4 posts categorized "Web/Tech"

01 July 2016

Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers

Yankee330rI make no apologies for star-spangled banter when it comes to Independence Day.

So, proudly fly the U.S. flag, thump an ice-cold watermelon, crank some homemade ice cream and get the family together, it's the Fourth of July weekend, time to celebrate this great country of ours.

Continue reading "Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers" »

27 February 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new us!

Reopening280rClick right on in, everyone.  No need to push or shove, there's plenty of room for everyone.

We are very proud of the newly redesigned, greatly improved LarryRatliff.com website, home of Movie Memories with Larry Ratliff and all that involves.

Continue reading "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new us!" »

03 September 2014

At the movies: 2025

Theater350r
(Courtesy: aprillynnescott.com)

Let's begin our not-too-distant future visit to the neighborhood movie gigaplex in the parking lot.

What's a gigaplex?

Oh you silly people still stuck in the early 21st century.  Movie gigaplexes have 100 screens, of course.

Now, back to the parking lot.  No need to worry about how far away from the building you park.  That's so old learning dome.  The theater will send a personal pod for you and your guests.  Just find a parking space, glance at the button on the dash marked PI (Plug in), and your car will be all charged up when the pod returns you.

I like the pods.  Just take two or three steps from your car into the pod and those are the last steps you need to take before you return to your car.

That's right, no stopping at the ticket booth, concession stand or even, ahem, the restroom.  All of that is taken care of right there in the pod, which, when landed and locked-in-place, becomes your couch-away-from-couch.  I don't want to say too much about how the restroom-stop problem has been solved.  Just know this, catheters will soon be greatly improved.

And did I mention that movies are pet friendly now?  Sure, bring Astro along.  Each pod comes with invisible sound mufflers so your dog -- or dogs for those so-minded -- can enjoy popular movies like Guardians of the Galaxy:  Yet Another Sequel or Richard Linklater's eclectic favorite Grandpahood right along with the family.  It's all included with any $109.99 adult ticket.  That's only $107.99 for seniors, children under 3 and military (Our side only, please).

Once your pod is locked and loaded, concessions like Blast Off, the instant energy caffeine drink equal to three full pots of coffee, or Milk Duds arrive in your armrest automatically.  Yes, Milk Duds are still around but they now come in three varieties:  Melt in Your Mouth, Extra-Soft or Regular, still the favorite movie candy of dentists everywhere.

Theater300l
(Courtesy: tribecafilm.com)

Oh, here's a couple of things a little different than they used to be at the movies.  Talking is encouraged.  In fact, the louder the better.  Most people shout out how many likes they have on Bobybook (It's about so much more than just the Face these days).

And wristcomms -- once called cellphones -- are left on at all times in movie houses now.  That announcement comes right after President Bieber's safe driving plea to drivers 11 and younger and Vice President Jenna Bush Hager's Previews of Coming Tweets.

Goody, that includes Social Media.  That's what we've come to see.  

The 200-by-90-foot screen is filled with Tweets from us, you, the neighbors, celebrities (including any, let's just say, risque photos they tried to protect, but couldn't), world leaders and drone pilots safely ensconced on leather sofas in Washington bunkers bombing the heck out of undesirables (definition to come when President Bieber and his cabinet figure it out).

This is so much more fun now that privacy rules have been voted out by the TMZ-controlled Congress.  People can now post whatever they like and it's out there for the world to see.  Of course the fact that due to worldwide giga-use Twitter now limits each tweet to six digits, there is a bit of sameness to the futuristic movie-going experience.

As a theater full of people scream out their Bobybook like totals and wristcomms light up the auditorium enough for me to see the corpse-like pallor on hundreds of chubby faces slurping down caffeine and inhaling Milk Duds, here's what I'm looking at on a giant movie screen:

Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ...

Sweet.

19 August 2014

Please say they're kidding

China300r
(Courtesy: rixbury.com)

I've seen a lot of strange things going on in the semi-dark of movie theaters over the years.

There's been no shortage of smuggled-in food, of course.  Nothing dilutes a gripping drama more than whiff's of store-bought chicken livers and gravy when Meryl Streep is bringing tears to our eyes.  And who among us hasn't had to lift up their feet to dodge a soft drink bottle careening down slope to eventually crash at the front of the theater?

I could go on and on, but there's breaking big screen news that must be shared.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that movie houses in China are testing a system that allows movie-goers not only to text during the movie but -- are you ready? -- the text messages actually show up on the movie screen right along with the feature.

"The inspiration behind the idea appears to be that it mimics that of watching a movie on mobile media, which is how most Chinese people watch films, with people sending messages about what they like or dislike about the movie.

"In a censored environment like China, precautions are taken to remove sensitive or forbidden words," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

The ultimate selfie?  Maybe.  I just know it's one more reason you'll probably never see me taking in a movie in China.

Farewell to the great Robin Williams

Robin285l
(Courtesy: chicagoreader.com)

"No words."

That's all Billy Crystal, Robin Williams' good friend and fellow acclaimed comic performer, could Tweet Monday, Aug. 11 as word of Williams death, an "apparent suicide" according to news reports, spread with the same raging fire that propelled a comic genius -- yes, a genius -- to world stardom and, apparently, unbearable depths of depression.

I have words, a few at least, to say or, more correctly, to expel from my deeply saddened state.  Perhaps they might, if only a little, ease some of the kick-in-the-gut sting felt by Williams' survivors, which includes family and friends, of course, but also anyone, including this scribe, who smiles when he or she hears the bellowed phrase "Good m-o-r-n-i-n-g Vietnam!" or conjures up the image of Mrs. Doubtfire (Williams in drag) setting her breasts on fire in the kitchen.

I knew Robin Williams about as well as any road warrior film critic who, over three decades or so, sat down with the almost always manic comic tsunami for short spurts at a time to discuss his latest movie.

Often, the interviews would be what's known in the industry as "round-table" interviews.   Five, six or seven film critics or entertainment reporters sit around a round table in a hotel suite usually in Los Angeles or New York.  The "talent" enters the room and takes the empty chair at the table and chats up the movie for 30 to 40 minutes; responding to mostly softball questions.

On one occasion, which looking back might have been one of Williams' tough days in his continuing battle against substance abuse and/or depression, the master rapid-fire comedian was, let's just say, melancholy.

In a situation where press members around a table often have to verbally joust to get their question in, moments of silence were creeping in between questions to Williams.  I found myself sitting right next to Williams that day.  He was fighting the good fight to keep the banter coming, which obviously most of my fellow journalists expected.  But Robin Williams just wasn't feeling it that day.

"Carpe Diem.  Seize the day, boys," Williams said as college professor John Keating in his Oscar-nominated performance in Dead Poets Society in 1989. 

So I did.  I asked Williams where his rapid-fire comic one-liners come from and how they ignite.

"I don't really know," he said quietly.  "It's almost like my head opens up and my brain is an antenna.  Signals from outer-space fill my brain.  I just let them out."

And let them out, he did.  Brilliantly, in fact, for a lot of years.

Laughing on the outside/crying on the inside.  That classic description of a clown is too trite and too simple to explain the high highs, the low lows and the inner turmoil that Williams must have been channeling, along with his ongoing battle with horned demons of alcohol and substance abuse.

Some words:  You left us, Robin, for reasons we may never know but you, obviously, knew all too well.  Many of us, including your peers like Billy Crystal and Steve Martin, are stunned and speechless.  All I can say is that you left a very deep imprint on this place you have recently departed. 

R.I.P.:  Rockin' Robin.  Perhaps the marquee at the Hollywood Laugh Factory summed it up best for all of us Monday night.

Marquee400
(Courtesy: foxnews.com)
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