Monday, February 19, 2024

Remake rant

What triggered this was finding out there are people actively planning to do a remake, or reboot, or retconn, or whatever the word is, of the 2004 version of Battlestar Galactica. Which itself was a remake of the dreadful 70's era version. That one was so bad I was amazed anyone would consider remaking it, since the property was thoroughly tainted with the badness. Mind you, in such a case the bar for success is so low that almost anything would be better.

Except somehow they got it made, and people kept telling me how good it was. We eventually started getting the discs out of the library and really liked it. Critics said it was the best thing on television, and they might have been right. I don't watch enough television to have an opinion. We even got a deal on the boxed set, and I was going to rewatch them in the correct order while doing spin training on my bike. Except for complicated reasons that didn't work out.

My big question throughout the series was wondering how much of a pay cut James Callis (Baltar) took when he found out that Trica Helfer (Six) was going to spend significant time draped all over him in that slinky red dress. Somewhere on that ship there must have been a huge booze production facility, since they seemed to run out of everything else except that.

So once upon a time there was Batman, a cheesy 60's era TV show. It was so bad it was good, and there's a market for that. (I'll come right out and say I like a good bad movie.) I saw the 1989 movie and was not impressed. There are a great many listings in IMDB for Batman, I know some are remakes, and others are sequels, and others are related stories in that universe, it's hard to tell. Not interested in any of them. OK, the clips of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, I'll cop to that, and the same for Heath Ledger as the Joker, but not the rest of it.

There was the 50's era TV version of Superman, and when I look at IMDB, there are a great many versions since then. I saw the 1978 version and wasn't impressed. There's been well over a dozen movies or TV shows with Superman in the title. I don't know if they would all be remakes, some seem to be sequels. Not interested in any of them.

Now that I think about it, I did see the one Batman sequel with Michelle Pfeiffer because, Michelle Pfeiffer. The rest of it was dreadful. There might have been another one I saw because our work team went out to celebrate something, but I'm pretty sure I slept through it. Superhero movies are boring, and the recent spat of superhero movies interested me not even a tiny little bit. 

I'm not even going to talk about the endless Star Wars or Star Trek add-on's to the original material. Then there's  King Kong and Godzilla. So many remakes! What on earth is the attraction? Sure, tell the story once. Done. Move onto something else.

So why a remake of Battlestar Galactica? I'm guessing it's been 20 years, so the network execs know it only by rumour. Like book editors who want something fresh and new, but exactly like what they know has sold in the past, the execs don't know how to tell a new story. They'd rather stir old dough and hope nobody notices. Or maybe it's a network exec bigger dick thing, my version is better than yours.

And besides, they tried telling another story in that universe. It's called Caprica, and it got cancelled pretty quick. I'm wondering how they can top the 2004 version? Although perhaps telling it from the Cylon point of view might be interesting. Maybe if Tricia Helfer is involved again, I'd consider it.

A digression. Back in the day when there were stores where one could rent DVD's, we liked browsing. So about 2002 when Ocean's Eleven came out we went to rent it. A clerk asked if he could help us find something. I told him I wanted the first version of Ocean's Eleven. He gave me a funny look because I had the George Clooney version in my hands. I told him we would watch the remake, but wanted to watch the original again. He thought this one was the original. He didn't believe me when I told him about the 1960's version. I made him look it up. Of course, the remake was so-so, and the following sequels were no better, till Ocean's Eight. I watched that one. The plot was predictable, but the star power! That was fun.

There are a few exceptions to the rule that the sequel is always worse. Aliens and Terminator: Judgement Day come to mind. The Terminator TV show was pretty good as well, just finding it's feet as it was cancelled. That happens so often.

The thing to keep in mind is that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. According to the authority of E. B. White, there are a certain number of words necessary to tell that story. Adding more doesn't make it better, just like adding parts to a functional machine doesn't make it better. In the movie world, things aren't so cut and dried, but there is an optimum length for a movie. Sometimes more is good, adding detail and richness to the story. Sometimes more is bad, padding out the story with flab. (Peter Jackson's Hobbit movies, I'm looking at you!) 

It's said that there are really only 7 original plots, and everything is a version, or combination of those elements. In that sense, West Side Story is a brilliant retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Or that other works of Shakespeare fueled Akira Kurosawa, who in turn fueled the producers of various spaghetti westerns and Star Wars. 

Why do remakes when there are so many stories out there begging to be made into a movie or TV show? I'd line up to see a BBC version of just about any Georgette Heyer novel, especially the Regency Romance novels. There's a couple short Alfred Bester novels that would make a terrific movie. Done right, the Lensman series could be good, or it could be terrible. I'd love to see Larry Niven's Known Space stories on screen, though Ringworld is supposed to be coming to Amazon Prime any decade now. The Mote in God's Eye could be a great movie, with no shortage of other war stories in that universe; you'd think that would excite the network execs. Bujold talked a bit about a movie option for one of her Vorkosigan books, and was relieved it didn't come to fruition. The network execs had butchered the story beyond recognition because they said it would sell better, while the novel had won a Hugo.

There was even talk of doing a remake of Princess Bride, which would be an utter travesty. That is very nearly a perfect movie. Fortunately that project seems dead now. (I am manfully restraining myself from quotes. If you know, you know. And if you don't, just go watch the movie, you can thank me later.)

So what should the rules be around remakes? Personally, I'd say as long as anyone involved with the original production is still alive, remakes are out. Clever retellings, or retellings with a twist, but without the original character names, are probably ok. Sequels, hmmm. If there's actually more to the story, and it isn't just doing the story over again, I guess are ok. 

While my blood is up, let's explore another aspect of why Hollywood productions are all so bad, with very, very few exceptions. If there's a problem, it's solved with guns, or maybe an oh so macho manly fist fight. Both of these "solutions" go on and on, well past boredom. Personally, these sorts of movies should be restricted to 18+. After all, just about anything happening with guns in these movies is depicting an actual crime. Yet 3 F bombs or a flash of boobs and a movie is restricted.

Yes, I know they are movies, and here I go bringing reality into again. I'm fine with conventions like there always being a parking spot near the entrance. I know the actor really isn't driving, but it's barely safe to let most people drive when they have nothing else to think about, and acting is harder than it looks, so yes, they've rigged up a Rube Goldberg contraption where someone else actually drives, or it's a clever fake in a studio.

But I've no patience with a plot that relies on the stupidity of characters, or their inability to say a simple thing that would clarify the situation. I don't want to watch teenagers (and especially adults playing teenagers) emoting, or trying to, which is one of the reasons superhero movies are boring. High school was a dreadful time for me, and I've no wish to revisit it. I made it through one season of Veronica Mars (because Kristen Bell) gritting my teeth and rolling my eyes. 

I'm tired of the revenge story. The one man against the world story. The conspiracy behind everything story. Gratuitous nudity (male or female) or the opposite, the pulling sheets off the bed to avoid nudity. Chase scenes in general, but especially when the characters are cardboard at best. The ticking countdown clock. Related to the prevalence of guns in movies, the villains are bad shots. And the villain talks too much rather than getting on with carrying out his or her evil plans for world domination. (And if they were THAT competent, let's let them run things, it couldn't be worse than the current clowns in office, could it?) I love cats, but using them for cheap jump scares is demeaning to their dignity. Being a photographer, I know you can't zoom deep into a photo (on screen or in print) for endless detail. And of course, deus ex machina. 

What did you like, if anything, I hear you asking. I quite liked most of Elementary, especially the season with John Noble. The earlier seasons of Leverage. Slow Horses and Killing Eve were wonderful. The afore mentioned Battlestar Galactica. Arrival was brilliant, and the opening scene brought joy to my photographer heart. The Good Place. Most of Lucifer was fun. The earlier seasons of Big Bang Theory. Most of Stargate SG-1. The Fifth Element. The Usual Suspects. Alien and Aliens, but not the rest. Terminator, T2, and the Sarah Conner Chronicles, with Dark Fate being an almost, and the rest are bad. I talked about Foundation in earlier blogs. Leon the Professional. All the Miss Marples with Joan Hickson, the other's are pale imposters. I still say that Yes Minister, and Yes Prime Minister are some of the wittiest shows ever. Fargo, the movie. Dead Like Me. My Fair Lady (which is a retelling, rather than a remake, I think, but so fabulous it should close the doors on any further remakes.)

That should give you an idea of what I've enjoyed. The most recent thing for me is Slow Horses season three and I can't wait for the rest. I'm not sure what's next. We are looking through Apple + while it's a freebie from buying a new Apple TV box. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

124 so far

Wine kits that is. I'm in the middle of the 124th now, and just started the next one. The kits say they make 30 bottles, but that's pretty rare. I normally get 29 bottles, and maybe a half bottle for a taster or to cook with. Many of them are surprisingly good right out of the carboy. 

A bit of arithmetic and that comes to about 3712 bottles have ended up on our wine racks. There are just over 300 bottles downstairs now, meaning we have drunk or given away 3400 bottles. That's since June 2002, or about 7900 days. Thus a bottle every couple or three days, depending on exactly how many we've given away. Our financial advisor and her team are the main recipient of the give away. 

The cost for making wine was about 3 to 4 dollars a bottle when I started and now it's about $5. We buy the expensive kits but get a deal because the place we buy passes on the savings of an inexpensive location. That's about $13,000 wine expense over 21 years, or about $650 a year. I'd say that was pretty good, given that the price of even cheap wine in the liquor store makes me wince, and don't get me started on the prices in a restaurant. I was looking at one menu where the glass of wine was more expensive than some of the entrees. And people wonder why we don't go out to dinner much.

There's been some years I've made as many as 7 kits, but that kept me going into August. I'm only going to do 3 this year, and will still have to shuffle around some bottles to make room.

Just yesterday I was talking to a buddy who asked if I wanted his equipment, since they don't drink much wine anymore, and he's mainly into beer now. We don't drink as much wine as we used to either. A bottle a week is the typical consumption these days. Meaning the current stock would last nearly 8 years. Hmmmm.

Here's what it looks like this morning. I'll do the next step for the blend in the carboy, then it will sit for 6 weeks. The Pinot Gris was just started yesterday, and the yeast is happily doing its thing. For non-winemakers the green strip with the cord running to it is a heater to keep the wine at just the right temperature during fermentation.


These are the two kits on the go now, and there's one more coming in March. The store is in Red Deer so I'm going to take a scenic route and hope to capture some nice photos. One of my readers has come along in the past, and is welcome again. He knows who he is.


When I have a label left over it goes up on the wall, though I only started that after I'd been doing wine for a decade or so. I like to put one label in the book where I track the making of, and if necessary I'll carefully peel off the label and that goes on the wall. 

Some, of course, don't peel off nice. There's a dark green label that says Eminence Tempranillo. You probably can't read it, but it's the one up and to the left of the Riesling LE2014 label. That one is just brutal to remove; even the Goo Be Gone stuff barely takes the glue off. The blue one right beneath it is no better. The rule used to be that the easier they went on, the harder they were to get off. Now they are mostly peel and stick, and they unpeel off the glass quite nicely. Mostly.

The red tape, you ask? There are cuts in the vapour barrier, and the tape seals them up. There's lots of places that needed doing as I sealed up around the joists. I found all kinds of stuff that I'd forgotten we had.

Of the Day
Driftwood (NZ)

Driftwood (BC)

Yukon

Film (new)

Film (old)
I'm not sure when this photo was taken. The occasion was an SCA corset making sweatshop, I mean workshop. I know who the two women on the right are, although I haven't seen either in many years, and no idea who the person on the left is. This is well before the reno that took out the wall where the cards are hanging and opened up the space quite a bit. The (then empty) basement was full of sewing machines and extra lights with about a mile of extension cord to power everything. It's a wonder we didn't blow a circuit breaker. 

You'll note the two board games, Empire Builder and Eurorails. I don't even know if you can buy them any more, but they're a fabulous board game for a small group. Once everybody clues in it goes pretty quick, as long as you keep track of what you're doing. There are any number of fun stories associated with playing the games with friends, but the one with Linda's mom was epic. The winner is the first to accumulate a certain amount of money. Normally when someone wins, another person would have won when it got to be their turn, and someone else would be just about to win in a turn or two. Linda's mom whipped our butts. First time playing the game she got an amazing run of luck to get the best contracts with the minimum amount of rail building. She won and nobody else had even half the winning amount of money. 

The big picture on the wall to the right is still there. I bought when we didn't have much money, and still like it now. The blue carpeting is long gone and I don't miss it a bit. Slate and hardwood is the way to go. The chair with the red cushion is still in daily use now with different cushions, but the love seat thingies are outside furniture when needed, which they haven't been needed for some time. Anyone want to come get them and the cushions?


Saturday, February 10, 2024

An Opening

I went to an art gallery opening the other night. No, not a fancy dress event where the men are in a tux and the women in slinky elegant gowns, with waiters handing out endless glasses of champagne. (All while there is some nefarious sub-plot happening.) This was a bit more prosaic. The space was the cSpace Marda Loop, in the old King Edward school.

The draw was my friend Sean presenting his exhibit that has taken him out of the ramble loop for months, albeit with periodic texts or phone calls about the various trials and tribulations involved with the production, and there might or might not have been swearing about masking in Photoshop. As well, Kristin has an exhibit of sublime photos from a trip to Africa. As a bonus, I even ran into several other people I knew, and it was fun to catch up. There's even several other photo exhibitions that are quite nice.

I'll be going back on the 15th to hear Sean giving a presentation about his work, and to take another look at it. Try to drop by to see all the exhibits, there's something for everyone.

If you've been keeping up, you know we finished season 2 Foundation during our Apple TV+ trial period. The next thing we're chewing through is Slow Horses, and we're loving it. I mean a line like "Bringing you up to speed is like trying to explain Norway to a dog." Gary Oldman is almost unrecognizable, but totally awesome!

Stay tuned for a burble about Garry Winogrand. My number finally came up for the library book. A big heavy book.

Here's one from a recent photo ramble along the Bow River near Quarry Park. This about a 3 minute long exposure to smooth out the water.


Of the Day
Driftwood (NZ)


Plus a woody serendipity.


Driftwood (BC)
Really it's more Linda on a beach than a driftwood photo. There's only a few more in this series to go.


Yukon
Both from the Yukon, one found as the serendipity of the other. How's that for a coincidence?



Film (new)

Film (old)
Another of Linda working on her new flower box.


Friday, February 2, 2024

January Image of the Month

Just two related images this time. I wasn't out with any of the cameras all that much. Most of the images that show up in January were taken between late November and mid January or so, using 2 rolls of black and white film. I consider those in the month I scan them. I've blogged some of those here, if you haven't seen them. 

Most of the images are perfectly fine, and I'm happy with them, but they don't quite make the podium. In a couple senses, these two are not 'good' photos. There's lens flare from aiming into the sun, and all the dust spots you can count. They aren't 'of' anything in particular. 

But. I loved how the shadows and texture of the snow interacted in the runner up. I stopped and stared at the snow on the tree branches, hoping the film would catch the delicacy of the scene.

And it turns out the lens flare is exactly what I like about these images, and how it fades into dark shadows.

Runner up.

Image of the Month


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Something with Foundation

 Something something something. The view out the front door a couple weeks ago. Now some of the water is actually liquid overnight, rather than a mineral.


And one of the results of a long cold snap. Yes, I knocked the ice off after taking the photo.




Or as one of the characters in one of my books like to say in the middle of a complicated run on sentence, "blah, blah, blah" and then she changes the topic.

We finished season 2 of Foundation last night. We got Apple TV+ with a trial period because I bought an Apple device. Don't get excited, I'm still dithering about a computer. This is the TV box, since Amazon Prime was going to stop talking to the old one. 

As a digression, setting it up was easy, except for the sound part. The old box had an optical audio out port that I filled with a cable going to the DVD box, and thence to the 5 speakers. The new box has just an HDMI cable that feeds sound to the TV speakers. I spent some time trying to figure out if there was a audio out from the TV to the DVD box and thence to the speakers, but no. They want people to buy a separate blue tooth speaker system. I don't actually know what the TV speakers sound like, since I've never heard them. I get the audio directly into my ears via my hearing aids.

The remote has a direct connection to Siri, and I was careful to turn that off. Last thing I need in my life is a nosy AI system snooping our home life. The remote has a rechargeable battery that takes the new USB C or a lightning cable. I have such a cable from last car rental so the car could talk to the phone. However I don't have a charger to fit the other end. They are not expensive, but I might buy a new mac computer with such an output by the time the remote battery runs down. I like the new remote much better, but it takes a bit of getting used to. As an aside, I checked the power level, and it's at 75%, so I don't think buying a charger is an urgent task. Then again, I almost certainly have buddies with such a charger, and I'm fairly certain they'd be willing to bring it over and let the remote charge up while chatting over coffee or wine. Ummm, us chatting, not the remote, just in case you were wondering. Blah, blah, blah.

We gave Barnaby a rest and zipped through Foundation. In many ways what I said about season one here, still applies. I'm just as confused as I was then, and the conclusion still stands. There's so much sloppy writing. One of the things that really annoys me is what I think of as Mission Impossible syndrome. I watched the first one, and what with everyone pulling off their fake faces, it was stupid and annoying. It's like the writers figured out that it would be a great twist, and then did it again and again. Not to be a spoiler, but much the same thing happens here as well. 

If you liked the books for what they were, you probably won't like the TV series. If you've never read the books and like science fiction, you might or might not like it. Me? I'm just watching it go past and enjoying it for what it is. It looks great, provided you don't think about it too much, or at all. Neither the plot or story makes much sense. All the questions I have, are put on hold, since it isn't worth thinking about. I don't care about what happens to any of the characters. I already know I'll never watch it again. I'm not even 100 percent convinced I'll watch season 3.

My other blog has some of the results of 2 rolls of film, here, if you missed it and want to check it out. 

Of the Day
Driftwood (NZ)

Driftwood (BC)

Yukon

Film (new)

Film (old)
A view of the basement, back in the late 80's when it was essentially empty.



Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Awaiting sunrise, or something

One of the attractions of retirement is mostly living on your own schedule. Not totally, of course. Things like medical appointments, which typically go hand in hand with retirement, happen during specific hours. (Unless you're desperate and go to the emergency ward at the hospital.) The stores are only open during specific hours. The pool I swim at has lane swimming only during certain, but somewhat erratic hours, which makes planning a bit difficult sometimes.

But overall that still gives lots of space for custom tuned times for going to bed or getting out of it. Except part of the retirement thing, at least for me, is erratic sleep patterns. I'm sure that some of it stems from working shift work way back in the 80's. Before then I was a night owl. During, I was all messed up, never quite knowing if I was asleep or awake. One of the last straws was coming home after night shift and pulling in to watch a balloon being inflated in the LRT parking lot. I never saw it go up. I fell asleep and didn't wake up till about 11am. Poor Linda was (quite justifiably) freaked out. She was expecting the cops to come to the door to tell her I'd been a car collision. 

That, plus the demonstrated failures of memory was when I started planning to change jobs. After I got off shift work it took most of a year to get my sleep patterns settled down again, and then it turned out I was a morning person. Which made getting up to go to work, and even get swim workouts done before work possible.

But there's times now that something will wake me up in the early hours of the morning. Like 2am, just as one example. Sometimes I'll just lie there, thinking about various things, hoping to go back to sleep. Sometimes that happens, much later. Or I'll doze, half asleep, half awake, which probably isn't good. 

Every now and then I've got up, thinking I'm awake I might as well work on a project. Except usually I find out I'm not as awake as I thought I was, and Celina will assume it's time to be fed, encouraging me with her air raid siren level meow. She doesn't like it when I tell her to howl louder because the cats on Mars can't hear her.

Plus, Linda will be asleep, or trying to sleep, so that limits how much noise I can make. She has basically two modes of "sleep". One is right out of it. We could hold a bagpipe marching band competition in the bedroom and she wouldn't notice. The other is the opposite. Me breathing, or Celina walking around, is much too loud.

Today is an example. I was up way before sunrise. Awake. I got up and did the daily puzzles, (Wordle in 4, if you're interested, which is par for me.) before coffee, even. I was thinking the sunrise might be nice, so I was keeping an eye on that during coffee and breakfast. I actually dressed and went out with the camera! It wasn't spectacular, but neither did I freeze anything off. 

It's warmed up even more since then, reaching the magical Mercer +1C! I think I'll dig my way to the barbecue and fire it up for the first time this year. It's been so cold I'm not even sure I'd have been able to light it. Propane is a liquid at -40 C or so.

I still have a few frames in the film camera to finish the roll. I was wary of taking it out in the really cold weather. I'm afraid the film would be so brittle it would crack. I can't find reliable data saying when that would happen. The other problem when it's cold and dry is the potential of static sparks as the film is wound and rewound. 

The sunrise view from our kitchen during the cold weather. 


This morning's sunrise, plus two serendipity images.



This was the view from the porch of my cottage during my first visit to Yukon.


Coming back to the house after stalking the sunrise this morning. This is what it looks like after several weeks of brutally cold minus WTF weather.



Of the Day
Driftwood (NZ)

Driftwood (BC)

Yukon

Film (new)

Film (old)

Saturday, January 20, 2024

I missed Flowery Friday, but

I had the idea on Wednesday when I was doing the wintery photos that I should do the few remaining flower photos on Friday. Then Friday turned out to be our normal morning stuff, then a nice swim, then some errands, then coming home to Linda making a new quail on risotto recipe, then eating that, and then it was something in the afternoon, then we watched some Barnaby.

(Optional digression. Linda had got some Midsomer Murders discs out of the library a long time ago, but I hadn't cared for them, or wasn't in the mood. Some of the contortions they go through to make something look or sound eerie, kind of makes me roll my eyes. Then we got Amazon Prime, and discovered Midomer was one of the things we could watch. Linda wanted to start from the beginning, and I was interested enough to give it a try. We got hooked. There's been a few clunkers along the way, and we sometimes figure out who dunnit. I like watching for people we've seen in other shows. The most recent one is the guy that played Giaus Baltar.)

These are throughout the year that for whatever reason didn't get blogged along the way. It's in chron order, early to quite late in the year.

I'm looking to finish off a roll of black and white film today, and with any luck get them into the lab over the weekend.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

And that's all done for last year. It's going to seem like an eternity till the next flowers pop up in our garden. 


Of the Day
Driftwood (NZ)

Driftwood (BC)

And as a serendipity, a Film (new)


Yukon

Film (old)
Me saying goodbye to Nefertitti. She was a very sick kitty at this point, and later that day we took her to the vet for that last favour to a well loved friend.