Thursday, February 28, 2008

And The Award For Strangest Email Of The Day Goes To....

Woke up and found this in my inbox this morning....

"Hello Ian,

We are producing a show for the A&E Biography series about Scott Baio and I wanted to see if you'd be interested in doing an on-camera interview for us. I see that you are well versed in Happy Days and I was curious if you'd be able to talk about that, Joanie Loves Chachi, and possibly Charles in Charge as well.

If this is a possibility or if you have interest please contact me.

XXXX Productions

Thank you for your time."

Now obviousy I inserted the XX's where personal information was contained. I checked out the website and it seems legit. I figure they must have found a Happy Days DVD review I wrote and found me that way. Of course, I wrote back and told them that I'd be happy to come on TV and talk about Scott Baio. Who wouldn't?

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Brave One Vs. The Canadian One

So last night Alison and I sat down with the HD DVD (RIP!) release of Neil Jordan's The Brave One, in which Jodie Foster does an excellent job of portraying a woman pushed towards vengeance by the anguish she feels over the death of her fiance at the hands of three thugs that the couple encounter in Central Park late one night.

First of all, don't go into Central Park late at night. That's not smart. Second of all, if you do and you have a big German Shepherd with you (as the couple does) don't let it off the leash for a cute little run around the area. That's not smart either. Just some words of caution for anyone considering that....

Regardless, it was a solid film. I wrote about it at length for DVD Talk, you can find my take on it there if you're so inclined. What stuck in my brain about it for whatever reason was the way that New York was portrayed in the film, and I left that out of my review as it's really not related to the film so much as it is to my own personal thoughts about the city I now call home. Let me preface this by saying, yeah yeah, I know, I've been here two months and I am fully cognizant of the fact that I am far from an expert on the crimes rates or policing practices in place here. Regardless, Foster's character encounters a horrible ordeal where she and her fiance are attacked. He dies, she lives. She buys a gun and then, that very night, goes to a convenience store and witnesses a murder. She's forced to use her gun to save her life. A day or two later, she's on the subway and is threatened. Bang bang, problem solved.

In this film, NYC is a haven for crime. While parts of the city maybe, the upscale part of Manhattan where this film plays out probably isn't. Here in lil' ol' Jackson Heights the streets are very well patrolled. So good is the 5-0 coverage in fact that I'm happy to admit that I feel safer walking the streets here than I did in Portland, OR. or in Toronto (the other two major cities I've had the luck to live in for prolonged periods of time).

Obviously in a city this size, horrible crimes are going to happen (just last week a man hacked up his shirk with a meat cleaver - they caught him in Queens a few subway stops away from where I sit as I write this) but it's also a city with an amazing history and a lot to offer. Anyone who opts not to jump in based out of fear is doing themselves a disservice. NYC is a tough town, it has to be out of necessity, but it's got a culture and a strange vibe all its own and Neil Jordan's skewed view won't stop me from exploring more, and I'll do it without the aid of a concealed handgun. Instead I'll just stay out of dark alleys, not wander through tunnels in remote areas and just use plain old common sense. Big cities all over the world suffer from crime problems but people still live in them. Even after the events of 9/11 there was no mass exodus off of the island. Anyone I know who lived in Manhattan before the towers fell still lives there. For the most part, especially POST 9/11, NYC is a pretty rad place. I like it here. A lot. There's nowhere else like it. Parking sucks, but it's a great place and I intend to hang my hat here for a long time to come.

Oh and check out The Brave One. It's well done. A smart film, very well acted by Foster and Terrence Howard, and it's got some nice cinematography. And I realize that the city is portrayed the way it is in the film for dramatic effect, and on that level, it's certainly an understandable decision. It just got me to thinking is all...

Friday, February 22, 2008


I had to get up early this morning to head into Manhattan for a job interview. It went well despite some strange questions ('If you were an animal, what kind of an animal would you be?' - I'm not kidding, he really asked me that - I told him I'd be a German Shepherd, he told me he'd be a giraffe cause 'they're fuggin' cute and girls like'm') and the fact that the conference room was booked so my interview took place in a hallway. The two guys that I met who I could potentially be working with seemed nice, laid back, with a good sense of humor. We'll see. I'm not entirely sure I'll take the position if it's offered to me, depends on the money, benefits, and what not. But we'll see.

At any rate, after that I walked two blocks to the St. Marks strip and did a little DVD shopping. From there I hit Midtown Comics (my favorite comic store in NYC - I actually don't feel nerdy shopping there, they discount the cover price for you automatically and they have an impeccable selection of graphic novels) in Times Square. From there I wandered up Broadway a little bit, just because it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I noticed that John Schneider is now appearing in the NYC cast of Chicago. For reasons unknown, that appealed to me and made me laugh.

I got home just in time for a friend to ask me if I wanted to meet him at the St. Mark's Pub, across the street from where I'd been an hour ago buying DVDs. I opted not to take the train back into the city. Queens was okay with me at that point, helped by the fact that we got a whole lot of snow dumped on us over night and this morning and that because of that I was wet and cold. Alison's shift at the school was cancelled today, they were closed because of the weather. She'd been kind enough to perform emergency button surgery on my shirt before I left. When I got home, I think she'd just gotten up from a cat nap.

From there I went to Rite-Aid and bought:
-gum drops
-diet coke
-planters dry roasted peanuts

An odd shopping list I suppose, but that's what Rite-Aid is for - odd shopping. Came home and we watched the wonderfully remastered Blue Underground re-release of Jorge Grau's The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue (better known in some circles as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie), a politically charged Spanish zombie film starring Ray Lovelock and, oddly enough, Arthur Kennedy. I'd seen it before but it holds up well. It's a lot more tense than I remember it being the last time I watched it, though it'd been a few years. Speaking of movies, we went and saw No Country For Old Men last night. Later than everyone else on the planet (there was one other couple in the theater, that was it!) but we both enjoyed it quite a bit. The ending is odd, for sure, but it's not entirely out of place and the more I think about it, the more I like it, even if it is a depressing theme.

Alison made dinner and I fielded a phone call from Eddie who asked me kindly to post a news update on the message board for him promoting his appearance on Fangoria Radio, streaming live tonight on Sirius. I obliged and we discussed the potential TV show we've been bantering back and forth on for a while. Looks like we've got studio time booked for the evening of March 12th. Also looks like the DVD Maniacs upgrade should finally be done within the next 7-10 days (better way way late than never).

After dinner, Alison went to go babysit, leaving me here with nothing to do. Granted, a nice selection of video games, reading materials and a home video library to make most people green with envy should be enough but for some reason tonight none of that appeals to me. I took the dog for a walk, it had warmed up nicely by that point, and we wandered around for a half hour or so. When I came home I took out the Nikon and decided to monkey around with shutter speeds and aperature settings. I took some pictures of the TV while it was on, of the dog, and of myself - just for something to do. The results are below. They're sort of ghostly, kind of strange looking. But again, it was something to do. Then the camera battery died. I look very sad in that last picture, even though I'm in a very good mood today. Damn, are my sideburns ever getting grey though...

I think I might go across the street and get a beer, then settle down for the night with a Russ Meyer film or something equally superficial and fun. Or maybe I'll listen to Lenny And The Piss Poor Boys (thank you, Noland, for introducing me to what has become one of my favorite albums of the last few years) sing sad songs about booze and broken hearts. Or maybe I'll read some Silver Surfer comics.

The world is my oyster!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's not hard, not far to reach....

...but we didn't hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach. We drove there in my Honda instead so that we could hit Trader Joe's on the way home and stock up on delicious pasta and peanut butter pretzels, oh, and buy some comic books. Mission accomplished.

So anyway, yesterday was President's Day and Alison was off from work, her son was staying at his dad's, and we had a free day to do whatever we wanted. Super Patriot that I am, I decided we needed to do something. Alison agreed. We hadn't been for a drive in a while (likely because driving in most parts of NYC is just a headache) but that was what I was in the mood for so we tossed some music in the CD player (it was a Billy Bragg kinda day) and headed to the coast. We got there and, well, it's February, nothing is going on. It was unusually warm but also freakishly windy and there was so much fog rolling in off of the Atlantic that it'd make John Carpenter jealous. It was kinda eerie... anyway, after that we went shopping and had lunch at Sizzler where some woman in a yellow track suit glared at my Pogues shirt like I was somehow offending her classy Sizzler lunch. The salad bar was good.

We got home, parked the car, and I played video games while Alison had a cat nap. After that was out of my system I made a three cheese capiletti dish that was pretty darn good. Then we watched a few episodes of Freaks N Geeks (one of my new favorite shows - too bad I missed it when it was new material) and went to bed.
Yay for lazy vacation days.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A little V-Day fun....

We celebrated the 14th by heading into Manhattan to have dinner at Jekyll & Hyde's Club, a sort of horror themed Chuckie Cheese style joint a block from Central Park. We'd been in there to the bar before but to get the full experience you need to stay for dinner. It wasn't cheap but it was nifty as nifty can be. Monsters pop out of the walls and entertain you with witty banter while you dine on over priced mediocre steaks and guzzle tasty and semi-reasonably priced beers. We had a table near the elevator, which had a bunch of skeletons on top of it, making for a strange view.

TVs are hung throughout the four floors of the restaurant where you can see the floorshow. Sometimes animated mummies will come out and do The Monster Mash, other times wolfs who have had their heads mounted on the walls will sing Summer Lovin' from Grease. Like I said, it's corny, but it's hard not to have fun. Those with better seats than we had were able to see the show without the aid of the TVs. When the show isn't going, the TVs show old trailers for Universal and AIP monster movies. At one point I looked up and saw a promo spot for House of Wax playing (fine, it's not AIP or Universal but it's still rad).

Some of the employees stay in character. 'Wellington' - he being the doorman - was a kick. Before he'd let us into the restaurant he made us stay in a room to listen to his spiel. When he was done delivering it, the roof started to close in on us. It all reminded me of the Haunted Mansion at Disney Land.

We got out of there pretty late and grabbed the first train back to Queens. Once we were home we watched the first half of Rock N Roll Nightmare (a personal favorite and a matter of pride for me) but we were soon out, it was closing in on 2am.

All in all a nice way to spend Valentine's Day. Maybe not a typical way, but that's okay. There will be other years for typical celebrations, this year we both wanted monsters more than we wanted flowers so that's what we got. Love is grand sometimes. It really is.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hooray for Nephews!

Well, a nephew at least. In the singular sense. My younger sister Sandra gave birth to a healthy new baby boy this morning (does that make him a newphew? I think it does!). Deklin Martin was brough into the world in the hospital in Orilla, Ontario, not too far outside of Huntsville, the town that she and her husband, Don, and their daughter Audra call home. It wasn't an easy nine months for my sister but from all accounts (I've yet to see a picture of the little tyke myself but I trust my grandmother implicitly) it was worth it. He's supposedly pretty cute. Always happy to have an addition to the family, and the prospect of educating, enlightening, and maybe corrupting a nephew the way my good uncle did for me makes me smile. I'm also very happy that my only sister is doing well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A visit from Tolch and a few trips around the city....

My good buddy Mark Tolch was up here visiting for the last few days. Good timing on his part as this week has proven to be job-searchy whereas last week I was pretty much free the entire time. That lead to highjinks! Here's a play by play.....

Thursday - Mark arrives. We pick him up at LGA and head back to the apartment. Alison has to stay home so she can get her son from the bus so Mark and I head into the city to find the 'Paul's Boutique Corner.' That's right. We're nerdy enough that we searched out the corner used for the cover art on the Beastie Boys' second LP. We found it. It's now a falafal shop and the finest menswear in Brooklyn was nowhere to be found. It's also not in Brooklyn, it's in Manhattan. Regardless, we made the best of it by wandering around and hitting a couple of nifty pubs in town. We also saw a building being demolished that had an old truck in the middle of it for some reason. Later that night we came back to Queens and Mark was kind enough to take us to dinner at the Cavalier where I ate chicken cordon bleu and had a strange conversation with a drunken and very effeminite man about the movie stars of yore. Oh, and someone fell off of their bar stool (not someone in our party, mind you). When we got home we watched The Warriors HD-DVD and geeked out.

Friday - Mark and I prowl the Village in search of cheap beer and quirky DVDs. Despite the rain, our mission was successful. We did some shopping and got soaked. At one point, some guy came tearing out of an Irish Pub in front of us, turned to some strange looking dude standing in a doorway and said 'Hey! Crazy Eddie! Wut's with de fuggin' rain?' Which was very amusing in a foul mouthed Tony Danza sort of way. Later that night we met Horace and John from the board at Manitoba's for a few beers. Alison arrived shortly after to make sure we all got home safe and sound. Handsome Dick Manitoba was actually tending bar that night, he told Mark that he loved Canadians and tried to get us to buy some Super Bowl Squares for his football pool.

Saturday - We took the train over to Forrest Hill (birth place of the Ramones) and had lunch. Then we took in a late afternoon showing of Rambo. That was simply rad. Ridiculous and bloody as bloody can be, it was still a fun time at the movies despite some failed attempts at some sort of semi-serious social commentary. See this one if you wanna see Stallone mow down a few hundred badguys with a machine gun and rip out a man's throat. From there we went back to Jackson Heights for dinner at Mario's. Tasty Columbian food. Yum.

Sunday - Mark's last full day in NYC was a good one. We went into town and he got to grab some souvenirs for his family. Saw the NBC Building, Rockefeller Center, Radio City, the big Disney Store and FAO Schwartz. From there we wandered through Central Park and marvelled at the break dancers and roller skaters. After that we found The Dakota (by accident), the hotel were John Lennon was shot. Walked from there to The Outback which was empty, probably because of the Superbowl. After dinner we hit 53rd and 3rd but the Ramones were nowhere to be found, it was disappointingly very none rock and roll. Came home and watched some TV. Heard the neighbourhood errupt when the Giants beat the Patriots, then crashed.

Took him to the airport yesterday and said goodbye. It was a fun trip and a good excuse to get out and see some more of the city. A few random pictures in no discernable order.....