Monday, May 31, 2010

Uncle Leon on Tour!

Michigan's favorite son, Uncle Leon, and his band The Alibis are making their way through parts of the Mid-West. Check out the dates of the tour and see if they're coming to a town near you. I'll be making my way out to Ypsilanti to see them at The Elbow Room for some good times and good music.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Impossibly Funky - The Book Trailer

Knocked something off my To Do list - a promo video for the Cashiers du Cinemart book. Enjoy!

Oh, and please don't forget that the book is available for pre-order with lots of other goodies at

Also, big thanks to the folks who have been re-tweeting my frequent shills and blogging about the book such as Schlockmania and Forces of Geek. Much appreciated!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Project To Do List

With my recent lay-off, I'm revisiting my to-do list in hopes of knocking off some more items over the next few weeks.

- Cashiers du Cinemart Book Promo Video
- Seijun Suzuki "fan vid"

- Article: Oldrich Lipsky Films
- Article - "Far East Superman" - Indian/Turkish versions of Superman
- Article - "My Pants Are Talking!" - Talking genital films
- Article - "Killer Cocks and Vicious Vaginae" - Killer genital films
- Screenplay 1 - TB VS JK
- Screenplay 2 - TLR Hucksters
- CdC Sequel book

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Motor City Comic Con

You would think that I had been to a comic book convention by now but today was the first time I'd ever attended one. Sure, it wasn't San Diego but it was still an interesting experience.

Today was a day of firsts. My first time going to a comic book convention, my first trip to the Rock Financial Showcase in Novi, MI, and the first time I've paid for an autograph. Some could say that the "con" in "convention" is that the celebs there make at least $20 a pop for their signature. I knew this going in but had conveniently forgotten that folks on the "convention circuit" make a living by selling their images--8X10 glossy photos, autographs, and photos--no matter how big (Don Pedro Colley) or how small (Felix Silla) the star.

I wasn't expecting Shatner, Campbell, or Romero but I was still a little surprised by the level of celebrity at the convention. The one that cracked me up was the guy who was famous for saying, "These aren't the droids you're looking for" in Star Wars. But, seriously, the majority of the folks were at my "sweet spot." "What, you don't know Dan Hicks? He was Jake in Evil Dead II!"

The three people I wanted to meet the most at the convention were, in no particular order, Eric Roberts, Don Pedro Colley, and Jim Kelly. Luckily, all three of these gentlemen seemed pretty darned nice. No horror stories of "and when I got up to him, he was a complete dick." Nope. Don Pedro Colley had a long conversation with the couple that was before me in his short line back in Dukes of Hazzard corner. Eric Roberts nearly gave a guy a heart attack when he snapped a photo of him, "Why don't you get in line and pay for that?" (I think he was kidding), and Jim Kelly--who had the longest line--made sure everyone left happy.

I thought about stopping by to say hello to Vernon Wells, Josh Becker, or Fred "The Hammer" Williamson but spent some time hanging out with my old pal Mitch and his friend Wade as Mitch filled the gaps in his comic collection. Sticking to my anti-clutter regiment, I was determined to not buy much of anything. I hadn't intended on spending $40 for a photo and autograph of Jim Kelly (my priciest purchase of the day) and $20 on autographed pictures of Colley and Roberts. I was happy to pick up some comic books from my old pal Deal Stahl and swore I wouldn't buy anything else until I hit upon some choice magazines that were selling for a buck. Two classic Mads and Starlogs were mine!

If there was one thing I learned at MCCC, it's that there's a real market for hefty genre characters. I saw a few tubby Jedis and the requisite chubby Klingons but there were some people who desperately wanted to dress up but didn't have the full costume including one portly gal who could manage just a Mandalorian helmet. A couple of costumes completely perplexed me; not because I didn't recognize the characters but because they seemed like some kind of half-assed hybrids such as the Stormtroopers wearing Lucha Libre masks. We called them "Santotroopers." Later I spied a Predator with Darth Maul coloring on his face (with the little horns).

Then there was Wonder Leia...
Wonder Woman plus Leia

My favorite geek encounter of the day came when Mitch and I were looking through some graphic novels and I commented about an X-Men volume retelling the death of Jean Grey yet again. "Oh, geeze, I wonder if she comes back?" I asked sarcastically. Suddenly, the guy next to us began a tirade; "I don't know why so many people complain about Jean Grey coming back when she's only done so once. They've brought back Professor X and Magneto far more times." He was genuinely miffed about this long-standing mutant injustice. What made this even more funny is that he spoke in a voice reminiscent of Jimmy from South Park.

I'm not sure how quickly I'll line up for another convention. When trying to not spend money it's a pretty bad place to visit. I'm hoping that the business cards and old issues of Cashiers du Cinemart net me a couple of interviews but only time will tell on that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Musical Dilemma

I have a serious question. Is it just me or does Ke$ha sound like the Lady Tigra from L'Trimm?



And here's something just for fun:

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Stop the Presses!!!

Rotten Tomatoes has just blown my mind! Can you believe that they've dug up some obscure Chinese movie and said that Quentin Tarantino may have recycled ideas from it for his film Reservoir Dogs? This is impressive journalism!

Okay, okay, I'm being completely sarcastic. Believe it or not but it's almost the twentieth anniversary of Who Do You Think You're Fooling! Maybe in 2003 I'll ask George Lucas to remaster it and add a retarded rabbit to it.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - The Remake

I wasn't expecting high art but I had hoped for something better than what I got.

The unnecessary remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street takes the central theme and some iconic lines and images from Wes Craven's 1984 film but director Samuel Bayer and writers Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer then have no idea of what to do with them. They attempt to retell the origin story of Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley playing a child molester again while doing his Rorschach voice from The Watchmen).

In Bayer's Nightmare, Krueger worked at a pre-school as a groundskeeper where he molested the students, especially little Nancy (the older version played by Rooney Mara). Rather than turn to the police, the embarrassed parents perform some vigilante justice on Krueger, setting him ablaze. There's a moment -- a left field moment (typical for this film) when Nancy's quasi-boyfriend Quentin (Kyle Gallner) suddenly states that all of the parents in town were wrong and that, obviously, the preschoolers were making things up (like the kids in Capturing the Friedmans or Witch Hunt). Ahh, this would have made things interesting! Rather than punishing the guilty, the parents had murdered an innocent man! No wonder he's pissed and killing the children of Elm Street!

But, no. As quickly as that idea is introduced it's thrown away again. That's par for the course in this muddled film.

Apart from the retread plot, the biggest problems I had with Bayer's Nightmare were the writing and the casting. The only thing good about the 2010 Nightmare on Elm Street is that it makes a great drinking game. The wretched writing has characters calling each other by name all the time, meaning that taking a drink whenever you hear "Nancy" or "Quentin" will quickly get a viewer hammered.

Meanwhile, the core group of young actors that Krueger terrorizes looking anything but young. Freddy's first female victim, Kris (Katie Cassidy) looks older than her mother (Lia D. Mortensen) and seems to be more in danger of breaking a hip than falling victim to Krueger and his unexplained finger-knives. Kyle Gallner seems to have been cast for his ridiculous eyebrows which recall Robert Pattinson but, really, he looks more like David Hemmings. That he wears a Joy Division shirt through the film shows just how out of touch the filmmakers are. Finally, Rooney Mara manages to go through the entire film with one expression; a stunned look as if someone just punched her in the stomach. She manages to make the 1984 performance of Heather Langenkamp as Nancy seem like an Oscar-worthy turn.

If you still feel the need to see this film, wait until you can see it at home with a copious amounts of alcohol.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Garage Sale

"Sometimes the things you own end up owning you." - Tyler Durden

The garage sale was the last step in my self-guided "stuffectomy." After trying for five months to sell as many books, video tapes, and DVDs as I possibly could on Half, Amazon, and eBay, I finally pulled everything offline and out into my driveway. Along with the aforementioned media items I also carted out laserdiscs, records, CDs, cassette tapes, screenplays, a half dozen VCRs, two printers, a couch, three chairs, and other assorted items donated by my wife to the cause (quite a few serving dishes that looked nice but remained in their boxes since the day we got married).

There was so much junk that even a full day of trips up from my basement on Thursday just didn't get everything out into the open. I was still bringing up armfuls of junk as late as Saturday morning.

Unprepared? You bet! Especially for foul weather. I got three good bouts of rain over the weekend -- the first Thursday evening after I finally had all of my tables (and makeshift tables) in place. I nearly cried.

The strangest thing about the whole garage sale experience had to be the way that two people would show up wanting the same thing at the same time. The first time this happened was 8:30 AM the first day when I had two record collectors show up. The one arrived just a few minutes before the other and, in that time, negotiated a deal for all of my LPs and CDs. When the second one was told that all my music was gone, she got pissed and fairly belligerent; blaming me for selling everything (rather than the guy who bought everything). I wanted to say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know I needed to wait for your permission."

Shortly after that my driveway played host to the comedy stylings of two video collectors who I thought were a team at first. The one came armed with a scanner that told him how much things were going for on Amazon. He reminded me of a younger, slightly friendlier version of Harlan Ellison. As the other guy started piling DVDs onto my table "Harlan" started to tell me just how crazy I was to sell my DVDs for a dollar. "Do you know how much this is going for on Amazon?" he asked.

Yes, I knew. I'd been trying to sell everything for months. He just couldn't accept that I was letting things go so cheaply... or that this other guy was getting some really good titles. So, "Harlan" started taking discs out of the other guy's "to buy" pile and started hiding them around the periphery of my driveway to purchase in secret. Meanwhile, the other guy finally gave up on pulling out individual items and made me an offer for every video tape and DVD I had. He low balled me, of course, and we dickered for a while. Oddly, he could have had everything for only $80 more than he ended up paying for three tables worth of stuff. This still left three more tables of VHS tapes.

These tapes and my books sold slowly for the rest of Friday and into Saturday. By mid-afternoon Saturday I was done. Mentally checked out. Still sore from moving so many boxes on Thursday, sunburned from sitting out Friday, and exhausted from the lack of sleep over a few anxious nights; I started lowering prices to ridiculously low levels.

The odd competition came up again around that time when a guy came in and started buying some old magazines. I had eight boxes of old movie/TV magazines and put a handful out for sale. If they sold or if someone expressed interest, I was going to restock or offer more. This guy was totally into them -- kind of strange since he looked like a total "gangsta" (complete with grillz). "Hey, I've got tons more of these if you'd like to take them off my hands -- maybe for twenty bucks?" I offered. He bit and ran to his car to get some money. As soon as he was out of earshot an older lady started berating me.

"Those magazines are worth a lot more than what you're charging," she told me. Rather than telling her to put her money where her mouth I said, "Okay, tell you what, I won't sell him every box but I'll sell you one or two. What will you give me?" Her top offer? Two dollars. Rather than make $20, I went ahead and made $22 and sold six boxes to the guy and two boxes to the lady. Again, no one had expressed any interest in those magazines but suddenly I was caught between two people that wanted them at the same time.

The most extreme instance of this phenomenon occurred Sunday morning when I posted to Craigslist that everything remaining had to go. Come and get it.

One lady showed up and started combing carefully through my remaining video tapes, meticulously looking at each box and the tape inside, telling me all about her family and their tastes in movies. She had a husband into war movies and comedies while her son loves Jackie Chan. She wanted movies from the '70s and '80s. After about an hour of going through my tapes four or five times and picking out two dozen titles a rather boisterous dude showed up and started asking about the prices (or lack thereof) for everything. When I told him that the videos were free he started grabbing handfuls of tapes. This then spurred the lady to do the same. She went from a rather pleasant, discerning movie fan to a wild animal when her territory was threatened. It was like a video feeding frenzy as both removed armfuls of tapes, depositing them in their stockpiles. Gone was the careful combing -- she took anything she could get her hands on.

Shortly after this, another woman showed up to go through my remaining books. She was asking about nearly every title as if I had to "sell" her on them. After a while I said, "Hey, everything is free, if you don't like it you can donate it to a library." She still wouldn't take more than a few titles until a guy showed up who was willing to clean off the book table to donate everything to his company's free reading program. This sure put spurs to her flanks as she began grabbing handfuls of things. It's amazing how greedy people get when their free things might get taken by someone else.

When everything was over I realized that I probably should have had a few confederates helping me out, going after whatever anyone else had their eye on. This may have made for some fisticuffs but I certainly would have made some more money throughout the weekend.

When the dust settled, the tables were clean, everything was gone, and I had $800 back from all the money I'd spent amassing so much stuff. I can't call any of this profit (specifically as I'd spent $100 on classified ads and signs) but it was a small recuperation of cash. Here's hoping that I've learned my lesson and stop hoarding.

Getting stuff together on the driveway. Makeshift tables galore.