The James Spader Podcast 7 – “Tuff Turf” – 2.15.15

In the 7th and last cast of the first season of The James Spader Podcast, Mike Gray, Chris Onderick, and Erik Pepple turn to fan favorite Tuff Turf (1985), directed by Fritz Kiersch. In addition to discussions padlocks, great music, actors James Spader, Kim Richards, Robert Downey Jr., and musician Jim Carroll, the show features a special interview with the director, Kiersch himself.

Procrastination: HP Thomcraft II

H.P. Thomcraft II


Some years ago, the very end of 2010/beginning of 2011 to be exact, we filmed1 a sequel to H.P. Thomcraft. H.P. Thomcraft II was the incredibly original working title. Mike and I decided to ‘go big’ with HPT II (as I will refer to it from now on) and shoot it on 16mm film, with a Super 16 ARRI and a Zeiss lens2. Not only were we going to shoot it on film, instead of just getting it converted to video and color corrected, we were going to get it scanned and get the raw frames delivered in DPX format3. A couple weeks later, I got a drive in the mail with 270 gigabytes of files which contained our 20 minutes of raw footage. I posted some quick frame grabs to Protozoic 4 years ago, with the following text:

Here are a couple screen grabs from H.P. Thomcraft II. More soon.

Boy was that a lie.

The plan was for me to color correct the footage after Mike edited it using a process involving conforming the raw footage to the final edit using EDLs. If that sounds like a mouthful, it is. I eventually tested out the process and it seemed like it would work, though the color correction software, Color, had some stability issues. This was sometime around May 2011. I then waited for Mike to edit the footage.

aL and Max


Mike was pretty busy with things. I don’t recall with what, but it was some significant time before he got to editing together the short. So long that I forgot the process I had worked out. So long that the new version of OS X no longer supported Color, so I had to hold off updating OS X, which is the first time I had ever really done that.

I have an email from July 2012 from Mike stating that he was going to finish editing the footage soon. He finished a few weeks later. Around that time, I quit my job and moved to Ohio. I put off color correcting the footage because of that, and because I really wasn’t looking forward to trying to figure out the process again. Particularly since Mike had done a reasonably intricate cut with a lot of edits, which would make color correcting that more annoying. So I put it off for the rest of 2012. And 2013. I even managed to put it off all of 2014.

All through this time, I’ve held off updating OS X. I’m still on 10.7.5. I think OS X is on 10.10.2 now. That’s a lot of updates and it’s caused me no end of problems with a lot of my software. Moral of the story: Procrastination can have some unintended consequences. Don’t do it.

h.p. THOMcraft II


So I was talking to Mike this weekend that I should really get on it. I told him my worries about the complicated workflow we had planned and he said, “Color correct the raw footage. I’ll just re-edit it.” Well in that case… I had the raw footage all corrected a few hours later. We are in the process of transferring the 47 gigs of files over the internets as I write this. Mike thinks he’ll be able to edit it again in a couple of days, so H.P. Thomcraft II will actually get done shortly. I will take most of the blame for it’s incredible delay.

Maybe I can finally update my fucking computer now.

Pizza yo

  1. And when I say ‘filmed’ it, we did indeed film it. It was shot on Kodak Vision 2 50D and Vision3 200T on a Super 16mm camera. While digital is amazing, these are really some beautiful films and represent the pinnacle of the technology. Yes, I know Vision3 50D was released. I’m happy that I got to shoot something on these film emulsions before they all go away. 

  2. Zeiss lenses are universally acclaimed, but the Zeiss Super 16 conversion zoom lens we shot this film on was less than spectacular. Granted, a 16mm frame is pretty tiny and 1080p can really highlight some defects. Despite that, the Zeiss really broke down at the wider focal lengths. Of course, I tend to gravitate to wider focal lengths, so there a few shots which are mighty fuzzy. Also, one scene has a nasty flare right in the middle of the frame. I tried to correct it in post, but it was a pretty clumsy fix. I think it was a 10-100mm T2.2 lens, but I don’t fully recall now. 

  3. The DPX file format is pretty cool. It’s pretty old too—over 20 years old. Someone pretty smart came up with the idea of fitting the huge dynamic range available in film into just 10 bits using a logarithmic scheme instead of linear to store values. 

Dick’s Retro Gaming Center v1

Now that I’ve got room and I don’t plan to move houses again: let the hoarding commence.

I picked up a NES and I have a list of games that I aim to amass. Then I found a 27″ Magnavox CRT TV for $5 at my community’s yard sale. Why CRT? Some people even swear by CRT monitors for modern usage, but I don’t go that far. I simply think that if I’m going to be firing up old console hardware, I should also use retro display hardware. Continue reading Dick’s Retro Gaming Center v1


I’m not “old” yet, but I am getting older, and sometimes I feel it. I guess that’s the way it is for everyone.

That’s not the point of this post however. One way that I’ve been ‘feeling my age’ recently is how it relates to staying in shape. I used to be able to push myself pretty hard, running, lifting weights, etc. I could self-motivate pretty easily, with not much in the way of external feedback. Just go do it and work hard.

In recent years, I’ve noticed it’s been getting a lot harder to do that. Working a regular 9-5 (8-5?) and not having a gym right at work makes it a lot more difficult to stick with a workout and not skip or cut things short.

This was something I decided needs to be changed. I’ve always thought if you are having problems motivating yourself to workout, you should do one of two things. First is to try to find a source or two of motivation (duh). The second is to reduce the obstacles in your way that demotivate you. If it’s hard to get to the gym, work out at home.

I decided to apply this to my life by running more. As long as there isn’t ice on the ground, you can pretty much go out and run. One obstacle removed. The other aspect of it is to find a motivational tool to inspire me to push harder. It’s been a simple, but not cheap, thing. A lot of people run with their phones and use the GPS function. I never liked the idea of running with a big ass arm band and as a result, I had to pay a $200 penalty: a GPS watch.

The thing is pretty simple, but it keeps track of my pace, distance, and steps per minute. By becoming aware of these three metrics and no longer estimating how fast I was running, I shaved off about 2 minutes per mile on my pace, and pushed my distance up quite a bit. I’m happy to say I’m running close to the paces and distances I ran in high school, 20 years and 40 pounds ago. Which is to say, I can do about 2 miles in the time it used to take Mike to run 3.

Pictures of Screens – “Fatty Joins the Force”

In jail, wearing a policeman’s hat and slouching against the bars of the cell, his face – a man-child’s written with petulance, frustration, and defeat – is streaked with dirt and the remnants of blubbering. He’s absurd, cartoonish, but also ironic; the recent turn of events that have landed him in prison must be weighing on him. He had been offered to join the force after he saved a young girl from drowning, even though he had always been courageously reluctant. That helpful push into the lake from his fickle lover was really at the root of why he dove into being a hero.

Roscoe Conkling "Fatty" Arbuckle in "Fatty Joins the Force" (1913), directed by George Nichols and produced by Mack Sennet
Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbuckle

Twelve months ago I sat across from the man, Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbuckle, trying not to catch weird reflections in the TV screen that I was photographing. Continue reading Pictures of Screens – “Fatty Joins the Force”

Tablets, Phones, and Laptops

About one year ago, I purchased an iPad. It’s been an amazing device. I read my news on it, read my email there, play games, and use it as a reference. I thought I would write blog posts, read books/pdfs, and create more with it. While I do some of the latter, it’s difficult at times. The iPad (and iOS) isn’t set up for content creation as I do it. I know that’s a bit of trope in the tech press: the iPad is for content consumption not creation. I think that it’s an unfair statement in general, but for me, it’s true.

Continue reading Tablets, Phones, and Laptops


I’m a big fan of internet services. So much so that I am willing to pay for them. While most of us use and love Dropbox, one service that I actually don’t pay for right now, I’m not here to write about that. I’m here to write about the services that many of us are unwilling to pay for. For what it’s worth, the following three services work well on mobile (iOS) and desktop.


Gmail rules the roost for most people. Even though I’ve had a Gmail account since the very early days1, before that time, I was paying for an email service for myself and Mike. Periodically, I overhaul my email setup.2. Recently I made another transition to Fastmail.

I can’t say enough positive things about Fastmail’s service. Unlimited domain names, aliases, plenty of options for aliases under Fastmail owned domain names, good filtering via sieve, and plenty of space. It doesn’t hurt that the webmail application is “not too shabby.”


Brian just recently made a large post about RSS. I love RSS as echoed during Brian’s post. I’ve been very happy with Feedbin as my RSS hub. It hooks into the apps I use, has good search and sharing options, and a responsive developer. I’ve used Feedbin for a couple of years now and I’ve loved it. RSS and email are my two most used services, so having a solid provider for them is advantageous.


I’ve used various home grown methods of bookmarking web pages and archiving online content that I wanted a permanent record of. I haven’t kept up with most of the methods because they ultimately took too much involvement on my part. That being said, I think Pinboard is going to work for me.

It’s fast, simple, and affordable. It fits my working style. I like the archive option too.

  1. I got a Gmail beta invite from a friend mid-August 2004. According to Wikipedia, “Gmail initially started as an invitation-only beta release on April 1, 2004[9] and it became available to the general public on February 7, 2007…” 

  2. This is a habit that would repeat itself several times. I made a big transition after graduating from college and losing that address. My transitions midway through grad school were written about previously. I realized near the end of grad school I would need to transition off of my Princeton email address, which would be a much more painful process than moving on from my undergrad email. In preparation for that, about a year before I graduated, I started to consolidate my mail on our paid server account ( We used that service up until about a month ago, when I moved us to Fastmail. Parallel to all of this email provider movement, I’ve also moved email clients, from Eudora->Apple Mail->Mailsmith->Pine->Mutt. That is a story for another day.