Tuesday, January 22, 2008

B-Fest Wrap Up No. 1

Let's get this out of the way right up front - this year might very well be my favorite B-Fest in my 6 year history of attending. The line-up was fun and balanced, the ancillary activities were splendid and the timing couldn't have been better. Even the bad parts ended up turning into chuckles a few miles down the road. I reconnected with friends, I met new friends and I came back better than I left. That's quite something for an event where you're forced to watch Xanadu.
Although Chad is the master of the re-cap, I'll give a slight rundown on how pre-fest events sat with me, then dive headlong into the world of step sitting, junk food and hobos on fire jokes.
Driving to Chicago with the BHODMAS is nothing short of a pleasure, except when the possibility looms larger than entertainment flickering on the lap top screen. Such was the case this year, when Chad and I left Grand Island on Wednesday night (unprecedented) to crash at Matt's house before leaving for Chicago. Through flurries and construction we traveled, narrowly interpreting landmarks correctly until we arrived at casa de Campbell for a few hours of Call of Duty 4 and Guitar Hero 3 before sleeping for...wait for it...3 hours. Then we got up and hit the road. I looked...not good. Luckily the fear of a terrifying death coupled with ham-handed attempts at Italian horror soon did the trick and we were into the Black Hole.
I remember at one point Matt looking antsy, like maybe vomit was in his future. Turns out the hole had him. So it is.
The plan was to meet up with Chad's friend Bill at the hotel, and so we did. We pulled into Evanston with enough time to hang out a tad with Bill, Telstar, OscoSean, the good Professor Mortis (Gangster Star Wars was fantastic) and Marlow before Matt and I took off to see a taping of NPR's quiz show "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me," where we met Mo Rocca, Carl Cassel and Peter Sagal, but it was my conversation with Roy Blount Jr. I want to recount as proof that I really am Gilligan some times.
Me: Mr. Blount, I heard you on A Prairie Home Companion last week. You really had the crowd going.
RBJ: Yeah, that was a re-run.
Me: Oh. Well my wife's reading your latest book, um...um..
RBJ: Well thanks. (turns and walks away)
Back to the hotel for a good 10 hours of sleep. Given I'm the father of a three-month-old, which is tantamount to signing up for around a year of sleep deprivation, it felt REALLY good. A few of us had decided to be hard core and see a movie before B-Fest, which is sort of like eating chips before you tackle an all-you-can-eat buffet. In this case, the chips were called "Cloverfield" and they were highly enjoyable, as was the company. A little book shopping, a little chow and we were off to the McCormack Auditorium.
Here's a strange B-Fest phenomenon - the more times I attend the fest, the faster it seems to go. I remember years where the hours between 4 and 6 p.m. seemed like an eternity. This year, they seemed like a wisp of time, short and sweet. Before I knew it, the gentleman with no stage presence had taken the stage, gone over the rules and we were into "Tentacles," starring John Huston, Henry Fonda and Shelly Winter's sombrero, the one visible from space. We were in dark territory early on when the crowd went nutso over a disappearing baby, supposedly taken by the monster. By the end, when the film climaxed in hot giant squid on killer whale action, I got the feeling the crowd had either lost interest or the movie didn't make a lick of sense. Maybe both.
Now, it's probably good we address the little spat between our little group and a certain gentleman who's name I've already forgotten. This gentleman is a staple at B-Fest, as he noted a couple of times in a loud, whiny voice. I'm a fan of empathy for others, and part of me feels bad for picking on the guy, but he picked the wrong fight with the absolute worst people to make it with. His argument, boiled down to it's main points, was we were being rude for yelling and making fun of the movie. He wanted to watch the movie. We wanted to make cracks. There lies the central conflict.
Matt, to his credit, handled the yelling man with aplomb. He was rational yet firm in the face of screaming irrationality. To Telstar Man's credit, he didn't hit the guy, but verbally smacked him around pretty good. Then he went away and the fest continued.
The funny thing about this exchange is it jarred my memory.I remember B-Fest 03 when I witnessed a similar exchange, but it wasn't me on the receiving end. Strange.
But the fest continued, and we were undeterred. As it turns out, we had nothing to fear but Sean Connery himself.

Monday, January 14, 2008

B-Fest Update No. WEV

God, I love Telstar. I believe the "Dennis" is going to be the first inside joke of B-Fest '08. And oh, what a joke. Subversive and adventurous, yet perfectly attuned to the sensabilities of our little tribe. Of course, after the overnight, "Dennis" is going to look like peaches and cream, I'm afraid. Zardoz alone could probably do it, but the overnight...JIGOO!

Onto the final plans, cobbled together from various e-mails, conversations and imaginings. Also, sorry I've been MIA recently, but I've had a triple whammy of car trouble, a baptism ceremony to plan and a potentially serious health condition I had to deal with in one 72-hour period. Let me say this - the phrase 'we're pretty sure it's not a tumor' has the exact opposite effect as the reassurance my health care professional intended. No fun. But this will be fun. Dennis. HA! See, I told you this would be fun.

The line-up as it stands: Chad, Matt and Mike. No Bill, to our disadvantage. Matt, your brother was interested...we might be able to make that happen if he's so inclined. If it's too late, we'll catch him some year soon. Call me selfish, but something about me likes the idea "three men, three beds." Call me old fashioned. I am currently driving the minivan (oh shit, RED LIGHT), and everything seems 10-4. It's a little smoky on account of my father-in-law, the check engine light is on but I'm told that happens all the time, and the space inside feels like an amphitheater compared to the cramped conditions to which we are accustomed. We even have the option of taking out the third seat and putting in a little table, which I'm thinking of doing.

As far as tech, Matt will be bringing his big portable DVD player again? I will be bringing my lap top for the trip to and from Omaha, just in case, so we will not be without movie. As far as Chad's tech question about the DVD player in the hotel room, I refer to Matt, since I know about as much about AV as I know about driving. Or navigating. Or stringing together coherent sentences. Either way, ask Matt. DENNIS!

My schedule works better if we leave GI between 4 and 4:30 on Thursday morning and high tail it to Chicago. We should be there in plenty of time and it's best to spare your mother the site of the three of us together for an evening. Travel wise, I figure the worst case scenario is we crash the van and suffer for hours in intense pain before we die. Slightly further down the line is we get there around 4 p.m., rush hour prohibits mass transit and Matt and I take a cab to the Chase Auditorium in DT Chicago. If we get there early enough and feel comfy with the L, we'll take it and Chad can hitch a ride to the Hali Kahiki, or take the minivan. If we take a cab, Chad can still take the minivan.

Can I count on one of you to navigate us to the hotel again? Like I said, me and directions are like fingers and car door. Also, is Cloverfield still on? What say the BHODMAS. I'm all for shopping and hanging out or going to the flick of there's a significant contingent. There's a certain twisted logic in seeing a movie before a film festival. It's hard core like fingers and car door. Motha fucka.

And there she sits. B-Fest 08 in a matter of days. 72 hours from now we'll be watching something blow up on a tiny screen piped through a big stereo system, stretching our legs, drinking some Brawndo (it's got what plants crave) and steeling our synapses for the site of Sir Connery in a red diaper and the possibility of meeting Mo Rocca or drinking rum through a straw. We'r ff to se the zard o z. Among other things.


Friday, January 11, 2008


First off, the B-Fest line up is really decent this year. I've been watching the trailers and cannot wait for - among other films - Tentacles, Zardoz, Black Samson and Empire of the Ants. Xanadu could be brilliant or crash, especially in that time slot. Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla will be like really good chili on a fluffy pancake.

But there's another reason I'm looking forward to the 'fest this year beyond seeing "The Creature" rise for the third time. I sort of need it this year. In fact, looking at the changes we've all undergone in 07, I think we might all be in serious need of Geek Christmas.

Not to go too much into it, but a new kid is a one-way ticket to pissed off-ville. You have far less sleep, far less money and far more responsibility. That's not to say these negatives aren't cancelled out in a grand way by the wonderment the new little creature brings, it's just to say 5 hours of sleep or less for a month will make anyone a little edgy. And their wife. Who then yells at you and you yell back at her and then the older kid cries and you have to explain to a sobbing four-year-old that sometimes mommys and daddys yell and it's OK because we love each other and why don't we go downstairs and play with your Digital Art Studio for a while? And then you get 5 hours of sleep that night and get in your car to go to work in the morning and your "Check Engine" light comes on and you take it to the dealership only to find out it's your gas cap that's not securely fastened so you feel like a giant douche and your wife yells again at the $35 it cost for a mechanic to tell you to fasten your gas cap, and you redouble your yelling efforts because you feel like a douche and then get 4 hours of sleep that night. Or something like that.

There are other hardships, if you want to call them that in the pampered life we all lead, that I'm planning to completely drop once we hit the road. I plan on bringing a lot of things to B-Fest this year, but emotional baggage will not be among them. I plan to have a good time with good friends and push my mind and body to the breaking point in the auditorium. I'm coming at this sucker with a nut cup in my pants and a Brawndo in each hand. It's got what plants crave.

By this time next week I'll be in downtown Evanston shopping, ticket in my pocket. I cannot freaking wait.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

B-Fest Update No. 3

What's the nerdiest thing you're doing to count down? I've got a piece of paper tucked to the back of my desk with the number of work days until B-Fest. Not the number of days. That's on my calendar. The number of WORK days. As of this writing, I'm winding down on number 10.

My point is we're close, so let's hit a few logistics.

-The hotel room is booked and the roll-away is ordered.
-The tickets to Wait...Wait are at the will call window for me and Matt, Chad will be enjoying rum through a straw at the Hali Kahiki. God speed.
-Bill is still coming, though he might not be there until Friday. Truth be told, after the fest I don't care where I sleep so long as it's flat, relatively soft and free of flickering light or douch bags playing Dungeons and Dragons behind me.
-My CD for the way down is basically done. I've also figured out what my DVD carrying case, which holds 22 DVDs, will include, though that list is likely to change several times between now and the fest.
-Skip has the tickets. Skp is the man.

Finally, and I'm just floating this here, what would it be like to leave for Omaha on Wednesday night? We'd have a jump on the black hole, we'd miss rush hour in Omaha maybe and it would allow us a good three to four hours of guitar hero before hand.

Also, has anyone's thoughts changed on Cloverfield. I'm thinking I might like to go, though I'm easily disuaded. Oh look, there's a bunny outside.

By Grabthar's Hammer, I will make it through next week. And half of the week after that!