Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

So. It's Halloween. What do you do?

Party! Of course!
Why not?

Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, whose original spelling was Samuin (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)". The name of the festival historically kept by the Gaels and Celts in the British Isles is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end". It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer. The date of Samhain was associated with the Catholic All Saints' Day (and later All Souls' Day) from at least the 8th century, and both the secular Gaelic and the Catholic liturgical festival have influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween.- Wikipedia

So it's been around for a long, long time. And, it's kind of cool, it's fun, kids love it, adults love to dress up and get foolish for a day or a night, or both. And why not. Life is stressful and we need a reason to cut loose and get a little crazy. Now a days Halloween for adults seems to be dressing up in ways you would never consider dressing up. Guys dress as their heroes, or even as women; women dress as nurses, sexy French maids, slutty girls or prostitutes, sexy witches, sexy demons, sexy cat ladies, sexy whatever (yes, you can see the direction they have gone). Really, we've gotten mostly away from the truly scary aspects of it. It's turned into living our fantasies out, letting go and being who we would never be in real life. Not that we want to be that, but we want to break out of our boxed in proper lives. It's what Marde Gras is all about in New Orleans and can understand why it's so popular.

And it's fun to be scared. Sometimes. Why? It's like a rollercoaster, you are scared out of your mind (well, that's the idea anyway), but you know, in the back of your mind, that you are really safe, no matter what, when you get off the ride, you will be alive, safe, and unharmed. Maybe a little less blood in the veins in your face, but you will have experienced the extremes of "fight or flight" (mostly the flight part) without any seminal worry about being eaten, because that's where it all comes from, death and dying. Falling from a tree, or off a distance high enough to kill you or escaping from a predator larger and meaner than you are.

And so, experiencing that fear, and knowing you will (should) survive, is a form of entertainment. And so we have amusement parks, extreme sports (not so safe perhaps but mostly), and Horror and Thriller tales and movies. At one time we were terrified of these things, but with modern technology such as books, radio, movies, we have learned that we can be brave and stare death down. I'm fearful of bunge jumping, but not sky diving. I don't like looking over a cliff, but I will climb up or down one with the right equipment (like a rope and some carabiners).

I can't count the number of times I've stared death in the face and lived to tell about it. I've had guns pointed in my face close enough to touch them (and thankfully not fired), hung from cliffs and gone "cliff surfing" (you leap off a cliff onto a steep slope of dirt and rock and try to surf on your feet), jumped from planes thousands of feet in the air, ridden motorcycles where they weren't originally meant to go (dirt biking), raced cars (sometimes on roads not meant for that kind of thing with a 1,000 foot drop on one side on a curving road with a steep cliff going upward on the other side), and as I said, I lived to tell about it.

We're perhaps, in a way, more brave than many of our ancestors. And less brave in other ways, for them it was existence, for us, entertainment where we expect to survive, but they expected to die, a huge difference.

But if I had to choose, whether I could experience real danger or supposed danger, I think mostly I woud choose supposed danger, hanging from the cliff, with knowledge, skills and equipment appropriate to the task. It allows you to expience shere terror in a safe environment. Would I rather experience Call of Duty on a video game, where it seems real, or live it in a real war zone? If you asked me that in my 20's you'd get a different answer than now.

And so that is in part what Halloween is now all about. Fun. Some parents think it is damaging to the immature psyche. But I think if handled correctly, it can be a growing event. We need to have some degree of being able to handle the fearful, even the terrifying. When a fire is burning a family alive in your neighborhood, do you want to raise kids who will run away, or help? Surely you won't want them to blindly run into a burning building, even though those are the moments that make heroes. And surely, we need heroes at times. But the essence is in calculated risk. IF there is a possibility of saving lives and living, wouldn't you want to do it? Wouldn't you want your child to try to save your younger child, in a dangerous situation? Of course you wouldn't want to lose both kids, but isn't it worth a risk to save both?

That is a question we all have to live with. We never know when you will be called on to risk your life to save another. And a good understanding, a good experience in what is scary, is part and parcel of that. So I think Halloween is a healthy and good holiday. We need to be able to face our demons in so many ways in life. And Halloween is one way to start that journey.

Aside from that, it can simply be fun. I've heard many religious people claim it is all about demons and anti God elements. Yes? What's your point? To hide from them? Or to experience them so your child will stand up to a demon in the name of God, or whatever? Isn't hiding from the truly scary a wimpy servant of your God? I think it is. Halloween really isn't glorifying demons, it is showing them for what they are. Fears deep within our psyches, fears we need to deal with, not hide from, and if possible, make light of and if they ever come to be, we might have that edge that lets us stand up and be counted. And beat down the demon.

If that demon is a pedophile murderer stealing a child off your neighborhood streets, we need to deal with that demon. Because honestly, regardless of your religious orientation, most, if not all, of aour demons, are real people. Evil in people, or situations. Situations that need to be confronted, and handled appropriately. Typically in ways that require more people to be involved, transparency and action to right what are wrongs.

So, enjoy Halloween. Enjoy exploiting your fears and out surviving them. And just maybe, our world could be a better place.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

Be Smart! Be Brilliant!

I posted a poster on Facebook a couple of days ago. It had to do with Women's Rights. My own daughter misunderstood my intent. But then, two of the same image got posted, one I posted two paragraphs on, the other was just the photo. She didn't like it. So, I thought for this weekend, I would post some Feminism quotes I liked. Not as penance, but as a reaffirmation of how I see things. Here goes....

Dietrich filling in for anonymous
Women belong in the house... and the Senate.
- Author Unknown

I think it's about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all, we've been voting for boobs long enough.
- Clarie Sargent, Arizona senator

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.
- Faith Whittlesey (one of my favorite quotes on this topic)

Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There's just too much fraternizing with the enemy.
- Henry Kissinger

I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament.
- Alanis Morissette, quoted in Reader's Digest, March 2000

I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.
- Madonna Ciccone

You don't have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.
- Jane Galvin Lewis [one of the most important quotes on feminism to me personally]

Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths.
- Lois Wyse

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.... Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.
- Susan B. Anthony

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Three Musketeers

So, they are remaking yet again, The Three Musketeers? Well it is a classic and it is a central theme throughout fiction in general. Alexandre Dumas did a great job on this one. And it's a story I've loved since childhood. I feel attached to it, so I kind of object when I see they have decided to spice it up to the point that it is hard to imbibe. A little sugar and cinnamon in a hot drink is good, but too much sugar, spice or heat and you have an impalatable drink.

I first came across the Three Musketeers most likely on television as a kid with cartoons. I then saw the Gene Kelly version and fell in love with the story.
Around that time I discovered that my parents had some 78RPM records. These were the thick, brittle 78s that came in a real album of multiple disks. I still have them. We had three of these story albums: The Three Musketeers with Errol Flynn, he was fantastic as always, his voice always carrying a lighthearted rendering.

Robin Hood with Basil Rathbone.

And A Christmas Carol again with Basil Rathbone. I always liked Basil best at Sherlock Holmes, but his part in the film version of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn was just about perfect.

Then the film version came out that is one of my all time favorites, the 1973 Richard Lester (Director) version. That would be the version with Oliver Reed (Athos), Raquel Welch (Constance de Bonacieux), Richard Chamberlain (Aramis), Frank Finlay (Porthos), Michael York (D'Artagnan), Faye Dunaway (Milady), Christopher Lee (Rochefort), Charlton Heston (Cardinal Richelieu). For me, this is to date, the definitive version, with just the right amount of humor, action, and true to the times technologies, some cutting edge for the time and delivered in a mostly realistic fashion. Even if it did draw a law suit in their shooting two movies together in paying the actors for one. Some great films came out about that same time, like a few years earlier 1968 with Franco Zeffireli's Romeo and Juliet. But of course, that has on relevance here.

There were other versions before the Gene Kelly film, where you almost felt like he danced his way through it and made me want to watch Singing in the Rain every time I saw it.

There were the mostly forgettable versions, too.

Like the one you could almost call the Brat Pack version. It was professionally done to be sure, but no comparison to the 73 version, so one has to ask, why? Money, obviously, capitalizing on the popularity of those actors at that time. Okay, that's part of Hollywood, of filmmaking. But I don't have to like it. And to be fair after all, you never do know if it will be that new classic until you try. I just don't see that for this new 2011 version.

But now, this latest version with its attempt at adding the glitz and glamour of more modern times, with an apparent attempt to blend the Matrix franchise stylistic moves in some way with its quick camera shots and SFX. It's simply too much, an MTV version even more pronounced than the Keifer Sutherland version which really refers back more to the old style. Don't get me wrong, I love Keifer's work for the most part and his taking chances. For example, a brief aside now....

I'll never forget the film "Freeway" with Reese Witherspoon for a couple of reasons. Partly because of the story, partly because of her acting and my wondering "who is this?. But even more so because of Keifer's ongoing degeneration by way of getting so beaten up that it hits the point of dark comedy. The other reason I won't forget that film was that I was working on a script with a production company around that time (I think it was Euphoria). IMDB on Freeway: "A twisted take on 'Little Red Riding Hood' with a teenage juvenile delinquent on the run from a social worker traveling to her grandmother's house and being hounded by a charming, but sadistic, serial killer/pedophile."

One of the producers told me that he met this fresh new actress at a recent party, named Reese. He thought he might be able to get her for our film but he'd have to move fast because she was a rising star about to hit the stratosphere. Which, she did even faster than he'd suspected. I had never heard of her so he told me to check out the film, "Freeway" to see her chops and indeed, she was very good in it. Had we gotten her, our lives might have taken a far different turn for the better. But, maybe not, too. He couldn't get her and the film fell through for a variety of other reasons. End of brief aside.

I like the actors in this new film, especially Matthew Macfadyen (Athos) who I know from the BBC's MI-5 and The Pillars of the Earth miniseries that I liked a lot, Luke Evans (Arimis), Ray Stevenson (Porthos), Logan Lerman (D'Artagnan), what's not to like about Milla Jovovich (Milady de Winter), Orlando Bloom (Duke of Buckingham) always as the love interest.

But come on, this is more of a live action cartoon from what I can see of the previews, than a true adventure. I look forward to seeing it, but too much is too much and that is the same thing that has ruined the James Bond franchise for decades: "a little is good so a whole hell of a lot should bring us lots and lots of money" and you can almost see the producers and the studio greedily rubbing their hands together like the over the top bad guy in these films.

Maybe I'm just the wrong demographic for this one and maybe I will like it when I see it, or maybe the marketing department once again screwed up on the shots it has released, but I'm not having high hopes for this one, just irritation. It makes me want for Oliver Reed's morose Of course, I'll have an open mind, I'll give it a chance. I mean, I WANT to like it because of some of the actors in it and because I love the original Alexander Dumas tale. I just object to updating old tales to modern appliances and techniques to such a degree. I simply think that you can make an above average film without that and it would be far better in the end for it.

Only viewing will tell.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Love in perseverance, is it enough?

Sometimes in life, we realize that we haven't recognize something that could have saved us a lot of grief, if only we had realized it sooner. Hindsight is foresight, they say. But it does us little good once that prescient moment has passed and the thing has actually happened.

You wonder sometimes, why didn't I realize I should have stopped the car sooner, or seen that my spouse was cheating on me, or pulled the ripcord sooner? Or, whatever.

In realizing something like that, it may have been something that you have always known, or should have known. The Buddha said that we know everything, already, that it's just a matter of paying attention, of remembering it.

I'm not really sure how much I believe that. It's an interesting way to think, being, "out of the box" and all.
But for some things it really does feel like that is true. Yet sometimes we just have to be at the right point in our life to "see" these things.

However, if we don't tune our abilities we will usually see these things too late, because we're simply not tuned into seeing whatever it is. With life overwhelming us all the time we don't always have the time or the energy, or the "calm mind", to see just what we need to be seeing... at that time.

Have you ever met someone in a place completely out of context for where you know them from, and didn't recognize them? There are degrees of that.

You see someone across the street, or across a room, and feel you know them, they seem familiar, but you cannot remember where you know them from. Or someone walks up to you and says, "Hi! How are you?" All the while you are smiling and struggling very hard to remember before you have to say, "HEY, just who the Hell ARE you?" Knowing full well you will most likely be embarrassed because you'll find out that it's your sister's friend, or you son's friend's mom, or someone you never see except when you are around that sister, or at school when you pick up your kids.

I was out and about once and I saw a man that I kept wondering, "Who is he?" I saw him for an extended time but he never saw me. I might have been on the ferry which is a thirty-five minute ride. It wasn't until hours later when I was on the way home and something jogged my memory that I finally realized, I finally keyed into the right area of my brain, that it was my Doctor. Then I felt really foolish.

But it was someone I don't see very often, whom I hadn't seen in a while, and never had seen outside of his office. So dumb though. Why didn't my brain work right? I simply wasn't tuned to that channel, that, "Doctor" channel, in order to click into the surrounding queues that would trigger my memory and draw me into that area of my brain so that I could put his face to name to context. Seeing him with his family further threw me off because I kept trying to remember who he was by using the people he was surrounded with, to help me remember and of course, I never would because I had never met his family.

Other times I've seen people like that, and for whatever reason, realized right away who they were. But not every time. Not unless I had enough queues to access that appropriate part of my mind. Someone said that our minds are not file cabinets. They are more like hard drives. You have to access bits and pieces of memories from here and there and they are stored not by content or context, but by shadings of memory structures, a far more complicated and sophisticated form of storage and retrieval. A File Allocation Table (FAT) built with images rather than words and numbers. And we all have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words and if that's the case, it's a wonder we can retrieve anything in quick time.

Growing up I had always felt that I had a table of contents in my mind that was built more to disallow me to access my memories; that table was in fractures, putting it in computer terminology. It had to be fragmented and needing frequent defragmentation. But I never had the software for that and so it only grew and grew, worse and worse, and how I can ever access anything now is quite beyond me.

However, I can also access memories and data in ways many other people cannot. Sometimes, people find that amazing. But when you realize that I need the normal way to access things most of the time throughout the day, it's really more irritating than rewarding. There are those times that it is rewarding, to be sure, because it allows me to create in unique ways, to write in interesting ways, to see the world in a different way. Great for an artist, not so great when working for a company that just wants results now.

If I could communicate in writing throughout my daily interactions with people and the world, I'd probably excel further than I do now. But I can't do that. I have to be in real time. I don't have the time to write and rewrite and then respond. So, I'm just normal most the time. Okay, my sister might argue against that being the case, but then she is far more functional in social situations than I am. Then again, Flight Attendants are trained to be that way, even under great duress.

Funny thing about that is I used to do very well at jobs like that too. Perhaps our childhood had something to do with that?

I'm pretty sure it did. We were raised in a certain environment, got used to it, got good at dealing with situations many people had difficulty dealing with, and now, here we are. Stressful situations, thinking quick on your feet situations, aren't that hard for us to deal with. Mostly now I'm out of practice with that because my job is more solitary, requiring much thought and written analysis. But once I'm around people regularly I can get quite good at moving smoothly through quick social environments or difficult situations.

Which is why we practice how to handle being in those situation, in however you choose to deal with it: meditation, exercise, whatever calms you and allows you to turn to inner realizations. We are Human after all, something we should be thankful for on a daily basis, and yet, something that we also have to work against, or at least are at odds with through much of our lives. I'm just saying it that way to be clear in as few words as possible; we don't really work against ourselves, ever. That would be "wrong mind", we work with ourselves to guide, educate (or "remember"), and coach ourselves as much as possible; moving in the right directions for the right things.

And yes, one has to define "right", but that is for each to define for themself.

Writing is hard, but not that hard. Writing in a sustained and ongoing fashion is harder, and when you don't get immediate payback and you have to keep going, it gets harder and harder until at times you want to give up. But those are two different things, writing, and persevering. The process of writing a novel or screenplay is very much like that. You work hard, maybe for years, and hopefully, one day, you sell something; maybe that leads to a career. Maybe not.

Go ahead, if you want. You will have to think, though, "is what I want in the short term to give up, or in the long term?" Those who fail, give up; those who succeed, which we hear time and time again from successful people in interviews, had continued on no matter what.

You will have to love it, though. Because when rational thought stops maintaining you, then you need something "beyond" to carry you through the rough times. Like loving something. But, then at times, you will have to go even beyond that.

There are times when love simply isn't enough (I heard my ex say that once, yeah, she's my ex now). At those times you need to look at the long and short of it. Accept that you want the long term goal and so, sustain and continue to the conclusion.

It's coasting in a kind of neutral state, but keep working hard and you will feel the love once again. That's really being on the edge and that is when most people will quit. From there only the exceptional will continue on to finally in the end, achieve. During that time, you have to remember this is a marathon and not a sprint. I think that most people who give up are trying for the sprint. Full power, sustained will ruin just about anything. Know when to rest, when to push, it's a complicated thing to do and not easy in any way whatsoever.

You first have to have the goal though, the goal of trying to feel that love for what you do, and as much as possible. Because, and it's the same in relationships, that's when you lose it or forget about it, that it is really all over. Most things take a lot more time to achieve than you expect, and so people give up too soon.

So, hang in there. Hang tough, as they say. But don't give up. Never give up. And if you do give up, be sure it is the right thing to do, and do it at the right time. Because frequently I have heard people say that they kept going and discovered that if they had given up, they would never have know that their goal was only just around the next bend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

DirecTV dropping F/X channel

It used to be I want my MTV. Now it's I want my SOA! Funny, maybe, but I'm pretty annoyed with DirecTV.

So I'm sitting here watching my favorite show, Sons of Anarchy and its creator, Kurt Sutter gets on a commercial.

He said that DirecTV is dropping F/X and our show! He has talked about it elsewhere, like on CinemaBlend (who has my favorite graphic about his attitude regarding this), TVGuide, Hollywood Reporter and elsewhere.

I am not a happy camper. My niece tells me that he has been complaining for a couple of weeks about this on Twitter.

It's all news to me. Unhappy news. I don't understand that corporate reasoning, I don't care about it.

I'm just not happy.

So Kurt said go to and complain. You have six days left before you lose the chance to watch the last five episodes of the SOA season. Excuse me?

So I did. The website is getting hit so hard that it is breaking. I tried sending DirecTV a comment and they are broken. Ha!

[ Update 10/27/2011 - I was watching American Horror Story last night and THEIR producers came on to say the same thing. So now we not only lose SOA, we not only lose AHS, but also now part 2 of their Halloween episode next week! Really, disconnecting your customers like this (DirecTV, you listening?) is one of those corporate rules you simply don't break, pal! You are quite obviously "just another corporation" completely blowing my concept of you as better that DishTV; I can think of no other derisive name to call in this instance, that "corporation" which in my mind, indicates your full fall from grace at this time. Talk about blowing your positive relations PR.... ]

I sent out my feelings everywhere I could. Twitter. Facebook. Everyone and anyone. Then I thought of here. Sorry, but I'm really annoyed. And it's not just SOA, or just F/X, there are a bunch of other channels and this is the first I'm hearing about it. Yes, they may have sent me that info so they are legally safe, but I still didn't know it till just now.

So I'm sharing my opinion with everyone. I've always stuck up for DirecTV. Not so much anymore....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Writing Hooks, stay true to your pledge

When you write a story, script, book, etc., you have to have a hook or logline.

You have to get your audience interested and that hook or logline you offer is a bond with them. Like with anything in life, keep your word and don't abuse it or you will lose your credibility, and your audience. You audience is willing to trust you, but what you do with that is in your hands.

Whatever you hook your reader with you simply have to pay off with your promise, simply supply them with what they are expecting. There is nothing worse than watching a movie, or reading a book, expecting one story, and you get another. You are then not only disappointed, but you start to see those who tricked you with a very negative light.

You are building a chain of trust with your audience, strengthen that chain, try not to weaken it. Why? Because usually you will sooner or later run into a situation where you need to use a technique that may weaken that chain in order to get to the next element in the story. If you have a strong chain of trust, you can take a liberty here or there, anyone is willing to suspend belief here or there, for the sake of telling the story. But don't abuse it, try to keep it strong, try to continue to build upon that trust.

If you are pushing a ghost story and in the end, it turns out to be a psychological thriller, MAYbe you can pull it off, but you'd better be really good at it. When I sit down to watch or read a tale of supernatural and it turns out to be some criminal pulling a scam, I was looking for a good supernatural tale, not a crime story based in fact and reality. I'm disappointed.

Adversely, if I'm looking for a good con movie, I don't want the resolution to be based in supernatural events, I want a good fact based twist. I like both movies but I don't want to feel like the writer is conning me. There are rare exceptions, like The Sixth Sense, but I wouldn't count on pulling that one off too often, even M. Night could do it again and he did it in the first place.

If you aren't careful, you will have disappointed your audience. Just remember that what you hook your your reader with, is what you want to pay them off with. If you want to give them another story, you had best give them more than one payoff and somehow set up a swap they will feel is reasonable. Don't get me wrong, I love being conned well, but it is a hard thing to pull off and you risk alienating your audience.

I've seen movies like that where they were actually several movies in one and yet, I still liked them. But it takes great finesse. If you are going to con your audience, it had best be the kind where you fool them and they thank you for it in the end, because otherwise, you will have an angry crowd and that is never good for an artist. Word of mouth can do great damage and angry viewers or readers now a days can spread the world quickly. And if you keep pulling that kind of scam, you won't be much of an artist for very long.

The critics in some cases have torn apart artists for making them feel scammed, yet when done with professional skill, creatively, cleverly, I tend to rather like it as an audience member. It's a bit like movies with false endings. The final Lord of the Rings got hit by some critics for that one; the movie seemed to end, then go on, ended again, then went on in a slow staccato series of endings.

But I loved it. As a fan of LOR I could have sat there all night, but I also had friends who were fans and were also annoyed by it. Of course, you'll never please everyone. But you do want to be asked to come back and do it again, otherwise what you are doing is a hobby and you're only doing it for yourself.

You really have to decide what you are in it for.

That being said, being asked to come back and do it again, also means pleasing producers, studios, and then the fans, the audience, or readers, publishing house, and either way your critics. Critics have their place and it is not to destroy an artist but to use as a guide, be it by artist or audience; they can be useful if you know how to use them.

But no matter how you view it, that's a lot to please. So expect to annoy at least some of them. You have to decide who you are trying to please, then make them happy. Or make them unhappy, yet pleased for some reason, with you for doing so. "Can you pull it off?", is the question.

As the auteur con always strives to do, take their money, but leave them thanking you for it. If not, you will just be though of as a "snake oil salesman", someone who claims one thing, and delivers another. You can make that work for you, if they expect a snake oil salesman to rip them off and then you don't, kudos. But that's another article altogether.

All THAT being said, if you think you can break the rules and you have the talent, then in Nirvana's immortal word, "Nevermind...."

Monday, October 24, 2011

ZomBcon II

I went to ZomBcon II this past weekend. Saturday, to be exact. And I had an incredibly good time. So much so that I think next year I should just get a room and really hang out and see more. Why go to ZomBcon?

Now that we've gotten that out of the way....

Swag Bag, I filled mine
I had been at ZomBcon 1 last year with my son and we had an absolute blast. Last year there was Bruce Campbell, Malcom McDowell, George Romero, among others; amazing. Those are three of my biggest favorite stars. This year guests were....

Tom Savini (a favorite of mine). For a guy older than I am, he's in incredible shape. Motivates me to work out harder. But then I was getting Teriyaki last night one the way home and got told by a very cute cashier that I didn't look that old, when I had said I got my first short story published in 1992. What a great end to a great day.

The two Boondock Saints actors Sean Patrick Flannery, one of whom (Norman Reedus) is now on the Walking Dead show. I'm a big "Saints" fan.

Sam Trammell from True Blood.

The terrifying Sid Haig (of Rob Zombies, House of 1,000 Corpses, and others).

Bill Moseley (also of House of 1,000 Corpses), and so many others.

On the way there had a great idea, Zombie Insurance. I found Cal Miller's table, he of "Het Madden", "Zombie's Survival Guide" (if you love your family, you'll be sure there is at least one in your home, be prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse!), and others. I told him my Zombie Insurance idea and he said, "Yeah, great idea", and he pointed behind me at the Zombie Insurance table, Zaico, like Geico, only for zombie flesh eating attacks.

So I went over and talked to them. Very nice people. I suggested to Cal that he strike up a deal with them, they sell his book about what to do after you turn ("Learn before you turn") a Zombie's Survival Guide, and he could push their insurance. He thought it a good idea but we figured they would not go for it. Then I suggested he tell people that every family should have a Zombie survival guide and finally said, "just tell them if you love your family you'll buy them one of these in every home, what a great stocking stuffer".

So he figured what the Hell, and did variations on that for the next few people that walked up to his table. He sold every book on the table one after another and had to get more books out of a box behind under the table. I seemed to be full of good ideas. After lunch, I suggested a movie idea to him and he said, "yeah, I think that would be a great movie." Cal sold a copy of The Undead Nation Anthology that I have a short story in (Gumdrop City and have been drawing up a treatment toward a screenplay) and I got to sign my first book for someone at a convention. Pretty cool, I must say.

Cal took me around to Artist's Alley to meet Jason Kristopher and I ended up buying his book, "The Dying of the Light: End". On the way to ZomBcon on the ferry ride and Light Rail, I was reading Aristotle's "Rhetoric and Poetics". If you write, you read this book, even if you don't, it's simply good for critical thinking. My problem in life however was that I started reading Aristotle too young, around 6th and 7th grades. When I recently started reading this book, it became abundantly clear why I think how I do and it has affected my writing (both for the better and worse one might argue). So, on the way home, I jumped from Aristotle to Jason and found it immediately  fascinating, to say the least. As it starts in the Pacific NorthWest, all the better. I like his historical slant on Zombies a lot, too. Very intriguing and hard to put down and it came with high praise from Cal.

Jason was a very nice guy and had quite a good deal on his book, along with signing it, you could download another of his short stories and I got some signed and numbered art work. What a guy!

When I met Tom Savini, I actually shook his hand and thanked him for all he has given us in entertainment. I know these people meet unnumbered masses of fans over the years and at these gatherings, but it's hard to convey what it means to a fan to meet them. He didn't seem very cheerful at the moment we met, and a little reticent to shake hands, acting kind of neutral really.

But I put my hand out and kept it there, the dude has a beefy hand. Later, I talked with a friend who was at the party the night before and said, "I think Tom had a little to drink last night." Ok, that's reasonable and fully explains how he was acting, no energy; I can relate, I woke feeling that way the next day. So I had to smile about it. I asked him which of his photos he liked the best and he said, "It's which one you like the best that counts."

I didn't really want to get the best shots of him because he looked all macho and massively good looking, and it seemed kind of, well, not manly somehow. So I opted for a photo of his head in the middle of a  line on either side of him of famous special effects work he had done. I figured anyone seeing him hanging on my wall may not know his face but might recognize some of this work, so that was the best of both worlds. Either way, I finally have Tom's autograph! Kind of makes up for not getting Bruce Campbell's last year.

I got hungry and headed down to the bar to get some lunch. All of a sudden, Sid Haig shows up with Bill Moseley. You may remember Sid (or not) and Bill, from Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses where Sid was a horrific clown.

There was also a guy dressed as him in the clown suit walking around today who eventually showed up at the bar and sat down, turned to look at Sid who noticed him and they nodded to one another. I so wanted to take a photo of Sid at lunch, but it's just rude, you know? So I put it off until a possibly more innocuous moment, which eventually, did present itself.

A couple of things happened while I was sitting in the bar waiting on my burger and fries (which were very tasty indeed). A couple of older guys sat next to me, one with a very nice video camera, so I figured he was a professional videographer. At some point, I noticed he was on the phone and I over hear this: "The hotel they put the team at is also having a zombie convention." He said this matter of fact, so I assume the meaning is in the statement, because he seemeed non committal. But something about it struck me as funny as Hell.

Then I noticed that on the other side of Sid's table where he sat with Bill Moseley, another table had a few people at it that I had seen in the convention hall. One was a Zombie Jesus with a Zombie Girl who was maybe a Nazi Mary Magdeline? Oh and yes, you heard me right. A Zombie Jesus.

All of a sudden, Zombie Jesus gets up and goes over to Sid Haig and Bill Moseley's table. Now I didn't know if they knew one another or not, but he stands there talking animatedly for a few minutes, then he squats down and continues talking, or explaining, something.

Then zombie Jesus stands and does a blessing on Sid who is sitting there taking it. About this point I'm thinking I need a shot of this. So I get my phone out and fire up my camera app. While my phone is taking forever to do initiate my cam app, they talk some more and Sid seems to be very nice about it all. I finally take a shot and Zombie Jesus says his goodbyes and heads off.

My burger comes, so tasty, as are the two very tall ales I ordered. After a while Tom Savini walks in and sits at Sid and Bill's table. A few minutes later I notice Zombie Jesus walks up again and starts talking to the table for a while. A long while.

After a while, Zombie's Jesus' girlfriend "Mary" comes by and I take a photo again (I don't know that she was "Mary" I'm just making that up, I have to call her something after all). Then she gently pulls him away from the table. No one at the table reacts poorly, but then they laugh as if they know something, but it wasn't as if ZJ were annoying them, and they go back to their talking.

I later find out from Zombie Jesus that when he walked up, Tom looks at him and said, "Jesus Christ." Which ZJ said he thought quite appropriate.

A little while later Zombie Jesus and his Zombie Mary come back and walk on by Sid, Bill and Tom's table and say nothing. Sid notices as Mary walks by but she doesn't.

After I pay my bill, I head back up to the convention center. That requires heading down a hall, around the corner to the left, past the registration tables, down a long hall past other conference rooms, around a corner to the right, go outside, across a drive way, up a few steps into a small room with two elevators, take an elevator up to the 3rd floor and there is the entrance to the ZomBcon convention hall.

Barbra from Night of the Living Dead
Going out of the elevator straight a head, on the left are tables with the famous: Sam Trammell from True Blood; Tom Savini, special effects wizard, actor and director; "Barbra" from the original Night of the Living Dead; The "Bike Girl" from Planet Terror, which was weird because as I walked up to their table, I was listening to the Planet Terror music on my blue tooth stereo headphones. Rockin'! And the girls at that table were very attractive. I don't know why but Jon Bernthal of Walking Dead cancelled.

Jon Bernthal
I ran into the Code-Z ladies, the Zombie fighting half-Zombie Triplets whom I had met before.

Thaina, Thayna, Thaisa and Tom Savini, necessarily not in that order
My son Nik and I met them at Seattle's first ZomBcon I. They were there with Taj Jackson (Tito's son) as he is a part of Code-Z. Michael Jackon's nephew and Tito Jackson's son, was an awesome guy to talk to, but I didn't see him this year. All four of them are just the nicest people you could want to talk to.

As I said (more or less) last year about ZomBcon I (and from their website: "The Sco triplets are a literal and figurative triple threat; a mighty force within the international entertainment industry. These sisters sing, dance, act and speak four languages to boot: Portuguese, English, French, and a touch of Spanish. From a young age, the precocious girls inherently knew they were destined to ignite the world as entertainers. They soon discovered that entertainment would play a dominant and extremely fulfilling role in their lives."

Taj is directing their action-packed, zombie series, “Code Z”. He has previously sold three million albums with the Pop group "The Three Tees" that he started with his two brothers. With Code-Z he is looking to branch into film-making after having attended Loyola Marymount University to study Film and Television.

The Boondock Saints were there as I said, Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery. I couldn't find them, but I saw signs for a $50 photo op with them. I heard they were partying the night before at the Bio Hazard party and they had been hanging around the video game room. I also heard there was going to be Karaoke Saturday night but I had to get home before that.

There was a Walking Dead panel with Norman Reedus and others, that I didn't make it into. I could have but I didn't want to get stuck in any one room. Next time I should get a room and take everything in.

Jenny Spain from DeadGirl was sitting right next to Cal Miller's table (in case you know or are wondering, Alan Gandy had another table on the next aisle over). If you haven't seen this movie, check it out, I was surprised that it was a lot better than I expected. She is very attractive in person, pretty incredible eyes. Speaking of which, there were so many attractive women there, my neck was a bit sore the next morning, but then, it wasn't just from that. There were a lot of bizarre, strange and interesting things to catch one's attention.

I've never gone to a con before, not before ZomBcon last year. I only went to see Cal and Alan because through Cal, I got published in The Undead Nation Anthology and another, Rhonny Reaper's Creature Feature Anthology, both with profits going to Cancer and Diabetes charity, respectively. But now? I don't know, I kind of like it.

I was stopped at one table by some Crypticon people who asked me, "Do you like Horror?" Which I thought was odd, and I just nodded my head around at where I was. She smiled and said she had just asked someone who said they liked Zombies, but not the overall Horror genre. But I like Horror, and come to Zombies late. Actually, I would say I write (as does Harlan Ellison) Speculative Fiction, or more so, Horror / Sci Fi, or Horror. Or Fiction. I get around.

So she said I should check out Crypticon in May. Which I think I may do. She said it will be held at the same SeaTac Hliton convention center. It is a very nice venue and I was not the only one who liked it better than last year's Seattle Center location. At first when I heard the name, having worked in IT for decades, I thought, cryptography, but no, this is more crypt as in cemetary.

Bill Mosely from Crypticon's web site
Bill Moseley got his first film role in Alan Rudolph’s “Endangered Species.” His third role has become one of his most well known; he appeared as Chop Top in Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. His next breakout role was the maniacal Otis B. Driftwood in Rob Zombie’s directorial debut House of 1000 Corpses (with Sid Haig, of course). In 2005, he reprised the role of Otis in the sequel The Devil’s Rejects. And that is just the start!

So yeah, I think I might go to Crypticon.

I'm working on a novel, first draft is done. I'm hoping I'll have it ready for one of these conventions soon, because I think that would  be a blast.

So if you have a chance, check out one of these events, even if you're not just or fully into Zombies. Because some strange things happened there and it was all either quite rewarding or pretty damn entertaining.

I had to throw this in, I got my son a four pack of this for last Christmas and it was a big hit. Kind of like orange soda. Too fun....

PS for more, see ZomBcon's 2011 Roundup