TransMissions: Mark Salom

My seventh response to the 100 letters I mailed out was not from Mark Salom, but from his sister-in-law, Fran Carpentier-Salom. Mark’s letter appeared in issue 7, entitled: Warrior School!

Transformers Issue 7“I am thrilled to tell you how happy I was to receive your letter for my dear brother-in-law (and Transformers fan) Mark Salom.” Fran wrote. “In fact, in Feb. 2012, Mark sustained a catastrophic fall in his home which rendered him a quadriplegic. His brother (my husband) and I had Mark treated at the renowned Kessler Institute, which is where the late actor Christopher Reeves sought treatment, but there was little that could be done for Mark. Thus, in May 2012, Mark moved full-time into a nursing home in Brooklyn. Rest assured, that he is as comfortable and, despite his situation, as happy as it is possible to be.”

As trilled as I was to get another response to the 100 letters I sent out, this one felt like a gut check. In the last few years I’ve gotten to be apart of the Transformers fandom through this blog and the TransMissions Podcast. Hearing Mark’s story and how he has been affected touched me more than any other response I’ve gotten thus far.

Mark is a Transformers fan. He’s one of us. He had a really shitty thing happen to him. I wish nothing be the best for him.

If I where a better writer, I could come up with a more eloquent way to introduce Mark’s original letter that was published in the 80s Marvel comic.

Dear Editor and Assistant Editor,
I am enjoying these new comic characters the TRANSFORMERS both in comic form and in animated cartoon (Channel 11-WPIX, Sundays at 10). It has come to my attention that between the comic and the animated cartoon there are (more or less) 11 different DECEPTICONS, 19 different AUTOBOTS and the 5 different DINOBOTS.
I would like in the future issues of the TRANSFORMERS (or in a special TRANSFORMERS Yearbook, like you did for G.I. JOE recently), a special reference section which has pictures and a brief information printout on al the above mentioned DECEPTICONS, AUTOBOTS, and DINOBOTS, and those robots you will yet bring to life, if any. Please follow up my thoughts when you get the series going again early in 1985.
Please try to keep the TRANSFORMERS animated cartoon going because it is really very good. Both children and adults can enjoy this show. – Mark Salom, Brooklyn, NY

Now 30 some odd years later and with the help of Fran and Mark’s trusty aide, Pauline,  Mark answers my questions.

How did you discover Transformers?

I discovered them in the early 80s. I discovered the comic series. also the movies, and the voice overs!!!

Where did I get my Transformers comics from?

I used to buy my Transformer comics in Manhattan—what most people call New York City. I live in Brooklyn, which is a borough of NYC, the same way that the Bronx and Queens and Staten Island are. The five boroughs, get it? On Saturdays, after synagogue services, I would take the subway from my home in Sheepshead Bay—the section of Brooklyn shown in the recent Bill Murray film Saint Vincent—into Manhattan to a special comic book store in midtown. That’s the good thing about Manhattan. It has something for everyone’s taste. Going to the comics store was a highpoint of my week. I actually have a big collection of old comics.”

Who are you today?

I am not sure how to answer this!

Are you still a Transformers fan?

I am still a big fan! But I don’t get much access to comic book stores and my cable tv service doesn’t seem to run the movies.

Many, many thanks go out to Mark, Fran and Pauline for their time and help. I wish the very best to all of them.

G.I. Joe and the Transformers Review Issue 2: Power Struggle

In opening this book and sitting down to read it, I could not help but wonder how the events in Transformers 24 were going to affect G.I. Joe and the Transformers #2. Early on you start to see the impact with Superion. But first, lets check out this cover.

GI-Joe-Transformers-2-Youseph

‘#2 IN A FOUR ISSUE LIMITES SERIES G.I. Joe and the TRANSFORMERS’ is written across the top of the comic. This dark cover depicts Soundwave, Dirge, Bombshell, and Ravage in a Decepticon base watching as Sargent Slaughter and several other G.I. Joes fight off an areal attack threw a view screen. The Joes are on a yacht trying to save the people on board from incoming fire.

GI-Joe-Transformers-2-cover

Our comic starts off with Superion demanding the remains of Bumblebee. The Joes, who are naturally frightened by a giant robot react by opening fire upon the combined Autobot. Superion fires back to protect himself. This action just causes things to get worse. But just as Superion might not be able to take much more fire, he is summed backed to the Ark upon news of Optimus Prime’s death. He breaks away from the engagement to return to base.

GI-Joe-Transformers-2-Superion

Back at the Decepticon base, Megatron watches with little interest as Bombshell’s Cerebro-Shell powers up Power Station Alpha and takes off via remote control from the Washington State military base. It’s worth noting that while this is going on, Hawk is busy getting busy with Senator Barbara Larkin. Being fully aware of Megatron’s disinterest, Shockwave believes he now must take over command of the Decepticons as it is the logical thing to do.

GI-Joe-Transformers-2-Hawk

Cobra also observed the the theft of Power Station Alpha, and Doctor Mindbender uses special helmet of his to take control of the Cerebro-Shell and has it change course to to Cobra. For extra support a group of Cobra aircraft are sent out to escort the power station to base, but shortly after their arrival they are attacked by the Joes.

GI-Joe-Transformers-2-helmet

This battle over the water is noticed by none other than, G.B. Blackrock, along with this yacht willed with bikini girls. When Serpentor notices this boat he the Joes that he will destroy it with power station alpha if they don’t stand down. Hawk orders his men to stand down as he knows that the radioactive fall out from such an explosion is not acceptable.

Cobra, now with a little bit of breathing room, opens fire upon the yacht anyway. This causes the Joes to spend time saving the people on board the ship. While being rescued, Blackrock hears the Joes discussing an encounter with “giant, shape-changing vehicles”. Blackrock tells the Joes he might be of some help to them.

GI-Joe-Transformers-2-Blackrock

The boy that Bombshell implanted a Cerebro-Shell into, Anthony Duranti, has been in a catatonic state recently. His mother takes him to the doctor and an x-ray reveals that something is inside his brain. The doctors elect for surgery remove the obstruction.

GI-Joe-Transformers-2-brain

Mindbender and Serpentor watch as Power Station Alpha arrives, but also noticed that Dirge and Bombshell are following right behind. The two Decepticons explain that they are also interested int he power station. an alliance is suggested by Dr. Mindbender after planting a listening device on Dirge. Mindbender later overhears Shockwave telling Dirge and Bombshell of his plans to convert Power Station Alpha so that he can tap Earth’s natural energy. Mindbender believes that this plan will destroy the planet.

GI-Joe-Transformers-2-take

My Thoughts On This Issue

This issue brought back a lot of memories for me. I was never the biggest G.I. Fan growing up. But it was a cartoon and often on before or after the Transformers. So, I watched it. Seeing names like Dr. Mindbender or Serpentor after all these years brought back some great memories of my little brother and I watching these cartoons growing up.

I have to be honest. I am somewhat tempted to try and read the original G.I. Joe comics. Maybe this is something I will do when I am completely done with the Transformers.

In this issue we have pretty much four stories going on. Autobots and the Joes on the side of good, but they are not yet working together. And then you have Cobra and the Decepticons working on the side of evil. They too are not yet working together. Thought the two good teams and the two bad teams are generally good or evil respectively, I don’t think will see their over arching goals meeting together. So it makes sense right now that their are only 4 issues in this crossover. Which is kind of to bad in away because I really love crossover stories.

Also worth noting is that it seems something bad must have happened to Cobra Commander as he his death in a previous issue of G.I. Joe is briefly mentioned. Which, to me, is significant. A very popular charter was killed. Not unlike Optimus Prime.

New Ads This Issue

Mac Media Center Project: Final notes (Part 5)

TV-Youseph-StyleIt has been a while since I have written any kind of update on the Mac Media Center Project. This is because it took a long time to encode all the movies I own. Along the way, I came across a few issues I had to learn how to trouble shoot. This page, I hope, will serve as the location for any issues and solutions I find regarding this server setup in hopes that others will find it useful.

  • BACKUPS 

I have always been told that there are two types of people in the world. Those who have lost their data and those who will lose their data. I have lost my data. I failed to backup my first laptop and ended up losing all of my personal photos and documents up to that point. I will never see these items again. Ever since this happened to me, I have always been diligent with my computer backups.

Backups can be preformed in any number of ways. Some ways are better then others and it’s just up to you to research and pick out the method that will work best.

Costco recently had a sale on 4TB Seagate external hard drives. I bought two of them and hooked them up to my Mac Mini. My NAZ is setup with four folders/directories. ‘Movies’, ‘Music’, ‘Photos’ and ‘TV Shows’. So using my Mac Mini, I thought I would just try and copy over one folder at a time to back up my server and repeat this process once every other month. So I clicked on the ‘Movies’ folder and dragged it over to my first 4TB external drive. A couple of minutes into the copy process the job fail with the Mac OSX finder giving me some odd error. I tried it again with the same result. I then tried a different folder. I tried to copy over ‘Music’ with pretty much the same results.

After doing a little online research, I discovered that OSX’s finder has bugs in it and one of them is reliable coping. To solve this problem I switched to the UNIX terminal on my Mac and proceeded to copy the folders over using the following command.

Not only did this work, the text out put showed me that one of the movies was corrupt. This is an easy enough fix. Put the movie back into the Mac Mini and re-encode it. Problem solved

I used the UNIX cp -r command for the remainder of the folders needing to be copied over. Once I was done backing up my server, I took the hard drives to my office and locked them up. The whole process took a couple of days to complete, but now I have a nice off-site backup of server.

You may want to look into a tool like TrueCrypt or the Macintosh’s Disk Utility to encrypt your data as well.

  • SIZE MATTERS

When I first started encoding my DVD collection I was surprised by the standard video resolution of DVDs. While a standard DVD NTSC has 720×480 pixel resolution a wide screen DVD is 864 x 486. That’s small when compared to the pixel resolution of new flat wide screen TVs. I have found with older movies that the resolution can be even smaller and results in a poorer looking movie when all is said and done. In going through my large collection of DVDs, I maybe found 5 movies that where a smaller resolution then 720X480.

Now, I don’t know about the rest of you living in the 21st century, but my flat screen TV is a lot bigger then that. I currently have a 40 inch flat screen and when I play one of my encoded movies at full screen things can look hazy as a result.

For example, using Apple’s Quicktime to play a movie I have encoded at full screen just looks horrible  I have no idea why Quicktime’s upscaling is so bad, but it is. I have seen amazing results using VLC to play my movies on my flat screen.

I have read on line that any TV larger then 40 inches is going to result in losing image quality  Things might look muddy or blurry or pixely. That this is just the limits of upscaling. I have not tested this for myself, but it is something to be aware of and maybe do some research on if you are planning on picking up a TV larger then 40 inches.

  •  COPY PROTECTION

It seems like 1 out of every 10 DVDs I buy has some kind of newer copy protection on it that I was not able to easily get past. There are a couple of way I could have dealt with this. One way would have have been to dual boot my Mac Mini with Windows. There are several more ripping and encoding applications for Windows then Mac and I might have found a free solution there.

I ended up purchasing a Mac application called MacX DVD Ripper Pro which, so far, has not been stopped by any copy protection I have seen.

In an ideal world, I would take these copy protected DVDs back to the store and demand my money back since I can’t use the media I purchased in a way I want. Vote with your dollar.

That’s what I have learned so far. I hope you have found these sets of posts on my Mac Mini Media Center Project helpful.

The Best Part Of Waking Up…

Folgers Coffee made the month of December hysterical for me to the point that I would be laughing so hard tears would poor down my face. Let me explain.

Whenever Hannah and I go to our TV to watching something on Hulu, the online audio and video media dispensary often subjects us to the same two or three ads over and over again. During the month of December one of the most frequent ads Hannah and I where subjected to was the Folgers Coffee Christmas Commercial. Its not a new ad by any means. I think I first saw it two years ago. But for the month of December this ad was on an overly abused rotation.

Here it is for your reference:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZnqBL6iYjA]

This Folgers ad was played so much on hulu in fact, that I started to pay attention to it. (repetition sadly works) Then I started to analyse it. Doesn’t it seem like the scene where the sister putting the bow on the brother’s shirt and says “you’re my present” come off just a little to flirty? A little bit, dare I say it, incestuous even?

Once I homed in on this, I started to ad lib some responses the brother could make after the sister says “You’re my present”. I would say in my deep, almost Dr. Claw like voice, things like:

  • Tonight you can unwrap me.
  • Just wait till mom and dad go back to sleep.
  • I want you too
  • Thats right. Your eighteen now arn’t you?

This would put myself, Hannah, and any guests we have over into a laughing fit.

Apparently, I am not the only one out there who found this ad to be a little to “Family Friendly”. At least one person on youtube made a couple of miner edits to show the love this brother and sister have for each other.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khlbF2PTsr4]

Actually, I think the parents in the commercial are to blame. This whole brother/sister love could have been completely avoided if the parents had just picked up their son from the airport rather then letting him take a cab home. I guess the parents would rather sleep in then be responsible  But then again, since the sister stayed up all night maybe it was just unavoidable.

ACTUALLY, if Hulu just quit playing the same ads over and over and over again like a scratched record  I never would have thought about it this much and not bothered to write a post about it.

A C T U A L L Y, Why are people who pay for Hulu subjected to ads in the fist place?

Sherlock Homes

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock HomesWhen I was still in high school I read all of the Sherlock Homes Adventures by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Something about the way Sherlock Homes could solve problems and see things others couldn’t always interested me. I say this about my brothers a lot but, I love how Sherlock’s thinks, how his mind works. I wish my mind fired as fast as theirs.

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who first appeared in publication in 1887. He is the creation of Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A brilliant London-based detective, Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess, and is renowned for his skillful use of “deductive reasoning” while using abductive reasoning and astute observation to solve difficult cases.

Sherlock Home: The Complete Granada Television SeriesNot long after I finished reading all the Homes books I found The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes tv series on the A&E Network. My mom and brother would sit with me and watch it. I don’t know why, but not long after I moved to Juneau I started poking around the internet looking for the DVD’s of this great show. I was able to find a few disks on Amazon.com, but never the complete series. Then a couple of years ago I found myself walking through the DVD section of Costco when I spotted Sherlock Home: The Complete Granada Television Series. I picked it up, No questions asked.

The actor who plays the master detective in this series is Jeremy Brett, who many consider to be the definitive screen version of Sherlock Homes. His story is quite sad actually if you read up on him. His acting though, is masterful.

I would love to hear what you think of Sherlock Holmes and how you feel Jeremy Brett’s version stacks up with Robert Downey, Jr’s version.

 

 

The Current State Of Childhood

The current state of children’s toys and cartoons really bothers me. Maybe its because of my age and the fact that, I myself have started thinking about having kids. But whatever the reason is that has brought on this train of though, the idea of exposing my own offspring or any children to the current state of toys and cartoons that are at the store and on TV right now makes me sick to my stomach. I have talked about this in the past.

Being a child of the eighties, I grew up and felt privileged to be exposed to what I think are some pretty awesome toys and cartoons. Some of them just off the top of my head are…

I have some really good childhood memories of watching these cartoons and playing with these toys. Toys and cartoons that, to this day, I still enjoy and collect. I am really looking forward to the day that my children and I can enjoy them together.

When I turn on the TV nowadays, I am embarrassed by the cartoons (which all seem to be computer animated now and not hand drawn) that networks broadcast to children. What the hell is Sponge Bob Square Pants anyway? I don’t even recognize the Transformers anymore and their toys just look scary to me.

I am going to go on a Transformers side rant here. So bare with me.

Anyone who has been following my blog knows that I am a die hard, old school, Transformers fan. (TILL ALL ARE ONE!) Something about that cartoon and the toys just clicked with me on an emotional level when I was growing up and I think that is why I am such a fan of them to this day. It might be because it was one of the first toys my older brother ever got me. It might be because when you see an old school Transformer cartoon or toy transforming it makes sense. Just by looking at the thing you can get an idea of which pieces need to move where and when to transform it. I never needed an instruction booklet to transform a Transformer. Because of that the toys made me feel smart. Like I was teaching myself and learning something at the same time. But nowadays you open up one of these “newer” Transformers toys or watch one of the movies or cartoons your head just hurts. Nothing about it makes sense.

Whenever I go to the store, I always check out the toy sections (because I am a kid at heart) and I am applied by what I see. Isles of action figures that don’t look fun or easy to play with. I have also noticed that they have not moved from their shelf from one week to the next. No one is buying this crap. I find myself spending the most time looking at Hot Wheels toys because they are about the only thing in the toy section of stores that I used to play with when I was a kid.

One of the few stores that still carries old school Transformers products is Hot Topic. Whenever I travel down south from Alaska, I make time to go into a Hot Topic and I ask the clerk every time “Do you sell more old school Transformers Products or the newer Transformers Products. Each time for years the answer has been the same “Oh we sell way more old school Transformers. It’s hard for us to keep them in stock.”

Now if that is not telling about the current state of Cartoons and Toys I don’t know what is. I have also noticed this with Transformer cartoon DVDs. The local stores can’t keep the old school stuff on the shelves, but every week, I still see the same new school DVDs on the self right where they where last time. I said it before and I will say it again. No one is buying this crap.

Even Legos have changed over the years. How the hell do you screw up interlocking plastic bricks? Well somehow they did to the point where they are not recognizable anymore. It used to be that kids had buckets of legos from which they could build anything they could imagine.

  • Cities
  • Planes
  • Spaceships
  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Boats
Now you buy sets to build Hogwarts, or some Star Wars space ship and that is it. You want to build anything else? Well, you’ll have to buy a different Lego kit. WTF?
My mom is currently visiting my wife and I and I was talking to her about the current state of cartoons. She had a brilliant insight which was that cartoons these days are one of the reasons why kids are failing in school (besides the fact that the current educational system sucks). She said it is because cartoons are killing children’s attention span. Eight minutes into a show and BAM, commercial. Kids can’t focus in class because there attention span only lasts eight minutes. I can’t help but think there must be some truth in that statement.
One of the reasons why I collect TV shows and Cartoons on DVDs is so I don’t have to watch commercials. The idea that my doing this might be improving my future child’s attention span made me happy.
What do you think of cartoons now a days? For that matter; What do you think of toys now a days? What is or was your favorite cartoon and toy growing up?

Bob Iger Interview

Bob Iger is the current CEO of The Walt Disney Company. This guy is someone who caught my attention early on when he started working as CEO for Disney because he gave an interview in TIME magazine, I believe ( I still have the interview clipping) where he talked about his normal work day and how he manage to get things done. Little tips and tricks he shared with the Magazine. Things like how to make sure he had enough time to just get work processed that was sitting on his desk. How to properly thank people and to use history as a key to master the future. I guess you could say he is someone I respect and find inspiration in.

The other day I saw this video posted on hulu. I have no Idea how long the video will be available, but I wanted to share with anyone who is interested.