Tuesday 27 August 2013

Once Upon a Time, Anthony Head Hugged Me

Many years ago (not that many, but you get the point) I was a 16 year old running my high school's film club. It was as nerd-tastic as you can imagine...

During my tenure as creator/programmer/admin of the Northern Secondary Film Club we watched a lot of Sam Raimi, Terry Gilliam, and Ridley Scott... actually, we had some pretty great programming...maybe a little heavy on the 80s dark comedies, but shutupthoseareawesomeokay?!

...We also ran a film festival which was cancelled halfway through for content...nerdy high school street cred, yo.

During this time, I was also volunteering with the Space News team from the Space Channel during the Fan Expo convention in Toronto (although, at that time it was SFX, god I feel old...). This gave me access to some pretty cool discussions, some pretty cool places, and some pretty cool people.

note: Mr. Head, and the back of my Space News-employer's head...

Now, at this time Buffy the Vampire Slayer had been on the air for about 5 years, but I had never seen an episode...in fact, I only started watching it last week (yea yea, I'm a terrible nerd, deal wit it) , at that time I was very very heavily into The X-Files, and Six Feet Under.



So here I am, a nerdy-but-not-a-Buffy-nerdy-girl at Fan Expo, working as a production assistant on an taping of a interview with Anthony Head, and another with Ted Raimi...

Now, Ted Raimi was the real reason I was there... He is the little brother of Sam Raimi (who we all know, right? RIGHT?) creator of the Evil Dead series and several other not-quite-as-awesome films.

Mmmm, dat acting.

Now I was, in retrospect, very very naive

... But there I was, with business cards for my high school film club that I had printed out on pre-scored business card templates from my mother's office...and dammit, I was going to ask Ted Raimi to come and speak to my film club about the experience of working in heavy prosthetics on the classic (and generally awesome) horror-comedy, Evil Dead 2.

I don't know which is more horrific, the festering corpse, or the 80s happening all over blondie...

I waited till everything was being packed up, and I was released from cable-pulling duties...I screwed up my courage, double-checked that my newly acquired cell number was pencilled on the back of my homemade business card, and I approached Ted Raimi...

I love film, herp derp!

I stammered and tried to explain how fantastic my film club was, and how I wanted to start a lecture series regarding the behind-the-scenes process of film making to follow some of the films that we were showing... I tried to explain how wonderful it would be if he could come and talk to the club (at his convenience, of course) about his experience in shooting his first film, Evil Dead 2 in full body prosthetics, and under the direction of his big brother, and what it felt like to be part of a cult-classic film, and how it affected his career and life, if at all...

...I finished my sales pitch. All I could hear was my heartbeat, and all I could think was "you are the biggest loser in the world, Claire...way to go."

...and then? He took my card, said he would be delighted to, and that it sounded fantastic. Then he introduced me to his friend, Anthony Head, who I knew of but didn't really know. They commended me on my work running the film club, and then Ted Raimi asked me if I wanted a hug...

Now, I'm not a touchy-feely person. I'm not the type to give hugs to any and all people. I was...confused. Did I want a hug? Well, no, not really. Would I insult him by refusing? Possibly...


He hugged me. It was awkward...I was being hugged by Henrietta from my favourite film...not my top choice, but it was happening whether I liked it or not..


...Then Anthony Head asked me if I'd like a hug too...

At this point the answer was honestly... "Um, I don't watch your show... so this will just be some (very tall) guy hugging a (very) dorky 16 year old..." but seeing as I hadn't even asked him to come and talk to my high school film club, and he was definitely the bigger star... I didn't want to risk his ego any further.


And then Anthony Hall hugged me. I thanked them, shook hands, left the room, and pretty much forgot about the whole thing for years.

Ted Raimi never came to speak at my film club's meetings, but I don't really hold it against him...not really. And last week I started watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer...

oh hi, I didn't see you come in to the library...
Actually, it's more this:

Oh, hello there... I'm terribly sorry, I was in the stacks when you came in...!

...and I have to say...that Anthony Hall is pretty alright, and the memory of the awkward hug has become a fairly pleasant one.

Hey, 16 year old me... you rock... in retrospect.

...but seriously...retrospect.

Friday 9 August 2013

America...We Need to Have a Little Talk...

I spent the last week in the United States.

This is not my normal state of being. I come from Canada. Land of delicious food stuffs:

Maple Syrup!

Back Bacon!



...and, specifically, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Toronto. (yea, we're awesome. Deal wit it.)

But last week...last week I ventured south, into the wilds of the USA... Well, Annapolis and DC.

Watch out for space ships...

We went for a wedding, which was lovely. We ate our weight in oysters, mussels, and crabs...which was also lovely. Then we spent 2 days in Washington DC, the capital of the United States, and saw many museums and giant statues.

Big guy, sittin' in a chair.
We drank many good drinks, ate many good food...and to my great surprise, we discovered that despite being on the coast and having a ton of clams, Annapolis has no Clamato. No Bloody Casears, only Bloody Marys. For those of you who don't know...Clamato is tomato juice with clam juice. It is amazing and wonderful. It's probably what the tears of angel taste like.

It's science.

...Seriously, you are all missing out...

But despite all the awesome and fantastic things we saw and did, there was something that cannot, and should not be ignored about the United States... well, there are many things... But I'll try and tackle two issues that were so blatant you would have to be a moron or a sociopath to ignore them...

1) The United States has the highest levels of ignorance I have ever encountered. People say, do, and think things that are mind-boggling to anyone outside of the US... I've seen and heard them do it abroad, and now I had the pleasure (?) of seeing them do it in their own country... Oh, you want examples? Shit son, I got examples:

  • I'm 17, I go to Paris with a friend of mine. We decide to go the catacombs. There are approx. 6 million skeletons interred there. Some from the revolution years have visible bullet and bayonet holes. There are deep and depressing quotes on plaques everywhere... this is a perspective machine on life, the universe, and everything. So what? Well, we get in there, and a towering hambeast of a Texan decides to impress us by grabbing 2 HANDFULLS of bones and waggling them at us... We are not impressed.
  • I'm 18, I go back to the catacombs, an American woman examines an inlay of human skulls in the shape of heart near a plaque reading (in French) "God is not the fisher of souls." She then remarks, very very loudly: "Welp, ah guess when ya work with skeletons ya gotta have a sense o' humor!" Everyone feels bad.
  • And then of course, there is that internet-famous incident where an American went to the catacombs, stole a skull, brought it home, and skull-fucked it (literally) and put it all on the internet... I'M SORRY.

Ohh, but you want examples from Americans IN America? And ones that don't involve desecration of Parisian skulls? Yea, I got those too, and these are just from last week:
  • Go to DC, walk around all the museums. Try and soak up huge amount of incredible art and history. As we walk to the Natural History museum we pass a family that weighs more than several cars as they waddle down the street. We all pass the National Art Gallery at the same time. The father foolishly enquires if they would like to go in... 9 year old who weighs as much as I do glances at steps up to gallery entrance... angrily announces "NO WAY. I am NOT walking up all those stairs to see some stupid paintings!" Father looks sad. Mitch and I feel sad. Little girl feels too much thigh chaffing and likely begins to day dream of pudding.

  • In DC, decide to see "Museum of the American Indian" discuss surprisingly inappropriate museum name on walk to entrance. Pass man and family exiting museum. Man wearing Washington Redskins t-shirt... feel embarrassed for him. MAN BEGINS DOING A FAKE WAR DANCE. Cannot contain horror, mouths fall open. Feel weight of history crushing heart...
noooooooo D:
  • Be in Museum of the American Indian. Be nearly in tears from reading of all the people slaughtered and all the culture and history they have lost... walk past gift store... See obese child scream-crying about small souvenir she has smashed and lost... Cringe when employee gives her a new hand-made item. Restrain self from pointing out that crying over the loss of a toy in a museum dedicated to the loss of an entire people MAY be a touch inappropriate.
  • Be in the Museum of American history, see grandfather clock with astrological function from 1779. Think, "That is a very pretty clock" and be about to move on...overhear southern family looking at same clock... "Oh mah! Eets frum 1779! It even shows whurr the sun an' moon an' planuts are!" ... "That's UH-MAZ-ING!" ... "I had no idea we discovered this!" ...wat... "Well, it's gud that we deed! How else would they track 'em?" Feel anger and rage building, face feels hot, start to stomp away, turn around, begin internal debate over whether or not to scream at these people for being so unbelievably egocentric and ignorant...decide against it...not sure if "no guns allowed" sign at front door is strongly enforced... NO. REALLY.

  • Be in Smithsonian cafeteria. See family with 10 year old boy... Boy is playing video games. Father tries to engage him in conversation... "So, what was the most interesting thing you saw today?" No response. Boy does not even grunt. Father tries again...boy is too engrossed in bleeping and blooping noises. FATHER SHRUGS AND TURNS AWAY, THUS CONTRIBUTING TO THE RACE OF THE MORONIC AND DEVOID OF CRITICAL THINKING... Mitch and I feel our hearts ache with the memory of seeing the Apollo 11 Command Module, the Wright Brothers' Plane, and the original Kermit the Frog all in one day...

But really, far far worse is what was heard in Annapolis...
  • A cousin of mine was told by an educated man that there was no media without bias. Foolishly believing this was leading into a discussion of inherent media bias and journalistic control by corporate entities, my cousin agreed...only to be cut off and told: "In fact, the ONLY media that is telling it like it is...IS FOX NEWS."

If you believe in the baby Jesus, he probably started crying then. If not, just know that there is no hope, and we are all going to end up as an archaeological dig for ape-men in the future because idiots like him are going to kill us all.

2) The United States has a racism problem. Wait...did I just blow your minds? Right, I know. You know. We ALL know the US is pretty shitty place if you aren't male, rich, and white... but Washington DC was my first time in an American city with a large non-white population (hey, I usually go to Vermont, cut me some slack...and NYC is a world unto itself...). Some things that were immediately apparent, and that could not be ignored:
  • All, ALL the shit jobs are done by black people. Garbage collector? Black. Taxi driver? Black. Dish washer? Black. Baggage handler? Black. Basically, does this job have no future, no requirements of a university degree, and does it pay minimum wage? Black. This is not something you see in Toronto. This was upsetting. It is compounded by overhearing 2 white douchebros in Annapolis having a verbal circle jerk: "Hey, you makin' over 250k this year?" ... "Of course! I haven't made under 250k in years!"

  • I start to feel sick replaying this scene in my head and I see yet ANOTHER black person in DC sleeping on a bench within 20 feet of the Tesla store...where the white guys in DC go to buy 100k electric cars and tell themselves they are doing good things for the world, and that they are good people. All of the people sleeping on benches are black. All of them have nice clothes, and obviously work day jobs...they just have no where to go home to...

  • There is an unspoken tension in the air. When I sit next to a black man on the train I can see he surprised... I am confused... Do I smell bad? Why is he surprised? I realize that all the white people are at the other end of the train, and that Mitch, myself, and several black passengers are the only people on this end... I tell myself this is just a coincidence... then I remember that the fox news fan in Annapolis also ranted about "...all other media lying to keep Obama in." I feel sick.
  • I'm from Canada, we say please, we say thank you. I also worked as a waitress and bartender for years... I am ALWAYS polite with waiters because it is a shitty thankless job and only douchebags pick on servers. ...Where was I? Ah yes. Every time I said "Thanks!" or "Yes please!" to a person in DC who had a different skin colour they gave me this face:

Look, America has some wonderful stuff, they really do...but there is something horribly horribly wrong... Even in the midst of the Constitution, which laid out some really revolutionary thinking...they announced that black people were worth three-fifths of a white man... Uh guys, that is just a liiiiiittle racist and horrifying...

...America, you are doing it wrong.You are doing EVERYTHING wrong. You don't understand how to live, or what to live for. You must hate everyone to refuse them health care, education, and even a simple please & thank you... I feel like you guys need to see how a modern country works, but I'm terrified to invite you in because you may not leave your guns at the door...

Maybe the whole Clamato thing is more applicable than we know... maybe there is a deep-seated opposition to the mixing of different races juices? Maybe those in power lack the creative spirit to try new things? Maybe a cult-like adherence to tradition limits new ways of thinking and advancement as a society?


Shit. I don't know. But, I guess it can all be boiled down to this:

Some of y'all are ignorant racist assholes, and Clamato juice is amazing.

I'll take a Caesar over a Bloody Mary anyday.