Originally I planned to write a brief blog series about my adventures in PA with Kevin Strange, Mike Lombardo, Lex Quinn, Brian Keene, Dave Thomas, Mary SanGiovanni and Phobe. A lot of it would be about the dead fella bone in my mouth (my bone graft for my impending tooth implant) and Kevin's propensity to rant. (True story: at one point during our road trip he apologized for ranting too much. I told him that I was on a 12-hour road trip with Kevin Strange; I knew what I was getting into.) I was going to exaggerate it all, of course. By the time we got through IN and OH and half of PA we would have been HST and his trusty attorney. Another true story: at one point near the end of our journey I said, "We can't stop here. This is Bat Country."
But I don't have the time to do it justice. In the long run I'd rather let the podcast speak for itself. Besides, Kevin did a great job of talking about our road trip here and here. But I will take the time to make a few comments here. Probably a few more comments than I meant at the end of this very long day, but we'll see if I can remain conscious long enough to do so.
This whole thing started the day after I went through emergency dental surgery. The painkillers knocked me out, so when I didn't have to drive I drank quite a bit. At least while drinking I had my wits about me. I have cadaver bone in my mouth even right now, and that was an endless source of humor and fascination for the weekend.
For as much as I poke fun at Kevin for ranting, he's a great and entertaining friend and navigator. Buy his books here. I'm a speed demon. Imagine how far I cut loose on the open highways of IN, OH and PA. I've never gotten my Civic up to a hundred, but I wanted to. The closest I came was 99. And Kevin was there to warn me of cops he saw that I didn't. There was one time a car wasn't going fast enough to suit me, so I started speeding around it. Kevin then informed me that it was a cop. It looked nothing like a cop car, but HOLY SHIT! There's the State Troopers of IN decal on the side! It was touch and go for a moment, but I lucked out. Zero speeding tickets. That's pretty good, and I owe it all to Kevin.
When we got close to the end of our journey, it was dark and scary. His GPS had us taking back roads, and we suddenly realized, as we DROVE THROUGH A FUCKING COVERED BRIDGE, that Lombardo had secretly invited us to stay with him because he planned to ritualistically murder us. Our surmise was not dispelled when we finally arrived at his place. We rang the bell, and the door very quietly, very slowly opened by itself . . .
Mike Lombardo is an incredibly generous guy. Not only did he give us a place to stay. Not only did he show us a rough cut of I'M DREAMING OF A WHITE DOOMSDAY. But he also gave us this:
How fucking cool is that? I'm super tempted to do a review of WHITE DOOMSDAY for Forced Viewing, but the only thing holding me back is the fact that it was a rough cut. I want to see the finished product before I do that. Suffice to say his work is taking a very interesting new direction. I fucking love it, and I can't wait for you all to see it. You can find out more about his work here.
The next day we got these great burritos. I forgot the name of the place, but I'm fairly certain that the name of the burrito was the Cowboy, or something along those lines. Great hangover food. We also went to a used bookstore (which I also cannot remember the name for), and this was my haul:
The guy who ran the place was an older gentleman, and I think he was impressed with my taste (me being a younger guy). He liked my selection enough that he gave me LANDO and THE QUICK AND THE DEAD for free. If I'm back in the area, I've got to go back to that place. (PS: LANDO has nothing to do with STAR WARS. Spoiler.)
And then came The Horror Show with Brian Keene. It's kind of funny. Kevin and I went out to my car to fetch something when lo! and behold! We ran into Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni as they were approaching the house. It kind of threw us for a loop. First of all, I had no idea I was going to meet Mary. That was a great surprise. And to top it all off, they both arrived bearing gifts. Kevin and I got a bottle of Knob Creek for Brian, and I got a shark for Dave Thomas. I had no idea that we'd be getting gifts in return. Their generosity is amazing. I went home with these (and I thought I'd missed out on the Scares That Care 'zine!):
We did the podcast. It was amazing. You don't need me to tell you that. If you haven't heard it already, you're going to. The link is above. It was great meeting Phobe, too. I had no idea she was going to be there, or I would have brought something for her, too. After the show we had a big signing party. I'd brought stuff for Lombardo and Kevin and, of course, Brian. He's so awesome he signed the shit-ton of books I'd brought:
The collections of Hail Saten are very important to me. I'd put them up there with Laymon's A WRITER'S TALE. I'm proud to have signed copies.
We spent a wonderful evening hanging out, and I got drunk and treated everyone to the Grade A John Bruni Blackout Show (C). I haven't been that far gone in a long time. No, it's not bad. I'm told I'm entertaining when I'm in that state. Weird and loud, but entertaining. So far I haven't shot a man just to watch him die. SO FAR.
The next day we went out to breakfast/lunch-ish at a place called Friendly's where Lombardo kinda-sorta convinced the waiter that it was Lex Quinn's birthday. He requested Jim Dandy crowns for us all. My head is too fucking big, but I wore mine as best as I could. Lex Quinn insisted to the waiter that it was not her birthday, but when he came back, he uncertainly asked, "Uh, is it really your birthday?" And I knew in that moment that Friendly's had a tradition of getting the waitstaff to sing a birthday song for just such occasions. Lombardo instinctively knew, too, and he insisted.
Yes. There was a birthday song. And a birthday balloon. It was glorious.
We went to Philly because I'd expressed my desire to see the Mutter Museum. I wrote about it here. Surprisingly enough the Mutter Museum read that post and loved it. That made me feel really good. Also, they asked me to take part in a survey, and my reward was a bunch of cool Mutter postcards:
Unfortunately my shit tooth was getting the better of me. I couldn't enjoy any food in Philly. We did go to several bookstores and curio shops, though. I found this at one of them:
Wow! A book on Clint that I had no idea existed! It took me a while to figure it out, but I'd never heard of it because it was published exclusively in the UK. But look at that cover! He looks like he needs a bearskin rug to recline on!
That's when we went back to Lombardo's and we had a private screening of WHITE DOOMSDAY. We passed out and got up waaaaaay too early to drive home.
It was a great experience. I hope to do it again someday even though the toll roads nearly throttled us to death. I hope you all enjoyed our appearance on The Horror Show with Brian Keene. I hope you've enjoyed this mini-account of our adventures. I hope you'll buy a bunch of kickass books, and maybe--POSSIBLY--vote for me for US president.
But mostly I hope you enjoyed all of this. I know I did.
PS: on our first night we went to a place called Giant. I gather it's a version of our Jewel/Osco. I found this there:
I tried to explain why I loved this little movie, but I don't think I sold Kevin or Lombardo on it, even though I went straight for the messy diarrhea scene with RDJ trying to help Duvall in the bathroom. Ah well.