Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Things I think about on the drive home

Two vaguely related subjects crossed my brain on my drive up Rhode Island Rt. 146 tonight, so I'll spend some time yapping about these topics.

Topic 1: my latest obsession with my newly-installed edition of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 is probably a poor use of my time, but I'm enjoying the product too much to stop. My Bachelor's degree was in Radio-TV-Film Production, so playing with the latest video tech software makes me feel like a caveman with a flashlight. I'm gobsmacked over the ease of use in dumping HD video onto a PC, scrambling it up a bit with the preset video effects, and then pumping out professional-quality shows after just about an hour of work. Things like chroma-key, multitrack audio and video, wipes, fades, dissolves, titles - - - I get dizzy just reading the dozens of menu options.  Not sure if I was born too early or too late to grok all the workings of the software, but now I have to plan on living until I'm 115 in order to get my money's worth from Adobe.

Topic 1.1: Related to this Premiere Pro is a strong desire to cut clips out of DVDs and string them in alternate sequences. I can do that with my HD camera videos, but I would like to be able to capture clips from DVDs and play with them. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a piece of software to do this. I understand the need to preserve copyright and all that intellectual property stuff, but I don't want to sell anything - - I just want to edit bits and pieces of films to confirm or refute problems I've seen in movies. (An example: E.T. and Poltergeist were shot in the same neighborhood at the same time. Some of the neighborhood houses are in both films, and I want to line scenes up to see if this is true.) Somewhere, some company must make a Windows based ripping program that lets you take short video "snapshots" of scenes, but I just haven't found that app yet.

Topic 2: It's become a habit for me to fall asleep watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes on - - just about every episode is complete and online right now, so it's a very simple matter to type in an episode number and watch a 90-minute movie while going to bed.

The eternal question of whether you're a Joel Man or a Mike Man I guess depends on when you started watching the show. I first saw MST3K on the now-defunct Comedy Channel, when they were re-airing episodes from their old KTMA TV days. Joel Hodgson invented the concept, and borrowed from his own stand-up act for the Invention Exchange, so he will always be the top Another Face in a Red Jumpsuit to me. Not that Mike Nelson wasn't funny - - he just wasn't *as funny* as Joel.

Facebook has diminished my opinion of the funniest guy on MST3K - - Frank Conniff, who played TV's Frank in the middle years of the series. TV's Frank was a perfect, cartoon-like second banana to Dr. Clayton Forrester, and his babyish whining served as an excellent counter to the Mad Scientist of the Gizmonic Institute. The character is not the man, though, and I'm disappointed that Frank Conniff's posts on FB amount to little more than daily political rants about Bush and Cheney and the Tea Party. I'm sad because I've read about his writing skills on MST3K, and to see a complete lack thereof in his current postings is a letdown.

So as not to exit this post on a depressing note, let me leave you with a bit of simple fun from MST3K, featuring the usual Great Race homage at the end of every episode. "Push the button, Frank."


  1. Team Joel all the way.

    I love MST3K but fear it won't age well. I sat down with my girls a couple of years ago to show them a few of my best-remembered episodes and had to keep stopping to explain--not because my kids aren't bright, but because the world has moved on (Pia Zadora?). Still: bless their hearts.

    Good luck with your toys, both CS5.5 and the blog. I'll be here.

  2. Brian, such is the nature of being topical. Many years ago, I interviewed Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley, two head writers for "The Simpsons." They said that in the early years, the executive producers were pushing for the most topical references in every show, but this effort diminished in later years when the showrunners began to realize how much it dated the series. I keep wondering how many cultural references people our age miss in Looney Tunes cartoons.