Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Huntsville Community Club Steps into the 21st Century

The town of Huntsville, Missouri has been slow to embrace the internet. The city itself does not have a website, and those organizations that do have websites have theirs hosted on the sites of the national organizations they are a part of. The sole exception to this being the DAR chapter that has its own site The Methodist Church has a website as does one of the Baptist churches. Now though the Huntsville Community Club has a website. It is one of the oldest organizations in Huntsville so this makes a big step for the town of Huntsville. I am hoping the Community Club unveiling a website will encourage other organizations as well as businesses to do so also. The town itself is also working on a website.

The Huntsville Community Club website is a small one consisting of only a few public pages, and a private members area, but it is a start. It is hoped with time the site can be used to promote events hosted by the Community Club, and also help members keep up with what is going on. Last year the Community Club used the internet to promote the Randolph County Old Settlers Reunion and Fall Fair posting the schedule to Huntsville Facebook groups and one of the member's websites. Having the schedule online and able to be downloaded was a big hit. Folks downloaded the pdf file of the schedule and had it on their phones to consult throughout the three day festival. And it cut down on the number of paper schedules that were handed out. This will in the future save the Community Club in printing costs. This year the Community Club will be using the website to not only have schedules online, but event posters. It is hoped that by using the internet to promote Community Club events community involvement will increase. You can see the site at: http://www.huntsvillecommunityclub.org

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bill O'Reilly Lied, Why am I not Surprised?

First it was Brian Williams lying about an incident involving a helicopter being shot down, and now it has been discovered Bill O'Reilly has lied about many things concerning the war between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falkland Islands. Apparently, he lied about everything from having a gun aimed at his head, seeing his photographer get run down, to even being in the Falkland Islands to begin with.  If these lies were not enough it has also been uncovered that Bill O'Reilly lied about being outside the door of George de Mohrenschildt's daughter's house when Mohrenschildt shot himself. O'Reilly claims he heard the gunshot that took Mohrenschildt 's life. George de Mohrenschildt  was a friend of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. All of these claims have been disputed by people in the know (read http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/25/oreilly-suicide-mohrenschildt_n_6749182.html and http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/02/24/the-bill-oreilly-scandal-made-simple/).

I am not all that surprised that Bill O'Reilly lied. He works for a network known for embellishing the truth. However, this goes far beyond simple embellishment even beyond the realm of slight exaggeration to flat out lying in such a degree as to be unimaginable. Were the lies simply about one instance such as the riot in Buneos Aires, or something similar then we might be able to chalk it up to not remembering the situation correctly. But there are simply so many lies, enough to make one question anything Bill O'Reilly says. Still, even given that I am not surprised. O'Reilly in order to please Fox News' audience had to create this image of himself. To be pro-war he had to be able to show he had been in a war zone. To be taken seriously he had to allow people to know he was there when headlines were being made. Essentially, he had to create this credible persona. The problem is he lied about things easily checked, things that there were witnesses to that could say he was not where he said he was, and now that image is beginning to fall apart. Whether it will matter to his elderly viewers is hard to tell. They may chalk the idea of O'Reilly lying being just more iberal propaganda. Nevertheless the story has gone viral with many tweets and memes making fun of O'Reilly.












The internet certainly is not showing O'Reilly any love, and at this point even Fox News has stopped defending him. The only question that remains is whether his elderly viewers are paying enough attention to learn he was lying, or if they even care.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Air dates of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" in its First Twenty Years

 My brother and I were discussing A Christmas Story and how folks have tried to date it using clues in the movie such as the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, a calendar on the wall, the appearance of Wizard of Oz characters, events in sports mentioned by the Old Man, and so forth. I brought up that perhaps since the movie narration is done by the adult Ralphie looking back perhaps his memory of events in his childhood was faulty. Thus he could remember his Dad mentioning some baseball player being traded that Christmas and got mixed up and thought it was  Bill "Bullfrog" Dietrich. "Bullfrog" was actually traded three or four years earlier than the year the movie seems to take place. The same explanation could be used for an upcoming game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears that was mentioned in the movie, and many other things.

This conversation segued into a conversation about our own memories we found not to be accurate. And I mentioned that when I was younger I thought Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer always aired on December 1st. This made me curious so I searched online for a list of air dates of Ruldolph.... but could not find any. Still curious I went searching through old TV listings to see if Rudolph... ever aired on December 1st when I was a child and found it did one year. In the process I came up with a list of air  dates of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer when I was a child. I expanded this list out to its first twenty years. Note, this list may not be totally accurate as stations sometimes aired network programming at different times. However, I did try to cross reference between station listings to make it as accurate as possible. There is always the off chance though two stations both aired it at a time different than the network on the same night though.

Air Dates of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer  the first twenty years it aired.
 
1964: Dec. 6
1965: Dec. 5
1966: Dec. 4
1967: Dec. 8
1968: Dec. 6
1969: Dec. 5
1970: Dec. 4
1971: Dec. 6
1972: Dec. 8
1973: Dec. 7
1974: Dec. 8
1975: Dec. 3
1976: Dec. 1
1977: Nov. 30
1978: Dec. 6
1979: Dec. 5
1980: Dec. 3
1981: Dec. 14
1982: Dec. 1
1983: Nov. 27
1984: Dec. 1

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Many Film and TV Versions of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"

Two years ago I undertook an endeavor to see what the most accurate film adaptation whether in the form of a motion picture or made for TV movie was. Just prior to the Christmas season I read Dickens' book _A Christmas Carol._ As I went through watching the various adaptations I would reread it to refresh myself of its contents. What follows are my commentaries on the various adaptations that I posted on Google Plus. These by far are not all of the adaptations. These are merely the ones I got to watch during the holiday season of 2012. There are more which I did not have access to. Each adaptation is called by the name of the actor that played Scrooge except for the Disney animated version which is simply called the Disney Animated Version. One version I did not comment on was the musical Scrooge with Albert Finney. Being a musical it departs from the book in many ways, but generally follows the plot of the book and its scenes in a fairly loyal way. It is unique in that the ghostly death coach appears when Scrooge enters his home near the beginning of the book. As I recall it does not appear in any of the other film adaptations I cover.

Google Plus Post on December 19, 2012 Sim, Scott, and Hicks Adaptations

Last night I read Dickens' A Christmas Carol to see how the movies differ from the novel. Thus far this year I have watched the Seymour Hicks version, Alastair Sim version, and the George C. Scott version of the movie adaptations. None of these versions are loyal to the novel. The Seymour version added dialogue and characters to some scenes, alters some scenes so they appear very unlike those in the novel, and omits some very important scenes that are in the novel. Fan, Scrooge's sister does not appear at all in the film. It does include one scene not seen in the other two films but in the book. Finally, Scrooge has very little interaction with the ghosts. Indeed, they only appear on the screen for a couple of minutes.

The Sim version left out several scenes in the book, added several not even hinted at in the book, inserted characters in scenes where they do not appear in the novel, and altered other scenes and dialogue. The added scenes are not even hinted at in the book in a couple of cases, and only alluded to in others. The added scenes do not appear to add much to the story other than to establish that Scrooge is a rather stingy fellow, or to establish things that were established later in the book.

The Scott version left out scenes from the book and added dialogue in the opening scene in Scrooge's office, and altered at least one scene by leaving out characters. None the less it is the most loyal version of the three films even with the added dialoge in the opening scene.

None of the movies are really loyal to the book, although I have to say of the three, the Scott version is the most loyal with the Sim version departing from the novel the most with added scenes. The sad thing is if scenes had not been added to the Sim version, more scenes from the novel could have been kept in the screenplay and other scenes not altered, it would have been the most loyal of the three. At 86 minutes the Sim version is long enough to cover much of the novel. The Scott version is longer at 102 minutes, and spends more time with each scene from the novel. If dialogue had not been added in the opening scene and here and there, some of the scenes from the novel that were left out could have been added instead.

One thing I find interesting in the Hicks, Sim, and Scott versions is the need to reference coal in the opening scene. In the  Hicks and Sim versions Scrooge gets after Cratchit for trying to add coal to the fire. He does this too in the Scott version going as far to lecture Cratchit on the use of coats and waistcoats as an alternative to using coal. None of this dialogue appears in the book. Neither Scrooge or Cratchit ever mention coal. In the book it only described how there are very few embers in the stoves, and that Cratchit is trying to warm his hands by the candle. I think adding these lines to the films about coal seriously alters the character of Bob Cratchit. In the book we are given the impression he is loyal and obdient and would not seek to displease Scrooge, and when he does he is very apologetic. Our impression of him is altered with these added lines about coal in the films. With the Scott and Sim versions they also insert Belle in the Fezziwig scene. I think that is because they feel a need to introduce the character. In the novel we first see her when she is breaking up with Scrooge. She makes no appearance before then. In the Hicks version the school scenes do not appear at all. In the Sim and Scott versions only the second school scene appears with the Sim version being seriously altered. 

Google Plus Post on December 22, 2012 Patrick Stewart Adptation

I watched the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol. It has several scenes that appear in the book, but do not appear in many of the other movie versions. One scene is that of Cratchit in his upstairs room with Tiny Tim's body when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is showing Scrooge the future that may be. The only other movie that it appears in is the Hicks version. It also shows the first school scene with the Ghost of Christmas Past that does not appear in many of the other movies (though never has that scene from the book appeared in its entirety  nor has the second school scene appeared in its entirety for that matter). And it shows the lighthouse and ship scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the scene with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and the debtors happy at Scrooge's death. It does leave out the scene of Belle being happily married with the Ghost of Christmas Past though which I think is an important scene in the book. Some of the dialogue is altered from the book, some key lines left out oft times not for the better in my opinion. That is not to say that the alterations are bad, it is just to say that they lack the power of the original dialogue Dickens wrote in my opinion. One particular line that is omitted when the Ghost of Christmas Present appears is noticeable to anyone that has read the novel or seen the other movie versions. There are also some lines left out from when Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come  visit Cratchit 's house that is pretty glaring. However, where the original dialogue from the book is used unaltered, it is sometimes more powerful than in the same scenes from the other movies. And some dialogue from the book omitted from some of the other movies is included. I guess that is the trade off. The scene when the reformed Scrooge visits his nephew Fred plays out differently from the book, but none of the movies are very loyal to this scene. There is an added scene at the beginning which while it is  not seen in the book fits nicely in the movie. There are some anachronisms such as people singing "Silent Night." "Silent Night" was not translated into English until many years after the novel takes place. But then you see similar anachronisms with the other movies Overall, I would say it is a toss up between it and the Scott version as to which is the most loyal to the novel. It is odd as they are both made for TV movies, while the others were feature films. I have yet to watch the 1935 Reginald Owen version of A Christmas Carol, but at 69 minutes it is the shortest of the movies, and therefore much perhaps left out. I will try to watch it tomorrow.

Google Plus Post on December 23, 2012 Reginald Owen Adaptation

I watched the Reginald Owen version of A Christmas Carol. Of the versions I have watched (Hicks, Owen, Sim, Scott, and Stewart) it is the least loyal. There are scenes from the book that do not appear. For example Belle does not appear at all in this retelling. And there are major plot changes such as Fred is not married, he is only engaged, and Scrooge fires Bob Cratchit. There are added scenes that do not appear in the book (a church scene with Christmas Present, and various scenes throughout the movie), and many of the scenes from the book are altered sometimes to make them appear very different. The school scenes are condensed into one, the scene with Fezzywig is abbreviated (there is no party), and the ending is changed drastically (Scrooge shows up at Bob's house with the turkey and presents for the kids instead of being in the office the next morning). The dialogue is often different from the book, either changed or not appearing. Never the less despite it being the least loyal version it is very enjoyable. Ann Rutherford is fun as Christmas Past, and the Lockharts were very convincing as the Cratchits. I also watched Mr. Magoo's A Christmas Carol. For an hour long cartoon (with commercials) it is surprisingly loyal despite taking the ghosts out of order. It is very funny. Next for me to watch is Disney's A Christmas Carol. I have heard this version is very good and that it contains scenes from the book that do not appear in some of the other movies.

Google Plus Post on December Disney Animated Version
 
I watched Disney's A Christmas Carol.  It is the only animated version I am doing commentary on. There are some added scenes, and some changed dialogue. Some lines are left out here and there. Entire scenes from the novel were left out in some places as well, while others appear in this version that do not appear in the other adaptations. Both school scenes are included although in abbreviated form which is the norm for the film adaptations of A Christmas Carol.  The scene with Belle happy with her husband seven years before the events of the novel does not appear. There is an exchange between the Ghost of Christmas Present and Scrooge included that is in the book that does not appear in the other adaptations. The lecture by the Ghost of Christmas Present about how many see Scrooge as less fit to live than Tiny Tim does not appear. The scenes with the miners, the lighthouse, and the ship do not appear. And the scene with Ignorance and Want is altered slightly from the book. There are added scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. A sequence with Scrooge running in the streets of London from a wagon driven by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in a shrunken form has been added. I do not see it adds anything to the story.I think they would have ben better leaving it out, and instead keeping scenes from the book that do not appear. He is still shrunken when he comes to the pawnbroker's. In the pawnbroker scene only two of the five characters that appear in the book appear. The scene with the debtors happy that Scrooge has died appears, and it is rarely seen in film adaptations. The ending is altered with Scrooge's housekeeper being in the house when Scrooge awakens. She is not the house in the book, and only appears at the pawnbroker's. Scrooge also grabs on back of a carriage and slides along as it goes, that is not, of course in the book. Overall, were not scenes added to give it more the character of a cartoon (which it is), it would be a very loyal adaptation. At least it would be no less loyal than most of the live action versions. Yes, scenes are left out, but this is done with all adaptations. After the Stewart and Scott versions I would say it is the third most loyal of the ones I have seen (Hicks, Owen, Sim, Scott, and Stewart) in my opinion. Were it not for added and altered scenes it would be the most loyal in my opinion.
 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Review of the Torch Browser

I started using the Torch Browser back in June of 2013. I had been having problems with Chrome when surfing Google+ to the point that it was really hurting my ability to use the social network. When a friend who was having similar problems recommended Torch I went and downloaded it. Thus began my love affair with the Torch Browser. Alas it was not to last.

When I first started using Torch it was fast, faster than Chrome in fact. I loved the download accelerator, the share button, and Torch Music. It was by far the best browser I had used with Google Hangouts. What thrilled me even more is I could use all my Chrome extensions with it.The download accelerator lived up to what it was claimed it would do. Downloading files was a breeze when compared to Firefox or Chrome. And I loved being able to share to Facebook or Twitter without having to install an extension. Since I share links to websites quite a bit that feature was particularly wonderful. And gone were the days of buffering, bad audio, and glitchy video with Google Hangouts. Most important my problems with Google+ were gone. I could now browse my stream without it hanging while I scrolled.

Overtime though with each new version Torch got slower. As they added more features I had no use for like Torch Games and Torch Shopping my browsing experience was becoming less enjoyable. Still, I soldiered on convinced I had made the wise choice. Regardless of what they did to change the Torch Browser it was still better than Chrome. And while I could not find a way to get rid of things like Torch Shopping it really was sort of out of the way so it did not bother me.

Then came the latest version. I had Torch set to automatically update so I was not surprised when greeted by a new version. The first thing I noticed was the extension FaceLift. As I used Fluff Busting for Facebook I really had no use for it. So I decided to uninstall the extension. Guess what? It was not listed with the extensions. Deciding this would not stop me I went to the Torch Browser's extensions directory and deleted its folder. Problem solved. Torch ran as always with the extension being removed no problem. A week later I encountered another problem. Torch was taking a long time to load websites. We are talking dial up connection, Internet Explorer slow. So I cleared the cookies and cache, ran Spybot Search and Destroy and then Malware Bytes. Spybot Search and Destroy got rid of some Internet Explorer cookies while Malware Bytes found no issues. That seemed to take care of the problem. Then two days later, the slow loading problem happened again. After several hours of fighting with it I gave up and opened Chrome. Chrome ran fine. Unsure of Chrome given my past experience though and frustrated with the Torch Browser I turned to Firefox, and have been using it as my main browser the last couple of months.

Then came last night. The last few weeks McAfee Total Protection's Vulnerability Scanner had been wanting me to update VLC Media Player. The problem? I do not have VLC Media Player installed on this machine. I figured it must be a plugin so I checked Torch, Chrome, and Firefox for the VLC plugin. It was nowhere to be seen. Flustered, I went to my registry and deleted every key that had anything to do with the VLC Media Player (I had it installed at one point so there were a few entries). I fired up the Vulnerablity Scanner and guess what? It wanted to update VLC Media Player again. This had me flabbergasted. So I opened File Explorer and entered the search term "VLC." A minute or so later I got results. It was indeed a VLC plugin making McAfee think I had the player. And guess where it was? Right there in Torch's directory. That for me was the last straw. Had when I loaded the plugins for the Torch Browser it had shown the VLC plugin I would have known what the problem was. That and the fact that I got a "blocked risky connection" warning from McAfee upon opening Torch, something I only get while using Torch was enough to get me to uninstall the browser. None of my other browsers has ever caused me such problems (I now have Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer).

The thing is uninstalling the Torch Browser saddened me. It had served me well. It was for over a year my favorite browser. I had recommended it to many people who also found it useful. It may well have been the most useful browser I have ever used. But alas, I like speed when it comes to browsing the internet. I have no time for anything that is slower than Internet Explorer, and certainly no use for something that makes me remember the days of dial up and using Internet Explorer after Netscape imploded. I have a high speed cable connection and like to make the use of it. Too, I did not like extensions and plugins being hidden from me. I want total control over such things esp. something as trivial as an extension to customize Facebook, and certainly control over something as important as a media player.

Would I recommend the Torch Browser to someone now? No, I would not. Even my friend that recommended it to me stopped using it long ago. Sure I could have uninstalled it, and then did a clean install and seen if that changed things, but I was already irritated with the addition of features I did not use or want. What had been a very useful browser was suddenly becoming bloated. Doing a clean install just seemed like too much work for a browser I had given up on. I would not try to convince someone not to try the Torch Browser now. They very well may find it useful. I would not recommend it though. For me I am back to relying on Firefox and Chrome, and I am quite happy with that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Few Words on the Grand Jury for the Shooting of Michael Brown

I have seen folks saying that because there was contradictory testimony in the Grand Jury hearings in the case of Officer Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown that it should have went to trial. That is not how Grand Juries work. A Grand Jury has to establish probable cause. When there is a lot of contradictory testimony this cannot be done. The whole purpose of a Grand Jury is to establish if a case were to go to trial the chances of a conviction. In the case of Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown there simply was not enough witnesses making statements showing Darren Wilson did not act within his rights as a police officer and what was presented was contradicted by other witness statements as well as some of the physical evidence. Had Wilson been put on trial the verdict probably would have been innocent. A criminal trial has much stricter criteria than a Grand Jury. It has to show wrong was done beyond a shadow of a doubt.

It is sad a young black man had to die. However, everyday there are no doubt examples of police using excessive force against young black men as well as those of other ethnic groups. If you want to protest the treatment of young black men pick one of these cases where it is clear the police officer or officers were in the wrong. Do not take a case where it is uncertain what happened and try to make it fit your narrative. This goes both for those that think Wilson was in the right in shooting Brown as well as those that think it was wrong of Wilson to shoot him. Look at what was presented the Grand Jury with an open mind and decide for yourself. Do not just go along with what you hear on the news, see in social media, or act on emotions. Enlighten yourself and then decide. I looked at what was presented the Grand Jury, and frankly I do not know what happened. I do know there are cases where police wrong doing are much more clear cut than this case.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/11/25/366507379/ferguson-docs-how-the-grand-jury-reached-a-decision

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Evidence the Grand Jury in the Michael Brown Case Read

One thing lost in the story about young black man Michael Brown being shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson is facts. First we are told one thing by news outlets, then another. We are shown a photo that must have been taken when Brown was 12 years old (upon first seeing the photo I thought he must have been built like late actor Gary Coleman). Competing narratives are created. Was Michael Brown the promising young man about to go to college, or was he a small time thug that roughed up a small Korean shopkeeper? Was he the cute kid we are shown in the photo, or was he a big bruiser who was a bit of a bully? And in all this there is much speculation and the facts get lost in the mix. I have been saying I would reserve judgement until I saw what the Grand Jury to determine whether to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson had seen. Now, I took into account that this evidence had passed through the hands of those perhaps biased towards Wilson. I also considered that any attempt at filtering evidence so that Wilson was not indicted would have been foolish given there is a Federal investigation going on. Regardless, the information the Grand Jury saw is probably closer to the truth than what the media has been reporting in all its speculation and unconfirmed accounts. NPR is the only news outlet I have found that has published the documents the Grand Jury saw. Read the documents (and there are a lot of them), and decide for yourself. You can read them at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/11/25/366507379/ferguson-docs-how-the-grand-jury-reached-a-decision