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Railfanning

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I first discovered this word a year ago, but I have actually been doing it all my life. It is kind of like when I discovered the word shipper.

All my life whenever I am near railroad tracks I hope that a train will come along so that I can watch it go by. It seldom happens. Unless you work for the railroad, you don’t have anyway to know when a train will arrive. I love to listen to the cars as they thunder by, their couplings creaking with each variance in the track. I was fortunate enough to live near railroad tracks for half my life. But it was not a busy track.

This, my friends, is not a problem in Fostoria, Ohio. It is known as the Iron Triangle because so many trains (around 200 per day, I have been told) travel through the city. Fostoria has built a great rail park within the triangle where you can just sit and watch the trains go by. I was really impressed with the facility. There was a small roof for shade/rain protection, speakers that played the latest scanner communications, and a very well-kept bathroom. We must have seen about ten trains pass by in the few hours we were there.

Here is a new video I uploaded on my YouTube channel of a Norfolk Southern double-header passing by.

If steam engines (and possibly ones from the island of Sodor) are more your thing, watch this video of mine that already has over 2,900 views. And please like or subscribe or whatever it is people do over there on the ‘Tube. I am old. I can’t keep up with the young whippersnappers anymore.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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AFV

The other day I happened to have on America’s Funniest Home Videos, which I rarely watch. My son sat next to me on the couch, constantly asking, “What happened? What happened, Mommy?”

There are only so many times I can answer, “He fell down, honey.”

America's Funniest Home Videos

America’s Funniest Home Videos

There was a time when I thought that America’s Funniest Home Videos wold run out of material.

Wait, listen to me before you judge. It was a past century, a very different time.

When the show debuted in 1989, the viewing audience sent in their videotaped bloopers. At that time, not every household could even afford a video camera. And not everyone who owned one captured something funny enough for the show. Then, in a cash grab, people went through their old 8mm film looking for comedy gold.

But, at some point, I figured people would run out accidents from the past to send in. And there was no way recent footage could keep up with the demand to keep the show on the air, right?

I didn’t foresee the birth of the smart phone. (If I had, I would be sitting here naked in a pile of money right now.) People overnight were able to capture absolutely every single second of their lives in a file of moving pictures. I mean, look at the tragedy of 9/11/2001. BOTH planes crashing into the World Trade Center were caught on tape.

Falling down has gone from being shot on film to recorded on video tape to saved in a file. No more worrying about that pesky trip to the post office to ship your bulky old black plastic VHS to California. Now you can just email the footage for free. The evolution of earning money for clumsiness in the last three decades is staggering.

AFV-nuts

Speaking of AFV, I have always wondered why the audience dresses up in suits and fancy dresses. Am I the only one that thinks that is bizarre? It is a show a show where people obtain groin injuries for others’ entertainment. Are the audience members planning to dine at a hoity-toity restaurant after? AFV is always promoting Disney. Couldn’t they just have some tourists from Disneyland file into the studio wearing their shorts and Hawaiian shirts and ball caps? (Confession: I have never been to a Disney theme park, but that is what I imagine the people all wear.)

Please check out my updated EVENTS page, as I have just added a few new ones for this year.

And speaking of events, I have a NEW CONTEST running where you can win a pair of passes to the GREAT LAKES BOOK BASH October 10th in Kalamazoo, MI. Winner provides own transportation and/or lodging. See contest for complete rules. Contest ends September 15, 2015.

What I Learned This Week – 8/9/15

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The creativity of the average, unsung human just amazes me. We are all creative in our own ways. I love it when people put their time and energy into something to make it great! …And share it with the world on YouTube.

This week, by accident, my son and I stumbled upon a great collection of amateur-made (but very well produced–good music, good narration, stop-motion, special effects) Thomas & Friends adventures. And it turns out one of his friends is: Tom Moss, the naughty prank engine.

Tom Moss, the naughty prank engine.

Tom Moss, the naughty prank engine. Photo: youtube.com/user/ianrphillips

My 4 1/2 year old son loves trains and still loves Thomas, but, admittedly, he seems to be tired of watching the same old adventures on Netflix and DVD. Tom Moss is a great addition to the old characters to spice them up. Also, since it is not made by the actual Thomas people, special guest stars show up, such as the Minions & Scooby-Doo.

To check it out yourself, click on the video below.

I went so far as, unknowingly to my son, to make our own Tom Moss and hid it in his room in a tunnel.

My home-made Tom Moss, the naughty prank engine

My homemade Tom Moss, the naughty prank engine

He came downstairs like “Where did this come from? I can see the red. I know it is Rheneas.”

Some thanks I get for slaving away with construction paper and scissors.

Version 2 of a homemade buffer for Thomas Wooden Railway

Version 2 of a homemade buffer for Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway

He was more excited when I made him a new buffer. I was hoping this new design would be more durable than the previous one (read about it here). But, alas, it seems not to be. He does use it in every track set up he makes.

Happy boy & his buffer

Happy boy & his buffer

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time & GIVEAWAY going on over at Goodreads (ends August 15, 2015)
When You Least Expect It AVAILABLE NOW!

My New Favorite Song

WARNING: Highly addictive and possibly annoying, depending on your personality.

Narwhals, by Weebl, recently featured in Sprint commercials.

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

What I Learned This Week – 4/27/14

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This week I learned that Avril Lavigne had a new music video debut for her song “Hello Kitty.”

I also learned that the media has nothing good to say about it.

You might be wondering why I like songs by a young girl.  But she will actually turn 30 this year.

Then you will wonder why I like songs by a chick who can’t dress her age.  Maybe because I also tend to dress strangely on occasion.

Her music keeps me feeling young.  I have all her albums.

It is a wonderful, candy-coated cupcake land to make my senses dance! Still from "Hello Kitty" video

It is a wonderful, candy-coated cupcake-land to make my senses dance!
Still from “Hello Kitty” video

First, the media was saying that the song was racist.  I’m not sure why.  I read in one article that it was because the Asian women behind her were expressionless as they danced, perpetuating some sort of ‘Asian women are submissive’ stereotype.  I’m not sure what that says about the white women behind Robert Palmer or African-American backup dancers in a rap video.

Then Entertainment Weekly (who I usually love), came out with this article:

A serious attempt to explain Avril Lavigne’s ‘Hello Kitty’ music video  http://popwatch.ew.com/2014/04/22/avril-lavigne-hello-kitty-music-video/

NOTE:  The guy who got assigned to the article didn’t even know that he was supposed to find the video racist.

The article angered me for many reasons.  It compares Avril to every other female artist in the last 20 years. Why?  She has to compete with Katy Perry shooting whip cream out of her tits.  Everyone thought that was a stroke of genius.  Avril is herself. That is who she has always been, even when she was being dissed for her skater girl clothes and pop-punk songs.  The writer also decides to go take advantage of his page space to “go off” on pop-punk.  Guess what?  She is still punk-y and pop-py and wearing her raccoon eyeliner and still selling tons of albums and getting radio airplay.  She must be doing something right.

The article spends more time talking about Gwen Stephanie’s “Hollaback Girl” than it does Avril’s video.  And I rewatched Gwen’s video, and find no similarities.  Gwen’s Harajuku girls are dressed up as gangstas.  What the hell is THAT about?

When the writer runs out of other nonsensical things to criticize Avril about, he start on the grammar of her song.  Really?  Since when are song lyrics held up to the same standards as that of high school English students.

Here is Avril’s response to the racist allegations, complete with more put-downs from EW:

Avril Lavigne responds to criticism that her ‘Hello Kitty’ video is racist  http://music-mix.ew.com/2014/04/24/avril-lavigne-hello-kitty-video-racist-response/

I am mad that the video has poor directing, but part of that could be that Avril used a Japanese director.  They do things different there.

People should be offended that I am pretty sure this song is sooo dirty:

Come come Kitty Kitty
You’re so pretty pretty
Don’t go Kitty Kitty
Stay with me
Come come Kitty Kitty
You’re so silly silly
Don’t go Kitty Kitty
Play with me

Um, is “Kitty” what I think it is?

If anyone should be mad about the video, it should be diabetics!  The song includes the lyrics:

Let’s all slumber party
Like a fat kid on a pack of Smarties
Someone chuck a cupcake at me

If I was a fat kid, I would be offended by that!  And the video is enough to put anyone into a sugar coma.  But I can’t stop listening or watching it because it is so catchy & I find her cupcake skirt mesmerizing.

Here is Avril’s “Hello Kitty” video, so that you may judge for yourself.  It is near 3 million views.

My conclusion is that you should not be mad that the video is racist or cheesy.  You should be mad that it is dirty and sugary.  But hey, it worked for Def Leppard.  (Hey, their NAME isn’t even spelled properly!)

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