Eulogy

Fortune #196

Last week, one of my coworkers left this world very suddenly. On Wednesday, she was here at work, in what seemed to be perfectly fine health. By Thursday evening, she was gone, the victim of a brain aneurysm.

Even though I work in a massive corporate headquarters complex, everyone knew and loved her.  She worked in the company store, usually at the register, so pretty much everyone has talked to her at least once. And she was hard to forget, too! She was a compact little Hispanic woman with a huge smile and a bubbling personality. I don’t think I ever saw her with even a bored look on her face, much less a sad or frustrated expression. She always looked like she was thrilled to see you. She’d chat with everyone. Her pleasantness was unassailable. Even after the roughest day in the office, if you visited the shop on the way out and saw her, you’d leave happier.

She was an older woman, perhaps in her 60s, but she was certainly far too young to leave.

I talked to her on Wednesday. I bought some cookie ingredients, and she was behind the register. We were laughing about a terrible wisecrack that her husband had made some time ago.

And then, the next day, I got the news via e-mail. I won’t get to laugh with her again.

I’ll miss her, even though I realize I barely knew her. I can’t even imagine how her family is dealing with the suddenness of her passing. However, I think I’m glad she went suddenly. She was never ill. I’d like to think that this is because her happiness was truly unassailable. I’d like to think she was smiling right up to the second that her brain switched off.

Behold My Butt-Numb-a-Thon 14 Silliness

In December of every year, Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News hosts his birthday party as a 24-hour nonstop film marathon in Austin, TX. This extravaganza is the aptly-named Butt-Numb-a-Thon, and nobody except Harry really knows what will be played. You just show up, and Harry just shows you stuff: everything from crazy vintage films to secret screenings of the latest Hollywood extravaganzas.

The thing about the BNAT, though, is that a lot of people want to go, and there are only so many seats in the theater. Thus, there is the yearly ritual of filling out the BNAT application. This is a questionaire during which you are often asked to describe who you are in the nerdiest possible terms, provide entertaining photos of yourself, and otherwise dance for Harry’s amusement. There are many reasons for this elaborate ritual. First, it weeds out people who aren’t willing to (or lack the sense of humor) work a little for a coveted ticket. Second, it builds community between BNAT hopefuls (as we are prone to gather together and share our work with one another). Third, it amuses our Mostly Benevolent Puppetmaster.

This year, there were three audio/visual components to the application process. First, you were to take a photo of yourself that explains what sort of movie nerd you are. Second, you were to take a photo of yourself that would approximate what you would look like if you weren’t chosen to attend Butt-Numb-a-Thon 14. Third, as extra credit, you were to create a video of yourself, acting out your favorite scene of your favorite movie (with bonus consideration if you managed to morph it into a reference about your favorite terrible film).

BNAT hopefuls have been gathering all week on Facebook, sharing their photos and videos. There are hours of videos strung together in a YouTube playlist, if you want to cruise everyone’s public entries.

But for now, here’s what I did.

Exhibit 1: the photo of myself as a film geek.

Self-Portrait with Death Race 2000 Car

Yes, I already showed off this photo earlier this year, but it’s entirely appropriate. I’m still worth 10 points!

Exhibit 2: What I would look like if I didn’t get an invite to BNAT 14.

BNAT Seppuku

I only realized after I took the photo and moved all the furniture back that I had been holding the knife the wrong way. I should have read the Wikipedia entry on seppuku much more closely. And I should have looked down.

Exhibit 3: A recreation of my favorite scene from my favorite movie.

That’s right. Dead Alive is indeed my favorite film of all time. Second is Lawrence of Arabia. So there.

I am extraordinarily thankful that I was able to bribe Jerry Belich into being cameraman for this video. There’s no way I could have filmed it myself in a reasonable amount of time, as my DSLR is my only proper video camera, and it’s extraordinarily fussy in terms of focus. It’s also great that Jerry and I are great collaborators and work super-fast together; there are something like 60 shot setups in this 5-minute film. We filmed all of the live stuff in the space of a couple hours. (The time-lapse and stop motion work was all me, and I did that on another evening.)

I did all the ADR myself. I’m so sorry, everyone.

Exhibit 3a: How I bribed Jerry to help me with my BNAT 14 video.

That’s right. Jerry walked up to me and said, “Will you be my John Belushi?”

I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to say those words to me, and I didn’t even know it.

Anyway, Jerry worked on my video because I helped him with his. We filmed this in about 20 minutes at the end of a cul-de-sac near my apartment. We borrowed the black ties, but I’m now convinced we both need to have black ties of our own.

This Week: PowerPoint Karaoke!

That’s right! PowerPoint Karaoke returns for its monthly show this Thursday night!

Make yourself available on October 25th, at 10:00pm! Doors will open at 9:30pm, so arrive early and have a beer! There’s food in the theater, too!

This month’s presenters are: Nick Decker, Molly Cathryn Glover, Kevin McLaughlin, and Duck Washington!

This month’s judges will be: Lacey Anne Zeiler and Matthew Foster!

And this time, I’ll be back running slides! BOOYAH!

Tickets are $7 ($5 with a MN Fringe button), and can be purchased at the Bryant Lake Bowl website!
http://bryantlakebowl.com/calendar/shows/powerpoint-karaoke-8

If you like doing the Facebook thing, you can do that here:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/290970384345158/

Please attend! Laugh! Drink beer!

Fantastic Fest 2012: Day 7

Øystein Karlsen Drinking Shots Between Questions

Director Øystein Karlsen drinking shots of vodka between questions at the Q&A for his film, Fuck Up.

By the end of Day 7, fatigue hit hard. I didn’t even have the energy to indulge in the midnight movie slot. It’s possible that the issue, however, was the fact that I saw Hellfjord and Danger 5 back-to-back: both are miniseries, not films, so watching all these TV-paced episodes at the end of the day was extremely tiring, no matter how fun they were. Danger 5 may have only taken 75 minutes to play through, but Hellfjord was a whopping 3.5 hours of dedication. Yet I persevered!

AMERICAN SCREAM
From the makers of the delightful Best Worst Movie comes this even more delightful documentary about homemade Halloween haunted houses. The film focuses on one New England neighborhood where three families go all-out to give a thrill to their neighbors on October 31st of every year. It’s a story about community, genial obsession, and great creativity; the result is strangely engrossing and a joy to watch. Keep an eye out for this one.

FUCK UP
Fuck Up was yet another crime-gone-wrong film from this year’s FF2012 lineup (I think there were at least a dozen of them), but it was one I rather enjoyed. The tone was levened with a good sense of humor, and the characters had a nice balance of humanity, skeeziness, and a hint of absurdity. (I learned from the Q&A after the film that a minor subplot involving meat smuggling between Sweden and Norway is actually a real thing. “Don’t patronize our smuggling routes!” cried the director as we giggled.)

HELLFJORD
Hellfjord is probably best described as Hot Fuzz set in Norway. Told as a seven-part TV miniseries, the story follows a city cop who falls into local disfavor over an incident involving a horse, who is then sent to a distant rural town named Hellfjord while he waits to be fired. He figures that, if he does a bang-up job in Hellfjord before he gets fired, he might be able to save his job. Thus begins the drama of a hyper-driven cop trying to make headway against the extremely relaxed and suspicious locals. (I’m not kidding. Hot Fuzz in Norway.) Soon, the local fishery is looking suspicious. As derivative as the core concept might be, Hellfjord is a lot of fun, and it certainly goes in some novel directions once it gets going.

DANGER 5
This one is a 6-part Australian web series that plays a bit like Venture Brothers in live action. The opening scene of the whole series involves a talking Nazi dog and Nazi blimps stealing the Eiffel Tower. The series is silly and deep as a puddle, but it’s a fun spin around the world of retro-spy stylings and it’s often hilarious. Have a look for yourself.

OTHER ZANINESS

I learned that, while I was watching ABCs of Death on Day 6, Terence Malik apparently showed up at Fantastic Fest and filmed a scene or two for a new film. I’m crushed that I missed it.

Cloud Atlas showed as a secret screening while I was watching Hellfjord. The Wachowski siblings were there, and I heard that Andy Wachowski spouted this gem: “This is my sister, Lana. We were formerly known as the Wachowski brothers, but now we’re known as Wachowski Starship.” Word outside the theater is that the movie was generally well-liked or even loved, but that the Q&A afterward was amazing. You can watch the whole Q&A right here.

The music from the accordion scene of Holy Motors showed up online. The music is glorious, but not quite as glorious as actually hearing it in the context of the film. I believe that one scene is the thing that emerged as the favorite 3 minutes of film from the entire festival, for everyone.

TwitchFilm started a thing called Drunk Reviews, wherein Todd Brown 1) makes a film director imbibe at least 5 shots of hard alcohol, 2) makes the film director review their own movie in their native language, 3) cranks the resulting review through Google Translate to put it into English, and 4) posts the nigh-unintelligible result. The first victim I saw at Fantastic Fest was Javier Diment (director of Memories of Death, who also licked everyone at the Highball after his review). The second victim was Øystein Karlsen, who was drinking the shots between questions at the Q&A for Fuck Up (see photo above). I am amused and slightly terrified at this project.

Even while still sober, however, Øystein Karlsen was a hoot. I believe the quote of the day was, “Please don’t judge Norway by its food, because the fish you will be eating has been dead a long, long time.”

New Geek Life: Fantastic Fest Rundown

On the latest episode of The Geek Life, the fine gentlemen indulge me as I blather on about Fantastic Fest and its amazing slate of films. Have a listen!