Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 113 - Horrorhound Weekend

Wow.  As I start to write this, I have no idea how to start.  And it isn't because I don't know what to say, but instead I have numerous ways to start this off.
Each year, after Thanksgiving, I have traveled to Columbus.  At first, I was able to combine a trip to Mid Ohio Con (Ohio's biggest comic book convention) with a visit from one of my buddies from college - one of only a few that I keep in touch with.  When Mid Ohio Con changed its date years ago, I continued making the trip on the same weekend, because I'm a big fan of tradition.  And as each year has gone by, Jason (my college buddy) and I have built a stronger friendship from those visits.
When I was in high school and college, I filled up three notebooks with Leonard Maltin-esque reviews of every movie that I watched.  When I saw Nancy Allen and Roddy McDowall in a production of "Dial "M" For Murder" I knew that I wanted to get their autographs, and I decided to have them sign my reviews of Dressed to Kill and Fright Night respectively.  Since those first two autographs, I think the collection has grown to well over 60 with people as varied as Bryan Singer to Erin Gray to Ray Harryhausen.
Finally, I think it was three years ago, I went to Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati to meet the cast of Night of the Creeps (which was more awesome than I could even imagine).  Each year Horrorhound holds a convention in Cincinnati, and when my cousins used to live there, I was able to do the double bill of going to the convention and then hang out with them.
Well, this year, Horrorhound held a convention in Columbus.  I told Jason I would be in town this weekend, and did he want to get together?  Much more than that, he wanted to tag along.  So, yesterday, he made his first trip to a horror film convention.  It was pretty impressive.  The amount of people that were there was staggering.  The amount of cleavage that was on display was also staggering.  But I was there for autographs.  The first person I got in line for was Stuart Gordon, the director of Re-Animator.  And I actually didn't have him sign my notebooks, but rather I had him sign my copy of Dark Visions: Conversations With the Masters of the Horror Film by Stanley Wiater.  I've already had a bunch of directors sign it already, and he was number six.
Then it was time for the notebooks.  Pam Grier (Class of 1999) was awesome.  Incredibly nice, and willing to spend time with anyone who had any questions about her work.  Sherilyn Fenn told me David Lynch was pissed that she couldn't be in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.  Amy Steel (Friday the 13th Part 2) told me that while acting is tough, it's still better than doing something like construction work.  Adrienne Barbeau... I actually don't remember what she said.  I was honestly too starstruck.  She was the main person that I wanted to meet at the show.  Julia Adams (The Creature From the Black Lagoon) read my ***1/2 review and laughed.  Fabiana Udenio (Summer School) thought the notebooks were cool, and was really sweet.
Amongst all the autographs was lots of wading through people, looking at the Norman Reedus line (which seemed neverending), watching Norman Reedus act like the nicest guy in the world (I don't think I saw the smile leave his face the numerous times I walked by), buying a copy of the F/X soundtrack on LP, buying a copy of Paul Schrader's Cat People on DVD, and seeing a seven-foot tall Sasquatch.
It was pretty fun, and while Jason only bought a Pink Floyd LP, he still had a good time and he was a great guy to have around to face (and talk about) the madness.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 100 - Spoilers ahead (not really).

Nothing much in the way of pop culture today.  I watched last night's episode of The Walking Dead.  Actually, that's what I'm going to rant about.  Not the episode, itself, because that was pretty sweet.  No, I'm going to complain about people who have no filter.  Working at a comic shop has many, many advantages, not the least of which is having conversations with like-minded individuals.  Unfortunately, there's always a person (or two) who feels the need to let other people around him know how the movie or TV show turned out with no regard to anyone else.  Or, if they do have some sense of decorum, they fail so miserably at trying to keep plot points secret, that they give away the ending anyway.
I'm busy.  I have a life (you can laugh, because I'm laughing, too, at that one).  That's why we have VCR's and DVR players.  They exist for people like me who have no time(or even patience) to watch something live.  And because of certain circumstances, sometimes I'm not able to catch up on a show for a week or two or three.  I just want to be surprised.
And I realize the need to tell others about something awesome you've just seen (or heard or read) is ingrained in us at some level.   I would just rather people be more creative in their enthusiasm.
And I'm tired.  This is a stupid early bedtime, but what're you gonna do?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 99 - Ghost Rider (among other things)

In order to prep for Ghost Rider 2, my friends and I endured (and I mean endured) a viewing of Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage.  And it was awful. Like mind-numbingly bad.  I mean, it took 49 minutes for the title character to even make an appearance.  And this is a character who is a flaming skeleton in a leather jacket riding a motorcycle.  How do you mess that up?  Let me count the ways.  1. Nicholas Cage chooses to make Johnny Blaze a wuss.  He eats jellybeans out of a martini glass?  Really?  I longed for the Nicholas Cage of Bad Lieutenant.  Give me a gonzo performance.  It would at least make him more compelling as a character.  2. Eva Mendes plays the absolute worst television reporter in film history.  It's like she's never watched television in her life.  3.  The bad guys are completely ineffectual.  Three elemental demons are the most easily defeated bad guys in film history.  Random thugs in a James Bond movie stand a better chance at taking him out than these guys do.  4. Sam Elliott does nothing.  Nothing.  5.  The stunts are so poor, they remind me of a no-budget movie.
It's just bad.

I bought the new Christina Perri album, Lovestrong, because I really liked her song Jar of Hearts.  I'm listening to it in the car (not finished yet), but I'm digging it so far.  Jar of Hearts is still the highlight of the album (so far), but at least it's not a bad album.

And I rewatched Limitless tonight.  As I type this out, I'm actually relistening to The AfterShow Podcast of the film, and we get really in depth on why we liked it.  ( ) I still enjoyed it on the second viewing.  Bradley Cooper does a great job looking like a train wreck at the beginning of the film.

It was a good day, and I haven't even watched The Walking Dead yet.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Day 97 - Roger (Corman) and me

Today was the perfect day to illustrate my incredibly varied tastes in film.  The Secret World of Arietty, the newest offering from Studio Ghibli, may not have been as fun as Ponyo or captivating as My Neighbor Totoro, but it's no slouch, either.  Taken from the novel (or the movie or The Littles), the story is a pretty simple one (which is one of the film's detriments), in that there is a family of little people ("borrowers") who are living in the the floorboards of a house and they try to keep people from finding out they exist.  The daughter, Arietty, when she goes out on her first "borrowing" is found out by the sick boy (Shawn).  Now they have to move.
As slight as the story is, the film is simply gorgeous to look at.  Each frame seems like it is a piece of artwork.  It's a lush and captivating film.  And by the end, there is some real drama and emotion.  It just seems so slight for all the effort that was put into it. ***

Then, tonight, I got to see the documentary Corman's World, which gives a fairly comprehensive look at the filmic history of Roger Corman.  It should be required viewing for anyone who likes exploitation films (the man gave us Piranha, The Little Shop of Horrors an The Raven amongst others), or who hasn't read How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime.  I already own his book and have read it a couple of times, so, really, none of the information was new to me.  However, it was incredibly cool to see people like Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Ron Howard all talk about him with reverence.
As a historical piece, the film worked pretty well, with the perfect ending of Corman receiving his honorary Oscar in 2010 surrounded by friends and family.  (As a side note - I was initially pretty upset when the Oscars started handing out their honorary Academy Awards at a separate event instead of at the real deal.  But then I read an interview, probably with Corman, where they said, because they had advance warning about the Oscar, they got to invite all the people close to them to enjoy in the honor and it made things much more personal.  When the people getting the Oscars are for this process, it's hard to argue.)
The movie really skimps on his 1980's output of films, but overall, there are some fun stories and a look at one of the most successful independent filmmakers ever.  Definitely worth a watch.  ***

When I turned on the television tonight, I got caught up in Catch Me if You Can on TNT.  I had no intention of watching until the first commercial break, but I ended up watching most of the film.  After looking at his output over the last ten years, I think it's pretty safe to say that this is his best film over that period.  It has a fun story, great acting, and John Williams best score in quite some time. It does what the best "based on true events" movies do - which is make you want to read what the "real" story is.  ***1/2

A busy day.  But satisfying.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 96 - Thursday TV

Survivor was on Thursday nights for many years.  So much so, that as a family event, we still watch it on Thursday nights.  And this weeks episode was insane.  And when I say that, usually it can be chalked up to hyperbole, but when a whole tribe that's won immunity *spoiler alert* gives up said immunity to actually go to tribal council and vote one of their own out,then that seems to be the actual definition of insane.  I'm not even going to get into the whole race/sexuality/power struggle thing that went on with the episode.  It simply made for compelling television.  And Lief lives another day.  I just want the little man to make it to the end.

Archer continues to be a wonderful distraction.  Every character is reprehensible, and yet I can't stop watching them, and even be sympathetic (at times).  And there are such few shows that can have two cyborgs have a massive battle with endless Robocop jokes.

Unsupervised, the unsung FX animated show, isn't the best or funniest show out there, but Joel and Gary (the two main characters) have such enthusiasm for life and school that it's hard not to like them.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have a ton of laughs.  Within the last couple of weeks, I bought Archer Season 2 and The League Season 2, and I've just about finished with rewatching Archer.  But, unless I see Unsupervised for 12 bucks or less, I don't see myself owning it (even if David Hornsby, one of the stars, was in The Joe Schmo Show - one of my most favorite things ever).

On my way back from volleyball tonight, I reached into the back seat of my car to grab a CD.  I ended up with Garbage 2.0.  I just really like that album, and I can't wait for their new one to be released this year.  Now, if we can just get Fiona Apple to release a new album...

Much more stream of consciousness tonight.  But at least I'm writing.  Cheers.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 95 - Pop culture and me

"I am leaving in the morning, Lady Grantham."
"Do you promise?"

With that exchange in the last episode of season 2 of Downton Abbey, I laughed a lot.  Season 3 can't come soon enough.  There's something about the characters on this show that fills me with amazing amounts of empathy.  I feel sad when the characters go through bad stuff, and I find myself constantly hoping for happy endings (even for the reprehensible Thomas).

As of right now, I'm loaded up on pizza, chocolate, and a mission to get writing (again).  If I do this right, I'm going to try to at least give a little commentary on random pop culture things that I've read or watched in the last day.  For example...

Chronicle - The story of three teenagers who get superpowers and what it happens when one starts his descent into villainy.  Done on a shoestring budget, this is such a triumph of comic book filmmaking.  There are a ton of little moments that do nothing but create life into these characters, and the movie is all the better for it.  It's strong throughout, and doesn't spoon feed the audience with explanations of how the powers work.

Between Gears by Natalie Nourigat is a graphic novel that is essentially a drawn journal of Natalie's life starting in her senior year of college.  It's a massive collection, and while I've only gotten through about 20 pages so far, it's a fun read.
But a great read is Derf's My Friend Dahmer.  Cartoonist Derf went to the same high school as serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, and, in fact, hung out with him.  Dahmer may not have been a friend, but he was definitely an acquaintance.  And reading the story of his high school experience is sad, terrifying, and sometimes funny.  It never feels exploitative, and the story, combined with Derf's striking artwork has guaranteed that I'll read this many times (just like I have with his previous works, Trashed and Punk Rock and Trailer Parks.
I still really like Raising Hope, and I love the fact that actors from My Name is Earl keep appearing.  And yet, with no new characters appearing on the poorly named (and oft made fun of title) Cougar Town, I find that perfectly fine.  Besides, it would take someone of incredible fortitude to keep up with the lovable lushes of that show.
Join me tomorrow (hopefully), as I wax poetically about Survivor, Archer and The Mentalist (amongst others)