laughing my ass off

I forgot I had this album on my iPod, but I just dialed in “Loved Like a Milkshake” which is the tribute album to Wesley Willis.  I’m not sure I’ve even listened to this thing before, but I’m having a really hard time concentrating on work because I’m laughing so hard.  I highly recommend you download this thing (it’s free) and give it a listen.  Especially if you’re a fan of Wesley Willis, but even if you’re not.

China Sentences Official to Death for Corruption – New York Times

This is just hilariously ironic – and disgusting.  A senior official in the US is found to be corrupt and he gets his sentence commuted by his buddy the President, paying a $250,400 fine and being forced to live out his life as a high paid lobbyist.  A senior official in China is found to be corrupt and he gets the death sentence, living out his short life in Chinese prison awaiting a trip to the firing squad.  All in the same week!
China Sentences Official to Death for Corruption – New York Times

vicarious video

I had an idea the other day – something I’ve never heard of, but figure someone else must have thought about before me. I was watching a video blog (from National Geographic, I think) about Yellowstone National Park. I’ve been wishing for the past couple years that we had time and money to take a vacation to Yellowstone, but we haven’t.

As I was watching the video online, I got to thinking that it would be nice if someone would just take a video camera and decent microphone and go videotape a bunch of the attractions, and then release it to the public. This would be sort of a documentary film, but wouldn’t include a bunch of voice-over and edits to compact it into a short period of time. Instead, what I was imagining was a DVD you could pop in and have the TV just show the sights and sounds of being in another place for an hour at a time.

Given the short attention span of most audiences, I’m sure many videographers would be tempted to put this sort of thing together with flashy titles, background music, a narrator, and so on. But what I’m imagining would be very raw – just audio and video of being in this other particular place at a particular time.

Has anyone heard of such a thing? If so, what’s it called? And how do I find videographers who are doing this? It seems like it would be cool to have a website with a map and a whole collection of this sort of videos, so people could download them and be transported to wherever they want to go. In my case, Yellowstone. For others, maybe my back yard in Broomfield or a restaurant kitchen in Bangladesh or walking along a canal in Amsterdam.

Please post a comment with your thoughts on this concept. And maybe I’ll post a video of my own to show what I’m thinking of.

the making of “Cranium”

I got an email from a long time friend of mine, Chad Johnson. He saw my note announcing the upload of my short film “Cranium”. And he had some questions about the production of the film. This film is different enough from my other stuff that I thought it was worth writing a blog article about.

Here’s what Chad said:

That’s great Todd!

Short, sweet, funny. Perfect for youtube. Nice lighting – it looks
professional. Good sound – of course. Watch your eyes – I can see you
reading. Maybe raise the text you are reading, or remember the lines
in short spurts.

Is that Beth as a kid? Did you do this with your new camera?

I didn’t originally intend to make this into a video clip for world wide distribution. You see, a few months ago I signed up for a class called “Ready, Set, On Air!” through Boulder Digital Arts. For the 2nd class, they had someone set up lights and a camera for people to practice being “on air”. I didn’t really have anything I wanted to recite, but I had recently bought some software for my Mac laptop which makes it work like a teleprompter.

So I decided I wanted to experiment with the teleprompter to see how well it worked. I didn’t have a script, so I sat down for 5 minutes and wrote a stream of consciousness story and then loaded it into the teleprompter software. The core of this video was me reciting from that.

To answer Chad’s feedback, then:

The lighting was professional, in fact. There was a pro videographer who was doing the technical stuff that night. I wasn’t involved in the camera or the lighting, and it was before I bought my new camera.

Remembering the lines in short spurts would have defeated the purpose of the experiment, since I wanted to see how it looked to use this teleprompter software.

And no, it’s not Beth as a kid. All the other images in the video were things I found online. Same with the music. So, I’m probably violating copyright left and right with this one. That’s why I only put it on YouTube and don’t plan to do any public screenings of it.

Oh, and the “good sound” wasn’t my doing, either. The class provided the lav mic that everyone used. So I can’t even take credit for that!

Cranium

I just finished another (very) short film. It’s now on YouTube, located here:

Go on, watch it. It’s only 1 minute and 31 seconds long! The film is called “Cranium” and it tells the story of a horrible accident I had in France as a child.

I also finished “HDTS Promo Video” today. It’s got the worst name of any film I’ve ever written – in fact, of any film I’ve ever worked on! But that one’s not on YouTube. If you want to see “HDTS Promo Video” you’ll have to come to the world premiere, time and location TBD.

gas mileage

I ran my motorcycle’s gas tank dry again yesterday, and once again the “reserve” tank didn’t seem to make any difference.  I think there’s something wrong with the reserve fuel system in some way.

However, I did get pay close attention to how many gallons it took to fill the tank back up and how many miles I’d gone since the last fill.  It looks like I got 39.7 miles per gallon on the last fill.  I had been assuming I was getting better gas mileage than that, since I’d heard I should expect something in the 45 to 55 range for this bike.  Maybe I’m getting lower mileage because my riding has been all in the city, or maybe I’m more of a leadfoot (hand?) than I should be, or maybe the bike just needs a tuneup.  I’m not sure.  Regardless, it’s a whole lot better than the 15 mpg that our Dodge Dakota gets (on a good day).

It is nice to have a gas station receipt that’s smaller than 10 bucks, though.  It costs about 50 to fill up the truck these days.

biking to work

This past Friday (June 22, 2007), I set new record bicycle commute times in both directions!

My home-to-work ride was 27:46, better than my previous best time of 29:52 (set in October 2006).

My work-to-home ride was 32:51, significantly better than my previous personal best of 36:13 (also set in October 2006).

I’m impressed with myself that I got “personal bests” in both directions on the same day. On the way to work, I had good light karma, and very little wind, and apparently lots of energy. On the way home, it was super windy, but for most of the ride, the wind was at my back!

The bike I built last summer for commuting is definitely a lot faster than my Giant Revive, too. That helps a lot. Regardless, I still want an even nicer bike. I’ve got my eye on a Trek 7.5 FX (shown above). I talked to the owner of the local bike shop this morning and tried to convince him that he should give away a bike for Bike to Work Day. He didn’t seem too thrilled by the concept.

And yes today was Bike to Work day. I’m definitely not setting any records, since I stopped at two different “breakfast stations” on the way to pick up free stuff. And they’re both out of my way. But the weather’s nice and cool, at least. Hopefully it won’t rain on me this afternoon.

a good weekend

I’ve had a really good weekend. Busy, but good.

Friday night I picked Beth up at a party in Denver (I didn’t really want to go) and then we went out to Limon Peruvian restaurant, which I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while.  I had scallops, and they were divine.  I love it when I find a restaurant that can make a really good scallops dish.  The food was reasonably priced, I thought, but the drinks broke our budget, that’s for sure.  I think we spent as much on 3 drinks as we did on our entrees!  Anyhow, we’d both go back.  (Oh, one side note, even though we had shrimp and mango ceviche there, it didn’t really satisfy my craving for ceviche and I’ve been thinking of trying to make some of my own.  I’d want to be sure to find some grade 1 fresh fish, though.)

Saturday, I went to breakfast at Dot’s Diner in Boulder (where I spent several nights working on a shoot for a short film called “Flat Dog Dreams”) and had huevo ranchero.  Just one egg.  That’s the small order, and it was plenty.  Then I went to an outdoor art showing, which was really enjoyable.  I think I was one of the first people there, but I knew it was going to be a hot day, and wanted to go see it in the morning.

After that, I had some time to waste, so I drove out to the Boulder airport and went on a glider ride!  You see, I’ve been thinking of getting back into flying again, now that I’ve got some money saved up in my rainy day fund.  And I wanted to see if I still enjoyed it.  I did.  Now I just need to decide if I really have the time to do it.  After my glider ride (where the instructor said it seemed like I hadn’t really lost my touch, even though it’s been 6 years since I was in the cockpit) I drove way the hell out to Watkins, where I took in an airshow.  That was cool, not literally (it was damn hot out on the tarmac), but nice to see an air show.  There were parachutists, aerobatics, and then I left when they brought out the F-15, which I believe is the loudest plane on the planet.

Then I drove home and played D&D with my geek buddies until about 10 PM.  Our esteemed game master, Chris, is moving to Utah and that was our next-to-last game with him.  Maybe he’ll be back again someday.  We’ll see.

Sunday I got up and rode my bicycle to the supermarket to get some stuff I needed for the day’s project, which was to shoot a new short film.  I won’t go into detail on the film yet, but it’s something I wrote months ago and am just now getting around to producing.  It may be some time before this one’s finished, as it’s going to include some animation and my animator has been very busy lately.  Then I watched a little TV, made some supper (bison and snow peas stir fry), and captured all the footage we shot today.  After mowing the lawn, I then made some potent mojitos, one of which I’m enjoying quite a bit right now.

So, I had a nice weekend, and did lots of fun stuff.  I hope yours was as good!

American Film Institute’s Top 100 Greatest American Films

Roger Ebert noted that the AFI has published a new list of the top 100 American films of all time.  Here’s what Ebert has to say about the list:
:: rogerebert.com :: Commentary :: AFI 100: ‘Kane’ still number one (xhtml)

And here is the list, copied from his article.  I’d really like to make an honest and serious effort to see all the films on this list that I haven’t seen before.  But some of them I’ve never even heard of!

How many of the top 100 have you seen?  I’m at 53 right now, by a quick count.
AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE’S GREATEST MOVIES

1. “Citizen Kane” (1941)
2. “The Godfather” (1972)
3. “Casablanca” (1942)
4. “Raging Bull” (1980)
5. “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952)
6. “Gone With the Wind” (1939)
7. “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962)
8. “Schindler’s List” (1993)
9. “Vertigo” (1958)
10. “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
11. “City Lights” (1931)
12. “The Searchers” (1956)
13. “Star Wars” (1977)
14. “Psycho” (1960)
15. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)
16. “Sunset Boulevard” (1950)
17. “The Graduate” (1967)
18. “The General” (1927)
19. “On the Waterfront” (1954)
20. “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
21. “Chinatown” (1974)
22. “Some Like It Hot” (1959)
23. “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940)
24. “E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)
25. “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)
26. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939)
27. “High Noon” (1952)
28. “All About Eve” (1950)
29. “Double Indemnity” (1944)
30. “Apocalypse Now” (1979)
31. “The Maltese Falcon” (1941)
32. “The Godfather, Part II” (1974)
33. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975)
34. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)
35. “Annie Hall” (1977)
36. “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957)
37. “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946)
38. “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948)
39. “Dr. Strangelove” (1964)
40. “The Sound of Music” (1965)
41. “King Kong” (1933)
42. “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967)
43. “Midnight Cowboy” (1969)
44. “The Philadelphia Story” (1940)
45. “Shane” (1953)
46. “It Happened One Night” (1934)
47. “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951)
48. “Rear Window” (1954)
49. “Intolerance” (1916)
50. “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)
51. “West Side Story” (1961)
52. “Taxi Driver” (1976)
53. “The Deer Hunter” (1978)
54. “M*A*S*H” (1970)
55. “North by Northwest” (1959)
56. “Jaws” (1975)
57. “Rocky” (1976)
58. “The Gold Rush” (1925)
59. “Nashville” (1975)
60. “Duck Soup” (1933)
61. “Sullivan’s Travels” (1941)
62. “American Graffiti” (1973)
63. “Cabaret” (1972)
64. “Network” (1976)
65. “The African Queen” (1951)
66. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)
67. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966)
68. “Unforgiven” (1992)
69. “Tootsie” (1982)
70. “A Clockwork Orange” (1971)
71. “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
72. “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)
73. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)
74. “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
75. “In the Heat of the Night” (1967)
76. “Forrest Gump” (1994)
77. “All the President’s Men” (1976)
78. “Modern Times” (1936)
79. “The Wild Bunch” (1969)
80. “The Apartment” (1960)
81. “Spartacus” (1960)
82. “Sunrise” (1927)
83. “Titanic” (1997)
84. “Easy Rider” (1969)
85. “A Night at the Opera” (1935)
86. “Platoon” (1986)
87. “12 Angry Men” (1957)
88. “Bringing Up Baby” (1938)
89. “The Sixth Sense” (1999)
90. “Swing Time” (1936)
91. “Sophie’s Choice” (1982)
92. “Goodfellas” (1990)
93. “The French Connection” (1971)
94. “Pulp Fiction” (1994)
95. “The Last Picture Show” (1971)
96. “Do the Right Thing” (1989)
97. “Blade Runner” (1982)
98. “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942)
99. “Toy Story” (1995)
100. “Ben-Hur” (1959)