Friday, May 21, 2010

....And The Winner Is.....

I stopped by McDonald's on the way to work this morning. I had to look over some financial documents before I hit the office and didn't want to be disturbed. As I approached the front door to 'America's Cafeteria', I saw a large poster for the latest "Shrek" film

Once upon a time, back in the 40s and 50s, films were produced and distributed in this country on their own merit. They were an art form, with the various studios seeing who could make the better picture. It was a form of artistic competition that was very expensive and produced some of the greatest films in history. Think of films like 'Ben Hur', 'Gone with the Wind', 2001: A Space Odyssey' and you get my drift. These were blockbusters that didn't need a lot of advertising.

But the entertainment industry has changed quite a lot since then. Now, even the most meager 'mega-film-wannabe' has to have tie-ins. Every large budget film (especially if it ties into a demographic under the age of 30) has to have toys, clothing, music, video games and fast food franchise tie ins. The concept being that market saturation increases profits from the licensing of the film title.

Once little Timmy sees the latest Pixar film, it is assumed he will want the 'Nemo' pajamas, the 'Woody' doll, the 'UP' video game and the 'Cars' Happy Meal. And Pixar gets a percentage of every one of those items. Hey, I suppose it costs a lot to pay those CGI animators to create those cute little creatures on the big screen.

So this got me thinking a few months ago. This all has to be planned out at a very high level in order to bring everything to market at the time of the films release.

I am sure that there are factories in Taiwan and China that are turning out thousands of little plastic caricatures of the next big budget kiddy film to be released in August. They will be loaded onto container ships, sail to L.A. and be trucked to various fast food outlets within the next 3 months so that they can be on hand when the hoards of little rug rats exit the theater and start clamoring for a 'Nemo' or 'Woody' of their very own. The samples and orders had to be placed for these toy figures no later than late 2009.

So I have to assume that there are high level meetings going on right now, to see what toy companies and burger chains want to 'bid' for the rights to the next big budget Hollywood film. So I am going to make some predictions here and see if I can guess which fast food chains are willing to shell out the big bucks in order to be tied in with the next potential blockbuster. Lets see if I am right:

June 2010 - "The 'A' Team" - Burger King

November 2010 = "HarryPotter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" - McDonalds

December 2010 = "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" = McDonalds (again)

December 2010 = "Tron Legacy" - Burger King (again)

January 2011 = "The Green Hornet" - Taco Bell

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The More Things Change....

(click the image for the big picture)

If you have stopped in here to read my thoughts from time to time you might have noticed that I do a lot of photography. Documenting the world around me is one of my obsession, because I have learned that memories fade, but physical images can last well beyond our lifetime.

I find myself drawn to the high resolution images from the 1860 thru the 1940s that show our nation in a different light. Gone are all the super-fast and hyper imagery of our current day and age. Instead they are replaced by a slower, more paced time. A time before plastics and the invention of the automobile. Back when a radio was a luxury and when there was no practical way to speak with someone in China or the Congo, except by letter.

I have often poured over these images, because when they are blown up on high quality monitor, there are things in the background that aren't noticeable with the naked eye. Expressions on faces. Petticoats and street cleaners that shoveled up the by-product of horse drawn carriages and wagons. Boys running down the street chasing a hoop with a stick and little girls playing hop-scotch with bows in their hair.

As I gaze at these images. I realize that we haven't really changed that much as a people. We may be a bit more liberal and possibly a bit more knowledgeable. But the things that drive us and the things we strive for are pretty much the same. Security, success, happiness, hope....I can see it in their faces. The camera doesn't lie.

What goes around, comes around. So I have learned not to assume that all the trappings of our current generation are all that permanent. Here in a capitalist society, we are often times told what to want by the people in the ivory towers that control the media and the money supply. In that regard, age has taught me to desire and pursue core values and not what is newer and shiny. Those are usually hollow pursuits.

My late father always told me to work hard and save my money or I might grow up to be a ditch digger or a garbage man. My father had no way of knowing back in 1960, that ditch digger in the 21 century use back-hoes to dig trenches and that garbage men work in air conditioned trucks with pneumatic arms that lift and empty the garbage cans, and they get paid union scale. Gone are the kush jobs with Boeing and ATT that he thought would be the Holy Grail of our age. I firmly believe that sanitation engineers that scoop up horse shit may make a come-back someday....and if they do, it may very well be the best job to have.

Information about the attached photo: "Washington, D.C., circa 1906. "Senator George P. Wetmore, Rhode Island." Who can identify the car? (The current consensus: Krieger electric landaulet, from France.) Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative."

This picture was taken from the archive and shows a french electric car imported by a U.S. Congressman. Seated with him is his wife (nice hat) and the driver and the footman. More information and details can be found here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Netflix Is The Devil

Red Box Video Machine

I know this is a picture of a Red Box video vending machines, which has nothing to do with Netflix. I spied it at a local Circle K in town and always dismissed them as 'movies for poo folks'. But as I stopped and looked at the titles that were available on the machine I was surprised that I had heard of almost none of them. I mean, this machine was basically 'direct-to-video' heaven. Most of the titles had never made it into theatrical release.

This wouldn't have surprised me too much, except that some of the titles actually looked 'interesting'. They were period films or biographies that actually looked like they would be worth watching and actually had some impressive stars in them. This got me wondering.

For the past few years I have heard Slyde and Earl singing the praises of Netflix and how they had movies piled up in their Netflix 'cue' for the next three decades to watch. This didn't really interest me because I had an AppleTV unit that downloaded all my movies from iTunes. That is until the AppleTV went belly-up. A new one is going to cost me $280, which isn't really in the budget right now.

Then, a month ago, I read on-line that Netflix was going to start streaming video to the Nintendo Wii gaming console. Brucie loves his Wii, so I opted for the cheaper route ($280 = AppleTV vs $8.99/mo = Wii) and ordered the Netflix disk and set up my Netflix account.

So far I have been impressed. The streaming video is pretty damn quick and the resolution isn't half bad, even in HDTV. Plus, I get the fun little disks in the mail for the titles that they dont' stream, all for one flat rate. So I have been building up my Netflix cue as well, and that is when I noticed something pretty disturbing.

As many of you might know, I have extensive LaserDisc collection. Some guys collect shot glasses, others collect old Playboys, well LaserDiscs are my hobby of choice. While I am building my cue in Netflix, their software analyzes your video choices and recommends other titles that you might like. It has come to my attention that their programing in this regard has approached mind reading.

While I have selected about 12 films in my DVD / Streaming cue, Netflix has recommended about 30 other movies they think I might like......and all but about 6 of them are in my LaserDisc collection. So basically, Netflix is reading my mind. It already knows from the very few films I have selected to watch that I might like films as diverse as "The Bicycle Thief" and "Jean de Florette", both of which I already own on LaserDisc.

Maybe I am just paranoid, but I think I am going to start covering up the Wii at night when I am not using it......I think it might be watching me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Burning Man 2010

'Admit One Citizen'

The tickets have arrived, and now the gears must be set in motion. Wheels within wheels, lists will be made, ideas will be nurtured and hatched, coordination must be planned. The future awaits, and it is an unknown and glorious thing.

Check out the Burning Man website for all the details.

For last years documentation and imagery go here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Going To Heaven

Problem Child

I have commented once or twice about our three dogs. In case you weren't paying attention, here is a run down of them.

Bacchus: Abandoned as a 10 week old puppy in our neighborhood, he is considerably the smartest and most handsome dog anyone has ever seen. He looks like a small Husky, and is half Chow-Chow and half Weimaraner. He is loyal, very loving and very smart.

Chella: We adopted her when she was 7 years old, because her previous owner could no longer keep her due to allergies. She is a 125lb full grown Great Dane. While not appearing to be the sharpest tool in the shed, she is actually very smart and sometimes does not realize that she weighs more than the average human. She loves to play (although you had better have padding on when you do) but she can knock you down with little effort. Despite being bred to hunt down and kill wild boar, she is a very laid back and loving dog. She never bites, and loves to give little kisses to anyone that will come up and pet her.

Then there is Max: We call him the 'problem child'. He was also abandoned in our neighborhood as a puppy and we took him in thinking he would be a good playmate for Bacchus when the wife and I are at work during the day. Max has 'issues'. Abandonment issues is one of them. He is a pack animal and when he is separated from the pack, he goes bonkers. He has hyper issues. When someone comes into the room or you take him for a walk, he can't control himself at all. He will jump all over you (51lbs of dog that can jump 7 feet high) and try and lick your face, whether you want him to or not. He also has teething issues. Mind you, he is over 2 years old now and STILL manages to put anything in his mouth that he finds on the floor and gnaws on it

This includes sewing needles.

It seems that Thursday, sometime late in the afternoon he proceeded to chew on a sewing needle and promptly swallowed it. At least he tried to. It didn't make it all the way down and ended up piercing the base of his tongue and lodging in his throat. So when we come home, he is sitting in the middle of the room, wagging his tail, jumping all over us and gaging uncontrolably.

Try as we might, we could not find anything wrong with him. So we took him to the doggie ER and dropped him off. Five hours later and $600 poorer they gave him back to us along with the needle and the x-ray of where they found it. Look for the solid line just behind his jaw bone in the x-ray....that is the needle.

He was back home and bouncing all over the place the next day, no worse for wear.

Despite the fact that we often times can't stand him, and have considered taking him to the pound on more than one occasion, the little guy has become a part of the family. He is the random occurrence and spark that keeps us all on our toes. He won't let us get depressed and is always happy. So we will keep him and we will no doubt be taking more trips to the vet during his lifetime. For this alone, I think my wife and I should move to the front of the line when we get to the pearly gates.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Essential Cinema - 49

Cool Hand Luke


Paul Newman ... Luke
George Kennedy ... Dragline
J.D. Cannon ... Society Red
Lou Antonio ... Koko
Robert Drivas ... Loudmouth Steve
Strother Martin ... Captain
Jo Van Fleet ... Arletta
Dennis Hopper ... Babalugats
John McLiam ... Boss Keen
Wayne Rogers ... Gambler
Harry Dean Stanton ... Tramp (as Dean Stanton)
Joy Harmon ... The Girl
Joe Don Baker ... Fixer (uncredited)

Stuart Rosenberg

Donn Pearce (screenplay) and
Frank Pierson (screenplay) (as Frank R. Pierson)
Donn Pearce (novel)

Conrad L. Hall

Lalo Schifrin

International Movie Database Entry

A young man with a chip on his shoulder for authority finds himself on a Louisiana chain gang, where he bonds with the other inmates and plots his escape.

Learning to deal with the classes of society and the struggle of the individual to break free from the shackles that law and order places on us all.

First of all, there are no cons to this film. It is one of those films that I watched as young man and found it entertaining. When I watched it again with my wife some 30 years later, it was a whole different experience.

This is a consummate 'guy' film. It is about a man's struggle in a man's world and all the trials and lessons that men learn. It is a bonding film about how men relate to one another and how we all struggle to be individuals and not just another sheep in the flock.

In this film, Paul Newman as Luke, struggles with his inability to conform to the rigid parameters of the good ole boy south. While doing so he must also contend with his strained relationship with his dying mother and his need for acceptance and praise from his peers in the prison camp.

The cast of supporting characters in the film is astounding. When first viewed back in the 70s, most were not that well known. Now we can look back at George Kennedy, Strother Martin, Harry Dean Stanton, Wayne Rogers, Dennis Hopper, and Joe Don Baker and just imagine what it must have been like on the set. Nothing but talented character actors with a really meaty script and sharp dialogue.

The direction by Stuart Rosenberg is superb. The cinematography by Conrad Hall, beautiful. The soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin, evocative. Then there is Newman who lays to rest once and for all just how good an actor he really was.

I will leave you with a scene from the film in which Newman sings a song on banjo that, taken out of context, almost seems funny to watch. Yet in the context of the film, it is one of the most touching and poignant scenes. Paul Newman, singing 'Plastic Jesus'.

This film is a part of my LaserDisc Collection which is located on the LaserDisc Database.

Clicking on the "Essential Cinema" title will take you to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) entry for this film. The listing of all the LaserDiscs that I have reviewed on IMDB can be found here.

Clicking here will take you to a listing of all the "Essential Cinema" reviews in my Blog.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Shifting With The Times

Making a few changes around the old blog homestead. As the Internet continues to evolve and my life becomes more and more complicated, somethings have to change. Sometimes for the better.

For those of you that have checked out my other photo blog called 'The Alternate View', it's run has come to an end. I will leave it where it is, but there won't be anymore updates.

It has become evident that my blogging is distilling down to three basic categories. My writing, which is on this (Hypocrisy) blog, my photography blog and my video blog.

Each one of my themes has its own site that is tailor made for its content. The added bonus is that all of these sites are also tied into my Facebook account. So if you want to follow anything that is on any of my blogs, just friend me on Facebook and you will get notified if anything pops up on any of them.

So without further delay, here are the links to each, or you can just friend me on Facebook and get all the wholesome goodness in one place.

Hypocrisy (this blog)

Flickr (my photography)

YouTube (my video channel)


Thanks for all the folks that have checked out my 'stuff'....and for god's sake, don't forget to leave a comment on my me the LOVE people!!!