Friday, August 26, 2016

The Soft Parade

So earlier this summer I sold one house, closed on a second house, moved, and then flew to Italy, all in a single week.  It is still not long enough ago to be funny, but one cool thing that has happened as a result is the legendary Mooreland Fair is just a short distance down the road--and the Saturday parade leaves out of my side yard.

Later that day and night, the Fair.  I've been going for almost 30 years, and these guys are always standing out here singing "Elvira."

A summer tradition, now within walking distance.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Live from the Heart of the Nerd-Quake

I'm slowly becoming one of those guys that reads more news about, and talks more about, comics and gaming than I actually read comics or play games, so my GenCon experience each year is becoming more about connecting with old friends. There is a lot of crossover between nerd-spheres so I should never be surprised when I see movie people at GenCon, like Matthew Meyers from Hoosierdance, FX guru Rob Merickel, and my Chicago people Jay Neander and Jon Solita.

But I make new friends, too.

I can't help but think about the food trucks when I'm there, and there was a time I would rather game than eat.

But sometimes I see something I can't resist, as displayed below.

Now to find time to play these beasts, and read that Doctor Who book I bought (not pictured).

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Scenes from Blue Whiskey

Stayed downtown when I was a judge at the Blue Whiskey Film Festival at the end of July, and really got to feel like a South Loop guy for a week.

In the middle of the week I had a night off from judging the Fest, conveniently when my pal Henrique Couto was screening his film BABYSITTER MASSACRE for an appreciative crowd at the Chicago Horror Society.  The Chicago crowds are tough--cheering loudly every time somebody got murdered--but I was among my people nonetheless.  I hope to attend another screening there soon.

Here I am doing a Q&A with Dax Phelan, director of JASMINE, one of my faves at the Fest.
Kinda looks like the Rat Pack with all that swag going on, but this is the Judges Panel.
Last but not least I try to grab a picture with Festival Director Michael P. Noens at the end of every Fest.  We should take it at the beginning, when we are less tired.
Looking forward to next year!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Live from Blue Whiskey 2016

This post first appeared, in a slightly different form, at my newsletter I Was Bigfoot's Shemp.  You can subscribe here.

I spent last week gorging on movies at the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival in suburban Chicago.  I have been involved with these folks since this festival's inception and have watched as it has grown and matured over the years.

One way the film fest has differentiated itself is by focusing on having cast and crew on hand to be interviewed live or via Skype, but an even greater differentiation point is having the judges screen the films live with an audience, counter to most festivals I have worked on (where you watch the entries by yourself and all the votes are tabulated).  In what is sometimes long and frequently lively discussions, our deliberations at the end can often sway each other one way or the next.  Watching 30 or so movies in a week, and then debating them, takes both physical and mental fortitude in the kind of "Nerd Extreme Sports" I like.

My personal favorite of the fest this year was Dax Phelan's cerebral Hong Kong thriller JASMINE.  It was a cool noir with the kind of unreliable narrator that I enjoy.  But the Chicago-centric romantic comedy OPEN TABLES by director Jack C. Newell was hard to beat, with nice performances, a domino-tipping plot, and good cinematography to make a pleasing blend (that won Best of Fest).

On the shorts front, I was utterly charmed by director Becca Roth's LUCKY PENNY, about a lonely barista who tries to seed the world with good luck in the form of pennies from her tip jar.  My sensibilities were much in line with director Megan St. John's rural crime caper BROILED (which won Best of Illinois) but director Benjamin Cappelletti with his apocalyptic dark comedy SKAL introduced me to another guy who is probably going to push me out of the way some day.

Those are my top five, but there were cool things and good performances all up and down the festival lineup.  Plus I got to eat Chicago pizza multiple times, and who can complain about that?  You can go to to learn more about the film festival.