Tuesday, March 29, 2005


As a consumer of Star Wars Fan Films (like Pink 5, mentioned briefly here back in September), I'm sure that you've seen one of the best ones ever done, Troops. Well, what would effectively be the sequel to Troops is on the horizon for this Spring and it's title is, I.M.P.S. (Imperial Military Personnel Stories).

There was a news story on it over at TheForce.net and the teaser trailer is there too. Here's a link to the official site.

Now, here's the cool part; if you go to the F.A.Q. at the official site for the fan film under the question, "Who Made This?," alongside the makers of the original Troops, you'll see the name, Nathan Pata. That's Christy's second cousin!! That makes ME, like, an "Heir to the Empire", doesn't it, well, DOESN'T IT?!? At least I could be an Imperial stooge if George ever decides to make Ep. 7, 8 & 9. I'm already practicing my line: "It's them, Blast 'em." or, perhaps, [clears throat] "I have a BAD feeling about this." What do you think? Do I get the part??

Anyway, I met Nathan when we went out to California for Andrew & Carol's wedding. I'm not entirely sure what his full-time job is, but I believe it is in the entertainment/production industry. He has worked on several short films including Free of Rhythm [Watch It].

Thanks to Andrew and Nicki for making me aware of this, and to Nathan for paving my way to early retirement!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Easter Egg Hunts 1 & 2 (and other updates)

I don't know what our deal is with these outdoor activities. Maybe it's just bad luck, I don't know, but over the weekend, we had two Easter Egg Hunts and the weather was awful for both of them. Perhaps a few of you remember back in October, 2004 when we had a series of Fall parties for which we had terrible weather.

The first Easter Egg Hunt was Saturday morning at Gaither Family Resources. They were concerned about the turnout partly due to Alexandria Schools being in session to make up missed days from the ice storm in January, and were doubly concerned about the turnout due to inclement weather, but luckily there are enough people (myself included) who know what Easter is all about to brave the rain and the cold and make their children hunt and collect plastic containers shaped like eggs which are filled with candy, toys, and treats!
Here are a couple of pictures from Saturday:

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Easter Egg Hunt #2 was sponsored by Christy's work and was located at the same place here in Anderson where her company had their Harvest Party. Unfortunately, they also ordered the same weather as they had back in October. At least it wasn't raining, but we were out in the country where the wind really gets going so it was just cold.

Here are a few pictures from Sunday:
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In Other News...

I've held out through several times when gas prices in Anderson and surrounding areas have jumped above $2.00/gallon, but finally was forced to fill-up well above the $2 mark. From the sounds of things, it's not going to get any better for a while, if it ever does. I think I did well to make it this long. That's why I'm posting about it.

Widescreen Wins!! I exchanged e-mails with my music pastor who was responsible for making the decision between the OAR (Original Aspect Ratio) and MAR (Modified Aspect Ratio) versions of "The Passion Of The Christ." I am very pleased to say that the film will be shown it all of its 2.35 glory. I must also say that I had nothing to do with this decision. Apparently, at one point they were planning to use our normal projection screens which we use for announcements, lyrics, etc. during our services. These two screens are quite high and to the far left and right of our Worship center. He felt that anywhere in the rear third of the available seating, the 2.35 image was too small to view comfortably and considered showing the MAR version. Fortunately, they decided to use a larger screen in the center of the room which will also be considerably closer to the viewers and the OAR version of the film will be shown. I am officially calling off both the boycott of the event as well as the violent protests. Oh well; all's well that ends well.

F.Y.I. - A standard Crayola crayon fits in standard 3.5" floppy drive. I am quite certain that it goes in easier than it comes out. Don't ask me how I know this.

Films Recently Watched:

The Incredibles (2004) dir. by Brad Bird
This wonderful film received the "Supa-Genious" Pixar treatment on DVD. I'm enjoying this more and more every time I watch it. The Brad Bird/John Walker commentary is insightful and entertaining. Lots of bonus features. Amazing picture & sound.

Friendly Persuasion (1956) dir. by William Wyler
The story of a Quaker family in southern Indiana during the Civil War. Torn between their pacifist religious beliefs and a need to defend their property and their very lives, each member of the family has choices to make and lessons to be learned. With horse races, a wild circus, and many other humorous bits thrown in too, there is something here for the whole family!

Monday, March 14, 2005

On A Mission...

I learned yesterday that my church is planning to offer two free public showings of Mel Gibson's excellent The Passion Of The Christ on Good Friday this year.

OK, slightly cliché perhaps, but OK. I'm all for the use of film as a means to evoke feelings or a response of some kind.

But -- I also learned that it is the intention of those in charge to show the Pan and Scan version of the film. Uh Oh! The Passion Of The Christ was beautifully shot using a 2.35:1 frame. The cinematography of The Passion was widely recognized as excellent and was nominated by both The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as well as The American Society of Cinematographers for its achievement. In my opinion, the fact that a Pan and Scan DVD of this film even exists is a travesty. The thought of that travesty being shown at my church is more than I can bear.

Basically, I'm on a mission to make sure that only the widescreen film is shown at these viewings in my church. I'll keep you posted, of course, on my progress.

Weekend Redux

Well, I couldn't recover my life-changing post from last night, so this will have to do. What is it about retyping a post like this? I don't know if it's just because it's repetitive or what, but the second time is always such a task and never turns out as well as you remember the first one being. Anyway...

Our church had a parent's night out Saturday night. It was "Free" babysitting by a bunch of Senior girls and Adult sponsors, but they were accepting donations for a missions trip to Mexico that they're doing next week during Spring Break. Hannah always loves to go to church anyway, so Christy and I took the opportunity to get out for the evening.

As often seems to be the case when we have the opportunity to see a movie in theaters, there wasn't much playing in Anderson that we were interested in seeing. We questioned our ability to have a leisurely dinner out and go to a movie (possibly a movie in which neither of us were but maginally interested, at that). Luckily, our friend Kathy had mentioned a place in Indy that sounded interesting.

The Cinema Grill is at the corner of 86th & Ditch in the Greenbriar shopping center. They show second-run movies, but at a discounted price. Christy and I had been wanting to see Finding Neverland since it had come out before Christmas, but we'd never had the chance to see it then, so it worked out well that Neverland was one of the shows at The Cinema Grill. Instead of traditional theater seating, they have tables and chairs and instead of a concession stand, they have a full-service kitchen. I found the wait staff to be courteous with regard to taking and delivering orders during the show and, for the most part, I barely noticed their presence at all. The food was good and also reasonably priced for the Indianapolis area. They show kid/family movies earlier in the day and a place like this could be a good option for those that wish to take their children to see a movie. With the staff coming and going plus since the seating tends to be more spread out, its not the end of the world if your kids aren't perfectly quiet. And while they seem to cater to families for the earlier shows, they also have a "no children whatsoever" policy for movies rated PG-13 or R that begin after 6:00 pm. For those of you in the Indianapolis area or surrounding communities, I highly recommend The Cinema Grill.

Finding Neverland (2004) dir. by Marc Forster

Tombstone (1993) dir. by George P. Cosmatos

Bambi (1942) dir. by David Hand; Produced by Walt Disney

Adam's Rib (1949) dir. by George Cukor

She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949) dir. by John Ford

The Spanish Prisoner (1997) dir. by David Mamet

Weekend Update With Chevy Chase...

Hey kids! Chevy couldn't be here, so I'm filling in.

I had a mind-blowing, life-changing post up last night (perhaps a few of you saw it an can attest to the fact), but my crappy dial-up internet connection lost most of it. This morning, I removed the truncated post and replaced it with this. With any luck, my post is still on my computer at home in some form and I'll get it posted later tonight.

Until then, perhaps you computer gurus out there can diagnose my computer problem. My computer won't stay connected to the internet. It dials fine and connects for a little while, but sooner or later it disconnects itself. For you lucky broadband users who can remember, when there is a dial-up internet connection, there's a little icon down in your taskbar that shows two green computer screens flashing indicating that there is an active connection. That icon comes up fine, but while browsing the internet, I will notice that a page isn't loading so I pick up the nearby telephone receiver and there's a dial tone. I'm no longer connected to the internet. It's been this way for quite some time now. This has happened on two different ISP's too. Any ideas?

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

TV Shows on DVD (Part 1)

What's your favorite Television show of all time??

Is it available on DVD?


You say you don't know? Well, get with it, man!

This site contains all the information that you need including releases by date and by show along with news and reviews by show. Chances are, even if your favorite show isn't yet available, TVShowsOnDVD.com probably has some news about why it isn't out yet or information about its upcoming release!

Some Advantages...
Watch shows you missed from the beginning whenever you want. I've heard wonderful things about shows like The West Wing, 24, American Dreams, CSI, etc., but I've never seen a single episode of any of them. But all of these have at least one season available on DVD so that I can catch up with them at my own pace. One personal example of this for me is: I must also mention here that Christy and I discovered a wonderful TV series that only lasted one abbreviated season in 1999, but got excellent treatment on DVD, Freaks and Geeks. Anybody who was in school during the 80's will appreciate this show.

Watch shows from stations that you don't receive at home. HBO has really latched onto original programming with critically acclaimed shows like The Sopranos, Sex And The City, Six Feet Under, etc. For those of you who like the ultra-dry British wit, the BBC has many releases including Absolutely Fabulous, The Office, etc.

Also, watch older favorites that aren't on the air anymore. This could be for you or possibly for those of us who have small children. Our 3-year-old, Hannah, knows Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura and Carrie from Little House on the Prairie almost like they're her own family.

Similar to films on DVD, some shows are given better treatment than others, but many feature special features such as cast & crew interviews, audio commentaries, text commentaries, etc.

Best of all, NO COMMERCIALS!!

Some Disadvantages...

Mainly, price.

4, 5, 6+ disc DVD sets aren't generally cheap. Considering you'll probably be collecting the entire series of your favorite shows, be selective about which shows you begin to collect unless you want to end up in the poorhouse.

Also, the possibility that your favorites are being released as "best of" or "individual episode" releases. "Best of's" may appeal to a casual fan though and some shows may work better in the medium as highlights type releases (Sesame Street comes to mind here where the show runs year-round and some elements get used in multiple shows, perhaps a good candidate for a "best of" style release). Most often though, season sets are the way to go.

The last disadvantage that I am going to discuss is near and dear to my heart so I am going to put it in a separate post.

Music rights clearance frustrations [click here for more] (or simply scroll down to next post if on main page)

TV Shows on DVD (Part 2 -- Music Clearance Frustrations)

The producers of shows like Beverly Hills 90210, The Wonder Years, Ally McBeal, and many others find themselves in a music rights clearance nightmare when it comes to negotiating licensing fees with the owners of songs and recordings.

The show, Married With Children used Frank Sinatra's recording of "Love And Marriage" as its iconic theme song. The owners of that song and/or recording have apparently been playing hardball with the producers of the DVD. So hard, in fact, that the DVD producers chose to replace the theme song entirely on the Third Season DVD set!

DVD producers are kind of stuck in the middle here. Fans of the show will expect the music to be the same as when it aired originally (especially the theme song!!). On the other hand, the owners of the music have every right to negotiate as high a licensing fee as they are able or even deny additional uses entirely. So, you end up with either extremely high production fees which get passed down to consumers, or you get the original music cues replaced with more affordable alternative tunes (though not necessarily by REM, Green Day, or Nirvana).

The simple fact is TV on DVD is WAY bigger than TV on VHS ever dreamed of being. The music used in many older shows was cleared only for broadcast and syndication and not for home video use. Now that the explosion of popularity of the DVD format has spilled over into TV shows, the producers of those shows are going back any trying to clear the music for use on DVD and finding roadblocks along the way in the form of very high music licensing fees.

Will this affect the future of television? I believe it will. Most current TV shows are definitely taking these issues into consideration when choosing music for their shows, but then again, so are the owners of the music being used on current shows.

I don't often deal with these issues in my work (The O.C. doesn't exactly ring my phone off the hook requesting permission to use Gaither Gospel classics), but the few times I have, I see words like "perpetuity" and phrases like, "throughout the entire universe" and "for all purposes, without condition" and "all media now known or hereafter created or discovered," etc. You get the picture. These are scary words for a music licensor. In an effort to assure themselves that they aren't making a bad deal considering the scope of the rights requested, music owners are demanding higher and higher licensing fees when making these deals. This gets reflected in the cost of the production and that's part of the reason that half (if not more) of the shows in Primetime are now "reality shows."

TV Shows on DVD is big business (over $1 Billion in 2004) and there are advantages to the format, but there is (as always) a downside. Be aware of these issues whether your looking for The Brady Bunch, The Fantistic Four, The Gilmore Girls, Mork & Mindy, or Wonder Woman.

For More Information:

TVShowsOnDVD.com - various articles and issues

HERE is a recent article from Wired News about music clearance issues.

Also, there's some lively discussion of the relevant issues to music rights clearance for TV on DVD is happening HERE.

I know I said that this music rights clearance issue would be the final disadvantage discussed here, but recently another came to mind. That being, that if you
promise to watch an entire season of Knight Rider in one day, some people might take you up on it and hold you to your promise. Right, Pat? :-)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Eighth Anniversary Of The Day On Which Christy And I Were Married...

Last night, we were at the dinner table discussing our anniversary because Hannah had noticed our wedding picture out on the counter. Here is the conversation that ensued:

CHRISTY: That picture was from when Mommy and Daddy got married.

HANNAH: I better get married again! I will be a princess. I will drive my car outside and find my new house!

JEREMY: Are you going to get married to a boy?

HANNAH: To you.



Films Recently Watched:

The Whole Wide World (1996) dir. by Dan Ireland

Based on a true story, The Whole Wide World tells the story of two writers in an unlikely romance. One of the writers is Robert E. Howard, an eccentric "spinner of yarns" who created Conan, the character who, in 1982, became widely known on film as Conan The Barbarian.

The other writer is Novalyne Price, the writer of the book on which this film was based, One Who Walked Alone.

The film was pretty good, but the DVD is less than stellar. There were actually two DVD releases of this film, one bare-bones release in 2002 and another release in 2003 which is the one I borrowed from the library. The new edition does have two bonus features: an interview with the director Dan Ireland and co-star, Renee Zellweger (12 minutes) and a full-length audio commentary with Ireland and co-star Vincent D'Onofrio along with a few crew members. But even the newer DVD has some terrible flaws in the video transfer and the only audio available is Dolby 2.0. This film deserves better than that.

Bubba Ho-tep (2002) dir. by Don Coscarelli

Elvis and JFK are in this nursing home being terrorized by an ancient Egyptian mummy...

No, this isn't the introduction to the latest office joke, it's the basic plot of Bubba Ho-tep.

Unless you're a fan of Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead; Army of Darkness) or Don Soscarelli (The Phantasm series), don't bother.

Night and Day (1946) dir. by Michael Curtiz

A biopic of musician, songwriter, Cole Porter. The film seems to want to be a musical as there are many musical numbers, but isn't allowed to be as it takes a pseudo-biographical look at Porter (played by Cary Grant) from his college days to his successful career, but wavering marriage.

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) dir. by Irving Reis

A cute story of a schoolgirl obsession with an older man and her guardians' zany solution. Schoolgirl played by Shirley Temple. Older man played by Cary Grant. Also with Myrna Loy.

Interesting that Grant played these roles (Bobby-Soxer & Night & Day) on either side of his role in Alfred Hitchock's Notorious. I can't imagine three more asimilar roles, but Grant pulls them all off nicely.