2008 was a year filled with travel and new adventures.
Early in the year, Andrea and I were invited to Cancun to spend Christmas with her family. This prompted us to sit down with a calendar and go over all known and desired trips for the year. We sketched out quite a few long weekends for us and film festival trips for me. We didn't hit everything that we ended up doing but we were close. Rather than doing one long Mexican vacation in December we chose small trips throughout the year.
We started off February with a trip to Las Vegas and a stay at the Planet Hollywood Casino. We really lucked out on this. As (free) members of the Flamingo's "casino club" program, we were sent a postcard for two free nights at the newly-opened Planet Hollywood. "What's the catch?" I asked the customer service representative. She promised that there wasn't any and, wouldn't you know, she was right.
Two nights at the casino, a $50 credit for one of their restaurants, and a free show (their proprietary version of Stomp). We just had to get the flight out and I used miles for it, making this one of the cheapest trips we could do. I spent a lot of the trip reading The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre by Stephen D. Youngkin. It just about broke my arms (it's a weighty tome) but it definitely aided my appreciation of one of my favorite character actors.
It was in March when I made the fateful decision to finally give up the ghost and let Cashiers du Cinemart die a dignified death. I pulled the plug on my ailing publication and dedicated much more of my mental faculties to writing for pay. I had been losing money with my writing since 1994 and only made my first penny from a word of prose in late 2007. This felt pretty good and I wanted to keep getting checks (however paltry) for what I had been giving away (at a significant loss) for so many years in the pages of my zine.
By April I was still writing for Detour-Mag.com and added Detroit's Metro Times to my regular repertoire of places to contribute. I approached a few other publications but was thwarted at every turn, usually because my whacked-out sensibilities of cinema just don't play too nice with others.
My trip to Philadelphia for the first annual Noircon gathering was rather fateful. I was on a discussion panel for David Goodis's "The Professional Man" with the ever-eloquent Howard A. Rodman and met a number of folks who would appear later in starring roles in 2008 including Noircast.net podcasters Shannon Klute and Richard Edwards. I also finally met Megan Abbott. She's writing novels now, but I remember reading her stuff in the Michigan Daily back when I was in college. And, I also had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Melanie G. Dante who's since invited me to be a part of a book project for 2009.
Speaking of books... Cashiers du Cinemart wasn't even cold yet when I decided to start picking flesh from its bones; cannibalizing my past and putting together a "Best of" collection in book form. This started the ball rolling on a project that would fill many hours for the rest of the year.
I also stopped by the Toronto branch of my employer where I hung out for a couple days and spent the evenings with friends. Rita Su and I checked out Evil Dead: The Musical and had a blast.
The month started off with a bang as I headed down to Baltimore to partake in the Maryland Film Festival where I moderated a panel on the state of film criticism in this cyber age as well as watched a lot of movies and hung out with some dear friends. It's always a treat to be in Charm City.
I ended the month with an equal bang, heading back to New York City after many years. Andrea and I did the "tourist thing"; taking a tour of the city via double-decker bus. It was a hoot. We also caught Avenue Q and even managed to have dinner with my old friend Leon Chase. I still regret that I missed the performance of his new band, Sister Anne.
Andrea and I took one of those mini-trips in June over to Niagara Falls. It was a blast. We did all the touristy things you can do without going broke; Maid of the Mist, Journey Under the Falls, the Butterfly House, et cetera. We stayed away from the tourist trap center of town until the last day when we did the overly expensive Ripley Museum. Fun, but pricey! Again, we got to hang out with a good friend. Dion Conflict drove down from Toronto and we all went to the Flying Saucer restaurant. Excellent.
Shannon and Richard from Noircast.net asked myself and Howard A. Rodman to participate in their show. Together we did an episode on Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le Flambeur. It was a hoot.
I continued to work on proofreading/cleaning up of old articles and gathering them for inclusion in the Cashiers du Cinemart book.
The month started with a whirlwind trip to San Francisco/Berkeley where I introduced Shoot the Piano Player as part of the Streets of No Return film series - films all based on the works of David Goodis. This tied in nicely to the feature I did on Goodis in the last issue of CdC.
This year I gave up another thing I had been doing for years - I stopped running SuperHappyFun.com, a bootleg DVD site.
I would say, "As usual, I went up to Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival," except that this year may be my last TIFF. I was so disappointed in their lineup and they way that the festival was run; I'm looking into other, better fests that will fit my schedule and tastes more. I've got a short list going but, so far, none are as convenient as TIFF.
I did have fun at the B-Movie Celebration in Franklin, Indiana in September, too, and that's definitely on the short list. It was there/then that I finally got to meet fave director Greydon Clark.
With the fall, I began my annual hibernation. The Cashiers du Cinemart book manuscript was in the hands of Lori Higgins all month as she continued to finesse and polish the prose from me and my fellow contributors. I finally got down to work on the piece I'm contributing to a journal in 2009. I'm still not giving too many details about it, in case it falls through. Suffice to say, I spent every weekend watching Fetish/BDSM-related films to expand upon an article I had done earlier in 2008 for the Metro Times. I actually started to get burned out on watching people flog one another. LOL.
Research on my articles continued. Weekends were spent taking care of family stuff with my Grandmother passing away the second week of the month.
I got the foreword to the book and was absolutely floored. News on that should be coming in early 2009, I hope. Lori wrapped up her layout and handed the project back to me at the end of the month.
I'm back to going over the manuscript for the Cashiers du Cinemart book. One final polish, I hope. There should be some more announcements about this project soon. It sounds like the journal I'm writing for will be out around the same time as the book which will be nice. I'm wondering if I should hold off on taking much more than my January vacation(s - to Las Vegas and Cleveland) and seeing about doing some kind of "book tour" later in 2009.
2008 has been one hell of a ride.