was getting more infrequent as Brandon confessed he didn't find all that much to like about pop culture anymore(!), but went full speed ahead on State of the Nation, which seemed to be getting darker and more agenda-oriented. I spoke with Brandon a few times about the tone of his column, and some gentle changes were made, covering more diverse topics with less attitude, but apparently, not enough to reverse what was becoming much tougher to defend and publish. As the criticism over State of the Nation was reaching a deafening roar on this end, some nasty business broke out on the Message Board which there is neither time nor space to go into at this time, but it resulted in Brandon quitting PCR -- for about a day -- before coming back. In the intervening hours, he had started his own blog at Blogspot which he continues to this day. With this securely in place, I had a chat with Brandon. Briefly, I told him he was better off there than here. He could control column content to his heart's content, delete nasty comments on sight, and post several times a day if he wanted to. The final Splash Page was published near the end of September, the final State of the Nation for PCR was published late October. This is a rare instance when a column ends due to editorial concerns and not the writer simply vanishing. Brandon was not happy with this decision at all, and I publicly acknowledge that, but unfortunately, I had to do what I felt was right for all parties. He's not banned, of course, Brandon Jones still posts on the Message Board, we continue to converse over the phone, and see each other socially on the odd occasion.
The celebrity death toll continues to rise as pitchman Billy Mays, impressionist Fred Travalena, and magician Roy Huston leave our plane of existence. The ponzi scheme orchestrated by Wall Street money manager Bernie Madoff results in a 150-year prison sentence. Ye Olde Editor is interviewed by Examiner reporter Julianne Draper. Vietnam War architect Robert S. MacNamara dies at 93, legendary newsman Walter Cronkite dies at 92, Oscar G. Meyer dies at 95. Our own Terence Nuzum returns with a rare Enlightenment on Movies and the Mob. Which reminds me of crime. And speaking of crime (what a segue), Ye Olde Editor is held up at gunpoint at his night job! Fortunately, no shots were fired, and the robber only got away with forty bucks. Two more hold-ups and five days later, the perp is apprehended at his brother's house and all evidence is present. Several depositions and months later, the robber is still behind bars awaiting trial. As the economy continues in turmoil, some hopeful signs of recovery are at the distant horizon. The debate over nationalized health care continues to polarize the country. I attend the Tampa Comic Con, the last I'd be able to do so for this year. I and a few others examine "Why Everything Sucks Now", a topic that eventually expanded into four parts and several writers. Evidently, this is a sore point with many fans across all age groups. However, our Japanese pop culture fans would be encouraged to see the debut of "The Asian Aperture", as Jason Fetters joins our staff. August. As "Everything Sucks Now" enters its second installment, John Hughes and Les Paul leave us all too soon. I examine "The Gable Film" a short-lived, but fun paranormal digression. Political commentator Robert Novak dies at 78. Teen titan Bobby Tyler rejoins PCR with "Musical Musings"; he would muse about three more times and vanish, but I'm grateful for what he did. Chris Munger digresses his Sports Talk to spotlight local officer Mike Roberts who was senselessly gunned down on the street. The political world reels as Senator Ted Kennedy succumbs to brain cancer at the age of 77. I declare District 9 to be the most over-rated movie of the summer. September. Will Moriaty covers what turns out to be the final appearance of magician Harry Wise. The comics world is rocked at the news that the Walt Disney Company has bought Marvel Comics. Several of us discuss this and what it may mean. ED Tucker discusses what it's like to be an Astro-Zombie in a Ted Mikels film. The final chapter of "Everything Sucks Now" is published, and the country pauses to reflect on the anniversary of 9/11. I put an addendum onto the "Everything Sucks Now" series, as Brandon Jones, State of the Nation, and Splash Page start a final, confusing, insane desent into oblivion. Patrick Swayze and Henry Gibson leave us as Mackenzie Phillips reveals she slept with her own father. Took a while to cope with that one. Lisa FANGRRL begins her Top Thirty Fantasy and Horror Actresses list that would take till year's end to complete, but the research is impressive. No hard feelings, Brandon and I take in "Surrogates," the last movie I would see this year (barring "Avatar"). October. Halloween season is always special, especially when other weirdness ensues. Mel Gibson's driving record (and accompanying anti-Semitic rant, presumably) is expunged, and Rush Limbaugh is blocked from buying the Rams. However, on the bright side, PCR ISSUE #500 is published and I give thanks for all who helped get me here. Chris, Lisa, and ED talk up Spooky Empire 2009. Legendary TV showman Soupy Sales dies at 83. More Halloween weirdness as a dad allegedly misplaces his helium balloon with his small son onboard. This is eventually exposed as a hoax -- the parents, who just wanted to create buzz for a reality show, instead wind up facing criminal charges. In an incredibly rare instance, Will Moriaty's La Floridiana column must be deleted citing privacy issues during a neighbohood tour. "The Addams Family" music composer Vic Mizzy dies at 93. It's a good thing President Obama nixes medical marijuana busts, 'cuz I can use some about now. Near Halloween, The Tampa Tribune publishes a tribute to Dr. Paul Bearer that mentions CrazedFanboy.com as an informational resource! Yay us. November. The founder of the San Diego Comic Con, Sheldon Dorf, dies at the age of 76. The Vatican has been watching the skies and says "OK" to extraterrestrials. The 40th anniversary of Sesame Street and the 50th of Second City warrant salutes from Yours Truly, and old friend and author Chris Heyn ("Inside Section One") visits Tampa. After stellar columns including ones on Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Black Belt Theater, Jason Fetters tickles the staff to death with a hilarious description of the porta-potties at this year's Japan Fest. Mike Smith interviews "The Blind Side" director John Lee Hancock. This is quite a scoop as "The Blind Side" winds up being one of the year's most successful films. Sadly, Sanford-based magician Harry Wise succumbs to cancer at the age of 75. Carl Ballantine, also a noted magician and comic actor, dies at 92. FANGRRL and I show how we *heart* each other. As Thanskgiving and the end of November approaches, long-time PCR supporter and Message Board poster John Miller becomes our newest columnist with "Lampin' @ the 6th Borough", initially misspelled "Burrough". John wouldn't get around to explaining what his column title means until the third installment. What a character. December. Ye Olde Editor injures himself in a tree-trimming accident causing a severely twisted ankle I'm still recovering from. Made me late that first week of December to report Britain's shutting down its UFO Hotline. Fooey on them, no sense of wonder. Chris Woods remembers the Star Wars Christmas Special fondly(!), and we learn what kind of paintings Michael Jackson had hanging around the house. As Yours Truly celebrates ten years on the internet, Gene Barry and Oral Roberts leave us at 90 and 91, respectively. I mention the Tiger Woods infidelity scandal the only time I intend to. Seminal sci-fi screenwriter Dan O'Bannon dies at 63, which is tragically under-reported (including here, sorry to say), and 32-year-old actress Brittany Murphy is dead of natural causes.
NOTE: Due to the temporary injunction on including crime and politics on the PCR homepage following the wake of "State of the Nation", I am the first to admit we didn't cover -- or under-covered -- the aforementioned Tiger Woods scandal, anything having to do with terrorists, their domestic murders on Army bases or upcoming New York trials, Afghanistan, Climate-Gate, Stimulus Bills, or the Health Care Debate. Once we find our groove again in 2010, we'll inch some more edgy topics back into the fold as we've always done.
AND THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED!
At this point, I would normally say something like "See you in 2010!", but because of the way the calendar falls this year, CF/PCR's first issue for 2010 will actually appear on or about Wednesday, December 30, 2009. See you then, and Happy New Year! -- Nolan