Friday, December 30, 2016

Supermodels and Kings!

I love the internet.

B.I. ("Before Internet"), I would've never had the vast opportunities to rub elbows with the greats. It's unbelievable how the Internet's opened up an entire new world of amazement and riches.
I'm constantly bombarded with supermodels wanting to "friend" me. When I do, they say I'm cute and want to send me pictures. Ask for a little start-up cash to fund their humanitarian efforts and the like. Life is great! It certainly makes a (just entering) middle-aged man (HARDLY old) feel in the prime of his life. 50 is the new Magic Mike, so my new Facebook pals tell me.

And the royalty! Wow! Kings seek me out! Cool! I'm hangin' with Kings! Sure, these deposed Nigerian kings have fallen on bad times. Sucks to be in their formally royal slippers. But they present their issues well and, hey, who am I to deny them their rightly inheritance. (Okay, not altogether altruistic to tell the truth...seems like a pretty solid investment plan. That along with gambling, of course. It's always good to have a sturdy retirement plan in place).

Naturally, there're a few downsides to the modern age of social electronic friendships. 

If one more person asks me to join "Candy Crush," Hulk will smash!

Aside from that brief, uncharacteristic outburst of computer rage, though, I couldn't be happier. People are so darn friendly on the Intronets. It's good to know they haven't lost their sense of true, human empathy.

Happy new year! (I hope.)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fox News Exclusive!

For whatever reason, our new roaming satellite dish only receives Fox News and polka music.
Be good to everyone and happy holidays, no matter what you celebrate. We're in it together.

Speaking of holidays, why not stuff your stocking with my brand new, just released chiller thriller, Dread and Breakfast?

Welcome to the Dandy Drop Inn, where everybody’s treated like family. Come on in outta’ the winter storm. Checking in’s easy…checking out’s deadly.

Five star rating! (Midwestern Bed & Breakfast website)

A chilling thriller to take the chill off of those wintry nights. 


Friday, December 16, 2016

Mortality sucks!

Mortality's something I don't like to think about, something I keep back-burning like cleaning out the gutters.

"Ah," I figure, "the gutters will wait for a while."

Problem is, mortality doesn't like to wait.

Last week, my daughter hits me up with a text: "Hey. My mom had a heart attack. Can you watch my dog?"


First: Bad way of communicating, daughter, bad! 

My heart pounded, not a good sign. I naively thought, well, clearly my daughter meant her grandmother had a heart attack. But that didn't track; one's out-of-town, the other grandmother (my mom) would let me know about it louder than a three-alarm fire-bell. 

I re-read the text.

Yup, clear as day, my daughter's mother had a heart attack.

In full-on, near heart-attack mode myself, I'm texting (damn, it takes a long time on ancient flip-phones: tap, tap, tap, wait, tap, tap...), calling ("Sarah, answer your phone, what the hell you mean your mother had a heart attack? Good Gawd, tell me...BEEEP.), you know, generally having a melt-down. Which helps no one.

"Okay, okay," I tell myself, "my daughter's not freaking out, so why should I?"

GAH! Tap, tap, tap, wait, tap, tap... "Talk to me, dammit, why's the world spinning out of control?"

No answer. My daughter had an hour drive into town. Good on her for not texting while driving. Bad on her for not utilizing a more immediate, stone-age form of communication : telephone! Hello, psychedelic freak-out!

Later, I find out my ex-wife did have the Big One. The "widow-maker," as the jokers in science refer to it.

I called my ex while she was still in the hospital.

She says, "Hey, we better take better care of ourselves, now that we're getting up there in age."


Fifty-five is the new beginning of middle-age, as I constantly remind my wife. My wife laughs. 

Sure, I have a tendency to ignore my squelchy knees, my sore back, hair where it shouldn't be and hair that's fallen from where it's supposed to stay put. In many ways, I'm reverting back to my baby stage. 
But I can remember being young. Gotta' count for something, right?

Shameful, but I had to pull up a calculator to figure out my age. No lie. Guess it's something I've been trying hard not to think about. But, c'mon! Some dude from Game of Thrones just died at the age of 93! I'm only 49 (alright, alright, 54)!


New health regimen. Exercise 'til I vomit. Nothing but food that's good for me (and tastes like crap, because those two requirements go hand in hand; yum, kale!). Less alcohol. Regular sleep hygiene. Don't stress out over my family.

Starting in 2017, of course. After I clean out those damn gutters, once the weather turns friendly. Gotta' fortify myself first.

Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say. (And trying not to think about the short period it took for the Roman empire to fall).

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Log of Controversy

For two months, I've been battling the trash-men in an epic war of stupidity, arrogance, pride and Americana! Hell, yeah!

A little back story... Our huge oak tree in the front yard (biggest in the city--like everything in America!--and apparently a historical landmark) decided to shed one of its honkingly large branches. Weighing in at about 140 pounds, six foot long and fourteen inches around, it was an unwieldy eyesore.

The first day of the month was coming up. Our trash collectors have publicly announced that on first day of the month, every resident can put out two large items. No matter how big or who it is, they'll take it and pollute the world elsewhere.

I put The Limb out curbside. My new nemesis's ("nemesi?") bypassed it. 

Jerks! Oh, it's so ON!

The next week, regular trash pick-up day, I thought I'd play fair (ha-ha, very funny guys, good time had by all, now pick up the damn trash), and set The Log into the trash bin. Sure, it stuck out like a broken finger, but, hey, that's what trash guys are for. Deal with it.

These jokers come along, jump out of the truck, pick up The Log and heave it into my yard.

Not only was it now ON, it couldn't be turned off! (In early retirement, I have a lotta spare time).

I went on-line, did my duty as a True American and tried to raise some healthy ire. I got nowhere. Further research led me to the trash guys' website ("Sure as shootin', everyone's rootin' for garbage!"). A glaring and ridiculously blaring statement proclaimed "limbs and foliage must be tied together in bunches no longer than three feet in length." No reason whatsoever given. Just the trash guys flexing their dirty muscle.

With no electric saw in the garage, I turned to ol' faithful, a rusty saw I'd inherited from the Civil War or something. As my mom would say, " it couldn't cut hot butter."

It was time to go tricky, covert ops. I took The Log to the street. I lifted it, whacked it down to break it apart. Nothing. I climbed a ladder perched onto my house, hefted The Log up. Dropped it on the driveway. Stubbornly still in one piece.

Dragging The Log like Linus with his blanket, head down and defeated, I propped the controversial limb up against the street lamp pole, hoping the trash villains of my nightmares would have second thoughts the following day.

Again, they ignored it. They tossed it into the street.But could it be? An early Christmas miracle? The center of The Log had weakened. Further chipped away by ravenous squirrels. With a mighty Hulk-like roar, one born of two months of frustration, I picked the nightmarish limb up. Smashed it down. HULK SMASH! TWO PIECES!
All that morning, I secretly hovered by the window, waiting to see if the devious trash monsters would pick up the two chunks I cleverly camouflaged inside the trash bin.

SUCCESS! High fives all around! Boo-yah, that's how you do it!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Return to the Disturbed Mind of Filmmaker Chris LaMartina! (Part #2)

Dark comedy filmmaker Chris LaMartina is too prolific and interesting to contain within one blog post! Here's the stunning conclusion (Hyperbolic Overload! KaPOW!):
SRW: We’re up to President’s Day, clearly your ode to late ‘70’s/early 80’s slasher films. A holiday not yet cinematically staked! And the killer’s mask/costume is nearly as iconic as some of the more famous films in the genre. This is a film rife with potential for a sequel. Is it coming, Chris?

CL: We actually did a faux sequel trailer for our now defunct web series, Lost Trailer Park. Here it is!

SRW: You’ve done your homework. All the slasher staples are here: mean high school girls, resourceful good girl, outsider boy hero, red herrings, moronic bullying jocks, dumb/abusive/clueless teachers, fat funny” party animal kid, creepy janitor, musical stings.” A checklist of greatest hits. Which slasher flicks inspired you?

CL: The “Sleepaway Camp” movies… “Return to Horror High”… Those are my favorite slashers by far. I think you have to have a sense of humor when it comes to slasher flicks because of their formulaic nature. I think the examples I cited present a ‘fun’ approach to the typical sex and violence tropes that populate every slasher movie. 
 SRW: Witch’s Brew is a tale of slackers, pretentious art-posers, witchcraft and micro-brewing gone horribly bad (tailor made for me!). Chris, you’re certainly not afraid of gore or bodily dysfunctional grotesqueries. I gotta admit some of it’s a bit much for me at times. Grossest film I’ve seen since (the original) Cabin Fever. Do you ever feel you’ve gone over-board? How much is too far? Do comedic elements take a bit off the edge?
CL: I don’t think I’ve ever gone overboard with the gore because I don’t think I’m really making brutal or mean-spirited films. So, when you suggest the comedic elements take the edge off… I’d agree. Those magic trick type/almost gross out moments are what provide the cushion… it’s wild and creative instead of nasty and depressing.

Now granted, “Witch’s Brew” does have some intense scenes- Max’s death in the first few minutes come to mind, but we included that scene (a Boy Scout being burnt alive by witches) to increase the wickedness of our villains. That’s a lesson we learned from Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat” books- Make your bad guys BADDER!

SRW: At times, as in many of your films, the secondary characters are more likable and empathetic than your leads. I’m thinking Preston, in particular, and the Hi-Ho Silver” bar-keep guy. Very good actors. I also enjoyed the lounge singer, who I later realized was your dad. Talk about utilizing resources!

CL: I just really love telling stories with ensemble casts and it’s those minor roles that folks can have fun with because they have to get to the punch so quickly. I grew up in a family with lots of cousins, aunts, and uncles- folks I didn’t get to see all the time, but were memorable in a variety of ways. I try to pepper our films with similar injections of personality as much as possible. Besides, if there’s going to be a character in our story, why not give them something that stands out?

And yeah, my Dad has played minor roles in every one of my films actually- he’s the devil bartender in “BoL”, the science teacher in “President’s Day”, the governor in “WNUF”.

The most awkward role for me was when he was one of the clients in “Call Girl of Cthulhu”… that was right before Melissa (the call girl herself) started dating. It was pretty funny when she showed up for a family dinner weeks later and we had to explain that my Dad had already met her. 

SRW: All right! Odd choice, I know (and I’m probably alone), but next we chat about my favorite of your films, the WNUF Halloween Special. Okay, first of all, Chris, you had to know the title is terrible from a marketing aspect. At first I stayed away because I thought it was a wrestling event!
CL: Hahaha. Well, most people who know my work know that I start each project with a title first… but WNUF was the opposite. We wanted to make a found footage flick, we broke the mold a bit, and then… when it came time for a title… our traditional goofy titles didn’t really work… so we wanted to call the flick something you’d read on the side of a taped off of tv VHS spine. 
We needed a title that was realistic for the found footage angle, but also made it memorable/identifiable for horror/Halloween fans. There had been many times over the years when I’d find a VHS tape at thrift store or yard sale that had “Halloween” or an October date scrawled on the label that made it obvious I need to take a chance on ‘em. That was the strategy behind the full title for WNUF. 

SRW: And the subject matter! Bold. More so than all the gore or horror you can toss at an unsuspecting viewer. The film reminds me of the notorious ’92 BBC Ghostwatch film that apparently freaked out the viewing TV audience when screened. Like Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio presentation, Ghostwatch was presented as a live, true event about investigators visiting a haunted house. People bought into it. Anyway…the WNUF Halloween Special plays out that way as well. It’s very realistically presented. Was Ghostwatch an inspiration, Chris?

CL: That’s the funny thing! I literally had never heard of Ghostwatch until we were shooting. Jimmy had done some research on the concept right before we started filming, but it was a little too late by then. I, myself, didn’t watch Ghostwatch til about 3 months ago… and I’d be lying if I said I finished it. :X 

SRW: Oh, c'mon! Ghostwatch is great! 

Here’s the thing, though…at least half of WNUF's running time is filled with commercials, the kind you used to see on UHF stations in the late ‘80’s. Clearly, you put a lot of care and sweat into painstakingly producing these. Couldn’t have been easy. Was it worth it?

CL: Yes. Absolutely. Making the commercials was my favorite part! I’d write/edit about 2 a day with myself as a voiceover track. I’d come home from work on my lunch break and hammer through. They were so much fun to create. Seriously, working in marketing, my brain is just a vast wasteland of goofy slogans and terrible puns. Plus, some other filmmakers helped out here too and they turned in some excellent stuff- most notably Shawn Jones (Phil’s Carpet Warehouse) and Jim Branscome (Parents Against Partying). 

SRW: I liked how you didn’t go for the cheap parody punch-lines in the faux ads. Totally transported me back to watching fuzzy, late-night TV, the only way we could back in the day (You kids get outta my yard!). Chris, I’m curious as to how the WNUF Halloween Special was received. I’m sure some people simply didn’t get it.

CL: It’s been our greatest success, but you're right… you either love it or hate it. We set out to make a movie that nobody else was crazy enough to make. We were those crazy nobodys. 

SRW: Good on you! Finally, your latest film, Call Girl of Cthulhu. It has to be the only film I’ve ever seen that promotes both safe sex and H. P. Lovecraft. A supernatural P.S.A! Carter’s also one of your most empathetic protagonists. I believe it’s your first love story angle I completely bought into. Not what I expected, but satisfying in an underdog way. Um, until the ending. Which I simply cannot forgive you for.
CL: Hahaha. It’s definitely the most vocal audience reaction I’ve ever received when “YOU KNOW WHAT” happens… and yeah, to be honest, after “Witch’s Brew”… I wanted to make a romantic comedy… but it just wasn't in the cards… until we figured out how to craft “Call Girl of Cthulhu” into a romantic horror sex comedy. ;)
SRW: Your films always look great, belying the low budget. Each one is more impressively mounted, Cthulu topping the list. Keep going.

CL: Thanks! It’s tough to match our budgets with our ambitions… and usually that’s where we get into trouble… but we try our best to deliver quality and most importantly, memorable stories. 

SRW: After working my way through (most of) your filmography, two things stand out: you utilize many of the same actors in different roles, fascinating to watch; and your segue-ways from scene to scene has grown in your ability to evoke a laugh through clever editing. 

CL: To me, movies are like summer camp. We hope every person we like can come back for the next one. Sometimes they do, sometimes they can’t. Sometimes we write roles specifically for actors we love and that’s something I hope never changes. As for editing, all of those visual punchlines are groundwork laid in the scripts- so I can’t take all the credit for those. Although, I think we definitely overdid em with “Call Girl of Cthulhu”. 

SRW: What movie’s up next, Chris?

CL: We’re halfway done production of our new flick- a click bait horror satire called “What Happens Next Will Scare You”. It’s a viral video anthology flick and we start shooting the wraparound segments in November. It’s definitely a different type of style for us- with long duration takes and more traditional found footage elements, but we’re having a lot of fun making it and I’m curious to see the reaction. Some characters from WNUF Halloween Special even return! 

SRW: Your movies aren’t for everyone. But I like ‘em. Lots. So, folks, check out Chris’ films. And if you don’t like ‘em, blame Chris. Thanks for dropping by, Chris, and pimp away your Midnight Crew film productions!

CL: Thanks so much, brother. 

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