Team Dick

Walking Around (in the) BUFF

Posted by @ 3:55 PM on Apr 24, 2011

I do not like films, I love Film. I love every type of film, from horror and science fiction to comedies or dramas or dramedies or dromedaries or whatever. I love big loud blockbusters and small little indie films. I’ll see movies on Thursday night at midnight with friends or on Tuesday afternoon at noon by myself. And, when I fall in love with a film, I’ll buy it on DVD and see it every time it comes on cable. I LOVE Film! And, yet, I cannot honestly tell you the last time I went to a movie theater to see a Hollywood film. Part of it is the lack of studio offerings that I find myself wanting to see, much less NEEDING to see (a disturbing reality for me, as I love movie theaters as much as I love movies), and part of the problem is…well, that’s a rant for another day. But once a year, for eight days, I disappear from my home and friends’ lives and rush to the dark confines of the Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, I celebrate a cinematic bacchanalia. I am immersed in the bizarre, the taboo, the wildly interesting and the downright horrible. Late March, for me, is a combination of Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween. Because that’s when I celebrate the Boston Underground Film Festival – BUFF, for short. I’ve have been attending this “celebration of the bizarre and insane…uncompromising, unflinching film and video” (to borrow their own description) since 2006 and every year it seems to get bigger, better, wilder, stranger, and just plain more fun.

This was a year of firsts for me. It was the first time that I actually planned vacation time specifically so I could attend all eight days without worrying about having to rush out from work to avoid missing something. It was the first year I went into the festival knowing nothing about the programming, the guests, or weekend parties. And it was the first year that I went into the opening night firmly believing that it would be impossible for the team behind BUFF to top the previous year’s offerings. 2010, after all, was notable for its opening night feature Love Exposure (Sion [Suicide Circle, Strange Circus] Sono’s four-hour meditation on love, sex, society, religion, and the fetish of upskirt photography), Red, White and Blue (beautifully touching and bleak with a killer climax), The Romantic (a grossly underrated animated feature, and probably my favorite of the festival), The Life and Death of a Porno Gang (my biggest regret of last year’s festival, as I chose to see another movie when it was playing and chose poorly) and – especially – Amer (a Belgian giallo about sex and death…two hours after seeing it, I was looking everywhere I could online to buy a copy [Rejoice! It’s scheduled for US release on 5/29!!!]). Surely there was no way they could outdo 2010!!!

Man, I love being wrong sometimes!!!

This year’s opening night feature was Jason Eisener’s long awaited Hobo With A Shotgun – a tale of a man who arrives with a dream to buy his own lawn mower and ends up cleaning up the crime and corruption that runs rampant in Hope Scum Town. For those of us who knew Eisener from the fake trailer he made for a contest run by Grindhouse directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez (the trailer which ended up winning said contest, running with the film in its Canadian release, and becoming a Youtube sensation), there was a question of “Will the feature match the spirit and insanity of the original trailer?” We needn’t have worried. The movie was every bit as violent and crazy and hilarious as we’d hoped it would be and, as the credits rolled and the house lights came up, the packed house in attendance stood and cheered for the director who was in attendance, much to our pleasant surprise.

But that was Thursday night, and BUFF hadn’t even truly started. Friday night was most notable for Machete Maidens Unleashed! – a documentary about the exploitation film boom in the Philippines made the the creators of the Ozploitation documentary, Not Quite Hollywood. As with BUFF’s 2010 documentary offering – American Grindhouse – I left the theater with a brain full of movie titles to track down for future viewing. As as the festival kicked into high gear, I saw one gem after another. The Corridor, which made its US premier at BUFF, while not my favorite film of the festival, was a pleasant surprise. Atomic Brain Invasion, Richard Griffin’s love letter to 50s sci-fi/horror and Creature Double Feature, was a movie I didn’t not even want to see but ended up enjoying immensely. Phase 7, BUFF’s “closing night feature,” was a pleasant surprise – an Argentinian film that evoked comparisons to [REC] and The Crazies on a minuscule budget. And Helldriver, directed by Yoshihiro (Tokyo Gore Police, Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, Mutant Girl Squad, and the makeup effect supervisor on too many films to mention) Nishimura, did not disappoint – it had me at “zombie flick” and “chainsaw katana.”

Three old friends showed up for the festivities. Coldfish represented Sion Sono’s return to BUFF, and it was a wonderful, bleak little film about murder and mayhem between two fish store owners (based on true events, of course!). Trent Haaga, screenwriter of 2009’s Deadgirl, he of Troma fame, made his directorial debut with Chop, and it had me practically peeing myself throughout. And Travis Betz, who bored me to tears in 2009 with Lo, showed up with a film called The Dead Inside and, if this meta/zombie-horror/comedy/musical didn’t represent my favorite of BUFF’s programming, it is certainly the one I will rush to have my non horror-loving friends see.

(Quick aside: There were so many features that I wanted and needed to see, that BUFF’s short film offerings went almost completely by the boards. Suffice to say, I did catch the horror collection and the music video package and loved both. Also, I’m not even going into the BUFF-hosted parties I attended. Let me make one this clear – BUFF goes all out on all fronts to entertain and delight movie-goers, friends , and fans. ‘Nuff said!)

Of course, there were some mis-cues. I missed the Filipino low-budget homage/rip-off of  The Island of Doctor Moreau (featuring Pam Grier) in favor of catching Lucky McKee’s latest film, The Woman, and spent the rest of the festival regretting the decision. Not just because it was a boring, predictable, uninspired, weak-sauce attempt to shock, but also because McKee’s appearance and the post-screening Q&A was a pretentious, tedious affair. When he wasn’t whining about supposed “technical difficulties” or bemoaning the “debacle” that was his involvement in Jack Ketchum’s Red, he was answering boring, cliched questions from every hipster douchebag that could pull himself (or herself) away from his/her latest filmic magnum opus.  Luster was a tight little film that had all the makings of a “must add this to my DVD collection” movie…until the ending, which was so shockingly bad that it ruined everything that had come before. And due to a an error on the projectionist’s part, The Beast Pageant picked up for our viewing 20 minutes into the film, ended, and restarted…and no one noticed. We chalked it up to a narrative choice by the director until one of the BUFF organizers came in and apologized profusely. Not that any of us were overly upset – the film was a David Lynch rip-off and gave us all the excuse to grab dinner before seeing better films.

But overall, BUFF was a blast. Eight days of pure pleasure for one who loves Film. A powerhouse lineup that had me feeling a bit sad when all was over. After all, it would be another year before I would be able to get my fix. And I can honestly say I have NO idea how 2012 will be able to top this year’s festival. For those of you who live close to Boston, I’d tell you to keep the end of March open and make it a point to keep eyes and ears open for next year’s festival. Your diligence will be rewarded. For those of you who may live in or near another city, I’d encourage you to track down your own version of BUFF. These festivals are something special. They offer films will most likely never get a wide theatrical release, which is often a shame. They are the types of movies that Hollywood will never  – could never – make. And they are well worth your time. You may find yourself offended, upset, horrified, amused…but never bored. You might even leave the theater entertained. And that, dear reader, would be a Good Thing.

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On buying a new car

Posted by @ 2:06 PM on Apr 8, 2011

It’s amazing what one learns when they research into buying a car.

There’s sticker invoice price, MSRP, and the real price the dealer pays.

There are various websites, like Edmunds.com on the internet which offer a statistic known as True Market Value. The True Market Value is the average price people in your area have purchased the car for. In some cases this is lower than the printed sticker invoice price. How is this possible?

If you’re thinking about buying a car, do lots of research. Lots and lots of research, not just on the car you want, how much people have paid for it, how to negotiate for it, what tricks car dealers can legally use to inflate the price.

What exactly is dealer prep? In many cases it’s just removing the plastic off the seats, vacuuming the inside and attaching your license plates. Takes a couple hours at most. If the dealer prep fee is $500 you just paid $250 an hour for those minor tasks. In this modern day of electronic information transfer, is the price paid for filing fees really covering the effort to file your title or financing? Should you, the car buyer, pay the dealer for the money they spent to advertise the cars on their lot? Come prepared, bring along your credit history. Bring along online quotes for the car you’re interested in. Bring along estimated values of your trade in.

I’ve come across many recommendations that you should attempt to negotiate the price of the car to 5% over the real dealer cost. Before you can determine the real dealer cost you need to learn if there are any Factory to Dealer Incentives and how much Factory Holdback there is on your car.  Factory to Dealer Incentives is money paid to the dealer by the factory when the car is sold. Factory Holdback (generally 2-3%) is the amount extra charged the dealer by the factory which is then paid back to the dealer after the car is sold. So the Factory to Dealer Incentives and Factory Holdback are really money that the dealer makes on top of what they sell your car for.

So in equation format: Dealer’s Actual Cost = (Invoice Price – Factory to Dealer Incentives – Factory Holdback).

This moves your offer to being Dealer’s Actual Cost + 5%

Not every dealer will publish those values, some will pretend that you’re crazy for even asking about them. Walk away from those dealers.

Remember when you’re buying a car. Until you sign something you can always walk away.

Websites where the information above has come from:

Using the tactics above I recently purchased a new vehicle. In fact just coming armed with the information above lead my sales rep to avoiding discussing those items.

There was a heavy push on the after sale items – additional warranties, paint coating, but I held firm.

The last tip I can offer, arrive at the dealership knowing your credit score and how much local banks will pre-qualify you on an autoloan. My credit score is nearly 800 and the dealership tried to get me to accept a 7.5% interest rate on a loan. Since my bank pre-approved me a 2.99% (for the same number of months) the dealership was forced to either offer me a better interest rate, or risk me walking off the lot. In the end they offered me 2.94% and I drove off the lot with my new Ford Fiesta.

Good hunting!

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Batsu (罰)

Posted by @ 3:03 AM on Apr 6, 2011

The Three Stooges are legends of comedy. They were and will forever be hi-fucking-larious. I loved them when I was three, I still love them in my thirties. The same can be said for my father, my grandfathers, and just about every person with a dick that I’ve ever met (note: ownership of a dick is assumed, rarely have I personally confirmed these assumptions) has had a fondness and an innate understanding of the funny the Stooges provide. In contrast just about every person with a vagina that I’ve ever met (usually assumed, sometimes confirmed) has an incredibly strong dislike for the Stooges. Attempts to understand why through calm, level-headed discourse has often led to dismemberment of one or more parties of said discourse. I don’t get it. Apparently the funny bone that comes standard on the female models lacks the optional Stooge functionality that is standard on all male models.

The Stooges are one of the most polarizing subjects between the sexes. I believe I have found the current-day equivalent. And so I will inaugurate myself to Team Dick by introducing to those of you with dicks (I do not need to confirm ownership of a dick, I will gladly take your word for it) a modern-day comedic conundrum that will polarize the sexes as much as it will make you laugh so hard your dick will hurt (but it’s a good hurt).

Batsu” (罰) is a Japanese word that means punishment. A “Batsu game” (罰ゲーム) is a game in which the loser or losers of the game suffer some form of punishment. Batsu game television shows are quite popular in Japanese television and, thanks to the power of YouTube, the rest of the world can now enjoy them as well. Below is a clip from a particularly epic batsu game.

In the above video, gentlemen are asked to name off things from a specific category. If they fail to name a thing off when it is their turn they get viciously slapped in the balls by a “chinko” (ちんこ) machine. Chinko is, of course, Japanese for penis. And it (the video) is fucking funny. So is the word “chinko”. And so is “chinopokomon“, a Pokémon spoof in South Park that translates to “penis monster”. Look for our Japanese blog partners, Team Chinko, in the coming months.

However the aim of my inaugural blog on Team Dick is not to simply introduce you to batsu games, it is to introduce you to, the legends, the Stooges, of Japan.

Continued on the inside…

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