Here's a recap of my entire journey to and from Texas Frightmare Weekend 2010 in Irving, Dallas.
My plan was flying from Iceland on Thursday, the 29th of April. On the 28th I decided I was going to leave a day earlier, since there were plenty of seats on the flight to Boston. I used rest-hours I had collected, and started getting ready for the flight. I got a call from my boss that all flights were canceled and probably no flights would go out today. There was no way I was going on that Boston flight on my original departure day now. My boss asked me to take the night shift since the guy called himself sick, no need to use those rest-hours when I wasn't flying out today. In the morning after the night shift, I noticed there were a few seats on the New York flight. There was a small sliver of hope that I could get on that flight.
I got home and prepared for the flight, and remember I hadn't slept since 5 in the morning of Wednesday. Needless to say, I got on the flight and managed to sleep a little on the flight. At JFK there was a huge line at the customs and I was afraid I was going to miss my connecting flight from LaGuardia to Dallas Fort Worth airport. I managed to get on that flight and there were lots of seats on that flight. I plugged in my iPod headphones and searched through the available music channels and found a nice 80's station. And was totally captivated by this song by The Motels called Suddenly Last Summer (I found it on a 80's compilation collection in a supermarket in Iceland after my trip). I managed to sleep a little on this short flight.
It was midnight at Dallas Fort Worth, I had no choice but to wait at the virtually empty airport for 12 hours until I could check in at the hotel. So, I began to read Darkly Dreaming Dexter and watched CNN plus I slept a little as well in the meantime. On CNN there was nothing but Tiger Woods playing badly at his return to golf after his hiatus, Oprah asking John Edward's (correct me if I'm wrong here) mistress why they made that sex tape and the oil spill. They repeated that over and over, apparently there was nothing else happening in the world. However, in the morning when the terminal came back to life there was a touching story about this man who volunteered playing the trumpet at army funerals. Taps was described as being many things, it's a simple song but nonetheless beautiful and poignant. It's a prayer, pride, memories and mourning....so many things...I couldn't help myself but shedding many tears as the memory of my brother's recent passing came flooding all over me.
It was noon and it was time to leave the airport. I was outside and the information phone was a dead end in trying to find out about the shuttle to my hotel.
After a while I spotted a familiar sign on one many small buses that stopped by. It was the shuttle to the hotel that was the convention was held at and I knew it was next door to my hotel, so I manged to hitch a ride with them. When I got of the bus at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Lance Henriksen was outside smoking. I said a quick hello to him, and he remembered me, before I was off to drop my stuff at my hotel.
I was really amazed how big my room was when I walked into my room. And I had gotten a cheaper deal through hotels.com than I would have gotten with the convention discount at the Sheraton Hotel (but that was sold out, so it was out of the question). So, I was quite happy with my room, very spacious, indeed.
I decided to get me something to eat, and there was really only one option, a gas station joined with - Whataburger. I was stuffed after a whole meal, the medium soda took it seemed forever to finish, I thought it was a jumbo size. So I watched some more CNN and the whole oil spill until I could walk again. I was quite amused by this text on the back of the soda cup, it does sound dirty, right? Anyone?
I was just killing time, reading the first Dexter book when I got an enjoyable call from Laura aka SpooktalkGiGi. It was soon time to head on over to the convention. I then discovered they were selling tickets at another entrance, and if I had known I could have saved me waiting outside in the heat buying tickets when I got there earlier. After I got my bracelet I soon was granted access inside the hotel on the other side for ticket holders. I had the stuff I was going to give to Lance, among those was this cute snow globe.
Before I checked up on Lance I took a small tour through the place. And spotted a car that people should be very familiar with. Her name is Christine.
After that, I went in line to see Lance Henriksen. Let this be a reminder to you folks, always use the flash, especially when other people are taking the pictures. Lance said the picture looked fine. I clearly saw they were out of focus, or that the guy wasn't still when he took the picture, and that's the risk when you don't use flash. Lance did say to me that we would talk later or that he wanted to talk later. It never came into fruition, just small chats about nothing much here and there when there was no line.
And I told him I liked Pumpkinhead, I hadn't seen it when I met him in Chicago last October. So, I got the DVD pretty cheap along other flicks at deepdiscount.com
My next stop was Margot Kidder. She was a sweet lady, a little kid came up to her table while I was there, and Margot said something like: "hey there" all smiley to the little kid. She was that nice. I really can't recall anything she said or her reaction to me coming from Iceland other than she appreciated me coming here.
I decided to check up on William Katt next. I had seen the film House rather recently, I was very impressed with the film. It's a lot of fun and there's a lot of imagination and ingenuiety going on in that film. William Katt was super nice. He was thrilled and so appreciative over the fact that I came from Iceland to say hi to him. He told me he sort of recognised my accent as her daughter owns or owned Icelandic horses so he had some Icelandic contact before me. After I got the DVD signed he gave me another autograph, he let me choose any of the pictures that he had on the table. Him with the shotgot was a classic shot, it's was a keeper. He actually made a mistake, wrote the wrong character name. So he did another one, and gave it to me. I did check up on him a couple of times after that. He was a really cool dude, I must say so.
Then I waited in line for George Romero for about 2 hours if not more. My feet and back were killing me after that. I did chat with another guy who was behind me waiting in line, telling him about Millennium and my work for the campaign. Lance apparently told him the movie was in the works or something to that effect, that it was going to happen. Lets hope it's not just smoke and mirrors, bring it on.
I saw the soundtrack from Martin and had to get that as well, even though it was quite expensive for a CD...albeit with an autograph. I grabbed that and had him sign my Martin DVD. I don't think George heard much of what I said, he was probably tired and it's a noisy place. I told him I saw Night of the Living Dead for the first time on the most unlikely channel of all, the Hallmark channel. Who would have thunk it! I always remember the only curse word in the film being silenced out just as Ben slammed his hand against a table. Hey, at least I can say I shook hands with George Romero. I never thought that would happen in a million years when I saw all his films when I got into watching horror films.
After that, I went to John Amplas' table and had a small chat with him. He was a very nice guy, a joy to talk to. He said I brought the right DVD, it's the original release after all. He asked me if I liked the commentary on this one better than on the new one (which John Amplas was not on). I couldn't say, as it's been such a long time since I listened to that commentary and I didn't listen to it all on the new one. Although I did watch it before my trip, I told him how less shocking it was to me now than as a teenager when I first saw it. While it's not terribly graphic there are some gruesome things in it and the ending still packs a punch. I should have asked him how he felt about acting these things, to know he was capable of all these dark and bad things (which does apply to us all, I guess). I did check up on him a couple of times after that, all around nice guy.
And that was the end of Friday. My feet were so killing me that I had to rest, so I kicked back and had a few beers before I walked to my hotel room.
On Saturday I paid Doug Bradley (aka Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies) a visit. He told me he did not think highly of Iceland a week or so before the convention, as he was stuck in Europe because of our little volcano eruption that has affected so many people across the world. He was still nice but it does make you wonder if he meant it what he wrote on my DVD ;)
I went back to John Amplas and took my picture with him, as I had forgotten about it being all tired from waiting in line for George Romero. He was cool about it, it's not hard to remember the only Icelander in the crowd. Jarlath Conroy (the drunk from Day of the Dead who kept saying "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!") was at the next table and took our picture.
I decided to at least introduce myself to the other celebrities, it didn't feel right to me taking their picture far away like many people did. I like to remember them from the movies anyway.
I felt kinda bad that there was not much action on Julian Sands' table so I introduced myself and said I was from Iceland. He told me that he had been there once, that he was in Reykjavik (which is Iceland's capital) and also in Akureyri (which is often called the second capital of Iceland, it's in the north opposed to Reykjavík being in the southwest corner) and from there to Greenland.
I said hi to Meg Foster as well, she was next to Julian Sands. She was a delight, she really loved that I came all this way to be there just for the convention and she hoped that I would get my John Carpenter autograph. I was worried for a while, since they sold so many that Saturday was pretty much on hold for new Carpenter autograph purchases. I saw she gave people hugs, she truly loved being there.
I said hi to Charles Cyphers and I can't remember much what he said. But it was something about Icelandic horses and reindeer.
I went to Terry Alexander (who was in Day of the Dead) and I told him that I meant no disrespect but that I couldn't understand much of his lines in Day of the Dead. His character sported a heavy Jamaican accent and the fact that Anchor Bay never uses subtitles doesn't help you one bit. When he heard I was from Iceland and I said I had pretty much no money to get more autographs, he grabbed a picture which he had already signed but it was the wrong name. So he crossed it out and wrote my name, I didn't spell my name out this time and I got anything but my name on there :D
I wonder, can you get rid of permanent markers from photos? It does have it perks coming all the way from Iceland. ;)
Just before closing, I said hi to the people from Christine. John Stockwell didn't think the travel time from Iceland was that bad. I jokingly told him next time I would say I came from Asia or Australia or something like that. I complemented Keith Gordon on his work on directing the TV series Dexter. He said to me that he thinks the writers don't know what they're going to do next after how it ended last season. William Ostrander looked so different that I had to ask who he played, even though I knew what part he played and that he was going to be there. He was nice. Alexandra Paul asked me about the volcano, I urged her to check out some of the amazing volcano eruption photography that has circulated the Internet since Eyjafjallajökull erupted. Alexandra likewise wished goodwill and luck on getting my Carpenter autograph. I planned on checking them out on Sunday but I didn't knew how short Sunday turned out to be, so I'm glad I decided to at least say hi and shake their hands. I didn't go see their Q&A, there was this horrible auction which drowned out the sound, unless you were standing in the front of the room, I guess. I figured the Christine DVD did enough for me, so I could live without seeing that.
There wasn't as much activity in the beginning of Sunday and thus hardly a line for the Carpenter autographs. There was a special setup for that one. You had to pay for it, plus tax, at the ticket counter. You would take the elevator to the second floor and wait in line until you were in the room that John Carpenter was signing. There were no pictures in the room, so you had to buy them at the ticket counter if you didn't have a personal object to have him sign.
A little before noon, I was able to meet the man and get my autograph. There's so little time and other people waiting in line as well, I just managed to tell him that I was just as a big of a fan of his music just as his movies. And that his music was the biggest influence and inspiration to me as a amateur musician. I sort of regret not having him sign Assault on Precinct 13 since I asked him to sign the Escape from New York soundtrack cover on a specific spot so the wonderful artwork would be left mostly intact. He followed that instruction...sort of.
And since I had some money left, I decided to have something signed by Meg Foster. She was so glad for me getting the Carpenter autograph, since it would be a shame to miss out on that after coming all this way for the most part for his autograph (and George Romero's as well). I was captivated by this picture she had on her table, she said a fan had made it for her. I guess, it was a composite from 2 shots from the film, or a shot from the film plus a promotional picture of her (but I didn't ask, so I don't really know). On my way back to the hotel to stash away the stuff, I was kicking myself in the head not getting the soundtrack of They Live which was relatively cheap. I managed to get more money, the people at the ticket counter were kind enough to let me swipe my credit card to get 20 bucks. She wished me goodwill and a pleasant trip back home, she was a total sweetheart.
A bit later, not long before Lance Henriksen's Q&A, I was reading a big sign outside the room where that was going to be held. I was wearing this t-shirt, it's the name of a solo artist who's a good friend of mine. It even glows in the dark. Just look for his music at myspace, you won't regret it, it's awesome!
I hear a familiar voice saying out loud "how to avoid art" and chuckling to himself. George Romero was walking past me, how cool is that! I was even stopped by two pretty girls asking me about that t-shirt. And I even forgot to plug my own music (which is Wanker of the 1st Degree ;)! My friend, Rob, was really floored when I told him that over the phone that evening. I quote Rob on this:
"How To Avoid Art" is a string of words that doesn't really make sense. Originally, I think it was intended as self-deprecating humor.
Now that I'm older, I see more to it than that. Well, not more, but less. "How To Avoid Art" lacks punctuation, and as such, the insertion of a comma, question mark, or colon changes the meaning completely. I kinda like that. You can't do that with Madness, Metallica, or Madonna.
Having said that, there is no way to avoid art...and created things point to a creator the same way that design implies a designer. I think I'm happiest with that definition because it's a nod to philosophy and theology instead of a misunderstood joke."
I went to see Lance Henriksen's Q&A, which was a last minute replacement. It was announced the day before. I really regret not recording this, in some form, just having an audio file would rock. But I thought there were plenty of people with their cameras and there was a professional camera in the room right in front of Lance. So I figured this would hit YouTube or get it through the Texas Frightmare Weekend website. No word or sight of it so far, which is a shame, this is something that should be shared. And there is only so much I can remember, and to say it as it was said, that I can't do. And I will never to be able to do its justice.
Lance was so much fun, he was like a stand up comedian. He was talking so much, and he often asked if he answered people's questions. He described his brain going all over the place, it never sits around. "I sound like I'm on crack", his own words if I'm not mistaken.
He told us the story of why he wanted to do Survival Quest. He told us that he sent his daughter to something like that, because she was being difficult in behavior. All that he got was her backpack with the most dirty clothes he ever saw, a pile of shit. She did come around eventually. But he then wanted the same thing out of it, to experience nature in its purest and rawest form.
And he said he was so scared of snakes, there was a lot of them during the filming of Wilderness.
I wish I could say more, but I don't remember how he said all those things and I would be putting words into Lance's mouth. I won't do that.
I did get home safely, had to run around a lot at Dallas Fort Worth airport getting on that flight to JFK. The first few flights were always full to LaGuardia, but sometime before noon I was able to go on the JFK flight and that saved me the trouble of taking the bus from LaGuardia to JFK. But sadly, there was nothing in the plane. You couldn't listen to music, no cool 80's channel. Although I kid across the isle was watching Back to the Future on a small portable DVD player, so I got a little 80's after all...but I was still bummed by that. I did finish the first Dexter book during my stay and was reading the second book, Dearly Devoted Dexter, which I haven't finished yet.
Overall, it was a good trip, it was good to change it up, change the scenery for a little bit.
Although, I do kick myself in the head for some of the lost opportunities. Maybe I redeem myself with my next convention trip...
I hope you enjoyed the read.
Cheers from Iceland!
We all know Millennium like the palm of our hand, so I won't be doing an introduction for this review.
The Pilot episode of Millennium is considered to be groundbreaking in pushing the envelope of what could be shown on prime time. On second viewing you see it's all in your head. There's no violence in this episode, only violence implied through victims both dead and alive. It's not as graphic as you would think and it's never gratuitous.
The show literally asks us if we like the show, if we like the naked flesh and the flow of blood. The stripper, Wednesday, asks the Frenchman during a private session if this is what he wants and he should tell her what he wants. We're put into the Frenchman's point of view. She might as well be asking us when she says "is this what you want? Tell me what you want." Some could not keep their eyes off the screen, others objected with letters of disgust which told us who they are. We're all flesh and blood, why shouldn't we want that? After all, this is who we are, literally.
One of my favorite bands is used to good effect in this episode, while not by far my favorite song, it's handled brilliantly throughout the episode. The Nine Inch Nails' song Piggy was born for Millennium.
Bletch tells Frank Black that the "homicide rate's at a record low, only 34 last year." That doesn't sound like the impending doom of the apocalypse to me. Lucky for us that Frank is working for the Millennium Group traveling across USA, and not the Seattle homicide division or there hardly would be a show on our hands. At least, not the killer of the week, that's for sure.
On the commentary track, Chris Carter mentions that the autopsy room (and presumably the homicide office) were shot on stage. Superb production design, I always thought it was shot on location. It looks real to me, thanks to Gary Wissner who was also the art director on the film Se7en. So, no wonder all the comparisons to that film and Millennium, not to mention that Carter himself cites it as an influence.
Frank is "the man with the X-ray eyes" according to the coroner, and why shouldn't we assume the same. He knew details that were left out of the paper, and he opted not to see the victim. But all the same, could be a "lucky guesser" as Bletch thinks.
Tuesday, another stripper, tells Frank "the clientele here isn't exactly the picture of moral rectitude". There are some words here that go over the nickel vocabulary line. Seriously, not like I know any strippers but this one is not your average stripper. That's not what I expect a stripper to say, is it me or does The Ruby Tip has the most intelligent strippers than any strip joint? Plus, the victim was clean, no drugs. Anyway, I had to go to webster.com to get the definition to be absolutely sure what rectitude exactly meant, and the definitions are as follows:
1 : the quality or state of being straight
2 : moral integrity : righteousness
3 : the quality or state of being correct in judgment or procedure
It's interesting if you interpret this with the first definition as Frank Black says the Frenchman is "very confused" about his sexuality.
Another thing, she says men don't need a reason to do harm. Wrong, there's a reason for everything, a reason behind every action.
When Frank is driving and dropping Bletch off in his car, it's interesting that the director, David Nutter, chose these kinds of shots. These shots echo the style of Homicide: Life on the Street, another cop show which never made things pretty for the viewer. We're inside the car with them, in the backseat, a dark dormant passenger. We're on a ride which we can't leave; we can close our eyes but the horror is still there. That's about all what we can do when watching Millennium.
There was one word that stuck out for me that Peter Watts said to Frank. He said the killer knew what he was doing and doing it "with real sangfroid, judging by his tidy cleanup". According to webster.com "sangfroid implies great coolness and steadiness under strain". "Extraneous stressor" is a common profiler/medical talk, sounds like it. Why use that word, sangfroid? Does he want to sound important or wise? It's their first meeting, is that his way of making a good first impression? It does seem out of place with his sparse and precise dialog.
Watts sits in his car for over an hour outside their new yellow house to talk to Frank. Frank's wife, Catherine, tells him that she "can handle imposition" but "what [she] can't handle is secrecy." Right from the get go, the seed for the secrecy of the Millennium Group has been planted for later use, whether intentional or not. It was inevitable, I assume, to change things up.
Frank says to Catherine that the men he helps catching make him make-believe that he is making the world a better place. Catherine says to Frank that "the world starts to seep in" and that he "can't stop it". Is there no escape from the darkness? Only refuges, like in the form of a yellow house. This mirrors what the Frenchman says before he dies, that Frank can't stop it…the approaching apocalypse.
I love the usage of that Nine Inch Nails song both in the scene where Frank is deciphering what the Frenchman is saying on the security camera footage and the enhanced version that he made for his Frenchman lecture for the homicide detectives. Frank rewinds and re-watches, there are loops and jump-cuts and the music follows suit. It's something Homicide: Life on the Street did do, another echo. And I love Frank's enhanced version of the tape, it's not that silly CSI music stripped clean for a clear dialog to be heard, which is impossible. It's all about frequencies you can block, and there's only so much you can do. And that's why I miss this in today's cop show, but I know they do this to expedite things; we only have so many minutes in the television hour.
For all his gifts and curses, Frank crosses paths with the Frenchman by pure accident. It's always the little things that can lead to the capture of serial killers, like an unpaid parking ticket for the Son of Sam serial killings. Frank spots the same word in a photograph that was carved on the empty coffin they found in the woods.
And that encounter leads to the chase sequence, which ends rather strangely in my mind.
The Frenchman jumps off the bridge off-screen, we see him hanging under the bridge. This has always looked odd to me, how did I manage to do that when he had no time to plan for this? And especially the position he's hanging there makes it all the more unrealistic to me. Chris Carter says in the commentary that this was a re-shoot, they did that shot twice. This apparently worked for him, but I wonder how the original shot looked like.
It's interesting seeing the politics of a high stakes murder investigation. The argument of following the only lead they have, some hairs that we know don't lead anywhere, or follow Frank Black and his gift. There's a palpable tension between everyone in the room, these guys are serious men with a serious job, to catch a crazy killer who "is confused about his sexuality".
There's one error, which I would be none the wiser if Chris Carter didn't point it out in the commentary. Frank says the Frenchman is "prophesizing" which should be "prophesying". But you still can find it listed on webster.com as it's a common mistake, I assume. Paul Dillon, the actor who portrayed the Frenchman pointed it to Chris Carter, but it was too late to change it. What, no looping and/or cut to the men listening to his lecture?
Frank tells Bletch about his gift, that he "become the thing we fear the most" by becoming capability and horror. "What we know, we can become only in our heart of darkness". It sounds to me that everyone has that gift judging by his description of his cursed gift.
It's good that there's some tiny bit of humor in Millennium, a reminder of the cold hard truth of real detectives. They crack jokes at work like everyone else, under not so normal circumstances. When Bletch crosses the icy cold river he says to himself "it's a good thing [he] already got a family". It's funny each time…at least to me.
Bletch says to Frank in 18 years he hasn't "ever seen anything as terrifying" as what he saw that night when they found the guy in the coffin. Frank replies, "You ever see your kid lying on a bed in an emergency ward?" They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this applies to everything we see, but also horror and terror. This is the reason why some people think Borrowed Time or The Sound of Snow are much more effective than any other episode of Millennium with all its gory content and crazy killers.
Frank tells Bletch about Ed Cuffle, the last big case he did for the FBI before he retired. A nice circle, an Ouroboros if you will, is created between this episode and the last two episodes of Season 3 where Frank witnesses Cuffle's execution and gets a farewell Polaroid. Although, he is not responsible for the Polaroids he gets in this episode. It's just a nice callback at the end of the series, I've always felt.
Another thing which is off to me for this episode and which is rather convenient is the dispatch of the Frenchman. Bletch just happens to come down there at the right moment. It's not shown if Frank did write it all down what the guy on the phone said to him, about the blood tests coming from their own building. Or was it a lucky guess or one of those typical cop gut feelings or a hunch? I wonder if they had a line in the script to address this, maybe they did, maybe they didn't.
Enter Benny, the dog, Chris Carter's best casting job according to himself. And what a smile on Frank's face, I've never seen that face on Lance Henriksen before or again. You never know what you are going to get from Lance, but you know it's going to be good.
Frank gets those dreaded Polaroids again, that drove him to a mental breakdown causing him to retire from the FBI, as Catherine is on her way to a job interview which is presumably for that social worker job title we get a glimpse of a few episodes later in The Well-Worn Lock.
The Pilot episode will always be highly regarded in Millennium fandom, but it's too by the numbers for me to be close to a top 5 list…maybe on a top 10. Everything is well done, the actors, the music, the direction and the production design elevated the standard cop show routine that this looked like it was going be. But we all know, it didn't become a routine, otherwise we all wouldn't be here still talking about the show…Thirteen Years Later…(sort of).
***1/2 out of ****
ps: Here's a link to a montage video I made for BacktoFrankBlack.com that I made from footage taken from this episode and edited to a Gary Numan cover of Poetry and Power by Gravity Kills.
This is my first blog post, which will serve as an introduction to my future blogging.
I intend to post reviews of films and television episodes both old and new (to me, personally), whenever I feel like it.
But don't be alarmed if I post other things as well, only time will tell.
I will try to look into it deeper than just a synopsis of the film or television episode I'm reviewing.
And I will try to inject my own thoughts and comments about it as well, like every reviewer should.