Monday, July 31, 2006
I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
For some reason I feel disoriented and sluggish this morning. I don't have any big challenges or chores or anything, which is good, but it's almost like the lack of a big project to focus on has left me without direction. Coffee helps.
The focus-group screening of Poultrygeist went great. Without a doubt one of the most offensive things I've ever seen on screen, so I think Troma succeeded. The running time was about 1:49, and they want to cut it down close to 90 minutes, which is a good idea. When you're watching a non-stop series of scenes involving gorging on putrid fried chicken, projectile sh*tting, heads exploding, puking, eyeball-gouging and humans run through meat grinders, I think you want a zippy pace to keep things going.
The screening was held at Crossroads Cinema in Merrillville, Indiana. It was in some decrepit strip mall just off I-65. Who'da thought you'd find some hipster outpost there? But there it was, full of horror fans, punk rockers, pierced and tattooed freaks. My people. Although I smell better--I noticed the definite funk of cellar-dweller mildew and patchouli oil on many of the attendees. The guys who run the theater have their own indy horror movie, Dead at the Box Office. They screened it after Poultrygeist, but we finally had to leave around 11:30 so I could make the drive home safely, with my sad geezerly tiredness and all.
My eldest was radiant. She posed with Lloyd Kaufman and all kinds of fans. Stupid me, I didn't bring a camera, so I'm waiting for pics to show up on the Troma site. When she told Lloyd that her dad was there, he asked if "dad" actually knew what Troma did. She replied "of course, how do you think I found out about Troma?" Lloyd was relieved. I got approached a few times and greeted "hey, there's our newest Tromette's dad!" Ah, vicarious celebrity. Kind of like being the uncle of of an extra in a Warhol film. My girl also got a bidness card from a self-described "Director/Producer" who asked if she was an actress and said his "buddy" was working on a movie and needed a star. I'll be checking his background out reeeeal good before there's any contact there. He doesn't even know it, but he hopes it comes out ok, believe me.
Oh, and my girl also came in 5th place at the Flashback Weekend costume competetition. Waiting for those pics on the website as well.
I still have to work on a proposal and get that out by the end of today.
Time to get off my dead ass and accomplish something.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Well, let's see...where to start? First, it's all good. It's been a busy few days.
On Friday my department had a joint training exercise with our fire department: a school shooting/mass casualty exercise. The fire department wanted to test their mass casualty response, and we were practicing rapid deployment tactics to deal with active shooters. Both the girls, and three of their friends, helped out as role players. There were about 25 or 30 role players in all, set up as students, teachers and casualties. The temperature stayed around 94 all day, and parts of the building weren't air conditioned. We got there at 7:30am and left at 3:30. It was a long day, but a good time.
This week was Flashback Weekend in Rosemont, a 3-day horror film festival. Our eldest attended, and guess what? She got me a personalized autographed photo of Adrienne Barbeau!! It's the picture you see here from Escape From New York. And dig it, it's Ernest Borgnine!
We and Miz Bubs, girl dynamo, were out working on the pond Saturday afternoon, when our eldest called from the horror con. She said she had important news: turns out she met Lloyd Kaufman, founder of Troma Entertainment, producer of such screen gems as The Toxic Avenger. My first question for her was "did he make a pass at you?" No. He asked her to be a "Tromette", one of the cuties that he uses to promote movies and show up at Troma events!
It's brilliant business for Kaufman--he basically shows up at conventions, finds good-looking girls who are fans, and gets them to show up and generate publicity at Troma events, all for free. Judging from the Tromettes page, many of them seem to have budding alt-porn careers, but our girl assures us will definitely not be the case with her. Anyway, his new project is Poultrygeist. There's a focus group screening Sunday night in Merrillville, Indiana, and she's going to be there as part of the Troma team to create buzz around the event.
OH OH OH!!! I nearly forgot!
In all this hubbub, MizBubs, hardest working girl in the compound, just landed a full-time job at the library! Her patience paid off, and she starts officially September 5. What a lot of changes, huh?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
“I saw the individual lying under the bus’ tire,” he said, adding that the man looked to be in his fifties. “He was not moving — I thought I was taking pictures of a dead man — but I kept taking pictures until my film ran out. I wanted to try to photo document the accident.”
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
OK, WTF?!? It's official: we now live in a country where you can get arrested for being in a f*cking costume. You'd think that cops in a "progressive" city like Minneapolis (especially any cop under the age of 35) would have some passing awareness of flash mobs, zombie dance parties and the like. For f*ck's sake, bars in Minneapolis are on their second annual zombie pub crawl already! I mean, come on. There have been something like a half dozen big-release zombie movies in the past few years, and zombies are damn near as popular as pirates. If Johnny Depp played a zombie pirate, he'd be more popular than Jesus.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Meet Linda Kay.
According to this story in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, cellar-dwelling goth stripper Linda Kay kept an assortment of human skulls in her home, along with a severed human hand in a jar of formaldehyde. The cops were called there to investigate a report of an unknown man threatening to kill himself with a hammer. They didn't find any suicides, but they did find some parts. Linda's roommate claims that one of her fans, a medical student, gave the hand as a gift. We can only assume it was a specimen, and not the result of a Van Gogh style self-mutilation. Linda then named the hand "Freddy."
Here's another article that appeared in the Washington Post, and here's a link to the Smoking Gun article that ran this picture.
I don't know what kind of daddy issues she was trying to work out with the nude dancing and body parts and all, but I could see knocking back a couple glasses of absinthe with her.
This little piece from Salon.com references an article in the Wall Street Journal (I tried linking to it but those tight bastards at WSJ made the article subscriber-only) about the growing popularity of imported beers.
As much as the retrograde white-trash goon in me loves my PBR, Old Style or Busch, I'll take a real beer with real taste any day. Thankfully, there's plenty of good 'Merican brewers making plenty of good 'Merican beer.
Just go down to a good liquor store (we're blessed by being a few blocks from Binny's Beverage Depot) bring your small child with you, and have them pick you out a beer based on whatever entertaining artwork, costumed historical figure or whimsical creature appears on the packaging. Odds are you'll get some pretty darn fine microbrews that way.
And now, thanks to globalization, you can get Bass Ale, Spaten, Negro Modelo, Dos Equis, Sapporo and everything else at prices way better than you could've gotten years ago.
It's nice to know that in this crazy mixed-up world of ours that some things do get better over time.
The first person to correctly guess where this is wins a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and an award-winning recipe for pruno.
*Prize winners must be 21 years of age or older. Prize cannot be shipped, but must be picked up at the compound in person after listening to a lot of my bullshit. May God have mercy on your soul.
Monday, July 24, 2006
The Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, acknowledged that 100 civilians a day are being killed in Iraq in what the article describes as "mounting sectarian violence." He then asserts that "civil war will not happen in Iraq."
What? Dude, it's happening now. I mean, how many deaths does it take before "sectarian violence" becomes "civil war"?
I thought of the number of deaths and their impact on Iraqi civil life:
Population of Iraq: 26,783,383 (source is the CIA Factbook)
100 deaths per day=
3000 deaths per month=
36,000 deaths per year
I think that the number of deaths per year represents approximately .001 of the total Iraqi population. (Feel free to check my work, math people, and make any corrections.)
If the level of violence currently afflicting Iraq was occurring in the United States, at a proportionate rate, here's a rough idea what it would look like:
Population of United States: 298,444,215 (source is the CIA Factbook)
829 deaths per day=
24,870 deaths per month=
298,444 deaths per year
For a point of reference, the FBI reported 16,137 murders in the United States in 2004. As another point of reference, remember the panic during the Belway Sniper killings in 2002? The Washington DC area was thrown into a panic when 10 people got killed during a 3-week time frame.
Can you begin to imagine what life is like in a country facing this level of violence? Iraq has now become so mind-bogglingly horrible that it's hit the realm where the normal American mind shuts it off--it becomes steady background noise from yet another third world hellhole, too awful to stop and truly contemplate.
As for cremation, I'm all for it. The main question for me is, scattering or planting? After visiting cool cemeteries in New Orleans, rural Iowa and Key West, the idea of having a tombstone somewhere has a lot of appeal. I like the idea that some stranger, years in the future, will stand at that spot and say "I wonder what that guy was like?" On the other hand, I love the idea of having my ashes scattered into the Ohio river near Louisville, to make the glorious journey down the Mississippi, through my beloved New Orleans, into the Gulf and on out into the whole wide world.
How's this: Burial at Sea
They'll even pack your cremains into fireworks and shoot you off a barge while your family watches from shore, or from another boat.
It's all ok with me:
"...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." --Genesis 3:19
Just don't ever, EVER stuff me into a huggable urn. As God is my witness, I'll haunt you to death.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
I played in a little charity poker tournament this afternoon, sponsored by the Palatine Park District and run by Rockford Charitable Games. They run poker games for various charities around the Chicago area. It was a good time, and I got to try out some of the stuff I've been reading about in Championship No Limit & Pot Limit Hold Em by Tom McEvoy and TJ Cloutier. My poker experience has been limited (pun intended) to limit poker a few times at Las Vegas casinos and twice at local riverboats.
The tournament was a blast. I got the feeling I'd stumbled into kind of a subculture; lots of players seemed to know each other, and the dealers, from other "charity" events. There were unlimited re-buys, which meant that some really bad players stayed in longer than they should have. Almost half the people at my table re-bought during the first few rounds when they ran out of money. Here were the players I made note of at my table:
30-something suburban guy: called too much
30-something suburban guy's buddy: did better but still busted out
affable black gangsta: reckless bets and calling put him out
crafty older middle age guy (was still at the table when I busted out)
talkative boozed-up black street guy: re-bought several times and then busted out in a spectacular way after nodding off at the table. I was glad he sat to my right.
internet boy #2 (looked sharp but wasn't as good as he clearly thought he was)
affable fat white guy taking a day away from riverboat casinos
internet boy #1 (complete with iPod and aviator sunglasses, busted out on a bluff)
shaky but decent retired white guy (still at the table when I busted out)
There were 12 of us at the table, but the above characters are the only ones I remember. As guys busted, other players got plugged into their empty seats. The tournament was notable for its lack of women--I only saw 5 or 6 out of 140+ players. The most noticeable demographic groups were:
-dyspeptic older affluent white guys
-internet boys (also internet/world poker tour boys) notable for their headsets and baseball caps and televsised-poker style outbursts
-gangstas (mostly Latino and Asian, with a few brothas thrown in)
-doughy middle-age suburban guys living a fantasy (sadly, I might fall into this last category)
Overall, it was a good time. I was there nearly 3 hours before I busted out, and I at least I had the satifsaction of knowing I didn't go out on a bad play. It's a game of skill and luck.
Our garage door gets replaced this week, and the porch guys should be coming soon. I got some training business stuff in the works too, and it's shaping up that late July and August are going to be zany times at the compound.
Hope y'all had a good weekend.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Proudly I turned to her and said "you realize what this means? I now get to spout off to an audience of thousands!"
She gave me that gentle, reassuring pat on the shoulder and said "just what you've always wanted."
Now it's time to go refill the propane tank and cook some pig meat.
Kinky Friedman (cigar lover, mystery writer and former lead singer of The Texas Jewboys) is running for governor of Texas. Visit his official campaign website and you can buy a tee shirt, read Kinky's stands on the issues, or get a talking Kinky action figure.
Originally dismissed as a joke, he gathered 137,154 signatures to get on the ballot--way more than the 45,540 needed to, according to the Washington Post.
Why the hell not?
Friday, July 21, 2006
Is our president drinking?
Normally this isn't a subject I give much thought to. Ever since the post 9/11 pretzel-choking-while-watching-football-with-only-the-dog incident I've just assumed that the POTUS gets well into his cups from time to time. A few days ago, however a friend sent me a photo of Bush and Putin at a formal dinner.
OK, maybe it's jet lag. We all know the president is an early-rising, workout-obsessed person. It's not like he's used to staying up late at night reading a good book.
But then the other incidents at the G-8:
Yo, Blair! The POTUS summons his best bud at the summit, Tony Blair, by calling out "Yo Blair" and then talks to him with a mouth full of dinner roll. CLASSY!
The Bush-Merkel neck rub. Yes, the POTUS sneaks up behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and playfully squeezes the back of her neck and shoulders. You can see the film of it here.
Also, while in Germany, a little German baby obviously didn't get the script and it made for an amusing photo op. Maybe the kid could smell the schnapps and was afraid the POTUS was about to burst into flames.
Finally, once Bush was back in the US, and hopefully got some sleep, he went to address the NAACP conference. And promptly slapped a black man.
They say alcohol loosens inhibitions. Maybe it's not booze. Maybe he's just got a bad case of grab-ass.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The way I talk is just the way I talk...
Me and MizBubs watched The Cramps: Live at Napa State Mental Hospital last night when I got home from work. It was shot in 1978 at a mental hospital in California. The, uh, patients are right up there with the Cramps, in the words of James Brown: moving, grooving, doing it, you know? It's a short flick, and worth checking out. You wonder what kind of dope-smoking mental health worker thought this would be a good idea:
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
And here's a link to an article in the Hollywood Reporter. Ironic, given that Spillane didn't like Hollywood and refused to live there.
I know I'm going to miss prose like this:
"I snapped the side of the rod across his jaw and laid the flesh open to the bone..." "I pounded his teeth back into his mouth with the end of the barrel ... and I took my own damn time about kicking him in the face. He smashed into the door and lay there bubbling. So I kicked him again, and he stopped bubbling." -The Big Kill
You can see more examples of the dames and trenchcoats that graced the covers of Mickey Spillane paperbacks here.
I think I'm going to have to go put Kiss Me Deadly on my Netflix queue.
Thanks to my youngest, very cool daughter, I'm listening to Educated Horses by Rob Zombie. I like it better than his more techno-sounding stuff from a few years ago. What's not to love about somebody who loves horror movies, white trash, carnivals and strippers?
Monday, July 17, 2006
Just what I said: huggable urns. An urn, filled with your loved one's cremains, shaped like cute little stuffed animals or pillows embroidered "hold me." I am not making this up.
Here's the opening of a story from the Detroit Free Press:
Wherever she goes -- to a restaurant, to visit family and friends, or to court where her husband faces a murder trial in August -- Lori Lemons takes her dead daughter with her.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Another link to the International Animated Film Society. God bless those guys, I'm going to send them some money. And if you ever sat around in college getting high to old Max Fleischer cartoons, you better send them money too.
It's like I always say: if people only did things that made sense, I'd be out of a job.
What a wild couple of days it's been. Some friends from Ireland visited with us overnight after landing at O'Hare airport. They had their newly wed son and daughter-in-law with them, and the DIL's father came down from Minnesota to meet them at the airport. All five of them stayed with us overnight, while the girls stayed with grandma to make room. All lovely people, and we had a grand time. The husband works for the Duchas, the Irish heritage service--the equivalent of our National Park Service. What I thought was going to be a simple night out on the town with a few friends, however, got hijacked into a full-blown sister cities event, and I ended up having to arrange a casual dinner for 22 people, including the mayor, village manager and some trustees. Not how I really wanted to spend my Friday night.
The good thing is that after dinner, only a few of us continued on to Rosa's Lounge. Our Irish friends loved it, and it was a lot less college/touristy than some of the other northside blues clubs. Rosa's was great--great sightlines, great sound, and Carlos Johnson was cool and funky.
Saturday morning came sunny and warm and beautiful. MizBubs made a delicious blueberry coffee cake--the best coffee cake I've ever had in my life--and we had fresh cantaloupe, cherries and blueberries. Then, at 8:55am CST, we went into action: time to buy tickets for Tom Waits!
Manda worked the phone--unsuccessfully as it turned out, getting about 20 busy signals in the time it took for me to get through on the computer. Ticket sales were limited to 2 per person, and they checked for duplicate orders, so we used separate credit cards and mailing addresses. Bottom line, we gots us 4 tickets in the first balcony for August 9 at the Auditorium Theater!
Our visitors departed around 11am, and then we took off for Kalamazoo. The guy I bought the canoe from was really nice, and of course, a brainiac. He's built some canoes from a form (he sold his form last year) and we got to see examples of his work. He started a biotech firm with some friends a while ago, so his time is limited now. We fastened the canoe to the roof and made the drive home in under 3 hours. Now I have this beautiful canoe skeleton on my back porch, waiting to be resurrected.
By the way, it's the one year anniversary of the release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Tim Burton. My youngest watched the DVD again last night while I worked on MizBubs' resume, and I'm listening to the soundtrack now. Ooompa loompa.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Friday, July 14, 2006
Remember lines like this from the Bush administration (courtesy of Stupid Iraq War Quotes)
"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." –Vice President Dick Cheney, "Meet the Press," March 16, 2003 (Source)
"My answer is bring 'em on." —President George W. Bush, challenging militants attacking U.S. forces in Iraq, July 2, 2003 (Source)
"I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." --Vice President Dick Cheney, on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005 (Source)
"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." –President Bush, standing under a "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier, May 2, 2003 (Source)
Now, compare that happy-talk bullshit with what the Times reporter says:
Hundreds — Sunni and Shia — are abandoning their homes. My driver said all his neighbours had now fled, their abandoned houses bullet-pocked and locked up. On a nearby mosque, competing Sunni and Shiite graffiti had been scrawled on the walls.
A senior nurse at Yarmouk hospital on the fringes of west Baghdad’s war zone said that he was close to being overwhelmed. “On Tuesday we received 35 bodies in one day, 16 from Al-Furat district alone. All of them were killed execution-style,” he said. “I thought it was the end of the city. I packed my bags at once and got ready to leave because they could storm the hospital at any moment.”