Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

...And, on cold, lonely nights like this one, if you listen carefully . . . you can still hear my uncle's wife complaining.

My uncle absolutely could not stay at home for Halloween, giving out treats to the scores of children that don't even live in the neighborhood, but had been brought to his block by sus padres to partake of free candy. No, to Uncle John, Halloween is a special day. Knowing that I feel the same, he came over and forced me to go out with him, trying to find some activity for the Greatest Night of the Year.

I was a bit melancholy, and was fine to spend the evening in front of the computer, listening to Echo & The Bunnymen until the cyanide took its toll, but he said we were going out--him, his child bride, and me--to find something fun, whether it was the "haunted" trainride, or a "haunted" house, or a "haunted" corn maze, or just driving around listening to Katy Perry and Ke$ha on the world's worst radio station.

So, we loaded into his car and began the latter activity, trying to decide what to do. Child Bride complained that it was getting late, and that everything we'd suggested sounded lame, especially the trainride, which is what John and I were leaning toward. John is too big (and apt to punch someone) for us to go on one of those haunted mazes or spook houses, and I don't want to ever go in one again unless a skittish female is by my side. We drove out of town toward the train station, but Child Bride complained that they didn't have the money for that sort of thing. That's probably true, since John is really hurting for money, to the point where he borrowed Halloween decorations from me to put in front of his house, and instead of giving children candy, he'd let each of them look in his young wife's underwear drawer.But I remembered that a local theatre troupe was performing an adaptation of "Dracula" up at the old mental hospital, and when I mentioned it to John, he proclaimed it the greatest suggestion of all time. He practically wrenched the wheel, speeding through town toward it.

We parked and went all the way up a hill on foot, which Child Bride complained was difficult to do in her Batgirl costume, more than an hour before the show was scheduled to start. Trouble is, it was sold out. Child Bride complained, not wanting to see a dumb old play. But John really wanted to, so we got on the Stand-By list. Child Bride needed to be explained what Stand-By means, and complained that it was like gambling.

Then we sat down and waited. There were a few names ahead of us on the Stand-By list, but if people didn't show up, we'd probably get in. We were outdoors, and it had been raining that day, and Child Bride complained that it was cold. And you know, she totally had a point on that one, but I thought that because it was bad weather, that might mean people wouldn't show up to see the play and we'd get in. Child Bride complained that we had to wait nearly an hour to get in (if we got in). That too is a valid complaint, I suppose, but John put his arm around her and tried to keep her warm, and got out his i-phone and brought up a video game that he put on there for his daughter, to keep Child Bride occupied.

Which reminds me, to provide mood and atmosphere while people waited to get into the play, there was a violinist dressed as a European peasant who played Romanian/Russian/Transylvanian/Elfman-type music on the instrument. It might have been a fiddle, I don't know, but Child Bride complained that he wasn't very good. John and I felt the opposite, though, and thought that it provided creepy entertainment while we waited. I still think it was a brilliant thing for the troupe to do.

The doors opened for seating to begin. All of us stood up. Child Bride complained that we weren't going to get in, and her words were prophetic, as the crowd there was immense. All these young people wanted to see the performance, and only about two-thirds of them had tickets. Soon, the only people left outside of the building were the Stand-Byers. A couple of them (whose names were lower on the list than us) were from New Jersey (this is something they boasted, not me inferring they were because they were loud and unpleasant) and demanded to be put higher on the list. They offered to bribe the floor manager, and he declined. She took out her cellphone to show him that it was past time for the show to start, and he shouldn't wait for any more people to come with tickets, but should start letting us in. He said he was going to give people five more minutes (which makes sense, since they already paid for seats, and the show wouldn't start until he closed the doors), and then he'd go down the list. Finally, the woman said, "We'd bettah get in, 'cause I'm gonna go all kinds of crazy if we don't get in."

Child Bride complained that we weren't going to get in again, when it was the perfect opportunity to complain about people from New Jersey, or how loud that woman was talking. Missed opportunities, I guess.

And speaking of which, when he started to finally allow Stand-Bys to get in, there were only five seats left. Uncle John asked if there was standing room, or if we could sit on laps (seriously, he suggested this), and the manager said the fire marshal wouldn't allow standing room, and that it was packed in there as it was. He told us that the show was only an hour long (which really seemed to offend Child Bride), and if we wanted to wait another hour, he'd put us at the top of the list for the midnight show. Child Bride complained that that was too late, and they had to be up early for church the next day. I offered to stay there while John took Child Bride home, and the two of us could go, since she didn't really want to go anyway.

Child Bride complained, and John declined. So we walked all the way back down the hill and to John's car. Child Bride complained about the wasted evening, and again, she probably had a point. In all honesty, had I thought about getting tickets to "Dracula" earlier, I could've gotten them in advance, or driven up right after work to see if they were sold out or not, or gotten us to the top of the Stand-By list by suggesting we go over two hours early, but I didn't think about it, since my sister was supposed to come over, and I was bummed not to be able to take my nephew trick or treating.

I honestly couldn't have predicted that John would want to go see "Dracula," or that he wouldn't already have a planned activity he was going to force the rest of us to go on.* But I also couldn't have predicted that Child Bride would be so determined to make us miserable by pointing out how unhappy she was with the whole night. John had explained that Halloween had never been important in her family (heck, maybe it had been seen as an evil thing, like my cousin Ryan's parents had decreed, and felt guilty about all the celebrating going on), and that he had done all he could to get her excited about it, but that she didn't understand. Which does not surprise me.

John was hungry, so we went to Denny's to eat dinner. It was packed with mostly-costumed denizens, and the service took fully forever. Immortal beings would've complained how long it took for us to get our food. But . . . and this is no joke, Child Bride did not.

Rish Samhain Outfield

*When John first married Child Bride, he planned a Halloween night activity involving me and my sister and her new husband, wherein we went on a "spooky" boat ride. It was a really low-tech trip down about fifty yards of water, and we both complained that it could have been so much better (basically, it was intended for kids, when it might have been more successful had it been targeted at the horny teenager and hand-on-breast college student crowd, who would've enjoyed a good grope under the guise of being scared by noises and lights and music and atmosphere). With almost no more money, but just a bit more thought, the ferryman could've told creepy stories or pretended we were in danger, or just played theramin music and let our imaginations help get us in the mood. Maybe, if I'm around in twenty years, I'll do something like that. Maybe.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Abbie's Folly

So, Abbie Hilton over at her Cowry Catchers website had such a positive reaction to her podcast novel (which I've played a couple minor roles in), that she decided to add some premium content. She wrote a story set in that universe (that I also did a voice on), and made people pay to read it, or listen to her reading of it, or listen to a full-cast version of it. And people apparently were more than willing to do so.

What's crazy, though, is that she decided to do some kind of profit-sharing deal with it, so that the people who contributed voicework would "earn" money with each purchase of the story.

To my horror, Abbie sent me the first payment today. I figured she'd send me a check for nine cents, that I would treasure always, but holy cow, it was more than I got paid for my last two stories combined. Why she didn't just keep the money and claim there weren't any profits, like New Line Cinema did, I'll never know.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FixFlix 28

You know, since I started these, I actually encountered one of those CleanFlix players, and it horrified me. It actually cut a scene out of THE INCREDIBLES, I kid you not. It made me truly despair, nearly every pitiful, quarter-assed attempt at bowdlerizing (look, I'm totally against censorship, but if you're going to do it, at least do it right).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

...but still better than REVENGE OF THE SITH

This is not a perfect commercial. See subject line.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Slumber Party Hearty

For old times' sake, Jeff and I watched the three SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE flicks this week, discussing what worked and didn't work in each one. If you recall--and there's absolutely no shame in proclaiming that you don't--these are Roger Corman-produced Slasher flicks (all directed by women) where the killer uses an electric drill to dispatch his victims.

The second film is far and away the worst (that's the one where the killer has the drill attached to a guitar and dances and sings), forcing Jeff to turn it off three or four times (and finally starting on another movie to cleanse the palate), but none are classics, and really only have the nostalgia factor of "those at those clothes" and "I remember when I first saw this movie . . ." They're really not remarkable movies, even placed against other Slasher flicks from the Eighties.But what was genuinely remarkable--and the only reason I'm blogging about it--was the forty minute documentary on the trilogy's new DVD. They get the directors and assistant cameraman and a couple of the actors and the grip trainee into the interview chair and they talk about their accomplishments in their respective film . . . as though they were accomplishments.*

The greatest/most surreal moment came when one of the actors wistfully said, "They sure don't make movies like SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE III anymore." And there was no irony anywhere in the room.

Rish "Jazzercise Party Massacre" Outfield

*To be fair, I'm sure the movies all made loads of money, so that is an accomplishment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tom Bosley

So, "Happy Days" and "Father Dowling Mysteries" star Tom Bosley died this week. He was 83 years old. I wasn't going to say anything to mark the occasion, but I ultimately reconsidered.
In 1998, my favorite teacher took me and a couple other students to tour the new Sony Pictures Studio lot (formerly MGM). I saw two celebrities during the tour, and one of them was Tom Bosley. There was some kind of luncheon going on, just beyond where he was sitting, and he was mingling with other guests. "Wow, I thought, he's old. I'll never get old. Never." My teacher suggested I go over and say hello to him, and I did.

I told him I'd been a fan of his since I was a little boy, and he thanked me, and went about his day.

It didn't make that big an impression on me one way or the other, but when I told my roommate Chris about it, he said, "Wow, I'd be blown away if somebody told me that. But he must hear that every day." What would it be like to have someone tell you you were great, or funny, or beloved every single day? To have strangers do it? I thought about the girls I knew who were beautiful and knew it, and the ones that seemed surprised when somebody told them that. I wondered what that would be like.

Still do.

Rish "I told you it wasn't much" Outfield

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stupid Thing o' the Week

So, I sent an email to one of the guys who submitted a story to us many months ago, to tell him we wouldn’t be able to get his story on the air this month (on my podcast, obviously), explaining the situation and the embarrassment I felt about it, but also stating that it was my call, so I’m the one to blame. I then explained when I thought the show would go up and what progress had been made on it thus far.

Sometimes, for reasons out of our control, we accept stories, and don’t air them for many months. I think there was one that we held for a holiday, that we didn’t air for more than a year. I always feel bad about that. But life is an uninvited intruder in your house just when you’ve put on Barry White’s "Can't Get Enough" LP, and you've got your cousin nice and buzzed.

Well, I got a very terse, but not at all impolite email from the guy immediately after, and I didn't give it a second thought.

However, when I got home from what passes for work in my life, there was a second email from him, a much longer one. Apparently, he read my message at work on his phone or some similar device that only showed him the first paragraph of my email, the one where we weren't going to get to his episode and it was my fault. With no further information from me, he got the impression that even though we said we'd accept his story, we were now rejecting it (and him), and hoping he would have sex with himself.

According to my new ex-friend, a voice inside him said, "Use your aggressive feelings, boy, let the hate flow through you!" Even though he had been polite in his email back to me, he kept thinking about it during the day ("I can feel your anger!"), unable to put it behind him ("Your hate has made you powerful!"), until it filled him with such righteous indignation that he had to talk to his wife about it ("Now, strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the Dark Side will be complete!").She read the email and was puzzled. "Which part are you angry about?" she wondered. He was upset that she wasn't helping him set swarms of lice or fiery hailstones down upon me.* She told him my email had been quite apologetic and quoted it to him, but he had no memory of that part. Only then did he realize that there was more to it than the first couple of sentences.

In context of the rest of my message, I guess he had less reason to be angry, and was grateful his religious upbringing had prevented him from sending me a venomous, violently vitriolic invective like he wanted to. He canceled the whole prayer for vengeance thing and typed up a lengthy email explaining what had happened.

Unfortunately, it was already too late, as every hole of my body is now swarming with red-hot earwigs. Especially THAT hole.

I called Big Anklevich to tell him about it, and he said, "That serves you right for apologizing. I wish he had told you off."

Well, I guess we all learned a lesson here.

Rish Zacharias Outfield

*Isn't there a Bible verse where God tells Malachi or Jeremiah or Ezekiel or Obama, "Whoever you curse I will curse?" Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but I figure a devout churchgoer has more power at his disposal than a card-carrying member of the Gilligan's Island Fanclub like me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Subtext" on Way of the Buffalo

Someone podcast one of my stories this week, and for once, it wasn't me. This was over at The Way of the Buffalo, hosted by Hugh O'Donnell. It was a very short story I wrote last year, entitled "Subtext," about a dead girl and her cellphone.

"Subtext" is a horror story that ends in a silly, almost insulting way. It's light, but a good example of my work. I wrote it as a sort of nostalgic throwback to the kind of scary/funny short stories I used to love in elementary school, collected by Daniel Cohen in his books, like the one where the woman says, "Do you know what I can do with my long, long nails and my red, red lips?"

I sent the story to Big for some reason, and he really liked it (for some reason). He seemed to think I could expand it to make an actual story out of it, instead of just a mean joke. But I couldn't really think of what to do with it, and honestly, some of the ideas I have work better as jokes.

I got a thrill hearing the reading of my story, though, even if no one else does. And I probably ought to write something tonight, instead of just surfing the internet for a fourth hour.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gleeky Horror

I just heard "Glee" is doing an all ROCKY HORROR episode next week.

I saw the promo, then I quickly listened to the soundtrack that somehow already exists, and I was filled with an amazing sensation of jealousy.* I don't really even get it, since I don't work on the show, never have, and couldn't participate if I wanted to (not to mention that I haven't been in high school for, what, nine years now. And that was merely playing a high school student).

What's more, I fully recognize that the show isn't a documentary, that none of these people exist, and that the show's not remotely like a real glee club would be (which I was too chicken to audition for in my own high school anyway) and it's not even a show I love (in fact, I don't know if there has been a single episode I didn't complain to Jeff during).

But I do love the ROCKY HORROR songs, and maybe it's just the knowledge that someone out there is getting paid to sing "Dammit Janet" and I got nobody.

Great, now I'm depressed again.

Rish Outfield From Transexual Transylvania

*Amazing because of the subject matter, not the emotion. I'm usually pretty jealous to begin with. Even of you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Scary Story progress...

I finished my October Scary Story today. It was quite an accomplishment, believe you me, and I had a sense of closure and pride and finality when I scrawled those beautiful words "The End" at the bottom of the page.

Oh, perhaps I should clarify. What I finished today was my October Scary Story Event entry . . . for 2006. Yep, this is the OSSE I started four years ago, back when I used to do it with my buddy Jeff, and never finished it. Sadly, because of that and other factors, we never did a OSSE again (neither of us fulfilling our goal sort of broke our hearts a little). I started a completely different story early on in the month, I recall, one that took place in something like 1951. And in doing research about the music and movies that were popular in that year, I realized that that particular story was going to end up being pretty long, and a lot more work than I expected I could do in a couple of weeks (since I also had a one hour forty minute commute and a full-time job).

So I struggled to come up with another idea, something shorter, easier, more manageable. What I decided upon was a sort of mad scientist idea, about a chemist who reopens a small town movie theater, and puts something in the popcorn that manipulates the filmgoers. I called it "Popcorn Movie," and was very excited about it. I invented a nephew to the mad scientist, a loser who had moved out to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of playing in a Rock band, only to have to come slinking back with his pockets empty and his tail between his legs.

Yes, hard to imagine a character like that, isn't it?

But as I developed the story, I started to really enjoy Don, the nephew character, and I felt for him. He'd gotten mixed up in drugs and had really ruined his life, but his uncle gives him a second chance, a chance to be a part of something that seems quite magical (at least in the beginning). I decided to give him a love interest, and almost immediately, he became the main character of the story, at first amused and then suspicious about the behavior of the "regulars" who keep attending the theatre.

But then it happened, what always seems to happen with the stories I get excited about: it started to grow. I decided that what I REALLY wanted to write about was not about a amoral chemist messing with peoples' minds, but about a loser who, in his darkest moment, joins a winning team, and sees his life turn around. I loved the idea of this kid finding his dreams coming true in some po-dunk hillbilly burg, only to realize that there's a sinister reason behind it all. Does he choose to do the right thing, even if it means giving up the first success he's been a part of in years?

Well, if you know me at all, you know that faced with such a daunting task, I just threw my arms up and ran in the other direction. Fetal position is just so warm and comfortable, kids.

The story was spiraling out of control, and though I abandoned it, I never really forgot it. Earlier this year, I printed out some of my works-in-progress and carried them around with me, managing to finish two or three of them before getting to this one. "Popcorn Movies" was harder, because I didn't know what it wanted to be, except that it was no longer a scary story. But I read through what I'd written, really liked it, and continued on from there, hoping that the new two-thirds would match up with the old third.

I finished it up, happy I'd written down so many of my ideas back in '06, and thought it turned out pretty well, even if I'll never give it to Jeff or show it to anyone else. Still sitting there, I had about ten minutes of free time left after writing "The End," and to my surprise, I just started another story right up, practically free-writing with no real clue where I was going. It was my OSSE 2010 coming to a sort of pathetic life in front of my eyes. And you know, I'll actually agree with that bastard Dean Wesley Smith for once: it totally wasn't work.

Rish "Master Scribe" Outfield

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stupid Thing of the Week

A friend of ours with a podcast of his own asked me to read/perform a horror story for his show this week, so Big and I got together on Monday and recorded it. Basically, the story is about a guy in a snowstorm being stalked by unseen creatures (which is really the story of my life), and was pretty fun to read. There was much tomfoolery and about a hundred errors during the reading, so I took the recording home to edit some of those out, in order to (futilely) seem more professional.

I went through, taking out some of the more offensive chatter, and removing the mistakes I thought were unfunny), and I thought it would embellish to the story to add a constant, whistling wind to the tale. Then, I thought it would be really cool if I put some kind of intermittent monster call underneath it, a spooky sound to add to the ambiance. But what would I use?

Thinking, I remembered I had a recording I made of my niece when she was five years old, babbling contentedly into the microphone and talking about her trip to Disneyland. I took that audio and slowed it waaaaaaaaaaaay down, so the sounds were no longer recognizable as words, but now something strange and rumbling, like the growls of a great, hungry beast.

It only took me a couple of hours, and I was very proud of my accomplishment, so I sent it off and went about the next (overdue) project on my list.

Well, today I got an email from the podcaster. He thanked me for the prompt delivery of the reading, but lamented that there was some kind of annoying background noise through most of the recording. He told me not to worry, though, he thought he could use music to drown all of that out.


Rish "Say A Prayer For The Pretender" Outfield

P.S. His exact words were "There was some crazy ambient noise -- sounded like a elephant trying to play a cello in the road outside." Feel free to laugh, someday I probably will.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fix Flix 27

Twould be nice.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Where Walks The Taco Man

So, I had my nephew three more days this week. Basically, my sister had problems with the new baby and had to take him to the hospital, so I volunteered to take the two-year-old again. And today, the lad wanted to eat at Taco Bell. For you Spanish readers, I took him to El Restaurante Mejicano De Los Pinches Gringos.

Well, we were surprised and entertained to see a guy in a giant taco costume hanging out in front of the store, waving at passing drivers and feeling high school girls' jumblies. "Look!" I said, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, "It's Taco Man!"
My nephew was, for some reason, terrified of him. I took/dragged him over there, trying to get him to see that Taco Man was friendly and fun, but he was busy raping a crippled third-grade boy, so it didn't help much.*

Taco Man tried to give my nephew five, but the boy cried and hid behind my leg, so I gave up. We went inside to eat and sat by the window. The whole time, my nephew would peer out, keeping track of Taco Man's whereabouts, as if at any moment, he would be gone. Then where would he pop up?

His fear of this silly mascot amused me, so as he ate, I said, "You know, Taco Man's not gonna be happy you're eating a taco. That's one of his children."

The boy stopped eating.

"No, no, it's too late. He's marked you for revenge now."

And then I realized what I was doing. In our most recent episode of The Dunesteef, a well-meaning father makes up a terrible story to stop his son from misbehaving, and it has horrific consequences.

Holy chalupa, I was doing exactly what the dad on "Tattletale" had done. Only with no constructive purpose.

I stopped and tried to make up for it. But that time had passed. To the two year old, Taco Man now looked like this:

Rish "Worst Babysitter Ever" Outfield

*Hey, I'm sorry about that last part. I asked Big if he thought I should cut it out, and he never answer me. So blame him, would ya?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Unstupid Thing of the Week

Jeff bought the Blu-Ray of FIGHT CLUB, and neither of us had watched the film in far too long. So, he put it in the player and we chatted while the damn machine spends its five minutes loading the disc, and another two as the disclaimers and warnings cycled through. Finally, it was time for the menu proper.

But to our surprise, it was the menu for NEVER BEEN KISSED. Drew Barrymore blushed at us, along with options to watch the movie, scene select, or check out special features. "What the hell?" Jeff said, and I told him, "You must've put in the wrong disc." Before he could explain that he didn't own NEVER BEEN KISSED, and it must've been some kind of manufacturing error, the screen pixelated and became the actual menu for FIGHT CLUB.

It was all just a cruel bit of Tyler Durdenesque subversiveness on the DVD producers' part, and I have to applaud them for it.


P.S. There was a lovely little feature where David Fincher, Edward Norton, and Brad Pitt are on a Spike TV awards show, being given a statuette for their work in that film. Upon hearing that Mel Gibson is the one presenting them with the award, Norton tells Fincher he'll give him five thousand dollars if he'll say, "Thanks, sugartits," to Gibson onstage. Fincher refuses, and Pitt says, "I'll do it." Then they show the actual presentation, and Brad Pitt actually does it.