jetpack_monkey: (Dr. Horrible - Is Doing Science)
[ profile] qkellie asked me to discuss my atheism on Christmas. I did start to write the post, but I stopped. I really had nothing to say. Today, I'm going to lay out, briefly, what I believe.

Technically, my belief system is probably more agnostic, but my operating reality -- the way I prefer to view the universe on a day-to-day basis -- does not include a central omniscient creator/deity. I acknowledge that there could be one, but act as if there is not. I believe that no religions is correct about what is going on, because religions tend to start from the premise that everything can be explained right now and then build from there. I think that everything can be quantified and tested, but there's a lot we just don't know and aren't equipped to know yet. I believe that what we think of as the supernatural is simply nature we haven't explained yet (but I'll wait for science to be able to come to conclusions after rigorous testing). I believe there's more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.

I also have a naturally superstitious disposition and tend to ascribe exaggerated meaning and patterns to personal life events. I'm constantly fighting that impulse. Human psychology is terrible.

[personal profile] cesperanza had a doozy: "I'm really wondering, if as a film person yourself, you've been noticing the really terrible continuity editing in the blockbusters of late. To me it's as annoying - and as obvious, and sadly now happens almost as often - as typos in the running scroll boards at the bottom of news programs, or people saying the "T" in often when they shouldn't. I am guessing that it is because the film is so expensive to shoot that if its too long, they just hack it out scenes, or if they don't have the shots they need, they just assume we won't notice. But I feel shocked and appalled by the sloppiness of mainstream film of the most expensive kind! Am I crazy?"

Right around the time you asked this, I was reading Robert Rodriguez's excellent book, Rebel Without a Crew, which is his journal of the making of El Mariachi. He has a bit that stuck in my mind:

"We only had one problem at Azul's. Since it was so hot, he kept taking his leather vest off between shots. In one sequence he forgot to put it back on. I hope it's not too noticeable. Azul asked if we should reshoot the scene and he'd put the vest back on. I told him it wasn't worth wasting film on something like that and that if people noticed it, that means they're probably bored and we've lost the battle so we might as well keep going."

Now, that's in reference to an ultra-low-budget film where film was at a premium, but I think the basic philosophy is sound -- if your audience is sitting there picking nits, you probably didn't have them.

The larger the picture, the more balls are in the air, the more people are involved, the more minute details need to get tracked. If you sit through the end credits of films (I always do, out of respect for the technicians who put a lot of time into being utterly invisible), you know that they're getting longer and longer.

With that said, there are some errors -- like misspellings in incidental graphics -- that are ridiculously easy to catch and correct and they make me mad.

I want to go off on a bit of a tangent and say I wish that people made more mistakes sometimes. Not silly careless mistakes, but happy accidents. Set dresser Frank Silva's reflection gets caught in a mirror while filming the Twin Peaks pilot and suddenly you have BOB. Patrick Fugit asks Kate Hudson to feed him his cue again while the camera is still rolling and Almost Famous gets the adorable "Ask me again" character moment for William Miller. There's a film -- the name of which is escaping me at the moment -- where, at a key moment, the entire picture dissolves to white. Artistic brilliance? No. There was a crack in the film casing. It was left in.

These days, though, everything is digital and it's easy to be a perfectionist. Anything you don't like can be fixed in post. Did the boom mike get into shot? Erased. Want the picture to pop a bit more? Throw in that ubiquitous orange-teal filter! You can be lazier while making the film because there's ways to take care of your errors later. I get that there are benefits and efficiencies to digital filmmaking, but it's a tool and should be deployed where appropriate. Some movies are still better on film, with all of the mistakes that can occur.

jetpack_monkey: (Default)
[personal profile] kiki_miserychic wants to know: "if someone were going on vacation to where you live, what would you suggest they do while there?"

Well, I usually take people to Universal Studios because it's on the subway and there's a lot of movie history there, but I'm increasingly souring on it. There's just not much to do at the moment, although that will change when they put in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2015, I suppose.

Other than that, Amoeba Records is an *amazing* new and used media shop that is like walking into a candy store. Not only are there great titles, some out-of-print, but you can frequently find unexpected great deals (like a three-disc Close Encounters of the Third Kind set for only 8 bucks). They have an entire section in the movie department that's organized by director.

Checking out a movie at one of the many repertory theaters around here is a must. I like the New Beverly (co-owned by Quentin Tarantino!) but the Egyptian is more convenient to where I live, so I tend to go there . If you come in the Spring at the right time, you can go to the TCM Classic Film Festival, which is awesomeness.

There's a bunch of film and television related museums and studio tours as well which I really should check out.

jetpack_monkey: (Book - The Special Hell)
[personal profile] grammarwoman asks: "What is the One True Vid (or more, if you want) of your heart that you don't think you'll ever make?"

If there's a vid I don't think I'll ever make, then I've probably let it go and it wasn't meant to be. There's a vid that I would love to make, but I'm really terrified about it being taken the wrong way.

It's a Lawrence of Arabia vid that centers on Lawrence's "What You People Need is a Honky" arrogance. I want to explore how his attempts to keep the Arabian people "pure" from British influence was itself an attempt to foist foreign cultural values (in the form of Lawrence's "noble savage" ideal) to a people who already their own culture and values, thank you.

I have a couple songs in mind -- one in particular really works for me -- but I'm really timid about approaching it because I could end up being the white male privileged asshole myself. It's definitely a Vividcon-level vid in my head, but if I don't execute this sucker perfectly, it's going to blow up in my face. I just don't have the confidence to approach it.

jetpack_monkey: (MST3K - Made of Fail)
[personal profile] shati wants me to talk about "the invention of film in the 1990s 1890s". Fixed your typo there, shati.

...actually, yes.  I think that covers it.

Except that if we're talking "moving pictures" when we talk about film, then we have to go a bit farther back. There were early experiments in toying with persistence of vision leading up to the invention of film as we know it, including the Zoetrope (invented in China in 180 AD, but most Western histories record it as the 1830s because that's when Europe did it) and the Praxinoscope (made in the 1870s).

The earliest motion picture technology that roughly resembles what we think about when we think about movies was invented by Louis Le Prince in the late 1880s. The consecutive still images were recorded to paper film. The earliest surviving example of this is the epic Roundhay Garden Scene which clocks in at a stunning 2+ seconds.

When we talk about film being invented in the 1890s, what we're generally talking about is our idea of film starting to come into being at that time, because that's the decade where somebody looked at the invention and said, "Hey, we can use this for narratives."

jetpack_monkey: (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret asks: "Is there a genre or style of music that you think should be vidded more often, either by yourself or by others?"

I feel really horrible, but my answer here is, "I dunno." I'm not a music guy by nature, so I'm constantly playing catch-up on what good vidding music is. I approach vidding from a source-first perspective. My brain is filled with source. I seek out music so I can vid it.

[ profile] vagabondage asks: "How did you find fandom, and how long have you been involved? What about fandom appealed to you, and what place does it have in your life?"

There are two fandom circles. I've been a member of horror fandom since I was in grade-school and a member of the horror fannish community when I said, "I can't find a website that speaks to me" and so created one. My journey as a horror fan was big in that it developed me intellectually. I was constantly seeking out film criticism and film theory and film history and trying to piece together this picture of movies, culture, and society via the lens of horror. I was always kind of off to the side within the community, however. It was very dude-dominated and I was never very comfortable there.

I found fandom as we know it via Buffy. Somebody posted the music tracks for the Buffy musical to a horror listserv I belonged to and I listened to them, then sought out the episode. Then I sought out all the episodes. Then I sought out the fans. I get into more of what I found here.

Being part of that fannish circle and then expanding to other online RP and then the vidding community developed me socially. I used to be kind of a huge loser. Now I have some of the best, smartest, coolest friends in the world. That makes me super, super happy.
jetpack_monkey: (Henry Frankenstein - l33t g33k)
Missed yesterday, so today you get two responses!

[ profile] elipie wants to know: "What's your earliest memory of gaming?"

A bunch of possible answers come to mind depending on what kind of gaming you mean. I played all sorts of board games with my parents and friends growing up -- mostly Sorry! but some Scrabble, Monopoly, and Clue: Master Detective.

My earliest experience with video games was probably on a friends' Nintendo (my parents never let me have my own), but I remember most clearly the computer that Mom and Dad bought for the house when I was 7 or 8. It was ancient even for the time, ran on DOS, and had a three-button mouse that worked with only a handful of programs, one of which was a very early version of Microsoft Works.

However, the best part was that the computer came with a whole suite of shareware and freeware games on 5.25" floppy disks. My favorite game was, unsurprisingly, based on Dracula by Bram Stoker. You played the good guys (Jonathan, Mina, Arthur, Quincy, Dr. Seward, and Van Helsing) investigating reports of Dracula and other vampiric sightings, hoping to find where the vampire kept his lair and his vampire brides. The flavor text was largely out of Stoker's book (something I only realized in retrospect when I actually read the book in my 20s). Each team member had a special skill, but you could only bring three or four with you on a given mission, so you had to balance it out.

Ah-ha! Found someone else who'd played it. Oooh, and another article.

I also played a lot of Castle Adventure, another ASCII-based game.


[personal profile] greenet asks: "Favorite haunted house film? Or what makes for a good haunted house film?"

I like your standard, creepy, all-atmosphere-all-the-time, skin-crawling, corner-of-your-eye ghost story. It's one of the few horror genres where there's still consistently good material coming out. The Woman in Black was excellent, as was The Orphanage (except for one major plot hole). Over in Japan, you get Ju-on: The Grudge, which terrifies the living crap out of me because it wantonly breaks a major rule of the genre -- leaving the house does not help (and it's not like Paranormal Activity, where they keep saying that, but we never see it, so it becomes the world's lamest excuse for not having an additional set).

Farther back, I've really enjoyed (or been terrified by or both) The Others, Ghostwatch, The Changeling (1980), Shock (1977), The Legend of Hell House, and The Uninvited (1944). Poltergeist and the 1999 version of The House on Haunted Hill are a lot of fun, if not particularly scary in the sort of goosebumpy way I like.

I also like the somewhat goofier "Old Dark House" subgenre, where the "ghost" is usually an unscrupulous (living) individual after the ingenue's inheritance or something. These kind of movies have rotating walls, hidden passages, death traps, searches by candlelight, and, if you're lucky, a very good murder-mystery tied into the "haunting". Some great examples include The Cat and the Canary (both the 1927 and 1939 versions), The Bat (1926), Horror Island, The Black Cat (1941) and the original House on Haunted Hill with Vincent Price. There are some nuttier variations -- Night Monster has a supernatural twist (but still not ghosts) and Doctor X and The Door with 7 Locks throw mad science in for extra fun. I'm still trying to figure out a way to vid that whole subgenre.

Finally, beyond any categorization is the batshit insane Japanese horror flick, Hausu. I am still not entirely sure what I watched. I couldn't describe it to you. I can only tell you it is highly recommended, especially if you like a lot of surreality and experimentation and what-the-f**kery.
jetpack_monkey: (Default)
Quick note before we get started -- the latter half of the month is quite barren, so there's still time to get me to babble. Just leave a comment here.

[ profile] kiki_miserychic wants to know: "are there any movies that you wanted to like, but didn't? meaning, a movie people loved, but you didn't"

There's plenty. While I am very fond of Citizen Kane, I feel it has narrative pacing problems around the middle that keep it from being the "greatest film of all time."

I think The Exorcist is a smug, self-important joke. Paranormal Activity had me rooting for the monster to kill the male protagonist quickly. In fact, there's more than a few horror films out there where I just don't get the love -- but I think that horror is an area where I'm going to be more critical in general, because I've spent enough time with it to have developed a very specific sensibility and taste. What might blow one person's mind is going to be a "Same old, same old" for me.

With blockbusters, I've had more than a few occasions when walking out of a movie theater with friends, where everyone else was going "Did you see?" and "OMG that part!". Meanwhile, I'm trying to start a conversation on the narrative flaws, logical problems, or thematic dissonance. Not because I didn't like the movie, but because I felt that was the most interesting conversation one could have about it at the time. Nobody else seemed to really agree.

Also, I didn't have a good textual response to Saturday's query about my user interest "Gregory Peck's Left Eyebrow" -- so have some visuals:

Read more... )
jetpack_monkey: (Wonderfalls Tchotkes - Inappropriate)
[ profile] kiki_miserychic requested: "what do you think was the main message behind Wonderfalls?"

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. I think there were a lot of themes running throughout Wonderfalls, but I'm not sure the show had enough time to solidify a message. However, if anything, I think it said that engaging with the world, however you can, makes the world better and makes you better.

Jaye put everything away from her behind a wall of snark and cynicism. When the animals started on her and she was forced to engage with other people and help them, she left a positive impact. Mostly. Sometimes things got worse before they got better, but they almost always got better. The interactions were frequently catalysts for people to reassess their lives and start living in a way that made them happier -- as in the class reunion episode and the "Fat Pat" episode. This was at its most tumultuous in the "return of Heidi" mini-arc, where Jaye appeared to have to sacrifice her own happiness for Eric's, but in fact, it was just a means for Eric to shed his baggage and find where he was happiest -- with Jaye.

I should note that Jaye doesn't *change who she is* -- she remains a deadpan snarker who uses her words, so to speak, as her own best defense.  In fact, most of the people she helps remain who they are. They just find a better path to express themselves or to let out the best version of themselves. When people are false, untrue to themselves, or their personal truth is hurtful to others, they are frequently disappointed, hurt, or even dead by the end of the ep.

So, in short:

engaging > not engaging
jetpack_monkey: (Lee Adama - Smug Bastard)
From [personal profile] cesperanza : How does it feel to be (such an awesome) dude in the so heavily female dominated vidding world? Do you see something gendered in vidding, or is it just the sort of thing that more dudes would like if they'd--IDK, let go and embrace their feels more?? :D

I'm of two minds on this question. On the one hand, I kind of revel in my special snowflake status as one of a handful of male vidders in vidding culture a la Vividcon.

On the other hand, I am incredibly privileged. By not being a complete dick, I've managed to be accepted by my peers in this community and get great, interesting questions like this one. I feel like, if it was flipped, and I was a woman in a male-dominated community, I would have to work that much harder to make friends and garner a general acceptance, and there would be way more people looking to tear me down. This question might be posed as, "What are the challenges you have to face as a woman to succeed in a male hobby?"

With that said, I don't think vidding in and of itself is gendered. I understand that there are large communities of male vidders out there -- they just don't intersect with our spaces. And that's okay. I prefer my space the way it is. It's going to sound really weird to say this, but I don't really consider male spaces safe for me. I feel constantly uncomfortable and insecure. I always feel like I'm being judged on my level of masculinity. (Boo hoo, sad little middle-class, white, mostly-hetero, cis male, right?)

Do I think there's a difference in the way that guys vid in our community compared to women? Sure. Absolutely. Could I articulate it? No. Probably not. I think that there is a hesitance in male vidding to commit as deeply emotionally to our subjects. I can say that. I feel myself do it all the time. It doesn't lessen our love or passion for our subjects, certainly, and it sometimes comes out in more indirect ways. But I do feel like there's a sort of barrier or hesitance to go full-out and a tendency to swerve toward humor, action, sex, or analytical posturing (the last one is all me). Of course, if you're talking about [personal profile] absolutedestiny, none of the previous probably applies, because he make people cry a lot. F**k that guy.


In other news, my family (Mom, sister, sister-in-law, and niece) are in town and it's been a blast! However, some of these answers might be a bit abbreviated.

jetpack_monkey: (Karloff-Lugosi - Masters of the Macabre)
From [ profile] elipie : Ramble on about your favorite Universal monster.

For sheer power an emotional resonance, nothing beats the Frankenstein Monster as played by Boris Karloff in the 1931 film Frankenstein (and to a lesser extent in Bride of Frankenstein and a much lesser extent in Son of Frankenstein). Anyone arguing that monster acting is somehow less than "regular" acting should immediately review the scene where we meet the Monster for the first time. Karloff, under heavy makeup, uses awkward, stilted-but-not-stiff movements to evoke the otherness of this hapless being.  Then, in one of my favorite movie moments, Doctor Frankenstein opens a slat in the roof and lets the sunlight pour in. The Monster, who in his brief time on Earth has only known the darkness of the lab and its dungeon, reaches up, stretching for the light, his eyes full of confusion and wonder. And just as soon as he finds something hopeful in his life, the doctor closes the slat, his experiment moving on. And Karloff's hands go out in this helpless, pleading gesture and I. just. fucking. break.

Karloff's performance throughout really captures the soul of the Monster, an Other born into a world that didn't want him and that he didn't ask for. It's a 75-minute commitment that I suggest you make. Now. I'll wait.

While I do love Bride of Frankenstein, I think it loses some of the Monster's pathos for a number of reasons. The movie is played much more strongly for comedy, for one thing. The Monster also spends a good chunk of the film playing henchman for Dr. Pretorious, which becomes his go-to role for the next several films, serving one human master after another, until he becomes a pawn to be left off the play board until the end of the movie by the time House of Frankenstein rolls around in 1944. Of course, Karloff exited the role after 1939's Son of Frankenstein, an excellent film that, unfortunately, reduces the Monster's role to boogeyman at the beck and call of Bela Lugosi's Ygor. Don't get me wrong, I love their dynamic and Lugosi kills it in that movie, but it's clear that they've burned through all of their interesting ideas for the characterization and development of the Monster.

If I had to pick a Universal monster that absolutely did it for me in all of the films in which it appeared, it would have to be The Wolf Man/Larry Talbot. But that's an essay for another day.

jetpack_monkey: (Black Sunday - The Eyes That Paralyze)
[personal profile] thirdblindmouse requests: "Tell us about your vidding process. In general, or of one specific vid you've made if you prefer."

I have different kinds of vids that I make, depending on how heavily they lean on one corner of [personal profile] absolutedestiny's Pyramid of Vidding (Song Choice, Edited Footage, Idea). I'll talk about my process in making the handful of vids that have been the perfect synthesis of those.

My process is going to have some overlap with what [personal profile] fan_eunice describes here. She is far more eloquent than I can probably muster at the moment, so I recommend heading over there.

Anyway, this gets much more lengthy than I anticipated, so it's going under a cut.

Jetpack Monkey Vids in 25 Steps or Less (not valid in Utah) )

Tomorrow is Universal Monsters! Yay!

jetpack_monkey: (NPH on a Unicorn)
Ahem. Sorry. Throwing my hat into the ring of "posting on topics provided by friends". It's an abbreviated schedule because I missed the first few days.

So here's how it works -- at the bottom of the post are the days of December. If you want to read my witty, scintillating thoughts on a subject, claim a day in the comments.

I'll talk about anything, but here's some general areas where I might have more thoughts than others: running a website, vidding, horror movies, movies in general, comic books, atheism/agnosticism, video games, and anything listed in my user interests.

So here's the list of dates. Multiple topics encouraged. Leave a comment!

December 3 -- This.
December 4 -- Tell us about your vidding process. In general, or of one specific vid you've made if you prefer. ([personal profile] thirdblindmouse )
December 5 -- Ramble on about your favorite Universal monster. ([personal profile] elipie )
December 6 -- How does it feel to be (such an awesome) dude in the so heavily female dominated vidding world? Do you see something gendered in vidding, or is it just the sort of thing that more dudes would like if they'd--IDK, let go and embrace their feels more?? :D ([personal profile] cesperanza )
December 7 -- please explain gregory peck's left eyebrow ([ profile] kiki_miserychic )
December 8 -- what do you think was the main message behind Wonderfalls? ([ profile] kiki_miserychic )
December 9 -- are there any movies that you wanted to like, but didn't? meaning, a movie people loved, but you didn't ([ profile] kiki_miserychic )
December 10 -- What's your earliest memory of gaming? ([ profile] elipie )
December 11 -- Favorite haunted house film? Or what makes for a good haunted house film? ([personal profile] greenet )
December 12 -- Favorite ongoing comics not from the big two? ([personal profile] greenet )
December 13 -- Is there a genre or style of music that you think should be vidded more often, either by yourself or by others? ([personal profile] seekingferret )
December 14 --
December 15 --How did you find fandom, and how long have you been involved? What about fandom appealed to you, and what place does it have in your life? ([ profile] vagabondage )
December 16 -- Continuity errors and you: a rant ([personal profile] cesperanza )
December 17 -- the invention of film in the 1990s ([personal profile] shati )
December 18 --
December 19 -- What is the One True Vid (or more, if you want) of your heart that you don't think you'll ever make? ([personal profile] grammarwoman )
December 20 -- if someone were going on vacation to where you live, what would you suggest they do while there? ([personal profile] kiki_miserychic )
December 21 --
December 22 --
December 23 --
December 24 --
December 25 -- I think it would be very edgy to talk about agnosticism/atheism on December 25. ([ profile] qkellie )
December 26 --
December 27 --
December 28 --
December 29 -- tell me about the time you laughed the hardest ([personal profile] kiki_miserychic )
December 30 --
December 31 --

February 2019

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