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.