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Nolan Pop Culture Review, 2003!
This week's
NEW COLUMNS:
La Floridiana
Movie Review
Matt's Rail
Mike's Rant


Top 11 Reasons you should NOT see Daredevil


FINAL EDITION
On the CF Homepage:
Florida Filmmaker Update

  Number 153  (Vol. 4, No. 9). This edition is for the week of February 24--March 2, 2003.

 Great White tragedy

 Christopher Reeve guests on "Smallville"

 Pioneer 10 exits the solar system

 Fred Rogers dies

Plus...

    The Grammys

Upon hearing the news, I guess the first thing I thought of--besides the horror of it all--would be the dark humor yellow media might circulate about another great white-related death, a la JAWS. But, no, the tragedy is just too shocking and sad.

I'm not sure how to describe them. An "'80s rock band"? A "down-and-out-but-back-on-the-comeback-trail band from the past"? Whatever, the band Great White, probably best known for their one-hit wonder(?) "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", itself a cover of an earlier Mott The Hoople song, had just started a concert at a nightclub in Rhode Island last week, when something unthinkable happened: the opening chords of the opening song coincided with the opening pyrotehnics from the drum-riser, a spark from which lit upon some foam insulation (or something like that), climbed up the wall with horrific speed, and within minutes the club was an inferno.

Video news footage of the catastrophe hit the airwaves almost instantly as you can see the cameraman backing away from an obviously unsavory situation. Not recorded were the ensuing minutes of several hundred people trying to get out through a single doorway (that again), choking on thick black smoke. Some were inches from the door, but couldn't see it. Others couldn't get through for the onslaught.

When the smoke cleared, it was tallied that 96 people lost their lives in the incident, including the lead guitarist from the band itself. Fingers of blame flew at the band, the promoters, and the nightclub. Who said it was OK to have pyrotechnics in a 60-year-old wooden club with one exit? As of this writing, each party claims they had permission from the other, the fire marshall says no one asked him diddly.

Roughly a week before that, a similar situation happened in Chicago, where a small nightclub was the scene of a mass panic after pepper spray got used against two fighting woman. Again, one exit, everybody's going for it, the body count for that one in the 30s. The owner of the club was not supposed to be using the facility for business, so he was in violation. Small comfort to the victim's families.

Of course, baby-boomers remember the old Who incident that nearly broke up the band (wasn't that Chicago?) where a stampede for the door to get in (not out) resulted in a body count in the high 20s to low 30s.

Do we learn nothing from these events? I don't blame Great White, really, any more than I blamed The Who. They were there to do a gig that was already assembled by a crew of other people in their entourage. But a communications breakdown has to be occuring somewhere. Too much money to be made in hard economic times to worry about things like fire codes and such. Things are overlooked to get the show on the road. Then, accidents happen and we learn why there are fire, ventilation, and capacity codes on the books. There'll be a slew of new laws drawn up to...er....buttress the old perfectly good laws that were ignored anyway, because what else can they do now?

I'll tell you the weirdest thing, tho, and please don't take this the wrong way. Great White was going to go down in history as a short-lived, quasi-Southern rock, big-hair metal band from the '80s barely eeking out a livng on a "where are they now" sort of tour. The end chapters of their band bio will look radically, tragically different now.

Christopher Reeve guest stars on "Smallville"
Jeezis, I love this show! It just gets better and better every week. And this is from a Superman fan from the old school, hard to please.
Clark Kent (Tom Wellig) is having nightmares involving a metallic alien artifact and mysterious alien writings found on a cave wall. In the dream, Clark inserts the artifact, a metallic hexagonal key-type thing with inscriptions on it, into a similar hole in the wall grahic. There's a blinding light and then he wakes up...somwhere. Even if it's the middle of the road, as it was when Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) swerves to avoid running him over. A few of these incidents have him doubting his sanity, but are bringing him closer to understanding his alien origins, stopping just short of full revelation. A few friends start to get suspicious at Clark's fascination with the real-life cave where the inscriptions are. Slowly, Clark starts being able to read the alien writing.
One day, Clark loses control of his heat vision and torches the side of the family barn. After son and father put out the flames, it is revealed that Clark inadvertantly carved the Kryptonian symbol for hope into the wood. This is captured by a photog for the school paper who publishes it with a crop-cirle angle. When confronted, Clark passes it off as a hoax, but he's deeply disturbed.
Enter Dr. Swann (Christpher Reeve, Superman from the terrific 1979 movie and some lesser sequels) an eccentric and reclusive scientist who disappeared from public view some 13 years ago, after the meteor shower that brought Clark to earth. Having caught the news photo, he ingeniusly lures Clark to his office using the same symbol for hope--on an Instant Message! Clark decides to visit him. Swann reveals the space message he intercepted that day, thirteen years ago: "This is Kal-El from Krypton, deliver him from evil", something like that. Swann wants to know that Clark is the alien baby. At first reluctant to confirm this, Clark is overwhelmed and must learn more---and he does. That his biological parents are gone, there are no other Kryptonians, the planet itself no longer exists, and that he is alone and unique in the universe.
A later father-son talk (with the outstanding John Schneider as Pa Kent) reassures him that while he is unique, he is never alone.
As usual, all performances on the show were superb, and the extended cameo by Christpher Reeve inspired and historical. At show's end both Reeve and Wellig appear as themselves to ask for support of the paraplegic association Reeve is associated with. Like everything else about this episode, it had me in tears.

And speaking of space artifacts....

Pioneer 10 exits the solar system
If it's possible to be incredibly proud of a piece of space technology, I am that proud of Pioneer 10. Launched in 1972 to basically take pictures of Jupiter, it was decided to attach a "message from earth" in case it actually made it out of the solar system into deep space (or deeper space). That day came yesterday, when Pioneer 10, over 7 billion miles from home, exited the solar system. Believe it or not, it was still sending signals as of the end of January. Scientists believe it is still sending, but the signals are too faint to hear. The knowledge we have gained from the little-satellite-that-could is overwhelming.

I picture a day that the satellite is captured by an alien world's gravity, perhaps crash-landing on the planet. I hope the aliens who discover it can decipher our message. It would be cool if they sent somehing back. (No, not an armed armada, I meant, like, a greeting card.)

The Grammys
I'm at the end of my strength and the tape I thought I had of The Grammy awards presentations turned out blank anyway, so whatever news I heard was what you heard (basically Nora Jones was the heaviest recipient). For a better take on the Grammys, please see this issue's Mike's Rant.

Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood), dead at 74
This came in during the last minutes of editing this issue of PCR, so I don't want this location underneath the aborted Grammy piece mistaken for a low-priority status. I've been an admirer of Fred Rogers the whole time I was aware of his existence, going on 30 years. Oh, sure, early on I made fun of his super-casual approach and meek vocal stylings like every other punk of the day did (and Eddie Murphy on SNL in the '80s), but, in retrospect, he was a groundbreaker who absolutely knew what he was doing (like my other childhood hero of Kid TV airwaves, Bob Keeshan, aka, Captain Kangaroo). Fred had been battling colon(?) cancer in his last years, a battle he finally lost in the wee hours of Thursday morning, February 27, 2003.
For a bit more on the life of Mr. Rogers, please see this issue's Mike's Rant.


Announcements
   HAPPY BIRTHDAY to William Moriaty who turned 48, Monday, February 24. I'll be catching up to him in about 20 years or so...heh hehe...ahem, coff, coff. OK, OK, I'll be catching up to him in late summer of this year. Will and I shared a creative writing class together at Robinson High School and we also had an art class headed up by the inimitable Bill "the South shall rise again" King. Sure doesn't seem like almost 30 years has passed since those halcyon days. Hell, we're still sweating out our writing assignments! Ha ha.
   Local actor and Florida Folk Hero Gustavo Perez just returned from a family vacation in Cuba! Gus took pictures and smoked some gen-u-wine cee-gars as well as sampling the local food fare. Gus was enterprising enough to seize this rare opportunity to take some 8mm video of the environs of Castro-land in order to bring us Americanos a special treat: Gus will use the footage to set his next horror movie in pre-Castro Cuba! Details are still in development at this time, but so far, yours truly is already tied into the project as well as fellow filmmaker, Brandon-based Garland Hewlett ("Brain Robbers from Outer Space").




La Floridiana
This week's issue
La Floridiana by William Moriaty
UPDATES AND MORE UPDATES! .................Click here for more.

Matt's Rail
This week's issue
Matt's Rail by Matt Drinnenberg
IN FORRY'S OWN WORDS........BUILDINGS WILL GO, MEMORIES WILL REMAIN ........GREAT WHITE CONCERT TURNS DEADLY... .................Click here for more.

Movie Reviewmovie review
This Week's Movie Review:

Old School  review by Michael Smith

Top 11 Reasons You Should Not See "Daredevil"
   by Terence Nuzum

(Includes spoilers!---please be warned)

Click Here

Mike's RantMike's Rant
This week's issue
Mike's Rant by Michael A. Smith
WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?........ALL THE YOUNG DUDES........GRAMMY/MUSIC NOTES ........JAGGER/LENNON........MOVIE NOTES........TRY DRIBBLING IN A BURKA........ THANK YOU ..............Click here for more.


Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.
DELTA AIRLINES RESPONDS TO MIKE'S RANT...again, sort of...
Please see Mike's Rant, PCR # 151 to review the original horror story, and last issue's PCR Lettercol for Delta's original response, and Mike's reply. Now check out the following, forwarded to me by Mike---Nolan.)

(Check this out. I like the appropriate priority code part........basically that means if you're flying coach.........fuck you! ---Mike)

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you for your most recent e-mail message. We appreciate your additional comments regarding our kiosk security and standby policy.

All baggage is screened by the TSA to ensure it's safety and security prior to being transported onboard Delta. As you can respect, any further information regarding our security procedures is proprietary information and limited to those with an operational need to know. Please be assured Delta is in full compliance with all TSA security requirements.

We also have a program in place to ensure accuracy in handling requests for seats on fully booked flights. Passenger names are placed on a computerized list with an appropriate priority classification and a twenty-four hour time entry. The priority code and the designated time determine the order of accommodation.

Mr. Smith, thank you once again for contacting Delta. We will always welcome the opportunity to be of service.

Sincerely,
Regina R. Sterioff
Manager
Customer Care


Ms. Sterioff:

Once again you have replied with canned answers that do not answer any of my questions nor satisfy any of my concerns.

I'm sure I speak for the 80,000 monthly readers of my web column, who have been following this exchange of letters, when I say that Delta is NOT customer service oriented.

Michael Smith


Nolan (and Mike),

My job is monitoring those "self-service kiosks" from my office in Auckland's CBD (Central Business District). I can tell you that these kiosks leave a lot to be desired. Their intention is great but they rushed their intended roll-out date and now problems are creeping in....not to mention the issues problems ("issues" in corporate lingo) that were there from the start.

The kiosks in New Zealand can't check in baggage. Now how many people travel without anything except carry-on luggage. Well, okay there's businessmen. That's about it. Breakdowns occur frequently and although I can't be "on-site"...I can do a "re-boot" from my office because of the communications software on my computer....however, usually the problem is a communication error and that means that I can't interact with the kiosks remotely. I then must write a report and send it in to the IBM people to go fix it. Well, although most non-airline companies in the U.S. have a time frame of 2-4 hours for a repair, in airlines it's up to 29 days!

Having said that, I also am in charge of ensuring that all I.T. ( Information Technology) work orders are done as soon as possible. I actually search thru the Air New Zealand's Db (database) files and anything older than 29 days gets a "What's the 'issues' status at this time", email. Truth be told, I have work orders as old as, well.......in the over 400 day old range. That, my friends, is because of beauracracy--or as some might refer to it, "red tape". I have to constantly remind people to do their job via email and occasionally via telephone. I can't do anything other than ask them about the "status of a project", tho. And then I write in my notes what I'm told. I am talking simple problems here like someone needs a new mouse, literally! Sometimes it's a simple need of requested software.....and it gets lost in the shuffle because there are too many people that have to get involved due to the way the corporate infrastucture is layed out.

You're right to believe that the reponse from Delta is a form letter or a "generic" response. That's just "the corporate way". You know the drill....there's a right way, a wrong way and the corporate way. Simply put, it's nothing more than a new form of fascism. The equivalent of building a 440-hemi motor to operate a mousetrap. That's why things get bogged down or lost in the system nowadays.

Last week I had a kiosk that broke down. We have to replace the (specially- made, of course) printer at enormous cost. What happened? Well....when the roll of tickets ran out, they had been (as they always are) taped to the drum inside. When the cellophane tape came thru the works, the last ticket carried the small piece of tape with it.......it then gummed up the printer. Have to replace it. When? Well, who knows? On the record...between now and 29 days. Off the record, make a stab at it. Anyone's call. Should be by Summer '04.

I could go on about this bourgois-faire crap....but I really just wanted to add my 2 cents worth to help shed light on the "self-service kiosk" issue. I apologize for getting carried away, but you know me.

Steve Beasley
Service Analyst
Group Information Technology
Air New Zealand



To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan


"Mike's Rant" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith    "La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty    "Matt's Rail" is ©2003 by Mathew Drinnenberg    "The Top 11 Reasons You Should Not See Daredevil" is ©2003 by Terence Nuzum    This week's movie review of "Old School" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith    Add'l thanks to Michael Smith and Steve Beasley for their input in "Letters"      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova ©2003; all rights reserved.