When I came back to blogging after about 6 months of non-blogging, this site struggled a bit to find its footing, but eventually it found its place in the firmament. Whereas I believe League of Melbotis was a much more personal journal, at The Signal Watch we've tended to stick to pop-culture review a bit more than just enthusiastic boosterism, and even at that, we stuck to a few topics more solidly than we'd done in the prior incarnation. Superman. DC. Noir film. Mainstream sci-fi franchises. You tell me. I don't know why you humans keep showing up.
I've appreciated that I do feel comfortable posting personal items here as well. I think the ability to share some of my life here in Austin helped to contextualize where I'm coming from, and - sometimes I find the elliptical manner some web writers feel compelled to discuss their personal lives a gap in the reading.
On Thursday evening at Midnight, and again on Saturday afternoon next week, I'm going to see Man of Steel. For several months I've had it in mind that on the heels of the release of this movie, I'd go on an indefinite hiatus with this blog.
That's still the plan.
Come next weekend, I'll do a post of two on thoughts about the movie, and maybe a quick adios and then we're out. I think I'm keeping up with the social media aspect, but we'll see.
When we come back, I'm not exactly sure what form that'll take. Same blog. New blog. I dunno. It's going to be a while, so we'll worry about it then.
If you need anything covered between now and next weekend, speak now or forever hold your peace.
Tonight I went and saw Enter the Dragon at the Alamo Ritz with Juan, CousinSue, Amy and Jason. if you're never seen this Bruce Lee vehicle... I am not sure I can help you other than to recommend you check it out as soon as possible.
I'm not the world's biggest Bruce Lee fan, and maybe that's a mistake. I dig what that guy is up to, and he is absolutely fascinating to watch. I still don't think American film has seen his like since, and even in imports, I'm not sure the guys I used to watch in college quite captured the athleticism and intensity of Lee. Well, maybe Jet Li.
Tomorrow I am headed off for Dallas for a few days for work.
this trip will be tragically short on Victoria Principal
It's May, and that means I'm once again helping to run the conference my organization throws every year.
Really, tomorrow is sort of a Board of Directors meeting prior to the conference, and then from Tuesday morning until Wednesday night, I'm going to be participating in all sorts of conference malarkey. This year I don't present (by choice), and I'm mostly lurking, hoping to actually enjoy the show.
It's a libraries conference, and you KNOW these people are going to want to party.
they're gonna get crazy and talk @#$% about the Dewey Decimal System
The reason I post here is: I'm going to be out of commission for a few days.
You guys are on your own. Try not to leave the place too much of a mess.
I tried to be a good Google citizen and update my blog to use the new features integrated with Google+.
It's not working out.
I am not sure you guys can see my comments right now, and I'm pretty sure only people with Google accounts can comment - if you can jump through the hoops to make it happen. Only after "checking out" the new Google Comments did I realize Blogger (a Google product) will not let me back out of their awesome new commenting system.
I use Blogger because, for ten years, it's been really simple, really easy and for the past 5-6 years, its been rock solid. I use Google stuff all the time, and never have a problem.
I'll keep working on the problem, but this is where I'm at.
Comments are borked until further notice.
Basically, it looks like Google is trying to find a use for Google+ and Blogger in this age where, in theory, nobody blogs anymore. So they found a way to make them work together, except that it doesn't work. It also generates so many cookies that it took me, literally, ten tries to figure out if I'd "allowed" all the right cookies.
In short - this is why there's a guy all developers make fun of that can "talk to people", but he's the person who looks at stuff like this and says "guys, this is totally not working. We need to make this make some sort of sense to actual human beings before we roll this out". That did not happen here. This is what I call "success by the developer's standard".
Jamie went out of town this weekend, and I was supposed to be working on The Fortress of Nerditude (aka: my office) as Phase I of a sort of re-do the house plan. I'm boxing up a whole lot of action figures in order to get rid of them, and I'm kind of mentally having to say good-bye to the past fifteen years' worth of hobby, in a way. It's not that the office won't remain Super with a capital S, it's that the downstairs living room is going to get de-Supered to a great degree. My call, not Jamie's.
I wanted to (a) kind of move on from the days when DC Comics was pretty much all I had going on in my life and (b) there's some really fragile and expensive stuff right inside the doorway, and over the years, I've just cringed everytime someone has passed the front door with everything from a ladder to a backpack.
Thursday night I was up til 2:00 AM watching the news about Boston.
Friday I was the guy who could barely work as he kept his eye on the news, waiting to see what would happen, and I was home again when Suspect #2 was captured. Then Juan came over with a pizza, we watched a documentary and then Drive (2011) as Juan missed it in the theater.
Saturday I worked on my office, walked the dogs, etc... and then Juan (apparently my girlfriend when Jamie is out of town) and I went to see CarlaBeth in a show she had put together for a local multi-arts festival called FuseBox. It was a sort of sketch program entitled Failure, and was about the concept of "failure". Apparently, from concept to performance was about a week, but it included songs, dance, sketches, monologues, games and a cake.
Today I have done nothing but watch about 1/2 of Police Academy on basic cable (I really don't even like that movie, but...) and work on my office.
I slept really late into Saturday. I was exhausted, and I have to believe part of that was partially due to news fatigue. It seems the folks in West are coping as well as can be expected and Texans are doing a good job of donating and reaching out to our neighbors. I sent a guy from work to donate blood on Friday, but I'm waiting to see if there's a second round needed. I never really know what to do in these emergency situations, so I'm keeping my eyes peeled for opportunity in the coming weeks.
Honestly, I am glad the Boston PD was able to capture Suspect #2. Already it seemed like Facebook and the mainstream media had turned into places for pundits and amateur pundits to roll out their personal axes and grinders to ascribe motive they couldn't possibly actually know. Not only will we see the American Justice System (something I firmly believe in - warts and all) play out, but we'll get some legitimate information at some point from the FBI.
Sure, everyone will spin that information to suit their needs and agenda, and we can count on Alex Jones refusing to believe any of it and likely believing the suspects were framed (it's what he does- and if anything Jones does surprises you at this point, I cannot help you).
Here's to next week being a better week. I have to go clean the house before Jamie gets home.
As you may have heard, there has been an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, a town Texans are familiar with as its on the I-35 corridor between Austin and Dallas, and home to the locally famous Czech Stop (we have a long history of Czech communities in Texas).
As of now, reports are coming in that there are over one-hundred injured and possibly dozens dead.
Red Cross and emergency crews are headed to West from all over. Twitter-pal Ruiz mentioned he knows his workplace sent crews to the scene.
This was a terrible accident, and not the insanity of the Boston bombings, but it's damaged a huge part of a town here in Texas. Obviously.
We're going to take a pass on blogging further tonight.
Over the years we've had a wide range of folks at the site. Many of have stuck around, most have not. It's the way of the world.
What I did not expect, and something I don't think bloggers with audiences in the thousands can appreciate, is that this whole blogging thing can be personal. It's great to get web-lebrity status, but I've found a lot of joy over the years in having a small audience that I feel like I've gotten to know in comments, over social media, and, occasionally, in person. I genuinely consider you friends, even if I don't know what you look like or what you like to eat.
I think Jamie is still working on her post, so we may not be done. If you other humans want to weigh in, please feel free to send something my way via email or carrier pigeon.
Stuart Ward of Kansas chimed in with:
I can’t remember when I first started reading your blog. I would guess some time in 2010. I read the first few articles because I thought the ‘Signal Watch’ title was clever, and also because I like Krypto (and all he represents, ie the slightly goofier/more colorful/more fun/Silver Agey side of Superman).
Today I go to the airport and pick up a candidate for the open position of: my boss.
From Thursday afternoon until Saturday evening, I'm kind of responsible for this person. Tomorrow I pick them up and take them to the hotel. Then it's dinner with the Search Committee. All day on Friday it's interviews. Saturday, I'm "showing them Austin" with the intention of selling them on Austin. Hoo-boy.
I hope they like comic shops and record stores, 'cause that's what they're gonna see.
It's a weird task to be given, but we do things old skool and with the prissy formality of a Dowager Countess in Higher Ed, and especially in libraries. Thus, I establish who I am to this person by acting as their footman for three days.
Really, I kind of consider it to be a test of the person's street smarts to make it to the hotel on day 1, but that's just me.
The proximity to the boss and this much time with a person who doesn't know me is, I would think, a whole lotta me. And I can barely stand being with me for more than a couple of hours, so I can only imagine how this is gonna go for this poor person. Also, I use a lot of swears when I drive, so the idea of driving this person around all Saturday is sort of chilling.
Anyway, I kind of have to go to ground for a bit. Y'all take care. I'll be around as I'm able.
Anonymous asks: Why do you keep blogging after all these years? What keeps you going? Do you like the attention?
Wow, tough questions from the crowd.
At the end of this month, I will mark my ten year anniversary of my first blog post. In internet time, that's an eon.
What started me then is not why I'm doing it now, if I can even recall why I did it then. Truthfully, the original League of Melbotis blog was more or less about having a one-to-many communication tool for myself when I'd moved to a place where I was far from people I knew, and had nobody to talk to (aside from Jamie), and pestering people with email had gone about as far as it could go.
Back then, blogging hadn't really taken the shape it has now of routine columns on single topics. It was closer to journaling, in my opinion, but the public forum-ness of blogging meant a push and pull of having an audience that just writing for and to yourself won't ever have.
But why am I still doing it?
There are a lot of reasons.
I do believe writing continually has improved my ability to think critically.
Blogging routinely does mean I apply some thought to media and how that media is produced when I act as a consumer. If reading that pondering is useful for others (ie: you), well... I'm happy for you guys! But I did figure out years and years ago that this works best if I do this for myself first, and if its of benefit to other people, that's a very nice thing, but it can't be my primary concern.
I write with myself as my primary audience, assuming there are other The League's out there.
And, it turns out, there are other people out there who have found a reason to return, even if their own voices are very different. I do feel some responsibility to the great folks I've met or not met, who show up online and stick with me. That's an honor.
I'm in College Station, Texas until Friday night. Before this gig, I had only been to College Station once before. A family friend was a jeweler here, and this is where we got our wedding rings. I'd driven through a lot during college while headed elsewhere, but with my UT sticker in the window of my car, I didn't want to linger too long in the gravity well of Texas A&M.
College Station is a Texas version of places like Happy Valley that exist mostly because there is a University there. Otherwise they'd be small towns with a red light or two and maybe one cranky dog watching traffic go by like all the rest of the small towns you pass en route to College Station.
I'm here for a small, regional conference, and it seems like it should be fun. This group doesn't do much socializing after hours, so it'll be back to hotel and work tomorrow night. I'm always a fan of the post conference bar meet up, but I don't think that's in the cards if the last conference is any indication.
This hotel should be a nice place, an extended stay hotel with a small kitchen, about 50 square feet bigger than my efficiency in college, but without the charm I'd added to the place. But, it's been noisy, and I can hear the upstairs folks walking around. Not something I'm used to in a hotel, and it reminds me why I gave up on apartment living.
Anyway, I'm pretty busy, straight through the weekend, so I don't know what blogging I'll be up to.
I've been posting a lot, so, you know, go back and enjoy the previous posts you might have missed.
I watched the first 2/3rds of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? for the first time since college, and its even better than I remember. Saving the rest for tomorrow, but, man, everyone in that movie is so good.
Anyway, we'll talk about that movie later.
And, we really need to find me a copy of Straight Jacket.
Also watched a PBS show, Pioneers of Television, that I think Randy originally sent me the link for. Anyway, the topics was superheroes, and featured Batman, The Hulk, The Adventures of Superman, The Greatest American Hero and (sigh) Wonder Woman.
You can watch the whole thing on the PBS site, so go nuts.
A lot happened while I was out. Presidential Inaugurations. The Sixth Gun got optioned for a TV show. I watched a handful of pretty good movies programmed by Eddie Muller on TCM.
Anyway, while I was out I guess people online put together than Jimmy Olsen will not be Jimmy Olsen, but Jenny Olsen in the movie, Man of Steel. I am sure five years ago that would have launched a 3000 word column from me on why it would be better if WB would respect the history and we'd all be snarky and sneer knowingly at the studio people for making some bad decisions. But...
Yeah, I guess I don't really have the energy to get worked up about it anymore. The studio is going to do what the studio is going to do, and it's not like they won't get my ticket on opening day. Or that the prior five Superman movies really did anything with Jimmy as a character. In fact, he got more to do in Supergirl than in pretty much any other film.
Not without precedent
I will always like the Silver and Bronze Age Superman comics, I think Jack Larson was great, but I think I'm kind of past thinking Superman is any one, particular thing. I have my opinions of what works and what doesn't, but the past decade around Superman has really been about DC and WB wrestlimg with what they think Superman is or can be.
One thing that I do that drives everyone I know absolutely crazy is: be perfectly happy with Microsoft products.
Well, sort of. A few years back I obtained a new laptop PC with Windows 7 to replace my dying Windows Vista desktop box. Well, the Windows 7 laptop had been acting up for a while, and I have now upgraded to a Lenovo Yoga with Windows 8. It's a sort of tablet and PC in one running a full version of Windows 8.
"But, Mr. Blogger, why do you stick with MS devices?" I work in MS all day long, and it generally works fine. Except when it doesn't. And I'd rather eat my own hat than deal with someone called a "Genius" while getting my ankles nipped at by mall rats.