Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 137

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 137

…”That’s enough to piss off the Pope,” this newly minted fugitive from the CPD adds a pinch of pontiff impropriety to his normally dry humor…

sarcasm

Don’t piss off the Pope!

As is his usual, Martin has been a quiet observer throughout the latest episode of that popular television show, “What’s My Line?”, with guest panelists, A. Gent Dan, Pen T. Tuke and A. Jacks Bunnion and narrated by your congenial host Carrie Conway.

“Thank you all for asking my opinion,” Martin acts as if he is put off, when in fact he has been composing a countering position to Libby all along. They had been figuring that he would oppose and debate the plan.

“So what do you think Martin, could this throw Forever Mastadon off the mark or at least keep us safe until Libby drops the real bombshell?”

“What a damn double whammy that’s going to be,” Ace concludes. “Not only is his idea not dead……..but neither is he!’

“That’s enough to piss off the Pope,” this newly minted fugitive from the CPD adds a pinch of pontiff impropriety to his normally dry humor.

Expecting a big push-back, the others await Martin’s reaction.

“I’ll do it.” There is a collective sigh. “Both Will and me knew that there would be naysayer factions inside and outside of the scientific community, so we went about crafting a counterpoint expository that would represent the negative. We can fire it off early if you want.”

Mr. Cheddar

“We want you to present it in a way that supports the evolution crowd, not an argument against something nobody has heard yet. You Martin represent the closest Libby protégé and by publicly supporting carbon dating of material that is millions of years old, you will demonstrate a clean break,” Constance lays down her vision. “And don’t worry about your reputation. We are going to make you the cheese in the mousetrap. The mousetrap is Argonne and Daniels will join you as Mr. Cheddar.”

“If we stay there more than 24 hours, Penty will find me,” James/Daniels explains. “For some reason, it takes him a full day before he can locate me.”

“Don’t you get tired of moving around all the time… and how do you sleep?” Ace is sympathetic to being a man on the run.

“I can stay in one spot Ace, in places that are nondescript, like this is not one of those places, so I must keep moving,” the government man’s plight comes with the job. “And I sleep with eyes wide shut.”


 Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 120

 

Film Locale Legends – WIF @ the Movies

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Movie Sets

That Took On

a Life of Their Own

Hollywood strives to make movies look as real as possible: after all, The Matrix wouldn’t have been nearly as convincing if it’d been filmed in some guy’s basement. To make that magic, sets are often elaborately and solidly built. So elaborately and solidly, in fact, that after filming is over, those sets keep being used, even when it’s no longer for the movies.

10. Pioneertown, CA

pioneer-town

Mane Street (Really. That’s not a typo) of Pioneertown was built in the 1940’s, as a location for Westerns like Cisco Kid and The Gene Autry Show. Although it was a movie set, all the buildings were real, not just false fronts, so after the Western craze went boots up, regular folks moved in. In 1972, the building that had been “The Cantina” in various shows and movies became an outlaw biker bar that served burritos. In 1982 the biker bar was reopened as Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, and is still there today, as is the rest of Pioneertown. In fact, if you’d like to own a part of Mane Street, like the Likker Barn, check the real estate listings…they’re often for sale.

9. Christmas Story House, OH

A-Christmas-Story-House

When filming on 1983’s Christmas Story ended, Ralphie’s house gave up the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, and went back to being a house. Like other ordinary houses, it was eventually renovated until it looked nothing like it had in the movie. In 2004, Brian Jones, whose job was making and selling replica Christmas Story leg lamps, bought it on eBay. Jones re-renovated the house back to its movie glory, going frame-by-frame to make sure it was exact. Today it’s open to visitors, and Jones also bought a house across the street and turned it into a museum. A Christmas Story museum, naturally.

8. Shakespeare in Love’s Rose Theatre, somewhere in England

Rose-Theatre

What do you do with a stage set after Gwyneth Paltrow is no longer prancing around on it? You give the whole thing to Judi Dench, apparently. Dench kept the Rose Theater set from 1998’s Shakespeare in Love in storage until 2009, when she donated it to the British Shakespeare Company. The Company announced plans to use the set as a stage in a Shakespeare center, but nothing’s been done with it yet: in 2010 the Chester Chronicle reported that the city’s attempt to bring the theater there had failed.

7. John Wayne’s Alamo Village, TX

alamo-village

Never one to skimp on details, John Wayne had a full-scale, working reproduction of the Alamo built for his 1960 film about, of course, the Alamo. The set was used as a location for other films until 1971, when it was sold back to the original owner of the land. John Wayne’s Alamo Village then became a tourist attraction, with a John Wayne Museum, trail rides, and gunfight reenactments, until the owner died and it closed to the public in 2009.

6. Spahn Movie Ranch, CA

spahn-movie-ranch

Westerns like Bonanza and The Lone Ranger were filmed at the Spahn Movie Ranch from the 1940’s-60’s. In 1968, the ranch’s elderly owner let Charles Manson and his “family” stay there as they prepared for Manson’s “revolution.” They were living on the ranch at the time of the Tate-La Bianca murders, and Manson was arrested there in 1969. The buildings burned down in 1970, no doubt as some kind of heavenly judgment, and today the land is part of the Santa Susana Pass State Park.

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 61

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 61

…Willard Libby’s mental prison continued…

A discombobulated human brain, safely ensconced in a distant mental hospital, begins the near impossible task of putting thoughts back together, spurred on by the visit of a friend. Like Charlie McCarthy without Edgar Bergen, this poor soul is left without an advocate, an audible voice to explain the inexplicable; The Charlie McCarthy Show, sponsored by Coca-Cola, being one of the few forms of entertainment he gets over his room’s loudspeaker every Sunday night.

‘I am getting tired of being treated like a child. They speak at me not to me. If I could speak I would tell them that they are all a bunch of quacks. The drugs they gave me were meant for a raving lunatic, do I look like a raving lunatic? No, but when in doubt there has to be a drug solution. The guys who stole me away from Argonne…….Wolf—Wolfgram I heard him called by name, caused me to become concussed. Couldn’t these cretins figure that out? I am sure I was about to come around once I was thawed out, but noooo, use high voltage to shock me into consciousness. Brilliant! I have a monumental finding to share with the world. Billy said it will cause a revival, a thousand times bigger than his crusades. The Pope should know all about crusades, unless conquering countries in the name of God isn’t kosher. Kosher pickles are the best, I usually have one with my grilled cheese sandwiches; the only food at the University cafeteria that is digestible. Chicago that is where the University is; I don’t have a clue where I am now. Martin will take care of things; he likes the tuna fish casserole.’

Madness or brilliance; there is a fine line between genius and (in)sanity.

Genius


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 58 (end Ch. 6)

Computer Generated Imagery… Not!

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Practical Effects

You Thought Were

Computer Generated

One of the most important aspects of the film-making is keeping the audience immersed in the world it’s being shown. Whether the characters are in a fantasy world or jumping out of a moving car, the audiences’ willingness to go along with the story is, in large part, due to the viewer’s willingness to suspend disbelief. The goal of a filmmaker is to keep the audience so entranced that it’s only afterward that they begin to question or wonder how some of the amazing feats were accomplished.

And because of the advancements in CGI, many audience members simply write off the incredible as ordinary. Many believe that the stunts are simply CGI when, in fact, some of the most powerful scenes in recent memory have been real, practical, extremely dangerous stunts.

10. The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan is something of a realist. One of the best directors of his generation, he has resisted the switch to digital and has continued to shoot on film; it’s not surprising, then, that he’d do everything in his power to make CGI as limited as possible in his blockbuster works. A daring filmmaker who continues to tell stories in a unique narrative style and voice, Nolan was at the helm of the revitalization of the Batman franchise. In one of the most iconic scenes from The Dark Knight, Batman attempts to save Harvey Dent from the Joker, who is determined to blow up a police escort. In the well-known tunnel sequence, the Batmobile rams into a garbage truck. The scene left many scratching their heads, marveling about the realism of CGI. The truth is that it was real. Every bit.

Nolan and his team constructed a one-third scale model of the Batmobile, as well as the truck and that particularly part of Chicago’s lower Wacker Drive. Nolan’s stunt team placed both models on a guide and smashed them into each other to create the scene. The same strategy was used for the semi-trailer truck that flips on its head. All in all, the plan was executed brilliantly and viewer is left marveling at the world they created.

9. The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan was at it again in the final installment of his Batman trilogy. According to Nolan, one of his proudest moments was executing the opening scene, where Bane escapes from the CIA plane, mid-flight. It’s an exhilarating sequence, that – again – did not use CGI. The scene was filmed in Scotland, over the Cairngorm Mountains of the Scottish Highlands. It’s the highest mountain range in the UK and is described as incredibly cold, with incessant winds and an unforgiving climate. The CIA plane used in the film was a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, commissioned by the US military. It was a perfect fit for the stunt with a stall speed as low as 111 miles per hour. Nolan and his camera crew were able to follow the plane in a helicopter, recording the exterior action. The particulars are so difficult to describe in detail that when Nolan was asked about the stunt, he said “It was sort of an incredible coming together of lots and lots of planning by a lot of members of the team who worked for months rehearsing all these parachute jumps.”

The action inside the plane was much more straightforward. It was accomplished by building a simulator, where Nolan could rotate, shake and twist the fuselage, making the actors almost weightless inside the device. Put together, Nolan was able to add another jaw-dropping scene to his filmography.

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

One of the most highly anticipated films in recent memory, Star Wars: The Force Awakens made sure to capitalize off the hype, introducing several real props, creatures, and locations. Probably the most notable prop was the droid BB-8. JJ Abrams and crew made sure they had a BB-8 for whatever sequence they were filming. They constructed a BB-8 that could show emotion when held be actors, a BB-8 that could be thrown around and stay upright, a BB-8 controlled by rod puppeteers, and even a fully functioning droid that could roll around like a possessed bowling ball.

Abrams and crew didn’t phone it in with CGI when they really probably could have, either. Don’t get us wrong; there’s obviously a ton of CGI in a movie featuring literal spaceship battles. But even small effects like Rey’s food materializing was real. A sequence that was on screen for seconds took more than 3 months to develop and execute. And while it may not seem worth it, the smallest things can take a viewer out of a world, and The Force Awakens did a great job of refusing to allow the audience to easily fall astray.

7. Apollo 13

One of the best films depicting NASA astronauts is Ron Howard’s Apollo 13. Starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton, the film depicts the aborted 1970 lunar mission, which became a mission of survival. Instead of using CGI, Howard wanted to create an atmosphere or experience that allowed viewers to truly appreciate the fear and unease that the astronauts experienced. Howard utilized NASA’s “Vomit Comet” KC-135 airplane, designed for one purpose: creating a zero-G environment on Earth.

In order to accomplish such a feat, the KC-135 does a series of parabolic arcs at very fast speeds; this results in a window of weightlessness for the passengers. According to reports, it took more than 600 arcs for Howard to get the take he liked. It’s now clear that he knew what he was doing: the movie was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and grossed more than $355 million worldwide.

6. Skyfall

Good filmmakers certainly know how to catch an audience’s attention. The opening scene from Skyfall is no different. Every kick and punch thrown in the scene is actually performed by Daniel Craig and his counterpart on top of a speeding train. The only thing keeping them from falling is a wire that’s as thin as one’s finger. Bond films are notorious for real stunts that push the boundaries.

In Spectre, the follow-up installment in the Bond franchise, filmmakers set a Guinness record for stunts in a single production. So next time you’re watching a Bond film, make sure you take a second to appreciate the risks that some of these men and women are taking for our entertainment.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

This is one of the most unique examples on our list because of its utilization of both CGI and real stunts to make compelling scenes. In that iconic scene where Tom Hardy is dangling perilously close to the ground, that’s completely real. All that was keeping Hardy from being roadkill was a thin cable. The sequence in question was also filmed while Hardy’s son was on set, too. Director George Miller, when asked what would happen if the cable snapped, remarked, “He’d probably go under the wheels.” Good one, George. Miller is known for pushing the limits of ordinary film practices. He hired “Cirque du Soleil performers to rock around on Chinese acrobat poles while a camera rig weaved through them at up to 100 mph.”

If that wasn’t enough, the film’s production also saw the invention of a new way to flip a car: a “nitrogen-powered metallic blade” was designed to pop down on the car, forcing it to make those ridiculous flips in the movie. Not bad for the director of Happy Feet and Babe: Pig in the City. That’ll do, George. That’ll do.

4. Mission: Impossible (Pretty Much the Whole Film Franchise)

Tom Cruise is notorious for doing most of his own stunts in his films. Shooting the upcoming installment in the Mission: Impossible series, Cruise even broke his ankle trying to jump to an adjacent rooftop. This wasn’t the first time Cruise has put himself into harm’s way. In the original, he dangled from a ceiling; in the sequel he hung off the side of a cliff. In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, he scaled the side of Burj Khalifa. And in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he clung to a side of a flying plane.

Each of these stunts was performed by Cruise, without the use of stuntmen. Talk about courage (or lunacy… or maybe a little bit of both). In Rogue Nation, Cruise only had wires attached to his body as he gripped the side of a flying plane. We suppose that’s why they pay him the big bucks.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man

One of the unique bits of the Spider-Man reboot was director Marc Webb’s decision to make the web-slinging aspects of the film real. In past Spider-Man movies, the web-slinging was mostly all CGI and it became apparent in scenes that took many viewers out of the movie. Instead, The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel relied mostly on stuntmen and Andrew Garfield himself, who was willing to participate in the action. Stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong described in an interview the difficult process of executing such a stunt. Through his research, he found that the difficulty in the execution was based, in part, on the past versions of Spider-Man depicting his downward swing as the same as his upward motion.

Armstrong and his team constructed “a track being pulled by a high-speed winch to help emulate Spidey’s web-swinging ways.” He’d go on to describe it as cracking a whip. A stuntman would “drop into the bottom of the pendulum, and as he reached the bottom of his arc, someone driving the winch would pull a dolly along to the next spot.” With a little digital effects to boot, The Amazing Spider-Man films created a whole new way of looking at one of our favorite superheroes.

2. The Matrix Reloaded

Don’t jump down our throats. We know The Matrix Reloaded relied on a heavy amount of CGI. However, it’d surprise most readers to know how many of the action sequences actually relied upon real stunts. One of the most memorable sequences in the entire trilogy, the Agents chasing Morpheus and Trinity on the highway, was no exception.

Although the Agent seen jumping from the hood of a vehicle was added later in post production, the chain reaction of car crashes and the actual implosion of the car was real. The Wachowskis managed to oversee the use of special rigs, cannons, and ramps to create the massively destructive sequence. The filmmakers choice to use real stunts and props is one of the major reasons The Matrix series has, for the most part, continued to stand the test of time.

1. Inception

Hey, we couldn’t end our list without another Christopher Nolan movie. The uncompromising auteur has managed to consistently create stunning visual sequences without relying on CGI. Probably the most memorable scene in Inception was Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page’s characters conversation at a coffee shop in Paris. Suddenly, an explosion sends debris, and broken glass into the air. All the while, DiCaprio and Page remain in the center of the storm.

The sequence was executed by production designer Chris Corbould, shooting a series of air cannons while director of photography Wally Pfister shot at 1,500 frames per second. It made for one of the most memorable parts of the movie, introducing the audience to the idea of Inception. Not to be outdone, later in the film there’s a fight scene featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a hotel room and hallway, in which the room continues to rotate, allowing the combatants to run up the walls and on the ceiling. As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, particularly if you watched the video up above, that was all done entirely with practical sets and stunts.


Computer Generated Imagery… Not! –

WIF Gadgets

The NULL Solution = Episode 146

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The NULL Solution = Episode 146

…The world-wide public cannot get enough; so intriguing, so foreign to those with the least bit of an astronomical leaning…

Astronomy Picture of the Day – NASA

“If I can interrupt, my favorite moment was when we drove Solution into a river. What a kick to see how she handles underwater!”

It certainly was a kick, just not quite for the reasons he described. He leaves out the juicy parts, like the actual force field enforced by a riddle-master; a two-way closed door that is stuck shut. AND that, in everyone’s qualified opinion, he is back with his family and Rick is back tending to his nuts, is a flat-out miracle.

“Let’s take a look at the pictures your drone took, after you men were safely inside the drone and on your way back to Earth. I hear you named it the Martian Mule.

While she speaks, the director in the control room is showing file footage. That “structure” is visible in the distance, as will be the ash plume that rises just as high, without strong prevailing winds to spread it out.

“We were happy to have Mars in our rearview mirror,”… that and an alien behemoth {Collapsar Axis}. No footage of that though. This is a time for celebration not worry.

Pistachio Growers Association Incorporated. PGAI

“Lt. Commander Stanley, Prez Roy tells me you have officially retired?”  People want details and Randi Gilbert II delivers.

“Yes, I bought a little pistachio grove in California. A few cattle, some chickens and a small herd of quarter horses too.”

“Sounds like that will keep you busy.” She turns, “What about your plans Gus McKinney… with your time off, I mean?”

“Well, my daughter Marscie is growing like a weed. I think I’ll watch her develop, teach her about space stuff, maybe do a little sky watching on the side.”

“Aren’t you tired of looking at stars?”

“There’s more out there than stars and planets Randi …”

Bzztt… Fresh pictures of the Green {formerly red} Planet abruptly pop onto the broadcast. The public cannot get enough; so intriguing, so foreign to those with the least bit of an astronomical leaning. It seems someone in the studio control room was afraid that Gus may be referring to approaching unmentionable alien fortress.

RG II thanks her all-star guests and signs off from this exciting and informative new episode of Good Morning Mission Control.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 146


page 144

The NULL Solution = Episode 145

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The NULL Solution = Episode 145

…Rick Stanley digs deep for a way to frame his description about really happened on Mars…

Good Morning Mission Control’s current purpose is to direct attention to the recent homecoming of two heroes of space and their incredible story of riding the plume of a volcano to break free from Martian gravity.

“We didn’t have enough fuel achieve escape velocity,” is Rick Stanley’s explanation.

“Not if we wanted to get back home,” adds Gus to this already flawed storyline. “We came back with 2 tons worth of samples; vegetation, soil, water, you know, for our boys in the Lab. They wouldn’t let us land if we came back empty handed.”

“That’s right Commander McKinney! We needed the heat thermals to get our butts out of the atmosphere.”

“And yet you didn’t bring any pictures back to share?” RG II goes off-script to ask the question most viewers would ask if they had the chance.

“We were so busy doing the calculations required for liftoff that I guess we forgot.” Stanley is the most convincing of the pair.

“Then could you describe the Martian landscape to our viewers?  We are receiving that very question from a million people across the world.”

Rick Stanley digs deep for a way to frame his description.

“In one of my favorite author Robert Heinlein’s book Farnham’s Freehold, a family already in their bomb shelter, is bombed into the future. Not to a different spot, but one where there are no roads or buildings near where their house once stood. Only the hills and trees and rivers are there, barely recognizable to the keenest observer. The rest of the book is about pretty graphic social interaction, so I won’t bother you with that.

“In our case, Commander McKinney had us land on the other side of Mars… from that structure… not sure it is manmade or not. We managed to traverse the full ½ of the planet circumference…

“…and back.”

“Good thing, right Gus? We weaved and climbed and dodged our way on some of the same ground covered by Spirit and Opportunity, except back then the rivers were dry and we’re not sure anything was ever green and growing. So are maps were mostly Image result for tap dance gifuseless.”

“And not a single hydrogen station to stop and ask directions from.”

“We could only travel by day, even though Solution was equipped with a virtual star map.”

“Just like the ancient mariners we were!” Gus tries to keep things light. The public has seen nothing but press releases and publicity photos ever since the 1st SOL test flights. All that served to do was enhance his legendary family’s space lore. “If I can interrupt, my favorite moment was when we drove Solution into a river. What a kick to see how she handles underwater!”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 145


page 143

The NULL Solution = Episode 144

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The NULL Solution = Episode 144

Good Morning Mission Control is a space agency production. As Chief Media Relations Czarina, Francine Bouchette-Crippen sets the scene for a firsthand account of the newest biggest story…

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

 Tall Tales

On the ocean liner Titanic, after the ship hit an iceberg and began to sink, Bandmaster Wallace Hartley and his fellow band members started playing music to help keep the passengers calm as the crew loaded the lifeboats. Many of the survivors said that Hartley and the band continued to play until the very end…

… With Collapsar Axis bearing down on a quasi-unsuspecting planet Earth, Gus McKinney and Rick Stanley are encouraged to recount a censored version of their adventure on Mars. Taking a cue from the Holy Roman Catholic Church, NASA endeavors to control the message, even after some pretty amazing images of that tall building {only NASA knows the name of} bleed into the intrusive inter-web world.

Good Morning Mission Control is a space agency production. As Chief Media Relations Czarina, Francine Bouchette-Crippen sets the scene for a firsthand account of the biggest story about space since the SOL program produced results.

GMMC hostess Randi Gilbert II is the daughter of Randi Gilbert and niece of Sandi Gilbert. Both Gilbert women were KHST TV reporter/experts in the days of Space Colony 1.  RG II is a spacenuts’ best friend. She has the knowledge of a genuine geek, with the look of everyone’s girl-next-door. Her sole current purpose is to direct attention to the recent homecoming of two heroes of space and their incredible story of riding the plume of a volcano to break free from Martian gravity.

“We didn’t have enough fuel achieve escape velocity,” is Rick Stanley’s explanation.

“Not if we wanted to get back home,” adds Gus to this already flawed storyline. “We came back with 2 tons worth of samples; vegetation, soil, water, you know, for our boys in the Lab. They wouldn’t let us land if we came back empty handed.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 144


page 142