Friday, October 31, 2014

Stephen King’s IT (1990) Review

A strong cast competes against shaky material in this ground breaking television adaptation. Based on the famous horror novelist’s decades spanning story about a group of friends battling a mysterious entity in a small town. When murders resembling those from thirty years before begin, the group must reassemble to face what appears to be a killer clown. However, nothing is what it appears to be… But I  do promise a cameo by Godzilla.

IT Title

Even a miniseries isn’t enough to cram in everything from a Stephen King novel and his 1985 novel IT manages to be even more daunting thanks to excessive metaphysical noodling contained within. Still, the story had the benefit of a young group of adolescents like King’s Stand By Me along with the striking visual of a clown for the villain. So it is no surprise that ABC television network got the rights to adapt the tome for a big event. Put together with great care by director Tommy Lee Wallace, the show was a hit featuring some memorable images.

But was IT any good?

IT Little GirlIT Mike Hanlon

Part 1 starts off the whole affair off with ominous music accompanying pages from a photo album showing seven kids from the late 1950s or early ‘60s before shifting to the current time. Well, “current” being the late ‘80s (1990 to be specific) which of course is almost a quarter of a century ago now. Inadvertently a double period piece for modern viewers, IT does show IT’s age. There will be both pompadours and big hair for you to decide which is the more frightening.

Time of Eve Blu-ray Going to a Wider Release

Awhile back, as in over a year ago, I posted about the Kickstarter campaign to fund a Blu-ray release of Time of Eve: The Movie. By the time it closed, they had garnered far more money than projected and easily passed stretch goals added along the way.

This turned the project into something much bigger and complicated with the promised product only delivered last month. It was worth the extra wait, but in the process they went $10,000 over budget mainly due to horrendous shipping costs to Europe. Although always meant as a work of love, they have enough remaining sets put together from production overruns to recoup that money. They need and deserve help.

So if you didn’t get in on the Kickstarter, here’s your chance to get the deluxe package at their webstore. The Blu-ray is glorious, as are the insert materials and the included soundtrack CD. I cannot stress just how special the anime is enough and if you haven’t seen it, it is worth the blind buy – I can promise that without a doubt.

Also now available is something that fell together after the Kickstarter ended, which is the English version of the associated novel, Time of Eve: Another Act. I preordered that just before writing this post.

Meanwhile, preorders for the standard and deluxe editions of the movie are now up at

Again, I can’t praise this film enough. Eventually I hope to review the set and movie, but it will be a major undertaking compared to most of my reviews. It would be best done in multiple posts due to the massive amount of content and extras.

Buy it, you will not regret it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Autumn Is Called Fall for Good Reason

Seeing the best Fall colors in years has driven me slightly crazy this month. In trying to get back into photography, the lure of brightly colored leaves been a source of frustration thanks to uncooperative lighting and trees refusing to synchronize with each other. Then there are the winds making sure that I remember autumn is called Fall because of the leaves dropping from trees.

Fall Colors 2014 052

In the midst of this pursuit for the elusive perfect autumnal picture life has gone on.

Friday, October 10, 2014

RIP Jazz

To describe 2014 as a bad year would be a gross understatement. About a month ago, my father and I noticed one of our cats was having health problems again. Jazz was afflicted with periodic bouts of upper respiratory infections since his birth and usually managed to shake them off. This time he lost a lot of weight before getting over the bug, but he’d always been a very strong animal.

Jazz 01

The weight loss continued in dramatic fashion and we took him to the vet two weeks ago. From the symptoms and sky high calcium in the blood, it was surmised he had a tumor hidden somewhere in his stomach. Such irony, given my father’s lymphoma in the same location.

Refusal to eat followed and he began to decline rapidly. What’s amazing is that he held on to the point of being in absolute misery. With no other choice, I had to put Jazz down today.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 Review

At first glance an obvious attempt to pander to anime fans by combining cute girls with guns for comedic effect, Stella Women’s Academy aspires to be more than just another cute girls show. Filled with kinetic airsoft gun battles, teen girls being silly, and meditations on self worth, this little anime teaches the lesson that one should never judge something by its cover – including the series itself.

C3 Title 01C3 Title 02

Rather than reviewing anime series episode by episode, tackling them one season at a time will be the new approach on the blog. So please bear with me, since this is something I’ve only attempted once before and the review will be a little rough around the edges.

First off, I need to present a disclaimer.

I really don’t like the cute girls doing nothing subgenre of anime. Aimed at otakus without social lives, the rise of these moe dominated series are my bane along with jiggly T&A ecchi fests. Mindless and irritating, I can’t stand them. This will color my review.

C3 The GirlsC3 Club Banner

So why am I reviewing a cute girls show, you wonder?

Well, I’m gun owner and enthusiast, so giving the first episode a shot was mandatory, if distasteful. To my astonishment, the show was funny and hinted at hidden depth which made me stick around for the next episode. Before I knew it, the emerging serious themes in the storyline combined with well written characters to hook both me and my senior citizen father.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

General Conference

I know it is October because it is time for General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints again. It used to be that Halloween candy displays would alert me to the year waning, however they showed up early last month.

The second talk of the first session that just wrapped up is going to be hard to top. “Which way do you face?” was the question asked and challenges those faithful to Christ’s teachings to stand by them in the face of increasingly hostile peer pressure. If the last two General Conferences could be characterized as being defenses of Christian standards, the tone of the first session feels a bit more feisty.

Another thing that caught my personal attention was the first time a speaker used his native language rather than English to deliver a sermon. My complaint is a minor one: I wished it had been subtitled on the English stream rather than verbally translated. This was done for ease of comprehension, but I like to hear the inflections of the speaker.

Also of interest is the new Church move to embrace social media more completely. Now they have set up a way to easily share to Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and other services along with a page showing messages that have gone out. While not a fan of the Web 2.0, I can see the younger folks using this a lot.

I wish I was feeling a little more alert while watching the stream for the cold weather has made rest difficult and pain high. Thankfully, I will be able to download the talks later and listen to them as many times as I want to gain further insights into the Gospel. As President Uchtdorf said in the conclusion of the session, “the process of gathering spiritual light is the quest of a lifetime.”

Not only do I love his talks, I’ve grown to love that man.

As always, General Conference is open to everyone to see, not just members. Check out the October sessions here.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Return of the Russian Spam

A familiar pattern of false referrals has shown up in my September 2014 Blogger statistics making me wish there was a way to exile them to Siberia. Featuring a bevy of webpages originating from a site previously encountered, the spam is dedicated to parting you from your hard earned rubles.

While I don’t have any rubles to lose, precaution was taken in exploring the links. Firing up my trusty VirtualBox installation of Ubuntu 14 and using the TOR browser for anonymity I keep spam sites from looking at my real computer. Don’t try this at home unless you know what you are doing! It is best to never click on strange links.

detective01 Spam 01detective01 Spam 02

Oh the irony of the first spam to hit my blog. http: // detective01 . ru / offers private investigator services of all kinds and would be somebody to hire to find out where spam is coming from in Russia. There’s just the small issue of them being spammers. Like quite a bit of spam from that country, it is connected to St. Petersburg and in this particular case the agency is based there.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Testing the FujiFilm HS25EXR, Part 2

More fooling around without a clue in order to see Fuji’s camera can do. As will become obvious, there is a lot to be learned yet. More photos and even a video only scratch the surface of what this far too capable mid-sized digital camera is capable of.

DuskReal Dusk

Ever behind on the times due to a lack of money, I feel like I’m constantly reinventing the wheel. It doesn't help I've forgotten everything about photography in the past five years. Due to dependency on automatic settings, pictures are never quite what I hope for, so expect to do better than this if you get your hands on the HS25EXR or one of its close relatives in the HS family.

In my previous post, I mentioned how post processing is needed to get good results. Spoiled by my Canon’s producing great results straight out of the viewfinder makes this a new experience. The two unaltered (other than resizing) shots above are a good illustration of why EXR mode is threatening my sanity.