Note: what I’m writing is not intended to be a eulogy or memorial for anyone. These are my thoughts inspired by the passing of a peripheral friend. My friend Melissa Kaercher wrote a terrific memorial. I suggest you read it.
Over the weekend, news came that a peripheral friend was severely ill and would soon pass away. Within 24 hours, we learned that she was gone.
I’m not going to pretend that I knew Holly very well. Sadly, I didn’t know her very well at all.
I’m a performer so it could be assumed that I’m an extrovert. And sometimes I am.
When I find myself in large group situations, however, I tend to gravitate towards people I know well. It takes me a long time to open up to new people. That isn’t their fault. It’s mine.
I knew Holly because she attended Butt-Numb-a-Thon – a gigantic, weird film festival I also attend every year. I talked to her for a few minutes here and there. But I didn’t really know her. She was one of dozens of people with whom I have a glancing relationship for one weekend every year.
She’s gone now and what I see online is an outpouring of love on her Facebook wall. Yet that wall isn’t her. It is a digital shadow of her.
I don’t believe in an afterlife so I don’t believe she will ever see any of the kind words that were written about her. They are there, perhaps, for her family or loved ones but more, I think, for the person who left the post.
I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that. We all have to process grief in the way that feels right for us. Grief is not for the dead, it is for the living.
I’m more amazed at how there is a shadow Holly out there on the internet who will be there for some indeterminate length of time and who acts as a surrogate for the person who is no longer there. The posts will cease after a while but she will still be there in some strange sense.
There’s an idea for a horror movie in there…
Looking at the outpouring of love for someone who is no longer with us, I have made a decision.
Kind words spoken to a ghost in the machine aren’t enough for me. I think I need to say kind words to those who are still alive.
So yesterday, I decided to honor the memory of Holly (and so many other friends who have passed) by telling people I appreciate them while they are still around to read it.
If you get a personal message from me tomorrow or next week or next year, that’s why. One message a day. Give or take.
Life is short. You never know when someone will exit your life forever. I’d like everyone to know how important they are to me while they are still around to appreciate it.
It’s CONvergence week and that means all my Friend a Day posts will probably have something to do with the convention.
Harry was a Guest of Honor at our first convention back in 1999. He’s returned a couple of times since then and I’ve been fortunate enough to go down to Austin almost every year since then for Butt-Numb-a-Thon.
Through that, I’ve gotten to know Harry as well as anyone who only sees him once a year can really know anyone. I love going down for the movie festival but I’m even happier to spend time with people I hardly ever see. Like Harry.
The thing about Harry is he is living the dream all of us geeks had when we were young. I’m not resentful of that fact because he is completely aware of how fortunate he is to live that dream and he is always doing his best to share it with others.
Sitting with Harry talking to him about movies is sort of like film school every time. He knows so much about the film industry and film history it kind of blows my mind. And he is so fucking smart, he can take all of that information, process it, and draw intelligent conclusions.
When he introduces you to someone, he will then probably spend at least twenty minutes telling you everything about that person. He doesn’t talk about that person’s faults. He tells you why he likes them so much. I think he just has the ability to see the best in everyone.
His sense of humor is mildly sadistic. If he pokes fun at you, it is because he likes you. He also expects the same in return. He is completely capable of taking as much as he’s been given.
I’m glad that we asked Harry to come to the convention all those years. If we hadn’t, I wouldn’t have ended up seeing him once a year. Once a year isn’t enough, but it’s better than nothing.
I’ve known Cargill since I met him in a kitchen in Austin, Texas. We were both trying to stuff 200+ bags full of SWAG for Butt-Numb-a-Thon. Actually, I think I was mostly in the attic rolling posters.
I’m fairly certain I thought he was loud and obnoxious. I was an idiot.
He is loud. But he’s not obnoxious.
Fortunately, it only took me about 24 hours to figure that out.
Cargill is better informed about almost any topic than anyone I know. I may not always agree with his opinion (though I usually do) but I can’t argue with his facts.
I’ve gone to him for advice on several occasions as there are very few people whose opinion I value more than his. He has a way of cutting through all the bullshit and getting right to the central issue that has to be addressed.
He’s also one of the most gracious hosts I know. When Butt-Numb-a-Thon rolls around, he and Jess open up their home to a parade of out-of-town guests. I’ve never felt unwelcome in their home. They make you feel like you are one of the most important people in the world for the time you spend there.
In the years of doing panels with him at CONvergence, he has shown he is up for just about anything. If we are doing a comedy panel, he is funny. If we are doing a panel about movies, he knows a lot about movies. As a writer, he knows a lot about writing.
He doesn’t use a panel to sell his work. I assume that he expects being an intelligence and informed speaker can do more to sell his work than trying to talk about his work every second.
Cargill is going to be a Guest of Honor at the convention this year and that has been a long time coming. His resume certainly means he is worthy of the title. It is his personality, however, that makes him perfect.
He is loud, yes. He is also generous, intelligent, funny, and creative. I can’t wait for CONvergence attendees to get to know him better this weekend.
I’ve gotten to know Jess through my annual trips to Austin for Butt-Numb-a-Thon. For all that I enjoy the 24 hour film orgy that takes place every December, it is every bit as important to me that I get to hang out with friends I rarely see.
Jess and her husband open up their home to a bunch of out of town people each December and it makes that long weekend one of the best weekends every year.
Jess has just left her long term job and is currently looking to figure out what she wants to do and I can definitely relate to her situation. She seems to be enjoying that process of finding the perfect direction for her life and I think it is great that she is fortunate enough to make that exploration.
When the masses descend on her house, she is nothing but gracious. I’ve never felt anything but welcome. Even when conversation has stretched well past 3 in the morning, as it frequently does.
What always strikes me about her is how willing she is to give of herself to others. If you need a ride from the airport or to wherever everyone is eating dinner, she’ll help you out.
Hell, for a long time if you wanted to talk to her husband on the phone, you had to call her.
Her husband has a powerful personality but I’ve never seen her eclipsed by him. She has as much to say as him. On some topics, she has a great deal more. Conversations with her are lively and opinionated, and very interesting.
Almost everything she says online is positive. She enjoys being with other people and will go out of her way to tell them how much she enjoyed spending time with them. She doesn’t say it because she is being polite. She says it because it is true.
For these and many other reasons, Jess is one of those people who brightens up any day that includes her presence.
Jess doesn’t have a blog but she’s a photographer and you can look at some of her work here.
I’ve read a few comments by folks who didn’t attend complaining about the lineup. I guess that is subjective. For me, I described it as a prozac year. There was not a single film that blew me away but I enjoyed everything. The highs weren’t quite as high but the lows weren’t all that low.
Typically BNAT will feature a fairly even mix of new and classic films. This year featured only four premieres, which is quite low. I love classic film, though, and watching great old movies on the big screen is nothing to complain about. It is something to celebrate. We are all there because we are film fans and I would never complain about watching films from any era. If you are the sort of person who would complain about that – Butt-Numb-a-Thon isn’t for you.
We had a lot of previews and trailers and I’m not going to write about them at all. I loved seeing all of them but I’ve seen a lot of kick-ass trailers that didn’t translate into kick-ass films so I’m not going to write about them. I’ll stick to the full length films that we saw. Eleven in all. Well….more like ten and 97/100ths.
Maybe I could have had this experience anywhere in the world. I could be romanticizing a bit.
But I think not. I think I could what happened could only have happened in Austin.
I should be writing up my summary of the films we saw at this year’s Butt-Numb-a-Thon but I’ll tell you, I like writing about the things that make Butt-Numb-a-Thon about so much more than 24 hours in a movie theatre. If all you do is spend 24 hours in a movie theatre, you don’t get it. I read comments from folks who see a particular line up and complain that it is lame. They don’t get it. The movies we watch are a big deal. But they aren’t everything.
This last weekend, I attended Butt-Numb-a-Thon (BNAT) in Autstin. I’m going to do a write-up on the movies I saw at the festival but because I’m a Raiders of the Lost Ark geek, I’m starting with a post about the movie we watched the night before Butt-Numb-a-Thon because it isn’t all that often you wait ten years to see something.
I begin with a flash back to Butt-Numb-a-Thon 4. In the early years there was typically a breakfast break at around 7:00 in the morning that lasted about an hour. We’d just watched House of 100 Corpses and Tiptoes and neither film had gone over well. In fact, for long time BNAT attendees, Tiptoes is frequently cited as the single worst film ever screened. We were all quite certain that the festival was going to end with The Two Towers so while the last two films had been something of an ordeal, we were all but positive what was coming next was going to be amazing.
At the Alamo Drafthouse, they play video in the background between movies. It is usually really messed up stuff that will catch your attention at least once – if only long enough for you to say “what the fuck is that?” One year, we realized we were watching a Hentai version of Star Wars.
At BNAT 4 we were eating breakfast and slowly we noticed that what was playing on the screen looked like a remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark featuring a bunch of teenagers. It was obviously an amateur production but these kids are doing every scene. They light their set on fire for the bar fight scene. They drive a truck into a tree and set it on fire for the Cairo street scene. They couldn’t get a monkey so they used a dog. A really cute dog.
This week Geeks Without God is all about our December Geeky Boners. I talked about going to Butt-Numb-a-Thon and speculated on a lot of stuff I thought we’d see. I’ll probably do my write up of the event in the next day or two (it takes a while) but you can listen to some of the reasons that I love the event so much. We also got to read off a reader’s answers that were sent to us from Malta! How awesome is that???
As always, I have a blast recording Geeks Without God so please have a listen!
And hey, our fundraiser for camp quest is going great! We are over $300 but our goal is $500 so please help us meet and exceed that goal by clicking here!
The first time I saw King Kong was at Butt-Numb-a-Thon 3 in 2001. I know, I’m a movie geek and it is ridicoulous I’d never seen the film. As I’m fond of saying, there are way more films that I haven’t seen than films that I have.
Now, if you are going to have a first experience watching King Kong, seeing a newly struck print of the film projected on the big screen is pretty much the best way to go. I was in love with the movie from the moment the title hit the screen. I knew that new print of King Kong was out there and eventually would be available on DVD. When that DVD finally hit the market, I bought it the same day.
The first time I saw Peter Jackson’s re-make of King Kong was at Butt-Numb-a-Thon 7 in 2005. I liked it a lot. But as I mentioned in my blog about Kick-Ass, when you watch a movie at Butt-Numb-a-Thon, it can be difficult to determine how good or bad it is outside the context of Butt-Numb-a-Thon.
I’ve written about Butt-Numb-a-Thon a few times over the course of the Alphabetical Movie Project. It is one of those unique moviegoing experiences that I’m supremely fortunate to experience every year.
One thing about being in a room filled with rabid, cheering film geeks, however, is that I never really know how good a film is.
I mean, Harry tosses something awful at us almost every year, but that’s on purpose. He also shows us a lot of premieres that I inevitably enjoy because of where I am watching them. When I sit down and try to evaluate them later, I’m left puzzled to determine if I liked them because they were good movies or if I liked them because of the unreal environment that is Butt-Numb-a-Thon.