Leaving Delta in 2015

Delta recently announced changes to the SkyMiles program for 2015. Miles will be awarded not by miles flown but by dollars spent.  For an example, see this grim comparison below of a $1,566 round-trip ticket from Lexington, Kentucky to Bangkok, Thailand (on a calculator ironically provided by Delta).


(Try it yourself here.)

I had originally thought to put forth a careful and detailed argument against this change, but no longer.  There is no point.  (See Delta’s Facebook page for the amusing consumer backlash versus Delta’s robotic copy-and-paste response policy.)

So I told Delta via Facebook that I’m leaving them for American Airlines in 2015.  This was their reply to my announcement of departure:

Hello Ryan Staples, please remember that you can continue to earn up to an additional 2 miles on Delta spend with the SkyMiles Credit Card. That is 40% , please remember that you can continue to earn up to an additional 2 miles on Delta spend with the SkyMiles Credit Card. That is 40% more miles on Delta flights as a General SkyMiles Member in the new 2015 program in addition to the miles you earn on every day spend with the Card. Thanks for voicing your concern.

(T.S. must be The System)

One thing I would suggest to Delta and The System: mile is a measure of distance, and if distance is no longer rewarded, then please don’t call them miles.

That just doesn’t fly with me.

The Night I Looked at You

People dancing.   That’s all this is really.  The Night I Looked at You was July 29, 2012 at the wedding reception of Jordan and Jenny Dongell, with whom I have many mutual friends, of which most were in attendance.  This led me to shoot quite a bit during the open dance floor.  For Etta James’ “At Last” (agonizingly overplayed at wedding receptions but delightful at this one), I decided to roll one continuous clip for the duration of the song and see what happened.  What happened is a slice of life made a bit more cinematic: people dancing, newly in love, married a few years, married a few decades, meeting for the first time, swept off their feet, discovering two left feet, looking at each other.  Sincerity.

My shadow makes several appearances, notably my goofy head and overpriced Zacuto rig.  Focus is problematic.  Exposure goes to heck hear the end.  This film isn’t perfect.  Life isn’t perfect.  But it’s Good.


The Bailey House

My dear friends Ryan and Tabitha Bailey recently sold their house and it’s a bittersweet thing. Many a weekend I spent in that house enjoying the best of times.  One particular weekend I got a stomach bug and endured an evening of vomiting and hallucinations of Bailey in full chef’s attire stirring a giant cauldron of what I believed in my heart to be healing elixir.  (In reality, Chef Bailey was no more than a shadow cast onto the far wall by an outside tree.)  Before Maggie, the Bailey House was my muse, inspiring countless Instagram photos and two very odd videos.  The first is Bailey’s Sink, the shakiest video I ever made.  This can be blamed on two things: (1) shooting handheld with no camera support and (2) Spencer’s coffee.

Bailey’s Sink (September 2011)

The second video features Pippin (pictured above), the Baileys’ cat, eager to get inside. This was shot on my iPhone 4S (held horizontal, as it should be) and edited in Premiere CS6.

Messin’ with Pippin (February 2013)

The Bailey House shall be missed.


The Steve McFarland Trilogy

Years ago (circa 2009), January would bring a call from Steve McFarland, then Coordinator of the Owensboro Middle School Youth Service Center.  It was time to schedule another training video. We would assemble with Justin McFarland, toss around ideas, shoot for a few hours, then go to Applebee’s.  (Justin and I don’t particularly care for Applebee’s, but we keep eating there.)  Because I had slightly more spare time and significantly less equipment in those days, the entire process from preproduction to postproduction took less than 24 hours.  The day would culminate with a screening back at the McFarland house and self-congratulations on a job goofily done.

As it is January, I thought it an appropriate time to recall and celebrate The Steve McFarland Trilogy…

Home Visit (January 2009)

Home Visit was shot on my late Panasonic AG-DVX100B at 720p/24fps and edited in Final Cut Pro 6.  A few of my favorite moments both on and off screen: the guy smoking in the background at 1:05, the “breakfast” (though on screen a farce, was consumed off screen by Justin), and Justin’s compelling portrayal of both the disgruntled homeowner and wily-haired student.  Bloopers from this shoot exist,  though on a miniDV tape in a box of miniDV tapes among other boxes of miniDV tapes from that era.

Advisory Council Meeting (March 2010)

It’s now apparent just how much The Office I was watching at the time.  Steve’s deadpan delivery during the meeting, Justin’s “There’s not a prize in these Doritos”, the narration “Whatever it takes” as Steve hands over five bucks, Agnes, and other shenanigans all make for a good time.  For my part, supressing laughter and keeping silent and relatively steady was probably my greatest challenge.  Despite the larger cast and longer running time, we still accomplished this in a day, with plenty of time remaining for Applebee’s.

Finding Resources (April 2012)

Shot on the Canon 5D Mark 2, edited in Final Cut Pro 7, Finding Resources commemorated Steve’s retirement from the Youth Service Center.  Agnes makes a cameo, and Justin displays his acting versatility both as Dealer of Underwear and in reprising his role as Wily-Haired Student.

These shorts were great fun to produce.  I hope we can get together some time in the near future and do it again.  Until then, see what Steve is up to these days at his blog.

life | cinematically

“A Flicker of Hope”

A flicker of hope draws me
to press on forward into the distance
in power not mine
but thine O God.

So ably has experience taught me
to be dissatisfied with disadvantage
yet to persist
like a stalwart.

- Reverend Robert Magoola, Uganda

His poem came to be the theme of my work, the articulation of life | cinematically.  My desire is that flicker of hope be apparent in everything I do, if only for a few frames.

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