Monday, December 31, 2007

squirrel shots!













I know, weird post. But we took some shots of the little guys in our backyard this summer and...... well, I figured maybe I was putting up a bit too much on Japan and Disney.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

riding the river in Kyoto, Japan













We took this 90 minute boat ride in Kyoto earlier this year. Beautiful. Not a thrill ride, but a lovely tour. The Japanese narration was lost on me, but who needs it when the view is Breathtaking?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Have a good one, everyone!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Disneyworld choice


What choice! Which would you picked if you were at Disneyworld? Personally, I'd take that girl in the middle.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas, all!

I hope everyone has a super
Christmas! Here's what we had
for Thanksgiving - and I'll
bet we'll work on a similar one
around 1 o'clock today!

Friday, December 21, 2007

yet more Calloway!





Some scenes from the 12 Days of Christmas. Plus a snowflake shower.



Sunday, December 16, 2007

back!



Sorry there was no post for a while, but here are some nice photos of our trip to Calloway Gardens (near Atlanta) from a couple weeks ago. It is a Great drive-thru lights show, and I encourage anyone in the area to go. Really worth it.









More tomorrow!

Friday, December 7, 2007

No Country for Old Ben

(I'm finally doing some creative writing again. First in about 10 years. Here's a poem about the film I saw last night.)

No Country for Old Ben

12-7-07

(or, a review)

Saw this last night with 7 others

separated by rows and color

Boring ass movie? with understandably no music

Tommy Lee Jones was good with mainstream flicks

but this was a comedy?-drama slice of life that

didn't need to satisfy with the death of the main hero

nor the killing of the emotionless, bad bangs killer

so the topic of conversation with the rows

upon the last talky scene was, that's it?

Interesting in parts, certainly not worth critic praise

Easier to moan than make laugh

Everyone has vision, in backward glances

We see the sea for what it is and not the moment's wonder

Give us the money, let me film my script and

minds might wander over repeating this 'poem'

with my sparking star, like a Britney topic board

Never leaving her be even though she defines pop culture

and you add to the problem, like the next thriller to come

out: the amount of people who watch the film, kills him

that much quicker

World of voyeuristic jealousy, critics in cutthroat badges

carving IMHOs into trees that may someday fall

I've rambled enough

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

thoughts on Japan


Japan is a beautiful land, but the people, even more so. If my wife and her parents are typical, this is a culture build on respect and patience. One amazing thing:

Electronic gadgets are Very popular. But NO one uses their cell phone on a train or subway. None that I've seen! Yes, they do text often, but no one talks. NONE. I love that. Americans won't see the point, but anyone trying to read a book while someone is saying, "I'm on the train.... I'M ON THE TRAIN! I'll be there in 10 minutes..... I'LL BE THERE IN -" will KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. I can wait 10 minutes to say Hi to someone. Can't you?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

saw August Rush today

Good musical fantasy. Your disbelief is suspended for you, you don't have to do it yourself once the picture's well underway. Soon you realize you're technically in a musical, much like the Oliver Twist story. Though I don't believe in the Oscars anymore, I'd like to see this one at least get nominated for Best Editing and Best Sound. Very well put together movie. Emotionally satisfying. And oh yes, it's dramatic. Much in the same way as Rebel Without a Cause. The characters feel so Much, you'll think you're back in the 1950s.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

new blog

We're starting a new blog, mainly for BearManor Media. Please check it out at http://bearmanor.blogspot.com/

Meantime, we saw Mr. Magorium last night - and we were the only 2 in the theatre. Was everyone else in Enchanted? Anyway, it was fun. Not as much of an epic as the idea allowed - in fact, being basically a one-set show with not Too many gags in it, there was a cheapness to it that I was a bit disappointed in. Could've been a tv show, in a way. But what there Was of it was good. Not very good, but worth a 90 minute sit.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Enchanted pt. 2

I forgot to ask something Very important in my previous post on this film.

If the cartoon prince and princess change into real people after coming thru the manhole - why is the chipmunk still a cartoon?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Beowulf

We saw this yesterday in Tallahassee. I thought All viewings were 3-D so I was a little disappointed at seeing the Regular version of this. My wife and I were interested in finding out what the Story was about because it's like Dante's Inferno - it's just one of those old stories you've heard of and wonder about it.

Well, one of the few cartoons we didn't watch this year was Shrek 3, but I think we saw it yesterday. How many of you prefer the old type of animation that was hand drawn? Hands up!

Now, how many of you like the new style?

Okay, now how many of you just don't notice? Perhaps you play video games or are used to seeing this style so much that it doesn't matter to you?

Well, I knew it was going to be like because of the preview which was shown over and Over, as much as a National Guard commercial (the current one - the music video - is Too long; it's 3.5 minutes!! I timed it twice). But the 2 problems I've always had with the Shrek/game type of animation are:

1. Everything and every character looks like it weighs the weight of a rotten pecan. Even when Spiderman is flying thru the air as a cartoon in his films, doing those too-fast flips, he seems to have the heaviness of a small cardboard box.

2. The characters are generally emotionless, all having the same kind of plain faces. Yes, it's quicker to do that animation, but I have to agree with Leonard Maltin (who liked Enchanted a whole lot) when he said that we need a return to classic animation, drawn by hand. Wouldn't that be nice? Or does it matter to the general population? (I mean, I used to like playing those Myst-type games, back when I had time, which are now filled with these characters.)

That said, there were elements I liked about Beowulf. But my wife and I have a rating system between us: bad, okay, good, very good, great. This, we agreed, was okay.

Okay, it might've helped if either of us liked medieval stuff. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Enchanted

I've always believed that the most Important part of the film is the end. The very end. Not the first five minutes, which is what budding screenwriters are told. What the audience leaves with is that final time. Not the start, even if they remember it.

That's what saved Enchanted for me. I had hope for Disney's new fantasy because of the trailer (designed mostly for teen girls though it seemed to me) and the opening animation. We saw it last night for a post-Thanksgiving treat. I liked elements of it, though it didn't milk the "fish out of water" situation enough. Think of the 1st 2 Crocodile Dundee films. Those work for me. Enchanted doesn't seem slow at all in hindsight, but until the satisfying ending, I felt that a bit.

Also, I'm not from the era of Disney fans - and I'm a big one - who think that pissing on a prince's shoe and seeing a chipmunk poop a raisin is funny in a PG-rated family film. Yep, those things got laughs, yep, this is 2007 and body humor is natural, therefore allowed, often. But those things were always natural. When I was growing up (I sound like an old man, but I'm 37 this minute) the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles was played on network tv in silence. Now it's restored to its glowing, original soundtrack of burping and farting sounds. I can think of no better comparison of '80s to '00s than that.

And remember, I like Saw and bloody horror movies, so I'm hardly a prude. But when I go see a kid's film, I like an air of innocence. I guess that's why I keep going back to pre-Little Mermaid Disney stuff...

But as I say, the ending of Enchanted was what we all wanted, it was cute, and it didn't even end on a fart joke, for some reason. Would I recommend the film? No. It's not destined to be a Disney classic, in the same way that no one watches The Great Mouse Detective. There's not enough substance to make it last past a DVD release. Then again, I think Gus is great and who else ever mentions that film?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Disney on Ice



Last Friday we saw Disney on Ice here in Albany, GA. Really good show. It was Princesses on Ice. The first part was a medley of stories, and the 2nd act was completely Cinderella. My wife liked the 2nd part best because of the costumes, and probably because it was a more developed story. But I'm pretty sure she liked the Snow White section of the first half, because that's when we started taking pictures.

We went with my grandmother and mother. Couldn't find our seats - they make it Really hard to find! Disney, if you're listening, you need to do something about that!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

we went to the circus!






Yep, the circus came to Albany a month or so ago and we took all these pictures. I forgot to put them up, but better late than never.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Horrorfest pt. 2


Monday night I tried another one. Carmike's website said it was going to be Crazy Eights, but when I got there, it was Tooth and Nail. Didn't matter to me. I didn't read about any of the films - I like to be surprised. I was just glad it was one I hadn't seen before.

I liked the idea of the set-up to Tooth and Nail. The world has torn itself to pieces after the gas runs out. Lack of cars and power ruined everyone. But there are some survivors. In this story, some of the survivors are holed up in a ruined hospital that has no electricity, few drugs, and lots of exits/entrances for the villains of the film - cannibals. It was good, but had there been more action than talk, I would've stayed. I left about 30 minutes before it ended (I think), but there was no one else in the theatre but me!

I would LOVE to read some articles about how this fest got itself such great distribution. This is Exactly what indie filmmakers want. Unfortunately, the choices of some of these films is going to make it hard to have a Horrorfest 2. Especially with the underwhelming audiences, due to lack of advertising really. Was this fest sponsored as a tax write-off? Or was there some The Producers-like plot going on behind the scenes we'll never know about? I'd sure like to know how this good idea got so far.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Horrorfest

I had to try Horrorfest
because I like the genre, and I can't recall another time in my life that a group of indie films were so Easy to get to. I mean, they are playing in All the little towns nearby - Dothan, Columbus and even right here in Albany. Now only that, but they are playing here in the Big theatre, one of 3 of the 16 rooms always reserved for new/popular films. The other theatres are much smaller (so of course I like going to new films when they first come out, for the big theatre experience). That's why even though my enjoyment of this film festival has been mixed, I'm going back a couple more times.

On Friday I did a double feature of Unearthed and The Deaths of Ian Stone. Unearthed was interesting, filled with what we've come to love in our modern films: gore, and attractive young women being terrorized. I didn't care for the cartoon creatures, and there was a vague flatness to the look of the film that tells you you're not watching a major Hollywood film, but then so what?

I'm just glad I stayed for the 2nd film, The Deaths of Ian Stone, which wasn't so much a horror movie as a thriller/fantasy. In fact, the high school or jr. college students talking a lot in the back row (the only other people in the theatre) were at once disappointed when the film began because they could tell it was a British film - as if the nationality means anything. As it turns out, it was the most interesting of the 3 films I've seen so far. One reviewer called it Groundhog Day for horror films. Well, after seeing Doom, I learned not to bother paying attention to film critics' opinions. I thought Doom was Very fun - and that's the Best thing a film can be, isn't it? - but it got lots of D and F reviews. I disagree. And I digress.

Ian Stone was more like one of the latter Hellraisers, in which someone is trapped in the same day all the time - however, rather than waking up in the same place all the time, Ian wakes in a different life every time. So it's more like Quantum Leap than Anything else. Hey, we've got a QL book coming out next month! :)

Well, the loud kids left about a half hour before the film was over, and I finished it alone. Good movie.

Then last night I saw the 10 o'clock show of Nightmare Man. Well, sir, I know how difficult the indie film biz is. Because you never have the budget you want. So many of the movies, including Nightmare Man, end up looking like student films. This one had gore and plenty of sexiness, and some interesting bits along the way. It's just difficult getting away from the Look of the film - was it shot on video? I hate judging books by their covers, because people do it to our stuff all the time, but there is a reason for it, I realize. To me, the most important way to get Into a film is have good cinematography and enough variety of camera angles. Editing will only take you so far. A picture needs to be viewed from many angles to appreciate it fully, I think, and the same goes for a movie. Well, Nightmare Man was a good try, but, well, again, there were only 4 people in the theatre for this movie, and the young man/woman couple walked out of This film about 20 minutes before it was over. I don't blame them. But I was fascinated, to be honest, to see something like This on the big screen. This is usually the kind of film you'll find bundled in one of those dvd sets - 13 films on 3 dvds for $7.99. So paying $8 for a ticket to it - well, I wasn't about to walk out on it. Besides, there were some Good things about it. Mia, the true lead of the movie, was fun to watch, and some of her dialogue during the terror moments was super.


Yes, I'll be going back before the Fest ends on Sunday. Indie needs our support. It REALLY does. There are jewels to be found.

I would love to publish a few volumes of indie film scripts - one of award-winners, one of horror/terror. There are a lot of blooming, brilliant minds out there. But without rewarding them in Some way - like going to see their films - how are they going to make it? They will wait tables, work at Walmart, and we'll All lose the next Saw, Star Wars and Casablancas.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

in Japan












More pictures of us in Japan! Good, traditional Japanese food. Kyoto Station (subway and train) which has an incredible amount of people and shops. Go underground here and you can get lost in the wide halls of commerce - and you'll go broke with choices...

Above on the right: my wife and I on the ocean's coast which we visited with her parents. It rained, but my God it was an incredible site. More on that later.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

saw Saw IV yesterday

I know, a lot of film fans - especially nostalgia fans - don't care for Saw, and some don't have much good to say about the majority of new films. Well, I kinda feel the same way about tv. I don't have cable, and generally have a prejudice against tv because to me it seems a rushed and cheap medium (whether it's 1955 or today), especially in this highly edited reality tv world of ours. But I love films, and go to them Often. Time and $ is spent on movies. I'll watch Almost anything, and like quite a lot of it.

To that end, I love horror movies. To me, they are like comedies. Rooted in realism, but they contain an unbelievability about them that allows me not to take them too seriously. They are fun. And the Best compliment I can ever give a film is that it's Fun. Not great, good, brilliant. FUN. Some movies are fun And one of those things. Wallace & Gromit, Curse of the Were-Rabbit was fun And great and brilliant. So was the 2nd Saw movie.

Hairspray was great fun.
Phantom of the Opera was amazing and fun.
Across the Universe was very good and had many moments of greatness, but perhaps it's length to keep up the drama (much like the shaky-camera - which I Hate - Bourne Ultimatum) for the entire film took its toll.

My favorite horror film series are the Deads (Night remake, Dawn and Day). Friday the 13th. And Saw. Final Destination is clever and has brilliance to it, but is a bit repetitive to me.

Anyway, Saw IV was good. I need to see it again to appreciate it fully - like I did with the previous ones. My first reaction is that it's not as good as the previous 3. But generally speaking, I like something More the 2nd time if I already like it.


I just wish Jigsaw wasn't dead. I thought the perfect lead-in to #4 would be that J would be revived by the father in #3 because his wife was a surgeon and he would know something about saving a life because of that. After all, J's brain didn't have to be completely dead, since #3 ended Immediately after J's throat was cut.

Don't worry, dear readers, I actually like My Fair Lady and West Side Story JUST as much as my favorite horror films. And Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr. There are a LOT of great films out there. Just try to keep an open mind and you'll be surprised what might fall in your head. True, the Saw movies are bloody (esp. #3 and 4). But they are also - I think - first-rate mysteries. Enjoy a hybrid.

My favorite films this year?
Hot Fuzz
Miss Potter
300
Ratatouie (sp?)

Can't recall others, but many good ones come out often. Perhaps not Great ones, but fun ones. I remember sitting in the theatre and saying to myself, "I'm in the presence of greatness" a couple times. Doesn't happen often. The Departed was one time. The Wallace and Gromit film was another. Phantom of the Opera too - though not a Perfect film.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

convention bust


Some of our friends know we went to a horror convention last weekend - ScreamFest in Orlando. The convention itself was Great. Just the sort of thing I wish I could've gone to as a kid (though I didn't start loving horror movies until 1990 when I saw Tom Savini's Night of the Living Dead remake, when I was 19). LOTS of vendors, celebrities, and films, both indie and mainstream.

But as a seller, it was a miserable failure and I was bored out of my mind. First off, I think it's a mistake (from a seller's viewpoint) to have all vendors in one room and all celebrities down the hall in another room. The line for having stuff signed by Freddie (Robert Englund) was constantly long. Ditto, I think, for Shawnee Smith, star of Saw. And Kane Hodder of Jason fame. Mix everyone together in various rooms. Part of me would've liked to have gotten a few autographs of the supporting stars of Friday the 13th Part 3 (my favorite of the series, along with Jason X) and composer Henry Manfredini (who looked as bored as I the 2 times I passed his table). So why didn't I? Well, I didn't want to be away from the table long. Also I'm still a bit shy about approaching people I admire. It's different sitting Behind the table. I'll greet anyone that way. In fact, 2 celebs walked around the dealer room - the First zombie from Night of the Living Dead '68. I saw him once in Monster Bash - still wearing that same ol' ripped suit he must've been buried in. And Tom Savini took a tour around the table, but he ignored our table, so I didn't get a chance to remind him we met at Monster Bash where I gave him a Paul Frees book and found out that he's writing a book. I wanted to ask how it was coming along. Oh well.

Which brings up one thing I was reminded of. I've been to several conventions in the last few years. But I forgot that most people - and I mean 95% of those walking around dealer rooms - ignore books. Books don't sell, not in comparison to DVDs, which are magic. DVDs are media and we're in a media age; plus they are cheaper to produce (and ship) than books, therefore have cheaper pricetags for the consumer. But even if they were always $20 ea., movies will still sell better than books, generally. A book is a long investment in time - a film is McDonald's, a book is an expensive French restaurant. I'm trying to get more "pizzas" on our menu, but even the Bionic Book - a pizza or McD's $1 hamburger if ever I saw one - didn't do well at this show. We sold one copy.

We sold 2 copies of Paul Frees, 1 Incorrect Entertainment (a surprise, frankly), 1 Barbara Payton, 1 Writings of Paul Frees, 1 Charlie's Angels - that's about it, I think. Terrible, huh? Well, I'm not really Complaining. We probably should've driven the Long distance to Newark, NJ to go to the Good radio convention that same weekend, but it Is a long drive. Luckily, our champion, Martin Grams Jr. was on hand to sell a good # of our titles anyway.

I won't complain because it's like complaining about the weather or the past - what's the point? I learned a bit more about human nature, and learned that if we go to future "chancey"-type cons, we'll do it mostly as promo. Rather than load up the car with 12 boxes of books (another good reason to sell DVDs instead!), we'll take 2 or 3 boxes of various titles and mostly postcards and promo material. We gave out about 20 catalogs this time, so that's good.

Luckily the scenery was interesting at this con. There was a costume contest and most of the young people seemed to be there for that, or getting autographs, or just the party atmosphere. Even other dealers said sales were poor, so people weren't there to buy, they went to look. And there were some great things to look at. As you can tell, the kid at the adjoining table is a great horror fan - his favorite flick is Critters, he said.

I got a Friday the 13th Part 3-D t-shirt from the vendor behind us. Traded a Silver Spoons book for 2 bootleg DVDs (all the Peanuts specials, and Speed Buggy, for my Mel Blanc book). I bought a super Shawn of the Dead poster (the one where he's trapped in the subway) for $8. I took a look around the room a couple times, and I really admire the spirit of indie filmmakers. You know it's REally hard on them - even more than a publisher like me, I'm sure - because they have no name recognition in the stars or crew, pushing completely new titles. But they believe in what they're doing - they have dreams and ambition, and I Love seeing that. I wish I could figure out a way of us all helping out each other.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

more wedding photos















Here we are again, wedding lovers. I wanted to share more pictures of myself and my gorgeous bride. Below is our wedding cake - we all got only 1 piece of cake each. What happened to all the leftovers!? And also below is our regular desert. That pearl in Minnie's hand is milk chocolate - delicious!