Goodbye 2013 Hello 2014 Winds of Change Continue to Blow

Goodbye 2013 Hello 2014 Winds of Change Continue to Blow

Hello my old friend. I’ve had a wonderful ride here and the past year has been one of change, challenge, camaraderie and catharsis. Enjoyable yet disconcerting, 2013 has been an amazing followup year to 2012. Events that took place in the year prior to ’13 are still resounding in me and their long term affect has yet to be realised. Still, at this point, the beginning of another new year, sees me bidding goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. It is already apparent that the winds of change will continue to blow and that my “tumbleweed” like lifestyle  will keep bouncing from one exciting event to the next.

A short recap is in order. I’ve discovered that writing professionally is possible. My earlier queries about getting a paying writing job from blogging were proven to have answers in the positive. My blog, which kept me busy in a most tumultuous time in my life, did indeed lead me to paid work. A job that allowed me to further develop a style, that is constantly changing/adapting, and that nets me thousands, and in a few cases millions, of people who read my printed words.

I am able to write about the things that interest me and for the first time in my life I have found that “perfect job” the one that I would do for nothing, and indeed have done, that actually pays me for my labor of love.

The only drawback is that I have ignored you, my first love, with only the smallest of inputs in the way of linking to my articles. Do I feel guilty? Most assuredly. In my neglect, you have gone on to pass the 100,000 mark in terms of page views. Followers continue to support your existence and the count surpassed 800 quite some while ago.

I also have little time to read the wonderful posts of those whom I’ve followed since the beginning. My loss completely. These bloggers have often taught me new things and entitled me to a point of view that I may never have considered if left to  my own devices. I miss you all, my dear WordPress family, even those who have never quite agreed with my ramblings.

But management of one’s time is itself time-consuming. Working professionally means that little time is left over for the more fanciful musings. Even reviewing films falls under work now. When faced with the reality that the most views an article about a recently viewed film on my own personal blog will never go over a hundred, as a rule, and that one reviewed on my professional site will/can get thousands…

There is no real contest. We write to be read. When I started, I was, and still am to some degree, happy just to write. Later, when I found that readers responded well to my ramblings, the focus shifted. As it naturally would. But…I am not saying goodbye to my blog, just 2013. I wish to continue stopping by occasionally writing; not just linking to my other articles. Saying hello to 2014 means following the winds of change, which continue to blow incessantly and moving my life forward. A life that, until recently, I thought was pretty much over.

Another huge leap; a life changing episode, has again become part of my life. I cannot yet get into details of this latest event yet.  I can, however, say that it looks like after four years of, sometimes, life threatening actions that have put me in a place I never dreamed of being in my life, that I am reaching a crossroad that, regardless of which route I take, has brought me to yet another new beginning.

I will not ramble on. I stopped by to say again just how much I love all those folks who have followed, supported and interacted with me. The members of the blogging community who took me in and gave me…what? A place of belonging? A forum to tell stories or formulate thoughts? A place of refuge, when things in my real life got too difficult to face alone?

The answer is yes to all the questions listed above even the incompletely constructed ones.  There have been those of you who have definitely changed my life. Marilyn over at serendipity and Natasha at Films and Things are just two examples of folks in the blogging community who have brought much to the table and shared experiences with me.

I reget deeply that I’ve not had time to follow all the folks who have take the time to follow my blog, just as I feel guilt for not delivering more in the way of written recompense. I will, however, promise to keep dropping in and adding my “two cents worth” on a more regular basis and not just provide links to my “paid work.”

Saying goodbye to 2013 via my little blog, has given me a chance to say how much you all mean to me, and if I didn’t mention you by name, it is only because of the time. It keeps moving, you see. It marches forward resolutely while, if you believe in physics, moving in all other directions at once. I’m moving on a path that I never dreamed possible and I hope to let you all know how it turns out. For now, I’ll stop at saying hello to 2014 and with a little prayer: May your new year be filled with winds of change that continue to blow in  your favour.

My Summer Vacation
Author

Michael Smith
United Kingdom

January 1, 2014
Norwich
Norfolk

2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams Worst Film Ever

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I do realise that  branding 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams as the worst film ever leaves me open to all kinds of arguments. I will take the chance of having other people’s candidates for that “honour” thrown in my face, but, it is worth the risk.  It is very seldom that I find a film that I cannot watch all the way through. The follow up to the first campy horror film 2001 Maniacs with Robert Englund and Lin Shayne and the second in a planned trilogy, is worse than abysmal.

I would go so far as to say that it is execrable. Which is the nicest way I can think to put it.

The film was made on a budget of half a million and it looks like a lot less than that was actually spent on the making of this tragic waste of celluloid.

The first thing you notice when watching the film is the sound. The dialogue of each and every character, with the possible exception of Bill Mosley, sounds dubbed…by someone else. At times the actors lips don’t even match their spouted dialogue.  Even Mosley, of whom I am a huge fan, sounds like he has “looped” his lines after the fact.

Badly.

The plot, such as it is, deals with the Civil War dead who occupy Pleasant Valley having to take their show on the road. Their source of yankee souls to take has dried up so they decide to have a travelling road show of southern inhospitality to collect the ration of northern victims required to allow them to shuffle off to hell or wherever Civil War ghouls go.

Lin Shayne

Mired in with this plot “twist” is the introduction of Rome Sheraton, no points awarded for guessing who she is supposed to be, and her sister Tina Sheraton. The two parties meet up in Iowa and together they drag the film even further into the barnyard muck that passes as a film.

I noticed that if you look up the film in Wikipedia, the link to an interview by Bill Mosley gives you an Error 404. Presumably he was so appalled by the finished product that he had it taken down. For the man who so effortlessly scared the crap out of audiences as much as he amused in House of a 1000 Corpses and the follow-on film The Devil’s Rejects he must be embarrassed to be associated with such dross.

As I mentioned above, I literally could not finish watching the film. It was so bad, I began to suspect that most of the actors and all of the crew were meth addicts or half-wits who had never made a film before.

I try to never outrightly pan a film, I usually try to find some redeeming qualities. Unfortunately 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams have none. At one point in the film, Bill Mosley as Mayor George W. Buckman (get it?) gets an obligatory close-up, one of several, and the “scar” over his missing eye  has been so inexpertly applied that it is coming off and looks as fake and as hokey as the rest of the film.

I’ve reviewed abysmal student films that were better than this drivel.

My final verdict?

Avoid at all costs. Getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick would be less painful than attempting to sit through this film. It would probably also be more entertaining.

I’ll finish this with a heartfelt plea to Bill Mosley, “Please, Please! Do not participate in  films like this anymore!”

Michael Smithfieldofscreams

United Kingdom

24 August, 2013

Blogging With Purpose

Blogging with Purpose
It has been almost a year since my nearly fatal brush with death. A lot has  changed since then. My “life-changing” event seems to have caused a lot of things to change in my live. Like the proverbial pebble in a pond, the ripples grow ever larger from this life and death experience and these ripples show no signs of stopping. These changes have led me to this post and blogging with purpose for my own blog that has suffered a bit from the effects of these pebbly ripples.

I’ve already relayed a lot of the things that have happened since my almost meeting the  ” big guy”  and I’ve found a wealth of new opportunities have come my way. It makes almost dying seem worth it.

For a start, I am busier than I’ve been in years. I write, on average, eight to ten articles a day for the Las Vegas Guardian Express who, as far as I know, are the only news site to pay their writers (and Deputy Managing Editor/Senior Entertainment Editor) so handsomely for their labour. The chap who owns the paper has gone from recruiter and  mentor, to friend in a very short time, he has joined my growing list of people who have been influential in changing my life for the better.

And busier.

And more profitable.

But it isn’t all about the money. It’s about realising dreams. I feel a huge amount of satisfaction when people ask me what I do for a living and I can answer, “I’m a writer.” It is nice to be finally welcomed into the professional realm of writing after so many years of doing it as part of whatever job I happened to have at the time. Writing adverts for companies, even the USAF, wasn’t exactly how I saw writing as fulfilling my creative side.

Unfortunately, my “personal” writing, which means this blog and my inputs to it’s daily dietary requirement for film and book reviews, is suffering. I am getting better at trying to do a post a day, but my poor blog feels starved. I used to do several posts per day as well as visiting my favourite blogs to read and comment or just to stop by an like. That has all suffered.

But I do not despair. Well, not for long at any rate! I am getting things scheduled better and trying to keep my input up. The reading and commenting and liking and following will soon catch up. If you are among the many wonderful people who’ve taken the time to follow my little blog, which is growing oh so steadily, I thank you. I also wish to pass on that I will eventually get around to reading, commenting, et al, very soon.

I do need to shout out the lovely Kate over at Katie-Marie Lynch (FilmPunk) for giving me the Epically Awesome award of Epic Awesomeness! I am truly grateful for the gesture and regrettably I am unable to participate in the furtherance of this lovely award. The rules are simple and very straight forward, but, time consuming.

In my attempt to keep blogging with purpose I’m only just finding time to do daily posts on my first-born blog with WordPress this week! I am trying to do other things as well, but my poor brain is struggling after too many years of “minimal” living to cope.

Which brings me to my next fawning gesture of gratitude, one that includes Kate. The opportunity to get in front of the camera again after all these years was wonderful and I will be forever indebted to Natasha Harmer, the writer/producer/director of the film Once Bitten, Twice Shy, she blogs over at Films and Things and is an immensely talented individual. The lovely Kate was part of the crew that day and she impressed me mightily. As did Meera Daji and Fiona Lockwood on the day.

I owe them all a great big hug and thank you for taking it easy on an old fella who’s forgotten more than he remembered about the craft. They made a wonderful team and I hope to work with them again.

The “Big Guy” willing!

So that’s my “personal output” for today. A not-so-short post about, among other things, blogging with purpose. If you’ve got a bit of spare time, have a read, but please don’t nominate me for anything. I just haven’t learned to schedule my time well enough to respond properly! I’ll read you later!

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A little Post about Once Bitten, Twice Shy “Thank You’s”

Thank you all

I am sure that I’ve been this tired and achy before in my life, it’s just been so long ago that I’ve obviously forgotten! I’m also that curious blend of satisfied and yet  really wanting to do it all again;  that part of me that will never be satisfied with a performance I’ve given. sure that if I do it just one more time, I’ll eventually get it right.

I found out yesterday that acting is like riding a bike. You never forget how (not totally at any rate) and while you may be rusty as hell and have trouble remembering your “good” side (Or if you’ve even still got one!) you can still hit the “mark” and act like the professional you once, briefly, were.

If I had a bucket list, and I do have to say I  have a very “half-assed” one, four young ladies who stepped out to do their first professional short film, just helped me to cross two items off my list.

Or maybe three…

After I stopped acting all those years ago, I’d always wanted to get back into it. Like everything else you plan, or want, you just never have the time, or worse, you’ve gotten too timid with the lack of practise in a craft that requires constant practise to be good at it that you know deep in your heart of hearts, it will never happen. But that doesn’t stop the wanting. That would be one item on the list crossed out.

The other item was getting to play a large role in a film. That has always been at the top of my  half-arsed bucket list. For that special privilege, I can only thank Tash Harmer. In my eyes, she took one hell of a gamble. Hopefully one that paid off. She certainly seems happy with my performance (made all the better by the quality of the actors I was privileged to work with) and despite my thoughts of, “If I could just do it again, it would be that little bit better.” I think we were both pleased with the outcome.

The third would have to be, being on a film set again. It was not a huge one, nor was it filled with grizzled old workmen who’ve plied their trade for years and seen and worked with some of the “greats.” No, it was filled with four very talented young ladies who I believe will go on to do well in their, thus far, chosen profession. They had vision, creativity, enthusiasm, concentration; apparent skill; worked well as a team, and they were damned fun to work with.

And I fell a little bit in love with each and every one of them.

And not in an, “”Eeewwwww” way either, thank you very much.

I’ve got a feeling that I will be able to write at least two or three blogs about the day of the filming, if I try very hard, but I don’t want to waffle on. I do want to thank, formally, the great team I worked with yesterday and let them know how much I think of all of them.

Steve Speak, is a brilliant actor. I believe this handsome young man will go very far, I look forward to the day that I can say, “I’ve worked with him!” Sanna Kelly, was also in the realm of wonderful. I have to say that for two such accomplished professionals, they made the old “out of practise” actor feel right at home.

Of the crew?

Meera Daji, delighted and enchanted me. I would kill to get to work with her (with any of the crew) again. I’ve only seen tiny snippets of the “work in progress” and not the finished edited project, but I know that Meera made this grizzled old fella look good!

Fiona Lockwood, another delightfully enchanting young lady who welded a pretty mean boom mic and was entirely unflappable, good-humoured and another young lady that I’d love to work with again!

Katie-Marie Holbrookboosh Penniman Jr., what can I say, your enthusiasm and excitement in the project was infectious and I’ll tell you a secret, if I could have, I’ve had adopted you there and then. You done, “Well good, mate!” 

Natasha “Tash” Harmer, had everything in her head and only had to consult her storyboards once or maybe twice. Kept track of every detail and was the best director that I’ve worked with in ages. She let the actors get on with it, which helped me no end. She is another young woman, along with the other four, who I’d work with in a “skinny minute.”

I also have to mention her boyfriend Scott Connett. Scott is a brilliant chap, also one of the all round nicest fella’s I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. In my list of mentions, I need to include Meera’s lovely parents, who chauffeured the majority of the film crew to the location from miles away and sat patiently for the extremely boring bit of film making.

Meera’s mum, who I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve forgotten her name, cooked a feast worthy of royalty for the cast and crew and it was eaten and enjoyed by all. (Folks who know me, will tell you that if I didn’t have proof of my own name in the form of a driver’s license, I’d forget my own moniker.)

I’ve just realised that I’ve waffled on for almost a thousand words, so I’ll stop now and thank everyone who worked on the film yesterday for making it a day to: remember, enjoy, savour, and if I could; do  all over again.

Just brilliant.

Mugging at Kate!

Grave Encounters 2 Better the Second Time Around

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I watched the previous Vicious Bros film, Grave Encounters (2011) which was also written and directed by the two men. I enjoyed the film, apart from a few annoying moments and when I reviewed it, I was pretty fair in my assessment. It was a good film, but nothing to write home about. It was a great first effort.

Since I hadn’t turned cartwheels after seeing the first one, I somewhat hesitantly decided to watch Grave Encounters 2. It follows the first film in the “found footage” genre that is being done to death, but, the film was helmed by  John Poliquin and not the Vicious Bros. They wrote the second film was well, but decided to leave their involvement  to writing it and doing a humorous cameo.

This is director Poliquin’s first feature length directorial effort and he does a good job. The  overall pacing of the film is good, with the odd interlude of meandering action that causes it to lag in places. The main protagonists are an eclectic bunch of students, one of which wants to be the Sam Raimi. (In fact their film that they are making at the beginning of the movie really made me think of Raimi’s Evil Dead.)

The cast was full of “unknowns” or at least they were unknown to me, with the exception of the lead actor from the first film and the “smarmy” producer who was also in the first film.

The sophistication of the scares were better in this sequel and I can honestly hold my hand over my heart and say that it was a lot better than the first one. For a start, the screaming ninny in the first film, that I wanted to kill, was obviously absent in the sequel and none of the students felt the need to screech non-stop at the scary things that were happening.

My only real complaint was going to be about the horrible acting from the students in the little “film within a film” until I saw a real student film to review where the actors were so bad, that the “bad acting” in Grave Encounters actually looked quite good in comparison.

Grave Encounters 2 was a delightful find and it proved that the Vicious Brothers are better the second time around with a different director. Enjoyable fun and the script gives another dig at scary movies and the found footage genre.  A definite 3.5 out of 5 stars with a somewhat confusing plot that doesn’t really spoil the overall film.

An improvement on the first one.

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