Wednesday, December 24, 2014

THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, from the house of Beorn



Ok. NOW I've seen it twice, and can process the "epic-ness" even easier.
The film was very emotionally gripping, I have to say. There are a bunch of things that I could probably go on all day yammering about.

Should I start with the opening scene in Laketown? Bard shows a lot of guts running around on those rooftops with the place on fire, climbing up that tower and firing at Smaug until... one arrow left! It flies... NO! It didn't scratch him! Now what's he gonna do????
Bain showed a lot too, retrieving the huge black arrow from where he hid it and bringing it to Bard. I thought it was pretty crazy seeing the dragon talking to Bard and trying to discourage him where he stood. But I definitely did not expect that makeshift crossbow and using Bain's shoulder to mount the arrow. Now that moment was something else. It was very clever, and an interesting father/son thing in my eyes. Notice how afraid Bain is and Bard tries to sooth him until he shoots? And then what happens? I THINK YOU KNOW!

I cracked up seeing Alfrid, just SO quick to change sides, fleeing with gold and the master one minute and then yelling "All hail King Bard!" the next. "A born leader!"  HAHAH! Silly little weasel, Alfrid (I don't think I even need to describe how ridiculous he looks/acts when see him in his last portion of the movie).

Now onto the dwarves' side of the lake, in the mountain. The struggling conflict in Bilbo is clear when we see how the dragon sickness takes its toll on Thorin. I remember when I saw the second film I thought "He must have picked up the Arkenstone right after he put the ring on," and seeing that little flashback from Bilbo's perspective (as opposed to Smaug's in the last film) was literally showing the picture I'd made in my head. "I KNEW IT!" I thought as he took the glowing stone out of his pocket. That moment later when Thorin appears and demands what Bilbo has in his hand was intense and suspenseful itself, up until realizing with relief it was an acorn from [the other] Beorn's garden.
Seeing Thorin give Bilbo the mithril shirt was interesting. and I loved seeing that connection to Lord of the Rings fall into place perfectly.
But then came Thorin repeating Smaug's words "I will not part with a single coin..." Showing Bilbo just how far he was willing to go.

I've seen Open Season and Brave, so I was already way too familiar with Billy Connolly. I thought he was hilarious (the voice/accent alone!) calling Thranduil a sprite for example. Definitely tough, though, not one to be messed with. And I had barely seen any details of what Dain was going to look like, save a mane of red hair in a wide camera shot. So it was fun watching him fight and talk while riding on his giant pig (which I also found quite amusing).
Ok, Radagast and Beorn coming along with the eagles was epic! Changing into a bear and barreling through all those orcs? I kind of wish there was more of that to see, but still it was awesome.

I know a lot of purist fans don't like the addition of Tauriel. But I still do, and I find the subplot between her and Kili very touching. Much like the scene in the elf dungeons, I loved watching the part with them by the lake getting ready to leave. For those of you who don't know, the runes on Kili's stone say RETURN TO ME.
Seeing her upset over his demise may have tugged at the heartstrings even more than the fight scene itself.
Tauriel- "Why does it hurt so much?"
Thranduil- "Because it was real." That really hit home. And so did Thorin's last scene, no question. (It was adapted just right, Peter Jackson is a genius). That was such a sad one, seeing the hobbit cry over his friend after parting in friendship.

On a more positive note, the ending itself was great. It was crazy seeing that big auction outside Bilbo's house just like in the book, and then going back (or should I say forward?) to where we left off in present-day Hobbiton with old Bilbo. That scene made me smile, seeing The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings really weave together with that reunion of Gandalf and Bilbo.

It's a very, very bittersweet thing seeing the last Middle Earth movie there's ever going to be. But at least the entire six-film saga was no less than incredible, and the final film ended on a high note. I couldn't think of a better way to finish the film, or the series itself.
Thankfully, 'cause of the fans of the books and the films, and the people who brought the stories to life, the memory of Middle Earth isn't gonna die. I'll see to it, and do my part. Who's with me?


Thursday, October 2, 2014

"The Enemy? Yeah, Can't Touch This"

The answers in these questions are candid, and used as a way to promote the music video that remains unfinished.

Principal photography on the "Can't Touch This" Christian parody started on April 23rd, 2014, and production still continues off and on due to revisions and availability issues. No one has a way of knowing how much is left to do, until it has already been done and the finished product reveals itself to it's creators.
Both main crew members on the project talk about the process as a whole, and trying to get the word out about it.

Ryan Galdo
Songwriter, co-director, performer, and music editor

When did this start? Where did the inspiration for this song come from?
RG: Hmm... the inspiration for the song... Well, I was just starting to grow in my faith, and I think I'd just got done reading the Word. And I was also exploring new ways of rapping. And I was just scrolling through my library of instrumentals, and I came across the "Can't Touch This" instrumental 'cause my friend Sean gave me a whole bunch of instrumentals back in the day so I could learn how to rap. And then I came across this "Can't Touch This" instrumental and I'm like "Hmm..."
Gotta be honest, it was--- it was more like divine inspiration-slash-intervention coming in and just, it popped out at me and it's like "Ah, yeah, I should do that." And so, that was my inspiration, 'cause honestly the big guy is my inspiration for everything. And, that's how I just started writing the song. I started just free-flowing and free-styling, and just kind of let it flow out naturally as I was writing it. And I just started out with only two verses, originally, and then it turned into a full-on song.

What gave you the idea to make it into a music video?
RG: Well, these were the stages of what happened with this particular song. First, it just started out with two verses [to the song]. And then I had a couple ad-libs in there, and I was going to a professional recording studio in Philly. I had a little bit of time at the end of the recording session and it was like "here, I want to try laying down lyrics to this song." So I give the producer the instrumental, he puts it into a system and then I go in and I rap over top of it.
The next day I finished writing the rest of the lyrics, and then went back in the next night to the recording studio and recorded the rest of it. So I was like, "Ok. I have a full song right here." I can't sell it because of copyright laws, but I can put it up on YouTube. And so, if I'm gonna get this song out there, it should have a music video; if I want it to be up on YouTube, and it should be good, should have a music video. And that was the thought process.

In terms of scale, how big do you consider this video? What are your hopes for it?
RG: Hmmm... Dangerous question right there. Because I can't possibly know what tomorrow's gonna bring, I can't boast about tomorrow saying "Yeah we're gonna do this and we're gonna make this really big." What I can say is that if the Lord wills it, then He will take this to some awesome levels. Really this song is in His hands since He was the source of inspiration for it in the first place. Personally, I would hope that it goes viral. But that's a hope. I don't know exactly how He's going to do it, but this song's in His hands. So whatever He has done with it, He has done with it.

How do you think fans of the original song will react to this?
RG: (with a laugh) Well apparently MC Hammer is a minister now. So, I think that MC Hammer will really get a kick out of it. I think he'll love this remake, because now he's all about Jesus and... well, actually I don't know if he's all about Jesus, I can't pass that judgement. All I know is that he's gotten into ministry so... I think he'll get a kick out of it. As for fans, I've played it--- like  last night I played it and did a rap of it at Keystone. And this person who I played it for was singing the "Can't Touch This." And so he likes the song, but then I did the remake of it for him, and they were really getting into it. They were like, "OH, YO! YES! That's some truth", and they're laughing along with it. So I think they're gonna respond well. Again, I can't brag about tomorrow. I mean, I hope that they respond well. So far it's gotten great responses, and I've even had people request that I do it a couple times. So yeah, it's gotten some solid responses.

What about those who never heard of the original?
RG: (laughing) They just might think that I made that song originally.  But for those who haven't heard the original, then they're gonna see that and the song can stand on its own without people knowing the original. But that song's, like, way too popular for people to not know the original.

As far as production, what do you have left? Any big plans for more shooting?
RG: Here it is. We need a big group of people doing the main dance move; putting their hands up, "Jesus..." boogie to the side, "Jesus", boogie to the side. We need a huge crowd for that, and I want to get a whole bunch of believers together. People who are strongly rooted in Christ, who--- when this video gets out, they can be strong in their faith, to be able to stand with the message of the song. And that's really important. But I do want to get a giant group of dancers. I want to get maybe some extra shots of individual dancers, like a small group of more skilled talented dancers together, because the people who we just recorded earlier...

I have to be careful about who gets included in this video, because their name [their face] is going to be attached to a message that is all about Christ, and being able to stand strong with the armor of God. And if I have people on there who don't know how to put on the full armor of God and stand strong against the devil, then that's gonna be a problem. And that's gonna come back and that's gonna hurt them. It's gonna come back and it's gonna hurt the music ministry as a whole, and so I have to be very wary about how this is done. Everybody who I'm doing this with has to know how to put on the full armor of God, because that's one of the main themes of the song right there, and how to be strong soldiers for Christ. So I might have to rerecord some sections with other individuals who have already been recorded for it, just so that this whole process remains pure. That's gong to be real important. And if I have to cut people out because their lives are not reflecting Christ, I will do so, because that's really important. If their lives aren't reflecting Christ and God ends up taking this music ministry to a whole new level, then I too am going to be held accountable for that.

So, it's a high calling, and it has to be treated with care and it has to be treated responsibly. Just a couple minutes ago I let my manager go, because God revealed to me some of the condition of his heart and how it's not fully set upon Him. And that right there could easily work its way into the music and what I'm doing, and everything that I do will probably be watched. And so I have to be careful with who I let be a part of this. Because if I have someone involved in these projects whose life is not all about Christ and who can put their name upon something like this, and then say "yeah I was a part of that" but then their actions and their words reflect that there's something else coming from their heart, then that totally deflates and poisons the ministry as a whole. And I can't have that.

People who are in this have to be held accountable [like, spiritually] for what we're doing 'cause this is spreading the name of Christ, and this is a pretty bold song. This song has some very bold statements in it. And so, if there's someone in there who's not all about Christ or has something in his heart--- and I'm not saying that I'm anything better either, 'cause God's been working with me to refine my heart, to make sure that it's intentions are more pure. And if there's something in me, that needs to be pointed out. Yeah, please. Please point it out so that it may be refined, because I want to make sure that my intentions and my heart is still pure and completely focused upon God, so that "the enemy can't touch this." And that's how it's gonna have to be with everyone else because anyone else who's on this... it's very likely the enemy's gonna come after them because they're a part of this giant taunt to the devil, which is why we need to know how to put on the full armor of God.

So yes, I do plan on getting a bigger shoot and having a big dance scene of things going on, having some other strong dancers, but they gotta really be strongly rooted in Christ. That's what's most important, 'cause this is a big opportunity right here. This song has a lot of potential, but it needs to be done with a pure heart, and pure spirit.

Derek Bartlett
Cinematographer, co-director, and video editor

How did you get involved in this project?
DB: I'd heard him play the song on his mac book at one of our hot chocolate giveaways. Eventually he sort of came up to me and asked to help him shoot a music video for it. And how could I refuse, with the 'reputation' I'd gotten with a camera? I'd done a lot of music videos with movies [like The Hobbit] as well as footage from my own cameras. I've never done one like this, though, and it's a bit of a challenge. But he knows that, so it takes some of the pressure off me. Especially when he answers my questions and suggestions about what he wants on screen.

There are some pretty high [but not at all boastful] hopes for this video. Do you think it'll succeed?
DB: Well, duh! Of course Ryan has high hopes for it. And so do I. Our inside joke when we started shooting was, we kept saying that it was gonna make people forget about Gangnam Style. I think that tells you how hard we're working at it, and obviously we want it to be good. It's not something we can just throw together in a couple weeks. We need to sort of take our time to make sure we don't have anything less than awesome. We're not being paid for it or anything, so it's not like there's some guy telling us "move, move, move, we have a deadline to meet!"
That's the main reason we don't edit the video together. As an editor I need to be able to relax and experiment however I can, and I'm sure it's the same way with him. If there's someone else sitting there watching over my shoulder, there's a negative sense of urgency involved. And I figure we kind of evened out the work anyways. Ryan does the audio stuff and I take care of the video.

As the video editor do you feel the weight of responsibility for the themes of the song, and the people in it?
DB: Definitely. I mean, Ryan's really enthusiastic and has lots of ideas for how he wants the video to look and sound. A lot of times, but not all the time, I'll tell him what sort of edits I think would look cool and see what he thinks. Other times it's mostly done by instinct and just adapting his vision however I can. So you could say that my responsibility is to follow his responsibility.
The post-production work basically happens off-and-on during production, and it can be a little unpredictable. For instance he'll send me a revised version of the song, and I have to try and get it fitted to make sure it's synced up exactly the same way, because of small details like the way his mouth moves. Offset lip-syncing can really kill a music video, and the performance alone, so that's a thing I need to make sure doesn't happen.

The first thing I did for the video was, I synced up a video of him (performing the full song) to the audio file, and trimmed a bit of both to make sure it was set right. Luckily he had the song playing while rapping so we could get it timed right on camera.
Anything after that just involves inserting clips from different shooting periods in there. So it's kind of like adding layers, and making sure the audio and video stays lined up.

How close would you say the video is to being done?
DB: Well, not exactly close. More like we have no freakin' idea how far we are from being finished. The way it usually goes is, we'll plan a certain time for shooting something we planned ahead of time, and then I need to wait till we get a good amount of footage from it before I can continue editing.
When I do this in my spare time with movies, I know just what footage I have to work with, and how much is available. But in this case we've got no clue how much more we'll end up filming. It's kind of like trying to read a book with half the pages ripped out.
So it's better to sort of take it a step at a time, so we know which video clips work for the song and which ones don't. We have a ton of footage already, and any tech nerd knows videos take up a lot of space. Pictures don't, though. That's why I'm trying to take some still images to add into it here and there.

Long story short, we're not gonna shoot something unless we know it'll look great.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back at Blue Bell

Ok, I was SO nervous about starting this semester at first. Why?
    Because at the time, my only option for taking two classes this semester was to have college level math (I despise math) and a media class that ran from 11:15 to 1:15, right through downtime. Seriously? It's called downtime for a reason, there are supposed to be NO CLASSES! I figured "Might as well get this part over with as quickly as possible." But then I remembered all my good times at school revolved around going to clubs like Drama or Thrive, seeing my buddies. I needed something to look forward to, otherwise (especially with the math) it would be really miserable. Stuck in a classroom staring at a teacher, while your friends just one floor away are all out and about having fun and socializing? I'd call it torture.
    But I made a last-minute double-check to be sure, and wound up changing my schedule so I'd have one class a day four days a week. The Tuesday-Thursday earth science class goes through downtime, but I don't care. My club events and friends are pretty much always Monday-Wednesday, and the timing those days works fine.

August 27th, 2014
It was kind of weird and took me a while to get used to seeing West Campus full of people, especially due to its size. I didn't play pool but got to see a few familiar faces while I was there, including the shuttle driver from last year. I ended up sitting in the back of the shuttle 'cause my timing was a little too close. And of course, during the ride the shuttle bounced and shook a lot, almost lifting me out of the seat a lot.

Soon as the shuttle ride was over and we finally arrived at Blue Bell campus, I went to Parkhouse Hall to look for my math classroom. That building is a MAZE! I needed to be sure I knew where I was going, so the big exposed staircase was the best place to start. Turns out all I'd have to do was take two long left turns and keep going till I hit wall. And the room was right there.
    Since I had plenty of time to spare I went to the Books & Bytes cafe in the College Hall library get a cup of coffee.
By now I've had the basic dark roasts around here; Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Wawa, and Folgers which is the stuff I make at home.
Going to the big cafeteria to see how crowded it was, I ran into some friends, so I got to sit and hang out with them during downtime. It was really fun, catching up and laughing, so much I almost didn't want to leave.
But unfortunately I had to head out or I'd have been late for math class.
    It's Foundations of Math. So far with day one it looks like we'll actually be using logic for once. Crazy, I know. And all the homework is online so there's no textbook. After class I went back and hung out with some people I know in the piano room next to the cafeteria.
After that I went upstairs to the cafe, finding another friend to chat with and kill some time.
Any guy with more sense than me might have gotten onto a computer and finished the homework, right? That was my first instinct, but not this time. This day was mine, and I wanted to spend as much time with my friends as possible as they came and went.

August 28th, 2014
Soon as I got to West Campus and settled at a table, I spent a few minutes tearing the math pages out of my old notebook and throwing them in the recycle bin. And I still had more than enough pages left to use this notebook for science class. I had a better feeling about this class because of it being earth science, the kind of stuff I learned in high school with just a little more to it.
    On the way to the cafeteria after finding the science classroom, outside I ran into the guys who film Jimmy's Actual Factuals. So I joined in on the fun and answered the "how was your summer?" question they went around asking. I didn't hesitate to say I went to the movies four times this month (Ninja Turtles and The Giver, both twice). I stayed in the cafeteria with some guys till I had about ten minutes to spare.
    I felt better now that the schedule worked, and so far the science was pretty interesting. Even the classroom alone was was an attention-grabber. The front desk was covered to the edges with different types of rocks and fossils, and some of the windowed cupboards were stocked with things like that. Maps on the walls, all the kind of stuff you might expect to see in a typical science classroom.
Our teacher asked everyone one by one why we were taking the class, and a majority of the students said it was required for their education majors. I'd never seen that many in one place, at least knowingly. I said I was required to take a science, and this way I'd get my core goals out of the way in case I decide to change my major sometime. I guess you could say it's buying me time, so I have more space to figure out what I want to do.
    It didn't really surprise me that we went into the material almost right after the syllabus (since it's a 3-hour class), but we didn't take nearly as many notes as I thought we would. Usually I'd take about a minute to copy a page from the Smart Board, and then another ten or so minutes would go by so he could go into detail and/or answer students' questions. He assured some of us "there are no stupid questions."
    We got a ten-minute break since class was long, but I wasn't in too big of a hurry for that to end 'cause it was COLD! It's a cool classroom in more ways than one. As much as I've always hated being hot, it was more chilly than comfortable. Sitting there still was uncomfortable too, since I don't usually like sitting still. But hey. It could always be worse. I could have not changed my schedule at all and have no downtime any of the four class days. Besides, the lab we did at the end was fun. We'd get in groups, look at samples, and write down anything we could identify. So now I know how to tell pyrite, aka "Fool's Gold", from real gold.
    I hadn't brought my science textbook and lab manual since it was day one of the class (and it's insanely heavy), so the only work I had was to go online and figure out how to do the homework for math. Before catching the five pm shuttle, I got through a good amount of it quicker than I thought. Honestly, I should have had math homework like this YEARS ago!

So far I'm really glad to be back at Mont Co, and can't wait to see what happens with this semester of going to main campus almost daily. If I'm right, things will turn out awesome. And so will next semester, now that I'll have my core stuff out of the way.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I joined the American Taekwondo Association when I was fifteen. At that point I was a naive and struggling-with-anger kid. To this day I guess I still am kinda naive, but it doesn't matter 'cause I don't struggle with my anger anymore. I've learned discipline, patience, focus, and my stubbornness has increased by a lot in the last five years. I definitely wouldn't be the way I am now without it.

    I guess the major change happened when I immersed myself in learning a Bo Staff (or 'Jahng Bong' as we say in the A.T.A.) form that Noah Ringer made.
At the time he was a First Degree Black Belt, and a Texas State Champion. I had seen a video of him doing this form in front of a bunch of younger kids after finishing a Q&A session with the A.T.A. And of course, my jaw just dropped and I was amazed. Since the staff was my favorite close-combat weapon and I really looked up to this kid, words could barely describe how much I wanted to learn that form... so I did.
    Believe me, it wasn't that easy. Especially since I only had the one video, and I was left to judge myself on whether I did the techniques right. It took weeks, taking it a few moves at a time, staying after class every chance I got, and sometimes being watched from the desk by my instructors. After a while it became muscle memory.
    When I finally had it down, one of my instructors asked me to come in and show it to the junior (twelve and under) class kids. He said they needed motivation, and I loved doing it, so I agreed.

    Eventually I started teaching some of the adult students on my own.
Well, I'm not sure exactly what you'd call it. Spare-time tutoring maybe? Anyway, pretty much any random time I'm partnered with a friend (or in more recent events, my cousin) for warm-ups, drills, or little sparing matches, I've been known to hand out pointers now and again; usually with things like technique, how to make that front kick stronger, how to make that butterfly kick more fluid, some moves with the weapons, and a bunch of other things I can't remember off the top of my head.
    I think doing the staff form in front of those kids was another way of proving a point and setting an example, showing what they can be capable of. Especially since I earned my First Degree Black Belt at eighteen, I've emphasized and demonstrated the type of leadership I prefer following; by example.

(That's me sparring in the red and black gear)

I mean, think about it. When you lead people, no matter what the reason is, you're always trying to prove something to them. So what better way to do it than by example instead of just blind orders? You have to somehow (not always verbally) show them why you do what you do, or what you want them to do and why. Otherwise it doesn't make sense.

I've also kept in mind that you need to be sure of yourself the whole time too. If you don't quite believe in yourself enough (trust me, it does show, unless you're the best actor ever), then the people you're trying to motivate won't have confidence in you either. If you want to be a leader, then BE a leader.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Third Decade Begins

I still have a hard time grasping the fact that I'm twenty years old now. But then again it's only been three days. Guess it takes a bit longer than that. But still, if someone comes up to me and says "act your age" I'm not gonna have a clue what that means. Is it "act your age", or "act your age"?

March 10th 2014
I remember on March tenth I got up in the morning with the house to myself, and went out for a walk; to go down the road and then by the creek, to find some river stones. Still some snow left on the ground, and I had my wooden staff and HandyCam with me. Half a field away, I saw a grey shape sitting still, crouched in the snow. 'Wait...' I thought. 'Is that a fox?' I took out the HandyCam and used the zoom lens to get a better look at it. In seconds, the red and grey fox rose to its feet and started running. Quickly I took four photos as it was moving away.

(attention city people; You see? THAT is the sort of thing you're missing. In places like this there's peace and natural life. No traffic or gangs all over the place)
Unfortunately every rock at the creek was angular and uneven. Not round or smooth enough for throwing, but heavy enough to weigh a sling down. I picked up four and put them in my pocket before leaving for home.
I went back to the creek later in the afternoon with my leather sling, to practice the throwing technique/s with the stones provided and figure out which throw I was going to use for filming the next day.

You know what can make someone's day? Seeing birthday presents covered in all Duck Dynasty wrapping paper. I was laughing literally right away. I even got a couple of their books, "Si-cology" and "Happy, Happy, Happy".

The chocolate chip cookie cake was delicious. I mean, obviously! It's a giant soft cookie with green and brown frosting decorated on it! (It's a C.C.C.C.C., a Camouflage Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake!)
Several hours were spent watching behind-the-scenes on Catching Fire with my sister till we both got too sleepy to stay up much longer.

March 11th, 2014
The next day I put some of the other stuff I got to good use.
I got to wear my Beorn t-shirt for this episode of Beorn's Tent, and use a new set of paracord and leather to make a a new sling.
The only really annoying thing was the battery in my camera kept wearing down in not too much time, so I had to charge it and and edit the footage between filming sessions.
It was cool, though. I shot a long-distance fight sequence outside with the new sling and my flannel camouflage cloak. In the editing I made it look like a warg was charging at me and I was throwing a golf ball into its mouth (I showed a golf ball in my hand, and later I switched it with a random rock so the pouch would be weighted and I wouldn't have to worry about losing good ammo in the snow). Although I guess it's no secret to say, that scene was a bit tricky to edit. So was picking out additional music for the whole episode when I was running out.

March 12th, 2014
I got to go to the shooting range at French Creek Outfitters with another friend (so I brought both my bows, both shooting gloves and every arrow that would work) and, well... she wasn't exactly the best. But I guess part of the reason is 'cause we were the same distance from the target and she had the lower-weight one. Mostly it was trouble with the anchor point and pulling to full draw. But that means there's room to improve. "If it makes ya feel better, I've been doing this since I was sixteen." I said. It was a pretty funny shooting session.

I'm just glad my last few teenage years were awesome. Now, still plenty more life ahead to enjoy and give meaning (and a LOT of time to grow a beard too).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My First Shooting Range

This is my short story of the first time I went to a shooting range. And a good thing too, 'cause beforehand I'd been getting really antsy 'cause of the snow, thinking "I've gotta shoot something!!!"

My friend Sam picked me up, with her compound bow in its case in the back seat. I put my recurve and trigger release with it and got in the front seat. Today we were going to French Creek Outfitters for the upstairs archery range. I’d been looking forward to it for a while, and finally I was going to my first shooting range. I figured I would mark that as the fun thing I did during my last days as a teenager.

It cost about thirteen bucks for me to shoot, and for some reason Sam wanted to sort of sit and watch, not comfortable with the thirty yards since she'd changed the poundage or something like that. But anyway, I filled out a little form and we went up the almost hidden stairs to what looked like a long attic with animal-shaped targets scattered at different distances and heights. Behind a thick yellow line people of different ages from teens to fifties stood side by side and were shooting at the targets with their own bows.
“Most of them are just target shooters, not really hunters.” Sam said. And it was pretty obvious in some ways ‘cause of all the balances and wires and fancy gear that most of these shooters put on their compound bows.
Sam also told me during the week there’s hardly anyone there, so theoretically we should be able to come up sometime and just shoot at plain practice targets (these were 3D with a big group of people around). That’d be nice, maybe after my math class sometime. Or even on a Friday when I don’t have any classes. And according to her there’s also the possibility of getting my arrows fixed. I mean the ones where the nocks have broken off from hitting them with other arrows, but with the fletching and shafts still in good enough condition to shoot again.
Finally my turn came up so I went into the first lane and shot with my recurve. Sam gave me two of her arrows to shoot with, since apparently you’re supposed to bring your own. I must have looked pretty primal next to these other Olympic-style bows. At least I hope I did, ‘cause honestly, I’ve never liked the idea of dressing up a bow with gadgets. You’re not gonna be able to shoot a buck (not that I would unless necessary, but still) or sneak up on anybody with a big cumbersome pipe attached to the front of your bow. Just one other man at the range had a recurve, made of wood. No sights or anything. You’ve no idea how relieved I was to see that.
It wasn’t until after I had shot my first few targets that I was told we’re supposed to aim for the numbered targets according to the names hanging above the lanes each we stood in. Now it made more sense to me. There was a piece of cardboard that was orange on one side and green on the other, so you would shoot at the numbered target depending on the color it’s number was. And after everyone ran out of arrows, we’d make sure everyone was done, go get our arrows back, and someone would switch the board from orange side to green.
It was a lot of fun. Sometimes I hit the target I wanted, but sometimes when I would aim at an animal’s torso or something, I’d hit its leg or neck or part of another close by target. I hit the gator’s tail at least two different times, once near the end when I was aiming for the sheep behind it.
Nonetheless I enjoyed it. Maybe a bit too much, now that I think of it. I hit the mosquito-shaped target, which was quite large and set on top of a wooden fence near a few turkeys.
I kept thinking to myself ‘What Uncle Brad wouldn’t give to see this.’ I bet he’d love it. And now I can say I’ve gone through a session there and can go back to try again whenever.
As I got closer to the end of the line I tried thinking and experimenting in a way, watching the other recurve shooter and recounting how previous shots had succeeded and failed, so I could make the next ones awesome.
But… I broke the two carbon arrows which I felt a bit bad for, for a minute (before that, one of them got stuck in the backdrop’s wall and had to ask two guys for help to pull it out. I pulled a couple muscles in the process). Well one of them broke into three pieces, the other one lost its nock. One of the guys in charge took the nock out of the broken one and put it in the other arrow’s shaft so I still had something to shoot with. At least that way I had a bit more leeway in picking which target to shoot. I pretty much always picked the closest to me, but sometimes they weren’t that far apart.
I missed a closer-range bear target, though. By less than an inch it glided right over the bear’s spine. So I hit the ground more times than I liked, but at least I finally got to try it out. And honestly, it made me excited for a weekday target-shooting time, when there probably won’t be many people, if any at all.
Maybe when I get my first longbow, I’ll be even better at this archery range since it’ll have better poundage.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"I'm gonna go protect my title!"

I'm a huge Tolkien nerd, and it may be what I'm most proud of 'cause of the amazing change it made to my lifestyle.
A good transition from one point of fandom to another is making my (TORn) account and seeing a webseries on YouTube called Happy Hobbit; two more enthusiasts expressing their love of Middle-Earth in different ways. I became an immediate fan and (after posting some of my music videos on their Facebook page and getting positive responses) was asked to edit a flashback video for their year-one episode. You have no idea how excited I was to get that message. Before it aired I asked if there was gonna be a Beorn/honey episode, saying I'd be tempted to show up myself if I wasn't on the east coast. When the year-one video DID air...

"His name to the outside world is Derek, but we shall introduce him here to you as Beorn."

:) 'Yep, it's official.' I thought. 'Got a nickname now.'

In Middle-Earth, Beorn is a skin-changer who lives in a wooden house he built. He takes care of horses, cows, sheep and dogs, and does not eat or hunt animals. He also keeps big beehives, and lives mostly on honey, bread, nuts and milk. (Like me! So, he's kind of a picky eater)
"Sometimes he's a huge black bear, sometimes he's a great strong man. The bear is unpredictable, but the man can be reasoned with."
I think he's a fascinating character in the story, and one of my all-time favorites. It raises my curiosity of what we'll see of him in the next Hobbit movie. I bet next time we see him he'll be in his huge bear form killing orcs.

I got the chance to appear in Happy Hobbit's Thanksgiving special by filming my own footage and sending it to them so they could edit it together. Then I decided to do a spinoff TORn series with different topics from the other side of the country.
I couldn't quite come up with a title for it though. At first I thought "Beorn's House" but then when people talk about the second Hobbit film they would be saying the same thing, so I went through a few other ideas before lowering it down to Beorn's Tent.
It was after I was taught how to set up a tent that I thought of the name, that maybe I would be living in it some of the time, or just to let it represent simplicity.

 Beorn's Tent feels like doing my own thing and at the same time teamwork. This is me representing TheOneRing, showing topics I know about and can imply Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to.
Since I do it at home by myself, that saves me the trouble of working out any scheduling conflicts with siblings or friends.
Plus I get to make up a few bear extras like Arg, and Arg Jr. (aka "Milky") using bear sound effects.
So far so good, I've made several episodes and have gotten some online fans of the series. Not many, but it's a start. Quicker than I expected actually.

The wooden badge around my neck is another reminder of this. Like I'm "one of them", "welcome to the club" or something. Another one of those dedicated fans on TheOneRing with a love of JRR Tolkien's and Peter Jackson's work.
Definitely as a writer, filmmaker and outdoorsy guy, this whole experience has been great. Especially since The Lord of the Rings is what sparked my interest in making films, and the Hobbit production blogs taught me almost everything I know about behind-the-scenes business.

Keep your eyes out for more, and "be careful if you have man-bears in your woods."

May your days be filled with milk and honey!