Monday, October 16, 2017

Blade Runner and some random thoughts

With the passage of time and the filtration of memory, Blade Runner(1982) has acquired certain mythical sheen in the annals of sci-fi film making.  Blade Runner 2049(2017) further cements and reaffirms the original Blade Runner's inimitable status.

I saw Blade Runner in a theatre when it was first released in 1982.  I was a child (and a pathological liar).  Then many years later in the late 80s I sort of saw it again in the City of Light.  Unbeknownst to me, Deckard became French speaking, a language so foreign to me it might as well be Martian.  I am not sure if I sat through the entire movie listening to Deckard speak French, if I did I wouldn't understand a word uttered from his throat.

I didn't seek out to watch it again until recently when I found out there is a sequel in the offing, I am very susceptible to marketing.  I sought out some pieces of the 1982 Blade Runner on YouTube and then finally in one piece on on-demand what they call the director's or is it the final cut?

Here are some random thoughts.

The cinematic universe of Blade Runner is as futuristic as it's familiar--there are flying vehicles, pay phones with video screens, people continue to hate their job and yearn for retirement; smoking and drinking are common though the former is much restricted in public space than it's depicted on screen.  The cinematic visuals set high water mark for future neo-noirs.  Much ink has been spilled on K's coat in BR 2049.  It's a nice coat apparently.  But Deckard's trench coat just makes more sense evidently as the dystopia that is called LA is perpetually drizzling or pouring.  A trench coat is functional in addition to being detective like.  (As an aside, I think Brad Pitt's Se7en is as much about serial killer as it's about his neck tie, white shirt and trench coat.)  Notice Deckard wears neck ties, a glorified leash in any hierarchical work place, including the LAPD.  The mysterious Gaff and the independently well-off Tyrell prefer bow tie only.  Not only Deckard wears neck ties but they match his print shirts which also echo his apartment's wall tiles, themselves inspired by the Ennis House which in turn was inspired by Mayan architecture.  Deckard's wardrobe is understatedly wild.  K's sartorial choice: a great coat and a monochromatic black pull over.  They are basic like Gap nothing wrong yet nothing to write home about either.

The future can be off or unreal but humanity can't be, even for replicants.  Tyrell says and I paraphrase, the goal is to make replicants more human than human.  He has succeeded beyond his wildest dream. In the final showdown between Deckard and nexus 6 Roy Batty, instead of letting gravity kill Deckard, Batty grabs his arm and pulls him back to the roof top saving Deckard's life: simultaneously and demonstratively showing forgiveness and compassion, two human traits make human human though at times in short supply when it comes to Tyrell or Deckard to the replicants.

When inspector Bryant cajoled and coerced Deckard out of his retirement he says "... He's not good enough, not good as you. I need you, Deck ...  I need the old Blade Runner, I need your magic."  I concur.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

In the New York Times' anatomy of a scene, director Denis Villeneuve painstakingly narrates the scene where Ryan Gosling's K or Joe is about to find and meet his screen forbear, the original Blade Runner Deckard, played by Harrison Ford.  Villeneuve informs us that he reminds Gosling to walk slower, how the garden of giant naked statures of boobs or whatever is designed by some guy, and the sound effect of the buzzing bees and how very careful he selects the music and hence the significance of it for that scene so on and so forth.  Without his explanations, me philistine wouldn't be able to enjoy his movie.

None of this really matters to me except Gosling sure keeps walking slower and slower the entire movie, which is quite an effective way of putting me to sleep.  Thanks to caffeine and the upright cheap seat, I was able to stay half awake through out this 3-hour plus long snooze fest disaster that is called Blade Runner 2049.

In general I am OK or even like Gosling's phlegmatic puppy faced performance.  I imagine it is even an apt for his character, a meek replicant, android, a non human who can't say no to an order.  Ford plays a caricature of his own character whom he played some thirty five years ago.  Ford nowadays just plays any characters he used to play with some mirthless smirks and call it a performance or a day.  I can't wait to see him play Han Solo in the never ending upcoming Star War Episode XXX.

Blade Runner 2049 is pretty much over when it kills off its most potentially interesting character Sapper played by Dave Baustista in the first fifteen minutes of the film.  Me waited thirty five years for this.  Thanks to Denis Villeneuve, the same director who brought us Arrival (2016)-duh!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Stan Ray

I always like a double front or double knee.  So I finally got myself one.  Wow, it's going to be twice as durable.

When you buy online for apparels, you are still pretty much live in the dark ages.  Most, I say most retailers won't give out the actual measurements.  They figure they rather process more returns I guess.  It would give you the size like 34x32.  You know, I know, and everybody knows the 34 is not the garment measurement.  So it's a guess.

It's YKK, my friend, sign of good quality.  The pull is not extra large or anything, so don't pull with your gloved hand.  Not supposed to anyway.  Unlike a jacket's or outergarment's.

The hickory is more expensive but the loop in the back is missing.  No loop there.  Both designs don't have back yoke above the back pockets.  But I do appreciate the the number of belt loops, not just one in the center but one above the pocket on each side.  So you feel properly belted.  I personally think that's the way it's supposed to be.  The loop is long enough to accommodate wider belt which is a good thing.  Some work pants have narrow belt loops for narrow belts, what's that about?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Nikon SB-800

My first outing using the newly acquired SB-800.  It was 100% AA battery powered so it had a hard time keeping up with the action.  You use what you have, that's about it.  (I bought a Godox PB-960 just so I can shoot my finger off without the wait or the change of AA batteries)  This wasn't done with the high speed sync I bought the flash for.  I think I was shooting more like 1/30 and panned with the action.

This one was done with high speed sync probably 1/1000s.

When you have a flash you end up shooting everything with flash.

EDIT 8/21/2017:
subsequently, I shot the SB-800 with power pack PB-960 hoping that there's virtually no wait to recycle.  Alas, there is.  Between shots the flash ready light was blinking so the flash was capable to go off but whether the exposure was "correct" was entirely a different story.  I tried to use Manual and turned it down to 1/2 and 1/4 but still the recycle is more than instantaneous.  If memories and anecdotes serve me well then I really think the 120J cycle faster whenever it's not at 1/1 power on power pack.  I love my 120J except when it comes to packing and transporting from A to B.  The freaking bare tube and the reflector are just too cumbersome.  Otherwise I think the light is pretty nice, sure it's all subjective, but I think what you believe is important.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Godox or God Ox PB960, Sunpak 120J, Nikon SB-800

The Chinese name is actually literally God Ox.  What a strong brand.

As a owner of two good old Sunpak 120J's, I always want some power pack.  Even I have the original pack in form but not in substance.  I use some rechargeable battery to power the pack.  It's a bit cumbersome I have a separate branded charger to charge the battery and when fully charged I put it back into the holder.  You probably don't know what I am talking about.  I am too lazy to take any pictures.

Universal Smart Charger.  Not just phone could be smart.

Not all sync cords are created equal.  Some are obviously better.  The one on the right is better, which is a Paramount cable by the way.  The one on the left is the original Sunpak cable that has bad contact with the PC outlet on the D810 camera.  Bad.  I think the locking one is the best but I have yet to try one.

My SB-600 is kind of broken, the battery door has bad contacts when I don't use reputable branded batteries.  I think there is some play to the battery door which can result in bad connection with some batteries.  The hot shoe is cracked and the knocking pin is ruined.

And so I bought a SB-800 which is similar but better than the SB-600.  It accepts external battery pack.  It provides more option and plays.

I did some research and in the end, I bought the Godox PB960 pack with a cable for Nikon.  The connection as I understood it is a Quantum cable connection.  Though I can't find any affirmation online that the Godox PB960 can work with the Sunpak 120J I decided to give it a try.  Lucky me I was able to find a Quantum CS4 cable connecting the PB960 to the 120J.

The items arrived and everything just works.

Moving on to some other distractions.

Recap: now I can power two 120J with external powerpacks which definitely provide more flashes and much faster recycle time.  Or I can shoot my SB-800 using high speed sync with instantaneous recycle time, almost.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


It's not hard to get distracted at all.

I can easily spend hours and hours on those items.

I can never have enough storage space.  I can never fully understand backup, mirror, RAID 0 and RAID 1, RSYNC, JBOD.  Just when I thought RAID 1 is a good idea then maybe not.  My USB external hard drive is very iffy.  I can't be sure if the hard drive is the culprit or the enclosure or the computer.  Sometimes I see it and more often than not, I don't see it.  Can I even trust it?  Would a NAS serve me better?  Or just another piece of hardware I need to baby sit going forward?  Nothing runs itself.  It always needs some intervention.  Should I get a NAS harddrive for a NAS when I know I won't do RAID?  Would NAS be a good file server, fast enough?  Does it even matter?  5400 or 7200 rpm?

At the end of the day, I usually end up not knowing where my files are.

Should I get a power pack for my flashes?  I can look at them for hours and days.  What cable should I get?  What power pack should I get?  Are they compatible with my good old Sunpak 120J and Nikon SB-800?  Would the power pack toast them all?  Is Godox good or good enough?

Whenever I feel like I need the distraction I look those things up.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Relaxed Fit

I have my quirks.

I am no fan of slim or skinny fit jeans for the simple reason that I basically am too thick read fat and too old to wear any.  I can't stand any jeans that market as relaxed fit.  What is that?  If I want to feel relaxed, I wear sweat pants.  Why do you need to feel relaxed when you wear a pair of jeans?  Plus isn't relaxed more of an attitude than a fit?  I just wear them regular fit jeans loose; that would be my "relaxed fit" jeans.  I think relaxed fit is an oxymoron.