Monday, December 21, 2015

4DK's Year in Review

Any hypothetical person who tried to keep track of all of this blog's various offshoots and adjunct projects could be forgiven for suffering a kind of 4DK fatigue. That is why I have decided to give you a handy rundown of this year's highlights. Here's hoping that I have, by this effort, at least slowed the process of you becoming a glassy eyed automaton that hates me.

FUNKY BOLLYWOOD: For me, the highlight of 2015 was the publication of my book Funky Bollywood: The Wild World of 1970s Indian Action Cinema, which was released by England's venerable FAB Press on March 15th. Sales of the book were healthy and the reviews positive, but for me the best part of being a published author was the in-store events at which I was able to meet readers, answer their questions and hear their comments. The Q & A sessions at these events were lively to say the least, and I probably ended up learning as much or more from them than the audience did. This is as true for the book launch at San Francisco's Lost Weekend Video as it was for my signing at Folio Books. But my favorite event by far was the one held at the Digital Gym Cinema in San Diego, the recording of which was released as an episode of interviewer Miguel Rodriguez's Horrible Imaginings podcast. (The less said about my talk at the SF Public Library, the better.)

POP OFFENSIVE: In 2015, Pop Offensive, a show that had originated as something of a lark, entered its second year of regular monthly episodes--and with that accumulated experience came the confidence to mess with the format a little. This resulted in theme episodes like our characteristically effervescent tributes to girl groups and Bollywood, as well as a Halloween episode that managed the unlikely juxtaposition of songs by Johnny Cash, Throbbing Gristle, and Kylie Minogue. 2015 was also the year that Pop Offensive transitioned from being an internet radio show only and hit the airwaves proper. Of course, this was a boon only to people living within a stone's throw of Oakland's Lake Merritt, who can now, thanks to our mighty 100 watt signal, listen to the show on KGPC, 96.9 FM.

THE 4DK MONTHLY MOVIE SHOUT DOWN: This 4DK sponsored movie Tweet-along continued to be a source of rigorously pointless amusement in 2015, with highlights that included two installments each from the Starman and Kommisar X franchises, as well as the Filmark produced robo-wreck Devil's Dynamite. As in 2014, @lowdudgeon, @avantgardea and @culturalgutter continued to be MVPs, displaying unfailing wit in the face of even the most dispiriting cinematic washouts.

TAIWAN NOIR: The best thing about co-hosting the Taiwan Noir podcast is that its host, Podcast on Fire's Ken Brorsson, has such a clear vision of where he wants the show to go--and such a sure hand in guiding it there--that I feel like all I have to do is show up and shoot the shit. Given the easy repartee that Ken and I have developed over the course of twelve episodes, that is something that is very easy and fun to do. Some of our most enjoyable episodes this year have been love fests in which we showered praise upon some of our favorites--which, of course, included crazy, effects-driven fantasy films like Feng Shen Bang, Taiwanese kaiju War God, and, in our most recent episode, The Child of Peach

THE INFERNAL BRAINS: Sadly, Tars Tarkas and I were only able to squeeze out two episodes of the Infernal Brains podcast this year. Happily, they were both doozies, including our "Space Ladies from Outer Space" episode--featuring guest Carol Borden of The Cultural Gutter--which is surely among our best and most popular ever.  We also gave a typically thorough going-over to Cat Beast, a squalling Pakistani monster/superhero mash-up that appears to have been edited by a garbage disposal and scored by an air raid siren. Our plan is to be more prolific in the new year, a goal which, given this year's meager showing, seems like it should be reasonably attainable.

FIGHTING FEMMES, FIENDS, AND FANATICS: Despite being out of production for just over two years, this video series continues to ratchet up viewers on its YouTube Channel and likes on its Facebook page. And it's no wonder, because it's a great series, one of my proudest accomplishments during my career as a guy talking about weird movies on the Internet.

TELEPORT CITY: After coasting on my backlog of reviews for a good while, I finally got off my butt in 2015 and contributed some new content to Teleport City, writing a review of the Australian superhero farce The Return of Captain Invincible and an overview of Egyptian popular cinema's golden age. I intend to contribute more in 2016 so that I may credibly continue to claim that I write for the best cult film website on the Internet.

4DK: I reviewed 17 films on 4DK this year. This assortment was the usual mixed bag, consisting of gems that I recommended unabashedly (Cairo Station, Having a Wild Weekend, Ana Antar, La Guerrera Vengadora 2) road apples that were only of interest as cultural oddities (the loathsome apartheid-era South African thriller Terrorist) and those that simply had to be seen to be believed (2016). Along the way, I checked in with some old friends (KSR Doss, Armando Bo and Isabel Sarli, Farid Chawki) and said goodbye to some others (Patrick Macnee). I even found time to ruminate on the role of language in film and my continuing habit of watching unsubtitled foreign movies. All the while I was thankful to have found this bizarre calling and to have appreciative readers like yourselves to make it all worthwhile.

OH, AND because I still didn't feel like I was doing quite enough, I followed my 18-year-old nephew's example and got a Band Camp account, then proceeded to make a couple of my long buried musical endeavors available online. One of them is a sort of "best of" compilation of my solo work from the aughts. The other is a frequently requested live recording of my old band B Team's final show, which took place at Wolfgang's in San Francisco in July of 1983. 1983! True, you only have my sincerest assurances that neither of these suck to go on, but, when living dangerously only costs five bucks a pop, why not just take the chance?

As for what lies ahead, as blasé as a prediction of "more of the same" might sound, it is in my case an exciting prospect. Given how much I have enjoyed all of the above activities, another year like 2015 would be welcome.

Happy holidays, everyone.

No comments: