Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New job, new plugs

Started a new job last week. It’s the first real office job I’ve had in a while. I have a desk with drawers for the first time—my own, not shared—a bulletin board, lots of office supplies and, again, first time ever, an inbox. Since my whole life is one giant inbox, I never thought that this simple plastic tray would become a symbol of stress for me, particularly at an office I only spend, at best, six hours a day. But it has. Particularly when a whole network of people pass by my desk and continually refill it.

That aside, the job isn’t that bad. It ain’t creative, of course, but there’s substantial computer work involved, so I get to feel relatively evolved. It’s the best money I’ve earned for a part time gig in… again, “ever” comes to mind. The hours are relatively flexible and the pressure pretty low. It isn’t working out of the house, of course, and that’s the chief drawback. Fortunately, I’m kept busy, so I don’t have a lot of time to think about all the things that aren’t getting done—writing, editing, stuff for Sirens, stuff for my PR work—while I’m trapped there. Even if there were downtime, it’s an international company, so outside emailing is not only prohibited, but impossible. So I wouldn’t be able to get anything else done there regardless.

I get to escape around 1:30-2:30 every day, but by the time I get home, I’m fried from all the brand new procedures I’m learning. Nothing I can use anywhere else, but stuff that has to fit in the great yawning skull-organ nonetheless, so it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things once I walk through the front door. To keep myself sane, I focus on the money, and remember that Amy has been doing this for us for ten years. If they make me a good full-time offer, money-equivalent, this might be where I spend my day. How I’ll get writing done, should that be the case, I’ll never know. I’ll have to work that out somehow when the time comes.

With that off my chest, I have some plugging to do:

First, Amy and I recorded some commercials for Dr. Horror’s Erotic House of Idiots—still one of the funniest Indie movies ever made. You can hear those HERE. The director and co-writer (with Brinke Stevens!), Paul Scrabo, is one of the coolest guys I've ever met in the business and this movie was a real labor of love for him--imagine having to shoot a comedy on September 11, 2001, while knowing that the world is collapsing around you! That is exactly what he, Debbie Rochon, Trent Haaga, Michael Thomas and Conrad Brooks went through on that infamous day!. If you haven't checked this movie out yet, the terrorists have truly won.

Second, I had the opportunity to visit with a quartet of guys who are making a documentary about the 40th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead. I got to see the original Latent Image offices, where Romero and company worked their magic back in the ‘60s, and I got to stand in the very basement where young Karen Cooper (Kyra Schon) murdered her mother (played by Marilyn Eastman).Fangoria put my first piece online. There might be some print to follow later in the year.

A Feast of Flesh was officially announced by Bloody Earth Films last week. You can see the listing on their site by clicking HERE. Bloody Earth (a division of Camp Motion Pictures) will be taking Amy and I around to a few shows as guests, which will be very nice. I’ll keep everyone posted here as those come around.

Splatter Movie will have an official tie-in with Sirens of Cinema. We’re prepping a limited-edition DVD that will be offered only to subscribers. It’ll consist of a featurette and a teaser that will never be seen in this way ever again and once they’re gone, they’re gone. So if you’re dying to see some of this ridiculously gory and surreal movie, and have been putting off getting a subscription to Sirens, now’s the time to stop procrastinating. Check out the special 2nd Anniversary Issue of Sirens of Cinema, on sale in September. More information should be up at very soon.

That’s all that I had on my mind. I’ll try and update again over the weekend, should something fun and exciting come along.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Black Wednesday (no racism intended)

Been an odd week.

It started well (or, maybe, last week merely ended well): we wrapped Splatter Movie, ending not with a bang or a whimper but more of an "OK, I guess we're done". Having captured all the footage, I found only one small insert needed due to a continuity error. Otherwise, it's all fine—much of it is actually beautiful, courtesy of Jeff's lighting and the natural photogenic qualities of both the Hundred Acres Manorand our cast. Now all we need to do is finish editing.

Sunday we briefly assisted Nic Pesante on his short film, which gave us the chance to catch up with Rich Conant (Absence of Light) and Debbie Rochon. Then we went to Amy's family reunion and ate way too much.

Monday we decided that it was too nice a day to work, so we both took half-days. We went to Oakland and checked out some of the vintage book stores, then had lunch with Debbie and took her to the airport. Following that, Amy, Jeff and I returned to the Manor to shoot some publicity stills and fulfill our contractual obligation by shooting a video installation for their opening room. I won't mention who donned the very creepy "living skin" mask and the old suit for the sequence, but he was amazing. A true thespianic genius.

Tuesday, I had a very good job interview for something that, while not completely up my alley, at least pays more and had better hours than anything I've been doing lately. Then I returned to my marketing job, waiting to hear if I got this new position or not. I was terribly nervous about this because, as you know, Tuesdays and I don't get along very well. But no plummeting pianos came forth (or downward) and we escaped the day relatively unscathed. We celebrated our niece's first birthday (Happy Birthday, Haley!) and returned home, full of pizza and hope.

So far, so good, right? And to think I thought nothing could go wrong since The Muppet Show Season two was released last week!

Wednesday…It would appear that Tuesday had taken the day off and decided to double its efforts on Wednesday. I woke up to discover that one of the companies I do PR for were "no longer in need of [my] services". But would I mind finishing out August. I didn't, since they'd already paid me. It wasn't a nasty letter, or a "you suck" message. This happens. They decided to go with a bigger firm in L.A. and that's perfectly understandable. It still blows, but it's understandable.

At this point, good news about a new job would be very welcome.

It didn't come.

Keeping my head down and my mind focusing on capturing footage, I avoided the internet and the mail box, thus avoiding further bad news. Then Amy called, stuck in traffic due to multiple accidents on rush hour traffic-choked bridges and highways. No one in Pittsburgh can drive, so there is one of these every fifteen minutes somewhere around the city. I told her to call me when she got closer so that I could start dinner. The next call she made was a bad one: the car died. All the warning lights came on, smoke poured out and oil spilled onto the highway. She just managed to ease it over to the side of the road—no shoulder and on a busy interstate. Of course, just about every driver in PA is an asshole as well, so no one moved over for her and she was almost hit a number of times by cars and trucks passing too closely to our dying car. She called the cops to report this—since it's, you know, like a law in PA that you have to move over to avoid hitting people on the side of the road. But for people doing 90 on an interstate, what's one more violation? If you're going to get pulled over for speeding, might as well add vehicular homicide to the mix. What is that? One point on your license or something?

But the car thing is particularly tragic. This 2000 Saturn wagon was the first new car we'd ever bought together. It hauled anything we threw in the back—equipment, con inventory, screen doors—the trunk space knew very few bounds. You can see that car in Severe Injuries, A Feast of Flesh and Retreat. We lived in that car. We drove it to Canada, to Tennessee, North Carolina, New York, Michigan… And after we moved 60 miles away from Pittsburgh, we drove it over 100 miles a day back and forth to work. It passed 200,000 miles a few months back and it was still going strong. It no longer had air conditioning and the vinyl trunk covering has been eaten by the garage, but the body was in good condition and our mechanic was convinced the engine would last forever.

Monday, after our last shoot at the Hundred Acres Manor and, consequently, our last Splatter Movie shooting day, we passed 220,000 miles. Not to anthropomorphize the vehicle, but, the car seemed happy.

After towing it to our favorite Monroe garage, our mechanic, George, informed us that there was a softball-sized hole in our engine. A new engine for it would be more than the car was worth and, quite frankly, we think the car gave us all that it could. And more.

This left us terribly depressed. Not to mention in a bit of a bind—especially if I do end up getting that new job, which would require me, at least occasionally, to have a car of my own.

Thursday morning seemed very grim. It was storming and pouring out. We left the dogs inside and headed for work. We had considered not going in at all, but I had an assignment for Fangoria to cover, so Amy opted to go to work as well. About twenty minutes from town, the rain stopped, the sun rose and the day turned beautiful. Amy got to work and started researching new cars, I headed for my assignment and spent the morning standing on the very spot where all the basement scenes for Night of the Living Dead had been shot. Finishing up my interviews, I went back to my marketing job and immediately got a call on my cell: I got the new job. I start Monday. Barring any catastrophes, I'll be making something close to a decent, regular salary for the first time in my life. The cloud of Black Wednesday hadn't lifted, but they were letting some light in.

Today, we have to find this new car, which requires waiting to hear first if we're approved for a new loan. This is going to mean a car payment—something we haven't had in over a year—and higher insurance. So there goes my nifty new salary, but at least we won't be further behind. I've solicited a couple of new companies about the possibility of writing for them, but haven't heard back yet. (I have no end of cheerleaders when it comes to my writing prowess. Any time I have an ego falter, Amy is there to pick me up; countless others as well. But I can't shake the feeling that if I were really that good, I'd be working a whole lot more…) In the meantime, Sirens of Cinema's 2nd Anniversary issue is in layout and will be on the stands with a gorgeous Joe Jusko cover sometime in September and I still have one or two other companies to rep with PR, so things aren't as black as they seemed a few days ago.

Still, the sooner this week is over, the better.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Quick things

Off to buy my bi-monthly set of tires and still digesting the news that Mike George of the Pittsburgh Comicon might be a murderer. Of course, we'd heard the news for years--a couple of his past employees have speculated that he was involved in his first wife's execution, but I always chalked this up to "stories we talk about when we're drunk and discussing weird con things". If it does turn out to be true, I think about the times I've shopped at his store, attended his shows... the idea is just chilling.

* * *

We wrap this weekend. Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut, barring new tornadoes, should be complete by 5pm Saturday, minus perhaps one small effects shot to be obtained later. It's shaping up, however, to be a very good, very bloody and very fucking weird movie.

* * *

Our friend Jasi Cotton Lanier, the "Stuntbabe" who worked with us on The Resurrection Game, Were-Grrl and Severe Injuries, not to mention Fifth City and was the model for Lara Croft in Joe Jusko's painted Tomb Raider Special, shot a terric commercial for Heinz Ketchup. Go to YouTube, watch the cool-ass video ("Tap the Flavor") and vote for it. It deserves to win the "Heinze 'Top This' TV Challenge." It's easily the best of the bunch.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It's a blog! It's a column! It's a microscope under which all are we!

"Random Acts of Mike Watt" was a blog I started back in 2002 and became the title of a series of columns I wrote for Film Threat a few years later. When I like a title, I really like a title.

The blogging phenomenon caught on and things like columns and essays morphed into the "blog" format. We journalists, back in the day, used to fight and scratch and claw to get our own "columns". Now we just go to Myspace and Blogspot, start an account and begin to blather away about whatever comes to mind. The only difference I can see, between a blog and the columns I've had over the years is that I used to get paid for writing columns. Now I'm super-thrilled if anyone reads me at all. (Which reminds me: subscribe to me! Dammit!)

Film Threat has linked to my blog for the past couple of years, but they've since started the Writer's Corner, where we of the elite can post our own blogs, pretend they're columns, and continue to strut our stuff like we're the heirs-apparent to Dorothy Parker and Edward R. Murrow. And some of us are. Most of us are not. It's up to you to sift through the wreckage to determine which is which.

The sad fact remains that the remaining facts are sad.

So, anyway, I posted my first official "Random Acts of Mike Watt" "column/blog" this morning. You can CLICK HERE to read it. It's very grumpy, just to warn you. I'm not saying said grumpiness is not justified, but there you go. I was a curmudgeon at ten, as my parents like to point out. I'm just a rocking chair and a shotgun away from screaming "You kids get off my lawn!" And by "kids", I mean "humanity"; and by "property", I mean "Earth".