2010 is bringing a lot of "firsts" into my life. Last night at the beautiful Portage Theater in Chicago for the 7th Terror in the Aisles event I did my first stint trying to work a table. That is, hanging out behind a pile of merchandise and trying to sell my wares to anyone who will stop and browse. Exciting? Maybe. Glamorous? Not really. Did I sell a lot of books? No. Did I meet some interesting people? Definitely.
Terror in the Aisles is the brainchild of filmmaker and long time friend Rusty Nails. He's invited me out to Chicago time and again for previous TITA events as well as his Music Box Massacre gigs (24 hour movie marathons). This time it worked out perfectly that I could come in on Friday for Terror in the Aisles and stick around for Saturday's event at Quimby's bookstore. I'm glad it did.
Three movies, short films, auctions for charity (Vital Bridges), vendor tables, appearances by two stars of Day of the Dead (the first feature of the night) and even a reading by some jackass named Mike White all for $10 pre-pay or $12 at the door. It doesn't get much better than that. Well, except for the Mike White guy.
After the first feature (DOTD) and Q&A with Gary Klar and Lori Cardille (who bought a copy of Impossibly Funky for charity!), I got up to read a revamped version of my Jean-Claude Van Damme piece (I modified it to be easier to read aloud than to oneself). I guess I should have announced that it was supposed to be funny as I got minimal reaction and after about two paragraphs I felt that I had outstayed my welcome -- only twelve more paragraphs to go!
I stuck around my table throughout all of the first feature and the break between (save for my embarrassing performance). I finally met artist Mitch O'Connell after emailing back and forth for year. I talked to one guy who's a bigger Greydon Clark fan than I am and another who bought a book due to Paracinema's plugs on Twitter (thanks, guys!). I chatted with the guys manning tables across from me, meeting a fellow Phantom of the Paradise fan. (We should have a club).
My good buddy Steve Chesney and his main squeeze Ann showed up. We chewed the rag for a good long while before going in for the second feature, Black Death. I walked in cold to this one, only knowing the title, and found myself completely immersed in it. I'm going to let it sink in for a few days and then hope to write more.
I ducked out of Black Death just a shade too early, thinking that the film was wrapping up before it did. I wanted to beat the crowd to the lobby for all of those "I'll have to buy that wonderful book after this movie." sales. No dice. Steve made my second sale of the night before taking off.
Seeing that it was somewhere past 2AM on my watch (still set to EST), I decided to get the heck out of there and try to find my way back to the hotel. I hadn't noticed that it had started snowing until I went out to find Chicago quickly disappearing under a blanket of white. With just a few cars going up Milwaukee Avenue the snowfall was really kind of peaceful. I was so lulled by its beauty and so confused by all the one-way streets that I ended up going the wrong way for a number of miles ("Why is that darned GPS saying I'm going south on Cicero? Doesn't it know I'm going Northwest on Milwaukee?").
I finally made it back to my shitty hotel room where I checked the sheets for bed bugs before uneasily falling to sleep to the sound of the Blue Line train and descending airplanes.
Tonight it's Quimby's.