Tag Archives: movies

Ten years later….

Today (Thursday as I type this), after ten years, I finally set foot in a theater again.

“Have you not seen a movie in ten years?” one might ask.

I have seen tons of movies – just not on the big screen. The last movie I watched in the theater was Julie & Julia, back in 2009, not terribly long before the second cancer diagnosis in 2010.

Since that time, I have not been in the theater because I didn’t want to be That Person, coughing and hacking and ruining other peoples’ experiences.

So what, you ask, did I see today to break myself back into an actual movie at an actual theater? This one, from John and Molly Chester:

If you have the chance to see this on the big screen, you should. The cinematography is exceptional and the time lapse parts are stunning.

If you have the chance to see this on the big screen, or even if you wait for it on a smaller screen, be sure to have some tissues with you if you’re a crier. There are just enough sad/reality parts to generate some tears if you’re that sort of person, but these parts save the film from being the sort of wide-eyed, hippie “we’ll create a farm and live in harmony with everything!” nonsense that causes people to go into any agricultural pursuit as if nothing bad ever happens. It does.

That said, the film does serve as a kind of call to action, for people brave enough (or foolhardy enough) to get their green thumbs growing, even if not on the scale the Chesters did, and without the investor that made their move possible. The story relies on the hope and (non-religious) sort of faith that it can be done, with some patience and with an acknowledgement that we can’t always control every little thing. We can help, though, and in the end, although nature is what it is – sometimes overwhelming, often confounding, and a tad like a rebellious teen – our dropping of a stone in a small, still lake has just the sort of ripple effect that’s needed for both nature and ourselves.

Five out of five stars.

Until next time peeps: be well.

Making a tractor

A chicken tractor, that is.

What the heck, you may ask, is a chicken tractor?

Think of it as a mobile chicken coop without a floor, sometimes with wheels, sometimes not, sometimes holding just a few chickens, sometimes holding a bunch of them. The chickens can be free ranging when let out of their tractor, or they can be kept just in the tractor, being moved to fresh grass when they’ve worked over the ground they’ve been on.

Most of the time, the penned birds are the meat chickens. They are just too big and too slow to be able to run for cover when a predator shows up. That’s how my meat birds will be. The layer hens will be allowed to come and go as they please, with nesting boxes available for them to do their thing.

Why is it called a tractor? Mainly because the chickens mimic the use of a tractor, pecking and scratching at the ground, and leaving manure on the ground they cover.

For people with backyard chickens, the tractor is often a light A-frame type structure, housing a few chickens. For more chickens, the designs vary widely.

Ours is a rectangular tractor, built using pvc and chicken wire. Once the base is in place, the rest of the assembly flies right by.

Top level completed except for the crossbar I’ll attach a tarp to, in order to shed rain. With a flat design, you have to do something about the water that will collect on the tarp when it rains, and it rains quite a bit here.

With the frame finished, I moved on to making the doors. There are two in this build, one in the front and one in the rear. I want to have their feed under cover, since they’ll be receiving it in a trough versus the no-spill, no-waste feeder I made for the layers. Their water will hang from the crossbar that holds the tarp.

This was the beginning of the front door.

Both the doors will be covered in chicken wire, just as the rest of the coop is. I put together all of the upper part of the tractor, plus built both doors, plus skinned the frame in chicken wire. This while I was also handling business stuff, and helping people out of their jams.

The completed shell, wrapped in chicken wire, with the frames of both doors lying on it, zip ties holding them in place so I can get their hinges on and put chicken wire on without having to squat down if it were on the ground, because my knees were yelling at me pretty loudly by the end of the day..

This tractor is about 12′ long and 6′ across, so will hold lots of birds. This time, it will only be holding ten birds.

I plan on finishing it tomorrow, and my brother is working on the chickshaw, a mobile coop based on the design of rickshaws. That one will hold layers hens, and I’ll be able to move them around the property – they will peck and scratch far more than the meat birds, who only want to eat, sleep, and poop. I have a PT appointment tomorrow right in the middle of the day, and I’m a little bummed out that I won’t be able to film the whole chickshaw build. I might be able to rope my mom or my bro into running the camera.

The meat birds weigh just under a pound. Keep in mind that these birds were just as tiny as the layers when I picked them up from the post office on August 1. That’s 12 days to a pound.  If they keep that up, they will likely be ready in about nine weeks. If their weight starts to accelerate, they’ll be ready sooner. Most of the time, they’re ready in eight weeks, and that’s what I’m basing things on.

You can see how large they’ve gotten in about a week and a half. The bird on the perch I added to their brooder is a layer.

Birds huddled up to nap. The difference in size is readily apparent.

Nifty watering bucket. It took them awhile to understand it when I put it in the brooder, but eventually, they got it. Some of the fat meat birds settled themselves right in front of the bucket where the nipples are. They also have a tendency to plop themselves in front of the feeder to eat, then sleep, then eat, then sleep. It’s like Mr. Creosote, except in chicken form (luckily, no vomiting, but plenty of pooping).

By the end of the week (and hopefully sooner) the meat birds will be taken out to their new tractor – their home for the duration until it’s time to end their happy, although brief, lives.

I’ve eaten now, and the day is getting to me, telling me to go to sleep. I may catch a nap.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Bad movie night

Some nights,  you just have to MST3K it.

My night started with Jason Bourne. I saw the first one – I’d read the book ages ago, of course, while I was in high school. And I think I saw pieces of The Bourne Ultimatum. But this. This was Tommy Lee Jones chewing through scenery, Matt Damon doing his killing machine thing, Julia Stiles dying for no good reason except as a whistleblower who for some unfathomable reason decided Bourne needed to see files, Vincent Cassel as “The Asset”, blowing away civilians left and right, and Alicia Vikander looking pretty useless and on the verge of tears most of the time. Apparently, she existed only for Tommy Lee Jones to give orders to through his clenched mouth so we know just how serious and pissed off he is, and for him to double cross her. Can’t give the protege any ideas now, can we?  For whatever reason, the director thought all the action scenes needed to be jerky, just to remind us that THIS IS AN ACTION SEQUENCE. And to give us motion sickness. Here’s a tip: if there are fires and gunfire and car chases and riots and hand to hand combat, that’s action enough. It doesn’t need any help if the action sequences are good. And mostly, they were not. Even the control room, which apparently no one left for very long, had weird camera angles and nausea-inducing transitions while they were hopping around, taking over other countries’ CCTVs, so they could find Bourne and send yet another kill team on a suicide mission to take him out. The plot, if you can call it that, was insipid, Vikander’s “remote deletion of unencrypted files on a laptop a world away from where she was” was so stupid that I actually laughed out loud, and the ending, of course, ambiguous. Where will Bourne go? Off the grid again, only to return later for revenge against the agency that took his entire life away? Let’s hope not.

The movie on after that, as it happened, was The Hunted, also a Tommy Lee Jones movie. I passed and went to The Mechanik (aka The Russian Specialist), with Dolph Lundgren as an ex-Spetnaz officer going after mobsters, revenge for the killing of his wife and child, yadda yadda. I had to look this one up, and discovered Lundgren has a degree in chemical engineering, received a Fulbright scholarship, and is in general an extremely intelligent dude. That read through of his bio was far more interesting than this dreck. It’s unfortunate his intelligence and talent were not for writing and/or directing, both of which he does here. The obligatory final standoff scene is on as I type this. Bad guys get shot but remarkably are able to stand again and fight one of the good guys, Lundgren goes off to hunt the mobster, etc. What a horrible, horrible movie this is.

It must be Dolph Lundgren night here on this channel, as the next movie up is Blood of Redemption which is about – you guessed it – a bad guy/gangster dude seeking revenge on someone who ruined his criminal empire and killed his father. Can’t wait for that one, seriously. Can’t wait. I’m sure it will be just as delightful and well-written/well-acted/well-directed as this one.

This is all background noise to maintenance I’m doing for work, along with troubleshooting peoples’ issues with apps that they can’t even give me the right username for so I can log in and see what the issue happens to be.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Great news, sports fans!

If  you’ve seen Dodegball: A True Underdog Story – you haven’t? Hie thee to on demand or Amazon or somewhere and watch it! ESPN is finally bringing The Ocho to life. For one day. But what a day that’s going to be! If you don’t understand The Ocho and/or why this is so hilarious, see above re: hie thee. It’s going to be spectacular. No doubt there are things people will be unfamiliar with – I didn’t even know what they meant by the Championship of Bags until I looked it up. That is known pretty well down here in the South as cornhole (yes, yes, I know). I did, however, know what Kabaddi was – and let me tell you what a weird freaking game that is. They also have a rather unfortunate pictogram:

Need some privacy?

It should be a blast.


Letting the new year in, quietly

I’m not a fan of large crowds, and especially not large, drunk crowds, so I spend my New Year’s Eves at home, chilling out, reading, and watching football. This year was no different.

Redneck neighbor guy apparently scraped together some pennies this year to invest in fireworks, as there were random pops of things going off well before midnight. Loud noises like that are things that scare the big dog, so he winds up close to me, regardless of where I am (including in the bathroom).

The puppy ignores all that, but also is always by my side – he’s very loyal.

So, we plopped ourselves on the couch (and floor), watched some football, and then watched The Boondock Saints, recommended to me by my little brother. Not bad.

Beyond the random firework noise, which was minimal, we had a nice quiet entry into the new year. That’s the way I prefer it.

*I tried to post this last night, on the 2nd, to stay with my goal of posting every day, but naturally my ISP – a satellite company I will not name – crapped itself on the uplink side. Those images up there took eight and six tries, respectively, to upload, and I won’t even go into the timeouts all over the place. I finally sent them an email (via my phone, because even their customer page wouldn’t load) asking them WTF was going on, and this morning on the 3rd seems to be better – although it’s storming here at the moment, and they’re not very good about staying up during rain. Or fog. Or sunshine. Or anything. We’ll see if it stays that way after I return from my doctor’s visit and a run to the store.

Halloween 2012 Moviepalooza: Part 7

We’ve come to a classic of the horror genre: Frankenstein (1931), starring Boris Karloff as the monster – who is not, as it happens, named Frankenstein. That’s the doctor’s name, here played by Colin Clive. The monster is just the monster, or more technically, Frankenstein’s monster. Based, as anyone really should know, on the novel by Mary Shelley, and rather loosely at that, the story follows Dr. Frankenstein as he labors to create life from death, stitching together parts and then zapping the creation with juice from lightning. Having created this life, he finds that his creation is not what he anticipated: the monster is violent, nonverbal, and incapable of being human in the sense we know it. After the monster kills Frankenstein’s assistant, he and another doctor devise a plan to rid the world of it. The monster escapes, roaming about the countryside as the two doctors work to capture and destroy it. Under the steady directorial hand of James Whale, the film is terrific at creating the ominous aura that permeates the movie, lending it a creepiness that still stands up all these decades later. Karloff is brilliant as the monster, even able to convey a smidgen of a sympathetic character under the iconic makeup and in contrast to the raw, soulless nature of the creation brought to life by Frankenstein. Everyone should see it at least once. On a scale of 5, this classic rates a 5.

Halloween 2012 Moviepalooza: Part 6

Up next on our movie tour: The Body Snatcher (1945) starring Boris Karloff. The film also has Bela Lugosi in a lesser role, and this film would mark the last time the two worked together. The movie references Burke, Hare, and Knox, actual historical figures who engaged in murders to provide cadavers for medical study, and is very loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of the same name, which is based on those foul deeds. There’s an element of that here as well, as Karloff plays Gray, a bad driver who dabbles on the side in “resurrections” – i.e., grave robbing to provide cadavers to Dr. MacFarlane so he can teach his students about anatomy. Gray and MacFarlane are two sides of the same self-loathing, with MacFarlane wanting to be free of Gray, but Gray telling him he never will be. The film is as much a psychological tussle between the two as it is a telling of the difficulties that medical schools had in getting enough cadavers to teach future doctors their trade. The final fight scene between Gray and MacFarlane really does represent everything that both binds the men together and demonstrate their equivalent hatred of one another, each knowing the other could not survive without the other half. Karloff is superb at inhabiting his Gray with a malevolence that comes through whether he speaks or not, but also shows a deadpan humor that may be overlooked. Lugosi is such a minor presence and clearly is sleepwalking through his few scenes, which is a shame . On a scale of 5, I’d rate this one a 3.5.

Halloween 2012 Moviepalooza: Part 5

And we continue with Halloween 2012 Moviepalooza with White Zombie (1932) starring Bela Lugosi. This is evil Lugosi, as “Murder” Legendre, and really he doesn’t have to act very much, just do a quasi Dracula act, complete with the piercing stare and Transylvania-like accent. Short version: Beaumont is in love with Madeline, who is set to marry Neil at Beaumont’s sugar plantation in Haiti. The plantation is worked by zombified locals, and in one rather amusing scene, one zombie stumbles into the cane crusher and gets chewed up therein. Beaumont wants to kidnap Madeline and then force her to love him, but Legendre has a better idea, and Madeline winds up zombified, then spirited away by Beaumont. He realizes she now has no soul and isn’t nearly as much fun or energetic as she used to be, and wants Legendre to turn her back. Instead, he slips Beaumont some zombie powder. Meanwhile, Neil has found his way to the castle to get Madeline, who somehow wakes up for a moment from zombie-ness. A plague of zombies arrives and surrounds them on a cliff, and another character punches Legendre, thus distracting the zombies, and off they go like lemmings over the edge. As Madeline wakes up fully, Legendre tries to escape, but zombie Beaumont bearhugs him and goes over the edge. Neil and Madeline embrace, and the end credits roll. This is another of the pre Night of the Living Dead movies, and while it isn’t a completely horrible movie, it’s one that most people these days would not be able to sit through from start to finish. On a scale of 5, I’d give this one a 2.

Halloween 2012 Moviepalooza: Part 4

Next up in our Moviepalooza: The Devil Bat (1941), starring Bela Lugosi. Where to begin? I suppose at the beginning: Lugosi plays Dr. Carruthers, some kind of fragrance genius who invents a killer (ha!) fragrance for a company and then accepts $5000 for his part instead of a share in the company, which becomes very successful. Convinced that the generic company owners screwed him, he develops an aftershave that attracts the giant devil bats he’s grown by zapping regular bats with lost of electricity. And them in true evil mad scientist fashion, he starts offing the guys he thinks have wronged him, by getting them to try the aftershave and then loosing his devil bat on them. A reporter and his photog sidekick show up to report on and solve the murders. Routine stuff follows and eventually Carruthers is suspected of and held to the murders. It isn’t a very good movie, and although the bat effects are not as atrocious as, say, the spaceships in Plan 9 from Outer Space, this probably would not have scared any adult back then (and possibly not even many children). It’s a straightforward telling, without any real twists to speak of, and is suitable for killing (ha!) some time waiting for the real classics to show up on the screen as dusk begins to fall on this spooky night. On a scale of 5, I’d give this a 1.