Three Scripts and A Week and a Half To Go…

I think I remember what sleep was like. That’s the one where you don’t do anything, right?

Yow! They Did It To Me Again!

I have to look at it this way – very few people get typecast as Satan and then get to write their own speeches.

I also now know the answer to “What happens when you work yourself into a state of fatigue, don’t eat right, and constantly forget to take your vitamins, because you’re not as young as you used to be, you know.” (Wait, that ended up not being a question…)

Somewhere in there, with the illness and the work, I sacrificed a morning to the god of parenthood, being interviewed by a diagnostician to determine if my son is truly ADD or if I’m just old and curmudgeonly. We already know he’s dyslexic, so I’m leaning toward the “I’m not that old” end of the equation.

B-Fest reminisces must return soon, before I forget them entirely.

And, oh yeah, you can blame my pal Dave for pointing out to me – repeatedly and relentlessly – that City of Heroes was on sale at Best Buy.

Where’s Freex?

Sorry, no, I won’t be putting on the striped shirt and goofy stocking cap so you can pick me out from the crowded landscape.

As I think I have explained before in these hallowed pixels, I am a sap and a sucker. Truth to tell, I find the “Help me, Obi-wan, you’re my only hope” gambit nigh irresistible, and thus I have found myself jumping about far more than my considerable mass should allow.

First the dinner theater from which I resigned last summer called me up for several Valentine’s Day weekend shows they had booked, as apparently I was the only actor who knew the part. Yes, I’ve been gone for seven months, and no one has stuck around long enough to learn that role. Actors have apparently been jumping ship while management continuously misses the Clue Express. I have to look at it this way: this return to the boards will pay off last month’s trip to B-Fest.

Then I realize I had also agreed to perform at church Sunday; the church has done a lot for us when times were desperately bad, so when they ask, I generally agree. Then I realized this was mixed in with the theater gigs – very little sleep between Saturday’s show and early morning Sunday service.

This is no way postponed my deadline today for another completed script. Finished that off at 3am last night, This morning. Whatever. Then up at 7am to take family to school, attempt to get a little sleep before the 1pm meeting, only to be foiled by the Power Pug Princess noisily demanding her walkies.

And I still have a show tonight. Yes, though I specifically noted that I one of the reasons I was retiring was to by-God spend significant holidays with my wife – I have a show tonight. I might get to leave early, after my character is killed. The curtain call ain’t that important in dinner theater.

So I’m a little tired. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.

The B-Fest Diaries, Part Two

So after unloading two vans worth of food and sleeping supplies, it was decided to leave “The Gimp” (ie, me) in charge of guard duty while the vans were put away, bathrooms were visited, and it was determined if the downstairs cafeteria still had that same damned Tekken 4 machine. Before too long, my little supply depot was beset by the hordes from the B-Movie Message Board; I greeted familiar faces and met some new ones, like another B-Master whom I’d not yet met in fleshspace, Scott Ashlin, aka El Santo of 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting. I knew it was Scott before he even spoke up; Somehow I knew the fella in black leather and spikes was him. I should also mention his companion, Elizabeth, a young lady who, upon hearing about last year’s B-Fest asked, “Why didn’t you take me?” Gibble-gobble, one of us.

I also wound up signing several copies of the new Forever Evil DVD. Chad Plambeck of 3-B(eer) Theater had to outdo everyone by producing an old rental copy of the VHS – looked like the original 1987 edition, too.

We were allowed to packmule the stuff into the auditorium and stake out claims on our seat and a half (Nameless Ray Schaff of the BMMB and I shared a chair between us for our incidental crap – it’s spacing like that which makes the ordeal liveable and practical). Then we took over an ever-broadening swath of the downstairs commons to chat while waiting for the doors to officially open.

The location of this table was purely accidental – I had been polluting my coffee, only recently purchased from Willie’s Too in the basement, chatting with… someone. More people joined us, we sat at the table nearest the condiment station, and it just sort of grew from there. This grouping was also underneath a TV, and I think people started to resent our talking over their episode of Pokemon. You think I’m kidding? I watched one of the student workers, pushing a cart around and cleaning the tables, stop in her duties to watch Pikachu kick some Team Rocket butt.

The doors eventually opened, and we filed in. Wonder of wonders, this year the Powers That Be had ordered ten – ten – t-shirts in XXL, which meant that I could actually get one to wear (I usually buy one for my wife, who is small enough to fit in the usual student-sized shirts on display). Luckily Ken Begg was further along in line than myself and glommed an extra huge shirt for me, so I wouldn’t miss out. I’m wearing it now, and may not ever take it off.

Time for go to B!


Moved up in the order, when the original opener, Island of Terror, proved to be unavailable, which is fine – I may not have gotten to use my “boneless ham” line, but it is one of my favorite monster movies, and the first movie is never heard, as a geek pecking order is established by dint of shouted bon mots. EVFS is perfect, then, because the visuals are pretty strong, and it’s a movie most of us could write in our sleep. The plot? The plot’s all in the title, baby!

Oh yeah, Earth wins.

What I Learned: Aliens communicate with lesser beings by means of an enormous disco cauliflower.


I’d never seen The Apple; all my life, it seems, I’ve been told how direly bad it is. Apparently, opening weekend audiences were given complimentary copies of the soundtrack album, and the movie screens were damaged by the records being hurled at it. I can now say that each and every negative review I’ve ever read of the movie (and some not-so-negative) was likely written by some poor soul who was watching this thing alone in his or her own home, and yes, under those circumstances, this is a recipe for a dark night of the soul.

But in an auditorium full of people buzzed on caffeine and their own creativity, and a taste, if not a positive thirst, for the absurd, this was a terrifically fun experience. This is also the second movie I wound up buying upon my return. Sponsored by the Soylent Green Party, they distributed lyric sheets throughout the experience.

The plot? It’s a biblical allegory taking place in the far-flung future of 1994, done up in glam rock and production numbers only slightly more tasteful than the ones in Cafe Flesh. That’s all you need to know. Oh, and Joss Ackland is God. And he drives a flying gold Cadillac.

What I Learned: Matronly Jewish landladies don’t mind if you come up behind them and fondle their breasts.


A short film from the early 60s about genderism, as male and female alike hold forth on what they consider to be each sex’s place in the scheme of things. Keep in mind this is the early 60s we’re talking about – there’s some proto-feminism on display here, but not much. A poster behind an interviewed pastor references 2 Timothy 2:15, which turns out to be “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Symbolism… or synchronicity?

What I Learned: a female voice from behind me: “What we really need to watch out for is the anti-feminist rhetoric from women.” Tru dat.


A swarm of killer bees, whipped up to a lather by a punk kid, go on a killing rampage. The star power in this disaster flick, which definitely shows Irwin Allen on the wane, is considerable. Most puzzling, in a puzzling movie, is the love triangle between Ben Johnson, Fred MacMurray, and Olivia de Havilland; Disaster Movie Formula demands that she die in the resulting train wreck (I’m talking about a literal train wreck, not just the movie), leaving the two men to stew in their tragic regret, or one man to give his life that the other two might live in equally tragic regret. But no, the script is tired of them, so they all die. Bye bye, tiresome subplot! Sorry we spent so much screen time on you!

There is so much here, I can only direct you to Ken’s review, linked above. Houston gets it in the neck again, but this time we don’t get nuked, just burned with flamethrowers. The Swarm is actually like a Rosetta Stone of b-movies – the isolation-suited soldiers in the beginning echoes The Crazies, Henry Fonda’s recording of symptoms as he injects himself with a new anti-bee toxin is straight from The Killer Shrews, and if you’ve seen Beginning of the End, there’s no need to watch the end of The Swarm. Unless you’re Nameless Ray, in which case at the end of The Swarm, you run up on the stage with a rubber chicken to roast it in the fireball that consumes the title menace.

What I Learned: there’s a mountain range seventy miles northwest of Houston. I had no idea.

To Be Continued.

Digital Sweatshops

While I deal with impending deadlines, let’s give B-Fest a rest for a bit while I remind you that we are, indeed, living in the 21th Century.

The B-Fest Diaries, Part One

I think the hardest thing about writing this diary will be the fact that nothing really dramatic happened this year. Everything ran more or less smoothly, with very little trauma.

Now, having said that, allow me to waste a few thousand words on the nothing that happened.

In every other year in which I’ve made the trip to sunny Chicago (sunny as in causing snow blindness), I’ve gotten up way too early on Friday morning, hopped on the plane and got to Evanston’s Northwestern U. campus barely in time, already sleep-deprived even before the 24-hour movie Iron Man Marathon that is B-Fest. This year was different.

I flew up on Thursday, making a connecting flight in Nashville, where I ran into Joe Opposable Thumb Films Bannerman and his lady Tina, whom he had somehow managed to talk into coming. Her weekend seemed to be a combination of dumbfounded horror and exhausted catatonia. Waiting for me on the connection was Chris Holland of Stomp Tokyo, who recently transplanted to Texas.

A pretty uneventful flight, on both legs. I had already devoured the three magazines I had brought, waiting for my flight in Houston (arrive two hours early for security checks, yeah right), but fortunately for me, Chris is a good conversationalist. The attendant came by with whatever snack-like thing they were dispensing, either peanuts or pretzels. I put mine in my carry-on bag, explaining that I always save them for my son. Silently, Chris handed me his snacks – that’s the kind of guy he is.

Upon arrival at Midway airport, we had about a half-hour to wait for the other half of the Stomp Tokyo machine, Scott Hamilton, flying in from Florida. Hey, look, a bar! I’m on vacation, time for a beer. After Scott’s arrival, we picked up our luggage, shuttled over to Alamo for our rent-a-van, and tried to find something to eat.

This proved confoundingly problematic, as the route we had taken seemed to have nothing but McDonalds and multiple instances of something called Shark’s Fish & Chicken. We rued the fact that Midway had a Superdawg right next to our landing gate, yet we did not avail ourselves of it. Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid! We finally settled on what seemed to be a family-run pizzeria and pasta restaurant, which was quite good.

After dropping off Joe and Tina at mass transit to do “some tourist stuff”, the tech-savvy Chris fired up his GPS unit and we began the journey to the domicle of Ken Begg, the evil mastermind behind Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension and, for all intents and purposes, B-Fest’s unnofficial Ambassador of Good Will. Ken had already picked up another B-Master, Will Braineater Laughlin, at O’Hare, so we settled in to get acquainted and kill some time until we met some of Ken’s friends, Paul and Holly, for a traditional pre-B-Fest dinner at Jameson’s, a very nice steak house.

Ken, however, was simply waiting to spring his trap on us. He had a terrible Indonesian action film called The Stabilizer warmed up and on standby. He feasted merrily on our dismay and befuddlement at a land where every building is rendered drive-thru by use of motorcycles, cars and forklifts driving through walls, and every house is insulated with dynamite. I think Ken is preparing his own review of The Stabilizer, so I’ll go no further, except to add that it is one of three movies I immediately tracked down after getting home. Well, immediately after about 11 hours of sleep anyway.

The Stabilizer was chased by Attack of the Supermonsters, a bizarre concoction of puppets, stop motion, and anime, which was a lot like porn; for about three minutes, I thought it was the best thing ever, then for the remainder of the running time, I wanted to beat everyone even remotely connected to it with a hammer. Chris had given Scott a DVD of this; he also gave me a copy of Legend of the Sacred Stone, a martial arts movie featuring puppets, of which I am (not unreasonably, I believe) afraid.

After a good night’s sleep, we busied ourselves Friday morning with running errands to supply ourselves and the legendary Tower of Snacks. We arrived back at Casa Begg to find Ken’s pal Jeff Witham cramming the Tower and other stuff into his van, considerably lightening our load. A trip to the equally legendary Superdawg to fortify ourselves with protein for the ordeal ahead, and then it was time to journey to the Norris Student Center, unload our supplies, and surrender ourselves to the B-Movie Gods, to take us where they pleased.

To Be Continued.

Quick! Put Out That Fire!

Note to self: in the future, don’t leave behind-schedule projects to frolic in the Chicago snow for four days, then come back all sleep-deprived and expect things to have gotten any better. In fact, expect them to be worse.

Well, a bit of breathing room has been bought. Tonight I’ll attempt to finish the now day-late review for 50 Foot DVD, then maybe get down to writing about B-Fest, since so many of you have been asking for that. And by so many, I mean Beckoning Chasm.

Peace out, I’ll be back.

I’m Baaaack

And what better way to celebrate my return from B-Fest than to take a rather useless movie quiz (via a posting from Prawn Bites) to discover that my favorite kind of movie is:

You scored as Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Depending on the movie this might not deserve a “Congratulations”, but you’re interested in the future and imaginary worlds far from your own. You probably wish you could be somebody else, or live in one of the worlds from your favourite movies. Check out: Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, Star Wars, The Matrix.

Mindless Action Flick
Sadistic Humour
Romantic Comedy

Movie Recommendation.

created with

Also, as far as my previous whinging about B-Fest and my fear of crowds: Thanks to cool heads prevailing among the staff of A&O Films, the place never seemed crowded, and even if it had, I should have realized: I was among friends, and that makes all the difference in the world.