February 11th, 2009


The Trivia King Remembers Early '90s Hip-Hop

Team Totally Tits (usual disclaimer: I didn't come up with the name of our bar trivia team, though I've grown to love it) came in fourth place this time around. We climbed up from the depths, but stalled out before placing in the top three.

We did remarkably well on the first round, which is always the Grab Bag and usually pretty tough. The second round kicked our asses, though: Astrology. Why not just call the round Superstitions People Made Up That You Can Have No Way of Guessing? How the heck am I supposed to know which day of the week is best for Cancers? It's a guessing game with a one-in-seven chance. (The correct answer is Monday, by the way. I said Thursday. Whatever.)

Round three, the visual round, held us down and did cruel things to our bottoms, which sent us further behind in the scores. We had to name airlines based on their logos. Much harder than you might think, unless you travel a hell of a lot. There were at least half a dozen on the page with some form of identical bird involved. Also, the hosts were sticklers for exact answers. If you said Air Alaska instead of Alaska Airlines, you didn't get the points. Personally, I think I should have gotten extra points for spelling Lufthansa right, but no such luck.

We slammed our way back to a respectable standing with the final two rounds, though. Round four was The Oscars, which we nearly aced. (Funny story: One question asked us to name all five women nominated for Best Actress this year. They were probably expecting us to blank on Melissa Leo's name, but the name we actually blanked on, at least for a little while, was Angelina Jolie! Ouch!) Round five, the audio round, was a killer. Twenty songs, each involving samples of other songs. We had to name the artist of the song we heard a snippet of, the artist of the song being sampled, and the name of the song being sampled. Luckily, my teammates know a lot more about music than I do -- though I take pride in being able to spot riffs from Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" in Third Bass' "Pop Goes the Weasel" -- and we scored high again.

Just not high enough to place, unfortunately. But we'll be back Monday, March 9 to see if our four-time winning team can once again snatch the trophy from the hands of the usurpers!

Toby Barlow Signing in NYC

On Monday, March 16, at 7 PM, Toby Barlow, the author of Sharp Teeth, which just won the American Library Association (ALA) Award for best Horror Novel, will be reading and signing from his book at Bookcourt in Brooklyn, in a joint event with Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children.

I've heard wonderful things about Barlow's Sharp Teeth but still haven't read it. I'm looking forward to hearing him read aloud from it, especially since it's a novel in verse. So I'm going to try to make this one. The bookstore is right in my neighborhood, so the odds are good!

Commander USA Lives!

Back in October of 2007, I saw the premiere of a great documentary at the Coney Island Film Festival called American Scary. It was about all the wonderful local TV horror hosts from around the country, stretching all the way back to Vampira in the 1950s, and somehow it managed to land interviews with just about all of them. I loved every moment of it, but I especially loved when director John E. Hudgens and writer Sandy Clark caught up with Commander USA. He was my horror host! (Of course, he didn't only show horror movies. If I recall, he went on a kung fu kick for a while there. But yeah, it was mostly horror movies, and gloriously bad ones at that!) Celebrities like Neil Gaiman, Leonard Maltin, Tom Savini, the late Forrest J. Ackerman, and even my friend P.D. Cacek show up to offer their opinions and insights about horror hosts, too. Seriously, the movie is like crack for horror nerds like me! I even did an interview with Sandy Clark for Fear Zone.

The good news is that American Scary has finally found distribution! You can rent it through Netflix, or, for you hardcore collectors, it's also available for sale through Amazon and the other usual suspects, or directly from the distributor, Cinema Libre.

If you loved TV horror hosts the way I did as a kid, check it out. It's a lot of fun, and maybe you'll spot your horror host in the lineup!