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MOVIE REVIEW
"Basic Instinct 2" áby Mike Smith
MY MIDDLE TOE
Live Evil In Production áby Mark Terry
MIKE'S RANT
Family Guy....Bury Bonds....Root Root Root For The Home Team....You Must Supply Your Own Cape!...Passing On....My Favorite Films -- Part 13: "A League of Their Own áby Mike Smith
LETTERS
Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 314  (Vol. 7, No. 13). This edition is for the week of March 27--April 1, 2006.

NewsQuake!
First off...
  •  PCR writers an endangered species?
  •  "I'm looking for this video..."
  •  Nolan Goes Broadband!
    Headlines...
  •  Andrew Card resigns; Josh Bolten new Chief of Staff
  •  Zacarias Moussaoui: The 20th hijacker?
  •  The strange case of the preacher's homicidal wife
  •  Terri Schiavo, one year later
  •  "The Jesus Papers"
    Plus...
  •   Country music loses Buck Owens
  •   Can Arnold get pumped in time for Terminator 4??
  • Writers Raptured?
    I know it looks a little scary sometimes, but remember this happens every once in a while. The number of PCR writers who send in regular columns grows and shrinks with the seasons (with the praiseworthy exception of St. Mike of Smith, of course). Looking over the Archives of any given year, the roulette wheel spins every few weeks or so to make it seem like a mass exodus has happened in the PCR offices. Sometimes I get so many contributions it takes me until Friday to format them all properly; other weeks---like this one---I wonder where everybody went!

    Well OK, not really. There are three issues, or more specifically, conflicts, at work here. The first is the PCR staff is a dynamic group of talented artists as well as outstanding writers whose lives are almost always in flux. Most of them are involved in outside projects most of the year. Occasionally, ALL of them will be involved in something at the SAME TIME of the year, making column-writing a second priority for more than a few. Such as is happening currently.

    A second problem arises when they get so involved in their work to the exclusion of all else (which I can understand), that when it comes time to write their columns---if they do at all---the impulse is now to use PCR solely as a vehicle for self-promotion and showcasing their current project. They may not even be aware they're doing it, but I will alert them and it will not go on. This, as long-time readers may recall, is what cost us Andy Lalino's Oddservations column (well, among other things). I don't fault anybody for wanting to promote their hard work, that's what Crazed Fanboy is basically here to do, but at the same time it's not commentary, which is what the PCR is here to do.

    To Nolan Watchers/Critics: Yes, I'm making a bit of an exception in Mark Terry's case (My Middle Toe is Longer Than Yours) because, while his play-by-play diary of the shooting of Live Evil can be construed as embedded self-promotion, I see it as very educational, filmmaking-wise. Mark is in a unique position in that he's made films in both Florida and California and frequently compares the two experiences which I find extremely enlightening. His personal approach, talking directly to the reader, I think elevates Toe into documentary status. That....and we have a certain scheister investor in common, which makes me biased, haha.

    Lastly, some writers merely cop an attitude and walk out, for whatever reason, usually something as simple as personality conflicts or irreconcilable differences in politics. Nevertheless, it's a comparitively rare writer who vanishes from PCR forever, usually a break is all that's needed. And I'm thankful for that!


    "I'm Looking For This Video..."
    In the last two decades, nearly every TV show that ever existed has had a representative in the DVD manufacturing process, with more and more shows made available every year, particularly those produced in the '80s and '90s, when long-term storage and marketing were made more viable. Unfortunately, it gives too many people the impression that everything ever made has been preserved forever, it's just a matter of finding it. I bring this up because with increasing frequency, I'm receiving letters of an almost heartbreaking nature regarding older fans who are desperately searching for videotapes that simply never existed, or were destroyed.

    Game shows, talk shows, and children's shows are a particular sore point. In the '50s and some of the '60s, these were broadcast live and no recording was made. Those that had higher budgets used the kinescope method of recording which basically meant filming a TV monitor. Some of these examples exist, but not many, due to storage concerns. Same thing with anything videotaped in later decades on a daily basis. It's just too much to store and most of these don't exist anymore unless there was someone on set who bothered to steal the tape or pay for a kinescope.

    Children's shows are a particularly frequent complaint, especially those featuring on-air appearances by local kids (Romper Room, Barney Bungleupper, Mary Ellen are a few examples of those from Tampa. Bozo the Clown was more on a nat'l scale). They are grown-ups now and would love to show their kids what it was like. Even if that wasn't an issue, older shows like Captain Kangaroo were a pivotal part of kids' daily TV consumption for decades (I know he was for me!), and a rerun now and then would sure bring back a flood of positive memories. A very few of the Captain's early episodes from the late '50s and early '60s are available due to a few rare, well-preserved kinescopes. (The last Captain Kangaroos produced in the '80s and '90s are not what I'd consider collectable, but for anyone curious, at least there's a chance someone taped them.)

    The locally-produced, daily or weekend-only products are gone with the wind. Old tapes were often re-used to tape newer shows. Sometimes it's simply a matter of TV stations changing hands and the new owners cleaning out the closets.

    Such was the case with hosted horror shows, like St.Petersburg-based Creature Feature, a big favorite around the Crazed Fanboy offices. With the exception of four master videos preserved from the WTOG archives by Dick Bennick (aka, Dr. Paul Bearer) himself, there would be no professional trail of evidence that it existed at all outside its beloved memory. Fortunately, the later shows (late '70s, '80's and '90s) were produced after personal VCRs were invented and a lot of these shows are available from collectors on eBay. They will not be professional grade, of course, but they're much better than having nothing at all.

    I'm writing this as a permanent reference point to those curious as to what's left of their TV childhood. I'm not saying don't write me and ask, you can do that any time you want. I'm just saying that, by and large, anything that can be reproduced from the past and marketed already has. If it hasn't, look at some of the evidence I've outlined and see if maybe that's the problem.


    Nolan Goes Broadband!
    For any and all of you who never knew, now it can be told: your humble webmaster and fearless leader has been accessing the internet from a dial-up computer from the very inception of this website until today (as I write this, Thursday, March 30, 2006). Yes, it's true: all the videos, music, and miraculous webpages you've ever read here were uploaded the hard, slow way. It was a drag, but it was cheap and dependable. This afternoon, however, I finally...finally...got a taste of what everybody's been screaming about and I've been looking foward to getting for years: a high-speed connection. Too expensive for me until recently, AOL decided late last year to start including it in their base packages for unlimited-time subscription members. The price is adjusted very slightly to include Verizon DSL service and AOL's base $10 a month fee, so I'm basically paying about the same rate for broadband as I was with dial-up. PLUS...I stay on my familiar AOL infrastructure. It was an offer I could no longer refuse and I was out of excuses. Well, that....and I was getting tired of not being able to see all the videos everyone was sending me links to---or not very well, anyway. I have to admit, it feels pretty good.


    Andrew Card Out; Josh Bolten In
    It was only within the last two weeks President Bush declared that he was satisfied with his cabinet the way it was and that he thought they were all doing a fine job (in that same weird memory fog Michael Brown resides). Behind the scenes, however, watchers and spinmeisters were predicting that, as Bush's approval ratings continued to slip down off the chart, a shake-up was badly needed and even inevitable.

    They were not as surprised as I was then, when Tuesday morning it was announced that Bush's Chief of Staff, Andrew Card had resigned. The former chief of White House Budget and Management, Josh Bolten succeeds him.

    I don't see Card as inept or incompetent, he's a good man, and had been with Bush since his first days of presidency. It has been suggested, however, that, starting with the Hurricane Katrina "scandal", and the increasing public dissatisfaction over Iraq, that the pressures on Bush's staff began mounting swiftly (remember, Rumsfeld's quit about three times so far---Bush refuses it). Card himself suggested to Bush he step down. Anybody got any suggestions of what's going on there? That Bush quickly accepted it and named Bolten as replacement (I'm sure he'll do fine) obviously means this is not the same situation as with Rumsfeld. What a difference a couple of weeks makes.

    Zacarias Moussaoui: The 20th Hijacker?
    Funny how even a confession during a major trial can be viewed with suspicion. Understandable in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, even though he is an al-Qaida member and even though he is already linked to the 9/11 terrorists. He told a stunned courtroom on Monday that he and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid were supposed to hijack a fifth airplane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House. Previously, he said the White House attack was to come later if the United States refused to release an Egyptian sheik imprisoned on separate terrorist convictions.

    You all might remember the strange case of Richard Reid who was subdued by passengers when he attempted to detonate a bomb in his shoe aboard American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami on Dec. 22, 2001. The plane was diverted to Boston, where it landed safely.

    Moussaoui told the court he knew the World Trade Center attack was coming and he lied to investigators when arrested in August 2001 because he wanted it to happen.

    For a guy who's facing execution, he's seemingly having a grand time trumping up his own charges. The great irony in all this is it would be wonderful if we had him dead to rights on 9/11 and could fry his ass for concealing the plot. Unfortunately, just about everyone connected to the case simply doesn't believe him.

    Why? Well, because he's playing his celebrity up for all its worth because he simply doesn't care. Besides being bitten by the show-biz bug and the notoriety he's enjoying (he loves the sound of "The 20th hijacker"), he knows anything he says can only enhance his role as martyr. Even playing right into the hands of his executioners.

    OK, fine then. If he wants to be the 20th hijacker and it gets him executed faster, I say go for it. The sad part since his fate is sealed anyway, we're apparently not going to get any more useful answers out of him to equally important questions regarding 9/11. Note to Moussaoui: Richard Reid? C'mon, he's a known f*ck-up, that tripped your story right there.


    The Strange Case of the Preacher's Homicidal Wife
    Of all the true crime stories I ever read, I think the consistently creepiest have to do with violent acts by religious people, God-fearing, members of the church or outright clergymen. In today's example, by religious/violent I am not referring to, say, abortion clinic bombers who believe God is speaking to them. That's horrifying on its own level, but not what I'm talking about here.

    No, I'm talking about cases like John List, the devout Orthodox Greek churchgoer who 35 years ago decided one day to kill his whole family and send them home to God because, basically, he was falling behind in paying bills. The fact that murder was, like, a sin was completely ignored.

    In my atheistic rants and raves I've spewed in the past, a common riff is the rampant hypocrisy I've observed in even the most devout households my whole life. I don't bring it up a lot because it's such an easy target. But sometimes, I just gotta wonder why people go to church and espouse all this belief in all this Christian virtue---and then resort to murder when they don't get their way. Umm....isn't murder still a sin?

    This week's weirdness is about a Tennessee preacher's wife who one day decided to shoot her minister husband to death....then confess to the crime.

    Mary Winkler, 32, was arrested on murder charges and confessed to the slaying after fleeing to Alabama in the family's minivan with the couple's three young daughters, authorities said. Authorities reportedly know the motive but at the time of this writing are not saying what it is. Infidelity, according to them, been ruled out.

    Her husband of 10 years, Matthew Winkler, a popular and charismatic 31-year-old preacher at a fundamentalist Christian church, was well-liked by the congregation of the Fourth Street Church of Christ who hired him in 2005. They also took to his wife who was quiet and supportive and who taught as a subsitute teacher at an elementary school.

    They were the perfect example of a well-matched Christian couple. Untilllll.....she decided to kill him. I wonder what happened to the idea of counseling and salvation here? The Devil made her do it?

    Terri Schiavo: One Year Later
    Inarguably the most intense, divisive, and world-watched right-to-life court battle in history took place right here in Central Florida over the better part of the last decade.

    Two books have just come out, one from each side of this case that go into more detail than I can possibly do justice to here, but I shall attempt a brief summary.

    In 1990, 26-year-old Theresa Marie "Terri" Schiavo had just said goodnight to her husband Michael, walked out into the hallway and inexplicably collapsed from heart failure. The deprivation of oxygen to her brain while rescuers rushed to the scene caused irreversible brain damage and resulted in a "persistent vegetative state" from which Terri would never awaken. Her case was hopeless. Or was it?

    Michael and his in-laws, the Schindlers, cared for Terri as best they could for the first few years. Then Michael filed a lawsuit against the doctors who had misdiagnosed Terri's bullimia (that was the best guess as to what caused her heart attack), and won three-quarter million dollars. That changed everything.

    After winning a lawsuit in the mid-'90s, the previously good relationship Michael Schiavo had with his in-laws turned very sour. Depending on which side you ask, greed started becoming a motive for the other side.

    A few years after winning the suit, and after doctors told him Terri's situation would not improve, Michael petitioned to have his wife removed from life-support. If he was successful, he stood to gain a lot of money. His motives were questioned. But regardless of that, the theory goes: if his wife had no chance of recovery, should she remain on life-support anyway and---please pay close attention here---is that what she would have wanted?

    Michael claims Terri once told him that in case something like this ever came up, she did not want to be kept alive by artificial means. Her parents, the Schindlers, vigorously argued the opposite, that Terri either said no such thing or, knowing their daughter like they did, maintain she'd cling to life by any means possible.

    Over the years, and after parading expert after expert before the judge, the courts generally sided with Michael that Terri's case was not reversible (believe me when I say I'm over-simplifying the court battle for brevity's sake here), and nothing would be gained medically from keeping her alive. Despite a few setbacks (i.e., reversals), Terri's feeding tube was removed for good a year ago this month. After almost two weeks, she died of dehydration. But not before everyone from The Governor of Florida to the Supreme Court to the President of the United States and Congress weighed in on the matter, even to the point of signing in historic legislation determined to keep Terri alive. But after all that, it came down to one federal judge, Michael Schiavo, and the Schindlers.

    The question that nags at the heart of this remain: Was Terri in a truly "persistent vegetative state" or merely "severely disabled"? In a famous piece of video, Terri can be seen reacting to her mother's voice. And yet, autopsy results show that the damage to Terri's brain, besides causing her severe disability, also caused blindness?

    The other question that caused near riots near the end of her life was this: is a "feeding tube" the same thing as "life support"? She was breathing on her own and had reportedly been able to swallow some things on her own. Schiavo's critics say pulling her feeding tube constitutes execution by starvation/dehydration, something we don't even do to animals.

    Michael maintains it's what Terri wanted. Unfortuntely, he was the only witness to her utterances about life and death. Read the books and decide for yourself.

    One more thing: make sure you tell your family, or those closest to you in a way they absolutely understand, what you want done in case you cannot speak for yourself.


    The Jesus Papers
    Only two years ago, we were a country newly awakened to our religious roots by the sensational and controversial Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of the Christ. Two years later, we seemed hell-bent on reversing that trend by proving that Jesus Christ was either a liar, hypocrite, lunatic, outright fraud, or even a non-existent figment of some Gospel writers' imaginations.

    This spring we are to be treated to the movie version of the recent sensational book The DaVinci Code, written by Daniel Brown that alleges that Jesus did not die on the cross, but survived, married Mary Magdelene, moved out of the country (likely to France) and bore offspring that begat succeeding world leaders. This angle was first proposed in earlier books like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, whose writers are, at this writing, still in court accusing Brown of copyright infringement. Oh, and by the way, none of this got by Leonardo DaVinci, who put clues about this religious cover-up in many of his paintings, ergo, The Code.

    Despite the fact at least a half-dozen books are out debunking The DaVinci Code over historical and factual errors (hey, it's just a thriller, people), it continues to be one of the best-selling books of all time.

    Now on newsstands is The Jesus Papers by Michael Baigent. Not only does it underscore the previous charges, but goes on to say that historic documents allegedly prove Jesus himself knew he was not divine! In an interview with the author on The Today Show, I could swear he also said it's possible Jesus never existed. I know many skeptics advance this notion, but in a book about Jesus's feelings about himself, I figure we'd best let him exist first so he could have a chance to discount himself. Anyway, supposedly, Jesus himself left writings that the whole crucifixtion was basically a sham to get Pontious Pilate off the hook over a tax dispute with Rome. The two colluded to make it look good. Jesus then left the Middle East to start a new life elsewhere with Mary Magdelene.

    I'm skipping over the usual play-by-play where all the books agree for brevity's sake, but suffice it to say, Baigent claims clues are left in various places -- including the Bible itself -- to point to these conclusions.

    Of course, as an atheist I'm drinking all this up and thinking that through the divine media (snark snark), people would finally see the evidence of the other side of the Christ story. Well....I'm not sure Baigent and company will win over all that many converts, but I'm delighted to see people starting to think about this for a change.

    WHY....Why are these books such hot sellers? Well, everyone loves a good thriller, sure, but I suggest that in these modern times, people weary of being lied to about everything else, are braced and ready to hear just about anything. If everything they were raised to believe is all based on a lie, better we know it sooner than later.


    Country Music Legend Buck Owens Dead at 76
    I think the first time I became aware of Buck Owens was at the start of Hee Haw -- the late '60s TV celebration of hillbilly/country music/theatrics that followed Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In for years on Monday nights. I remember he had a previous hit called "Tiger By The Tail" and that The Beatles covered another of his hits "Act Naturally", a pretty big claim to fame, but that was about it. I was never a big country music fan, but I realized there was probably more to Buck Owens when I heard his name mentioned in Creedence Clearwater Revival's hit "Lookin' Out My Back Door" : "dinosaur Victorola, listening to Buck Owens..."

    The reports that came out after his death amazed me at how much more he contributed to the field I never knew. Obviously he was a major player and will be sorely missed. I'm sure our own Mike Smith will do his story justice later this week in The Rant.


    Can Arnold Still Play The Terminator?
    I guess we should've seen it coming a mile away: Terminator 4 has been green-lighted, and yes, 60-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger is being courted to reprise his role! After he gets out of the California governor's mansion, of course. Barring that he gets re-elected for another term, of course. (Pundits say no way.)

    A short glimpse of message boards seem to support the re-casting of Arnold, because, hey, it wouldn't be the same without him, right? I'm not so sure. In Terminator 3 his age was showing badly enough where I couldn't really believe he'd be a threat to anybody before he'd, ya know, fall and break a hip or something.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm as big an Arnold fan as anybody. I was obsessed with Terminator 2 when it came out as not only one of the greatest sequels ever, but as one of the greatest action-thrillers ever -- period. Arnold was at his prime, and with the cast and crew (and the all-important James Cameron at the helm), the movie was unstoppable. Like the Terminator himself.

    For the record, I think female terminators are a lame idea. Kristanna Loken was pretty and all, but in my opinion, the femme fatale angle fell flat. Robert Patrick as the cop-from-hell was too hard an act to follow, you know?

    OK OK. Harrison Ford reprises Indiana Jones at 63, sure, but he doesn't have to appear nude out of a time bubble. And Sharon Stone at 48 can be a successfully nude Catherine Trammell (or can she? see Mike's review). Of course they can always skip that part of Arnie's time-travel, but it would be admitting, welll......he is 60 years old.

    IF...they can get James Cameron to write/direct and IF...Arnold hits the gym hard...they might be able to pull it off. If anyone can do it, Arnold can.

    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 ©2006 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2006 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "La Floridiana" is ©2006 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith    "Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2006 by Vinnie Blesi    "My Middle Toe Is Longer Than Yours" is ©2006 by Mark Terry    "Splash Page" is ©2006 by Brandon Jones      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova    
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