Wednesday, May 31, 2006

SPC -- Final Introductions

Because today is the final day in May, the Self Portrait Challenge theme is still "Introduce Yourself."

Hannah (Age 4) and Me

I am a father.

Of course, Bill Cosby would say that having only one child "doesn't count" but for the purposes of this entry, we'll say that it does. :-)

I don't mind telling you that Christy (my wife) was ready for this whole parenthood thing before I was. If we had waited until I was "ready" we probably would have never had a child at all. I am fully aware that the reason for this is my own selfishness. Selfishness is an ugly trait that I can easily spot (and criticize) in others, but is often overlooked when I gaze at myself in the mirror, though it is probably my biggest fault. I have often thought to myself, and occasionally said to others, "Imagine a world without selfishness." It would be a better world, no doubt. Much closer to home, the phrase should be, "Imagine a Jeremy without selfishness." I would be a better husband, father, friend, employee -- a better person. Yes, easier said than done, but with God's help, I will continue to try to consider others better than myself.

I don't want to give the impression that I became a father reluctantly or that I dislike it now. Quite the opposite. It was a willful decision on my part and I love it. Yeah, there are ups and downs. Yeah, there are moments when I wish I could simply do what I want to do. Yeah, there are moments when my own daughter just about drives me crazy.

But these feelings are far outweighed when I hear, "Daddy -- I love you." And when she laughs. And when she asks me to make her into a "fruit roll-up" after her bath (which involves rolling her up in the comforter on our bed). And so many other moments big and small that I wouldn't trade for anything.

All that to say that I'm glad that I didn't let one of my biggest faults deny me of what has turned out to be one of my greatest joys!

Hannah (Age 2 months) and MeBonus picture:

Though, it couldn't possibly be a "self portrait". Christy must have taken this one. It's one of my favorites. Good job, sweetie!!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Then The Emperor Has Already Won...

Did I mention that I was skeptical about the forthcoming DVD release of Star Wars? Well, pessimists of the world, rejoice! George Lucas is sticking it to his fans again!

According to The Digital Bits and a linked article from Home Media Retailing, the September DVD release will, in fact, feature the original unaltered films, but they will be transfers of the non-anamorphic (click here if you don't know what that means, but want to) laserdisc releases from the early 90s. This probably means little to those of us who are still using standard definition, analog televisions, but for those with HD sets or plans to upgrade, this means that the unaltered films on these DVDs will have vastly inferior video quality than current standards. The truth is that video transfers created nearly 15 years ago, are ancient. The DVD format hadn't even gotten off the ground when these transfers were created and the technology used to create video transfers from film sources has advanced significantly in the meantime. For a film that in many ways set a new standard for the use of technology, it is sad to see the same film so far behind what is possible.

Here's a quote from the response some fans have been getting to their letters and e-mails:

So many fans have requested the original movies, we wanted to find a way to bring them to you. But since these movies do not represent George's artistic vision, we could not put the extraordinary time and resources into this project as we did with the Special Editions. The 1993 Laserdisc masters represented the best source for providing the original versions as DVD bonus material. Although these are non-anamorphic versions, they do preserve the original widescreen composition of the movies.

We want you to be aware that we have no plans -- now or in the future -- to restore the earlier versions.

That's the nail in the coffin, folks. We will never see the original, unaltered trilogy with technology beyond 1993. Sad news, indeed, on the 29th anniversary of the premier of Star Wars in theaters.

Films Recently Watched:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) dir. by Peter Jackson
After finding the extended motion picture soundtrack at the library and enjoying it, I wanted to give this a viewing. And once you pop . . . you can't stop!
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) dir. by Peter Jackson
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) dir. by Peter Jackson

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) dir. by Stanley Kubrick
I'd seen bits and pieces but never the entire film. An amazing piece of science fiction. Not full of action, but definitely thought-provoking. For those who have seen the film, here is one interesting explanation of the film in Shockwave Flash format.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004) dir. by Hayao Miyazaki
Full of imagination and wonders. Miyazaki's attention to detail shines again here, as it did in 'Spirited Away.' Miyazaki is a filmmaker who takes full advantage of the animated medium. He would likely be crippled by the confines of live-action. It's kind of like being in a dream -- I don't know what it all means, but -- you just go with it. The Region 1 DVD has an English dub (which I only sampled) featuring the voice talent of Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal, and Jean Simmons. The English dialogue was directed by Pixar's Pete Doctor, who directed Monsters, Inc. Those folks at Pixar are all huge Miyazaki fans, led by John Lasseter, the chief creative executive who may just be the biggest Miyazaki fan in the world.

Bruce Almighty (2003) dir. by Tom Shadyac
Somewhere deep in msubconsciousus, I must have been needing a silly comedy, because this had me laughing out loud. I still have to compose myself when I think about the scene where Jim Carrey's titular character uses his powers to "possess" Steve Carell's character, Evan Baxter, during the evening news. Of course, I think Steve Carell would be funny reading the phonebook, so your mileage may vary. I'll be looking for the follow-up to this, Evan Almighty, scheduled for release in 2007.

Serenity (2005) dir. by Joss Whedon
I went into this knowing nothing about the characters nor story of the cult television series, Firefly on which this is based. I think that fans of the TV show would appreciate this more. It was OK, and I do like the way Whedon instills moments of comedy into otherwise tense dialogue. I won't be running out to buy Firefly on DVD, though.

Brokeback Mountain (2005) dir. by Ang Lee
This wasn't all I hoped it would be. I love the other Ang Lee films I've seen (Sense and Sensibility / Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon / Hulk), and I wanted to like this one, but it just didn't grab me. There were moments during the film that were reminiscent of Lee's other excellent camerawork, lighting and ingenuity, but much of the film just felt flat to me. I did like the use of music.

Oh, and since we're talking about Star Wars anyway -- for those that found Anakin's "turn" in Revenge of the Sith to be sudden and unbelievable, just wait until you see this!! I knew it was coming and I still didn't believe it!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Photo Friday - The Road

'The Road'
(Click any picture to enlarge)

[More Photo Friday]

The above represents my "official submission" to Photo Friday.

Here are a few honorable mentions:
Blinkin' Red Light1100 E. 5th StreetVanishing Point

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Photo Friday - Masterpiece

Ever since I became aware of Illustration Friday, I've been wanting to find a similar type of site to which the drawing-challenged among us could contribute. Self Portrait Challenge (formerly known as Self Portrait Tuesday), was the closest thing I had found until I recently discovered Photo Friday, the weekly photo challenge.

The concept is very similar. Every Friday, the site gives you a theme; a word or phrase which is then interpreted by contributors. Contributors host their own photos and provide a link to Photo Friday with the url. Visitors go to Photo Friday and browse the contributions. As far as I can tell, there are no winners, per se, though it looks like several photos are selected as "Noteworthy" for each week's theme.

Some past weeks' themes that are intriguing to me:
(For those interested, the links will take you to the "Noteworthy" links for that week)
Depth of Field

Well, this weeks challenge is "Masterpiece."

This theme is seemingly rife with the potential to give the appearance of "Tooting one's own horn," especially since it is my first contribution, but . . .

This picture (though I was quite happy with how it turned out), to me, has more to do with the Masterpiece of God's creation and not the photo itself.

And yes - I know it isn't Friday, but according to the participant's guide:
Friday is the day we post the Challenge, but you can enter your link on Photo Friday whenever you like. It doesn't have to be on Friday!

So there!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Self Portrait Challenge - May

Challenge for the month of May -- "Introduce Yourself"

I am:
a Child of God
the Son of Bob and Mary
the Brother of Julia
the Husband of Christy
the Father of Hannah
a lover of film, music, photography and a sponge of the interesting.

"Introduction" questions:
  • *How do you spend your weekdays? -- see "time" self portrait project
  • *Who lives in your house? -- Wife, Christy // Daughter, Hannah // Cat, Beaker // Fish, Jaws
  • *Favourite pastime -- watching movies (see sidebar on main page)
  • *Worst job -- I've been really fortunate to have good jobs over the years. If I had to name one as "worst," it would probably be my job at the Mail Center during my college years only because it made for many early mornings after many very late nights.
  • *Why are you doing self portraits? -- I love the monthy challenges. So many interpretations of a single idea. Plus, with a four-year-old running around the house, it's nice to have a subject who will sit still for a few moments.
My Other Self Portraits:
Reflective Surfaces
April Fool

Other Self Portrait "Challengees" contributing here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture -- Mother's Day Edition

I could never be in advertising. I would never consider putting these ads together!

Happy Mother's Day!

Here's an article I found recently:

Study: US mothers deserve $134,121 in salary

All I can say is, "Show me the money!!" Not only do I have a mother, I've got a wife who is a mother and a daughter who wants nothing more than to be a mother someday. Let's see here, $134,121 times 3 -- [mumbling] -3- -6- -3- -carry the 1 -- Dude! I'm totally retiring!

Really, though. Despite the magnitude and obviousness of the sacrifices made through the years, the mothers in our life are often underappreciated.

Sending huge thanks and love to the "Moms" in my life! I love you more than you could know.

Finally, special greetings to one of the "Moms" in my life who is not only celebrating Mother's Day today, but also the anniversary of the day on which she was born.

"Happy Birthday" to Christy's Mom, Carol. Have a great day!

Films Recently Watched:

Billy Graham: God's Ambassador (2006) dir. by Michael Merriman
[EDITED 06/05/06: Link now directs to IMDb]

A nicely done video biography of the life and ministry of the Reverand Billy Graham. This is the first (and currently, only) release by Gaither Film Productions. I was largely unaware of the impact Rev. Graham had on race relations during the fifties and sixties, nor his determination and, eventually success, in reaching souls behind the Iron Curtain and then, in China. It also goes the obligatory route with Graham's childhood, upbringing, education, meeting his wife, Ruth, etc. Overall, it does a good job of balancing the educational and inspirational.

One complaint would have to do with the host, Sir David Frost, whose speech is slurred enough that it sounds like he's drunk most of the time. I know that other hosts were considered, perhaps a lesser known host with better diction would have been a better choice?

The only other complaint has to do with choices made for what video elements would appear for certain audio elements. Sometimes, these are seemingly unrelated, other times, still photos are used for video elements. Sometimes still photos work as video in documentaries, but here, it seemed that one photo was lingered on too long. Maybe it was just me.

The Towering InfernoThe Towering Inferno (1974) dir. by John Guillermin and Irwin Allen
The beautiful poster art to the right belongs to this film. --->

Hoodwinked (2006) dir. by Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards, Tony Leech
Picked up the DVD last week on the day it released. With the audio problems from our first viewing, there were several gags that I missed last time, but got this time. This definitely holds up for me on multiple viewings (which are quickly becoming very multiple viewings since Hannah has kind of attached herself to this one). Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to the sequel: Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil. The full-length director's audio commentary on the DVD was generally entertaining, even if it was overly "self-congratulatory." :-)

Also, read at Cory Edwards' blog about how he had to go buy his own movie from a retail store and his thoughts about one journalist who is calling Hoodwinked, "the most subversive movie released nationwide since Fahrenheit 9/11."

The Unsaid (2001) dir. by Tom McLoughlin
A pretty decent psycological thriller starring Andy Garcia, Teri Polo, and Linda Cardellini. I'd never heard of it until a friend recommended it to me.

A Lot Like Love (2005) dir. by Nigel Cole

Bringing Up Baby (1938) dir. by Howard Hawks

Chicken Little (2005) dir. by Mark Dindal
I can only hope that Disney's recent acquisition of Pixar will result in Pixar influencing the story people at Disney and not the other way around. This wasn't worthy of Walt Disney's name.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Original Unaltered Trilogy Coming to DVD!!!

I just had to pick myself up off the floor. I'm stunned.

This is not a joke. Here's the link from the official site.

I'm not sure how to react:

I'm thrilled.
I'm angry.
I'm happy.
I'm anxious.
I'm skeptical.

There is already speculation and confusion about exactly what we'll get in this set. There are so many variations of these movies, nobody knows yet what to expect. Will we get the original 1977 crawl without "Episode IV?" Will we get the original effects blunders that have been cleaned up through the years? Will we get 2.0 channel audio, or something else? Will Luke scream like a little girl when he chooses to jump into the chasm at Bespin?

For now, I will wait and see. The set doesn't release until September 12, 2006, so I'm sure much more information (and mis-information) will surface between now and then

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Love Of God

We're enjoying spring here in Indiana.

The redbuds, dogwoods are in full bloom, and the lilacs soon will be.

I took a couple of nature pics recently with which I was pleased and I thought I'd combine them with a few older ones for a post here. I got to thinking about the song, The Love of God by Frederick M. Lehman. It seemed to fit, so a portion of the lyric is below. The third verse is probably one of the most perfect lyrics ever composed.

(As usual -- click on any picture to enlarge)

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above,

Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Friday With Friends

Pat was in town again for his DMin classes again so a few of us got together Friday night. Actually it was just Pat and Randy and me, though it seems that maybe we saw Tim too -- though, it's hard to be sure.

Mainly, I liked how this picture turned out and wanted to post it!

Films Recently Watched:

The Fox and the Hound (1981) dir. by Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Art Stevens

Kingdom of Heaven (2005) dir. by Ridley Scott
I love Ridley Scott's visual style and there is plenty of it here. Almost every frame in this film is a work of art all by itself. The story suffers due to cuts for length reasons in the theatrical release, but I hope that it will be fleshed out in the 4-disc Director's Cut that releases later this month (Which, by the way, is a steal for $17.46 at Amazon).

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) dir. by David Lean
How fast can 2 hours and 41 minutes go by? Just watch this and find out. The pacing here is just perfect. Wonderful story-telling and acting.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Saw this sign this morning on the way to work and had to go back for the picture.

Am I the only one who finds this funny??