Friday, September 12, 2014

Films Saved From Mindless Extinction

Real movies made on real 35mm film will live on thanks to a handful of modern filmmakers – and I hope their efforts last many years.

Kodak alone remains today as a producer of 35mm film stock thanks to the investment from directors like Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, J.J. Abrams and Judd Apatow, and Tarantino is providing actual films from his own collection of prints to screen at the New Beverly Cinema.

Kodak says:

“After extensive discussions with filmmakers, leading studios and others who recognize the unique artistic and archival qualities of film, we intend to continue production," Kodak Chief Executive Jeff Clarke said in a statement Wednesday. "Kodak thanks these industry leaders for their support and ingenuity in finding a way to extend the life of film."

The rush to digital tech has blindly discarded film – which in fact is far superior for long term archiving. It’s stunning that it’s been the studios themselves which have driven the effort to make filmmaking extinct.

The disposal attitude might confuse some folks so think about it this way – would it make any sense for the production of paint and canvases to be eliminated merely because many artists today use digital technology to create artworks?

Would it make any sense to no longer make, say, a French coffee press because drip coffee makers are more popular?

Would it make any sense to eliminate the use of raw materials like stone or metal because of the emergence of 3D printing technology?

Such ideas make no sense.

Kudos to these wise artists.

Artistic methods and tools and technology are always changing – but allowing such tyranny because something is New is ridiculous.

Long live film!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Real Freefall Leap Rises High at Frightmare Manor/Adventure Ranch

For the past few months, an unusual structure has been rising up on the grounds of the hit attraction of Frightmare Manor in Talbott. All summer long, we could all see it getting higher and higher and higher - an impressive wooden tower with multiple levels … but what is it?

A giant new bungee jump attraction? How about the starting point for a new zip-line across Frightmare? Perhaps it would be some kind of elevator drop or … something else? 

It definitely has had people talking and wondering what’s new for Frightmare Manor 2014. At 40 feet in height, it's easily the most visible structure for miles and miles and commands your attention as you drive past on Highway 11-E. And it's really multiple attractions all in one -- The top of the 40-foot tower is an 360-degree Observation Deck with an impressive view. But there's much more to it, just read on.

The Frightmare Manor folks are always imaginative and this new element is linked to the mysterious legend and rumors of Jeremiah Lexer, the allegedly maniacal killer whose dark deeds of terror have haunted this landscape and inspired the makers of Frightmare Manor.

Legend says that Lexer, back in the early days of the 1900s, murdered his entire family in a grisly fashion and then he climbed up to the top of his house and from there leapt to his death. Only later did local authorities discover that scores of deaths could be attributed to Lexer. (Events which apparently have been carefully covered up, again, according to numerous local residents.)

Whether Fact or Fiction, the idea has turned into a terrifyingly real, thrilling and daring new free fall leap as part of the 2014 Frightmare Manor experience. It's said that blueprints of the original Lexer Plantation House, found in the early 1900s, revealed how unusually high the top of the home became, and those designs were the inspiration for this new leap.

During the evening hours, The Lexer Jump will give guests a chance to try out a free fall leap of their own, from one of two different heights, one at 11 feet and another at 27 feet, and all with complete safety, and then onto state of the art inflatable bags.

Also, when the brand new Adventure Ranch opens, staring Sept. 20, the lower and more friendly jump will be available for visitors to experience – The Adventure Leap is offered to thrill folks of all ages during the day.

I really have to try this. Frightmare Manor opens Sept. 26 and Adventure Ranch opens Sept. 20.

Be sure and check out the websites for Frightmare Manor and for Adventure Ranch for tickets, directions, deals and more. And follow them on Facebook too for special promotions and deals all through the Fall season. Below, some folks try out the jump for themselves.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Unboxing Videos Super Happy Wealthy Egg Surprise More More More

I noted some years back that folks were flocking to watch YouTube videos of the "unboxing" of numerous tech gadgets, phones and such. And from that, we can now view tens of thousands of video hours of folks opening packages and boxes of whatever you might wish to see.

Today, there's this woman named DisneyCollector on YouTube who has gotten over 93 million views of a video of opening some toy packages to reveal stickers and candy and maybe a toy here and there. With her own YouTube channel, it's estimated she is earning between 2 and 12 million dollars a year via ads on her page. A NYTime article ponders the trend here.

"YouTube in particular seems to have the ability to turn formerly unnamed, truly private little pleasures — the most insignificant of dopamine triggers — into rich, multichanneled cultures. Search “clean corn shuck,” and you will be surprisingly rewarded."

The writer of the article has a young child who loves watching DisneyCollector.

"Wouldn’t you rather watch a real Cookie Monster video?” I asked, after first watching it.

“No, no, Mommy,” my daughter said. “I like the toy. I like the hands on the toy.”


“Because I like it. A lot.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The World Has Lost the Original Star Wars Movie

I feel your pain.

Director/producer/movie mogul George Lucas doesn't want anyone to see the movie which launched the legend of Star Wars.

"In 1978, Star Wars won seven Academy Awards. But if you want to watch that original version, the first of George Lucas’s soon to be seven-part saga, you’ll find it difficult. In fact, it’s actually impossible to buy an official copy of Star Wars as it was first released. Lucas doesn’t want you to see that version. Instead, he wants you to watch the continuously updated special editions—movies with added CGI, changed sound effects, and whole new scenes.

But fans aren’t the only ones who want Lucas to release the original. Curators at the National Film Registry picked the 1977 version of Star Wars to preserve for history’s sake, but they still don’t have a copy in the registry. When they asked for a copy, Lucas refused, saying that he would no longer authorize the release of the original version. The Library of Congress does have a 35mm print of Star Wars, one that was filed in 1978 as part of the movie’s copyright deposit, but the registry, where films are meant to be preserved for history, is still without one."

But you can't see that copy, it's archived for preservation.

Rumors flew last week an non-updated, original version of the first trilogy was headed for Blu-ray ... but I don't think so. Disney now owns all the movies - except for the original Star Wars, which is owned by Fox. They aren't talking about a new Blu-ray

I feel your pain.

I was there when it hit theaters the first time. I was there hundreds of times. .It was, indeed, glorious. 

That moment, that experience has vanished now, despite, as mentioned in the link above, the fierce efforts of fans to return to that original. Perhaps this can be a learning moment for you. Treasure your experiences. They seldom remain something you can own.

However, the world today does have the world that the movie helped create - the history, the intense fandom, the continuing saga - and for that we can be thankful.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Adventure Ranch Brings Fall Family Fun to Frightmare Manor 2014

Chris Wooden is serious about entertaining East Tennessee.

His sprawling multi-attraction Frightmare Manor is a must-see attraction drawing in visitors from all over the country. Now, he and his staff have created another enormous entertainment destination located right next door - it's called Adventure Ranch and the goal here is pure fun for the whole family.

"You know, we've had a great time scaring folks who come to Frightmare Manor over the years, and we think Adventure Ranch will be even more fun - it will be full of laughter and families enjoying the season and so much more," he said.

More than a year in the planning, they'll open up to visitors Sept. 20 and run weekends through November. Wooden and his creative team have made a place where our beautiful Fall season will make a great backdrop for all the fun and adventure. With all the things to do and experience, I'd say Adventure Ranch is the Must-Do Fall tradition for all kids ages 2 to 92. 

Attractions include:

- Huge “Chick-fil-A Sponsored” Corn Maze for guests to get lost in

- An Authentic Gem Stone and Fossil Dig

- Pumpkin Patch featuring Traditional Orange and “Pearl Pumpkins” unique to Great Smoky Farm

- Huge 70′ Long Cow Train sponsored by Chick-fil-A Morristown

- 2 Huge Jumping Pillows (one for the big and another for the small jumpers!)

- Petting Zoo filled with Adorable Farm Animals

- Adventure Tower and Adventure Leap (a Must-Do Attraction only offered at Adventure Ranch)

- 250′ feet of Super Slide!

- Genuine Fire Truck Display (This fully-functional Ladder Truck is owned by Adventure Ranch and its use is donated throughout the year to Lakeway Volunteers Fire Department as they respond to Fire Emergencies in any area in Jefferson, Hamblen, and Sevier Counties.)

- Real Pony Rides

- Human-Hamster Wheels

- A Fun Nature Trail with an Adventure Ranch Twist

- The Pony-Hops Rodeo (Hop-On and Race your Friends on your Inflatable Horse!)

- Tennessee’s Largest Rocking Chair

- Picnic Area, Concessions, “General Store” Gift Shop and so much more!

Music and fun will fill the park, but Chris as always is keeping his eye on making sure this huge family attraction is beneficial to the community at large. He purchased a working fire ladder truck for kids to explore and learn about, but the truck is being used by the Lakeway Volunteer Fire Department as they respond to emergency situations in three counties too.

Educational aspects are built into Adventure Ranch, focusing on farm life and offers Field Trip Ag-In-The-Classroom Field Trips for students studying rocks, fossils and botanicals too.

And there's more! The Corn Maze includes a mystery game to be solved, called "FSI - Farm Scene Investigation". And there will be cornhole games, Adventure Ranch mascots, and much more.

Chris is building a massive tourism destination in Morristown/Talbott and Hamblen/Jefferson counties which continues to grow and expand every year. Join in the fun starting September 20. The full Adventure Ranch website is here.

And here's an aerial view of the giant corn maze, though many new onsite attractions were not in place when image was taken -

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy Blog Birthday Number 9 plus Bonus Historical Event

This is post number 2, 281 of yer Cup of Joe, which first published August 3rd 2005. Stats show 6 people saw that initial posting. Since then, readers on every continent have visited here, either by accident or design. Millions have visited since 2005 and I thank all of you for that.

Constant readers here are used to the constantly shifting focus of my posts (I think they are used to it). I have always had an eye on political and cultural topics, however as both the Internet and myself have made our digital way, I've become slower to post and less eager to add my thoughts to the chaotic rantings and such one finds easily available. I've taken time off to ignore the digital world so that I could pay more attention to the actual physical plane, but the gravitational pull of all that is online is too strong to resist.

Perhaps, over the years I have angered some readers, amused some, challenged or depressed some, brought some measure of joys or sorrows. All of what one finds on this blog were at least items I considered worthwhile to share. Or at least odd notations on the events and experiences available on our wee planet.

I don't expect that to change. It might, but here on these pages I know I can present and provide my views and ponderings without meeting anyone else's measure of merit.

I am fond of the fact that I am alive and aging, but I know the Future belongs mostly to the young, who have no allegiances to Time or Age.

So. Here is a 13-year-old girl named Mo'Ne Davis, who can hurl a baseball at 70 mph (check out her blazing skills here) and her team, the Taney Dragons are heading to the Little League World Series this Friday as they face the Nashville team, the South Nashville LL at 3 pm eastern time, to be aired on ESPN. Her achievements will make a far greater impact on history than just about anything I do. Not many folks keep records, stats or stage playoff challenges for blog writers. I'm ok with that. If you are reading this, you too have just learned about Mo'ne and that was the point of my mention.

Oh, and keep reading, faithful followers. I'll keep writing.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hell Is Other Selfies

The photo is from backstage during the production of "A Wrinkle In Time" I directed this summer. There's me and the weird evil alien brain known as IT.

IT was made of imagination and papier-mâché and the skills of the cast and crew. Seeing what had been imagined now made real is somewhat strange. And given the topic of this post, an appropriate selfie.

Writer Nicholas Carr ponders online writing and living via his page Rough Type has for the last few years offered various thesis statements written in "tweetform", and the title of this post "Hell is other selfies" sits at the number 23 position of Carr's list. Here are some others he offers:

15. Abundance of information breeds delusions of knowledge among the unwary.

19. Instagram shows us what a world without art looks like.

39. When we turn on a GPS system, we become cargo.

40. Google searches us.

Much of what one encounters on the Internet began as first a thought and emerges and remains as digital info in a variety of forms. What do these manifestations mean? I don't know. Will the world evolve as they tweet and type, becoming perhaps "selfie-actualized"?

Here's what I do know - this blog started 9 years ago this month. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dear White People

"There are some knee jerk reactions to the phrase 'Dear White People' and I get it. No one wants to be called racist, and some folks are still waking up from the fantasy that having a Black president means America has somehow become 'Post-Racial.' 

"The truth is, my film isn't about 'white racism' or racism at all. My film is about identity. It's about the difference between how the mass culture responds to a person because of their race and who that person understands themselves to truly be. All explored through the microcosm of a success oriented Ivy League college." -- writer and director Justin Simien

Friday, July 25, 2014

Carr Campaign Invades Lamar! Event in Morristown


A campaigner for Joe Carr arrives with signs and his pickup truck at exactly the moment Sen. Lamar Alexander arrives in Morristown for a campaign stop via a massive bus Friday afternoon. You can see the Senator at the right side of the screen.

Early voting was taking place across the street, though so far early voting totals in Hamblen County are the lowest in the state.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Making A 'Wrinkle In Time'

My absence on this page is due to aliens, time-and-space travel, and even an evil brain. All are elements of Madeleine L'Engle's novel "A Wrinkle In Time", adapted for stage by John Glore, and the show I'm currently directing for the annual student production from Rose Center Summer Players.

The show runs for 5 performances only this week, starting Thursday night at 7 at Rose Center in Morristown.

So my 'summer vacation' has been one filled with travelling through the Universe via Einstein-Rosen Bridges, discussions with the cast about science-fiction tropes and traits, about Time and paradoxes, about science, family, tesseracts, and this endless multi-verse strewn with stars which we all call home.

And, as this is tech and production week, ending with 5 performances, I likely won't have time to get back here until next week. 

If you wonder how one stages travelling via a Wormhole across hundreds of light years - well, you'll just have to come to see the show. We have a very talented cast of area students, ranging from 12 to 18 years of age who bring this show to life. 

The show runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 ppm, and two matinees, at 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are a mere $5 and can be purchased in advance by calling 423-581-4330.