Sunday, June 19, 2011

L.A. trip the Third (Day Seven: Voice-overs and Re-Agent.)

My last day in L.A. was just as mind glowingly amazing as the previous six. I had arranged to record a voice-over for my new short film in the home studio of my friend Kristin Mellian, who was in my first film Without/Within and I was to meet my voice talent there so I walked from my hotel to Kristin's home (it was only a mile away and I made it in record time.) shortly after I got there, the talent arrived...the legendary Ms. Brinke Stevens!

Yes, THE Brinke Stevens, one of the most famous Scream Queens in cinema history, said yes to providing a voice for my short film! To say that I was (am) excited is an understatement.

Actress Brinke Stevens doing a voice over for my new short film.

Kristin's equipment is fantastic and the voice over sounds amazing! I can't wait to shoot this flick and cut everything together!

After we recorded the voice-over, Brinke, my friend Evy, and I all went to lunch at a strip mall sushi place called 4 for 6 on Ventura. Now, I know. Strip mall sushi just doesn't sound good, but this place was amazing. Yelp reviewers gave it great reviews and they weren't wrong! The sushi was super fresh, even as close to closing time as we got there, and the bento box lunch special was, to quote a friend, AMAZEBALLS.

After lunch with Brinke, Evy and I went to Citywalk and hung around for a while to spend time until the end of the night when I decided that we were going to go see Re-Animator, the Musical. Yes, you read that correctly, a stage musical based on Stuart Gordon's classic film. In fact, the stage musical was directed by Stuart Gordon and was adapted by Gordon and Dennis Paoli, who wrote the original.

I'd read that Gordon, a Master of Horror, would be in Europe for a film festival or to accept an award or something so I knew he wouldn't be there which I was disappointed about, but at the same time, it wasn't as if I'd get to meet him anyway.

The Steve Allen Theatre where the show is being put on is small, but cute, with surprisingly good seating. We did not sit in the front which is the splatter zone - I did that with Evil Dead and it was fun, but not something I'd want to do again - but we sat in the fifth row, center, and it was brilliant.

Just a quick recap, Re-Animator is a loose adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story Herbert West, ReAnimator (Lovecraft's least favorite of his own works, by the way) about a young medical student who has been experimenting with a serum that reanimates the dead. It's also the first written story about zombies as we know and love them today, as brainless, violent walking corpses revived via scientific means.

The stage show has been held over for months, now. In fact, the day after Evy and I saw Re-Animator, the show had been held over once more so if you're reading this, you're in L.A., you love or even just like the movie, and you haven't seen it yet go see it now! It's absolutely fantastic!

Just before the show started, I saw someone who looked like Stuart Gordon sitting down by the sound/light board. Evy said that I should go say something to him, but I just wasn't sure enough, not to mention that the show was about to start. And at intermission, I didn't want to bother him.

The show ends and the audience pours out. I finally said, "Mr. Gordon!" but he didn't turn so I thought that it wasn't actually him. Then, just as we stepped out of the auditorium, he turned toward me.

It was him! It was him! It was him!

I was a cool customer as I shook his hand and said, "Mr. Gordon, my name is Lori. I'm a big fan and I just wanted to say congratulations, it's a great show, and thank you."

He thanked me in return and looked kind of surprised that I didn't ask for an autograph or a photo or anything. I didn't want to bother him. I was just lucky enough to catch him in the wild. Just as Evy and I turned away, a dude ran up to him, screaming his name to get his photo and autograph.

I sighed and left, quite satisfied with my encounter with one of the Masters of Horror.

Afterward, we went back to the hotel to get a little bit of sleep before our early-ass flight to PDX.

This was one of the best weeks of my life. I got to see Heather Langenkamp again, I got to meet Arlene Marechal, hang out with the Fies sisters, meet a bunch of ace people (especially Miguel with Monster Island Resort podcast and Jaye and Tony with the Zombie vs. shark podcast), got to have lunch with Brinke Stevens again and she did a voice-over for one of my movies (!), to hang out with one of my bestest friends, play with video games that are still months out from being released, and I met two Masters of Horror.

And I still had a vacation ahead of me that, as of this writing, is almost over.

I still have Days of the Dead in Indianapolis (I'm attending as a fan and to see Heather again) and another trip to L.A. for the main Viscera Film Festival event! After that, (and in between, too) I have a lot of filming to do. A lot. And I'm so excited!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Film festival news!

I'll post about L.A. Day Seven tomorrow. :)

I've been so busy that I've neglected some important announcements! First of all: four of my films have been accepted to the Movieville Film Festival back home in Sarasota! Funny thing is that I'm not going to be there...after LA, I made plans to go to Washington state, where I am now, for a vacation and I won't be back until Tuesday morning. I only found out about this while I was in L.A.

Here is the schedule of events. A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema shows at 2 pm and Without/Within at 4 pm on Saturday while aftershock and A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: and be at rest play at noon on Sunday.

A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema was nominated for Best Editing at Movieville, too! I have to admit that surprises me, but I'm very critical of my own work.

Funnily enough, aftershock will also be playing at A Nightmare to Remember in San Francisco on Sunday! And, I've gotten word from Shannon Lark at the Viscera Film Festival (where aftershock will be playing in the July 17th event and on the tour) that two of the Viscera tour stops are the Underground Film Festival in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a Viscera event in Vegas! I don't have the dates for those on hand because I'm traveling with my iPad and, as some of you know, Apple won't allow Flash on its mobile devices and Viscera is a Flash based site. I might have to travel with my laptop from now on...a bummer since the iPad is otherwise amazing.

That's all the news that's currently fit to print! I'll post about my vacation once I'm home, before I head out to Days of the Dead in Indianapolis! I'm not playing there, that I know of anyway. It'll be my second ever horror convention! :D

Sunday, June 12, 2011

L.A. Trip the Third (Days Four, Five, and Six: Of stripcheese and E3)

E3 is the Electronics Entertainment Expo and is one of the most important trade events for video games in the United States if not the world. And I was there.

I love video games. They're a great stress reliever and have helped me break through some sticky creative binds. I play all kinds of games, from the adorable Mario games which captured my heart as a kid to hardcore action titles like God of War to FPS like Left4Dead and Borderlands (one of my top favorite games).

I had been asked to write a video game for a friend of mine who is a programmer. Since I was going to be in LA anyway, I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn more about my hobby so I registered and, a day after BleedFest, I found myself on the L.A. subway at the unGodly hour of seven in the morning to get there in time for the opening of the Expo.

I get to the L.A. Convention Center and find my way in and discover that they're not letting people in yet. That's strange, the email and the website said 8 am. I check the website again. Yep, it opens at 8 am...for badge holder pick-up. The event itself didn't open until noon.


I manage to occupy myself for four hours, eventually getting in the line two hours early just to have easier access to the other people who were using Street Pass on their 3DS. As I tweeted that day, my Mii knows more Mii-ps than I know peeps. I think I gathered 230 unique street passes over the course of the expo and accidentally 3DS dissed one dude because I wasn't paying attention. Dude, I'm sorry!

Eventually, the doors open and people are pushing and shoving to get in. So much for this being a professional event. I made my way right over to Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and started playing. I LOVE it. The level load time is a bit long, but I understand why...most game load times these days are painfully long (I'm looking at you, Dead Rising), but they have to be in order to give a longer level experience, so it doesn't have to break every so often to load a new section of the same area.

I'm not explaining it very well, but it's a long-run good thing.

Anyway, from there, I played Silent Hill: Downpour in 3D. I'm not a fan of the Silent Hill games, but I love the plot (I love the movie, too). I like to go all Leeroy Jenkins in my games so careful planning and a flashlight aren't my cup of tea. It's a game I think will make SH devotees happy and could bring in new players...just not me. Also, the 3D sucked.

After leaving the Capcom section, I toured the hall a little, then made my way to the Nintendo area. I love me some Nintendo. I love my Wii, but there haven't been too many good games for it outside of Super Mario Galaxy, Zelda, and the RE4 port. I got into line for the new Zelda game, Skyward Sword. If you liked Zelda: Twilight Princess, you'll like Skyward Sword. I loved Twilight Princess so yay!

I wanted to try the new Kirby game, but the line was a bit long so I went to the next level and played with the new 3DS games like Super Mario (ace) and Zelda: Ocarina of Time (eh). Later on in the expo, I also tried Luigi's Mansion (I loved it!).

I realized that I'd spent a lot of time in Nintendo and while I wanted to play with the Wii U (or the PS Vita), I wasn't about to spend three hours waiting so I headed over to the other hall and walked around some more. Here, I waited in line for a while to check out Aliens: Colonial Marines, the new game from Sega and those wonderful folks at Gearbox. It looks amazing! And, it's an official sequel to the films, taking place around the time of Aliens3 when the cavalry comes to LV426 to investigate what happened to the Sulaco and her crew. I'm looking forward to investigating the derelict!

My basic plan of attack for the first day was to get the flow of the place, see what all was there, play with what I could and then come back the next day with a more comprehensive plan of activities. Like eating. I didn't eat all day. I got back to my hotel room and had room service because I was just too tired to go out again.

The next day, I ended up being my friend's minion, taking photos and stuff for her as she flitted from appointment to appointment as press. That was fun because I got to see a little bit of the other side of E3, the impress the press side. The whole thing is geared toward industry people and not the common folk (even though there were plenty of people there who weren't supposed to be), but it's cool to see all these sides of an event of this magnitude.

I got to see some gameplay from The Darkness 2. Mark Patton from Faith No More is back as the voice of the Darkness, so that's pretty cool. The graphics are pretty and the game looks smooth. I couldn't get into the first game, I don't know why.

About halfway through the day, my friend and I parted ways and I toured the booths again. The second hall had so much more that was interesting, like Disney and SquareEnix and Namco Bandai as well as merch merchants and tech stuff like a teeny tiny projector that you could hook to your iPhone/iPad/iTouch. Only 480 resolution, though. For $400 msrp? Please.

I found time to eat this day, grabbing some grub from an overpriced vendor in the back. It may have been because I was so hungry, but it may have been the best sandwich of my life.

One of my favourite demos of the day was Dead Island. I got to play a few minutes from the beginning and it's awesome! I love zombie games and this one is pretty epic. Another one I liked was a re-imagining of Centipede. I liked that one a lot more than I thought I would.

Later that day, I met up with my friend and her co-workers because they'd gotten me an invitation to the Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary party. It was...interesting. I like Sonic, but it was one of those sides rollers that always irritated me because I couldn't go backward to pick up the rings I missed and it was too fast going forward that I couldn't enjoy the work put into the graphics.

The final day was fun. I went around with my friend for a little bit, then I became sort of a tour guide / handler for scream queen Tara Cardinal who wanted to check out E3 for inspiration on one of her many projects. It was nice to have a goal on the day, you know? I didn't get to play with the Wii U or the PS Vita, but I know the stores will have demo versions next year so I'm not too terribly broken up about that.

Afterwards, I went to dinner at ESPN Zone with Tara, my friend, and my friend's co-workers. Good food, but it's best to avoid that restaurant like the plague on game day. They charge you through the nose AND ass for the privilege of placing your buttocks upon their gilded chairs. Whatevs.

Afterward, my friend came back to my hotel because I was going back to her place on Saturday morning. But we still had Friday to tear up the town!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

L.A. Trip the Third (Day Four Part Deux)

When we last spoke of my intrepid adventures, I'd just found authentic Just the Ten of Us wardrobe and I became thirteen years old again (which is at least a little more grown up than my usual 8.)

I absolutely bought it and I absolutely, absolutely wore it! It fits me surprisingly well! I keep getting strange looks, though, as I wear it at E3. Not that I think people are remembering the show (the damn whippersnappers these days need to get the hell off my lawn...), but I think it just puzzles them.

After we all made our purchases, we went down to Johnny Rockets. I don't know if it was because we were all so hungry or if it's really that good, but damn that was a tasty burger (turkey of course.)

Lis was kind enough to give me a lift to the Hollywood and Highland station so I could grab the train back to the hotel. We made a quick detour on the way: she took me to Miracle Mile! I told her about how I saw the movie Miracle Mile just before I left this most recent trip so she took me to the main area where they filmed. Even the restaurant is still in there, though it's no longer 24 hours, and we passed by the tar pits. Holy crap!

I said my good-byes and hopped on the subway which took me to the bus which drops me off right in front of my hotel...not enough, perhaps, to warrant a whole post, but that last part really was awesome. :D

L.A. Trip the Third (Day Four: Totes Shopping OMG)

My main goal for yesterday, after waking up at 4:30 in the flipping morning, was to get my badge holder for E3. A side quest was to get a hoodie because I neglected to bring one with me and it's a touch cold here and in Washington state where I'll be heading next. So, I toss aside my apprehension and get on the subway and head to downtown L.A. and the convention center where E3 is going to be held.

The convention center area is rather huge taking up a whole square block. My brother, Shawn, and I walked around it several times in February trying to find something to do. I found myself wandering around it as well, trying to figure out where the hell I was supposed to go to get my badge holder. Eventually, I found a booth and got one. I didn't make an announcement that I was going to E3 because you can't get in without the badge holder and things can happen, you know?

Anyway, after that, I wandered around downtown L.A. for a little bit because the was nothing going on yesterday that I, with an exhibits only badge, could get into. Then I called BleedFest co-director Brenda Fies because we'd discussed getting together. We worked out that I would hop on the subway and meet them at Hollywood and Highland, it's only one station away from my area anyway.

I don't know the streets of L.A. too well, obviously, but I have to admit that I was surprised to find that I was right at Graumann's Chinese theatre and the Kodak theatre. While I waited for them to show up, I walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard and kept an eye out for a decent hoodie. I wound up getting one from the Hard Rock because I wanted something that was a tourist item, but didn't have Los Angeles emblazoned across my chest all tacky-like.

We meet up, we being Brenda, their second cousins, and their friend, and we walked around for a bit and they shopped while Brenda and I chatted. Eventually, the five of us met up with Lis and Melanie (who plays the Runner in the I Hate L.A. interstitials) and we hung out a little more. Eventually, Melanie had to leave for an appointment and the ladies were nice enough to invite me to go shopping with them, in the swank, hip section of Melrose.

I'm not swank and I'm not hip, but eh, what the hell, right? I'd not been there before, might as well. So we start hitting these vintage boutique stores. One "vintage" shop charged $38 freakin' bucks for already well-loved t-shirts. And then there are the typical stores that don't stock anything that would fit on a normal person.

Eventually, we made our way to yet another "vintage" clothing store. All the shoes were already worn (I'm hard on my clothes, I don't want to buy something for a bazillion dollars that won't be able to withstand more than two days of me) and I'm thinking that I could totally come out to L.A. and start my own store and fund my films that way.

So as I aimlessly shuffle through the hoodie section (even though I already had one), There's this bright, pretty blue that catches my eye. I push the surrounding clothes aside to see what it is and am confronted by something...astounding.

This is a St. Augustines Hippos track jacket, Great, you say in that tone of voice where you think I'm crazy. Don't worry, I get it all the time. Thing is, St. Auggies doesn't exist...except in the television show Just the Ten of Us.

This jacket, on sale for $18, is an authentic costume piece from my favorite television show starring one of my favorite actresses.

I about died.

Yes, I bought it, and it fits perfectly.

The rest of my day will have to be told later as I have to go catch the bus to grab the train to head to downtown. I just really needed to share the awesomeness of that find.

*nerdiest gigglesnort beating all previous gigglesnorts*

Monday, June 6, 2011

L.A. Trip the Third (Day Three: Be Nancy)

Fair warning: this is a long post filled with nerdery and geekiness. you may explode from Teh Fangurl. You've been warned.

Yesterday was the day: BleedFest. The reason I've been to L.A. three times now. I was there for the world premiere of my newest short film, A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: and be at rest, but also because I was co-presenting the west coast premiere of I Am Nancy which is a documentary about the place of the horror heroine in today's society as told through the eyes of the actress who plays one of the genre's strongest female leads, Heather Langenkamp.

It would not be an overstatement to say that she's one of my top favorite actresses and that I'm a huge fan. The six year old in me was doing a wonderful, soul-felt Marie Lubbock-style dance (is there any other?), while I tried my damnedest to not act a fool on the outside. I think I did a fairly good job in not getting any fan on her.

As per usual, I woke up at six in the morning (Ed. Note: today was 4:30. This has got to stop...) I wrote yesterday's blog posts (note to self: proofread when you get home!) and eventually got ready (physically and mentally) and headed over to the venue. Alisha Rayne from grabbed me for an interview right when I got there. I'm not sure I'll ever get over how strange for me it is to be interviewed, even though Alisha's really good at it.

From there, I went in and greeted Lis and Brenda, who gave me a new badge. I'd actually brought the one from April with me so they wouldn't have to keep making new ones, but this time they printed one with my name on it. I then said hi to Jaye and Tony from the Zombie vs. Shark podcast, really great guys, y'all, and wandered around a bit. As I was headed back outside, I passed a petite woman with short cropped black hair who I hadn't seen before and she said, "Lori! I'm Arlene Marechal!"


Arlene is the director of I Am Nancy and was the one I'd contacted last year about playing I Am Nancy at Hallowscreen. The stars didn't align for that, obviously, but they did for BleedFest which makes me just as happy! We talked for a bit as I took her to get her badge (I know, not my job, but having run my own festival, combined with an innate desire to be helpful, I couldn't resist) and she mentioned that Heather was running a little bit late.

Zomg. But I kept it all inside.

Impact Personal Safety is this month's charity for BleedFest and director Heidi Hornbacher is the executive director of the program. She came in with some of her students and one of her male instructors, fully kitted out in protective padding, to put on a demonstration of their techniques. It was fantastic to watch and during the first break, I asked Heidi about the program and if they have any classes in Florida. They don't yet, but they get a lot of inquiries. This is a class every woman and child should take.

After that, we watched a new short by Brenda and Lis called College Girls Road Trip which features their second cousins Casey and Sarah as two college girls on a road trip. It was good fun and the girls were great! It was their first time seeing themselves on screen, too, which adds a little something extra to the proceedings.

After that, we took a break for mixing and I went outside for some air. I think I missed Candice Rankin's one woman show because I was being interviewed by the Zombie vs. Shark guys. But, then again, I missed getting my photo taken on the red carpet...again! I have a talent for that sort of thing. I was inside watching the shorts in competition, though, so at least I had a good reason.

However, while I was inside watching the other shorts, I missed Heather's arrival. And she and Arlene were outside until the last short played...which was not mine. Ah, well.

At the end of the break, before the shorts-in-competition package, I saw this tall, lanky dude wearing a Cujo shirt. I had to compliment him on it, after all it is the movie that started this whole mess for me. And wouldn't you know it, it was Lucky McKee! He's a fabulous director (May, Sick Girl, The Woods, The Woman) and, thankfully, unpretentious. I like him even more after meeting him!

I loved every short in the package, but I do have to say that my favorite was an FSU short called Teppan Dead about a chef at a hibachi restaurant with delusions of samurai who, not unlike Shaun in Shaun of the Dead, comes into his own in the face of the zompocalypse.

My short played second to last. I loved hearing the audience reactions to things like the fact that the guy is a priest and such. I didn't bother bringing up that I made it to test some new equipment because, even though that's the reason why I made it, it's still a full fledged story on its own. I got to plug my aftershock screenings, too, (A Nightmare to Remember on June 18 and Viscera on July 17! I just realized that I switched the dates in my interviews and everything! Geez Louise, I need a keeper... I should've remembered since Viscera's on my brother's birthday! I think. ;) ) And, guess what! Lucky was one of the judges for Viscera!

My short won Best Ongoing Vampire Saga! The only problem? It's not a vampire saga...and Lis could tell from my expression as I went up for the Q&A. I didn't say anything, it was still amazing to receive an award, but she mentioned it before dinner. I understand where she's coming from with the mistake; the first film was accepted to the Vampire Film Festival, but in the Gothic category.

Just before the break, Lucky was presented with the Inanna Partnership award for his work, all of which features strong female protagonists and he took some questions from the audience and talked a little about his new flick The Woman.

After the shorts, there was another break during which Arlene grabbed me so she could take a photo of Heather and I. Oh gosh...twist my arm, why doncha? We took an epically awesome photo in front of the BleedFest banners which I'll post when I get home (you can find it in my Twitter feed, though, if you're not on my Facebook) and then Heather and I talked about my work for a little while as Arlene took some photos of the outside of the venue. And Heather remembered that I gave her a DVD of my work when I first met her. This made the harsh realist / voice of doubt in me shut up for a minute.

*nerdy gigglesnort*

After the break, we were given a special treat: Jamie Coon came in and performed a special version of her song "I Am Nancy" for us, and Brenda and Lis presented the audience and Film Radar awards (the audience award went to Zeke and the Film Radar award went to Cindy Baer's Slashdance.) Lis and Brenda also played a short film Lucky made called Blue Like You. I loved it!

Then it was time to get my co-presenter on as I stepped on stage next to Brenda and Lis for the I Am Nancy introduction...which Lis asked me to do. On the spot. I babbled on about how I first heard about the project and joked about how I needed to see it right then and there ("why were they still filming?!") and how I tried to get it for my festival and while the timing just wasn't right for me, it worked out for BleedFest and I couldn't be happier!

Pretty smooth for someone as socially awkward as myself...

The movie played (it was my second time seeing it. I watch lots of movies over and over because I tend to catch things, even in A Nightmare on Elm Street, that I never caught before) and everyone loved it! Then it was time for the Q&A and the presentation of the Inanna to Heather and Arlene. I did not go up on stage for that. I honestly didn't know if I should or not so I erred on the side of caution, and my shyness, and stayed in my seat.

No one had any questions for Heather and Arlene so Lis, wonderful Lis, says, "Lori! Don't you have any questions?"

"" was my eloquent and thought-provoking reply. I'm the kind of person who'd rather sit down with my favorite people and drink coffee (or water for me) or have lunch and talk. I say this even though I now have seven autographs from Heather (even I think that's a bit excessive, to be honest, but two of them came with DVDs and according to Evy that means they don't count.)

Afterward, we all went outside because they were selling, and signing DVDs of I Am Nancy. I wanted to get the new DVD because I love the new cover that Heather designed. She offered me a free photo, but I asked instead for her to sign my BleedFest program. It's a nice memento of the festival and of the amazing time that I had. And I asked Arlene to sign it, too! And they gave me the new DVD, signed by Heather. And Arlene gave me a shirt emblazoned with the legend "Be Nancy" on it! Unfortunately, when the label read medium, they really meant California small. I may have lost 100 pounds over the past year or so, but not enough to comfortably wear it! Makes me a sad panda! I'll just have to see if they'll let me design my own...

And here's where I point out that she said I could call her Heather. In private conversations like with my mom or with friends about Elm Street or Ten of Us or whatever, I refer to her as Heather. When speaking to her, I remind myself to call her Ms. Langenkamp. I slipped yesterday and accidentally called her Heather, then apologized. She was nice enough to say, "Oh, call me Heather, please!"

Yay for social awkwardness!

We wrapped up outside and I gave Arlene a good-bye hug as she and Heather left. Finally, just the ten of us remained *ultimate nerdy gigglesnort* as we all headed to Midori for sushi (yes, I tried some. It was actually quite tasty!) The ten of us consisted of Jaye and Tony, Ray from Film Radar, Lis and Brenda and their two second cousins and their friend, Miguel from Monster Island Resort, and myself. Dinner was fabulous, the company was fabulous, the whole freaking day was fabulous!

Today, I go pick up my badge holder for E3 and proceed as if I didn't just have one of the most fantastic weekends ever. I got to celebrate one of my favorite actresses of all time as well as one of my favorite characters of all time. I feel honored and blessed (and only slightly embarrassed ;D) by the whole experience! Thank you, Lis and Brenda, for yet another amazing BleedFest!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Los Angeles, Trip the Third (Day Two: Staying Occupied)

I woke up yesterday morning (at six, thank you for that time zones), and began to plot my day. I need to go get a hoodie because I neglected to pack one and It's kinda cold here right now and it's definitely cooler in Portland, Oregon, which is where I'll be heading after L.A.

But my surprise annual pass to Universal is calling me and they have hoodies there. But hoodies might be cheaper at the mall. Well, yeah, but THEME PARK. And what if I don't like any of Universal's hoodies? Well, strangely, the mall will still be there tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

Universal won.

It was actually a wise move because I'll be doing the public transport thing while I'm here fairly exclusively and the bus stops at Universal City Station, the subway stop for this area. (Yeah, they have subways in L.A. I seriously thought that was a plot convenience in Earthquake.)

Where there's a subway stop, there's a way to buy tokens or cards or whatever so I trek into the subway station and buy myself a week-long transit card for $22.00. So far so good! I used it twice yesterday, for the return trip to the hotel and for the trip to the meet and greet.

After I get my card, I trek back up the steps and head over to Universal Studios, making sure to note where the shuttles pick up and drop off for my return. I walk through Citywalk to see what was available that might have hoodies that I wouldn't mind wearing. Noting. But it's not a problem, there's still a whole park to go through! I head in and the first place I go is the Special Effects Stage show. I figured that it would be just like the Horror Make-Up Effects show in Orlando, just with a bigger budget. And I was right. They did blue screen and green screen alongside some matte painting and rear projection demonstrations. It made me dislike CGI even more, to be honest. So inorganic... Anyway, the show was good so I was happy with that. Then, I decided to go check out their Terminator 2 3D attraction. Last time I went to the one in Orlando, it was looking a bit rough.

Yeah, Hollywood's is no better.

There are three screens they use for the attraction: one center, one left and one right. The left and right ones aren't used until later in the show. All eyes are on the center one. The screen was dirty and possibly scratched, the left eye projector was slightly dimmer than the right and, most infuriatingly, the right eye was out of focus. Out of focus?! Really, Universal?!

I asked one person where I could lodge a technological complaint and she was confused. I decided to not bother after that.

Next up, I wanted to see the Revenge of the Mummy ride so I take the eighty or whatever feet worth of stairs down to the lower lot to check out the Mummy ride. I hate water rides or I would've done the Jurassic Park ride. The wait time for the Mummy here was only ten minutes! A good start!
The beginning of the ride is great and I'm thinking, "Alright! This is awesome!" The part where the car goes backwards is longer here, too. And then you're back at the station. What?! That's it? Oh my God, Universal, you have got to be kidding me. The ride is almost literally 15 seconds. No wonder the wait time was 10 minutes.

After that, I'd pretty much seen everything I wanted to see so I hopped on the bus with my shiny TAP card and came back to the hotel to start getting ready for the meet and greet at the Casting Office in Culver City. The area designations here are rather like the boroughs of New York. Culver City is literally right around the corner from Universal City which is next to Studio City which is right by one or two more boroughs which are by Sherman Oaks, where I am. All of this is on a 45 minute bus ride...

So, when I get off the bus and start making my way to Cahuenga Boulevard, I'm given the choice of a creepy ass, dark ass pedestrian tunnel or the sidewalk alongside Hollywood Boulevard. Even the big dude in front of me didn't take the creepy ass, dark ass pedestrian tunnel. Of the two, the sidewalk next to a bustling highway sounded safer. I am, after all, a horror writer. I know what goes on in creepy ass, dark ass pedestrian tunnels.

I make it to the meeting place about 15 minutes early and stake out some large tables because I figured that our group would be pretty large. And it was! Lis and Brenda brought their nieces and their friend and the crew of one short all showed up from the Bay area. The podcasters for Zombie vs. Shark showed up, too, and were kind enough to give me a lift back to the hotel at the end of the night! It was great night and a great way to kick off the festival!


Los Angeles, Trip the Third (Day One: Arrival)

Well, here I am in L.A., my third trip in six months. I'm here again for BleedFest! They're hosting the world premiere of my short film A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: and be at rest is today and today's also the day that I co-present the west coast premiere of the documentary that Heather Langenkamp made with her sister-in-law Arlene Marechal called I Am Nancy.

Those who know me and how big a fan I am of Heather Langenkamp might be able to understand why I will take a moment here to say...zomg.

But, that's not what I'm here to type about, not until tomorrow anyway. My trip and my first full day in L.A., that's what I'm here to talk about (but also, zomg.)

I chose an early afternoon flight out of Sarasota. I thought, well, it'll be tiring enough that I'll want to sleep, but still early if I wanted to do something. I had a bad feeling almost as soon as I checked my bag at the counter, but I decided to not pay it much mind. It wasn't like I could do anything about it anyway, right?

So I get through security (no full body nudie x-ray this time, darn it) and get to my gate where I settle in with my iPod to wait for the next half an hour or so. Well, it turned out that the Sarasota crew saw something they didn't like and they had to inspect it so we'd be a little late getting out. No worries. Yes, please, inspect the hell out of whatever it is you're inspecting!

They call for boarding only about five or ten minutes late so I'm thinking, "Okay, great! It might be a little tight getting to my connecting flight, but it's all good." It might well have been all good if it had gone smoothly.

The captain got on the horn after we'd been sitting at the gate, fully boarded, for fifteen minutes and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're sorry to delay the flight, we're just filling out some paperwork and we'll be out of here in a jiffy."

I look at my watch. That cuts my time to connect down to about half an hour. Okay, they have those nifty cart things if I end up having to go halfway across Atlanta as I normally do.

Fifteen more minutes pass and the pilot signs on again. "We haven't forgotten about you (which is a relief), but Sarasota uses a contract mechanic and they're filling out even more paperwork...the damage to the plane is little more than the equivalent of a scratch on your car..."

By this time, it's been about forty five minutes since we were supposed to take off. Fifteen minutes to make it to my connecting flight. In Atlanta, the biggest, most sprawlingest airport I've been to so far. (LAX may be bigger, but It doesn't seem like it.)

Finally, we're able to take off for the hour long flight to Atlanta. Thought I tried to calm myself down, there was no use getting worked up about it at that point, I was still nervous and tried to think of how I should handle it...should I just go ahead and catch the next plane because my bag won't make it or make a mad dash as soon as I possibly can and figure out about my bag later?

I decide to go for it.

We finally land and the taxiing is killing me with how slow it feels. Everyone stands up at once, as we're wont to do after a flight. People are more courteous on this flight, letting other people out first and helping them with their bags and here I am looking like I have to go to the bathroom as I wait for them to move it or lose it.

I make it off the plane and take just long enough to check the departure gate. The plane gods are smiling down on me! My connecting flight is just two gates away! So I speedwell over and make it just as the woman was closing the door to the jetway. I was in slow motion, reaching out to her, saying, "Nooooooooooooooooooo!" She took pity on me actin' a fool and let me on the flight.

I get to my seat at the back of the plane, cuz, you know, I'm flying Expedia rates ;D, and there's a dude sitting in my seat. I'm all like, "You're in my seat," and he's all like, "Someone else is in mine."

I don't bother to ask why he didn't deal with it, I go find a stewardess and she discovers that they'd double booked the seat (which happened at least twice on that same flight.) So she asks me if I'd mind sitting in the center row. At this point, I just wanted to get settled so I said, "Sure." She gestured to a row that only had one person in it and he was on the left aisle. I took the right aisle seat which gave us both lots of foot room and elbow room. It was AWESOME!

Finally land in LA. It's 5:30 Pacific, 6:10 or so by the time we deplane. I head to baggage claim in the impossible off-chance that in the further ten minutes we sat at the gate in Atlanta, that my bag had been magically transported to my connecting flight. Of course, it wasn't. But it was coming on the next flight which was due to land at 7:15. Not a big deal, it's only about an hour away!

While I'm waiting in the Delta terminal for my bag, my sister-from-another-mister Evy was flying in because she's attending E3 as press (E3 is the single most important video game event in the United States if not the world.) We'd made plans to hang out until her ride arrived. If the SRQ flight had been on time, it would've been perfect. Alas, she ended up keeping me company until my bag arrived.

7:15 rolls around. I go to the board and the flight is now listed for 7:25. Yerg, but whatever. 7:30 rolls around. The plane is listed as at the gate. Okay, cool. I'm normally a pretty patient person, but next 45 minutes or so while they unload the plane are excruciating.

Finally, my bag comes around the bend and I throw my arms up into the air in triumph! My bag has arrived! I won't have to go shopping! Woohoo!

We get Evy to her ride and me to a cab and I get to the hotel. They've put me on the top most floor that regular schlubs can get to (12!) and thus ends my adventures for one day. I know that I've been pretty lucky so far with the baggage *knocks on wood* and that I should count my blessings that the damage to the plane out of SRQ was superficial, but whew! That was quite a day!

Next post: the first full day in L.A.!