Wednesday, May 23, 2007

May Is Almost Over

Damn you, Blogger. Your "conveniently new features" have rendered me helpless in my pursuit of reporting the truth to my devoted readers. All five of you were probably under the impression that I would be ending my legacy with nothing more than an eternal tribute to Bruce Campbell. Alas, I've worked around the bugs that Blogger has placed before me, and am now here to commence my rants.

First thing's first. A very belated "Happy Birthday" to our good friend/would-be cousin, Renee. For those of you who may not be aware, Renee is the one responsible for the love story that is Lisa and Me. It was Renee who, several years ago, introduced me to my future wife. She was also quite productive behind the scenes, seeing to it that the two of us would always be in the right place at the right time. Eventually, romance bloomed and Renee stood by, taking credit for it. Thanks again for that. It should be noted that, by introducing me to Lisa, Renee was continuing a tradition started by her own mother, Fran, several years ago when she introduced my parents to one another. The dance continues.

May is a busy month as it is. Lisa's birthday, Mother's Day and, of course, Renee's birthday. This very weekend marks our wedding anniversary. On the 27th, it will be seven years.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Star Struck?

While catching up with Terry recently, I was suddenly reminded of my brief forray into the world of star worship. A couple of years ago, I attended the premiere of Bruce Campbell's directorial debut, The Man with the Screaming Brain, at the Screenland Theater downtown. In case you're unfamiliar with the legend that is Bruce Campbell, he's simply the most well-known and respected B-movie actor of our generation. He'll turn up in the occasional big budget Hollywood-type movie in order to pay the rent. But he's best known for co-writing and starring in the Evil Dead trilogy, as well as his portrayal of an elderly Elvis Presley in the cult horror comedy, Bubba Ho-Tep. For an even more mainstream performance, Bruce makes cameos in all three of the Spider-Man films (director, Sam Raimi, is a childhood friend of Bruce's and also responsible for the three Evil Dead films). In the first, he's the announcer at the wrestling match. In the second, he's the "snooty usher" who stops Peter from entering the theater during a play. In the third, he's a maitre d' in a restaurant (as of this writing, I have yet to see this chapter). He's also currently featured in a television ad for Old Spice, and lends his voice to the new Aqua Teen Hunger Force....Movie For Theaters.

We arrived a few hours early and the Screenland has a bar, which meant that we had had plenty to drink before the film actually began. Bruce was there, signing copies of his new book, Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way. I decided to buy a copy and stand in line to have it signed. As many of you know, I'm not one for the whole celebrity autograph game, but figured it would be an interesting moment in my life. Tony and Jimmy joined me in line. Jimmy, with a DVD copy of his own directorial debut, Ekho: Fall of an Empire, and Tony with his camera. As I stood on line, I contemplated what I would say. And I couldn't believe that, as the distance between Bruce and me shortened, I found myself to be a bit nervous.

What would I say? Then it struck me. The first Evil Dead film was a college project that took more than a couple of summers to film. As anybody who's ever seen the movie could attest, the story takes place over the course of one night. I always thought it was a bit humorous that, as one watches the film, Bruce Campbell's character, Ash, can actually be seen aging. I chuckled to myself when this occurred to me. As I approached Bruce, I handed him a copy of my book. We exchanged greetings and I waited for him to begin conversing. He, apparently, had nothing to say. So I jumped in.

"So, uh. Is it true there's going to be a sequel to Bubba Ho-Tep?" I asked.

He looked up at me.

"What's your name?"

"Mark," I replied, wondering if he was going to invite me out for a beer after the screening. Turns out he just needed to know my name so he could personalize the autograph.

"Mark, did you hear about that on the internet?"

I thought for a moment and replied, "Yeah. I think so."

"Well," he continued, "don't believe anything the internet says." He kind of smiled, but hadn't looked back up at me yet.

Hmmm. That went nowhere. Now I look like a total jackass for believing the internet. Then I remembered the observation I wanted to point out to him. Did it ever occur to him that he actually ages three years in one night in the first Evil Dead movie? I was about to find out.

"You know....I always thought it was funny how old you look at the end of Evil Dead..."

The moment the words came from my mouth I realized that I had not phrased the question as gracefully to him as I had in my head. Bruce looked up at me and closed the book. He raised an eyebrow and smirked.

"So what are you saying now? You saying I look old?"

Did I offend Bruce? No. Nobody offends Bruce. He's calling me out on my putting my foot in my mouth. That's the coolest thing that could have ever happened. By now, the rest of the crowd had overheard the exchange and a few chuckles came. I kind of laughed nervously and before I could reply he handed the book back.

"Thanks a lot, asshole," he muttered. Then he rolled his eyes.

The crowd erupted with laughter, Tony snapped a photo and I walked away with my newly-autographed book, a proud man.

So an hour or so later, we were waiting in line to get into the theater, tickets in hand. There were only two screenings and both had sold out quickly, days before. There was quite a crowd. Not only were ticket holders present, but there were even more fans who hadn't been as fortunate to snag a ticket and were hoping to buy one second hand.

A film crew came around. The interviewer was wanting to speak with "the two biggest Bruce Campbell fans here" and dared such a person to come forward. I hadn't even considered speaking up. I'm a "fan" of nobody. But the group I was with (Tony and Jimmy, along with Brandon and Brent, respectively) began to shout and stir up a commotion.

"Right here!" they hollered as I was pushed to the front.

It was then and there that I, again, noted the irony of the situation I was in. I guess if I was going to get an autograph by the most well-known unknown in show business, I might as well sing his praises too. Now, through my somewhat drunken haze, I had to muster up reasons why I loved the work of a man who was responsible for movies with titles like Alien Apocalypse and Maniac Cop 2.

So here's a portion of the interview, currently on YouTube. And, in case you're wondering, I never really met Ted Nugent. And I was going to answer the other question by telling the interviewer that "we killed an elk together and had it for dinner that night." But, well, see for yourself.

Friday, May 04, 2007

My Baby Mama

The name "Lisa Erlinger" first came to my attention one day about eleven years ago. After coming home from work one evening, Terry informed me that there were no phone messages, but that there was a person by this particular name listed on the caller ID. Neither one of us recognized it and chalked it up as a wrong number. It was an hour or so later when the phone rang again and the name reappeared. I answered it, only to hear my friend Renee on the other end. She was calling from Columbia to see when Jeff and I would be coming out to visit. As it turned out, Lisa Erlinger was her roommate.

"Is she good lookin'?" I asked in all seriousness.

"Actually, yeah," she responded, "you'd like her."

Jeff and I ended up making plans to venture out to Columbia to visit Renee and her sister, Amy. A few weeks later, when we reached our destination, we were greeted at the door by Renee and her two roommates, Lisa and Valerie. We went out that night to a comedy club, where a hypnotist was performing. I was urged to go on stage by our group, but refused to fall under the spell of the dark wizard. Later on that night, we raised the roof to Salt-N-Pepa's 1986 dance club hit, "Push It."

"PUSH IT!!!!" I yelled as I pumped my fist toward the dance gods in the sky.

I got to know Lisa throughout the night. I wanted to somehow see her again casually, but found that the 120 mile distance between us would be a negative factor in the long run. As I slept on the couch in Renee's living room, I thought about this new girl and pondered how I could get to know her better. We said our goodbyes the next day and Jeff and I drove back to Kansas City. The entire time, I wondered if I'd missed my chance. But then I remembered that she was one of Renee's best friends. I'd decided that there's a chance I'd see her again. But when? If anybody had told me then that this girl was going to one day be my wife, I wouldn't have believed it.

Needless to say, destiny brought us together and we went on to bigger and better things. We were married in the spring of 2000 and, just recently, celebrated the birth of our first child. I'm very grateful that, not only did I find my soul mate, but that she has stood beside me all these years. Today is her birthday. I won't say how old she is, but she can take comfort in knowing that I'll always be five months her senior.

Happy birthday, Babe. We love you.