Podcasting and Reviews

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While the writing fell behind to a point where I stopped generating webcomics as well as reviews (let me note that for about four years, I self published three different comics of my own creation weekly), I tried podcasting. I was a guest on Chad Denton’s Trash Canon, discussing two Halloween sequels.

My visceral reaction to those episodes was one of, “I sound like that?!!” My stutter and tendency toward saying, “you know,” as filler when said stutter appears, was readily apparent.

I could improve. I want to create one of my own. I wouldn’t stick to horror movies necessarily. Like Rabbit Reviews and the handmade frankenbunny commentary, I’d want a gimmick. Some categories of discussions I thought of so far include:

Fun with Franchises: Movies and sequels

Six Degrees of [TV Show]: Discussion of a movie featuring an actor from a favorite TV show (For example, Russ Tamblyn of Twin Peaks in The Phantom Empire)

Fuck Yeah Source Data: Movies featuring cast or crew I made into a name authority record (few and far between if I can remember!)

You can check out Trash Canon via Podbean by following the link.

B-Fest 2020: Preparation and a Return to Blogging

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In the two plus years that I have left my home state of Connecticut for a new job, life and mystery allergies in San Antonio, TX, I have seen many a bad movie, but not much in the way of written reviews.

Worse, no B-Fest!

The reason for this involves said job. The event will often fall on the same weekend of the American Library Association midwinter conference, where I am to attend for work, as both a researcher as well as committee member and point person.

This time around, B-Fest is in February, so you bet your ass the minute that tickets went on sale, I picked them up and booked the hotel and flight. My Southwestern app got a workout and I’m sure I racked up points. I hope to do so more often.

Everything is reserved…..so now what?! How to pack, and what will be the knitting project of the Fest?

In the past, it took the form of a blanket, but I have a ton of them and while Texas can get cold (surprise to me as well), I don’t need many more.

Not that this will stop me. The sweater I attempted one year fell flat, and I need something easy.

Fun Collections

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When I am not at a convention, or reviewing horror movies, I work at a university library.  I mostly work in a quality control capacity nowadays, but I’ve done my fair share of cataloging projects over the years.

I get a group email announcing the completion of a cataloging project involving VHS tapes. They focus on horror movies from the 1970s and 1980s.

I wish I could have been involved with that, despite my lack of VCR. One of my favorite things to do as a kid and teenager was to tape horror movies from TV. Halloween was all but a one stop shop. It will be interesting to visit this collection.

 

It Came From The Best Video Gen X Film Series: Repo Man (1984)

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dexterpresentsrepo

More than a few movies that I reviewed on this blog came from Best Video in Hamden, CT. Over the years, the video rental that housed, “Forever Evil” on VHS as well as many gems from criterion collections, foreign film and finds obscure enough to put a feather tat on the snobbiest and most discerning hipsters, opened a coffee bar and its doors to live performers and film screenings.

One screening that caught my eye right away was called Gen X Film Series, and the first on the list was Alex Cox’s “Repo Man.”

Like others in the punk and/or goth subculture, I’ve seen “Sid and Nancy.” I have only caught bits and pieces of “Repo Man” and only when it was shown on channel 11, back when it had marathons of franchise horror movies that I would tape, not always cutting off the commercials we would fast forward. Needless to say, on cable television, there was a lot of editing for language.

Nevertheless, I was aware of the soundtrack before I even heard of Circle Jerks, or learned that the band’s bassist, Zander Schloss, played the nerdy yet clueless friend to our story’s hero.

The story is set in 1980’s Los Angeles. This isn’t a glitzy and moneyed Hollywood version of L.A. Rather, this is a trash filled dirty and grim setting where we first meet punk Otto (Emilio Estevez) scowling through his shift at a generic grocery store stocking generic brand food, named ‘Food’ and ‘Beer.’ His mood could have been attributed to his shitty job in a shitty neighborhood, but I can’t imagine his coworker, Kevin (Schloss) singing a generic soda jingle over and over again helped. Otto punches Kevin, leading to further altercation with his boss and the goofy looking security guard. Nevertheless, Otto shows up at a party hosted at Kevin’s house where he runs into his friend, Duke, fresh out of juvenile hall. It seems that juvie got to Duke because it isn’t long before Otto catches him with his girlfriend.

The dirt sprinkle on the shit sundae that was Otto’s day took the form of his aging hippie parents toking up and turning his college money over to a televangelist.  While he had no intention of college, that money would have helped him leave town. On a walk in an especially bad neighborhood, he happens onto a repo man named Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) who feeds him a story about how his pregnant wife needs to get her car out of a bad neighborhood and would he drive it for him for twenty-five dollars? Soon, the real owners of the car see what’s going on and it becomes apparent that Otto is not just doing a stranger a favor. After some back and forth, Otto embraces the high flying life of automobile repossession and the work methods of it’s various characters.

As Otto is settling into his new line of work, a scientist is carting around something glowy, green and making him sick enough to swerve on the highway as it disintegrates anyone foolhardy enough to open the trunk, including a friend of Otto’s that hooked up with Duke and his former girlfriend to form the kind of crime ring that declares that they will order sushi and not pay. As the mystery trunk makes it’s way to L.A., Otto is subject to random crime, conspiracy theorists, government agents and the glowing green prize is in the trunk of a 1964 Chevy Malibu and guess who gets caught in the middle?

“Repo Man” kicked off the Gen X Film series and what a kick it was. Against the backdrop of a grimier L.A. that Hollywood would gloss over, it gives way to a realism that even the glaring generic quality of the store brand food that became one of many running symbols and subplots can’t deny. It has a few stories merging into one glowing trunk full of something unknown and dangerous, not unlike the cold war and Reaganomics of the period. I was a kid through a lot of this, and seeing the parallels with our current economic climate made this movie scary and by some turns, plausible.

I’m glad that my first time seeing “Repo Man” all the way through was on a large screen and followed by a brief discussion in such a great venue. I don’t visit Best Video nearly enough, but it’s a warm and cozy space surrounded by any movie you can think of and so many more you need to see. I only hope that I can make it to see the next installment in this series.

ichratesrepo

The Shining (1980)

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ichabodpresentsshining

After a crazy con season, it is back to movie reviewing.  I got to see Stanley Kubrick’s classic, “The Shining” on the big screen. My local bow tie cinema is showing a series of Turner Classic Movies, and with Halloween looming, a few friends and I met up.

Why there were so few people in the theater, I will never know. Either way, I was armed with the blanket I started knitting at B-Fest and ready to see one of Kubrick’s shorter films, and one of my favorites.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about movie adaptations of books. Movie adaptations of Stephen King books in particular tend to disappoint. I liked the 1994 TV miniseries adaptation of “The Stand” a great deal. I think that the miniseries format allowed for more details from the books that would be left out of a film adaptation. I understand that not every little nuance can or should reach the silver screen, but holy shitsnacks, Pet Semetary, both a favorite novel and Ramones song, made for a horrific movie I have yet to brace myself enough to review.

While I found the novel version of “The Shining” compelling, it did get a little drawn out, both when I read it at 14 and for the second time years later. Stanley Kubrick films tended to run long as well, to a point where the succinct quality of the film became a post movie joke among us. Think about it-it really is one of the short ones.

This is interesting in light of how long the book was to me.

The story takes place at the Overlook Hotel, a high end and isolated manse of an inn built many years ago on an Indian burial ground. A former schoolteacher and aspiring novelist, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a caretaker position for the time that the inn would be closed, the nastiest part of the winter when guests and other staff would be sent out. Torrance agrees to the position for the peace and quiet needed to work on a novel, but is warned of the isolation and how the last caretaker went mad and violently murdered his wife and children before committing suicide.

Torrance, with a smile I would see later in his Joker performance in Tim Burton’s “Batman,” states that his wife would get a kick out of the story as she is a “horror addict.”

One doesn’t get that impression as the demure Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duval) moves in with their son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who experiences psychic episodes and speaks to imaginary friend, Tony. If anything, Wendy is defending Jack’s drunken episodes, abusiveness and up until the climax walking on eggshells with Jack, all the while taking care of Danny and his episodes alongside her own isolation and visions once the viewer realizes what’s really going on with the hotel….

One could contend that the film shows  the eventual breakdown of Jack’s mental state down to the iconic scene where he breaks down a door with the ax yelling, “Heeeere’s Johnny” stemmed from being alone in a giant hotel that screamed the decades called and they want their brightly patterned carpets and gold ballrooms back. The viewer could also contend that while Jack claimed he wasn’t drinking since an incident where he became irritated with his son and dislocated his shoulder, he probably snuck a drink here and there when the family wasn’t looking, only to break when faced with a hotel where the manager took away the booze for safety insurance reasons. The point of the story was that the hotel itself, built on an Indian burial ground, possessed inhabitants in the worst way, but some critics felt that the viewer didn’t really see that, and it was just a case of abusive Jack becoming insane from isolation, writer’s block and delirium tremens. I wonder about that. There were shots where I could have sworn the expansive, and brightly gaudy hotel seemed to move. I thought the carpet patterns were going to jump out at me along with the kool aid blood that gushed from the elevators.

All in all, this is a fantastic film with chilling performances from the cast and a nasty reminder of how we shouldn’t be too isolated for too long, even in a storm. I remember when a nasty snowstorm hit a few years back. The city was shut down for days. The university where I work called me to tell me that it was closed, a rare occurrence. As the snow piled in front of my front door higher and higher and I ran out of coffee, I got a little stir crazy, happy when the roads cleared up just enough for me to take a walk downtown. If I were caught in a “Shining” storm, I’d have knitted who only knows what in my cabin fever.

As mentioned before, I took some knitting with me. I didn’t do a lot of work with the B-Fest blanket since B-Fest, but to recap:

 

By the time “The Shining” was over……

 

Now, with more stripes!

I wonder what the pastel monstrosity will be by B-Fest 2017.

dexteronshining

Rose City Comic Con: Cats on a Plane

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This September, I completed both a personal and professional goal. I got to see Portland, Oregon for the first time, and I took Happy Kitty Studio to the West Coast, my first convention that required air travel.

For the most part, I traveled by car. One year at Otakon, I traveled by bus, taking a suitcase of display materials with a duffel bag of plushes shrunk down by a space bag. This allowed me to also pack clothes. Down to two bags and some knitting for the trip, I had yet to find out how useful this was when I got sick to my stomach on 7-11 donuts the last day of the show. At the time, I was gloating over the discount I received for booking early. I was hoping that the same didn’t happen when we boarded a plane bound for the west coast and back.

Also, how was I going to get as much merch into as few bags as possible? 

Swiss army brand bag don’t fail me now…

Putting the labor in Labor Day

I had from August 28-September 8 to get everything together. While I didn’t expect to do as well as I did at CT Horror fest, it happened and I had to restock on a sizeable scale on top of my day job. That week, I drew and cut patterns most evenings. I looked forward to an ace in the hole that was a long weekend.

Saturday and Sunday, I completed 24 cats. One day was dedicated to the sewing machine construction and the second to stuffing and putting them together. While I have my system to expedite the process, it is repetitive and time consuming. There is also so much a person can binge watch. Monday was the day to construct 12 Harley Quinn cats. Out of all the villain cats, I think she’s my favorite. Like her knitted doll counterpart, while a little more challenging, the end result is a joy.

What’s not to love?

Monday was the sewing day, meaning the fabric bodies and head were cut up and stitched back together in the harlequin four quarter pattern before I stitched a white mask, put together ears and tail and by 11:00 that night, I had twelve plushes to stuff and attach.

In hindsight, I should have taken Tuesday off, but, there were tasks I needed to take care of. By 2:43, I was on the phone brainstorming with a colleague as to how to run a script to add online handles in a batch because I was out in 45 minutes not to return until next Thursday. We do it, and I manage to ensure that two other batch loads went through correctly. Feeling rushed, I walked home hell bent to complete those cats.

I was seven cats in when I felt burnt out. By the ninth cat completed, I couldn’t do any more. Camped out with the Hulu criterion collection film, Fear, it hit me that it wasn’t yet 9:30. I was grateful that I took the next day off. I sleep until 10:00,  eat apples and cereal with my pumpkin spice coffee (I love you, fall foods and weather despite it being a few weeks from being official) and hammered out a few travel plans with Stefanie while finishing the last three cats.

Pile on the plush

Space bags make it easier

It was time to head out….

I picked up Stefanie and headed to casa de Peli, which thankfully is near the airport. We have amazing takeout Indian food with her family. Her dad picks ghost peppers from his garden.

They were wonderful, but I got drooly at one point. Pro tip: never eat the seedy half in one bite!

After a few episodes of Archer, we got some needed sleep and headed to the airport. We got a little turned around, but we made the flight with time to spare.

Part of me was very tempted to head to baggage claim, and while searching for my suitcase, which contained cats on top of the carry on, yell out that I wanted those motherfucking cats of this motherfucking plane now. But, there were no luggage issues and I doubt you could do that even in Portland, Oregon.

Then again, we had fifteen minutes to get from the plane to our connecting flight when we touched down in Chicago. Thanks, elliptical machine.

We get to Portland in pretty good time. I was a little worried that I had to check my bags with the toys. I was a little worried they would get lost in baggage claim. It took forever for our bags to come out of the carousel, but everything was present and accounted for.

Thankfully, my friend, Desiree was waiting to grab us for food, coffee and  merch dropoff at the convention center. Portland, and the west coast as a whole, it seems, is very aware of dietary needs and restrictions from various food allergies and lifestyle choices. People want to work with you accordingly. Living in the northeastern section of the country, there are times when I feel the odd one out for being vegetarian. This can be a little disheartening for group events, and I feel like the sole complainer. Not in Portland. You can even find lavender ice cream in the local shop, which of course, we all had to stop at!

Rose City Comic Con was a bit of a bust for me, plus I was a little disheartened to be stuck behind a table when in Portland for the first time. Well, Desiree, her husband Jason and I more than made up for it when exploring the city proper as seen below:


One thing that I noticed was a lack of yarn shops. I’ve seen galleries, bakeries, eateries of all types, and Powell’s books, the largest independent bookstore I have ever had the good fortune to enter. There was punk rock pizza, but no yarn stores. Either I have to explore this further, something I need to do anyway as I want to take a proper non convention vacation, or I need to explore this and set up shop……

It’s not the craziest idea I ever had.

 

Connecticut Horror Fest: A long drive and fear of a brush with fame

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I make cats. I knit character dolls. I actually do get time to review horror movies….or watch them….or put Supernatural on when I’m working.

Either way, it was high time that I took my wares to the horror convention circuit. How hard could it be after years of anime and comic conventions?

As it turned out, not very hard, but I wasn’t looking forward to CT Horror Fest on the day. A good part of this was due to Boston Comic Con and the ensuing craziness. I had set a few cats aside, cats that resembled Jason Vorhees, but I sold out of a lot of cats, and could stand to have dolls that went with the theme of the show. I made eleven cats and knitted a Freddy Krueger, who is popular at comic shows. He would be joined by fellow horror dolls, Jason, Pinhead, and Frankenstein’s monster, or hipster really. He had a craft beer vibe to him.

Also, my first horror convention was Scare-A-Con New England this past June. I met some fantastic people, and got a great reminder of why I love what I do in the form of another artist coming to my table to tell me that the Jason Kitty she received as a gift made a rough evening a lot better. However, sales wise the show was a bust and poorly run by overcharging for attendee tickets at a venue that was too big to fill. There were exhibitors that left early or didn’t show. I ended up getting moved to an empty booth Sunday. Other than helping to make the evening of a sister artist, I preferred to spend the weekend with Merrilee, the kitties and Murder in the First on Hulu.

So, when I woke up for CT Horror Fest, I wasn’t expecting much. Come to think of it, I signed up for it thinking that I was going to linger on the wait list for Boston Comic Con. Little did I know indeed…

The show was located in Danbury, CT which is roughly 40 minutes from me. This route did not involve much time on a highway, but a long stretch of Rt.34 that took me through Naugatuck Valley. Other than a bridge and a few dead man’s curve turns, it was a pleasant drive in the warmer seasons. I wouldn’t touch it in the snow if I could help it.

I ran a little late. One thing that impressed me was that staff had signs and venue staff to direct misplaced people like myself. I was directed to my table where I set up while chatting with a convention friend.

scary setup

I ended up selling more than I thought I would. I was especially surprised to sell dolls. I was a little discouraged by the lack of attention they got at previous shows. Better still, more friends showed up. Even though I got a little overloaded by 6:00, I was happy with the way it turned out.

My friend,  Jaala, seemed a bit giddy when she came by to chat a little early into the show. It turned out that my booth was behind celebrity guest, James Marshall of Twin Peaks fame. I am not one to get autographs or gush, nor was I very talkative to begin with. While it didn’t happen, I was a little fearful that I would drop something only to have it roll behind into his booth, mortifying me.

There was my brush with fame at conventions, that and Final Fantasy voice actress Rachel Robinson purchasing a knitted kitty hat from me at Connecticon five years previous. Good grief, was I happy that I was not dropping stuff as I often do….

That said, it was coffee time. By that, I meant Deadly Grounds brand coffee. Talk about a national treasure! Tasty, flavorful and chock full of precious caffeine, they also offer a three bag for thirty dollar deal. I wasn’t sure how a chocolate and pumpkin flavor combination would work, but I was pretty impressed by the sample.

Picking up the essentials

All in all I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe I can hack it in horror convention land…provided I don’t wind up in a booth behind Evan Peters at an American Horror Story-centric convention. Forget dropping stuff, I’d likely faint, but that’s another tale of unprofessional con carnying…