December 24th, 2014



So Ferrett Steinmetz posted a link to Alamo Draft House Cinema in Austen TX doing all six Hobbit and LOTR movies. A marathon.

I know that Celebration North did all three Hobbits when The Battle of the Five Armies came out. And all eight Harry Potters when 7.2 came out. So all six Middle Earth's? Sure why not. But oh, it gets better.
For years our annual LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy feast has been one of the highlights we look forward to sharing with you.

For those who've never heard of this life-changing quest and/or don't know a hobbit from a hobo, well, here's the deal: At the LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY FEAST, we snuggle up together in the theater and brave our way through the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy all while devouring food and imbibing drink inspired by Tolkien's Middle Earth!

Now, with the release of the entire HOBBIT trilogy we knew what we had to do...

We are now presenting, for the very first time, THE COMPLETE MIDDLE EARTH SAGA FEAST! That's right, we're showing all six of Peter Jackson's Middle Earth films and we're pairing it all with a nine-course feast!

Each of the seven courses is served during Hobbit meal times (which is pretty much ALL the time)! When we reach the end of this epic journey, you too will be ready to return to the Shire and be greeted as a hero by your loved ones who didn't think you would make it all the way...and then pass out in a blissful food- and film-induced sleep.

So join us for this very special event, from "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" to "I'm back."

First Breakfast
scrambled fresh hens eggs, nice crispy bacon, grilled mushrooms, cheese & scallion popovers
Fresh Orange Juice Mimosa

Second Breakfast
strawberries, honey, crème fraiche, candied basil
Meridian Hive Meadery Discovery Mead

sausage and tomatoes with cheeses, ale-braised cabbage and pickles
Shiner Cheer!

mushroom & herb stuffed pork loin, charred brussels, sweet potato
Meridian Hive Meadery Frontier Dry Hopped Mead

Halfway to Tea Time
pickles and cheese, sweet soda bread
Live Oak HefeWeizen

Afternoon Tea
baby greens with orange-thyme vinaigrette, strawberry- goat cheese galette, sea salted shortbread and gingersnaps
Hot Tea. Add a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey for $6

stewed lamb leg with taters, root vegetables, leek, crusty bread
Guinness Stout

swirl of carrot and parsnip soups, scallion oil, mushroom turnover
Chalone Vineyards Pinot Noir

apple & walnut tart , fresh cream
Fair Trade Middle Earth Shire Blend Coffee
Sigh. Want.

This includes meals ($145) or meals and beverages ($175). Start time 7am. The funniest part? Runtime 1200 minutes. !!!! That's twenty hours, folks. End at 3am. 2 January 2015. WANT.

There's an Alamo in Kalamazoo, and while they're going to show the controversial The Interview, I haven't found yet that they're doing the Hobbit/LOTR.

Back before The Phantom Menace, George Lucas allowed theatres to do special marathons of Star Wars-The Empire Strikes Back-The Return of the Jedi, provided the proceeds went to charity. So we thought we were special for seeing all three Star Wars movies (IV, V, VI) back-to-back-to-back in the old huge Studio 28 Theatre 1 in Grand Rapids years ago. Started at 10am. Tickets for all three were $15 and included a coupon for a free medium popcorn and drink. There were intermissions between movies for bathroom and with two coupons, popcorn runs. When we got out, after all day in space, the summer sunshine was a complete surprise.

Now, put this on steroids and set it in Middle Earth and not space....

But you do know there will be marathons before we get Episode VII... (evil-Sith-grin)

Dr. Phil


Christmas came early this year. And therein lies a tale.

In 1980 I thought I was pretty happy with my Nikon setup -- a Nikon F2SB pro camera and a Nikon FE with the MD-11 motor drive. Someday I hoped to get the MD-2/MB-1 motor drive for the F2SB, but I could live with one motor.

Then I saw the new Nikon F3 at Jeron Camera in Evanston IL. I asked to see it and my regular guy there told me not to do it. He was right. The combination of the rugged F2 pro camera with the EL/FE style automation, with a brand new LCD panel in the finder? Perfect. And then I dry fired the F3... and discovered THE smoothest manual film advance ever. No effort at all, perfectly sculpted lever, perfect throw length for advance -- no thumb slipping off leaving the camera not fully cocked. Since I almost never use a motor drive on Continuous, who needed a motor drive? I mean SMOOTH advance -- and I've owned and worked with a LOT of cameras.

Against all reason, I traded both my cameras and the motor drive for one single brand new F3. A few months later, I bought a second one at Carolina Camera on credit. The MD-4 motor drive listed for $455, I think, and I had no money left. Up until 1980, when I owned two cameras they were different models. With two identical cameras, I got red and blue Avery ¼" signal dots, so I could mark the cameras AND the rolls of film. If I ever had a problem, I would know which camera it was. The icon above shows me with Nikon F3red, that first camera, in the fall of 1983. UPDATE 12/28/2014: Found a larger picture of F3red in 1983:

Not everyone was sold on the F3. A pro camera that HAD to have a battery? Unthinkable. And despite plenty of pros using the Nikkormat EL and Nikon EL2 and FE as second cameras, automatic exposure was still iffy. Considering many pros today use their electronic digital Nikons in Program mode, never setting either aperture or shutter speed, and Auto ISO, where they never even set the sensor effective speed, it's pretty ironic. Ken Rockwell, who has extensive Nikon and Canon equipment reviews, confessed to buying a used F2AS for more money rather than a new F3 in the early 80s, because it seemed the pro thing to be leery of the F3.

The F3 was in production for some twenty years, longer than any other model. You could buy them new even after the much more expensive autofocus F4 and F5 cameras came out, with their integral motor drives. And they are tough. That automated meter? With an 80% centerweighting versus 60% on the earlier Nikons, I ended up putting in a -2/3 f-stop correction on both bodies and forgot about it. Nearly flawless.

This fall I decided to pull F3blue out of the old camera bag and take it up to the U.P. Hadn't shot with an F3 in years. It worked great, especially as I'd picked up an oversized Nikon DA-2 Action Finder, after finding the DA-20 Action Finder a real asset with the Nikon F4s. But... I missed a number of shots, because unlike the F4s and N2020 and all the digital Nikons, there was no motor and I forgot to wind the film. Plus, I discovered why nearly all the DA-2 equipped cameras I'd ever seen had motor drives. That big prism housing makes it really hard to rewind the film.

So I've been looking for a clean used MD-4 motor drive for a while. Exceptional units on eBay with a box ran about $129. Decent ones were $89. Crappy scarred beat up veteran units could be had for $29. But a lot of the chewed ones had battery leak damage, despite the drive itself being almost indestructible. And my F3s are still pretty pristine -- I take care of my gear. They deserved better.

Found a clean one for $49 on eBay and was the sole bidder. It was scheduled to arrive on the 29th -- it showed up on Christmas Eve.

I hadn't even gone out yet to get an 8-pack of lithium AA batteries, in order to save weight. What? I only had SIX regular Eveready AAs left in my pack? Okay, here are two more from a 4-pack of Rayovacs Mrs. Dr. Phil bought a couple of years ago in Nicaragua. Tested it on F3red and then mounted it on F3blue, along with a Type "R" focusing screen to use with slower lenses I bought after the U.P. trip. Took a quick picture with the D100, forgetting I still had it on 1600 ISO:

My second Nikon F3 camera -- F3blue + DA-2 Action Finder + MD-4 Motor Drive + 35-70mm f3.3-4.5 AIs Zoom-NIKKOR. Also the silly looking, but very nice feeling tiny AR-9 Soft Shutter Release above where the camera says "F3". (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Remember, I bought these F3 cameras thirty-three years ago, and except for one brief test, they've never been used with a 5.5 frame per second motor drive, and they both worked perfectly. The F3 works with all the old Nikon lenses back to 1959 and with all the modern AF NIKKORS I have in manual focus mode, except for the G lenses which lack a manual aperture ring -- and two of the five G lenses I own are for DX not FX/35mm cameras anyway and the others I have both G and D versions, so I'm covered.

This is why you buy pro gear.

Two more pieces coming: an MR-3 Shutter Release so I have a vertical release on the motor drive -- the MD-11 I once owned had a similar MR-2 which was very handy -- and an MC-12A 10-foot remote release that I was the lone bidder at $0.01. I'm paying 595 times as much for shipping. (grin) The remote cord will also work with the F4s and the N2020 -- my other remote cord is for the 10-pin connectors on the digital Nikons. I'd like an MK-1 Firing Rate Converter, but that'd cost almost three times what the motor drive did! But... I have an AH-3 Tripod Adapter that I bought for Paul's old N2020 and I'll stick that on the MD-4.

Loaded a roll of Ilford XP-2 400 ISO black & white that can be processed with color film, like the Kodak BW400CN I tested last year. Insert play time... Merry Christmas to me!

And as for Christmas, here's a quick shot I did of our lights -- we've had no appreciable snow in December. So far. And talk of a white Christmas is rapidly evaporating.

Coming home two weeks ago at twilight, showing off this year's simple yellow-white LED lights and our big red bows. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Dr. Phil
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