By Trevor Valescu | March 12, 2017
An important lesson for anyone who is a frequent browser of the internet; never tell 4chan something is impossible, as Shia Labeouf has learned countless times over the course of 2017 and the end of 2016. The Glorious Keyboard Champions of Light have once again befuddled Shia’s plans of a four-year long protest against the Trump Administration. After his last attempt at showing defiance in the face of defeat and unmeasurable odds, the failing movie star took his protests elsewhere, to an unknown location, and raised his white flag (ironic if you think about the premise of a white flag) up on a flagpole in the middle of nowhere. To defend against the rigorous trolling by 4chan and Trump Supporters alike, the camera was pointed up at an angle so that the location wouldn’t be given away to those viewing the live stream. Unbeknownst to Shia and all the liberal crybaby snowflakes over at #HWNDU, 4chan’s chief operatives were hard at work discovering the location of the flag. The declared this an official game of ‘Capture the Flag’ between the hard working members of society on the right, the winners, and the temper tantrum throwing losers of the left. The search began on March 8 and was immediately narrowed when Labeouf was spotted on social media at a diner in Greenville, Tennessee, although some in the thread still believed the flag was in the Great Lakes area due to wind patterns. The time of the sunset in Greenville matched with the time of sunset on the stream, and so did the weather on local weather reports.
4channers began looking into flight patterns. One of the few clues available on the stream were the contrails left by airplanes. Greenville was finally confirmed as the location after two planes observed on online flight radars intersected over the town and were seen on the stream.
Finally when three planes flew over the area, 4channers were able to triangulate an approximate location of the flag. The area proved too vast for them to loacte by means of camera alone, so they decided on reviving ancient astrology to locate the flag from the camera, and ultimately it worked to narrow it down. To find the exact location, they sent out a man from 4chan, a local to Tennesse, to find the exact spot. He went out with his truck around Greenville while 4channers watched on the livestream, and began honking his horn to help them triangulate its exact location. The trail led into a field on private property next to some poor soul’s house. Tennessee based 4channers were standing by to capture the flag. After scoping out the area for hours they finally made a move. The anonymous group stole the “He Will Not Divide Us” flag and replaced it with a Trump “Make America Great Again” hat and a Pepe the Frog t-shirt.
The flag pole was left barren on stream all morning until Shia arrived in the morning and turned the stream off in utter defeat. This saga of challenges proposed to 4chan is likely far from over, and it won’t be long until we witness more inspiring antics courtesy of our friends over on the Politically Incorrect board of green text.
God Bless America and God Bless Trump.
By Trevor Valescu | March 12, 2017
To start off this section of my blog, I’ve decided to take a different approach than what I’ve previously done. Today I’d like to bring the past year and the first fifty days of this new administration and give my own feedback on the matter. To everyone’s unanimous observations, we can see that this election cycle was one of historic proportions. For the first time in our 240 years as a nation, George Washington’s vision of anyone being able to lead this country to greatness is starting to come to fruition. He never wanted a dual party system for fear of bureaucracy halting the greatness of American potential with political squabbles, ideological clashes, and rampant corruption. I’ve seen first hand the strength and resolve of the Trump Effect on the masses and my own beliefs that has moved the majority of this nation to a state of High Energy and vigorous resolve to Make America Great Again, and put its people’s interests before the interests of any other global entity that wishes to control our lives.
With this effect has come the largest, and quickest economic boon since the 20th century, with the stock market continuing to climb to record-breaking numbers consecutively, and businesses flooding back to our shores from overseas accompanied by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment. Illegal immigration has dropped a staggering 40% in the last month alone, and construction of our Great Border Wall is already in the works and applications to the Border Patrol, and I.C.E are at all time highs. This countries gears have been stagnant for the last three decades, but are now finally coming to life with new vision and direction leading them into the future. Steel mills are once again churning out steel for the next large scale infrastructure repairs and projects, (Steel piping made in America will be used to create the Dakota Access Pipeline, and all other pipelines of the future) and now our eyes are once again set upon the stars that shine brightly in the distance with a new calling for space exploration, and the promise of colonization. If there was ever any doubt of the monumental events occurring and your importance in seeing them through to the end, I hope this has shed some light on the subject and made you think of what you can do for America’s future and a future for our people.
God Bless America and God Bless President Donald J. Trump.
By Trevor Valescu | February 26, 2017
The early silent Walt Disney cartoon Oh, What a Lucky Knight (1928) shows Oswald the Lucky Rabbit riding along on a donkey playing an accordion, a very lively scene with musical notations flying out of his instrument which was the silent era’s method of indicating sound.
At a silent film house, any organist worth his salt would’ve provided actual music, with the organ set to sound like an accordion or concertina. A version posted at youtube by some witty fellow going by Hya Powa has added an actual tune, a speeded up version of “Ain’t Gonna Rain No More,” which is surprisingly effective, & has given the entire film a soundtrack better than the ones Walter Lantz added to some reissued silent Oswalds.
The gleeful donkey dances to the tune, miraculously not shaking Oswald off his back. But eventually the donkey stumbles & falls down a hillside upside-down, Oswald riding on his belly as upon a sled.
They land in an swamp, wherein an alligator manages to eat the donkey’s tail, then laughs at the donkey who is distraught to have his tail docked. Fortunately he’s able to pull on his own stub & stretch it out to its original length.
Oswald meanwhile comes to a castle surrounded by a moat. These early cartoons really didn’t care about continuity or if one scene failed to lead rationally into the next. You have to give it rather too much thought to realize the alligator swamp was actually a castle moat.
Musical notations issue from his mouth as he whistles up to the balcony for his girlfriend, a cat. She blows him a kiss in quite an amusing manner & his pants fall down. Oswald tries to serenade her but his accordion is full of water. The donkey arrives, laughing at Oswald’s failed attempts at music, but then helps him climb to the balcony where Oswald stretches out the kitty’s arm kissing along the absurd length.
The bear-like villain Pete turns out to have the kitty trapped in the castle tower. When Oswald gets inside the tower, he finds his girlfriend chained to an iron ball. Pete is after him in full armor, armed with pike. Oswald has no armor or weapon, but he finds a sword leaning up against the wall.
A duel ensues, with Oswald’s shadow sharp against the wall. Eventually Oswald gives the sword to his shadow, which remains behind to continue the duel as Oswald goes to greet his kitty girlfriend, who seems very happy though still chained up.
More duelling antics procede, Oswald rushing to the kitty to get kisses between moments of action. Eventually he gets the iron ball off the kitty’s leg. Pete is joined by some robotic toy soldiers but Oswald uses the iron ball to knock them down like bowling pins. He then spits a big black wad of spit at Pete which kills him.
As Oswald & Kitty try to leave by the door, they discover a lion guards the other side, & so they leap out the balconied window toward the moat.
Oh, What a Lucky Knight is rather primitive & by the time Walt set out on his own & created Steamboat Willie (1928), he was so steeped in Oswald for Universal that “Willy” (afterward Mickey Mouse) is pretty obviously Oswald with round ears. Oswald himself as designed by Walt & Ub Uwerks was really only Felix the Cat with lengthened ears.
By Trevor Valescu | February 26, 2017
The first major big-audience outlet for Thomas Edison’s films was at Coney Island, & Edison Manufacturing Co or American Mutoscope reciprocated by making a number of short-short films set there, for use in kinetoscopes. Some anonymous short-shorts include The Aerial Slide at Coney Island (1897) putting bathing beauties on the popular amusement ride; ‘King’ & ‘Queen’ the Great High Diving Horses; or, its full title, (1899) with A horse-diving act, forty feet down into the Shoot the Chutes lagoon; Around the Flip Flap Railroad (1902) which was the first rollercoaster to include a loop-de-loop.
Shooting the Chutes at Luna Park (1903) at two minutes’ length is one of a handful of such films that focus on individual rides at Coney Island. This one features “The Chutes” which consisted of a giant sliding board for flat-bottomed boats.
Viewed from the lagoon, we see boats launched from the top of the slide, racing downward, & shooting across the water. Boats would eventually be hooked to a lift & ratcheted to the top of the slide for another go. What a great ride, looks like a wonderful way to get killed too. (As an aside, Captain Paul Boyton who designed the Chutes also built one at the World’s Columbia Exhibition in Chicago in 1893, & sold the design to be built again at Fulton Street Park built along the same plan, opened in 1895.)
Orphans in the SurfOrphans in the Surf aka Children in the Surf (1903) at just under a minute & a half shows tiny toddlers in a straight line, fully clothed or in their diapers, jumping up & down & splashing in the Coney Island surf, cute as the dickens. A few kids wade out further. They then play ring around the rosies at the tame surf’s edge, then it’s back to wading.
Orphans is reported to have been filmed by A. C. Abadie, with assistance from G. W. Bitzer. Abadie also did the Coney Island film Baby Class at Lunch (1903). These two films really do portray orphans, so there’s an underlying sadness even to the sweetness of these films of children. Baby Class at Lunch showing a couple dozen toddlers having a meal on a staircase isn’t obviously about Coney Island but was probably shot the same day as Orphans in the Surf.
Tragedies caught on film during that first wave of cinema were the precursors to newsreels. A Total Accident (1903) shows bicycle trick rider William Gordon wiping out while circling the loop; & Great Fire Ruins Coney Island (1903) shows the Bowery section of the park after a fire swept through.
The longest Coney Island film from Edison’s company was a veritable epic at just over twelve minutes, Rube & Mandy at Coney Island (1903) directed by one of the company’s best directors, Edwin S. Porter.
With special focus on a young couple, we’re shown many of the things one can do at Coney Island, including riding stuffed horses around the steeplechase, riding on yoked cows, tightrope walking for clumsy amateurs (with extra ropes to cling to by hand or armpits), & sliding down a tube called “The Down & Out” onto a pile of adults & a few kids, into a different area of the park.
After a long panoramic view of the park, we rejoin Rube & Mandy riding a camel (a criminally short ride), riding little boats, watching a cutesy dog-show plus monkey.
There Rube is misbehaving like a drunk though he has not been filmed drinking. Lastly while in Luna Park they go “shooting the chutes.”
In “the Bowery” section of the park, Mandy & Rube are accosted by a barker, but he never succeeds at getting them to go inside his attraction.
By Trevor Valescu | February 18, 2017
McCloud refers to the gutters as the space in between panels where “human imagination takes two separate images and transforms them into a single idea” (McCloud 66.) This is such a profound concept to me and definitely deepened both my understanding and appreciation for comic books. It had never occurred to me how much happens between those panels and how much is left to the reader/viewer’s imagination. It’s rather indulgent and I love it! And the whole idea that our brains automatically create closure out of things that don’t have closure– that we don’t actually see a character being killed, but see a gun and “hear” a gunshot via a word bubble, yet we have a vivid mental image of how he was killed– it’s astonishing!
For instance, let’s turn attention to the three panels on page 34. Though the gutter between the top two images is not very big, I, as the reader/viewer, can deduce that these scenes did not occur one right after the other. The first pictures the mother and her children, doing chores, etc. The next pictures the author sitting in her bed reading The Addams Family. However, between the second and third panel, I see a much shorter lapse of time because, even though it’s from a different angle, the author is still sitting in her bed, reading the same book. Could this scene actually have occurred on a different night? I’m sure it could have. But the similarity between the two frames leads me to believe that they happened very close together. As McCloud points out in chapter 4, gutters can have an impact on time; they can make scenes seem like they happened close together or far apart depending on the size of the gutter. The physical size frames makes a difference, too– the bigger the frame, the more time it will require to view everything in it. He also makes a big deal about words. It takes much more time to view a frame if there are words as opposed to just an image. They have the same setting and use mostly the same characters. The biggest difference is that there are words in the second one. Even though it may only take one second longer for me to view the dialogue, the truth is that it will take longer because it’s there.
Another aspect of time that McCloud focuses on is transitions. I noticed that this graphic novel utilizes a lot of subject-to-subject and scene-to-scene transitions. The screenshot above is a great example of a subject-to-subject transition. It is staying within the same topic and idea; in fact, the appearance of these frames is very similar. However, the subject/focus has shifted from the family just hanging out in the cemetery to the author asking if she can get in the casket hole; this is aided even further by the fact that she speaks in this frame. Scene-to-scene transitions are seen all over this graphic novel. Page 27 in Fun Home goes from scene to scene in every frame. This requires a lot of reader involvement because it’s not moment to moment; the reader/viewer has to think about it (McCloud 71.) For this reason, the narration is incredibly helpful because it fills in the gaps and helps the frames seem much more congruent. This leads me to the topic of word-image relationships. I never realized how complex
this relationship is, but McCloud has seven categories for it! The type that describes this graphic novel in its entirety is inter-dependent, which McCloud notes as the most common type (McCloud 155.) on page 31 from Fun Home. If you gave me the images with no words, I would be completely lost. If you gave me the words with no images, I would be completely lost. Both are equally important in this graphic novel and support each other to convey meaning to the reader/viewer. What is interesting about it is that much of its word messages are done through narration as opposed to dialogue. Fun Home used its narration to tell the story.
By Trevor Valescu | February 18, 2017
Steamboat Bill Jr. Silent Film Analysis
Steamboat Bill Jr. is Buster Keaton’s final independent film, though not necessarily the last one in which he had creative control. His first work with MGM, The Cameraman, could be said to hold that title, so when you watch Steamboat Bill Jr. there is not the same sense of the bittersweet you may get when watching Keaton’s final 1928 masterpiece. However, there is something grand about Steamboat Bill Jr., not just in its dazzling final hurricane sequence, tight sense of plotting and structure, or Buster’s increasingly creative pratfalls, but in the emotional heart of the story, young Willie Canfield’s efforts to simultaneously please his father Bill Sr. (Ernest Torrance) and be with his college girlfriend, Kitty (Marion Byron)— a hard task, considering her father and his are rivals in the river boat transportation business.
It is true that Keaton’s films often show his characters more comfortable with props and animals than other people; this is perhaps the largest reason why his characters feel otherworldly, as though he hailed from another dimension altogether and were perplexed by ordinary human interaction. Perhaps more than any of Keaton’s previous films, Steamboat Bill Jr. has Keaton interacting with other characters constantly, and they are some of the most interesting supporting characters in his oeuvre.
Keaton’s feature characters don’t often have families. With the exceptions of the aunt in Our Hospitality who warns him of the feud, the parents in Battling Butler who push him to “rough it” in the wilderness in order to become less dependent on luxury, and the doting mother in College (played by 1910s comedienne Florence Turner, no less!), most Keaton protagonists are loners looking for a place to call home or at least someone to share home with (often a love interest, sometimes a cow). Yet in Steamboat Bill Jr. unlike any other Keaton movie, the protagonist’s family is a source of conflict. In Keaton’s short work, Torrance may have been purely the heavy with his scowling face and towering build, but here that function is complicated: he is the bullying heavy, but he is also Willie’s perplexed father. Willie’s petite frame, stylish clothes, and enthusiastic ukulele-playing have the burly Bill fearing his son may be a wimp at best or a touch “purple under the collar” at worst. And while Willie’s relationship with Kitty may dispel the latter anxiety, his prime desire is to make Willie more of what he thinks a man ought to be. Being a son who wants to please the father he’s never known, Willie agrees to go along with it. Irritated with his son’s college boy aesthetic, Bill Sr. takes Willie to the hat shop to try on a series of comically oversized hats. Of course, the scene is funny, what with the silly headwear and Buster’s attempts to look as dignified as possible in them, but the scene is hardly frivolous or throwaway. It serves an important narrative function: the main conflict of the film is father versus son, or perhaps more specifically, the father wanting to fashion his son into his own image. Yet the moment Bill Sr. is satisfied with a hat and the two Canfields leave the shop, the headwear is blown off of Willie’s head the moment they leave the shop. Already, we are shown through the visuals that Bill’s mission is a doomed one; Willie cannot be changed and, as we come to learn later, should not be.
And yet despite Bill’s distaste for his son being who he is, he is not presented as a terrible person or black-hatted villain. Indeed, Bill is protective of his son, knocking out any sailor who attempts to bully or beat up on Willie. And once his violent temper lands him in prison, he gains a newfound respect for his effete son’s resourcefulness in the hilarious and celebrated tools-in-bread sequence. Like Annabelle Lee in The General who so wanted Johnnie Gray to be a soldier, Bill Sr. discovers that there was nothing wrong with his son after all, he never needed to change himself to prove heroic. (Throughout the picture, Keaton and Torrance have such wonderful chemistry in general; it’s too bad they never shared the screen again. It could have livened up some of the dreadful projects MGM had in store for Keaton in the early 1930s.)
By Trevor Valescu | February 6, 2017
Hillary is finished at this point in the race. To expand on this point I’ll bring up what most of us who have been paying attention know about our dear Killary. Firstly, she is an outright liar and failure of a politician. Not only has she never fixed any of the intercities that she was re-elected time and time again to fix, but she also let four good Americans die on her Mission of Death and Destruction across the Middle East. Now i’m no fan of the backwater Middle Eastern world, but the policies of Regime change are not helping anybody but the terrorist that pop up from the chaos. Secondly, continuing on the lying and leaving out information bit, she left everyone in the dark about her deteriorating medical condition for weeks up till yesterday when her problems were brought to light by her seizure and cease of motor function. They literally had to chuck her into the disabled van, (pretty funny how a perfectly healthy individual needs to ride in a van meant for people with disabilities), and hauled her off to her daughter’s apartment,not a hospital, so she could get better. Then we learn she has pneumonia and has had it since Friday, but failed to mention it to anyone.
Since she was surrounded by people with this illness you’d think she would be considerate to not spread it around to others, but she willingly exposes it to her daughter and her grandchild. That makes you think ‘Wow this woman really is a crazy coot,’ but in fact she doesn’t have that kind of pneumonia. She shows signs of Aspiration Pneumonia (rather than viral or bacterial) and dissuades the worry of infecting people. This means her throat muscles are not working properly, (hence the continuous coughing and clearing of the throat), and that she most likely has Parkinson’s since its a classic symptom of the disease. She is literally in her death throes and neglected to tell anyone so she could right it off as ‘overheating’ in 70-80 degree weather. This changes the game of the race tremendously. I can’t tell you how stupid this is to hide from the general public. You’ve pretty much lost this one Hillary. Finally, and i’m sorry for the length but I want to wrap this up nicely, she alienated half of the voter base this week by calling Trump’s supporters “A Basket of Deplorables.” Now she said half of us, but it doesn’t matter because when you become president you are at the whims of ALL the people and are expected to work for ALL the people of this great nation. I personally think its rather funny to see her destroy her chances of getting elected this way because now we have yet another nickname we can all laugh at and proudly display to all who call us such. Hate to say it Hillary, but you’re fired.