Friday, October 29, 2004
To the left (above) is the brand new teaser poster from the new Star Wars film 'Revenge of the Sith" (in theaters May 19, 2005). To the right (above) is the teaser poster from 'The Phantom Menace' that some of you may remember. That TPM poster is one of my favorite movie posters ever. The new ROTS poster is definitely more menacing, but TPM is, by far, more haunting.
Films Recently Watched:
Mr. Deeds Goes To Town (1936) dir. by Frank Capra
Gary Cooper is Longfellow Deeds in this film about a simple man from the small town of Mandrake Falls, Vermont, who inherits a sum of $20 million dollars only to acquire the unwanted turmoil brought on by wealth.
Deeds says something simple, yet profound that stuck with me, he says, "People here are funny. They work so hard at living they forget how to live." Which reminded me of something my friend, Brian, had to say recently over at his blog; "Stillness will not allow itself to be found in a world where the acquisition and maintenance of wealth require constant vigil." Deeds quotes Henry David Thoreau in this film when looking at the New York skyline he says, "I got to thinking about what Thoreau said. 'They created a lot of grand palaces here, but they forgot to create the noblemen to put in them.' I'd rather have Mandrake Falls." Thoreau also wrote, "It is not enough to be busy...the question is: what are we busy about?" And it all goes back to scripture (of course): in Luke 12:15, Jesus says, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Brian, I hope you feel that I've put you in good company, Capra, Thoreau, and God.
This film succeeds at both being a good romantic comedy as well as driving its point home clearly without compromise.
School of Rock (2003) dir. by Richard Linklater
Better than expected. I was hesitant on this one mainly because it starred Jack Black, but I heard enough good comments about it that I decided to give it a try. Jack Black stars as a rock star wannabe/slacker who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a classy prep-school. He eventually tries to turn his class of 10 and 11 year olds into a rock band, complete with groupies, manager, etc. and enter the group into the local "Battle of the Bands." This is not to be confused with Mr. Holland's Opus, but it works as a vehicle for Black's antics without allowing him to go completely over the top (OK, he's over the top on occasion). You didn't see this one up for the Academy's "best picture" for a reason, but the film is, for lack of a better word, "funny & sweet." (I know . . . it's two words, give me a break!)
Fallen (1998) dir. by Gregory Hoblit
My Sister has been hounding me for a year or more to watch this film. Denzel Washington is as good as ever in this supernatural thriller. With a supporting cast including John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, James Gandolfini, and Embeth Davidtz, I think this film succeeds at what it tries to do. I enjoyed it for what it is. I can't help but wonder, though, how much Jerry Ragovoy and his publisher got paid from this film and subsequent video/DVD releases. (Jerry Ragovoy is the writer of the song, "Time Is On My Side," used prominently throughout this film.)
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The Political Dr. Seuss
From his early cartoons, to some of his most revered "children's" stories, Dr. Seuss made plenty of political statements, some by which you may be surprised.
Check link for local broadcast dates and times. For my local PBS stations, this show airs tonight, Thursday, and Sunday. At least for me, this is airing late at night (10:30p/12:30a/3:00a), so you may need to set your VCR/PVR to watch it at a more convenient time.
Thanks to The Sneeze for making me aware of this.
Monday, October 25, 2004
Autumn Party #3 was with our Sunday School Class. We were supposed to be outside at somebody's house, but were relocated to the church after it rained all day Saturday.
I must admit that at the party Saturday night, we were a little out of our element. I'm 30 years old now and Christy is, well, ~ahem~ not yet 30. I doubt that there was anybody else at the party younger than 40 (except for Hannah and a few grandkids). They played a couple of games to identify photos of radio and television stars of the early days. I recognized Bob Hope, but that was about it. They also played a game where you were to match up old radio programs with their descriptions. I got "Little Orphan Annie," but, again, that was about it. Bill (Christy's Dad), I wish you'd been with us, we could have cleaned up on those radio programs! Regardless, good food, good people, good times. Several made specific efforts to make us feel welcome and I absolutely believe that we were welcome, just a little out of our element, like I said.
When we get to Sunday School on Sunday mornings, we never feel out of place. We learn from the teaching that happens there and enjoy hearing others' thoughts about the topic as well as expressing some of our own. We sampled several different classes recently when we were looking for a new class. We tried several that had young adults/young families, etc. None of those felt like the right fit for us. This older class just seemed like what we were looking for in terms of teaching.
Films Recently Watched:
Well, none, really.
Christy and Hannah had Annie (1982) on a little and Lady and The Tramp (1955) on a little, but I don't think anybody was able to sit down and watch them entirely.
I'm halfway through City of God (2002) and Touch of Evil (1958), but both are due back at the library tonight, so I won't be able to finish them.
Finally, for all you Star Wars fans, The Official Site has officially announced that the Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith teaser trailer will make its theatrical debut with the new Pixar film, The Incredibles, which opens Friday, November 5, 2004. Members of starwars.com's pay site, Hyperspace, get to see this trailer online beginning November 4, 2004. A friend from work is a Hyperspace subscriber, so I'm sure he'll be kind enough to let me see it on the 4th (right, Doug??).
Thursday, October 21, 2004
What?? No pictures. Well, no, not yet. That's the rest of the story, I'm afraid.
(see below for pictures added 11/04/2004)
I've had my Fuji digital camera for almost 3 years. I got it around Thanksgiving, 2001, knowing that Hannah would arrive sometime in early 2002. It's been a great camera for us. I really like the versatility that digital photography offers. I can delete bad shots instantly, easily print/develop only those shots that I want for an album, easily edit shots using user-friendly software, etc. However, yesterday, I turned the camera on to begin taking pictures and got a "FOCUS ERROR" and a flashing red light. Uh-Oh. Power off, power on, same. Remove batteries, replace batteries, same. Uh-Oh. This can't be good...
For the time being, I asked the parents of one of Hannah's friends if they would mind sharing some of their pictures by e-mail. They were kind enough to agree, so perhaps when I get those pictures, I'll update this post.
I am kind of in process about replacing our digital camera. I took our old one to Jack's Camera Shop in Muncie, hoping it might be something simple (yeah, right!) and they were willing to send it off to Fuji for a repair estimate, but that was going to be expensive too. I ended up purchasing a very early Christmas present for me, a Canon PowerShot S1 IS and am tinkering with it a little trying to decide whether or not to keep it. It has a lot of features that I really like. I'm still trying to determine if it is more camera than I need or will use. Hopefully I'll soon have some pictures to post from the new camera!
Films Watched Recently:
My Darling Clementine (1946) dir. by John Ford
This film tells the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, the town of Tombstone, and the shootout at the OK Corral. I like this and I am still enjoying Henry Fonda, but I have to admit that I'm partial to this story and these characters as they are portrayed in the film Tombstone (1993) starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.
Lastly . . .
Don't come here to get your news about sports, as I follow most sports from a distance. I try to keep up on how the Colts or Pacers are doing and who their latest coach is; I may check a score here or there if I see them playing, but that's about the extent of it. But, I must acknowledge the historical accomplishment of the Boston Red Sox last night.
I didn't see any of the first three games they played in this series (which were won by the Yankees). I was on the computer the night that game 4 was played, but had the game on in the other room, so I saw Boston win that one, but I also heard the know-it-alls after the game virtually dismissing that victory for Boston and indicating that for a team as strong as the Yankees having three more chances to win one more game, it was really just a matter of time. I didn't see any of games 5, 6, or 7, but heard this morning that the Red Sox won 4 in a row after being down 0-3, apparently, something that has never been done in baseball before.
Could the Curse of the Bambino finally be over?? We'll see.
[EDIT 11/04/2004] Added pictures - courtesy of Chad & Kim
Sunday, October 17, 2004
The first was on Saturday. Christy's work was hosting it at Grandmas and Grandpas Pumpkin and Gourd Patch, here in Anderson.
(click any of these small pictures for bigger versions)
Even though the event began at 4:30pm, I was running sound for a wedding at our church which also began at 4:30m. We didn't get there until close to 6:30 and it was already getting dark, so the first thing we did was had Hannah pick out which pumpkin she wanted from the pumpkin patch.
It wasn't terribly cold, but the wind sure gets going out in those Indiana fields, so we tried to dress for cold weather.
They were running a tractor with a wagon for hayrides, but we just missed the last trip. Hannah wasn't happy about that...
...but, they had marshmallows. Hannah was happy about that (as you can see)! They had the rest of the stuff for making s'mores. So Christy roasted a few and we had s'mores. They also had hot dogs, chips, drinks, etc.
Obligatory bonfire shot
All in all, a good time was had by all. It was very nice for Christy's work to give the opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. It would have been better if we'd gotten there a little earlier, but we've got three more opportunities to catch anything we missed this time.
Films Recently watched (a Christopher Reeve tribute):
Superman (1978) dir. by Richard Donner
Somewhere in Time (1980) dir. by Jeannot Szwarc
Saturday, October 16, 2004
This guy's idea (using small toy cars to appear life-size)
This guy's idea (making a Starship Enterprise out of a 3.5" floppy disk)
and, a legitimate shot of my effort...
And finally, for the few of you who don't enjoy watching me play with my toys, another recent picture of Hannah. . .
[EDIT: added link to Parking Spots for the one picture they added.]
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Duel (1971) dir. by Steven Spielberg
I caught some of this one on TV when I was a teenager. It is very engaging and I remember getting "sucked in" to the story. For seemingly no reason, a big-rig oil tanker decides to torment David Mann (played by Dennis Weaver) as he is trying to drive across the California desert. It begins as today's average case of what we now call "road rage" but ends up with Mann fighting for his life against this psychotic truck in a desperate game of cat and mouse (please forgive the lame cliché).
One fascinating aspect to this film is that Spielberg absolutely refuses to show us the driver of the truck. Is this a story of man vs. man or is it man vs. machine? We may see the driver's arm out the window or his boots under the truck, but who is this maniac driver and why is he trying to kill David Mann? Spielberg does an excellent job of putting us in Mann's head, providing his inner dialogue and shooting much of the time from Mann's point of view. Dennis Weaver also does an amazing job of helping us feel the moments of sheer panic and elated relief that his character goes through again and again.
If you can stand the suspense, I definitely recommend this. The new Collector's Edition DVD does justice to this film. The audio and video elements are clean and better than what you might expect from a 1971 film made for television. Also some nice bonus features on this including an interview with Steven Spielberg discussing this film.
For any fellow OAR (Original Aspect Ratio) advocates out there, because this film was made for American television, the correct aspect ratio of this film is approx. 1.33:1. That means that the image will fill a standard television screen. Duel was released theatrically in Europe and for that, it was expanded to 1.85:1, but it was filmed with a 1.33 frame in mind, so that is the correct way to view it.
(pointless funny trivia from imdb)
When Carey Loftin, the stunt man playing the truck driver, asked Spielberg what his motivation was for tormenting the car driver, Spielberg told him "You're a dirty, rotten, no-good son of a bitch." Loftin replied, "Kid, you hired the right man."
"Question: what is a VideoDisc player? was it a failed platform, ala Betamax???"
The short answer, of course is, "yes."
The long answer can be found HERE.
My answer follows immediately:
VideoDisc was a video format introduced (and then quickly axed) in the early 1980s. It wasn't a digital format, it didn't use a laser. It was more like a record player. The player used a stylus and the software had very fine grooves.
(Pat, does this mean that when you and Randy used to sing, "Lord, you are more groovy than records" to the tune of Lynn DeShazo's tune, "More Precious Than Silver," you actually should have been singing, "Lord, you are more groovy than VideoDiscs?")
Because the grooves were so small, they were much more prone to damage than a vinyl LP. So, they put the disc in a plastic sleeve, kind of like a 3 1/2" floppy disc. To put the disc in the player, you put the whole thing in, the player latched on to the inner disc, and then you pulled out the case. To take the disc out, or flip it over, you put the case back in around the disc and pulled the whole thing back out. No physical contact with the disc.
My understanding is that the format failed because of a relatively short play length (60 minutes max per side -- also the bane of Sony's Betamax), and because of the introduction of JVC's VHS format which could be used to play and record.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Sad news. Actor, Christopher Reeve died yesterday.
I remember my Dad bringing home a rented VideoDisc (not LaserDisc) player and several movies including Superman (1978). This was before we had a VCR. One of my first introductions to "Home Theater."
Christopher Reeve was an inspiration to me as the Superman when I was a child -- as an adult, he was an inspiration to me as an over comer of great adversity, a super man, indeed. He will be missed.
Films recently watched:
The English Patient (1996) dir. by Anthony Minghella
Definitely better than I remember it being from the first time I watched it, still not my favorite, but appreciated.
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) dir. by William A. Wellman
I'm really beginning to like the work of Henry Fonda. Not your typical Western, but that's why I liked this one.
Aladdin (1992) dir. by Ron Clements & John Musker
The new Platinum Edition DVD looks and sounds amazing! Despite my issues with the Disney of today (see post immediately preceding), they can sure put together a nice release for some (though not all) of their "crown jewels." Robin Williams excels in this one!
Friday, October 08, 2004
A Bug's Life
Toy Story 2
And Christy and I don't get out to movies very often, but we will definitely see Pixar's new film, The Incredibles shortly after it releases in theaters November 5, 2004.
Pixar and Disney are parting ways once their current deal is up, but Disney is retaining all rights (including Character and sequel rights) to the five films (Toy Story, Bug's Life, Monsters, Nemo, Incredibles, & Cars (2005) Toy Story 2 doesn't count due to being a sequel) that Pixar does while under the deal with Disney.
So Disney, headed by Michael Eisner (but hopefully not for long), is putting out these two new Toy Story films without Pixar. I have my doubts about how Disney will handle these treasured characters. Just look at their recent sequel attempts (Return to Neverland; Scamp's Adventure; Patch's London Adventure; The Return of Jafar; Belle's Enchanted Christmas, etc.) - not the best track record on sequels, in my opinion.
In this article, Eisner is saying that an enormous amount of computer-animated movies will spill forth from Hollywood in the next few years, but victory will boil down to story-telling and emotion, rather than just technology. This is exactly where Disney has fallen short in recent years. Pixar has the storytelling, emotion, & technology in spades. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up in the next few years.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
I am aware that most Metallica purists believe that the production of Bob Rock on this and subsequent albums killed Metallica, but I have a feeling that the production on this album is why I like it. I'll try to get my hands on "With Justice For All" or "Master of Puppets" to see what I think of those. I've seen the "St. Anger" DVD at the library too, so maybe I'll pick that up.
I've discovered since college that I really like rock music with a little bit of an edge, but can't deal with the foul language that often is a companion to these "edgy" bands. Anybody have suggestions on bands like this? I'm sure I'll face ridicule for this, but the only bands I've found that are kind of like this so far are: Creed, Fuel, Linkin Park, Nickelback, and now this Metallica Album from 1991. Suggestions? Comments?
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Peter Gabriel - 'Play' DVD
For the first time ever on DVD the video collection you've been waiting for. Featuring 23 videos, with fully restored visuals and amazing new 5.1 mixes by Peter and Daniel Lanois, and extras including three bonus videos (also with full 5.1 surround mixes). The 5.1 mixes are presented for the first time in a brand new DTS format that is at full 24bit/96khz surround for the ultimate audiophile experience and Play will be the first DVD to market with this new technology. In addition, Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Stereo soundtracks are provided for those of us without the latest and greatest equipment.
As if this wasn't enough each video has a short introduction with either "Making Of" footage and/or spoken introductions by Peter through the ages. Also there is an advanced programming feature that allows you to create you own playlist of up to 18 tracks, play it once or set it to loop forever!
The track list is as follows:
Blood Of Eden
Games Without Frontiers
I Don't Remember
In Your Eyes
Don't Give Up
The Barry Williams Show
Washing Of The Water
Kiss That Frog
Shaking The Tree
Shock The Monkey
Digging In The Dirt
Don't know release dates yet, but it should be good whenever it comes out.
Remember this post? You don't have to click the link, you can probably just scroll down a few posts. As I mentioned, I was thinking about trying to do one of these "forced perspective" photos. Well, I took several and submitted two to the website, Parking Spots and they put them up on their site!
Here are the two that got posted:
(click on the pictures to see them in context at Parking Spots)
(Please take note of Hannah's fine work on the decals)
These weren't as easy as I thought they would be. They're not hard, it just takes some practice to get everything right. The hardest part is not looking like a complete idiot while standing in a public parking lot while holding a child's toy and taking a picture!
Would love to see other readers here try their hand at this novel concept and share their results.
Monday, October 04, 2004
Sullivan's Travels (1941) dir. by Preston Sturges
The Lady Eve (1941) dir. by Preston Sturges
Regarding these first two, I was just discussing with Christy last night that, for quite some time, I thought the "romantic comedy" began with When Harry Met Sally... (or somewhere in the 80's, at least) but having watched several Cary Grant films, these Preston Sturges films, Charlie Chaplin's City Lights, etc., I've realized that not everything was created after I was born (shocking, I know). I regret that I spent most of the first 30 years of my life believing that the music & films of my parents' generation were below average (or worse, "stupid") compared with more modern versions. I'm beginning to see just the opposite. I hate it when I learn that a song or film that I know and have grown up with, which I believe is original, is actually a remake, a cover version of the actual original (and often superior) version.
What? Harrison Ford wasn't the original Fugitive??
What? Charlton Heston became a slave and defied Rome in Ben-Hur (which is, itself, a remake of the 1925 silent film) before Russell Crowe in Gladiator??
What? Burt Bacharach wrote and recorded "Always Something There to Remind Me" before Naked Eyes?
What? Steve Martin wasn't the original "Father of the Bride??"
What? Michael Caine actually pulled The Italian Job in Italy before Mark Wahlberg did it in (the slightly less obvious city of) Los Angeles??
And -- who were these people, Tommy James & The Shondells, and why are they ripping off Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now," Joan Jett's "Crimson and Clover," and Billy Idol's "Mony, Mony."
Our local library has been an excellent resource for feeding my need to learn about film. Admittedly, if I had to purchase or rent all of these DVDs, we'd either be in the poorhouse, or, more likely, I just be happily enjoying my collection of DVDs from the 80's, 90's and today.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) produced by Walt Disney
Stagecoach (1939) dir. by John Ford
Empire of the Sun (1987) dir. by Steven Spielberg
If you're interested there is a very interesting discussion of this film HERE. Beware of plot spoilers within if you haven't seen the film, but I had never seen Empire of the Sun and it was this thread that inspired me to watch it. I was probably better off watching the film after having read the analysis there. This is not your average film by Spielberg, to say the least.
Friday, October 01, 2004
I know that Cracker Barrel has gotten some bad press recently, but we were just there last night and man, the food is good, the prices are reasonable, and the service is consistently friendly. We've been going to Cracker Barrels (or is it Crackers Barrel?) all over the mid-east for the last 15 years, or so, and consistently had similar service. I am sure there are those that have had different experiences, but between the three of us, we couldn't remember having one unpleasant experience at Cracker Barrel.
Also want to wish a happy anniversary of the day on which you were born (I have a hard time finding Hallmark cards that say this) to our niece, Katherine!
Finally, forgive any of the dreaded red x's appearing where pictures used to be. Apparently, all of the pictures in my Photobucket account got deleted last night. They "apologize for any inconvenience," as do I. I'll try to fix the problem over the weekend.
[Edit (10/02/2004): Pictures should be fixed now.]