Mirthquake Rumblings from around the Web.

Howdy Mirthquakers!

Been REALLY busy, I can hardly keep up! But here’s what’s shaking!

GHOULS WITH TOOLS!

nullDid a poster for a screening of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (coinciding with George A. Romero’s birthday) at Pittsburgh, PA’s Hollywood Theatre, to benefit FIX THE CHAPEL, the grassroots effort of NOTLD fans to restore and preserve the chapel in Evans City Cemetery, a cinematic landmark from the George A. Romero classic horror film originally released in 1968. It’s an IMAGE 10 APPROVED OFFICIAL POSTER, and you can buy a non-screening-specific copy of the poster at the groups website at http://fixthechapel.com/

You can also get a Mirthquake Designed full color Ultra-pro-style NOTLD Chapel Promo Card at participating pop-culture conventions (both made their debut this weekend at Cinema Wasteland). There are two available… the “Karen Cooper” card is the more readily available of the two. The “Ben and Harry” is only available with a minimum donation, or as a bonus if you win one of the groups eBay auctions.

I must admit, the thrill of these pieces for me is the fact that they were given the official “okee-doke” from the remaining living members of Image Ten, Inc, the ten members who put up money to make NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and in most cases worked on and in the film. I feel like I’m a bona fide member of the family!

Plus I’m honored to help preserve a piece of film history — the last surviving exterior location of one of the most famous films in history.


KILLERS WITH (POWER) TOOLS

Nail Gun Massacre clamshellI also designed the packaging for inaugural release of the newly minted FRIGHTMARE VIDEO company!

A true direct to video release in 1986, NAIL GUN MASSACRE now gets a retro VHS clam-shell release complete with painted cover art never before available in the US!
Featuring an all new music video by old school death metal band “Nailgun Massacre” for their hit single “Nailed to the Wall”.

It’ll premiere exclusively at this spring’s Texas Frightmare Weekend, taking place May 4-6, where cast and crew will be on hand for a screening, Q&A and autograph session. (I’ll be around too…)

This was an interesting deal… the only good copy of the art we had available was an ultra high resolution scan from the overseas VHS packaging that Rotten Cotten had used for their official t-shirt. But it was, as you can imagine, all ben-day dots. So I took it into photoshop and literally repainted the art from those ben-day dots, to get a clear continuous tone image suitable for printing. Then I took that image and used it in a faux-distressed retro Clamshell design for this initial first pressing. I even got to design the 1980’s styled “Frightmare Video” Logo… weird going back to my Kaleidoscope/Popingo/National/Major Video store roots! Somehow browsing on Netflix just doesn’t have the same… panache. Kinda miss that.

If you pre-order the tape (shipping May 15 and priced at $32.95, though pre-orders are $26.95) early, it’s worth it; the first 25 orders will also receive the rare 2004 DVD edition released by Lofton. That’s kinda nifty.

But from what I understand, this is a movie best seen hammered


There’s so much more, but I’ll be adding on to this blog soon… stay tuned!

Bonehead Moves.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the Bantam Street Players. Led by writer/director/actor Larry Blamire, the troupe is responsible for such hilarious and spot-on gems as Trail of the Screaming Forehead, Lost and Stormy Night, the Web Series (and CathARTic fave) Tales From The Pub, and of course The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and its sequels.

Well, Rondo Award winning artist Belle Dee was nice enough to invite me to participate in an online art show celebrating the wacky magnificence that is Cadavra. There’s a different artist every day, and I’m featured today!

Gaze at art now!

Frightmare 2011: The Paradigm Shift

I promise you, I don’t JUST type about Frightmare. But I am starting to see a trend.

This year, the plans were to make this Casher and Mirth’s Repugnant Recrudescence to North Texas. I had even arranged to pay Casher’s way in. But alas less than 24 hours before we were to leave, the plans COMPLETELY fell apart. In a fit of karmic malevolence, he found out that he just couldn’t go. I took the time to rearrange my fecal roster (no, Casher is FAR from it), and looked for a suitable traveling companion.

My wife, the truly amazing RealityChick, is not a big fan of crowds OR horror movies, and both she and the kids had school that they couldn’t miss. So I asked my friend Leif Jonker if HE wanted to go. Leif had written and directed a horror film with a cult following a few years back called DARKNESS, and we had been gearing for a follow-up film for a while. So I figured he’d be interested in going, and rightly so. He did, contacted Loyd Cryer (the grand poobah of Texas Frightmare Weekend)… and immediately became an official GUEST OF THE CON.

That I wasn’t expecting. It put a paradigm shift on the whole trip. Not an unpleasant one, mind you. Things were just different.

He contacted Loyd Cryer (the grand poobah of Texas Frightmare Weekend)… and immediately became an official GUEST OF THE CON. That I wasn’t expecting. It put a paradigm shift on the whole trip. Not an unpleasant one, mind you. Things were just different.

First of all, I was in full-boat promotion mode. I had done the t-shirt and marketing art for the convention, so I saw my art everywhere. I had ordered about 400 Sharpie Pens with my contact info on it from LOGO ENVY (represent!) which I was using for my personal business cards (Sharpies are always at a premium at conventions; I surprised no one had done it before, and I’m sure there will be tons next year), and had printed up about 500 postcard advertisements for my day job at Wirewaves, featuring Shannon Lark (the day job’s only real horror movie street cred, right now, is creating her site.) But I also had to assist Leif in setting up HIS booth. Not that there was a TON of heavy lifting involved, but it did eat up the afternoon that I had planned on us going to Hard Eight BBQ with TFW friends and a buddy from High School who now lives in DFW. (Next year for sure, Howie!)

The DARKNESS Booth happened to be right next to the Booth for Kerry Beyer’s Kerosene Films who had released the hilariousSpirit Camp, and were now working on a sci-fi horror piece called Code of Evil. Who had just been cast in it and was one of the folks “manning” the booth? Shannon Lark. Yeah, I know. It’s a small weird world.

The Texas Frightmare Weekend 2011 Having access to the booth was nice as I had a “home base” to work from on the con floor, and I needed it this year. As a way of getting face time with all the guests, I had printed up a personal one-of-a-kind “Directors Cut” of the Marketing Artwork that I had done for the show which included a lot of the people that were announced too late to make the cutoff for the program cover, like Malcolm McDowell and Jill Schoelen. I had every guest autograph it, from Cary Elwes to Roger Corman, from Angus Scrimm to Yoshihiro Nishimura, and it’s now hanging in a place of honor in my home office.

Next time: Anecdotes, old friends, new acquaintances, and how knowing how to draw will open the most interesting doors.

Unclogging the Blog!

The 2011 Texas Frightmare T-Shirt, art by Matt OrsmanMuch like the proverbial cobbler with barefoot children, I have been derelict in my blogging duty… I’ve been Busy!

  • I’m finishing up work on my very first children’s book! Hope to have it available in just a matter of weeks, so watch the Facebook page!
  • Speaking of Facebook, I’m giving away digital caricatures at benchmark “fan” numbers! I’ve done about 15 of them since I started that project, so if you want in on the drawing, become a “Mirthquaker” and “like” the page! As of this writing, we’re at 309 fans, and I’m drawing again at 350!
  • Been keeping afloat doing designs for WIREWAVES, a company that specializes in web applications and internet radio, but honestly we do all kinds of graphic media! From a basic website to your own facebook, we can do it for you! Go check the site for more information!
  • Doing some Illustration work for Karen Knotts for her one woman show about her famous dad, Don Knotts, called appropriately TIED UP IN KNOTTS! The next performance is in Tennessee on April 15th, so go check it out and see some Mirthquake action!
  • Been keeping busy with one of my other blogs… CathARTic Art and Film Events is doing weekly interviews with people involved in the film and art industries! Interviews include Ad Man and Film Producer Bob Walterscheid; Actor Brandon Slagle; Actress, filmmaker and film festival goddess Shannon Lark; world renowned Horror Photographer Joshua Hoffine, and this weekend, I’m posting an interview with Texas Frightmare impresario Loyd Cryer!
  • Speaking of Texas Frightmare Weekend, I’m also had the honor of designing the Official TFW2011 T-shirt and Program Cover! The shirts are being printed by Joe Garcia at Fast Custom Shirts in Corpus Christi, Texas! He’s got lots of cool indy shirt designs, so throw him a little business, and tell him “Mirthy” sent you!
  • And I’m also the official graphic artist for the Viscera Film Festival in Los Angeles in July! And yes, I actually hope to GO to this one!

So as you can see, my dance card has been staying pretty full. But I will try to stop by more often!

Texas Frightmare Aftermath (Part Drei)

“I now realize that it was a three day con… so this should be a three part post. Next time, meeting icons, contact from Krypton, and imaginary fruity drinks!” — Me, six months ago.

My how time flies when you get busy with work and start living for the NEXT Frightmare!

OK, I promised I’d get back to this… and now it’s faded within the fog of a diet-addled memory. Please note that these are not in any particular order, but just as I remember them.
I Took a picture of my friend Matt Ray with Keith Gordon of CHRISTINE fame, putting me in an elite company that includes John Carpenter and Brian DePalma that has directed Mr. Gordon. Keith and I also talked about A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, one of his first directorial efforts. NICE GUY. Had I realized he had directed THE SINGING DETECTIVE, he would have hard pressed to shake me away from the table. REALLY enjoyed that one. Alexandra Paul is just as pretty as she’s ever been. Alas, I should have brought my DRAGNET poster for her to sign.

Finally saw DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW. I knew nothing going into this but Fright-Rags thought it was cool enough to make a shirt about. I was treated to a pristine copy of a clever, surprisingly violent complex 1981 TV movie with Charles Durning, Larry Drake (in the role that must have gotten him his L.A. Law gig), and one of my all time favorite character actors, The late Lane Smith. Phenomenal flick, and now that I’ve waited this long, I can actually link to the DVD on Amazon. Buy it today.

On my way out of the con, I ran into Julian Sands. Other than goofing my friend Leslie who would literally go into palpitations every time he got near, I hadn’t had a chance to talk to him. We chatted a bit about WARLOCK and ARACHNOPHOBIA, but the conversation soon turned to SMALLVILLE. It was bound to. He was wearing his Jor-El shirt.

Well, my friend Darren is a HUGE Superman fan. So I somehow convinced Julian into calling him.

“Hello Darren? This is Julian Sands. Jor-El from Smallville. Your friend Matt is here, and I’m calling to tell you that he’s too cheap to buy you an autograph. Take care now.”

Hey, Casher and I were literally out the door when this happened, and I was all but out of money. If Loyd and crew bring him back next year, Julian’s is the first booth I’m going to. Class act.

OK, the imaginary fruity drinks. Terry Alexander, Jarlath Conroy and John Amplas were there representing 1985’s DAY OF THE DEAD. Terry and Jarlath, in the film, had set up a faux tropical paradise in the underground bunker they were in, so I made it a priority to get big tropical fruity drinks and get a picture with them raising their glasses in a toast. One problem… the Hotel had nothing that even remotely looked “tropical”. So I ended up with little cheap plastic tumblers, and will photoshop in the fruity drinks later. Was a bit disappointed, but when life hands you lemons, make Lynchburg Lemonade.

There is so much more I can tell you about… the never-ending screaming Hollywood auction in the lobby that no one could hear over comes immediately to mind, but some things are better lived than told.

So go buy your tickets for next year’s FRIGHTMARE. Just save me a couple of VIP passes. I don’t wanna miss THAT party again!

Mirthquake does cover for BATMAN TV Series book, ONE MONTH WINDOW TO ORDER!

Wednesday, September 29th greets the arrival of the October issue of PREVIEWS in comic shops everywhere, wherein you will be able to pre-order GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES.

Gotham City 14 Miles, cover by Matt Orsman

GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES, Cover by Matt Orsman. Order yours today!


For those of you new to the party, Gotham City 14 Miles offers the 1960s Batman TV series the critical reevaluation it deserves. Its essays examine Batmania, camp, the role of women, the show’s participation in ’60s counter-culture, its many celebrated actors, its lasting cultural effects, and other critical subjects.

And I did the cover for it.

I ask very kindly and humbly that you consider ordering a copy and also that you may also ask your comic book shop manager/owner to order one or two copies of the book for their shelves. NOTE: please don’t assume your shop will automatically order the book – PREVIEWS has thousands of items and too often good stuff gets lost among all the clutter.

“I now have a new book for my ‘Five I’d Take to a Desert Island’ list. Gotham City 14 Miles is the perfect companion to my favorite pop-culture phenomenon of all time!””
— Mark Waid

There is a ONE MONTH window to order, beginning on Wednesday the 29th. Order soon, order often!

300 pages / ISBN 9780578064611 / $22.95 MSRP

Here’s a new article about the book:

http://www.toledofreepress.com/2010/09/28/local-editors-book-revisits-iconic-60s-television-series/

And here’s the official publisher page for it:

http://www.sequart.org/books/7

If the book sounds interesting to you – remember, its the first all-new book about the BATMAN TV show in over a decade – I hope you will order one.

Those of you in the Wichita Area, you can order at

AGENTS OF COMICS 924 W DOUGLAS AVE WICHITA, KS (316) 262-6642

PRAIRIE DOG COMICS 4800 WEST MAPLE SUITE 122 WICHITA, KS (316) 942-3456

If you don’t know where your local Comic Shop is, go to http://www.comicshoplocator.com/

Thanks, and we’ll see you Same Matt Time, Same Matt Channel!

Interview with a Drummer… and a Guitarist

Originally published May 20, 2003

 

Matt Orsman: Hello faithful readers! Matt Orsman here
with the very first FRACTURED FEMUR Interview! I am here with two of
the extremely talented members of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s band; percussionist Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz and guitarist Jim West!

Matt: Aloha Fellas, and thanks for taking time out
of your busy schedule to talk to us! First, I have to ask: How is Elvis,
and have you seen him recently?

Jim: I haven’t seen him but he’s probably a little
dusty.

Matt: It’s been four years since your last album, Running with Scissors, and three since you
last toured extensively. What do you do in the meantime?

Jim: I write music for various media-TV mostly. I
also record my own stuff, travel to Hawaii when I can and play around
in my garden.

Bermuda: Mostly relax. The tour in 2000 ran over
nearly a 9-month period, and I was very happy to be home and NOT have
to play drums all week long! I did eventually start playing and recording
again, and as always, I have some web design clients that kept me busy
each day, even if just for an hour or two. I also made some serious
progress in my archiving project, where I am converting audio tapes
of me & my bands from the past 30+ years, to CD.

Matt: You said “Bands” as in “more than one?” Who else have you worked
for?

Bermuda: Nobody quite as well-known
as Al, but some niche artists like Ray Campi, Rip Masters, Painting
Over Picasso, Bernie Pearl, and also members of The Rolling Clones.
Plus dozens of other nameless, faceless project bands in L.A.
Okay, they had names, and most of them had faces.

Matt: Jim, you recently produced an album by legendary
comedian Bill Dana. What’s “José Jimenez” really like?

Jim: Bill is a very gifted writer and entertainer.
He is in his late seventies now. He can definitely make me laugh!

Matt: You even have your own record label, Westernmost
Music. Any notables you publish?

Jim: Just my own stuff really, but I produced a CD
for Lily Wilson who is a very talented singer/songwriter.

Matt: Speaking of musicians: You all (or mostly all)
come from improvisational music backgrounds. When will we see the big
“Free Association” CD?

Jim: When Bermuda exacts his revenge by releasing
his Al rehearsal tapes.

Matt: Rehearsal tapes? Part of your “Archiving Project,”
Bermuda?

Bermuda: It includes a ton of Al rehearsals, demos,
live shows and studio outtakes. I’ve converted probably 500 cassettes
and reels so far, and have maybe 250-300 to go. It’s been really interesting
to hear some of my old work again, and of course there are some very
funny moments with Al!

Matt: You just started rehearsing for your latest
tour. Your concerts are nothing short of an extravaganza, including
extensive Multimedia presentations, and more costume changes than Cher!
In the past, you’ve even caught the audience in an inpromtu “snowstorm!”
How long does it take to plan the concert, and does it change during
the tour at all?

Bermuda: Typically, we’ll rehearse for about a week
to prepare for a new tour. That may sound like a short period when you
consider that some bands rehearse for weeks or even months. But we know
a lot of our material very well, so it’s largely just a refresher. That’s
not to say we don’t work hard during rehearsals, and for the Poodle
Hat Tour, we have a LOT of work to do, and it will take longer than
a week!

Matt: Tell me your best road story.

Jim: I have so many, it would
be hard to pick one… I do remember a certain crew member spiking
Rubén’s Phantom mask with raccoon urine…

Matt: (Laughing) Ewwww! For those of
you not up on your Al lore, Rubén Valtierra is Al’s traditionally
publicity shy keyboardist. He makes up for his anonymity by being
an intregal part of the schtick during the concerts. He’s a favorite
with the fans.

Speaking of the fans, I have some e-mail from some of your fans. Care
to answer? Here’s a question from William Sparks of Derby.
William writes “I’ve watched a number of specials where we see the
“Behind-the-Camera” view when you’re creating the Music Videos. It always
appears that the entire group is having fun. However, in normal work
days, do you still have all the fun?”

Jim: Making record and videos is fun but it can be
a painfully slow and boring process sometimes.

Bermuda: It’s certainly fun for me being onstage and
seeing a lot of the US and Canada at the same time. But we’re not always
hanging around together. Apart from being on the bus or getting ready
for the show, everyone’s got different stuff they work on or like to
do. Occasionally a few of us will catch a meal together, but we generally
don’t hang around together during the day.

Matt: Here’s another one from William, that after
hearing about Rubén’s mask, I’m kind of curious about too. “Who
would you say is the prankster in the group?”

Jim: We are all pranksters to some degree. It’s part
of the road rules.

Matt: The very prolific Mr. Sparks has another question! “On your “Running With Scissors” tour, in which town did you have
the best time? Which was the worst?”

Jim: I don’t remember the cities so much. There were
good times and bad times but I guess I’d have to look at the tour itinerary
to figure out where in the dickens we were.

Bermuda: Every city has something to offer. I usually
gauge my good times by how many cool record stores, drum shops, and
sushi restaurants are in the vicinity. I like all the big cities, but
smaller cities turned out to be great as well: Hartford, Cheyenne, Davenport,
Johnstown, Portland (Maine, ) Halifax, London and Kitchener (Ontario,
CAN.) I manage to find something fun in every city. No bad places that
I can recall. If there’s really nothing else to do, it’s a treat just
having a quiet hotel room to catch up on emails and do a little surfing.

Matt: I’m from Wichita, and August 3rd will mark the
fourth time you’ve played here (to my knowledge.) Any Impressions?

Jim: Not to dis your city but I have only vague memories
of the place. The tours are like an endless chain of concert venues
and often we don’t get to see much of the city. Probably a lot of steak
houses and feed stores?

Matt: Less of both, unfortunately, than you might
think. I’d kill for a good steak. There are more legitimate theatres
in town than steakhouses, by about a 5 to 1 margin! Do you remember
much of our fair “Doodah,” Jon?

Bermuda: I have seen very little of the city so far.
It’s one of those cities we seem to arrive in time for the show, then
leave immediately afterward. Maybe we just can’t get a good hotel rate?

Matt: We’ll getcha hooked up this time. What town
has the best hotel food?

Jim: I would say San Francisco but the best hamburger
I ever had was in a hotel in Hong Kong.

Matt: Here’s another “fan question.” “When coming
up with new songs, do each of the band members get a say in how the
wordings go or is that just up to Al?”

Jim: Lyrics are all Al but sometimes he asks for
an opinion here and there.

Bermuda: He occasionally might run an alternate line
or word by one of us if he’s not sure which is better. It doesn’t really
qualify as legit input to the writing process.

Matt: And our next “fan question” comes from Jim Weeks
of Wichita. “Have each one of you completed your goals with where
you wanted the music to go?”

Jim: You always listen back and hear things that could
be better, but after it’s done, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Except maybe overdub on every CD.

Matt: Spoken like a true engineer! How about you,
Bermuda?

Bermuda: Completed, and then some! I had decided at
age 12 that I wanted to be a professional drummer, not really having
any idea of all the facets of the music business, some of them yet-to-be-invented
(such as cable-tv music channels!) I’ve performed and recorded a lot
of music before and during my tenure with Al, but it’s definitely him
that’s allowed me to be on TV, tour and travel through North America,
and apart from initially being labeled a ‘comedy drummer’ after the
first few hits, eventually gain a lot of respect for my drumming.

Matt: Speaking of Respect, you have some orchestral
credits to your name. Want to tell us about ’em?

Bermuda: I’d played with the California Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra as a
member when I was in my teens, and as an alumnus ever since. The
group is nationally renowned, and has played some classic venues
in Los Angeles. During their Anniversary concert each year, celebrities
participate in a Battle Of The Batons, conducting the orchestra
and vying for a “golden baton” award. Al was one of the celebs
in the early 90s, and of course won! But I’m not the only orchestra
member to enjoy some success in the rock world… Flea
from Red Hot Chili Peppers was also a member around the same time
I was, playing 2nd trumpet! He’s also been back a few times as
a celebrity guest. Very strange seeing him in
a tuxedo.

Matt: From what I’ve seen of the videos, it’s
probably strange to see him wearing anything!

Matt: How did you meet up with Al?

Jim: Steve and I go way back. He met Al first and
introduced him to me when Al was looking to put a band together.

Matt: That’d be Bassist Steve Jay, right? You’ve mentioned
in other interviews that you and he were actually bandmates when he
introduced you to Al. How long have you guys known each other?

Jim: We met way way back in Florida, in the mid seventies.

Matt: You must have been, what, twelve? How do you
feel now?

Jim: I feel like a nice, cold beer

Matt: Sooo. . . Tell me about the first single.

Jim: Well, Al’s first single happpened before my time
so you better ask him about that. I believe it was “My Bologna”.

Matt: Ha-Ha! Actually I meant the first single from Poodle
Hat
. It’s an Eminem parody called “Couch Potato,
” Isn’t it?

Bermuda: It’s not so much a single, as the first
track Al is presenting from the new album. But getting permission
from a notorious, well-known, and recently honored artist like
Eminem was a real coup. The track is a dead-on copy, I
know we’ll be accused of borrowing Eminem’s masters on this one,
but it’s all us. Al’s vocal is perfect on it.

Matt: Rolling Stone recently reported that the
first track off the album would not have an accompanying video.
So, what WILL be the first video from the album?

Bermuda: The other current parodies are Nelly, and
Avril Lavigne (isn’t she Jewish?)

Matt: Couldn’t tell ya.

Bermuda: So if there’s a video, it will probably be
one of them.

Matt: Wow. You just said *IF* there’s a video. The
fact we might not see Al on TV just boggles the mind. Speaking of which…
how does it feel to be a cartoon? (Editor’s Note: Al and the band
appeared on the Simpsons episode EABF12, which first aired in the US
on April 13, 2003.)

Jim: It was nothing short of an incredible honor to be animated for
The Simpson’s.

Bermuda: It’s very surreal for me to see myself on TV at all, so being a Simpson character
is a trip! I got a ton of calls and emails from friends & family,
and all my drumming buddies are envious. These
days it seems like you’ve really ‘made it’ by being on the
Simpsons!

Matt: I can dream I suppose. What one thing have you
learned from Al, (and vice versa!)

Jim: I have learned to not make fun of the accordion
and those who make their living with it. As far as vice versa-I once
showed Al how to make a power chord on the guitar…

Matt: Ever eaten a twinkie-weiner sandwich? How about
a Jellybean and pickle sandwich?

Jim: No, no, no but I have eaten cobra soup.

Matt: Really? Did it have much of a bite? Sorry…
couldn’t resist.

Matt: Ok. . . Forgive me. I have to ask. When was
the last time someone asked you “Jim West? Where’s Artemus Gordon?”

Jim: Oh probably about two months ago!

Matt: Anything else that annoys you to no end?

Jim: I don’t let things bother me that much but people
who talk all the time and don’t listen kinda annoy me. And restaurants
that smell like Lysol.

Matt: Bermuda, there is an internet rumor going around that you’re dead.
Are you?

Bermuda: I don’t think so… I’ll check my pulse. (Checks Pulse) Yep,
I’m fine.

Matt: Good thing. Hard to keep rhythm if you
don’t have a pulse. If you weren’t Drumming, what would you be
doing?

Bermuda: Almost certainly something in the music
or entertainment industry.

Matt: The FRACTURED FEMUR is, by default, predominately
a theatre website. Any experience trodding the boards?

Bermuda: Not me, but I got to see OTHER people trod
the boards. I’d played for some high school productions and the stage
was eye-level to me.

Matt: Jim, ever had any comments from the artists
parodied about your skills as a guitarist?

Jim: No, not really. Maybe they are embarrassed because
I had to learn their mistakes! Only kidding… Generally I’ve heard
good comments about the tracks.

Matt: What is your FAVORITE Weird Al track? Any particular
one stand out in your mind as a “keeper?”

Bermuda: It’s impossible to say, I have many favorites
for many reasons. It’s slightly easier to say what my favorite album
is: typically I like our most recent works, so Poodle Hat qualifies
as my overall favorite Al CD.

Matt: Can’t wait to hear it! How about you, Jim?

Jim: I like “I Wanna Be Your Hog”. It’s Al at his
most sincere.

Matt: Sixteen seconds of pure bliss. (Editor’s
note: It’s track 7 on the UHF soundtrack.)
We
have a couple more questions from the fans. Michael Rafone of Oaklawn
asks “Have you ever said anything you regretted in public, and if so,
would you pose nude on the cover of a magazine to apologize?”

Jim: I once told someone that this club was a pit,
not knowing the owner was standing right there. As far as the question
about posing nude-that would be something I would publicly regret!

Matt: The song says “It’s All About The Pentiums.
” Is it really? What computer do YOU use?

Bermuda: Let’s just say “It’s All About The AMD k-6”
wouldn’t have made a very smooth title!

Jim: I’ve been a Mac guy since I started with computers. I have a new
dual 1 gig processor, G4 with a DVD burner. it rocks. I also have
two PC’s-a Dell and a custom made box. They are great but the
Mac is my main squeeze.

Matt: I knew I liked you for a reason! Now,
let’s make it two for two… Did you get to keep
the cowboy outfit from the “Dare to be Stupid” video?

Jim: No-wish I could have though!

Matt: Bummer. Would have been quite the chick-magnet,
not to mention being collectible as heck. So, do you guys collect
anything OTHER than “Weird Al” Merchandise?

Bermuda: I collect Bermuda Schwartz merchandise. Which,
not surprisingly, has a lot of crossover with Al’s stuff! My and his
archive totals – so far – just over 1, 050 unique, audio & video products
from around the world.

Matt: I love swag (Artist memorabilia
sold at a concert). What one thing would you love to see sold
at a “Weird Al” concert that has never happened?

Jim: My CD, “Coconut
Hat
!!”

Bermuda: I remember something that should NOT
have happened. It was in 1984… the venue had cooked up their
own merchandise for some reason, and based on Al’s then-current
hit “Eat It” made black panties with the words ‘Eat It’ printed on the front! They
were quickly ‘yanked’ before they could be sold, and I doubt that
anyone’s got a pair… except for me! They’re
quite comfy!

Matt: Poodle Hats. Coconut Hats. Do any of you actually
wear hats?

Jim: I occasionally wear a sporty topper when piloting
my sloop.

Matt: Sounds very tropical. Speaking of which, Jim,
you play Hawaiían Slack Key guitar. I have a Les Paul CD called “Lovers’
Luau” where he plays Hawaiian songs. Is Slack Key something similar?
Where might we have heard it before, landlocked in Kansas as we are?

Jim: Slack key is a rural Hawaiian sound that came
in to being in the early 1800’s. What Les Paul was doing was more like
mainland Hawaiian music of its day. My CD Coconut
Hat
is a modern approach. Another good source is anything
on the Dancing Cat label.

Matt: I notice that you have some soundtrack credits
on your curriculum vitae, Jim. What have you been working on recently?

Jim: Most recently, “Fighting
Foodons
,” an animated show on Fox, Saturday AM. Not sure if
it’s still on-it might have run it’s course.

Matt: What is the strangest Instrument you’ve ever
played?

Bermuda: French Horn. Well, it’s not really fair to
call that a strange instrument, nor is it fair to suggest that I played
it. I kind of blew into it once and got one bad note from it.

Matt: Better than
me. About all I can play is iTunes. What is in your CD player/iPod/mp3 player right
now?

Jim: Mostly my own stuff — I keep my library
there for quick access.

Bermuda: Poodle
Hat
! I LOVE that album!!

Matt: Does your band actually have a name? Want
one?

Bermuda: The name changes with each tour, usually
reflecting the name of the current album in some manner.

Jim: Hmmmm. . . Poodles Without Hats?

Matt: How about Weird Al and the Belawalkers? (Editor’s
note: Bela is Weird Al’s Poodle.)

Bermuda: Now you’re amusing me.

Matt: Any wisdom to impart on our readers?

Jim: Don’t take anything personally. Do a good job
at whatever you do. Think before you speak. Don’t assume anything. Always
wash your hands after picking your nose.

Matt: Mahalo, Fellas! We do appreciate taking time
out of your busy schedule to talk to us! Ladies and
Gentlemen, “Bermuda” Schwartz and Jim West! Give’ em
a hand! (Thunderous Applause!)

Go to the “Weird
Al” Website!

Texas Frightmare Aftermath (Part Deux)

Ok, It’s late Saturday afternoon at Texas Frightmare, and I wake up from a powernap just in time to find out that the con ends at 6pm for the day. They have the VIP party to get ready for. (Mirthquake note to self: Next year, splurge for the VIP ticket.)

So Casher and I retreat to the hotel’s sports bar to grab a burger and brew, and figure out what to do next. Would we venture into Deep Ellum to see Ghoultown? Brave our better judgement and go catch the Elm Street remake? Stick around ’til 10 and watch the screening of the remastered Dark Night of the Scarecrow, a film I knew naught about other than Fright-Rags thought it was cool enough to do a shirt of ?

Well, who would be sitting next to us in the bar but Jim Cirronella, the producer of Autopsy of the Dead, a behind-the-scenes documentary about the original Night of the Living Dead, Gary Streiner, the sound man and a featured extra in NOTLD as well as the force of nature behind the Living Dead Fest in Evans City, PA, and (OMG!) Judith Ridley!
Judy Ridley in
Judy actually coming to a convention was the reason I went ahead and do TFW. Of the still living major cast members, she was to my knowledge the only one who had never done a con before! And let me tell you right here and now true believers, she *still* looks amazing!

Mind you Casher and I knew who they were, but neither of us were going to geek out on them. They are just people too, and welcome to their privacy. So we were making plans for the rest of the night, when suddenly Judy turns to us and sweetly asks “I don’t mean to interrupt, but can I ask you two a question? Should I be here?” referring to the entire TFW convention.

Sweet, unassuming Judy Ridley wasn’t aware of her place in horror cinema iconography, which literally made her all the more charming. Cash and I assured her that indeed, not only did she belong at a horror movie convention for the “little film” she worked on over 40 years ago, but if it weren’t for her, horror conventions like TFW might not even exist.

This was the beginning of a two and a half hour conversation, that spanned from the death of the old guard in horror, how Psycho and Night of the Living Dead changed the face of the horror film, and much more. We heard behind the scenes stories that hadn’t even been on the DVD commentary! Judy, for example, learning professional make up techniques for Image 10 (because everyone has many jobs in independent film), needed someone to make-up for her final… and Jack Russo ended up with the makeover of a lifetime!

(I’m not going to tell ALL the stories. Gary had some doozies that I’m not going to share… one because I don’t want to steal his thunder on any upcoming projects, and two, some things are better told in person!)

Suffice it to say, THIS was the best bit of TFW for me. How often do you get a chance to spend hours talking with people who made independent cinema history? And THEY asked US?!

From Left to Right: Mirthy, Judy Ridley, Gary Streiner, and Casher O' Neill
That’s us in the bar, taken by Jim on my crappy cell phone… because I didn’t think anyone would believe us without photographic proof.

I now realize that it was a three day con… so this should be a three part post. Next time, meeting icons, contact from Krypton, and imaginary fruity drinks!