Friday, August 27, 2010

The Bad Penny

A name from the past has come back to haunt me this week, Antonio Gragnaniello. I wrote a warning/diatribe about Antonio over on my site a few years back (read it here) and have gotten quite a few emails this week from fellow traders that have gotten burned by Antonio just in recent months. Yes, he continues to lull traders with tales of grandeur told in broken English.

Massimo LavagniniAllegedly, he and a few other guys (Massimo Lavagnini, Mattia Mariotti, David Oakes, Saad Khan, Javier Castellanos, "plus hundreds of collaborators from all over the world") have a book, Fantastic Cinema, in the works. Allegedly? Yes, some feel that maybe the book is as empty as Antonio's promises but, not to worry, Antonio assures the world that "I could take you hundreds of testimonies to prove of the existence of the book, bur for what? You don?t deserve such an effort. Why do you think we have written all those reviews till today, involving thousands of people, for fun? Why do you think we took months, years to find watch and review Albanian, Mongol, Egyptian, Afghan, Cingalese, Nepali, Estonian, Fijian, Armenian, Turkmen, Srilankan, Cambodian, Bolivian, Honduras, Lybian, Lebanese, Pakistani, Icelandic, Syrian?????? films without even understand the languages: because they are masterpieces or because they are pieces of collection wanted by all?" (sic)

I have to laugh about the idea of Antonio writing a book of movie reviews as I'm sure that the majority of them will be of movies he will insist are not available anywhere (his "protected list"). I also weep for poor David Oakes as I'm sure his job is to clean up Antonio's famously funny broken English. There's nothing funnier in the world to be bitched out by Antonio.

Keep your eyes peeled for Fantastic Cinema. Here's hoping it's real, well-written, and that it's not just a book of reviews for movies you'll never be able to see.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Brush with Reality - The Biggest Loser

Andrea left me a message on Thursday asking if I'd be up for going to tryouts for The Biggest Loser today. Other a class at the gym, I didn't have anything else going on today. Plus, maybe the crowd would make me feel a bit better about myself if I was one of the smaller folks there. I could hope.

I weight about 320lbs. Maybe more, maybe less. It's been changing a lot since I started working out back in May. I'm definitely not shedding pounds like mad but I'm feeling better than I was. When I see people on TV that weight 320lbs they always look a lot different than I do -- to me at least. I don't look like that much of a "before picture" -- my man boobs are present but I'm not more than an A-cup. I always have to ask Andrea, "Do I look like that?" when I see guys on Biggest Loser or Dance Your Ass Off or other shows that tip the scales at my weight. Regardless, I don't want to weigh that much. I shouldn't weigh that much. So, I'd be a lousy "before picture" but I'd like to think that the loss of a hundred pounds or so would still be a dramatic change.

Tryouts started at 10AM and we showed up around 1PM. Out of 500 allotted slots, only about 300 showed up throughout the day. That's my best guess, anyway, as I was #280 and not too many folks came in after us.

Reports from other people in line had previous years' tryouts also held at Gardner White Furniture with lines out the door and in the elements. This time around it was raining some but the line was completely indoors by the time we got there, winding through the furniture showroom.

Ironic that we were in a furniture store yet people felt the need to bring their own chairs. There just seems to be something wrong about people coming in for a weight loss show that can't stand in line but have to sit. Or, maybe they're so wrong they're right--"See how much I need to be on this show? Allow me to demonstrate."

It also felt wrong in so many ways that the people in front and behind us couldn't stop talking about food. The girl in front of us discussed her love of butter at length. I did my best to tune out everyone around me and just concentrate on the book I but sometimes you just can't get off a conversation wavelength once you're on. While I listened to the girl in front of me, Andrea couldn't block out the three behind us.

No matter how much I tried to not pay attention to them, though, I couldn't help but hear when one of them asked an XXL furniture salesman, "Why don't you try out?"

I wanted to crawl under a rock from embarrassment but she had no clue why asking that wasn't too polite.

Former Biggest Loser winner and Ann Arbor resident Pete Thomas was there to inspire folks. He worked the crowd pretty well, taking time to chat with folks.

Over three hours later we finally made it to the front of the line. The line manager tried to charge us up with a little real talk (a term I'd never heard used apart from the hilarious R. Kelly "song"). After being in line for so long, I wasn't too keen on racing in and doing a song and dance for some Biggest Loser producer. That's the image I had in my mind as to what was behind the archway where the line ended. Not to say that I didn't also fantasize about all of us fat people being herded into a gas chamber at the end of the line, as well.

The line manager put us in two groups of eight which she counted, recounted, and counted again. We then moved into a staging area where she gave us another pep talk before sending us on our way. No song and dance, no gas chamber. Instead, we ended up at one of two tables where a Biggest Loser representative had us go around, introduce ourselves, and give our weight history in about a minute/minute and a half each.

I've never been in group therapy but I've seen it enough on TV to know that it felt like we were having a session. Wouldn't you know, we made it into group with the chatty girls from in front of and behind us. Oddly, the girl in front of us barely said anything as we went around the table. The other women weren't quite as quiet.

One by one we told our tales of woe. The young dude with the cane and the story about once being a Golden Gloves boxer who got shot played it smart, talking about how inspirational his story could be and that he could show how difficult it was for people with disabilities to work out and lose weight. I wouldn't be surprised if he and his mom (an assistant in a nursing home) got a call back.

After the introductions, the Biggest Loser guy opened up a topic for discussion: "How do people treat you since you're heavy?" This could have been fodder for the full hour of group therapy but we only had maybe five minutes total to put out the most cursory of comments. Yes, we were there for over three hours for all of about fifteen minutes of limited interaction with the guy who took our applications before we were shuffled out the side door.

My phone never rang yesterday but my application is in their hands. Here's hoping that if and when The Biggest Loser gives me a call I won't need them anymore.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

October Surprise!

A pleasant surprise, to be sure. BearManor Media has made Impossibly Funky available on their website last night (8/11/10). Even earlier than I thought it would be up and ready for the world.

It'll take a little bit for it to filter though the system and be available via distribution (Ingram) and Amazon. There should be a Kindle version available - not sure about other eBook formats. And, work continues on an audio version of the book. Maybe 2011 will see the release of that. :)

If you've got a cool bookstore near you that needs to carry Impossibly Funky, now's the time to start bugging them. Thanks!

We Control The Vertical - We Control The Horizontal

"It was much funnier than Cats. I want to see it again and again."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The First Review?

While googling myself, I found this early review of Impossibly Funky on the IndieGoGo Blog. Yay!

Impossibly Funky: Be in the Know... About Taratin-O!

There are two kinds of people in the world - those whose classic movie knowledge is ungodly, and the rest of us who, well, never managed to find the brain space to store the last 60 years of pop culture. Or at least, that's what we tell ourselves:) So to you first kind of people, I have one thing to say: "wow." I don't know how you do it. Remember every director, actor, set location, movie line... Amazing. I am in awe.

To everyone else, I have a solution for us! It's called Impossibly Funky - a cliff notes-esque savior of sorts.

Here's what my movie-devouring friend had to say...

"The writers of Cashiers du Cinemart, an annual film magazine, grabbed some of their best essays and articles of the last fifteen years and made them into a, well, impossibly funky collection for fans like you and me. The book combines some serious cinephile knowledge with the point of view of the average fan (yes, the book even talks about some serious WTF moments like Hulk, Catwoman and Jar Jar Binks).

"Impossibly Funky includes real scripts, real-er interviews (ya, that real), and essays on everything from "girls gone wild" in film to Quentin Tarantino's "obsession" with the bathroom. With special sections of the book devoted just to giants in film (of course Star Wars gets a good chunk of coverage), the book is worth reading if only for its analysis of the film Black Shampoo. That’s right. A blacksploitation film very loosely based on the movie Shampoo with Warren Beatty. The movie's tagline is, “When he’s mad…he’s mean…he’s a killin’ machine." Salon owner/lovin' machine turns into chainsaw-wielding badass. I mean, c'mon! How can you ask for more?"

Friday, August 06, 2010

The Best Movie You've Never Heard Of?

One of my pals sent me a link to a story on Yahoo Movies, "Sundance Favorite Finally Gets Released After Thirteen Years" by Jonathan Crow.

I'm not familiar with the 1997 film Colin Fitz Lives! and that's not why I'm writing this blog post. I just wanted to point out this line in the opening paragraph:

"The low-budget comedy was praised by Roger Ebert and Harry Knowles."

Yeah, no shit, do you think that's because Harry Knowles is in the movie?

Seeing Harry on screen is enough to make me want to pass on ever seeing the best movie I've never heard of.

IndieGoGo Fundraising Finishes!

Fund raising for Impossibly Funky has concluded via IndieGoGo. Things started off strongly with over a thousand dollars raised in the first week. The next few thousand took a while longer to come along. At the end, the $5K goal wasn't met. Rather, the total amount collected, $4,062, was terrific!

People who donated were able to choose a variety of VIP gifts such as their name in the book, a copy of the book, an autographed copy, a DVD of Black Shampoo or just the warm, tingly feeling of helping out.

Portions of the funds have already gone towards things like a postcard campaign (3,500 cards were sent out), bookmarks, and copies of the book (to fulfill the above obligation). The rest of the money will go toward advertising and promoting the book in person.

I spent the last few weeks gathering up ad rates and dates from several websites and magazines that I appreciate. I'm amazed at the wide range of rates and have been pleased by the people that have cut me some deals based on prior relationships. I've also been kind of dismayed by the people that have yet to get back to me. "Hello? I want to give you money! Hello? Anyone there?"

I'm planning on advertising with these folks if I can afford it. They're listed in order of cost (not impact/readership):

  • Paracinema Magazine - full page = $0*
  • Roctober Magazine - 1/4 page = $50*
  • Shock Cinema Magazine - 1/4 page = $50*
  • Screem Magazine - 1/4 page = $100
  • Ultraviolent Magazine - 1/4 page = $100
  • Cineaste Magazine - 1/4 page = $220
  • Phatom of the Movies' VideoScope - 1/4 page = $250
  • Famous Monsters of Filmland - 1/4 page = $395*
  • Cinemascope Magazine - 1/4 page = $400
  • Film Comment Magazine - 1/8 page = $400
  • Rue Morgue - 1/4 page = $800*
*Discounted rate.

If you missed the window, it's not too late! Here's a way to donate and/or pre-order a copy of Impossibly Funky.

Fund raising isn't over, however, as I still need to collect money from folks who'd like to come to the book release party. I have yet to reserve the theater where this will take place because of lack of funds (and interest?). If you're able to get to Detroit and want to come out on Sunday, October 24 (or perhaps Sunday, October 17), please drop me a line/leave a comment. I'm asking $15 a person to pay for the venue rental. This includes a screening of Greydon Clark's Black Shampoo. The first time Black Shampoo has played in Detroit since the '70s!

Stay tuned for where I'll be touring the book around!

Monday, August 02, 2010

What I Did on Summer Vacation

I'm back to work.

It's been a long, strange summer. I haven't had one like this since I was still in my teens (maybe early twenties -- those summers in college have a way of being a big blur nearly twenty years after the fact).

I managed to get quite a bit done -- edited the Impossibly Funky book trailer, did a lot of proof-reading/correcting for the follow-up book, wrote an article that will hopefully make it into the next Paracinema magazine, wrote a piece that I submitted to the BOOKGASM Bigfoot Anthology, wrote another that I'm going to play around with, and more.

I also joined a gym and have been working out like a fiend. I've tried to work out twice a day most days (since I knew I couldn't when I went back to work) and only missed one day over the ten weeks I was out. I haven't lost a ton of weight but I've definitely gotten a lot more energy out of the deal.

Of course, I did a lot of reading. I've been working my way through a lot of the nominees and winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards. Along the way I had to take the occasional break to read something a little more current like Mike Faloon's Hanging Gardens of Split Rock and Wred Fright's Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus. On my phone this summer I listened to three of William Shatner's autobiographies, So Far, Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories. I tried to give Leonard Nimoy the time of day by listening to I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock but, truthfully, he doesn't hold a candle to Shatner (at least Shatner never wasted pages having imaginary conversations with TJ Hooker and Captain Kirk).

The best part of the summer had to be spending so much time with my wife and kids. Just about every afternoon the kids would follow me outside and keep me company while I wrote, swam, sunned, or gardened. Before my time off we'd still crate Cady during the day so she took to this new found freedom with gusto. She and Nova also proved to be quite the good swimmers.

But now the time has come to put away childish things and get back to work.