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.

***

 

Fort Worth Indie Film Festival & # ROW80 Report

Fort Worth Indie Film Festival, 2016
Fort Worth Indie Film Festival, 2016 – Family Shorts Block – “The Places You’ll Go”

It appears to be Wednesday–the scheduler from my doctor’s office had to tell me it wasn’t Thursday, but since her call woke me up, I take no responsibility for mixing up the days–and thus time for the #ROW80 report.

If I were playing by the rules, I would have reported last Sunday, but we’d been out of town all weekend and there was little to say. And since #ROW80 knows I have a life, I play by my rules.

I probably shouldn’t post today. I’m not in the best state of mind. I feel the way many of us do when we did the right thing, and because we did, life went all to you-know-where. But that’s another story. For anyone wanting more information, check the end of the post.

Fort Worth Indie Film Festival, 2016 - Family Shorts Block - "The Interview"
Fort Worth Indie Film Festival, 2016 – Family Shorts Block – “The Interview”

On a brighter note, which I’m sure will be welcome, David’s “Alike and Different” was screened at the Fort Worth Indie Film Festival on Saturday. There was a good turnout, and the audience laughed in all the right places. The one drawback was that two of the other films starred very cute children and thus received an inordinate amount of attention. I’ve advised David to include William and Ernest the Cats in all future videos. Children, no matter how cute, are not as cute as our cats.

 

*****

The #ROW80 report:

The Buffet set on July 13 with updates:

(The Buffet is explained in “Writing, Reading, and the Watermelon Buffet,” on Writing Wranglers and Warriors.)

  1. Edit the AMW story for its (I hope) last major critique
    On the way home from Fort Worth, I scribbled on the manuscript. No major changes, the kind that will make a difference, just little changes in wording that will make no difference at all, but that will keep me doing the Should I? Shouldn’t I? dance. Just north of Waco, I put the ms. away to look at when I don’t care.
  2. Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and submit to AMW for critique
    Nope.
  3. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe,” the story I started last week
    Nope again.
  4. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list.
    I’ve read about half of Isabel Allende’s The Japanese Lover. I’m glad I made the effort to see Allende when she was at BookPeople several months ago. I’m glad I bought the book. At the time, I felt guilty for buying a hardback I don’t have room for when I could have spent less for a Kindle “copy.” But after I read the first few pages, guilt atomized. It’s a delightful book, one that, for maximum enjoyment, must be read from paper. I  still don’t know where I will put the book after reading it.
  5. Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays.
    I skipped Sunday. See paragraph #2, above.
  6. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day.
    Started this but fell along the wayside. 
  7. Take three naps a week.*
    Not too bad. Napped Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (on the way to Fort Worth; I think that counts), Saturday (practically passed out, so maybe I can’t claim credit), and Sunday (on the way home). Sad but true, I can’t remember what I did Monday or yesterday. But that’s five naps, two more than I set for myself, and four more than I expected to take.

*Start as soon as this has been posted.
I did, with a nap.

*****

The July 20 Buffet:

The original Buffet was meant to cover 80 days beginning with July 4, not just a few days or a week. Some haven’t been completed. Number 5 is on-going. So nothing changes.

  1. Complete the edit the AMW story for its (I hope) final major critique
  2. Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and submit to AMW for critique
  3. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe”
  4. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list. (The list appears at Writing Wranglers and Warriors.)
  5. Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays.
  6. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day.
  7. Take three naps a week.

*****

A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80) is The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life.

To read what other #ROW80 writers are doing, click here.

*****

"Alike and Different"
“Alike and Different”

 *****

For the curious: The reason for my nasty state of mind: I flossed out a crown. And had to get it put back in. As I said, you do the right thing, and still…

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

 

Eccentric Director’s Films Like a “Living Comic Strip”

Fantastic Fest: Epilogue

David is taking this in stride, but I am simply agog.

As a result of his participation in Fantastic Fest, David has been profiled the September 30th iDigital Times.

fantastic fest day 2 007

According to writer Andrew Whalen, “perhaps the strangest shorts in this very strange collection [Shorts With Legs] were those of David Davis.”

The article includes two of the shorts–“Alike and Different” and “Reverse Effects”–as well as a link to his Vimeo page.

Warning: The links to Vimeo in the article worked the first time I tried them

but failed a few minutes later. So I’ve added a direct link here.

Rummage around on his Vimeo page and see “Invisible Men Invade Earth,” which was screened in 2012 at Cosmic-Con and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, and at the Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont. Ernest the Cat makes an unscripted but serendipitous appearance.

Note: It’s best to use one of the links to access David’s films on Vimeo. I looked for them by googling his name and found several David Davis pages there–and some of the films surprised me. Nothing terrible (I guess; I didn’t exactly watch any of them), but I want to make clear that those surprise collections are not part of the genuine David Davis’ repertoire. The eccentric David Davis.

Another note: David’s short films are short–only two or three minutes. Don’t blink.

 

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.