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Number 75 (Vol 2, No. 35).  This edition is for the week of August 27--September 2, 2001.
Nutty summer in Florida!
Are we the future home of JAWS?

What the heck is going on with Florida's undersea animal kingdom? The area around New Smyrna Beach, Florida, a resort town on our east coast about 15--20 miles south of Daytona, has been (at press time) the target of--so far--no less than 10 shark attacks this summer.

In fact, according to the latest statstics, Florida is responsible for 20 shark attacks this year, or half the WORLD'S reported shark attacks for 2001!!!

Does anyone else besides me remember a couple years ago when barracudas started jumping out of the water?? At least 2 barracuda attacks within 2 weeks, where the creatures lept out of the water and onto boats biting victims upon landing! That's just unearthly. But I never heard of another one since then.

It should be mentioned that of all 10 shark attacks in Florida, I believe none were fatal. One young boy had his arm bitten completely off, but his uncle was close by and managed to recover the severed arm from the shark(!!) and the arm was successfully sewn back on, but the boy was (is?) in a prolonged coma and almost didn't make it. That was the worst.

The weirdest thing, to me, is that almost all the attacks happened in fairly shallow water. Some only ankle-deep! So most/all of these are not Great Whites. But they don't have to be to do severe damage. I sympathize with the victims heart-and-soul. And I hope and pray for their speedy recovery. As it stands now, the Labor Day holiday will be awfully quiet on New Smyrna. Predictably, tourism will be a little off this weekend!

To Hollywood: As exploitative as you usually are, I should think the next "Jaws" or "Jaws-like" movie would be missing the boat if it DIDN'T film in Florida! "Jaws: The New Revenge---The New Smyrna Beach Story".

Good friend and movie make-up wiz Corey Castellano is leaving for Baltimore, Maryland this weekend to begin filming "Gods and Generals", the sequel to "Gettysburg". "G & G" will star Robert Duvall, Mira Sorvino, and Jeff Daniels.
   FYI, Corey was scheduled to be a guest speaker at this weekend's DragonCon in Atlanta. Regrettably, he obviously he had to cancel.

La Floridiana by William Moriaty
   If you want to know the truth about Florida's people, read Florida fiction. Fiction novels about the current day Florida experience from the likes of authors such as Elmore Leonard, Dave Barry, Carl Hiassen, and Tim Dorsey capture the essence of this experience in candid, humorous, and sometimes violent ways. Miami Herald alumnus Dave Barry and Carl Hiassen concentrate much of their story lines to their Miami-Dade County home turf. Elmore Leonard gave us "Maximum Bob", based on a real-life over-the-top judge in Citrus County. Tim Dorsey, however, dedicates the majority of his writing to (drum roll please) the Tampa Bay area.
   A reporter for the Tampa Tribune from 1987 to 1999, Dorsey's first novel was "Florida Roadkill" in 1999, followed by "Hammerhead Shark Motel" in 2000, and now we are treated to his latest novel "Orange Crush".

This novel's premise is a study into the life of Florida gubernatorial candidate, Marlon Conrad. An incumbent due to a deadly default, Conrad is challenged for the position by Florida House Speaker Gomer Tatum. Initially an arrogant, repugnant, insensitive, and monied man from several generations of a politically-powerful Florida family, Conrad goes through a life-altering experience as a result of being sent to a war-torn eastern European country with his military reserve unit. He returns back to Florida a humbled, fair-minded, and reborn man intent on cleaning up the political machine that Florida is so infamous for being. In addition to the strange twists that occur in this Governor's race, we are treated to several synchronous sub-plots, such as insights into the misdeeds of power broker/greed-monger Helmut Von Zeppelin, owner of the abysmal Florida Felons NFL football franchise. Von Zeppelin bribes the Orange County Commission into financing a new stadium in Orlando for his newly acquired team---all at taxpayer's expense, of course. Von Zeppelin can not understand why, after only several games into the first season, the fans, who he feels should be elated to have any professional team, are not happy campers due to the Felons losing by double digits each consecutive game day (sounds a bit familiar, don't it?).

Lastly, we again encounter one of my favorite Florida Folk Heroes, Serge A. Storms. Storms, who has been featured in all three of Dorsey's novels, is the son of a former West Palm Beach Jai-Alai player who was killed, in a rather clumsy and ridiculous manner, while playing his last quintilla. As an adult, Serge becomes a walking encyclopedia of Florida facts, folk lore, history, and trivia. When he is on his medication and best behavior, Serge is an engaging and charming man willing to share his obsession with Florida with anyone willing to come along for the ride. When he is off his medication, or in a generally foul disposition, you better stay away from him-- he'll rip your lungs out Jim (in Serge's defense, his victims usually "deserved the killin'").

Dorsey's work is fast-paced, evocative, witty, graphically violent, wonderfully funny, has some adult situations, but is breathlessly entertaining. No one touched by the spirit of "La Floridiana" should be without any of these three novels. His books can be found at most local major book stores. You may want to also check out his web site at www.timdorsey.com. Pleasant reading!

Many, many thanks! Goes to fellow "La Floridiana" brethren Steve Beasley for pointing me in the direction of the web site, Florida's Lost Tourist Attractions. This site is dedicated to yet another "La Floridiana" fascination of mine, Florida's abandoned roadside theme parks. I plan on doing a "La Floridiana" installment on such in the future (that Beasley's a mind reader-- only problem bein' that there ain't much of a mind to read here!). Check out that web site. Once again, it's at http://www.lostparks.com/thelist.html.

Next week: We'll look at locally-produced fanzines from the 70's and 80's.

The Ghosts of Mars          Movie reviews by John C. Lewis
* * * ½  out of   * * * * stars
* ½  out of   * * * * stars

Hello PCR Readers:
The castle has been cluttered lately with lots of odds and ends to dish out to PCR (like fingers and entrails, things of that nature) but first I've got to mention two movies I saw over the weekend. The first was "John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars" starring Natasha Henstridge and Ice Cube. All you Pam Grier fans out there might be interested in knowing that she again plays a gun toting babe in this outer space opus. The plot is simple---almost too simple.
   A group of cops hop a futuristic train to transport a dangerous criminal (Ice Cube) from an isolated post to stand trial for murder. At first I smelled a rat and it's name was "Pitch Black" but I had faith in Carpenter to deliver me from such evil thoughts as "copy-cat movie." I was not disappointed. After all, how many other filmmakers use their name regularly as part of the movie's title. The movie started out a little slow but quickly gained momentum. It became an action filled "Fiend Fest" in no time at all. The make-up was good and the main "baddie" was quite cool-looking. The musical score, however, was the winner hands down and added greatly to the feel of the movie. Heavy Metal addicts (such as myself) got a lethal dose of molten metal in "Ghosts." John Carpenter teamed up with Buckethead and Anthrax to create one of the best Metal musical scores I've heard in a movie. It leaves the viewer playing air guitar in their seat while watching the film. All-in-all I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to any fans of "Mars Movies" as well as Carpenter fans in general. We just can't seem to get enough of those enigmatic Martians whoever or whatever they may be. Okay everybody, this is your homework assignment; go out and support John Carpenter by seeing this movie. There has been almost no advertising for this film so it will be interesting to see how well it does. I saw the first add for it when I was in California in June (that's a story for a future issue) and saw a neat stand-up in the theatre lobby. On the Creature scale I give "Ghosts" three screams. It seems that the red Planet Mars still fascinates us. I hope we're not disappointed when we get there a few years from now.
   By the way, I'll start the list, so let's see how many additions we can add. The category is: Movies about MARS.
1) John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars
2) Red Planet
3) Mission To Mars
4) Mars Attacks
5) Robinson Crusoe On Mars
6) Angry Red Planet
Have Fun!!!!!!!
(Off the top of my head, I can add three: "Mission Mars" (1968), "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians" (1964), and "Mars Needs Women" (1967).---N)

Now for review, number two. I heard rumor of a science-fiction movie being filmed in Pinellas County (no Nolan, not that one) so I just had to check it out. This weekend "The Profit" opened at the Cinema and Drafthouse in Clearwater. On Sunday I went to check it out. In a nutshell the film is centered around a religion based on science-fiction and created by a genre author. Anybody from the Tampa Bay area may notice similarities to Scientology. The movie (just over two hours in length) leaves no stone unturned as it traces the evolution of this religion through a series of flashbacks. Is it worth seeing? I'm not sure. If you have nothing else to do then the answer would be yes. If you support local filmmakers then the answer would similarly be yes. Finally, if you like Independent films, then again the answer would be yes. The film is certainly not the worst movie I've ever seen (believe me, I've seen some gems) but I know that many of my friends would not enjoy it. The acting is not bad and if you are a local it will be fun to try and pick out the locations. The most ditracting thing for me was the poor sound quality of the film. I give the film 1 and 1/2 screams on the Creature scale. That's it for this time around.

   I would like to add some comments to Will's story of "Horror Hosts of the Tampa Bay Area." (Re: "La Floridiana" installment on local horror hosts, issue 73.---N) One of the first shows I remember after moving to Clearwater from Long Island in the mid-sixties was "Shock Theatre." It really left an impression on me that I carry to this day. The host was none other than "Shock Armstrong, the All-American Ghoul." He was so named because he wore a football jersey with a huge # 13 on it with shoulder pads to beef him up. (I believe the number was also to signify "Channel 13", the affiliate that carried the show.---N) The face of Shock Armstrong was none other than the face from "I was a Teenage Frankenstein." (And the actor was most likely Paul Hoffman, otherwise employed as the 11:00pm anchor.---N) His opening line is permanently etched in my memory. With a gravel-filled voice he would say; "Welcome millions to Shock Theatre, the greatest show on the face of the Earth." He lived upstairs in the attic of his mother's house and he always used to play dirty tricks on his mother, whom we never saw. She would call for him and he would open up the attic and dump hot oil on her or some similarly dastardly thing and all you would hear were these horrible screams coming fom this poor woman. But we always knew she was okay because she was there to take more abuse week after week. He also played similar tricks to his neighbor Mr. Wilson as well as any visitors to the Armstrong household such as Girl Scouts selling cookies. I saw some films on that show which are rarely seen anymore and I think that was one of the reasons the show has stuck with me all these years.
   Anyway, I just wanted to add a little ancient Creature Knowledge to Will's excellent series on Florida. Keep up the good work Will. C-Ya!!!!!!!!!

Letters to the Editor

Will Moriaty  Re: "Mike's Rant" of  PCR #74.
Mike, I appreciate your interest and responses to my column---you got me digging back into my ol' memory banks again like Terence managed to do to me two weeks ago or so. Remember the old ad for Rutland Bank? It featured a rigored, several-hours-dead-looking old man named Hubert Rutland, "Chairman of the Board and President".
   Then there was the Home Federal Savings ad with their sappy jingle of the song "There's No Place Like Home"-- "Go to Home Federal Savings, there's no place like Home"... Good God, y'all!
   Both of these ads were typically on the old WLCY/WTSP Channel 10, as usual marketed for the droopy-drawered centigenerian crowd across the Bay. But I've been trying to remember for weeks now what local furniture store did the ads on Channel 44 back in the late 70's and early 80's that had an announcer (or the owner for all that I know-- he was the spittin' image of my alcoholic uncle and talked just like him too) sputter, "Rattan is rattan is rattan", and on another occaision, "these dinettes come in a great assortment with a cacaphony of colors." "Cacaphony of colors?"-- you just know that that ol' boy had to have a higher level of edjamacation than his competitors! Do you (or anyone else out there) remember those ads or that sponsor?
   Regardless, thanks again for reading and reacting-- hopefully, you might remember some locally-produced fanzines that I'll be discussing in NCPCR two weeks from now! Till then take care...
I don't if Mike knows ("Mike's Rant" for this week arrived before Will's letter was uploaded to the web), but the only now-defunct furniture stores I can recall from that period are Unclaimed Freight and Kennedy & Cohen. Anybody else care to guess? ---Nolan

Matt's Rail       by Matt Drinnenberg
Hello gang! As usual, I'm swamped. I do have some new info to report on the Famous Monsters of Filmland legal issue with Forry and Ferry.
   As I mentioned in a previous Rail, Ray Ferry, who lost a lawsuit to Forrest Ackerman, had appealed the jury decision to grant Ack (forry) ownership of the name Dr. Acula as well as other long-standing Forry pseudonyms. The case has yet to reach the appealate court, but other business dealings by Ferry have caught the attention of law enforcement in California. As I suspected he would do, he changed ownership of Famous Monsters of Filmland from Dynacom to Central Media in an obvious attempt to stall payments to Ackerman. It has now been revealed that he transferred practically ALL of his assets to a "friend" and tried to declare bankruptcy.
   The problem with this is two-fold.....aside from reeking of scummery, it is ILLEGAL in the wonderful state of California to transfer assets "after" a legal judgement. It is equally illegal for a law firm to participate in such illegalities. Ferry has now "joined" an editorial group and they are coming out with a new magazine called "Classic Monsters". There is even a web site, which uses some of the icons from the FM site, including Igor of the front web page. Also, RF is rehashing the FM Filmbooks under the NEW title of GOTHIC HORROR FILMBOOK with no mention of FM to be found.
   I find it amusing that these are being billed as "NEW", when the only thing new is the name. The covers of the gothic and sci-fi editions are even the same as the FM editions. Makes you wonder about the future of the no-longer "new" FM. I pulled this information off several web sites, from chat rooms to news articles. When the appealate court renders its decision, or when there's any other news regarding this, I'll let you know.

That's it for now, so till next time....take care
and God Bless,

Mike's Rant!

Hello gang! Lots of celebrity obits to start off with. Shall we begin?

Very sad to begin by reporting the death of 22-year-old singing star Aaliyah Haughton. She was among the nine people killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas this past weekend. Her first album, released when she was 15, went gold and she followed that up with two multi-platinum releases. Also a budding film star, she made her film debut in last years Jet Li action film "Romeo Must Die." Her first starring role, "Queen of the Damned," has been completed and Warner Brothers will release it in March, 2002. She had recently filmed some scenes for the two upcoming "Matrix" sequels, but it is not sure what, if any, footage would be used.

Peter Maas, the best-selling author who helped chronicle the Mafia from Joe Valachi to Sammy Gravano, died last Thursday at the age of 72. His first novel, "The Valachi Papers," was an international best seller and later a hit film. In the early 70's, he detailed the life of incorruptible New York City police officer Frank Serpico. Al Pacino later played the honest cop in an Oscar-nominated film.
   Jane Greer, who played the seductive Kathie Moffat opposite Robert Mitchum and Richard Widmark in "Out of the Past" died last Friday in Los Angeles. She was 76. Greer, the former wife of bandleader Rudy Vallee, was an icy brunette who became a film noir star. One of her final roles re-teamed her with Widmark in the updated version of "Out of the Past," Taylor Hackford's "Against All Odds."
   Kathleen Freeman, who received a Tony Award nomination for her role in the Broadway adaptation of "The Full Monty," passed away Thursday. Cause of death was listed as lung cancer. Only five days earlier, she gave her final performance in the show. A veteran of the stage, she did many films, including "The Fly," "The Nutty Professor" and, most recently, one of the voices in "Shrek." However, she is probably best known as the nun affectionately referred to as "The Penguin" in 1980's "The Blues Brothers."
And baby-boomers would recognize Ms. Freeman from dozens of appearances on a variety of TV shows from the '60s from "Dragnet" to "Gomer Pyle USMC" to innumerable sit-coms. Only fellow frumspter Reta Shaw would be as recognizable. Kathleen Freeman was 78 years old. ---Nolan

On August 29, 1966, the Beatles gave their last public concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. And no, the "jam session" on the roof of the Apple Building captured in the film, "Let It Be," doesn't count!

After 33 national seasons, Fred Rogers is closing up his neighborhood. "Mister Roger's Neighborhood" aired its last original program Tuesday. A staple for children all over the world, the show will continue to run in syndication on PBS.

A 29-year-old professional circus clown has been convicted of sodomizing his teenage assistant. Christopher Bayer, known professionally as "Smiley the Clown," was found guilty on nine counts, including sodomy and sexual abuse. Bayer said he would appeal, then squeezed into a little fire engine and drove off.

Aaliyah was the most recent musician to die in a plane crash. She joins a growing list that includes Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, the Big Bopper, Otis Redding, the Barkays and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Another singer who left us too quickly via flight was country great Patsy Cline. Her plane crashed on March 5, 1963 when she was returning home from a concert in Kansas City. Parts of the plane recently turned up for sale on Ebay, which drew the ire of some fans. Ebay says the auction is ok, as long as the sellers can authenticate the fact that the parts come from the actual plane. Cline's husband, Charlie Dick agrees with Ebay. "Hell, it's been 40 years," he said. "I have no desire to own it."

This past week I watched with incredulation as Connie Chung interviewed California Congressman Gary Condit. I don't know what this guy was thinking, but he left me wondering how he ever got elected in the first place. His refusal to answer any questions concerning Chandra Levy with the line "out of respect to the Levy family" drove me crazy! Hell, the Levy's have been asking the same questions!! Condit also denied having a "relationship" with flight attendant Anne Marie Smith. Later, his attorney issued a statement that Condit did not consider his association with Smith a "relationship." I hope PCR can get me an interview with this guy. I won't sugar coat my questions. Affair? Relationship? "Mr. Condit, did you stick your dick in Chandra Levy or not?" Pretty hard to evade that question! Make it happen, chief!
LOL! If only I had the clout. Of all the TV junk I missed lately, I feel the worst about missing this damned Condit interview. The media EXPLODED with speculation over his evasive answers to her waffling questioning. Didn't have much time to watch TV this week, but I wish I'd've seen this. ---Nolan)

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2001 by Matt Drinnenberg    "La Floridiana" is ©2001 by Will Moriaty    The movie reviews for  "John Carpenter's The Ghosts of Mars" and "Profit" are ©2001 by John Lewis    Add'l thanks to Will Moriaty for his input in "Letters"    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova

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