Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Stuff and nonsense

I know I've been a very lazy, uninspired writer as of late. I'm enjoying a spate of reading. Either walking on the beach while reading, reading on the Muni to and from work, or just curling up on the couch with a glass of wine or cup of hot chocolate and reading someone else's stuff. Then my sister, now visiting China, sends me something she wants me to post for her 'cause the Great Firewall of China won't let her do it herself.

i mean, she's in China and still writing on her blog. Granted, this is the gal who, upon arriving at our place in San Francisco for a visit, had her laptop up and running within five minutes of hitting the ground here.

But...writing while traveling in China?

Okay, fine, I'm shamed into posting something. And perhaps even getting back to work on my creative writing. I've actually been thinking (something I do now and again) about a sequel to my mystery novel. I'd always planned it as a series, but over the years of disappointments and rejections, I'd kind of lost steam on it. I need to be more self-motivating as a writer, that's for damn sure.

But there's no way I'd be posting if I were traveling in China. I'd be too busy...well...traveling! Lisa, you're not normal. I just want you to know that.

At any rate, I've been reading, amongst other things, a couple of new zombie novels (DEAD CITY by Joe McKinney and PLAGUE OF THE DEAD by Z.A. Recht. Both refreshingly well written and not just in comparison with the mediocre to downright bad writing in most of the other zombie literature available.

Heh. Zombie literature. That just sounds funny.

While not quite as awesome as WORLD WAR Z (my personal favorite zombie novel, written by Max Brooks), both DEAD CITY and PLAGUE OF THE DEAD bring something new and original into the genre, with compelling characters who I actually cared about, and just good, competent writing. Thank you, Joe McKinney and Z.A. Recht for a: proving that I can spend money on a zombie novel and get more than my money's worth instead of feeling like I've just flushed between 10 and 30 bucks down the toilet and b: giving me several hours of excellent entertainment.

I just finished up IF CHINS COULD KILL - CONFESSIONS OF A B-MOVIE ACTOR, by Bruce Campbell. First time I saw him was in EVIL DEAD, which I saw way back in the early '80s when it first came out. And yes, I did go to see it because Stephen King, who at one time was my horror god, deemed it the 'most ferociously original horror movie' out there. And I liked it. And I also thought Bruce Campbell was kinda cute. Then I worked on ARMY OF DARKNESS as (respectively) the onsite armourer's assistant and a fight captain/swordfighting Deadite.

The former involved helping to maintain all of the onset armor, change out leather straps, dress extras and horses in armour, and do whatever it was that Brian, the armourer, needed me to do. Luckily that never involved armouring the leads. Brian did that and it looked to be a thankless job as far as having to outfit Ash, Evil or Good.

The latter involved perfecting the art of stripping out of layers of plastic armor and a latex costume in the quickest amount of time possible so I could pee. I have a miniscule bladder and had to make the most of the breaks between shots. I bet I held the record for quickest Deadite strip and whiz. Okay, there was more to being a swordfighting deadite than the ability to shuck my costume, but I'll write about that another day.

My point today is that the Bruce Campbell as portrayed in his autobiography and the Bruce Campbell that I saw on set don't exactly jive. My overall impression of him was that he was very much like the character Ash: he had a certain amount of charm, but was kind of a jerk. Certainly not approachable if you weren't part of the original Michigan cadre or a co-star. After reading his book, I'm not sure if I just saw him on his bad days or if he genuinely sees himself as a more down to earth person than he came across on set.

Ah well. Either way, working on AOD was a memorable experience and Bruce Campbell remains one of my favorite physical comedic actors. Although I'd pay good money to wipe out the memory of dozens of takes of 'This is my BOOM stick!' It's a funny line. Once. In the movie. But when you're on set and see it over and over and over and over...it sticks in the brain like the unwelcome refrain of a bad song. Like RUN, JOEY, RUN bad.

Or even worse, Peter Pop's memorable ode to Ash. Peter Pop was an extra on AOD. If you've read IF CHINS COULD TALK, I'm 99.9 percent sure that he's the extra that 'knew enough to be dangerous' because he figured out how to be on camera in an inordinate number of scenes. Watch the movie and look for the blond soldier. He shows up almost as often as Ted Raimi. Peter also fancied himself as the new Bob Dylan and would play his guitar during down time. He composed a song for Bruce and the lines 'Army of Darkness....Ash cuts them down...' sung in a Bob Dylanesque drone...well, they'll stay with me for life. Like that damned boom stick.

Good things about AOD?

- Swordfighting for money.

- Working with Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert. I especially liked Rob, who was an excellent producer in terms of dealing with a lot of potentially difficult situations, like stuntmen who didn't like the swordfighters (we weren't 'professional,' y'see, even though those of us hired specifically to swordfight had as many years training to fight under our belts as many of the stuntmen did learning to fall of tall buildings. Being a stuntman did not necessarily mean you were trained to fight with swords), swordfighters who showed up from working on the HOOK set and had major attitudes, scores of unruly extras, and all of the other endless details that producers have to handle.

- Sam, while more distant and preoccupied than Rob, always made a point of thanking everyone at the end of each shooting day/night, from his stars to lowly production assistants and sweaty Deadites.

- Ida, the wardrobe mistress, remains to this day the nicest person I've ever met on a film set.

- Being told 'good job' or getting an approving nod from Rob, Sam and Bruce (not all at the same time, but for the same sequence) after running a particular fight sequence with my favorite swordfighting partner on set, Rick. Don't remember his last name, but we worked really well together and put together a kick-ass sequence that we used in the background of various scenes, including the DeathCoaster battle. Somewhere I have a picture of the two of us that I'll have to post. Anyway, that little bit of validation made the sometimes very uncomfortable filming conditions worth while.

- Having cornbread with honey butter and hot chocolate with whipped cream at Carrow's in Palmdale with my good buddy and fellow Deadite fighter, Julianne M. at the end of the day's shoot.

And a lot more. But it's now time to go to an Oregon Pinot Noir wine tasting at the San Francisco Wine Trader, so it'll have to wait for another day and another post.

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  • At 8:36 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    Now I had a comment and left a comment on this. Why, oh, blogspot, are they now both gone?

  • At 2:07 AM, Blogger Other Lisa said…

    Did I ever claim to be normal? Noooo!!!!

    I'd like to write another post, actually, but I'm feeling pretty unmotivated myself. But now I have access to a nice computer and some spare time, so perhaps I will...

    So, tell us, how was the Pinot tasting? Mmmmm....pinot!!!!!


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