When Friday rolled around, BJ joined us in the Chariot of Doom for a trip to the Shedd Aquarium. As you may have guessed, they have lots of fish there. I love looking at fish, although, as I commented when we passed through the Great Lakes section, “I’ve eaten most of these things before, let’s move on to the coral reef area, shall we?” Sea horses look like they shouldn’t work. They’re not hydrodynamically sound and they look like the most hilariously clumsy creatures ever to live. But they’re surprisingly graceful, and fascinatingly ugly. The baby beluga whale was a treat, as were the sea otters. Sea otters are in my top five cutest animals on the planet list, and I am convinced that were they able to talk, they’d all sound like Teddy Roosevelt. The monkeys and various adorable and lethally venomous Amazonian frogs were fun as well. But my favorite thing of the day, and probably the coolest thing I’ve ever witnessed firsthand, were the bamboo shark egg cases. They had three egg cases mounted in a little tank and backlit, so you could see the shark embryos swimming around inside. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that kind of awe for nature and life inspired in me. It was incredible.
After we looked our fill at fish, it was time to head back toward Evanston and Nerd Valhalla. We grabbed a late lunch at the Seven Brothers restaurant near our hotel (best goddamn open-faced hot beef sandwich I’ve ever consumed - gotta love old-people restaurants for the good prices and massive portions) and stocked up on B-Fest sustenance at Dominick’s grocery store nearby (I love that we have a discount shopper membership card for a store we’ll be shopping at once a year maximum). BJ grabbed some comics at Phoenix Comics, and I used all the willpower I could muster not to walk out with several hundred dollars’ worth of Doctor Who figures, and we were off.
Although we arrived in plenty of time unlike last year (thanks again, FrontMan!), we just barely found some aisle seats near Ed and Hugazombie before the place filled up. I don’t know how people can stand not having aisle seats there. Anyway, I do believe sitting with Ed and co. has become a firm tradition. Especially handy this year since Hugazombie brought Febreeze to battle the horrible stench that attacked us once again. Unfortunately, I was not situated directly beneath an AC vent this year, so I had no protection. I believe, however, that we have pinpointed the source of these horrid emanations that would make the Hounds of Tindalos turn tail and hide. They seem to come from one Red Shirt Guy, who failed to obey one of the most beloved rules of nerd-dom and get gunned down by phaser fire early in the proceedings. Not only had he apparently never heard of soap or been taught to perform even the most elementary of ablutions by the baboons who raised him, but his pants insisted on showing us his ass every time he stood up or returned to his seat. This ass, my friends, looked like two large helpings of tapioca pudding pressed together and sprinkled with scraggly hair.
To end the introduction segment on a high note, I was thrilled to see Andrew Borntreger in the theater! It’s been eight years since I last saw the man who is responsible for me writing these dreadfully unfunny reviews and it was a blast to talk to him again. He didn’t recognize me at first, which I attribute to the fact that my hair has retreated several inches since last we spoke. That, and I just walked up to him, stuck out my hand, and said “Canoodle”, which is probably a little disorienting. Okay, fine, I’m two and a half pages into this, I guess I should start talking about the movies, yes? I hear your rustles and huffs of impatience. They showed a majority of this year’s movies on DVD, and I have a feeling B-Fest is moving permanently into the digital age for the most part. This robs us of shouts of joy when the film breaks or burns through, and the giddy experience of seeing something with its reels out of order, but it does add an interesting wrinkle that I’ll get to in a few…
Crippled Masters - The first movie usually develops a running joke for the rest of the ‘Fest. This one didn’t last the fest, but it was fun to replace “USA!” with “PRC!” (that’s People’s Republic of China to you) during the fight scenes. A polio victim and a thalidomide baby are passed off as amputees who must overcome their handicaps and fight the evil kung fu hunchback. At the end, they form Cripple Voltron and whoop some ass.
Heart Beeps - I’d never heard of this before B-Fest. I kinda wish I still hadn’t heard of it. Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters are robots who must go out into the world to find what it means to be human, while being hunted by the love child of a Dalek and a 1970’s Cadillac. A very young Randy Quaid co-stars, leading so many people to say, “Is that Randy Quaid?” that it became the ‘Fest’s running joke. Malorie was on fire during this one, but was too shy to shout her jokes, which was too bad. I think she would have become a B-Fest star on the merits of her riffing for this movie alone. When Petersbot’s power is running down and her monitor shows 0%, Borntreger screamed, “YOU’RE GONNA DIE, BITCH, AND I’M GONNA WATCH!” Until that moment I don’t think I fully realized how much I missed his presence at B-Fest.
Gymkata - I was surprised that this wound up being one of Mal’s favorites. It’s definitely one I could watch without the crowd and still enjoy. There’s barely a minute of run time that something isn’t happening. A femmy puss must learn awesome gymnastics to defeat the evil Barry Gibb of Madeupistan (Tim nearly made me choke on my honey roasted peanuts when he said that) so the USA can put a missile base there.
Raffle - Mal won a double feature DVD of Curse of the Living Corpse and Horror of Party Beach, which is the same as saying I won it because there’s no way she’ll ever want to watch that crap on her own. It has Del Tenney commentary!
Merrie Melodies: One Froggy Evening - This year was mercifully light on shorts. This was one of only two, praise Odin. This is the first time since What Is Communism I haven’t wanted to shoot everyone in the projection booth for making me watch a short.
Wizard of Speed and Time - I guess this counts as a short, but it’s such pure, unadulterated awesome that I count it as a thing all its own. My car keys fell out of my pockets (I carry a set in each pocket because I can’t even count anymore how many times I’ve locked a set in the ignition) during the stomp, and I held up the proceedings for a while before I realized the idiot we were all laughing at for losing their keys was me.