William and Ernest Make America Great. For the Second Year in a Row. In Dallas.

David and I are in Dallas for What the Fest 2 at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, and we are officially chuffed. David’s “Invisible Men Invade Earth,” which was named Judges’ Pick in the 2017 WTF, was screened last night, first on the program–and will be shown again tonight.

What the Fest highlights films that don’t fit into any particular genre. (An understatement if there ever was one.)

Last night’s fan favorite was “Deletion,” the story of a psychiatrist who specializes in erasing patients’ memories. My favorite was “Toasted,” a look at what appliances, including a Scotch tape dispenser that handles tape about as well as I do, get up to when the master isn’t home.

Everyone in the audience received a raffle ticket for door prizes. If you let them stamp your forehead, you got an extra raffle ticket. Well, why not? David won a tote bag. Or maybe I did. I gave him my tickets to care for, and we don’t know whose number was called.

At the second intermission, girls* came around with a black light thingy and took pictures of our foreheads. Results are under Well, why not, above.

Pocket Sandwich Theatre is little and cute and specializes in melodrama, as you can tell from the carpet of popcorn on the floor.

What the Fest is my favorite of all the festivals we’ve been to, in part because little and cute also means informal–the principals say they’re a family, and they act like it. They have fun. So does the audience.

They also like David’s film. When they introduced it, they said they’d watched nine hours of submissions, and to keep themselves going throughout the arduous task, they periodically played “Invisible Men,” because it made them giggle. When we were leaving, a couple of the guys said they watch it a lot and also quote some of the lines (“Well, that sucks,” and “It is not a coincidence.”) One of the girls said she watches it with her mother.

In Austin, “Invisible Men, the story of two cats who save Earth by facing down a horde of space aliens,” and David’s other films are called weird.”** The folks in Dallas speak of “purity” and “a place of love.” In other words, it’s the kind of film you can take home to your mother, and that says a lot.

Once again, stars William and Ernest chose to stay home under the twice-a-day supervision of Charla, who feeds them, pets them, and gives William his insulin injection. They don’t like the carriers or the car, but they like Charla a lot. Charla emailed us that they’re playful.

We’re now using the wi-fi at the Denny’s next door to our hotel. The hotel’s wi-fi keeps slipping off the Internet and refuses to let me upload photos, but Denny’s is excellent.

In about four hours, we’ll head back to Pocket Sandwich Theatre to see “Invisible Men Invade Earth” and several new films. Last night, the audience started laughing before the first scene ended. I’m sure tonight’s viewers will be just as discerning.

***

*A purist would call them women, but where I come from, women that age are girls unless you’re trying to make a point.

**In Austin, weird is a compliment. I don’t know who decided Austin is weird, but “Keep Austin Weird” is right up there, or maybe above, “The Live Music Capitol of the World.” Weird may have started when Jim Franklin drew that armadillo. Oh. I just looked it up. Here’s who decided Austin is weird.

Further note: Lone Star used to be the National Beer of Texas, and I guess it still is. I haven’t seen the commercial in a long time, but there’s a video on youtube extolling its virtues.  (See link above.) According to the expert, It’s got a perfect taste that’s hard to describe.

***

 

“Invisible Men Invade Earth” Wins at What the Fest

The video “Invisible Men Invade Earth,” written, directed, and produced by David Davis, was declared What the Fest Winner Judge’s Pick at Dallas’ Pocket Sandwich Theatre last night.*

Judges said “Invisible Men” has a “purity” that shows it comes from a “place of love,” and they could tell David made it simply because he wanted to.

David still claims he made it because he wanted something to do that didn’t require leaving the couch.

His videos have been recognized before– following Fantastic Fest 2015, Andrew Whalen described him in Player.One as “the eccentric director behind the weirdest festival entries in Austin”–but this is the first time his work has been judged #1.

We arrived at Pocket Sandwich Theatre in time to hear the last scenes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Judging from the chorus of boos and hisses and the popcorn blanketing the floor, the audience had a rollicking good time.

Not as good a time as David and I had, of course.

Only one thing is missing. William and Ernest, who made it all possible, couldn’t be with us. Or, more accurately, wouldn’t be with us. Since that ill-fated trip to the vet last June, the sight of a suitcase sends them flying under the bed. A vet tech now comes to the house twice daily when we’re away to feed them and give William his insulin injection.

They like her. After eight years of hiding from company, William sashayed out, snuffled her hand, and invited her to give him a tummy rub. They agreed to star in “Invisible Men Invade Earth,” but that was when they were young. They have since given up the stage. Awards mean nothing to them.

David and I, though, are officially chuffed. And we’ll stay that way for the next couple of days at least.

*In truth, David’s video was declared winner early this morning. The program started at 11:15 p.m. last night and it comprised twelve videos and one intermission plus intros and miscellaneous talk, so the awards portion didn’t roll around till about 2:00 a.m.

Dedicated to the kindness of strangers

Alike and Different
Alike and Different

In June, David’s “Alike and Different,” a video “dedicated to the kindness of strangers,” won the Out of This World Award at the Lionshead Film Festival in Dallas.

The emcee who introduced the video said–and I wrote this down so I would get it right–“Not much I can say. Four minutes.” And then, to the audience, “We’ll see what you say.”

But he was half grinning/half giggling, which said a lot. And the audience laughed in all the right places.

When people you don’t know, and who don’t know you, laugh in all the right places–well, it makes you feel darned good.

Afterward, the emcee said David’s video shows what can be done using just a few household objects. I assume the household object to which he referred was my vegetable steamer. It does make a stunning spacecraft.

David @ Lionshead Film Festival, 2016
David @ Lionshead Film Festival, June 2016

When David told me the festival would be held at Valley View Center, an old mall on Preston Road, I said, “I know Preston Road.” And that is true. Sort of. I know approximately two blocks of Preston Road. Or, I knew two blocks of it. My knowledge peaked sometime between, oh, 1957 and 1965.

Consequently, as a navigator, I was hopeless. I read the big green exit signs and said things like, “There’s Walnut Hill Lane. I know that.” And, “There’s Belt Line. I know that.” I’m just a bit hazy on how all the streets I know fit together, like on a map.

  • [Typical on-the-road conversation:
  • David: The mall is in the Galleria area. Do you know where the Galleria is?
  • Me: Yes. It’s in Houston.]

Fortunately, David had performed due diligence and we reached our destination without having to depend on the kindness of strangers.

The Lionshead festival was smaller than others we’ve attended: all fifty-two films were screened in one small room. But I was impressed by the quality. “Call for a Good Time,” was one of my favorites. It was named Best Student Comedy Micro Short. The director, a student at Baylor University, said it was inspired by Baylor’s Moody Memorial Library, which serves as an unofficial social center. He said you have to get pretty deep into the library to study, which is what his characters do. Sort of.

My other favorite was a comedy titled “Hard Broads.” I can’t explain. You have to see it for yourself. It was named Best Female Directed Short. I didn’t see a Best Male Directed Short on the list.

Two days before the festival, the Dallas City Council voted to tear down Valley View Center to make way for the Dallas Midtown development. It seems it’s “a dead mall on life support.” Dead, maybe, but I liked what I saw of it–art galleries and studios and kiddie rides and a train. I’m a sucker for trains. And stuffed animals, and a store displaying the most well-endowed mannequin I’ve ever seen. I snapped a few of the highlights.

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For more out-of-this-world experiences, check out Alien Resort.

 

Saints, Angels, Bananas, and Bricks

David made banana pudding.

I’d planned to make it myself. We had spotty bananas. David made a special trip to HEB for sugar, flour, cream of tartar, vanilla wafers, and other ingredients Miss Myra required.

Then I ran out of steam.

That was Friday.

Saturday the bananas were even spottier. Definitely on their way out.

I was the same, minus spots.

That’s when David said the magic words: “Shall I make banana pudding?”

Who was I to say him nay? I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.

I emailed him the link to Miss Myra’s Banana Pudding recipe. He took his Chromebook to the kitchen, pulled up the web page, located the egg separator I gave him last Christmas (not dreaming he would ever have reason to use it), and got cooking.

I sat.

The result is pictured below.

After the pudding chilled awhile, David sampled and pronounced it good. He said it tasted like someone else made it.

I wanted a bite but, having feasted on the extra vanilla wafers and milk, I was in no mood to partake. Mañana.

The point I wish to make: David is a saint. An angel. A veritable paragon of virtue.

Or, as Polly Pepper would say, David is a brick.

DSCN1640
Miss Myra’s Banana Pudding, Made by David Davis, Certified Saint, on March 12, 2016

Today we take up the question, Is meringue necessary?

The Best of Fantastic Fest: My Husband, His Films, and a Flying Vegetable Steamer

Last week a friend asked what David and I have done for fun lately.

A long silence followed.

Fantastic Fest 2015 tee-shirt
Fantastic Fest 2015 tee-shirt

After a courtship comprising concerts, coffee houses, radio spots, tacos Tapatio on Christmas morning in Ciudad Acuna, and a road trip that David’s brother termed a kamikaze vacation to Maryland, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Georgia between Christmas and New Year’s (if there’s territory to be covered, we cover it), we settled into a quiet married life complete with a washer, a dryer, a microwave, and two four-pawed children. We’re happy, but our definition of fun tends toward the stodgy.

Today, however, we leave our cool sequester’d vale and plunge into the madding crowd at the Alamo Draft House for Fantastic Fest.

Three of David’s short films will be screened today in Shorts with Leg, starting about 2:00 o’clock. They first aired last Friday, so we’re a repeat audience.

According to Fantastic Fest’s website, Shorts with Leg are “the strangest and most compelling eccentric short films we’ve seen all year, from polished excursions into existential surrealism to enthusiastic reveries of outsider art madness.” It also refers to “the most mind-meltingly bizarre short film submission this programmer has ever seen!” We’re not certain, but the way it’s phrased, that seems to apply to one of David’s films. I’d not thought of it, but mind-meltingly bizarre is accurate.

The three films, which will reappear on his Vimeo page after the festival ends, are

Click on Alike and Different and read that “David Davis becomes your new favorite outsider artist in this lo-fi satirical look at a first contact scenario.” You’ll also see a photo of a flying saucer that closely resembles my vegetable steamer.

Madding Crowd at Fantastic Fest 2015
Madding Crowd at Fantastic Fest 2015

Other Shorts with Leg were made by professionals–one said he’d just finished editing Warren Beatty’s latest film–which makes David’s “outsider status” pretty darned special. Even better–in my estimation at least–was audience reaction to his films: They laughed. And laughed. And laughed. What higher praise is there? His films were bright spots in an otherwise strange, dark two hours.

After the screening, directors appeared on stage and answered questions. To wit:

Question: What inspired your film?

David: I wanted to make something simple and cheap.

He accomplished his goal. Actors, singer, arranger, pianist, costume enhancer, and flying saucer donated their time.

In short, he done good. I knew I was marrying a writer and a kamikaze, but I had no idea I’d end up as consort of a film producer/director/editor and all the rest.

Having described David’s success, I’ll move on to mine.

Me, at certain times of the year
Me, at certain times of the year

For photo IDs, the Fest wanted shaky faces, meaning we were supposed to shake our faces back and forth and snap a picture at the worst point–when flesh had practically parted from bone and was wobbling all over the place.

I refused. Instead, I sent in an old drawing I’d made to represent how I felt during allergy season. If they refused to issue me a badge, I was going to sit outside on a bench and read.

But I got my badge. The picture is on sideways, but it’s there. I realized last Friday morning that if I didn’t brush my hair, I’d look just like it.

This post should have gone online last night, but I ran out of steam. No matter. I am not used to working in advance of need.

Time to leave. I have to stop this and throw on my tee-shirt. If we happen to meet in the lobby, please look at my photo ID. No one else has.

Badge
Badge

Oh–Publicity mentions that Elijah Wood will be the DJ at the closing party. The Elijah Wood? I don’t know. David said he’s not interested in going to the parties because it would just be young people behaving boisterously. I concur. We’re going to El Mercado and then to see Mark Pryor at BookPeople instead.

See? I told you our fun tends toward the stodgy. And, thank goodness, toward the literary, which is not stodgy at all.

******************

Mark Pryor's HOLLOW MAN
Mark Pryor’s HOLLOW MAN

PS  Author Mark Pryor will be at BookPeople tonight at 7:00 p.m. His new book, HOLLOW MAN is–I can’t think of an adjective besides amazing, and that’s used so often it’s become meaningless–but just take my word for it that this book is what a mystery/suspense/thriller should be. Plotting reminds me of Ruth Rendell’s books, and she is the best. So–BookPeople tonight for Mark Pryor and HOLLOW MAN.

 

Roswell: JPEGs

Here, in no particular order and, possibly, of no particular interest, are photos taken the weekend of the 2012 Roswell Cosmic-Con and Film Festival: uncaptioned, uncropped, just thrown out into cyberspace.

A few remarks to help in the deciphering process:

The first are from Friday night’s costume party at the Roswell Zoo. We expected to see space creatures but found zombies, executioners, and belly dancers as well.

The belly dancers danced with pythons. The dancer on the left has one wrapped around her arm. She was returning it to its basket.

That’s David in the tee-shirt with spacemen on the front.

The baby was cute, so I took her picture.

The space car was parked at the Holiday Inn. I don’t know whether it’s a permanent fixture or a visitor.

Billy (now Bill) Mumy was on the premises, but I didn’t see him.

The alien streetlights are a hoot.

Invisible Men Invade Again

English: The McDonalds located at 720 N. Main ...
The McDonald’s located at 720 N. Main in Roswell, New Mexico models its PlayPlace as a flying saucer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David’s short film Invisible Men Invade Earth will be screened at Roswell Cosmic-Con and Film Fest in Roswell, New Mexico this month.

A thousand thanks to our friend, Lee, who told David about the call for submissions, and to David’s wife, who said, “Submit it submit it submit it!” (Wife wants to get out of Austin.)

That’s about all I know, except that some events will take place at the McDonald’s pictured at the left.

Official seal of City of Roswell
Official seal of City of Roswell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why Roswell? Because in July 1947, a press release written by the public information officer at the Roswell Army Air Field reported, under orders of his base commander, that the Army had in its possession a flying saucer that had crashed on a local ranch. The Associated Press picked up the story. The next day a second press release ordered by a higher-ranking officer stated that the flying saucer was actually just a weather balloon.

That might have been the end of it if civilians hadn’t found the wreckage in the first place. Witnesses told stories of four alien creatures, one of whom survived. A Roswell mortician received phone calls from the air base morgue regarding how to preserve bodies. The military asserted pressure, and witnesses stopped talking.

Around 1980, a UFO researcher discovered the incident and started looking for witnesses. He found a number of them, including the public information officer who wrote the press releases. From there, the story took off.

That’s a summary of the story as it appears on Roswell’s International UFO Museum. Other sources suggest there’s more. Or less, as the case may be. At any rate, Roswell and flying saucers are now irretrievably linked.

Hence the Roswell Cosmic-Con and Film Festival. And the screening of Invisible Men Invade Earth.

And the Davises invading Roswell.

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Note: In her book Area 51, Annie Jacobsen’s history of the top-secret military base in Nevada, the author repeats a story she was told about the Roswell Incident. She states the story could not be substantiated and does not present it as fact. But starring Stalin and Dr. Mengele, it fits right in with the rest of the Roswell lore.

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

I Haven’t a Thing to Wear

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1888), by John Singe...
Image via Wikipedia

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. ~ Henry David Thoreau


David’s video “Invisible Men Invade Earth” will be screened at the Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont.

Asked whether he’s excited about the event, David said, “Well, I will be.” He doesn’t like to expend emotion in advance of need. At just over three minutes, it’s the shortest of the Short Narrative Fiction, so it will be the first in that category to be shown.

I, on the other hand, feel rather giddy. I will be going as the Producer’s Wife. Mrs. Producer Davis, to be exact. At times like this it’s okay for a liberated woman to drop Ms. MaidenName and assume her husband’s surname.

(It’s also okay to do that without a film festival, but this Ms. MaidenName is afraid she’ll slip up and then various governmental agencies will get things all out of whack. And then she’ll never get her passport renewed ever again. She wants to return to the family castle [several times removed] on the Isle of Mull and to eat haggis in Oban. She can’t do that if TSA agents bar her from boarding the plane.)

Anyway. Wanting to dress appropriately, I googled “film festival dress” and pulled up several million hits, most of them concerning what to wear to Sundance. First on the list was a Sundance catalog, the highlight of which (to my mind) was a pair of denim crops (pedal pushers for those who remember their first incarnation) that have been “destructed by hand” to look like something my mother would not have let me wear in public if I had ever managed to destruct any denim to that degree. Price: $176.00.

Moving right along, I searched for images of past Boomtown festivals.There was  no Boomtown catalog, nor was there any photo that suggested I should grab my checkbook and run out to the mall. The festival is in Beaumont, not Dallas. Thank goodness. My Austin wardrobe will suffice. That’s just as well, because David and I will match. His Austin wardrobe goes everywhere.

“Invisible Men Invade Earth” stars William and Ernest. They’re born thespians. Rotten at taking direction, but good when called upon to ad lib. And they work cheap.

For a look at their artistic side, click here.