35 Years of Terror

Well, on November 16th this year, I hit the 35 year old mark. Sarah went all out to help make it a birthday to remember. We planned it all around a little vacation to California and the 35 Years of Terror convention which was celebrating 35 years since the first Halloween movie was released.

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The festivities began, before we left, when Sarah treated me to a haircut and straight razor shave. It was quite the experience with the hot towels on my face and everything. Sweeny Todd jokes aside, the person who did it was great and did not cut me at all. I’d certainly do it again.

We flew to California on the 14th direct from Provo which was nice, so we didn’t have to take the time to drive. That day we went to the beach for a little bit, checked into our hotel, and ordered a nice Pizza from Papa Johns for dinner. We also got to see the Anaheim convention center which will be the place that Star Wars Celebration VII will be held in 2015, so it was kind of like getting a sneak peek.

10914228464_69e50df934_bThe 15th was the day we went to Disneyland. Sarah got me my birthday button that I wore all day, so all the staff said, “Happy Birthday Shawn!”, to me everywhere we went. It was a really fun experience and the first time that I’d been there on my birthday. They had just gotten finished the prior week setting up all the decorations for the holidays, so it was all set up for Christmas and the Haunted Mansion ride redone with the Nightmare Before Christmas theme. 10914161286_76ea9e8d6e_b

They also still had the Iron Man exhibit where you could see a bunch of the prop suits set up like in the most recent movie. As I understand it, this was supposed to be gone by now, but because it has been such a success, they’ve kept it around a lot longer.

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Now that most know, we’re expecting our first child, so it meant that Sarah couldn’t ride a lot of the rides while we were there. She still insisted I ride some of our favorites though and enjoy them for her too. One of the most interesting was Space Mountain. We always do this one a couple of times while we are there and it just so happened the one time I rode it the ride stopped while I was in the middle of it. They turned on the lights while they were fixing whatever

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happened and it looked nothing like how I thought it would. I was expecting something a little more roller coaster looking and instead it is all enclosed in various levels. It was long enough that I took my iPhone out and snapped a quick picture. They quickly fixed the problem, ran us through the end, and then let us ride it again normally, so in the end I got to ride it twice.

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I also had planned on the photo near the end of the ride. I had hoped Sarah would see it on the monitor when I came out that I was thinking of her while I was on there.

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the times I was off on a ride, Sarah was getting some food. I came back to meet her at the restaurant she was at and the waiter saw my birthday button and out of the blue brought me a cupcake. I was really surprised by that where I wasn’t even the customer, so Disney really knows how to go out of their way.

 

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We stayed at the park most of the day and then left for a birthday dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack. I like my seafood, so it was an excellent choice. I had a combination of Lobster, Crab Legs, and Shrimp. I was definitely very full after a meal like that. They of course had to humiliate me 🙂 with a bib, a game of trying to find a cherry in a bowl of whip cream with no hands, and sang to me. It was a fun time.

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After the festivities we went back to Disneyland and downtown Disney for a little bit of shopping. I think I did Star Tours one more time for roughly 4 times throughout the day. We also picked up a few of our Star Wars vinylmation figures that have become a tradition when we visit the parks.

We did a lot for one day that day, but it will definitely be a memorable one.

10914222366_5d1b3d7259_bOn the 16th, my actual birthday, we went to Pasadena for the 35 Years of Terror convention. We purposely got a little early start as the original movie was filmed there and also quite a bit of the Rob Zombie reimagining. I planned on two locations to visit that I thought were iconic. The first, was the Meyers house at the beginning of the film where Michael kills his sister. Apparently the house was moved at some point, so it isn’t in the exact location it was in the film, but it is definitely the house. Abandoned at the time of filming, It is now being used as a Chiropractors office. They had a sign that photos were fine, but not to get up onto the balcony area. The other location we went to was an intersection that was used to establish Haddonfield Illinois in another opening shot. The trees have obviously gotten taller and the cars a little more modern, but it still looked a lot like the film. Even while driving around in that area the location felt very much like the streets that Laurie and her friends are walking on in the movie. The experience made me want to find some of the Salt Lake filming locations that were used in Halloween 4 and 5.

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After that it was almost time for the actual convention to start. We got there, bought our tickets, and then had a little bit of time to relax while waiting for the general admission holders to be let in. One of the first places I wanted to go was the Mondo table. They had a limited edition poster that a collector wanted me to try and get for him, but I quickly found out they had sold out the first day and didn’t bring very much stock with them. They also had the Halloween soundtrack on vinyl in a limited cover which I had wanted, so I quickly picked that up.

BZXsnvqCIAAHek8.jpg-largeThe convention was very low key compared to SDCC or the Star Wars Celebrations that we have been to. For most of the actors that were there, it was simply just walk up to the table to get an autograph and the pricing was very good too. I’ve never been a huge autograph collector, but one I did want to get was Danielle Harris, who as a young girl starred in Halloween 4 and 5, then later on as an adult was in the two Rob Zombie reimaginings. She seemed very down to earth and was having fun. Sarah and I were a little starstruck, so the conversation was very light, but I picked up a nice autograph and got a quick picture with her. We also attended the Halloween 4 panel with a good portion of the original cast.

10914503053_4f7b9107bd_bLike any convention, there were of course people dressed up and some good photo ops. Here’s one that Sarah and I did with a good looking Michael Myers. He did a great job in just wandering around and being a spooky. For example, you’d be sitting in a panel and just look across the room and there would be Michael just standing there.

Overall, it was an amazing time and a birthday I will never forget. Sarah really outdid herself and the bar is set high for me to try and do something just as nice for her. 🙂

Jobs: The Movie

ashton-kutcher-as-steve-jobsLate last night, I was able to attend a showing of the new movie, Jobs. I have been interested in this movie ever since production started and I saw some of the stills of Ashton Kutcher in the role of Steve Jobs. Kutcher certainly had the look down, but the obvious question was, could someone who was more associated with comedy and typically plays an airhead, do this role justice? It seemed like most of the tech media didn’t even want to give him a chance because to many, he’ll always be Michael Kelso from That 70’s Show. That 70’s Show is one of my favorite television comedies of all time, but I was willing to look passed that and see what he could do and hoped they did a good job with the story.

This movie does cover a lot of the same ground that has been covered before. It focuses mostly on the early life of Jobs/Apple Computer. From working out of Steve’s parents garage, up to his ousting at Apple in 1985. All of this had been shown in the T.V. movie, Pirates of Silicon Valley, already and while the previous movie is a bit more historically accurate, this movie does present it in a more pleasing way for the viewer to ingest who wants the quick version. This movie does go a little beyond that with the mention of NeXT and showing when Steve was actually asked to come back to Apple.

One of the things I was curious about was wether or not this movie would glorify Steve Jobs as the perfect man that sometimes people think he was. Like anyone, he had some serious faults, especially in the early days and quite a few of these come out in the film. One of the big ones was how he treated people including the real brains behind the technology, Steve Wozniak. I was actually surprised that the movie even took the time to show Jobs time at Atari when he had Wozniak created the game Breakout and then took full credit and the majority of the money. The other obvious one, that was also shown even more so in Pirates of Silicon Valley , is how he handled things with his daughter Lisa in denying that she was even his daughter in the first place. There are also some of the more obvious things like really hammering on employees who didn’t see things his way, parking in handicapped parking stalls, and not giving stock options to some of the people who were helping Apple from the very beginning. One big omission, in the last one mentioned, was the fact that Steve Wozniak actually sacrificed some of his shares to give to those employees, so they weren’t completely left out. I kept waiting for a little mention of that during that part of the movie, but it never happened. I know the main focus of the movie is Jobs, but I think do think that is one of those little details that should have been covered.

Another omission, that I thought should have been in the movie, was the visit to Xerox PARC and the impact that it had on the Lisa and Mac. My only guess is that it had to do with run time of the film and the fact that it was also covered in Pirate of Silicon Valley as well, so they didn’t want to do a rehash, but it is certainly an important event in the Apple timeline.  However, I did like the quick mention later on about the new Mac OS (OS X) being built off of NeXT OS. I think that is a little tidbit that not everyone knows that isn’t a techie and where a lot of the design elements from OS X actually came from like the dock.

Now, the big question, is how do I think Ashton did with the performance? Personally, I think he did very well. Along with the look, he was able to get a lot of the mannerisms and speech down. I think this role certainly pushed him to his limits and overall I was impressed. I would say though that two more emotional type scenes did take me out of the movie a little bit with how his performance was in those. One was just after Steve Wozniak tells him that he’s going to leave Apple and Jobs visits the garage at home with an emotional visit with his father. Ashton is supposed to be crying, but it comes off as almost like he’s laughing or just some kind of weird sound that just doesn’t seem quite right. The other was when things were starting to go sour with him at Apple and on a drive home he does a huge yell that also just doesn’t quite have the emotional impact that it should. However, having said that, I think these are two minor things and shouldn’t stop someone from seeing the movie if they have an interest.

Overall, I think the film is enjoyable and does what I think it was probably set out to do. I think if you have an interest in the founding of Apple, Steve being ousted, and then the comeback that you’ll enjoy it for what it is. It isn’t a perfect factual representation, but I think any movie like this should be the gateway drug in making the viewer wanting to find out more and I think it accomplishes that. Anyone who hasn’t done so after this movie, should then go on to watch Pirate of Silicon Valley or read the Walter Isaacson biography.

This also isn’t the last film to come out ,as there is one based on the biography by Sony, that is in the works as well. It will be interesting to see how that one pans out and which one truly does end up being the better movie. I think the early story of Apple has been covered very well at this point and I’d more interested now in the story from the 2nd rise of Apple when Steve came back, Apple becoming a success again, and how behind the scenes he had to deal with cancer.

Here’s a couple of videos that I thought were relevant to see again. The first is the iPod introduction which is very different from the movie. In the film Steve is presented as being much older and the crowd is more like a WWDC conference rather than a room of journalists at the Apple campus.

This other video is a demo of NeXT OS that anyone familiar with OS X will see the similarities that were then incorporated into OS X.

MoviePass

A little over a month ago I read on Engadget about MoviePass which sounded like a promising service. Basically you pay $30 a month and it gets you into an unlimited amount of movies at the theatre with the stipulation that you can only go to one a day, no 3D, or IMAX. Considering how many movies I go to in a month, it seemed like a decent enough deal and a great way to see those movies that I’m only somewhat curious about, but wouldn’t normally spend the price of a full ticket on.

I signed up to get on the waiting list for the beta and about a week later I received an email that I could sign up. After sign up you have to wait for your movie pass card which is essentially a debit card. I received mine about another week after signing up.

The process of using the movie pass is a little bit of work. Being someone a little more tech savvy I don’t find it a problem, but could see it being an issue with your average consumer. When you get to the theatre, you have to “check in” first with the phone app in order for the debit card to work at the theatre kiosk or ticket window. In order to check in, you open the app, pick your theatre, show/time, and tap check in at theatre. After that, it verifies that you are within 100 yards at the theatre with gps and then you are presented with a message telling you that you can now use your movie pass card. Now you basically have to do the same thing of picking your movie all over again at the kiosk and swiping your movie pass card.

While I don’t think many will have an issue with this once they get the process down, it just feels a bit clunky. I think it would have been nicer if they could have worked with a service like fandango that would give you a barcode ticket that would be scanned by the ticket taker. This would avoid having to use the debit card, going to the kiosk/ticket window and rechosing your show. My guess is that the fees to integrate like this were probably too much, but it’d certainly be a better way to go in my opinion. The other area that I think they could improve is in the app. It’d be nice if the initial screen used the gps to figure out what theatre you were at and it automatically showed the list of movies at that theatre instead of still have to find your theatre from the theatre list. It’d only save a few seconds, but it’d at least save a couple taps from the user perspective.

Regardless, once you get the process down and if you go to a lot of movies, I think it is worth the cost. Their site is https://www.moviepass.com where you can sign up to be invited to the beta, but if you’d like instant access hit me up as I have a few invites left to bypass the waiting period.

CES 2011

Last week was the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. If I’m counting right, this should have been my 9th CES now as I believe my first was in 2001 and I missed one because of school a couple years ago. This year I spent 3 days at the show and still feel like I skimmed the surface. Like last year there were a lot of 3D T.V.s shown and quite a few demonstrations of glassless 3D T.V.s. I personally think that will be the future as the most common complaint about 3D is having to wear the glasses. Right now with the technology you have to stand in certain spots for it to work, but I’m sure this will be perfected in years to come.
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Star Wars in 3D

Yes, it’s true! After George Lucas made mention of it in 2005, an official release year has been announced. All 6 Star Wars movies are going back to theaters starting in 2012 with Episode I. The official announcement can be read here on starwars.com. The griping has already started on the internets with many fans saying, “here’s Lucas again cashing in on Star Wars”. We have the recently announced Blu Rays coming out next year and now there will at some point be 3D releases for home. I will not deny that this is another way of him making more money with Star Wars, but to me nothing matches the experience of seeing these movies in a theatre with an audience. It is very much a different experience than watching them from the comfort of your own home. The last time we got to see the original movies was in ’97, which by the time these start coming out will have been 15 years ago. I’ve personally always thought it would be great to have them rereleased every few years. While I know a few vocal people are criticizing the fact of it coming out in 3D, I’m really more excited to have the opportunity to go back and see these in the theatre rather than the 3D aspect. Knowing how Lucas is with technology though, I imagine the 3D will still be very good even with the fact that these are conversions instead of proper films shot with 3D cameras like Avatar.

A video can also be watched of John Knoll talking about the 3D conversion. He was the video effects supervisor on most of the films. video link