Saturday, October 6, 2012

How I Made an Ass of Myself in front of a Four-Time BSFA Winner

It's Sukkot again, and you know what that means. That's right, once again it is time for the Icon sci-fi and fantasy festival(s) at (and just next to) the Tel-Aviv Cinematheque! Among other events, last Wednesday I've attended a screening of The Prestige, which followed a discussion panel about magic, literature and cinema with British sci-fi author Christopher Priest and some douchey "psychological mentalist" whom I never really liked and now seriously despise (let's call him Nimmy, for he is now my arch-nemesis). As expected, the brilliant Mr. Priest was an absolute delight to behold when speaking, which unfortunately he didn't get do do much of, since Nimmy is one of those awful, awful people who are way too in love with the sound of their own voice to let anyone else talk in their presence. This joke of a performer then proceeded to perform a feat of so-called mentalism, which included tricking me into nodding my head slightly when asked to confirm that a specific word was in fact scribbled onto a small piece of paper, shown to me only briefly in a darkened room. Apparently psychological mentalism is just like magic, only stripped of all its style, showmanship and skill requirements, making it not much more than the art of being a good liar. Anyway, all that awful business was quickly forgotten once the screening and subsequent short Q&A session ended, and I have somehow mustered enough courage to approach Mr. Priest and nervously ask him to sign my old Hebrew copy of The Inverted World, using my usual combination of a nearly inaudible voice, a terrible accent and a stutter. Not only did he seem perfectly happy to sign it for me, he even offered to add a dedication and asked for my name! I repeat: for a few seconds in time, Christopher Priest, celebrated author of The Inverted World, The Space Machine, The Prestige and The Extremes actually knew and committed to paper my very own first name! And I even got a nice, firm handshake, followed by a wonderfully awkward series of reciprocal thank-you's! Mr. Priest, you are a gentleman and an absolute sweetheart, and I am never going to wash my right hand again, except maybe after using the bathroom, and before eating, and possibly if it gets too dirty, but other than that I'm going to leave it just as you had left it, covered with the shiny film of your mighty literary awesomeness.

The Inverted World by Christopher Priest, printed in Israel in 1980.

I'm totally saving the pen he used in an airtight plastic bag for all eternity.

The other movies I've seen for far at Icon TLV are as follows:

  • Safety not Guaranteed, a very cool indie comedy about some dork who thinks he can time travel and save some hot chick who was nice to him once, starring the amazing Aubrey Plaza and that guy from The League.
  • A Fantastic Fear of Everything, a hilariously dark comedy directed by Crispian Mills (of Kula Shaker fame) in which the mildly annoying Simon Pegg plays a children's author who suffers from a life debilitating phobia of laundromats, and also of 19th century serial killers.
  • Dead Shadows, a French horror/sci-fi movie about an asteroid that turns French people into freaky tentacle monsters. I didn't really care much for any of the characters in the movie, but the body horror effects were definitely worth the price of admission.

Aubrey Plaza is as pretty as an extremely pretty young woman.

Finally, this Monday I'm going to attend a screening of Antiviral, Brandon Cronenberg's first feature film, which he will attend himself. And oh yeah, apparently some dude is going to sit right next to me, as I have just found out on the ticket website. Fucking great. Not creepy at all, strange dude. Not creepy at all.

Please be a girl, please be a girl, please be a girl

Oh, and that other Icon festival, the one that isn't Icon TLV and takes place at the high school behind the cinematheque? Well, I did pay it a couple of quick visits, but since I much prefer sitting by myself in a dark room and staring into a big screen than actually interacting with my fellow geeks, it isn't really my thing. I will say this though: if you like them cute, pale and underage, the other Icon festival is definitely the place to be.

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