Thursday, October 14, 2010

Online (Flash Video) FLV into QT

I am quite proud of myself for figuring this one out - I needed to download a streaming flash video online and convert it into a Quicktime (QT).  Here is the break down on how to do it on a MAC (there are several free programs you can download for windows that I was not able to try).
1 - Using FIREFOX, download and instal a FLV (flash) downloader.  I believe there are two or three, but the one I used was KARBON and can be downloaded here
2 - Install PERIAN, you can download it herePerian is a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats.
3 - Regular quicktime probably won't open the FLV file, but Final Cut Pro (FCP) will.  You are all set, unless you don't have FCP.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Movie Posters to DVD Posters

While I am obsessed with movies, I am also obsessed with their posters.  A movie poster says a lot about a movie, just like how the facade or identity text/logo says a lot about a company or restaurant.  While I realize that the filmmakers who made the movie have nothing to do with both the posters and DVD covers, people are still making these decisions. And these people should be shot.

It's unbelievable that so many movies have amazing posters created for their cinematic release to then have them transformed into blood curdling, terrible, amateur DVD covers.  While this should be taken with a slight grain of salt since DVDs have to cater toward consumer purchases and how to market an in-store purchase (or on-line), it makes sense that they sometimes change, but now it's disgusting that all movie posters change for the DVD (and for the worse).

Think about it this way - lots of movie posters have fantastic artistic design and their cinematic poster can be seen as a work of art.  For a DVD, it transforms into a simple marketing gimmick.  Why have an artistic, conceptual poster when the DVD cover can just have peoples faces?  I mean, that's the selling point right?  A famous actor really isn't TRULY the best person for the part, but if they are talented and popular, it sells the movie! I find this concept of faces, as already mentioned, disgusting.  The studios take an amazing poster and chop it up.  They change the font of the film (often a new creation just for the film) and change it into something bland and boring (or a rip-off of something else - think how they change an "L" into a GUN like they did with Pulp Fiction) and take bad still of an actor's face, poorly photoshop it, and make a bad collage for the DVD cover.

The music execs truly screwed up their entire industry by not understanding what the internet was until it was too late.  One day they woke up and realized that there is this thing for computers that allows people to exchange any musical CD at no cost, and this had been going on for 15 years!  The movie industry did a little better, but it's still pretty bad.  You'd think that since the music industry lost the battle (that they should have easily won) against the internet, they would create hi-def CDs (much like the blu-rays for music).  You know the difference between VHS and bluray?  Well, music is still at VHS quality and the labels don't care for a reason I cannot comprehend.  The larger a file format is, the more difficult it is to steal!  That, and when something is at high quality, people will want to buy it so they can experience it (like a bluray disc vs. a bad rendering stolen from the internet).  It also necessitates more expensive electronics! (hi-def speakers, systems, ear phones, etc).

So my troubles with movie posters comes down to this.  Not only are the DVD renditions terrible, but now, more than ever, it is important that they stop doing this.  It looks terrible and ruins the incentive (one of them) to actually buying the physical bluray or DVD.  Like books, its fun to hold and own, placing the movies on my shelf as my own library and personal collection (trophies if you will, a lineup of what defines me as a film buff as it defines my taste and interests).  While legit downloading and renting is easy and will grow, storage can fail and is not as easy as a shelf of favorite films (just like how new video games are still bought).

But now, these DVD covers are worse than ever and are an embarrassment to the movies they represent.  While I am happy that Bluray sank HD-DVD and the hi-format war for home movies is over (albeit too late) people are buying discs instead of stealing them because they are great quality.  Why not make it the best and stop making these disgusting DVD covers?

Below are two classic examples of what goes wrong.  As with the departed (even though the two originals aren't anything great) they still made them worse as DVDs.  They took the actors faces and just made a "face collage" as done all the time.  Mr. Brooks is my main example.  Not only was it a good movie, the original poster was great and iconic!  Then the movie wasn't a hit so they needed to "re-brand" the cover, so they changed it up completely for the DVD.  Instead of using the original, they took some random Costner pic and turned it into a bad C-grade horror movie DVD cover!  Not only does this look terrible, but the 're-branding' is a terrible idea.  Yee-gads. (as always, click to enlarge)

While I could go through hundreds and hundreds of examples, below are two recent examples, both similar in style and destruction.

While the original and DVD look similar, I don't know why they changed it.  The background is now 100% white and the actors and posing separate from each other.  Instead of the group bonding it's now giving off the vibe as "yeah, look at me, I'm adam sandler!"  This is a similar take on just using peoples faces.  It's all marketing in their eyes - the bonding is too sappy and serious, but if you use a plain, boring pic of the actor, it's association.  I love adam sandler!  There he is!  OH, IM BUYING THIS MOVIE!  Not only is this a stupid method, but it makes the DVD look very amateurish.  It looks bad and is bad for so many reasons.  And why they did this red border?  Got me.

Just like with Funny People, CYRUS takes a group picture and turns it into something terrible.  Unlike Funny People, the original here was not a group starring at the camera - this is a great iconic image.  It's difficult to create a close-up of 2-3 people and make it iconic, but this one does it!  And what did they turn this poster into for the DVD?  First off, they want to capitalize on the JUNO font, as so many movies do, which is sick.  Second, they changed the photo!  WHY?  They ruined it completely - such a simple original and they managed to change it completely. The actors are now lined up starring at the camera (now poorly photoshoped).  This looks like a bad high-school flyer and makes me sick just looking at it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ethics Training Certificate

Back in 2005-2005 I worked as a Graduate Hall Director for SIU-Carbondale and was required to take a state ethics training course online. At the time it was pretty ridiculous and looking at the certification now makes it just a little bit more humorous. (click to enlarge)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Publishing a book

If you told me ten year ago (Hell, let's say 5) years ago that I would be publishing a book I would probably not believe you. After not successfully landing a valuable entry level job in the entertainment industry I decided to focus on my writing. After all, I had a lot of it, enough to publish a collection of short stories involving time travel! This is a milestone week. This is the week I am sending my book to a printer t print off 3,000 copies of my book. Sometime in September I will receive these books at my house in LA and my marketing process for both my book and newly established business begins.

Follow my publishing adventures on my publishing blog HERE.
Visit my books website here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


After a mere week (maybe 2?) a passion flower has risen. Seeing how I planted a variety of seeds, I have no idea which breed this is. Either way, it's a success to see this so soon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fruit and Veggies!

My Australian Finger Lime tree is doing great work. I bought this about a year ago online and it's just now starting to take off. When it arrived in a large box, it had a depleted root structure from shipping restrictions and I immediately placed it in a large planter. A single finger lime began growing a month ago, now the size of a large caterpillar, but now there are dozens of tiny fingerlimes! Grow my little ones!

Lastly, it was sad to cut down my first veggie plant that I grew from seeds in 2007. It survived a few winters and had quite a thick, wood-like trunk. Recently, some of it's leaves were turning into chalk-like leaf. I began cutting those leaves off but it didn't help. Soon, the entire plant was infected and it had to go. A week later, today, I notice that there are new branches blooming. Will this turn into something? I can only hope.

The Passion Flower Experiment

I love to grow exotic foods and plants since I live in Los Angeles and have the weather to support any crazy seeds I buy online. I recently bought several different varieties of passion flowers (seeds, of course).

I first came across the passion flower at the Getty center here in Los Angeles. There are more varieties than once can count, but not only are they a fascinating plant, they come in a large variety of vines. (See more at WIKIPEDIA)

The instructions that came with the seeds were a little discouraging. Most stated that the seeds needed to be brushes gently with sandpaper, soaked in warm water for a few days (changing the water every 12 hours) and then placed in soil (also too, warm if possible) and covered in plastic wrap...for 30 to 50 days!

How was I going to do this? And then it struck me. We have an antique stove that keeps quite warm from the pilot light. We dry large pots/pans on this, leaving our dishes dry within an hour. Why not create my own mini greenhouse for passion flower seeds?

-soak seeds as needed
-cut small plastic drinking cups into small planters (cut holes in bottom for draining)
-plant seeds
-wrap toaster oven try filled with planters with a large ziplock freezer bag (slightly open)
-place on warm stovetop and water as needed.

I am on day 5 and nothing yet, but as long as I get a few of these to sprout (let's say, in less than 30 days?) I'll be happy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lazy, Lazy Man

Chicago didn't have these sign people when I lived there through 2004. LA has an entire breed of sign guys, some with twists, spins, and tosses so great, so often don't even know what they are holding. This guy, on the other hand is an enigma. Well dressed but lacking any motivation, enthusiasm, or understanding that he is giggling the sign upside down.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grilled Cheese à la David

In Lieu of grilled cheese month, my fiance and I have had some ups and downs (grilled cheese speaking, that is). With the last event a bust (see past post) I had a fun thought. Why don't we each make our own unique grilled cheese sandwich? Not that we need to compete for the better grilled cheese master hat in the house, where the loser will be taunted and booed until my throat is sore - it seemed like a fun way to end our short adventure of grilled cheese goodness. (That was a simpsons quote if you didn't catch it).

I wanted something simple yet totally, not simple. An onion grilled cheese. Simple. BUT, with homemade challah bread, homemade ketchup, and three different cheeses. YES! First step was making the challah. I've been making this same loaf for years and knew what needed to be done, but instead of making a braid, I would need to make a loaf. It turned out pretty good - except it's a fragile bread (at least the recipe I make is - good thing I sliced the bread at 1/2" - as thick as anyone will recommend for grilled cheese).

To make my homemade ketchup, I wanted to make it even more unique. I used organic tomatoes with an heirloom tomato. And best of all, the heirloom tomato was grown outside (so it's truly homemade). I've made my own sauce before, so I figured to make my own ketchup I would just need to add more sugar with a touch of vinegar. It was a home run except that it could have been a little thicker - no problem though. As much as I like to lather my condiments, this was probably a good touch to make a taste of rather than a dollop.

Then came the onions - I used both sweet onions and green onions (white part only). These were sliced finely and sauteed in butter. BUT - not just any butter, homemade garlic butter (freshly pressed garlic sauteed in butter). Once the onions were done it was time to get down to business. I took out my three cheeses: goat, cheddar and muenster. Before I went to town, I slightly buttered the bread and cooked THE INSIDES of the sandwich. That's right - you read me right. I lightly grilled the inside of the sandwich first. So I then made the sandwich - two kinds of onions with three kinds of cheese. Low heat, covered, and melted to perfection.

How did it turn out? Pretty good! (Bonus - bright table mats for the childhood theme). Was it worth the long prep time to make such a simple sandwich? you bet.


I was excited to attend the grilled cheese international. A grilled cheese event? Seriously? AWESOME! Now, I didn't have a Homer Simpson style daydream expectation of what this would be like, so I was just excited for anything for the most part. We bought tickets in advance for $10 when we ate at the grilled cheese truck.(Not sure how much tickets at the door were). But anyways, tickets were only $10 so it's not like there was going to be stream trays of all you can eat goodies.

We arrived and it was mobbed. Any good event will be mobbed so I can't complain - but the fact it was mobbed on top of everything else was just poison icing on top of my stale, rotten cake. (Let's put some bleu cheese in there too). We luckily knew about a separate event at the international - judging! A few days prior, we filled out a form online and were immediately chosen as judges. This shot a mild flag in the back of my mind - anyone can do this? Why were we asked questions about fair juding if it didn't matter what we answered. Was there no limit to the number of judges? When we entered we headed straight for the judging quarters. With our print-out we got secret access to...another mobbed gathering of people! Again, the mob aspect was only a good sign, right? Well, maybe not since the more people there are...the less samples per person (if any).

The judging quarters consisted of a fence that separated the judges and the cooks. The cooks were only required to produce 10 sandwiches A DAY. Since there were 4 or 5 events, this meant that each vendor only had to make 2 sandwiches every 2 hours, giving away 4 small pieces each time. Luckily, we walked in 10 minutes prior to a cook-off. AWESOME! We waited and waited and waited. Nothing happened. By the look of the crowd around us, many were friends of the vendors they were standing by. This is interesting. A girl walked by with cheese samples - AWESOME - but then skipped me! She gave samples to her friends and then skipped me, giving the rest to her other friends. What the hell!? I decided this place was too mobbed and biased, so I had my fiance stay put while I voyaged to the far side where there were less people.

And less people indeed! The last vendor along the fence had far fewer people in line, so I waited there. 5 minutes later, the vendor was done cooking and handed two sandwiches to the first 2 people along the fence. Then they were done. The other 15 of us standing in company were sample-less. I walked away to a different vendor in hopes of food. What happened? I waited for the samples to come out, which were snatched by the people in front of me - once they received their sample, they stayed at the fence and ate their sample...they then snatched the next wave of samples that came by (since a different person brought out each new sample, who were they to know who has been waiting and who are ignorant fucks?)

What was this? Not that I expect a grilled cheese fantasia, but this was total anarchy. Each vendor could only give samples to 2-6 people every event and there was no order whatsoever. Hundreds of people for very few samples. The best part of it all was the voting. Because of the limited samples given, there was no consistency with the voting - your single (and non-balancing across other vendors) vote was compared again a different person's vote on a different sandwich. So this combined with the fact that a number of people were friends with the vendors, voting on their friend's food - how legit was this entire ordeal? I was now sample-less and lost from my fiance. All alone. Scared. I sat against a wall in the shade and waited for her to emerge with hopefully an empty plate from a sample of her own. Somehow, she was able to get a sample - amazing. I took a bite and it was a typical grilled cheese. Nothing special albeit tasty.

So we walked out of the judging area and into the international event. There were two sides, one side was a swarm of lines for food at a variety of food trucks. This was all well an good but these food trucks (while all amazing) are in the city every single night. Why would I be interested in paying $10 to attend an event to visit a food truck that is available anytime? And why would I want to stand in a line longer than any a normal visit? We walked to the other side to see what the last section of tents were: free samples! Thats right! Free samples! Stand in line for 15 minutes to get the following (only one per 15 minute line) 5oz cup of izzy soda, 5oz cup of vitamin water, small bag of plain potato chips, and last and maybe least, tillamook cheese cubes that you find at the grocery store.

Was this it? Was this seriously the grilled cheese international? A paid gathering of nothingness? Maybe if this was the first or second year I'd pass it off, but 8th? What a total bust. Put some order into the judging! Put a fee on judging or make a VIP judge something to pay for. At least a number cap. Jesus. Give out tickets for samples so it's not a corrupt mass of insanity. And the rest of the place, for all the regular folk? Hmmm - how could this be better? More tents? More companies? How about more interesting things - like a tent of grilled cheese books to buy! What about recipes and guest speakers? How about someone giving tips for making grilled cheese...while making their own sandwich!? Ever been to a TASTE OF [enter city here]? You buy tickets and use those tickets universally elsewhere at the event. Turn this into SOMETHING instead of a mess of lines of nothingness.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Behold, a Finger Lime!

The best part about having a gardening niche while living in Los Angeles is that you can grow just about anything. Nursuries have an endless variety of crazy flowers, vines, fruits and veggies - sometimes things you have never heard of. Searching online several years ago, I discovered a plant called the Australian Finger Lime. (Picture above is not my tree).

The problem with this tree is that it's nearly impossible to find (yes, it's legal). I couldn't find seeds to grow myself and all companies that sold and shipped actual trees were international-until I found Four Winds. I bought a 2-3 year old tree and had it shipped to me in July, 2009, making this tree anywhere from 3-4 years old (Maybe more, who knows).

To my amazement yesterday, I found my first ever finger lime! It's hard to tell by this picture, but it's smaller than a quarter, so it has plenty of growing to do. I may have to wait until next season to have a variety of fruits to create a massive collection like the one displayed below, but it just means I need to have enough crazy fruits to occupy my time with.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Horrific Icons

With the release of google buzz, my email now has a new "buzz" link directly under my inbox link. Problem is, the buzz icon sits next to this link and is nearly identical to Apple's beach ball of death. Everytime I look at my inbox screen, my heart freezes, anticipating my computer to go into lockdown for a minute. Is this really something I want to see all day long?

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Numbers

For those of you unfamiliar with LOST this picture is just a lottery ticket. To those LOST fans out there, this is a stroke of genius. I'm sure I am not alone in this adventure throughout the last season. And I am willingly (free will) only participating in one drawing each week, verse the 4 available through both Mega Millions and Powerball. As much as I want to play the numbers as much as possible while LOST is still on the air, it's a bit much, even for me. So I chose the Mega Millions because Hurley won the "Mega Lotto" and it is also drawn on a Tuesday night, same night as all new episodes of LOST. So far, after one drawing I have won $0. Fear not, I have several weeks ahead of me to bring in my fame, fortune, and good luck. Let's just hope the numbers don't win on a Friday night, or worse, the Powerball.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Water Water Everywhere

Water is a serious problem in LA yet most people don't care to conserve it or mind wasting it. Like this morning, it was raining and my neighbor's property was in the midst of watering the lawn. Seriously? It's such a waste to have a grass lawn in this city, but it's even worse to be wasting water like this. Broken sprinkler heads are everywhere, pouring water into the streets and sidewalks constantly. Grass lawns are plentiful and are constantly being watered, everyday and during the rain. If Los Angeles wants to make both a green change and some heafty pocket cash, they should fine these bastards. Make the world a better place.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Worst Trailer Ever

WOW! I've seen some bad trailers, but this one I can easily say may just be THE WORST! Not to say the movie will be terrible, but more often than not, a terrible trailer leads to well, less than admirable movies.

If you haven't seen this trailer, you really should check it out along with the TV spots. Both give away all major aspects of the film. Yes, the TV spots! In 30 seconds it gives you the begnning, middle, second middle, and twist ath the end! So aside from all plots being given away, ruining any means to not know the plot before it actually happens on screen (as if you wouldn't be able to predict it), everything has been done before, and this is coming from someone who avoids romantic comedies. So again, this movie may be amazing. It may just be the next big thing. Amy Adams is a great talent. But who allows trailers this terrible to be shown to destroy a movie, let alone make them?

My Brilliant Neighbors

A few days ago an xmas tree appeared on the front curb to the building next to me. What made it funnier than the fact it was covered in canned snow was the trail of it that lead to the tree from the front door. What are they going to do with this tree? I thought. This morning my question was answered.

Really? I will be curious to know if this tree will be in the same position when I return home today. If I had a tree and needed to get rid of it, I would take 10 minutes out of my busy schedule to saw it into a few pieces and put it in the green compost cointainer that picks up the same day, but what do I know.