Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Night Dad Went To Jail

It was early in 2006 when I was getting off of work about 9PM. I usually got a ride home from Dad, but tonight, my brother Aaron, his wife Jessica, and my sister Audrey picked me up. They told me something was wrong at home: Dad was in jail.

Now, don't get my Dad wrong, he's a great guy. He loves his family and provides for them legally. The thing he'd gone to jail for was an unpaid traffic fine.

When we got home, my Mom was saying she wanted us to let Dad stay in jail, that it would "serve him right." She turned to me and said, "It's times like this I wish I had my own money!"

She stormed into her bedroom. Whether she was suggesting I give her more of my paycheck, or that Dad never gave her enough money, I don't know. I was already giving them $200 a month to stay in a room that didn't even have a door. (Seemed a bit fair, as we were renting the house.)

I turned to my brother, Drew, and said, "If you want your own money, you have to work for it." (I still stand by that statement.)

Eventually, Mom came out and said, "I don't want your father out of jail. You're the one who's working, we'll have to take your whole paycheck to care for the family."

I walked out to talk with Aaron, Jessica, and Audrey. We talked about the cost of bail for Dad, and decided we could pay it. For me, it would take almost all of the money I had left in the bank, but I thought, "Be broke now, or never have any extra money again." I helped them pay the bail.

You see, this is just an example of how weird my Mom is. This is one thing that made me decide it was time to move out just a few months later.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I just got an e-mail from a friend of mine. It was about a principal of a school announcing of the PA system that they can't respect Christianity in public schools, then mentions all the other things they can accept, including sexual innuendo.

It would be inspiring and I might have even posted it here, if I knew it was true. You could write any bit of this, but if it's not true, it kind of loses potency.

And on this subject, why are Christian movies, except for Bible-based ones, so horribly cliche? I watched the movie Fireproof not too long ago, and... Nice story, but it was burdened with all these preachy cliches. One I have the biggest problem with is the depiction of computers and the internet. Because if there's mention of the internet, someone MUST be looking up pornography.

I wish someone would do a live-action movie version of Adventures in Odyssey or something like it. I mean, yes, it's Christian, points out lessons (sometimes in hilarious ways), discusses theology, but manages not to sound too preachy.

Ah, well...


Sam, if you're reading this, your e-mail server is blocking me somehow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I decided to work on some videos today. I got one done. It was one of the ones Taphas helped me film last week:

The other video we filmed I want to crop to widescreen and it's composed of several shots, so it's a bit more complicated.

The other video I've been working on today is one of my Oz videos, The Wonders of Oz episode 12. My big problem with doing these videos is that I try to get better as I go, but my lack of content doesn't help. Oh, well...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Okay, where are they?

So, I live in a city called Springfield.

Right past the interstate is a street called Evergreen.

We have a big stadium, a terrible public school system, and there's a statue of some prominent person near the center of town.

Okay, where do the Simpsons live?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Superman vs. The Studios

Recently, I decided to watch the Superman movies. All of them. Okay, so I haven't watched the Richard Donner version of Superman II, but no matter.

It's odd that the oldest and most loved superhero has such an odd history in film.

1978 brought us Superman: The Movie, introducing Christopher Reeve as Superman and Clark Kent, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, and Mark McClure as my personal favorite supporting character, Jimmy Olsen. (Who didn't have quite as good a role in these movies as I would have liked, but what can you do?)

The first one was a very good movie. It introduced the hero and the supporting cast, and brought in a villain who was a threat but didn't feel cheated with unused potential. I feel like Spider-Man (the first movie) took a page from this one and did it well. Only thing I didn't like about it was the scene where Superman saves Lois' life and goes back in time to stop her from being crushed in a rockslide.

Second one, okay. It felt a bit cheesy, but was a good sequel, and I like how it had been set up in the first movie. I noted that the loss of Superman's powers was not unlike what happens in Spider-Man 2, but never mind. It was cool seeing Superman taking on not one but three villains who are as strong as he is.

Third... Eh... The best part of it was the return of Lana Lang into the series after her brief scenes in the first movie. The villain's plot where Superman is being defeated by a computer was weird to say the least. Richard Pryor as Gus, a little funny here and there, I would say this is not a good performance by him, but I haven't seen much else by him, save his performance as the Wiz in The Wiz, which he was completely miscast for.

Fourth, CHEESY. Lex breaks out of jail, makes a nuclear man, Superman defeats Nuclear Man, sends Lex back to jail, all with a "World Peace, Please!" message dragging it down.

Now, Superman Returns is not exactly the best movie ever, as they had to re-cast everyone. If you need to do that, why not do a reboot? When I first saw it on DVD back in 2006, it seemed to be a big special effects show with a pretty poor plot. Superman returns from seeing if there may be any life left on the remains of Krypton (I guess they left Supergirl as well as III and IV: The Quest For Peace out of this continuity as well...), Lois Lane has a son who is Superman's (which I saw coming as soon as I saw him), and Lex Luthor, conning his way out of jail from an old lady, has a real estate plot that will inevitably give him cancer and kill billions of people by flooding the United States. The acting was good, though. Watching it after the previous movies, it's better, but it's not the best.

I also watched that animated Superman: Doomsday movie, which doesn't fit with the movies' continuity, but was okay. An okay re-telling of the "Death of Superman" story (the biggest change making Doomsday's rampage Luthor's fault), but it's retelling of "The Return of Superman" story leaves much to be desired.

When will we see another Superman movie that doesn't stink?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

ASLTW - Church Signs 2

I passed that church that had God saying "Don't Make Me Come Down There" on their sign, but now their sign reads "Everyone is welcome."

What gets me is that they felt the need to say that. I could go into a Christian blog about how Christians' charisma, not words, are supposed to attract other people, but... I don't feel like it. I'll just say this: Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cat Scratch Films

... Hey, that sounds like a good name for a company...

But no, I came up with ideas for two YouTube videos and invited a friend over to help me film them. We decided that it would be easiest for us both if he stayed the night and we filmed in the morning, when we'd have the best light.

Since my cat, Jack, is a little rambunctious, I took him into my bedroom. My bed is positioned right under a window. For some reason, as I was trying to get to sleep, Jack tries to jump up onto the window. It was closed since it can't be opened and stay open. So, he keeps trying, gets up pretty high... And falls on my face! WITH ALL CLAWS OUT!!!


Ow... There's four of them... Guess who DIDN'T stay in overnight?

When I showed my friend, Taphas, he says, "I can call you 'Scarface,' then. You look like you could be a serial killer."

So, the next morning, I'd developed scabs on the scratches. At least he missed my eye. We filmed the videos with the scratches. "It adds to the character," said Taphas.

I've yet to edit the videos, but one is me saying good-bye to my old computer as if it was a girlfriend. With one false start, it was done in one shot. The other was a little more complex. We had 10 shots, plus some re-shots, and I added an extra scene for Taphas to do. It's about being addicted to caffeine. It's also a parody/tribute to opening scenes of the movies Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange. Just, no one's being chased by cops for any crimes, and it's cappuccino instead of heroin or drugged milk.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I feel like I need to blog about the past few days.

So, Audrey and Shaun moved all of their stuff out. Tuesday night, I moved the computer and the desk it was on into the old bedroom.

I'd say my living room is very clean now, since I gave the floor a thorough sweeping and a vacuuming.

But the next morning, I got up and found my computer stuck on the "Windows is shutting down" screen, where it had apparently been for some time. I did a manual shut off, but when I tried to reboot, all I got was the legendary Blue Screen Of Death. Using Windows Safe Mode (With Networking), I managed to move most of the files I couldn't replace from the C:\ drive (I have a secondary drive that was easily saved by disconnecting) and then using a system restore disc to restore my computer to factory settings. Doing that and restoring the programs I was using just drained me...

Right now, I'm tired and just want some rest, but know that will just make another day of work come all the sooner... *YAWN.*

Monday, March 9, 2009


So, yesterday, Audrey and Aaron moved the last of Audrey and Shaun's stuff out of my apartment, where I had been storing it for them for six months.

Later, they called me up and invited me to dinner at Aaron & Jessica's. While I was there, I watched The Simpsons. Somehow, the house gets foreclosed on, and it gets put up for auction, and is bought by Flanders, who rents it back to the Simpsons. However, when they call him at night about a gas leak, and he had been fixing problems around their house all day (involving a hilarious shot where he says he'll get his tools, and opens a cabinet in the Simpson's house, full of tool chests labeled "Property of Ned Flanders"), he gets a lot of flack and evicts them. Eventually, Flanders' generous and loving nature gets the better of them and he brings them back in.

Now, the weird thing is, the same thing happened to my family. My mom wanted to get new windows, and to pay for them, they put a mortgage on the house. Now, all payments were going well, until Mom took it into her head to movie to Branson to open a theater or homeless shelter. She nagged my dad into getting a job there, and eventually, he caved and did. And then we had some really bad times... In the end, we didn't pay off the mortgage, and the house was foreclosed on.

Luckily for us, the house was bought by a friend of ours, who owns a sunroom business now. He rented it to us until Mom's parents died, and Audrey and I were moving out then anyways, and Drew was forced to find his own place, and Mom, Dad and the younger kids moved elsewhere. (It's a long story.)


Later, I went over to Wal-Mart, where I picked up some cleaning supplies, milk, and some DVDs. One was the new edition of Back to the Future, which also contained a special second disc containing the footage from Back to the Future: The Ride, and other special features that fans have wanted to see. (Though it is noted that Looking Back To The Future is only part of a longer documentary about all three movies. Grrr...)

Really, if you own the old DVD set from 2003, that second disc that only comes with the first movie is the only new thing about the new release. Sure, the movies come separately in nice-looking individual cases with the original poster art on them, but even the menus are the same as the old release. Yes, down to everything EXCEPT the look of the actual disc, it's the exact same DVD.

(To the reader who I told I'd be posting photos, I'm a little reticent.)

So, yeah... Ah, well... At least now I have new copies of all of the movies... (Thanks to their flawed disc exchange program for the first set, I was able to trade in used copies of the first set that I'd bought for only $3 + some trades, for new, corrected copies of II and III.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock by William Ford

It took me awhile to find a good price on a copy of Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. Despite the availability of the movie, the book is out of print in the US.

Usually when it comes to a movie based on a book, the book remains much better than it's adaptation. In the case of Picnic at Hanging Rock, the movie actually complements the book, and the book complements the movie.


The book and movie tell of a private school, Appleyard College, sending their students on a picnic to Mount Diogenes, or more commonly known as Hanging Rock, on February 14, 1900. The day is revealed to be Saturday, and of course, St. Valentine's Day.

Right off, you can tell why the author selected the location for such a story, just look at it:

At the Rock, the schoolgirls can see that they are not the only visitors, Colonel Fitzhubert and his family are also visiting, including his son, Michael, and their stablehand Albert.

The school's staff and driver discover that their watches have stopped. Some of the senior girls, Marion Quade, Irma Leopold, and the bewitching Miranda, ask if they may measure the base of the Rock, and are allowed to do so, and are joined by the school dunce Edith Horton. The girls decide to climb the Rock, and are observed briefly by Michael and Albert.

The girls converse as they climb and eventually tire. They awake, but only Edith seems to be fully aware of everything. The senior girls are in a trance-like state and continue climbing. Eventually, Edith's fear gets the better of her.

Mrs. Appleyard, the head of the College, has stayed at the college, partially because Sara Wayborne, Miranda's dearest friend at the school, has been left out of the picnic to finish her lessons. Mrs. Appleyard is surprised when the picnickers do not arrive at the time she requested, and are, in fact, very late. They return with everyone in tears and hysterics, and without the three senior girls who climbed the Rock, and Miss McCraw is missing.

Edith, Michael, and Albert are all asked by the Constable about the mysterious disappearance of Miranda, Irma, Marion, and Miss McCraw. Both Albert and Michael maintain that they only observed the girls as they passed, while Edith says she saw Miss McCraw running up the Rock as she was running down, Miss McCraw without her skirt, and that she also saw a red cloud on the Rock.

Michael is determined to do his own search for the missing girls, even though the police's searches have yielded no traces of the missing people. Albert later finds him unconscious and injured on one of the lower slopes. Michael later manages to scrawl a message to Albert, who follows it onto the Rock, and they find an unconscious Irma.

Despite the hope that Irma's recovery brings, Appleyard College begins losing students and staff right and left. The college is of course the subject of scandal now, and the head seems eager to take her frustration out on Sara, whose guardian has not been paying her fees.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is exceptionally well-written. The author gives the story a gentle pace, but it doesn't drag. The author even plays with paradoxes, which she must have been fond of. My research on her shows she didn't care about the passing of time and never kept clocks in her home.

Several people have thought that Picnic is a true story and want to discover the mystery of the disappearance and solve it once and for all. Lindsay herself didn't really say if the story was true or not. Just before the book starts, it reads:
Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction, my readers must decide for themselves. As the fateful picnic took place in the year nineteen hundred, and all the characters who appear in this book are long since dead, it hardly seems to matter.

On later interviews, she said, "Some of it is, and some of it isn't." While Peter Weir was filming his movie adaptation, actress Anne Louise Lambert, who played Miranda, wandered off at Hanging Rock after a bad day of filming, in full costume. Lindsay followed her and greeted her as "Miranda," saying, "It's been so long."

Now, it was discovered that three children were found dead near Hanging Rock, but this was prior to 1900. It is also worthwhile to note that February 14, 1900 did not fall on a Saturday as it does in the book. In addition, nothing had been printed of "The College Mystery" (as the disappearance and it's effects is called in the book), nor had anyone heard of it before the book was published, which contradicts what is in the book and the subsequent film.

Thus, we may assume, the story is fictional, but definitely resounded with the author in a way known only to herself.

The story has been interpreted a number of ways, as repressed sexual expression, as nature becoming a mysterious force, and as a science fiction story.

The disappearance is the cause of many theories. Fans of the movie and the book try to come up with one, and theories have ranged from simple ones, such as the senior girls were running away from the school, getting murdered by Michael and Albert, either being aided or attacked by Miss McCraw, or rockslides or a small earthquake; to very fantastic ones, such as alien abductions, aboriginal spirits and curses, man-eating plants or monsters, transformations, or the girls and Miss McCraw were transported to another world or dimension.

As it turns out, Lindsay did write what had happened, but her publisher felt that the chapter would be best left out of the book for an unsolved mystery. In the film adaptation, no attempt was made to make an explanation.

While some thought the claim that Lindsay had written this chapter was a joke or hoax, after her death, it was published as The Secret of Hanging Rock.

The chapter follows Miranda, Marion, and Irma continuing their climb, and being joined by Miss McCraw, who they fail to recognize, who has also fallen under some sort of trance. They remove their tight corsets and throw them over a cliff, but they never hit the ground, and are left suspended in space. The four see a "hole in space," then Miss McCraw, Miranda, and Marion crawl into a small hole in the rock, transforming into odd crab-like and lizard-like shapes. Irma hesitates, and is left clawing at the rock as a boulder covers the hole.

Some people have not been satisfied with this explanation because it is so odd. It however, fits with the Dreamtime beliefs of the Australian Aborigines, where the belief is that mankind is equal to all of nature. The girls have become one with nature now, as opposed to the school, which feels out of place in it's location in the country, and the students and staff stay mainly indoors.

Now, the explanation is not what happened, but why? Of all the theories I've found online, the most intriguing is the Interrupted Fate theory: Sara Waybourne should have gone to the picnic. She was an orphan who missed her brother, who was not taken in by her guardian, Mr. Cosgrove. In the story of the book and the movie, she reveals her brother's name to be "Bertie," while Albert, the Fitzhubert's stable hand, says he has a sister named Sara who he last saw at the orphanage. It is obvious that they are indeed siblings. But as Sara did not go, their fate of being reunited (as she would have gone with Miranda and the others who were noticed by Michael and Albert, who would have recognized her) was interrupted by Mrs. Appleyard. This interruption caused a disturbance in the regular flow of Time, and also explains why the effects of the disappearance are so cruel to Mrs. Appleyard.

It would also work with why, at the end of the book (filmed for the movie, but left out of the final cut), when Mrs. Appleyard goes to Hanging Rock, she sees Sara's ghost. (Mutilated in the book, not so in the filmed footage.) Sara has finally made it to Hanging Rock, but is too late to be reunited with her brother.

Definitely a book and a movie that inspires thought. I truly enjoyed both.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Picnic Update

Yes, I'm still reading Picnic at Hanging Rock, and it's good. It's now on my list of "Best Books I've Ever Read." Be expecting a nice big blog about it when I'm done!