$0.25 a day plus expenses. No case too small.

The toughest thing for me when it comes to writing a review for my site is the starting sentence or graph. Hell, that’s tough for most writers. But (again) for me, I find it far easier to jump right into a blog post (when I bother to do one) than to start the first words of a review.

As I was pondering how I was going to start the review for this book I recently finished, the words came to me rather quickly. It’s going to start with, “When I was a kid, my favorite things to read — before King became part of my library — were…” And as I was finishing that thought in my head, I realized not only was I happy with where that’s going to go, but I had the idea for a new blog entry as well.

When I was  kid, my favorite things to read — before King became part of my library — were Encyclopedia Brown, Choose Your Own Adventure, and anything Bigfoot, UFO, or Loch Ness. The latter three I’ll be discussing in said upcoming review, but the first two? Let’s talk about them now.

For those that didn’t have the luxury of growing up with Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, he was a kid that solved mysteries for $0.25 a day (plus expenses). I have to be honest here, I don’t remember any stories (c’mon! It’s been over 30 years, easy), but I do remember the solution for one because at the time it was so damn slick. I don’t recall what, exactly, Brown was investigating, I just remember it happened to do with a lady in white who was seen on the beach at night, BUT SHE LEFT NO TRACKS! Was she a ghost? Had someone murdered her, forever making her wander the last place she took a breath? It certainly was a mystery…and Encyclopedia Brown was on the case! Eventually, it turned out that whoever was walking on the beach in that white dress (seriously, I can’t remember) had put a piece of cardboard in the train (maybe it was a wedding dress) and it was weighted just enough that it was smoothing out the sand behind her, thus leaving no footprints. How genius is that? And that kid Brown, well he’s a smart cookie. As I was looking for pictures of covers, it appears that the series is still in print, so I’m pleased that a younger generation will get the same glee as me from reading these.

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When I wasn’t reading Encyclopedia Brown solving mysteries, I was tearing into Choose Your Own Adventure books. If you didn’t experience CYOA as a kid, well, I’m sorry your childhood sucked.

If you don’t know what a CYOA book is, it’s exactly what it sounds like…you choose your own adventure. Basically, you read a page or two, and then you make a choice. If you choose one way, go to page five. If you choose another, go to page nine. And you kept making choices until you ran out of them. Then you started all over. And these books were so popular, which was fantastic for us fans because there were TONS of them. Below are just a few of the titles, and you can see a nice sized picture of even more here.

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In addition to having a ton to choose from, the series’ popularity of course spawned knockoffs. The best of which were the Dungeons and Dragons’ Endless Quest books. It was like two of my favorite things got smashed together into something wonderful.

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I’m not the type to pine over the things I had in childhood, wishing I still had them. But, man, outside of all of my Star Wars toys (if only to sell), I would love to have all of these sitting on my bookshelf now.

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Buy that for your boyfriend.

There’s a Yankee Candle outlet down the street from me that I hit up on occasion because not only because of their phenomenal prices, but they always have shit on clearance and nine times out of 10, their candles are on sale for an even better price. And, seriously, I don’t give a shit what anyone says, Yankee Candles are the best.

Aside from needing candles, I also needed a topper thing because if you don’t put a topper thing on your candle when you burn it, it burns faster and sometimes out of whack. The topper equalizes all that. The last one I had broke, but I haven’t seen (a manly, I know, I know) one that would be a suitable replacement for the old (manly) one I had. But I figured since it was close to Halloween, maybe they’d have some darker-themed toppers.

Quick off topic story regarding the trip over:

The drive to the outlets involves me going across the Bay Bridge, and on certain days, they have many if not all of the booths open, so what happens is you have like eight or 10 lanes that need to converge into two. So naturally there’s  a backup. I’m used to it, so it’s no big deal. I’m not a dick about people wanting to get in front of me (unless they are one of the assholes that make zero effort to merge until the last possible minute, screwing up everyone, then fuck you). I’m also pretty assertive when I need to get over and I will drift and drift over until the person lets me in because I have insurance. That happened today.

People were in the jam, going about five miles an hour, merging and such, and I saw an opportunity to get over. So I put on my turn signal and proceeded to start getting over. Of course, as soon as I put on my signal, the cunt behind me started getting up on it so I couldn’t get over. So she thought. I just kept drifting over, not a care in the world. She finally got the hint and put on the breaks and I got in. I glanced in the mirror and saw she was yelling and her boyfriend was yelling, and me? I busted out laughing. Fuck you. Don’t be a dick. To teach her a lesson, I let three more cars in front of me, and I was pleased to see that someone else forced their way in front of her even as she tried to pull the same shit. Ug. Ignorant.

Moving on, I made my way to the outlets and found a SWEET parking spot (the kind that was not only close to the store, but I was able to pull straight on through from the spot behind it so I was nose out, good times). I saw from the outside that the current sale that they had was six large jar candles for $60. I know, right? That’s crazy insane pricing right there. I didn’t need six, though. Just two. And a topper.

I went in and headed straight for the toppers so I could pick one out quick if necessary. Sometimes they have a very limited supply on them, so I wanted to make sure if I saw one, to grab it. I didn’t see any on the shelves, but I found an endcap with Halloween-themed accessories for 65% off. Score! I managed to get a topper and a base for $10 total. That’s insane. The topper isn’t quite as manly as I wanted, but it was Halloween-themed, so that’s cool. I like Halloween.

Then it was time to move onto the candles. I asked the lady how much they were indivdually and she said $13.99. That’s not $10 each if I bought six, but a great price nonetheless (for those that don’t know, they go for like $25 retail). As I was looking for a suitable scent, a saleslady came up to me and said, “Smell this, your boyfriend will love it.”

I busted out laughing. I said, “I don’t have a boyfriend.” I wasn’t even mad. And I kind of felt bad for her because her face kind of fell, like she stepped in it and realized I wasn’t gay. Or I made it super awkward for her by saying, “I  don’t have a boyfriend,” instead of, “I’m not gay,” and she didn’t know what to think. The other lady, looking to cover her, said, “Oh pay her no mind.” I told her I didn’t. It doesn’t bother me what way people think I go. It’s irrelevant.

My friend Karin did bring up the point of, “You were at Yankee Candle, can you blame her?” And she has a point, but my counter is, “Fire, good smells and great for sexy time. Everyone should love candles, bi, gay or straight!”

Karin doesn’t like them. I question who doesn’t like fire because…fire. And fuck it, I like my house smelling good. Especially when I forget to put that Styrofoam thing the chicken came in in its own seperate bag before throwing it away. Candles mask that shit until it dissipates.

After my Yankee Candle experience, I spent the rest of the day watching horror movies. It’s October after all.

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Film set ramblings.

Kevin, Mike, Laura, Me

Kevin, Mike, Laura, Me

I have said before and I’ll say again, I have some pretty cool friends. One of the sweetest things I’ve gained from the site I co-run is the friendship of many of the local filmmakers in my area. And if there’s one thing all low-budget filmmakers have in common, it’s the fact that they are always looking for someone to help out. Because of this, I’ve been on quite a few film sets to lend a hand. I really have zero interest in either starring in a movie or even making one, but I do like watching the process quite a bit, and being eager to help them out gets me right there in the thick of it.

For the past few months, one of my buddies has been part of an anthology project. So far I’ve been part of two of the three (?) stories, and two weeks ago I helped out on a Friday and Saturday (late night shoots, no less) with the wraparound story of the film. (On a side note, if you ever want to hear a fantastic tale about one of the days we shot in the woods, just ask. If I know you well enough, I’ll tell you. Just say, “choke me” and I’ll fill you in.)

For those that may not know, an anthology film consists of a couple stories, and the wraparound is the piece that holds them all together. For example, in Creepshow, the wraparound was the cartoon with the kid and the comic. That’s what we were to be working on two weeks ago (not the kid and the comic, but the wraparound for the movie my buddy is making). It was great because it was going to be a small set, I knew most of the people there, and it was going to be indoors the entire time. That last part was a blessing, for various reasons. The only two people I didn’t know were Brad and Laura, two actors who are the stars of the wraparound. Also on hand were Matt (who is playing two roles in this movie, interestingly enough), Kevin the director, Zig (who was only there Friday and had to leave due to an emergency called LAZINESS, just kidding, it was a real emergency), and Mike, who is a wizard and was there for wizardry and other helpful things. Oh, there were some special effects folks and two of Kevin’s friends there on Saturday too.

I’m not going to get too much what happened on set, other than I had a blast. which is interesting because according to Kevin, things were quite difficult. That’s not to say he’s right, he no doubt is, because I’m more or less there to help out. I have no idea what’s going on with the technical side of things. This is basically how I spend my time on set:

Busy checking Facebook.

I’m NOT checking Facebook. I’m…uh…doing some research for Kevin about…uh…sound or something.

When I’m not looking clueless like the above picture and/or helping out setting up the next shot, much of the time on set is spent talking with everyone else there, and that is my second favorite part of helping out these cats. Because, generally, everyone on set is a film fan (naturally) and the main discussion is generally movies or TV (or, in the case of this set, football because two of us were Redskins fans, one was a Eagles fan (boo!) and one was a Miami fan (whateves). Since ‘Skins just lost to Miami and were due to play Eagles, there naturally was some shit talking.

When we weren’t talking about football, Laura and I were dropping lines from Bob’s Burgers (which was AWESOME because not enough people watch that show) and Archer, and then the discussion got even better because we talked about Richard Matheson stories. That’s when the long hours on the set are worth it, the bullshit discussions in a room full of people where everyone has the same interests. It’s kind of like a nerd convention, but far more intimate.

Plus, with Zig gone on Saturday, I got a lot more involved than I normally do on sets. I did a lot of sound and lighting. That’s what I usually do, but I did even more of it and by the end of the shoot, I was more or less (hopefully) rolling with what Kevin wanted without having to ask him (meaning, I was getting the feel for how much light he needed and where he needed me for sound). He still…directed me, don’t get me wrong, but I was better at him directing me less. At least I hope so and it wasn’t him just giving up on me.

It was two long but fun nights, and if I’m not mistaken, Kevin’s done with shooting his part of this anthology. That’s the bittersweet moment for me because I know I won’t be on a set until his next film (assuming he’ll let me hang out) but it also means now the movie is in editing mode, so I’m closer to seeing the fruits of my labor (what little of it there was).

All in all, it was a great weekend, and it always is. Of all the sets I’ve been on, Kevin’s are my favorite. Even if the sonofabitch is a taskmaster.

Oh, one final thing! My new favorite line, “It’s okay, he has glowsticks.” I will always laugh when someone says that too me.

Thumbs up for Jesus!