greatbear: (old graybeard)
Several days ago while perusing my friends list here on LJ I happened upon an entry that mentioned, among other things, seeing a certain movie while in elementary school entitled The Red Balloon. I have no idea if this is still the case these days, but back in the prehistoric epoch of my early youth, The Red Balloon, a French film, was de rigueur cinema at Savage Elementary School each year, apparently since the film won an award for top educational film in '68, right at the meat of my primary school life. As the years went on, the movie became a fond memory, as well as a cautionary tale I could relate to. The movie is set in Paris, in the mid-50s. A young boy finds a big red balloon tangled in a streetlamp, frees it, and brings it home with him while coming home from school. His mother, for unknown reasons, does not allow the boy to keep the balloon in the house, and subsequently, releases it though an open window. It is then that the "magic" begins. The boy's red balloon becomes a fun part of his life, as well as a troublesome companion in the eyes of others. The boy and his balloon become a target for neighborhood bullies as well, this plays out predictably, but with a surprising conclusion.

I had not seen this film in decades, and pretty much forgotten about it. Having my memories jostled by the LJ post, I dove into the trusty intarwebs to find it, and voila, found a complete copy exactly as I had remembered it from my early youth. I've presented it here in three parts. If any of you remember this movie, let me know in the comments your take on it.

Parts 2 and 3, as well as some other thoughts here... )
greatbear: (Default)
It's about time someone does this. I've always been a fan of tilt-shift photography, the method of using a special lens or a bellows on a still camera to either impart a very narrow depth of focus to a scene or used to "correct" a scene taken from an oblique angle in order to ensure parallel lines in a scene remain so (useful for taking photos of tall buildings from street level, for instance). Such a technique was easily accomplished with the big medium and large format cameras in the earliest days of photography by shifting or tilting the front part of those cameras that held the lens. In later years, special lenses were developed (heh) for 35mm cameras. It seems in recent years the art of tilt-shift photography has exploded with the availability of the special lenses and digital SLRs, and people are trying their hand at the craft. I'm one of them, and I hope to pick up a T-S lens once my finances are back in order (read: I'm back to work). But I digress a bit.

Something I can never recall seeing was any sort of motion photography using the T-S technique. It might have been done in years past for special effects in movies, but it was not widely known outside of that industry. In the last couple years, some digital SLR cameras have picked up the ability to shoot high-definition video. A lot of people poo-pooed the the feature, saying it was not needed, or that it was more suited to entry-level "consumer" point-and-shoot cameras. Well, someone has finally wedded the tilt-shift lens to video and has come up with this little ditty below. It's a very simple process, but seems to only have been easily doable with the convergence of the new lenses and HD capable SLRs. Speed things up a bit, and you have the most amazing flea circus you'll ever see. In the case of this particular movie, it was not even shot in video mode, instead the camera was set to take successive stills as fast as was possible, then combining the stills to make a HD movie. Quite a bit more involved, but with simply remarkable results.

I'm so doing this one day.

(Hat tip to [ profile] wrascalbc!)
greatbear: (Default)
Aw, man, how could I forget? It's also the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back!

I should have used Post-It notes as reminders. They also turned 30 today. I coulda used them in high school. Too late to that party too.

As Yoda would have said to me, "That is why you fail."

Yeah, three decades ago. I remember it well. It felt like I had the whole world ahead of me, which I really did. I was a bundle of creativity and energy. Seemed like there was nothing I could not do. And, to be honest, I proved a lot of people wrong when they would say "You can't do (x)" when I indeed knew I could. The last ten years or so has done a lot to quell the energy, but there are still times when I still admire what I can do.

Let's see if I even make it another thirty. Or ten.
greatbear: (picture start)
This would be better using the Transporter series of movies. Since they are practically halfway there 'n all.

John Hughes

Aug. 6th, 2009 08:18 pm
greatbear: (candle)
John Hughes, director of memorable movies Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Beuller's Day Off, National Lampoon's Vacation, Home Alone and many more, has died of a heart attack. He was only 59.

I found most of his movies to be pure entertainment, with honesty, heart and intelligence. He practically created his own genre of youth-oriented movies that had an appeal to a wider audience. How many people would utter the phrase "John Hughes movie"? I know I heard it often. He will be missed.
greatbear: (Default)
Jeff and I just returned a while ago from seeing Pixar's Up in 3D at the AMC Columbia theaters. Once again, Pixar hits one out of the park. A wonderful, engaging flick that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. We were at the latest showing, nearly 10pm, yet there were quite a few very young children in attendance. Uh oh, potential for distracting racket..., but, not this time. Surprisingly, despite the number of people, during the 'serious' scenes, one could hear a pin drop in that theater. I was impressed. This shows just how focused the entire house was on the film. Bravo to you folks at Pixar, you made my day.
greatbear: (Default)
I racked up just shy of a hundred miles today just running errands. Buying parts for the travel trailer, a stop at Woodcraft to pick up an Incra miter fence (it was on sale!) and for some odds and ends, and Lowes for some supplies before heading home. Basically, a big loop around Baltimore. The weather was halfway decent, meaning it least it held off of raining. Jeff took Kodi to the groomer while I was away as well as did some mulching, I did work in the basement.

The weather has me a bit off; I cant stand the hot/dry followed by cold/wet over and over without feeling a bit exhausted. Depending on what the weather decides to saddle me with will determine what I do tomorrow. The Stratus needs a front wheel bearing, it was damaged a while ago when I hit a nasty pothole that bent one of the new rims. It took a couple years, but sure enough, it's growling the past few days. Everything needs normal maintenance, oil/fluids/cleaning, etc. I just wish I could get some help beyond what Jeff and I are doing in the yard, I'd be able to get more done.

Saw Milk tonight finally. Excellent movie. Sean Penn was amazing in his portrayal of Harvey Milk. Had this movie been released a few months earlier, I think the whole Proposition 8 debacle would have merely been a sidenote in history.
greatbear: (blackness)
Paul Newman died today. I will miss him, as will countless others. He was truly a class act, on screen and off.

Paul Newman - 1925-2008
greatbear: (forearms)
Sadly, our long weekend draws to an end. While Jeff was stuck working Friday and Saturday, I had the three days off, and with it a chance to catch up on stuffs. Much of the usual goings-on, interleaved as the days went along. No going to overcrowded fireworks displays, but we did have some eats typical of the holiday.

We worked hard in the yard today, cleaning out flower beds and spreading a half ton of mulch. Things look a lot better outside now. Kodi had an afternoon with the groomer and is looking doggie fierce. The server I recently built got put into service, with only a bit of frustration and is currently behaving and helping to bring this post to you. I was using an old keyboard with a built-in trackball that had seen better days. When the trackball would resist all my attempts to clean in order for the thing to actually control the cursor, I finally lost it and put my fist through it repeatedly. Sometimes beating the shit out of recalcitrant hardware is like therapy. Having to clean up dozens of keytops scattered about the room is it's vengeance, however.

Saturday night we went out to the movies. We saw WALL-E. Once again, Pixar had me charmed in my seat. I highly recommend this film, and I see it as one that will grow with repeated viewings. I don't know how the folks at Pixar do it, but they manage to explore the human condition so well, not needing to use humans. In this case, not having to use many words either. Go see it. You won't be disappointed.

This is a short week for me. I get to use my first 9-80 Friday off to travel up to Provincetown for the week. Both of us can't wait for this, our first 'real' vacation of the year. Because of time constraints, it will most likely be our only long vacation as well. We still have a couple Hillside weekends, and one at Knoebels in the fall. Hey, I am happy just having the ones we have planned. All work and no play makes me one grouchy, emo dude.

Hope everyone has a good week.
greatbear: (eeeexcellent)
Many devout Christians got their knickers in several knots upon the release of the movie The DaVinci Code because it's story is based on Jesus taking a wife and bearing children. Well, the aforementioned knickers stand to have a few more knots tied in them. It seems James Cameron, director of memorable little films like Titanic and the Terminator trilogy, is putting together a film based on that same premise. But unlike The DaVinci Code, this film is not going to be a work of (cruci?) fiction. It's a documentary.

This ought to be fun. Not the movie, mind you, but the uproar that would definitely arise from it's release. It's popcorn time.

Oh, in other news, Virginia apologizes for it's role in slavery.
greatbear: (Default)
The Virgin Birth. Also known mistakenly as the Immaculate Conception. It's real, people. And just perfectly timed for birth at Christmas. Some say Jim Morrison was God. I present to you the Real Lizard King. Er, make that Queen.

Speaking of Jesuses (Jesi?), here is a town having a barrel of fun with 'em, much to the scornful regret of people too serious for their own skin.

Speaking of automatons, the U.K. is already considering the future, specifically of robot rights. You'd see that happen here in the U.S., o' course. But only for the white, xtian robots.

Speaking of robots...
greatbear: (forearms)
For the last 4 days I have been laboring through cable internet slowdowns and stoppages that essentially ground me to a halt. The last entries and comments I have made on LJ have been made courtesy of my old standby dialup connection using my ancient Compaq laptop. The phone lines here have deteriorated to the point where all I can manage is a 9600-14400bps connection, if it even manages to connect at all. On the phone with Comcast tech support who say I have decent signal strength but suffering from huge packet losses, which makes sense. The modem is a piece of crap, and my attempts at finding one in various stores tonight was fruitless (unless I wanted to buy some cash-cow device saddled with various internet tele-phoney services). I have to wait till Thursday to have a tech come by to tell me my modem is bad and leave me with one of the horrific little Comcast-branded modems that will end up being even more of a trouble later on. (I speak from experience here).

The semi-good news is that Verizon left a calling card on my door informing me that they will be digging up the neighborhood and upgrading the lines. From what I understand after talking to a phone tech who came by to fix my ailing lines a while back, this is going to be the FiOS fiber-to-the-house service. This is able to carry hugely fast internet, television and phone service over one line. Even if I dont switch my ISP, the competition will be healthy and Comcast will match whatever Verizon offers as far as throughput and price.

If I dont respond to comments and postings, this is the reason. I have more articles coming, an uber-geek post regarding the specs of the new PC (and pictures), plus several other bandwidth-intensive things that have to wait until I have more bandwidth available than the days when I used to ply BBS systems at 2400 baud.

In the meantime, Jeff and I are off to see some independent film about gay cowboys eating pudding. We are hoping to see something about snakes on a plane next.
greatbear: (Default)
(My third installment of an ongoing series of articles where I have been exploring the changing nature of the music business, your ability to enjoy music without restrictions and how the former has been increasingly chipping away at the latter.)

Read on )
greatbear: (Default)
(This is part two in my multipart article discussing the changing landscape of the music industry and what it means for the listeners, the artists, and the recording industry itself. While I am no expert in the field, I've been an avid listener since a very young age, and I have been at least partially involved with most aspects of the process that gets music from an idea to your ears (performance, recording, engineering, radio, mastering, etc). I can look at this issue from every perspective. The thing is, I have my own opinions, many of which are being expressed in this series. I hope it's been entertaining, enlightening and not too boring.)

Part two )
greatbear: (Default)
(What follows is part one of my first article dealing with music, movies, your rights to enjoy them and how you enjoy them. These rights are being stripped away at an increasing rate, being replaced with additional costs and aggravation, needless upgrades and damaged or non-functioning equipment. It's a long read, being placed behind a cut for courtesy. I hope those who read this can learn something, and will help them make informed decisions regarding how they spend their money on some of their most favorite entertainment)

Read on )
greatbear: (fuzzy)
Cut, split and stacked about a cord of firewood Saturday, it was great to finally get rid of the huge pile of logs and debris that's been taking up space at the corner of the driveway. Did a lot of garage-type stuff that day as well, and getting stuff in line for the upcoming improvements to the house and garage. Jeff had a sudden online test show up for his school work, and got stuck doing that for a couple hours in the evening. After that we headed off to see Transporter 2. Like the first movie, this one is mindless action entertainment, with a gay subtext so huge you can park an aircraft carrier on it. If you havent seen either movie, go and rent/buy the first one and enjoy one of the most homoerotic fight scenes (trust me, it's hawt) then go and see the new one. While not necessary, it helps put characters and ideas in perspective.

Today found me doing car work of different sorts and more work around the yard trying to get ready for fall/winter. The weather has been great and things are getting accomplished. Accomplishments = happy me.

Speaking of happy, Jeff so far seems much happier at his new job. Being able to take a relatively short run to his 'rents and the rest of his family has made everyone much happier there too. While it puts a bit of a cramp in our style, the overall effect is positive. The distance is not that great between us (about an hour and a half at my driving speeds) that we cant do things on a whim, and our weekends together are high quality (and the sex is great).

This will be a busy week for sure. Painting, yard work, runs between garages and my everyday work at NG. I have some thoughts regarding the latter to be posted soon. This time, it's mostly good. Inspiring even.


greatbear: (Default)

December 2016



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