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LA FLORIDIANA
Will and Karen's Cabbage Key and Key West Kraziness, Part One
 by William Moriaty

THIS WEEK'S MOVIE REVIEWS
"The Phantom of the Opera"
 by Mike Smith

"The Aviator"  by Drew Reiber

ODDSERVATIONS
Life After The Fall...."Love Shack" Burns....Holidays Under Attack...."Mandatory Guidelines" for the Week
 by Andy Lalino

COUCH POTATO CONFESSIONS
The Couch Potato, 2004 Year-End Issue
 by Vinnie Blesi

THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
Concert Review: GUIDED BY VOICES
 by Terence Nuzum

MATT'S RAIL
'Tis The Season
 by Matt Drinnenberg

MIKE'S RANT
Uma - Ulla....Rock and Roll Notes....Number One - 8 Months Early....Holiday Thoughts....Meet The Beatles, Part 48
 by Mike Smith

LETTERS
Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2004!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our fifth calendar year!
    Number 248  (Vol. 5, No. 52). This edition is for the week of December 20--26, 2004.
Recovery from the crash that affected the Crazed Fanboy website is ongoing. Read PCR, below, for more details. ---Nolan

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at Crazed Fanboy dotcom!

  • What happened last week
  • Crazed Fanboy restoration update
  • Nolan Radio update
  • THE YEAR THAT WAS
  • Drew Reiber's Best and Worst of 2004

  • Whew! Scary couple 'o weeks, eh? For several days last week when anyone clicked on crazedfanboy.com you were brought to an error page that said "Page Not Found" or "Website Not Found". Later that became "Welcome to your new website, please log in!" What the...? For all intents and purposes the site had (to use the vernacular) "gone dark". From one day to the next, no more Crazed Fanboy, no Message Board, no nothin'.


    Many of you thought I'd gone broke, collapsed the site and done away with myself! I'm moved by the outpouring of sympathy and various other reactions (ha ha) to what was perceived to have happened.

    What happened

    I explained it somewhat hysterically last issue, but to recap: the server broke. Died. Wouldn't move. A web server is very much like your home computer, with disc drives and an operating system, but it's only function is to "serve" websites to other computers (like yours) that ask for web pages. A professional model looks less like your home computer and more like a VCR, only a little bigger. Many stacks of these things make up the storage area that webhosts rent out to thousands and thousands of website owners like myself. One single server can carry 200 websites or more (something even I didn't know until recently), and are built to last a long time. The operating systems on these servers are normally very stable, but of course, these are man-made machines maintained by human beings and once in a while, like any machine, one unit here and there is going to surprise you one day by not waking up. When you try to make it wake up, it gets you back by renaming all its files into gibberish (that actually happened to an old computer of mine after it was struck by a virus). That's what happened to Crazed Fanboy's server---when the crew managed to get it to run, the files from over a hundred websites, including mine, were corrupt or arbitrarily renamed into junk. (Nobody down at central is suggesting "virus", but...you never know.) If you could find a good file here and there, the risk was a file so corrupt it was useless anyway. The remaining hundred or so websites were lucky enough to escape that particular fate. We weren't so lucky. But lucky for you guys (and me), I always keep back-up files, and from these back-up files the website is slowly being restored. Now for the bad news...

    The Message Board
    Although I kept back-up files of the website, I didn't do so for the Message Board which, unfortunately, I didn't take all that seriously for most of last year and I was too late learning how to download its database (a different animal from HTML pages). Even I underestimated how much I'd come to rely on the Board as a measurement of community for our readers and fans. Plus, and I really hate to admit this---I assumed the webhost was making reliable back-ups themselves. They were not.

    For a brief while we thought the database might be located on another server, but that turned out not to be the case. Currently, the new database has been configured for immediate use. It is back. And this time---this time---I'll be making the back-ups myself. I apologize to everyone for my cavalier short-sightedness regarding the Message Board.

    But, hey, the Lettercol picked up steam lately, anyway! It was our original "message board" and always serves as a more permanently archived library of commentary.

    Restoration Update
    So how much of Crazed Fanboy is restored? Megabyte-wize, well more than half. But 100% of the text in all back issues of PCR is back on the server, and 95% of all other text, with more as time permits. Images are a slower deal. Even so, a great many images have been restored to a great many pages, enough to where most of all writers' headers are coming up. Like I said, I'm commited to a full recovery, but it will take time. Totally restored: Schlockarama, Dinosoldier, Flash Fantastic, the Mike Smith Interview Series, and the "Classics From The Vault" section (except for, at this writing, The World of Nolan public access TV show, The Florida Filmmakers Archives, and certain listed back issues of PCR---all still need images)

    Regarding strange character displays
    You may or may not have noticed from casual surfing since we've been back up that in a great many places where bulleted lists, quotation marks or apostrophes used to be, there now reside annoying question marks. In particular anything I ever copied straight from a writer's Microsoft Word document or my own Windows character map into an HTML document will display these question marks. This is a conflict with the new operating system I'm on, Fedora (a "flavor" of Linux), that needs to have a "charset" update (tech term for "character set"). That is expected to be completed by tech support this weekend. Please be patient, it'll all soon go away.

    And now on a lighter note....
    In case you hadn't noticed yet, the new episode of Nolan Radio is active now. Message board madman and PCR columnist Drew Reiber (Wake Up And Smell The Comics, The Unapologetic DVD Enthusiast) is currently a film student at the University of Central Florida. Drew has an in-your-face style of commentary rivaling that of his long-time best friend Terence Nuzum, who pioneered "punk" writing in these pages. Drew's audio commentary on the best and worst movies of 2004 (and what to look forward to in 2005) should complement his like-themed article, below. Yes, I know there are no bookend segments to the show yet, Drew deserves better, and I'll get them in as soon as I can. Kind of "no frills" radio for the moment, I felt it better to get it out there than wait any longer for me to decorate it!

    The Year That Was
    Part 1, January through June, 2004

    And now friends, it's that time of year when I recap the highlights and lowlights of the last (nearly) 365 days of 2004. We saw a lot of writers come and a lot of writers go, personality conflicts, and the institution of a proprietary message board. I saw a little newspaper recognition. 4 hurricanes and two website crashes later, we're still here. We gotta be doing something right! Here's the play-by-play:

    January. Busy month! Started serene enough before I receive my first death threat(!) for my radically left-wing political views. Coincidentally, this month Andy Lalino, one of the most right-wing pundits I've ever known and a prolific contributor to the Lettercol, joins the staff of PCR for the first time with "Oddservations". While ED Tucker is attending the Florida Extravaganza Collectibles Show, the amazing Mars Rover is showing the best close-up pictures of the red planet in decades. Bob Keeshan, TV's "Captain Kangaroo" passes away as PCR reaches its 200th issue. Hugo Morley grandson of British actor Robert Morley, writes his first guest editorial for PCR. Young writers Joshua "Black Dog" Montgomery and Clayton "The Ogre" Smith also submit articles for the first time this month. In "Mike's Rant", Mike begins a series called "Meet the Beatles", featuring a new piece of the lads' history every week. I attend the Romeo Coffeehouse Film Series for the first time. February sees ED Tucker once again deliver another knockout punch with his popular article on "Johnny Sockko and His Flying Robot". Joshua's and Clayton's friend Nicholas King begins his column "Nicholas Rex" for the first time here. I wax on about growing pains as Terence Nuzum remembers thirty '80s bands that didn't suck. "The Passion of The Christ" explodes on the big screen and movies will never be the same again. A great deal of commentary and record box office makes Mel Gibson a very rich man. Another young area writer, Dylan "The Drow" Jones, friends with the others, begins his column this month. March always brings traditional Academy Awards issue of PCR which is where we all see how our predictions came out. As usual, Mike Smith was the winner. Mike "Deadguy" Scott, missing for over a year, returns with his "Deadguy's Dementia" column. MEGACON, 2004, was my second trip to Orlando, introducing Josh and Clay to ED Tucker and his crew, who I hadn't seen since last year's event. A diversion to The Big Bamboo ensures my memories will be foggy. Nonetheless, the MegaCon PCR issues are starting to look like automatic highlighs of the year. Slow to value its inclusion, but a big hit with cast and crew is the new Crazed Fanboy Message Board which debuted this month (the Ides of March, the 15th, to be exact). How could I predict 30+ registered users, over 800 articles, and a devastating computer crash would rob me of this new community tool. While "The Passion of The Christ" is still heating up the web waves, fans cringe over the "Dawn of the Dead" remake. April's Tampa Toy and Comic Con brought quite a few of us together under one roof and was covered by both Brandon Jones (Splash Page) and myself in these pages. Katharine Leis explains why Florida has not been regarded as a serious player in the film world. Andy Lalino recalls his afternoon with Forrest J Ackerman. I remark that the Tampa filmmaking scene is improving, no doubt bolstered by my visit to the Tambay Film Festival. "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" explodes on the screen, but "The Punisher" appears to be irritating fans. By May the country's political situation has heated up considerably as The War in Iraq becomes one of the most divisive issues in decades. The PCR becomes more politically involved. The Message Board reflects the weight of the challenge. "Troy" and "Van Helsing" seem to disappoint fans, but "Shrek 2" scores another home run. Gay marriage becomes serious news fodder for pundits. ED Tucker visits Tampa--a "Fanboy Summit Meeting" ensues. As we recover from the deaths of Tony Randall and Alan King, Ben Gregory, the Great Benzini debuts his column this month. After two more columns he would never be heard from again. I open the doors to paid advertisers this month and receive my first subscriber: Fbod Studios. I'm pround to say she's still with us! As we sail into action-packed June, Harry Potter fans are all a-tremble about The Prisoner of Azkaban, but we're more concerned with the Top 10 Worst Songs of All Time. Suggested by Andy Lalino and begun by William Moriaty in La Floridiana, Andy succeeds in launching The Dr. Paul Bearer Fan Archive and Database this month. Even though I'm all excited at the first installment of It Came From The PO BOX, I stop to acknowledge the death of Ronald Reagan. "The Chronicles of Riddick" and "The Day After Tomorrow" come and go. Matt Drinnenberg continues to wrestle with Famous Monsters villain Ray Ferry. I get a fan letter from legendary radio personality Tedd Webb and I'm walking on Cloud 9 for quite a while after that. SpaceShip One proves two regular guys and $20 million can get into space, while a friend of a friend remembers meeting the Three Stooges in Tampa! "Spider-Man 2" gets lots of deserved attention, but "Fahrenheit 9/11" becomes the next cause celebre in politics and the PCR. After super-fan Lonnie Dohlen helps Andy and me with the DPB Database one afternoon, I stop by the Globe Coffeehouse in St. Pete to meet punk artist Josh Sullivan.

    Next week: the best is yet to come as Will and I travel to Jacksonville, FL, hurricanes tear up the sunshine state, I get into the newspaper, a presidential election divides the country, and this website experiences two crashes! Also...don't miss "Our Fallen Comrades", the graveyard of extinct columns. PLUS: PCR's Most Valuable Players, 2004! All here next week!

    BEST & WORST OF 2004   by Drew Reiber

    Top 10 Films for 2004:

    The Life Aquatic - Go see it. Don't read any reviews or start some kind of lame Wes Anderson marathon before going. Just see it with your eyes and mind freshly open. If you are having second thoughts, see my review HERE.

    The Incredibles - The Watchmen meets Fantastic Four meets James Bond. Possibly the greatest animated American feature in years, or during the entire last decade. Pixar has not only consistently shown that creativity is not dead in our animation industry, but that they can mold their entire staff around the vision of one person. Brad Bird, the writer/director, has also shown that making a cartoon for kids and adults is still possible (and fun!), no matter how hard Disney has tried to ruin the form. I look forward to seeing what Bird did on The Iron Giant and what he plans on doing next.

    Dogville - Lars Von Trier's dark masterpiece that twists American folk tale formula until it tears open, revealing the black heart that can reside where we refuse to acknowledge it. Yes, it's very easy to just push this film away because the closing credits felt "pretentious" or whatever. Well, for all you so-called liberals who condemn others for criticize those who use blanket generalizations like "anti-American", you should look at yourselves. Just because you donít like the message doesn't mean it can't be true. Looking past the controversies, this movie did for the form what George Lucas thought Episode I would do...except with 98% of the CGI replaced by good old-fashioned imagination!

    Fahrenheit 9/11 - Powerful, poignant and entirely too intelligent for the majority of this country, I can't help but accept the fact that most of the people who saw this had already made their decision to vote for Kerry anyway. I think this film will serve as more of a historical spin piece for reflection than it will as a motivator for political change, but boy...it sure was a ride at the time of release. If only we could get people charged by documentary filmmaking like this every year. I look forward to his next film Sicko (about the pharmaceutical companies) and the sequel to Fahrenheit (not kidding).

    Spider-Man 2 - Definitely one of the best superhero movies to date, Sam Raimi is solidifying his place among the great directors. Mastering the compositions within his framework and balancing his Spaghetti/Val Lewton-inspired techniques with standard classical realism, he's also building complex relationships among the characters that work despite uneven performances. Raimi's signature visual traits (montage, closeup, speedup, etc) have finally found the right pace and continuity to build mini-action stories in any given scene, while he displays his nearly seamless ability to weave in and out of his erratic or standard form styles. Though he's still building off of the groundwork laid out by Richard Donner's first two Superman films, I feel he deserves real credit for making the story (which he had complete control over this time) work far better than the first entry. Spider-Man 3 should be a real treat.

    Shaun of the Dead - The writing/directing team from the British TV series "Spaced" proved that you don't need to be an ignorant ass to make a zombie feature work. Striving to build on the story-driven zombie formula pioneered by George A. Romero, providing subtle homage along the way, they have done far better than Peter Jackson's earlier effort Braindead (Dead Alive in the U.S.). Instead of relying upon special effects to carry the entire picture, they built complex characters and relationships that are so well developed you can watch the film multiple times and find new bits of information or gags. Reinventing the zombie apocalypse film in a new way (unlike the rip-off fest 28 Days Later) for the "slacker generation", I think this film makes the perfect movie to watch with friends.

    The Aviator - My review for the inevitable Oscar champion HERE.

    Seed of Chucky - Don Mancini shows us, once again, that twisting horror into new shapes is in fact possible. As far from the Child's Play series as Bride of Chucky was, Seed of Chucky was as far from Bride. Take the soul of John Waters, splash it with Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, Freddy vs. Jason), add a little Alfred Hitchcock and a sprinkle of Ed Wood... and wallah, you have this film. Funny, original and biting in satire, the only unfortunate side effect is that it is likely that Mancini (writer and now director too) has taken this formula as far as it can go without being outright parody. I hope this is not the end of the cliché-manipulating reflexive slasher sub-genre (having begun with New Nightmare), but it could be.

    Ocean's Twelve - I know you all felt cheated for going to see a sequel that was completely original and a far more interesting movie, so as Kevin Conroy's Batman said to Superman, "Cry me a river."

    Finding Neverland - What's this? A family-friendly drama that challenges the imagination without pretentiousness, gore or needless Hollywood clichés? For all you fantasy movie lovers out there, this film is for you. A beautiful dedication to the origin of the Peter Pan play, with a very good point about the walls we put up against our inner child as we grow older and bitter. An excellent (and restrained!) performance from Johnny Depp and one of the best child performances I've ever seen, I would only go so far as to warn anyone only who might be as sensitive as I am to be ready to choke up by the end of this one.

    Top 5 Honorable Mentions

    Baadasssss! (great job from Mario Van Peebles, wanted it to be #11)

    Evil (Mikael Hafstrom is one of the few people who get what's going on in schools at all)

    A Dirty Shame (you're almost back, keep it up John Waters)

    Daredevil: The Director's Cut (30+ minutes makes a huge difference, much better!)

    Shrek 2 (watchable and entertaining, unlike the first)

    Top 5 Films I Really Wanted To See But Missed...

    Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman - You have to love it when the one opportunity you have to see a new feature is at a movie theater that has one showing on its opening night for the film. And you've really got to love it when the jackasses load the second reel incorrectly thereby ruining the second half of the film when you were loving the hell out of it. Thanks Tampa Theater, from the bottom of my heart.

    Incident at Loch Ness - The latest documentary drama by Werner Herzog on the supposed existence of the Loch Ness monster that was supposedly destroyed during a conflict with another supposed production by X-Men screenwriter-now-director Zak Penn. This film is about the films that were never made. I'm sure this mess is an entertaining bit of insanity, but I missed its one-week release at the Downtown Media Arts Center in Orlando. D'oh!

    Hero - The critically acclaimed reworking of Rashomon to by the fantastic Chinese filmmaker Yimou Zhang in the action-fantasy style American audiences were introduced to through Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. His feature To Live, still banned in his homeland I believe, still stands as one of the most powerful dramas I've ever seen. And he's a MUCH better filmmaker than Ang Lee, I can tell you that.

    House of Flying Daggers - The second Yimou Zhang action-fantasy-drama that came out this year and I have yet to find.

    A Very Long Engagement - Jean-Pierre Jeunet's latest, a WWI drama, was not out by the time I made this list, but I hope to see it sometime before the end of the year.

    Top 5 Worst Films of the Year:

    Alexander - Oliver. OLIVER! Stop. PLEASE stop. You're only hurting yourself, and your financiers, and your family, and your friends, and audiences, and me. I've seen Italian C-grade barbarian fantasy movies by Lucio Fulci that topped this. And your Orson Welles "homaging" is not only tired and repetitive, but it is derivative. The film fails in every technique, every performance is like a fine cake catapulted against a brick wall and I wouldn't be surprised if you're back on the sauce and pills judging by this mess. Take a breather, at least...because if you still think this movie is good, you're doomed.

    Catwoman - Wow. Simply, wow. Anyone related to this garbage should have been immediately sterilized. And who thought it was a good idea to copy Daredevil when it only came out a year earlier? Yeesh!

    Punisher - OK, listen. I know you're all Tampa lovers and this thing was supposedly the greatest since sliced bread, but guess what? It sucked, big time. Give me the Dolph Lundgren version any day. The original serial killer action cheese blew Jonathan Hensleigh's "The Defensor" right out of the water. And it looked epic by comparison!

    Coffee & Cigarettes - Jim Jarmusch, you're a pretentious douche. I really don't feel like wasting any of my intellectual strength or will on you beyond that simple statement.

    Dawn of the Dead - If you liked this trash, you are a simple creature who feeds off the bare minimum psychological relationship between sex and violence. I feel sad for you.


    Please consider making a donation to help support Crazed Fanboy! Click on the "donate" link below and give whatever you can. I sincerely thank you for any and all consideration.---Nolan
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    "Mike's Rant" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2004 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino    "Splash Page" is ©2004 by Brandon Jones      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova    
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