I flew up Thursday to Portland for the 20th anniversary fest. Got set up in my hotel, and then ventured out for food and haircare products. I was happily surprised to find that you can still buy brilliantine. The Thursday night VIP party was held at a speakeasy, Circa 33, and we were encouraged to dress Thirties' style. I didn't really go for period authentic, but tuxedos are pretty timeless, and the brilliantined hair added some vintage flair. Great venue & good drinks. I spent some effort flipping the dipswitch from introvert to extrovert, and managed fairly well at mingling with people I knew and people I didn't. A sazerac and some ciders also helps to lower the shields, so that pretty soon, I'm embracing Charlie Stross and Jeff Combs.
Met lots of other good people there. Dick Lupoff and his wife -- discovered we were both Raiders fans. Leeman Kessler, princeofcairo, a gaggle of other attendees. And plenty of friends that I generally only get to see at the fest: Glancy, Gwen, Andrew, Andrew & Linda, Gwen & Brian (who had some particularly kind things to say), and ...
The party was really a high point. It was a great venue, and everyone was relaxed -- just a bunch of fascinating people with a common interest being people together.
I imposed on some newfound Portland friends (BradMaryKatherineAnaiahMattJaime) for a lift back to my hotel, for which I was very grateful.
Friday morning, I took my slightly hungover time getting up and about, and then ventured into Portland. (I got plenty of use out of my TriMet pass.)
Portlandia, Chinatown, Washington Park, Powell's Books, and my visit to Ground Kontrol proved that my pinball skills have sadly atrophied.
Back at the fest, there was quite a production for the 10th anniversary screening of The Call of Cthulhu. First the fest opening with Gwen&Brian and Andrew. Circus performers, songs, burlesque, and the screening. The HPLHS had gone all out with cigarette girls and a lovely souvenir program. I would note also that the HPLHS swag from the Kickstarter package is just amazing work.
I dashed up to see Extraordinary Tales, which stitches together animated versions of 5 Poe short stories. The stories are mostly well realized, but the terrible framing device really irked me. 'Usher' (narrated by Christopher Lee) and 'Masque' (Roger Corman) were my faves.
I was able to dash back down and catch maybe half of shorts block 1, arriving just in time to be confused by Autumn Harvest in media res. Cat Killer amused me.
Saturday started with the author signings. I bought a few things, chatted with a few people, and started off my autograph book for the con. I took along a copy of The Eldritch Quintuplets and asked people to sign their name next to their favorite Lovecraft story. It seemed like an awesome idea, but turned out awkward in real life. "Hi! I'm not buying your book! Would you sign my book?" But several people really adored the idea, and I accidentally sold two copies. Whoops!
Then on to Shorts Blocks 2 and 3. Highlights:
Slightly silly, but still amusing stop motion "From Beyond"
"The Case of Evil" - a demonic riff on the story of Robert Johnson at the crossroads, done in a great vintage noir style. Kind of a clumsy climax, but otherwise great tone and look.
Another nice stop-motion work - "The Mill at Calder's End"
"The Case of Patient Paul Edward Kelley" from Brazil
More of a music video than a film, but still lots to like about "Escape from Midwich Valley"
Having read the blurb for "The Stomach," I was positive I was going to hate it. Instead, I liked it.
"Out of the Basement" was a real stand-out. A perfect 14 minute gem.
"The Call of Farqunglu" is the Mythos Lego Movie. Plenty of fun for the whole family.
Break for dinner, where I got some wurst and kraut at Der Rheinlander/Gustav's, washed down with a tangy grapefruit hefeweizen.
After the dinner break... Caustic Soda Live with Jeffrey Combs! Lots of fun. My only regret was no Joe. But bonus Warren is always appreciated.
After the last clap, I raced to the main theater to get in on the NSFW shorts block, the first time they had a block dedicated to such filth. "Lead Paint" & "Fuck Buddies" had some great bits (not necessarily of the naughty variety), but neither added up to a whole. Innsmouth was well-shot and full of lesbianism, which is always good, but its Lovecraftian nature was of the namechecking variety rather than thematic.
On to Shorts Block 4. I had high hopes for Blind Date, and it started off well, but I didn't care for how it resolved. "The Trap" had a great humorous vibe, and I think "The Call" was the best of the more serious entries, but it didn't quite win me over.
So I think "Out of the Basement" was the winner for me (not that I saw everything -- there was a whole nother day on Sunday that I missed out on, not to mention the fact that there are multiple screens running.)
Since this was my last day, I summoned my reserves of energy and went to the afterparty, and glad I am that I did, for the powers that be made it happen - that Toren & Warren performed a unique acoustic quasi-semi-Thickets set. I've now seen the Thickets live 1.4 times, a 40% increase. Well worth it.
And the Thickets weren't the only good thing about the afterparty. Got to have a quiet little shout with Scott Glancy about Los Angeles, and some talk with Leeman, and Warren and Lisa, and Andrew and Linda, Gwen & Brian (who had some particularly kind things to say), and...
A great end to a long, long day of HPL festing.
I didn't quite have time to go to the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast on Sunday, but I did have time to venture back downtown for a little more sightseeing, randomly running across (so to speak) the Portland Marathon, and getting some Voodoo Donuts to take back to Los Angeles for Dr. Pookie.