When Hamlet said “to sleep, perchance to dream, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished,” he must have been at a film festival. EbertFest provided us with late night social events that ran later than my old teenage curfew allowed, at places where people could mingle, mangia and possibly hook up. But even if you’re not a VIP, there are still plenty of reasons to burn the midnight oil at EbertFest. Perhaps you have a deadline for festival coverage to meet, or you’ve found your own festival buddy with whom you’ve talked and drank until dawn. Maybe you’re an insomniac whose brain remained filled with the barrage of images flashing from the Virginia Theater screen, images that provoked, cajoled, informed, entertained and inspired. If you were lucky, you were kept awake by someone else, basking in the afterglow of what had just transpired, your senses afire and your brain still reeling from the surprising, climactic way your evening ended.
On Thursday night, I couldn’t sleep because I was freaking out over the goddamn panel I had to do in the morning.
I knew the panel was being streamed over the Internet, and I have a face for radio. In fact, I saw some of the pictures after the panel, and there’s a close up of me I wish I could burn. Laying awake, I feared the worst, perhaps the appearance of the angry woman I encountered at the Virginia who, when she discovered my identity, growled “oh, you’re the asshole who wrote that piece on The Help!” When I finally succumbed to the one hour of sleep I obtained, I dreamed that the panel had turned into a Comedy Central Roast, with Roger as the emcee and my mother getting huge laughs by showing those horrible naked baby pictures of me she drags out for anyone who visits. I needed a hero. I was Holding out for a Hero like Bonnie Tyler on the Footloose soundtrack.
Ladies and gentleman, my hero.
Clothes make the man. The more insecure I am about my appearance, the more I compensate for it with my attire. This hat was supposed to be a one-time deal. I wore it to this year’s Noir City Festival party in San Francisco. My attire was to evoke the 1940’s gangster era—I was going to be the star of a Warner Bruvas Gangsta Movie—so I went to a San Francisco men’s store to buy a suit. There was a beautiful woman behind the counter, as there must always be in a men’s store. Her job is to distract you with her insane beauty so that she can get a better commission. You’ll buy something you don’t need because she says it will look good on you. I’ve been trapped in her web before. I’m a big ol’ metrosexual, and she could see me coming a mile away. Next to her was a gay man. Both of them looked at me as I approached the counter, wordlessly offering help. It was like that story, The Lady or the Tiger? Which door would I choose?
I went with the gay man. He wasn’t going to lie to me about what looked good on me to get a better deal. Walking out of this store, I’d be representing him. “I’m your Ken doll,” I told him. “I need a suit for a 40’s shindig.” The woman looked at me with daggers in her eyes. “Next time, I’ll flirt until I get you to buy that $300 pair of drawers!” her eyes said. I’ll probably buy them too.
The salesman helped me pick out two suits, one for the noir festival and another because of a buy one get one for $100 sale. We mixed and matched shirts, ties, hankies, cuff links and socks. We fought twice: Once over a white tie he wanted me to wear with a white shirt, the other over this hat. He said I needed a lighter colored hat, I said I needed a darker tie. “Look,” I said, “I’ll wear the white tie, but in exchange, you gotta let me buy this hat.” Earlier, when I’d put it on my head, it was like Frosty the Snowman: I looked in that mirror, and I came to life. I didn’t care how much it cost. I was going to be buried in this hat.
The salesman mulled it over. “No,” he said. “Honestly, a lighter hat works here.”
I looked at him the way that saleswoman would have looked at me while holding up that $300 pair of drawers. He relented.
Putting on the suit for alterations, I turned to the salesman and put on the hat. “Be honest. Do I look good? Was I right about the hat?” He tilted the hat slightly, then looked at me, hand on his chin.
“I’d fuck you,” he said.
He sounded honest. We made the sale.
I kept my word; I wore the tie.
Causing Trouble With The Boone-inator
The above picture was taken at Wednesday night’s Presidential Gala. The gentleman to my right is Mr. Steven Boone. More on my Poitier-Cosby style relationship with Mr. Boone later. For now, what you need to know is that he is what made the Demanders panel heat up Friday morning. Over at Big Media Vandalism, the blog Boone founded and I currently run, we have a series called “Causing Trouble With Odienator,” where I show up in the role of our resident instigator. At the Demanders panel, I didn’t get to start any trouble at all. Boone dropped the bomb on the conversation immediately, and I started looking for C-SPAN cameras because this turned into one of those Congressional hearings.
I was worried that I’d be on camera too much, so I overdressed, but the cameras stayed pointed away from my side of the table most of the time, capturing the intense discussion between Boone and David Poland. Their back and forth about the studios, audiences, and the kinds of movies being made was the highlight of the panel. All I got to do was sit there and look sexy. Which I did, and quite well I may add. As a result of this, and its opening night appearance, my hat became the talk of EbertFest and was more popular than its owner. I hear it has its own Twitter account too, with which I have nothing to do. Not only am I being overshadowed by Cee-Lo Green, I’m now being cockblocked by my hat.
Spending Time With The Gay Dragonfly
The Alloy Orchestra was back at EbertFest with a new batch of silent films under which they’d work their magic. Last year, they opened the festival with their fantastic scoring of the most complete cut of Metropolis shown thus far. This time, they showcased a series of silents all over 100 years old. The silents focused on special effects and crass humor I wasn’t expecting in “old movies.” The series lived up to its moniker: There was plenty of “Wild and Weird” shit in these movies!
The two most prominent elements of the series were bugs and rarebit. Both were the stars of numerous shorts. Rarebit, which I’d never heard of before this, is some kind of cheese and beer dish that must also contain LSD. Two shorts, both entitled “Dreams of A Rarebit Fiend,” bring home the drug reference both in the film’s subject (the fiend) and the hallucinogenic dreams he had. Wikipedia says it’s a British dish, but we Americans can buy a frozen variety from Stouffer's. Anything in a Stouffer's box is already a fucking nightmare before you eat it, so I guess it’s appropriate they make rarebit.
The bug shorts made me incredibly itchy, as their execution implied that someone took hundreds of dead bugs and made stop-motion animation with them. One featuring a fly doing “tricks” grossed me out more than Lucio Fulci’s "The Gates of Hell," but another, about Mr. and Mrs. Beetle, played right into my trashy love of Harold Robbins and telenovelas. Mr. and Mrs. Beetle were having marital problems, which I at first thought were caused by their infidelities. But while Mrs. Beetle carried on at home with another bug, Mr. Beetle went to a club to pitch woo to “The Gay Dragonfly.” The visual of the Gay Dragonfly, who would have made Rick Santorum immediately reach for the Raid can and a shoe, was worth the price of admission, but so was the whole interspecies insect sex “on the down low” angle of this short. The Alloy Orchestra was at its best underscoring it too. Watching them work is sometimes more fun than the movies.
My favorite short in “Wild and Weird” proved that gross out humor is not some phenomenon created in the 1980’s. A clarinet player winds up with his instrument protruding both from the top of his head and out of his mouth. The visual is profoundly disturbing, but at the same time, I couldn’t stop laughing at how absurd it was. (I hope The Movie Mom, Nell Minow, who was sitting next to me and Michal, didn't think me psychotic.) And yes, someone tries to play it. But watching people try to yank that clarinet out of his head through his mouth almost made me lose consciousness.
The Truth About Odie and Blogs
The Odie Way dictates that, if I don’t want to run into somebody, I will CONSTANTLY run into that person. He or she will find a way to cross paths with me, even if it means falling out of the ceiling like the duck on You Bet Your Life. I kept running into two people that gave me pause whenever I saw them. The first is Kelechi Ezie, the director of “The Truth About Beauty and Blogs.” Don’t get me wrong—I WANTED to cross paths with her because she’s talented, witty and beautiful. But her beauty made me feel unworthy of her presence! Whenever I saw her, I felt like that corner of gov’ment cheese you manage to saw off the brick before your chainsaw breaks. I swear I ducked her twice, and this was after I rode the elevator with her Wednesday evening. I was dressed to the nines and I couldn’t even say hello. So, a highlight of the festival was her approving fist bump after my Prince imitation on karaoke night.
The other person I kept running is the person I alluded to in my first post, the one who wanted to kick my ass. Unlike Ms. Ezie, I eventually couldn’t duck this guy.
Tomorrow: Paul Cox Sits Behind Me; Love: Iranian Style; The Son of A Preacher Man Tells All; Let’s Go to Prison; Odie Gets His Ass Kicked