Kodak Memories, What To Do?

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When I first married my wife and I decided to capture our life together on film. With a little help from Kodak the number one producer of film encouraging us to do so. We bit hard. I was always engrossed in finding a camera that would take the ultimate pictures. When Super 8 movies arrived on the scene I went bonkers. I loved cinema photography. I took cartridge after cartridge of film with my trusty Bell & Howell Super Eight camera. That lasted until the camera slid from my lap onto the steel deck of a ferry boat taking us to Mackinac Island. When the camera hit the deck it made a loud noise and scared the heck out of the passengers. More than one thought the noise came from a ship sinking collision at sea.

I bought a 35 mm Argus camera for taking slides. It was completely manual and could take beautiful pictures. Note, it isn’t the camera that is responsible for taking beautiful photos, it is the operator of the device. I quickly learned after processing roll after roll of film that my operative ability amounted to nil. I chose a simple box camera instead and began to get some surprisingly great shots. There were no adjustments to make on such a device, I merely pointed the camera and clicked. My picture taking improved and it was the beginning of our life’s chronicle.

I replaced a totally broken Bell and Howell movie camera with a Bolex. The Bolex camera was the industry leader in moving pictures. Barb and I joined a movie club to learn the basics of making Hollywood style movies on a very strained budget. It was fun for me, but a drag for the family. I was the producer, director, camera man, editor, and author of all our family films. My movies would not be the ordinary ones of kids waving at the camera and smiling, they would be action films with the kids in motion. I quickly learned that the kids would cooperate provided I got my pictures in one take. Retakes became a drag for them. I prevailed most times and got some really great stuff. I entered my very first film into the cinema club annual contest and won the grand prize. I was stunned. All that honor did for me was to inspire me to out do the winner. That didn’t seem to happen, although I tried. You can view one of my films on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2OkQtp8wSA 

In the meantime, the cassettes began to pile up with our life on film, both still and movie chronicled, but not properly edited, spliced, arranged, timed, and turned into award winning movies.

Fast forward sixty years, to today. My first wife left me for heaven sixteen years ago, my second wife left just three months ago, and I am avoiding grief by clearing my home of all things unessential to my remaining years. I’ve thinned the wardrobe, decluttered the knick knacks, shredded the documents, and now I am left with ten boxes of photos.

Every time I attack a box and handle photos of my wives I get emotional, grief sneaks it’s way in and takes over. I stop dead in my tracks and begin to recall the actual events in my mind. All of them are there in the brain waiting for a stimulus to recall them. The question is do I want to recall them? Yes of course I do, but not while I am in a quandary about what to do with the hard evidence of fuzzy photos. Each time I find a duplicate of a favorite photo or even the not so favorite ones and I make an instantaneous decision to trash it, my guardian angel blows his whistle and shouts “STOP.”

Yesterday, I opened a drawer on Peg’s desk and put my hand on an envelope I hadn’t seen before. My Angel told me to look inside, and there is a set of pictures Peg made of her house, room by room so she wouldn’t forget. Guess what, she forgot, at the end she couldn’t remember how to swallow, or breathe much less care about her house loaded with her beloved knick knacks. For me this group of photos was an easy decision, trash. The same picture finding scene has repeated itself over and over through out the past eleven weeks.

When I first began sorting the albums I devised a strategy that would cut the job down. I would take the albums of my bicycle trips which meant nothing to anyone but me and trash them without looking at them. That worked for four albums. The ten boxes of family photos remain. What to do?

My new strategy is to group photos and send them to my grandkids. For instance, all of my wife Barbara’s nursing school memorabilia and photos will be boxed and sent to the grand daughter that followed in her footsteps and beaome a nurse. All of my love letters and courtship photos will go to my oldest grand daughter who is a pharmacist/writer. Perhaps she will use the information to develop characters for a best selling novel. I can continue to sort pictures into blocks of memories and send them to each of my seven natural grand kids. My pictures with Peg are another matter. Her grand children were adults when we married and our photos together do not include them. Also, our photos are 99% digital and are on my computer. It will be easier to delete these files or send them to electronic heaven when the computer dies.

Another strategy is to do nothing. I can do what 99.9% of the population does and leave the job to my heirs be they direct desendants or grandchildren.

My final thought on this topic is about Kodak, the company that created this nightmare for all people who were sucked into memory saving images. You were so involved in selling the concept of memories on film that you failed to heed the signs of a changing world. You allowed the Japanese to out wit you with digital cameras, and now they are selling the virtues of making memories on digital media which has already evolved from VHS tape, to cassette tape, to compact disks, to MP3 flash cards to the Cloud. What next? Kodak is dead now, but the world is stuck with their product and a proper way to dispose of them.

How about if we just convince ourselves to save memories in our head and recall them when needed?

 

 

Save Your Money

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This is a true confession. Today, I went to see a movie. Peggy and I have a goal to see twelve movies in twelve weeks, and today we saw number ten. The first nine films we saw  were very good;  the stories seemed plausible, the action looked real although contrived, and the characters were believable. I wrote about “Olympus Has Fallen” on this blog not long ago.

The film we saw today is a giant pile of dog turd. I was praying for my bladder overload to kick in so I would have an excuse to leave. As luck had it, my bladder behaved.

The movie is ” Tyler Perry‘s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.”

When I first read the title I was stupid enough to believe that Tyler Perry was part of the film. It turns out that he is the author, and it surprised me to know who the hell Tyler Perry is. Looking back at it, I now realize that “Tyler Perry” is code for “all black story, and actors.” Call me a racist if you like, but this film left me wishing I had chosen to see “the Croods” instead.

Where do I begin? Portions of the story are completely unbelievable, the characters are not real, the plot is worse than some of the fairytale action films, and the actors performed like rejects from a third-rate school of drama.

Ask me if I liked it? NO!

I give this film five dog turds.

Oh No, What Did I Do?

IMovie

IMovie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week the landscape man cut the cable to my house, and forced me to look for non-internet avenues of entertainment. Thankfully, the cable provider came out early Monday morning to repair it. By that time, however, I had amused myself with copious quantities of file management activities on the unconnected computer. File management is not my forte, yet I love to look into files that neatly organized. During the past few months I have been diligently converting my old 8mm home movies into viewable videos. Step one involved converting the real film into video. During my brief career as a home movie producer, I shot ten thousand feet of super eight film. That amounts to ten hours of viewing pleasure. The second step transferred the master DVD into a program called iMovie.

I am an amateur when it comes to dealing with new programs, and I fumble through the steps until something finally happens. It is only after many trials that I understand how things work, and the process feels comfortable. During those critical steps to find the comfort zone, I decided to  attack file management with a vengeance.

There are ten projects in my development file and some still need a few hours to complete. Thankfully, I converted four of the films into DVD’s. The remaining six projects are still development files. My movie editing during this period left me with too many saved files cluttering my document file. I attacked the doc file, and trashed movie clip-files which I felt were no longer needed. When completed, I had a tightly organized file structure that made great sense.

This week, after the cable repair, and catching up on my internet activities, I dove into the movies again.

I opened a project titled “Chuck and Ann’s Anniversary Waltz.” This film is among my favorites, and I poured my heart and soul into making something special for my kids. It is the only roll of film I did not shoot. It belonged to my deceased wife Barb. She had a neighbor do the shooting at a party she threw for her parents. Barb didn’t have a projector to view this film, and only saw it a few times. After we married and my filming career began, the film format changed to super eight and I didn’t have a projector to show it with either.

The movie opened normally, the still  pictures and titles came on, and then disaster struck. None of the real movies were there. There were images there, but  no moving pictures. Later I realized these are thumbnails. The movie clips were no longer associated, and were in trash where I had moved them when cleaning house.

My search became a panic. None of the file names or file nomenclature were recognizable to me. I didn’t know enough to understand what was what. There must be an easier way, yes, move to Time Machine and ‘restore’ to a previous point in history. Alas, I found some of the clips, but not all. On a positive note I did learn how to recover from backups, but obviously not well enough to find everything. After hours of searching without success, the decision to reload from the master DVD’s became my last option.

The next lesson learned was that multi-tasking on the computer while the transfer process is going on is not a good thing because not all the clips transferred. It took multiple attempts to reach success, and I kept from touching the computer while the transfer took place..

Finally, at one a.m. after sixteen hours,  “Chuck and Ann’s Anniversary Waltz” was back and working.

Sometimes tidying things up a bit is not the smartest use of time.

Epic Family Movie

My latest project.

This short movie was a fun project filmed in 1967. We were on the farm having fun when I decided it was time to make a movie with Barb’s cousin Eugene and his wife Pat. We brainstormed a plot using the props available to us. The whole thing took about an thirty minutes to make. We shot 100 feet of Super-8 movie film.

Sadly, the main character Gene died at age fifty something. His cousin and my wife Barbara died at age sixty-five. Others in the background were my kids, father, mother, mother-in-law, and dog. A lot of great memories packed into one minute.

Hunger Games the Movie

The Hunger Games (film)

The Hunger Games (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I talked my friend and his wife into going to see Hunger Games with us. At the end, as we left the theater, I asked “how did you like it?’

“It glued me to the seat, but I didn’t like what it was.”

I knew exactly what he meant. This is a movie about kids killing kids. Do we really want that message, and image being fed into the brains of our teenagers? The fact is that teens across America have flocked to see this film. They relate to the heroine and her friend. My own granddaughters have seen the film twice. A cult grows around this film. The eighty year old man who owns the farm where filming took place is selling because strangers are driving across his property and stopping to visit the buildings used in District Twelve scenes. This is not normal folks.

The country of Panem covers most of North America and has divided it into twelve districts. The richest and the most political is District One. Each successive district after is somewhat poorer and less influential. District Twelve is the poorest and the people live in desperation.

A seventy-four years earlier there was a revolt squashed by the government. As punishment, they created the Hunger Games. Each district must send two tributes to the games for sacrifice.

What is evil in this film is the government, and its totalitarian leader. The President believes he must show that he and his government are so strong they can impose their will upon the people. Henceforth, he commands each District to send Tributes to the games. The Tributes are payment for the revolt that occurred seventy-four years ago.

Last week, I posted about Hunger Games the book. Today, I am posting about the movie. It is great! Although I hate the concept of savagery being promoted, the story is nonetheless great. It is a great depiction of what happens when the government breaks the will of the people. The actors are totally believable, and the story follows the book almost exactly. I had difficulty picking up changes introduced by the director to keep all the critical elements of the story in place, and  I only noticed two incidents that were out-of-sequence. Otherwise the movie tells the story accurately. There is so little difference between the two, one could skip one or the other. I happen to like to do both; read the book and see the film.

The film is long because it does pay so much attention to the story, yet time flies by quickly. Before we knew it the end came and we felt it was too soon. The last chapters of the book dealing with the victory celebrations, and revelations of unrest in the Districts were omitted.

As adults we saw elements of our own government creeping into this scenario, and felt the incremental losses of our personal liberty pointing us toward Panem. That may also be what the youngsters see. God love them if that is it, because then there is hope for the USA.

¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ Stars for story, acting, setting, costumes, direction

No Stars for moral content or promotion of the image of a corrupt evil savage government.

Dana Did It To Me Again

A Must ReadMy grand-daughter did it to me again. I often ask what she is reading, and that is where I go wrong, I read what she reads. The latest is “Hunger Games.” I hadn’t heard of this story until the movie came out and splashed the headlines with the ginormous money it took in at the box office. How can that be? Am I so out of touch with reality as to miss such a popular book until a movie comes out about it? I guess I am because quite frankly, I didn’t even know there was a book until the movie.

I watched a trailer on Hunger Games which did not tell me anything about the plot. Another fantasy story, I told myself. That explains why Dana is so excited about it.

I downloaded the book to the Kindle and started the read. Ten hours later I put the damn thing away. I was in total awe. The story line is a natural for a movie. The setting reminded me of the Planet of the Apes. North America has been re-invented by horrible events, and the country does not resemble the USA in any way. Instead it is now a primitive totalitarian state called Panem divided into eleven Districts. The government instituted games to make life more interesting. The premise of the games is definitely savage, and the winner is the last man standing.

The number of characters in the story are all necessary to tell the story. Author Suzanne Collins makes a bunch of unbelievable characters very believable, but she must have sipped some hallucinogenic tea to come up with story. Now, I must go to the movie just to see how Hollywood uses modern technology to convey the far out advanced concepts used in the narrative.

Hunger Games is the first of three books needed to tell the entire story. I have already loaded the second one “Catching the Fire,” to the Kindle for more reading pleasure.

Thanks Dana for another great read.

Red Dog, the Book

I loved the movie Red Dog, and now I love the story Red Dog. My habit lately is to read a book and then watch the movie, but this time I watched the movie first and now finished reading the book. I enjoyed it twice.

Author Louis De Bernieres weaves a fascinating story about the traveling Red Dog of Australia. Locals dubbed him that because Red wandered thousands of miles around western Australia looking for his deceased master. As he traveled, he made friends people he met. He hitched rides on buses, in trucks, and with people in cars. The dog becomes your dog as you read the story, just as Red Dog became every Australian’s dog in real life. The story is fictionalized with human characters, but the events relating to the animal are true. The breed is a Red Cloud Kelpie or Australian cattle dog.

The town in which this story took place has built a bronze memorial to the dog which is still in place.

Watch the movie, read the book, or do both you won’t be sorry.

The movie has been altered from the book to include a more human element to the story, but overall it stays true to De Bernieres story. In the movie, a love story parallels the dog story, and the movie ending is different from that in the book. The end of the movie makes you sad but you feel good, the end of the book makes you sad.

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