September 13th, 2020

#7299: For no good reason, today's theme

"Danse Infernale", by Igor Stravinsky:

29 years ago, two friends and I decided to make a movie.

Captain Fantastic was meant to be an inversion of the 1960s Batman. He was rude, crude, vulgar, dishonest, conniving, thieving, and all around not a good guy. It was not meant to be a "good" movie, in the sense that it would be art for the ages. It was meant to be a low-budget comedy thing. It managed that.

After a hectic summer of videotaping when we could manage it, I was left with two videotapes full of raw footage. Because I was the one with two VCRs, the post-production work was left to me. The friend who owned the video camera loaned me his four-track recorder; that, coupled with my stereo and computer and a few other things, served to complete my editing suite. I picked the music, did the necessary sound effects that had been omitted in production, compiled all the footage, and ran off the master copy of the movie.

"Danse Infernale" became the theme song of the movie. Even now, I can't hear it without seeing the opening titles to it in my mind, done on a Commodore 64 computer.

One thing I would still like to do is to take the raw video (long since transferred to DVD-R--I did that in 2006) and edit it on the computer. For opening titles I would take the comic strips drawn by the guy who played the eponymous character in the movie, lay them out at random on a table, and do slow pans across the resulting collage, while "Danse Infernale" plays. Overlay credits on that.

There isn't much that can be done about the quality of the video. Taped on a VHS camcorder made in 1990, it's not even high band video (SVHS). And in the time that transpired between taping and conversion to digital media, of course there was some degradation.

The guy who owned the camera, he had originally thought to shoot the movie in chronological order and edit in the camera: if a take was bad, rewind and start over. That turned out to cause a bit of trouble, though: the first night's worth of filming had some issues with clipped dialogue and so forth. A camcorder that uses tape as its recording medium does not always start recording the instant you press the button, even if the tally light goes on.

Anyway, after the thing was done, no one seeemed to have much interest in it any longer. To this day I can still say that I am the person who has watched that movie the most...mainly because I saw it so many times while editing and copying and duplicating final versions for distribution. Everyone who wanted one got a copy; I'd wager they watched it once or twice and then forgot about it, leaving it to languish in a box somewhere, and eventually tossing the tape when they realized they no longer had a way to play it.

It has been, after all, 29 years since then.

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but it'll be the 30th anniversary of Captain Fantastic. In 1991 I wasn't thinking about 2021; I was thinking about the immediate future--next semester in college, next year, the next step.

I could not have imagined 2021 from where I stood then, not with any kind of accuracy. In 1991, cell phones were still ginormous bricks, not portable computers with touch screens. Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet. DVDs hadn't been invented yet and "on demand" video was a distant fantasy; you still went to Blockbuster and rented a videotape. You could get a laptop, but it weighed a good dozen pounds, and cost a fortune.

That was a time when you wore a pager if you were a person who needed to be in constant contact; the pager would go off and display a phone number, and you'd call the number from the nearest available telephone. Cellular service literally charged by the minute, and God help you if you were outside of your "home" service area, because roaming charges were $YEECH!

You could still find pay phones.

...and if you needed to look something up, you went to the encyclopedia. If you didn't have an encyclopedia, or if you needed more than what was there, you went to the library. I mean, you physically left your house and went to the library and looked up your subject in the card catalog and--

Google had not been invented yet. No one (but for a precious few of the initiated) used email. @ was still mainly used for pricing items and was falling into disuse. And forget #; that was used by (still new!) voicemail systems as a kind of enter key. Only UNIX gurus called that "hash".

Video was still analog, televisions were still glass bulbs, and 27" was a big screen. Projection TVs were bigger but cost enormously more than the glass bulbs did.

I could go on and on. Thirty years--it might as well be a different country, as they say.

In the 21st century I think Captain Fantastic is more important than ever. The one thing CF never was, was politically correct, not in the slightest way. Kind of ironic considering that 2/3 of the creative force behind the movie were left-wingers in every important respect.

In a world where black trans-lesbians are the only people allowed to be superheros, I think Captain Fantastic is the one we need most.

* * *

Being out of contact with the other parties, though, I cannot simply upload the thing to YouTube and let it go. "Cancel culture" being what it is, and this movie being what it is, who the hell knows what would happen? One person or another says something the slightest bit offensive to some useless snowflake out there, and suddenly his career is over. There is not (should not be) anything in the movie that would cause such. There are no racial epithets thrown around, no women are exposed, swearing is actually rather minimal, and it's obvious that the whole thing is meant to be purely ridiculous; but that doesn't stop the snowflakes from pitching a completely disproportionate bitch about whatever it is that "triggered" them.

Which is a shame, all told. I think it'd be good for a laugh.


A different friend borrowed a video camera and one of the resulting things was when he took covers of Rolling Stone and cut the mouths out of the people on them, and then said things. It was hilarious, to us (who were there) at least, and we could not watch the damned thing without laughing uproariously all over again. Even now, I'm remembering him with the Sting cover, projecting his front teeth through the cutout mouth and doing a hillbilly laugh, "Haw haw haw," and I'm literally laughing out loud at the memory of it.

But we showed this video to some folks at a party and no one laughed.

Ah, hell, I don't know. Is this long enough?

#7300: Sunday, and there's a strange light in the sky

First day in a week with a blue sky, and the sun is shining. It's cool, the air is dry, and it's quite a pleasant day.

Yesterday I ran a hose to the pool and stuck the drain fitting in. By about 7 PM it was nearly empty, so I folded it over to collect the water by the outlet and opened the plug on the inflatable support ring to let the air out. It should be just about ready to flip over and roll up.

I'm not sure what I want to do, exactly. My original thoughts had been to get rid of it. It cost us $160 in 2018, which works out to $80 a year for it. It's got at least one hole in it (which I patched) and the bottom of the pool has faded due to chlorine bleaching and sunlight. The outside bottom is covered with dirt and sand which has been pressed into the vinyl by the weight of 3,000 gallons of water.


I could get the dirt off with the pressure washer. We could then fold it up neatly and put it away, and reuse it next year.

On the other hand? April of next year, we're going to prepare a site for a pool. My initial thoughts are just to make a kind of sandbox, such that there is a level sand surface on which to put the pool; but then I think that if I'm going that far, it's not much farther to put brick atop the sand, and have a nice patio surface. Laying the bricks atop the sand is actually easier than everything up to that point, believe it or not; if you have a nice flat, level sand surface, then you can lay bricks atop it and compact it with a plate compactor and have a friggin' patio.

YouTube video showing how to do it.

...and it'd be a shame to put a faded old pool atop a new brick patio.

Best part? The grass is already gone from most of the area, because the pool sat there. Just need to skim off the top 3" of topsoil so we can lay down the base and the sand etc. It's going to be a lot of work, but like I said, laying the brick is a minor fraction of the total effort required.


* * *

I originally had a couple of tabs open, and was going to comment, but upon further reflection I decided not to.

* * *

So, I'm hearing tell that SpaceX plans to fly a Starship (SN-7, or maybe SN-8) to 60,000 feet.

I didn't call the hop of SN-5 "unprecedented" or even groundbreaking for the simple reason that DC-X did it first, to 10,000 feet.

My commentary on the SN-5 flight merely said:
Going 500 feet in the air, going sideways a similar distance, then landing itself on a bunch of tiny little landing struts, is a tiny little hop compared with what its eventual mission is (going to Mars) but how many other rocket companies do you know of that are building rockets out of stainless steel and then flying them?
Although I seem to have left out the fact that this was a privately-owned prototype and was not finanaced with government money.

60,000 feet is six times the maximum altitude of DC-X's forays. It's a significant step forward.

And DC-X was made out of exotic materials, not plain old stainless steel.

* * *

Well, it's Sunday.

Recently I have been sleeping very well. All it took was taking a whole tablet of the Paxil rather than half of one.

I don't want to keep this up, though. On this dose, instead of taking the edge off of the peaks and valleys, it levels the landscape into a straight, flat line. I don't have any anxiety that keeps me awake; but I also don't have any excitement or fun. There's no bad, but there's also no good.

It's turning me into a Vulcan, for friggin' my snack. There is such a thing as too much emotional equilbrium, something which I could not have foreseen myself saying.

Maybe ask the doc if he could switch me to 10 mg tablets and then take 1.5 every day? Or is there a 15 mg dose?

However, it is very nice not to wake up in the middle of the night three, four, five times because I suddenly feel as if I'm not getting enough air in my lungs, because I am and my body is breathing appropriately and the freaking problem is in my brain, not the way my lungs are functioning.

The COVID-19 nonsense is having a deleterious effect on me. The constant drumbeat of "BE AFRAID! BE SCARED! FEAR FOR YOUR LIFE!" from the media and the government is rejected by my conscious brain, but the part that runs the flight or fight response doesn't listen to that part. And even though I lay there in bed telling myself, "You are perfectly fine and there is nothing wrong," my subconscious brain doesn't believe that, and continues to panic over every last less-than-perfect inhalation. "That last breath was a little deeper than normal DEATH IS IMMINENT". And that is exactly what it's like, too; I am not exaggerating.


Meanwhile, my wife is getting stir-crazy but nothing is open and there are no tickets for anything. To make matters worse, I've had to put the kibosh on doing anything at all in the city, because it's just too damned dangerous right now, and it's not going to get better before next year at the earliest. But nothing is open in the city, anyway, and probably won't be for the foreseeable future, because "Day 190 of the 15-day lockdown!"

But the new medication regime is working. The generic Pepcid is keeping the acid reflux under control, it seems, as is the new "no snacking before bed nor during the night" rule. Stop eating or drinking at least half an hour before going to bed. Take pills for brain, heart (blood pressure), and stomach.

* * *

Well--better get after that pool, I suppose.