List of Horrors

1) Nothing like waking up and discovering some idiot has exploited a security flaw in Twitter and rendered their web interface unusable.

2) Time to check out that Hootsuite people keep talking about.

3) The wireless mike I used on the Saturday shoot was futzing out intermittently, making this a bitch to edit.

4) Not trusting that newfangled crap again.

5) My wife wants me to sub for one of her teachers afternoons this week.

6) The reason I didn’t go into education is They won’t allow you to shoot one of the kids the first day to show the others you mean business.

7) I had my regular breakfast and I’m still hungry.

8) No way this ends well.

Of Hot Sauce & Horrorshows

Saturday was predictably full, often my busiest day of the week anyway. Spent the morning covering the Houston Hot Sauce Festival, which is a fun thing, if you’re into hot sauce. I likes me some fire, but some of the vendors out there are just plain freakin’ sadists. I did a more or less straight story on it last year (well, a large part of it was setting my camera outside a likely booth and shooting people’s reactions to one of the more pernicious concoctions). This year, I wanted to find a new angle, and talked one of the younger turks at the station who was interested in the Fest anyway to play Man vs Food while I followed. He was apprehensive at first, but started having fun with it. I’m going to have trouble trimming this down to under five minutes, that’s how much good stuff I got.

Not bad, considering we had to duck rain every so often. The storm clouds are a constant presence on the footage, but that didn’t stop people from attending. Which is good, as the Festival’s beneficiary, The Snowdrop Foundation, is a worthy charity. No, the weather really let loose on the second day, Sunday, when I went back to get some secondary footage I had missed on Saturday.

My only major disappointment was that the Chili Piper’s red pepper bagpipe was apparently just for show.

Then came Saturday’s show. We’re down one actress, which means some reassigning of lines, no big deal. Then the sound guy begs off a half hour before call. Then we arrive to find our room still set up for whatever business motivation class that afternoon. All for our biggest audience in weeks. Oh, the magic of live theater.

Then I get up early Sunday to perform at our church’s 8:30 service. Then the cold I’ve been putting off for days hits me upside the head while I go Fine, get it over with, I’ve have hell of editing to do in the next two days. I take to bed. The nightmares were incredible.

So here I am, boring you while my footage digitizes. That was my weekend, How are things in your town?

How We Hurted Ourselves III

After a day of attempting to recover from Friday’s debauchery – a day which included a show of my own and the realization that I wasn’t really hungry until 4PM – We casually drifted together again at Dave’s. The rest of the sausages and pork tenderloin were cooked, as Dave remembered something he had realized Friday night: Rick had never seen Mortal Kombat.

Well, now I guess you don’t need to see the movie. Rick’s screams were remarkably similar to those produced during GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

I think Paul W.S. Anderson get s a raw deal, personally. If I made lists, I wouldn’t be putting his movies in the Top Ten, but they always entertain me, and frankly, that’s all I ask of a movie: enlightenment or edification would be nice, certainly, but I’m largely there to forget my cares for a while. And Mortal Kombat is a not-so-guilty pleasure; Anderson was asked to make a movie out of a video game that is pretty much different flavors of punching and kicking and pulling out spines, and little else. Mortal Kombat is pretty much what would happen if a bunch of kids got together and decided to play Mortal Kombat even though they didn’t have any consoles. You know, play-acting, like I did with my friends when we played WWII decades before Castle Wolfenstein was invented. Rules for the tournament that comprise the movie are improvised on the spot, as required by the plot – which is also improvised on the spot.

So Mortal Kombat is essentially a spiritual companion to GI Joe: a big-budget, loud, but essentially empty visualization of an adolescent/childish pursuit. Prime material for this sort of gathering.

In retaliation Rick insisted on more Pink Lady & Jeff. Did I mention Paul finally made it tot he fest? Paul finally made it to the fest. He was in time for me to hit my 20 minute limit on Jeff Altman, and for Dave to start his next shot across our bows. He admitted that he had never seen it, then hit play, fading back to relish what he hoped would be our cries of dismay and agony.

Oh yeah, the only time Nancy and Ronnie actually made a movie together. Unlike what you may have been told, Hellcats of the Navy isn’t a bad movie. It’s not a particularly good one, but it’s no Dondi. Ronnie plays a WWII sub commander who makes a tough call and leaves a man behind during a mission. As luck would have it, the luckless sap was dating Ronnie’s ex-girlfriend (Nancy) which makes his demise suspicious, to say the least. So he spends the rest of the movie trying to regain the respect of his second, Arthur Franz (as usual, playing a non-commissioned dick), disobeying orders to win the war, blah blah blah. Paul and I were actually enjoying it, but it does get very talky and long-winded in the second act, and Dave actually asked for the return of Pink Lady & Jeff. Yes, he regretted that.

Our actor contingent finally made the scene after their Sunday matinée, and lucky, lucky them, they were there for the return of Mie and Kei and (shudder) Jeff. I had been asked to put on the episode guest-starring Jerry Lewis (double shudder), but I screwed up under the tender ministrations of Dr. Vodka and instead put on the un-aired sixth episode, which featured Sid Caesar, Red Buttons (both on their second eps) and for music, Bobby Vinton and Roy Orbison. Oh, and Byron Allen. This was C-list heaven.

There was a hypnotic awfulness about the show that held people spellbound, and we actually got through the entire episode. Paul had started out lobbying for a “70s TV Night”, which he quickly reneged upon, especially after the Bobby Vinton Medley of His Hits. The casual racist humor which runs through the series absolutely blossoms during a sketch in which Sid Caesar plays Pink Lady’s father, complete with gibberish Japanese. One wonders what the girls thought of this, though they handle it like pros. Frankly, after only a week of this crap, they were probably just trying to make it through their six eps and get back to their sold-out stadiums.

This was really bewildering to those of us – well, only Dave and I, perhaps – who liked Caesar and knew he was funny:

The other amazing thing is, that, I believe alone of all the featured hot musical guests, Roy Orbison is actually onstage with Pink Lady. Most of the others – Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Blondie – will give you a blank stare if you ask them about the time they appeared on Pink Lady & Jeff. It usually came down to Mie and Kei struggling through “An naow – Cheepu Trikka!” aaaaaand we cut to a video. Which wasn’t too bad, except that you usually saw the same thing on The Midnight Special a week or two earlier.

After watching this episode, many bitter tears and recriminations – and Rick whining “But what about the Jerry Lewis episode?”, it was decided to spend the rest of the night playing Beatles Rock Band, moving eventually to Rock Band 2 and Dave’s neighbors asking him to turn that crap down. I eventually get talked into picking up the bass guitar for a few songs (though only on the Beatles and only on easy – the playlist on Rock Band 2 is a litany of “who?”s from me)(weirdly, I think i would have done better on DJ Hero, but I’m probably fooling myself), and that’s how the evening wound down. Alan actually outlasted me for stick-around-itude when I leave around 1:30.

I’m going to be shooting at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival tomorrow, so I took Monday off, allowing myself a bit of a sleep-in. Next time, of course, we won’t be pretending that we’re younger and able to pull off such feats as this; Mrs. Dave will be back, with a concurrent return to reason, I presume. I am also going to enjoy pointing out for some time that there was a marked lack of R-rated naughty flicks during this golden opportunity. Ronnie Reagan indeed!

And there’s still that Jerry Lewis episode of Pink Lady & Jeff, just waiting out there in the dark, like Jason at Camp Crystal Lake.

How We Hurted Ourselves II

So. After the drawn-out dismal debauchery of Starcrash II, aka Escape from Galaxy 3, aka Dear Sweet Lord What Is This Crap, Rick decided it was finally time for him to experience Ginger. Dave left the room for a moment, and since we were unable to switch his coffee for Folger’s Crystals at that late hour, we instead switched his low-budget sleaze for Pink Lady & Jeff.

How best to preface this? Pink Lady & Jeff is one of those legendarily awful shows that is usually lumped in with stuff like Turn On (a half-hour Laugh-In clone that was canceled after one episode) and You’re In The Picture (a Jackie Gleason-hosted game show which also lasted one episode). The thing is, Pink Lady & Jeff ran for five complete episodes, out of the six it had shot. NBC kept this thing limping along for five weeks.

Pink Lady were Mie and Kei, a Japanese singing duo that were filling stadiums in their native land at the time. So bring them over for a fast six episodes probably sounded like a good gamble, if you ignore one fact: the girls did not speak English. And the producers – oh yes, Sid and Marty Krofft – decided that they would only sing in English, and say their lines phonetically in their “comedy” banter with so-star Jeff Altman.

Jeff Altman is the Antichrist of comedy. He is the only comedian I have ever seen bomb – and bomb miserably, even the crickets were silent – on The Tonight Show. And since the headliners spoke no English, their duties were minimized to lip-synching their earlier recorded English songs, dancing, and the occasional line during the sketches – and every single comedy sketch stars Jeff Altman. Altman was still doing Nixon jokes in 1980, which gives you some idea of the quality of the material on display here, and even the guest stars are drawn into the whirlpool of despair that is Pink Lady & Jeff.

A pre-Ernest Jim Varney is on the regular cast, always playing straight man to Altman, an appalling waste of talent second only to all the times I was not cast as Hamlet. I’ll be honest: I can only stand Pink Lady & Jeff in 20 minute doses. So I took pity on Dave – and myself – and put on Ginger. Here’s some of the very small amount they’ll let you put on YouTube:

(Allow me to intrude from the future. In the intervening years, someone has taken down the tame clip I originally posted, but now there’s a totally sleazy and extremely NSFW trailer. Go figure. Be wise about where you click this:)

Ginger is a rich girl who is – for reasons unknown to everyone with a smidgen of gray matter – recruited to take on a crime ring in some Jersey suburb. Well, the reason seems to be she volunteered, and everyone else the detective agency sent in got killed. Anyway, Ginger uses her powers of Applied Sluttiness  to break things up, and turns out to be a complete psychopath working through every trauma in her life. This includes committing murder twice, castrating some poor bastard, having lesbian sex and engaging in the Citizen Kane of catfight scenes. I did a full review, back in the day, if you’re interested. I haven’t broken the news yet that there are two sequels, but given that were enthusiastic in joining in with the thug Jimmy’s demands for “Hot. White ASS!!!!” I guess it was enjoyed.

It was, by now, 3AM, and we were all feeling the effect of accumulated crap weighing on our brains. So we agreed to meet again Sunday, and continue this pointless mangling of our formerly beautiful minds.

And you know what that means: more Pink Lady & Jeff.

How We Hurted Ourselves

So my pal Dave had always hosted the crapfests. Dave is an inveterate tinker; starting with a fairly primitive LCD projector we snagged from a failed business venture, he eventually worked his way up to better model, a nice big screen that unfurled from his ceiling, a nice sound system, a media computer platform – all on the cheap, all in an apartment. So when he and his wife finally bought a house, we expected… well, I have no real idea what we expected. But this time he had an opportunity to rig something from the ground up, instead of gradual layers.

So, with his wife out of the country for a week, we decided to break things in with the first crapfest in a while. Of course, there had to be a period while they settled into their new house. Dave is a handy guy, and was performing repairs while also setting up his system in a very oddly shaped room, employing SCIENCE! We were also out of practice in planning the damned things, apparently. Wires got crossed, schemes went awry, blah blah blah.

A goodly portion of our core group was involved in a production of Shaw’s The Doctor’s Dilemma at Main Street Theater, and would be absent for most of the event. Reveling in his newfound freedom, Dave had decided it was to  be a Marathon of Mediocrity. My own personal scheduling woes dictated my attendance Friday and Sunday only; Paul interpreted that as Sunday only.

Hearing that Dave now had a back porch on which to operate his grill, Rick went nuts – or to use his terminology, “batshit” – and hauled in enough meat to feed a small army – or, really, just the three of us to bursting. Not to mention his housewarming gift to Dave of a case of Mexican Cokes, the types with actual sugar instead of high fructose corn crap. Dave spent the next fifteen minutes hugging the case and doing his imitation of Daffy Duck in that Ali Baba cartoon.

Okay, bit of a trip to get to the reference there, but as with all things Daffy, totally worth it.

My first selection was to be the final fight scene of the Thai action movie Chocolate, but again, wires got crossed, and there was a lot of going in and out to tend the charcoal in the grill anyway. Somehow, everyone managed to be in the room during the fight scenes, which are amazing. Particularly that last one, conducted across four floors’ worth of exterior ledges and an elevated train trestle. Just stunning stuff.

As the food was finally prepared, Dave decided he really needed to have a movie that went boom to work out his sound system. He’d already done this for me a few weeks prior with an impromptu double feature of Shoot-Em-Up and Tropic Thunder, but Rick had not yet experienced this. Being who we are, we also had to torment Rick, and so we put in GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Dave was the only one who  hadn’t seen it. I had been lucky enough to see it with a 12 year-old. Rick had seen it alone, and hated it. Having it be ten times louder did not change his opinion. The screams were incredible.

Dave’s final verdict: “I didn’t hate it.” Rick’s: “Why? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY??!!”. Dave also pointed out that, unrealistic as the action scenes were, they were also how they would have played out on the bedroom floor with the action figures.

Having applied some painkilling drugs to ourselves in the form of Dr. Vodka, Dave decided it was time to unleash his choice for the evening. He made us hide our eyes while he loaded it. And what unfurls before our eyes but something that claims to be Starcrash II. The veracity of this claim is immediately put in doubt when we note that title is not in the same font as the rest of the credits. In fact, it appears to have been literally made with a Dyna-Tape Label Maker.

I wish I was joking about that.

The movie’s major claim to that name is the fact that they seem to have bought all the spaceship FX from the actual Starcrash and are determined to use it all. The plot is about a princess named  Belle Star who is escaping some bad guy whose name I’ve totally forgotten because I named him Disco Beard.

Eventually I give up and poke around the IMDb on my smartphone and determine that what we are watching is actually something called Escape from Galaxy 3. Belle Star and the Fake Marjoe escape Disco Beard and are supposed to search the universe for something to defeat the bad guy… I think… because  they stop on some primitive out-of-the-way planet to effect repairs on their ship. Of course that planet happens to be Earth. I was fearful they were going to land here in the year 1980, just ahead of the Cylons, but no, there’s been an atomic war and everyone’s back to tribalism and wearing Greco-Roman disco clothes.

This is also the Cinemax planet, as BellStar and the Fake Marjoe learn how to make love on this planet. We slowly find out they’re immortal and don’t know about things like sex, drinking or eating. They also develop superpowers, without warning,  at convenient times. Disco Beard is defeated by such powers in less than a second – though this seems to have something to do with the fact that BellStar and Fake Marjoe now know how to make the Beast With Two Backs. Cripes, I don’t know. They go back to Planet Cinemax, to live out their now-mortal lives. Which, considering that the natives alternated between loving them and wanting to burn them at the stake, probably won’t be too long.

My major contribution is pointing out that every time BellStar and the Fake Marjoe exit their craft, they are shown walking down the trail leading from it – that’s across the entire screen one and a half times – in real time. And they do it a lot. That probably added five minutes to the total running time.

And that’s a thousand words. I’ll inflict more of our adventures into awfulness on you tomorrow. And trust me – we haven’t hit the low point yet.

Beat the deadline

Yes, I did. By a day. But you know who pays for that? You. Because I used up my blogging time on work.

Isn’t that horrible? How dare I earn money instead of amusing you?

(Finally got the tangled skein of where to send my mortgage check untangled, since we got transferred to another company. Took so long I had to pay the twenty bucks for overnight delivery. Ergo, I’m a bit obsessed with money right now.)

Hopefully the unfairness will ease up tomorrow, and I’ll finally tell you about my weekend, and the crap therein.

Blerg, no.

Recovering from another hectic weekend, but at least I had some input into what I was doing. My sinus infection seems to finally be in retreat, possibly slain by the most alcohol I have had in a 72 hour period in months.

Or maybe it was all that Pink Lady & Jeff.  More details tomorrow.

Robby had a chance to save all mankind, but blew it.