Archive for the “Dorkness” Category

This past Tuesday, three Blu-rays came out that I had to have; fortunately their MSRP was set at a very reasonable price. So reasonable, in fact, that FYE of all places had them going for $9.99 a piece…cheaper than Amazon, even!

Word on the interwebs was that FYE busted street date on at least on of these films, so on Sunday I drove to the closest one to see what’s what. While they didn’t have the the one I had read about (I’ll get to it, dammit!), they did have another of the three: Cat’s Eye. I immediately purchased it, along with Twilight Zone: The Movie (which was a goddamn STEAL at $5. This damn thing is going for $40 for some ungodly reason.).

I wasn’t upset I struck out on the other two, it was Sunday after all.

On Tuesday night, I headed back to FYE after work to get the remaining Blu-rays. Unfortunately, they only had one, Stephen King’s IT. They had already sold out of the copy of Salem’s Lot. The. Copy. Let’s see, a classic TV mini-series based on a Stephen King novel hits Blu-ray for the first time a month before Hallofuckingween, and you get…one copy. WAY TO PLAN AHEAD, JERKS.

That’s okay, I didn’t sweat it too much. There are other FYEs around. I would hit them up this weekend, and that’s what I did today. The first one I went to, the employee was pretty damn helpful, checking the back and a few different places on the floor because he knew it had come in, but they must have sold it. Jesus, another store that only had one copy. Okay…fine. I had one more shot. I drove up to the final FYE near me. I looked around the store, couldn’t find it, asked the employee, to which he said, “Oh, sorry, I sold my only copy yesterday.” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? ONE COPY? Goddammit.

As I was heading out, a stack of CDs caught my eye, with the sign shouting $10 and under!!! Normally I would have kept going because who even buys CDs still, but one caught my eye: Def Leppard’s Hysteria. For $5. Since Spotify doesn’t stream Def Leppard and Hysteria is one of my top three albums of all time, I went ahead and bought it. One, to keep in my car, because I can listen to that ANY TIME, and also to not make the entire trip a bust.

Honestly, though, I don’t understand how FYE stays in business at this point. Their prices are either rape high or losing-a-profit low, with no in between. Plus the way they organize their movies is dog shit. It’s all very haphazard. The employees are friendly, though. At least the three I went to, they seemed genuinely eager to help. But the crap selection and sky high prices are unforgivable.

I also went to Best Buy and Barnes & Noble today. That rant is coming tomorrow. Or rather today since it’s 1:30 in the morning.

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I’m not the type to believe in ghosts. I mean, I do believe in ghosts, but I think that 99.99% of sightings or whatever can be explained away scientifically. It’s that .01% that makes you go hmmmmm. Like that time I was traversing near a graveyard.

Many moons ago, like at least 20 years, I was dating this girl who had a friend that lived near an old ass cemetery. Apparently, this was one of those family-type deals, so it wasn’t very big, but it had graves going back to the Civil War. Rumor had it, there were some slaves buried on that land too, but unmarked of course.

So, naturally, me, my lady-at-the-time, her friend and her friend’s boyfriend decided to go check out this graveyard in the middle of the night. Because that’s what you do. Of course we only brought one flashlight (because that’s what you do) and soon after arriving at the cemetery, I gave that up to my girlfriend. Off her and her friend went, exploring and reading the headstones, while Chris (I don’t know if that was his name, but for simplicity’s sake, it is now) and I hung back and chatted and smoked.

Eventually we realized we no longer heard the girls, so we walked out onto the street and saw that they were about 1/2 mile off, already heading home. We shook our heads and started after them.

Now, before I get into this next part, I want to elaborate on two things. First, we weren’t…scared I guess. The thought of any ghosts or anything like that never crossed our mind. We had spent most of the time bullshitting about movies and such, so we weren’t even creeped out about anything. Second, it’s important to describe the layout. Basically, you had woods, cemetery, small strip of woods, then the road that runs parallel. Below is a half-ass diagram of the layout.


MAIN HIGHWAY


LOTS OF WOODS BUT NOT ENOUGH SO YOU CAN’T HERE THE MAIN HIGHWAY


CEMETERY

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________    ENTRANCE         _________

SMALL STRIP OF WOODS (MAYBE 10′) BETWEEN ROAD AND CEMETERY

______________________________________________________________________________________________________   ENTRANCE         _________

LITTLE RESIDENTIAL ROAD MY GF’S FRIEND LIVED ON

<— we were headed thataway

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

So Chris and I exited where that entrance is. So we had maybe 1/4 of a mile or so to walk until we were passed the cemetery. That strip of woods between the residential road and the cemetery might have been about 10 feet wide, but it wasn’t dense, you could kind of see the graveyard from the road through those “woods”, even at night. But, again, we weren’t scared, freaked out, or creeped out. We were just heading back to the house like it was normal.

Almost immediately after we got on the residential road and started walking back to the house, I heard the crunch, crunch, crunch of someone or something (don don donnnnnnnnnnn) pacing us in that strip of woods on our right. I stopped, and Chris stopped with me. “You hear that too?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

We both peered into the woods, but saw nothing. Just the graveyard through the brush.

We started walking again.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

We stopped again. Looked at each other, looked at the woods. Saw nothing. Not even an animal.

Walk. Walk. Walk.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Stop. Look. Nothing.

By about the third time we stopped, I’m not even going to lie, I was nervous. I’m the first to admit, it could have been an animal. But we couldn’t see anythign. It definitely wasn’t our girlfriends. We could see them at the end of the street where the light was (NATURALLY). And if it was a person, we definitely would have seen them. The woods weren’t dense.

Walk. Walk. Walk.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

This time we stopped and didn’t look in the woods. We looked at each other and knew what we had to do. RUN!

We ran, the thing (or whatver) crunching along at the same pace as us, stopping when it reached the end of the cemetery line.

We got back to the girls, out of breath and shakey. They asked why we ran, and again we looked at each other. “No reason,” I said. “Just wanted to catch up with you guys,” Chris offered. The girls looked at us weird but left it at that.

Chris and I never talked about it, and I lost track of him after my girlfriend and I broke up.

I don’t know what was pacing us in the woods that night. I know it wasn’t the wind because there wasn’t any. I’m confident it wasn’t a (live) person because we would have definitely seen them, even withot the flashlight. If it were a (small) animal, maybe I’d buy it. But if it were something else…I don’t know. I’d probably believe it. No matter what, though, it was creepy as hell.

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I’m really, really trying to do at least one update a month, and clearly I’m really, really failing. What’s even worse is I’m currently on vacation, so it’s not like I don’t have time right now.

Anywho, if it wasn’t obvious or if I never mentioned it, I love to read. I have more books than I know what to do with (and I’m actually in the process of giving (literal) boxes of them to friends of ones that I just know I won’t go back to, or I have it in the eBook format. Like stuff you’d find on the NY Times bestselling list; Harry Potter, John Grisham, just shit I don’t need on my bookshelves. I really just want harder-to-find books there (like first editions and ’70s and ’80s movie novelizations; my latest drug). Or novels I will no doubt re-read (like King).

My Kindle has made this possible more than anything else. I know that a lot of readers shit on the Kindle, saying things like, “A Kindle doesn’t have the feel of a real book!” and “You can’t smell the pages of a Kindle!” Well, I call bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I would love more than to own a gigantic house where I would have a gigantic library, but I live in reality and you there is no good reason why I would need a physical copy John Grisham’s The Firm taking up valuable shelf space when I can have a Limited Edition of Joe Lansdale in its place.

One thing that’s been invaluable in building my eBook collection is Calibre, a free piece of software that is not just an amazing tool to organize your collection, but does a slew of other things, including grabbing and modifying metadata, covers, putting your titles in collections (like Jack Reacher #1, Jack Reacher #2, etc.) and much, much, MUCH more. In addition, you can connect to Calibre wirelessly as long as you have it running, and you can transfer books on the fly.

It gets even better. I have this app on my phone that gives me Google Play Store credit for answering little surveys (generally no more than five questions). Granted, it’s not a lot of money, usually between $0.12 and $0.26, but that really adds up. I was sitting on just over $30 in credit today when an email came through offering me $5 off any book purchase in the Play Store. After some Google searching and program downloading, I head to the Play Store and grabbed Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock for basically free.

Now, because everyone has to be fighting, and everyone has to have their proprietary bullshit, you can’t just buy a book from Google and put it on your Kindle. However, if you do the following, you can very easily convert your purchase to read on your Kindle:

  1. Get the DeDRM tools from here, and follow the instructions on adding the plugin to Calibre
  2. Install Adobe Digital Editions and open the book you purchased and it will convert it to epub.
  3. Go back to Calibre and you’ll now be able to convert that epub to a version you can read on your Kindle.

I’m oversimplifying a bit (it took me a little trial and error, but I got it going), but once you got it down, it opens up some more possibilities when it comes to finding deals on eBooks.

Oh, and I recently started using my library card to “check out” eBooks too. I know, right!?! That’s how I read the latest Reacher novel.

I shit you not, sometimes I feel like Henry Bemis in Time Enough at Last.

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The toughest thing for me when it comes to writing a review for my site is the starting sentence or graph. Hell, that’s tough for most writers. But (again) for me, I find it far easier to jump right into a blog post (when I bother to do one) than to start the first words of a review.

As I was pondering how I was going to start the review for this book I recently finished, the words came to me rather quickly. It’s going to start with, “When I was a kid, my favorite things to read — before King became part of my library — were…” And as I was finishing that thought in my head, I realized not only was I happy with where that’s going to go, but I had the idea for a new blog entry as well.

When I was  kid, my favorite things to read — before King became part of my library — were Encyclopedia Brown, Choose Your Own Adventure, and anything Bigfoot, UFO, or Loch Ness. The latter three I’ll be discussing in said upcoming review, but the first two? Let’s talk about them now.

For those that didn’t have the luxury of growing up with Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, he was a kid that solved mysteries for $0.25 a day (plus expenses). I have to be honest here, I don’t remember any stories (c’mon! It’s been over 30 years, easy), but I do remember the solution for one because at the time it was so damn slick. I don’t recall what, exactly, Brown was investigating, I just remember it happened to do with a lady in white who was seen on the beach at night, BUT SHE LEFT NO TRACKS! Was she a ghost? Had someone murdered her, forever making her wander the last place she took a breath? It certainly was a mystery…and Encyclopedia Brown was on the case! Eventually, it turned out that whoever was walking on the beach in that white dress (seriously, I can’t remember) had put a piece of cardboard in the train (maybe it was a wedding dress) and it was weighted just enough that it was smoothing out the sand behind her, thus leaving no footprints. How genius is that? And that kid Brown, well he’s a smart cookie. As I was looking for pictures of covers, it appears that the series is still in print, so I’m pleased that a younger generation will get the same glee as me from reading these.


click image to enlarge

When I wasn’t reading Encyclopedia Brown solving mysteries, I was tearing into Choose Your Own Adventure books. If you didn’t experience CYOA as a kid, well, I’m sorry your childhood sucked.

If you don’t know what a CYOA book is, it’s exactly what it sounds like…you choose your own adventure. Basically, you read a page or two, and then you make a choice. If you choose one way, go to page five. If you choose another, go to page nine. And you kept making choices until you ran out of them. Then you started all over. And these books were so popular, which was fantastic for us fans because there were TONS of them. Below are just a few of the titles, and you can see a nice sized picture of even more here.


click image to enlarge

In addition to having a ton to choose from, the series’ popularity of course spawned knockoffs. The best of which were the Dungeons and Dragons’ Endless Quest books. It was like two of my favorite things got smashed together into something wonderful.


click image to enlarge

I’m not the type to pine over the things I had in childhood, wishing I still had them. But, man, outside of all of my Star Wars toys (if only to sell), I would love to have all of these sitting on my bookshelf now.

   

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Kevin, Mike, Laura, Me

Kevin, Mike, Laura, Me

I have said before and I’ll say again, I have some pretty cool friends. One of the sweetest things I’ve gained from the site I co-run is the friendship of many of the local filmmakers in my area. And if there’s one thing all low-budget filmmakers have in common, it’s the fact that they are always looking for someone to help out. Because of this, I’ve been on quite a few film sets to lend a hand. I really have zero interest in either starring in a movie or even making one, but I do like watching the process quite a bit, and being eager to help them out gets me right there in the thick of it.

For the past few months, one of my buddies has been part of an anthology project. So far I’ve been part of two of the three (?) stories, and two weeks ago I helped out on a Friday and Saturday (late night shoots, no less) with the wraparound story of the film. (On a side note, if you ever want to hear a fantastic tale about one of the days we shot in the woods, just ask. If I know you well enough, I’ll tell you. Just say, “choke me” and I’ll fill you in.)

For those that may not know, an anthology film consists of a couple stories, and the wraparound is the piece that holds them all together. For example, in Creepshow, the wraparound was the cartoon with the kid and the comic. That’s what we were to be working on two weeks ago (not the kid and the comic, but the wraparound for the movie my buddy is making). It was great because it was going to be a small set, I knew most of the people there, and it was going to be indoors the entire time. That last part was a blessing, for various reasons. The only two people I didn’t know were Brad and Laura, two actors who are the stars of the wraparound. Also on hand were Matt (who is playing two roles in this movie, interestingly enough), Kevin the director, Zig (who was only there Friday and had to leave due to an emergency called LAZINESS, just kidding, it was a real emergency), and Mike, who is a wizard and was there for wizardry and other helpful things. Oh, there were some special effects folks and two of Kevin’s friends there on Saturday too.

I’m not going to get too much what happened on set, other than I had a blast. which is interesting because according to Kevin, things were quite difficult. That’s not to say he’s right, he no doubt is, because I’m more or less there to help out. I have no idea what’s going on with the technical side of things. This is basically how I spend my time on set:

Busy checking Facebook.

I’m NOT checking Facebook. I’m…uh…doing some research for Kevin about…uh…sound or something.

When I’m not looking clueless like the above picture and/or helping out setting up the next shot, much of the time on set is spent talking with everyone else there, and that is my second favorite part of helping out these cats. Because, generally, everyone on set is a film fan (naturally) and the main discussion is generally movies or TV (or, in the case of this set, football because two of us were Redskins fans, one was a Eagles fan (boo!) and one was a Miami fan (whateves). Since ‘Skins just lost to Miami and were due to play Eagles, there naturally was some shit talking.

When we weren’t talking about football, Laura and I were dropping lines from Bob’s Burgers (which was AWESOME because not enough people watch that show) and Archer, and then the discussion got even better because we talked about Richard Matheson stories. That’s when the long hours on the set are worth it, the bullshit discussions in a room full of people where everyone has the same interests. It’s kind of like a nerd convention, but far more intimate.

Plus, with Zig gone on Saturday, I got a lot more involved than I normally do on sets. I did a lot of sound and lighting. That’s what I usually do, but I did even more of it and by the end of the shoot, I was more or less (hopefully) rolling with what Kevin wanted without having to ask him (meaning, I was getting the feel for how much light he needed and where he needed me for sound). He still…directed me, don’t get me wrong, but I was better at him directing me less. At least I hope so and it wasn’t him just giving up on me.

It was two long but fun nights, and if I’m not mistaken, Kevin’s done with shooting his part of this anthology. That’s the bittersweet moment for me because I know I won’t be on a set until his next film (assuming he’ll let me hang out) but it also means now the movie is in editing mode, so I’m closer to seeing the fruits of my labor (what little of it there was).

All in all, it was a great weekend, and it always is. Of all the sets I’ve been on, Kevin’s are my favorite. Even if the sonofabitch is a taskmaster.

Oh, one final thing! My new favorite line, “It’s okay, he has glowsticks.” I will always laugh when someone says that too me.

Thumbs up for Jesus!

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