to everyone from whom I stole pictures.
You know who you are.
Now tell your lawyers to stop calling me.
There was no
way, I had decided, that this year's NOWFF
could be as jinxed as last year's. No way. The bizarre confluence
of belligerent and persistent tropical storms, military duty and
injuries, and heart bypass operations was, as we say in the lab,
non-repeatable. This one had to be an easier time.
Hardy har har.
The first problem
involved my wife, Lisa, having to undergo cryo-surgery the day before
(she's fine, thank you). It is an outpatient procedure, but it was
unlikely that she would be up to a six and a half hour drive followed
by twelve solid hours in the hardwood hell of the Benjamin Franklin
High School auditorium. Long drives by myself don't bother me, but
that's the sort of thing that drives wives bonkers (well, that and
hubby going off unchaperoned to the Sin Capitol of the South), so
she suggested that longtime associate Dr. Weasel accompany me to
the Big Easy.
of Badmovies.org would also
be a no-show, as he would be teaching his fellow Marines the four
basic ways to crack skulls apart with their bare hands. Joe Bannerman
of Opposable Thumbs
would likewise be absent, as he was in France researching the origin
of the haunting phrase "Vive le Hoff!". Rob
and Alan, of course, had long ago been exiled to the Phantom
Zone by their enemies. So the B-Masters would have a much-reduced
showing. The one ray of light was that Andrew With A Blazer (as
one sage as put it, "Jabootu's
Chewbacca to Ken Begg's Han Solo")(oh, okay, it was me) would make
the trip. Just barely, as it turns out, but he made it.
The drive this
time was at least easier, by which I mean that it only rained a
quarter of the time, instead of the entire damned trip. A
long drive with your pal is much different from a long drive with
your wife – the most obvious difference being that you do not have
to explain why the opening chords of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" is
a signal to see how loud the radio can be turned up. It is simply
accepted as a given.
three rainstorms and two complete and inexplicable traffic stoppages
later, we arrived at this year's unofficial B-Masters hotel, the
on Canal. We pulled into the Clarion's parking garage just in
time to see the traditional First Rat of NOWFF – which was much
smaller than last year's opossum-sized beast, thankfully (a good
omen, perhaps?). A bit discomfiting was the fact that the Clarion
shares its garage with a hospital. Dr. Weasel, however, found this
to also be a Good Omen, deducing that we could get "puke-ass drunk"
with no worries, as medical aid would be just around the corner.
I want to remind
everyone at this point that Dr. Weasel's involvement was my wife's
surprise came in the form of the recovered Apostic and his wife
Jo the Kiwi. The word "irrepressible" was originally coined by some
one thinking of Jo, whether he knew it or not. The only problem
here is that we had planned meticulously , like a bad movie Ocean's
Eleven (redundant, no?) and had transportation only for eight
portly B-Master types. We prepared to improvise, and we Stomp
Tokyo people – myself, Dr. Weasel, Chris and Scott, Chris' wife
Christina, and their friend Niki - met the Apostics at the Red Fish
Grill for dinner, where I had a sandwich with legs and eyes. Creeeepy.
split for Pat O'Brien's while the rest of us journeyed to the Clarion
to greet Ken and Andrew With A Blazer. Eventually Jo and Apostic
left to join the Chrisses, and we retired to our room, where Dr.
Weasel had disassembled the TV set and, employing some chewing gum,
a soldering iron and his native ferret cunning, had managed to wire
his Playstation 2 into it. The Spider-Man movie game is pretty
cool, especially when Bruce Campbell gives you hints in his best
Smartass-ese accent. Then we watched a History Channel documentary
on some Monks who managed to mummify themselves. Creeeeepy.
Life was good.
The thing I
hate about getting older is that I can't sleep as long as I used
to. I beat the wake up call by an hour.
had to be at NOWFF at 10:30 or so to arrange sponsor-type things.
For one thing, they had a number of pre-street release copies of
their book, Reel
Shame (leaves teeth whiter – ask for it by name!) to sell,
with a portion of the proceeds going to NOWFF's charity, the Second
Harvester Food Bank. They had a leisurely (perhaps too leisurely,
if you catch my drift - tips were perforce small) breakfast while
the rest of us were waiting for Ken, who had misplaced his Visa
card and was trying to cancel it. We sat in the lobby, supplying
the other side of the phone conversation to entertain ourselves.
"Did you check the sofa cushions, Mr. Begg?" "Perhaps if you pulled
up the carpet in your room, Mr. Begg…" "Did you have the cracker-eating
dream again, Mr. Begg? Have you had your stomach pumped yet?" Oh,
but we are bastards.
After our breakfast,
we piled into the Freexmobile – Dr. Weasel shouting "Shotgun!" although
he is a small stoat and easily half the size of the healthier B-Masters
– but that is part of his charm. We began our epic journey to NOWFF,
made a bit more epic by the absence of the helpful little signs
that usually litter Elysian Fields pointing the way - but it is
a rather simple place to find, after all, and we arrived without
incident. I faked a very convincing angina attack until Andrew With
A Blazer and Dr. Weasel carried in the two boxes of groceries I
had purchased for everyone's admissions ($7 and some groceries for
the Food Bank). This was my third NOWFF, and though I had last year
attempted to insure the comfort of my ass by bringing seat cushions
– and these sacred seat cushions
again accompanied me – this year, I was even better prepared.
If there is
one thing my time in show business has taught me, that is when you
see something that works, you steal it. At B-Fest 2002, Ken had
shown up with a couple of folding camp chairs with arms and cup
holders. Damn, I thought, that's brilliant. Thus I
had stashed in the trunk two similar devices, which Dr. Weasel and
I proceeded to set up, while Andrew With A Blazer (no fool he) and
yes, even Iron Butt himself, employed the seat cushions (the latter
protesting that he did not really need it, but surely this was the
best way to keep it from being stolen).
But enough of
this light-hearted shilly-shally. NOWFF 12 was underway, termed
"NOWFF American Style". It was a tender nostalgic valentine
to a simpler time - I guess the 70s - when, like other places across
America, the TV stations would play wincingly bad movies late at
nights instead of hour-long ads for NADS.
In keeping with this theme, Festval President Alfred Richard would
don a staggering (and often retina-searing) variety of 70s clothing
throughout the day. The movies were interspersed with vintage commercials,
like the classic Stan Freberg ad for Jeno's Pizza Rolls. I think
I frightened Niki and Weasel by belting out the jingle for Crispy
Critters cereal, though it has been unavailable for nearly thirty
all faithful readers know, the indestructible brain of the evil
intergalactic villain Balazar comes to Earth to take over and start
a nuclear war. Because he is, like, an evil brain. And he comes
from outer space. Starman, aka Space Giant, is sent to stop him,
because he is made of steel and can pass for human. Those who do
not read The Bad Movie Report, however, were baffled beyond belief
by this assembly of episodes from a black and white Japanese TV
of the best lines ever: "So you're a policeman, right? Hunting for
mutants?" and "Stay back, or I will throw this nuclear grenade!"
Not one Kenny, but two, each with a sister. Even Scott, who had
stated that anything put together from Japanese TV eps was okay
by him, was driven to rage by the cheating fight scenes. The title
character doesn't even show up until the last five minutes, at which
point it is killed by pouring some chemicals over it. Screams of
dismay rock the theater.
Yes, in a festival
themed "American Style", it was the second Japanese movie
in a row. It was the nostalgia thing, of course. These were movies
that used to be shown in heavy rotation on old New Orleans TV stations.
frequent disappearance of ships headed for Mars prompts the launching
of one more spaceship, the musically named AAB Gamma. It
encounters a flying saucer which sprays them with glowing spores.
The one spore taken back to Earth grows into the giant space chicken
Guilala (what government agency is in charge of naming these things?
Is this my tax dollars at work?). There is also a thoroughly boring
love triangle, but a refreshing lack of Kennys. Finally, I get to
yell "SHUT UP!!!!" at the Odious Comic Relief
in an appreciative crowded theater.
The X makes
you sit through a lot of thrilling space footage before dishing
up the title character. Long enough for us to fear this would be
this years unconscious theme – no-show title characters.
Dr. Weasel and
I had ducked out during Count Gore de Vol's taped intro, and thus
missed his suggestion that the audience clap every time they hear
the name of the ship, AAB Gamma. As it was repeated every
thirty seconds or so, Weasel and I were mystified by the near-constant
bouts of applause. But at least our fingers weren't bleeding by
the end of the movie.
the question "Are they all space films?" and the answer,
"Well, at least it not Japanese…"
Actually a fairly
witty little movie. Hard-drinking grifter Frank Gorshin runs afoul
of little green (so we’re told – the movie’s in black and white)
men who inject him with even more alcohol via needles from their
fingers ("Woooo!" shrieked Dr. Weasel, "he’s getting
puke-ass drunk!"), which kills him. Actually part of a very
well thought-out plot on the part of the titular creatures to cover
up their presence. Too bad the Air Force has already discovered
their ship and accidentally blown it up. Consarned teenage smoochers
find out the invaders’ weakness (bright light disintegrates them,
sort of a stupid weakness for a starfaring race) and save the world.
And smooch. The end.
I believe it
was Andrew With A Blazer who later pointed out that had the Saucer
Men not had this strange allergy to photons, they could have settled
in and made a quite lucrative business of their expertise in faking
car accidents. At least the Saucermen are pretty much a constant
presence, unlike the last two monsters, who had been, like, total
At some point
around here (maybe I should start keeping notes at these shindigs)
a fellow with the fest staff approached and asked if I was Stomp
Tokyo. Of course, I answered in the negative and pointed out Scott
and Chris, nearby. He informed them that he had a surprise for them,
something he had found out about on their site. Why cool, we thought,
and waited. And there it was. Super
in the future, I will simply give up, and when asked if I am Stomp
Tokyo, I will answer, "Yes. Speak to me and the Borg Mind will hear."
It will be like the "I am Tiger Woods" campaign, except with giant
monsters, lava motion lamps, and Tor Johnson. In the words of Christopher
Lloyd in Who Framed Roger Rabbit: "My God… it will be beautiful!!!"
outer space to be seen or alluded to here, but there is a Gila monster
terrorizing some miniature sets. Apparently set in Hicksville (as
opposed to Hicksburg, which is where Saucermen was set), a town
which has one sheriff; one French female exchange student; one teenage
mechanic who is not only competent and capable in a way normally
only reserved for Heinlein protagonists, but is also a gifted rock-and-roll
singer; and one bald dickweed who is always clad in either a bathrobe
or a cashmere coat. This is another place that has never seen a
modern telephone. The only thing to do in town is race hot rods
and put one leg up on any available flat surface in a manly pose,
which Ken and I emulated.
It's never really
made clear what made the Gila monster grow to enormous size (if
indeed it had; Dr. Weasel kept sneering that it was obviously a
normal-sized Gila monster. "No, look," I'd say helpfully, "there's
a tree! He's huge!" "That's a stick." "It's a tree!" "It's a stick!"
"It's a tree! He's huge!" and so on.). Cigarette lighters
were held aloft during one particularly irksome song, and Alfred
got off a good "VH-1 Behind the Music" joke. Not to mention mine
and Weasel's cries of "Woooo! Freebird! Play Freebird!"
Again, the monster
shows up often enough to remind us he is the title character, so
maybe the whole no-show thing wasn't the theme after all.
after a heartfelt tribute to the recently departed King of the B's,
John Agar. A not-bad little 50's sci-fi film about – guess what?
– invisible invaders possessing the bodies of the recently dead
and making them walk around and freak people out . At least, that's
what I remember it being about, as we split for the China Rose for
our annual dose of yum. Surprisingly, we were seated at the exact
table at which we had dined the two years previous, though no such
arrangement had been made. Believe It – Or Not!
Back at the
movie - needless to say, the monsters are pretty much a no-show,
owing to their, you know, invisible status. When they finally do
show up, they turn out to be It! The Terror from Beyond Space!
painted white. And then they turn into wads of chewing gum.
it be? A movie I actually haven't seen yet? The monster shows up
right at the beginning here – Evel Knievel, playing himself, distributing
little toy Knievals to an orphanage in the dead of night. Creeeepy.
There's a plot
in there somewhere about drug smugglers using Evel's jump in Mexico
to smuggle cocaine back into the good ol' USA… but it's the astounding
cast that keeps you enthralled. Gene Kelly as Evel's alcoholic
mentor/mechanic! Red Buttons as a sleazy promoter who's ripping
off Evel! Leslie Nielsen as the evil drug lord! Marjoe
Gortner as Evel's former partner, now a lackey of the drug lord!
Cameron Mitchell as the evil drug lord's enforcer! Lauren
Hutton as a totally unrealistic love interest for ol' Evel.
All we needed were John Saxon and maybe Jim Kelly. Or OJ!
Weasel and I
had much fun shouting "VIVA!!!" whenever somebody fell off
a bike, which was often.
Being of a sagelike
demeanor, I am frequently asked for advice. Chris wrote asking my
opinion which movie Stomp Tokyo should sponsor this year, and I
advised him that the likely choice would be Megaforce,
as it involved maximum pain. What I did not tell him was that it
also involved maximum gayness. Yes, if you think Road to El Dorado
is the gayest film ever made, you have not seen Megaforce.
you see, is an international fighting force of volunteer hooligans
who ride around in tricked out dirt bikes and dune buggies, righting
wrongs and blowing stuff up, not necessarily in that order. Persis
Khambatta – with hair – enlists Megaforce's aid against military
strongman Henry Silva, but due to some political skullduggery cooked
up at the last minute, Megaforce is not allowed to drive to their
agreed-upon extraction point, so this is just like The Wild Geese,
only not good.
None of this
actually matters, as the true star of the movie is Megaforce leader
Barry Bostwick's spandex-clad girly butt, which is featured in nineteen
out of twenty shots. Niki became enraged that Bostwick's butt was
getting so much screen time, but not co-star Michael Beck's. Weasel
and I were distraught that Khambatta's butt wasn't getting even
that much play, but we consoled ourselves by yelling "VIVA!"
whenever somebody fell off a bike, which was often.
flop, Megaforce cost $20 million to make, an extraordinary
amount in 1982. We figured the budget was $12 million for pyro,
$7 million for spandex, $1 million for blowdryers, and a $1.98 for
script. You can point to it as a sort of inspiration for the GI
Joe cartoon, as it tries to present a bloodless sort of battlefield
violence that would appeal to five year-olds. The trouble being,
five year-olds have a better grasp of battlefield tactics than anyone
involved in this movie. There are any number of cool elements in
this movie, that somehow manage, like some dreadful anti-Voltron,
to combine to form a large piece of crap.
After the traditional
showing of Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ Century, we cleaned up
our mess and left. Everyone gathered in our room, mainly because
of Weasel's PS2, which can also play DVDs. There was no need to
let the bad movie buzz die down, and we watched my new DVD of Sting
of Death. Crikeys, that was bad. Hideously bad. Puke-ass bad.
And it was still better than Megaforce.
One small glitch
in the evening: a local merchant, PJ's Coffee, was giving away free
coffee in the lobby of BF High School, for those whose bad movie
stamina was faltering. Mine wasn't but I was a coffee achiever when
most you were only studying to become zygotes. Their iced mocha
was particularly delicious (I want one right now) and I had several
– thus, when 4:00am rolled around, I was still wired. I took two
pills and called myself in the morning.
Beat the wake-up
call by an hour and a half. We met for our annual pilgrimage to
The Court of Two Sisters, where the assembled might of the B-Masters
attempts to eat the establishment out of house and home. We have
not succeeded yet, but it is not for lack of trying. Dr. Weasel,
for instance, came back from one trip to the buffet line with a
wheelbarrow full of crawdads. Mudbugs are one of those labor-intensive
foods like celery, where surely more calories must be burned in
the eating than is gained.
Ken, Jo, Chris, Christina, Scott, Niki. Another potent argument
for letterboxing: in a regular pan-and-scan photo, you would
only see Chris and part of Christina.
I also had to
endure Weasel's constant imitations of me in my caffeine-buzzed
state, which went something like "Oh boy theCartoonNetworkIlovetheCartoonNetworkLooktheHerculoidsSomebodywasonacidwhentheycameupwiththeHerculoidsHaHaHa!
I swore the
stoat would get his. But for right now, I had to be satisfied with
the multiple lacerations he received while cracking open the chitinous
carapaces of the crawdads.
we began our walking tour of the French Quarter. Weasel and I quickly
became separated from the rest of the herd when he became entranced
by a street performer's dog, which was wearing sunglasses. When
we finally rejoined them, we had missed the departure of Ken and
Andrew With A Blazer, who wanted to visit the D-Day Museum before
catching their shuttle to the airport. Sorry, guys. I'll say bye
to you twice at the next B-Fest.
We were informed
that the others were going to catch a trolley to a casino. It was
Weasel's first time in the Quarter, though, so we continued walking.
Once in the French Market, however, who should we run into but Chris,
Scott, and Mark, all of whom had been abandoned in the Hot Sauce
section with orders to "Stay! Stay!" by the womenfolk, doubtless
followed by a sharp slap across the nose with a newspaper. Weasel
and I laughed at them, exulting in our freedom, that we were living
the high bachelor life, unencumbered by wimmin.
Then we quickly
went into the market to buy presents for our wives.
started wandering back toward the hotel, to unencumber ourselves
and prepare for an evening in the Quarter. I set my Phibesian
revenge plot in motion by insisting that we stop at Pat O'Briens,
so I could rest and get a drink – and I introduced Weasel to the
has been the downfall of many a strong man. A potent combination
of fruit punch, rum, and several ingredients known only to the Priest
Kings of Gor, it goes down very smoothly and possesses something
of a kick. Dr. Weasel really liked his. As I had planned. Mwoo
Perhaps an hour
and a handful of ibuprofen later, we received a phone call from
the Apostics, pointing out that we were in New Orleans, after all,
and we should do something about it. My sweat-drenched clothing
had finally dried out, and Weasel was whining about "finding some
tunes! Some tunes!" so we met on Bourbon Street, ate at the Original
Papa Joe's (where Dr. Weasel wowed the waitstaff by doing his famous
Exploding Catsup Bottle trick) and returned to Pat O'Brien's.
Weasel was, I must admit, approaching things in a scientific manner.
He felt that by staying with the Hurricane – or perhaps, as Jo suggested,
by staying within the Rum Family – he would be safe. Jo and I, however,
kept being impressed with each other's drink choices, and I began
my smorgasbord of alcohol for the evening. Mainly I stuck to the
lemonade drinks, as they came in beakers, and at Pat's you get to
keep the glass. As my esteemed colleague, Professor Mojo Jojo once
pointed out, "How quickly we forget the importance of beakers!"
I was going home with extras. All I need now is some colored liquids
and a supply of dry ice, and I am in business.
away three drinks each, we trundled off in search of Weasel's "Tunes!
Tunes!" Not much in the way of decisions were being reached, so
I bullied everyone into the Maison Bourbon club, where a jazz quintet
was playing. Weasel had his fourth Hurricane in a row, I had Irish
coffee. I have no idea what Jo and Apostic ordered, as we were sitting
right in front of the band. Any conversation required subtitles.
I want to offer
a heartfelt apology to the band – I never caught their name. Like
Apostic, jazz is not my favorite flavor of music, but we really
enjoyed these guys, whose repertoire ran to extended versions of
standards like St. James Infirmary Blues and Caledonia.
They were good showmen, great musicians, and dealt quite well with
the inebriated stoat in the front row screaming "Woooooo! Play Freebird!
Wooooooo!" "Sir, we play jazz."
When it came
time for the mandatory part where the front man asks folks in the
audience from whence they came, he had the smarts to ask Weasel
first. "Houston! Woooooooo!"
going to Houston soon."
"You can stay
at my place! My sofa folds out! VIVA!!!"
if the rest of the table was also from Houston, the Apostics answered
in the negative. I claimed to be from Sweden, and had no idea who
the fried ferret was.
We left after
a half hour of grooving, and the Apostics went their merry way,
after Jo stopped in some place that was selling a kaleidoscope of
daquiris. (Jo, I love you like the sister I never had, but you weren't
fooling anyone by claiming it was a Smoothie). Weasel, on the other
hand, had to stop at the R&B Club for "Rock! Rock!" Hurricane
#5, and a bourbon and coke for me, thanks. Four songs later, Weasel
consented to be led back to the hotel.
It turns out
that the experience of fatherhood does have advantages in other
parts of your life. Trying to get a staggering stoat that keeps
yelling "Wooooooooo!" at passing cars to a safe place without getting
either of our butts kicked required near-constant use of the Daddy
Voice and a firm resolve usually only employed when refusing to
buy Another Damned Power Ranger. We made it (with only one near
butt-kicking), just in time for Weasel to get his wish and become
"puke-ass drunk". I, on the other hand, had a sandwich because I
was hungry. I did not remind Dr. Weasel of his earlier "puke-ass
drunk" statements, because, frankly, I needed the karma. I left
the doctor to his sink and misery, and went to sleep.
DAY AFTER THE DAY AFTER
Weasel regurgitated everything he had eaten in the previous 24 hours,
and apparently everything I had eaten, too, because I was ravenously
hungry. I had slept in, only beating the wake-up call by forty-five
To give the
devil his due, although he obviously felt like The Incredible Melting
Man in the last 30 seconds of that movie, Weasel rewired the TV
set as best he could and did his part of the packing and lugging
for checkout. I met Jo and Apostic for the traditional last cup
of coffee and fried dough at Café du Monde, but had to cut
it short because I had left a comatose Weasel in the back seat of
the Freexmobile. Always good to see you guys. Really, I hope to
bring Lisa next time. She doesn't puke near as much.
The first attempt
at leaving the Quarter was abortive, because rolling down the cobblestone
streets had rekindled Weasel's technicolor yawn mechanism, requiring
a quick stop while he laughed at the ground, as the Eskimos say.
Passers-by seemed unaffected, as it was, after all, New Orleans.
There is a reason the morning hours are filled by people hosing
curled up in the back seat and slept (given the size of the Freexmobile,
no easy task) and finally awoke about the middle of Louisiana, sober
and possibly ready to eat. Five hours later, I deposited him at
his doorstep, somewhat the worse for wear, abandoning him to the
tender mercies of his wife. I have seen him since, and he was not
in traction, so he must have lied like a politician with an attractive
I have pictures.
Overall it was
a very good weekend. I always enjoy time spent with my fellow B-movie
fans, NOWFF – and we were here to talk about NOWFF, right? – NOWFF
was run with its usual efficiency, and zero mishaps – and there's
always the Quarter. Good friends, good times, and – I finally get
to use the phrase – all that jazz.
Now it's time
to put this baby to bed and journey over to Dr. Weasel's with a
bottle of hurricane mix and see if that jazz quintet has arrived
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