Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Category Archives: Entertainment

May The Fourth Be With You, Always

Image

35 years ago today I was in my first year of teenage life, and having been brought up on a diet of Doctor Who (yes, it’s been going that long), Star Trek (original series), and stories by Issac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, I watched with interest as news of a new epic science fiction movie, soon to be released, made its way over the Atlantic Ocean to the UK. I quickly latched onto the seemingly simple yet compelling story of “farm hand discovers his inner strength and saves the galaxy” and went out and got the comic books of the story, the photo novel, all the “special behind the scenes” magazines about the film and even without seeing the film became a huge fan.

Move forward a few months to September of 1977 and my mother and I traveled to the west coast of America for a three week coach tour of the western states, taking in many sights that went on to shape my desire to live here as an adult. During that trip I was to turn 14, and on the day of my 14th birthday we had a “free day” in San Francisco with no scheduled activities, so my mum asked me what I wanted to do. My first thought was to see if Star Wars was still playing anywhere, as it had yet to open in the UK (that wouldn’t come until later – this was in the days before digital projection and world-wide simultaneous releases). Sure enough it was still showing at the Coronet Theater (where it had opened in San Francisco back on May 25th) so I almost begged her to let me go see it.

I got my birthday wish, so we walked down Geary Boulevard from our hotel to where the theater stood (it’s not there any more), got tickets for the next showing, and we had some lunch while I eagerly waited to see “THE movie”. As we drew close to the show time, I couldn’t get back to the Coronet quick enough. I handed over “the ticket” at the kiosk and rushed in to pick a seat. Now keep in mind that by now the movie had been showing for 4 months, so the theater that could seat almost 1,500 people was pretty much empty – there were three other people in the place to share this experience with me!

So I took position in what I thought to be the best seat, towards the front and in the center of the row so the screen filled my field of view, and waited for the show to start while my mum went off to kill a couple of hours (as she didn’t want to watch the film – it wasn’t ‘her thing’!).

Image

The lights dimmed, the curtains opened, the screen burst into life, and that now instantly recognizable music started booming through the many speakers. The preface to the story scrolled across the screen, faded to a spectacular view of stars that panned to pick up a beautiful alien planet, and then WOOSH – sounding like they were flying over the tops of our heads the space ships almost had us ducking in our seats. I was immediately sucked into the story, and sat riveted for the next two hours, not wanting to move as the final notes of the closing music faded to silence.

Thus began my love for the Star Wars story, which may have faded a little over the years (helped in no small part by the appearance of Jar Jar Binks in Episode 1) but has never gone away.

So, on the day that has become known internationally as “Star Wars Day” through a fun play on words, may the Force be with you, always!

Image

Advertisements

From radio personality to movie director in 6 months…



Hooman Khallili, originally uploaded by Images by John ‘K’.

Who would have though that one of a cast of characters on a morning radio talk show broadcast to the San Francisco Bay Area would go to being the driving force behind an independently financed and produced feature film in less than 6 months.

The upcoming movie “Olive” is the first to be totally shot on a cellphone, totally conceived, funded, shot, and produced without any involvement of a major studio, and if all goes well it’ll be in a theater near you (well near me anyway) before the end of the year.

Even as full news of this broke on the Sarah and Vinnie show on Radio Alice I didn’t believe it’d really come to much, but as I watched the 5 minute intro that they’ve posted, and as I dug around to find out more about the movie and what Hooman and his team has tried to achieve here I changed from being highly skeptical to being a supporter of the project, even to the point of pitching a little to help back it.

Hooman, I hope your project succeeds and gets wide visibility. I’m sure there will be people that knock your movie, but you have shown that anyone with an idea and a drive and commitment to make it happen can truly live the dream. Lets see if those that criticize can do anything even half-way as impressive as what you’ve pulled off with “Olive”.

Go check out http://www.olivethemovie.com, and if you feel this is something you might enjoy, help it get the visibility it deserves by visiting http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hooman/olive.

(The photo was taken at the recording of a “Sarah and Vinnie Live Secret Show” at the Hard Rock Cafe in San Francisco earlier this year)

Don’t Panic

Don’t…, originally uploaded by Images by John ‘K’.

It’s funny how things you love lodge themselves in your head and shape what you do, often unconsciously.

I’m traveling on business this week, and as always I’ve brought my camera with me even through there are few opportunities to use it during the day. So sat in my hotel room after a fun meal with colleagues yesterday evening I was bored and was looking for something to inspire me to take a photo of. I took the key from my rental car and looked at it and thought a macro shot that fixated on the panic button could be fun, so I attached my 50mm prime F/1.8 lens to my D5000, stuck a magnifying filer on the end of the lens and took the shot.

After a quick play in Photoshop Elements 9 I had the image looking how I wanted and so posted it to Flickr. Job done.

Looking at a few of the comments that people had left on the image this morning, two people thought they could see a sad face in this, and now I look again, I can see it too. It immediately made me think of Marvin, the paranoid android from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I LOVE his work, those books, and am a big fan of the cult TV series based on the books, and sure enough there is a passing resemblance between the “face” in this and Marvin.

Compare for yourselves. Here’s a shot of Marvin, courtesy of the BBC.

Marvin

Must Keep Mouth Shut…..

So in my last entry I said that the weather had been nice and unseasonably warm…..
 
Well guess what – a few days after that, a cold front hits the bay area, it snowed on the higher ground last Friday (YES, SNOW IN THE BAY AREA – see http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/regstate/articles/2333386.html if you don’t believe me!), and it’s gone very cold. I had to scrape a good layer of frost from the car windshield this morning, and the heating is working overtime (PG&E [energy] bill will most likely be high again this month 😦 ).
 
I’m soooooo looking forward to Spring getting here!
 
Mind you, I suppose all of this was to get us in the right frame of mind for a trip to the cinema that we had yesterday – we went to see ‘Eight Below’. If you like animal films, or fimls where people (and/or animals) struggle against the hand that God has dealt them, go see it. It’s a bit graphic at times – you might have some interesting conversations with younger children as a result of the dogs struggle to find food, or why humans put themselves above anything else, but it’s very well done, and there were times where it left me with a tear in my eye.

U2 – Me too :-)

Last night I attended my first big stadium concert in over 10 years (and my first in the US), and all I can say is my head won’t stop rattling and I can’t stop humming U2 songs now! 🙂
 
I’ve been a long time fan of U2 – being from the UK and having lived through some of the pain caused by IRA in their fight against the UK government before they realised that terrorism wouldn’t work, U2’s thought provoking lyrics and edgy guitar work had me hooked from an early age. I’ve grown and developed my musical tastes as they have grown and developed their musical style, and they’ve maintained a place in my virtual playlist!
 
For various reasons I’d not been able to attend previous concerts, so when shortly after I moved to the US I heard that they were adding extra dates to their sold-out Vertigo tour, and more importantly the location was about 20 miles from where I was going to be living, I decided that this time I would make an effort to get there. As the tickets for the Oakland dates went on sale via the web, I was there along with many thousands of others on tickets.com trying to get mine.
 
After about an hour of frustration (system unavailability because of high demand, and some particularly naff seating allocations because of the way tickets.com allocate seats), I eventually got a block of 4 high in the upper level, but placed to get a good view of the stage and the venue as a whole. I had decided to take my daughters (the two who moved with us anyway!) to the show, so as buying tickets for 4, I couldn’t really justify buying the best seats in the house as the cost would have been somewhat prohibitive given our family circumstances.
 
All that was months ago, and while I kept in the back of my mind that the date was getting ever nearer, it was really only this week that I started really getting excited about things. The concert was due to start at 7:30 with doors opening at 6:30, a supporting band (Damian Marley [one of Bob Marley’s sons]), and then U2 themselves on at 9pm. Based on my previous UK stadium concert experiences, I decided we should aim to be there early, and so we arrived shortly after 6pm to find a largely empty parking lot, and confusion as to where to stand in line!
 
We took advantage of the parking situation, and parked right by one of the parking lot exits (paid massive dividends later) and trudged across the lot with a light sprinkling of rain and some spectacular lightning in the distance to what looked to be the line of people waiting to get in to the show. After 10 minutes in line we found out it was the line for the standing ‘pit’ in the middle of the arena, and as we had reserved seating we could go up to one of the upper level entrances, so thankfully we headed up the access ramp and in to the Arena out of the rain.
 
With a stop at the concessions stand on the way, we were in our seats 10 minutes before the doors were even supposed to have opened, and we sat patiently (well OK, some of us were patient but my daughters were excited and very impatient) for the start of the show. The arena was amazingly empty at this stage. The ‘pit’ was filling but only really about 30% full, and the seating was at best about 5% full and we were up with the clouds (or so it felt) looking down on it all and thinking "this is really a sold-out concert?"……
 
Over the next hour, we watched the standing area fill, and the seats get to about 50% full, and slightly late, Damian and his band came on stage and for the next 45 minutes or so we were listening to a new but familiar mix of new and old from him and some of the works of his father. While not what I was expecting as a warm-up performance for U2, it was none-the-less good and at the end of the set I was left wishing for more.
 
The lights went up and the tour crew swarmed the stage like ants, and the stage went from being very cluttered to being almost empty. The stage itself was a small oval nested in one end of a bigger oval that took over a large chunk of the centre of the arena. Lighting crews were all over the array of spots, and as everyone cleared the stage, a steady influx of people filled the audience. By the time the lights went down, there was hardly an empty space to be seen anywhere in the audience.
 
The performance that U2 put on was brilliant. It totally lived up to expectations. There is enough published out there in web-land that I won’t go into detail about the set here, but it was a mix that spanned the years from their earliest work up to the current album (which obviously was the focus of the show). The stage and lighting was excellent, with animated lighting all around the main stage and the extended oval catwalk, and some very clever use of suspended lighting to give a visually simple but stunning backdrop to the performance. The opening number, "City of blinding lights’ set the crowd going right from the first opening bars, and apart from some of the slower numbers, the crowd was on it’s feet for the night.
 
The catwalk around the larger ellipse was used to good effect not only for some of the lighting displays, but also to allow Bono and others to move around during the performance, and twice Bono pulled people out of the crowd to be focal points for songs (those people must have felt so great).
 
Intermixed with the music was the ‘world peace and end world poverty’ message that we have come to expect from Bono, and there were a number of very touching introductions and dedications made throughout the set. The main set ended with ‘One’, and the subsequent encores were a mix of acoustic and rocky numbers that had the hairs on the back of my neck raised. The final end of the show came around all too quickly, or so it felt. In reality though we’d had over 2 hours of one of the best live performances I’d seen in a long time. Just 4 people and their instruments, some simple but very effective lighting, but a show that more than delivered on its promise.
 
U2 – they’ve still got it!