Visiting Royalty

There is something insanely cool about the Bald Eagle. It evokes images of a great America, the ever-watchful predator...er protector.

It would seem that we have a bald-eagle couple in my hometown. Wildlife experts say they must be young (otherwise they would have known better than to build their nest here--we can't even pass a school levy, what the heck do we have to offer a couple of national symbols of freedom?).

Nonetheless they are here. And the nest is not too far from where my wife works. There are signs up warning that it's a federal offense to get too close and all that. I have never been so close to eagles (other than in zoos) and this is just pretty freakin' cool.

I will probably try to get some video footage of them, if my telephoto lens affords me some good shots.

These pictures were taken by one of my wife's co-workers.

That nest, by the way, is huge. You can't get a sense of it from the picture, but you can see it fairly plainly from 100yds away.

Eagles are cool.


Whole Lotta Big Lots Goin' On

I know I said I was going to the thrift store Wednesday...but I didn't make it. By the time the workday ended, I was done. Stick a fork in me kinda done. So I went home. But not to disappoint, I did get some choice images at our local Big Lots store this evening.

Q: How do you know when your music career is on the decline?

A: Your 'signature' spice is at Big Lots. And on sale for $1.

I can't even begin to imagine what the marketing tie-in for this product could possibly be.
"Hey Kids-get your totally synthetic fruit globs here! It's what all the wanna be poplettes are eating when they're not busy scowling at Simon!!"

I didn't think about taking any pictures in Big Lots until our trip was half done, but I did stumble across the cereal aisle where I was confronted by the Cap'n.

In all of his stupid- re-mix-rehash-same-three-pieces-and-two-flavors-in-a-new box glory.

Now it could just be the Day Quil talking here, but there used to only be 3 varieties of Cap'N Crunch, right? (Original, Peanut Butter Crunch and Crunch Berries). My first choice was Crunch Berries (it gives you the best of both worlds and very choice for snacking straight out of the box).

Then came "Oooops, Berries." Which was Cap'N Crunch Crunch Berries w/o the Cap'N Crunch. Even that I didn't mind so much.

But Swirled Berries??? Do we really need to put Crunch Berries in another box??

And these MagicColor Berries are a total rip-off. Moms, if your kids want this cereal, buy them good 'ole Crunch Berries. It still makes the milk turn funky colors!! And seriously, who cares what color the berries turn? If you let it sit long enough for the berries to change, you're losing out on the whole crunch part of Cap'N Crunch. Get Crunch Berries. Tell your kids to stop whining. It's the same freakin' cereal. Just put in a new box with a pervier looking Cap'N.


Which brings us to the Breakfast of Serial Killers:

No, really. That boy could NOT look creepier if he tried. I've never seen any baby pictures of attorney-hunter Dick Cheney, but I'm gonna put money that they look a LOT like this.

Which explains quite a bit actually.

And then we stumble upon one of my greatest Chip Disappointments of all time. There is no good Pizza Flavored potato chip (trust me I've looked). It has such great potential. Think about it...it's like having a pizza on your chip, man! But alas....they all suck.

Probably this one most of all (and solely because of 'end-consonant' abuse).

Two more guilty of the crime include:


Myntz! gets the triple whammy! (1) for superfluous I-to-Y conversion; (2) for flagrant end-consonant abuse and (3)irresponsible use of punctuation.

No wonder they were sentenced to Big Lots. It's like the Shawshank of consumables.

Of course, no trip would be complete without at least one "WTF?" moment.

Lucky you, our cameras were there. This is one of those Highlights For Children games....click on the picture to open the image larger and play along at home.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

1. Remember the has-been question at the top of the post? Same thing applies here.

2. Kathy Lee (that's one main thing that's seriously wrong).

3. Use of "cafe" with a clearly western motif. It needs to be " Rockin' Tots Jukejoint" or " Rockin' Tots Honkey Tonk." Calling it a cafe makes me think that Kathy Lee should be in a beret, dressed like a mime and looking all snooty.

4. The 80's skin-flick make-up job....ON THE CARTOON BEAR!! C'Mon. Do we really need the cartoon to look like a skank? Isn't one of those on the cover enough? And look how the jukebox is leering at her (ok...there were a ton of things wrong with that last sentence). Creepy.

5.The other bear on the cover looks plastered (of course, I would be too if I had to do a video with Kathy Lee--and he's only a cartoon bear!!).

And lastly...

6. The horse shoes on Miss Lee's vest. Is that just me, or does it look like there's a little something extra on the left one? If you are going to try to pull off horse shoes on vests, positioning is the crucial difference between cutesy and skank-ho. Clearly Kathy missed the mark and rode the bad-taste express all the way to Skankadonia.

And that dear reader(s) is all I have for you this evening. I'm going to hit the sack early, chug a shot of Ny-Quil and try hard not to dream about pervie juke boxes and Kathy Lee.

Wisdom from Southern Rock

I like the Warren Brothers. They are everything that's right about country music right now to me. Meaning basically that they don't take themselves too seriously (and they sure as heck don't take the industry too seriously-evidenced by the refrain from one of their hit singles, "we don't make a lot of money, but we sure sell a lot of beer.")

They have a show on one of the country channels that's just fun to watch called "Barely Famous." On one episode they were showing a meeting with Van Zant (they'd written a song for the upcoming, Van Zant album-"Get Right With the Man"). It was this involvement that led me to check out the album. I really like the song they wrote for the album ("I Can't Help Myself"). It's a different departure from other stuff I've heard, but perfect in the context of the rest of the album.

There's a cut on the album ("Help Somebody") that contains two nuggets of wisdom that you might not normally expect from a southern rock (or 'electrified country') album. And I'll pass these on to you.

"It's better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you're not."

"If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans."

I love both of these lines, and I'm finding I really like the rest of the album (yes, it's something of a surprise). Of course, it's no "Freebird," but as my wife so insightfully pointed out...what is?



First Things First

(cross-posted in my other blog, too, so you only need read one)

It's been 2 years since my first movie. And I haven't really looked back. But something that my mom said to me the other day made me take pause and look back at my first movie, "Air Check." She said "I really liked your first movie" (seems simple enough, huh?). When I countered that the new camera was so much better than the camera I used on that one, she said "Yes, but the view (perspective) in that was so unique that the camera didn't matter."

Now, I am fully aware that she's my mom. So praise flows forth a little easier from her, but as I dug out the MPEG file for "Air Check" I realized what a pivotal piece (or would it be pioneering?) this was for me.

I shot the film using a Fuji Finepix A205. It's a 2 MP camera that took digital video in 20 second clips. When all was said and done, I had 30 minutes of unedited 'footage' to use. This was over 90 individual clips. All of these clips had no sound. This made editing a little weird. When I edit now, the sounds and dialog really kind of help me get the pacing for the piece. This had none of that, making it more of a daunting first project, but the beauty was-since it was my first real film, I didn't know it was a daunting task. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.

I can name about 20 things wrong with this piece (but I won't). There are things that I know now that I didn't know then, but again, I didn't know that I didn't know them-so it didn't matter. These little things, tricks of the trade if you will, are probably what kept the piece from any of the festivals I entered (and I'm OK with that).

All that being said-I still like the piece. It's true, genuine, a tad naive. And it's me. I pretty much just laid my ramblings out there for everyone to see. It's raw. It's frustration, angst, and hope. At least that's my take on it (you might have a completely different spin on it when you watch it, though, so don't pay too much attention to what I've said about it).

If anything it is my proof, right out of the gate, that the equipment really is secondary....as long as you remain faithful to the story you're trying to tell.

Anyway-here it is. The file format is MPEG2 (.MPG). Windows Media Player 10 should play it. If not. let me know and I'll see if I can point you in the direction of a viewer that will play it. It's about 127MB in size, so I'd definitely recommend doing the 'ole "Right Click, Save Target As" dealio.



Air Check (127MB)


Dinosaur Sighting

Looks like the RIAA is up to their old tricks again (by which I mean that they are violently trying to oppose something that has already become an established protocol with music)..

Maybe someone can talk the Vice President into taking the RIAA hunting with him.....

Still think the RIAA is really just concerned with illegal downloading?? Nope. Guess again. Now they're about to tell you what you can do with your CD after you buy it.

Via a link from Boingboing....read about it here.

My disgust for the RIAA is well documented by now. My whole problem with them is that (a)They are making enemies of their consumers and (b)their model of delivery is enrtirely outdated.

At first they wanted to tell people what to do with music that was downloaded (legally or illegally, remember it wasn't "illegal" until a judge ruled on it, it was just unprecedented). Now they want to tell people what they can and cannot do with music that they've payed for!!

That deserves a big ole WTF??

It's about time the RIAA stops sitting on their heads and realizes that the technology curve has already passed them by.

Rather than trying to stem the oncoming tide, they need to figure out how to embrace the new wave.

And fast.


Weekend Update with Feena Tay

The weekend was actually pretty calm.
Picked up Jen on Friday and her and Tommy and I went to the Pizza Buffet to get our grub on. I have to admit that I really wasn't feeling it too much, but that didn't stop me from dropping a couple plates of pizza and some cinnamon rolls. The place was packed.

After that it was off to Iggle to get some video games. We wound up staying up til 11 or 12. (I stayed up another hour after the kids crashed).

Tommy's game was Saturday. I filmed parts of it for the team video I'm doing. Saturday afternoon Jen and I chilled while Tommy and Nancy swam at the rec center. She (Jen, not Nancy) actually spent a good part of the afternoon in her room editing her first movie (yes...I am insanely proud, thankyouverymuch).

The evening was capped off by a very disappointing trip to Olive Garden. To go into detail here would be to give that event much more credibility than it deserves. So, pffffth.

Sunday Nancy had rehearsal and Jen finished up her movie. We burned it to DVD and screened it. "Recess and Other Stuffs" was an instant hit, although it did make Tommy a little dizzy. I thought about putting a link to it up here, but thought better of it when I realized kids that were not mine were also in the video. Best to let Jen worry about the distributions and screenings :-)

Needless to say, it was very cool.

The rest of the weekend was pretty even on that keel. Some stuff over in TwistedZen Productions-land also occurred, but I'm too lazy to type them twice, so click on the link if you're interested.

And that's all I really got for now.

Talk to y'all soon!

(and you'll be happy to know that another thrift store run is planned for Wednesday evening...stay tuned sportsfans).

I'll leave you with my new favorite quote, courtesy of Scott Adams, cartoonist:
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."


Happy Smappy Update

Things are going really well. I kind of fell off the excercise boat a bit, but got back on last night with a 15minute bike ride (I was actually missing not riding...weird). Been doing pretty well sticking to the Lean Cuisines for lunch. I haven't eaten any food from McDonald's for 30 days. And I have to say, I'm past the point of missing it now. The first week I could have easily eaten a double quarter pounder with cheese. But now as I write this, the thought of that just kind of makes my stomach turn, just a little. I'm not trying to take anything away from fast food places and it's not meant as an attack. I just know at this point in my life, it's not in my best interest to eat that kind of over-processed food right now. I'm starting to shy away from anything that's over-produced (food, music or movie-wise).

Speaking of movies. Yes, the new camera rocks. No, I don't really have any final products done with it yet. I took some footage of Tommy's B-Ball game last Saturday and did a quick and dirty burn to DVD (no edits) to see what it would look like on the TV. And all I can say is damn. No, seriously. It's awesome. Last time I filmed his B-Ball stuff, there was a lot of noise on the video. Mostly because the lighting in the room really kind of sucked. It also played havoc with the auto-focus on the Canon. None of that was present with the Panasonic. It was like I was watching a movie, or TV Show or something. In short, it rocked.

I also found plans to make a "real" crane for around $100 over at the Panasonic 3CCD User site. It looks pretty cool and I'm guessing that Jay or Todd could help out (I think Jay's got every tool known to man and he also has a robot in his garage). I think that will be one of my summer projects.

The Plane4Sale site seems to be doing well. Jean mentioned that they already had a few interested buyers that wanted to see the plane (and they dug the site). So, that's cool! Hopefully they'll be able to sell it soon.

Work is going well. We kicked ass on closing open support issues yesterday (if you're reading this Chumil, I think you'll be pleased). And also thanks to work, we have an Xbox360 at Casa de Todd. Don't have any games for it yet (except for the game that comes on the harddrive that I got from another guy at work), but we've been renting games from Iggle, so that's been going well. Took back some dusty dvd's last weekend and got a second controller and a 64MB memory card. And, after about 3 hours of trying over the last two nights, I came to the conclusion that my wireless router just isn't up to snuff as far as any of the XBox Live stuff goes. So...whenever there's a spare $50 lying around (yeah, right), I may just grab a new one and get online to see what all the fuss is about. My hope is that there will be some other free Arcade games (like Hexic, which came on the harddrive), so we'll still be able to play the thing even when we don't have games. I also hooked it up to the laptop last night and played music through it. It was pretty cool. It made playlists and everything. I still haven't hooked up the iPod yet (it seems so naughty somehow), but I'm anxious to do so. I think it was very smart of Microsoft to acknowledge that a large portion of their marketbase probably had an iPod (or similar device). And yes...I'm a convert. I would never have spent the money on this to buy one myself (because if I did, I'd have close to $600 into without actually owning a game), but it is a very sweet system. They pretty much got it right. I don't know how it's going to square off against the PS3, but from everything I've read, the only thing the PS3 really has going for it is market share...more people probably have playstations or ps2's and will therefore stick with Sony.

And that's pretty much where my life is at right now. Things are going well. I'm trucking along and I've got about 6 short film ideas floating in my head that I'm driving toward completion, so there should be some good things coming from the TwistedZen studios this spring.

So how things been with you?


Camera 4 Sale

I'm totally ga-ga over the new Panasonic. I don't really see myself shooting anything on the Canon at this point. Plus with the 4 year warranty, actually needing to keep it as a backup is not really a necessity.
So...I think I'm going to put it up for sale. Here's what I'd include:
*Link might not be exact brand but can be used as a reference point.
**Not exact model, but pretty darn close
I'm thinking of asking $300 for the whole kit and caboodle (+Shipping, if it's not someone local). I don't think that's too out of line for a digital The Canon's still sell for around $200 on eBay. And the thing that makes this a little nicer than the newer Canon's is that it has a mic jack and an analog pass-thru, meaning you can connect it to another device, copy the info on to miniDV and then import it into your computer to edit (I'm almost contemplating keeping this camera just for that reason). It's a good package (one that served me very well for a couple years), and recently the CCD sensor was replaced by Canon (along with a professional cleaning by the fine folks at Canon when they had it in there).  The lens has always had the uv filter on it, so it's pristine.
There's a ministry that a couple friends of ours are looking to start where a church in another country (Zimbabwe, I think) would be taking video "journal" entries about what was happening in their community and church and we would do the same here. We would then swap (I'd probably be the one to edit the footage we received from them). It sounds pretty exciting and it would be neat to have my gear be part of something like that (and to also be involved in the editing). It's an interesting "coincedence" that I have the new gear and don't have a need for the old gear, and this ministry does. So, we'll see how that goes.
I'll be posting more soon on how kick @$$ the new camera is.
And in case you're wondering....yes, I can take credit cards. So, lemme know if you're interested.


Word...Anyone Lookin' to Buy a Plane?

So, we met with Jean and Mike Friday night at Michael's Pizza (in Uptown Westerville....GREAT pizza)!  Mike mentioned that he was getting ready to sell his plane. They had a flier and they were going to also put something in some trade magazine. At first they had wanted to know if I knew anything about putting up a website, and could I help? Turns out, I know I little something about it. I'm not a pro by any means but I'm proud of how it turned out.
If you or anyone you know is in the market for a plane, be sure to check it out. http://www.plane4sale.twistedzen.com/ 
The rest of the weekend was pretty on par. Filmed some of Tommy's game on Saturday and then came in to work for a few hours while Nancy worked out at the Rec Center which afforded me time to get some additional footage of a lava lamp and bonzai tree (not sure what I'll use THAT for, but I've got it).
Before you ask...No. I did not watch the Super Bowl. I did not see any of the commercials. I did not see the Rolling Stones. And I don't feel the least bit remiss about any of that.
I did eat from the Pizza Buffet on Sunday. And the new little mexican joint on Saturday. And I did get a 2nd controller and memory card for the Xbox360 (and did school the boy at Need For Speed. He made up for it by killing me at Project Gotham).
Well, that's about all I got for now.
Oh yeah...if you know any pilots that want planes....send them to the site http://www.plane4sale.twistedzen.com


Who Says No Keyboards in Metal?? Poppycock.

I walked around today with pretty much perpetual wood. My box of goodies came today from B.H. Photo (in NYC). New camera, bag, tripod, tripod bag and extra battery. I had them shipped to work (a) because I'm impatient and (b)I didn't want it sitting on the porch all day (a good move considering this afternoon's raining/flurrying) and (c)because I'm impatient.

But...(and I really meant to remind myself of this), I forgot to take a tape in to work today (and I didn't order one). Yeah, stupid.

Work went well today. We got taken out to lunch as a department because we hit our January goals. And at the risk of regurgitation, I won $10 in a bet (the details of which don't need to be reiterated here, suffice to say I've hung up my "eats the most of anyone" title at work). This also ensured that I was fairly useless this afternoon.

A quick stop to the Amvets drop box on the way home and a less quick stop to the toilet after getting home and I started in with the new camera. Did I mention it was a LOT smaller than I thought it would be? No? Well it is.

For comparison....here's some shots of the new camera side by side with the old one. And, I've got to tell you that I considered the Canon to be relatively small. Now its the bohemoth.


Here they are side by side. New one is on the left, old one on the right.

Keep in mind the lens on the new one is BIGGER and the tapes that they both take are the same size.

A little head on action with LCDs open. Interesting note, the actual viewing area of both LCDs is roughly the same size.

A little plop down from the top down:

And face to face (the face to face the face) the new one's shorter too!

So. Yeah. The new camera is smaller, sweeter, cooler and sexier. And it only cost $100 more than the old one (or $100 more than what I paid for the old one when I got it).

But Todd-how does it film?

So glad you asked.

Here's a couple test shots I did with each. The lighting is WAY less than ideal (and I think the mic is off on the Canon). Both cameras were in "Dumb Auto" mode.

Canon Test (1CCD) (13MB) (right click "Save Target As" to download)

Panasonic Test (3CCD) (29MB) (right click "Save Target As" to download)

The autofocus on both seem to waver at the same spot...and yes, there is graininess on both...but there is definitely a clear winner. And I'm so glad I got it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go school the boy at Need for Speed: Most Wanted.


I'm a Geek

Yes. I'm a geek.

I got the Xbox 360 yesterday (after winning the contest), and brought it home. It was after 8PM when we finally hooked it up and played it.

I was up til just a little past midnight last night.

But not playing the game system (as everyone at work expected)....no.

I was up playing with the reel to reel tape deck from Bob.
Yup. That's right. That's the kind of geek I am.

And tonight, yes, we played the Xbox. We switched off, taking turns playing Kong and then smashing stuff up and running from the cops in NFS:MW. All told, we probably played for about 2 hours.

And where am I now? Now that the system is finally mine and I don't have to share (since it's way past the boy's bedtime)?


Listening to Jackson Browne and Bob Dylan on the reel to reel (not together...more JB then BD....oooh...can't wait for The Load Out).

And in all sincere honesty....that jazzes me so much more than the Xbox in ways I can't even begin to describe.

I doubt I'll even play the system at all tomorrow (my new camera is coming, so I'm guessing I'll be a bit pre-occupied with dreaming and planning my next big film).

Yes. I'm a geek.

And life is good for geeks.

Failing NaNo - 4 Years and Counting

I looked, Dear Readers, and noted that the last time I saw fit to let the words fall from my brain bucket and onto these virtual pages was o...