Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fa Love Pa

In case anyone was wondering why it’s taken me more than a week to update this blog, I can assure you it had nothing to do with any angry 9/11 relatives having attacked my home or destroyed the website server. I think they have plenty of other things to occupy their time than to swat at minor annoyances like me.

And besides, the truth of the matter is even more unbelievable to anyone who has known me for any reasonable length of time.

Because last week I spent four lovely days in Cancun, Mexico, eating and drinking till I could neither walk straight nor think clearly. It was a smorgasbord of earthly delights laid bare at my feet for the picking, and so did I pick. Often.

Which explains (I hope) the above photo taken on March 15th, 2006, when I spent the day at a water called Xel-Ha (pronounced schell-hah) and jumped into the tank with this cute critter. Needless to say, it was well worth the time-share tour I took the previous day to get the free ticket to get into this place.

I never even would have considered doing such a thing in the past, but I was accosted by a very nice guy right off the airplane in Mexico (Jesus) who promised me a free ticket to whichever park I wanted in a brochure he was waving around if I just took a tour of a time-share he was trying to generate tourist visitors for.

A precious moment before shrugging off the whole thing and moving on to start imbibing at the all-inclusive resort I was booked at, I noticed a tiny image of someone in the water with a dolphin. Below the photo it said: SWIM WITH DOLPHINS!

Hmmm. Suddenly a time-share was starting to sound mighty interesting.

So I signed on with the promise of a ticket to the necessary amusement park after my tour the following morning. Five minutes off the plane and I saved $75.00 on the entrance fee to a tourist trap and had a plan to swim with dolphins. Pretty sweet deal.

Right about now I guess I should say something about how swimming with a dolphin has always been one of my lifelong dreams, but to be honest, I have to say that as much as I love these beautiful sea creatures, it had never even occurred to me that such a thing would be possible (much less financially affordable!) for a guy like me – so the thought was not even one that I had ever entertained.

But like having a lifetime flashing before your eyes during a moment of crisis in which you suddenly realize the images you are seeing are someone else’s life, I knew then and there that I had in fact ALWAYS wanted to be in the water and touching a gentle, intelligent dolphin. It was just that until this particular moment, I never knew that before.

When I finally got to Xel-Ha, the first thing I did was try and buy a ticket for the dolphin experience (yes, it was separate from the general admission). At which point I was told that it had been sold out for the day.

It would be no understatement to say that my heart sank to the bottoms of my feet. Damn near wanted to cry when I heard that.

The guy at the cashier was very nice, though, and told me to come back again after noon and maybe there would be a cancellation I could take advantage of.

Cancellation? Who the hell would give up their chance to SWIM WITH A DOLPHIN?!?

I went to the top of the park, got a big ol’ inner tube and floated down the water for an hour or two, going down the river like Martin Sheen in APOCALYPSE NOW -- except that with all the scuba divers, fellow floaters, people diving off the mountain side into the water and noise in general, this felt much more dangerous.

When I went back to check for tickets, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that there was no chance of any dolphin interactivity happening today. I had my fun in the water, though, so I chalked it up to experience; next time, get advance tickets.

But unbelievably (yeah, right – you’ve already seen the photo!), if I wanted to go there were tickets available RIGHT NOW, so I’d have to forego lunch and IMMEDIATELY turn around and go to the orientation area.

Needless to say, lunch waited an hour.

Got shown a brief movie, put on a life jacket, and got into the water with a small group of people (there were four groups of ten altogether, and each group had two dolphins to interact with). Got 45 solid minutes of quality time with the critters and I could not have been happier.

Felt an instant affinity with them and made sure to stroke their bellies every time they swam by me – which made them shift to one side just a little bit to raise one eye above the water’s surface so we could make contact. They seemed to enjoy that. I also stroked them just underneath where it seemed their chin should be. My cats love being touched there, and I was surprised to see that the dolphins similarly enjoyed this.

As we all stood to one side on a platform in the water, they gravitated towards me and I slid my hands along the underside of their “nose”, which didn’t seem to bother them a bit despite what we had been told. In fact, doing this drew one dolphin even closer to me for some more. I was shocked that, despite being told how much they love children, they were practically ignoring the cute little girl in our group and spending quite a bit of time over with me. Lucky bastard me, eh?

Their flesh is like soft, living plastic with undulating muscles underneath. Beneath the wetness you can feel areas of tender lard where you wouldn’t expect it surrounded by turgid cartilage that gives solid shape to the area around it. This was most obvious in the strength of their incredible tails.

We splashed each other with water, they swam around our group at top-speed to demonstrate how they protect people from sharks, and they even pushed every single one of us into an almost upright position from the bottoms of our feet from one side of the pool to the other.

Beware the ides of March, indeed!

So there you have it. I wish I had something witty or conclusive to add, but all I can tell you is that if you ever get the chance to do something like this, DO IT.

And lest you think I’ve turned over some kind of New Age leaf after this mind-blowing experience, come back in a few days and I’ll post some thoughts about the third anniversary of our invasion of Iraq that’ll take the dumbfucks in control to task.

Ya’ see? It’s still me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

An Open Letter to People Who Lost Loved Ones on 9/11

Dear People;

September 11th, 2001 was a national tragedy that directly touched the lives of all New Yorkers and indirectly (but just as sincerely) touched the hearts of all Americans who felt our pain in the midst of a direct attack on our native soil.

I personally witnessed the burning towers from my LIRR train on the way to work that morning as I was headed out to Hicksville. I’ll never forget thinking that this was just some kind of freak fire burning as the train I was on wound over the horizon line as the buildings were in mid-burn (they quickly disappeared from view and collapsed only a few minutes later). It wasn’t until nearly an hour later, when I arrived at my job, that I was informed that the towers had collapsed and what the circumstances of that situation were all about.

I have friends who live only a few blocks from (the now known as) Ground Zero and I called them immediately upon arriving at work. I’m pleased to say that they were miraculously fine. Strangely, though I was able to reach them only two hours after the disaster, I was unable to reach them again by phone for almost another week.

I felt nothing but sympathetic horror for the people who lost friends or family in the twisted metal and liquid flame of those collapsing towers. It’s sincerely hard to imagine the pain they must have felt as, over the course of the weeks that followed, the pornographically explicit footage of the violated towers being penetrated painted the airwaves in a snuff film loop that repeated the deaths of thousands of innocent lives over and over and over again in-between the commercials.

I have nothing but sympathy for these poor people and their grieving families.

But would the rest of you (and I like to think you know who you are) please just shut the fuck up already?


I watched the network news tonight (Channel 7, 11pm) and saw the sister of some firefighter who was lost during the 9/11 tragedy protesting about the 9/11 memorial being built in the footprint of the World Trade Towers. Apparently it’s not big enough, reverent enough, or whatever word she’s pulling out of her ass about it not being SOMETHING enough to please her self-important sense of suffering.

Lady, I am sick and tired of people like you making the healing process for all of New York some kind of masturbatory love fest. Also, I’d be curious to know, if I may be so bold, to wonder what your feelings might be for a memorial for the fifty-thousand dead Iraqi citizens who were murdered by the misguided vengeance of the idiotic Bush administration. I don’t see the media reporting on anyone complaining about that misguided memorial these days, wherever (or if ever) we might see one.

Sorry to seem so cold and dispassionate about this, but I can tell you that my 9/11 experience does include the fact that I have reduced vision in my right eye due to the fact that an iron sliver got lodged in my retina when I went downtown to visit my friends for the first time a week or so after the attack. Thanks to the dumb cunts at the EPA declaring the air absolutely clean and breathable, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has suffered some minor physical ailment from heading downtown too damn soon.

I mention this, of course, not to elicit sympathy, but to make it clear that 9/11 is NOT some disembodied, foggy notion on the horizon for me. I may not have lost a loved one during that catastrophe, but I sure as hell didn’t come out of it unscathed.

But I’m not a self-important American idiot either. I have enough of a life and enough self-respect to suffer quietly and not worry about what memorial is being built to honor the people who took psychic shrapnel in the aftermath of this sad chapter in our history. Oh, and they’re out there – and most of them have a lot worse damage to show for it then I’ll ever have. I respect that, and if you’re not one of them (or dare I say one of us?) then so should you.

I just wish that these unsatisfied shit-stirrers with nothing better to do with their time felt something similar.

Monday, March 06, 2006

"You've Built This Fortress Backwards."

Watched the Oscars last night (what was I thinking...?) and was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing quite a bit with Jon Stewart's political jokes (for his opening speech it seemed like an awful lot of the audience members were just NOT laughing at all) and some inspired faux political ads. Also, gotta love that "manly" cowboy montage that some genius put together.

This was a particularly good year for me, as only two films I had seen had been nominated for any awards whatsoever (HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and the most recent STAR WARS) -- and if I'd known that either would get any nominations whatsoever I probably would have passed them by (okay, I'm lying; David Cronenberg and STAR WARS rule my world, I'm afraid to admit). Nothing for Romero's LAND OF THE DEAD, of course, but I guess I should have known that.

Of course, silly me, I had hoped to see the great film director Walerian Borowczyk listed amongst the people who passed away during 2005, but only as I'm typing this does it occur to me that he actually died at the beginning of 2006. Here's hoping that the academy will remember him during next year's montage.

Had I simply never noticed the orchestra playing before while people give their acceptance speeches? I thought the music was supposed to start when it was time for the winner to STOP talking? Whatever was going on, Bill Conti and his orchestra provided some of the most embarrassing and annoying musical accompaniment ever provided to an awards event. Maybe Bill and his posse would be better off scoring a low-end Bar Mitzvah ceremony instead? Yeeesh! Just awful.

My favorite "WTF" moment was the burning car during the performance of the song from CRASH (no, not the good film with that title, but this one). Almost as jaw-droppingly hilarious as Antonia Banderas and Carlos Santana at last year's ceremony. Almost.

And I don't care what the damn song says; pimps are fucking parasitical scumbags and they can all go to Hell.

But that was all yesterday. This evening, I washed all that Hollywood starshine out of my eyes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with a screening of Dario Argento's FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET.

I don't know how I got so lucky, but BAM played the movie on their biggest screen in the theatre with stadium seating; unbelievably, I think this is the largest I've ever seen a classic Argento film projected (aside from seeing THE CARD PLAYER in Montreal at the Fantasia Film Festival a few years back). The print was pretty grotty around the reel changes, but it was in pretty good shape considering it's age and relative obscurity -- fellow film geek Marc Walkow pointed out the lack of a Paramount logo at the front of the print, indicating that it could be a British source, an assessment I completely agree with as I noticed a moment of trimmed violence via a bad splice during one of the murders -- but more importantly, the colors were unfaded and vibrant, indicating that me might have been watching an IB Technicolor print (more common from Europe during that era).

Not anyone's favorite Argento film, but I've got a special place for it in my heart -- although it's got one of my favotrite endings, it takes far too long to get to it, and by the time it does happen there's something a bit perfunctory about it after such a long build-up. Also, I saw it early on and it made such an impression upon me that it's impossible for me to not ignore the flaws that must infuriate others.

Lotsa gender issues in this one, and one piece of science so daft that only the hydrogen mind of Luigi Cozzi could have come up with it (sorry folks, but if you haven't seen this film I ain't giving away anything!). Lead actor Michael Brandon could well be the least charismatic performer to ever be committed to film, while Mimsy Farmer is a fantastic ice princess to his dunce prince. The film could very easily be retitled TERRIBLE THINGS HAPPENING TO PEOPLE YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT as it's not only more honest but also more to the point.

Oh well. It's all downhill after the first 20 minutes anyway, but the Ennio Morricone score (conducted by Bruno Nocolai) is superlative and keeps even the most bizarrely realized scenes grounded.

I've met Dario a few times over the years, and the first time I met him I had him sign a beautiful FOUR FLIES poster (the same one the theatre had hanging in their lobby). I'd almost forgotten I have this wonderful artifact until I saw their poster hanging, but now I realize I must have it framed sometime soon.

Tomorrow night at BAM is Michael Mann's THE KEEP. I'm looking forward to doing a lot of drinking from my handy-dandy flask while watching that one -- especially during the nonsensical second half. Sigh. Poor Les Bowie.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Nothing Is Planned By The Sea And The Sand

It's 1am and I just completed the first complete pass on the Jim Muro commentary for the upcoming special edition STREET TRASH DVD being released (eventually) by Synapse Films. Whew! What a mammoth fucking task it is to sync-up the commentary with the on-screen events and scrub through the audio and clean up the more out-of-control sibilance and stray 'pops' that the human mouth can make. I haven't even gotten around to balancing out all the levels yet so everything sounds nice and consistent. Unfortunately, I didn't record this track and whoever did made the volume WAY too hot throughout. Just more work for me to take care of as I discover all the little technical tricks of doing this kind of work for the first time.

Normally I just record the commentary sessions on DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and hand them over to someone else to do the rest, but because the writer and producer of STREET TRASH (Roy Frumkes) is New York based and the DVD company is in Illinois, having me see this through to complettion seemed like a good idea to everyone involved. And since I could use the money.....

Roy will be stopping by on Tuesday to go over that track with me, offering his two cents as to what might need to be cut out for either content or technical reasons. Pretty standard stuff, really. You didn't really think all those audio commentaries in your DVD collections aren't edited for legal reasons or standards of veracity, did you? I've recorded at least 50 such sessions and I can tell you that each and every one always begins with a round-robin discussion amongst the participants as to what should or shouldn't be discussed, etc. Too bad we technicians aren't allowed to record that part as well, as usually the most interesting and surprising information is brought up at that time.

I recorded Roy's commentary some time back, and I can assure without any bragging that what I got on tape was far superior and MUCH easier to deal with. It's taken me literally half the time (maybe even less) to set-up Roy's track and I've only had to clean up two or three spots, as opposed to nearly 100 times that much for Jim's commentary.

But I'm not complaining. The new video transfer of the film is really an eyeful. Having only ever seen STREET TRASH in the worst possible condition on VHS many years ago, I have to say I was honestly a really big fan of the film -- as much as I like Roy, who's a really great guy, I didn't find it that funny or interesting.

Well, I've gotta say that all that has changed and I'm now totally in love with the film. What a difference a great presentation can make! Even in the midst of all my audio drudgery I find myself laughing at a well-composed visual gag or some funny off-handed remark from one of the characters. The standard DVD edition has been out for a little while now, but so many people are waiting for this special edition that I don't think the ripples of the film's paradigmatic shift in quality has yet been felt in the fan community. It'll be worth the wait and a lot of people are going to be very happy.

As I've also been very busy working on the interview featurettes for the upcoming Unearthed Films DVD release of FRANKENHOOKER, I had almost completely forgotten that both films feature hilarious performances from actor James Lorinz. As I was working on my Final Cut Pro system today and jumping from one project to the next, the image on the display monitor changed from Lorinz wearing big glasses about to accidentally blow-up a bunch of hookers to him sitting in a police station wearing a doorman's outfit. I've been so busily focused on the various minutiae of both projects that it was the first time I noticed he was in both movies -- which kinda frightened me as it made me realize just how scattered my brain must be these days.

More on FRANKENHOOKER and STREET TRASH in the days ahead as things develop.

I can only wonder what the upcoming Synapse Films release of BASKET CASE 2 will have in store for me...!

Friday, March 03, 2006

And Then There's The Matter Of Us....

You know, when I set myself up the other day for a fall I really thought that would be the end of it. I had raked a stranger over the coals for their lousy English, had my correction corrected and I moved on. But it's always when life seems to be functioning at it's basest, simplest level that the most complicated things can suddenly happen.

I responded to Dan's e-mail with the following, which I thought would be the last word on the subject:

Now that's interesting -- I had no idea the U.K. spelling was different from the U.S. spelling!

My apologies, as a huge percentage of Craig's List ads are riddled with misspellings, but I have to admit it was worth my error to learn something new today.

Good luck on your search and have a great evening!


Scooter McCrae

What humility, eh folks? Seriously, it's at times like typing up an e-mail like that I think I should be elected Messiah of some fourth-world nation and worshipped from afar. But I meant every word of it and accepted my mistake like a man (if you'll excuse the sexism of that phrase for a moment).

The next day I found another e-mail from Dan Carbone sitting in my queue. Surprised to be hearing anything more from him, I opened it up and this is what I found:

you are truly amazing indidual. I was, in fact, covering my own error with a sly remark. You are in fact correct, and I do not believe the UK spells it any different. Although, they should, it adds a bit of character id say.

Ordinarily I would have proudly walked away with my head high, but due to your truly genuine and kind response, I felt the need to admit defeat.

Well played.


"Well played", I guess, though I'm not quite sure that was my intention. Generally speaking, I am a nice guy (too nice to point out the fact that he left the "vi" out of "indidual" until now, of course) but that doesn't mean I don't like being a smartass every now and again. Of course, if I was really as smart as I sometimes give myself credit for, I would have looked up the British spelling on my own to confirm this instead of accepting what he said at face value in the first place. Which should also give you some idea of what a trusting little knot-head I can be as well.

Nonetheless, as someone who goes out of his way to publically admit when I've been wrong about something, I find that quality refreshing in other people because I find so few people who can do this simple little thing. So I took an immediate liking to Dan and sent a reply:

Well shit.... you do learn something new everyday!

I have to say, as someone who prefers "colour" to "color", there is definitely something to be said for tossing in the occasional "u" where you least expect it, so in fact I was happy to hear that it was spelled "volounteers"! I'm glad you wrote back and told me otherwise before I started using it in any correspondence!

Please don't take offense to my next comment, but I've always had a love-hate relationship with the NYUFF (more hate than love, I'll be the first to admit), but I have to say you're one of the politest folks I've dealt with over there since the early days of the festival when Todd was in charge.

Thanks for getting back to me again and continued good luck in finding folks to help out.


Scooter McCrae

See what a pussycat I can be? Meeeee-ooow! Don't let nobody tell you otherwise.

And of course, I only thought it fair to finally make some mention of the fact that I've had previous dealings with the NYUFF. Why? Because, just in case you didn't take my advice in the previous post and check out my open letter to the NYUFF from a few years back (I'll save you the trip and repost it here in a moment so you can see where I'm usually coming from with these folks), I said a few harsh things about the festival and the people running it. I have to admit, though, that I was probably thinking of Village Voice film critic Ed Halter when I wrote that letter (is that hack still even writing for them?) and not this guy Daniel, who seems too nice to be a part of their group.

Now about that letter.

You know what, for the sake of drama, I'm gonna hold off on showing you that letter for a moment; I've got another e-mail or two I'm gonna clue you in on first. Because once you see this letter, I think you'll get a better idea of what probably went through poor Daniel's mind once I kind of reminded him about it.

(No fair going to now to check it out. You had your chance the other day and now I'm running things over here for the next couple of minutes. Next time, you'll just have to take my advice the first time. Say what you will; I'm sure I've been called worse things.)

Dan responded thusly to my riposte:


love hate is really the only way you can watch "underground" cinema. I take no offense whatsoever. If everyone was into it, it wouldnt be "underground". A term that is too often synonymous with poorly-made and talentless.

I urge you, though, to learn to sift through the garbage. There are people out there making really fantastic stuff that doenst quite fit in anywhere else. That is when I feel festivals like this are important.

Also, I have only been involved for the past three years, so I cannot speak for the Todd days. But yes it can be a mixed bag of personalities.


Dan is such a nice guy he accepted my love-hate comment without even thinking I'm some prick who wrote them a terrible letter eviscerating them back in 2004 (jeez, was it really that long ago?).

So I decided it's time to go all the way now, for Daniel's sake, and out myself. I'm thinking maybe we can put all the nasty stuff I said into the past and move on. After all, we're having a good time yakking it up back-and-forth and I've always tried to put a human face on even my worst enemy; what have we got to lose? I'm not holding a grudge against the star-bellied Sneetches. So I reply with:

Funny! Yeah, trust me -- I've done my share of underground time. Fucking WAVELENGTH nearly killed me, but I like Brackhage and Belson, and I can assure you that half the Jess Franco films I love would challenge the patience of even the most dedicated underground film fan.

I was just giving you a hard time because my last feature (SIXTEEN TONGUES) was rejected by the festival a few years back, while my first feature (SHATTER DEAD) was screened back when Todd was running things. And while I make no claims to making particularly great movies, I can definitely say that they don't fit quite anywhere comfortably.

You're obviously in love with these movies and that's the best thing I could say about anybody who tills this rare cinematic earth. Good luck with the festival this year and looking forward to seeing what's on the schedule!

Scooter McCrae

Okay, I guess it's now about time you see the letter I sent to them in the mail, via e-mail, and then published onto the SIXTEEN TONGUES website for the whole world (all 7 of you) to see. Put the kids to bed and strap on your welding visors. I meant every word of it and there's no turning back now. Uhm.... enjoy:

An open letter to The New York Underground Film Festival from director Scooter McCrae:

Well the schedule has been posted and congratulations are in order to this year's 11th Annual New York Underground Film Festival (hereafter referred to as NYUFF). Congratulations, you scumbags, for demonstrating your absolute irrelevancy to New York and the Underground filmmaking scene. You've demonstrated above and beyond the necessary limits that you have completely sold out to both corporate interests and your own greed at being recognized as a supplier of goods to the television industry. And please don't let the tightening of the sphincter catch on the tip of your nose as the warm turd slides down your open throat. No, really; you've earned it.

First of all, how dare you adopt Andy Milligan as your patron saint for this year's fellated fiasco. He was an idiosyncratic filmmaker who made use of genre trappings to create films that were meaningful to him. No one would ever mistake a Milligan film for a great film (or anything BUT a Milligan flick!), but the man left his fingerprints on a unique body of work, and in the new Millennium leaving any personal stain on the celluloid output that clogs the corporate owned and approved cinemas of today is a cause for celebration. Unfortunately, his works appear to be the only genre offerings in the entire NYUFF schedule (sorry, THE MANSON FAMILY doesn't count as it's technically a bio-pic, however twisted it might be). Yes, it must be difficult to choose any genre works that have not yet acquired a cult following or become established classics of their kind. To actually make a choice, to put your neck out on the line and decide that here-and-now, we have a work of science fiction or horror that is worth looking at which is separate from the slick Hollywood trappings of most modern day selections trying to pass as genre offerings would take some backbone and taste. And pardon my ego for saying so, but despite whatever flaws SIXTEEN TONGUES might have (in abundance, perhaps), it is a unique, passionately un-Hollywood and UNDERGROUND flick that deserves to be shown at any festival that purports to support that community of film or video practitioners.

Most of this year's selections look like they are ready to be popped out of the NYUFF playback deck, handed over directly to a PBS or HBO executive (once the finder's fee is paid to you, of course) and be screened as part of any number of documentary series on either network. Good luck to you folks; you're obviously working very hard to earn your commissions. Maybe you should consider rechristening yourselves the New York Underground Documentary Film Festival. See how nice I can be? I even left the (apparently meaningless to you) word 'underground' in your official name. That way you can still cash-in on pretending to be 'edgy' and 'cool' -- you know, the stuff the evil mainstream would never touch! The documentary on Al Goldstein looks like an especially notorious work that no other festival would EVER have the courage to screen. You should be really proud of yourselves to have programmed such daring and subversive material. Maybe next year you'll have documentaries on sex industry workers or issues of masculinity and femininity in the armed forces (Ooops! Too late! Looks like A FEW GOOD DYKES takes care of that this year after all); you know, the kind of stuff that network television never covers to death on any number of primetime news programs.

The only stab at so-called 'underground' filmmaking seems to be supplied by the experimental short films, most of which sound much more interesting than many of the feature-length main-event programming. One can only assume that the people making decisions concerning non-narrative and experimental entries weren't indoctrinated by New York University's commercial film program or write film reviews at The Village Voice. And it took a lot longer for both of those institutions to become meaningless shadows of the glory that they once were than the sheckel-sucking, glory-hungry puppeteers tugging the veiny skeins of the NYUFF.

My initial disappointment at being rejected by the selection committee was ameliorated by finally seeing the list of films that did make the cut. What at first glance appeared not to contain a single dud in the bunch (yes, there are some good looking selections this year) also quickly revealed, frankly, not a whole lot of what I'd call truly 'underground' films in the group either. Has the definition changed so radically in the last few years, or is it simply that the jangling sound of money ringing in the NYUFF's ears has altered the tune to which they dance? I'm proud that my first feature, SHATTER DEAD, was screened at one of the earliest Annual NYUFF way-back-when. I thought it was an odd choice, frankly, but then again I thought damn near everything on the schedule was an odd choice as I hadn't heard of nearly anything or anyone else in the festival. It slowly sank in that this was an 'underground' event, and that this was part of what being part of that centerless, leaderless out-of-control community was all about; of course none of us had heard of each other. We're UNDERGROUND, dammit!

Will I be accused of sour grapes here for picking on a festival we weren't accepted by? Certainly. In fact, I'll be the first to accuse myself of that charge, because I AM steamed that we didn't make it into a local film festival that had accepted my work in the past. But I guess I'm more out of touch with the scene and the shit weasels that have commodified it than I imagined. Apparently I thought there would be a support group for people like me, who work in New York with very low-budgets to create projects that are a million miles away from what Hollywood produces on a clockwork basis. Slick production values? Who needs 'em! Actors you've heard of? Please, we've got a story to tell, here! Concepts that are larger than a single-sentence T.V. Guide blurb? Hell yeah! We sure do fucking hope so! From now on, we'll be screaming it from the rooftops to anyone who'll listen (and even those of them that don't); Proudly Rejected by The New York Underground Film Festival! It's a new badge of honor for us, and one that we'll wear with ferocious dignity.

And if anyone reading this did happen to get their project into this year's NYUFF; congratulations, and best of luck to you. It is an honor to have been selected (as I know from past experience), and it's a real jolt to be screened in this town to an enthusiastic audience. There is no disrespect intended to any of the deserving selections, but a hell of a lot of you look to me more like you haven't gotten a distributor yet, as opposed to being 'underground' (as NYUFF claims itself to be). This is simply a call-to-arms to the idiots who are running the festival who should be taken to task for misleading advertising; wake up, assholes! This isn't an underground festival, it's a Sundance wannabe' with a bad-boy attitude and a snooty disposition selling false goods to an unsuspecting public. So fuck you, too, NYUFF. I'm sure Tylenol and Pabst Blue Ribbon are happy to have you raising their 'underground' credibility as official sponsors; might I recommend you take full advantage of the narcotizing effects of both, overdose and drop dead?

-Scooter McCrae

My guess is after seeing my last e-mail, poor Daniel must've had his memory jogged about that 2004 letter.

And I haven't gotten another e-mail from him since.

Oh well. He seems like a nice guy and I meant what I said to him. Better luck to you this year, NYUFF!

(By the way, that's a photo of one of my lovley kitties, Oedipussy (or sometimes just Ms. Kitty). I'm told this is the kind of thing people normally put in their blogs, so I'm just trying to follow the rules for once.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Won't Get Fooled Again?

Yesterday I was a cameraperson for an MTC Real Estate infomercial. It was my first time working on this kind of project, and while all the people were nice and everyone treated each other well, knowing that the end product would simply be another late-night TV time-killing piece of filler devoted to separating drunk and tired consumers from their hard-earned cash tainted the whole experience for me a bit.

I don't think any one of us for even a second believes in the reality that these kinds of shows are struggling mightily to convey, but to be a part of the rampant dishonesty that occurs behind-the-scenes just couldn't help but leave a bad taste in my mouth. Heck, one of the reasons I don't want to go back into working within the corporate TV world is to avoid having to be an unwitting shill for all the crap that television is trying to sell to consumers. But what was happeing all around me at the moment seemed like exactly the kind of situation that "out of the frying pan and into the fire" was written for. Sigh.

The funniest moment was the on-camera MTC representative saying "pacifically" instead of "specifically" three times over the course of two takes. Stuck behind my camera as I was, I couldn't really say anything to anyone, but during a break afterwards I went to her co-worker (whom I had seen giving her notes and corrections earlier) and pointed out the little gaffe to this person in-between takes.

The co-worker looked at me with polite frustration and told me: "I know, but she's my boss."

So I offered to mention it to her boss instead if they didn't feel like taking the heat for such a correction. But the co-worker thanked me and said that they would take care of it.

During the takes that followed, the MTC representative never once uttered either word again.

Sorry to be so pacific.... err, specific... with this little story that appears to demonstrate in some small way my feelings of utter superiority when it comes to the English language, but I mention it because it helps bookend the act of drunken futility that closed out my evening.

Which involved my returning home from work, eating dinner (2 slices of pizza and one beer per slice -- yummy!) and then hitting the internet to check my e-mails and search for any new jobs I might have missed during the course of my work day. Sure enough, on Craig's List I came across an ad looking for "volounteers" to help out with the upcoming New York Underground Film Festival (NYUFF). Feeling a bit tipsy and truly hating this particular festival (go visit for the full story on that one -- it's just too long a digression for this posting), I sent the following e-mail:

Just a little tip for future posts -- the word you're trying to spell is "volunteers".

Good luck.


Scooter McCrae

So as you can see, after a couple of drinks I can be just as moody, churlish and pissed-off as the most common guttersnipe. Oh, and let's not forget the implied air of superiority of my smart-assed e-mail. Again, as someone who gets paid to write for Fangoria (or Sirens of Cinema, etc.) every now and then I do tend to see myself as a semi-professional writer during those darker moments that I need to reassure myself that I'm doing something worthwhile with my limited time on this spinning rock.

And have you spent much time on Craig's List looking through the ads? Just a few minutes going through these will leave your eyes swimming in jaw-droppers like "amature", "realty" (instead of "reality"), misusage of contractions and apostrophes that would make the head of a remedial English teacher spin 360 degrees, and my personal favorite (usually someone having a negative reaction to the poor language skills of another posting) is seeing "elliterate" or some other fabulous misspelling of "illiterate".

But I digress.

Only a few mintues later, I got an e-mail back from Daniel Carbone of the NYUFF. Two succinct words:

i'm british

Ooops! I guess it was my bad after all.

And while it would be easy to go after Daniel for not capitalizing his "i" or even ending his sentence fragment with a period, I gotta give the man game-point-match. How embarrassing, especially as I tend to prefer the British spelling for certain words like "colour" or "realize".

To quote Nicol Williamson's wonderfully wacky Merlin from John Boorman's classic EXCALIBUR (1982): "There's always something smarter than yourself!"

And so I end this post not as the brave protector of our fair language, but as another victim of one's own ego run amuck.