Friday, August 29, 2014

Five Summer Camp Movies

Every summer, millions of kids go away to a camp.  Many come back with positive experiences and memories from their time at camp.  For most summer camp movies, the result is just the opposite.  These movies have rehashed and/or unbelievable plots, stereotypical characters and gross-out humor rather than smart, character driven stories.  But they nevertheless can have occasional moments of genuine pathos and humor.  (I did not focus on summer camp movies that were geared toward adults.)  Here they are:

The first movie is The Rainbow Tribe, in which a middle –aged man (David James Elliot), with his life in crisis, decides to work at the camp where he went as a kid.  He meets five ten-year-olds with each of their own problems, and after a couple misadventures, comes to bond with each of them and the whole cabin as a group.  One person who recommended the movie on IMDb admitted that the “troubled youths at summer camp” has been done a hundred times, so even though it has a positive message and is not as bad as some of the ones on this list, it doesn't tread any new territory.

Second on the list is Heavyweights, which involves a bunch of overweight boys going to a fat camp, which was initially a haven for overweight kids…until the original directors’ (an older husband and wife), with financial problems had to let their fitness obsessed son (Ben Stiller) take over.  What follows after that is typical high jinks as the boys and the counselors try to take the summer camp back from Ben Stiller’s character.  While the movie has a cult status among its fans, the critics gave it terrible reviews and did awful at the box office.

Earnest Goes to Camp is the third movie on this list.  Part of a series starring Jim Varney as the childish Earnest Worrell, this film has the title character going to a summer camp as a maintenance man who hopes to be counselor.  He has a chance when he decides to take on some juvenile delinquents who put another counselor in the hospital.  Meanwhile, the Indian owner of the camp is tricked by a mining corporation into selling the land to mine for a valuable mineral.  It’s up to Earnest and his troubled kids to save the day.  Again, among its fans, it has a cult status, and it was a modest box office success.  The movie garnered mixed-to-negative reviews, however.

The fourth movie is Meatballs (1979) is about a head counselor (Bill Murray) and his CITs who get into all sorts of trouble and high jinks at a Camp North Star.  Bill Murray’s character Tripper bonds with a camper with self-esteem problems (Rudy), while the CITs all deal with relationship troubles.  The other main plot is a show-down of competitive activities between Camp North Star and Camp Mohawk, in which the wealthier, snotty campers of the other camp dominate North Star at first.  But then after a rousing speech from Tripper, the campers start winning and a surprise run from Rudy gives North Star its victory.  Probably the best movie on the list, it had mixed to positive reviews and was a box office success.  Stay away from the sequels though.

The final movie on the list is Camp Nowhere.  In this movie, a young man named Mud and his friends don’t want to go to the specialty camps their parents signed them up for.  Then Mud has a great (or perhaps awful) idea: make their own camp with no counselors and do whatever they want.  They convince a drama teacher who owes money to a collector to help them with their scheme.  All of the parents agree to send their kids to camp, and everything goes great until the parents want to come out to see the camp, and the campers have to change their do-anything camp to one with all the specialty interests.  Probably the most ridiculous movie on this list, it has a cult following among the target age, who enjoy the wish-fulfillment element that the movie brings.  The movie was not critical or box office success.


There are plenty more summer camp movies to go around, but you get the idea.  Most of the rest would probably feature some of the elements or tropes featured in the above movies.  Hopefully someday there will be a summer camp movie that actually details the summer camp experience. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #35

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #35:

35. At theater camp, Chris and Lydia had lead roles.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 34 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".
32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.
33. The story starts in late September.
34. Lydia and Chris went to theater camp together.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Three Sports Movies Where the Protagonist Doesn’t Win the Final Game (Spoilers)

It’s almost a given with sports movies that the good guy wins.  Down in the final game but not out, he or she or they pull together an amazing finish and are hoisted above their fan’s or team’s arms with their trophy in hand…except when they don’t.  There are a select few movies, either because it actually happened, or because winning wasn’t the point (wait…what?).  Instead, these movies focused on the protagonist person or team losing but with their heads held high.  They did the best they could do.  Obviously, this post contains spoilers!

Rocky (1976): Perhaps the most famous of all of these type of movies, Rocky focuses on Rocky Balboa, a dumb-sounding debt collector for a loan shark, who does some club fighting on the side.  Then as luck would have it, Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion, needs a new fighter as the World Heavyweight Championship is suddenly without a fighter.  He decides on Rocky Balboa, simply because he likes his nickname, “The Italian Stallion.”  What makes the ending work is that Rocky wants to “go the distance” with Apollo, that is, give all he has in the fight, and trains as if he can.  The seriousness to the fight that Rocky brings enables him to knock Creed down (but not out) in the first fight and stay on for fifteen rounds.  While he is ultimately defeated, Rocky showed more importantly that he can “go the distance.”

Cool Runnings (1993).  This movie is a comedy focusing on the attempts of four Jamaican men trying out for the winter bobsled team.  The comedy comes from Jamaicans in a fish out of water type experience, where they try a sport they have never tried before to go to a place they have never been before, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  The four main characters, Derice (Leon), Sanka (Doug E. Doug), Junior (Rawle D. Lewis) and Yul (Malik Yoba) are comedic characters coached by Irving Blitzer, played by John Candy.  The team barely qualifies to the Olympics.  In their first attempt, they come in at 28th place.  But in their second attempt, they come in 8th place.  Feeling they may have a shot, they go in the final race for the gold.  But in that race their old sled flips over and crashes.  But instead of leaving dejected, they pick up their bobsled and walk across the finish line to cheers. 

Friday Night Lights (2004): This movie focuses on Permian Panthers High School football team in the small town Odessa, Texas.  Trouble stars when the team loses its star player, James Miles, to a torn ACL.  Now the team has to work together and start winning games without him.  The problem for the team (at least in the movie) is that entire livelihood of town is wrapped up in the success of its football team, so they have to deal with enormous pressure.  The team makes it to the playoffs, but in a three-way tie with two other teams.  Permian wins the coin toss and makes it to the finals.  This puts them against the stronger and more powerful Dallas Carter High School.  While do ultimately lose, they nevertheless give all they have to stop the team, and doing so earn the respect of their town and their loved ones. 

All of the above movies have one big thing in common: the personal victory is far, far greater than the physical victory.  All three pushed themselves to the limits of their ability and grew and changed from the experience.  In that way, these movies perhaps show a different side of sports altogether from the winning takes all attitudes most movies hold up on a pedestal.  And that is something that makes these movies all the more interesting and special. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #34

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #34:

34. Lydia and Chris went to theater camp together.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 33 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".
32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.
33. The story starts in late September.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Four Disney Animated Romantic Duets

There’s something incredibly romantic about duets in movies. While songs sung by one person to another can certainly be romantic as well, the idea that two people already in love singing to each other confirms that the relationship has gone to a new level.  The two people are moving and singing in sync with each other, anticipating each other’s movements and actions.  Of course, the duets can also be significant to the plot as well.  In Animated Disney movies, the duets feature brilliant animation as well.  Here are four Disney Animated romantic duets, which are not part of a live-action movie (like Enchanted). 

First is the most famous of all duets: A Whole New World from Aladdin.  The song is majorly important to the plot: up to this point, Jasmine did not trust Aladdin, transformed into Prince Ali by the genie.  Jasmine had met Aladdin before in beggar clothes, and at a critical point when they were chased by soldiers, he asked Jasmine if she trusted him.  She said yes.  Now, Jasmine treated “Prince Ali” like any other prince who had courted her, with contempt and rejection.  So “Prince Ali” comes back a second time, and this time shows off his magic carpet to her, asking her to come with him, saying, “Do you trust me?”  Jasmine, realizing who it is, says knowingly, “Yes…”  Then Aladdin takes Jasmine on the ride of her life, seeing incredible sights and sounds.  And through the song, Jasmine finds herself falling for him. 

Second, there is “I see the Light” from Tangled.  Like Aladdin, the song is very important to the plot.  Rapunzel is taken to the capital city of Corona by Flynn Rider so she could see the lanterns that are released every year in the city, in exchange for the satchel that Flynn so desperately wants.  Rapunzel doesn’t completely trust Flynn Rider, and Flynn Rider isn’t completely honest about who he is to Rapunzel.  However, as they get closer to the city, they start bonding with each other and falling for each other.  After the reach the city, they take a boat out on the harbor and watch as the lanterns are released for the first time.  Rapunzel sings about finally achieving her dreams and Flynn sings about how he’s meant to be with her.  They finally begin to fall in love with each other.  But just as they are, about to kiss…

Thirdly, there is Once Upon a Dream by Sleeping Beauty.  Done very early in the movie, Aurora is has been living in the woods since she was a little girl, with only the forest animals for company.  The forest animals put on a coat and pretend to be a suitor.  Prince Philip, who has been watching the whole thing, and very much in love with Aurora, turns into Aurora’s arms when she spins.  At first, she resists, but at the end of the song, she relaxes and the two start dancing for real, very un-ironically falling for each other, having just met. 
Fourthly, and very ironically, is Love is an Open Door from Frozen.  Anna, who has lived a lonely life in the palace all her life, is overjoyed to meet Prince Hans, who immediately takes a shine to her too.  When they meet again after the coronation of her sister Elsa, they immediately steal away, and sing about how incredibly in tune they are with each other.  They must be meant to be, because they finish each other’s “sandwiches.” 
The song is ironic because [Spoiler] Hans is later revealed to be duplicitous towards Anna.  He’s not singing from his heart, he’s pretending to be in sync with her so that he can marry her and take over the kingdom.  Thus, the song viewed a second time takes on a totally new meaning and feeling than the first time it’s viewed.  But it is also the funniest and bounciest of the four, while the first three are more serious duets.


All the duets are extremely catchy and very fun to watch.  Check out these songs from Disney, there’s some of the best!  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #33

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #33:

33. The story starts in late September.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 32 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".
32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

YouTube: Four Examples of New Exclusive Entertainment

While there are other video sites out there, Youtube’s ease of use (including its easy upload ability, at least compared to some) and simple format has led it to dominate the online video market.  With the rise of Youtube comes the rise of new content.  This content has some similarities with TV, and some aspects that are more original.  I’m going to give as examples four video series that release exclusively on the web, and have a major presence on Youtube: WatchMojo.com, Bored Shorts TV: Kid Snippets, PBS Idea Channel, and SHAYTARDS.

The first is WatchMojo.com.  This channel does list-based videos, based almost exclusively now on viewer suggestions, and typically run between 10 to 15 minutes.  A few recent examples include: “Top 10 Monty Python Flying Circus Moments,” “Top 10 Alternative Bands of the 2000s, “Top 10 Superhero Teams.”  While the lists occasionally go towards a “real life” topic (a recent example would be “Top 10 Scams”), most are about pop culture elements, movies, TV, video games, music.  In addition, there are also cliff-notes versions of books called “Top 10 Notes,” and beginnings of comic book characters, called either “Superhero Origins” or “Villain Origins.”  WatchMojo also has some sister sites, WatchMojoFashion, WatchMojoTravel, WatchMojoHealth, WatchMojoLifestyle, which sometimes feature the Top 10 format that the parent mojo.com Youtube channel site uses.

Bored Shorts TV: Kid Snippets take a very simple idea, kids talking and or acting out a particular subject they are given, and then provide a twist: adults acting out the scenes the kids came up with.  The adults “lip sync” to the lines said by the kids.  The effect is an extremely look at how kids see the world.  A few recent examples include: “Ultimate Workout,” “Star Wars Cantina,” and “Going to Grandma’s.”  Two of my favorite videos are, “Proposal” and “My Teacher is an Alien.” The video are posted every Monday and typically run between two to three minutes.  The precursors to these videos were called “Kid History” and ran 7 to 8 minutes long.  The format was very similar: the kids talk about a particular scene in detail and adults acting out what the kids were talking about, but were only posted every few months.  The “Kid Snippets” show is the natural progression of the extremely popular “Kid History” videos, in a weekly format. 

The PBS Idea Channel is a good example how a national network like PBS can successfully release content on the web that is not simply clips of shows or deleted scenes from shows.  The videos are hosted by Mike Rugnetta and he talks about “a show that examines the connections between Pop Culture, Technology and Art.”  He starts every video by saying, “Here’s an idea,” and then states or asks the topic of the day, some which are: “The Future of Fandoms,” “Do You Choose to Have Your Privacy Invaded by Using Tech?,” “Can You Make a Movie So Bad It’s Good On Purpose?”  The first half of the video, he brings up very interesting discussion points and uses images and videos grabbed from the web as he makes his point.  The second half of the video is him responding to good/interesting comments on the last video, which like WatchMojo.com, really brings in an interactive quality that is not usually possible with Television. 

The SHAYTARDS vlog is a good example of the reality-show type videos that exists on the web of people who post videos of their daily life.  This one focuses on Shay Carl Butler, his wife Colette, son Gavin (Sontard), daughter Avia (Princesstard), daughter Emmi (Babytard), son Brock (Rocktard), son Daxton (Brotard).  (The “tard” names were originally to have some privacy with the kid names in the vlogs, but with the announcement that Colette was pregnant with Daxton, that aspect has been dropped and now functions more like a nickname).  The daily vlog started on March 4, 2009 when overweight, cash-strapped Shay Carl decided to do something brilliant: make a video diary of every day of the last year of his twenties.  Now in its 6th year (though in 6th year, the vlogs are Monday-Friday), Shay has lost weight and is a founding partner of Maker Studios, which was recently bought by Disney; but the core of the videos, daily life with his family has remained unchanged.


These are just some of the exclusively web-based videos out there today.  As content continues to change and grow, new exclusive online entertainment will change and grow as well.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #32

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #32:

32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 31 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".