Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Bill Hunt over at Digital Bits had me laughing with a couple of recent updates:

First one was about the upcoming release of Curious George to home video formats:

The film will be available in anamorphic widescreen and full frame DVD versions, as well as a VHS full frame version too. VHS? Set the Wayback Machine, Sherman...


We fully intended to get to a theater with Hannah to see this, but never did. Looks like it will be out on DVD (& VHS!!!) in just a few months, anyway.

Second one was about an item I've posted about before [here and here], a unified Hi-Def video format:

On a related note, Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida is again claiming that they're STILL not ruling out the possibility of creating a united high-definition format: "We have not given up on a unified format. We would like to seek ways for unifying the standards if opportunities arise." Isn't that a little bit like closing the barn doors AFTER the cows have run loose across the south forty? Yikes, man.


This blog needs a laugh-track!

For those that don't know, HD-DVD and Blu-ray both have hardware and software in stores now. Early reviews for both formats are mixed. Bottom line, save your $1,000 and wait for second or third (or, if you're my parents -- tenth) generation players and software. If the unified format mentioned in the quote doesn't happen by then, the format war might be over by other means, or, worst-case, the two formats will co-exist and there will likely be a reasonable universal player available that will play anything you can throw at it.

Films Recently Watched:

The Princess Bride (1987) dir. by Rob Reiner

Lady and the Tramp (1955) dir. by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) dir. by George Roy Hill
First time seeing this.

I didn't care for the "poppy" music soundtrack -- for a Western?? Give me Ennio Morricone any day.

I did like the sepia-toned sequences.

Overall, it was OK, but you won't find me heaping accolades on it, as some do.

I do have to mention writer, William Goldman, here.

He wrote original screenplays for two of the films mentioned here in this post, Princess Bride & BC/SK, but his filmography (as both a writer of original stories/screenplays as well as adapted screenplays) is quite astounding:

All the President's Men (1976)
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Misery (1990)
The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
Dreamcatcher (2003)

Also, I should mention that I'm working my way through Scrubs - Season 1, which I received as a Father's Day gift! I really love the style of humor there, but also the ability to quickly turn a moment of hilarity into poignancy and right back again. It's also a show where I've only seen a handful of episodes, so much of it is brand new to me. I'm quite enjoying it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

SPC - June - "Pop Art" #4

This is the final week for June's theme, 'Pop Art' at Self Portrait Challenge.

I have quite enjoyed this theme, though I was apprehensive at first.

Thanks to those who have left comments and to those who selected my contributions for features on the main SPC site.

When some visit here and think (or even say) that "I clearly have too much time on my hands," it is encouraging to receive some positive feedback in these creative endeavors.

Check out next month's theme: Self Portrait as...

I'm already hatching a few ideas for that, and looking forward to seeing what others will come up with, too.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

SPC - June - "Pop Art" #3

Films Recently Watched:

Sin City (2005) dir. by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
My Self Portrait Challenge contribution for this week (above) was inspired by this image to the right. Elijah Wood stars in Sin City as an extremely disturbing (but really cool-looking) character, Kevin, in this highly-stylized film noir, based off of the graphic novel by Frank Miller.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Father's Heart

A couple of thoughts to share with you on this Father's Day...

On Christmas day (2005), we were traveling from Michigan back to Indiana and had to stop at my office to pick up the other car which we had left there over that weekend. We went inside long enough for a bathroom break and to let the other car warm up a bit.

While there, our then-3-year-old, Hannah, discovered a water cooler and a supply of Dixie cups that she put to good use, filling one, walking back to my desk, drinking it, and then running back for more. She had done this a couple of times on her own, but during one trip, I heard from another room, softly at first, "Daddy" -- then louder, "Daddy?" -- then immediately, the desperate cry of one in the most helpless of situations: Lost -- and seemingly, alone.

I rushed to find her. She wasn't but a few steps from familiar territory, but she had gone straight through a hall where she should have turned.

It got me to thinking -- how often do I get to doing my own thing my own way only to make a wrong turn and find myself lost, crying out, "Daddy?" I used to imagine that as often as I get myself into trouble, that God might get tired of hearing my cries, but now I realize that God, the Father, hears my cries when I'm truly lost and it breaks His heart, just like Hannah's cries broke mine, and God comes running, every time.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Luke 11:11-13 (NIV)

Also on this Father's Day, I'd like to take the opportunity to announce to those of you who may not know that Christy and I are expecting our second child!

We are very excited about expanding our family and all that comes along with that.

Hannah is excited about being the big sister, and had done her part to inform the world (including perfect strangers) of the big news.

She is also convinced that the baby will be a girl.

"What if it's a boy?" we ask. "We'll see." says Hannah, knowingly. :-)

We (that's "We") are due mid-December.

Stay tuned right here for all the baby news you can handle!

Films Recently Watched:

Slowly trying to make my way through the Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection. I've had it for over six months and haven't even made a dent. With some birthday money from my parents and Christy's parents (thanks Moms & Dads!!), I've also recently added eight John Wayne/John Ford films to my collection, so I'm going to try to cut back my DVD selections from the library and work on getting through some of my own collection that I have yet to watch.

The Birds (1963) dir. by Alfred Hitchcock
Anyone who ever said that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush hasn't seen this movie!
For an older 'horror' picture, it is still legitimately scary at times. Very effective use of sound effects.

Harry and 'the Beav'The Trouble With Harry (1955) dir. by Alfred Hitchcock
Unexpectedly funny! The trouble with Harry is that he's dead. Throughout the course of the film, at least three of the four main characters have reason to believe that they may have been responsible for Harry's death. The various reactions from the small town occupants are priceless. Beautiful fall colors throughout. This has to be among Hitch's most colorful films. All that, plus a young Jerry Mathers, who later would play Beaver Cleaver in Leave it to Beaver (see picture, right). This is easily among my favorites of the Hitchcock that I've seen thus far.

Saboteur (1942) dir. by Alfred Hitchcock

Man on Fire (2004) dir. by Tony Scott
A beautifully-photographed thriller from Tony Scott, director of Top Gun, Crimson Tide, and Enemy of the State, among others. Denzel Washington is excellent, as usual.

Karate Kid II (1986) dir. by John G. Avildsen

Karate Kid III (1989) dir. by John G. Avildsen

Now Playing...
The Saturday before Father's Day, I got a special Father's Day present. I got a chance to go see a couple of movies currently in theaters. Christy and Hannah had a girl's day out with two friends from church. One is getting married in October of this year, the other is the Mother of the Bride. Hannah is going to be the flowergirl in the wedding and they all went shopping in Indianapolis for dresses.

A Prairie Home Companion (2006) dir. by Robert Altman
"It's Saturday -- the band is playin' - Honey, could we ask for more?" As a listener of National Public Radio, I've heard these opening lyrics to the radio program, A Prairie Home Companion, many times -- usually on the way home from Sunday services at church. Garrison Keillor is the quintessential entertainer, and basically plays himself here. He, alongside some of the other Prairie regulars join film stars Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline and others to form a really strong cast. I loved the use of mirrors in the backstage areas. It was a little weird seeing a movie in a theater, set in a theater, about a real radio show, starring real actors playing other real actors, but it's a sweet little movie. However, unless you don't mind being the only one in the theater under seventy, I recommend renting it when it becomes available on DVD.

Cars (2006) dir. by John Lasseter and Joe Ranft
As if I couldn't get enough NPR movie tie-ins, the guys from Car Talk make a cameo in this one. Good Stuff! Another homerun from the folks at Pixar! It's everything that we've come to expect from Pixar: stunning visuals, simple, but strong story, interesting voice acting -- in this case, Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Larry the Cable Guy, a couple of Pixar favorites, Bonnie Hunt and, of course, John Ratzenberger (who got some of the biggest laughs -- over the end credits). This isn't just for NASCAR fans or racing in general. There's enough heart here for anybody.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Photo Friday - 'Poverty'

I considered skipping this theme entirely. As easy as it is to take a picture of an abandoned house or building, poverty, to me, is about the people affected by it. I wasn't sure I wanted to set out to take a picture of a person in poverty -- something just seemed wrong about that to me.

Anyway, I came across this image yesterday evening here in Anderson, and thought it would work for this. Again, just a building, not fully representative of 'poverty,' but here you go:

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

SPC - Pop Art #2

This was a "self-portrait" of sorts. A timed-delay so that we could get a family portrait after a day at the Indianapolis Zoo, recently.

To the left above is the original unaltered picture.
To the right above is after some play with a couple of photo editing programs.

The top image was obtained using the "Hockneyizer" tool here.

This has already been a fun month at Self Portrait Challenge and we're not quite halfway through, yet.

More on 'pop artist,' David Hockney, here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

SPC - June - "Pop Art" #1

P O P - The Baked Potato A Rusty R T


Anybody else see a couple of Longhorn skulls or a insect heads imbedded here?? Groovy!

The really cool "POPART" letter images at the top of this post came from a really cool site called Spell with Flickr of which I became aware from a really cool girl, hula seventy. Thanks!

Finally, don't forget to check out other contributions to the "Pop Art" Self Portrait Challenge.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Graph Your Website!

This is a visual representation of my blog. Each different color dot represents a link, an image, a pull-down menu, etc. For example, the section furthest to the left (in the image) is my sidebar. Blue dots represent hyperlinks, so the big cluster of blue dots is my 'Films Recently Watched' section. The yellow cluster is the pull-down menu for my Archives, etc.

Make your own HERE.

Memorial Day Weekend In Michigan

We were able to get to Christy's folk's place in Michigan over the Memorial Day Holiday weekend. The trip up went well, only, from Grand Rapids north, I felt like the kid who forgot to bring his toy for show-and-tell. It seemed that we were the only car on the road that didn't have either a camper, trailer, flatbed, or some other transporter of recreational devices; inflatable rafts, kayaks, canoes, rowboats, paddleboats, sailboats, Waverunners, fishing boats, speedboats, yachts, and because, contrary to the rumors, there is some dry land in Northern Michigan, just about everybody who didn't have some kind of watercraft had a few bicycles. We had nothing behind nor strapped onto our car and I could just about hear the laughter as we passed them. It was the first time that Hannah was awake for the entire trip, but she did really well. We did hit some stand-still traffic around Big Rapids, but were finally able to bypass it.

Hannah enjoyed swimming two of the days that we were there. Despite air temperatures in the 80s, the water was still cold from the long winter, painfully cold to me, at least, though it didn't seem to bother her a bit. We were in Michigan last September for the Labor Day weekend and Lake Michigan was still quite chilly even after the entire summer to heat it. Crazy kid. It did give me a new respect for my Dad, though, who notoriously waded into Lake Michigan near Chicago one winter. Why? I don't know, but there are pictures to prove it.

Jim McGrath introduces the Eastern HognoseOne evening when we were there, we all went to an exhibit that the Michigan DNR was putting on about frogs. It was pretty interesting. The guy doing the presentation, Jim McGrath, had personally been all over Michigan for several years (I think he said eight years) collecting audio recordings of the various species of frogs and toads native to Michigan. He had live specimens of most of them and passed them around (in jars) to see. The highlight, though, was when he fed one of the frogs to an Eastern Hognose Snake! Very Cool!

Hannah near snakeClick links below for more pictures of snake vs. frog (not posted directly for the benefit of those with weak constitutions, or who'd just rather not see them).
[Sizing up the situation] ; [The Strike] ; [Say 'Chubby Bunny!'] ; [Frog Legs, anyone?] ; [Almost down] ; [Done!]

Hannah got bored during the frog lecture, so Christy took her outside to play, but she did come back near the end and I was shocked how close she got to the snake! It's a good thing that the snake had already eaten by then!

We got to relax some, including naps both Saturday and Sunday (Woo-hoo!!)! Christy's Dad introduced me to Sudoku puzzles and I managed to work out a couple of the easy ones. I went one time with Christy's Brother, Paul, to take his Golden Retriever, Amber, for a walk out in the woods. Altogether, it was a pleasant weekend. If there was a low point, it would have to be the tragic discovery that the 'House of Flavors' ice cream parlor/restaurant in Manistee, had gone out of business. Fortunately, there was an A&W nearby to cheer us all up!

One of the highlights for me was getting to see the sunset over Lake Michigan on the anniversary of the day on which I was born. I think everyone should take in as many sunsets as they possibly can, but especially on their "birthdays." It helps one put things into perspective. I also think that sunrises are overrated. :-)

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me -- just kidding!

Manistee Lighthouse at sunsetLake Michigan at sunset, Manistee, MILake Michigan at sunset, Manistee, MILake Michigan at sunset, Manistee, MI

Films Recently Watched:

Eraserhead (1977) dir. by David Lynch
Quite possibly the most disturbing piece of cinema these eyes have ever seen. Wow. I don't even know what to say. Have any of you ever seen this? Feel free to e-mail me if you're unwilling to comment here publicly. :-)

Pride & Prejudice (2005) dir. by Joe Wright
I was pleasantly surprised by this. Lovely locations and visuals. A succinct telling of the story, which was fine by me. I got bogged down in the 5-hour A&E miniseries from '95, though I understand that it is considered by many to be the definitive telling of the story in the motion picture medium. To be fair, I am not a casual reader of Jane Austen, much less a passionate one, and I am certain that it is lovers of Austen who would prefer the miniseries over this. I wasn't blown away by either of the leads, Keira Knightley or Matthew Macfadyen, though both were decent. I was blown away by the performance here by Donald Sutherland. It's a small role, but he tears it up.

Bill Cosby: Himself (1984) dir. by Bill Cosby
I put this in for one gag that I wanted to see and ended up watching the entire thing. Classic!

Blade Runner (1982) dir. by Ridley Scott
I'll never be able to post in another Sci-fi messageboard again, but this isn't my favorite of Ridley Scott's work. There are several versions of the film, though. Perhaps another would be more to my liking? There have been rumors for years about a special edition DVD coming out. Maybe if those actually come true, I'll give it another shot.

Vertigo (1958) dir. by Alfred Hitchcock