Wednesday, March 21, 2018

So, yeah, those bombs in Austin

photo from Daily Beast by Brendan Buress

When the first bomb went off, I assumed something was up in the victim's personal life - that some crazy story would come out about the person killed.  It's not just that it occurred in Austin - where we have a low crime rate, our organized crime is low key, and our murder rate very low for a city of this size - it's that it occurred out in the 'burbs up north.

Really, the bombing felt like a freak incident.  The local press had nothing to go on, so no one paid much attention.  What do you even say when this happens and then... nothing?

Fast forward a week and bombs two and three went off on the same day.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

PODCAST: Simon and I talk "Big Trouble in Little China", "Buckaroo Banzai" and "War Games"

Buckaroo Banzai
Already covered

War Games
Watched:  03/17/2018
Viewing:  Fifth or Sixth
Format:  Alamo Drafthouse/ Village
Decade:  1980's

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Watched:  03/18/2018
Viewing:  Seventh or Eighth
Format:  Shout Factory BluRay
Decade:  1980's

Join SimonUK and I as we ponder some cult favorites of the 1980's!  And, boy howdy, do we go all over the map on this one.  But, mostly, we stay on task.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Stephen Hawking Has Merged With the Infinite

Physicist Stephen Hawking has passed

Hawking was not just one of the finest minds of our era, but a brilliant communicator for science with a dry sense of humor.  I don't need to remind you that Hawking suffered from motor neuron disease, but he served as an example of overcoming those challenges and how a mind perseveres. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Musical Watch: My Fair Lady (1964)

some day, we should do a deep dive into the work of illustrator Bob Peak

Watched: 03/04/2018
Viewing: Probably the fourth time
Format: DVR off TCM
Decade: 1960's

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sunday, March 4, 2018

PODCAST: AmyC and Ryan talk "Black Panther"!

Hey, it's an all-new podcast!

AmyC and I got together and talked Black Panther. Join us as we chat on the movie and cultural force! Sort of Guest Starring Scooter, the very nice kitty.

Folks are generally really enjoying this movie, as did we, and that's uncharted territory here at the Signal Watch Podcast.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Second Maigret Post Up at Texas Public Radio

Watched:  02/24/2017
Format:  Kino-Lorber BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

I watched not one, but TWO Maigret mystery movies.  And, shockingly, wrote them both up.

Here's my post over at Texas Public Radio.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Watched:  02/27/2018
Format:  Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  Oh, probably the 12th or 13th, at least
Decade:  1980's

Oh, what to say about Big Trouble in Little China (1986)?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Marvel Watch: Black Panther (2018)

Watched:  02/15/2018 and 02/25/2018
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane/ Alamo Village
Viewing:  First/ Second
Decade:  2010's

I'm supposed to schedule with AmyC to do a podcast on this film.  I need to get that done.  In the meantime...

Writing about Black Panther (2018) is, perhaps, not terribly useful at this point.  The movie is a legitimate phenomenon in box office and in cultural conversation.  Both of these things are yet another sign among many of the past few years that we're undergoing some tectonic shifts in Hollywood, unlearning the rules of the industry when it comes to what audiences actually do want.  As of this writing, Black Panther had raked in $700 million worldwide, and, if my sold out 7:00 on a Sunday show was any indication, shows no signs of stopping.

As a white dude who is as much of a white dude as you're like to meet, I get the basic contours of what this film has meant to a Black audience, in America and abroad, but I won't pretend to have been more than an observer.*  By this late date, it's possible or likely you've seen photos of people who've "dressed" for the movie, watched video of kids attending crowd-funded screenings... and more than likely you've read one or five of the dozens and dozens of think pieces circulating.  So I don't know what new I can add, and I'll try not to belabor those points.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

We Talk Winter Olympics 2018

whole lot of skatin' goin' on

I didn't write about it, but most of our evenings - and some of our day times - of late have been filled with hours and and hours of Winter Olympics.  Snowboarding, ski jumping, luge, skeleton, curling, some hockey, and lots and lots of ice skating.

Jamie and I have been together since 1995, and prior to this, I know I watched *some* Winter Games, but nothing like what happens when Jamie gets Olympics Fever.  She particularly loves herself some ice skating, and for maybe the first decade-plus of our relationship, I sort of watched skating with her during the Olympics, but I found the scoring system arbitrary and open to (to put it politely) interpretation, and the commentators on NBC grated like parmesan over pasta.  But this is our sixth winter Olympics.  I am now pretty good at watching skating, I guess, and can see it as a sport.*

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bat Watch: Gotham By Gaslight (2018)

Watched: 02/23/2018
Viewing: First
Format: Amazon Streaming
Decade: 2010's

Way, way back in - I think - early high school, the slim, prestige format comic Gotham By Gaslight arrived in comic shops, and as a good little comics-kid, I picked up my copy, read it, loved it, and it was probably in a longbox until the great purge a few years ago.  I am 95% certain I have it in a collection somewhere amongst the Batbooks, but its been two decades since I've read the thing.

Like everyone else, I was batty for Gotham by Gaslight upon arrival.  It featured art by Mike Mignola and a pretty decent story by Brian Augustyn, and I think it took off much better than DC figured.  This put the idea of Elseworlds into DC's head, and for the next two decades we got endless versions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and sometimes others, in various periods, geographies and genres.  It took a concept like "but what if Superman emerged in conjunction with, say, War of the Worlds!?" or "Batman, but a pirate" and sold a couple of prestige-formatted issues.  Or, you got some "what if?" sort of story, like "what if Krypton never exploded?"

Some of it was great, some of it serviceable or bad.  Some of it got way overhyped (everyone needs to relax about @#$%ing Red Son.  It's not that good.).  But Gotham By Gaslight started it all, and - for my money - though I haven't actually re-read it in two decades - was among the very best.

The movie is okay.

Friday, February 23, 2018

French Detective Watch: Maigret Sets a Trap (1958)

Watched:  02/17/2018
Format:  Kino-Lorber BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

I am reviewing a pair of excellent films for Texas Public Radio, based on a series of novels by a Belgian writing about a French Detective. 

Here is the review for the first movie.  Thanks to TPR for the opportunity!

Monday, February 19, 2018

President's Day: Lucky #14, Franklin Pierce

editor's note:  So, what's weird is that every President's Day I do one of these posts on a president I've not read too much about.  Sure, it's a bare amount of research, but it's more than you've done, you ingrates.  I got my draft together last night, and today I've had, like, three different sources either joking or bitching about Franklin Pierce across my social media.  So I tapped into something.  We all hate this guy.  Happy President's Day!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

PODCAST with SimonUK: Bond Watch - A View to a Kill (1985)

Watched:  02/18/2018
Format:  DVD at my house
Viewing:  oh, probably the 7th or 8th
Decade:  1980's

(this one is Safe for Work!) SimonUK - a genuine British person - joins Ryan for a View to a Kill (1985), Moore's final Bond. It may not be the best Bond, or even a good Bond, but it's a fun Bond. We'd like to say we stick to the topic at hand, but we end up covering a wide range of all things Bond, and - at one point - diverge into Gremlins.

These things happen.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Noir Watch: Night and the City (1950)

Watched:  02/16/2018
Format:  TCM Noir Alley DVR (from November.  Yeesh.)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

At this age, it's not often you wrap up a movie and are pretty sure you've just seen one of the best movies of its genre.  But there you have it.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Arnie Watch: The Last Action Hero (1993)

Watched:  02/12/2018
Format:  Alamo Drafthouse Ritz
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1990's

My Favorite Part of "Justice League"

Justice League (2017) is a mess.  But then it has these great "actually, some of us know what the DCU looks like and what makes it work" moments.

This bit is a post start-of-credits scene, but one of two.  It's also my favorite part of the movie and why I'll likely be back if this is where the movies are headed.

I just want to contrast this with the incredibly murder-y Batman meeting Superman.  BTW, Superman was just letting Batman murder people, like, eight seconds before so he could work in a cool pose.  And, then, later, Batman tries very hard to murder Superman. 

A lot of Justice League is unearned - like anyone missing Superman when his very presence just destroyed Metropolis twice.  But Henry Cavill very clearly always had an idea of how his Superman could work, and it's a lot of fun to watch.  A sort of dry humor that plays off how seriously everyone takes him.  His take in this movie, when he finally gets to show up, matches the character of the comics surprisingly well. 

Their Flash is basically Wally West, and I don't get why they jettisoned everything about Barry Allen that's been established for decades, but he's our kid on the learning curve, and that's sort of fun.

And one of the most DC things you can do is ask Superman and Flash to race, so - thanks, movie!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

PODCAST with AmyC! Regret Watch: Fifty Shades Freed (2018)


Watched: 02/11/2018
Format: Alamo Drafthouse
Viewing: First. And, God willing, last.
Decade: 2010's

Hey!  As a magical treat for your Valentine's Day, we have something extra special for you.

This weekend AmyC and I returned to the local cinema for a screening of Fifty Shades Freed (2018), the final installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy.*  Again *fair warning* the movies are Not Safe For Work, and neither are these podcasts.  If you don't want to hear about sexual matters, general naughtiness and some light S&M, then this is your chance to move along.

There was a lot to talk about, so we wound up breaking this up into two completely separate podcasts.  Get comfortable, each one runs about 40 minutes.

Our first installment covers some questions sent in, and contains a more general conversation about Fifty Shades in the context of real world events.

Our second installment covers the events of Fifty Shades Freed, tying things up.  So to speak.

My eternal thanks to AmyC.  We've greatly appreciated her time and patience on this, not to mention her wisdom and willingness to share.

*please, someone tell me this is the last one

Monday, February 12, 2018

Friday, February 9, 2018

Thursday, February 8, 2018

"Planet of the Apes" 50th Anniversary

So, Shoemaker sent me a text alerting me that today is the 50th Anniversary of the Premier of Planet of the Apes!  I've found three completely different release dates, and February 8th is absolutely one of them.  I wasn't born yet, so I don't know, but I expect this is the Premier date the rest were release windows across the US.  Movie distribution used to be a bit different.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sunday, February 4, 2018

This is the Only Super Bowl I'm Dealing With Today

Also, @#$% The Patriots.  I used to kind of like football, and they've contributed directly to me not caring anymore.  That, and, like, everything else about the NFL.

Apparently, this is my 1000th Post Tagged "Movies"

I dunno.  I like milestones.  That seems significant.  1000 posts.  On movies.

There are 2865 published posts here, so I guess movies are mostly what we discuss.  That's not to say I've watched 1000 movies since starting The Signal Watch, but it also isn't to say we haven't.  I don't really know.  I've only done the "let us account for every movie we've watched" thing a few times.  And even then I left out things like Hallmark Christmas movies.

But I have been doing this blogging bit long enough that The Room has gone from a cult-movie bit of schadenfreude to fodder for an Oscar nominated picture and we've been through three Spider-Mans.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Changing of the Guard on "Action Comics" and "Superman"

So, it's weird that is where DC announced that Brian Michael Bendis is taking over both of the main Superman titles, right?

I mean - just that tidbit alone is probably worth a full blog post about comics vaulting their way into mainstream culture and something something what is happening at which is supposed to be a business and economics interest site?

It's also weird that Bendis is taking over *both* Superman and Action Comics, right?  I mean... he's just getting to DC.  You'd think he'd want to putter on a couple of diverse titles or something, get his feet wet... but, nope.  Both bi-weekly Superman titles.  (One expects we'll continue to get Supergirl, Super Sons, New Superman, and Superwoman...  or something.)

And while I am more than game for Bendis on one or both titles, or some Super-title, I am also a bit crushed to be losing Dan Jurgens on Action Comics and Tomasi & Gleason on Superman.  They've put so much love and effort and imagination into those comics the past 18 months or so, I genuinely wish they'd spin up Man of Steel and Adventures of Superman again and just keep giving us more Superman.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Classics Watch: Sullivan's Travels (1941)

Watched:  01/30/2018
Format:  Alamo Drafthouse Village (for free!)
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's

Writing about Sullivan's Travels (1941), one of the most cited, most referenced movies in Hollywood history, is something that's unnecessary and probably foolish at this point.  But here we go!  (I'll keep it brief)

First Amazon Order

Seems this is a thing we're all doing, so here goes.

I very much remember placing this order (or these orders).  Half of my friends were totally excited about this new Amazon thing, and half of them were convinced Amazon would just take my credit card and drain me of money.  Both were right, as it turns out.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fifty Shades and Fifty Shades Darker: THE PODCAST (with AmyC!)


The Signal Watch launches a new media experiment! Join us for our inaugural podcast as AmyC and I sit down and discuss the movies Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker!

FAIR WARNING:  There is a whole lot of non-Family-Friendly chatter in this podcast, so use your best discretion before tuning in.  

Runtime:  50 minutes (so get comfortable)

Monday, January 22, 2018

Regret Watch: Fifty Shades of Grey/ Fifty Shades Darker

Watched: 01/22/2018
Format: Home/ Amazon
Viewing: Second/ Second
Decade: 2010's

We re-watched the first two movies.  Blog content forthcoming.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

That Took Longer and Way More Failed Attempts Than I Figured, But The Red Trunks Are Back in Action 1000

I always thought the teeth-gnashing over Superman's red trunks was a sign of some deep and unwarranted insecurities at DC Comics.  But it looks like DC has decided, at very long last, to restore Superman to trunks-status with Action Comics #1000.

Yeah, yeah... I know Superman's red trunks were inspired by pre-WWII-era America acrobats, who were more or less covering up their junk.  (Look, if you've been to the ballet... you can most absolutely see what grapes those guys are smuggling under their danskins.) 

I'll always argue that the red of the trunks balanced the outfit, allowing it to remain sleek, but keep the solid blue from a certain visual dullness between the cape and boots.  From a design and visual appeal, and at least on the comics page, red trunks just work better to balance the complete outfit.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Movies in 2017 (for me)

In 2017, at the height of my "oh, who cares?" moment, I made the decision to stop posting on every movie I'd watched.  But I've found it's sort of weird to me, personally, that I can't go back and see a list of everything I watched in a year or refresh my memory from my notes when a movie comes on.  Thus, in 2018, I'll be at least dropping the name of the movie and some info for my personal reference.  That's what you can learn from the change in format that started at the beginning of the year.

When I was writing up every movie I'd seen, I said it allowed me to spend more time with a film, and that's still true.  In 2017 I leaned into writing more of my personal experience, dropping some notes on how I engaged with the movie, and rarely got much into straight up attempts at criticism.  There's enough of that out there, and you can Google any movie and find reasonable reviews and critiques.

Monday, January 8, 2018

90's History Watch: I, Tonya (2017)

Watched:  01/07/2018
Format:  Alamo Drafthouse, South Lamar
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's/ (actual history:  1990's)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Television in 2017 (for me)

Here was the thing about television in 2017:  there was so damn much of it.  

I think we're all pretty comfortable at this point just telling people "I've already got too many shows, I'm not looking for anything new."  Anything and everything is discussed as if it's must-see water-cooler discussion material, but the fact is, the audience is so splintered, and there's so much supposedly quality content on, none of it qualifies as required viewing nor are characters and storylines part of the shared cultural lexicon.

Sly Watch: Rocky (1976)

Watched:  01-02-2018
Format:  Amazon streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Peggy Cummins Has Merged With The Infinite

I was unable to confirm yesterday when I saw the news, but now The Hollywood Reporter has it that actor Peggy Cummins has passed.

Cummins is in at least two fantastic movies, Curse of the Demon (1957) and, of course, one of my hands-down favorite films, Gun Crazy (1950).

You can read the linked article to get a notion of Cummins' career, which was fairly brief despite her obvious talents.  Not everyone stays in pictures, or even in Hollywood.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Pondering How to Cover 2017

The theme with which I entered 2017 with The Signal Watch was: who cares?

The answer was a resounding: nobody.  Get the @#$% over yourself.

This isn't something I'm upset about.  It's been really nice, honestly.

200th Anniversary of the First Publication of Frankenstein

Today marks the 200th Anniversary of the first publication of Frankenstein (or, The Modern Prometheus).  It's a book many of us were assigned to read.  As with any book, your mileage will vary.  Absolutely, that seems to depend upon interpretations and baggage brought to the book.

It is true that I am a fan of the Frankenstein films from Universal that appeared in 1932 and onward, but I'd read Shelley's book twice before seeing the first movie circa 1997. My Freshman year of high school I *absolutely* grokked the "wretch's" perspective and Victor's craziness, and of course the romantic torment that befalls them all.