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Zelda, Almost Home–The Short Film

My favorite shot in the short film, “Zelda, Almost Home.” The tunnel leading to Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Alabama.

The premise for the short film Zelda, Almost Home became quite simple: Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1900, lived a wild and tumultuous life with the author of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom she met in 1918. What if she came back today as a ghost?

The inspiration to shoot Zelda, Almost Home came from watching Vincent Laforet’s Reverie on YouTube. You’ll also notice there’s a hat tip to Damien Chazelle and his film La La Land— Zelda walks in front of a mural. Simon Cade from DSLR Guide has been a big influence and coach as well. (This is my first short film. I’m 51 years old.)

Come to find out, there are ample stories around Montgomery already to suggest the premise for this film is dead on. The halls of Baldwin Middle School are full of stories alleging apparitions of Zelda. As I talked with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Executive Director Sara Powell last Friday, she had two more accounts, recent ones, as the museum prepares to open upstairs rooms as a bed and breakfast.

So as you read and watch the film, please know, it is grounded in much less fantasy as you might first suspect.

The Making of Zelda, Almost Home

One of the first things any viewer will note is the music, Almost Home, composed by Moby and used with permission from his website, MobyGratis.com. He offers free use of his material provided it’s used for purposes like this—non-commercial and creative expression.

The film is shot entirely in Montgomery, Alabama, June 22-25, 2017. And that is part of my commentary for shooting this, there are almost no films about Montgomery that are actually SHOT in Montgomery.

It is all shot with a Canon D60, part with a Nifty Fifty lens and part with an 18-135 mm. The camera for the most part is mounted on a Neewer Image Stabilizer. Shots from the car the camera was mounted on a tripod.

Shot List

The intersection of Zelda and Fitzgerald, Montgomery

The street sign at the corner of Zelda and Fitzgerald in Montgomery, Alabama.

The opening shot is designed to give homage to Montgomery for honoring Scott and Zelda, while also having our Zelda set the scene that she was full of life when she lived here. It is not hard to imagine the real Zelda spinning around her street sign with glee.

Five minutes after we left the scene, I drove back through and someone had called Montgomery Police to investigate what we were doing. A patrol car was sitting where I’d been parked and was using the lights of the car to light up the street sign.

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, Felder Avenue

The house on Felder is now a museum. They have a fascinating collection of Fitzgerald memorabilia and are open very day of the week except Monday for tours. And they are in the process of opening an upstairs suite as a bed and breakfast so those seeking inspiration for their writing or filmmaking can soon stay in the same rooms as the Fitzgeralds for nine months back in the 1920s. This is said to be the longest the two lived anywhere together. And it was the last place they ever lived as a family.

Winter Place, Goldthwaite and Mildred

It is often said that Scott and Zelda met at the Montgomery Country Club. But lore now suggests in fact that they met at Winter Place on Goldthwaite. Part of the tale goes is that Zelda’s daddy, Judge Anthony D. Sayre, who lived four blocks away, would not have approved of her being at Winter Place so saying they met at the country club was much more proper.

The McBryde-Screws-Tyson House, Mildred

Christian Lowry, the owner of the house, tells the tale that Zelda was friends with the girls who lived there at the time. He says Zelda used a ring she’d been given by Scott to carve their initials in a second story window. Mr. Winter, who owned Winter Place across the street, is said to have had a thing for Ms. Zelda when she was younger and so as an admirer, when McBryde-Screws-Tyson lie vacant, he sent men into the home to extract with window pane Zelda carved initials into.

The McBride-Screws-Tyson House in Montgomery, Alabama.

It is hoped, that since Mr. Winter was something of a pack rat, that as Winter Place goes through renovation, the original piece of glass will be found and hopefully returned to its rightful window.

But this is the sentimental importance of this shot in the film.

The Train Shed

There are stories about Zelda and the train shed in Montgomery. It was the prime way in and out of town for Zelda and Scott. But it is also said that she dressed down one day and walked around with a tin can seeking donations. News of this, of course, stirred Judge Sayre. Which is probably what it was meant to do.

The Riverfront Tunnel 

The Riverfront Tunnel has changed over the years. Only recent efforts by the city to bring night life back downtown have led to the amazing lighting in the tunnel. The colored lights and the depth of the shot make this one of my favorite scenes in the film. I thought about going back and having Zelda walk perfectly framed up the lighted tunnel but then it’d be too staged and too fashioned, something the true Zelda would not allow.

Tallapoosa Street

This is one of the apex locations in downtown Montgomery, connecting with Commerce Street, critical to the city’s past and present.

The Alley

Over the past 15 years, the Alley has really come to life as an attraction in Montgomery, and wherever there was a party in this town, well, it’d attract Zelda.

Tallapoosa and Commerce Statue of Hank Williams

The Hank Williams Statue is now the gateway into the Riverfront Park area of the downtown area.

RSA Tower Fountain on Dexter Avenue

David Bronner has built a series of buildings throughout Montgomery over the past 40 years. The fountain this Zelda is playing along wasn’t here when Zelda was, but like the real Zelda, my character couldn’t resist the temptation to play. And she really wanted to get into the water like the real one would have done, too.

Catoma Street view of Troy State

Troy State wasn’t located here back in the day, but is an important part of the downtown scene, connected to the Davis Theatre and across the street from the Jefferson Hotel where Scott and Zelda are said to have stayed, as well as being near the Rosa Parks Museum, which I believe back in the day was also the Empire Theatre, one of the first air conditioned places in the hot of the South.

Sunny Paulk Civil Rights Mural, Lee and Montgomery Streets

Hat tip to La La Land and having Emma Stone walk past the You Are The Star Mural. Montgomery has a beautiful Civil Rights Mural here and we just had to include it. Zelda was gone before all of that came to be and so it was fitting for her to just walk past.

Oakwood Cemetery, Plot 28, graves of Minnie and Judge Anthony D Sayre

The Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama where the parents of Zelda Fitzgerald rest in peace.

There is a memorial plaque for Scott and Zelda, their daughter Scottie Smith, and Zelda’s parents, Minnie and Anthony D. Sayre in Oakwood Cemetery. When we arrived for shooting, the sunset was alive with color and emotion.

The first shot is Zelda mourning over the plaque. She then runs her hands over the stone above her father’s tomb. Out of love and emotion, the Zelda character in the film lies down on the stone above Minnie and puts her hand on Minnie’s name. By then it was too late to see, but the poignancy of should not be lost. Zelda would dearly miss her Momma for many reasons all of us would.

Old Alabama Supreme Court Building, Dexter Avenue

Justice Sayre served on the Alabama Supreme Court from 1909 to 1931. Zelda would visit this place and miss her daddy.

Zelda visiting the Old Alabama Supreme Court Building on Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama.

The Alabama Capitol

The Capitol is just a stone’s throw from the Old Supreme Court Building.

Chris’ Hotdogs, Dexter Avenue

Chris’s Hotdogs is 100 years old this year. I don’t know if Zelda ever went there to eat before she left town, but the odds are pretty good that she would have. They have served every sitting Alabama governor since they opened. It makes sense the lead Flapper Girl would have been a customer, too.

Court Street Fountain

Many a girl like Zelda has climbed the fence at the fountain to wade into its waters looking down Commerce Street toward the Alabama Riverfront and up Dexter Avenue toward the Capitol.

Sunroom window, The Fitzgerald Museum

The sunroom at the museum would hold special value to Zelda. Scottie, their daughter, wrote about its importance during the Christmas the family spent in the home. As a ghost looking back, she would totally take time to look into this room and remember the gem of joy they experienced there as a family for one of the few times ever.

The Museum at night, Felder Avenue

Day or night, the museum is a treasure of Montgomery.

My Own Zelda Ghost Story

So, the night before we began shooting, while walking up the drive to the museum, a white and tan cat came running out of nowhere and up to me. I am allergic to cats and don’t care for them. This one, as I was standing in the drive looking at shots, avoided my Zelda actor, (Angie Tatum Weed) and began curling around my legs. I finally said, “Hey Zelda!” and the cat stopped.

 

 

Apple’s Yosemite Doesn’t Work With Exchange On Multiple Macs

Apple’s Yosemite Doesn’t Work With Exchange On Multiple Macs

And Apple’s technical support doesn’t know why.

I’ve been a Mac since Oct. 11, 2007. In that time, I’ve made a lot of pronouncements about how well Macs work. But today, Nov. 6, 2014, I am ANGRY to report that Apple has completely screwed the pooch when it comes to Exchange working in Mac Mail on multiple Macs. It flat does not work.

INTERNET ACCOUNTS

When one creates an Exchange account on one Mac, say an iMac, and does it in Mac Mail, it works fine.

When one opens their Mail client on a second machine, say a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air, a dialogue message pops up saying the password, which was entered correctly on the first machine, is wrong. What is wrong, instead, is that in the Username fields on the second and third machines, the @domain.com portion doesn’t come across so the two machines perpetually are looking for just the user name on the account, not the entire username@domain.com.  Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 6.48.17 AM

As long one doesn’t try to use Exchange on multiple machines, which is the very idea and premise for it, it works on the one machine.

APPLE CARE

The guys at Apple Care have spent more than an hour with me noting this issue. They say that it can’t be something wrong with Internet Accounts, that it has to be an Exchange issue, which of course, since it’s a Microsuck creation, they don’t support. But it’s their system of Internet Accounts that precludes one from being able to set the email account up on the three machines without it being stuck in the Cloud portion of the OS, therefore making this an Apple issue, not an Exchange issue. Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 6.49.55 AM

BETA

The two machines that it’s not working correctly on both had Yosemite Beta on them. I did a reload of Yosemite on the MacBook Pro last night and tried it fresh this morning.  It’s not a Yosemite Beta issue, and not one that was remedied when Apple issued Beta Seed 1 on Tuesday night, either.

I’m about to call my Exchange provider and switch the account back to a simple IMAP account. Apple is apparently unable to handle an Exchange account on multiple machines in Yosemite.

If you have Exchange and are considering upgrading to Yosemite from Mavericks and you run the same account on multiple machines, I suggest you wait till Apple gets it’s stuff together and hopefully fixes this dramatic business interruption.

BTW, Exchange is working on the iPhone and iPad along with the iMac. But when it gets to the other two Macs, forget it.

 

The guaranteed followers on twitter game — Block or Ignore?

For the past several months, when it comes to the guaranteed followers on Twitter game, I’ve played along by blocking them all and reporting them to Twitter as spam accounts.

I have no idea whether that’s helping or the bots that are targeting my Twitter accounts know they’ve been blocked and thereby have an algorithm written to have another fake account follow me and repeat the cycle all over again. Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.36.57 AM Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.36.49 AM

The past week or two, I’ve just been ignoring them.

I’m not going to pay to have additional fake Twitter followers just so my account numbers rise.

No, I’ve done well with @DaddyClaxton since 2008 to get it above 13.8 followers and even the @ClaxtonCreative account above 3,500.

Yes, I’ve followed some strategies, like following certain foke and them following back. But I’ve done it honestly, with the truest intentions of being connected to like-minded foke on Twitter.

The @DaddyClaxton Twitter handle largely follows dads, moms, and many of the brands I’ve ever personally worked with or had considerable issues with, like Firehouse Subs. The @ClaxtonCreative Twitter handle has been largely reserved for things associated with the publishing industry, the Internet, and books for iPad, our specialty.

Why on earth would I want to artificially inflate my account following with followers that really aren’t real? Ultimately, that gets me nowhere in the true mission of trying to connect, share like ideas, and grow to something new.

So how do you treat Twitter followers that promise you thousands of followers for $29? Same for Facebook, YouTube and Instagram?

Red Lion Hotels-A Great Brand Experience

Red Lion Hotels Corporation

Red Lion Hotels Corporation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Red Lion Hotels-A Great Brand Experience

We operate out of Dallas and don’t get over to the “Left Coast” as often as we’d like, but yesterday we learned about a hotel chain that clearly has it going on when it comes to social media. The hotel chain—Red Lion Hotels—interacted with us in some very positive ways certainly worth mentioning here.

To set this up, on DaddyClaxton.com, we did a post yesterday about how a front desk clerk, Courtney, went beyond the call of duty to ensure that a guest, there on her 67th birthday, got breakfast delivered to her room via a special request. In fact, we called the hotel from Dallas and made this happen, but HOW we made it happen is as much a part of the story as what happened.

First of all, all we had to go on were the keywords “lion, hotel, portland, airport.” From there, a Google search led us to Red Lion Hotels.  On their very lively and colorful website, is an option for “live chat.”  Clicking that box immediately put us in discussion with an operator. We asked about how to reach the hotel and the Pacific Grille. The operator on the chat said to call the hotel and dial 0 for the front desk.

That led to a conversation with a young lady who was getting off for the day who said that they hotel restaurant doesn’t “normally do room service, but I’m about to get off work and would be happy to take it to your mom’s room for you.”

After exchanging credit card info, Courtney was on her way.

Later on, once Mom was surprised, came the blog post and tweet on Twitter and a post on Facebook.

A few hours later in the day came a reply from @RedLionHotels on Twitter. The messages were all positive and supportive, including word  that they are going to seek out the young lady who went beyond the call of duty and present her with a reward for her efforts. (The CEO of the company is going to present her with a nice thank you.)

The whole process has been an example of systems that work, and an example of proactive and responsive social media.  It was refreshing and very professional, not to mention personal.

After alerting Mom about what the hotel had said, she replied that the most surprising point of all had been that the front desk clerk had even given her a hug for her 67th birthday upon delivery of the BIG pancake breakfast. (Another point not mentioned—for $9.95 the pancakes were almost as large as the plate. A rarity in hotel food both in price and amount.)

We’ve never stayed, nor honestly, had heard of Red Lion Hotels before Sunday a.m. But one thing is for sure, next time we are out west, there is going to be an effort made to find one of their hotels and see if the stay matches the brand experience online. The entire virtual and personal experience, what brand managers hope and pray for, but seldom realize, is in full effect with this chain and it is truly rewarding and refreshing.

 

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Google, Chase, AT&T, Geico, etc, Video Web Commercials Suck

Google, Chase, AT&T, Geico, etc, Video Web Commercials Suck

You shouldn't have to watch a commercial to see every new story on a website.

You shouldn’t have to watch a commercial to see every new story on a website.

It’s the latest advertising model–you go to almost any news website and click on a story that has video and a commercial from Google, Chase, AT&T, Geico, a car company, SOMEONE is going to run.

What do I do? One of three things. 1) I stop the video about three or four seconds into it, 2) I want to watch the piece I actually wanted to watch, so I turn off the audio so I don’t hear the spot, 3) I leave the page completely.

And I’m not alone. I’ve polled PR professional colleagues in Dallas about this and the responses were the same.

This model of advertising is NOT working.

No one should have to watch four Chase Bank commercials to view four video stories on CNN.com or Fox News or any news site over and over and over.

And what sense does it make for me to be forced to watch the same spot that’s over saturated on TV, too?

STOP IT!

Advertisers and website managers, this isn’t working. If I could create an automated function that made my browsers go from one page to the next on a site like CNN so your spots would run 24/7 and no one would see them and I’d run up an expensive bill for you, I’d do it in a heartbeat if this would get your attention.  Gosh, maybe that’s the answer and give it away to friends across Facebook so they’d launch it on their systems, too, and then…

This model is NOT working. I am not going to watch your spots like this. And I hope other people won’t either.  No one should have to watch umpteen commercials to get information that should be free across the net, and if sites like CNN are going to go full bore on such tactics, well, I’ve pretty much moved on from CNN as a news source anyways.

 

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I Regularly Block Fake Twitter Followers, @GilGul

I regularly block fake Twitter followers, but not this guy who wrote a column for the LA Times Sunday. Though he claims he did it for experimentation purposes, and I have to give him that, it is good to know how this could help, it’s just plain wrong and a growing problem with Twitter I wish they would get a handle on.

It’s every day when I go on my multiple Twitter accounts and block/report accounts for spam. Most of the time, they’re offers to buy thousands of new followers for just $5. Until I read the LA Times piece, I thought even that was a sham, but it turns out what you’re buying is a bunch of fake accounts all made to look like they’re real. Apparently musicians, politicians, brands and the like use this technique often to give themselves addition credibility on Twitter and thereby across the Net. 
Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 9.46.28 AM

This would be all well and good, until it came time to use Twitter as the communications exchange medium it was designed to be.  Until you wanted to affect or activate your followers and send out a message saying “read this” or we need your help on this “call to action.”  Then you’re just talking to NO ONE.

I wish Twitter was more actively stopping this use of their API and service. Surely there has to be a way to detect this rather than having fokes like myself blocking and reporting for spam each day.

On my DaddyClaxton account, I have more than 13,670 followers. I’ve not paid for a single follower and I’m not about to start. The ClaxtonCreative account is above 3,400 followers and the same fact is true. I’ve earned those followers by seeking out like-mined people, trying to find out what they have to say and share with the world about subjects in which I have a real and valid interest. I don’t have time nor interest in creating a fake situation, one where it appears that I have followers who I do not really have.

There have been many documented times when I’ve gone through my followers and cut them back, too, because they weren’t updating any longer, or because they were fake.  You should do the same. Why sort through noise when you can get to information that’s helpful?

Please, if you have followers on Twitter who are offering you thousands of followers for $5, just do like I do and block them and report them to Twitter. Hopefully, if enough of us do that, it’ll put a stop or dent in the business. If we continue to go in this direction, Twitter is going to become more and more useless to us all.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 9.46.45 AM

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AT&T Network Resetting in Montgomery, AL

AT&T Network Resetting in Montgomery, AL

UPDATE May 31, 2014: A rep from AT&T via Twitter said thanks and this post had been a great help. I’m glad it was. I spend a lot of money, too much money, every month with AT&T.  Glad an outsider could help them fix an issue. Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 7.38.21 PM

Last night I posted a thread about not being able to text photos via iMessage to my mom and sister in Montgomery, AL. They both have iPhones and are on AT&T.

To his credit, George from AT&T responded via Twitter and then put me on the phone with an operator who literally wanted to “Axe” me a few questions.  (Really? You’d figure internal screening and training would have put a stop to this.)

Back to the problem. For more than three weeks now photos have not been going thru to AT&T iPhones in Montgomery and I have figured out why, not by talking to AT&T, who says their systems are working fine, but through talking to three different people at Apple.

RESET NETWORK SETTINGSAT&T network resetting

Apparently, AT&T has done something lately to their network in Montgomery, AL which is precluding photos from outside the city to come thru. I’ve had others from around the country try to text into the Capital City and received the same results.  I tried this with another iPhone user in Montgomery, this one using Verizon, and the photo went straight thru.

To remedy the problem, go to Settings > General> and then all the way down to RESET > and then down to RESET NETWORK SETTINGS. Tap that setting and follow the prompts. The phone will then reconnect with the towers in Montgomery and on my mom’s phone, she can once again receive photos via iMessage from outside of Montgomery.

 

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Apple, What’s Up With Sending Photos In iMessage?

Apple, What’s Up With Sending Photos In iMessage?

UPDATE: I’ve isolated the issue tonight–it’s photos sent via text to Montgomery, Alabama that are not going thru. My mom and my sister, in particular, both on iPhones, both on AT&T in Montgomery, which suggests to me this isn’t an Apple issue, it’s an AT&T problem. 

UPDATE May 28, 2014 10:28 a.m.— I spent 15 minutes on the phone with an AT&T rep last night who tried to say it was my phone that was making it so I couldn’t send pics via iMessage to my mom and sister in Montgomery, AL, however, I had four other people try to do the same thing and they wouldn’t go thru.  Now on the phone with Apple Care.

UPDATE May 28, 10:31 a.m. — And after waiting on the phone for five minutes, Apple Care hung up without ever talking to anyone.  Second call now.

 

For about three weeks now, whenever I send a photo via iMessage on the iMac, iPhone and even iPad, most of the time I get a red circle with an exclamation point in the middle that says my photo didn’t send. But if I check another device, it has.Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 9.08.13 PM

Apple, what’s up with this?

As weird as it sounds, when a person shows that they’ve read the message sent with the photos, the red dots go away. Weirder still, is they sent to my other devices.

But they did not go to the person I sent them to.

Apple, this is a very strange problem and it’s gone on for a couple of weeks now. What’s up?

 

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Wordfence Security for WordPress Has Opened My Eyes

Wordfence Security for WordPress Has Opened My Eyes

There’s a lot of noise about Web security these days and one has to wonder how much of it is inflated to sell software and services and how much of it is real. With the release of Glenn Greenwald’s book this month, No Place To Hide, about Edward J. Snowden and national security, the speculation is to be raised even more. Wordfence Alerts

Months ago we wouldn’t have believed how much goes on in trying to attack a website. That was until we began religiously employing the WordPress plugin WORDFENCE to every site we manage.

That has been an eye-opening experience. Even websites for smaller local clients constantly are bombarded by IP addresses, most often in other countries, trying to break into their Admin login and damage the site.

Alerts constantly come in from Wordfence because a bot in Europe has been targeted against a client, this site or DaddyClaxton.com. How it would strategically benefit a group in Europe, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, the Netherlands, or wherever to gain access to these sites is unimagineable, but regardless, the battle goes on nearly 365/7 and it is constant.

We write this in hopes of two things. 1) Raising your awareness that if you’re running a WordPress site and not using Wordfence, you probably should be just so you’re aware of how hard others are trying to get into your site. 2) You’d better have some fairly strong passwords, and you might want to delete the ADMIN login all together and use another person or name as such. It appears most of the bot attacks our clients, and we get, are preprogrammed to use Admin as the user name and if it isn’t even in your WordPress system, you’re already miles ahead of them.

Wordfence can be configured so that you get an email every time someone is locked out from trying to hack into your site. Or, you can choose not to be notified. It also can be set up to send someone a notification for every time someone with admin capabilities accesses your site,  just in case someone nefarious actually does get in, you’ll know it immediately.

It’s a shame this is what has become of the Internet, but it’s also a fact of life, it’s not going to go away. Wordfence. You need it. And if bots are hammering away so hard at minor WordPress sites, think of how many are programmed to get into your Facebook, Twitter and other accounts once they know your email address….

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Writing A Novel: A self-study?

Writing A Novel: A self-study?  Over on DaddyClaxton.com today we’re writing about an unexpected benefit of writing a novel–doing an in-depth personal self-study of oneself in order to be able to write a novel. Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 7.16.57 AM The logic makes perfect sense. If one is going to get into the minds of multiple fictional characters, there are many things that seemingly would need to be straight within the mind of the originating author as well, right? So today, and for several days to come actually, we’re posing a series of questions that we believe all authors, and even those not wanting to write, should ponder and do so seriously. Did you know that almost 95 percent of the population will never do such an exercise? In our mind, we’d rather be in the five percent who does. Life will seemingly make a little more sense. We hope. We encourage you to jump over to DaddyClaxton.com and read the set up and then do today’s exercise and the ones to follow in the days to come.  We think you’ll be glad you did.

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