Thursday, September 18, 2014

Production Blog 2: Halloween Special

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Since we won't be filming the next half of the special until the weekend, I decided to begin cutting the footage we've already shot. I always find an insane amount of joy in watching the raw footage back while editing, it's one of the more enjoyable phases of the process.

Although, even basking in this glorious almost-Autumn weather hasn't been enough to rescue me from feeling a bit distraught. The excitement of Halloween has not yet fully hit me yet because this mammoth undertaking IS A LOT OF DAMN WORK!

I blame myself.

Honestly - writing, "acting," filming, and editing are aspects I certainly adore, but they're all a free-time leech, and prove to be a major distraction from being able to fully enjoy the early part of the Halloween season. By time the season is in full swing, I'm beat up from lack of sleep because I've been editing for weeks and staying up until 2am and then waking up at 5am for work. When Halloween is over, I look back and have no idea where it all went. One of these days I just want to sit back and take it all in. Maybe I'll start recording the special in the spring time? Nah. It just wouldn't feel right.

Like so many of you, Halloween inspires me. The span of September 1st all the way until October's big 3-1 is one huge overload on my brain. I can't even reign in all the ideas I have, nor could I possibly ever execute all the trips, blog posts, and videos that I have on deck. There's just not enough time, especially when one is biting off more than he can chew with a full time job, trying to blog, AND creating a Halloween special for YouTube.

I'm sure there were many people out there who probably watched our last two specials and got nauseated, but I am not here to beat them into submission and staple their eyelids open to watch our ridiculous YouTube video. I'm appreciative and happy about those out there who genuinely enjoy them and plainly see in them the obvious outpouring of love that I have for Halloween, horror films, and pop culture in general. All 3 of those things have literally consumed my entire life, and so has making videos.

For those of you who read blogs in our circles and elsewhere and see the term "labor of love," well, I can tell you for damn sure that that is a real thing.

A crazy expensive professional video camera was first placed in my hand when I was 8 or 9 years old...in the '80s. This thing was GIGANTIC and HEAVY. Seeing a similar reference on The Goldbergs last season was surreal. I'm sure there were others who felt the same way, but I said to myself "Holy shit, that was me!" Hauling around what felt like a 90 pound video camera on my shoulders interviewing family members, recording backyard wrestling events, and acting out movie scenes was common content found on a blank VHS tape at our house. That stuff never stopped, it just evolved. Next it was 8-millimeter, digital cams, and transitioning from old school editing on decks to editing right on the computer, it's been a long journey.

So, to bring that all together, what I'm saying is, as wacky as our videos might be, they actually represent the culmination of many years of passion for horror, comedy, screenwriting, editing, and amateur filmmaking.

Enough of this schmaltzy B.S! Onto the actual production update!

As I mentioned in the first production update, I enjoy the editing process immensely. While the rest of my productions are usually created in a slightly haphazard way, the editing is very methodical.

For only the first half of scenes, we had over 90 minutes of footage. That's deceiving though, because a large chunk of this is raw footage for the intro credits. To clue you in, I've dwindled this all down to 28 minutes, but we have another 2-3 days of filming left. My hope is never make these specials longer than 15 minutes, but it's a major challenge to tell a story properly in such a quick amount of time. I'm hoping this special will be in the range of 15-20 minutes max. If it's more, I'm going to get cranky. Since this is our 3rd special, I owe it to myself to not rush the story and make it the best it can be. Who knows, maybe it will be the best one we've done so far. What I can tell you is that we have some super special cameos that are really icing on the cake.

I can also add that for every tense moment during filming there's about 5 or 6 that make us all laugh and prohibit us from continuing for a few minutes. This type of absurdity has already given us about 5 minutes of outtakes that I really wanted to weave in during the credits, but we shall see how long the film itself is. If the run time is already 20 minutes, I'm going to have to make a separate outtake reel and upload that on it's own.

Another thing I've noticed as I look back on this footage is that I am certainly not Stanley Kubrick, but I just wind up acting like him when we're making these specials. During filming I have no idea that I become a total dick, but it's like I'm possessed. I think I said "let's do it one more time," about 67 times in the first half of footage. Plus that makes editing that much more grueling because for a 3 word sentence I'll have 43 takes filmed. Talk about driving myself mad!

I'm hoping to have all the filming in the can by Monday, save for a few little bits of the intro and a few other very minor details. Once I load that footage in, I'll begin the second phase of editing. Time-wise we seem to be pretty much on target. Thanks for reading and come back again soon to track our progress!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Production Blog 1: Halloween Special 2014

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You might be wondering how I could have the audacity to start a Halloween countdown and then not post a damn thing for a week? Trust me, there's a good reason, and it's well worth it!

Thanks for baring with me folks. We're about halfway into production of The Sexy Armpit Halloween Special 2014! This is our 3rd Halloween special and to make it even remotely entertaining (and I use that term loosely) we have to put a lot of thought and actual hard work into it. Since I've had to turn my attention away from the Halloween countdown in favor of our annual Halloween video extravaganza, I figured, why not present you some inside info about it right here on the blog?

Although I consider the content of these specials to be a complete farce, I still infuse them with the utmost care and attention to detail. Ahh yes, details...that's where Mike (@IdiotAtPlay) comes in. He's always our continuity expert. Of course, we'll still have one or two minor flubs in that department, but it's no fault of his. This is multiple levels below even a Troma level of production, so keep that in mind. A few pumpkin beers and everything's thrown out the window!

As I mentioned, we're about halfway through filming and things are going well. The second half of filming will continue later this month, and that will contain more arduous scenes in terms of dialogue, props, and "scenery." While I enjoy the process of directing and "acting," they are my least favorite part of all this.

Having gone through so many film and acting classes, it became apparent to me over the years that I gain the most enjoyment out of two facets of the filmmaking process. I have an affinity for scriptwriting, but editing is my strong suit and it's what I have the most passion for. So, I'm definitely anxious to start editing. Matter of fact, I may begin loading the footage we've already shot and dive right in to get a jump on things.

As for a premiere date, unfortunately, it's still too early to tell, but I'll be announcing one soon. Once we get the rest of the filming is complete, I'll have a better idea of when it will hit the YouTubes. It will obviously be sometime in October. Typically, I aim for early to mid-month, so stay tuned!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Halloween Countdown 2014, Halloween A-Z

Velcome to Castle Sexy Armpit! Just changing that W to a V made a world of difference, and it's those little details that have completely transformed The Sexy Armpit into a virtual house or horrors, a terrifying realm of text in tribute to our favorite time of the entire year, HALLOWEEN!


For the past several years, The Sexy Armpit has taken on Halloween motifs that were parodies of stuff like famous horror film posters, and band themes like The Misfits. We continue the tradition with the parody you see above. This header is inspired by a brochure advertising the greatest haunted attraction of all time, Castle Dracula.

Castle Dracula is legendary among those of us who frequented the Wildwood boardwalk as kids. Although it burned down so long ago, it still lives on via the Internet. It's been paid tribute many times by Matt from Dinosaur Dracula. He's also gone on record to state  that "Last year's Halloween season was one of the best ever," and I am in full agreement with him. I'm not sure if 2014 will be able to surpass 2013, especially when the actual year number was an eerie one itself. Just from a commentator's perspective, 2014 is going to have to pull off a big swerve to reach the haunted heights of last year.

So, the Halloween Countdown 2014 is on! On the horizon is our 2014 Halloween special which is categorized as "in production" as we speak.

It's all a bit overwhelming for me. My brain is absolutely flooded with ideas. What will my costume be, will I have to drive all over creation to find the limited edition crap? It's all about antici---PATION. My mind is racing with all the cool Halloween stuff, products, food gimmicks, events, attractions, costume parties, etc. We wait for it all year and then it just creeps up on us and BAM it's officially here and I feel like I can't possibly be ready. Glad this thing starts September 1st, otherwise it would be over with a snap of a monstrous finger.

There's a moat around Sexy Armpit Castle, we'll call it Crystal Lake, and we're diving right in. The lake of course, is made of Ghoul-Aid, hopefully laced with some psychedelics.

So it's here, we're living it right now. It seems like everyone else is ready, while I feel ill prepared. It's like those dreams that you show up late to class on a test day without studying for it. Well, that's me right now and I'm in that Amazing Stories episode "Go to the Head of the Class" with Professor Beanes.


Every year I typically kick off The Sexy Armpit's side of the Halloween countdown with a recap of the best posts of the previous years countdown. Since the blog is in it's 10th year, I'm going to do it a little differently this time. Although I haven't been doing the countdown for 10 years, I've still accumulated so many posts that I feel are worthy enough to present to you once again, especially since you may be new to the site. These are posts that include personal stories from life events, movies, attractions, trivia, monsters, and a homemade comic book among other things. Do a little digging and maybe you'll unearth something spine tingling.

To get A through Z, I had to do some finagling to get it to work out. You'll notice some repeats, for instance, it felt like I had 23 "H" entries and there could've been at least half of these starting with "S." And you'll also notice THAT I HAVE AN ENTRY FOR Q and Z! Hell yes.



































Sunday, August 24, 2014

Food Truckin', Comic Shoppin', and Antiquin'


After I heard about Just Jersey Fest, a gathering of food trucks coming to Randolph, NJ a couple of weeks back, I figured it might be a fun Sexy Armpit excursion. Food trucks have been enjoying a wave of popularity, especially in cities. I've really had no experience with food trucks, unless you want to count the ice cream man who I bought WWF Ice Cream bars from nearly 5 days a week for the span of 4 years in my early teens. Other than that, I've never eaten food that I purchased from a truck. I never really felt like I was missing out on anything either, but to have the option of sampling from ALL of them in one place seemed appealing to me since I don't live in an area with many food truck appearances.

I wasn't going into this one alone. I coerced friend, author, and co-star of the Sexy Armpit Show, Michael Gary Wirth aka @IdiotAtPlay, and his wife into going. We hopped in the car and headed up Route 287 on a super hot and sunny Saturday.

What started as your typical trip to eat at food trucks snowballed into an extensive trek up and down the Garden State searching for comic stores and ending with a brilliant finale: an unexpected drop-in to the most enormous and well stocked antique store of all time.


First, simply put, Just Jersey Fest was a big wide open lot that had a crazy amount of locally based food trucks parked around the perimeter. No false advertising here: there was a bunch food trucks, a DJ playing an odd array of oldies mixed with tunes you might here at The Colorado Cafe, and tons of people milling around, indecisive about what they should eat. What a perplexing situation. What altered my decision was how long the lines were at each truck. As a personal rule, I prefer not to stand in hideously long lines in the blazing hot sun. I melt very easily.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but judging by the unique and often one of a kind cuisine that many food trucks are offering nowadays, my bar was set pretty high. Judging by some of these Food Network shows, it's apparent that every food truck has to have their own special gimmick or they won't last. Since I adore gimmicks, the idea of food trucks appealed to me, and I was pretty geared up to think that we were in for some real treats. Sometimes, my positivity is my weakness, and my friends faith in me is theirs. Sounded clunky, but those shrewd enough might extrapolate the Emperor Palpatine reference buried in there. Regardless, I've been bandying around the word extrapolate like I'm 6 years old and I just started working "shit" into my diatribes about how Drake's Devil Dogs would get stuck to my teeth and the roof of my mouth.

My first mission was to tour around the lot to make sure I knew each and every option I had to choose from. After my stroll, I was convinced there was nothing enticing me. I really wanted to be lured onto a line by a delicious odor or seduced by a superbly crafted stock photo of a shellacked empanada. As always, Mike and his wife were enthusiastic about the whole ordeal and they found a couple of trucks that had selections they wanted to try.

Mike went with a Cajun truck, one that I had mentioned sounded halfway decent moments earlier, but for some reason I opted for the Colombian food truck. I regretted not going with my first instinct. Always go with your first instinct no matter how impulsive - even if your first instinct is to order the 400-piece wing platter next time you're at Hooters. Not sure if that exists, but you can ask Mandy, your waitress. Make sure she brings you extra napkins.

Lauren got sticky rice from a Thai truck, which, unbeknownst to me, is a freaking dessert! Rice for dessert? I had no clue. I've heard of rice pudding, but this thing looked like fancy dessert sushi. Sing this to the tune of Iggy Azalea's "Fancy": "I'm not fancy, I didn't even kno-ow, that stick-y rice was an actual thing you can order for a Thai food truck." See, it actually works, but you might have to jam those last 15 words together pretty fast to get it to sound right. Where there's a will, there's a way people!

You can check out more on our food truck cuisine sampling in the video above, but I will tell you a little bit about the fries. Affectionately referred to as Disco Fries, (at least here in New Jersey) they are known to the rest of the country (apparently) as New Jersey Poutine. I don't know what the F poutine is, but I think Paxton Holley likes it. Disco Fries aren't fries soaked in the sweat that has dripped onto the dance floor, nor are they possessed by the spirit of Barry F'n Gibb, but they are staples of a New Jersey diner menu. Freaking French Fries doused with gravy and melted mozzarella cheese.

We placed an order for Disco Fries at Romano's Fries Truck, a truck who has an exclusive deal with C&C Cola. Depending on where you're from you may have never heard of this soda, but it was always a reasonable alternative to the mainstream soft drinks in the grocery store. That didn't swerve my opinion on this truck though. We waited patiently for what felt like 14 years for these stupid fries. Minus the exaggeration and I think we waited nearly 30 minutes, no joke. These were fries we were waiting for mind you, not a sizzling Kobe strip steak cooked to perfection. Finally, we received the equivalent of the fries you might get at the snack bar at your nephews Little League game, but drizzled with a little bit of gravy and some cheese. Meh. Nothing beats an NJ diner for these.

The ice pops were by far my favorite selection and the only thing I gravitated to immediately. Peace. Love. POPS are all natural, handcrafted ice pops made in New Jersey. The creative flavors are so dead on balls accurate and refreshing that I am 100% recommending that you try them if you are ever in the North Jersey area. Their cart is often seen around the streets of Hoboken. The pops are little pricey, but it's worth it. Considering the care that is taken in their preparation and the fact that a good chunk of the money you pay for one goes to charity, these ice pops are well worth the purchase. Eventually the company wants to get these into a few local supermarkets and I hope they succeed! Check out their official Facebook page at this link.

A list of flavor options were detailed on their chalk board. The decision was easy for me. Without hesitation I chose Honeydew Ginger Mint because I love honeydew and mint, but F the ginger. Mike and Lauren got the Pineapple Mojito and Strawberry Lemonade. All of these were awesome. You can watch us inhale them in the video. They hit the spot on a hot, swamp-assy Saturday.

We just about had our fill with the food truck fest and we decided we still had some motivation left in the tank. "Why don't we see if there's any comic book stores around here?" Lauren said, and we concurred that it was a great idea. Sitting in the back of the Mikemobile, I started searching on my phone for the zip codes of each town we passed through to cross check them on the comic locator site. God, that might be the geekiest sentence I've written in 10 years of this blog.

In total, we stopped at 3 comic book shops, all of which I'd never been to before. Now we are entering critical territory because this damn post should really be two parts, but I wouldn't do that to you...the waiting is the hardest part so said Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. F*ck it, let the Comic Book Store Tour commence!

I am always supportive of local stores and independent business, but I've been wrapped up in Comixology since day one because I wanted in on digital comics in a bad way, mostly because of the lack of storage space in my condo. Don't get me wrong, I still own all the comics I've had since I was a kid, but I have no need for physical comics anymore. Plus, I am crazy about the guided reading style of the digital format. If you've never experienced it, try it out, I think you'll dig it.

Our first stop was literally across the street from the food truck fest. All in One Collectibles in Randolph was filled with tables with some hardcore gaming going down. The large shop was stocked with 9 million Heroclix, comics, a few toys, and a ton of sports and non-sports trading cards. I was getting antsy. Onto the next one.

Next stop: Madison, NJ, a quaint, movie-set type town where we arrived at Dewey's Comic City. The interior was nice and it was like the Barnes and Noble of comic shops, only smaller. It was neatly filled to the brim with every type of comic and graphic novel you can think of. The concentration was on new releases rather than old, but they still had a sizable collection of back issues as well as some random collectibles and t-shirts.

I think Mike saved the best for last. He hinted earlier that we should go to COMIC FORTRESS in Somerville, NJ and I was game. I always say YES to going anywhere that has Fortress in it's name (i.e Fortress of Fangs, Fortress of Steele.) This place was seriously as incredible as Mike mentioned, (read Stop #6 on his Free Comic Book Day Tour log.) Not only do they have quite a huge selection of comics stocked on the shelves, but they also have the largest inventory of DC and Marvel statues, busts, and action figure collector sets that I've ever seen in a comic/collectible shop. If it was the early '90s I'd probably be begging my Dad to bring me to this vast emporium every week after we made our stop at Steve's Comic Relief.

I'm proud of myself. As much as I was tempted, I bought nothing all day except 2 giant sized Red Bulls.

As if all the previous excitement on this day wasn't enough, I didn't think it could get any more fantastical, but, IT DID! We inadvertently extended our little adventure even more. While walking back to the car we stumbled upon the Somerville Antique store. This place pulled me in like I was in a tractor beam. With zero expectations of the enchanted land of tchotchkes, we entered. Before us was the most insanely huge antique store I've ever set foot in. Two expansive floors with nooks and crannies of non-stop antique absurdity.

If I described all of what I saw at the antique store we'd be here for another 37 paragraphs and I don't want to do that to you. It would be a violation of common decency. To see the contents of this wondrous, albeit pricey place, go watch the video! 
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