Blog Flume

I am a multimedia designer and aspiring writer from Central Illinois who dreams of bigger things. You are entering the hub of my online world. Welcome. Make yourself at home, read some stuff, click a few things, maybe check out my online portfolio. And of course, if you enjoy your stay, please subscribe.

*NOTE* This blog occasionally contains coarse language. Please use discretion when viewing.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

They don't make 'em like they used to.

I still have these book & record sets.

I went to a used music sale this weekend for the local university's radio station. Guess it was time they cleaned house. I can't even begin to tell you how many thousands of LPs, cassettes, CDs, 78s, 45s, and books of sheet music I saw there. And get this: "Fill a bag with LPs for only $5! As much as you can carry!" Oh, bliss and heaven.

So among the huge stack of LPs I purchased were a few comedy albums. Several Firesign Theater platters (whom I've never really "gotten," but I wanted to try again anyway), a George Carlin record (which includes the original "seven dirty words" bit), an old Cosby one and an older Bob Newhart one.

As a kid I loved playing records on my record player. I listened to music all the time, just like now. I didn't have enough records to satisfy my thirst, so I naturally scoped out whatever was in the house. That led me to my sister's K-Tel gems and my parents' extensive collection of country & western and sock hop tunes. And a few comedy albums. There was the payoff.

My folks had a good half dozen each of the Smothers Brothers and Bill Cosby albums. It was an easy warm-up; I had already grown up with Fat Albert, picture pages, pudding pops and Himself. There was no introduction needed to the Cos. I was already a fan. I remember being fascinated listening to those familiar Cosby speech patterns, hearing stories of ol' Weird Harold and chicken hearts and go karts. Funny stuff.

And these Smothers Brothers . . . I had to investigate them, man. Since this was decades before wikipedia, I had to do the old-fashioned thing when it comes to finding information--the oldest-fashioned thing, as a matter of fact: I had to ask someone who knew. That meant Mom. She was happy to fill me in on Tom and Dickie, sibling rivalry, "Mom always liked you best!" and folk music with a twist. I took a listen, and I was hooked. Since then I've loved the Smothers Brothers.

They don't make comedy albums today like those treasures of the '60s. They don't make comedians anymore like the ones in those albums. These albums were before my time, but give me a 40-year-old Bob Newhart LP over a brand-spankin'-new Adam Sandler CD any day of the week. That old stuff all seems more cerebral to me. Maybe it's the lack of extensive profanity; maybe it's the way the comedy speaks for itself rather than relying on gimmicks; maybe it's the fact that jokes which are stale now sound so much fresher and even funnier in the setting of their day.

That's why I love hitting garage sales, thrift stores and sales like the one this weekend. I never know where I'm going to be able to procure my next golden oldie, whether it be a Peanuts paperback from Fawcett or a Flip Wilson LP.

Friday, September 24, 2010

See you later, Emo's

Okay, so it's not media-related news, but it still matters to me.

It's that time of the year again when the neighborhood ice cream shops start closing down for the season. Tonight I bid adieu to Emo's on War Memorial Drive. Tomorrow is the last day of business this season. However, this closure is punctuated by an enormous, bold question mark. You see, the business is for sale, as well. What's going to happen to Emo's in the Spring '11 season? Tune in to find out. Hopefully Peoria will not be deprived in 2011 of Emo's legendary Coney Dogs and 24+ flavors of soft serve.

Next to close up shop: Dudley's. After those two have gone, I'll be forced to hit the local Baskin Robbins throughout the winter, because Cold Stone is garbage. :p

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Incredible Shrinking iPad?

Just read an article on Bloomberg about how Apple may be preparing to unleash a newer, smaller iPad with a seven-inch screen versus the current 9.7-inch model. Anyone else see where this is going? Smaller and smaller? If they start this trend with the iPad as they did with iPod, then before you know it the iPod shuffle will be roughly the size of a toothpick and the iPad will end up about the same size as the 5th gen iPod video.

I don't get it. Can smaller even be better when dealing with something like the iPad? Isn't part of its appeal the fact that you can actually see movies and text on it? Why make them harder to see by shrinking the damn screen? Oh, Apple, how you confound me sometimes. But I could gripe about them more later. And I will. Yes, iWill.

Videos video videos

Sorry. No groin shots or pranks. Nothing in danger of going viral or being featured on Tosh.0. Just some stuff that's more portfolio-oriented.

In March of 2010, I was fortunate enough to take a rare business trip to Anaheim, California for the Commodity Classic agricultural trade show. My purpose there was to shoot some video on the floor, at my company's booth, on the convention center campus, and at a panel discussion. The main focus was the panel discussion.

This panel comprised four successful and respected men in the ag and finance fields, including the CEO of the company I work for. We were fortunate enough to get the one and only Max Armstrong to host the panel. The project was to be a series of short online video clips sponsored by Water Street Solutions and the ag media publishing behemoth known as the Farm Progress Companies.
My task was to set up, shoot, edit, produce and post all the clips to a new YouTube account which I had created. So here they are. Surely not very entertaining, but quite informative and valuable to the farmers who attended. Water Street & Farm Progress were happy, so that's good enough for me. I was hoping to do something a but more upbeat, as I'd shot all this B-roll footage, but this is what the clients wanted. Farm Progress posted the videos on several of their web sites, and Water Street included links on its blog page as well.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Aw, hell no.

The movie you've all been waiting for is finally coming! That's right, it's Paranormal Activity 2. (wah wah waaaaaah) Sorry to let you down.

Seriously, though. I can't believe I got a message in my inbox today asking me to DEMAND it. I fell for that marketing ploy once, and I fell hard. I demanded the first Paranormal Activity, and I recruited some of my social networking buds to do the same. Of course, none of the towns I demanded actually made the cut, but my demands helped fuel the nationwide release.

That was some clever marketing on their part. I hadn't seen a social networking/viral kind of campaign like that before. And showing key clips interspersed with audience reactions--genius. I was so pumped to see that damned movie when it came to Peoria, I could hardly contain myself. Then the night came.

I went into the theater and after the commercials, movie trailers, a quick nap and two bathroom breaks the film started. I remember clapping my hands together, rubbing them like a handlebar-mustachioed villain and thinking, here we go! Haha!

And I waited. And waited. Day after day. Night after night. "My keys are on the floor! I didn't leave them there." Are you shitting me? This better get scary pretty soon. Another couple of days go by. Isn't there anyone else in this movie?

Then the actual scares came, but they were so few and far between and already spoiled by the ad campaign, that even as much as I wanted this film to work--after all, I had a vested interest; I had DEMANDED IT--it just didn't do anything other than waste my time and piss me off.

Note to filmmakers: If you only have three or four "scares" in a movie, don't blow your wad on the trailers. It's like seeing a trailer for the Exorcist in which Regan stabs herself in the privates with a crucifix, throws up pea soup on the priest, spins her head all the way round, flashes into a demon, levitates, screams "Nowonmei" and howls in thirty simultaneous voices, tosses around furniture with her mind and impersonates a dead old Jewish lady burning in hell. After people see all that in the trailer, the first 90 minutes of the movie are gonna suck.

Like Jurassic Park 2--the only movie I ever walked out of. "Where the hell are the dinosaurs trashing the city streets? This was supposed to be a movie of dinosaurs running rampant on the public! Screw this."

So, sorry Paranormal Activity 2, but you can count me out. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, it's worth two in the bush. Or something like that.

Vacation photos, Photoshop style

Usually if I post photos you can also find them on my Flickr page, which is a better option for higher quality view or slideshow format.

Anyway, here's a quick look at my family photo album. Usually at some point during a special trip, I'll want to do one good photo of the four of us. Problem is, most people in the world are useless when it comes to digital cameras, so you always end up with a blurry, horrible photo if you hand your camera to a stranger and ask them to take your picture.

"It's the big silver button on top. You have to hold it down halfway, then all the way down when you want to take it. And please use the Rule of Thirds for framing, because I don't want to have to crop this--Aw, forget it. Thanks anyway." Grumble, rumble, gripe.

How to solve the problem? Compositing in Photoshop! So here are a couple of examples, one from Metropolis, Illinois and the other from Six Flags Over Georgia.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Great Switch-Off?

A recent Reuters article expressed the concern of Comcast and Time Warner that more people are and increasingly will be cutting their cable service in favor of streaming services from Apple, Netflix and others. I don't know about you guys, but I have Netflix and I love it. However, I am not yet even close to going without traditional (does digital now qualify as "traditional"?) cable.

I love having access to the Netflix library and being able to stream all the episodes of Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, South Park or what-have-you, but what about those new episodes of current programs? Not every network is as quick on the draw as CBS, with its next-day posting of a free stream in case I forgot to DVR that episode of Survivor. (Which I did--Wednesdays now? Really?) And let's not forget all that great original Showtime or HBO programming. How else can you access that, if not with cable or satellite?

Besides, my DVR remote works hella better for ffwd & rewind than the stupid Netflix interface-doohickey. And I've never had my Dish tell me my "connection has slowed" and fake like it's trying to let me actually watch the show while I know it's completely bailed on me & I'll have to restart the bleedin' thing.

And isn't TV on iTunes a premium service? Why would anyone pay extra to watch a TV show they've already paid the cable or satellite company for the right to watch? I don't get it. If you want to own it, just wait for the damn DVD. It's a more permanent medium for storage anyway. But that's just what I'd do.

No, despite my love/hate (mostly love) relationship with Netflix, or as it's become affectionately known in our house--"Assglue," I am not yet ready to sever my ties with Dish Network. At least not until the current season of Weeds is over.

A place for my photos

Okay, so if I'm going to make a name for myself in the graphic arts business, I suppose I should show off some of my photography examples. Bear in mind, I've never had an SLR camera at my disposal; always point-and-shoot. Here's a link to my Flickr page, which contains some of the digital photos of which I am most proud.