Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Backwards Blogging Tricks (September 2020 in Hindsight)

Well, I thought I was going to end this blog again.  Not directly because of my vision loss this time but because the crappy new Google Blogger interface finally took permanent hold. This update caused me intense frustration.

I literally can no longer blog on my iPad 2.  In fact, I can't even check stats or my reading list anymore.  When I go to Blogger, I am directed to a page shaming me for having such antiquated technology.  It tells me i need to download a new browser, which is hilarious because when I tried, none of the big browsers were compatible with my iPad 2.  The sketchy, unfamiliar names were downloadable but wouldn't let me blog either. 

What's a freakboy to do?

Well, wallow in self-pity for a bit and then use my wits.  I strapped on the mask, kept the hand sanitizer handy (which I hate using) and sat down at one of the library computers.  The good news is I could blog.  The bad news was that the preview of my post looked like crap.  I typed the post on my tablet and emailed everything to myself.  Then I copied and pasted my words onto my blog and there were suddenly no lines between paragraphs and no spaces between sentences. 

I wanted to give up because there was no way I would go back through and add lines and spaces  without losing what's left of my mind.  Yet, I didn't give up.  I fought my way back to this blog in 2017 and I couldn't just let it go.  After much crying and cursing, I finally located the compose button that set my post up just like I originally typed it.  So, I blogged about a book about the film VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, which seemed appropriate since I nearly ended up on my knees in an alleyway shouting into the air,  "Freakboy!  Freakboy!"

Still, I hate being tethered to the library computers again, especially after the last several months.  I fully blogged via my tablet from mid-March until earlier in September.  It feels like I've taken a huge step backwards.  Then I worry about an increase of COVID-19 cases causeing a second lockdown, thus closing the library again.  Yes, I'm being selfish, but blogging really helped me from falling into complete despair this year.  However, I know I'll deal with that eventuality when it comes and sparkle, freakboy sparkle.  I could try blogging on my phone but that thought scares me more than a second wave. 

That's been my September.  I didn't create a video for The FreakOptic Files, but that's ok.  Quality over quantity, right?*

Be well.  

Stay safe.

Catch you in October, thankfully.

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.  

Freak Out, 

P.S. *I'll let you decide...

There will be a Collective Eye in October, thanks to the library computers.  It may be late in opening, or maybe not.  We shall see.  Until then, here is one more glance at September.....

Thursday, September 24, 2020

booking freakboy: DOLLS! DOLLS! DOLLS! by Stephen Rebello

Just imagine it...

...VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, the controversial 1967 box office blockbuster, starring...

...Candice Bergen as Anne Wells, the good girl sucked into a world of heartbreak and pills...

Ann-Margret as Neely O'Hara, the talented shooting star that may burn out too soon...

...Raquel Welch as Jennifer North, the stunning beauty who wants to be seen as more than a body...


...Judy Garland as Helen Lawson, the fierce stage legend fighting to stay on top!

Can you imagine how crazy good, or just plain crazy, that version of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS would have been?  It could've happened, and Judy Garland nearly did.  Sadly, missed opportunities is just one of many things to go awry during the difficult filming of Jacqueline Susann's best-selling novel.  

DOLLS! DOLLS! DOLLS! takes a deep dive beneath and beyond the troubled 20th Century Fox production.  With shocking facts and dishy Hollywood gossip, author Stephen Rebello spins a wild tale of uppers, downers and all arounders worthy of Susann.  

If you are a fan of the film, or the novel, take this doll and call me in the morning. 💊

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out,

P.S.  A different post about other dolls...

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Photographic Ghosting...

Maybe it's the music I've been listening to or the television I've been watching, but my mind has been on death lately.  This is why I asked my sister if she knew where the copy of Aunt Louise's ghost photo was stored.  She did and I was eager and nervous to see it again after all these years.

My thoughts of ghosts and an afterlife have always been with a skeptical stance.  Even at the age of 6 or 7, the notion of spending eternity in mansions of gold with my entire family didn't sound appealing.  I often imagined, especially at bedtime, that my soul would be set free upon death.  Maybe I would be able to drift through space and see everything.  Yeah, my childhood view of an  afterlife may have been influenced by DOCTOR WHO, but I still like the idea.  Maybe that's why The Beatles' Across the Universe is on my funeral playlist.

It was the early 1990's when my sister and our mom told me that Aunt Louise had a ghost photo.  I knew Aunt Louise was eccentric on a good day, so I was extremely skeptical.  My sister and our mom understood this but claimed it was a compelling image.  Even with their opinion, I  had doubts.  I imagined a glare or smudge on the photo, so I had to see this alleged ghost with my own eyes.

I tagged along the next time my sister and our mom visited Aunt Louise.  She was a loud character who barely stopped talking to take a breath.  Honestly, she exhausted me, but it was nice not having to think of things to talk about.  Aunt Louise kept the conversation going and going and going.  I waited for a rare silent moment and verbally jumped in to ask about her ghost photo. 

Aunt Louise was thrilled that I asked and went to fetch the photo.  I began mentally steeling myself to keep from laughing at what I assumed would be a ridiculous sight.  Aunt Louise returned and explained her daughter took the photo and they believed the ghost was that of a recently deceased relative.  When she handed me the Polaroid, I was seriously startled and expressed interest in a copy.  Aunt Louise would later have a copy made for me, which I let my mom have for safe keeping.

               (a photo of the photo that's a copy of the Polaroid

When my sister, these many decades later, got out the copy of Aunt Louise's ghost photo, I was expecting my memory to not match the image, but it does.  I recalled Aunt Louise sitting at a table with a phantasmagorical shape beside her.  I remembered there was the impression of a head floating nearby and what appeared to be an arm or hand resting on her shoulder.  I distinctly recalled the cigarette in her hand, but it appearing unlit.  This fascinating photo continues to send my skeptical mind reeling.  Is the apparition simply cigarette smoke swirling around?  Did an error during the developing of the original Polaroid create the hazy image?  Could the floating human shape actually be a ghost?  I wasn't certain then and I still don't know. 

Maybe that's why I call myself a skeptic.  I'm neither a full blown believer nor a completely cynical denier.  I fall somewhere in between.  I have doubts, yet, I truly hope the monster (her name is Nessie) is cascading through the Loch, that Bigfoot (his name is Daryl) is stomping around the U.S. Northwest, that aliens are commuting to Earth for probing, in-depth research and that ghosts are hanging around watching us...well, except when we're naked.  

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 

P.S. A different post about a different ghost...

Friday, September 11, 2020

freakboy muses music: DAPHNE (Single) - BLUE SUN CHASING

Blue Sun Chasing is a mixture of electronic and natural audio guiding you through a sensory of soundscapes.  These soundscapes are intimate, thought-provoking and sometimes eerily hypnotic explorations beneath the mindskin.  As with most music, especially of a more instrumental variety, the listener gets out what the listener brings in.

Daphne is a 2-track single with a theme that touches us all, sooner or later. 

(Death) is a Racket explores the high cost of dying in the U.S. with a drifting, contemplative sound.  I agree with the frustrating sentiment in this track, but I continue to ponder one thing.  Does the birdsong represent a departing soul or is it a sign that life goes on for those left behind? 

Casual Conversation delves into the fear of death with a sound that reflects, refracts and reverberates the terror of the unknown.  I will admit that I can't hear every word spoken in this track.  However, what I can make out, along with the ominous sound, leads me to chilling thoughts.  Perhaps not hearing all that is said symbolizes and enhances the unknown we all face.

You can find DAPHNE  by Blue Sun Chasing on...

For more soundscapes from Blue Sun Chasing...

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 

P.S.  A different post about a different single...

The Collective Eye for September is open with books, blogs, music & more...

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

freakboy on film: LOST IN SUBTITLES

I used to be a purist.

A non-English film was watched in its original language with English subtitles.  

Then December 2016 happened.
My chunk of vision loss made me an impurist.  

English language dubs seemed to be my only option.

It was just one more of my favorite things forever altered. 

Then in 2018 I went to the theater to see A QUIET PLACE.  I was told there were not many subtitles, which I suppose that was sort of true, compared to a foreign language film.  I sat in the back row with my Mad Scientist Glasses on and it seemed I could decipher enough of each subtitle to figure out what was being signed by the deaf girl and her parents.  The screen was big enough with a good contrast between words and background.  I was initially surprised and excited. 

Despite this big screen reading revelation, I ended up hating A QUIET PLACE.  This made me worry that I missed something in the subtitles.  So I later borrowed the DVD from the library and watched it with Descriptive Audio, which reads subtitles.  Nope, I missed nothing.  I didn't need subtitles to know the parents are the real monsters.  First, they don't look out for their youngest child and then they selfishly risk the lives of their remaining children by bringing a baby into the extremely dangerous sound-sensitive situation. 

That crappy film gave me hope.  Maybe with a big enough screen I could enjoy my foreign and silent films again!  An opportunity arrived in July 2019.  My sister in Omaha asked if I would house and dog sit for the month while she was meeting her first grandchild in a different state.  I agreed and packed a couple of DVD's to experiment with on her bigger and newer TV. 

After situating a kitchen chair for optimal viewing in the living room, I held my breath and popped in AMÉLIE (2001), one of my favorite non-English films.  Something as magical as AMÉLIE seemed to be happening.  I was deciphering enough words to enjoy the whimsical film again.   I was fully with her as she discovered the tin box, setting off her do-gooder adventures.  This overjoyed me, until I started to think about it.  

I had watched AMÉLIE countless times before my chunk of vision loss.  Perhaps I could decipher a lot of the subtitles because of multiple viewings.  I knew I had to experiment further and chose a Netflix film I wanted to see that only had a Spanish language track.  The title of that film is lost to me now, just like its subtitles were lost to my half-blind eyes. 

I tried other films, including the sci-fi silent film masterpiece METROPOLIS (1927), which I hold in high regard, but had not watched it as much as AMÉLIE.  The results of my experiment were harsh.  A bigger, newer TV wouldn't make a difference with deciphering subtitles unless I knew in advance what was being said.

Still, there remains the possibility of enjoying non-English films in the theater.  Well, if the one theater, with three screens, in my town actually showed foreign films, but it doesn't.  A fact that irritates me, especially when I hear tweets galore about a film I am interested in.  PARASITE (2019), for example. 

I knew it wouldn't play in my town, but I got my hopes up when I saw the DVD at the library.  Surely PARASITE was such a critically acclaimed film that it would have an English dub.  Nope.  Just it's original Korean and a French dub. It's not like my DVD of AMÉLIE has an English dub, so I should've known.  However, I decided it was time for another experiment. 

I was going to watch PARASITE and see if I could follow the plot without the dialogue.  My sister was going to watch it with me in case I got lost and because she also wanted to see it.  I did ok at first, sort of.  I assumed that the low-income family had terrible cell phone reception and one of them got fired from a pizza parlor.  I asked and my sister explained what was really happening, which wasn't far off.  Then the plot got complicated and I got lost very quickly. 

"What's going on here?" I would ask and my sister would explain.  She occasionally read a subtitle aloud, but I didn't want her doing this throughout the entire film.  For the most part, after I grasped how the low-income family and the wealthy family were merging, I followed along, kind of.  My sister had to explain the peach allergy, the camping trip and the architect.  The result of that experiment was I need to watch a non-English film with someone I trust.

As for PARASITE...I liked it, but I feel I missed nuances in the characters and their relationships to one another.  If I find an English dub, or go back in time and find a theater showing it, I would watch it again.  Oh, and I will give the film extra points for not killing the family pets, unless I completely missed something during the birthday party massacre.  If I did, please don't tell me.

In conclusion, the frustrating thing about my eyes is being able to watch a film, while wearing my Mad Scientist Glasses, but still missing so much.  Descriptive Audio tracks help with English speaking films, but to my deepest pain and shame, English language dubs are essential in my post-December 2016 foreign filmic life. 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out,

P.S. In case you missed UNHINGED...

The Collective a Eye for September is open with books, blogs, music & more...