April 30, 2013
Salsa Blast This Saturday!
It's almost upon us! Saturday, May 5, on Pierson Boulevard between Palm and Cactus in Desert Hot Springs. Spicy food and hot music. The music is to be provided by artists who have interesting names: The Epoch Momentous!, Machin, Thoughts Contained, Soul Opus, Mack, Felix Nobody, Notepad [no longer a Microsoft product, I guess], "Sizzle" [their quotes] who are connected with the Boys & Girls Club, DJ Latin Kweenz [who are so retro you can find them on MySpace], and what kind of Salsa Blast would it be without Mariachi Serenata Mexicana?! If I have mangled any of those names, blame the graphics designer.
Prizes will be awarded for best hot, medium, mild, red, green, and fruit/specialty salsa. In addition there will be a People's Choice (please vote for your favorite grandma in Desert Hot Springs) and a judge's choice.
If none of that brings you to the Blast, how about this: Dean Gray will be the man in the dunk tank. He invites everyone to come dunk him. He says that those who want to remain anonymous can put paper bags over their heads. And what will the happy dunkers be throwing? I don't know, but Dot Reed will be around, so I'm sure there will be no stones.
One assumes that one must pay to get a throw at the dunk tank and that money ought to be going to something worthy.
Have You Read Stand On Zanzibar?
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner was published in 1968 and won the Hugo Award. I read it half a gazillion years ago, forgetting most of the details. The setting of the novel was 2010 and now we are able to marvel at Brunner's amazingly accurate predictive capability which, it is now obvious, was far beyond that of any other science fiction author.
Successful Virgin Galactic Test
Carried aloft from Mojave yesterday by WhiteKnightTwo, SpaceShipTwo was released at an altitude of 14 km. It fired its rocket engines, went supersonic and climbed another 3 kilometers, before safely returning to earth. Future passenger flights can be bought for $200,000; but the craft is intended to go only to 100 km, about 62 miles, which is defined as the border of space. Me, if I was spending a big pile of dough and endangering my life, I'd want to be able to say I really went into space, not just to the edge of it, like this was 1959 or sump'n. I'm saving my money for the half-million dollar orbital journey that I'm sure is coming just a year or two down the road.
Video Of 747 Crash At Bagram
It Was 20 Years Ago Today...
...that the first website in the newly public World Wide Web was published. And to mark that anniversary CERN has brought it back at its original address: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html
Frank Sinatra's Mountain Residence On The Market
I did not know that Frank Sinatra also had a house up along highway 74, south of Palm Desert. But he did, and here it is:
April 29, 2013
Out For Less Than 24 Hours...
...and already invited to be Grand Marshall of the Boston Pride parade. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail.
How Much Fun Is It To Live In Kansas City?
Having been born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, I know a number of people who really, really love the city. To each his own. But then I see something like this and I am reassured that the only reason to live in Kansas City would be the anticipation of getting Google Fiber. This past Saturday 2,000 people lined up to see the new penguin exhibit building at the Kansas City Zoo. There are no penguins. There won't be until October. Docents walked through the crowd displaying posters of penguins. The structure will be called the Helzberg Penguin Plaza. On the chance that most of the interest was because they had retained a famous architect I did a little digging to find out that the architect is Lorie Doolittle-Bowman of Bowman Bowman Novick, Inc. She is a lifelong resident of Kansas City. Mmmkay.
Here's a video about the Herzberg Penguin Plaza. A 4-minute video that includes a full minute of nothing but title sequences! Follow my link and you'll skip over that intro. Please notice the floor to ceiling circular aquarium that is strikingly similar to the one in front of the doors of Lulu in Palm Springs. Maybe they should include a Kansas City bistro.
Deep Creek to Bowen Ranch, alternative video
Not nearly long enough for Bolero, but this is the complete trail, while my previous version included only some segments.
You will see that some asshole(s) have come along and stupidly graffitied the boulders along the way again. There are only two places where the trail would be ambiguous to a first time hiker. At one point, the Forest Service signs are sufficient to find your way. At the other point (just above the hot springs) there has never been any kind of marker.
April 28, 2013
Joshua Tree 360
A Hike In Tahquitz Canyon
April 27, 2013
At Jumbo Rocks
Bright daylight, but the breeze knocked the camera off the boulder once causing an unsightly imperfection. A solution to this problem is in the works.
Pink Moon Over Jumbo Rocks
I was camping with Great Outdoors at Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park this week. Here's a timelapse of moonrise/sunset on Thursday night, the night of the pink moon. Of course I was tempted to use an $800 drone copter to shoot this, but opted for the $6 IKEA egg timer instead. The egg timer has two modes: (1) rotating counter-clockwise and (2) standing still. (This is not to mention mode 1A which is ringing the bell when it's done.)
In the process I learned that the GoPro Hero2 simply does not have a long enough shutter time to allow it to get an image of boulders flooded with brilliant moonlight. You may detect a bit of a jump late in the video. That's where I eliminated 10 or 15 seconds of just staring at a black screen which should have been moonlighted boulders.
Whether it's the durability of a GoPro's waterproof case or of the SD card we can't really say. Of course, any sensible fishing person would have used a waterproof case while leaping along the jagged coastal rocks. But a sensible person would have also adjusted the headband and shot more than 20 seconds of successful video:
Drones With GoPros
The photographer says this is the first video he shot with his GoPro from his copter. I'm pretty sure it's an example of where not to do your first video - a dense housing development with lots of trees and lots of second story windows that can be peeped into. This is the drone he used - $480 at Amazon but it has been surpassed by a newer model that is much more expensive.
Second video is much more pleasant to look at. The photographer used software stabilization in editing. This photographer used the Phantom Quadcopter which B&H has packaged together with a GoPro Hero3 Black Edition for $1,044.95.
This is how young women used to enjoy themselves back when America was a free country. They'd grab their shotguns, go shoot up some juicy young pigeons and then make an ice cream vendor barbecue the birds for them. Then WW2 came along.
Actually, this is from a story about the world's largest pigeon farm on KCET.
The Bill Of Rights As Deconstructed By Fox News
Turns out there's only one amendment in the Bill Of Rights that actually has to be respected. But you knew that already, didn't you?
Coachella + GoPro; What More Could You Want?
BTW, this level of professional editing does not come pre-installed inside the tiny $400 camera.
April 23, 2013
Sins Of The Fleshapoids
I think this got in my Netflix queue because John Waters recommended it. It looks like it would be ideal for a party. I guess I could warn Spoiler Alert but I think it's more like I'm going to save you 43 minutes of wasted life.
- It starts with grating music and credits that go on for a minute and 50 seconds, even though there are only 6 people listed.
- 1:55 The narrator tells us it's a million years in the future. We see a close up of a soft, heavily made up woman wearing Mardi Gras beads.
- 2:10 She takes a bite of apple, which must be a really tough apple because she has to jerk it to get the bite free of the fruit. She is bored. A voice balloon says "Fleshapoids!" It seems they shot with silent film and then added voiceover and music. She claps like a child watching a game on TV. She stands in a way that suggests she has lower back problems.
- 2:45 The narrator tells us Fleshapoids are mechanical men who are servants of the human race and obey every command. A pair of lumbering oafs appear in the scene. Our lady bats her eyes in a seductive manner. Considering the obvious low budget, the viewer expects some cheezy erotic events pretty quick.
- 3:05 Now in a clearer shot we can see that one of the Fleshapoids is wearing a helmet that looks like a sort of coal scuttle. He's soft and overweight, developing man boobs. He leans crookedly against the wall as though he has some muscular or neurological malady. Our lady sets herself down in a manner that was probably considered sexy in 1910. This film was made in 1965. The Fleshapoid in the helmet moves jerkily, not like a machine, but like he's listening to some internal dubstep music. He pours wine for the lady.
- 3:18 The narrator explains the Fleshapoids are robots. He describes them as "perfect mechanical slaves."
- 3:47 Now we see the other Fleshapoid who looks like a goatherder from central Asia who hasn't shaved in a week and is maybe a little drunk. He holds a tray of plastic fruit.
- 4:05 Close up of the helmeted Fleshapoid who is really unattractive. The helmet and the chubbiness gives him a resemblance to Il Duce. Close up of the goatherder and he appears to be asleep on his feet. Too much vodka, maybe.
- 4:46 Our lady goes back to work on that apple.
- 5:05 The narrator tells us humans live in a true paradise, as the camera pans across a display of 20th century plastic fruit: grapes, plums, oranges, peaches, bananas and a fish! It's kind of brown, so maybe it's smoked. But it's a whole fish.
- 5:23 Now we see a good looking young man eating a soft-serve ice cream cone. He's probably human, not Fleshapoid, because he's good looking and moves normally. He admires a pile of plastic fruit very much like the lady's pile of plastic fruit. In fact, I'm sure it's the very same pile. They didn't even bother to re-arrange it between shots. And there's the fish!
- 6:09 Young man surveys his plastic fruit and selects something. The camera goes in closer and it's a Clark bar! Really! A Clark bar in a wrapper that clearly says "Clark." He takes off the wrapper and begins to eat it.
- 6:35 The camera pulls back a bit. He seems to be wearing a blue loin cloth made of terrycloth. But then he rolls on his side and we see he's bare butt.
- 6:45 A being comes and sits on the young man's bed. Human or Fleshapoid, we don't know. Young man rolls on his belly so we can see his naked ass. Well, well! Camera moves in closer on the young man so we no longer see his butt. Shadows indicate that the other being is moving around. Are we about to see cheezy gay sex? Hard to say. The other being reaches forward and does something with his hands to the back of the young man. Maybe this is supposed to be massage, but it's completely in shadow and blocked by a big fat blue candle in the foreground, so we can't tell what's really happening. After about 5 seconds of something done with less effort than applying sunblock, our young man rolls over...and opens a bag of Wise potato chips! Honest, visible trademark and everything. The other being pulls back a bit and holds its hands in a claw like position. It's wearing a babushka and reminds me of the old women who [used to?] monitor the escalators for Moscow subways. Young man rolls back onto his belly and the massage resumes - yes, it's clearly massage in a better light now. Really poor massage.
- 7:46 We now see a young woman who is wearing a giant paper leaf to cover her bare butt. She swings around and we see another paper leaf covering her frontside plus two giant flower blooms made of construction paper applied to her breasts like huge pasties.
- 8:36 The narrator tells us there are no more wars. No weapons are being created. As we go back to watch the young man eat potato chips the narrator tells us that the first nuclear war ruined the earth for 70 years - 70 whole years. Continents disappeared. Forests were "reduced to naked twigs." On screen we see the massaging Fleshapoid presenting the young man with a platter of Mardi Gras beads. The narrator tells us rivers turned to poison. "Birds ceased to play in the sky." As the young man admires the Mardi Gras beads the massaging Fleshapoid turns toward the camera and we see he has a hairy chest.
- 9:16 Narrator: "The humans have returned to being children of nature, to do nothing to pump the mind with knowledge, but to pump their mouths with nature's fruit and to indulge in the fulfillment of the senses." (When are we gonna get to the cheezy sex?) The young man really likes the Mardi Gras beads.
- 10:42 The young woman with the paper flower pasties has been on screen for a while doing nothing, but now begins to stretch and wiggle her body as though to test the glue on her costume pieces. Nothing falls off.
- 11:05 We're back to the first woman, the one with the two oafs. She is dancing to some music in her own head. The goatherder lifts up his tray of plastic fruit and pours it all over her. Yes, whole plastic fruit. No syrup, no chocolate. Totally clean. We watch it bounce on her red shag carpeting. Goatherder and Il Duce pick up a small stool that either one of them could have easily picked up alone. They bring it over to the lady so she can stand on top of it and undress. But our two oafs hold a red cloth up in front of the camera to obscure the view. Even so, I'm sure this would have been banned in Kansas in 1965.
- 12:53 The Il Duce Fleshapoid reaches down into his costume and pulls some warm, greasy, sweaty Mardi Gras beads out from somewhere below. He gives them to the lady. The narrator tells us that Fleshapoids have been in existence for 20,000 years. He goes on to explain that while the Fleshapoids outnumbered the surviving humans after the war "a strange thing happened." Meanwhile, goatherder is staring at Il Duce with what seems to be affection. The narrator explains that some of the Fleshapoids developed senses. "They began to react to evolution and environment just as the minute organisms did a billion years ago."
- 13:56 We get a good view of Il Duce's saggy left tit as the narrator identifies him as Zar, although it sounds more like Zaaaarrrrrrr. And we see the back of Zar's helmet for the first time. There are two bugeye lenses on the back. I'm sure this "helmet" was originally used as a headpiece for some alien in another film and Zar is simply wearing it backwards.
- Zar picks up a mirror as the narrator explains he didn't want to obey humans. As he walks in his jerky stiff way with the mirror it reminds me of the way Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon moved in drag in Some Like It Hot - IOW, like a man trying to walk like a woman. The narrator warns us that today is the day the Fleshapoids will sin.
- 15:05 Our lady catches Zar admiring himself in the mirror. She saunters up like Mae West, although she doesn't have the body for it. Zar sees her, gets up and walks behind her. Now the too of them are standing back to back and our lady is making weird, indecipherable faces into the camera.
- After about 15 seconds of that, she whips around to face Zar's back and squints like he's really hard to see two feet away. She orders him to turn around (in a voice balloon). He cringes as though she had just said "No more wire hangers!" But he doesn't turn around. Our lady moves around in front of him, still making weird faces and says "Obey me, or I'll wet you and make you RUST!!" At that moment he does seem to have the the Tin Man's eyes. Our lady holds up a nice water pitcher to pour on him and he pulls away like the Scarecrow from flame. Zar grabs the pitcher and begins to overpower the lady. He becomes a very angry Mussolini and grabs her wrists. He forces her to the floor. She lifts the knee of one bare leg. (Are we finally going to get some cheezy sex?) Zar grabs her garment. She rises and pulls away, so the lower half of whatever she is wearing is torn away...but she's wearing some kind of undergarment. She goes for the pitcher again, but Zar stops her. In the midst of the struggle his mouth begins flopping away like a fish out of water. He bashes her on the head and she falls.
- 18:15 Zar now walks around in a jerky sort of Monty Python way, finally mincing out of the scene.
- 18:40 We see a cartoon drawing of what looks like a space ship with castle turrets. Now it sounds like the narrator is calling the Mussolini Fleshapoid "Xar," like "ksar," not "zar." In any case, Xar wanted to be with his loved one, a Fleshapoid called Melenka. She feels the same for Xar. She works for Prince Gianbeno which is pronounced like "Giant Beano" only without the "T." Gianbeno's castle is "just behind the marshes." Xar stares at the cartoon castle through the trees.
- 19:00 We see Prince Gianbeno who looks like George Hamilton dressed as Yul Brynner in drag. He is obviously a bitchy screaming queen as he sits on his throne smoking a cigarette while wearing black leather gloves - and these are not trim, sexy black leather gloves, but just some cheap winter gloves, probably from Montgomery Ward. [Wow! Montgomery Ward still exists! I thought they had disappeared decades ago.] He calls for Melenka who comes wearing a blue flapper dress and matching feather boa.
- 19:35 Gianbeno asks if dinner is ready. Malenkena shows him an arrangement of what seems to be plastic clementines. Gianbeno knocks them out of her hand and kicks her to the floor for her lack of respect, so maybe he's not such a bad guy. Then he talks and talks and talks, but the filmmakers gave him no voice balloons. Malenkena brings him a wheelchair, which he walks to.
- 19:55 The narrator tells us Gianbeno's "corrupted, spoiled soul permeated the castle except upstairs in the tower where his wife Vivianna entertained her secret lover."
- 20:15 We see hands playing a stringed instrument which I believe is a kantele. The camera pans up to show us a middle aged man faintly resembling Karl Malden, but not as cute. Based on his general unattractiveness I'd guess he's a Fleshapoid. Then we see a young man and woman making out in a bed behind a red gauze screen. Even through the screen we can see the young woman, presumably Vivianna, has HUGE fake eyelashes on. The young man wearing a loincloth moves the gauze so we can see him clearly, but not Vivianna - as if that would advance his Hollywood career. Now we see that Karl Malden is stiffly playing the kantele for the young lovers...and staring at them.
- 21:08 Another shot of the young couple in bed obscured by a house cat walking in front of the camera. This does not look planned.
- 21:20 Karl Malden pours a tray of plastic fruit on the young lovers, but they are not into the particular fetish and react with some disgust. Or at least Vivianna does. Her boyfriend couldn't care one way or the other. Vivianna throws an apple at Karl Malden who catches it in his mouth. She laughs and all seems to be well again. We get a good clear shot of the young couple as Vivianna strokes the man's chest and bats her 2-inch eyelashes. The man begins to admire some piece of Crackerjack jewelry worn by Vivianna. It's even cheaper looking than Mardi Gras beads, so she gives it to him.
- 22:05 The narrator explains that Vivianna is living off her husband's money. Well, what else do you do when you're a princess? Get a job as a car hop? "She now had everything. For Vivianna too had found love. Together with Ernie they vowed to share eternity together." Yes, our handsome young loin-clothed lover a million years in the future is called "Ernie."
- 23:20 Finally, it looks like some cheezy sex is happening, but there are still clothes, lots of fabrics in the way, and too many shadows.
- After 15 seconds of that Vivianna announces she must join her husband for dinner and leaves the boudoir. Ernie doesn't seem to care one way or the other. Vivianna calls for a Fleshapoid and instructs him to "Bathe and feed my lover."
- 24:00 We see Prince Gianbeno at the dinner table fingering his dagger. Malenka serves something like sauerkraut, which the Prince can't quite get in his mouth, dropping it in his lap. He picks it up and flings it at Malenka and moves his lips, but once again he gets no voice balloon. Vivianna arrives and the two of them sneer as they each address the other as "my beloved." Gianbeno tells Vivianna to "put out the candle" which is on the table between them, so ouf course Vivianna throws a glass of water on it, hitting Gianbeno with most of the water. He takes it in stride, like a good cuckold. Vivianna bats her eyelashes, one of which seems to be falling askew.
- 25:15 Meanwhile, Xar is still outside staring at the castle from the marsh. He climbs through a window into the castle. The window, BTW, is a standard sash window that needs a bit of scraping and fresh paint. He moves through the castle with his head bobbing like a chicken. We see Malenka who moves smoothly as she climbs the stairs to meet him. No wonder he's in love with her.
- 26:27 We see Vivianna eating dinner. It seems the custom is to scoop up some food on your fork and then use your fingers to pick bits of food off the fork and put them in your mouth. Gianbeno simply stares as he moves his fork around on an empty plate.
- 26:47 Meanwhile, Malenka sits herself down stiffly on an ornate wooden seat, throws her head back and closes her eyes like a teenage virgin waiting for her man to take her. Xar kneels in front of her, moving stiffly as though he hasn't a clue what comes next. He says "We are Robots....yet we are in Love." She opens her eyes and stares upward saying "Let us now make love," despite the fact that her mouth flapped enough to have recited the entire Gettysburg Address. They reach their hands toward each other until literal sparks fly. Then they grab each other's hand and electricity flows.
- 27:41 Back to Vivianna's young lover, Ernie, who is singing in the bathtub while soaping his hairy self.
- 27:50 Back to Vivianna at the dinner table. An off screen fan has been turned on and Vivianna can hardly open her eyes with those giant eyelashes.
- 28:00 Ernie in the bath again. The camera pulls back to show us the Fleshapoid who is pouring water. But in addition to him we see a very hairy, hot man shaving outside the bathtub? Who is he? We've never seen him before, but Vivianna's young lover pulls back the red gauze to get a better look.
- 28:50 More bathtub scene. Maybe the hot hairy guy is also a Fleshapoid. He and the other Fleshapoid are scrubbing Ernie, and they are doing it in a very effective, fluid manner, totally unlike klutzy Xar. Ernie is smiling.
- Meanwhile Vivianna has been wandering in an underlighted room looking for that damn fan, but it keeps blowing gauzy fabrics into her face and she seems to be getting nowhere.
- 29:30 One of the Fleshapoids admires Ernie's Crackerjack jewelry that Vivianna gave him. Ernie tells the Fleshapoid that it came from a store on Rodeo Drive and cost at least $50,000 (I had to read his lips for that part).
- Vivianna gives up on the fan and goes back to the dinner table. Gianbeno asks her "Where is your necklace," referring to the Crackerjack jewelry. She says she left it upstairs. Gianbeno rises and says he will get it for her, but Vivanna says not to go upstairs, but he goes gallivanting up the stairway until Vivanna catches him and throws him down the stairs.
- 31:05 Vivianna runs to Ernie who is now back in the bedroom, all dry, in his loincloth. She orders him to dress, saying they must run away. She hands him a football helmet and, I swear, some football pants (1960s style, of course). She helps him lace up the front of his football pants. This might be the most erotic point in the film. OMG, he's actually wearing shoulder pads too! Vivianna pulls a red cocktail dress on over her black cocktail dress, which was a white wedding dress in earlier shots. Ernie has put on the jersey and he is number 26. Vivianna wastes time trying to put his wreath of flowers on his helmet without any Velcro. They discover they can't kiss through the face guard, frustrating Vivianna nearly to tears. She pulls on a red riding hood over her red cocktail dress.
- 32:30 Ernie orders Vivianna to take her jewels. She picks up her jewel box and spills the jewels out o the parquet floor. Many of them break because they are just Christmas ornaments (back in the 1960s Christmas tree ornaments were breakable - those were tough times). Ernie goes down on his knees to scrape up the jewels and his helmet falls off.
- 33:30 After standing and just watching Ernie do all the work, Vivianna asks "Who do you love?,.. me or my jewels?" "Both!" he answers. Smart boy. He pretends to push her away. She pretends to slap him. He pretends to be hurt. She pulls a big dagger from between her breasts. I've no idea how that got there! She points the dagger at her own heart, saying "If you leave me...I'll kill myself." A very odd thing to say, since he had given no indication of leaving her. But Ernie asks "Is that a Promise." Maybe not such a smart boy. He turns to leave and she...well, you know women never keep that sort of promise. She comes after him, dagger raised, and plunges it right through his number 26. Ernie sort of lies down on the floor. I think that was supposed to be his death scene.
- 35:30 Meanwhile Xar and Malenka are still holding hands and making sparks fly. Gianbeno witnesses this. "It's against nature!" He expresses his concern about the future of the human race. He pulls a strap of Malenka's flapper dress off her left shoulder, revealing a bra-like construction of galvanized steel and duct tape with some sort of 1960s electronic device attached to the nipple area. Attached to that is a sensor for a cooking thermometer. Xar gets up and moves like a jerk, managing to hit Gianbeno, knocking him down. Xar adjusts Malenka's left nipple to 400° and re-attaches the temperature sensor.
- 38:20 Xar grabs Gianbeno's wrist. Gianbeno makes weird faces while Xar announces "I'm negative." Wow, this is really way ahead of its time! Malenka says "I'm positive." Bet you didn't see that coming! She grabs his other wrist and Gianbeno lights up like a fourth of July sparkler.
- 38:53 The narrator announces the prince is dead. Malenka stares at his bare, smoking skull and says "S-s-something is wrong? 'gasp'." She falls to the floor and begins to writhe. A mixture of voices are dubbed in that sound like the moaning of cheezy sex and a baby crying. Definitely unpleasant. This goes on and on with Xar flitting about unhelpfully.
- 40:57 Is this rolling around and moaning ever going to end? She's grabbing her belly, and I do not want to see her give birth to a car battery or a transistor radio.
- 41:44 It looks like it's over and she's all smiles! But then we see a harmonica-playing toy robot walk from between her legs. The two parents smile at it adoringly. Meanwhile in the background we can still see the flames where the prince's body is burning.
- 42:55 Uplifting music as the narrator tells us that the machines have found love where humans had failed.
- 43:00 "The End."
See, in this story the horrible perversion of robot love is justified because it can produce viable offspring from sexual intercourse. I think this is some kind of pro-Prop 8 propaganda.