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Where are you coming from Spiderman…Nobody Knows Who You Are. May 3, 2014

Posted by regan222 in Books, Film and Television, General Ranting, Movie Madness.
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The Amazing SpidermanSpiderman 2…Just got back.  I am not a great movie reviewer but I do have a peculiarly accurate memory for certain details as well as a desire to see justice done.  I feel that something here is amiss.  I am an old man now but it hasn’t been THAT long since I faithfully followed your friendly neighborhood web-slinger through comics, TV cartoons, and even a 33 1/3 rpm vinyl album.  To say that I was a fan would be an understatement.  Having said that, I was more than willing to cater to my small boy’s request to brave the crowds and watch the latest reincarnation of Aunt May’s favorite nephew and New York’s “favorite” son.  Initial reaction was positive.  It was big, loud, and not overly complicated as a summer blockbuster should be.  However, all through the movie a tingling annoyance, not unlike our hero’s spider sense, bothered me.  They are really playing fast and loose with the story.

<spoiler alert>  If you haven’t see the movie you might want to go right now and get tickets.  It is probably showing somewhere near you and it is definitely worth a viewing.  It is really good in digital Hi-def. 3D.  The spoilers I am alerting you to, gentle reader, are details from the original story, not necessarily the film.  Here goes…

In 1962, in Amazing Fantasy #15, Peter Parker was bitten by an radioactive spider and the rest is history…amazingly profitable history and merchandising rights, and copy rights, and royalties.  Spiderman is the flagship character and mascot of the largest comics publisher in the world (as well as what is rapidly becoming the most profitable movie production house in America).  Based upon whichever biography one reads, Spiderman was invented by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, or a combination of the three.  He was a teenaged “everyman” who had greatness thrust upon him by a million to one accident, and responsibility thrust on him by the tragic consequences of his own actions.  Peter and his supporting cast brought to life an alternate dimension very similar to our own but filled with amazing and sometimes frightening differences.  That is how I felt after watching this most recent movie.

In the comic story line, Gwen Stacy, Peter’s initial love interest, and Harry Osborne are all friends.  Harry’s father, Norman, becomes Spiderman’s arch nemesis, and Electro is a Caucasian.  The Rhino is a big guy in a suit and Professor Smyth is an employee of the King Pin.  Needless to say, Marvel is drastically rewriting history and it bothers me.  I felt the same cognitive dissonance that someone who is just beginning to feel the effects of Alzheimer’s Dementia must feel each day.  I understand the concept of editorial license and I am sure Marvel has perfectly good reasons for rewriting my childhood but what bothers me is WHY??  The story doesn’t NEED revamping.  It is still relevant and compelling.  The property is still amazingly profitable after 50 years and Spiderman is an icon.  Why mess with it?

Perhaps it is the way of things…The world changes.  It might interest you to know that in the cartoon story arc, the original Spiderman, Peter Parker, is, in fact, dead and his consciousness rests within the mind of his mortal enemy Dr. Octopus.  Could it get anymore convoluted?  In April of 2014, Parker’s brain returns to his body and there is no telling where it will go from there.

Well I’m glad I could get that out in the open.  It was really bothering me.  I also needed an excuse to write something as I have been sorely lacking in content lately.  I promise to return to form as soon as school is out.  Meanwhile, if you get the chance, give Spiderman 2 a look.  I like this guy better than Toby McGuire (he looks too much like Frodo from LOTR) and Harry Osborne was right…He does have an impressive uni-brow.

Excelsior (you know that is Styrofoam packing peanuts right)

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Boggy Creek After Action Review September 28, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Film and Television, General Ranting, Movie Madness, News and politics.
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As I look back upon today and the amazing opportunities I have been given, one thing comes to mind…Man I am POOPED!! In the last 2 days I have driven almost 700 miles, swam over half a mile, and then walked ALL day in search of cryptid life-forms. Along the way I met new friends, faced heartache, fear, and loss, and also ate a pretty tasty chicken-fried steak at Magel’s in Paris, TX. The only thing that I DIDN’T get to see was a monster. 😦
Lyle signed my copyOur intrepid guide, Lyle Blackburn, could not have BEEN a better person to head out into the Sulfur River Wilderness with. Lyle was knowledgeable, down-to-Earth, and very entertaining. If you get a chance to see him in person, by ALL MEANS take advantage of it. I am QUITE PROUD to say that I was one of 13 lucky people to be the first ever to join Lyle on a tour of the Boggy Creek area at the First Annual Boggy Creek Festival. He showed us the Willie Smith Bean Field made famous by the movie Legend of Boggy Creek. We crossed Boggy Creek twice and even stopped and got off the bus to see what we could find. We also spent an hour with Smokey Crabtree. He is 86 years old and still talking about the monster that changed both his life and the town of Fouke, AR.

Be sure to check out my blog site in the next few days as I get the pictures and the video edited and posted. I think you will be amazed at what we found and what we did. Be sure to check out the links in this post and if you have a chance to visit Fouke, AR, be sure you are in doors before dark. The creature may very well be traveling the creeks again. PS. Lyle Blackburn, if you happen to ever read this and would comment on my blog it would really make my day.

The First Annual Boggy Creek Festival September 27, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Film and Television, General Ranting, hobby, Movie Madness.
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The First Annual Boggy Creek Festival

Day 1 of the expedition: We have arrived at base camp and established a perimeter.  Dinner was a quiet affair as each member of our research team was lost in thought as to the consequences of tomorrow’s journey.  I can not shake the eerie feeling that we are being observed by beings whose purposes we can not know.  The approaching darkness brings no comfort nor will the night bring rest I fear.

Our plan tomorrow is to link with Lyle Blackburn, another cryptobiolgist and rhythm guitarist.  Lyle has been featured on the Discovery Channel, Coast to Coast AM, and the CBS Network.  He is world-famous for his knowledge of our quarry and it’s habits.   I only hope he is as competent as his book makes him out to be.  Lyle will be guiding us on the bulk of our expedition through various areas known to attract the creature. 

I'm SOO SORRY!!

I’m SOO SORRY!!

I’m not sure what to expect. I just want to tell everyone that if we don’t make it back, leave my stuff alone. I’m sorry I just want to apologize to Mike’s mom and Josh’s mom and my mom
and I’m sorry to everyone. I was very naive.umm..no that’s the wrong movie. Sorry about that. Anyhow, we leave at dawn (or about 8:30 am) tomorrow. Wish us luck.

A Knot in the Tail of Schrodinger’s Cat May 4, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Film and Television, General Ranting, Movie Madness, Science and Technology.
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How is your catA few weeks ago I introduced you happy readers to the physical paradox that is Schrödinger’s cat. In a nutshell, the cat is a thought experiment where one places a cat, a poison delivery system, and a random trigger into a box. Eventually the cat buys it but we don’t know exactly when until the box is opened. The premise being that the system is in chaos and is unstable until the lid is opened and cat examined. At this point perception forces the system into one of two stable conditions – either the cat is alive or dead. There is some math involved but for the most part, this is the simplified version.

I wonder if the following applies. Reality, in this case, is based on perception. We see the cat and it is either alive or dead. Perception, however, is just a collection of bioelectric nerve impulses and can be fooled. Given sufficient technology it is possible to make a person believe they are seeing, tasting, touching, or hearing anything you want. Nerve impulses can be counterfeited. In that way, reality is subject to counterfeiting. The Enterprise’ holodeck is not that far away. Better yet, if the eye and ear can be fooled, the sense of touch and taste are equally easy. Impulses to the right area of the brain are all that is required. This begs the question, IS THERE a reality? Do we even exist except as mutually agreed upon hallucinations. You watched The Matrix, right?? If this WAS the case, is there any way you could know?  This is the sort of stuff that keeps me from sleeping well.  Nite all.

And Now…The Rest of the Story April 15, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Computers and Internet, Film and Television, General Ranting, Generate Wealth, Movie Madness.
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When last we met, gentle reader, I promised you a moderately smooth path to wealth and fame (or at least some spending money) made online.  Today I will share my revelations with you.  The process is simple.  Generate content.  Create media.  Write something, film something, or play something on an instrument.  The Internet is a big hungry place and if you can create something that no one else has a claim to, you can sell it.  It does not have to be a work of art.  Allow me an example.

Have you ever heard of a movie with the pretentious title of Awaken the Dead?  How about a little gem called The Zombie Apocalypse?  Both of these films were shot in a few hours on a low-end pro-sumer video camera with minimal production values for next to no budget.  In a word…They are AWFUL.  However,  they are also available on Netflix for rental or instant streaming.  Someone is getting paid royalties every time a Netflix customer gets drawn in by the cool cover art and clicks to rent or clicks to instantly stream on of these two cinematic enemas.  It doesn’t matter that 3 minutes into the movie the viewer violently vomits and clicks over to a different movie and never returns to finish what they so foolishly started.  Someone gets MONEY every time one of these monstrosities even partially plays.

One more example…Drop by your local Hastings or Half Price Books or any other chain book store.  Walk down the “teen interest” aisle and stop at a random spot.  Close your eyes and take any book off the shelf.  There’s an 85% chance that you are holding a cheesy, over dramatic, and badly written vampire novel.  (The other 15% is divided up into werewolves and something by J.K. Rowling).  Now put the book down before someone sees you.  Close your eyes and get another one.  It is very likely you are holding a book with exactly the same story line, characters so similar that only the names have been changed to protect the guilty, and yet BOTH books will set you back about $10 each.  You could legally buy one, go home and change the names of characters, settings, and a few other details, and offer that baby up for publishing and it is very possible that you could get a best seller out of the deal.  Everything today is derivative (go over to google and look the word up if you don’t know what it means).  Everything is the same because the people who control what gets published and what does not, are bound by the idea of formula.  What has worked before will work again without much risk.  Anything new or original or different is risky.  It does not require talent to write something like that, just a decent memory and a thesaurus.

Want to be a rock and roll star?  Ever heard of sampling?  Today all music is made of music that was written yesterday.  Hip Hop artists sample other people’s songs and edit them together with canned drum beats to create a generic background noise for their latest rap.  Once again, originality is NOT a requirement.

Are you seeing a pattern here?  Is the path becoming visible.  Wanna make a movie?  You can buy a Canon XM-1 video camera on Craig’s list for next to nothing.  Pirate a copy of Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premier and you have the tools needed to create a movie that will pass muster and get a distribution deal.  Get some of your neighbors to play zombies or better yet, a slasher film that does not even require makeup.  Production values are not a requirement.  All you need to do is be fast and get the lighting half-way decent.  If you can get in touch with the right people and show them that you know the formula, you are well on your way to having a movie of your very own premier on Netflix and the Direct-To-Video section of Best Buy.  The really cool thing is that once you have a movie in production, the royalties come in every time it runs.  It doesn’t matter if the viewer hates it and shuts it off thirty seconds into the opening credits.  You get paid.  Do it again and follow the same formula.  You can get rich like this with a little luck.  Just ask Uwe Boll?  (You get LOTS of geek cred if you know who Uwe Boll is).  He finances his own movies and bases them on video games.  (Anyone remember House of the Dead)?  He is considered one of the all-time WORST directors and yet he has several motion pictures in rental and streaming distributions and yes, he makes WAY more money than you.  He knows the formula.

Books, movies, video games, music: if you know the formula and have a vague idea of how to put them together you can get rich.  The Internet is starving for material.  It does not judge on the basis of good or bad, it grades on how well you follow the formula.

Now if you want to do something good or original or worthwhile…THAT is MUCH harder…

Night all.

Do It Yourself Filmmaking: DI WHY January 15, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Educational Ranting, Film and Television, Movie Madness.
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Tonight Anita and I worked on another scene from the short film we are producing.  We filmed the scene in the movie where Anita is driving to work and she gets a call from a co-worker telling her that the boss wants to see her as soon as she gets in.  As the film is entitled The Power of Negative Thinking,  you can imagine her reaction.

As it is very dangerous, as well as illegal in some areas to film, talk on a cell phone, and drive at the same time, we decided to do the entire scene sitting in our driveway and then add the views through the windows by using a green screen (just like they do on the evening weather).  In filming this scene tonight I have learned some things that I would like to share, technique wise, for anyone else who wants to try their hand at green screen replacement.

First and foremost, the most important part of filming is lighting.  The key (ha ha get it…”key”.  If you don’t get it then you should not be reading this post because you won’t understand the rest of it either.)  Where was I?  Oh yeah, the key to the entire green screen process is to make sure the lighting is right.  You must have your screen far enough behind your actors so that the lighting for the screen and the lighting for the actors is completely independent.  The screen needs to be lit separately so that if you turn the lights off of the actors, the screen will not be affected and like wise, if you turn the lights off the screen, the actors will not even notice.  This is very important as the keying process requires that the screen be one single constant color from top to bottom and side to side.  Wrinkles, shadows, or other artifacts cause weird shadows to appear when you key out the green screen.

The toughest lesson I learned tonight was not to put too much light through the window of the car.  You will blast the face of your actor and fade them out entirely.  Tomorrow when we reshoot that sequence I will put small lights INSIDE the car and not so much huge ones outside shining in.

I suppose the most useful thing I learned tonight is that a two-year old stage manager does not make filming easier.  Bless his heart, he wanted to help so much and it seemed like I had to fuss at him every time one of us turned around.  I will be glad when he can play with grown up toys and can join in on the family projects.

The last and most useful bit of information I picked up tonight involves stretching your screen.  Wrinkles make shadows which are not green and don’t go away like they’re supposed to.  Pull your screen tight and CLIP it in place (clothes pins are not strong enough).

If you follow these techniques and use a simple three-point lighting system, make sure to put enough distance between your screen and your actors, and don’t try to get to carried away with lights, you should have at least as much success as Anita and I had.  If you happen to have a two-year old stage manager then you also might have as much fun doing it as we did.

True to My Calling January 9, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Computers and Internet, Film and Television, General Ranting, Movie Madness.
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Once again, I remain faithful to my committment to write here once a week.  As to topic, well I do my best to keep things interesting.  Tonight at church Anita and I presented on the topic of positive thinking.  It must have been well received because the Devil fought so hard to keep us from presenting.  Due to the resistance we received, we have decided to flesh out the premise and make a short film.  The basic storyline involves a worker at a phone counseling desk who has a terrifically negative view.  The title will be The Power of Negative Thinking and it will premiere on Youtube.com.  I will place a link here next week when the final edit is made.  Hopefully it will be enjoyable and effective. 

I envision a repository of content.  Videos, slide shows, skits and stories that others can use to do bible schools or services or youth groups or whatever.  A small fee might even be charged for the material.  I am beginning to understand that content creation is the name of the game.  If you can make something original that is even vaguely interesting to others, they will seek it out.  Next week will be the first full test of my theory.  Please feel free to comment once the movie is up and let me know if I am right or not.

Never Get Tired of That March 15, 2010

Posted by regan222 in Movie Madness.
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I had an entry the other day and had to scrap it.  The content was just too angry.  It may be a while before I do another education article.  It is just too frustrating.  I am going to stick with movie reviews for a while.  I watched the new version of the Wolfman, based on the old Universal film starring Lon Chaney Jr.  The original wolfman was a great film, filled with atmosphere and tension.  The new version surprised me in that it was not offensive to the spirit and memory of the original.  The atmosphere was thick and cloying like fog on the moors.  The unsaturated color was the perfect homage to the black and white of the original.  Benicio del Toro, while not quite possessing the acting chops of Lon Chaney Jr, does a creditable job of portraying the anguished Lawrence Talbot.  The only drawback for me was the liberties that were taken with the character of Sir John Talbot.  I am not a huge fan of Anthony Hopkins.  Yes he did a great job in Silence of the Lambs but since then I have not seen anything he has done that did not look like Hanibal Lector.  He plays the same character over and over.  He did it in Dracula and he does it here.  In the original, Sir John was the stereotype English lord and a loving, if distant, father.  In this new version Anthony Hopkins plays an angry sloppy old man who does not really love his children (despite his protestations to the contrary).  He also turns out to be a werewolf and he and Lawrence meet in epic combat during the movie’s climax.  This is sooo cheesy and sooo predictable.  I wish they had stayed with the original plot instead of trying to appeal to the masses by providing a comic book battle to the death between super beasts.  Everything has to fit the formula these days.  By appealing to Joe Everyman, today’s movies appeal to no one.  They are just inoffensive at best.
The sets were great.  The costumes, perfect, but the research department could have paid a bit more attention to their history.  In one scene, the female lead walks into a shop and turns on an electric light switch.  Electricity was in the extreme experimental state in 1891 (the time this movie was supposed to have taken place) and it is most unlikely that an ordinary shop would have electric lights.  Electric lights were not widely available until after 1908.  I suspect I am nitpicking but who cares??
Hugo Weaving did an excellent job as the dedicated and dilligent Scottland Yard Inspector.  I liked him in The Matrix and everything else I have seen him in.  The only complaint I have with him is that I DID like him in the Matrix and I kept expecting him to call Benicio del Toro Mr. Anderson.
All in all I felt that the producers did a good job of making a movie that was faithful to the old without offending or insulting it.  It was entertaining and kept the attention.  With today’s movies that is all you can ask.
 
 

Vanishing Point February 28, 2010

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Last night I watched, once again, a very good movie.  This movie is good in the sense that it is entertaining and holds one’s interest.  It is not good morally, in that it glorifies all the things that were wrong with the 60’s.  It is not good creatively in that it is low budget and the dialog could use a little polish, but if we measure the worth of a movie by how much we enjoy watching, the this is a great movie.  An ex-race car driver/cop who was framed and fired for druges because he prevented his partner from raping a hippie chick, has a job as a car delivery driver.  He also has a serious amphetamine habit.  Our man Kowolski takes on the job of delivering a ’70 dodge challenger with a super charger from Colorado to San Franciso in 10 hours.  In the first few moments of the film, Kowolski is chased by a motorcycle cop who ends up getting run off the road.  So begins the best car chase movie ever.  For the next hour and a half Kowolski makes his way across the western US on the run from every law enforcement agency on the books.  A blind disk jockey named Super Soul (Clevon Little in a great role) takes up his cause and offers him information and help.  Super Soul ends up getting badly beaten by the local rednecks for his trouble. 
The beauty of movies from the late 60’s and early 70’s is that they had some wonderful cars to work with.  These machines came STOCK with big block hemis and Holly Double Pumper carbs and super chargers.  Most cars off the showroom floor were easily capable of 160 mph, and they were CHEAP!  You could buy several exact copies to destroy in stunts and not ruin the budget.  The star of this show (and the only known character) was a 1970 Dodge Challenger with a 440 cid engine and a super charger.  Carey Loftin, also the stunt coordinator for the Steve McQueen car movie Bullitt, was the driver and he is a master of the four wheel drift.  I will not give the entire plot away but needless to say the movie ends in a stereotypically 60’s scene.  As a sixties movie, it is not for the kids but it is definitely worth the time to watch.  PS – The Soundtrack is GREAT!!
 

This was no boat accident…Did you notify the coast guard? February 10, 2010

Posted by regan222 in Movie Madness.
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I brought out my copy of Jaws and watched it again tonight while working on my lesson for tomorrow.  The movie does not get old.  It still plays well and the effects are still good.  I am finding that I like models and mechanics better than CGI even though I am a huge pixelphile.  CGI still does not look real.  The add in scenes that George Lucas crammed into Star Wars IV STILL don’t look right even though he waited 20 years to do it.  I have never seen a CGI based movie that looked right.  Even Jurassic Park looked CGI.  They still can not simulate weight and mass.  The best use for CGI is still quick hits and flashes across the screen that don’t give you time to see how light weight the effect looks.
I really need to get busy and get tomorrow’s bio lesson together.  We cultured bacteria plates today but I don’t think they will be ready and even if they are I am not ready to make slides.  We will do that on Tuesday.  I am taking some time off. 
Sorry for the interruption…back to the movie.  Quint, Brody, and Hooper are heading out to meet the shark.  This is the best part of the movie.  I especially like the scar comparison scene.  Quint rambles on about the mission of the USS Indianapolis and the subsequent sinking.  If you would like to know the real story you can find it at the other end of that link.