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Number 87 (Vol 2, No. 47).  This edition is for the week of November 19--25, 2001.
"Harry Potter" sets record for an opening weekend: $93 million.
"JP2: The Lost World" bumped to # 2.

"Harry Potter", the story of the boy who becomes a wizard, is now the leading box-office champ of all time when it comes to opening weekends. The Chris Columbus film, starring Daniel Radcliffe and an all-star cast raked in $93 million at the opening weekend box-office, breaking the old record set by "Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World" back in 1997 ($92.7 million).

I don't know much about Harry Potter, so I got this from the internet: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has spent the first ten years of his life living under the stairs in the house of his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, who generally dislike him. Then, one day, a giant, named Hagrid, comes to him with an invitation to study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry soon discovers that there are two worlds: one is the dreary world of the Muggles where he's grown up, and the other is one of magic and fantasy, and it's the latter in which he's destined to live.

I'd love to say I have a movie review of this handy, but I couldn't scare up any adult friend's interest in attending this with me, and it was too unseemly for me to go alone. However, crazed fangirl, Lauré, has a review of the book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" on her space at Crazed Fanboy and it's recommended reading.

Anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to send in a review of this neo-classic if they've seen it. Word has it the young cast is already under contract for episode 2, due out next year at this time, when we have to go through this all over again.

UPDATE 11-22-01: first-time writer Joe Cleaver and stalwart staffer Mike Smith have something to say about "Harry Potter"! See "Letters to the Editor" and "Mike's Rant", further down this issue.

As reported in "Mike's Rant" last issue, an author of children's books is suing writer J. K. Rowling (and presumably the movie company) for copyright infringement. Seems that back in the 1980s this author wrote a book called "Rah and the Muggles" featuring a young boy named Larry Potter. Hopefully, she can make some magic work in court.


AND SPEAKING OF EPISODE TWO...  Due to the crazy time-crunch of holiday-mania this week, I overlooked commenting on this earlier and realize I'm a bit behind, but hey, how about that nutty new Star Wars trailer? There are three "official" trailers now, and this last one focuses on the romantic angle between Anakin and Amidala. I think it looks great. (Necessary) kissy-face scenes and the return of Jar-Jar Binks notwithstanding, I predict this film will be received more warmly than "Phantom Menace".
   However, there has already been a disturbance in fandom that the "courtship" angle may spoil the whole momentum. Altho part of the plan from the beginning, it was rumored that George Lucas himself commented that the onscreen chemistry between stars Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman lacked proper spark, and some scenes may be re-edited. I don't agree. From what I saw, I think they were fine.


Announcements
Looks like the "Viddywell curse" lifted its grip a little on the stalwart production crew of the "The Strange Occurrence of Room 9" (formerly "Room 109"). Terence Nuzum, Drew Reiber, and Antonia Provastas filmed the entire short feature--on Super-8 film--in a single evening. Says Viddywell president Nuzum, "I think I remembered to remove the lens cap..."



La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
FLIGHT 587:   
TERRORISM, STRUCTURAL FAILURE, OR BAD MAINTENANCE?
by William Moriaty
As you may have noticed in the past several weeks installments of La Floridiana, I am quite a crazed fanboy of, among other things, aviation-- particularly commercial aviation. Now I don't claim to be an absolute expert on the subject, but I think I generally can offer commentary on the subject with some degree of knowledge and authority.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END:
Once again Florida sets the stage for its role in a national aviation disaster. As most of you well know, the majority of terrorists who commandeered the doomed flights on September 11th received their limited flight school education here in the Sunshine State. As recently as Sunday November 11, 2001, the aircraft used for the doomed Flight 587 was at Miami International Airport receiving an "A" maintenance check. From there, it would fly its last entire and safe flight to New York Kennedy International Airport.

THE DAY OF THE TRAGEDY:
On Monday November 12, 2001 at 9:14 A.M., seventy-four minutes late (due to security checks prompted by fears of terrorism), American Airlines Flight 587 lifted off from Runway 31 and initially headed northwest towards New York City. The flight, from New York's J.F.K. Airport to Santo Domingo had 260 souls on board. The aircraft, an Airbus A-300-600, then arced on a southwest heading which would take it over Jamaica Bay, Rockaway Point, and the Atlantic Ocean out to the Caribbean island of Hispanola. But something went radically wrong while over the southern portion of Jamaica Bay. One minute and forty seven seconds after rotation, a rattling noise was heard on the audio cockpit portion of the aircraft's flight data recorder (or "black box"). Seven seconds later the captain comments that the jet hit bumpy air left in the wake of an immediately preceding flight, a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747-at this point the jet is approximately 2,000 feet high moving at a velocity of 273 miles per hour. Eleven seconds after that, a second rattling noise is heard. Four seconds and six seconds later, the co-pilot calls for maximum power, and both pilots suggest that they have lost control of the aircraft. At 9:16 A.M., the last radar recording has Flight 587 at 2, 750 feet. After that, the plane rapidly descends and crashes into a 10-block area of Queens known as Belle Harbor, located on Rockaway Point. Four houses are destroyed entirely, and twenty others are damaged severely. There are no survivors, and anywhere from five to eight persons on the ground are missing and presumed dead. New York City, the City that endured the death of thousands of its residents in the World Trade Center Tower disaster only two months prior almost to the date, and witnessed the anthrax scare up close and personal, had yet another catastrophe to deal with.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?
As far air crashes go, this is one of the strangest I've ever heard of. Eyewitness accounts generally held a consensus that the plane was exploding and literally falling apart as it plummeted toward the earth. The aircraft's 27' tall vertical stabilizer was retrieved out of Jamaica Bay, while the twin engines were found four blocks from one another in Belle Harbor. I believe that a crash of this description can only be attributed to the following three possibilities: 1. Sabotage or terrorism: an on board bomb, or bombs: a ground to air missile: an intentional tampering of the aircraft's control surfaces: contamination of the jet's fuel. 2. Catastrophic non-intentional mechanical or structural failure. 3. Shoddy maintenance practices, such as those, which contributed to the fatal crash of an American Airline DC-10 in 1979. An engine, which was not secured to the wing properly, fell off during takeoff causing a crash at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

THE BIZARRE RUSH TO JUDGEMENT:
By the afternoon of the crash New York City Mayor Rudy (A True American Hero!) Giuliani and New York Governor George Pataki were quick to point out that the pilots jettisoned fuel from the aircraft, which would infer that the cause was accidental and not the act of terrorism. The National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") was also quick to point out that all indications were that the disaster was accidental and not an act of terrorism-but a lot of things don't add up here. First, unlike many other commercial jetliners, the A-300-600 is not designed to jettison fuel! Scrap that explanation-strike one! Second, the NTSB first believed the cause to be that of a catastrophic engine failure, such as an engine blade tearing through the casing and tearing into the fuselage. Guess what? Both engines although squashed by the impact, were intact and showed no evidence of this-strike two! Third-birds may have been sucked into the engines-once again, no evidence to support this-no blood or feathers anywhere on or in the engines-strike three, you're out! Fourth, the NTSB is now trying to sell us on to the "wake turbulence" scenario. I might buy into this if the aircraft that crashed was a single engine Piper Cub or Cessna 150, but not an Airbus A-300. If that truly were the case, jets at major airports worldwide would be dropping out of the skies about every two minutes. Now you're way out! But my major question is this-what would have caused the vertical stabilizer (or tail fin) to be shorn off almost surgically? This is the most intriguing and disturbing part of this puzzle.

STRANGE COINCIDENCES:

  1. About ninety New York City firefighters who were killed at the World Trade Center Towers were from the Rockaway Point area. Prior to the crash of Flight 587, New York City firefighter Mike Moran, whose brother John was killed at the WTC gave an impassioned speech at a televised benefit concert where he stated that "Osama Bin Laden can kiss my royal Irish ass!" and pulling off his fireman's cap further taunted "I live in Rockaway and this is my face!"
  2. One Dominican national passenger who survived the WTC event of September 11th was killed in the Flight 587crash.
  3. On September 11th, 34 year old Sten Molin, who would pilot the doomed Flight 587 on November 12th was in the cockpit of an American Airlines jet ready to take off from Runway 31 at JFK. That flight was delayed at the runway as authorities discovered $20,000.00 cash on board. No explanation by the authorities for what this cash was doing on that flight was given. While waiting on the runway, Molin saw the fireball coming from the hijacked jet that slammed into the second World Trade Center tower on September 11th.
  4. The crash was almost two months to the day of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and on America's weekday observance of Veteran's Day. Also, the crash was within two weeks of government warnings of possible major terrorist actions against Americans here or abroad.

MY TAKE ON THIS:
Although any of the three possibilities I listed above are undoubtedly the reason for this crash, I believe that this was a result of an act of terrorism. The quick judgements by the Federal government to rule out or minimize terrorism as a cause of this crash before any facts could be substantiated is itself highly suspicious, especially at a time like this. None of the elements described in this crash seem consistent with the usual causes or effects of bona fide aviation "accidents". I further believe that the Federal government is highly concerned that if one more passenger plane were to be brought down over American soil as a result of terrorism-- especially so close after the September 11th WTC disaster, that the blow to this nation's airline industry may lead to its demise. Like TWA's Flight 800 crash in Long Island, New York Island in 1996 and Arrow Air's DC-8 transporting of American soldiers that crashed in Newfoundland in 1985, the official explanation for this latest crash may be a matter of skepticism and contention for years to come.


PCR Spotlight New review:
"THE GILMORE GIRLS"
 The 11-20-01 episode, reviewed 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 enlighten 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)). Please see my series synopsis, which goes into more detail, in The PCR Spotlight, issue 86 When you're all caught up, fast forward to this week's review!

Last Tuesday night's episode was touted as a mystery. We start out with a town already suspicious of the newbie in Stars Hollow, Jess (aka Luke's nephew--played by Milo Ventimiglia).Two weeks in town and he's already convinced everyone he is a troublemaker. The town mayor/grocery store owner comes into work one morning to find his front door roped off with police tape and a chalk outline of a body on the sidewalk in front of his door. He freaks and calls the police who start a head count. Immediately, suspicions fall on Jess. There's a town meeting called, Luke (played by Scott Patterson) goes in to defend his nephew and is totally slammed by the mayor. He tells the guy off, Lorelai (payed by Lauren Graham), throwing in support here and there, and stomps off.

Meanwhile, Lorelai and Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) have decided to start moving on their plans to open their own inn. They've even found the perfect spot for it, and started a title search to find out who owns the property. It turns out to be this charming older woman whom both women love. But no matter how much they offer and promise to do the best they can with the property and to uphold her family's reputation, the woman just cannot part with the property. As a feint, the writers have Sookie and Lorelai asking what will she do with it when she dies and how long can the old bat live anyway?

But in from California comes the owner of the Independence Inn and we learn that the Inn was where Lorelai worked and lived, with Rory beside her as a baby, before finding her own home in Stars Hollow (erm, learn, that is, if you missed most of season 1--like I did). And she absolutely adores Lorelai and Rory and now Lorelai is afraid to tell her mentor about she and Sookie's plans.

Finally, she gets up the courage and the woman is thrilled! She's been fielding offers and encouragement to sell the Independence for years, she says, but couldn't think of putting Lorelai out of a job. Lorelai is stunned and appalled that the woman would even think of selling, and this leads to the first fight she and Sookie ever have. She tells Sookie she's flighty and always late and worries aloud as to how they are going to keep their own business afloat with all Sookie's shortcomings. Sookie stomps off and even by the end, they are not talking to one another.

In the end, Rory battles with Jesse as she finds out that he was the culprit in question and the chalk outline and police tape was a prank. She tells him off for putting Luke in the position he did. She also finally has a chance to introduce him to Dean (played by Jared Padalecki) and we can see Jesse is not happy to learn she has a boyfriend.

This one was strange as it felt open-ended. Had I caught the last five minutes, it might not have been. Nothing actually seemed resolved, though. But Lorelai's Mom (played by Kelly Bishop) may have made a deal with the owner of the Independence. Still, it was good episode.


Wake Up and Smell the Comics

#9: November (2001) Picks!

Hey everybody! It seems Iím getting busier and busier these days, but this week itís family from out of town. You know the routine: pick ups, drop offs, lunches, dinners, shopping, screaming, etc. Well, amongst all the chaos of the Thanksgiving season, there are a few comic projects shipping this month that you really should check out. Some of them Iíve mentioned before and some I havenít, but either way, they are my best recommendations for the next two weeks. Here we go:

Incredible Hulk #34 - An all-new creative team and direction for the infamous monster starts with this issue! If there are any Hulk fans out there looking for a jump-on point, then THIS IS IT! Veteran horror/monster fiction writer Bruce Jones (Creepy, Eerie, House of Mystery, Ka-Zar the Savage) and artist John Romita Jr. (Amazing Spider-Man) are spotlighting the suspense and terror of the raging beast inside Bruce Banner. The new run will follow a similar path to the 70ís/80ís TV series as Banner runs from the law trying to keep the Hulk from destroying everything it its path. I know I canít recommend Romita Jr.ís art enough and Iíve heard great things about Jonesís work. Check this out if you can.

Woah, do I sound like a marketing guy or what? Yeesh!

Catwoman #1 - Relaunching the series to probably boost sales with a #1 issue (typical), crime-fiction writer Ed Brubaker (Batman) and Batman animated-series animator/artist Darwyn Cooke are revising Catwoman in the crime-noir vein. If any of you enjoyed the Batman cartoon and enjoy Dashiell Hammett-type storylines, this is the book to check out. They ran a 3-4 month preview in the back of Detective Comics, and the style was mouthwatering. Iím not kidding. The first issue ships next Wednesday at your local comic shop.

Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth - Writer Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series) and painter Alex Ross (Marvels, Kingdom Come) collaborate on their last tabloid-sized comic special. Each issue so far - Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel - has taken each character to his defining virtues through individual challenges. Every page is completely painted and extremely realistic in style. You wonít have to go to a comic shop to find any book of this series (including the new one), as bookstores across the country will be carrying them. However, each edition costs $10 a pop. Take a look if you get the chance.

Elektra & Wolverine: The Redeemer - Crime novelist/comics writer Greg Rucka (Detective Comics) and painter Yoshitaka Amano (Sandman: The Dream Hunters) are teaming up for this 3-issue prose graphic novel. Each written page will be complemented by a painting, with all of it detailing the first meeting between Elektra and Wolverine set in Marvel universe continuity. Anyone looking for a mature and original take on comic storytelling really should check this series out. Each issue costs $6, but if you want to waitÖ Marvel will most definitely trade all 3 issues for bookstores sometime in the spring or summer of next year. Canít promise it wonít cost more though, Marvel just started a new hardcover program.

Thatís it for this week, have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Letters to the Editor

   I just finished reading issue 87 and you wanted feedback about the new "Harry Potter" movie.I braved the opening mob Friday night and took my wife and son to go see it and it is very good.
   A couple months ago I decided to find out about this book and why many kids (my son included) and adults are crazy about it. I borrowed my son's first book and started to read it.
   At first, I was a bit bored, but stuck with it. By the 4th chapter, that was it, I was hooked! I soon devoured the second book and then the third. My son didn't have the fourth one ("The Goblet of Fire") and decided to remedy that situation real quick.
   But getting back to the movie, although many dunder-headed critics (here in the good old USA) are panning director Chris Columbus, I found his vision charming and faithful. Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was just as I imagined it and the actors did a very good job at bringing the charcters to life. Sure, it may have been a "Cliff's Notes" version of the book, but there is no way you could put everything in the movie. Although one of my favorite charcters (Peeves, the impish poltergeist) was not anywhere to be found...I won't fault them for it.
   And any movie that is 2hrs.and 30mins. long and can keep a 7-year-old boy spellbound in his chair the entire time, has definitely done its job.
   Joe Cleaver
P.S. Love the newsletter!
And thank you, Joe, for taking the time and trouble to write in! We are always grateful when new fan faces show up and make their presences known. I'm glad you enjoy the PCR and appreciate the continued support! Feel free to write again anytime.---Nolan


Mike's Rant

Hello gang! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Some news, notes, a quick film review, and once again, I've got a bee in my bonnet. Shall we begin?

MOVIE NOTES
So has anyone seen "Harry Potter?" Pretty much everyone who wants to, I'd say, judging by its amazing $93 million gross over it's first 3 days. Of course, it was playing on almost half of the countries movie screens, so it was pretty hard not to make a buck or two. A short review appears later.
   After 28 years, martial-arts star Bruce Lee will return to the screen in the film, "Dragon Warrior." Wait a minute? Isn't Bruce Lee dead? And your point is? The Korean film studio ShinCine Communications has negotiated the rights to use Lee's image in a film, budgeted at $50 million. Studio owner Chul Shin says, "I realized the technology had advanced so far that I could re-create one person perfectly--including his voice." The film is expected to take about three years to be completed.
   Do some homework and make sure the next film you catch has the extended preview for "Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones" on it. Much longer then the first preview which was released with "Monsters, Inc," it focuses more on the growing romance between Princess Amidala and Anakin Skywalker. It also shows the widening rift between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi, with Skywalker commenting at one point that "Obi Wan is holding me back." Additional footage includes the Emperor, bounty hunter Jango Fett, and what I still think is a light-sabre duel between Skywalker and Kenobi. Even a quick shot of a (thankfully) silent Jar-Jar Binks couldn't damper my enthusiasm on this one.

MOVING ON
Charles Crenshaw, the doctor who first treated President John F. Kennedy's gunshot wounds in 1963, died at age 68 at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. Crenshaw always stated that Kennedy's head wound had come from the front and insisted that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone gunman. Unlike many other people associated with the assassination, Crenshaw died of natural causes.
Andrew McNally III, the great-grandson of the co-founder of Rand McNally & Co., and the longtime executive credited with leading the mapmaking giant through its greatest growth in the last century, died Thursday at age 92. Ironically, McNally died when the car he was driving went over a cliff. Though he had an atlas in his car, McNally, like most men, refused to use it and was unaware of the sudden drop-off.

QUICK MOVIE REVIEW MOMENT
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"  Rated PG. Running Time: 2 hours 32 mins
As stated in last week's column, I read the first Harry Potter book the day before I saw the film. The movie is quite faithful to the book, though some fans have quibbled over small details that were omitted. Believe me, to film the whole book would have resulted in a 4-hour-plus movie, and no one's ass can withstand that much sitting at one time.
   The story begins when a young baby bearing a lightning bolt scar on his head is delivered to his Aunt and Uncle's home by two members of the faculty of Hogwarts School of Magic. After 11 years living under the stairs in a cupboard, Harry receives an invitation to attend the above-mentioned school. There, he meets new chums Ron and Hermoine, and begins his journey to becoming a wizard.
   The special-effects are great and the story moves along pretty well. Some scenes may be a little too intense for younger children, but all in all, it's a film for the whole family. Warner Brothers are so sure they have a new cash franchise, that filming on the second "Potter" film began this past Monday in London.
   Now if they can only keep Joel Schumacher away from the set, this series won't go the way of the "Batman" films.

MUSICAL NOTES
It was 25 years ago this week that the band simply known as "The Band" played their last live concert. The show was captured by Martin Scorcese on film and released in theatres as "The Last Waltz." The two main members, guitarist/songwriter Robbie Robertson and drummer/vocalist Levon Helm, have continued to pursue various projects, including films. Robertson starred with Gary Busey and Jodie Foster in the very (to me anyway) underrated film, "Carny," while Helm portrayed Loretta Lynn's father in the Oscar-winning film, "Coal Miner's Daughter."
   News reports have former-Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in New York City this week to be with George Harrison as he prepares to undergo possible surgery for a brain tumor. This story hasn't been confirmed by any of the men's representatives, but Harrison has been receiving treatment in the city. Picked up Paul's new CD, "Driving Rain," and found it to be full of ballads that appear to have been written by someone else. Even the mostly instrumental "Heather," which McCartney penned for his new love, lacks the range and emotion that made him the writer of "silly love songs" in the 70's and 80's. Maybe I'm Amazed to think that late wife Linda, who often received writing credit on songs, actually contributed something besides inspiration to those songs. On the other hand, the song "Freedom," which McCartney wrote especially for the concert he organized for the Sept. 11 tragedy, and was hastily added to the CD (it doesn't even appear on the liner notes), touches the emotions that all of us must feel.

KIDS AND SCHOOL
Last weekend my son, Phillip, was off hunting in the dreaded wilds of Missouri with his grandfather and uncle. The same weekend, many of his high-school classmates, including several fellow baseball players, attended a party where alcohol was available. While driving home, 3 of the players were stopped by a policeman. While the driver had not been drinking, the 2 in the back seat had been. They were taken to the police station and questioned, then administered breathalyzer tests. Having been found to have alcohol in their systems, the boys were remanded to the custody of their parents.
   End of story? Hardly. This past Monday night, there was a school board meeting in which it was discussed that these boys not be allowed to participate in any school activity for the rest of the year, be it a dance, a drama production or next season's baseball season.
   Am I the only one who thinks this is an outrage?! Since when is anything that you do out of school the business of the school board? Were that me in the car, would it be my boss's right to fire me from my job? The episode did not take place on school grounds nor was it a school function. My son told me that the school makes its student athletes sign a pledge that they won't try alcohol or drugs. So what? Unless the laws have changed without my knowledge, since when is a piece of paper signed by a 14-year-old freshman legally obligating? Many other parents are upset with this also. One spoke up at the meeting that she was upset that a list of students that were supposedly at the party had been circulated by the school board, fully in violation of school policy on student privacy. She was also upset that none of the parents were called when their children were "interrogated" by school officials during the week. On both instances the school board superintendent stated that there was nothing in writing that said parents had to be present. One of the school board members insisted that student athletes need to be held to a higher standard and that any of them attending the party should be prohibited from "representing" the school.
   He's talking a good game here because his son, also a baseball player, isn't on the list, even though he WAS at the party. Incidentally, though he was 3 hours away, my son's name appeared on the list of participating students.
   Needless to say, I'll could be needing a REAL GOOD lawyer soon! I'll keep you up to date!

Well, that's it for this week. Have a safe and happy holiday!


"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "La Floridiana" is ©2001 by William Moriaty    "Wake Up and Smell the Comics" is ©2001 by Drew Reiber    The PCR Spotlight of the Gilmore Girls episode review is ©2001 by Lauré    Thanks to Joe Cleaver for his letter and views on the Harry Potter movie. Welcome aboard, my friend, keep up the good work!    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2001