Him Not Tarzan

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I was watching a show previously recorded on my DVR and when it was over, the system automatically switched to whatever was playing on the last accessed channel. In my case, it was the TCM (Turner Classic Movies) channel and what came on was what I thought to be the strangest Tarzan movie ever. He was racing through the jungle in shorts and a tee-shirt. No bare-chested, loin-clothed king of the jungle here.

Turns out it wasn’t Tarzan at all but a Jungle Jim movie. I know, right? Who the heck was Jungle Jim? The only jungle gym I knew was a metal monstrosity on our playground that we also called the monkey bars. Believe me, I climbed many of those in my days and managed somehow to avoid hospitalization.

A bit of research informs me that Jungle Jim was a legitimate action hero born of the comic books in the 30s and ably translated to the movies during the 40s and 50s. I can be forgiven for the Tarzan confusion because Johnny Weissmuller, probably best known for his Tarzan features, also played the title role in a series of Jungle Jim films, including the one I stumbled upon which was called The Lost Tribe. Looks like he may have packed on a few pounds since his Tarzan days, which perhaps explains the tee-shirt costuming. As a odd trivia side note, when the studio lost the rights to the Jungle Jim name but had Weissmuller under contract for three more films, they decided to shoot the Jungle Jim scripts anyway. They simply changed the name of Weissmuller’s character to… what else?… Johnny Weissmuller.

Anytime I think of Tarzan, I confess to having a bit of shame. I was tasked in junior high school with writing a essay on the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic novel. The problem was… I never took the time to read the book. Instead, I watched the movie and spoke in general terms about the character in my dissertation. I did my best to stay away from any plot specifics because I had no way of knowing if the movie was anything close to the novel. This of course was before the Internet which admittedly makes cheating so much easier.

Whatever I wrote was enough to allow me to pass the class although I can’t help thinking that it probably would have been easier just to read the book and write the essay based on what I read. Oh well… maybe next time.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

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Cool Kid’s Room

I stumbled across this article which showcased an art exhibit where the artist Refik Anadol graphically illustrated the functions or patterns of the mind as it recalls memories. He calls the exhibit Melting Memories. Fascinating. Here’s a video that shows some visual examples:

Watching that video reminded me of a fad that kicked off back in the late 60s and early 70s. Almost everyone I knew had one of these somewhere in their house including us:

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The lava lamp – it was easy to operate, did one thing and was mesmerizing to watch… for a while. Life when I was growing up was filled with such fads as marketers looked for that one thing that would capture the country’s attention and make them a gazillion dollars.  Like these:

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Pet Rock – stupidest gift idea ever. I think I received three the year they came out. Had to keep them separated as I didn’t want them to have pebbles.

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Chia Pet. I think the lamb was the most popular. They all looked rather stupid. I was recently reminded that I gifted each of my family members with one of these one Christmas.  It must have been the year I worked in a nursery. That’s a memory for another post.

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Troll Dolls. These creepy things were everywhere. I never did understand why but you would see them hanging from rear view mirrors in cars, peeking out of shirt pockets, attached to purses, sitting atop of pencils. For a while, it seemed as though they would overrun the world.

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Soap-on-a-Rope. This became something of a family joke. One year one of us got this for Christmas. Just as pictured it was a soap shaped like a microphone attached to a rope that could be hung over the showerhead. We all made fun of the gift because… well, it was stupid. The next year, the person who received the gift had re-wrapped it and re-gifted it to another person. It became a thing. I think it was re-gifted year after year for a decade. I can’t remember who ended up with it finally. I don’t think it was ever actually used for its designed purpose.

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The Super Ball. OK, so this one was actually cool. The thing was alien-like, behaving like no other ball ever did. I wish I still had one.

There’s no rhyme or reason to what will captivate a culture. When one fad dies off, there will always be another one to take its place. Fidget spinners, anyone?

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

 

 

Here I Come, To Save The Day…

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I saw a photo yesterday. It was of a matchbook from Harlequin Dinner Theater (Rockville Md). The Harlequin was one of my families’ favorite venues for an evening’s entertainment. I found it unique in that the waiters/waitresses that took drink orders and served them at intermission were also members of the cast. They were usually from the chorus but sometimes a supporting actor or actress would serve a table or two. It was fun to see our server play a character onstage and I guess they were happy for the opportunity to make some tips.

I’ve only had two dinner theater experiences as an actor. And the only reason I had the second one was because my wife coerced me into it. The first one was an unmitigated disaster. It was just after college. I found myself stranded in Toledo Ohio due to some financial miscalculations on my part. While I waited for my coffers to be refilled, I had some spare time so I did theater at night. A couple of shows with the Toledo Repertory Theater led to a paying gig at the Commodore Perry Dinner Theater. The show was How The Other Half Loves, a British sex farce.

The production was rough. The audience was rougher. The producers, thinking a comedy would be well served if the crowd was in the proper mood to laugh, offered ridiculously low prices on their alcoholic beverages. By the time the show started, the audience was half in the bag. Instead of making them laugh, their inebriety just prompted heckling.

What may prove to be my lowest moment onstage came when I, playing a husband who is having an affair with the wife of his boss, stepped out of what was presumed to be the bathroom and appeared onstage wearing a towel as a cape, a big S on my chest sculpted with shaving cream while wearing a pair of Underoos two sizes too small – with a plastic Mighty Mouse embarrassingly glued to a location where I would have rather not had the audience’s attention drawn. It has taken me decades but I have finally blocked out of my memory the comments and catcalls that were hurled my way.

I determined that my time in Toledo would be cut short. The very minute my contract at the Commodore Perry ended, I loaded my car with the few possessions I had and hit the highway. No lie… I literally left that night after the curtain call. My embarrassment trumped my lack of funds. I figured I would drive until I was out of gas and money. And this I did… and survived to tell the tale.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

My, How You’ve Changed

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There have been evolutionary developments in many different products over my lifetime but I think what feels to me to have grown the most and quickest is the telephone.

I still remember party lines (that’s when you would pick up the phone and hear someone else’s conversation taking place because they were on the line first. Listening in was discouraged but I’m pretty sure we all did it.)

I remember calling the operator to have her place the phone call. She would stay on to make sure you were connected.

I remember being excited when our parents got an extra long cord on the kitchen phone so we teens could have “privacy” during our calls. We would dial our number, walk with the receiver in our hand out of the kitchen, down the stairs into the basement, stretching that cord to its maximum length and have our conversation there.

I remember when “hanging up the phone” meant that you literally had to hang up the phone’s receiver on a hook which disconnected the call.

I remember having to wait to use the phone because my older sister was always using it first. I knew because the kitchen phone was “off the hook” and the cord taut around the corner of the wall where it disappeared behind a closed door that led downstairs.

I remember the rotary dial and how I hated to call numbers that had an 8, 9, or 0 in them because it took longer for the dial to rotate back to its starting position before you could dial the next number.

I remember when phone numbers were assigned exchange codes by using letters for the first two digits (like the old Glenn Miller song, PEnnsylvania 6-5000; the PE standing in for the digits associated with that number – 73).

Surprisingly, I can still remember the number of our family phone where I grew up. WHitehall 2-5349. Please don’t call it. It is rather funny to think some stranger is now probably using a number that has burned itself into my memories.

I remember that when you moved, you had to change phone numbers. You could not take them with you. You just had to pray that your new one would be easy to remember. It almost never was.

As telephones continued to evolve over time, so did mankind. It’s just that the phones evolved into being more efficient devices of higher quality, capability and versatility. I’m not always sure we can say the same about us.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call (on your choice of phone) 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

If Two Are Better Than One, How Great Would Two Dozen Be?

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Here’s a service that I don’t often get a chance to talk about: Duplication. If you have a family DVD that you would like to share with others, but don’t have the time, knowledge or equipment to do it yourself, we have a duplication service that stands ready to help you.

What would need to be duplicated?

  • Family videos so every family member can enjoy and pass those memories down their particular branch of the family tree.
  • Corporate videos explaining the services or products being offered that can be handed out to prospective clients or buyers. Great for trade shows and expos.
  • Entertainment videos from musicians or other artists that they would like to be able to sell or give to their fanbase. The picture featured above is a duplication job from a local chorus that recorded their annual concert for posterity’s sake.

Our Duplication rates are extremely reasonable and work on a sliding discount scale. The more copies of a DVD you order, the lower the price per disk gets.

And if we are talking major volume (the largest order I have received was for 5,000 copies), then we aren’t talking duplication any more. Replication is the answer and we can provide that for you – usually for a price under $1 per disk.

But there is always the availability of added services. Perhaps you would like to have a custom case wrap or a customized disk label etched onto the face of your DVD? We can provide that… and we have for a large number of our satisfied customers.

If you have any questions regarding duplication, replication, or quite frankly, anything at all, I hope you’ll call us. We’d love to speak with you. Our contact information is listed below.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Book ‘Em, Danno

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I was always a fast reader. I don’t know how and when I developed the technique, but I somehow discovered the ability to quickly skim a page of text and retain the gist of what was there. Teachers often thought that I was pretending to read because I finished before anyone else. They would try to expose my duplicity by asking questions about what I had so quickly skimmed through. I always stumped them by answering their questions correctly and in surprising depth.

In those days, I was hardly ever without a book nearby. The Hardy Boys Mysteries were my favorite. Joe and Frank Hardy were the brothers I never had who always found themselves in the middle of intrigue, danger, and adventure. I lost myself in their stories and read as many of them as I could get.

Other authors I enjoyed in my youth were Robert A. Heinlein who wrote some great science fiction. And I remember liking another Hardy Boyish series called Tom Corbett: Space Cadet. As far as I know only eight books were written of his space-faring exploits and I read and re-read every one.

I had at one time thought that the practice of reading for entertainment had died off. Today’s youth seemed to prefer sitting in front of a screen, be it television, computer, or arcade game rather than turning the pages of a book. But then, along came Harry Potter and, almost overnight, kids began reading again. Perhaps they never stopped.

Here’s hoping that the practice of reading for pleasure never dies off… replaced by technological distractions. There’s something about sitting down with a good book that can transport you, in your imagination, to other worlds or times that is simply magical.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

FAQs

Back when I was starting this blog, my original concept was to provide informational videos to handle some of the frequently asked questions that people have regarding the services we can provide. Hands down, the question most people want answered has to do with “How much does it cost?”

There’s a real good reason why we don’t have a published price list. Here’s a short video that helps explains why.

 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information (like prices!) call 352-735-8550. We’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have. Visit our website by clicking here.

Our Neighborhood Movie House

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Mount Dora is about to get a new Epic Movie Theater! Opening date is just around the corner and it is exciting news for our little town. We haven’t had a movie theater in our local environs since 1996. And to say our citizens are excited would be an understatement.

Even before the theater has officially opened, news has arrived that the Central Florida Film Festival has chosen our new theater as its official venue. Our cup runneth over. And it prompts a memory which has become something of a family favorite.

Back in the day, when I was running my Christian film review website, I was invited to review the entries of the Florida Film Festival hosted by the Enzian Theater in Maitland Florida. As I waited for the festival date, I continued to review the mainstream movies that were being released weekly.

My reviews, which I called “movie parables,” were designed to explore spiritual truths to be found in the secular entertainment of our day. It was a new concept and I received a lot of hate mail because of it. Non-Christians resented my bringing my faith into their entertainment world and religious Christians didn’t much care for my bringing secular entertainment into their faith.

It was an interesting time but one that led to a ten year career in the film review business.

One day, I stopped at the post office to pick up any correspondence that may have arrived to my film website’s PO Box address. Among the bills, there was a small package wrapped in brown paper addressed to me in a crayon scrawl. I didn’t recognize the return address and I wasn’t expecting anything. I thought it odd but I took it and put it in the back of my car and drove home.

When I arrived home, I told my wife about this package. She, knowing about the hate mail I had received, freaked. She made me promise to call the police to find out how I could x-ray the package before I opened it.

I, being a dutiful husband, did as she asked. It was a brief call. I was told to stay put and not touch anything. Within minutes, two firetrucks, three police cars and a few unmarked cars blocked off the street where I lived. I normally would have sent my wife out to deal with this since calling the police was her idea but she somehow decided this would be a perfect time to take a shower.

I walked out the door and the man in charge came over to me. He asked me where the package was so I went to my car, took it out and started walking back to him. He sternly instructed me to stop where I was and put the package gently on the ground. I obeyed.

He studied it for about five minutes then took a penknife out, slit the bottom of the package and withdrew its contents. As he handed it to me, he could not disguise the smirk on his face.

It contained a videotape of a film that had been entered in the film festival and sent to me for review purposes. It was a documentary of the life of porn star John Holmes AKA Johnny Wadd.

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I am pretty sure I was the butt of many a joke that night at the station house.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

 

DIY?

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There’s a well-known truism about dealing with service vendors. There’s good; there’s fast; and there’s cheap. You can pick any two but you can’t have all three.  In other words, if you want it good and fast, it won’t be cheap. If you want it fast and cheap, it won’t be good. And if you want it good and cheap, it won’t be fast.

There’s a similar truism about the do-it-yourself option. Whether or not you should tackle a do-it-yourself project depends on three things: Do you have the experience? Do you have the tools? Do you have the time?

If you lack the experience, the finished project may lack some of the quality that a professional could bring. If you lack the tools to do the job, it may be less expensive to hire someone who already has invested in the equipment needed. And if you are short on time, you may never get around to doing the job in the first place.

I transferred a couple of videotapes for a client yesterday to .mp4 files on a rush request. When I asked the reason for the rush, she explained that she wanted to take certain clips to use for a family member’s memorial service video presentation she was going to put together. After expressing my condolences, I asked what program she was using to edit the footage. She didn’t have one. I asked if she had ever used an editing program before. She hadn’t. I asked when the service was taking place. In two days.

I gave her my card, and let her know that I give memorial videos top priority in my studio and to call me if she needed my help to produce something that can be played at the service. Something tells me I’ll be hearing from her. There are times when it just makes sense to use someone who has the time, tools and experience.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation (and editing) of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

It Seems Like Only Yesterday

 

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Memories truly are the gift that keeps on giving. I am reminded of that every year around this time as I prepare for the Home Video Studio annual “Getaway” convention. Every year during this time of training and team building, the event culminates in a black tie awards ceremony where studios “compete” for best of recognition in 17 different categories.

In preparing for the event, I’ve been going back through the projects I’ve been honored to have worked on this past year, looking for possible entries to represent the work I do in my studio. And, as I do, I am reminded of many of the memories my clients have generously allowed me to preserve for them.

There’s the photo/video keepsake I put together to celebrate a 90th birthday comprised of a collection of photos interspersed with videos of family members telling stories about the birthday girl.

There’s the sports highlight video I edited from a full season’s worth of game films for a high school basketball player who is preparing herself to move on to the next level as she considers her college prospects.

There’s the informational teaching video I prepared for a health and beauty consultant demonstrating a line of skin care products and how to apply them.

There’s the web commercial done for a business based around the testimonial comments their clients have provided that express the quality and value of the work they do.

Each project I go back and review prompts the memory of the memories they contain. And if it is this much fun for me to go back and review, I can only imagine how enjoyable it must be for the clients themselves. It is, after all, their memories being preserved.

Here are the categories for this year’s event scheduled for the end of July: Best PhotoVideo Keepsake; Best Documentary; Cut and Paste Award for Editing; Best Video Production; Best Event Video; Best Short Video; Best Long Form Video; Best TV/Web Video; Best Rookie Video; Best Memorial Video; Best Company Promo; Best Studio Promo/Trailer/Tag; Best Use of Post Production; “Dr Strangelove” Award for Strangest or Weirdest Video; Best DVA Authoring; President’s Award for Best in Show.

Wish me luck. Who knows, maybe one of the projects you had me work on will bring home the trophy this year!

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.