Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Ice is Melting in the Antarctic and That Is A Good Thing!

While the scientist may find it alarming that ice shelves are melting at the bottom of the world, I find it refreshing.  Sure, many coastal cities will be lost in this process, however, we all knew this was coming. 

Don't look at me with that deer in the headlights gaze. You saw this a more than a decade ago. Climate deniers say that climate change is happening but at such a slow rate that it couldn't possibly be caused by humans and our vast industrial way of life. It must be the volcanos or other stuff that they (the climate deniers) refuse to mention. Nevermind the hole in the ozone layer right above Antartica. But that's okay, we deserve what we are getting. Hell, we clamoured for it, we begged for it. Me, I live in Arizona. I hear it is going to be 110 degrees today. But at least, it's a dry heat. However, what people don't mention (if you aren't talking to a full-time resident of Arizona - not those Snow Birds who flee the heat in March) is that there is a thing in the Arizona desert called "monsoons." Torrential rains that come in the late afternoons with thunder and lightning and maybe some sheets in little pockets around the state. Welcome for an hour or two, but like your in-laws, sometimes they overstay their welcome. It gets hot and humid and you might just get washed away while trying to cross the street. Or, if you live in Tucson your house might just flood. Good luck with that. I am looking forward to a nice trip down to the bottom of the world where the temperature might be a bit chilly but at least it will be dry. No ice sheets, no frozen tundra like up in Canada. Oh yeah, I hear that there is a crap load of methane ready to be released into our atmosphere when the tundra thaws. Good job humans! What I want to see for myself is the ancient ruins of early civilizations that lived before the world tilted to it's current 23 and something degree axis. I want to explore the ruined temples of the Elder gods, see the cyclopean structures that confound the mind, look into the vast emptiness of the abyss that has been covered for many a millennium and see who stares back. I want to go where the Hollow Earthers say Hitler and his like have been hiding out since WWII.
While I mourn for my hometown on the West Coast and the whole California coastline, they knew they were on shaky ground. Too busy looking in the mirror deciding where they want to dine tonight or worry about who is going to offend them next. The same goes for the East coast. Goodbye Washington DC, Atlanta, Boston, Charleston and Long Island. I can picture a tour boat just outside the flooded Manhattan skyline showing tourists the tops of the skyscrapers and be rounding the tip of Liberty's torch as if it was the tip of an iceberg.
Don't think I will mourn for those who refused to evacuate, I will. However, when dealing with human beings there will always be a percentage of them who just do stupid. It is programmed into our DNA. Just like this climate change thing. We know from science (the thing we use to explain nature without invoking a higher being when we just can't figure something out) says that without the ozone layer, all life on Earth would not exist. On the other hand, too much of a good thing is never a good thing. Just think of alcohol, ice cream, or even cheese. Of course, there are plenty of those people -- you know who I am talking about -- who stick to their old fashion almost radical (in today's way of thinking) that things were better back then. I remember the past, it was old and dark and a pretty depressing place without my cell phone Women knew their place in society, people not like us were not quite as good as we were (or so we thought), and who needed safety regulations - damn the government for interfering in my right to have my body hurled out through my car's windshield and into the closest tree. Who needs regulations? Why keep industrial plants from dumping their chemical waste into our rivers and lakes? Poor Iron Eyes Cody. I am sure he is turning in his grave.

Who the hell is Iron Eyes Cody? 

As the great Old Ones awake from their slumber down below as their sheets of ice melt away, plagues quarantined from mankind below the ice's surface will also awake and be let out of their frozen environment like Pandora's box of old. Don't worry, climate change is just a theory!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Film Makers Handbook: Create a Feature Film on a Limited Budget

Ialways wanted to be a film director,  However, in "Film Makers Handbook" author and filmmaker Walter Werner, puts the basics down in simple terms for the beginning director, producer, or anybody who wants to make a film on a limited budget.

The Film Makers Handbook is about making your very first feature film from scratch. It covers topics such as pre-production, as well as getting set up and creating your movie on a limited budget.

Also covered is the production process and everything that goes along with that massive project. The production section really helps the listener to get a grasp on how to efficiently and affordably produce his or her own feature film.
Lastly, the book goes over postproduction and how to finalize your project to turn it into a full-blown feature film.

The book closes with a brief synopsis of starting distribution of your independently created film and where to start getting the word out. Overall this is a book about how to create a feature film and do so on a budget, which would be ideal for students or first-time filmmakers.

While not the only book that I have read on this subject. Lord knows when I was younger, I had piles upon piles of books ranging from visual style, cinematography technique, to acting, sound effects, visual effects (I was infatuated with Star Wars and how Lucas and Dykstra changed filmmaking). This book is a great beginning for today's new filmmakers.

Here are the obligatory purchase links, the book goes for less than $6.95 USD

To purchase from Amazon
To purchase from Audible
To purchase from ITunes:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Frankengiraffewolf by Jeffrey Jeschke

Frankengiraffewolf was an entirely new kind of monster. It had the fangs of a vicious wolf. It partially had the head of Frankenstein. It also had the body of a very huge giraffe. This 2700-word short story introduces a whole new kind of monster. It terrorized Africa with a ruthlessness that was unheard of.

"Once upon a time a mad doctor roamed the heart of Africa searching for the perfect experiment. He was truly insane, but he was also an absolute medical genius. His name was Doctor Von Giraffenstein. He absolutely loved to experiment on cadavers and electricity. He was absolutely infatuated with the local wildlife of Africa. He especially loved giraffes. He liked how tall they were and how big they were. He also loved wolves, but he also liked human cadavers. He loved how sharp the fangs were inside of a wolf’s mouth. One night the mad genius had a very strange and mysterious dream. In that dream the mad man dream't that he created a vicious beast that was part, giraffe, and part man, along with some wolf in it. After that strange dream he was absolutely infatuated with creating such a beast. He was so infatuated he could never sleep, until he figured out a way to make his dream come true. Some say he took insanity to a whole new level."

This was and is a crazy book and fun to read. The premise is silly, but, like the author told me once, "Nothing like creating a new kind of a monster."

AudioBook Data
Written by: Jeffrey Jeschke
Narrated by: Robert Barbere
Length: 16 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:09-30-16
Publisher: Jeffrey Dale Jeschke

Here are the obligatory purchase links, the book goes for less than $4.00 USD

To purchase from Amazon

To purchase from Audible

                        Robert Barbere Audible Page

Monday, January 9, 2017

Another Vampire Story: A New Audio Book

IIn film and television there is an overabundance of vampire stories. Many have degenerated into films about a virus or a plague where the victims show symptoms of vampirism. A few, like "Dracula Untold,"  keep the supernatural flair going.  However, "Another Vampire Story," is a short story (34 minutes) by a writer by the name of Patrick Finerd

However, the story is short and simple but, shows another view of the life of a vampire. I liked the story enough to want to narrate it. Here is a short clip to let you know about the story.
"The sky grew darker than normal as I made my way home from school. The wind was whipping and howling; scattering dead leaves in all directions. The branches on the naked trees waving as the brisk cool air swirled around me. A loud boom of thunder can be heard in the near distant, followed by a steady mist of rain bouncing off all surfaces."
Although set in present day, the mood is set quickly with a sense of Gothic sensibility. 

Here are the obligatory purchase links, the book goes for less than $4.00 USD

To purchase from Amazon

To purchase from Audible
To purchase from ITunes:

Beauty and the Beast Trailer: Golden Globe Awards Preview

2017 is already looking up. Emma Watson stars a Belle in Disney's live version of "Beauty and the Beast."

The original story, based on the original French tale "La Belle et la BĂȘte." It was a 1740 story written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. She was in turn influenced by Fairytale writer, Charles Perrault whose tales include Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Cendrillon (Cinderella), Le Chat BottĂ© (Puss in Boots), and La Belle the wood Dormant (The Sleeping Beauty). If you recall, the Brothers Grimm, retold Perrault's stories years later in their collection of folktales. One must be cautious, however, as the lyrics state:

"Tale as old as time

True as it can be..."
The researchers at universities in Durham and Lisbon, the story originated around 4,000 years ago.

Like the 1991 animated Disney version, certain plot details stray from the original telling in that the main character's name is Belle and not Beauty, and like a 1946 film version, there is also a suitor included in the story. The best part is that Disney will retain  

The best part is that Disney will retain the best part of its animated version...Music!!! 

Harry Potter alum takes over as Belle, the thoughtful and well-read daughter of a merchant who must trade places with him as a prisoner of the dreadful Beast.  "Downton Abbey" and the upcoming "Legion" TV series takes over from Robbie Benson as the Beast. The light of the Force comes to the film as Obi Wan Kenobi actor Ewan McGregor takes over for Jerry Orbach as Lumiere the candle. Mrs. Potts will be voiced by Emma Thompson replaces Angela Lansbury.  Luke Evans of "Dracula Untold," and the "Hobbit" films fame voices Gaston, the self-centered creep who wants Belle for his own.

As a father of two children who spent their pre-teen years in the 90s, Disney's  "Beauty and the Beast" and "Alladin" are two Disney films that played a lot in my household. I guess nowadays that film is "Frozen."  

Alan Menken returns to score this live-action adaptation, which includes new recordings of the original songs in addition to new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice.

Opens in the United States and theUnited Kingdom on March 17, 2017.  

Movie Data

Genre: Action, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance
Year:  2017
Starring: Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Emma Thompson
Director: Bill Condon
Producer(s): Don Hahn, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Thomas Schumacher, Jeffrey Silver
Writer: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Stephen Chbosky, Bill Condon
Rating: PG
Running Time: Unknown
Release Date:3/17/2016 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - The Circle Is Now Complete

The summer of 1977 holds a very special place in my memories. I was 13 years old and delivered the Santa Barbara News Press after school, life was good. My best friend Mike was convinced that we could make movies together. We were saving up our paper route money to buy a Super 8 movie camera so we could film our epic adventure. We did not realize the wonder we were about to experience. What the both of us witnessed that summer still has a hold on me to this day. If you ask my children, they will tell you it was the year their daddy saw "Star Wars."

"Star Wars" has been a part of my life in subtle and not so subtle ways. On that summer day, Mike and I walked into the theater not sure of what to expect, and we left with our heads full of a new worlds of wonder and excitement. We wanted to be Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, of course, because they were the heroes. On the other hand, Darth Vader was a symbol of the evil tyranny that our parents represented.  All summer long my friends and I talked about "Star Wars;" about Luke, about Han Solo and of course about Princess Leia. When you are a thirteen year old boy Carrie Fisher looked pretty darn good!

During that summer we saw "Star Wars" at least ten times at the theater. Now, I suppose you are thinking that this was just a phase I was going through and by fall when school started I was cured. Actually Mike and I just redoubled our efforts to learn everything about how George Lucas made "Star Wars;" from the lighting, sound, visual effects, and directing.

The next school year we both signed up in Drama class so we could learn how to act in our film production. By the way, I haven’t mentioned “the movie” since the beginning of this essay so I am thinking that you may have thought that I had forgotten about it; not so. In fact the whole purpose behind learning film production was so we could produce a film that was better than Star Wars. We tried very hard to learn everything about making movies that our little minds could hold. However, little did we know that the end was near!

As the summer of ‘78 quickly approached Mike and I had scripts prepared and we started to cast our movie. We even built up enough courage to ask a couple of girls at school to take the female lead characters in our movie. Our thoughts of a perfect summer were of the beach, the babes and making our movie. Life couldn’t get much better. Unfortunately, my dad announced that he had accepted a job at a community college in the not so booming town of Ridgecrest CA. Looking back to that day so many years ago, I can still remember the sinking feeling in my stomach as I had to tell Mike that I was going to be moving. All of our hopes and dreams of making a movie were washed away. The following weeks my brother and I kept our minds busy packing for our trip to the dry and dusty Mojave Desert

Image result for 3/4 video tape
Upon arriving in the desert, my dad went through some extra effort to borrow from the college a ¾” video tape machine, and a bootlegged copy of "Star Wars" for my own private use. However, when whoever made the copy, they didn't use the anamorphic lens and the characters were squished a bit. That didn't matter, I watched the tape over and over. I was too old for the toys, but not too old to build the models. I wore the tape out that summer and I learned every line of every character in the film.

The new decade came pretty quickly and I read every different Science Fiction book I could get my hands on. My love for "Star Wars" was renewed in 1980 when "The Empire Strikes Back" was released and its creator, George Lucas had revealed some important clues about Darth Vader; and the mystery deepened. I spent many hours writing and talking with my friends speculating what Darth Vader meant when he says “I am your father!” Was he a clone? Is it true? Who was Luke’s mom? Is Han dead? I thought Luke and Leia was an item, how was I to know that they were brother and sister? And life goes on.

I graduated from high school in the summer of 1981 and promptly moved myself back to the coast. By May of 1983 I was nineteen years old , ready, willing and able to stand in line at the theater for eight hours prior to the midnight opening of “Star Wars – Return of the Jedi”  My friends and I were older but not wiser.

As the years pass, I worked, I had fun, and I got married. My wife and I moved to Arizona in the fall of 1994 a year after my daughter was born. Times change, people change, kids grow up and I get older everyday. However, the impression that the film made upon me those many years ago has remained. When my daughter was four going on five, Lucas re-released Star Wars once more. Now the title of the film is "Star Wars: Episode Four - A New Hope." I took my five year old daughter Debbie to witness one of the greatest events of my life. Watching the movie on the big screen as an adult was a totally different experience for me. I am not sure I actually watched the whole movie that day but I know spent more time watching my daughter’s reaction to the images. I think I cried in the theater that day watching the same awestruck look in my daughter’s eyes and wondered if I had that same look in my eyes twenty years ago.

Image result for phantom menaceMy son was born later that year in 1997, and two years later my wife and I decided to go our separate ways. That same year "Star Wars – The Phantom Menace" was released. I promised myself that I was not going to learn every line each character said. I was wrong, my kids watched the DVD day in and day out. I would fall asleep on the couch with the movie playing. I was having nightmares of Darth Mall coming after me.

"Attack of the Clones" was released in 2002, and to my excitement my kids were old enough to watch this new episode at the theater. Once again my eyes would wander over to their little faces just to see the twinkle in their eyes.

Debbie, my daughter started wanting to be "Star Wars" characters for Halloween. As that year's Halloween approached, I would wait till my children were asleep and I would go out and work on my costume. I worked many nights in the garage in complete secrecy. Who did I dress up as? I made a complete Darth Vader costume; Light Saber and all. When the time came for me to take the kids on their Trick or Treat quest, I came home from work and donned my costume in the garage. I made an entrance into the house and watched the eyes of my seven year old son pop right out of his head. Tony backed himself into a corner and I could tell that he was a little frightened and very confused. I reached out to him with my gloved fist and said to him “Anthony, I am your father!” My daughter dressed up as Princess Leia and for my son Tony, I built a custom made R2- D2 costume out of a plastic trash can, many plumbing parts and lots of paint. So as Halloween 2004 was approaching I made my mind up to do something I have never done before as an adult. I decided to go in costume to take my kids Trick or TreatingMy new bride handed out candy dressed as Master Yoda.

I watched in total admiration as Tony pretends to either Obi-Wan, Anakin or just as I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. For many years I have held the original excitement and wonder of these movies in my heart. As I see my children enjoying so much of the "Star Wars" universe that has kept me young these many years, I pray that they will be able to share that same experience with their children and look into their eyes and regain the childhood that this world forces them to leave behind so soon.

The circle is now complete.
"Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" soon. People ask me, did you buy your tickets yet? Tickets went on sale after the showing of a preview of the film during the Superbowl. No, I did not buy tickets. Am I going to go see the film? Of course I am. Silly question. Am I excited, of course I am, but now after thirty some years later, I know that I will watch the film in the theater several times. I will buy the Blu-ray, watch it many times and I will discuss the film and do many comparisons to the original. Because, that is what I do. Will I be dissapointed if J.J. Abrams fails to reinvigorate the franchise? I highly doubt it.