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Number 86 (Vol 2, No. 46).  This edition is for the week of November 12--18, 2001.
More Premieres

The Simpsons. 13th season-opener. Wow, has it been 13 years? Long-time readers will note that last year's season premiere got a ho-hum from me and, I'm afraid, this year's won't fair much better.
   Bart and Milhouse steal Chief Wiggums' police car (actually it slips into gear and rolls into a tree), and are brought up on charges of Grand Theft. In their court appearance, Milhouse gets a super-lenient judge who dismisses his case. His judge then leaves the bench to go on vacation! Bart gets a super-bitch judge, named Constance Harm or something like that (voiced by "Malcolm in the Middle" star, Jane Kaczmarek) who, feeling Bart has gotten insufficient parenting from Homer, sentences them to be tethered together at the wrist.
   It had its moments, some obvious gags, but I can't help feeling this would have been a lot more obscene 10 years ago.

The X-Files. I have much stronger feelings for this. Looks like it's going to be an exciting season, even minus one important cast member. First, there's the slightly re-tooled opening-theme sequence. (Long-time fans of the show will recognize it's only about the third re-tooling of the opening theme seqence in 9 years. The second happened only, like, 3 years ago.) The fuzzy picture of the UFO is animated a little now--and to good effect. The "ghost-on-the-video" is different. For 7 years, only Fox Mulder and Dana Scully's FBI ID badges were ever shown here. Last year, John Doggett's (the effective Robert Patrick) was added. In this year's 9th season-opener, added in are A.D. Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and Agent Reyes (Annabeth Gish). Conspicuous by his absence, however, is Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) who is nowhere to be found--no ID--no "falling" (last year's gag), nothing. Not surprising, it's generally known Duchovny is not expected to appear in any episodes at all this season. Also returning, of course, is Agent Doggett.
   Agent Mulder's name is mentioned in the first minutes as Doggett's investigation of a superior is heating up and creating new enemies. Some sort of water demon (played by "Xena" star Lucy Lawless) is drowning men who get too near her water (and she's nude while doing so--yay!). And Scully and Skinner, of all people, are asking Doggett to abandon finding Mulder and abandon his internal investigation. Poor Doggett, last year was spent mostly trying to find out "what's going on" and this year looks no less frustrating for him!
   Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) is going to great lengths to keep people away and comvince them there's nothing wrong with her (and Mulder's?) baby, suspected at the end of last season of being either some alien hybrid or else a "super-soldier" experiment come to term. After heated exchanges with Doggett at her home, Scully askes him not to come back. Then, later, a surprise revelation: the baby is able to rotate his overhead mobile just by looking at it. Scully realizes she needs help. As for Mulder? "He's gone" is all she says. End of story.
   She does help with a special-request autopsy of one of the drowning victims. (Unauthorized, it would appear.) New, regular(?) cast member A.D. Brad Follmer (Cary Elwes)--ex-flame of Reyes--is making life difficult for Doggett by trying to trap him in violations, including the autopsy. Not before Scully discovers hand-grasp prints on a victim's ankle, however.
   Busted while searching one victim's office for clues--a water-treatment plant--Skinner and Doggett run like hell. Doggett dawdles too close to the water at one point and--SNATCH--he's dragged beneath the surface by a naked Lucy Lawless. End of Part One.

THE TICK.  (FOX, Thursday nights) God I love this show! I know I bought some of the comics' versions a hundred years ago, but the memories must have faded badly, because this show is a hoot! It's mainly a send-up of the goofiest and most pompous kind of super-hero cartoon/comic book/TV shows (Think of Adam West's "Batman"), where the hero is a large, sexless male in a ridiculously loud and colorful costume. He concentrates on nothing but fighting crime. He doesn't get sex jokes. He doesn't think he looks or is acting weird. Seemingly unemployed, but never needs money. He refers to his junior partners (all instantly drafted on-the-spot) as "chum".
Not coincidentally, the city seems to be full of odd-type super-heroes and super-villians who are just as hilarious. Batmanuel and Captain Liberty are two I remember from episode one.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Announcements
I finally finished something I set out to do months ago: a personal retrospective on Bela Lugosi for friend Matt Drinnenberg's site, "The Masters of Horror". I give a quick overview of Lugosi's career highlights and what his work meant to me. You can access it from the "Masters" homepage (recommended), or, go directly by clicking here.
INTERNET ROMANCE: the conclusion--for one, anyway. Mutual friend to Will Moriaty and myself, Greg van Stavern became a married man October 28, 2001. His wife's name is Dale (or "Dee") and she has one child, a son, Danny. They met over the internet earlier this year and are living in two cities simultaneoulsy(!) until she can sell her house in Bradenton and move to Tampa. In my short-lived "Internet Romance" series, I vaguely alluded to this case starting in Issue #63 and more notably, I spotlighted Greg's case specifically in Issue #69.



PCR SpotlightThis issue:
Tampa horror author
Patty G. Henderson
speaks!
The Real Player files
P.G.H. Real Player audio files
Beginnings
First sale
Writing
Website
Works
The above links will take you to my stored versions of Pat's interview. This is not streaming audio, I can't afford that yet. They first download into your temp files (about 15 seconds by phone line) and then should start playing automatically...
Another of our own makes good. Tampa horror author Patty G. Henderson (also known to the "old gang" by aliases "Adriana Gomez", "Patricia Gomez"--and sometimes, "Terence's Aunt Pat") was invited to participate in an author's round-table of sorts by radio station 580-AM in Orlando. The event was held at the Winter Park Border's Bookstore October 20, 2001, and was attended by some 30 authors, including event coordinator Owl Goingback, Richard Lee Byers, and Hugh B. Cave. The radio program, "Sci-Fi Files" interviewed most or all of the participants, including our own Patricia.
   Patty is promoting several of her books, most notably, "Blood Scent" (out now) and "The Burning of Her Sin" (Barclay Books--due January 2002, first of a mystery series set in Tampa).
   For more details of these works and a more comprehensive overview of Patty herself, I invite everyone to visit her two websites: The Henderson Files and www.pghenderson.com.
   About the audio links: Pat asked if I would transfer these to Crazed Fanboy (my domain) for safe-keeping as there is a time limit for archiving at the radio station. I am glad to accomodate. Be mindful that these are Real Player only and are not compatible with Quicktime or Windows Media. Good Luck. Hope this works.



La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
MY MIAMI TRIP (a.k.a. 2001: a True Oddity)
Will Moriaty
   On Saturday November 3, 2001, one of my favorite annual events, the South Florida Airline Historic Society was held at the Raddisson International Mart Hotel adjacent to one of my favorite places on earth, Miami International Airport. This event, which I have attended since 1995, is dedicated to airline enthusiasts and historians. Here one can find old airline timetables, puke bags, silverware, postcards, slides, models and memorabilia all related to the airline industry. To wit, it is the Necronomicon of Commercial Aviation! Missing this trip was my annual traveling companion Greg Van Stavern who got married on October 28th (congratulations, bubba!). Nevertheless I ran into the "regulars" who attend this con such as "Miami Mike" Hiscano (who occasionally reads this publication!), Piston-aircraft lover Fred Hartman, and organizers Don and Linda Levine--Florida Folk Heroes all!

GETTING THERE:
This year I decided to give the Z-28 a rest and did my patriotic duty by flying down on a Continental Connection puddle-jumper--I will do anything and live any way that I can that will piss off these bastard terrorists! At Tampa International Airport I saw about six National Guard troops with M-16s---this being two days after being told by our Government to expect blown up bridges out west and nuked power plants in Florida (Turkey Creek Nuclear Plant being 15 miles away from my destination--let me repeat this--I will do anything and live any way that I can to piss off these bastard terrorists!). Terrorists aside, another possible disaster was headed my way--this in the form of Hurricane Michelle. This collusion of events was shaping up to make this one of my most surrealistic trips anywhere at anytime. Hmmmm--do I want to get vaporized by a suitcase nuke set off by terrorists at the nearby nuclear power plant or be swept up to Rhode Island by a 20' storm surge? Screw it, I'm goin' anyway!

THE FLIGHT DOWN:
You may recall in my Ghost of Flight 401 story that I was waxing poetic on the vastness of the Everglades. Let me tell you, from 10,000 feet in the sky the 'Glades looks even more limitless, daunting, and desolate than on the ground. I have never traversed the glades alone, but even with people present, I always feel insignificant when compared to its scope. At 5:05 P.M. on Friday November 2, 2001 we landed in light drizzle on Runway 9R at Miami International Airport. It was already getting dark and looked more like New York City on a gray winter's evening. After I got my rental car I went by the old dive motel that I would visit while at the convention--the Airliner. The Airliner was a vintage 1950's style hotel that was probably a queen in its heyday when piston aircraft ruled the skies--my Great Aunt lived there during the 60's and early 70's-- now it stood dark and empty, like the old Florida roadside attractions--run down, abandoned, and dead. I wouldn't be staying there this time!

FAIRCHILD TROPICAL GARDENS:
After the SFAHS meeting on Saturday, I visited one of my absolute favorite places on this planet--Fairchild Tropical Gardens on Old Cutler Road in Coral Gables just south of Miami. Dedicated as the mainland United States' premier tropical botanical gardens by Robert Montgomery in 1938, this Gardens has the largest collection of palms in the world. The tropical vistas adorned with reflecting pools, axial orientations, pergolas, water falls and lakes are breathtaking. The Gardens were named after Dr. David Fairchild, a noted American botanist who started the USDA's first Tropical Plant Introduction Station in the United States several blocks south of the current Gardens. The Gardens were designed by the noteworthy landscape architect William Lyman Phillips. Phillips was a good friend with the "father" of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmstead. Amongst Phillips' other Florida works were Matheson Hammock and Greynolds Parks in Miami-Dade County, and the Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. As the afternoon drew to a close, the storm winds were strengthening--was this storm going to veer into Miami? It was a dangerous Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 135 miles per hour, and a direct hit on Miami would be disastrous. Like the Clash song asked--should I stay or should I go now? Screw it--I'm stayin'! The effects of the wind and tide became apparent when I visited the Gardens' next door neighbor, Matheson Hammock Park. The entry road was partially submerged by the water from nearby Biscayne Bay--I drove it anyway--alone--no else in the park. I read a sign at the water's edge that read "DANGER--NO SWIMMING--CROCODILES" Yes, crocodiles as well as alligators are native to that part of Florida! Then, in my lonely test of faith against tide and wind, I paid respects to Philadelphia Experiment progenitor Morris K. Jessup, whose dead body was found in that same park 42 years earlier.

CAPE FLORIDA LIGHT HOUSE AND THE SOUTH BEACH:
The oldest lighthouse in Florida is located in the Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne just south of Miami. Initially built in 1828, it was nearly destroyed in the 1830's during the Second Seminole War. It is the only lighthouse in American history to have been raided by the American Indian (only in Florida!), and was also raided and controlled by the Confederates during the Civil War. The 95' tall structure is still functional, providing a light that activates with the onset of darkness via photovoltaic methods, and was built to its present dimensions in 1855. Although there were only ten of us in the entire park we had the privilege of touring the lighthouse and climbing its spiral staircase to look out at the increasingly violent Atlantic Ocean below and darkening skies outside. The structure made a haunting sound as 45-mile-per-hour gusts and whitewater rain pelted its worn-down exterior. A sunny day would've been nice, but this was exhilarating! From there, my last stop of the vacation would be the South Beach of Miami Beach. The Port of Miami was like a fortress with stationed Coast Guard cutters, Miami-Dade police boats and National Guard troops patrolling for possible terrorist attacks. Due to the anticipation of a possible hit from Michelle, even Ocean Drive was nearly abandoned. The South Beach is incredible. The ten-square-mile area has the largest collection of tropical deco architecture (and variety of nightlife) on earth. Built in the 30's and 40's these pastel treasures sporting names like the Carlyle, the Clevelander, the Grand Central, and the Argyle introduced middle class America to Miami Beach. Once I got back to my Red Roof Inn room, Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas announced on T.V. that darn near everything in Miami-Dade was being evacuated or closed--all but the airport. I was really sweatin'--should I stay or should I go now? Aw screw it--I'm stayin'!

THE FLIGHT BACK:
Miami International Airport demonstrated a much higher state of preparedness (or overkill) than Tampa's Airport. The entire perimeter road, where airplane spotting was great, was cordoned off from any form of parking. Additionally, I was all but full body cavity searched before leaving MIA. Also there were two National Guard troops to each checkpoint---I don't think you'd have had much luck at this airport smuggling 7 knives and a can of Mace onto your plane! We were late pulling out of Miami on Monday November 5th--the left engine of our puddle-jumper was not working properly. Putting safety first, our pilot (who was a woman in her twenties, the co-pilot was a male who looked or was about fifteen) got us onto another aircraft. At 4:45 P.M. we lifted off of Runway 27L and banked northwest to Tammmm-pah! As the sun started to set, our plane descended over Mac Dill Air Force Base. Below were five KC-135 stratotankers that will furnish jet fuel to our air force fighter jets in Afghanistan. I saw the familiar home sights-Robinson High School, Manhattan and Westshore Boulevards, Nolan Canova's house, and Greg Van Stavern's house. It was chilly once back in Tampa. The world did not end. The Golden Gate is still standing. I'm still standing, and in my rear view mirror is a glorious sunset. I'm glad I didn't give into my own fears during this surrealistic, but symbolically important, trip.


Wake Up and Smell the Comics

#8. Comics Acquisition 101

Hey folks, good to see you again. Sorry for cutting out last week, but someone with too much damn time on their hands hacked into my AOL account to send porn. Gotta love the Internet. Anyhow, I thought I would break from covering publishers and creators for once and get down to the basics. Problem is, though I've been handing out as much information as I could on what comics to buy, I haven't really told anyone *how* to buy them.

First, you have to decide whether you want to buy a single issue or a collection of them. The question is where do you want to start? The single issues you find on the racks at special shops are brand new and won't be reprinted in trade anywhere from 6 months to 10 years from then, if ever. The most popular titles usually find their way into a collection, but if you're looking for a certain book recommended to you by someone else, there is no guarantee it will ever see print outside the direct-to-retailer (comic stores) market. At the same time, collections are not always as cheap as the original issues? Some publishers actually ask more for their trades than the individual issues cost separately. Strange, but true.

There are also downsides to following the monthly market. Due to various hiccups such as late scripts, art or printing problems, individual issues can be delayed by months or even indefinitely. There is always a risk when buying comics in this manner, but the more mainstream (Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse) the less likely it will happen. Independent comics are typically the books that are plagued the most, though. On the other hand, trades are complete and ready to go. For $10 to $30, you can get an entire story arc or limited series to last you a while. You also don't have to worry about bagging them with boards or getting them beat up a little. It's just a book. The risk of buying something that doesn't interest you is also minimal because you can look through it before you buy it.

What are the downsides? Readers who also want to collect comics will get nothing from trades, and those who want to cover all sides of a story may have a very hard time as not all integral stories are collected. The fact is trades do not always reprint everything. They can leave out little nuances such as accompanying text by the creators/editors or entire pages edited for space or clarity (as they see it). In many cases, the coloring is redone or the original material is touched. Sometimes even the content is changed for various reasons. This can be for something as understandable as violence, sex or language or as integral as the story and dialogue itself. The truth is, if you want to make sure you're getting the product as it was intended or originally presented, trades cannot guarantee that.

Ok, we've gotten past that important first decision. For those of you who have decided to buy trades at your local bookstore or comic shop great! NOW GET OUT AND BUY COMICS! Heh heh heh. For the rest of you, there are wonderful opportunities available to those who buy comics from the direct market. What are those, you ask? What else could you ask for discounts! Lovely, lovely discounts. You see, to attract more regular customers, retailers can afford to drop the cost of single issues below the suggested retail price. Depending on your local comic shop, you'll have options on how to get this. You can either set up a subscription (we'll get to that) and receive a certain discount depending on the amount of titles you order or pay a flat fee and get anywhere up to 25% off for a whole year on everything from new/old issues to trades.

For those of you wondering what I mean by a subscription, it's basically the same concept as signing up for pre-determined run of a magazine. You can sign a contract (of sorts) with the retailer - giving your name, address and telephone number - and list all the comics you wish for him/her to order for you. Comics are ordered 3 months ahead of time, so make sure you bear that in mind when listing the items you want. Sometimes it may be necessary to ask the retailer to set aside some copies of items you want that have already been ordered. Another way of doing this is by handling the orders yourself. At the end of every month, Diamond (pretty much the sole distributor) releases its PREVIEWS magazine where all the solicitations for comics are available. You just place a mark next to all the issues you want to buy and sign your name (and give your personal info) in the front of the complimentary order form inside the catalogue. Just make sure you turn it in before the order due date and you're all set to go. Just remember, signing the order form means you have agreed to buy the items you have highlighted within and it is your responsibility to meet your end of the bargain when they arrive.

Of course, any retailer should be happy to explain the process to help get you started (if not, then he's an idiot and you need to find someone else). If you don't know where your local retailer is, there is a phone number available nationwide to help you do so. Just call 1-888-COMICBOOK to get the information. Other than that you're all set to go! SO GO! NOW! BUY, BUY, BUY!

That's it for this edition of "Comics". As always, if I've gotten just one of you to pick something up I'm a happy guy! On a personal note, if any of you find your local comic shop is part of the "Wonder Water" chain of stores I must say I've had my best experiences as a reader at these stores. They service local comic creators, fans and even some pro wrestlers and Buccaneers. Trust me, you can count on them. I'll see you next week!


PCR SpotlightSpecial edition:
"THE GILMORE GIRLS"
 A TV series episode review by
  Lauré
What's that? You say you've never seen the Gilmore Girls? You don't know where Stars Hollow is? You don't know who Lorelai Gilmore is or what her favorite drink is, who Rory's favorite author is, what Luke is never without, or what Sookie does for a living? JEEZE! Well, I am here to enlightening you.

The Gilmore GirlsGilmore Girls is the latest hit on the WB (and the only show they have worth a damn, if you ask me). It airs Tuesday nights at 8:00 (yes, right before Smallville, sit down, you insane fanboys, it's the girls' moment! ;o)). What? Yes, Tuesday at 8:00, I said. Not a night I normally plop down in front of the tube, but this summer I was bitten and I'd tape the darn thing, if there was a chance I'd miss it; I nearly started writing letters when it was rumored that the second season might not be picked up. Yes, it is *that* good. It is a melocomedy that centers around a mother-daughter relationship. In a nutshell, Lorelai Gilmore is the daughter of the wealthy and societial beacons of the whole of Connecticut, the Gilmores. And she hates her family, and what they symbolize. Lo and behold, at sixteen years old, Lorelai got pregnant. Her daughter, named Lorelai also, but we call her Rory for short, is the apple of her grandparents eye. At sixteen, she is being shaped to be everything Lorelai refused to be. They offered assistance helping Rory get into the very prestigous Chilton Prepartory School on the agreememnt that Lorelai allow them to have a part in Rory's life. Lorelai could do nothing less. Rory was accepted into Chilton and Lorelai works her tail off (at a quaint little inn she co-owns called the Independence Inn) to pay her folks back.

Along the way, she's met some interesting characters. Michel, the pompous, flaming, French maitre' de is a riot--contempuous of everything, a veritable thorn in Lorelai's side and the butt of every joke; Sookie, the adorable, overweight cook at the Inn and Lorelai's best friend. The strange little produce man who has an eye for Sookie, not to mention Luke. What an odd character he is. He runs the town's only diner and argues with Lorelai about everything from the temperature of her coffee, to who she is or is not dating this week. Oh, but he is adorable. Luke and Lorelai (ahem, the ladies here might see a gag in that) are obviously right for each other, but Lorelai is frustratingly oblivious to it, and Luke is too shy to speak his mind. You really want to shake both of them by the end of an episode. And of course Max, a teacher at Chilton and the man who Lorelai almost married two episodes ago before she packed Rory in the car and took off for Boston for the weekend.

And then there are Rory's "friends". We have (had) Tristan, who Rory may or may not be in love with and who may or may not have great motives concerning our dear little scholar (he's since moved on to Dawson's Creek--::GAG::); there is Paris, the veritable uptight bitch out to make Rory's life a living hell, not to mention her pompous little click. Oh, Rory tries to be friends with the girl, but Paris is just... a self-centered bitch. And then there is Dean, Rory's are-they-or-aren't-they-this-week boyfriend, and her best friend Lane (who, is uptight that her Korean parents will make a shambles of her life).

There. Now you're all caught up and we can fast forward to the review!

   Who would have thought that I would be writing a column on a TV show? Christ, first "Mists of Avalon" and now Gilmore Girls? What's next? Buffy? At any rate, the Gilmore Girls is my latest obssesion. It's hilarious, it's sweet, it's profoundly inane and I just love it! Ladies and Gents, ready for this? Even my husband likes it, and that's really saying something, for a TV show!!

Tuesday night's episode (11/13/01):

Going about her business, having her lunch, headphones on and her nose in a copy of ... Eudora Welty's short stories, I believe it was, Rory is pulled out of lunchtime respite by this guidence counsellor who tells her she's anti-social and that she needs to participate more. Rory goes home and tells Lorelai who then goes to Chilton and chews out the Headmaster only to be told off herself and informed she is a terrible example for her daughter and handed a list of charitable Chilton organizations and tells her to involve herself more (Lorelai caves a lot, throughout the series if she thinks something she's doing migh hurt Rory in some way): Hence, Lorelai gets tricked into organizing and participating in a charity fashion show, which she has the pleasure to drag her mother into. :o) And guess what? They have to wear matching outfits. Ugh! Poor Lorelai. She even gets into a jealous fight with Luke when she catches him talking to one of the other Boosters and off she goes in a huff, leaving Luke confused as hell. (See what I mean? ;o))

Meanwhile, Rory introduces herself to a group of girls at lunch and is allowed to sit with them. Paris walks by, sees Rory sitting with these girls and her mouth drops. The next day she corners Rory and screams at her. Those girls were the Puffs. A very exclusive sorority at Chilton, one Paris has been trying to get invited into since the day she walked into Chilton, Sandra Day O'Connor was a Puff, she explains. She *must* be in this group and so help her, if Rory is putting her down in front of them, there will be hell to pay. Well, Rory assures her her name never came up and then talks her up to the girls the next day. Paris is invited to sit with them and she is happy.

That night, Lorelai and her mother walk out into the fashion show and steal the show. Everyone loves her, the committee loves her and her wonderful little inn (they joke about Michel) and she's a hit. I think she's going to be a socialite from now on! ;o)

Later that night, Rory is getting ready for bed and Lorelai tells her to expect to be kidnapped tonight. Girls from school said they were going to come and take her out to breakfast in the middle of the night. So Rory stays up all night waiting for the girls. When they show up, Paris and a few others are with them and Paris looks like hell. "You always look this good right out of bed?" she complains to Rory. "My life is so unfair." And all the little New Puffs are blindfolded and off they go.

But when they arrive at their destination, Rory is horrified to see they are at the school. The girls break into the Headmaster's office and proceed to go through some historical spiel about the Puffs and tell them they each have to take an oath. Rory refuses, but they force her to go first. Who should happen on poor Rory's oath, but the Headmaster and two security guards.

The Headmaster sits the girls down, screams at them, and threatens suspension. Rory jumps up and yells back, telling him this is all his fault; she never wanted to have anything to do with a stupid club, and if he had minded his own business, she wouldn't even be here! He sends the girls home with their mothers and apologizes to Rory before sending her on her way. The next day, one of the other humiliated girls sits down with Rory at lunch and sticks her nose in a book, just as Rory had been doing. :o)

And that, my friends, was Tuesday's "Gilmore Girls". Strange little episode, comparatively speaking, but nothing to cheapen the show, in my estimation. Star Trek it's not, but this is good TV. ;o)
~Laure


Mike's Rant!

Hello gang! Some news and notes. Shall we begin?

MOVIE NOTES
Well, the phenomenon known as Harry Potter begins this Friday at a theatre near you. Not sure what to expect. I read the first book this past Wednesday while my car was being serviced. Not bad...........I can see where kids eat it up. Warner Brothers must really be sure they have a hit. Filming on the second film begins this Monday! Ironically, there is a lawsuit against "Potter" author J.K. Rowling that claims she stole much of what she wrote from a children's author who wrote a series of books about "Larry" Potter in the 1980's. This author also wrote a book entitled "Rah and the Muggles," which she also claims was stolen by Rowling. The case was to begin being tried in New York on Sept 11, but the national tragedy caused it to be postponed. Of course, with the delay, the author stands to make some major bank off of the film profits if it is proven that Rowling did indeed plagiarize her story.
   Filming begins next week on "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," which is based on the life story of "Gong Show" host Chuck Barris. Sam Rockwell (the bad guy in the "Charlie's Angels" film) plays Barris, Drew Barrymore is his girlfriend and George Clooney and Julia Roberts play C.I.A. agents (!) Clooney also makes his directing debut on this project.
   Ben Affleck begins shooting "Daredevil" in March, and all of the heroes, as well as the evil Ian McKellen as Magneto, are back for "X-Men 2," which goes before the cameras in May.

WHAT A CO - INK - A - DINK
This is probably one of the worst comic contrivances I have ever read. In the current storyline of Mark Trail, Mark has befriended a gentleman named Matt Crawford, who many years ago was convicted of armed robbery. MANY miles from where Crawford lives, two men have just robbed the payroll of a local lumber company. They hide the stolen loot in the woods for safe keeping. Out of no where comes Crawford's dog, who, according to the narrative, picks up the money bag to make a bed where she sleeps................UNDER CRAWFORD'S HOUSE! Gee, I wonder what will happen next?

GUESS THE MILK WASN'T FREE
A few months ago, Swaziland's King Mswati III issued an edict banning sexual relations for unmarried girls under the age of 18. This was done in an attempt to control the country's rising AIDS problem. When it was discovered that Mswati had taken a 17-year-old girl as his ninth wife, the king was forced to pay the traditional fine of one cow for violating his own ban. About 300 young women marched to the royal residence and laid down their symbolic chastity belts in protest. The cow was later speared, roasted and eaten by the young women.

MOVING ON
Ken Kessey, author of such novels as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Sometimes a Great Notion," passed away this week at age 68 after surgery for liver cancer. Along with Tom Wolfe, he was one of the 60's-era authors who encouraged recreational drug use. He came upon the idea for "Cuckoo" while working the overnight shift on the psychiatric ward of a veteran's hospital. The movie version won 5 Oscars, including Best Picture (which it stole from "Jaws"). Kessey refused to see the film, as it made the book's major character and narrator, Chief Bromden, a minor character.
   Anthony Shaffer, a playwright whose thriller, "Sleuth," a show with only two characters, was one of the most successful plays of the 1970's, died Tuesday at age 75. "Sleuth" won a Tony award as the best play of 1970. The 1972 film version starred Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, both of who were nominated for Oscars. That is the only incident of an entire film cast being nominated for Academy Awards.
   Eunice Simpson, the mother of acquitted murderer/road rage maniac O.J. Simpson, passed away at her home at age 80. When informed of his mother's death, Simpson stated, "Hey, I was chipping golf balls on my front lawn.............ask the limo driver."

SAY A PRAYER
Former Baltimore Oriole and Texas Ranger manager Johnny Oates has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. One of the nicest people I have ever met, Oates lived in the same Baltimore suburb where my theatre was located. Many a night we would run into each other at the local 7-11, he coming from the stadium and me coming home from work. Always had a smile and some kind words for anyone who approached him, even when the team wasn't doing well. My prayers are with him and his family.

THE ANTI-BRETT
Happy to see that not all athletes are idiots. This week St. Louis Cardinal slugger Mark McGwire retired from baseball. After 2 seasons plagued by injuries, he realized he couldn't continue at the level he wanted to play at. My son, Phillip, and I were fortunate to be at the game in St. Louis when he hit his 62nd home run of the season and I am proud that we were able to share in the celebration. Mac always had a smile and an autograph for those who approached him. And, in this day of highly paid cry-babies, out for the all mighty dollar, McGwire refused to sign a two-year extension that would have paid him $15 million a year because he didn't feel he could do the job necessary to justify that salary. Big Mac will now join Cal Ripken, Jr and Tony Gwynn in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Well, that's it. Have a great week!


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