What I do know is that long, long after the 8th day, a series of eventful dominoes began to fall, many of which relate directly to the fact that I found myself in an old Lawn Chair in a New Living Room in Mid August '08. Regardless of what each speckled tile represents, I can say that it's all been good, yet busy news... busy enough, in fact, to ensure that I was ill-prepared for an event that one David Branin had invited me to attend as his guest. The event? A Fundraiser for his first Feature Film: The Night before the Wedding.
As an independent film reviewer, naturally I pick up my fair share of independent film makers who either praise or curse my very name in Blogs and Black Magic Rituals on two continents (so far). Branin is among those Ultra Indies with whom I go way back. Well, in the overall scheme of things, we actually go back to a point in history long after both the 8th Day and the creation of Women's Beach Volleyball, so it's all relative. Ah... Women's Beach Volleyball... sigh.
But I digress... Lest David Branin switch from friendly comments in Blogs (and unspoken, unspeakable masses) to cries for my arrest, let me get back to the lecture at hand.
What I mean by "Ill Prepared" is that with literal cross-country travel being only one minor domino fall in my recent weeks, I had failed to secure the "Plus One" that Branin had reserved next to my name on the Guest List. In short... No Wife, no Adult Daughter, no Lesbian Entourage, no hastily hired "escort" from an on-ramp near Universal City... not even another "Way Back" Ultra Indie. Note to self, if you leave room for your Folks to make other plans... they will. Man. That's planning for you.
So... making my way SOLO to the Los Angeles Music Center, I quickly thought up and dismissed about thirty different wise-cracks about why I was showing up alone and why this was unlike me. The sad thing was that I ended up distracted by a big case of Tequila that rode up the elevator with me to the fifth floor ballroom. As I entered said ballroom and mentioned my name to the lovely ladies with the guest list, a few heads around the room popped up. I guess I'm still not used to people knowing who the hell I am. Sometimes I even have to check my own ID.
But, no, instead of "Who?" I heard "Oh! The World's Greatest Critic!"
I still had the class to add "Well... self-proclaimed."
One of these folks was, obviously, David Branin, director of two of my favorite Independent Short Films, Shoot-Out and Honey, I'm Home. Branin had the look and voice of a guy who might do as well in front of the camera as he does behind the scenes. After introducing me to his Fiancee, Branin asked who I decided to bring with me. Upon shakily confessing that I was flying solo, I somehow visually morphed into a clone of Eddie Deezan wearing a dunce cap, a Sha-Na-Na T-Shirt with Mork From Ork Suspenders on over those Bugle Boy Jeans that prevented that one hitchhiker from getting the ride from that hot model. It was right about that time that I discovered that Branin had "just to be on the safe side" put me down as "Plus Two". When I turned my back to head to the Cash Bar to "Loosen Up" (as I put it), I could feel the name "Lou Zerr" emblazoning itself across the shoulder blades of my blue blazer (Oh... I mean "Sha-Na-Na T-Shirt").
The event itself was well planned. A stage was being set up around mid-ballroom for the hostess and musical guests. The stocked bar was at the ready for a stock market crash (which I believe I provided... more later). Nearby, the case of Tequila I had ridden upstairs with was being served by two gentlemen I would soon have deep, deep conversations with... about Tequila. As a Tie-In with Shoot-Out a plastic basketball goal was set up with prizes at the ready for those who could "Herd the Nerf". I did, actually, a few times, but I kept looking over my shoulder for fire arms... I know what happens to Ballers when Branin's around. I noted that there was no entertainment tie-in for Honey, I'm Home. I wondered, silently, if this was to avoid Spoilers... but I also wondered (wildly) what such a game might look like. Maybe you just sit around lamely trying to explain yourself and if... oh, wait, I did that... where's my Kewpie Doll, David?
I'm kiddin', I'm kiddin'.
One of the best parts of the evening was getting the opportunity to meet a number of people whom I had reviewed in the past. Luckily I reviewed them positively because... damn. At the risk of sounding like Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz, Rudy Mangual was there and Ivan Rodriguez and even Daniel Sol (whom I still referred to as "The Other J.C."). Sarah Ronaghi, Gregor Collins and a few others from the film du jour were also in attendance.
Before the actual floor-show started I had consumed enough fermented beverages to begin my unfortunate habit of "Drinking and Texting":
Luckily around this time hostess Annie "McFunny" McKnight took the stage, prompting immediate applause as soon as she said "THE NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING". The first musical guest was a singer/ songwriter named Femke Weidema. Though her primary sound might be best described as "Folk Rock", I was hard pressed to come up with a "comparable act". Her act went from a playful poesy reminiscent of Jewel, but could roll into an edgier song (A La Janis Joplin... almost) with the strum of a chord. McFunny (as opposed to McDreamy or McSteamy) indicated that Weidma came from the farthest away out of all of us... but if she's anywhere near your neighborhood, she needs to be checked out.
Ah, another drink... and back to the Text Messaging.
I think I'll be putting that phone away now, thanks.
I had already won a copy of Shoot-Out by sinking a few baskets (actually, I've had a copy since 2005, signed by Branin, but, you know, I'm a completist). Discussing the movie between sets with other party guests I described Branin as one of the few filmmakers who could still surprise me. I also confessed that the first time I watched Shoot-Out I was completely drunk after an associate challenged me to a beer drinking and classic rock trivia contest. I... won. However, I also confirmed that it was still that good the next day. By this time I think the concept of me watching something while inebriated was much more of the focus for those listening to my slurred speech and atonal delivery. I'm pretty sure I heard one of them say "Yeah, no shit."
Another acoustic guitarist then took the stage. Loy Simmers showed up in jeans and sport coat, jamming another all-unplugged set with a smooth voice and a smart, occasionally funny lyrical style. He was immediately followed by the sexy crooner Paula Lobos. With her long legs and black outfit she looked incredible and sounded very good as well. There was a feeling that she might be best served by a full band, however, though her music was pre-recorded, her voice was all natural in both Spanish and English. Bravo.
After Paula's set I lept from my seat and bounced Q*Bert-like across the tables between my own and the Tequila Set-up. Before me were ornate, glass bottles (corked, not capped) with a table-top covered in tiny shot glasses, each filled with a crystal clear fluid, each topped with a finely wedged lime. I struck up a conversation with the guys behind the table as I repeatedly tasted their wares. Before I go on, let me say that I don't endorse products on this site, Ryan Quintana is not paying me and I'm not advertising for these guys at all. However, Pura Casta Tequila is almost dangerously smooth with all the qualities that make Tequila what it is and none or the impurities that make some brands worth running away from as one might from a South-of-the-Border Godzilla. I was impressed by the guys I spoke to as well. Much like many of the independent film makers I've reviewed over the years, these men never struck me as money thirsty. Both of them were people who cared very much for their craft and wanted nothing less than to distill a very fine Tequila and, in the process, honor the traditions of this uniquely Mexican art form.
I know this by listening to the men speak. There was a distinct feeling that this was not their "Job", but their "Art". They mentioned their plantation and I asked if it was in Mexico itself (note, we were in Los Angeles, California and I was speaking directly to the CEO and Operations Manager themselves). Affording me all the patience deserved to an Eddie Deezan Lookalike in Bugle Boys, Mork Suspenders and a Sha-Na-Na shirt with "Lou Zerr" on the back, Cesar Tirado responded with pride: "Tequila... is like Champagne. It must come from a specific region to truly be Tequila. If the Agave does not come from Jalisco, Mexico it is not Tequila... You may as well be drinking pond water."
And here I bought a home in Mission Viejo in South Orange County, California. Color me embarrassed, because I'm having to move down to Jalisco to live out my remaining years in the fields of Blue Agave.
Sorry, was that overly dramatic? Okay, I'll just get to a meeting instead.
I took the liberty of switching to non-alcoholic beverages right about the time that I mused that it might be fun to crush the plastic shot glasses up against my forehead after I emptied them. Realizing I was just sober enough for the answer to that question to be "Nah!", I figured that I needed a nice, long appointment with Dr. Pepper's softer, diet cousin... lest that answer change.
Besides, I had Women's Olympic Beach Volleyball to watch and I didn't want ANYTHING numbing my senses to that.
It wasn't long before the promised screening of the teaser trailer of The Night before the Wedding was to take place. McFunny kept the laughs (and Barack Obama endorsements) rolling until then. Remembering that Branin had told me in a recent email (and I quote) "Yes, there will be nudity", I was more than excited to see the preview. It was either a stream of consciousness (from the Nudity thought) or the randomness of intoxication that led me to my next thought... that being "I really would like to be wearing a hat right now!" And hey... right there behind me on the Prize Table was a Chicago Bulls Souvenir hat, just waiting to be won by my own dumb ass. Therefore I stood up and sauntered (read: "staggered") over to the basketball goal again, threw down some ones and grabbed the ball. It was right about that time that somebody thought it might be the ideal time to photograph The World's Greatest Critic at his game. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Dan Sol, but to be "shot" by him with a basketball in my hands might be hilarious. Needless to say I won the damned thing and wore it backwards for the rest of the night. Yep... I boldly stated that I needed a hat and one was provided. It probably didn't hurt that I was (well, am) 6' 3". Too bad it wasn't a Women's Olympic Beach Volleyball hat, because I imagine the image emblazoned on the front of that thing would've been hotter than a crimson cow, but hey... I won it, I'm gonna wear it.
As we all hastened to find good viewing spots, a young woman named Andrea joined me at my table. During small talk, I asked what she did for a living. She responded "I'll give you the answer you want... I'm an actress." Actually, the answer I wanted was "I'm an intergalactic space pirate who has come to promote interstellar viewings of all-female all-nude beach volleyball championships with you, Mister World's Greatest Critic, as the sole referee! Oh and I also Brew Tequila!", but hey, I guess "I'm an actress." was a good enough runner up.
The preview debuted as the crowd (which, by that time, had grown considerably) hushed itself to an interested silence. It was a silence broken only by the raucous and repeated outbursts of laughter. Yes, if the teaser is anything to judge by, this is going to be a very funny movie. In true Branin style, the actors give a very natural and relaxed delivery, this time in a testimonial style to the camera. In true Branin style we were left wanting more. The crowd approved.
As good as this all was, I re-learned something that I've technically known all my life: "Nature is the one call you can't put on hold!" The only problem was that I hadn't noticed a restroom as I exited the elevator. I started rolodexing through my memory, thinking that there was no way I'd been here this long without finding these things. When my Lesbian Entourage is with me, I always scope out the ladies' rooms so they never have to ask. One more hazard of flying solo. Hell, how hard could this be to find, anyway... we're in the esteemed Los Angeles Music Center, after all.
What I didn't realize was that on the fifth floor of the Los Angeles Music Center there is a nexus of all realities leading directly to a labyrinth that is held together somewhere in a dimension between Weaveworld and the Microverse. Holy hell was it hard to find a can in there. At one point I started to believe that I was actually in one of the void scenes from THX-1138. The hallway turned to offices, which turned to lockers, which turned to... proof that I was somehow in a service wing, light years from the party. I figured that the staff must have biological needs as well! Sadly, no, apparently the Los Angeles Music Center is staffed entirely by Stepford Robots. Could this be the end of the World's Greatest Critic? Might I explode right here, right now? Might my future existence merely be as a wall decoration? I fought my way back through the robot-lined corridors of this strange maze, rife with dead-ends and doors that lead to nowhere. Somehow I discovered right at the entrance to this nexus that had I turned right instead of left, I would have found the Service John. Good grief, what a relief. It took so long I even named it. It was like the ringing of church bells. And look, folks, I don't do scatological humor so you must know how profound this nigh-religious experience really, truly was!
Back in my own continuity (it's nice to have my own continuity, wouldn't you say?), I realized the party was winding down. I had met a lot of people whose work I was familiar with, heard some great music, drank some great Tequila, watched a great preview and embarked on an inter-dimensional journey through the looking glass. If these aren't sufficient requirements to "call it a night", then you and I need to compare notes on the definition of "Night". This night before The Night before the Wedding was quite a soiree that hopefully raised a fund fuckload. I most certainly raised my donated bottle of Tequila to a certain sandy Olympic Event later that night/ morning.
In case you didn't feel like showing up live, you can (and should) still support The Night before the Wedding. The easiest way to do this is to pre-order the DVD on the official site. Of course, if you're reading this far in the future, surely The Night before the Wedding is already available in stores, just as Tequila Pura Casta is. Also... if you're reading this far in the future... I wonder if I'm dead.
Well, see you in the next reel, folks... I've got some mock-angry text messages to a lovely couple of ladies to whom I play Straight Boy Sidekick. With luck (and some form of notice) perhaps they'll be joining me for the next Ultra Indie fundraiser. And to all of you Ultra Indies out there, if you ever require my presence at your wedding, party or bar mitzvah or if you're interested in having a cameo appearance in your film I suppose my best answer would be "Dude, you seriously want an Eddie Deezan doppelganger in Rainbow Suspenders, Drop Dead Jeans and a mock doo-wop shirt with a phony name on the back? What kind of movie are you making?"
Now, back to Women's Beach Volleyball.
|What's New?||Alphabetical Listing of Reviews!||SearchThisSite:||Advertise With Us!||About...||Lynx Links:||F*A*Q|