Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

STFU

When it’s umpteen degrees in my bedroom, I’ll take my laptop downstairs to write. Most of the time, it works…but there’s a problem: our house is often the unwilling host to freeloaders, moochers, and other disreputable sorts.

They’re not really bad people, but they insist on trying to talk to me when it’s obvious that I’m working. I really don’t need to get a blow-by-blow description of whatever television show you watched last night.

I’m probably better-informed about local news than you are, so I don’t need to repeating half-truths and rumors.

And while my landlord is perfectly content to have you here—and it should be a clue to how welcome you really are when he disappears into his upstairs bedroom whenever you overstay your welcome (usually 10 minutes after you get here)—neither one of us appreciate you blasting out your crappy taste in music on his computer.

I’m 30 years older than you are and I don’t enjoy the same taste in music as y0u do. That’s why you have a fucking smart-phone. USE IT.

In short, pull your heads out of your collective asses and realize that you are not the only people in the house. Have some consideration for others—especially since it’s NOT YOUR HOUSE!

And why don’t I copy the landlord and retreat to my bedroom? A couple of reasons:

  1. I pay rent to live here. You don’t.
  2. Then there is the matter of things disappearing whenever you’re left unattended in the house. I just don’t feel safe with you here.
  3. The two of us who live here do things a certain way for certain reasons: we DO NOT need you coming in and changing things. If there’s a window closed, LEAVE IT CLOSED! I know this is a difficult concept, but THIS IS NOT YOUR HOUSE!
  4. I get $15 a month in food stamps, so please don’t eat my food!

But The Really Big Thing is This

I am trying to deal with several mental issues. Among them are social anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. It’s hard for me to be around people. THIS HOUSE IS MY SANCTUARY, my safe space. You have invaded it, and I no longer feel safe in my own house!

So I’m going to propose a solution: I’m going to have a serious discussion with my landlord about your freeloading ways and how they are affecting my health and well-being.

And on another note: STOP STORING YOUR WHOLE WATERMELON IN THE REFRIGERATOR!  It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and it takes up space that I—who actually pay money to be here—desperately need for my own food.

I got the idea for the title of this post from a quote I found about writing:

writer

The craft, art,  science, practice, or whatever else you wish to call it, of photography is all about light. Light’s a form of electromagnetic energy—one our bodies have evolved to sense and interpret.

We’ve also developed ways of recording light. We started with cave paintings, in which we recorded the results of successful hunts. Over time, we evolved our techniques for recording and enhancing images. The Italians discovered perspective in the 1500’s; it was a new technique for more accurately representing the 3-dimensional world on a 2-dimensional surface. Now, it’s something we all take for granted: from our viewpoint 500 years later, we can look back and say, “Well, duh! It’s so obvious! What took them so long?”

But now we’ve evolved our technology to the point where we can use chemicals and plastics to record light. Where once taking a scenic photograph involved carrying bulky and heavy equipment and supplies of chemicals and other materials, we can carry an entire photo lab in our back pockets.

I’m talking, of course, about mobile phones. In most areas of society today, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have one. Governmental agencies have set up programs where even the homeless can get free phones and calling plans. Rarer still is the mobile that isn’t capable of taking photographs. We have become a nation of people obsessed with taking pictures of ourselves—the infamous “selfie.” And I don’t use the word infamous lightly; far too many of us have become so addicted to capturing the moment that we don’t experience it. Our $800 mobile phones have become $19.95 Kodak Instamatics.

Let’s be honest: how many of those thousands of selfies you have will mean anything to you in a year? A decade?

“You hold in your hand a device with more computing power than the computers that got us to thee moon, and all you can do with it is throw birds at pigs and take pictures of cats!” –often misattributed to Neil Armstrong

Stepping Down From my Soapbox

Okay, that’s enough ranting and editorializing. Let’s get back to the topic at hand, shall we?

There are numerous web pages which offer classes designed to teach you how to get rich from your photography. Most of them charge hefty fees, leading me to conclude that the best way to get rich quick from photography is by selling on-line classes that profess to teach other people how to get rich from photography.

Today, for the very first time ever, I am going to share you my own class on how to get rich from photography. And since it’s you, I’m making this one-time, never-to-be-repeated offer for only $99.95 $49.95 $29.95 $19.95 ABSOLUTELY FREE! Sorry, but at this price, I can’t afford to throw in the Amazing Ginsu Knives. But the best part is you already have most of what you need to succeed. Are you ready? Here’s my guaranteed foolproof way to get rich from your photography:1

  • Read everything you can about photography. Pinterest is a good place to start. It covers more photographic topics than I can list here. If you’re looking for a place to start, try right here.
  • RYFM! (pronounced “riffim,” it’s a hold-over from the early days of computer tech support and means read your f***ing manual!”  You need to know the basics of how your camera works.
  • Your mobile usually doesn’t come with a manual, so try here, here, here, and here.
  • Read as much as you can about photography, especially the fields that interest you the most: fashion, portraits, still life, macro, etc.
  • When my first daughter was born, her grandmother gave us a copy of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care. On the inside cover she had written, “When in doubt, put down the book and pick up the child. The same holds true with photography: you learn by doing, so log off the computer and go take pictures!
  • Study your results. What went wrong? What went right? Back in the days of film (yes, I really am that old), I always carried a notebook with me in which I recorded the details of every picture: film, camera, location, lighting conditions, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. Today’s DSLR cameras (and most smartphones as well) record all hat information for you, right down to the GPS coordinates of where you were. This information (EXIF, for Exchangeable Image File Format), will help you analyze what you did wrong or right. Learn from it.
  • Above all, take pictures! Photographic skills are like muscles:  they need to be exercised for them to develop.

( 1-There really is no guaranteed, sure-fire way)

minipod

The Trellenberg Terror

Posted: 11 May, 2018 in Movies, Rants
Tags: ,

Or, I Loves Me Some Scary Movies!

It’s 1964 and we’re living in upper Putnam County, New York. Just about an hour’s drive from New York City. Dad’s in the Air Force, which has sent him to Turkey for a year and a half. Mom’s parents live about a mile or so from the house we rented, which is why we rented it: so we’d have some support close by.

WOR-TV, Channel 9 out of New York City, has a series called "The Million Dollar Movie." I never knew why they called it that. The format was that every day for an entire week, they’d show the same movie again and again. Once in the afternoon and once more in the evening.

Friday nights found us (Mom, me, and my two brothers) eating dinner at Grandma’s house, after which my brothers and I would watch the Million Dollar Movie while the grownups sat in the dining room, doing whatever it was that grownups did.

One particular Friday, the movie was "The Crawling Eye." The original title was "The Trellenberg Terror," but I guess the powers that be decided that didn’t sound interesting enough for American audiences, so they renamed it.

The plot was simple: aliens from space had landed in the German Alps, where the cold apparently mimicked their climate back home. This was their base from which they were going to convert the Earth so it could become their new home. Whenever the aliens approached, they were preceded by a cold, radioactive cloud.

In 1964, this was pretty scary.

Jump Ahead a Few Years

Now it’s 1982, and the family is living in Anchorage, Alaska. A few favorite summertime activities are hiking, fishing, and camping. And one of our favorite places for camping was a rented US Forest Service cabin a the top of the Crow Pass Trail, so named because of its proximity to the Raven Glacier.

The trailhead was reached by driving south of Anchorage for about an hour. A 3-mile hike took us to the cabin. Ironically, this put us about 15 miles south of the town of Eagle River—which was about 15 miles north of Anchorage. Ain’t geography fun?

Anyway, it’s a beautiful summer’s eve and my brothers and I have arrived at the cabin and unpacked our gear. Since the cabin was above the tree-line, we’d packed in 5 gallons of kerosene for the stove. Hey, it gets cold in the mountains at night! We’d lit the stove, and were sitting on the front porch, looking down to the valley below…and passing around some fine herb. "Matanuska Thunderfuck," our dealer friend called it.

The valley gradually began filling with fog. My brother John just had to say it: "It’s the Crawling Eye fog!"

We spent the night sleeping on the second floor of the cabin, with the door latched and our camping gear piled on top of the access hatch.

All of this came back to me after I watched "The Trellenberg Terror", aka "The Crawling Eye," on the Internet. Is it just me, or does nobody make decent—if only B-Grade—horror movies any more?

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings."
The Walrus and the Carpenter, Lewis Carroll

To which I would add "And to ask myself why the fuck am I still on Facebook?"

Do you remember the early days, when Facebook was the best way to chat with friends? To reunite with family members? You know what I’m talking about: the time before it became a toxic waste dump of advertising, lies, and politics? Or is the use of those three words in a single sentence considered redundant?

Like many of you, I used to check Facebook several times during the day. Hell, at one time I would even check it in the middle of the night when I got up to pee.

Well, droogs, I’ve had enough. Facebook has started to suck the life out of me. Instead of being a communications tool, it has become a psychic vampire, a tool for manipulation, and a disseminator of lies and disunity.

I’m tired of waiting for Facebook to grow up. After all these years, it still can’t decide what it wants to be when it grows up. Hell, it can’t even decide if it wants to grow up!

Security breaches. Stolen data. Refusal to accept responsibility. Facebook is the Han Solo of social media: “Hey, it’s not my fault!”

In short, Facebook has gone over to the Dark Side. It has joined the armies of Sauron.

I deactivated my account once before, and then thought better(?) of it and came back, only to discover things had gotten worse. This time, I have not just deactivated it—I’ve actually cancelled it.

If you need to talk to this humble Hobbit, I can still be reached by email, via this blog, or on my Medium.com account.

Long before any cartoons, long before any movies, and long before any graffiti, there was Bilbo Baggins. And long before Bilbo, there was J.R.R. Tolkien.

I don’t remember whether I was 17 or 18 when a friend pressed a copy of The Hobbit into my hands, with the whispered secret knowledge that “Bilbo Lives!” In a way, it was her small revolt against the ubiquity of Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land and its byword of “May you never thirst.”

It’s funny, now, when I think back 50 years later, that I don’t even remember her name, that rebellious friend who started me on what has become a life-long quest for well-written fantasy, science fiction, and the various sub-genres we now lump under the heading of Sci-Fi (or sometimes, Sci-Fy).

Today I came across an old, somewhat weathered paperback copy of The Hobbit, and I was instantly transported back to that day in the hall of Highlands High School when I first heard of the book subtitled There And Back Again.

“Bilbo Lives!” never became the great rallying cry that “Frodo Lives!” turned out to be. Maybe The Hobbit came too soon, or maybe The Lord of the Rings had better press. Either way, had there not been The Hobbit, there would have been no Lord of the Rings (LOTR), in the same way that had there been no monthly The Strand magazine, there would be no BBC series called Sherlock.

And there most certainly would never have been that great classic of modern literature,

But I digress.

The Lord of the Rings

We were in the early years of the reign of King George Jr. when The Fellowship of the Ring was released in theaters. Shrub (so-called by Texans because he was the little Bush) hadn’t yet embarked on his take-no-prisoners approach to the environment, but already I could see the parallels to the Orcs tearing down trees in order to fuel the flames which would birth the great army of Uruk-Hai that would soon ravish the land and enslave millions if Frodo failed in his mission.

After watching The Fellowship, I came out of the theater wanting to be Arwen (Liv Tyler), elf-maiden, and fierce warrior. And to be honest, the fact that she (like me) had the hots for Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortenson, didn’t hurt, either.

LOTR, Redux

17 years later, the Eye of Sauron has reopened. This time it has taken the form not of the ultimate evil but rather that of complete incompetence: Donald Trump as Gollum. Slimy, hate-filled, monomania wrapped in fascism and served up via a Russian samovar. Toxic masculinity at its absolute narcissistic worst.

Where is the Frodo Baggins who will destroy the ring in the fires of Mt. Doom? Or will he fail, and the country itself be driven there by Gollum?

Please. Vote sensibly in the mid-term elections this November.