Posts Tagged Jon Decker
It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to the theater here in New York because the price of tickets is ridiculous and the quality of many recent films, storyline-wise, has been abysmal. The economy has had me watching back seasons of old shows on Netflix until the new movies hit their play-it-now section so I can watch them at home. That said, I decided to take a chance on a film and see it in theaters this time.
The Battle: LA posters were up in the tunnels here and I’d seen the trailer on Youtube a while back so that was my choice; besides it was offered in normal-vision, AKA not 3D, so I figured they probably spent the budget on legitimate storyline stuff and not crapatar special effects with floating milkweed seeds. I was not wrong. I’m a huge sci-fi fan and an extreme sci-fi critic. I’ve seen it all from the classics to the dregs and I can spot a plot rip-off a mile away. This film has a basic social commentary on the war in Iraq, a well thought out formula plot, and a detailed overview of the actions of troops while on the ground in battle. The script maintains the timeless quality found in most hero-journey films and doesn’t get bogged down with internal moral turmoil, religion, or love interests.
The basic premise is: ET’s drop out of the skies into the sea off the coast of L.A. to force-ably colonize and gain control of Earth’s natural resources – Marines fight back. The plot is found in a variety of sci-fi sources like games, books, and films; but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. The point here is that we humans are put in a pressure situation as the underdogs in a black and white battle for survival. The gray ambiguous psychobabble found in suspense thrillers and chick flicks is stripped away and replaced by a clearly formulated emotionless “bad guy” presented with an obvious solution: annihilation of bad is good. The World War II Nazi regime used to be that film “bad guy” but for years now the media has been struggling with how to make an engaging storyline that presents the blurred lines of combat that our troops are facing overseas. This film cuts through that modern crap and re-establishes the clear cut rules of battle for a much more fulfilling entertainment journey. I was not left wondering what choice should or should not have been made throughout the film. I was not left feeling bad for the “bad guy.” I left the theater with the same feeling I had after watching “Iron Man” – pride. I know there’s probably some consultant for the military whose job it was to make sure this film was presenting the US armed forces with a patriotic flavor, but I don’t care. Patriotism and inherent feelings of responsibility for the safety and well-being of others are admirable traits. The characters in the film have it in spades.
I’m not going to give you plot spoilers. I am only going to recommend the film. The Pg-13 rating is due to “Sustained and intense sequences of war, violence, and destruction; and for language” (and one light erp scene at the beginning) so keep that in mind if you have a featherweight sensibility. This is an edge-of-seat film and will leave you wanting to enlist in the armed forces for the retaking of LA (though likely not for the current war overseas). My personal opinion is that “Battle: LA” is a ray of hope for future sci-fi action movies and hopefully heralds a shift in the industry towards producing high quality stories with good real-life actors instead of only high quantity effects and bumbling blue bodies.
A vast majority of internet critics are panning this film, but I feel they’re missing the pearl here. This is the best action sci-fi film we’ve seen in years, and while it’s not an Oscar film it does have more depth than people are giving it credit for. Sure it’s non-stop action violence and vaguely glimpsed aliens, but isn’t that what has made old sci-fi film monsters into classics? The more you see of the film bad guy the less scary he is. This film isn’t about getting to know the aliens and having their babies, it’s about wiping them off the face of our earth. I think emotional love scenes have been misconstrued by the average populace lately as character arc depth, and if that’s what you’re waiting for it ain’t happening here; something I proclaim as good. The self sacrifice element is much cooler than redundant ridiculously-timed love scenes, trust me.
I am writing this while riding in the train from New York to Philly. I’ve been listening to TWiP’s #183 episode segment about CES and 3D photography. I also recently listened to an episode from their archive about the attempts for transition of Polaroid into the digital generation. One more bit of exposition, I used to work in the pre-press department at a printing press and helped work on opening that location’s capability to print linticulars.
What is 3D in 2D?
3D in 2D is my designation of any two dimensional artistic representation touted to be 3D. This designation applies to 3D film, 3D photography, etc. If you can view the image with an eye-tricking perception of depth, it is 3D in 2D.
What is a Linticular?
Simply put a linticular is a printed image viewed through a special linear lens that depicts an image with 3D in 2D. This lens can be fixed directly to the image as seen on baseball cards, advertisements, display monitors, and novelty pictures. Linticular has been around for ages and is not a new technology. Linticulars are very difficult to print well because any micro misalignment can cause a dramatic failure or odd artifacting in the perceived depth perception.
What am I thinking?
While listening to TWiP’s episode I was struck with a great idea for Polaroid that would bring them into this new 3D in 2D photography novelty re-emergence. We all remember the Polaroid instant film camera that spewed forth pictures seconds after taking them giving you the opportunity to capture and share all sorts of fun or unfortunate activities. Polaroid’s instant camera was so popular there were songs written about it, it’s brand became synonymous with the final pictures, and it’s iconic film is the first thing in most people’s minds when they hear the term “snap-shot”. Even the film and video industry used Polaroids as a great way to keep track of visual details in wardrobe and on set. With the arrival of the digital photography age Polaroid instant film has basically disappeared and has been replaced by emailing pictures and updating face-book for your audience to see those same snap-shot pictures. The problem is we’ve lost that instant gratification of having a picture handed to us by the laughing “friend’s” who snapped the oh-so-flattering shot. Those fridge and cork-board shots take a lot more time to make now and therefore aren’t nearly as fun.
How can we make 3D in 2D photos fun and cool?
Polaroid better read this. My idea for Polaroid, if you haven’t guessed already, is for instant film linticulars spewed forth from a 3D in 2D Polaroid camera. The key is to design film cartridges. That look just like the ones they used to have only replace the front frame with a linticular plastic fixed lens. The camera should also have on-camera digital storage giving the photographer the option of not printing the image, thus saving film for those specific times where having the printed party pics is fun. If done right, this could catapult Polaroid back into the limelight in the same way they were highlighted back in the day. They should market it as “a window on your world” and keep the little white framing that is so iconic for the Polaroid brand.
Let me know what you think about this idea and/or share it on your favorite social network. Enough consumer demand could prompt Polaroid to actually develop this fun little film/digital camera combo. I’d get one or better yet, I’ll take one on a US tour photographing all the stereotypical road trip Americana and helping promote the camera’s fun factor.
Polaroid, contact me: info(at)jondeckerphoto(dot)com
I was going to do a long drawn out post about ghosts in today’s culture, but I’m bored just thinking about it. Therefore, stay up till midnight reading classic literature like “The Devil’s Tramping Ground” and “The Tar Heeled Ghost” and then stay up another hour reading or watching ghost clips in high contrast black and white on the internets. You’ll see ghosts. I have. Not worth the time explaining why, just do it. Ghosts = Boring.
It’s that time again, time to put my spin on a popular myth for the future of geeks everywhere. The topic is… (drum roll, please) Aliens! Time to construct a classification for these short, tall, fat, skinny, grey, green, pink, purple, hairy, slimy, ridiculously intelligent, monstrous beings from another world that refuse to interact with our common society.
What are Aliens?
For purposes of this article, aliens are classified as any non-terrestrial origin entity. I know that is a broad stroke, but it’s also constrictive and will likely rile up a few scientologists in our midst because the classification implies that any non-terrestrial entity could create, birth, spawn, or otherwise replicate itself here on earth and its offspring would no longer be classified as an alien. It’s an alien immigrant policy for earth, my friends.
Where do aliens come from?
Who cares, they’re not from here and that’s what seems to matter to most people. Keeping in mind that the earth is populated with a multitude of species, and most of those species are scared to death of each other, I dare say that the universe is probably the same. There are probably tons of alien species out there, but unless they’re ultra naive or ultra scary powerful they likely are just as afraid of us as we are of them. It now should make sense why they seem to prey upon the weaker minded people and animals on earth. Think about it. When was the last time you heard of a rocket scientist who got abducted by aliens and “mind” probed; or, for that matter, when was the last case of German Shepherd abduction recorded. Never, because it’s not the smart ones aliens want to mess with, it’s the dumb ones. Mutilating cattle, messin’ with the hill folk, grabbing up seamen who haven’t see land in months… it all makes sense. Aliens are just poking around, but not wanting to get poked back. If I were an alien, I wouldn’t try to integrate with our common society either. Heck, I’m human and I don’t necessarily want to associate with the common earthling’s society.
What do aliens look like?
Not sure, exactly; this question is a bit like asking what worms look like or, for that matter, what humans look like. A helminthologist could tell you what every worm looked like and what function they had that demanded that particular distinction, but the average Jane is just going to say “slippery and slimy”; not a very good descriptor of what they look like. If every planet that could support intelligent life had as many distinctions between its classifications of intelligent life as we have then describing what an alien actually looks like (even if they all originate from one singular planet out there) is impossible in the grand scheme of things. That said, most alien descriptions offered up by popular mythology seem to indicate that aliens embody the viewer’s own fears; a true monster, if you will. Again, I state that aliens are just as afraid of us as we are of them because they/we are an unknown. For the purpose of this article I’ll just say that beyond the obvious factors aliens are best described as your younger sibling: annoying, mischievous, inquisitive, know-it-all, nosy, sneaky, undermining, copycat, whiny, wimpy, gets cooler toys for Christmas when all you get are socks, and annoying (that’s listed twice for emphasis).
What can aliens do, exactly?
Aliens can mess with sasquatch… we just happen to be the sasquatch in this case. Aliens are possibly in possession of super advanced technology with which they choose to shine lights on us and pick on the funnier examples of our species. Aliens purportedly have super high intelligence with which they integrate themselves into society so well we can’t tell the difference between them and us unless some guy that lives alone in a cabin in the woods posts a blog about it. Aliens could have amazing telepathic, telekenetic, or telephonetic brains that they choose to use to make iphones for general consumption by teen girls everywhere. Aliens are feasibly regenerative which they use to maintain their disguise as Cher. Aliens might also be able to master time and space which they’ve chosen to do in order to help our pitiful civilization reach the pinnacle of it’s existence: couch wars.
Should we be worried?
Heck, yes we should be worried! Didn’t you read that list of what aliens can do!?
How can we kill these invading hordes, Jon?
With water, supposedly (thanks, M. Night Shyamanalonalonalonalanmanaskjdaflkjgfsdll!slkfjgh&*kjfg!!!!). If that doesn’t work, you could just wait for them to die off from infection caused by our zombie hordes… wait wrong topic. Nuking them doesn’t seem to ever work, just FYI for those of you who do live a cabin in the woods and have a stockpile of Russian nukes in your root cellar. I suggest the good ol’ fashion Will Smith approach and punch-em-in-the-face!
If that doesn’t work play dumb and they’ll probably just probe you for a bit and let you go in Alaska somewhere. If you’re worried about your family, don’t be. I’d be more worried about the poor alien’s sanity if they abducted your modern child. Have you listened to kids these days? They’re nuts! The most likely scenario would be like that story about the kidnappers who couldn’t wait to get the kid home because he was so annoying and demanding. Trust me, kids are more annoying than aliens. Wait maybe that’s the big secret: kids are aliens!
Why are you still reading this? Post a comment about your outrage and give us your own version of an alien descriptor. I’m sure someone stumbled across this on accident and really wants to know. Just give me a day or so to root through the spam about viagra and other supplements before looking for your post to get approved (it’s instant if you’ve been approved before).
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
There was no living creature, not even a mouse.
The dust had all settled. The chimney was bare,
And a musty dank odor hung thick in the air.
The upstairs was empty, the rooms and the beds,
While ghostly lights played on the curtains’ bare threads.
And creaking in the kitchen, a loose water tap,
Had been dripping forever since the last cold snap.
But out in the woods where the snow was now scattered,
A ruined old cabin with windows all shattered,
Lies a secret of old now buried in ash;
A memory lost from the minds of the past.
The moon and the mist and the squawk of a crow,
Rends the silence, the stillness, like a fiddle bow.
And there in the darkness, but standing right near,
Is that thing quite un-nameless, the cause of all fear.
In darkness enveloped and features black and slick,
The creature, the demon with muscles so thick,
Slinks forward like fog or like smoke from a flame
As it passes the cabin the house now its aim.
What horrible summons could call forth and mix in,
This nameless and shapeless dark abomination.
Up the path to the house, at the door, in the hall.
‘Neath a coal blackened cloak eight spider legs crawl.
No more children that lived in the house there to cry,
At the passing of evil with death in its eye.
From the hall to the dining room now scuttled through,
In shadows a whisper the nameless didst spew,
A breath of pure malice demanding the proof
Of treachery deep from the one who’s aloof.
And out of the shadows stepped a creature so fair
With a translucent figure and long flowing hair.
In her eyes was a sadness, though lightness afoot,
Was a weight in her presence an object she put,
In the hands of the beast, a brown rotted sack,
was the proof of the deed in the soot in the black.
She glided from vision to whence she was buried,
Her part in the summons no longer to tarry.
A spot in the distance for her all aglow,
And she faded from earth and the morbid tableau.
The house shook and trembled from earthquakes beneath,
And a coldness so bitter, would rattle your teeth.
The rumbling, the house was like that of a belly
Filled with nothing for days, not bread, and not jelly.
The creature now hurried, like ’twas sure of itself,
To the basement, the cellar, the hidden back shelf.
The call was now clear from the victim long dead,
A summons for vengeance the truth had been said.
The token acquired from deep basement murk,
The cabin in sight, and the tools for the work.
The fragments recovered, the calling of crows,
The morning now chases, the shadow now goes.
In life quite afar from the woods and the thistles.
The man with the secret just leans back and whistles,
But the sudden reveal and a death from the fright,
Now the summons completed and all is set right.
Time to tackle the beast… Not to worry, I’ll be kind to everyone’s favorite dog; but in the flavor of Christmas I thought it was a good time to write about Werewolves. “Christmas? What does Christmas have to do with it?” you may be asking the screen (and, therefore, me). Well, let me tell you the story.
It happened around Christmas, some time in the early nineties and likely when my parents weren’t home. It must have been pre-1995 and was likely more close to 1992, now that I think about it, since we had at that time a blueish-green black and white TV with a 10 inch screen that my dad had bought at a garage sale for a buck and fixed with a fuse and some copper wire. That said, I again reiterate that it was impossible for my parents to have been in the house when this happened because we weren’t allowed to watch the TV during the day, nor was the TV readily accessible as it was kept in the front coat closet across from the family board games. I had somehow sneaked the TV up to my room that day, and I do remember it being extremely snowy outside. It’s possible my family was home but outside and I had just decided to opt out, much to my parents chagrin, from the family activities in the freezing cold. Anyhow, I was attempting to watch TV and as it was Saturday the midday movie was on (I think it was Fox back when they played cool stuff). I was enthralled. Being rather young, mildly rebellious, and attempting to hide the activity probably added to the overall scary-ness, but the movie that was on was freaking me out. An American Werewolf in London, released in 1981, has some extremely gruesome shock-value transformation scenes not too far into the film. Granted it was the “edited for the TV” version so a lot of the extreme content was not there, which really didn’t affect the fright factor in the long run. I got so freaked out by that movie that all I could think about for weeks was werewolves and how someone might become one on accident. I was young, impressionable, and rather easily intrigued by dark occultish topics — a product of being raised strictly Baptist. It didn’t take me long to find more stories about werewolves in our own home library. Yes, parents, if you read this I found some of the most interesting stories and articles regarding extraordinarily dark topics in my dad’s library of books (many of which he likely used as reference materials back when he was a pastor). Among the various studies on demons and the occult was a wonderfully ridiculous book with the title “Strange Stories, Amazing Facts” a Reader’s Digest release, circa 1976 (Library of Congress card catalog no. 76-2966). I was mesmerized. Somewhere beyond the articles on space exploration, daring adventures, unsolved mysteries, and ghost stories galore was a section on Legendary lands and beasts. There on page 434 was what I had been looking for: “Big Bad Werewolves”. This served as a foundation or reference for every werewolf story, movie, or video game I ever came across from that day forth. As such I choose to use it now as a starting point in my definition of the rules for werewolves.
Where do Werewolves come from?
Werewolves have origins in the folklore of many different countries and as such the rules regarding their formation varies dramatically depending on the function or morality tale they serve in the various stories. I’ve read of a multitude of variants that could create werewolves such as surviving another werewolf attack (like in An American Werewolf), coming into contact with wolfbane (the aconitum plant) or stripping naked and rolling in sand during the full moon, witchy or native American shapeshifting, as well as various references to contact with rabid wolves; but I much prefer the structure of werewolves that appears in the old computer game “Nocturne”. The werewolves in that game transformed from big wolves to upright-walking, broad-shouldered, man-wolves. They lived in the forest and kept trespassers from daring to approach a castle/fortress. I like that variant because the idea that a man can gain mass and become a giant wolf in a short and physically repeatable transformation brought on by the full moon seems too easily mendable and not nearly as dark as the ideas I like to entertain within the construct of lycanthropy. I also like the concept that a man in the first stages of lycanthropy could look human, but over time become a giant man-wolf (as in the game) never to regain his human form.
What do Werewolves look like?
My rules for lycanthropy fly in the face of many popular constructs and intentionally make the change definite. Never again can my werewolves go back to human society and live peaceably among their unsuspecting neighbors. Even in the first years of the transformation, my werewolf has definite signs of change that make holding down a retail job a bit unlikely. The earliest warning signs are fun stuff like hair on one’s palms, a ring finger that’s longer than the middle finger, pointy ears, an unusually hairy body (though not quite hypertrichosis), and a thick bushy unibrow. All these features are still relatively acceptable for a New York taxi driver, but a lot of customer relations companies might bypass that applicant. Either way, once the physical changes happen there’s no going back. The werewolf is stuck with that unibrow for life, or until the change completes its cycle and he (or she) becomes full-on giant wolf with the transformation from wolf to upright scary man-wolf being the only options.
What can werewolves do, exactly?
Some of those early warning signs are based in common mythology and none of them come from the Twilight series, bleck! In those stories the werewolves are physically over-warm to the touch, can read their clan-brother’s minds, and run around shirtless all the time. All these concepts are so Nora Roberts, it’s not even funny; however, I would like to take this opportunity to point out that several other movies have attempted to drive home this same idea that the werewolves en masse share some sort of memory link. An American Werewolf had the ghosts from past werewolve’s kills visibly interacting with the afflicted man. Underworld (2003) had werewolves sharing a blood memory that encouraged them to hate the vampire species. Another gem, “Dog Soldiers” indicates the werewolve’s ability to use an undiscovered as-of-yet unchanged human form to relay information to the awaiting, hungry wolf clan. I think that’s all crap. My werewolves degrade in mental capacity as they become more wolf-like. By the time they’ve completed their change, they’re only a tad bit smarter than your average German Sheppard. Big, scary, but relatively dumb brute animals that function as killing machines and guard dogs, no more. Werewolf versus Vampire; Vlasis Vampire wins, no challenge. Werewolf versus Zombie; Zartosht Zombie wins every time. Hrmm, Zombie Werewolf is a possible combination per my rule set, btw. So, what can they do? Werewolves can eat you, eat your friends, and basically act like ravenous mad polar bears with the side effect of passing on their affliction should you live through their vicious attack. That sounds just peachy.
Should we be worried?
Like bulls, my werewolves are attracted to bright colors; but other than waltzing about in the forest like red riding hood most of you should be set. Just make sure to check those around you at work, church, and the subway for my described signs of lycanthropy. If you see them help out humanity sooner rather than later.
How can Werewolves die?
Werewolve’s can live indefinitely should they continue to have sustenance, so it is possible for werewolves to starve. However, if you’re being chased through the forest by a pack of werewolves, or even just one, I suggest not waiting for them to starve to death. There is only one way to kill a werewolf. It’s simple and brutal, but effective. Silver is poison to werewolves. Introducing silver into the bloodstream of the werewolf will kill it. Silver contacting the hairless sections of werewolf’s skin(lips or… well use your imagination) will burn it like acid. Some hunters feel it’s necessary to bless or consecrate their silver weapons, but that’s just a superstition. Take the knife, fork, spoon, spork, bullet, ring, cross, or whatever silver you have and stick it in them. I also suggest always wearing silver jewelry of some sort to inflict post consumption mayhem, should it come to that; best always to have the last laugh. Just don’t go so far as to imbibe silver as that will lead to oddly discolored skin and might also exclude you from said customer relations jobs.
Werewolves and Christmas: the final tie-in.
In my hunting for pictures for this article I ran across a much more direct Werewolf Christmas tie-in. Apparently, though I haven’t seen it, there is a Hammer Horror film out there named “The Curse of the Werewolf” which had a unique take on how one becomes a werewolf.
In that film an un-wanted child born on Christmas Day is cursed into werewolf form and “can only be cured by love”. Meh.