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.

***

 

Headline: Guess Who Sold a [Copy of a] Book

Our first full day at All-Con Dallas 2018 was a rousing success. I sold a book.

A man picked up a copy of DAY OF THE DARK and asked if I had change. I was gobsmacked. Of course I didn’t have change. I hadn’t thought about needing change. I didn’t even have my purse.

David, standing behind me, pulled out his wallet and handed me two fives. I handed them to the customer in exchange for a twenty.

It was fun. I forgot to say, “Would you like me to autograph that for you?” But I’m new at this.

David, as usual, was more prepared than I. He came armed with Tootsie Pops and a bowl he’d bought at Walmart. Two Pops were taken, the first by a monster, and the second by me.

I’d forgotten how much trouble lollipops are. When you have one in your mouth, you can’t talk, and when you take it out of your mouth, you lose the use of one hand. David suggested I set it on a sticky note. Later, when I picked it up, I discovered something interesting: the stickum on the back of the sticky note was stickier than the stickum under the Tootsie Pop.

Most of the attendees were in costume, and we took a lot of pictures. David’s are good; he didn’t mind asking people to stop so he could get a shot. I was reluctant to ask anyone to do anything, so I snapped many of my subjects as they walked toward, by, and away from me. Moving targets, as it were. Fortunately, David shares.

Selling the book was the first Big Deal of the day.

The second also occurred while I was parked at the Aliens and Mysteries table. A man stopped to look at books and stayed to talk about crime fiction, and then about crime, and that led to his saying his grandfather was a Texas Ranger from 1928 into the 1950s. For over a year, I had looked without success for a certain piece of information about the Rangers in the ’50s. So I asked; he told me. I just love serendipity.

The second experience was also serendipitous, but it goes well beyond Big Deal. Tonight I had a sudden inspiration–an epiphany–that could change the course of my life as a writer.

And the credit goes to Lady Lola Lestrange of La Divina Burlesque.

I didn’t get a picture of her. But you can look her up.

 

“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.

Roswell Sightings: Day 2

Area 51
Area 51 (Photo credit: OakleyOriginals)

Today’s sights: Darth Vader; Power Rangers (the real ones!); Chewbacca; a woman wearing neck-to-toe body paint who shouldn’t have been wearing neck-to-toe body paint; a mayor standing in the shade reading a l-o-n-g resolution while I stood in the sun; zombies dancing; a fried beef sopapilla; a car shaped like a space ship (I guess); a librarian I had classes with at the University of Texas in 1990 (now the author of six books about UFO sightings); some excellent films (both short and feature-length).

Today’s lesson: When you have a grand opening, invite the mayor, but don’t let him read anything, especially a document cluttered with Whereases. Place him beside a celebrity, in view of the news cam. But don’t let him near a microphone.