April 10, 2007
THE “CULTURAL BLENDER” INTERNET MOVIE: In the last “News and Notes” column, written on March 6th, I first “announced” my intentions to create a “Cultural Blender” movie for the website. During the past month, I have been spending most of my “free” time constructing the animated video with my latest video editing software, Sony Vegas Movie Studio+ DVD, a program which I recommend highly. In the past, I’ve had to think of ways to creatively use the fades, wipes, transitions, and effects that were “included” with other software such as Pinnacle Studio. With Vegas, I visualize what effects I want to show in the video, and then set about tyring to find a way to create them using the infinitely editable effects and transitions included with the Sony software. I’m pleasantly surprised by the results, and I’m fairly close to “premiering” the video on Xanga and YouTube. I’ve shown the five minutes I’ve finished so far to two of my friends, (one is a graphic artist) and both have given me positive reinforcement. I am quite satisfied with most of what I have online at this time, but the new “Cultural Blender” is my “masterpiece” so far. I am trying to include as many “segments” featuring sound and images of the “icons” chosen for the Blender in the video as possible. I will probably have to “split” the video into separate parts. That way I can “present” the first six or seven minute video while constructing the remaining footage into another part. As I’ve been regularly announcing on this blog, I am also redesigning the website at the same time, and I’m adding composite images to the “pages” I’m creating for each “icon” in the blender. Last week I created the “Marilyn Monroe” page. Icons featured in the video so far are (in order of appearance) Shirley Temple, Coca Cola, Napster, John Wayne, Jesus Christ, Elvis, John F. Kennedy, Neil Armstrong on the moon, Star Trek, Howdy Doody, The Lone Ranger, Davy Crockett, Marilyn Monroe, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Planned segments for which I already have images, video, and sound footage are cigarette advertisements, the smiley face, Richard Nixon, and the Ford Mustang. The segment for Coca Cola, which I created this past Saturday, is quite elaborate, and I actually had to “edit” it down from over a minute to about 40 seconds. I “collected” a lot of great high quality images from the web, including old coca cola advertisements which I tweaked with my image editor to make them more “vibrant”. I might “spin off” a separate Coca Cola video (this is one of the “advertising icons” and I’m not getting paid by the Coca Cola Company.) Looking for old ads on YouTube I found a contest that Coca Cola was sponsoring asking YouTubers to make their own ads. My footage isn’t an ‘ad’ per se but uses a lot of well known Coke imagery, including the polar bear and Santa Claus (who also will have his own animated segment.) As I’ve written in some of my Christmas pieces here on the blog, the image of Jolly Old Saint Nick we take for granted nowadays was originally ingrained in the public conciousness because of Coca Cola adverts.
I’m very close to “releasing” the video. I only hope I haven’t lost my complete Xanga readership by the time I do. I haven’t really been “blogging” at all. However I do try to visit the few who have been regularly commenting, even though my own entries have been very few and far between. When I’m in a creative mood, then everything stops except for the work at hand. Over one month already, and only five minutes of video. Animation is a very slow process.
EVICTION: I appealed to the humanity of the owner of our duplex. It was a week after the eviction notice was posted till I actually had some face time with him, and he emerged from his minivan with a smile and an outstretched hand. I told him I didn’t know why he wanted to shake my hand since he had just evicted me. We began what became a fairly long conversation. The upshot of which is that he “thought” I was going to move anyway, and he had prospective tenants already picked out for our house. I told him the only time I’d ever “planned ” on moving was in a year. He seemed disappointed, but he told me we can stay. Joel has to clean up the mess he lives in however, and when I told Joel, he actually started to clean up a bit this past weekend. The owner says he can’t get the complete property appraised properly until our house is in better shape. This is why he wants to do more “renovations”. I told him I’d help him to complete as many of these renovations as need to be done, and I would help clean up after my roomie a bit in order to maintain a better presentation to any future appraisers. The owner seemed pleased aobut this, and so for now I’m not worried about eviciton.
THE WHOLE TOOTH: Someday I’ll have to write a blog entry about my “dental history”. At the age of 53 (54 on Beltane, or May 1st) I still have most of my teeth. The bottom row of teeth in front are mine, however they are not “live” but were collected by my mother off the ground after they were knocked out during a car wreck I had at the age of 14. The were reinserted using root canal surgery, which was fairly new back in 1968. I’ve had oral surgery, numeous root canals, and two complete sets of braces by the time I graduated from high school. Suffice it to say, I stayed away from dentists most of my adult life, but I have had very few cavities. Two years ago one of my fillings fell out of a back molar, and I had to have the crown replaced, which cost me $750.00 dollars after insurance. I’ve had pain in an upper molar for quite a few years,on and off, and recently the pain was too much for me to bear. Two weeks ago, my dentist pulled the tooth, and I just got the sutures removed yesterday. There was damage to the root, which was causing the pain. You can’t see the “absence” of the tooth when I smile, and it’s in such a place that my tongue doesn’t automatically search for the hole, so I think I’ll wait a while before having anything done. (I can’t afford it anyway.) An implant is $3200.00 and a “permanent bridge” is $1600.00. My dentist tells me my teeth will “shift” eventually but I don’t have to make a decision to have anything done right away.
XANGA has some new features, since I last posted an entry. Latest is “themed pages” which is probably like “skins” which I don’t use anyway. I checked out the “beta” and the software indicated I couldn’t use it because of code already on my page. I always like to experiment with presentation and might tweak my Xanga so I can use the “themes”. Xanga seems to have been changing so much in the past year. The main page looks more like YouTube (which I’ve never liked) and “Featured Content” seems to have given way to “boosted” content and “most discussed” entries. I haven’t figured out if eprops even count for any of these new content modules. I don’t care about “Pulse” since I don’t have a cellphone, but I guess you can blog from your phone, using “txt msgng”. One is limited to the amount of words one can blog using the “pulse” and I can never be limited to the amount of words that “collide” on this blog. I already mentioned in an earlier entry that we can create or join more than 8 blogrings!
Well, I’m outta here for another week. Hopefully, next week I’ll be able to show you the new video!!!!! And it’s been forever since I’ve visited a lot of people on my sub list and on the Island, so I do hope to “get around” and read some entries in the Xangasphere. I was summoned for jury duty last week, but didn’t have to serve. So I actually started to read another book. It’s called “Judge and Jury” by thriller writer James Patterson. (an apt choice for jury duty, I thought) I was somewhat shocked to find a paperback cost me al most ten bucks. That used to be the price for hardcover books. Paperbacks were only a few dollars. Seems like everything is increasing in price except my paycheck.