– Newswired: Researchers have found a cure for the common cold, and it’s related to baldness in Men and Women.
It seems the cure has been related to the symptom called “scalpscratchyness.” This is the nervous response of scratching one’s scalp in which many people experience when trying to find something interesting to watch on television. The cure it seems, is in the hands of Indie Filmmakers who screen their films on a new channel sponsored by the Metro Film Festival. The channel, called Movies Plus, is currently available for free on Amazon Fire TV devices, and Roku too.
“It’s truly a miracle” says Movies Plus founder Dean Lachiusa. “I collaborated with reknowned specialist Alfred E. Neuman of the agency Snap, Crackle and Pop…And they’ve come up with the statistics that prove that watching Movies Plus trulycan cure the symptoms related to the common cold and baldness. It worked for me. And curiously enough, I lost 10 LBs of Prenatal weight too…”
Fact: It’s in the skin Filmmakers have to have skin in the game in order to see results…A film/TV producer may screen their movie, TV, or webisode for free on the Movies Plus channel…the results are miraculous!” Dean further says to PM him on Facebook or Tweet him for more information; or simply read the rest of this blurb…
Movies Plus is the place for Indie shows, and now is the time to take control of your project…don’t lose your film/show to a digital distributor who will never pay you!” Movies Plus is the only Broadcaster that allows you to control the amount of exposure for your movie or television program, and there’s no binding contract. We’ll stream your complete film, screener, pilot, or webisode.
Did you know that most distributors commonly act as middle men, licensing your film to other sub-distributors who you do not have an agreement with. And these sub-distributors might promise to split the ad-revenues with the distributor you originally sign with, but think about it…How many royalty splits can you have before you get nothing?
Let’s do the math: 50% of zero is zero, carry the zero, times nothing, equals nothing!
Filmmakers, when you use Movies Plus or our TMN channel, there are (3) ways to drive people to your point-of-sale.
Method #1: Put your Website-Address (aka “URL”) on your Poster Art. We put your ART on our channel and viewers will see your URL or QR symbol and then visit your website to buy your DVD, T-Shirts, etc. (You do know what a QR is? It’s that thing that you photograph with your phone, and it directs you to a website. Here’s ours, try it if you like…
Method #2: We place a description of your film on our channels, and you may put your “URL” within this description.
Method #3: We encourage you to place a tag-line at the start/end of your movie, something like “Filmmaking is expensive, help pay for this film on www-Dot-Our-Donation-Button-Dotcom.”
These three methods drive our audience to your website or point-of-sale. Typically a filmmaker’s website will feature several easy, do-it-yourself methods of monetization. Some filmmakers feature a PayPal Donation button, some offer a special DVD via Amazon Create or CD Baby, and they sell ancillary products like T-shirts and Coffee Mugs via Cafe Press.
It’s the perfect way to create publicity and leverage ones work without being tied to a distributor…
Check out our free TV-Channels here or if you’re ready to broadcast your content on TV visit our partner FluentialTV.com — or try our free/super-cheap streaming-film-festival for a chance to get your Trailer or Film streamed to over 1 Million of our Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Android Subscribers. You can always move to a traditional distributor when/if you get the right offer. (c) DL as a silly snarky Mr Know it all (updated 8-31-20.)
Back in the day of Advertising Agencies my Dad was a big-wig in Metro Detroit. He won Emmy’s and Clio awards and you name it. He used to say that one of the most important driving forces for any company was the Customer Feedback letter. When a customer takes the time to write a letter and send it to a company, that letter represents 10,000 other consumers who did-not take the time to send a letter, but feel the same way.
So, yes this writing could be considered a shameless plug. But it’s worth mentioning and I think worth the read. Indeed, most of the articles here are NOT about Apps or Channels, but rather about the rare and cool content that you’ll find on the “inter-web” and my TV-APPS. So I’ll get right to the point so that you may continue on to more fun-reads on the Movies Plus blog.
Below is snapshot of the latest Movies Plus on Amazon Fire TV results. This is for Amazon’s “Movies and TV” paid app category. (Bye the way if you have a Fire TV device, then I highly recommend you grab it before the price goes up!)
As you can see, Movies Plus is #20 out of the top 100, just below TwitTV. I hope you take notice of the number of ratings that my Movies Plus channel has. That’s over 1,000 ratings, when most other Amazon Fire TV Apps have 5 to 50 or so. That says allot. That says that hundreds of thousands of people have taken the time to leave a rating and/or comment and review the Movies Plus channel. We have over 400,000 Subscribers to date!
Consider the number of positive ratings…That’s a positive number of ratings for a “positive” channel. Yep — most of the content on my channel is of a positive nature, meaning it’s family friendly and you won’t have to be embarrassed by boobies or swearing when your kids are watching or you’re sitting down to enjoy TV with you mom. Cheers! (c) Dean Lachiusa 2020.
Guilty Pleasure Alert! This is not much of an article and much more of a quickie post for those of you who love or will love the TV series Corner Gas. Yes, I’m assuming that you’ll like this clip so much that you’ll be inspired to watch the show, or at least follow comedian Brent Butt on his other program “Hiccups.” Here’s a clip that is just so dang satirical it makes Spinal Tap look like washed up rockers from an era gone bye. Which of course they are, if they ever were that is. Similar to Spinal Tap’s “One Night Only World Tour” the following video is the only song from the infamous band, Thunderface.
Giant Spiders, Yipes! And evil-doing elves? Well, whatever this film is really about, I know you’ll get a kick out of it. Besides the music is just plain groovy, it’s a surreal mashup of Salsa and Jazz and Spooky Sounds. And check out this art — can you “dig” it — or does “Mesa of Lost Women” look like pure “Shlock?”
Okay, so yes this movie is Shlock and that’s why it’s in our “SHLOCK-O-VISION category on Movies Plus and our TMN channel. Watch it free “boyz and girlz.” And if you like a good, action Western with some great actors, check out another recent addition to our Connected TV channels…
That beautiful redhead also stars in “Mclintock!” — a fun Western that we also stream free on our channels, she’s Maureen O’Hara. And although you may by more accustomed to seeing Brian Keith as a Father of two-cute kids in the old TV show “Family Affair” — He is well known for his appearances as a tough-guy in programming like the TV series Hardcastle and McCormick.
The Deadly Companions is directed by the classic Westerner..Sam Peckinpah and it co-stars some other talent known for this genre, including Steve Cochran, Chill Wills, Strother Martin, and Will Wright. Check the film out — I’m quite sure you’re recognize some classic faces.
Says IMDB: “An ex-army officer accidentally kills a woman’s son and tries to make up for it by escorting the funeral procession through dangerous Indian territory.”
I hope to see you on TMN and Moviesplus. Cheers, and don’t forget to leave a comment — I’d love to hear your opinion of these films. (c) Dean Lachiusa 2020.
Who knew that Shakespeare was into Sci-Fi? One of the latest, and most fun Star Trek films released is Let Old Wrinkles Come, a film with none other than Vic Mignogna as Director of Photography.
And like Vic’s work with the Neutral Zone studio, this production has the genuine Star Trek lighting scheme that many of us enjoyed on the series Star Trek Continues.
But that’s not really why I’m writing today. Today, I just want to give you a heads up regarding this short film. It features an infamous Trek creature.
Care to take a guess? What is the creature and what episode of Star Trek aka TOS (The Original Series) did it appear in?
If you don’t know, you may find the answer by watching Star Trek on my TV-Apps, or pay close attention to the end credits here.
And before I go, one other thing. What is the connection to this show and Shakespeare? Care to give it a guess?
Answer: It’s a quote from Shakespeare “With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” And I have to say, if you watch this show, I think you’ll find some “laughter” and quite a bit of “mirth” — whatever that is. 😉 Wink wink. (c) Dean Lachiusa 2020.
Announcing the next online film festival by Metro Film & TV Awards. It’s been running for 5 years, and this is the (6th) Season. Grab you spot for Free if you have a trailer/teaser — or submit for as little as $3 for Short films and $4 for web series.
Winners get a distribution deal (actually a streaming ‘broadcast’ deal.) This Fest is about getting exposure. You’d be hard pressed to get this kind of publicity or promotion for your movie or TV-show elsewhere. Okay, so that’s enough of the pitchy-sounding dialog. Here’s the link: https://filmfreeway.com/Metro-Film-and-TV-Awards
Oh bye the way, FilmFreeway is a free resource for filmmakers. I’d say it’s the best way to browse for film festivals. However, it does limit “online” festivals to listings that are not within it’s search engine – for some reason or another. (I mean, what other way can we do a film festival during this Pandemic?) So, like I say use the link above to go to Metro’s filmfreeway page. Here’s a snapshot of their page:
Goodluck — and don’t forget, if you have a Trailer or Teaser, then you may enter the Festival for free. And here’s an added plus that is not commonly known — Metro will put your trailer on their “Movies Plus” Android app for free — and there’s no commercials on any of their TV-Apps, so that means it’s a nice, fluid-experience for the audience. Please — Feel Free to share this on Facebook, Twitter – etc etc.
Starship Exeter is a nicely made film by a group of filmmakers in Arkansas. The studio is a replica of the original Star Trek television series. And it’s not as well publicized as the Vic Mignogna or James Cawley Trek sets. But the film production’s that they produce are just as satisfying. The studios in Arkansas have moved and been rebuilt several times. And at this juncture there is no official branding — but that’s okay because this is NOT a commercial venture and it’s strictly a not-for-profit operation.
Although Exeter and the current films being shot in Arkansas are not affiliated with Star Trek Continues, I like their programs just as much. To differentiate — STC, a fan film series that was shot in Kingsland Georgia is now operated by the noncommercial studio, The Neutral Zone.
Also, Exeter is not associated with James Cawley’s New York based Star Trek studio, which produced some great fan films with former Star Trek actors. This Trek set is a museum, tour, and importantly — a Trek-movie-academy. The “academy” is a relatively new venture in which fans are invited to shoot a short Trek film. Here is a video from the location in Ticonderoga, NY.
As you can see, James Cawley is an Elvis fan. Moving on to Exeter. I personally don’t find the first Exeter episode to be as compelling as their second. So, I’ve placed the Exeter’s 2nd fan film on my noncommercial, free Roku channels. (See the TV-APPS link for Roku, or if you have an android, see my “Fan Films” app on Googleplay.) Here’s a few pics to wet your whistle…
I hope you’ve enjoyed this short but sweet review. Please don’t forget that you can support my Free, Noncommercial Reviews and TV-APPS by visiting my Patreon page and donating whatever you can afford. Cheers – (c) Dean Lachiusa 2020.
All six of the Classic British Television programs “Quatermass and the Pit” are now available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. It’s a terrific program that is rumored to have inspired George Romero to make Night of the Living Dead. But just to be clear, there are no Zombies or “ghouls” in this television thriller. Instead we have a threat from a Space ship…Is it from another planet? Can the ship infect us — is it dangerous?
Quatermass has taken many different shapes over the years. This particular series is the original.
Says Wikipedia, it’s a “British television science-fiction serial transmitted live by BBC Television in December 1958 and January 1959. It was the third and last of the BBC’s Quatermass serials, although the chief character, Professor Bernard Quatermass, reappeared in a 1979 ITV production called Quatermass. Quatermass warns that if implanted psychic powers survive in the human race, there could also still be an ingrained compulsion to enact the “Wild Hunt” of a race purge, but the media event goes ahead regardless.” Sounds familiar ehh?
In the Finale, Quatermass directs the camera to be weary of (Aliens?) …But you’ll have to tune in for all the details, because I won’t give the entire story away here, but you may watch it free on my TV-APPS. (Wink, wink.) Cheers! (c) Dean Lachiusa 2020.
The hilarious and super-snarky Deadpool is on our Roku channels. If you haven’t seen these films, then you must. We’ve compiled (two) of the Deadpool films into one video, and both are Parody-Musicals…err Musical Parodies. Or well, actually you can call it what you like because these movies are nothing that can be placed into a simple Genre.
Now available on TMN and Movies Plus absolutely Free and Without-Commercial interruptions are two great short films. The game-based “Uncharted Live Action Film” with Nathan Fillion co-stars Stephen Lang as Sully. Nathan (playing Nathan) is as funny and snappy as he was in productions like the beloved Sci-Fi “Firefly” and Serenity. And you may be familiar with the Television show “Castle” and his most recent cop-show, “The Rookie.”
Adding to the film’s line up is Stephen Lang who is well known for his long career and performances on the TV-show Terra Nova, and the movie Avatar.
He plays a great Sully. I also enjoyed the brief but well played role of Elena by Mircea Monroe (Just Friends, Change Up.)
And and Geno Segers (Yellowstone) as Diego.
I just loved the Uncharted short movie, which is slated as a “fan film.” Like many fan-made productions, this one is stellar. The production quality and story is terrific, and gosh — I really shouldn’t have to go on about this because…Would Nathan Fillion do anything but a top-notch project? No. Does he participate in shows that are less than big, Network productions? Yes. Watch the Kickstarter funded web series “Con Man” if you want to get a laugh and see another non-network production with great performances by this actor and his cohorts.
While we’re talking about fan made films, I should direct you to another LIVE ACTION Uncharted movie that I enjoyed. This is a foreign language film with English sub-titles. If you would like to see this posted on my Roku channels, then please do let me know. Meanwhile, you may watch it here:
Back to Nathan Fillion’s Uncharted. The movie left me wanting for more. I just so wanted it to be a longer film. But, not to disappoint, the ‘inter-web scuttlebug’ does indicated that a full-length feature film is scheduled for 2021.
Here’s what IMDB and Wikipedia say:Uncharted is an upcoming American action adventure film directed by Ruben Fleischer and written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. Serving as an origin story of Nathan Drake from the video games of the same name created by Naughty Dog, the film stars Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg and Antonio Banderas.
Okay, so before I go today I need to remind you that I am streaming another great short film based on a game. Sonic the Hedgehog, the LIVE ACTION movie, with a CGI Hedgehog. This is a great film.
The snarky hedgehog helps out our human-heroes in a fun, and thrilling Sci-Fi film that you may watch Free and AD-Free on my TMN and Movies Plus Roku Channels, and also my Android TV-Apps. The CGI is spectacular and the acting is bang-on. Here’s a peak:
Here’s a quick peak at the latest videos that I’ve posted on TMN and Movies Plus.
[Updated and now available per June 18th]And coming up on my Roku channels very soon is a compilation video that is sponsored by FluentialTV.com. It’s a great collection of 1950’s commercial advertisements. You’ll see everything from old automobile ads to dish washing soap and brands that you recall with fondness. Also, there is advertising for products that sound so-dang weird that they reek of “snake-oil.” Watch it on my TV-Apps or see the youtube video below.
If you’re an influencer, viral video or informational film producer you may have your video placed on Television for broadcast to over half a million subscribers. I also publish Movies Plus on Amazon Fire TV, and that platform will be available for broadcast lease and/or per individual video streaming too. Simply see the Fluential website for details or message me directly on Facebook or Twitter.
I’ve started a new service that is designed to help Vloggers, Influencers, and other Viral-Video producers. I’ve always streamed unique content on my TV channels, and now I am dedicating an entire category to content that is fun and informational. Below is a video that I WON’T BE STREAMING. However, I think it makes a great point no matter where you stand politically, so here goes.
If you’re wondering why I chose to post this video, then maybe you’re like many of the folks out there that don’t believe there is a Virus-Crisis. Well, for those of you who don’t think it’s happening. I say, nothing. I have harsh opinions mind you — but it’s not worth my breath to share them here. So I say nothing.
For those of you who are interested in the FUN side of informational videos. Check out my channels. Or perhaps you’re interested in putting your Youtube video in front of an audience of over 1,000,000 Television watchers? (That’s over a million) viewers on our Partner TV channels!
I have a success story that will back this up. Keep in mind please that feature films typically DO NOT GET AS MUCH ATTENTION AS VIRAL VIDEOS! That being said, here’s how a filmmaker, named Alex took advantage of this offer, and now he has a distribution deal with Green Apple Entertainment. This might seem like a shameless plug — but really for about 30 bucks Influencers, Vloggers, and Viral Video Producers can do the same…
Alexander Pimentel, Director of “Down River” streamed his feature film on our Partners connected TV channel, “Movies Plus” on Amazon Fire TV. After 6 months and 70,000 downloads, Alex shared the news with a Venture capitalist who agreed to finance Alex’s next feature film. [Remember I said that films do not enjoy the same number of plays as a short video — so if you have a viral video, it should do much better than Alex’s.] As a DIRECT RESULT Alex landed a deal with Green Apple Entertainment to distribute his movies on Hulu and other platforms. Here’s a news article about the filmmaker’s success on our Amazon Fire TV channel:
So you see, this is a very inexpensive way to promote yourself, build up your portfolio, and your Youtube Channel, etc. Simply message me care of my FB page: www.Facebook.com/DeanLach or see the website that is currently in (beta. It’s www.fluentialTV.com ) Cheers! (c) Dean Lachiusa
The following picture is a flashback…This is after shooting a few scenes in a Phoenix area TV studio. It happened as I was walking from one editing booth to another, and I just happened to walk right into a sliding glass door. The glass shattered, cutting four-tendons on my left hand.
This was just one of many fiasco’s that I endured while attending Scottsdale Community College. That place was a nightmare. For example, the film department-head told us many times that we had to suffer through the small classroom size and editing rooms. BUT she never, ever let on that the film-department was being expanded into a full-size studio in the next year. (They built it during summer just after I graduated. – Damn!)
Now, what I have today is an enormous school loan debt. It was a simple Stafford Loan. Guaranteed by the Government. As it turns out, the guarantee has nothing to do with the Government regulating how the loan is administrated. No, the only guarantee is that the student (in need) will get the loan. And what does this say about the student loan system? Does it sound like an environment prime for predatory loan practices?
The loan that I received sure did bite me in the arse. And I’m quite sure that it has not improved much because I continue to hear horror stories from students who were desperate for school-money. Like me, they trusted that when their government says it “guarantees” a loan, that it surely must be an arrangement that is honest.
Let’s look at the banks angle. What savvy lender wouldn’t do this deal? Once you, the student accepts the loan, then there’s no negotiation with the lender. The borrower can’t claim bankruptcy — nope, that will not get you out of a public-school-loan like the Stafford.
And here’s the killer. If the bank decides to sell the loan, then it gets capitalized. And that’s to the lender’s advantage you see, because they get to amortize the debt.
And I should know, because my school loan was SOLD and then CAPITALIZED (3) times. And now the new (4rth) owner of the loan is threatening to do it again. The amount I now owe is TRIPLE the amount of the original loan. Do you have any idea how oppressive this dollar amount is? Let’s just say that I can’t afford to pay it off, and it’s so incredibly large that I’m too embarrassed to quote the sum.
Will the next President’s Administration take the power away from the Student Loan companies and give people a fighting chance to repair their credit? I don’t know. I do know that Sanders talked about doing something about it, and so did Elizabeth Warren. However, I think what they promised were free or low cost tuition programs for new students.
I don’t know if anyone in the States has a plan to address the problem that I and so many former students are suffering from. How about Joe Biden — do you think that he will help? Let us pray. Or even better yet — let’s come together and fight this thing.
Let’s start a petition or movement to get our Governor’s and Senator’s working on a fix. Care to join me? Please comment, share or write me care of my FB page: Facebook.com/DeanLach — Cheers to ya. (c) Dean Lachiusa
I love Corner Gas the Canadian made TV show, and I very much enjoy the Hiccups program that Brent Butt produced. I also watched the Corner Gas movie, but you won’t find any links to it here because it’s on the Amazon (Fire TV) channel “IMDB” — and, I don’t think it was quite as funny as the Corner Gas TV show or the Animated sequel — but that’s just me, please don’t be offended.
Okay, so this article is going to be short and sweet. There’s a clip here so that you can get acclimated with the series showrunner, and a link to add my FREE and ADFREE android app to watch the Hiccups TV program.
That’s Brent Butt, the series writer, a lead actor, and comic book illustrator. He’s married to Corner Gas costar Nancy Robertson, who plays the lead role of a children’s book author who ironically has a unpredictable, slightly mean hearted knee-jerk “no-filter” personality in the TV series, Hiccups.
Here’s the rest of the cast…
Pictured above is all Canadian talent: The very funny Nancy Robertson as Millie Upton, and standing to her right is Laura Soltis as Joyce Haddison, then we have David Ingram as Taylor Rymes, and next to him is Emily Perkins as Crystal Braywood — the receptionist/daddy’s-girl. Seated is Paula Rivera as Anna Dirko (Stan Dirko’s wife) — and of course the hilarious Brent Butt as “Life Coach” Stan Dirko
Recently on Facebook, I tried to make a joke about the relationship between Boomers and Millennial’s — but it was misunderstood. So this makes me reflect upon my writing style lately. And this in turn effects everything I post on my streaming TV channels, including my custom edits like my recent video compilation about Star Trek Music.
I think I’m loosing my ability to write creatively, freely and with a naturally flowing “stream of consciousness.” And I think this is because I’ve been closed-up in a house just like so many of you during this virus-crisis.
So I may choose to take a break from writing for a while.
But before I do, I’d like to say a little something about why I think some people may want to lash-out at the political parties, and get-out of the house during a government lock-down.
Some of this may seem obvious, but bare with me please.
1.) You’re running a business and you’re suffering.
2.) You’re trying to make ends-meet and it’s pretty darn hard to make money if you can’t go to work.
3.) You may feel that Democrats are to blame and/or it’s another type of conspiracy.
4.) You may think “why should I listen to an order to stay home when I feel like my personal liberties are being violated.”
5.) Perhaps you have never lived through an epidemic or pandemic before. Or maybe you never learned about the 1918, 1957, or 1968 Influenza pandemic’s. Or you’ve never heard of the Yellow Fever, Tuberculosis, and Polio epidemic’s. And because of this, you feel that this current Virus-Emergency is a imposition on you personally, and the rest of society should follow or at least understand your train of thought.
Okay so those are a few reasons, and I’m sure you can think of many others. You may even have a neighbor like I do who is a senior citizen — and he or she has a few strange sounding warnings to share. Interesting enough, seniors do have a unique perspective. They may be old enough to tell you how people coped with hardships during the Depression and WWII.
The Boomer Generation and their forefathers lived through some pretty rough times compared to today.
I’m a little young to be a Boomer – but even I have worked in a factory building automobiles — and it was very hot and fast paced work. We didn’t have Robotics, we had sweat. The hydraulic press that I operated had a worn out brake, which meant at any moment it could send tons of steel down upon my hands. This was a recipe for crushed hands and missing digits — if my timing was not precise and very fast.
Our seniors may tell you that they stood in line during WWII with a “Ration-stamp” that allowed them to buy only 1LB of meat per week for their entire family — that is, when it was available at the local butcher. Pork and Beef were a luxury. Everything, including general goods like clothing was rationed by the government because the War was a priority. Therefore, folks could only purchase goods like Clothing and Shoes when/if they qualified for a clothing or shoe ration. They lived through it because they respected each other and they loved their country.
Let’s go back to the 1930’s. If you know a senior citizen in their 80’s or older, they may tell you about how they depended on “Government Relief.” During the Depression, many people existed on canned food that was shipped to the U.S. by Australia. It was unlabeled, and usually Mutton (3 year old sheep) or a Spam-like ham-product. Again, the U.S. struggled through it because we respected one another and loved our country. Good People didn’t put their energy into tearing each other down or rebelling.
The boomers and their fathers and grandfathers built the U.S. infrastructure. They built the roads, bridges, and most buildings including the electrical and plumbing systems that we use today. I think it’s important to respect what they have to say.
But perhaps you feel as though the people who are saying these things are judging you or imposing their “old-timer” “boomer” mentality on you. So here’s my explanation, for what it’s worth…
“Young” folks may feel that “older” folks are putting them down or accusing them. However, the reason that an older person (may ) say these things is that they are concerned for the younger generation.
In most cases, older folks just want to protect the future generation — at least, that’s what I would prefer to take away from “boomer” statements, not the negative side of things.
I hope that you take away some positive reinforcement from this article, really I do. I’m especially concerned because I know that my current stress level is effecting my ability to write well. So forgive me please if this article seems disjointed, and feel free to comment if you like. Cheers. (c) Dean Lachiusa
In this age of media-overload, why on earth do some folks find the need to be reminded of ongoing events? Are we so darn oversaturated with viral videos, movies, TV, and news broadcasts that we actually desire to watch programming that mirrors what is going on right now? I guess so, because despite the fact that we’re living in a Virus-Crisis, we have more and more entertainment that further explores the horror that our neighbors live with.
Horror and Sci-Fi programming War of the Worlds, the latest Epix network TV-Series adapted from the classic radio broadcast, and Snowpiercer — the TV-series spin-off of a feature film are now available.
I did enjoy a few of the War of the Worlds episodes, especially because the streaming was offered as part of a free preview with my Dish package. But I wouldn’t pay to watch the show, and it certainly didn’t encourage me to subscribe to Epix. The series was captivating at first because the situation was mysterious, and the creatures were quite frightening.
However, after a few episodes there was a scene that really disappointed me. We were given a glimpse of the alien-creatures early on in the show (don’t worry, this is really not a spoiler — unless you’re entirely new to the War of the Worlds story.)
A little history…In 1938 Orson Welles broadcast on radio an adaptation of H. G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds. Notably, then came the 1953 film (my favorite) and then the 2005 version by Steven Spielberg with Tom Cruise. (There also are many low budget productions available, including two by C. Thomas Howell. Although I really like this actor, I have tried to watch these, and I can’t in good faith recommend them.)
Here’s a very cool short documentary about the 50’s films, complete with detailed examples of effects — and if you haven’t yet seen the “creatures,” or the “spaceships” it’s a must see — but you may wish to hold off on seeing this video until you can catch the entire feature film.
Oh yes, back to my sort-of spoiler. The creatures in the Epix series firstly looked very scary to me, but in a few episodes later, there is a scene where Bill (Gabriel Byrne) encounters one of them:
SPOILER ALERT: The creature just plods up to Bill like a dog with three legs, Bill then grabs it and holds it at bay as it (attempts) to kill him. Not scary – the creature appears to be less than formidable. What a let down. And there’s other holes in the story, like the predictable scene wherein “Catherine” is looking for her missing sister, only to find a young girl who was hiding in a cave. Does Catherine ask the girl if she has seen her sister…perhaps hiding in the cave too? Nope. I found it just dumb and a tell. Would Catherine’s sister show up later in the show…and where was she hiding? The answer is predictable! 😉 😉
Moving on to less epic films based upon previous broadcasts, we have the Sci-Fi “Snowpiercer.” When I watched the feature film, I tired of it after the first half hour. I just didn’t find it plausible. But, apparently many folks have, because now we have a TV series based upon the feature.
Recently AXS TV showed a few Snowpiercer clips that did entice me. So I guess I may watch the TV series sometime after this virus-crisis. But for now, I’ve had enough dystopian programming. I just can’t watch any more dark, apocalyptic movies and TV. Right now, I need positive TV. So instead — I’ll watch my Movies Plus and TMN Roku or Fire TV channels.
[Update 5/19/2020 – Dish offered me a free preview of the series with one of my favorites, Jennifer Connelly. So I decided to break my rule early — I watched SnowPiercer, one episode of the series.
SPOILER ALERT! Sorry, but I’m still not convinced that a train is best place to go in the time of an Apocalyptic Ice-Age. SnowPiercer is a train that bye the way – apparently never stops. Think about it — I did, during the show. And that’s not good. You’re not supposed to be thinking about the plausibility of a premise during a movie or TV show. After you watch it, sure — it’s okay to reflect upon the show. But during it, suspension of disbelief is supposed to take hold. But they never answer the question of how.
How do they get fresh water or energy on a train that never stops? Just show me a darn solar panel (oops — no sun!) Or show me a snow-scooper thing-a-ma-jig that turns snow into drinkable water. Uggh! I’m done, I won’t be watching this show again, despite the fact that I love Sci-Fi. Also, they showed a preview of the next episode, and it featured a bunch of people rebelling, and a bloody massacre. Who needs it – I don’t! Sorry to be so harsh…]
I hope you carefully choose what you watch and to be positive too, please don’t let negative distractions bring you down. Cheers to ya – and I invite you to join me in the conversation – especially if you feel that I’ve been too harsh in my reviews. (c) Dean Lachiusa
Warning this is an article that has nothing to do with film and TV, and everything to do with going zonko during this virus crisis. I just heard (on TV) that it was “National Eat Anything you want Day.” And while it sounds kinda hokie to me, it did inspire me to think about the foods that I would eat (if) given the chance to eat anything I wanted (without) the side effects. In other words — what if God or Super Cool Aliens from Planet Wonko gave me the power to eat anything I liked with no concerns about salt, sugar, fat, or cholesterol?
So here goes, my list of foods that I would eat if given the chance at total immunity.
A Detroit coney island dog, with onions and mustard. In Detroit, the most infamous local coney restaurants are Lafayette and American — and they sit right next to each other in downtown Detroit, in our reborn city which at one time housed Onassis Coney, Vernors Ginger Ale, and J.L. Hudson’s Maurice salad. If you’re from the D, then you know the history of the Greek family who started a restaurant, and then decided to open rival Coney Island restaurants right next door to each other.
Their hot dog is similar to the East sides most famous chain of Coney restaurants, National Coney island, and the West sides Kerby Coney. These chains use dogs made of beef and pork. It’s a European-style Vienna sausage with a beef, pork, and sometimes lamb or sheep casing.
This is not to be confused with the New York style hot deli dog, which I love when it’s a Sabrett or a Hebrew National. These brands are available with a casing similar to the D’s recipe but with a different sauce. The NY sauce is called a “chili” but it’s not a Texas style chili. The NY chili is a relish sauce made with tomato, and regular or sweet Vidalia onions. You’ll find this kind of topping in Erie, PA and other places too.
When you bite into any kind of a top-quality Coney or “deli-dog” it “SNAPS.” The texture is wonderful and the flavor is just out of this world. There are other styles of dogs that I would put on my virtual plate of must eat comfort food, including coney’s from “Johnny’s Lunch” in Jamestown, NY and the “Varsity” in Atlanta, GA. Perhaps you have your favorite? Like the Cincinatti Chili dog?
Cincinatti is known for a breed of Chili unlike any other in the U.S or Canada. It’s beef without beans, and sometimes cinnamon, and always a bit of chocolate — and it’s NOT SWEET. You can get it at Skyline chili and other restaurants. Below is 4-way Cincinnati_chili. That means, a base of noodles, topped with Chili, onions, beans, and cheese.
If you’d like to experiment with ingredients from the traditional recipe made without beans try the following. 2 pounds lean ground beef. 1 quart water, or amount to cover 2 onions, finely chopped. 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce. 2 tablespoons vinegar and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce. 4 cloves garlic, minced. ½ (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate. ¼ cup chili powder. 1 ½ teaspoons salt. 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon. ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper. 5 whole cloves. 5 whole allspice-berries. 1 bay leaf.
Virtually traveling around the Mid-East via my taste-buds reminds me of another New York favorite of mine, the Giant Salted street vendor Pretzel.
This is a unique animal. It’s not any old warm pretzel. The trick to finding the best pretzel is this: Look for a seasoned, experienced pretzel vendor, you can tell they know their business by their age, and they’ll likely be missing a leg or a few digits. (Weird but true!)
Secondly, make sure the vendor is selling roasted Chestnuts too. Not because you are required to order the nuts — no, it’s a seasoning thing. The nuts flavor the salt. So, when you order your Pretzel, ask him to grind the pretzel into the salt on the bottom of the nut/pretzel steamer. Now you can add mustard, and enjoy your carbs 😉
Okay, the next food that I’ll eat if I ever get into the situation where I can eat anything I want without regret is from down South.
The Carolina pulled pork sandwich. The trick here is to order a genuine southern style pit-roasted pork topped with homemade slaw and dressing. The slaw is unique and it is paired with a dressing that is important. It’s a vinegar based dressing — not a tomato/barbecue sauce topping.
A quick recipe for Carolina style pulled pork sauce…
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
My next choice is related to this, it’s the Kansas City style BBQ roast or sandwich. It’s made with KC/St. Louis style sauce, and this is what I find in my grocery store. I wish that I had my choice of Carolina dressing — but it’s just not available at local retailers. KC sauce is a sweet and delicious sauce that can be found in many different taste-combinations from Bourbon to Hot to Honey. I love barbecue, so I’d love to have a healthy heaping of Beef and Pork Ribs too. As long as I’m dreaming — pile it on!
On the side ,let’s go with some seasoned French fries, with some tater-tots, and a few onion rings and fried cheese sticks.
Ohh, let’s not forget my favorite, Buffalo style wing dings. I’ve sampled them from hundreds of restaurants and bars, and I have to tell you that they really are served best from Buffalo, NY area establishments. If you’re vacationing around Erie PA or Buffalo, NY — then visit Chautauqua County where you’ll find the Casino in Bemus Point, NY or my absolute favorite, BJ’s bar in Fredonia. BJ’s bar has a distinctive recipe — and it’s worth the 45 minute wait.
Why on earth would it take over a half hour to make a batch of wing dings…don’t they just fry ’em and coat them with sauce?
I’ve watched BJ’s cook their wings, and I can tell you what makes the difference is their (2) step cooking process. First, they fry the wings, then they baste/toss the wings with sauce just like any other place. But they’re not done yet. They then put the wings into the broiler, and zorch the sauce into the wings. Delicious!
And let’s not forget the most important part of any Wing Ding — right this down if you have to because this is the testament baby.BLUE CHEESE DRESSING. That’s right, you can dip your wings into Ranch dressing like most restaurants do, or you can do it the way the original Buffalo style Wing Ding was served. With chunky blue cheese dressing and a side of carrots and celery. Ahhh, Buffalo style wings are paradise! 😉
Lastly, I’d like to indulge in a slice of Chicago style pizza.
It’s similar to our Detroit style pizza, which is a thick square pizza made famous by Buddys Pizzeria, the Cloverleaf restaurant, and Mr. C’s deli on the East side of Detroit.
(Hey, if you’re shopping at Mr. C’s – grab an E&B tall-boy beer and have a swig of history ehh? — Kidding!) But speaking of beverages, I really would like an ice cold Faygo Red pop or their Cream Soda.
Aww, geez, it never ends — if I have a soda, then I need a bag of Ketchup flavored potato chips from Canada. Dill pickle chips are okay, and Chicken flavored are weird, but Ketchup or “catsup” is divine. I’m getting hungry for lunch – time to go… (c) Dean Lachiusa
I really enjoyed watching the feature film BRAKE the other day. It reminded me of the kind of script that we dreamed of writing while in film school. The one location script. Back then, using one or two locations, and a minimal cast meant “low budget.” But I’d have to say that this film did not seem anything like a low budget film — at least it didn’t cross my mind while I was watching it. The story was very compelling, and I was never taken out of the film. The thoughts that I’m sharing with you today are in retrospect.
Today, I’m going to analyze the movie, and I have to warn you that I’m doing this based upon what I’ve seen on my TV, not on a director’s script breakdown or other production document. I’m writing this from my point of view, and I’m going to talk to you as if you and/or a film-buddy are considering producing a film, OR I expect that you’ve either watched Brake or you’ll possibly watch it on Showtime or online sometime. Here’s a peak…
I have no idea what the budget was for this film, but I would assume that the lead actor, Stephen Dorff would require some serious financial backing. And that monetary guesstimate is more than what the typical film student can drum up. Anyway, he did a wonderful job. But again, the cast, crew, and other production talent, is not what I’m breaking down today. Today, we’ll talk about some other elements in the movie. Let’s have some fun and “Brake” it down…
Let’s look at the Script. While in film school, I imagined myself to be the kind of filmmaker who would come up with an idea that I thought was marketable, and then instead of writing it myself, I would go out and hire someone to write it. Low budget was my main interest. (Of course, because I had no money 😉
So, to shoot a film in one location, with minimal lights, cast, and crew was a major aspiration for me. 16mm film was expensive, and it required good lights and a crew that knew how to handle everything from sandbagging a reflector board to running cables to several outlets so we wouldn’t blow a fuse. I love the challenge of lighting a film. So let’s look at Cinematography.
When I look at Brake I don’t think the script called for sets that required allot of lighting. The first location, which is one set…runs for nearly the entire movie. Let’s analyze the lighting on the main set or scenery. The story is set in our time – we are not given any information that would indicate that this is a period piece, futuristic or anything else but a contemporary movie.
The main “set” requires the actor to be lying down. He will roll from side to side and change positions, but he doesn’t walk around. So there’s really no EST or “Establishing Shot” like you would (typically) see in the beginning sequence of a movie. Instead we ‘establish’ that he’s inside a small dark, enclosure. There’s direct lighting on our lead-man, and minimal lighting that hits the walls surrounding him. So, it’s an Interior shot -which means a sound studio or home studio. When you’re shooting with budget in mind, then this is sweet because there are no concerns about being rained out or losing your light.
SPOILER ALERT! If you have not yet watched the trailer…Soon we discover, he’s in a trunk of a car. Or I should say a constructed set that looks like the trunk of a car. Our lead-man, Stephen Dorff is trapped inside a coffin-like glass box, inside of a ‘car trunk.’
So INT’s or “Interior Shots” are a plus when you’re scheduling a film shoot. Shooting indoors is sometimes preferable because anytime that you have to shoot outside you then have to schedule around acts of nature, and that can cause delays. A delay like running out of daylight, rain, or snow may require rescheduling. And it’s a nightmare when your cast/crew can’t show up for a makeup shoot. A filmmaker could even lose his leading man, and that could ruin the entire production.
To wrap up my comments about Cinematography…You may be wondering about shooting glass (or acrylic.) It typically reflects light, and sometimes the crew will “dull” reflective surfaces in order to eliminate a reflection on camera. In this movie, it appears that they didn’t have to shoot Dorf (through the glass box) for most of the shots. So from where I sit, reflections on the glass were not much of a concern.
Let’s talk about Sound. Sound is another factor that eliminated the need for all the talent to be on set or in the studio. Brakes used off-screen voices throughout the film. But these VO’s or “voice overs” were likely recorded later, after the shoot — in a sound studio. This is also where they would have recorded audio like Police sirens, road noise, phone-calls and CB-radio-conversations. So, I’m going to once again go out on a limb and assume that in this case the sound crew was minimal on the actual days of Principal shooting.
Oh, bye the way, do you mind if I reveal just a little about our leadman? His name is Jeremy Reins. That’s all I’ll say. Now, instead of saying “Dorf” — I’ll refer to him as “Jeremy.” Okay, moving on.
Props! Inside of the trunk was a CB radio, a digital clock, and a speaker that was taped to the glass box. There also was a old style flip-phone. So let’s see — that’s about 25 bucks in prop cost!
Let’s look more at the cost of things on the Set. Jeremy was in a car that was moving. This could have been simulated easily by manually pushing the car (aka box/trunk) from side to side, and rocking it up and down. There was one shot of him looking through a hole in the glass into the interior of the car. The audience sees a car-dash – no actor was revealed. So, that was a second-set that needed to be prepared for shooting. I could see the front windshield of the car, but no exteriors.
Later on in the movie there was a gunshot hole in the trunk. This allowed Jeremy to look through it – into an alley, the pinhole shot revealed one actor and a dog. Okay, so you might need a dog “wrangler” if you’re doing a film that features a dog in many scenes. But in this film, I’m guessing that one of the cast/crew brought their well-behaved fido in for a day of shooting. Similar to the POV (point of view) shot that I described prior to this, it could have been done inside a studio. The alley could easily have been a pseudo alley.
There was another POV from inside of the trunk, and this is a third set-up worth mentioning. I could see that the “car” was moving, and the (trunk) popped open just a crack, and Jeremy could see a police car, ramming the trunk. So, a police-car grill, hood and lights would be required. Again, this could be fabricated — there would be no need to rent an expensive cop car. And this again could have been shot in a studio as long as the filmmaker was clever enough to emulate the back and forth motion of a moving cop-car.
Next, an interior of an ambulance. A filmmaker would need a truck and/or two swinging truck doors painted white with red stripes. Props needed: A hospital gurney or similar wheeled stretcher. An oxygen tank, accessories and various clutter. No equipment was really focused upon, and the set looked genuine.
A quick mention about Special Effects. Jeremy has been hurt, after all IF you’ve seen the movie or trailer, then you know there is a BEE scene. Okay, so that’s a special effect or practical effect to be reckoned with. I for one, would use a leaf blower or a powerful hair dryer and blow fake Bee’s into the trunk. (Maybe you have a better idea.) Moving on – from inside the moving Ambulance, the audience gets a quick glimpse of the Washington Monument outside. This was shot through the dusty-glass of the Ambulance back door, and easily could have been just a poster, OR a Special Effects shot done in post. (Note that when a filmmaker uses a green screen while shooting principal photography then they are forced to do composite work in post.)
Back to Set analysis. There is a “redressing” of the Alley shot used earlier. It’s an EXTERIOR shot that is not a POV taken from inside the car! A black Excalibur or similar vehicle pulls up and a CAMEO actor — Tom Berenger delivers a few lines.
Then there’s some minimal coverage of an action shot. This kind of coverage actually requires an EST, a three-quarters shot, and some close ups. And trust me, this is rare coverage for this film, remember most of this movie is about a guy in a car trunk. I won’t discuss how his connection to the outside world is done in detail because it’s part of the charm of the movie, and I don’t want to ruin it for you. There is one prop in this scene worth mentioning. A gun.
Let’s talk more about the talent. For those of you who know the actor Tom Berenger, I think you know that including him would add some considerable cost to this film. (Funny enough, the Showtime description of the movie did not credit him — and I for one think he’s what would be considered “Marquee Value” or “bankable talent.” We do see some extras in the background. We do meet Jeremy’s wife and she also has a few lines. And Jeremy’s partner is in the shot — we see a brief cameo with the actor, JR Bourne.
And finally, while we’re talking about Marquee Value talent — let us not forget the lead man, Stephen Dorff. I’m quite sure he is the most expensive asset in the movie, and worth it. He just did a fantastic job, and this film is terrific. Consider hiring an actor like this when/if you ever shoot a film because it will make or “brake” your movie.
I wish I could afford to license Brake and stream it to you free on my channels, but that won’t happen right now. For those of you who have never worked on a film, or have not yet had the pleasure of seeing this particular film — I urge you to see this movie, or make a movie — and then return to this article to see how I’ve done in my “Brake-down.” And feel free to let me know your thoughts! Cheers. (c) Dean Lachiusa
Ahhh, the 50’s an innocent era of television where you if you actually owned a TV, the reception was so poor and limited that you were likely to tune in black and white static and fuzz. And on a good day or during “prime time” the programming was limited to slightly out of focus live Boxing matches or family-variety shows by talent like Joey Bishop and Red Skeleton.
Local channels started to capitalize upon the relatively new medium by producing shows that were sponsored by manufactures like Lucky Cigarettes and Lark Automobiles. Usually a television show featured the sponsors advertisement prior to the show, but in rare occasions there was no promotion at all — like the California production “Captain Z-Ro.”
Captain Z-Ro was a family friendly show that is actually very well done, especially for something that resembles a “KINO” production.
Kino was the process of filming a live production for the purposes of archiving a program, and it was usually done in black and white, 16mm film. The quality was typically low-contrast because the film-camera recorded directly from a Television camera monitor.
That being said, Captain Z-Ro is a very nice watch because the editing is incredibly precise, and the sets are pretty darn good. Especially if you consider the high cost of doing “period pieces.” Also, if you watch the show you’ll enjoy the Mod looking exterior of the Captain’s Space-Base, and the groovy space-aged laboratory inside.
Show creator and lead-man Captain Z-Ro is played by Roy Steffens. His young, trusty sidekick Bruce Haynes plays Jet.
Every episode is History oriented. It’s actually quite entertaining and informative, in it’s quaint way — I mean, in our day and age television is competitive and the production quality is usually excellent. So, when I look at an old show, I try to appreciate it for what it was back in the day.
Captain Z-Ro is a family show, each week our hero’s use their cool ‘time-machine’ to visit a new place in history, and they correct any wrong doings or impending errors to the timeline. (And we all know that our history books are perfectly accurate — so you can see how Captain Z-Ro can apply what is written in order to…”safeguard mankind and history from impending harm…” wink, wink, wink 😉
That’s it for now, but please don’t hesitate to let me know (if) you’d like to see more episodes. Leave a comment or gift a buck or more on the Patreon site, and then I’ll post them here and on my Roku/Fire TV channels. Cheers! (c) Dean Lachiusa
I have confidence, confidence in the fact that our Government will act out with a gun shot reaction to this virus crisis. An action towards China. China has three (recent) strikes against them. SARS, Avian “Bird Flu” and now this dang Virus. But this kind of thing is not new to the world, really we’ve battled everything from Yellow Fever to Polio. But importantly, we should take note that China has a long history of being responsible for large scale infections including in 1957 the “Asian flu” , and in 1968 the “Hong Kong flu” and also 1977’s “Russian flu.” They have a history of spreading influenza, and now it’s a bad reputation. And because they don’t seem to learn a lesson, I think it’s about time we “fired” China.
But let’s not confuse who is at fault for the virus — it’s not the average Chinese citizen. They’re cogs in a great big wheel. And it certainly is NOT in any way the fault of your Chinese neighbor or the local Chinese restaurant.
It’s time, time to give the U.S. the opportunity to manufacture the products that we used to do so well. Do I sound like an economic expert? 😉 I don’t know a darn thing about how our economy works when compared to the experts out there.
But I do have the life experience to remind you — or tell you for the first time…that there was a day when the United States manufactured things like dishwashers and other household appliances. And these products performed in the American household for years and years without the need for repair. And when I say years…I mean 20 years or more. Imagine a dishwasher, like the one installed in my house 35 years ago. My old dishwasher was made by Kitchenaid. It ran for 30 years, until 5 years ago when it finally started to act funky. It didn’t completely stop working, but it started to make funny noises and it wasn’t cleaning the dishes well.
So, I made the mistake of replacing it with a new Kitchenaid. God only knows where this thing was really manufactured, because the repairman who fixed it just 5 months after I had it installed told me it was NOT anything like my old unit. He said it was “made in China, with parts from all over the place.” “…The computers in these things are lemons…” We discussed it a little further and he said that Kitchenaid is like Sears now…It’s just a brand name that relies on it’s old reputation – but it is not the same quality, it’s all made in China.
Sears was a cornerstone of American craftsmanship, including their Kit houses.
I’m sure you’ve heard this kind of talk before. It’s the “scuttlebug” that we’ve been churning out for years now. And in a large part it’s our fault, right. I mean, we love to save money, we love a deal. And how many of us shop at the dollar store on a regular basis? We all know that it’s cheaper to buy a new toaster or coffee machine than to repair one. And in the end — who doesn’t like a bargain?
But we need to break this model. We, the U.S. citizens need to understand that it might be difficult, but we have to find a way to break away from these cheap products, and instead make our own products again. Made by us, bought by us.
This may be a Utopian train of thought. Maybe it’s just too difficult to do this. But right now, we’re forced to be inventive. We have to find a way to manufacture medical masks, gloves, hand sanitizers. And we have to find a way to deliver locally made goods to each other. Because, we are each others customers. We have to learn to depend on each other, to trust each other like we did “back in day.”
I’d like to make this article feel complete by suggesting that I do believe that we’ll have a cure for this virus soon. I think that some laboratory will come up with a vaccine or at least a anti-virus cocktail that will prevent lung inflammation and Pneumonia. I have faith in this because I know that the company that comes up with a solution will make a ton of money. So there’s an incentive.
Meanwhile, if you want to make a nice chunk of change…come up with a solution for a need in your community. What needs are not being taking care of? It can be anything. Think about it.
For example, the other day I watched an advertisement by a Pizza company for their new solution to curbside pickup. A kiosk. Make the pizza, drop it in the kiosk, then the customer walks up to it, opens the Kiosk and takes home their pizza. Nice, but to really work safely it needs to be installed so the customer may access it from outside the building.
Hmmm, I hope all restaurants can do this kind of thing – – that would be full coverage of their curbside and “hands-off” idea. But only (if) the restaurant workers are doing their part inside and out of the business. And I won’t go into great detail, but obviously we have to trust that a manufacture of any product or good is wearing gloves and masks, and following all the safety guidelines.
Ohh, that’s a thought — do we have new food-safety guidelines for restaurants? Are we, the consumer depending on each business that we order from to implement a system that is safe? Hmmm. Call your governor? Or perhaps, start an organization that puts together the rules and guidelines for operating a business during a pandemic. Too much? Think about it in small steps. What would you like to see, what do you need, and how can you fill that need.
To put things into context with this website, I have made my Film Festival an Online Venue, and I support the fest and filmmakers by streaming the winning films on my connected TV channels (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Android.) So you see, I’ve gone entirely virtual/digital in order to best service my audience and the filmmaker.
I hope that I’ve given you some optimistic thoughts and ideas here. I hope that I’ve brought you a little more hope. Blessing and Cheers to you! — (c) Dean Lachiusa