Monday, August 17, 2009

Airport Confessional -- Hartsfield - Jackson International Atlanta International Airport

Approaching Hotlanta.

I have decided that my favourite time to take off is just before dawn. The sun is still down and the street lights are still on and when you’re taking off, it’s easy to imagine that there is no ground and all of those little twinkling amber lights below aren’t street lights, but are actually stars. Then, when the sun comes out, it’s illuminating the ground, but hasn’t burned off the fog so there are white rivers of mist crawling over the landscape like fingers. It’s especially neat when the lights are still on in those fog-shrouded areas. And, if you’re me, when the lights blink and sputter, you think of the Stephen King story and the excellent Frank Darabont movie and shudder.

I’m in Atlanta now. It’s really gloomy here, overcast and a little foggy. It’s only 8 in the morning so the sun hasn’t had time to burn off the mist. I’d take a photo, but all of the seats by the windows are occupied by exhausted travelers who are thinking the same thing I am, “Why the hell am I awake?”

I was going to grab a quick nap on the Cleveland-Atlanta flight, but I was hungry and wanted some water to go with my breakfast bar so I couldn’t. I got about four or five hours of sleep last night, but going to bed at 7 or 8 at night to get up at 2 in the morning has really screwed up my internal clock. A friend was up at three in the morning my time, which was midnight hers, and I totally was like, “Oh em gee, dude, what are you doing awake?!” And then I was like, “Oh, wait...”

They oversold the Daytona Beach flights and are desperately seeking someone to give up their seat for another passenger. $400 Delta Dollars. What, exactly, does $400 Delta Dollars buy, anyway? Is that enough for a round trip domestic ticket? Or are the $400 Delta Dollars more like the points for frequent flyers where you have to spend almost a kabagillion dollars in order to accrue a half of a mile of travel? I’ll have to look that up when I get home, if I’m that curious. Or ask the attendant if they need someone to give up their seat to Sarasota...which I honestly can’t imagine. It’s Sarasota, after all.

When I left Cleveland, I took a moment to revel in the non-humid 70s and the light, cool breeze that was flitting through the runway. The plane was a small commuter so they didn’t hook up the gangway, they just had us go out to the tarmac. I didn’t breathe deeply. It’s still the airport in Cleveland after all, but I did revel in it. It was very nice. I’m going to miss not having humidity, especially when my hair decides to do its best Roseanne Roseannadanna impression.

Indie Gathering Day Three; or It's Been Swell, but the Swelling's Gone Down

Goodbye Cleveland!

I’m at the airport as I write this; my plane is scheduled to leave at 5:45 am. I’ve collected my award - the only one from my category to show up, though thankfully some of the other filmmakers showed - and the event is over. One group I know was there didn’t show up for their awards. Weird.

I maintain that this is one of the strangest festivals I’ve ever heard of, been a part of, or been to. It’s not open to the public and yet it was badly organized and I don’t understand how awards like their Viewer’s Choice and Best of Fest is going to work considering how few people were in the screening rooms for a lot of the films I saw. I’m including their apparent judge, who I saw firmly entrenched in screening room A. (Tip: You may not want your judges to sit in the audience with their paperwork in front of them...I’m just sayin’.)

I didn’t get to see the other films in my category, with things running either ahead or behind in most of the screening rooms I was afraid of missing my own screening which was when the others were playing, but I did not see one film that was inspiring to me in anyway. There was no “Even” here, no “Excised,” or “Creepers” (that short is still chilling to me) or “AM 1200” or "Apathy Breeds Contempt" -- all films that I saw at ShockerFest last year that were wonderful. There was nothing at Indie Gathering that was in any way inspiring. My mom would stop me here and remind me that my flick played, but I’m not talking about my flick, I’m talking about the films I watched, which is what I was there for.

I mean, there were a lot of films that showed me what I DON’T want to I suppose the festival part of the event did serve a purpose, but I’d prefer to be inspired, to think, “Man, those people are awesome, I HAVE to meet them!” and not “Okay...Troma looks like Universal Studios next to this guy...and he’s on a panel giving a lecture?! He’s on MORE THAN ONE PANEL?!”

Don't misunderstand me, I am grateful for the screening and the award. The medal is very nice, much nicer than I was expecting, to be honest. But the point in any screening is to have your work seen and I can’t help but wonder how different the festival part of the event would have been with better organization, or maybe more attention paid to the material presented.

It’s not that it’s a bad event. It really isn’t. It’s that it’s not as international as it would like to be and it’s less a film festival and more of a Ohio / Michigan based martial arts / stunt extravaganza. If I still lived in North Canton and happened to find my way into film, I think I would have loved this festival as it really is so region-specific. As it is, I’m gunshy about coming back next year because there was no audience for so many of the films...probably just as gunshy as they may be about having me back considering how I’m blogging about their event. If you live near there, it’s great, really great, for making contacts in the Ohio film industry. If you don’t, approach it with the knowledge that it’s about action films, stunts, and martial arts and not so much about the films.

I’ve got CenFlo coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m really looking forward to that one as there will be more people watching the flick than just myself and the very nice projectionist. I also have a bunch more festivals to hear back from.

Forty five minutes until the plane is scheduled to depart. It’s still dark out so I’ll be watching the sun rise from the window of my plane as I head back south, back home.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Indians

I’m watching my first Indians game in decades while I’m waiting for the lecture on special effects make-up to start in 45 minutes; they’re playing the Twins. This is particularly strange because I hate sports, but when I was a kid, I loved to play baseball and briefly entertained the idea of playing for the Indians. When I was in Little League, I always hoped that I could be on the Indians, but I got the Astros for t-ball and the Expos for coach pitch. Or maybe the other way around. Pheh. Give me the Indians.

The thing about baseball, though, and the main reason I don’t watch it normally, is that it’s freakin’ boring as a spectator. Nine innings of hitting a ball so the batter can run around a diamond to go home? Gods, it’s a drag to watch. And these blokes get billions of dollars for this stuff. I never understood the baseball strikes; it’s not like y’all play American football or hockey, something really high impact. You run a lot. Seriously.

Anyway, the Indians are one of the few things I still hold in deep affection from my former life in Ohio. It doesn’t matter to me how good or bad they are. They’re my hometown team. Whenever I see that little Indian guy, I smile. So, I’m coming out as an Indians fan. Yep, I said it. Pheh on the DEVIL Rays, poo on the Marlins. I less than three the Indians.

Does this mean I’ll watch more games? I don’t discount it, but I also wouldn’t bet on it. I usually stop the channel surfing when I see the Indians playing and I don’t often stick around because baseball is so boring to watch. In my opinion, I know.

I probably should be downstairs “networking” with my very nice award hanging around my neck instead of hanging out in my room talking about the Indians and watching a game on TV, but, well...more on that when I get home, I think, once I do my day three round up. For now, I'm content to watch a little baseball.

Random thoughts - the Indie Gathering

Before I go on a trip like the one I’m currently on, I tend to download a few new songs. Usually, one song will stand out and remind me of the trip, though it may not have anything in particular to do with the trip itself; last year it was “This Boy’s In Love” by The Presets. This year, it’s a song called “World Coming Down” by Ashbury Heights. I’m not even done with the trip yet and I know which song will remind me of it.

This year, I also downloaded Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking from iTunes. I love Carrie Fisher. She’s such an amazing writer and she is the one reading her own book which adds a wonderful element of awesome to the proceedings. It’s like you’re sitting with her and she’s telling you about her life, which I would love -- to sit with Carrie Fisher and listen to her talk. True Fax: as far as I know, the first time I ever saw Carrie Fisher wasn’t in Star Wars, it was in The Blues Brothers. I can just about guarantee that I was the only child ever to say, “Hey, that’s the lady who tried to kill Elwood!” when Princess Leia came on screen.

In the mornings, I’ll fire up iTunes and listen to all my Goth stuff whilst finishing up the previous day’s write up, doing Yoga, and getting ready for the day’s screenings. At night, I’ll begin the write up of the day while the television is going in the background, then start that day’s write up before going to bed. Don’t want to forget stuff, you know?

I don’t want anyone to get me wrong about this event. I love the martial arts and martial arts films. I just wish I knew that was what this event was all about, martial arts and stunts. I would have approached it differently, I think. I probably would have still mostly watched movies as that’s why I’m here, but I would have made a more concerted effort to check out some of the fight stuff, like last night’s stunt demo. It’s good for filmmakers to check stuff like that out, to see what they’ll be putting the stunties through. Strangely, I was the only filmmaker in the stunt demo last night, too. Well, there was one other person, but he left before the good stuff started and I had to leave during the good stuff for the last film. I should have either stayed to watch the stunt demo or gone to the film that “stars” Brinke Stevens. At least she gives a solid performance.

Indie Gathering Day Two

My empty-ass screening room.

I’m up super early today for no other reason than my flight is super early tomorrow and if I want to have any hope of catching some Z’s before take-off, I need to be tired tonight.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this particular event is that it’s mainly a martial arts convention and tournament that happens to have a film competition, but the film part is secondary. It’s also like a huge audition for martial artists. I mainly attended films yesterday, you if it was a film festival. Often, I was the only person in the screening room with the exception of the projectionist and a couple of people who floated in and out. I never met a filmmaker after their film, though some of them were here. I met three guys here for their flick and instead of sending even one into the screening room, they sat at their table in the convention room to chat with each other and sell their movie.

During my film, it was just the projectionist and I and one guy who came in with ten minutes to go until the end. The projectionist really liked it. Really, really liked it. The guy who came in during the last ten minutes said he liked what he saw so I gave him a copy of the flick and told him to enjoy it. I also gave the projectionist a copy of the flick and my card. So it’s good to know that people who see it really like it...but they have to SEE IT in order to like’s gotta get past the selection stage and into the screening stage. Like a colleague once said, the selection process is so bloody random; one viewer might say it’s a must have and another viewer might say it totally stinks.

I toured the convention a little, bought a couple of movies from filmmakers. I haven’t watched them yet and for all I know, they’re poo. I don’t know, I was feeling supportive, I suppose.

Anyway, here’s a rundown of what I saw...

No One Island: Actually, I was on time to see A Jersey Christmas, but they’d started screening films and not telling people who were waiting in the hall that they were starting the movies so they had to restart one and lost it from there. I missed the first ten or fifteen minutes or so and was lost. It doesn’t help that the rest of the flick was vague and performed like a missing episode of Twin Peaks, but not in a good way.

A Jersey Christmas: This was about a group of people who don’t celebrate Christmas working at a Christmas store on Christmas Eve for a guy who can’t control his gambling habit and owes at least one organization $45,000. It was cute, but not laugh out loud funny so I was disappointed. They had a lot of potential for touching hilarity and it was squandered.

Hanging by a Thread: This was about a married couple whose therapist has them filmed by a reality television crew to sort out their problems. Pretty good. Well written and to the point.

Becoming Roman: This is about a left hand who wants to become a right hand and then aspires to be the person to which the hands belong. It was like a bad version of Clive Barker’s “Body Politic.”

Stuck: A man and a woman are stuck in an elevator. Short and to the point, it was okay.

White Radishes: This was about an obsessive compulsive man who helps a young woman who was trapped in her house by her mother. To go further than that would be to spoil it. It was really weird, though not in a way that makes me happy, but it was definitely original.

A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema: I loved it, but that’s not really news. I still love everything about it, though I’m at the point now where I’m picking at the flaws, but I don’t want to change anything. I love this flick, what can I tell you? And even though no one showed up, I know people have picked up a few of the posters and postcards so at least they’ll look it up. Or use them as notepaper, but I prefer the other idea. ;D

Life, Passion, Death: I tried like hell to stick this one out, it was the film that came on after mine and I had nothing else I wanted to see for three hours, but I just couldn’t do it. It was about a Spanish woman who falls in love with an American man while she’s on vacation in New York and just thinking about it makes me want to fall asleep. I’m sorry to the lady who spent so much time on it, but I had to leave.

At this point, I left the festival / convention to get dinner and came back to watch some of the World Stunt Association’s demo / training thing. The first part was the organizer of the event telling the aspiring stunties how to audition for roles and then he brought up the pro stunties to start giving these people, including quite a few children, the basics of stuntwork. The kids should learn how to punch before they learn how to not hit people, but that’s just me I guess. The organizer was very quick to be gender inclusive for the actors and stunties, but not so much for the directors, producers, and writers.

There were a few other issues I had with the organizer’s spiel, but I won’t go into them. To each their own opinion; though I don’t agree with what he was saying, I understand his point of view.

And, finally:

The Sky Has Fallen: The world has ended, its population infected with a mysterious virus, and the survivours are seeing black figures that take the dead bodies away to experiment on them and reanimate them. One dude, and a woman he helped, set off to kill the leader of the black figures. (The revenants did look like something out of a Fulci film, so that was pretty cool.)

This was a big disappointment. It had an intriguing premise, great cinematography, a great score, and great special effects, but it was destroyed by ham-fisted direction, bad performances, and a terrible script. Almost every other line of dialogue was a question and they spoke in circles so much that they made no forward progress and actually reversed something they’d said only a couple of minutes before. It was rare that a character spoke more than one sentence in a row and the editing followed suit with talking heads. Most of the film was made up of intense, vacant close ups. And what action there was was boring.

I almost walked out, but it was only an hour. And I was the only one there and felt really bad. The film just before it was empty, too.

That was the last flick for the day. Today is the last day of the festival and includes the awards ceremony. If there’s time after the awards, there’s a flick I’d like to check out and a seminar on special effects make-up for low budget cinema I’d like to attend, but we’ll see. After that, I just have to make sure everything is all packed up and ready to go for my early-ass flight home. Needless to say, I did not attend last night’s networking party and considering how early my flight is on Monday, I will not be attending tonight’s either. I do feel a tiny bit better, though, so that’s good.

Alright, more to come later as I wrap up my time in Cleveland and at the Indie Gathering.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Indie Gathering: Day One

My Indie Gathering badge.

Pretty much as soon as I got back to the hotel from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I got wrapped up in the first day of the festival. It wasn’t supposed to start until 6 and I got back at five-ish, but I went ahead and got my fest badge (on which I’ve since written my name and the name of my film), and hung around the general festival area until the first film started, a Mongolian flick called Jinjiimaa. I did come back up to my room to wash my face and grab some posters for the poster table.

The thing you should understand about the first day of any festival is that it tends to be kind of low key and a bit of a slow start. There were maybe fifteen people in there and the filmmakers, of course, weren’t there. But then again, none of the filmmakers for last night’s films were there. The film that had the most people in the auditorium was The SEED, a short film by one of the Linkin Park guys.

I missed the fourth film in favour of getting something to eat. I thought it would be kind of distracting to the rest of the audience to hear my stomach grumbling. Then I returned for the second to last film and didn’t watch the very last. Like I said in my Hall of Fame post, I wasn’t feeling all that great, in fact my throat’s kind of sore this morning, so just came back to my room, started writing the Hall of Fame post, and passed out around 2 only to be awakened when I thought my clock read the afternoon. Yeah, it was 7:30 in the morning, but the top bar of the seven wasn’t showing up. The first film I want to see isn’t until 1:15 pm so I have some time yet.

Jinjiimaa: The organizer of the festival said that this film was actually in the festival a couple of years ago, but he liked it so much that he wanted to bring it back for the opening night. I think it needed some work in the cinematography, sound, and editing departments (coincidentally, the editor is here to give a lectures about editing and producing), but the performances were fantastic across the board.

It’s about a woman who lost her hearing after an accident when she was a child and was raped by a town leader when he grew up. After the act, when she shot him, the man she loved and who loved her took the blame and did the time for her. When he’s released, she goes to pick him up and introduce him to her child from the rape. They all get along well for a while, right up until she finds out she can get a surgery that will cure her deafness. The man sells all of his cows to pay for the surgery and she takes off. The town leader she shot, who is still alive, tries to take the child away saying that the man can’t take care of the woman’s child, and through an accident, their hut burns down, presumably with the man and child inside.

Fast forward fifteen years: the child is grown up and the man had taken her away because he thought the town leader set the fire on purpose. They’d been unsuccessful in finding her mother, who we discover is now a famous activist for women’s rights. Apparently not famous enough, though, because it takes the characters forever to reconnect. And there’s one more tragedy at the end which I won’t reveal, but it’s tragic.

Forgetful Not Forgotten: This is a documentary about one man’s father and his journey through early onset Alzheimer's, from pretty early on right through to the bitter end. The filmmaker, Chris Wynn, was afraid that he was showing signs of early onset Alzheimer's himself so it also chronicles his trips to the memory clinic and his struggle to decide whether or not he was going to start a family with his girlfriend. The one thing that lifts this doc above the rest is that it’s unflinchingly honest about his father’s decline. You watch it as it happens, pretty much. Utterly heartbreaking.

The SEED: This is the flick by the Linkin Park guy. He pumped a lot of cash into it, too, but it’s only twelve minutes. If you’re going to put that kind of cash into a project, make it a feature. It probably would have served the story better to be a feature anyway. It was shot on film and in scope so not only was it shot on film, it was shot on super-35.

The flick’s about a possibly crazy, possibly homeless guy who has a cloaking device in his brain and he fights some hockey-masked baddies with his mad martial arts skillz, then he takes the corkscrew end of a Swiss army knife, drills into his own head, and pulls out the SEED and now he can see spaceships. I suppose it was a “what if the crazy homeless people aren’t crazy” type deal, but more of a story would have been appreciated. It was well shot, well edited, and had good effects. The acting was okay.

After this there was an intermission in which I came back to my room, grabbed my hoodie, then got some food, and then waited for the last half an hour or so until the last feature started so I missed Ghengis Blues.

Hampshire: A Ghost Story: This flick is, as the title pretty clearly states, about ghosties. The Busy Bistro, which has since gone out of business in real life, is just an average restaurant with some very dangerous ghosts. People go completely missing, completely mental, or both. And the spirits follow you, driving you mad and killing everyone around you.

I make it sound more exciting than it actually was because outside of some great cinematography, good set pieces, and some pretty good acting, it really wasn’t scary. There was so little tension that whatever tension there was was broken with the use of overly dramatic music cues or silly classical selections. And the end song, which was performed by the twins in the flick, was a blatant Manson rip-off. It was an okay flick, but it could have been so much better, especially when it had so much going for it.

After the flick, there was one more short, but I decided to head over to the bar where the networking party was and get a bottle of water. Moments after arriving, though, I just went ahead and came back to my room and settled in for the night. I don’t want to be sick, especially not for my own screening. My throat’s still a little sore and I’m tired...not a good combination, not when I’m in Ohio anyway.

More to come after today’s festival goodness!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

My Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wristband.

The children decided to play Marco Polo with their small yappy-type dog at 9 this morning so I’m awake, even if I don’t want to be. As such, I thought I’d post about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

My cab driver yesterday, Mike (who forbade me from calling him ‘sir,’ which only served to make me call him ‘sir’ more) was a veritable font of information about Cleveland. He asked me if I’d prefer the scenic route or the highway. Scenic would take fifteen minutes more, but cost the same as the highway. I, of course, chose the scenic route. I’m glad I did, too. I got to see a lot of Lake Erie (“60 miles thataway is Canada!” he told me at one point) and a lot of ginormous houses belonging to Cleveland’s rich and famous (“you see that pink house? The guy who draws Ziggy lives there...” and “you see that building with the red door? Eliot Ness lived there when he was our security chief; you know, the guy who caught Al Capone...”) Still, nearly every building is made of brick and many have lush green ivy climbing up the walls so it was a feast for my eyes.

I don’t know what radio station we were listening to, but it was definitely the radio. I don’t know if the Buzzard still exists, but I’m betting it was WMMS. The only songs I remember are “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure followed by “Beautiful Day” by U2 and then Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt.” You’ll not hear that mix on a station in Florida, at least not one that isn’t XM or Sirius.

While I was looking at the houses and the cars and the general lay of the land, I realized something about Cleveland when compared to Sarasota: up here, people aren’t so concerned with artifice. Sarasota’s concerned with looks, of the city as well as its citizenry, to the point of distraction. Cleveland seems to say, “Yeah, this is what it is and we’re cool with that.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

So, eventually we make it to the Hall of Fame, which was designed by the same guy who did the Louvre - the glass pyramid thing is his signature according to Mike. There’s no photography allowed inside and they ask visitors to check their cameras at the coat check stand. I did not do that, but I also did not take any photos of the inside. When I got to the Stevie Nicks section, I so wanted to whip out my camera, but I resisted...I didn’t want to get tossed out.

The first thing I did when I got there, other than buy my ticket and such, was I watched the Mystery Train piece which was about the history of rock and roll. The first half covered the blues / country / jazz / soul influence and the second half took up from Elvis and the Beatles and went through to Metallica and was mainly about how sucky being a rock star is...I liked the first half better, but they did play the original “How Soon Is Now?” No footage of Stevie, no footage of Fleetwood this exhibit anyway. This was the only one I sat through as the Inductees exhibit was an hour long and I was starting to not feel all that great.

I perked up considerably when I saw the Stevie Nicks section. I ran down an old woman and a child because neither got out of my way fast enough. They have six of her dresses, then there were a couple of stickers, an 8 track tape of Rumours (um, really guys?), Stevie’s ballet slippers from the cover of Rumours, and a photo of Stevie with Steven Tyler and some other people. That’s it? Really? Couldn’t Lindsay bear to part with an old guitar or eyeliner from the Tusk days? No drumsticks from Mick or his resin balls? I think John’s playing the same bass and Christine’s still playing the same Rhodes or Korg piano. I mean, I’ve got some old vinyl Mac records, that’s probably worth a bit o’ space in the exhibit, though I certainly wouldn’t part with my Buckingham Nicks vinyl...that took forever to find.

After staying extra long at the Stevie exhibit (she’s an inductee with Fleetwood Mac, but I wonder if she can be inducted on her own, too), I roamed around staring at all of the Bowie stuff (six outfits spanning his career, including that awesome jacket from the cover of Earthling) and a bunch of memorabilia from the Serious Moonlight tour. They had some guitars from ZZ Top, and a fiber optic sign they used on tour - maybe my mom saw it when she went to their concerts.

They had a few rejection letters that were sent to U2, which I thought was one of the best things to include in the museum to show all the future rockers that even U2 was rejected in the beginning and look at them now.

They had two huge exhibits dedicated to Elvis and the Beatles and a couple of sections dedicated to Michael Jackson and, I’ll be honest...I skipped over those. I’m not into Elvis, I like the fifties poppy Beatles and not the sixties psychedelic Beatles, and I liked Michael Jackson when I was seven. When he started altering his appearance, I stopped liking his work.

I think my favourite non-Stevie exhibit might be the Jimi Hendrix one. It was huge, with outfits and several guitars, but I was most intrigued by his artwork. He had no formal training and it showed, but his work was fantastic. There was one piece he titled “The Good Shepherd and His Flock” and, in the background, there was one subtle black sheep. It might be my favourite.

It’s weird to look at some of these outfits and realize that these larger than life rock stars are your height. I mean, I know Stevie Nicks is roughly my height (5’4”) when she’s wearing her omigod tall boots, but looking at the full outfits of people like Mick Jagger and David Bowie and, taking for granted that they’re on mannequins, realizing they’re not that much taller than me is pretty neat. I think both Bowie and Jagger are around 6’. I also realized that the Thin White Duke is remarkably a lot like Jareth fashion-wise.

They even had small sections devoted to Joy Division / New Order and Siouxsie and the Banshees, which I really wasn’t expecting. They had handwritten lyrics for “Love Will Tear Us Apart” which is probably my favourite Joy Division song (I think that’s everyone’s favourite JD song, though...)

There was a sizable section devoted to Les Paul, the recently deceased innovator who designed guitars for Gibson. They had early prototypes, and recreations of some of them, in the exhibit as well as early footage of him performing with his wife. Lots of old school recording equipment, too. I almost wish you could play with brother would have a field day if he could get his hands on that stuff! I think he'd dig just seeing them, too.

They also had an art piece based on Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Nothing donated to the museum from the group, at least that I saw and it’s easy to miss stuff because there’s just so much to look at and read and I didn’t have that much time, but an artist created a giant wall and painted the words of Roger Waters on the back about why he decided to create The Wall. I wish I could have taken photos of that, too, because it was very cool.

On the same floor was the Janis Joplin and Rolling Stone Magazine exhibits. They had the original Fleetwood Mac issue from ’77 or ’78, with the band in bed together: Stevie with Mick, Lindsay with Christine, and John off to the side by himself and the Joplin exhibit had a lot of stuff about the Hell’s Angels and her scrapbook and some handwritten lyrics.

It was worth the trip just for Stevie’s dresses, but it was awesome to see so many other things from groups I admire. If you’re ever near Cleveland and like rock and roll, I highly recommend going.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Random thoughts on the state that's hi in the middle and round on the ends...

Well, regardless of how my stay started, I cannot deny that this is one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in outside of my own which is good since I have three more days here and they’re pretty jam-packed. It’s so comfortable that I fell asleep during Ghostbusters, which I started around 10 last night and I didn’t really wake up until around 8 am! This is especially remarkable since I haven’t been able to get more than five hours of sleep for the past couple of weeks...too much to do and, at that point, so little time in which to do it while the buses were running. Room service was ace, too, and that certainly helped calm my whiny self down. A turkey herb wrap and a house salad omnomnomnom. I think my room service guy was a vampire, though, because he was all like, “Do I have permission to enter your room?” No, dude, I want to gobble my food out in the hall. Which I would have, if I had to.

The next paragraph has spoilers for season eight of CSI: Vegas. You have been warned.

I watched a random season nine episode of CSI: Vegas last night on broadcast television. I’ll reserve my judgment on the lovely Laurence Fishburne for once I’ve seen more than just the single episode, but the whole dynamic seems off now (the CSI fans are probably saying, “Well, yeah...duh...”) And I don’t know if George Eads was ill during the filming of the episode or what, but Nicky seemed especially off, with puffy eyes and slightly slurred speech -- they wouldn’t give Stokes an alcohol problem after Warrick’s death, would they? It was the parachute episode, with Charisma Carpenter and Erin Daniels guest starring...which was especially wonderfully strange to me considering Lauren Lee Smith was a series regular during season nine. If you can follow that without a map, you’re awesome. This is one of those times where I wonder if the CSI casting directors cast for the fan fiction writers.

Anyway, I bring up CSI because while, yes, I know I’m in Ohio and that I’m only an hour north of Ye Olde Homestead, it was still a shock to see the Football Hall of Fame on the commercial for the nightly news. I used to pass the Football Hall of Fame quite often in my childhood. I still think it looks like a citrus juicer... I’ve never been in the Hall of Fame so I have no idea what the heck is in the juicer part of the building. Don’t feel bad, Cantonites. The theatre at my old high school looks like a giant toilet. I can’t find a proper photo of it, but trust me on the toiletyness of the building.

Okay, so even in spite of my trip thus far being very Cleveland (according to my mommy), I still have a little bit of...I don’t even know what, for the home state. It’s not affection, it’s not disgust, it’s not homesickness, and it’s not fond memories. And I’m not even going to Canton! Maybe next trip, whenever that might be. I suppose it will be forever undefinable. I must say that it’s nice to see more motorcycles and Harley emblems (not necessarily on those motorcycles) than Mercedes Benzes and Lexuses...Benzi? Lexi? How are high-end cars pluralized, anyway?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hotel Confessional - {name redacted}

You can sorta see the moon, too!

So, I’ve arrived in Cleveland. All was well at first; the plane ride was nice, got my bag pretty quickly, got right into a cab with a nice, if not exhausted-looking, driver who had a thick accent, but spoke slowly and I could understand him. The drive to the hotel was nice, too. We don’t have a whole lot of multi-storey houses in Florida because of the storms and everything’s made of brick and is, to me anyway, visually interesting. Saw a couple of little Indians logos and not a palm tree in sight.

Then I got to the hotel.

My room. My view.

It’s bigger than I thought, but it was - is - pretty empty. I checked in early, 1:30 or so, but the lady at the front desk said that I was expected early so all was well. The lunch buffet closed at 2 so, if I hurried, I could get something to eat since I hadn’t really had anything since I woke up at 5 in the morning. I got my key and with a sigh of relief, I headed to the fourth floor and to my room...only to find that it hadn’t been cleaned yet.

Okay, that happens, but I’m travel-logged and hungry and really just wanted to get into my room and settle in. So, I schlep my stuff back down to the front desk and get a different room - computer glitch apparently - and schlep back up to the new assignment. It’s nice, not ginormous, but it’s ready for me and that’s fine. I look at the clock: 2:05. Okay, not a problem, this joint’s got restaurants and stuff so I’ll take pictures of my room, as I often do, and check everything out.

The restaurant closed for lunch at 2 and doesn’t open again until 5, but you can apparently order room service via the internet! Sweet, so I grab my laptop and try to log on...and it’s not working. I call their IT and they have no idea and then I call the front desk and they have no idea, either. As far as I know, there’s still no internet. Well, I’m not just hungry, I’m HONGRY by this point, but I don’t want to order Pizza Hut. I’m doing well with my weight and don’t want to kill it, so I go to check out the vending machine for like peanut butter crackers or something: coin operated and ancient. Doesn’t bode well for the machine’s contents. Okay, there’s a gift shoppe in the lobby! I’ll go see what they have! Now, the gift shop was open when I walked into the hotel. I know because I was there. But I went downstairs and there was a sign in the door: “CLOSED. WILL REOPEN AT 4:00pm.”

I sighed and trudged back up to my room where I looked at the Pizza Hut menu, the hours on which said open from 11:00am to 10:00 pm. So, I call the number, get the hotel restaurant and they say that Pizza Hut opens at 4. By this point, I’m freakin’ whiny, I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I feel grody after the flight. And it’s 3:30. In my best Cartman voice I said, “Screw you guys, I’m taking a shower!” I know, I could have just gotten a cab and gone to a restaurant, but I’m just not feeling it. There’s a restaurant in the hotel, you know? I’m tired and was looking forward to chillaxing in my room.

It’s 4:37 right now...just a few more minutes until I can get room service.

On the plus side, I’m on the same floor as the festival / convention so I don’t have to go far to get to where I’m going...and the air conditioning works...and I had a nice, long, kind of hot shower...and the mattress is nice and soft...and it’s nice out, even if I’m inside.

At least my mom got a good laugh out of it!

(This was posted at 5:59 pm and I'm about to go into a food coma. I'm not usually cranky if I haven't eaten, but today was all like, "Argh!")

Airport Confessional -- Charlotte-Douglas International Airport chance of meatballs...
Just got off the plane to the most glorious bathroom break ever, replete with the tastiest mint I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. Where am I, you ask, that still has bathroom attendants that give mints and other essential toiletries? Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, NC. The time is 10:32 in the morning and we landed in thinning fog; the sun is not burning through the windows and my poor little Goth eyeballs are safe and happy. This airport, at least this wing of it, feels smaller even than the one I just left, no easy feat considering SRQ International isn’t all that big in the first place.

I love flying. It’s not something I get to do very often so it’s always a treat. I hope, if I end up flying around more and more in my career, that I never lose the wonder that I have when I fly. I tend to sleep through the actual flight part, at least when we’re up above the clouds and all you can see is cotton for miles and miles, but I really enjoy the take off and landings. Especially this time. I’ve never seen a rainbow from above before and I saw at least six before we reached cruising altitude. And we passed underneath a cloud formation that looked to me, thanks to the miracle of matrixing, like a white phoenix. I couldn’t get a picture of it, though, so some random clouds will have to do. Just trust me when I say it was very cool.

I like to look around at my fellow passengers during take-off and landing. It surprises me just how many don’t look through the window during the really exciting stuff, much less when we’re soaring over the earth at a bazillion miles an hour. Like I’d mentioned previously, but with much different wording, I think a lot of our problems could be solved if people just looked around.

I think they’re going to start boarding soon. More to come from the land of Cleve!

Airport Confessional -- SRQ International

It's 6:49 in the morning...
It’s 6:49 in the morning. The sun is just beginning its ascent in the east, midnight blue giving way to the delicate orange, yellow, and pink of the rising ball of fire some 93 million miles away. The airport is nearly deserted now, two full hours before my flight is scheduled to depart and there’s a nice sense of calm about the place that will soon be broken by wailing infants, wailing businesspeople, and wailing travelers. I can understand why the ticket agent at the desk was annoyed that myself and one other traveler were here so early; its so peaceful.

I’m on my way to a film festival in Cleveland, Ohio, which is roughly an hour north of the place of my birth, North Canton. I haven’t been back to the Motherland in 17 years. I haven’t even been to this airport since I returned from my untriumphant move to New York back in 1997.

Out on the tarmac, the airport workers are connecting what I hope is our plane to their cart so they can move it into position near the gangway. I hope I have a window seat, I forgot to check when I checked in.

I love to fly. It’s utterly terrifying to think about logistically, but none of that seems to matter when they open the throttle and you’re rocketing down the runway and then up up up into the sky. It’s so wonderful to look at the world from a different perspective; I think more people need to fly and to be seated at the window, so they can look at the world on which we live and how it’s really not that bad a place and could be better if we’d all just get over ourselves.


“Bad Moon Rising” just started on the airport radio station. Is it bad that the only thing that comes to mind when I hear this song is Kevin Kline and Tom Berenger zooming down the road with the top down on a Jeep? No, I don’t think about An American Werewolf in London, I think of The Big Chill. I used to watch that film over and over when I was a kid, even though I really didn’t understand most of it until I was older. I never understood that the opening credits, and the body and the stitches, was the Alex they were talking about, though I understood that Alex was dead. I always thought that the girl who was dressing the guy was really nice to be dressing him, maybe it was his mom. And that he had strange wrists. I probably thought that was Glenn Close dressing Kevin Kline or something.


It’s twenty minutes later and I’m thinking that soon I’m going to regret choosing this particular seat, right in front of the east-facing windows. But for now, I’m happy. I took some really nice pictures of the sun lifting up over the horizon that I’ll post when I get to the hotel in a few hours. Man, ain’t that a killer thought? Here I am, on the gulf coast of Florida about to board a plane (and then another one) that will take me to Ohio within four hours. It takes almost that long just to drive to Orlando from here.

I have a friend who gets all existential when she does laundry...I suppose that airports do that to me. I don’t think it’s the fact that I’m going to strap myself into a seat on a jet-fueled airplane and more the fact that I’m leaving everything I know and the people I love and heading to a place completely unknown to me (I’ve never been to Cleveland, at least not that I remember) and be surrounded by people that are, for all intents and purposes, completely unfamiliar.

I’m not a big fan of crowds, or attention for that matter. I have a hard time talking up my work. I do what I do and wish that my work, and how hard I work to bring that work to life, could speak for itself, but in this business I’ve become a part of, you need to be able to talk yourself up, to promote yourself. These film festivals are good exercise, but I wonder if I’ll have to almost split into two Loris, the me I know and the me I have to be so I can do what I love.

See? Existential. And I’m so low in the echelon as a filmmaker that it’s probably not a real question anyway.

Yup...regretting this seat now. Sun’s in my eyeballs...I’m a Goth, why in the world did I choose to get up this early?!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Film Festival business!

Whew! Gotta get out my Swiffer, this place is all dusty! It's tough to try and keep a blog when you work every shift by yourself and are pretty exhausted by the time your days off roll around. In fact, this will be my ninth day in a row without a day off, but with good reason: I'm heading to the Indie Gathering the day after tomorrow! I'll try to post more both during and after the festival...I'll have so much to say and so much I'll want to remember! It is, after all, the first trip back to the homeland in 17 years and my first trip to Cleveland ever! What a way to go back!

In other news, I've got my trailer in a contest at the Vampire Film Festival in New Orleans! The film isn't about vampires, but they accept all dark materials and this film is certainly that. In their categories, I would classify it as Goth which works out because on the IMDb, the film is listed in the top thirteen Goth shorts! How that works, I don't know, but it's there and I'll take it. :D Maybe it's based on the use of keywords...whatever.

Anyway, the contest is on the festival's youTube channel. To vote, simply click on the stars and, if you feel so inclined, leave a comment as to why you feel that way. You can access my trailer's page directly by clicking on this sentence. I DON'T want ANYONE to click one star on any other trailer just to give anyone a boost! Please be honest! I know I can't expect the same from others in the contest, but I can hope for it! Besides, how are we to learn how to make stuff better without honesty?

In other news, I have made up a few DVDs to give away at the festival so if anyone reading this is actually going to Indie Gathering, or CenFlo or any festival for that matter, and wants a copy, come on up and find me after the screening ('cause, you know, you should see it before wanting it! ;D) They're homemade so a little rough, but made with heart and that's what counts when you don't have cash.

I think that's enough of this for now. I'll try to not be so absent in the future...I can't promise much when the bill-paying job is so tiring, but I can try!!