Thursday, December 27, 2012

Photo Finish

A bright light flashed in front of my eyes for a few seconds.

"One more."

I was at the DMV renewing my license about 10 years ago.  This was my fourth attempt at the photo. The first three hadn't gone too well.

"Your eyes are still closed. This is the last one, OK? No matter what happens, this one is the one we're going with."

I am not what you'd call photogenic. I'll see group pictures and think, "She looks like she usually does, and he looks like he usually does, but what is wrong with me? I don't look like that all the time, right? I mean, I look in the mirror and I look OK, sort of dashing and rugged, actually. How do I end up looking like a combination of Tom Arnold and Nathan Lane in photographs?"

So I was used to bad pictures. I don't know how many people throughout my life had said, "Why did you have to make that face in the photo," when I didn't have the heart to tell them that that was actually my normal face.

"OK, keep your eyes open this time. On three. One. Two. Three."


At this particular DMV there was a screen where the workers would see the photograph as it was being processed behind the counter. I'm standing there, blinking the sunspots out of my eyes when I hear the entire staff start laughing.

That's never a good sign.

"Here's your license, Mr. Adams," the woman behind the counter said with barely controlled laughter.

I looked at it, expecting the worst.

I wasn't let down. I was so afraid of closing my eyes, that I kept them open as wide as possible. I resembled an excited Mr. Furley with about 30 extra pounds.

My driver's license from 2000
It worked, I guess. Cops always did a double take when pulling me over, and it was always a winner whenever a group was playing "check out my terrible license photo." I really should have scanned it, but when I got it updated a few years back they gave me a new photo, one where I looked like a Russian mobster.

I just got a replacement license this morning after losing my wallet in Bradenton over Christmas. The photo is OK, but I do miss the power of having a driver's license photo that cracked up a whole office of hardened DMV workers, even after the thousands of terrible photos they had seen.

After five attempts at a photo this time, the woman behind the counter said, "Well, at least you have a better picture than your last one."

If she only knew.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

White Christmas

When I was a kid, Christmas Day was mostly a relief after the ordeal of Christmas Eve. I was so excited to see my presents the next morning, but terrified that I hadn't been good enough to deserve any that I would end up throwing up out of anxiety by early evening.

As I grew older, I didn't get as excited about Christmas, possibly in an effort to save my stomach lining. But I would still get flashes of Christmas Spirit, even when I was a teenaged punk rocker and opposed to everything that normal people might like or take comfort in.

Christmas Eve 1989 was cold. Around midnight I was with my friends Curt and Jennifer at her mom's house. I remember driving down Riverside Avenue earlier to pick up Curt and getting caught in a slow-moving trail of cars looking at luminaria and Christmas lights. I was 19 at the time, so this boring old person wagon train was a personal affront to my mission that night, which was to speed as fast as possible down Riverside's twists and turns to pick up my friend. Now, of course, I'll watch the hell out of some luminaria and Christmas lights.

Curt and Jennifer were both home on Christmas break. I was still in Bradenton, making my way through community college. It was a strange time. My friends had moved away and I was working part time and making awesome grades, the first time since about elementary school, probably because I was actually trying for once. But I felt like my friends were out there growing and experiencing stuff while I was spinning my wheels back in my home town.

In those primitive days, contact was pretty much limited to letters, occasional phone calls, and the reliable passenger pigeon, so the few times a year we could get together meant a lot. They would tell me about Gainesville and Tallahassee and how I needed to get up there, fast. That's what we ended up talking about that night. I remember Jennifer had given me a copy of the No Idea zine, with the Mutley Chix/Crimprshine split 7", and like all punk rockers at the time, we were talking about Fugazi.* Jennifer had an advance copy of what would be "Repeater" and we played it over and over again.

"There's a whole world out there where people are creating and doing stuff," I thought. "And I've got to be a part of it."

But I was also genuinely happy to be with my friends. A little later I was driving home through the deserted streets after dropping Curt off. I was thinking how grateful I was to have such good friends and was pondering the future and sort of wondering what and where my place was.

My thoughts were interrupted by waves of pollen from the palm trees falling on my windshield. "Stupid pollen," I thought. "I'm probably going to be all stopped up tomorrow."

Wait a minute, that wasn't pollen at all. It was snow!

I hadn't seen snow in years, not since I was a kid in Mississippi. And it was snowing on Christmas Eve! I stopped the car and let the snow (really little more than frozen rain) fall on my face and hands.

Driving the rest of the way home, I finally got it. The Christmas spirit. Like the best Christmas songs and entertainment, I was feeling happy and excited, but just a little melancholy and thankful at the same time. I hadn't felt that way in a while.

And then I realized why I hadn't really felt Christmasy the last few years. I was waiting for that pure rush of excitement I got opening presents as a kid. But adult Christmas wasn't just about excitement and happiness, it was the whole mixture, with a little bit of sadness and hope and thankfulness.

Christmas is Charlie Brown loving a crappy Christmas tree. It's Jimmy Stewart hugging the shit out of his family. It's the insanely sad lyrics to "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" or Shane McGowan slurring, "I could have been someone." It's Scrooge getting the miserliness scared out of him.

And it's also Dean Martin slurring though "Silver Bells" and dogs at a bandstand happily barking their way through "Jingle Bells," but that's a whole other story.

In the following years, there would always be a time, sometimes only a  brief moment when I could catch that feeling again. Joy, contentment, chemical compounds rushing out to fight seasonal depression, who knows what it actually was. But each year there would come a time when I'd be alone, feeling an incredible mix of contentment and happiness, mixed with just a tinge of sadness to make it all the more sweet.

Whatever your holiday traditions are, I hope you get to experience some of that, at least for a little while this year.

* In the late '80s/early '90s, every conversation between punk rockers would eventually come around to Ian MacKaye and/or GG Allin.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tiny Treasures

It seems like we visited my Great Aunt Tiny and Uncle Norwood a lot when I was a kid.

I wasn't complaining - they had this awesome house on the outskirts of Fort Myers that Uncle Norwood designed and built.

The house was on a natural dam by Lake Orange. There was a family of alligators that would come up on the bank in the afternoon, which I thought was the coolest thing in the world. The house was on a lot of land, so you could spend the day fishing, playing in the lake, exploring the woods, or driving the golf cart across the dam in the afternoon to feed the cows or visiting a little hollow in the woods that Aunt Tiny called her "laughing place."

Most of their house was dark and cool with some of the creepiness around the corners that fascinated me as a kid. There was a little pond out front with these scary tiki statues that I was drawn to, but afraid to look at too much. There was also a novelty bathroom trashcan in the shape of a huge stick of dynamite that absolutely terrified me.

There was also Uncle Norwood's study, full of old copies of  my Uncle Bruce's old comic collection  which included a ton of horrifying EC comics about people coming back from the dead to avenge murders or getting killed gruesomely in ironic twists. I also found a bunch of Playboy joke books that went completely over my head, but hey, they had cartoons of naked ladies in them.

I don't remember Uncle Norwood too much - maybe he was annoyed with the kids running around and tried to stay away from the house on our visits. And now, with the ravages of age on my memory, there's a lot I'm forgetting about Aunt Tiny.

Tiny wasn't really her name, of course. It was just a nickname that stuck. I mostly remember her telling me about St. Patrick every St. Patrick's Day, which is strange, since our family wasn't Catholic. I also remember the rainy days when we would paint.

Aunt Tiny loved buying stuff at flea markets and yard sales. One of her specialties was old paintings.
When it rained, she would let me help her improve them.

Like, say she originally had a painting of a field. She might decide it needed brighter grass. So we'd repaint the grass. Then with the grass that bright, the sun and sky needed to be redone. And the original artist really missed the boat by not adding any clouds, so we'd have to put some in there. And hey, how about some bunnies in the field, or a flock of birds flying around? Can't have an empty, boring field.

Birds in a big field of green

And after adding all that stuff, we had really done more work than the original artist. What gave him the right to keep his lazy name on it? So we'd paint over the name and paint our own on there.

Three bunnies meet an owl. I don't know what that grass curtain on the left is.
Sometimes the paintings would retain most of the original work, with our improvements enhancing whatever the now-anonymous artist had originally done, other times there was so much paint on the that they became completely new works, like the two paintings here that I've had for ...holy crap, probably over 35 years.

Our big mistake was not publicizing this stuff. I mean, an untaught senior citizen and a little kid manipulating other people's art? If we had thrown around enough bullshit and two-dollar words, we would have been the kings of American postmodernism.

So today when I see art repurposing someone else's original work, my first reaction is usually, "Eh. Aunt Tiny invented that stuff."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's All Connected

In addition to my punishing schedule here at Goo Goo Muck Industries, I also do book/DVD/CD reviews for another site. Every once in a while I'll realize I don't have anything to say about a reissue of an album I've been listening to for over 20 years, and then realize I've been sitting on the review for 6 weeks.

If I remember my literary history* F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote "The Great Gatsby" in 6 weeks, the same amount of time it took me to think up synonyms for "rocking" for a Stooges review.

Of course it was easier back then. While authors in those days had their distractions, like crippling alcohol dependencies, schizophrenic spouses, and sitting around tables being witty, the modern scribe has the internet to steal his or her time away.

Take tonight. "Man, I haven't written anything for the blog in weeks," I was thinking. "Remember how I told myself I was going to put something out once a week? Luckily I didn't write that down."

"I've got all sorts of halfway finished stories, maybe I can do something with one of those."

After poking around the drafts, I thought I had something with my version of falling asleep at the drive-in. But I had a quote in the first paragraph from Ike and Tina Turner's version of "Proud Mary" that I wasn't absolutely sure I had the correct words for. So I had to look that up on Youtube for transcription purposes. Can't have fact errors on the internet.

That led me to about an hour's worth of Ike and Tina Turner songs on Spotify. Holy crap, there's an album called "Cussin,' Cryin' and Carryin' On?" Well, I gotta listen to that. That led me to the James Brown Christmas album, which naturally led to Fishbone's "It's a Wonderful Life." Hey, I need to find a good picture of Potterville showing that cool Indian Head Club. That took an hour or so.

Someone on Facebook had a link to Elvis Costello performing on Saturday Night Live when he stopped a song and launched into "Radio Radio," so I watched that and wondered why that would get him banned from the show for years. I mean, it's not like he was doing "Drink, Fight, and Fuck." Oh, the Beastie Boys did the same thing later, starting with "Sabatoge," stopping, then getting Elvis on there to do "Radio Radio." I should watch that a couple times, also.

Hey, I wonder if anyone ever released I Was A Teenage Frankenstein and/or I Was A Teenage Werewolf on DVD? That kept me busy for some time. Dr. Paul Bearer used to play those all the time on "Creature Feature," so I had to look up "Creature Feature" commercials on Youtube. That caused me to look up the Cramps's song "I Was A Teenage Werewolf." A link from that made me realize that all my work/procrastination had not been in vain. No, by switching off my conscious brain and searching for connections, I had inadvertently stumbled across the greatest thing on the internet. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the best music video ever assembled:

While it's actually the Stranglers, not the Cramps, and I feel that the couple seconds of Shermy dancing in the middle there distract from the overall theme, I think I can safely say that I put in a productive night's work.

Let's see F. Scott Fitzgerald pull that off.

* I probably don't.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Golden Shower of Hits

I don't know how many of you are familiar with public men's room design (I'm thinking about half of you), but a lot of bars and restaurants place little ads or public service announcements over the urinals. The thinking is, you're standing there with an ad at eye level so even if you don't actually read it, it will stick in your head so you start to think, "Hey, maybe I shouldn't get a DUI," or "Man, nachos sound good right now."

So I'm in a restaurant Saturday night. Before sitting down I go to the bathroom. I see some ads and a couple photos on the wall to my right so I follow over and unzip. in the collection is a photo of three people, I guess a trivia team, called "He shoots, she swallows."

"That isn't very nice," I think. "I wonder if this woman knows she's in that photo above a urinal with that caption. Well, I guess she probably knew the team's name beforehand, so she knew what she was getting into. Hey, this urinal sounds funny."

Many of today's handless driers are actually less sanitary than paper towels.
I looked down. For the past few seconds, I hadn't been using a urinal at all, but a handless air dryer. Conditioned by advertising, I had followed the ads to where I had been trained to see them. I think that whole Black Friday had something to do with it, also.

I have heard stories of this happening to friends and family for years - where the person was either drunk or half-asleep or in a different house and ended up peeing in a chest or closet or something. But I was wide awake and sober.

Luckily the door was locked. I finished up my business in the real urinal and started gathering water and soap in my hands and splashing it over the urine-soaked dryer. I figured that would at least dilute it a bit. Now that I think about it, that probably wasn't the best idea I've ever  had, but I was panicked. I thought the next guy through the door would know that I had peed on the air dryer and ...
well, I'm not sure what they'd do. Probably force me to wear a big scarlet P for the rest of the night while I was shamed in the public stocks.

Luckily, no one was the wiser, and hopefully the puddle of water around the dryer discouraged others from using it for the night. Actually, it might have short circuited if anyone used it, what with all the liquid and soap.

I didn't say anything at all through dinner, and truthfully I kind of forgot about it until we were walking to the car and the girlfriend mentioned something about how cool looking the space-age hand dryers were.

"Uh...yeah. About those handdryers."

So gentlemen, the next time you find yourself in a public restroom, take a second or two to orient yourself to your surroundings. Also, you might want to skip the fancy handdryer and just use some paper towels or the back of your pants.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Everybody Knows that the Bird is the Word

A friend was here for a few days this summer. I try to show visitors the best our city has to offer, so I compiled a pretty good schedule of the area's dining and drinking establishments.

While drinking at Birdies one night, we started talking about strip clubs.

I'll have to admit something here, at risk to my reputation as a dude. Other than delivering food in Atlanta, I've never been to a strip club.*

It's not like I've got anything against naked ladies. It just always seemed kind of ...pointless, I guess. I mean, it's not like you can do anything, you know? You just watch them dance around, listen to Kid Rock, spend a bunch of money, then drive home alone.

Anyway, after more cheap drinks, a strip club seemed like exactly the right place to end the night. But where to go? I had no idea, so I texted some friends. While waiting for their replies, I realized, hey, there's a place right near my neighborhood.  It seems pretty sleazy, too. We'll have a couple drinks, look at some sketchy strippers, then go home and either drink more or fall asleep.

As my friend put it later, "We looked like George Clooney and Brad Pitt walking in there compared to everyone else there." Mostly because we were wearing shirts with buttons and had like, hair, and teeth and everything.

We're sitting there watching the dancers (who have to wear bikinis. Weird.) and a couple of the girls come to our table. They're not as crack-y as I'd expect, and one of them, a curvy goth girl who would later dance to Portishead instead of bad strip club hip-hop, was actually kinda cute. I think she really liked us.

One of the cooler things about being older is that you don't care anymore. The bikini-clad girls are chatting us up, and we're talking to them just like we'd talk to, well, anyone not wearing a bikini in a neon-flashing club trying to get us to buy them expensive shots.

We're so old and square that we're asking them about what they're studying in school and what they're planning to do after they stop dancing, just normal stuff, as we're drinking $75 Coronas.

"So what's the weirdest thing you've ever seen here," one of us asks.

"There was a guy who paid me $100 to hit him in the balls," one of our new friends replies.

"Shit, I'd do that for $10," my friend said, which struck me as really funny, but didn't seem to amuse the dancers as much.

She tells us more about ballbuster and about some guy who wanted to tickle her and then casually says, "Oh yeah. There was the turkey guy."

"Turkey guy?"

"Yeah, this guy paid me a hundred bucks to pretend he was a turkey."

"Wait, wait, wait, this is the third story you bring up? How was turkey guy not the first thing you thought of?"

Actually, that is kinda hot.

"So, did this guy want you to, like, stick a thermometer up his ass?"

"Did he want to wear those little booty things they put on drumsticks in cartoons?"

"No, no, he just wanted me to talk to him, but talk to him like a turkey."

"What? Nobody talks to a turkey."

"He wanted me to pretend he was baking in an oven. So I'd have to say stuff like, 'Oh, you're so golden brown, you're really looking tasty now. I can't wait til I take you out of the oven. You are such a juicy, delicious turkey."

"So you didn't have to pretend to eat him or ... I dunno, gravy him up or anything?"

"No, I just talked to him. After a while it gets hard to come up with things to say about a turkey, but it's easier than dancing."

"Yeah, I guess so. Man, that guy must go nuts around Thanksgiving, huh?"

She described the guy to us a bit, and naturally I've been looking for him ever since. Every once in a while I'll be out in public and I'll start scanning guy's faces, thinking, "I know it's one of you. One of you is the dirty, dirty, bird."

But even more than that, I kept thinking about this poor dude's secret. As a man of the world, I don't care what consenting adults do with each other, but could you imagine having this as your secret fetish? How would you bring that up? Would it be weighing on your mind every Thanksgiving?

"Mmmm, honey. That turkey smells delicious. You know Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year. I just...sometimes I feel like just eating a turkey isn't enough, you know? Like, I love turkey so much that...why are you looking at me all weird? Uh, you know, just forget I said anything. Help you set the table?"

Or do you bring it up earlier in the relationship? Sort of laying all the cards on the table?

"So...I'm sort of kinky."

"Oh, that's OK, my last boyfriend and I used to watched Cinemax movies together."


Whatever their predilections, I hope both of my faithful readers have a happy Thanksgiving. And if you notice someone gazing just a little too wistfully at the turkey, well...well, it could be me. Are we gonna eat or what? Or you could be at a table with the Turkey Man. Try to be understanding.

* STOP THE PRESSES! I just remembered I've actually been to the Clairmont in Atlanta twice. Once to see Shellac, which probably doesn't count, and once with some friends. My wife at the time was waiting to use the bathroom when a dancer came out and said "Sorry, Hon, didn't know anyone was waiting. Glad I wasn't fucking anyone." Classy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Join the Fiend Club

You know who used to really be scary back in the pre-internet punk rock days? The Misfits.

You never really heard that much about them, and what you did hear was shrouded in mystery.

"I heard they killed a guy in California."

"I hear they only play on Halloween night."

"No, they play other nights, but they only play shows in graveyards or haunted houses or Indian burial grounds."

You'd see pictures of them in fanzines looking all creepy - that devillock thing and the all black on a bunch of huge weightlifting Frankenstein guys was a pretty distinctive look when most punk bands just wore T-shirts from other bands.

Plus, while their contemporaries were shouting about Reagan and cops, the Misfits were signing about the stuff that mattered - songs referencing Night of the Living Dead, Teenagers from Outer Space, and other awesome movies. Hell, they named their record label after Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Vampira and the Misfits. Only thing that would make this cooler would be Neil Armstrong, Dolemite, and Elvis in the background.

It's pretty amazing actually, that these guys came up with a overall theme, a look, and some kick-ass songs, creating a genre all to themselves. The post-Danzig stuff might have tarnished their legacy a bit, but damn, if I don't have to break out "Walk Among Us" and the coffin box set every October.

These were some of the things I was thinking a few weeks ago while I was driving around listening to "Walk Among Us" for the thousandth time. I had the windows down, since October in Florida means that the temperature is only in the low 80s. I could feel my throat getting a bit hoarse because you can't let "Skulls" or "Astrozombies" or "Vampira" go by unassisted, you know?

I didn't have it too loud, but it was audible outside the car. At least that's what I figured when I noticed the nice lady next to me giving me a strange look. Thinking back on it, while we were waiting for the light to change, the absolute most ridiculous part of the most ridiculous song came up.

Originally, the last song on the first side of the album was a live version of a song called "Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight." It sort of chugs along there in the beginning then stops while Glenn Danzig shouts out, "Mommy...can I got out and KILL TONIGHT," then kicks in faster.

So here I am, a pillar of the community, happy that I had found a good deal on both cat food and laundry detergent at Target. But all the lady next to me hears is a guy screaming something about mommies and killing then even more screaming.

I lead a very normal life. I go about my job, try to go running, go to the movies or whatever like normal people do and don't try to draw attention to myself. But every once in a while I get a reminder that no matter how adult I am, certain things like the trashy movies, punk rock, and Halloween will wipe all my maturity away in seconds.

That being said, I still feel sorry for the nice lady.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Help Me, Loyal Readers. You're My Only Hope.

You know when you get a song stuck in your head? How it keeps playing over and over again, ricocheting through your grey matter like a pinball? Well, the past week or so, I've had a story rattling around in my head. Normal people get that, right?

This happens fairly often. I'll be riding into work or mowing the yard or running and a phrase or story will appear out of nowhere. It is then my job to write it up until I get bored, embellish it with some jokes I probably stole from old Simpsons episodes, get sleepy or distracted and not write an ending, hit 'publish,' and cringe over the typos the next day.

This story, however, is haunting me because it doesn't have an ending. Even more so than all my other stories.

Somehow I vaguely remember a story from high school (I think) about someone, either a cool, older student or a celebrity who replaced the windshield washer fluid in his car with Jack Daniels.

This has been bugging me.

I narrowed the celebrities down to Burt Reynolds or David Lee Roth, but that's probably because those are about the only two celebrities I think about.

As the people I have decided to share this tale with have pointed out, I have no idea why you would want to do such a thing. Why would you want whiskey all over your windshield, instead of in a handy carrying case, like say, a bottle or glass? Wouldn't your car smell like alcohol all the time, resulting in more hassles from The Man? You couldn't even use the fluid to refresh your drink unless you got out of your car and were standing on the sidewalk or garage or something.

So obviously, I'm fairly sure this story is fake, but it still haunts me like a ghost. An alcoholic ghost doing that David Lee Roth "Heeeeey-yaaaah" scream. Or possibly that Burt Reynolds' laugh.

I thought it might have been in one of the crappy movies I've seen, possibly something with the word Moonshine in the title, but I don't think so. An exhaustive* internet search has pulled up nothing. So was this a high school urban legend? Did I dream it? If anyone has ever heard this story before, I'm begging all both of you to let me know.

*Exhaustive search = One Google search that took 0.55 seconds yielding no answers.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

I was rarely scared of movies as a kid, mostly because there was so much real life stuff for me to be afraid of: teenagers, little dogs (there was a one-legged chihuahua that lived my grandparents that absolutely terrified me), the future, grades, nuclear war, getting in trouble, sudden death, the explosion of the sun, you know, plausible real-life situations.

So yeah, ghosts, devils, Frankensteins, vampires, whatever you had, for the most part I could handle it. But put a psuedo-scientific sheen on it, and it became terrifyingly real. Like In Search Of, a popular TV show in the '70s/early '80s in which Leonard Nimoy, Spock himself, would present stories about the Bermuda Triangle or poltergeists or voodoo curses with just enough "This might maybe possibly could happen" to keep me tossing fitfully in my Star Wars sheets later that night.

However, every once in a while a movie would legitimately scare the crap out of me. Three of them I still remember. SSSSSSS, about a guy turning into a snake was one. We've discussed Dark Night of the Scarecrow. Now it's time for The Legend of Lizzie Borden, a movie that scared me when I was way too old to be scared of movies.

According to a quick internet search, The Legend of Lizzie Borden was a made for TV movie back in 1975 starring Bewtiched's Elizabeth Montgomery that actually won a couple of Emmys, probably for outstanding achievements in the field of creepiness. I caught it years later in the '80s.

At the time I had figured out how to get in pay channels on my parent's TV. It wasn't perfect, and it was jumpy and in black and white, but it worked, so would stay up late on weekends after searching the TV guide for nudity, violence, and the wild card, "adult situations."

The Legend of Lizzie Borden hit all three, and it was on regular TV so I wouldn't have to assume my usual position of kneeling in front of the television, ready to switch back to non-cable at the slightest sound from the house.

The movie covers the trial of the infamous murder case, while Lizzie has flashbacks or daydreams to the earlier events. I don't remember exactly how old I was but by this point I had seen all sorts of murders and killings in movies and had rarely been bothered or upset. Probably because it all seemed so far removed. I mean, what were the chances I was going ever going to be having sex in a deserted summer camp? Or have sex while I was supposed to be babysitting? Yes, it seemed almost impossible that I would ever have sex at all.

But Lizzie's flashbacks - holy crap. According to the movie Lizzie's dad kept an embalming room down in the basement, where at one point it looks like he's feeling up one of the corpses. There's also a strong current of incest down there, which, just to be even creepier, results in Lizzie accidentally pulling out one of the corpse tubes, resulting in blood splattering all over the place.*

Then there are the murders. According to the movie Lizzie took her clothes off before killing to avoid bloodstains. So my brain would go from "Wow! Lady from Bewitched is naked!** Holy crap, this is awesome!" to "Oh shit! She totally just chopped up her stepmother while smiling!" resulting in all sorts of disturbing feelings that the right medications and an army of psychiatric professionals have only recently gotten to the bottom of.

But what might have creeped me out even more is the overall tone, where Lizzie remains emotionless throughout her trial, even though her parents have been all hacked up. Naturally, the viewing audience knew she did it, and to see a completely remorseless killer who wasn't a Jason or a Terminator or something really freaked me out. It ends with her back at her hacked up parents' house after being declared innocent, and her sister asks her if she really did it. Lizzie doesn't say anything  (BECAUSE SHE TOTALLY DID IT! WE JUST SAW HER GET NAKED AND AXE THEM ALL UP LIKE A DWARVES ALBUM COVER!), and then the creepy slow ragtime piano starts up.

That creepy slow ragtime piano riff would be stuck in my head for years, by the way, as a sort of sign when something creepy happened.

I recently found a copy of The Legend of Lizzie Borden and yeah, it still holds up. Like Dark Night of the Scarecrow, I was initially amazed that this sort of thing could be shown on regular old TV where anyone could stumble upon it, and was thinking there was no way something like that could air today, but then I remembered all the hours of CSI shows all full of semen stains and decapitations and stuff.

The movie is still creepy, still unsettling, and like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Halloween, effective enough that you'll think you remember much more blood and gore than is actually in the movie.

Of course, after I bought a bootleg copy of it, I found that it's freely available on Youtube, so don't take my word for it - sit at your computer and creep yourself out. Just don't blame me if that slow ragtime piano riff keeps rattling around in your head.

* This scene would affect me almost as much as the scene in Return of the Living Dead when the old lady corpse is talking about how it hurts to be dead.

** True, it was TV nudity, but when you're 13 or 14 years old, that's more than enough. Hell, the bra mannequins in Sears were like walking though the red light district in Amsterdam.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What I Did Last Weekend

I don't know who you people are (although if the search terms are accurate, you really love pictures of Aunt Esther from Sandford and Son), but I'm pretty sure that once again I had a better weekend than you.

My friend Todd's 40th birthday was last weekend, so it was back up to Atlanta for hijinx. And not just any hijinx. Limo hijinx. That's right, we were going out in a stretch Escalade, just like the rappers on the MTV show.

He planned it all out, where about 20 of us would take the limo from his house, go to Trader Vic's for Polynesian treats, then to a fancy beer place, finally ending up at Atlanta's famous Clermont Lounge.

I don't think I've ever actually been in a limo before. I never had one for prom, because I drove a '77 Lincoln Continental in high school, which was pretty much the same thing, only I didn't have Jeeves driving me around. It was pretty awesome, even if the driver got lost and our fully stocked bar was unstocked except for some water bottles, which was probably for the best.

But even though it didn't have booze, it had all these cool Tron lights all over the place. Check it out.

Doesn't it look like some sort of sci-fi judgement chamber? "I find you ...guilty."

It also had a stereo system playing My Bloody Valentine, Wire,  Naked Raygun, Jesus Lizard, Radon, Guided By Voices, Misfits, and uh...that Billy Joel "Heart attack ack ack ack ack ack" song on it really loud.

And you know, if you're cruising around Atlanta with your good friends listening to that stuff, you don't really need booze at the moment. Although we'd soon take care of that at Trader Vic's.

Trader Vic's is this awesome tiki bar, which means that most of the drinks are basically a whole bunch of rum with some pineapple juice thrown in there for Island Flavor. They also come in cool looking containers. Check it - this is called the Rum Giggle, and it's served in a conch shell. Look how impressed your narrator was with it.
Extra! Extra! Drink comes in shell!

Oh yeah - the hat. I stole it early in the evening from my friend Dave since he wasn't wearing it and I thought the night needed an olde tyme newspaper seller to add some period flavor. Here's a better shot. As you can see, the resulting ensemble was so awesome my girlfriend Sherri took off her glasses to ...better see it or something.
I would like to add that I was not as drunk as this picture suggests. I only ripped my shirt off once the whole night.

After that I stole a little pumpkin at the fancy beer place. The host would hit me in the balls with that little pumpkin later that night. I was told it was an ancient Sicilian tradition, so who am I to argue with the birthday boy. I also managed to take some decorative dried corn, but someone made me give it back as we were leaving. People are always trying to ruin your fun.

We didn't make it to the Clermont, which is probably just as well. Who knows what I would have decided to steal there.

Later that night Jerry Lewis cleaned up after us. No, really, check it out:
He was just happy we were having fun.

So how was my first (I think) ride in a limo? I'll let the sci-fi judgement chamber pronounce sentence on that one.

"We judge your Earth limousines to be...awesome."

The next day I carved a pumpkin for some early Halloween atmosphere while Sherri took photos, because that stuff has to be recorded for future generations. I noticed in one photo that I looked like my dad when he got mad at me for not doing chores. That was some Halloween scary.

This is for your kid hitting me in the balls last night.
So yeah, I carved a pumpkin, hung with some old friends and the new girlfriend, rode around in a limo listening to the Misfits, drank out of a shell, a pretty awesome weekend all around. You really should have been there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I'm Your Garbageman

I had a serious craving for some trashy movies before October came and shifted things to horror. And yes, I realize that I'm usually in the mood for trashy movies, but sometimes only a particular sub-genre of crap will get the job done.

The last week of September was time for a mountain of garbage from the '80s.

Like Tougher Than Leather, in which Run DMC use WW2 vintage German Lugers and grenades to fight gangsters (this was almost disqualified since it is sort of a real movie, with like, plot and stuff, even if a large portion of the movie embraces the  "Hey, do something. I don't or walk around or something, I'm filming. There, that's great. CUT" school of filmmaking.).

Or Intrepidos Punks - which featured movie punks running around doing crimes and being bad and stuff. It was in Spanish, but like those cheap Mexican DVDs of Santo fighting monsters, you sort of figure out what's going on. Awesomeness transcends racial and language barriers. This one was also almost disqualified since it technically wasn't from the '80s, but come on. Movie punk rockers!

And one magical night I made a double feature of Joysticks and Surf 2.

The first 10 minutes of Surf 2 featured topless ladies, the sheriff from Blazing Saddles, an Oingo Boingo song, movie punk rockers, a cop named Chief Boyardee and a big fat guy eating a chain link fence.

Again, this is just the first 10 minutes. Eddie Deezen hasn't even shown up yet and we already have a classic.

Joysticks featured Joe Don Baker, more movie punks, more topless ladies, '80s video games (including a showdown using Satan's Hollow, a real, actual game that was available for little kids and stuff to play back then), a nerd, and another big fat gross guy.

Both of these movies were gloriously trashy, with no sense of reality or bringdown like so many of today's comedies, which feel the need to screech away from the laughs with 20 minutes of "But I only did all that crazy stuff to show I loved you," or "I've grown up now and gotten rid of my cool stuff," or "Dad, why didn't you ever come to my baseball games," No, these movies are pure ridiculous garbage from start to finish, and viewers are a little better for watching them.

Which brings me to Baggies, a movie that would have been the crown jewel of '80s trash comedy film making, had it ever actually been made.

Back when my roommate Todd and I worked horrible jobs at Kash n Karry, we spent a lot of time coming up with scenarios for this imaginary movie. We had a lot of time on our hands and used the power of our imagination to create a beautiful, magical world out of the boring, structured life around us.

Which was pretty amazing, considering we worked there less than a week.

Baggies was to tell the story of a group of heroes working as bag boys at a grocery store (hey, write what you know). It was to climax with the World Championship Bagging Competition, which I swear I've seen used somewhere since.

We would discuss all manner of situations for our heroes to get into, including the classic scene where one of them insists to his friend, "I am not having a party while my parents are out of town," which would cut to Oingo Boingo playing a house party (yes, with a pair of panties on a statue and a pizza on a turntable).

We also had a sexy lady bringing up two cantaloupes to be bagged. Possibly with the nerd fainting.

We were always looking for a good joke to run into the ground, so even after we quit the job we would spend much brainpower going over more jokes and scenes for our imaginary movie.

Our friend Pat joined in and contributed even more scenes. Regrettably, after almost 20 years many of these prize-winning scenarios are lost in the sands of time. Apparently we had a chimp loose in the store because of ...I dunno, hijinx. We also had a downhill buggy race between the bakery and produce departments.

At one point we considered actually sitting down and hammering out a screenplay, but that would require, you know, work and stuff, and it was hard to imagine any movie or screenplay matching the movie that was in our heads.

I'd like to think our unmade movie taught us all a valuable lesson. Not only that we were lazy, but that even a crappy movie takes motivation, energy, and effort. Not every movie can be a Surf 2. These movies are rare jewels, and we must cherish every one.

So please. Support the arts. Support Eddie Deezen. Support party scenes set to Oingo Boingo. Watch a crappy '80s movie soon and feel your mind and heart expand just a little.

Eddie Deezen, Greatest Actor of the 20th Century

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Day I Realized I Was Dumb

Years ago I would gather with my roommate Todd and our friend Pat to watch the human chessmatch that is professional wrestling. From the blatant rule-breaking of Ric "Nature Boy" Flair, to the high-flying acrobatics of Rey Mysterio, Jr., to the mush-mouthed commentary of Dusty Rhodes, to the terminally uptight antics of Lord Steven Regal with his hatred of American commoners, we would watch every weekend.

Lord Steven Regal. How could you not love this guy? Look at that sneer! And that monocle!
There was also The Laughing Man. He wore a leotard with question marks and would break out into insane laughter after he'd defeat someone. He might have thrown joker cards around his unconscious opponent, or I could be remembering that completely wrong.

The Laughing Man's "real" name was Hugh Morrus, so he'd be referred to as "Hugh Morrus, The Laughing Man." Todd and I thought he was some sort of Joker-like character, an insane man so warped that everything is funny to him - his opponent's pain, the booing audience; everything was one big cosmic joke to The Laughing Man.

One day as we heard him introduced as "Hugh Morrus, The Laughing Man," for about the thousandth time it finally hit both of us simultaneously. Hugh Morrus. HughMorrus. Humorous! It all made sense now!

I can't remember which one of us actually voiced our revelation to Pat, but I do remember him just sort of staring at us for a couple of seconds, as if we had actually short circuited his brain with our shared stupidity.

"You guys really didn't get that until now? Hugh Morrus?"

He seemed to ask the question more in astonishment than anything else.

I seem to remember him just walking out of our house in quiet disgust over his two friends' shared stupidity, but again, I could be remembering that completely wrong.

We both ripped up our Mensa applications right after that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

September Gurls

Before September, I had never been to a drive-in, even though many of my favorite movies were designed for the place*. I had also never seen Devo, both of which sort of seem wrong. I mean, that stuff is sort of embedded in my DNA, you know?

I've since rectified both of these mistakes, and in the words of Larry David, fall is shaping up to be "pretty good. Pritty, pritty good." I went to both with my girlfriend (yeah, seriously. Says so right on the Facebook and everything.), and I've been feeling a strange ...happiness lately, which is an odd sensation, especially if you compare back to entries from a year ago, when I wasn't sleeping and would regularly torture myself with feelings of failure and disappointment. Even work is shaping up to be OK.

There's a slight coolness in the air. Fall is coming. October's annual binging on old horror movies and Misfits, Roky Erickson, Cramps and Halloween novelty songs is just a week away. And yes, I realize many of you are asking, "How is that different from the rest of the year." Shut up. That's how.

You also might be thinking, "You being happy is all well and good, but I come here for the stories of embarrassment and awkwardness. Are you gonna be like those comedians who start families and then turn all lame and unfunny?"

Well, even though that's the second somewhat crappy question you've asked, not to worry, I've got 40 plus years of that shit stockpiled. That well ain't running dry anytime soon, trust me.

In the meantime, if Devo plays anywhere near you, go see them. Seriously. I paid double what I would have if I had jumped on the tickets earlier, but it was totally worth it. I mean, check out this kid. Look how much fun this little guy's having. That could be you:

* Been trying to figure out how to write up the drive-in story for a while now. Suffice to say it involves embarrassment, lowering property values, and a comparison between the comfort of sleeping in a Honda Civic versus a Nissan Cube.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Elvis has Left the Building; or Stories I Like, Yet Am Not Entirely Convinced They Are True, Part Three

I was watching Elvis on Tour a couple of weeks ago, thanks to TCM, one of the channels that justifies my sending about half my paycheck to Comcast Cable each month.

The movie documents Elvis on a 1972 US tour, a few years before he blew up and got all rambling on stage due to his 'medications.' I've always had a soft spot for '70s Elvis, mainly because his voice sounds more melancholy and ... lived in or something, and songs like "American Trilogy" will instantly transport me to falling asleep in the back of my parent's car as we drove through Mississippi. Plus, he looked all awesome:

King of Rock and Roll, King of his Castle.

At one point there's a shot of the Jacksonville official seal, which reminded me of a story I heard years ago that I've been telling ever since.

Florida Theatre is this cool old downtown Jacksonville theater that has been around since 1927. All sorts of people have played there through the years, including Elvis back in 1956, when the mayor had to be on hand to ensure Elvis' pelvis didn't inflame the Jacksonville youth to unheard of heights of juvenile delinquency and public sexiness.

The upper level of the Florida Theatre is now office space, but it used to house a radio station in the old days, according to the story. Since this was back in the days when bands had to give interviews all the time before rocking, everyone who played the Florida Theatre would go upstairs, give an interview and play a song or two in an effort to get people to come out to the show. Then I presume they ate a fried chicken dinner provided by the theater owner's wife and drank some whiskey before going on stage.

These performances were recorded onto acetate records, which were then just sort of stored away in boxes or used to prop up uneven tables or used in primitive Frisbee games.*

Years later when the theater was renovated, crews went through all the stuff in the top floors and threw it all out. Decades of posters, old props and clothing, and hundreds of unmarked records all ended up in the dumpster.

So somewhere in a North Florida landfill lie hundreds of interviews and performances from the '20s til about the late '60s. Who knows what lies unheard and broken? Elvis is definitely in there, as well as countless other irreplaceable recordings.

This is the part where I would make a dramatic pause when retelling the story and say something profound like, "If only they would have known," while gazing wistfully off in the distance.

So is the story true? I asked Raymond, a senior librarian in the Florida department via email. This is his reply:

"Sounds entirely plausible. I can't find anything on a radio station there by randomly searching city directories, but I do know there was a fully-functional small theatre upstairs in that office building portion on the side of the theatre - like a screening room. Here's a pic of it **with a mic from WJAX, the radio station the city used to own:

I guess WJAX could've set something up to record there, but I think their studio was always elsewhere.

And yes, they probably threw everything away. That's Jacksonville SOP."

The verdict? "Entirely Plausible" is close enough to give it an Unverified But True which might be the highest level of truth we're ever gonna get here.

So feel free to use this story as your own, and remember the dramatic pause and wistful gaze at the end. People really like that.

Oh, and Raymond, I guess I should have asked before using your email like that, but I think Florida's Sunshine Laws should protect me if you try to sue.

*OK, so I made up the Frisbee and table leveling part.

 **You should check out the library's Sandgren Collection. Not all of it has been digitized, but it consists of thousands of photos of old Jacksonville buildings, old school wrestlers and entertainers and general olde tyme awesomeness.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I've ...Seen Things You People Wouldn't Believe

Went on yet another Atlanta trip last weekend. If I go one more time I will have to start paying rent to the family who keeps putting me up (and putting up with me).

I saw and experienced quite a few things, so much so that it has taken this long to process everything. For whatever reason, I took almost no pictures, so like the quote that inspired the title goes on to state, they'll all be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Wow. After that dramaticalness, it'll be kinda hard to come back to talking about my weekend.

This was the weekend of Dragon*Con, a nerdfest like none other. I was with 3 or 4 friends. We saw many of your favorite movie and comic characters, many in fun plus sizes. Sad Godzilla was probably my favorite. He was sitting on the floor by the elevators half out of his homemade (and quite badass) costume, looking all red and sad. I wanted to get a photo, but he looked too depressed and heat stroked, so I decided to leave the King of the Monsters in peace.

I ended up buying a lobby card for Dracula's Dog, because that is absolutely something I need to have.

So yes, if you're keeping score, I went to a comic convention and a Star Wars convention within two weeks. I am racking up some serious nerd points.

We ended up drinking pina coladas at Trader Vics, like the werewolf hero of the the kick-ass song "Werewolves of London."

So that's a pretty fun (but nerdy) weekend, right? I could stop there and you'd think, "Man, that guy really knows how to have some fun. He bought a poster for Dracula's Dog! He reenacted "Werewolves of London"!"

But there's more. There was a jerk festival the next day where vendors were selling delicious treats from the islands. My friend Sherri and I bought some somewhat overpriced (but delicious) strawberry smoothies, mostly because they were served in a pineapple. How could you turn down a chance to strut around like you were in Gilligan's Island with a big ol' pineapple drink?

From there, we went to this huge drive-in extravaganza, all full of bands and fireworks and movies. They played Big Trouble in Little China, Blade Runner, Blacula, and H.O.T.S., which didn't really fit in with the B title theme, but whatever.

It is strange that I had never been to a drive-in before, especially considering that many of my favorite movies were made for the drive-in. I think I'm ruined now, because I can't imagine I could have a better drive-in experience ever. So I might just stop while I'm ahead.

I also got to uncomfortably sleep in two cars over the course of the weekend and saw a pony, a tiki car and a little bitty Grave Digger monster truck that would speed through the drive-in with a person's head and torso sticking out of the top like a Big Daddy Roth cartoon come to life.

I don't know what you did on Labor Day, but I can almost guarantee you that you didn't have as much fun as I did.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

There's a(n Ice Cream) Riot Goin' On; or Stories I Like, Yet Am Not Entirely Convinced They Are True, Part Two

Jacksonville's logo, "Bold New City of the South" brings to mind several things: like Atlanta's logo "A City Too Busy to Hate," it sent a message that we weren't like the rest of the South, we were progressive, forward looking, and open for business. It also brings to mind this photo of our old mayor about to get smacked in the face with a titty while his Benny Hill-esque sidekick looks on:
I wish I knew how to embed "Yakkity Sax" here.

But Jacksonville had a darker side, a face we hid from the rest of the nation. No, I'm not talking about the paper mills, those have been gone for decades. No, not the Civil Rights struggle, white people were dicks here just like in every other Southern city.

I'm speaking of the Great Ice Cream Riot.

Local historians ignore the Great Ice Cream Riot of Sometime in the Mid '90s. This could be a deep-reaching conspiracy to protect the city's image. Or it could be because it was all made up.

I'll explain:

We had a great team at the Fine Arts Department at the old Hayden Burns Library. One of the advantages to working there was that the new Main Library was about to open, so nobody really cared about the old library. That meant we could do whatever programming we wanted.

And boy, did we.

We had a series of themed amateur film festivals, which went over well - the theme would be whatever our obsessions were at the time - Liberace, '70s truck driving movies, whatever. They were a lot of fun and got a few people into the library who otherwise might not have come. We hosted annual Halloween festivals which would combine whatever public domain movies we could play with live bands and whatever scripted foolishness and in-jokes we could get our part-time pages to perform.

Then one of the librarians mentioned something about an ice cream riot.

She vaguely remembered hearing something on the news years ago about a riot erupting at the Jacksonville Landing after the frozen treats ran out during a free ice cream day.

We had a new obsession and had to had to have a program. So, tempting fate, we decided to stage an ice cream social, combining more public access films with special guest appearances from Kenny Rogers and a cranky Thomas Edison. I'm sure Liberace was in there somewhere, along with the free ice cream. We immediately started work on the centerpiece of the program, a Ken Burns-like recreation of the Great Ice Cream Riot's aftermath.

We wanted to slowly pan over a sepia-tinted photo of kids clutching ice cream cones while lying on the ground while a narrator said something like, "Ice ... cream...Everywhere, I see the remnants of ice cream."

Then we discovered that such a film was way beyond our capabilities and some digging discovered...well, I'll let her tell you. Ladies and Gentlemen, Laura will walk us through the real story of the Great Ice Cream Riot.

Q: So did you have the Great Ice Cream Riot in your mind for years? Like if someone mentioned the Landing was that the first thing that came up?

Do you remember our plans to reenact the Great Riot? I seem to remember wanting to do a Ken Burns-style panning over the bodies reaching out for ice cream.

A: Yes, for some reason that story really stuck with me and it did come to mind when I thought about the Landing. Something about those 11 o’clock news stories. There was another one about a guy who donated a giant robot (like the ones they have at monster truck shows) to a small town in Texas and the police used the robot to tear down crack houses. You might want to research that for another “Great stories that might not be true.”

I’m sure the reason we never made the film about the ice cream riot was because our vision was so ambitious.

Q: So it was basically just a food fight that broke out in the food court, right? How did that make the news? And this would have been in the early ‘90s, right?

A: It was in the mid ‘90s. Maybe it was a slow news night? I wish I had saved the article Glenn found for us. The problem is I wanted to believe the riot was a result of the ice cream social so much that I forgot the truth. I think they were actually two separate news stories from the same night. We found evidence that the Winn Dixie-sponsored ice cream social happened at the Landing and Glenn found a story about some guys who started a food fight up in the food court. For some reason I’m thinking the guys were in their early 20s and the whole thing started at Sbarro but I could be making that up.

Q: I seem to remember you were pretty disappointed when you actually found the truth. There is a lesson there. Not that it stopped us from trying to portray the Great Ice Cream Riot in all our following programs. Speaking of which, am I correct in remembering that you and Matthew both feel the Thomas Edison Ice Cream program was one of our worst? I think that was a totally underrated program. 

A: You’ve been talking about how great the Edison program was for so many years that I’m starting to believe it myself.

Q: Was there a point after you found out the truth that you didn’t want to accept it or at least tell me and Matthew about it?
A: No, Scott. That would be crazy. My version of the story didn’t mean enough to me to consciously deny it.

Regrettably, the story of the Great Ice Cream Riot will have to be rated FALSE, which deeply pains me, as the idea of a riot breaking out over free ice cream is simply awesome. HOWEVER, even if the story itself is false, it inspired both some extensive library research and an underrated program, as well as an entertaining story, so we shouldn't be too hard on it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Star Warrior

Some of you know how hard it can be to get me out of my house once I get settled. I have a comfortable routine (some might call it a rut), and why go messing with that in the scary outside world?

But many of you also know that I'm susceptible to peer pressure, and if given enough time and a semi-persuasive argument (usually something like, "Aw, come on.") I'll flip-flop and decide to venture outside my compound in search of excitement.

Which is what happened Sunday. The night before a friend texted asking what I was doing and saying that I should go to this Star Wars convention in Orlando the next day. Responsible me realized that I had just spent a lot of money getting my brakes fixed a week ago, and I was heading back to Atlanta soon, so I probably shouldn't spend the money. Besides, I had stuff I needed to finish up around the house on Sunday.

A few hours later I realized I had completed most of my responsible weekend stuff already, and while I was broke, I did have a credit card, and I wasn't really doing anything Sunday anyway, so why not?

Which is how I found myself in Orlando the next day in a convention center full of Star Wars nerds. We got there late, so we missed a lot of stuff, but I did get to pose for some funny pictures, something I couldn't do at home, apparently.

But on the other hand, if I stayed at home Sunday, I wouldn't have been coughed on and jabbed with light sabers in a herd of people every third step.

There were tons of these. Yep, lots of bearded dudes wandering around. But yeah, there was this whole parade of R2s that people made and customized that would roll around and beep and do magic and grant wishes and stuff. That was pretty awesome.

Here's another blurry photo.
Many people went in costume. Apparently I went as either "Stunted Man-Child" or "Florida Retiree." Here I am trying to eat one of the frogs from Jabba's bong. It didn't exactly come out right.

Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak.
As you can probably tell by now, I had definite ideas behind the photos, but the execution didn't always work out. These (since they were taken by someone else) look a lot better than the pictures I took of my friend. Here's an excerpt of a conversation on the ride home:

"This one's blurry, too! And..Hey, this one, too. What the hell's wrong with you?"

"No, no, it's fine. You're looking at it on your phone. Wait til you see it all blown up on the computer. It's gonna look awesome."

"Did you take this one in a hurricane?"

"Aw, it's gonna be great. Just wait and see."

"You need to go to a doctor or something and get your shaky hands checked out."

"It's an action photo. Its supposed to look blurry."

So yeah, uh. Sorry about that. And while we're at it, sorry that my terrible sense of direction made us wander around the convention center for about 30 miles looking for the parking lot and - Hey! Let's see some more pictures!


Chewie made from Legos. I don't know why that made me grab my pee-pee.

When in doubt, the double thumbs up is always a picture classic.

The crappiest robot.

Like most kids that grew up in the '70s, I was obsessed with Star Wars, even eclipsing my dinosaur mania. I begged for or bought anything that had that logo on it, and it was pretty amazing to see a whole convention hall full of everything I had ever owned or lusted for as a child.

Other than the hefty admission fee, I didn't buy anything, mostly because I really couldn't. I did see a copy of the first issue of the Star Wars fan club magazine my parents got me as my first magazine subscription, but I couldn't justify spending money on it since all my back issues will probably turn up at their house someday.

So was it worth driving forever and spending money I didn't have to wander around in a convention hall for three  hours taking blurry pictures? You do see that picture of me hanging out with Hammerhead, right (a figure I never had, by the way - get on that Mom and Dad)? Of course it was worth it.