In a move that caught a lot of people by surprise Disney today announced that they have acquired Marvel for four billion dollars.
While I am a big fan of both companies I am a bit hesitant about this deal. Disney has traditionally been known to put some strict rules on their creative people to insure that everything was very family friendly. The main way that Marvel comics had differentiated itself from DC comics had been that it had made its situations and characters more realistic. This would often involve things that aren't exactly family friendly.
Disney has become more lenient recently but it will be interesting to see how they handle this property. There have already been reports that Pixar (which is also a Disney property) has already been in touch with Marvel and is quite excited to be working with them.
They have said that all of the current movie deals will stay in place but in the future Disney will be planning to distribute all of the movies themselves.
That makes me wonder about the deal that Marvel has with Universal Studios for the use of their characters at their theme park in Orlando which directly competes with Disney. Universal Studios Isalands of Adventure has an entire land with all the rides themed to Marvel characters. From their statement about the movies it sounds likely that when Marvel's contract with the theme park expires they will not renew it which could end up as a huge monetary hit to the park if they have to retheme that entire area. It isn't known when that contract expires but Steven Spielberg's deal with that park was due to expire this year and his deal was signed around the same time that Marvel signed theirs.
While it would be fairly easy to retheme many of the rides such as the Hulk coaster or the Dr. Doom Freefall it is a whole other story with the Spiderman ride. It is one of the best theme park rides in the world and would be a huge undertaking to change it. While I look forward to seeing what Disney could do with this intellectual property in their theme parks I would hate to lose this ride because of the deal.
My driver's license expired on my birthday. I no longer drive but since I am flying to D.C. next month I went to the DPS office yesterday in hopes of getting a state issued ID..
We filled out all of the forms completely honestly. I indicated that I had a stroke since I was last issued a license and I mentioned being visually impaired.
When my name was called I went to the counter and handed in my paperwork again reiterating that I just needed the ID because of my stroke and other problems. The person behind the counter said "Well lets go ahead and take the vision test anyway." She had me look into a device much like what Spock used on Star Trek.
She asked me to read line five so it took me a moment to focus and I slowly rattled off the series of letters and numbers. I finished and after a pause she said "Okay now read the other half of the line." Of course I had thought I had read the entire line. I looked carefully and still didn't see anything I hadn't read before. I let her know and again read what I saw. She said again that I was only reading half and needed to read the other half out as well. I was getting a bit stressed and feeling a bit self concious at this point and I tried again. She sounded a bit exasperated and told me to just read line four instead. I read that one out to her. I have no idea if I got it right or wrong. She said "Good enough." signed the paper and called the next person.
I know my limitations. I am smart enough not to get on the highways and endanger not only myself but others.
If they would give me a license after telling them I have brain damage and bad eyesight then just who all else has gotten a license in a similar situation? That is what will keep me up at night.
Boots and blood, dust and mud Ropes and rein, joy and pain
Its a thing they call a rodeo.
Back in the early nineties Haleigh, Claire and I were extras in the movie "8 Seconds." It was about the career of bull rider Lane Frost.
Ever since then I have been fascinated with bull riding. I would watch it on ESPN and even had a changeling character who was a bull rider but had never actually been to a rodeo in person. I live in a small Texas town and there is even a large rodeo arena a couple of miles from the house. This past Saturday I got to go to a rodeo there and take some pics.
This is my favorite of the pictures. The look in the bull's eye really sell's the image for me.
I also liked this one because this guy just has the classic cowboy look.
In this one I like that you can see the teen girls watching from the upper left corner.
This is the bull from the first pic finally getting some payback on the cowboys.
The daytime pics were a lot of fun. I was able to mix it up between my long lens and wider lens and while maintaining a fast shutter speed to keep the images sharp even with all the action. With the barrel racing I slowed the shutter speed down some and followed the rider with the lens to keep her in focus while blurring the crowd in the background to communicate the speed involved.
The rodeo had started at 7:30pm so the sun went down part way through. Night made the photography a bit harder but added some nice variety to the images. My concert photography has given me plenty of experience with trying to capture action in a low light situation. Unfortunately when you can't get close to the action it is even more difficult to get a clear picture. I was still able to get some good pics but my ration of usable to unusable was worse than usual.
My heart goes out to those losing their lives in Iran today. Neither of the candidates in their election seemed like a good choice. It seems to me that the people are protesting more than just a possibly rigged election. They talk about liberty and democracy. They talk of overthrowing a dictator.
America went into Iraq wanting to promote democracy when in truth it has to come from a will of the people. Freedom isn't something that is given it is something that a people must take for themselves. I think that both Iran and Iraq's peoples will have more freedom and liberty as the result of these actions but it is hard to say which method was better.
Twitter and youtube have really come into their own with this election. The Iranian government has desperately tried to shut them down to prevent the words and images from getting out to the rest of the world but a floodgate is open that can't be stopped. Words and images can change the world. I am proud of youtube and twitter for perservering and giving people the tools to let their views be seen.
Twenty years ago today Haleigh and I started our journey together as husband and wife.
We had originally planned to get married on or around Halloween but after finding out that we were going to have a daughter we decided to move the date up a bit. At the time we lived in Panama City Florida. Neither of us told our families ahead of time but my Mom was pretty smart. She asked me before I left if I was running off to get married and I denied it. Of course she had eloped as had my oldest sister so while I felt a little bad about the deception it was a bit of a family tradition. (Note to my daughters that may read this, that tradition should stop with my generation.)
I can still remember the drive home the night before where it actually sunk in that I was getting married and I couldn't get that song "Going To The Chapel" out of my head.
We drove up to Tallahassee with two friends that we were going to use as witnesses. Haleigh's friend Chelaka and my friend Marilyn. Marilyn was moving away and was going to be catching a bus in Tallahassee. We got to the Justice Of The Peace office and while Haleigh and I set up the appointment Marilyn went to find a pay phone to check on the bus. Chelaka went with her and we got in line.
When we got to talk to the Justice Of The Peace she said that they were booked for the entire day. We pleaded with her and she said she had a couple of minutes free right then but that was it. We asked if we could wait on our friends but she told us that there wasn't time. So there in a small plain room Haleigh and I said our vows becoming man and wife.
Marilyn and Chelaka were surprised and sad that they missed the event. Marilyn made her bus and Chelaka went back to Panama City while we spent our honeymoon staying at a nice hotel in Tallahassee.
When we got home I fessed up to my family that we were married and they were happy for us.
I went to Haleigh's family with her and her mom didn't take it as well. Her exact words were "I'm crushed." She did come to accept it and be good with it before long. I think it was more of an issue with not being able to plan a big wedding than with having any problems with the marriage itself.
The twenty years have had some highs and lows but there is no one I would have rather been on the journey with. I am looking forward to seeing what the next twenty brings.
Last month I went on a road trip across the South West with my family. On the trip were myself, Haleigh, my sister Kim, my Dad and three dogs all in a mini-van. We headed out from Denver and drove over to Durango. We stayed in a nice house on top of a hill that had a gorgeous scenic view. Unfortunately it had steps to get in and out which made it difficult on my father. My sister had even specifically asked about steps before renting the home and the owner had said there were none but there must have been a miscommunication. Other than that hiccup though the house was gorgeous with a nice game room and hot tub.
On our first day we visited Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde focuses on a number of Anasazi and Pueblo ruins.
You can get up close and personal with a number of the ruins. There was a short but slightly strenuous walk to get to this cliff dwelling but it was well worth the effort to actually see how they are constructed and be able to make out the small details.
This area is known as the cliff palace. They offer guided tours but you have to climb several hundred feet down a ladder on the side of a cliff and with my balance and vision problems I elected to just get some distant shots.
One final shot to show a bit more perspective on the size and location of the ruins. You can make out a tour group in front of the dwellings. While you can't make them out in this image they have found a lot of handholds made into the side of the cliffs where the people that lived here would climb the sides of the cliff to get to their homes.
Also while in Durango we took the train to Silverton. It was a classic old west style narrow gauge train. This wasn't a theme park style ride, they had to keep the fire going in it and it spewed ash and embers as it went. We had to stop twice at water towers to refil the water for the engine.
The train ride was actually a lot more fun than I expected. The scenerey was absolutely gorgeous and the ride was relaxing.
Most of the ride was along a river, this picture was from one of the refill stops where a waterfall is thundering down the hill next to the train and the water is almost splashing through the windows.
The train arrives in Silverton in the middle of the town and while you could drive there it was obvious that most people visit the town by train because when the train pulled in many of the local store owners came out of their businesses and started waving. We grabbed some lunch at a former saloon and wandered around checking out the other stores before getting on the train for the ride back to Durango.
This waterfall is along the tracks just outside of town. You can tell we were pretty high up as there is still snow on the ground near the falls.
National Geographic Adventure Magazine rates Silverton as one of the top extreme sports destinations. Apparently it has some really tough skiing in the area. At one of the water stops the train had picked up a group of skiiers who had been in the wilderness for a while. They mentioned that they were going to sit in the open air car because it had been so long since they had a chance to shower. For those that don't feel like roughing it there is also a ultra fancy resort in the area but it is unreachable by car. The only way to get to it is by horseback or on the train.
The next day my sister and I took the younger dogs with us and headed out early in the morning to The Canyon Of The Ancients. Durango is in an area called "The Four Corners" and it is one of the richest arecheological areas in the states. The Canyon is located near the Hovenweep National Monument.
The walk with the dogs was a lot of fun. Some gorgeous landscape and it was nice to let the puppies get to have some fun.
Some of the local Flora.
Some of the local fauna. I love how colorful this little guy was.
The landscape of the canyon was quite reminiscent of a Road Runner cartoon.
We managed to tire out our four legged friends. This is my buddy Max enjoying a rest in the shade.
We left Durango and drove up to Moab Utah. This time the place we were staying was everything advertised and more. A gourgeous one story home that was really well decorated and didn't have any steps.
Moab is a small town but we were within walking distance of a number of stores and places to eat.
On the first day we went to see some petroglyphs and it really showcased the value of National Parks. To see these petroglyphs you just had to pull to the side of the road in a fairly residential area. There was a small wooden fence that came up to about knee level that was meant to discourage people from getting too near the ancient drawings but it was obviously innefectual. Vandals had carved their names into the rocks as well as their own fake stick figure art. It was a real tragedy and I hope that the local government will step in and find a way to preserve these pieces while keeping them accessible by the public. It is truly a shame that something so culturally significant could be lost due to partying teens or whoever it was that felt the need to vandalise the area.
This image intentionally left blank. (I am intentionally not posting a picture of the vandalised petroglyph wall as I don't want to encourage people to do such things thinking they might get their work onto the internet.
Moab is adjacent to Arches National Park and that is where we spent the next couple of days. We drove through seeing all the sites one day then my sister and I also went out early one morning to do some photography.
Sunrise in Arches.
Early morning at Double Arch.
This was my favorite location in Arches, it is called Park Avenue.
On our last day in Moab my sister and I again decided to go on an early morning adventure with the dogs. We found a location that sounded fairly easy to get to with a fairly easy walk. The description did mention that the drive would have some switchbacks and a dirt road but that was it. The actual drive was pretty terrifying with a dirt road and sharp turns with "insta-death" drop offs at the edge of the road.
Once we made it to the bottom though it was worth the drive. A nice leisurely walk along a creek bed lead us to a nice view of and arch high on a cliff side.
After leaving Moab we did the drive back to Denver and I eventually flew back to Austin.
I really enjoyed the trip and even more than the scenery and excitement I enjoyed just getting to spend time with my Dad and sister building new memories. It takes a lot out of my Dad to go on these trips but getting to go on these adventrues with him really is something that I will always treasure.
One of my photographs got picked up for use in SXSWorld magazine!
It is always hard to predict what others will like. I thought this image was decent but it wasn't one of my favorites and I even felt that some of my other photographs of her came out better.
To my surprise this image was picked up by SXSW for use in their magazine SXSWorld. It is the guitarist from Stereo Pony playing Japan Nite at Elysium. I wasn't assigned to photograph the show but since I am a fan of japanese rock I was there on my own time.
Stereo Pony is best known by Americans for doing one of the closing credit songs for the Anime series "Bleach."
SXSWorld comes out four or five times a year with several of the issues being published during SXSW and the others being sent out to the SXSW attendees during the year. This issue is one of the ones being sent out.
I drew the above picture when I was a kid back in the seventies.
At the time one of my favorite toys was the Enterprise Bridge play set. This was prior to Star Wars and the "action figure" craze that it started. The Star Trek playset used large sized figures which had decended from GI Joe dolls so they had actual clothes and hair. As you can see, the color scheme on it didn't look very much like the show and had heavy seventies overtones. Nevertheless it was a favorite toy.
Fast forward through a bunch of different serieses and movies to 2009. On mothers day Haleigh and I went to see the new movie. I had completely avoided spoilers only knowing the basic premise for the movie. I did see a couple of spoiler free reviews of the movie that said that it was really good. I was a bit worried that this would get my expectations up too much.
The movie didn't just meet my expectations but exceeded them. They did a wonderful job portraying all the characters and the effects weren't overdone. The plot was well written and interesting making everything seem completely plausible.
The quality of this prequel really brought into sharp focus how lame the Star Wars prequels were. Trek had cameos and characters we recognized without them being forced like they seemed to be in Star Wars.
I am looking forward to seeing where they go with these new Trek movies. Hopefully there will be a long series of new ones in this new setting.