Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Monday, June 17, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Tour of the Signal Watch Fortress of Solitude

I saw online some folks were doing tours of their Superman collections. Well, it seemed like a SUPER idea to participate.

My Fortress is in disarray at the moment as I'm currently consolidating my collection and removing large portions of it.  I'm going to humblebrag and note that what you see here is only part of what I had on display until recently.  I'm really winnowing it down to Superman and Wonder Woman these days.

I started collecting Superman stuff in college, and I don't have much in the way of vintage. So the collection takes you from the late 90's til now, I guess.


your entry from the hallway to the Fortress

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On sharing the creative object you've been working on

When I was about 22 I started working on a novel.  I've mentioned it here from time to time with varying degrees of clarity about what I was up to, because even now, 16 years later, I still work on the thing, hoping to finish one day.

and I mourn the fact it will not have a cover by Robert Maguire


I mention the book for two reasons.

1.  I like to retain transparency, so I'll share that part of why I'm going on hiatus is to focus back on the book.  My personal life, work and a confluence of events have often kept me from spending my time just finishing the darn thing.  I like writing, and I like blogging, but as well as re-charging my batteries to talk pop-culture when I get back, I'd like to make time for this project.

2.  Wednesday evening pal JuanD was good enough to join me for dinner.  He'd read a good chunk of the book as it is to date.  I figure I've got at least 1/3rd to go.  He's still got some pages left to arrive at the point where I've written to, but he made a heroic effort.  He's read, I guess 2/5th's - 1/2 of where this is all headed.  And then, he was kind/ brave enough to sit across the table from me and tell me what he thought and ask questions.

He did some things I really appreciate.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Last Days of Krypton

Well, we haven't quite closed up shop yet.

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.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

20 years since Donna Martin Graduates

I really have nothing to post about.  So, here's a rarely seen picture me at work

TCB

My 20th high school reunion is in August, and I didn't want to go, but through a series of Rube Goldberg-like events, I am now attached to the facebook page for the reunion.  And, man, my classmates are kind of selfish dicks.

The committee has been working for months to put together the event and make it easy to attend and not too stuffy.  They announced the date this week officially I guess, and it was met with people complaining that "that's the night of my child's 'meet the teacher' night at school!" and "our family always goes to the cabin that week!".  Well, (a) how or why would the committee know that? and (b) shut up.  It's been twenty years.  Don't let the first thing we see from you in two decades wind up being some kind of whining that we didn't know it was the same night as Kaylie's ballet recital.

I'm still not convinced I'm going because I see no evidence in the invitation of an open bar, which is the only thing that would make the evening tolerable on some levels.  Well, that and maybe sitting in a corner with Marshall and getting his take.

But, yeah.  Mostly - 20 years.  More time than I was alive when I exited high school.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Plan for America

As political discourse embraces its state as a shouting match between competing conspiracy theories and theorists, when faced with political chatter, linkbait headlines, paranoid articles, cable "news" shows and propaganda - I will now mentally replace all of them in my mind's narrative with The Dead Milkmen's "Stuart".




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

SuperMOOC Week 6 - wrapping it up with Gender Through Comics

Fortunately for me, my class extended it's timeline by a few days without adding any additional content, and so I was able to finish last night despite the fact that I'd basically missed a week thanks to work and other factors.

This is what I think about when I consider returning to grad school, by the way.  I travel for work.  Really, an online program would be ideal for me to get a masters at long last, as I can't match the attendance that comes with being a 23 year old with nothing else going on but growing facial hair and caring about what sort of beer I'm drinking.  I'm seriously considering the need for an MA, but, man, the idea of walking into a classroom again at age 38 or 39 sounds like a nightmare.

Yes, I agree that the education system and how we deal with college degrees in the US is broken, but the trend to want to turn colleges into trade schools also isn't really an option (they have something for that.  It's called Trade School).  MOOCs are seen as a possible way to share courses across universities, and it sounds good on paper.  But I was sitting through a presentation at my conference last week and one of the presenters pointed out that most parents paying for someone's degree really don't want to hear that their kid was in a class with 40,000 other students, only 10% of which completed the course.  It's really opening the door for private schools and any university to stroke parents on college tours to promise a generation of helicopter parents that their kids will get special attention by sitting in a class with just 50-100 kids.

But I digress.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Neverending Battle Fatigue

I recently attended a small Toy and Comic Expo here in Central Texas.  I say small, but it had major cast members of The Walking Dead in attendance* (I don't watch the show, and I still recognized them), the event filled a few ballrooms, and had a Batmobile (you saw the pictures.  No reason for me to show off further.).

But I also walked out without buying anything.

I've talked here before about how Cons are not my cup of tea, but at this Con, I felt like such an outside observer that I felt like I was at someone else's party.

how your comics blogger feels on the inside

I quit writing posts on how I was cutting back my DC Comics selections, and in short order, I will have stopped buying any new DC Comics.  I just can't buy the new Superman stuff (Scott Lobdell on both main titles, really?) just to bridge my collection, just as I avoid the 90's mullet-era Superman for the convoluted contortions the writers were going through as they wrestled with the Post-Crisis rules imposed on Superman.

I don't understand the enthusiasm for most of today's comics from DC and Marvel, but I do get my fix from other books - like the stuff coming from MonkeyBrain, some from Dynamite and IDW, but my pull list has shrunk to about 3-4 comics on a good week.  Last week I didn't pull anything, and I see about a week per month where that's true.  Looking at the solicits for an upcoming month tells me that stepping away means it would be work to even try to get back into any of these comics, and at the cost and high likelyhood of a comic at DC getting the axe, it's not really worth it.

Walking around the con, I could identify only a fraction of the costumes on the attendees, and then, mostly from commercials I'd seen for video games while watching shows aimed at a younger demographic, like Archer.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Your Humble Blogger and His Next Ride

P5041141 by thekgb2010

P5041141, a photo by thekgb2010 on Flickr.
from the Central Texas Toy and Comic Expo

Jason and I went to San Marcos on Saturday.  I don't collect much Batman stuff as there's so much stuff out there with the Bat logo on it.  But I have always been fascinated with the various iterations of the Batmobile, largely because of the Batman '66 version, the 1989 version and the various looks from Norm Breyfogle when I started reading comics.

You will never not get me to get excited over a well manufactured replica.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Weeks 4 and 5 of MOOC: Gender Through Comics

Attrition rates for online courses are fairly high.  In the years I worked in distance education and eLearning, we always knew that external incentives were a huge reason anyone signed up for a masters program online and why they would complete the program.  We didn't keep in-house stats when I was working at UT or ASU, as many students blended their learning between on-campus and online, but I believe in our cohort of 15 students to begin a unique program we designed, we only lost 3 of the 15 or so who started.

Massive Open Online Courses have an estimated retention rate of about 10%.

Depending on who you talk to, this is either a problem or it is nothing to worry about.  What's interesting is hearing the various excuses and pointing of fingers I've seen lobbed in my personal experience over the years - from "it doesn't matter that the students leave in droves, they came in to get what they needed and left" to "if the faculty can't hold the students' attention, that's really saying something about the faculty".

What nobody is apparently willing to say is that maybe we already have ample evidence that this isn't working as originally intended.  Moving the posts in the first quarter of the game turns it into Arena Football, it doesn't improve the NFL.

Look, if you have a TV show and if by week 10, you've lost 80 - 90% of your audience, your show is getting canceled. It doesn't really matter how great of a debut you had.  If your whole network loses 80-90% of every program it runs, everyone is getting fired and you're shutting down.  If you had a play, and by the time you closed the final curtain your formerly sold out house was left with 10% of the attendees wanly applauding, you'd figure maybe the place was on fire and nobody had told the cast and crew.

I find the idea that students are dipping into classes, getting what they need, and then exiting a naive and groundless assumption and, frankly, the sort of useless hand-waving that folks in higher ed are good at.  I suspect they know better, but it's something to say until they put together some actual data on what's happening.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Massive Open Online Course, Week 3

Well.

This week was about how making comics is a collaborative process, and that mainstream comics, especially superhero comics, are rarely the work of a single person.  There's a writer, artist, editor, etc...  associated with every comic that hits the stand.

The process includes many voices, from the writer sitting at their keyboard, to publishers wanting to push circulation, to editors trying to meet deadlines, to artists who seem to reference Maxim photo-spreads all too often.

The comics we were assigned to read included several incarnations of the Marvel "nobody's favorite" candidate, Carol Danvers, aka: Ms. Marvel, aka: Nova, aka: Ms. Marvel, aka: Captain Marvel.  I don't dislike Carol Danvers, but I also don't think about the character any more than I think about The Rhino or Arcade or Angle Man or something.

I didn't read the comics.

I was curious about the instructor's take on the production side of comics and how it would affect the narrative, and I thought the take was interesting, but... not what I expected.  I had expected discussion of how artists can put their own spin on a script, how editors act as mediators working from their own opinions and company dictates, how design of characters can be managed and scrutinized at a very high corporate level, and that intention of writers can be changed by the time a comic is actually produced.  And the fact that artists continually include shots of Wonder Woman's barely-covered butt from a low angle in all-too many Justice League group scenes.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Pretty Nice Birthday

It was a pretty decent birthday.

Friday evening, Jamie and I had dinner with KareBear and The Admiral before they head off for Kenya for over a week.  Once again, they're travelling with a Lutheran outreach group that assists with eye exams an giving out glasses to folks in need.

Dinner was nice, but we had an odd moment when, around when we were ordering, a pair of young women walked past the open window we were near, did a double take and came back.  Then they stood there sort of smiling at us, then took out their phone and took a picture.  As near as I can tell, they thought we were someone else, and, I think, someone famous.  It kind of had to be us they were looking at, because there wasn't anyone behind us.  I have no idea who they thought we were, but when they show the photos to their friends, they're going to feel real disappointed.

Saturday we had a few folks over for drinks.  Thanks, if you dropped by.

your birthday boy, and pal-Sherry back there
You can't really tell, but Jamie made a Superman "S" on the cake with frosting.  And, yes, I was wearing a tie. What am I, a farmer?  Try cleaning yourself up every once in a while.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Course Update: Week 2 of Gender Through Comics Books

With the navigation issues resolved, Week 2 of the course Gender Through Comic Books, was a lot easier to deal with (the navigation is still awful, but at least I've basically sorted it out).   Of the promised 3-5 hours, I probably spent 3-4 hours, including an hour of guest lecture by comics maestro Mark Waid.  I did bypass a lot of the reading as I've read Superman: Birthright numerous times in the past, and was able to focus mostly on course materials - so that saved a good hour.

As has often been my experience with a lot of course reading in theory classes, the full articles are going to start feeling repetitive.  We've been presented the premise, and everything else is going to be supporting evidence - and this is why I was not a good student as an undergrad or, especially, during my glorious short, flamed-out career of not finishing grad school.

In this course, the basic concept is that "sex" is a biological designation and "gender" is a construct of personal and cultural choices.  I believe this makes sense in context, and  the readings made the concept pretty clear in Week 1.  In Week 2, the one article we were asked to check out gave some more evidence.  That's cool.  But by the time we get to Week 3...

This week was a mix of reading Superman and putting some coin in Mark Waid's pocket by selling a lot of copies of Superman: Birthright.  The task was to consider the construction of gender as it's played out less by instinct and more as part of a perception of roles of male, female and otherwise and how that's demonstrated by reading Birthright as well as Action Comics #1, an issue of Superman from 1960, and consider the ways gender is portrayed across 75 years.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer: Jamie




Our grand finale!

Really, what's not to like?

To folks who were in the right circles, it was not a secret (even from Jamie), that when I first met Jamie, I was quite smitten.  She, however, was less interested in the guy who had just tried Jaeger and Goldschlager for the first time, and was stumbling around a backyard in San Antonio.  Eventually, two years later, we made ourselves a thing.  In April of 2000, we made it official.

Nineteen and a half years after that first, somewhat blurry conversation, and she's still my favorite pin-up.

While we won't retire the "dames" label, we're retiring "Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer" with our favorite dame of them all.  Go out on a high note, I always say.

Today I am 38

"Champagne Year"
by St. Vincent


So I thought I'd learned my lesson
But I secretly expected
A choir at the shore
And confetti through the fall night air

I'll make a living telling people what they want to hear
It's not a killing, but it's enough to keep the cobwebs clear

Cause it's not a perfect plan
It's not a perfect plan
But it's the one we've got

It's not a perfect plan
But it's the one we've got

Cause I make a living telling people what they want to hear
But I tell ya, it's gonna be a champagne year




Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jamie Guest Post in honor of my b-day

Well, indeed.  Jamie has sent me this to post for my birthday, which is tomorrow.  

I wasn't sure anyone had noticed these posts over the years, but I've done them pretty routinely.  I guess you can download the songs and make yourself a "decade in the life of" playlist.

From Jamie:


While combing through League archives in search of posts for the 10th Anniversary Spectacular, I kept coming across the special birthday entries where Ryan would post the lyrics to a song each year on his birthday.  I found it fascinating to go back and discover which songs he had chosen, so I decided to collect them all and share them with you in honor of the League's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Ryan!


A League of Melbotis/ The Signal Watch Retrospective: Special Birthday Edition: The League's Birthday Playlist



Year: 2004
Age: 29
Song: Streets of Laredo




End of a Revolution: Today is the Day Before My Birthday

That's my way of saying, "I'm taking a few days off.  It's my birthday".

I will be 38.  I will be approaching middle-age soon.  Before I know it, Jamie and I will be celebrating our 40th birthdays, which is weird...



At 38, given my lack of a post-secondary education and perpensity for distraction, I'm doing okay professionally.  Especially when you consider I'm in an institution of higher education, a place were degrees and spending decades focusing on one thing are sort of the norm.  Nobody has fired me yet, but there's always tomorrow.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

10th Anniversary Round-Up

Back on March 30th, this blogger marked his 10th Anniversary of writing.  We want to thank everyone who had an opportunity to send something in!

If we missed your email or message, let me know, as we'd love to include you in this celebration.  Also, feel free to send something in any time if you'd planned to do something but got busy.

Here are some links to the posts as they are now.  Thanks again so much to all of you.

My own thoughts






Saturday, April 6, 2013

So, That Online Course I'm Taking - Gender Through Comic Books

Just as an FYI - I intentionally wrote my piece on portrayals in women in comics earlier this week before getting into the reading for the course I'm taking.

The course is:  Gender Through Comics Books at Canvas.net and originating at Ball State.

Anyway, I work in higher education, currently in libraries, but from 1997-2006 I worked in Distance Education at large public research universities, UT Austin and Arizona State University.  From 2007-2008, I worked at a smaller eLearning company here in Austin that developed mostly corporate training materials with the occasional foray into creating materials for educators.

When I left university distance learning, it wasn't because I was tired of the field.  I thought eLearning was in its toddler-hood, but we were taking a leap to return from Arizona to Austin, and there weren't/ aren't that many positions out there for this, even with my sterling credentials.  Working in a media shop developing stuff for corporations was a great experience in many ways, and I learned a tremendous amount I doubt I would have gained at The Academy (as we like to say when we're wearing tweed and drinking hot tea from small cups).

Back in 1999 or so, I remember watching a clip from 60 Minutes on The Future of Education.  At the time, University of Phoenix was a rising star and talking heads were proclaiming that UofP had cracked the code.  In a few years we'd all be taking our courses through them, and there was no point in resisting progress.  They predicted (and were clearly relishing the term way, way too much) the concept of "rock star faculty", folks who would be THE faculty voice for a generation talking about America History 101, etc...  Nobody was sure how it would work, but they were certain it was just around the corner.  

It didn't happen.

Reed chimes in on the whole 10 Years of Blogging Business

I've known Reed since... man, probably 1984 or so. If anyone was there when I passed the curve from "mild interest" in comics to full blown comics nerd, it was he. He was also the guy i knew who actually owned copies of Death in the Family, and so, one day while he and Jason were listening to Van Halen albums or something, I sat on his bed and read the whole run.

Anyway, Reed has been with the blog for years, though he only usually chimes in to defend his beloved Texas A&M Aggies (who are having a pretty good time of it these days). But he's always around... somewhere....

Congratulations on 10 years of blogging!!! It's hard to believe. It's hard to believe my oldest will turn 8 in 2 months, that Jas and I are 40 years old, and that my dad is 70! My dad turning 70 is actually the hardest to come to grips with.

Anyway, here is what I have appreciated the most about The Signal Watch (and The League of Melbotis):

* Your captions with photos and images. Whether it's crazy 1950-60s Superman covers, photos of your family, or images from Hollywood, you have the best captions!
* Your commentary and dialogue about your family (especially with and about your brother). I always check the comments section. Of course, I'm biased having known your family for so long.
* Daily Dose of Good Cheer formerly Dames in the Media That The League Once Dug. I never realized that it was originally done to increase web traffic on your blog. Regardless of the reasons, I'm a big fan.
* Your movie reviews. You have helped keep me from making poor decisions at the movies. Especially when you pan comic book movies. That usually seals it for me.
* I stopped collecting comics after I graduated high school so it's been nice to stay in the general loop of the industry through your blog.
* Your general writing. I am constantly amazed at not only the quantity, but the quality of the writing and how you keep things fresh on your blog for over 340+ days a year (you rarely take days off from your blog).

Again, congratulations on 10 years and here's to 10 more. Thanks for providing an entertaining break during my work day.