Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Your New Favorite Album

Every year the folks at Bootie do a wonder job collecting the best mashups to come out. The 2010 compilation is now available. Hurry and download it before the cease & desist orders start picking tracks off.

2010 Rear in Yeview

I know there's no such thing as a "normal" year but 2010 did some things to make it stand out from the pack for me.

The year started with me overdosing on Hoarders and deciding to purge my life of junk; books, DVDs, VHS tapes, and more. I had a huge garage sale in early May and still need to organize the few remaining items in the basement.

The year also started in a bit of a panic for me as my team at work and I cranked through a series of homepages and microsites for Chrysler's four brands (Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram). We had to do a good job, we thought, or else the company might lose the entire Chrysler account. Just ignore those vultures circling overhead...

Our biggest client would soon be out with the next big client still a few months away. This lead to a lot of firings. And, when that wasn't enough, a few layoffs; including me. That was the middle of May.

Rather than panic, I tried to enjoy life a little bit. The first day I was off, Andrea and I went over to the local health club and got a membership. I began working out twice a day -- once in the morning and once in the evening. You'd never know it, looking at me, but I feel a lot better for it. In between trips to the gym, I spent a lot of time sitting on my patio, playing with the dogs, grilling, swimming, reading, and writing.

I did yet another pass at the manuscript for Impossibly Funky before it went to the printers in August and had a fiesta with a red pencil and the manuscript for the sequel book, Is This the Movie?. I wrote an article for Paracinema and even penned a couple of fiction pieces.

I had a great time seeing friends over the summer as well. I did lunch weekly with a couple pals and that kept me sane. I spent a lot of time with my Mom and Pete, which I'm really glad about after Pete's recent passing.

I went back to work in early August and started sending out copies of Impossibly Funky for review shortly after that.

Work kept me hopping but on my down time I worked on setting up the November book tour and a few other dates to support the release of Impossibly Funky. Read all about that in the blog archives.

The year had its ups and downs; to be expected. The biggest take-away had to be how much support I got from folks. I found out that I've got a lot of people in my life that I can rely on through thick and thin and, if anything, I think I made a lot more friends in 2010. Thanks to everyone who made 2010 a very interesting year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Picking at a Scab

A few months ago I wrote about a list of movies on io9 that really stuck in my craw. The list is back... in a way, with the site's recent run down of Best and Worst Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies of 2010.

Once again, here's io9's list of anticipated films:

  1. The Crazies (7)
  2. Kick-Ass (6)
  3. Predators (4)
  4. Toy Story 3 (2)
  5. Inception (1)

And here's how these fit in with the best/worst list:


  1. The Wolfman (9)
  2. Legion (8)
  3. The Lovely Bones (7)
  4. Iron Man 2 (6)
  5. Tron: Legacy (5)
  6. The Book of Eli (4)
  7. Jonah Hex (3)
  8. The Last Airbender (1)

Not Listed:

  1. Hot Tub Time Machine
  2. Repo Men
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  4. Despicable Me
  5. Priest (not yet released)
  6. Red Dawn (not yet released)
  7. Green Hornet (not yet released)

For the record, that's five on the Best list and eight on the Worst. That's really not too good of a track record.

Why am I picking on io9? Am I just bitter because I sent them a book back in July or August and they have yet to review it?


I've been mad about the list of anticipated films since I first read it; mostly because it gave such short shrift to any independent films when that's the breeding ground for fresh entertainment; smaller films such as Moon, District 9 and Time Crimes. So where were the smaller films of 2010? Nothing got made that wasn't produced by a major studio? This is just a little too lazy and easy for me.

The smaller films didn't even make it onto the list for best/worst with the possible exceptions of The Last Exorcism and Splice but saying that those were "small" is debatable. Anything I saw advertised on national TV probably doesn't cut the mustard. Where were the films like Mars, Earthling, or Monsters?

I won't say that I've got a lock on independent horror/fantasy/sci-fi films. I actually rely on websites like io9 to give me the scoop. Check out this list from of The Best Horror Films of 2010 You Didn't See (But Should!) by Sarah Jahier and this one and this one from I'm sure I'll have other, better best/worst lists to link to soon. Lists full of movies that I've never heard of.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Canadians Don't Eat Steak

Typed "steakhouse" into Google Maps and this is what came up. Apparently there aren't too many in Canada (compared to Michigan, at least).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Adios, Pedro

The holidays just aren't complete without sadness mixed in with good tidings. Around this time last year I lost my grandmother; the year previous our golden retriever Abby. This year makes it three for three with the loss last week of my good friend and my mother's husband, Peter Phillips.

Pete had been a part of our family for ten years. I met him the first time when Andrea and I were moving our stuff into my Mom's garage in preparation of selling our house. I could tell right away that there was something special between him and my mom. He literally swept her off her feet, taking her dancing and showing her a great time.

He never slowed down, constantly having several projects at once going on. And, the best part was that he finished them. He wasn't one of these guys (like me) who tinkers away with something before a new shiny object comes along to occupy his interest for a little while until another one comes along. He and my mom did a lot of renovations on her house, making it their home.

That's why it was so surprising when Pete suddenly went down for the count a few months ago. He went from 60mph down to 0; laid up in bed with back pains. It wasn't unlike him to overdo it and we all figured he probably just inadvertently hurt himself. As time passed, however, he didn't get better. If anything, he got worse. The pain was such that he couldn't get out of bed -- and he just wasn't the kind of guy to laze about.

One doctor told him it was just a muscle pain. Another told him it might be a pinched nerve. You can probably tell where I'm going with this... After a few weeks and a few more doctor appointments it turned out that Pete had cancer. It was Stage 4 cancer of the liver that moved into his spine and had been ravaging the area and moving into other areas. They tried surgery to shore up his spine with the hopes that he might be able to regain some mobility and get out of the hospital and back home where he could live out the rest of his days with my mom and their dog, Missy. But, that wasn't to be.

The oncologist told them that it was too soon for hospice care and that Pete would be with us for months to come. My mom started looking into getting a hospital bed and wheelchair ramp for the house. She counted on having time to deal with Pete's prognosis and accept his eventual demise -- as much as anyone can. Mom already had one husband ripped out of her life when she was in her 20s -- that was my dad. At least this time she knew that it was coming, for better or for worse.

Doctors being doctors; the oncologist was completely wrong. Pete managed to get out of the hospital and into a nursing home for all of three days before he was admitted back to the hospital last Monday (12/13/2010) where he passed away two hours later.

Pete, you will be missed.

Mom and Pete in Seattle

Monday, December 20, 2010

Favorite Videos of 2010

Who knows how long these will remain on YouTube (kind of hate that about that website) but, for now, here are my favorite videos of the year -- at least, they were all posted this year.

The Jennifers - Well-Intentioned World

Star Trek: Tik Tok

Nicolas Cage Loses His Shit

Signing in the Rain - Dubstep

Be Super Safe at the Office

Right Wing Radio Duck

Terry Crews Old Spice Commercials

Super Mario Beat Box

MC Chris's Twin Peaks Tribute

160 Greatest Arnold Schwarzenegger Quotes

Full Metal Feelgood Movie

Star Wars Episode 2 Review - Part 1

Know Your Meme: Magnets

Toy Story/Fight Club Mashup

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Scam Fests

For years a friend of mine has told me about a company that has an interesting business model. They call themselves a film festival, get people to submit stuff... along with a hefty entrance fee... and then give away "awards" to everyone who enters. For those folks in the know seeing "Winner of the So & So Film Festival" on a movie's website or press materials is more snicker-worthy than awe-inspiring.

The other great thing about these film festivals is that they protect their secrets very well. They have the ability to get anything negative printed about them removed from the web, meaning that the gravy train will keep rolling on.

That said, I want to help pull back the curtain on these scammers in print so that the information will be available in some form.

Got a story? Heard rumors that a fest isn't on the up and up? If so, please send me an email. mwhite at impossiblefunky dot com -- just beware of my spam filter. If you want to remain anonymous, that's cool too. Just let me know.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gentlemen's Guide to Midnight Cinema

I'm pleased to announce that the interview I did with the fine fellas of Gentlemen's Guide to Midnight Cinema (GGtMC) is now available for your listening pleasure. Get it on iTunes or download it right from their site.

I had yet to get any coffee in me so I'm amazed I'm as cognizant as I was. Enjoy this and other episodes of the GGtMC podcast at

Sutherland and Gould in the '70s

This is one of my latest obsessions... going through the filmographies of Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould in the '70s and seeing what an amazing body of work these two guys had. I smell a future article...

Year Title Role
1970Start the Revolution Without Me 
1970M*A*S*HCaptain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
1970Kelly's HeroesSergeant "Oddball"
1970Alex in WonderlandAlex Morrison
1970The Act of the HeartFather Michael Ferrier
1970MoveHiram Jaffe
1970Airport(uncredited) - Voice
1970I Love My WifeRichard Burrows
1970Getting StraightHarry Bailey
1970M*A*S*HTrapper John
1971Little Murders 
1971KluteJohn Klute
1971Johnny Got His GunChrist
1971The TouchDavid Kovac
1971Little MurdersAlfred Chamberlain
1972The Special London Bridge SpecialThe Villain
1973Steelyard BluesJesse Veldini
1973Lady IceAndy Hammon
1973Don't Look NowJohn Baxter
1973Alien ThunderSergeant Dan Candy
1973Who?Sean Rogers
1973The Long GoodbyePhilip Marlowe
1974California SplitCharlie Waters
1974BustingVice Detective Michael Keneely
1975The Day of the LocustHomer Simpson
1975Mean Johnny BarrowsThe Professor
1975WhiffsDudley Frapper
1976End of the Game 
1976The Eagle Has LandedLiam Devlin
1976Il Casanova di Federico FelliniGiacomo Casanova
19761900Attila Mellanchini
1976I Will, I Will for NowLes Bingham
1976Harry And Walter Go To New YorkWalter Hill
1977Blood RelativesSteve Carella
1977The Kentucky Fried MovieThe Clumsy Waiter
1977The DisappearanceJay Mallory
1977A Bridge Too FarCol. Bobby Stout
1978National Lampoon's Animal HouseProfessor Dave Jennings
1978Invasion of the Body SnatchersMatthew Bennell
1978MatildaBernie Bonnelli
1978The Silent PartnerMiles Cullen
1978Capricorn OneRobert Caulfield
1979Murder by DecreeRobert Lees
1979A Man, a Woman and a BankReese Halperin
1979The Great Train Robbery 
1979Bear IslandFrank Lansing
1979Escape to AthenaCharlie Dane
1979The Lady VanishesRobert Condon
1979The Muppet MovieBeauty Contest Compere

Thursday, December 16, 2010

He's a Maniac... an Egomaniac

I'm not an egomaniac. I swear!

I've been feeling kind of queasy lately when I read or hear people say that Impossibly Funky is "by Mike White". I didn't write this book. I'm only one of a group of people.

It's just easier for people to attribute the book to one person rather than all of the fine folks who contributed articles, illustrations, copy editing, layout, etc.

Here are just some of the people responsible:

  • Introduction by Herschell Gordon Lewis
  • Foreword by Chris Gore
  • Copy editing and layout by Lori Hubbard Higgins
  • Editor photo by Stacey Walters
  • Featuring articles by Leon Chase, Chris Cummins, Skizz Cyzyk, Andrew Grant, Clifton Howard, Rich Osmond, Mike Thompson, Andrea White, and Mike White
  • Cover art by Jim Rugg and Jasen Lex
  • Illustrations by Dean Stahl, Pat Lehrner, and Jonathan Higgins

I suppose I could say "by the staff of Cashiers du Cinemart" but there were a lot of people that didn't contribute anything to the book that contributed to the zine. I could go the way of Mad Magazine and say, "by the usual gang of idiots" but that's not very nice.

Exploitation auteur Greydon Clark to appear at HorrorHound Convention, March 2011


Exploitation auteur Greydon Clark to appear at HorrorHound Convention, March 2011

December 16, 2010 - Detroit, MI - Cashiers du Cinemart and in conjunction with HorrorHound Weekend are thrilled to announce the addition of legendary grindhouse/horror director Greydon Clark.

Greydon Clark will make his appearance March 25th-27th, 2011 at HorrorHound Weekend Indianapolis, Indiana signing exclusively at the Cashiers du Cinemart and table.

Michigan native Greydon Clark made his way out to Hollywood in the mid-'60s where he befriended schlock auteur Al Adamson. The two paired up to create such low-budget exploitation staples as Satan's Sadists, and Dracula Vs. Frankenstein.

Clark branched out on his own in the '70s where he directed over-the-top cult classics like Without Warning, The Bad Bunch, Black Shampoo, The Uninvited, The Hi-Riders, Satan's Cheerleaders, Angel's Brigade and Final Justice (as seen on MST3K) along with '80s cult comedy classics like Wacko, and Joysticks.

Clark will be signing exclusively at the Cashiers du Cinemart and table in support and promotion of the 2010 book release, Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection by Mike White.

Known as Quentin Tarantino's Public Enemy #1, Mike White released a short film in 1992 called Who Do You Think You're Fooling? which showcased the cinematic thievery of Tarantino. White uncovered the proof that Tarantino's crime classic Reservoir Dogs was a direct rip off of the Ringo Lam Hong Kong film City On Fire. Upon it's release, Who Do You Think You're Fooling? received national attention, gaining distribution via Film Threat magazine, as well as landing White on MTV.

White's 2010 book, Impossibly Funky features dozens of classic entries from the legendary zine Cashiers du Cinemart. The book includes White's experiences with Tarantino, as well as one-of-a-kind interviews with Bruce Campbell, Paul Williams, Chicago TV horror host Svengoolie, Monte Hellman, blaxploitation actor John Daniels, and director Greydon Clark.

Teaming up with Greydon Cark and, White will be selling and signing copies of his best-selling anthology at the 2011 HorrorHound Weekend.

For more information visit,, and

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time for a Survey

It's time for a survey. I don't do these very often (ever?) but I want to ask the fine readers of this blog what their top five or top ten films that aren't currently available on DVD in the U.S./Canada. If they're available in other markets, that's cool -- feel free to note it. If they're available via a streaming source like Netflix, please note it. But, what I really want is a list of movies that just aren't legitimately available but should be. Please shoot me an email via mwhite at impossiblefunky dot com by 12/31/2010 with the subject line "Not on DVD". Thanks!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Status of Book Sales

Rather than having this posted on WikiLeaks, I decided to post this graphic which represents the sales of Impossibly Funky for the last month or so. Not really stellar. Twelve copies in a few spots (each blue blob represents a sale). Here's hoping I can cross over the Mississippi some day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Impossibly Funky Tour 2010 Wraps Up

I pulled into the hotel just a little past 1PM on Friday, threw my stuff in the room, kissed Andrea farewell, and made it to the campus of Ryerson University right on time. I found the studios for CKLN 88.1 FM and Stuart Feedback Andrews, host of Cinephobia Radio. Stuart was on the air at 2PM and my segment started a little after 2:30. I plugged the heck out of my appearance at the Toronto Underground Cinema and the screening of John Paizs's amazing film Crime Wave.

After the show, Stuart whisked me away to the headquarters of Rue Morgue magazine where he records the podcast version of Cinephobia. He tied me down to a chair, poured gasoline all over me, and asked me if I ever listened to K-Billy's Super Sounds of the Seventies. Or something like that... What actually happened was something far more gruesome. Stuart put a microphone in front of me and started asking me about Impossibly Funky. Five hours later we left Rue Morgue, dazed, confused, and a sharing a camaraderie that is only seen in people that undergo a traumatic experience like men in combat, maybe, or on a pro ball club in the heat of the pennant drive.

I'm hoping that Stuart can make something out of the epic interview. I rambled, I mumbled, I stumbled over my own words and made a complete jackass of myself.

You know, the usual me.

But, with a little bit of patience and a lot of proficiency with audio software, he might be able to make something out of nothing (and different than the day before).

I had a blast talking movies with him and the fun didn't end there. We met up with Dion Conflict and Andrea over at the Korean BBQ place across the street. Much meat and cabbage came next.

Dion Conflict and Feedback

The following day I ran errands. Five books to The Beguiling and five to Eyesore Cinema. Now Toronto can get its mittened hands on Impossibly Funky... and just in time for X-mas!

I'm just glad that I had the wherewithal when I finally met John Paizs to say, "I thought you'd be bigger... Broader shoulders," a great line from his movie Crime Wave. I met up with John at a dinner that my pal Rita Su lined up. Also joining us were my pal Jeff Lambert, his wife Andrea (another Andrea who suffers a tape-trader husband!), Greg Woods of Eclectic Screening Room and his wife, Susan. I quizzed John about Crime Wave and Top of the Food Chain all through dinner.

The screening of Crime Wave didn't have as many people there as I hoped. Frankly, I wanted the show to sell out. More people need to see this movie and it's a shame that it's not available on DVD. If I can help spur more interest in some of the movies discussed in Impossibly Funky then I've done my job, but if I can spark the right interest and get some of these movies out onto DVD that are languishing on VHS or maybe not even available on that format, then I've done more than I could have hoped. Regardless, I wanted every seat at the glorious Toronto Underground theater (the former Golden Classics theater where I first met Colin Geddes back in the early-mid '90s) to be filled. Alas, it was not to be.

The forty or so folks who showed up were treated to a digital projection of the movies that was actually sharper than the 35mm blow up on a 16mm print. The colors popped off the screen and I caught a lot of visual details I'd never been able to see on my VHS copy at home before. The audience also got a chance to hear the "quiet man" of Crime Wave speak after the show when John Paizs got up to do a Q&A after the screening. So, yes, there weren't a lot of people but those in attendance definitely seemed to appreciate the movie and that's what matters. And here's hoping they tell their friends about it, too.

Me and John Paizs

With the 162 people who RSVPed "Yes" and 376 "Maybes" on Facebook, along with listings in EYE, Now, BlotTO, and more, I had really hoped for more of a turn out. And, too, more book sales. Nope. I gave out more books to the people that had pre-ordered them (Rita, Jeff, John), than I sold to strangers. I was really hoping to wrap up the tour with some crazy story about how I actually ran out of books, even with the extra few boxes I brought along. Nope. That's not how this story played out. Even without snow on the ground like in Chicago, the response just wasn't there.

I can hope that after the Cinephobia piece and Eclectic Screening Room video podcast go out that sales will soar but I'm much more of a realist than that.

All in all, not a bad way to end the Impossibly Funky Book Tour, 2010 version. I hung out with friends, met folks I had only ever corresponded with via email, met one of my favorite filmmakers, and, hopefully, got the word out about a movie that needs more attention. That's really more than I could ever ask.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

On the Air - Friday 12/10 at 2PM

Let's get down to it, boppers. Impossibly Funky is on the air Friday 12/10/10 on the Cinephobia radio show, live on 88.1 FM CKLN between 2 and 3PM EST. Are you outside of the listening area? Then tune in via the web at And, I will also be on a future Cinephobia podcast available via You can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Does the world need more film books?

An interviewer asked me this question and it took me by surprise. But, like all good questions, it made me think.

Just last week I was delving into the musty shelves of a rather substantial used book store, the kind where you should request a map at the door and have to walk sideways down the aisles. At one point I was looking for Wanderer by Sterling Hayden in the few hundred actor/director/singer/entertainer biographies. These were far removed from the film books. I discovered the film books on the next floor, secreted away in a back corner. There were maybe three solid shelves of them, consisting of genre studies, review compilations, and hardcore criticism.

Thousands of books but only a few dozen on film. This strikes me very odd when so many conversations I have during the week -- or conversations I eavesdrop on -- are about movies. They seem to be something we love to watch and discuss. But, read about?

Not so much.

This seems a shame to me.

The local chain bookstore has narrowed its film section significantly of late, taking it down to picture-laden books about the latest movie at the cineplex along with more Maltin and Ebert books than I thought possible.

Film theory and film criticism have been cast out of the book stores, leaving just big name film review and the novelty books about genres or genre stars and doorstop tomes about Jean-Luc Godard (which are undoubtedly just flying off the shelves).

Film books are still being written, of course, they're just not finding their way onto bookshelves the way they used to. It's the exceptional book store that will carry anything that goes beyond film tie-in books of the latest multiplex massacre.

I use for my book shopping -- or, at least, for finding out about things that I want to read. It's all about their algorithms. I'll look up a book that I love and look at the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought", "Customers Also Bought Items By", "What Do Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing This Item?", "Listmania!", or "So You'd Like To..." lists to see what other products are listed. Then it's a trip down the rabbit hole; bouncing from one product to another, quickly finding things that I never knew existed.

That's how I found some other film books that have been recently released that sound up my alley:

Make no mistake that that's not a comprehensive list, nor have I read everything on it. These are books that look like they're up my alley that won't be showing up at your local commercial bookstore.

Does the world need more film books? Yes. But I want to add that the world needs more places to buy or read film books. In this world of blog entries and twitters, the seventh art needs more of a presence in print.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Crispin Glover comes to Detroit

Crispin Glover will be in Detroit this weekend at the Burton Theater with his traveling roadshow of What is It?, It is Fine! Everything is Fine!, and his slide show.

Co-sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, the fun starts this Friday, December 10, 2010 at 8PM and wraps up on Sunday:

  • Friday 8:00 PM: Crispin Hellion Glover's Big Slide Show Part 1 + It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.
  • Saturday 8:00 PM: Crispin Hellion Glover's Big Slide Show Part 1 + What Is It?
  • Sunday 8:00 PM: Crispin Hellion Glover's Big Slide Show Part 2 + It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.

The event had originally been set for the subsequent weekend. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend this weekend as I'll be in Toronto for the screening of John Paizs's Crime Wave. I had hoped to give Crispin a copy of Impossibly Funky since there's an interview with him in the book. So, if you want to know more about those flicks you can read what Glover has to say about them in Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection. The interview is just one of the pieces that have never been in print before.

Here's a clip from our friends at Atomic TV about What Is It?:

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Plea to Podcasters

I spent over ten hours in my car over the weekend, driving back and forth to Chicago, where I caught up on a number of podcasts. I probably could have listened to twice as many as I did had the owners of the podcasts taken the time to do a final polish of the material before broadcasting it.

I'm talking about editing. As a rule, podcasting far too often resembles blogging -- just a dump of immediate feelings/thoughts. It's the exception (like Out of the Past) where a discussion gets recorded and then edited before the world gets to hear it. Gone are the "ums" and "uhs", uncomfortable silences, excited stammering, and irrelevant asides. This doesn't mean that the soul has been taken away, merely the chaff.

Along with Out of the Past, I like what the guys from Outside the Cinema do: having a live broadcast where they discuss the happenings of their lives and a separate download of movie reviews. This allows for listeners to get either the personal or professional. This plays far better for me than those movie review/cinema discussion podcasts where the topic for discussion doesn't get addressed until an hour into the proceedings (I'm looking at you, Movie Meltdown).

Audio editing is a powerful tool. Take a listen to this story from NPR's On The Media, "Pulling Back the Curtain" about how effectively editing can strengthen a story:

Here are some more podcasts that I listen to regularly. Some of them could use some editing... some could use some hacking... but some are just right:

Thoughts? Are you more of a verite purist or do you have a podcast you can recommend or that is in desperate need of editing? Feel free to leave a comment.

The First Step... admitting you have a problem.

An Impossibly Funky Evening at the Toronto Underground

The Beguiling and Toronto Underground present an impossibly funky evening, Saturday, December 11, 2010. Cinematic provocateur Mike White will be discussing his book, Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection. For 14 years, White's movie zine championed offbeat and obscure movies like John Paizs's freshman film, the Canadian classic Crime Wave. Paizs will join us for a Q&A after the show.

Ticket are only $8 or $30 buys you a ticket and a copy of Impossibly Funky. Doors open at 9PM. That's 12/11/10 at 9PM.

Toronto Underground Cinema
186 Spadina Ave (at the back of the mall)
Toronto, ON M5T 3B2

RSVP on Facebook

Sponsored by The Beguiling and Toronto Underground

Sunday, December 05, 2010

When Failure is a Success

I spent far too much time haunting the streets of Chicago today, going to book stores, coffee shops, and a kick ass breakfast place (Sally's Waffles on Harlem Street where my coffee cup never went empty). I got down to North Avenue around 1PM where I had five hours to kill before I should have shown up at Quimby's Books. I couldn't resist popping in a little early to scour the shelves. Seeing the incredibly diverse and bizarre stuff stocked there really made me proud to have had Cashiers du Cinemart there for so many years and to be doing my Impossibly Funky schtick. Coming in and seeing Impossibly Funky on the coveted front table made me a little verklempt.

Tonight's gig turned into something of a farce. Maybe it was last night's snowfall but the turn-out was bloody dismal. Of everyone in the audience, only four people weren't facebook friends. Three folks I went to college with, two I grew up with (overlap of one with the previous group), one of them I worked with, and one I knew from the film festival scene. No records for attendance were broken.

I went ahead and did my routine anyway, pretending with a wink to the six/seven familiar faces that I didn't know them. I told a bit about the history of the zine, showed off some old issues, talked about my inspiration, and launched into an even tighter version of "Theater Daze" than usual (before each reading I take a hacksaw to it). I did some Q&A, talking about how awful Skyline is (can you tell I haven't been to the movies in a while?) and how Penetration Angst needs to be seen by more people, just so I'm not alone in my suffering.

This was the first time I arrived at a gig where the bookstore had already bought books through my publisher. I have to hand it to Quimby proprieter Liz Mason. She had twenty books there, waiting to be sold. Not wanting to leave her in the lurch I asked her to just keep those that she thought Quimby's could sell in the future and that I'd buy that the rest at cost, making for a rather expensive evening. When you put things in terms of numbers, I sold two books at Terror in the Aisles, Quimby's sold two books tonight, and I bought ten books back. I don't think that the government could do a worse job managing my money.

But, like I said before, I wouldn't have done any different. I had a blast seeing my old friends and making new ones. It was a highly successful and enjoyable failure.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Terrorizing the Aisles

2010 is bringing a lot of "firsts" into my life. Last night at the beautiful Portage Theater in Chicago for the 7th Terror in the Aisles event I did my first stint trying to work a table. That is, hanging out behind a pile of merchandise and trying to sell my wares to anyone who will stop and browse. Exciting? Maybe. Glamorous? Not really. Did I sell a lot of books? No. Did I meet some interesting people? Definitely.

Terror in the Aisles is the brainchild of filmmaker and long time friend Rusty Nails. He's invited me out to Chicago time and again for previous TITA events as well as his Music Box Massacre gigs (24 hour movie marathons). This time it worked out perfectly that I could come in on Friday for Terror in the Aisles and stick around for Saturday's event at Quimby's bookstore. I'm glad it did.

Three movies, short films, auctions for charity (Vital Bridges), vendor tables, appearances by two stars of Day of the Dead (the first feature of the night) and even a reading by some jackass named Mike White all for $10 pre-pay or $12 at the door. It doesn't get much better than that. Well, except for the Mike White guy.

After the first feature (DOTD) and Q&A with Gary Klar and Lori Cardille (who bought a copy of Impossibly Funky for charity!), I got up to read a revamped version of my Jean-Claude Van Damme piece (I modified it to be easier to read aloud than to oneself). I guess I should have announced that it was supposed to be funny as I got minimal reaction and after about two paragraphs I felt that I had outstayed my welcome -- only twelve more paragraphs to go!

I stuck around my table throughout all of the first feature and the break between (save for my embarrassing performance). I finally met artist Mitch O'Connell after emailing back and forth for year. I talked to one guy who's a bigger Greydon Clark fan than I am and another who bought a book due to Paracinema's plugs on Twitter (thanks, guys!). I chatted with the guys manning tables across from me, meeting a fellow Phantom of the Paradise fan. (We should have a club).

My good buddy Steve Chesney and his main squeeze Ann showed up. We chewed the rag for a good long while before going in for the second feature, Black Death. I walked in cold to this one, only knowing the title, and found myself completely immersed in it. I'm going to let it sink in for a few days and then hope to write more.

I ducked out of Black Death just a shade too early, thinking that the film was wrapping up before it did. I wanted to beat the crowd to the lobby for all of those "I'll have to buy that wonderful book after this movie." sales. No dice. Steve made my second sale of the night before taking off.

Seeing that it was somewhere past 2AM on my watch (still set to EST), I decided to get the heck out of there and try to find my way back to the hotel. I hadn't noticed that it had started snowing until I went out to find Chicago quickly disappearing under a blanket of white. With just a few cars going up Milwaukee Avenue the snowfall was really kind of peaceful. I was so lulled by its beauty and so confused by all the one-way streets that I ended up going the wrong way for a number of miles ("Why is that darned GPS saying I'm going south on Cicero? Doesn't it know I'm going Northwest on Milwaukee?").

I finally made it back to my shitty hotel room where I checked the sheets for bed bugs before uneasily falling to sleep to the sound of the Blue Line train and descending airplanes.

Tonight it's Quimby's.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Punchline

The Jennifers' "Well-Intentioned World"

This is a great music video done by my pal Skizz:

Terror in the Aisles 7

Here's what I'm doing on Friday...

Terror in the Aisles 7

It's the ultimate horror triple feature on Friday December 3, 2010 (Doors Open 7pm)

Portage Theater
4050 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL

7:30 - Trailer Trash (Vintage Horror Trailers)
8:00 - Day of the Dead - 25th Anniversary of George Romero's classic film with Lori Cardille (Sarah) & Gary Klar (Steele) in Person!
10:00 - Black Death (Medieval Murder Madness - Midwest Premiere!)
12:00 - If A Tree Falls (U.S. Premiere of Brutal Canadian Insanity!) With Special Guests in Person: Philip Carrer (Director) Ryan Barrett (Lead Actor) Chad Archibald, (Producer)

FREE AUTOGRAPHS & PHOTOS with all special guests!

Plus: Dealer Tables with Super Deals, Short Films, Prizes, Surprises, a live charity auction for Vital Bridges and much more!!!

All that for just $12 at the door or buy your tickets NOW at

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