Wednesday, April 8, 2015

TCMFF 2015 – Day 0 [Wednesday]

[Note: I did something stupid with this post and I had to recover/re-create from a draft, so if you have been here before and it reads different, that would be why.]

I'm going to start my Day 1 coverage by talking about the night before.

Note to self, no. 1: Don't wait until the night before you leave to pack.

I decided that I needed a garment bag for the festival, because I was bringing a white dinner jacket and other nice clothes. We had one at the house, but it wasn't a very good one, so I decided to run out in get one. I went out at 8 o'clock at night to a Target was close to my house. Unfortunately, it was kind of a ghetto Target. 

The Target was in what had been an ordinary mall when I was a kid, but by the mid-80s, all of the stores on the inside of the mall had gone away.  Now it's sort of like a mall turned inside out, big box stores on the outside, and nothing on the inside. Anyway I was looking for a garment bag, Target had nothing. I tried the Ross next door; nothing again.

I tried the Kohls, this time they had a Samsonite garment bag for $469, but I couldn't imagine paying almost $500 for a single piece of luggage. They did have a second one for about $200, but even that seemed a bit high. 

Note to self no. 2: If you're looking for a garment bag, don't go to the ghetto mall.

I had one more option, Walmart. They had a very simple one for $40, now, we're talking. I decided that garment bags must be made out of either gold of lead.

While I was in Walmart, I got the following text from my 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine, saying

Mom cheated on you with firemen, btw.

I thought about what the proper response should be. I toyed with the idea of saying, "That's okay, I cheated on her with a policeman." But I decided that that might break my little girl's pschye. I switched it to paramedic, so  that at least she could infer the proper gender on my part. I still may have damaged her, but that might taken off the sting a little bit. We live on E Street, and it turns out that someone had called the Fire Department for the same number as our address on B Street, so my wife goes to the door and there are, for lack of a better term, a bunch of hot-ass firemen. Of course, my wife sees a bunch of hot firemen, and she is all, Well alrighty, then. This prompted my daughter's text. I just don't think she was prepared for what I sent back to her. But in the words of the immortal Samuel L. Jackson, If you don't like my answers, you should cease asking scary questions.

I got home some time after 9 o:clock and started packing. It was about midnight by the time I finished. I couple of weeks before TCMFF, I posted a Survival Guide Blog post on attending the Festival. Among other things I recommended emptying out the storage on your phone and camera. Well, I forgot to do that, so after packing, I still had to empty out my camera and phone. I knew I was in trouble when I started moving files and the first one said 45 minutes remaining. 

Note to self no. 3: Don't wait until the night before you leave to empty your camera; see also note to self no. 1.

The end result was that I knew I was going to an event where sleep deficit was an issue, and I was staying up until 1:30 in the morning, the night before I left. Not a good idea. 

Taken from the train on the way to L.A.
Thus, we get to Day 0 (Wednesday).  Jasmine and I were taking the train up from San Diego. It should be an easy drive from San Diego, operative phrase there being, should be. But with the chance of hitting traffic in both San Diego and Orange Counties, and pretty much a guarantee of bad traffic the last 20 miles or so into Hollywood, the train to Union Station and L.A. Metro to Hollywood is about the same travel time. Plus, there's a section, from North San Diego to South Orange County that's right on the coast and really pretty.

Easily the strangest thing that happened on the trip up was the ride on the Metro from Union Station to Hollywood. A young woman and her boyfriend got on. Now, she looked more or less normal, but the boyfriend, he was wearing vampire fangs. Not plastic ones, mind you, but real sharpened tooth caps, and roughly 12 noon. I just remember thinking I hope he's wearing sunscreen when he comes out of the station.

Jasmine in our room on an odd piece 
of furniture she called a butt foof
We got to The Roosevelt and our room was ready so we were able to check in right away. We had a very nice room, a minisuite, at the Roosevelt, that was way more expensive than I would normally pay for a room. I had wanted to stay at the Roosevelt this year and had waited until about 5:30 Pacific time the day they announced the 2015 dates to book. By that time, all of the lesser expensive rooms were gone, so the option was really expensive room with a balcony, or $80 more for a mini-suite. When I booked, I hadn't intended to bring my daughter because I thought she would have to miss too much school. Still it just seemed to make sense to go for the better room, since I was already spending a lot of money anyway. As it turned out, it was perfect for the two of us, I had a separate room with a king bed, and she had the living area with a fold out bed in the couch. 
Now my daughter and I were acting as Social Media Producers for TCMFF. This meant different things for different people. For my daughter and I, we were doing video interviews of people attending the festival, and she was doing reviews of all the films we saw on twitter with as much insight and snark as would fit in 140 characters. I did the following video explaining it:

Since we were doing the Social Media Producers thing, we had the opportunity to go to Wednesday afternoon Press Conference. It seemed like it covered a lot of the same ground as the Meet TCM panel on Thursday, but I can see that. A lot of the media people in attendance were bloggers and at heart classic movie fans in general and specifically TCM fans, so their concerns echoed those of the TCMFF attendees. I found it interesting that Charlie Tabesh (SVP of Programming of TCM) said that there was really no time period for a classic. I don't think there is anyone at TCM who wants to convert to showing newer films, but if there is a reason to look at newer films in the context of Classic Film, they will do so. I think the example he used was that if you had Katherine Hepburn as the star of the month, you would want to show, Love Affair, her last theatrical film.

Ben Mankiewicz during the press conference Photographer:
Edward T. Pio Roda ™ & © 2015 Turner Classic Movies.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with
My favorite thing at the press conference was that something that Ben Mankiewicz said in response to a question about how people at the press conference came to work at TCM. He explained that he had been working on a news show, before getting hired to be a host on TCM. He said that as a news broadcaster, he got a chance to interview a lot of famous people, but he never became friends with any of them. Once he came to TCM and started interviewing classic film people, that was when he started to become friends with the people he interviewed.

Jasmine liked the press conference. I think she imagined it would by like a Comic-Con meeting of which she has attended many. Don't get me wrong, Comic-Con is a fun event. The planning meetings, not so much.

Our first view of the Egyptian
We hung out for a little while after the press conference talking in the lobby of the TCL Chinese. After a while, we headed back toward The Roosevelt, using Will McKinley's (@willmckinley) back way in and out of the Hollywood and Highland mall. I had figured out part of this, but there was a key piece of the puzzle I was missing, a stairway that takes you to real close to the main entrance of the theater. When we got back to Hollywood Blvd, Jasmine and I split off from the rest. There was a bookstore Hollywood Book and Poster I wanted to go to. Also I did want to go to Musso and Frank's, but we'd had a snack right before the press conference so neither of us were hungry.

We ended up going past the Egyptian, and eventually made it to Hollywood Book and Poster, only to find it wasn't open. It was hard to tell whether it was just closed or out of business. There was a solid metal grate in front of the storefront. Of course, it not being open at 3 o:clock on a Wednesday afternoon was not a good sign. We continued on and ran into Beesknees, one of the #TCMParty regulars who along with her mother were attending TCMFF for the first time. We had never met, but she stopped me on the sidewalk and asked, if I was Chris. You tell people that you're a bald guy with a big white mustache who will be with a teenager with lots and lots of hair, and people recognize you. Go figure. They were headed to The Roosevelt, and we were going the opposite direction, so after chatting a while we went off our separate ways. 

Joan Blondell's star, had to get it.
We kept going east on Hollywood Blvd. To me, it seems like it gets nicer and less cheesy as you go that direction. I do have to say Jasmine was let down by Hollywood. She expected it to be glamorous, not cheesy. I had a similar reaction to Hollywood my first time back in the late-1980s, but the discrepancy between the fantasy and the reality has probably widened since then. We made it all the way to Vine, crossed the street, and came back down Hollywood Blvd. on the other side of the street.

We ultimately made our way back to Musso and Frank's. It was about 4 o:clock by the time we got there, so we were able to get in right away. I didn't get the waiter's name, but it was the same guy that Ben Mankiewicz interviewed when TCM did their piece on Hollywood landmarks. The one thing that was unusual was that as we sat there looking at the menu. The waiter stood about four feet away facing the other direction. As soon as we put down our menus, he turned and took our orders. Now, I've had good service before, but I have never seen that. I ordered what quite possibly was the best pastrami sandwich I have ever had in my life. 

Looking back at the Egyptian from Musso and Frank's,
another Hollywood landmark, the Pig'n'Whistle is on the right 
At about 5 o:clock there was a meet and greet for the Going to TCMFF Facebook group. I'm pretty sure that I had met Kelly who runs the Facebook group last year. Even I'm not super active on Facebook, I was pretty sure I would know a lot of people there and of course I did. I mostly just caught with the people I already knew. Jasmine quickly got bored and retreated to a corner to mess around online on her phone, which is probably what she would have been doing had she stayed in the room anyway. Kelly had made arrangements to have Cora Sue Collins, a former child actress, who among other things had played Greta Garbo's character as a child in Queen Christina. Unfortunately, it was not the optimum environment to have a sweet little old lady with a very soft voice speaking. Everyone gathered around, but I happened to be just far enough back to miss most of what she was saying. After a while, I just gave up.

Charlie Chaplin door that faces sidewalk
outside of  The Jim Henson Company
Later that night, there was a Warner Archive/#TCMParty  gathering at the Formosa Cafe. I figured it being a bar, Jasmine wouldn't be able to get in, and she was fine with staying in the room and watching TV and calling it an early night. I later found out that the Formosa does sell food so it might have been okay to bring her. I'll have to keep that in mind for next year. I checked my phone, it looked like the Formosa, was about 12 blocks from the hotel, so I figured it would be as easy to walk there as to find a cab. I've lived in some pretty crappy neighborhoods in my life, so my tolerance for walking around Hollywood at night is probably a lot higher than most people's. Plus, it probably doesn't hurt that I look like a biker. The walk was kind of nice and took me passed The Jim Henson Company, which had originally been the home of Charlie Chaplin studios. There's a statue of Kermit the Frog dressed as Chaplin's tramp on the building near the gate. By the time I got to The Formosa, things were well underway. 

The Formosa at night, that truck must be going 150 mph
The Formosa Cafe is kind of a cool almost hole in the wall  kind of place. My only complaint was that it was very loud and a bit difficult to have a conversation. I knew a fair amount of the people there. Quite a few of the other TCM Social Media Producers, but at that point I hadn't yet put together names with faces with Twitter handles. That's probably one of the toughest things for me at TCMFF. First, I tend to be really bad with names, but since I spend so much time on Twitter, a lot of the people I run into, I already know from live tweeting TCM movies using the #TCMParty hashtag. But then, you end up meeting new people and have to try to associate a name with a face and a twitter handle that usually has nothing to do with the name. Still it was fun to just hang out and have some drinks before everything got really crazy. I ended up leaving at about a quarter to one.

Again, I decided to walk. I was really hungry, since I hadn't eaten since that pastrami sandwich at Musso and Frank's. Fortunately, In'N'Out Burgers was still open with a line out the door at about 1 am. I ended up getting a double protein style and a chocolate shake, and took it back to the room to eat.

Not a bad start.

TCMFF 2015 – Day 1 post

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