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.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tim Telstar said...

I kind of like that the nicest thing you can say about me at this point in the Fest is that I didn't take a swing at the middle-aged man with obvious mental impairments.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Norman said...

It gets better, theoretically. You mock the middle-aged man with obvious mental impairments far less than I did.

8:19 AM  

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