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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Seattle VayCay - Star Trek, Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy and more at the EMP

GORN FREE!!!

We're in Seattle for a week of vacation.  We've seen the Space Needle, Pike's Place and a few other things as we caught up with old friends who've relocated to the area.

Today it was just me and Jamie, and he headed down to the EMP.

The EMP is a museum that was set up by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen and was originally going to be all about music.  Well, half of the museum is - and we went to that, but this isn't a music blog and it's weird to take pictures of certain kinds of exhibits or art.  But the EMP is now also home to Paul Allen's other collections, I guess.

Above, you see me freaking the hell out about the Gorn costume from the Star Trek episode Arena, the episode that first piqued my interest in Trek as a kid and - in my humble opinion - one of the finest hours of television ever produced.

But, I was basically just freaking the hell out through the whole museum as it was truly an amazing spectacle of genre movie and TV props and FX items.

You can view my stash of photos here.


This is exactly the sort of stuff I'd wind up owning if I had billions of dollars

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Blogging Slow Down - The Olympics Are On



It's that time again.  Every two years I disappear for a bit as the Olympics come on and we slow our TV and movie watching to make time for sports we normally wouldn't watch if you paid us.  But not Beach Volleyball.  I always watch Beach Volleyball if its on.  We can make jokes about the uniforms being less than modest, but Kerri Walsh Jennings and new partner April Ross are amazing.  Tune in.

Jamie is also a fan of gymnastics, and if you don't like your athletes standing over 5'10", I have good news for you.

Simone Biles is a ninja

And these gymnasts did A-OK in the team competition, doing the U.S. proud


Also been enjoying Michael Phelps' return to swimming in top form, the amazing performance of Katie Ledecky, catching some sports I don't usually watch like handball, field hockey, etc...

And as Jamie long ago determined - after Beach Volleyball, I really, genuinely enjoy track and field coverage.  Which is weird, because UT has a great track and field program, but I never, ever go watch and we put people on the team every four years.  Go figure.

So, yeah.  Olympics!


Sunday, August 7, 2016

I need to tidy my office

My new phone has a feature where it can capture a "panorama". It basically can capture a bunch of pictures and stitch them together. Really, it's pretty neat.

I've posted pictures of my office before (The Fortress of Nerditude), but it's a lot of close-ups and whatnot. Hard to see it as it is. And how it is, is in deep need or some cleaning and organization.  And, yes, it is a bastard to dust and keep clean.

Anyway, I was playing with my phone and took some quick pics today and was generally pleased with the final result despite the fact it demonstrates I need to clean. Thought I'd share.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

I'm Going to Harvard!


For a two day conference that starts Monday morning.

Just, you know, something that is happening.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

This Week's Tragedy in Dallas and Beyond


As a record of what occurred this week -

Alton Sterling, an African American man, was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by two police officers during an arrest.  Witnesses and video of the incident indicate that the police were unwarranted in the shooting, that Sterling was upset but not able to resist - and the video definitely shows an immobile Sterling shot at point blank range by the officers.

In Minnesota, Philandro Castile, another African American man, was shot and killed by a police officers while reaching for identification while seated in his car with his girlfriend and a 4 year old child.  Castile's girlfriend live-streamed the video of what occurred to Facebook.  The video is available on YouTube and other locations as of this writing.

Thursday, 7/7, peaceful protests were scheduled in most major population centers, part of what has become known as #blacklivesmatter, a movement intended to draw attention to the unjustly assumed guilt,lives lost to police bullets, and the situation of African Americans in the United States in regards to overly violent responses of police especially in cases involving Black men and women.  

On Thursday evening, as the protest march drew to a close in Dallas, Texas around 8:45 P.M., a sniper began firing from the rooftops, striking 11 officers and killing five.  In the chaos, no civilians were injured, one man was briefly mistaken as a suspect and then cleared, and three wound up in custody and the/ a gunman was killed by police in the early morning hours of 7/8.

The sniper was targeting white officers, and details are still coming out about his background (but less, so far, about the three others held in custody).

To add to the confusion, the police used a remote controlled robotic device mounted with a bomb to approach and kill the gunman and bring the threat to a definite conclusion.

In short, it's been an awful week.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Signal Watch Fourth of July



Ann Miller, inspiring patriotism


And now, Lou Reed goes full on patriotic...  You may listen as you read.




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Happy 48th the KareBear and The Admiral


Here to my folks on their 48th wedding anniversary.

Like all great romances, my folks met in a bar in a small town near the Air Force Base where my dad was stationed and in the vicinity of where my mom was born, living and getting her degree.  This is their wedding in the church where my mom grew up, up in Negaunee, Michigan.

Over the years, they've really made it work in good times and tough times.  That's no small feat, especially when you consider - on paper - how different my parents were when they met.  Of course, 48 years together has knocked off some of those edges, and they've figured out the whole compatibility thing pretty well.  In fact, since retirement, they're more two peas in a pod than ever before.

Marriage is work, and it's okay if it doesn't work out.  Not all projects keep going.  But I cannot imagine these two any other way than still arm in arm, making their way together.  They've certainly been able to keep themselves a working, cohesive unit.

You're supposed to say that watching them has given you a model for marriage, and that may be true.  It's been internalized lessons, and I've done it differently, no doubt.  But I think I am aware, more than anything, that the secret for them was likely open and honest communication, and it's something I strive for.  And, of course, trying to have fun together.

Love you, Mom and Dad.  Here's to you.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I have gone to Port Aransas


Port Aransas is an island off the Texas Coast near Corpus Christi.  I'm here with family for a few days on a belated birthday trip for me mum and early birthday trip for me dad.

I haven't been to a Texas beach for a relaxing stay in about five years, and that's too long.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Signal Watch Reads: Old Green World (2015, by Jason Dewey Craft)



Full disclosure:  this novel was written by a buddy, and I was predisposed to like it for that reason.  I read about 100 pages of the first release of the book in PDF, then purchased the first self-printed run of the book - started that, and then Jason alerted folks that he'd actually landed a publisher, and to hang on a minute.  So, with my third copy of the book, I started over (again) and just wrapped the book Sunday afternoon.*

Old Green World (2015) is the first novel from Jason Dewey Craft, and it's a curious mix of science-fiction and fantasy, though it's unclear where or if the reader should bother to draw a line between the two genres.  It plays off of villages and castles while taking place in a future far removed from our own present day, a post-post-apocalyptic world on an Earth returned to something closer to a state of nature or without deep impact by humanity (depending how you mean).

I'm not much of a sci-fi reader, but part of why I abandoned the genre and had a hard time picking up sci-fi and fantasy was the weirdly patterned and mannered approach to sci-fi and fantasy writing, an overly descriptive method of world building and character which seems more in love with thinking up gadgets and whatnot and less with a reason for telling the story.  The tack can lead to a lack of narrative novelty as writers happily cut from the same few templates, the fandom and limited approach of authors showing through in the execution.

From the first pages, Old Green World seems to co-opt and then transform the conventions of the fantasy building, creating an understandable world despite economical detail in the prose, never bothering to fall into the trap of purple exposition, but, rather, simply describing location, character, scene, etc.. where necessary.  Much is left for the reader to imagine, to parse, to fill in the gaps.  The approach leaves the text subject to interpretation, of course, and many of the ideas that drive the conceit of the story rely on abstraction.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Travelogue: Work Trip to Dublin

Your fearless blogger amongst the tomes of Long Hall


So, the reason I went to Ireland was to attend a conference called "Open Repositories 2016", which is sorta/kinda the premier very-specific conference for people who do what I do, professional-like.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any extra days or time to go touristing, so I didn't see much of Dublin and nothing of Ireland beyond a couple kilometers of my hotel.

OR is one of those conferences that has great material in every session across 5 rooms running concurrently, is competitive to present in (we got in!) and that's still only, like, 40% of why you go.  The rest is the out-of-band conversations you have after hours.  This means you're at the conference for formal stuff from 9 - 6, then at conference social events until maybe 8, and then you go out with conference people to get the real work done until, oh, 1:00 AM.  Then do again until you get on a plane and leave.  It's a long 5 days.

I did skip out and go see a sight as it was on the Trinity College campus, but the rest was finding bars and restaurants and holing up for work chatter.  I really like the people I meet up with at conferences, but let's be honest, what we have most in common is what we do between 8 and 6 at our desks.

Friday, May 13, 2016

God Damn Cancer

One of my best friends is currently in Denver with his mother as she enters the final stages of her battle with cancer.  His girlfriend lost her brother last year to cancer.  And another good friend found out her dad had cancer and her father passed within 4 weeks.

Comics artist Darwyn Cooke, one of the finest talents in the industry as both writer and artist, is now moving into palliative care.

Goddammit.

Max's raffle is over with, but I highly recommend everyone think long and hard about giving to The American Cancer Society, or other similar organizations of your choice.

Here's to Darwyn.


Friday, May 6, 2016

I Spend Too Much Time Leaving

Travelling for work is strange.  Especially once you get into a job where you travel regularly.  The romance of travel fades away, and, air travel, in particular, becomes a series of repetitive, boring, sometimes risky events.

"Have you been to Atlanta?" people will now ask me.  "Yes.  Twice," I'll say.  "What did you see?" they'll ask.  "A hotel, a conference room and a hotel bar.  And another bar that served cheeseburgers."  And they always look disappointed.  Because for reasonable reasons people assume it's a grand romantic trip to America's Peach Land! or however people think of Georgia when you're travelling.  But it's not.  It's a series of steps you're taking, all of which you want to go as smoothly as possible.  You don't want a story.  You don't want an adventure.  You want to just do your conference, talk with work pals, get a reasonable amount of sleep, get home without any fuss.

What struck me on this go-round is how much time I spend leaving.

Maybe Shane had the right idea.  Just saddle up and bail.


Friday morning I woke up at 6:00 Central Time to get ready for my day (I never bothered to adjust to East Coast time), as well as pack up, and do that triple-check of the room you kind of have to do so you don't leave your power supply or vital cord behind (or ditty bag with your toothbrush and all that, which I did last summer).  Then I have to check-out (virtually, this time, from my phone).  Then find a bell station to check my bags.  Then go to my conference, then make my good-byes.  Then putter around the hotel looking for a functioning ATM.  Then find a store to buy gum so I can get change and I don't have to tip the bellhop $20 for 2 minutes of work.  Then I get a cab.  Then I fear for my life in the cab.  Then the cabby gets mad because I want to use a credit card instead of paying cash (this was entirely new in Atlanta, and a dick move.  What business traveler doesn't need a receipt?).  Then the kiosk and bag check at the airport.  Then whatever adventure awaits you in security.  Then the train ride you take in the Atlanta airport.  Then finding your gate.  Then sitting.  Then boarding.  Then sitting.  Then flying.  Then sitting.  Then de-planing (and all the shenanigans people get up to seemingly as if they've never gotten off a plane before).  Then baggage claim.  Then the shuttle.  Then my car.  Then the booth where I pay to leave parking.  Then I drive home.  Then I'm home.  Then I have to unpack.

If I'm driving, yeah, it's a drive, but it's so many fewer steps, and so much more is under my direct control.  Plus, audiobooks and scenery.  And a lack of annoying seatmates.  And way, way more legroom.

There absolutely was a time when I liked being A Guy On The Move.  But, the romance of air travel died in the 1970's, and airports somehow became just places where snackfoods have a 250% markup.  They're dull and depressing, and no one has ever invented a comfortable airport seat.

In short, I'm a bit over it.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

A "National Superhero Day" Tour of The Fortress


About three years ago I did a post where I took a bunch of photos of my collections.  But it's been a while, so I thought for National Superhero Day, I'd take some pics and show you where we're at today with the collections of The Fortress of Nerditude/ League HQ/ Signal Watchtower.


Today Marks Our 16th Anniversary


Thanks for being you, Jamie.  I love you!  I've got no other words.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Happy Aliens Day!

So, we're really doing this, huh?

It seems we're gonna now have a sci-fi holiday every few months, this latest being 4/26, in honor of the planet LV-426, where the Norstromo set down in Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror masterpiece, Alien.

I'm not due to watch the movie until a double-bill tomorrow night with pal SimonUK, but see both of the first two Alien movies I shall.


I saw Aliens the first time when I was in middle school when I was at an all-day Saturday academic competition and a parent accidentally put it on a video player in a "relaxation" room.  Something like 4 dozen kids silently agreed not to tell anyone we were watching a Rated-R action/ sci-fi/ horror film so we'd all get a chance to watch an R-Rated movie on someone else's dime.  Jason was there, so I assume it was when I was in grade 6 and he in grade 8.

I loved it.  I still recall that I came home, admitted to The Admiral that I'd seen this rated-R movie that he would totally dig, and we went and rented it, and, indeed, we all dug it together.  I then recorded the film off HBO, and proceeded to watch it a grand total of 32 times in one calendar year.  I could quote it line for line.

Weirdly, I wasn't that interested in Alien.  I finally watched Alien in 8th or 9th grade, and I liked it.  A lot.  But I wasn't much of a horror film guy, and the horror overtones never grabbed me in quite the same way that Ripley v. Alien Queen had captured my young mind.

Kind of an odd thing, in retrospect, that I never thought twice about our lead as a woman the same age as many-a-teacher or mom, who wasn't asked to do the Sybil Danning bit, but was exactly what she was supposed to be.  A competent do-er, the person with a head on her shoulders when the shiznit hit the fan.  And for a long time, when the question would come up "why aren't there more women in action roles" it wasn't that we'd point to Sigourney Weaver as proof that there were, but proof that "yeah, I dunno.  Sigourney Weaver is an exemplar of what an audience finds perfectly reasonable in a movie.  More of that, I think."

But, man, those Giger visuals, the pounding score, the phenomenally envisioned sets...  it's a hell of a movie.  A little startling when you go and watch Them! and realize Cameron more or less ripped off a lot of that movie for his picture, but both still work. Especially when you get that last, unexpected battle with the loader and Alien Queen.

That's the stuff, right there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Now We Are Six - The Sixth Anniversary Post



JimD has alerted me that this date marked the final post at the first blog I ran, League of Melbotis.  That statement is semi-correct.  It is the final post one would see, I suppose, if they visited the site, but I shut down the blog back in in December of 2009 with 3420 posts.  That site had a start date of about April 6th, 2003.

The post on April 20th, 2010 at League of Melbotis was part of my return to blogging, redirecting folks over to this site.

On April 20th, 2010, a "to review" post went up on this site and covered what we had been on about at League of Melbotis.  On April 23rd, I dipped my toe back into the blogging waters.  You can see the posts that week as we returned to greatness.  

By the time I launched this blog in 2010, blogging was on its way out, replaced with Instagrams, tweets and Snapchats.  People refer to their feeds on Tumblr as "blogs", but, let's get real... that isn't a web log.  That's re-posting stuff.  It's a terrible forum for long-form posting.

League of Melbotis was a bit more of what people kept back then insofar as a "personality" blog.   I considered it my sandbox and clubhouse, a place where other folks would drop by.  It was far more unpredictable in nature than the media-review heavy form of this site, and the readership felt like a little social circle.  We had little focus.  We might talk Elvira in one post and the Iraq war in another, what I had for breakfast in the next.  That sort of thing was passe in 2010, and I've not really ever thought about going back to that format.  Keep it simple-ish.  Talk about the news when it's unavoidable.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

On the Event of My 41st

Innocent When You Dream
Tom Waits



The bats are in the belfry
The dew is on the moor
Where are the arms that held me?
And pledged her love before?
And pledged her love before?

It's such a sad old feeling
The hills are soft and green
It's memories that I'm stealing
But you're innocent when you dream
When you dream
You're innocent when you dream
When you dream, you're innocent when you dream

I made a golden promise
That we would never part
I gave my love a locket
And then I broke her heart
And then I broke her heart

It's such a sad old feeling
The fields are soft and green
It's memories that I'm stealing
But you're innocent when you dream
When you dream
You're innocent when you dream
Innocent when you dream

Running through the graveyard
We laughed my, friends and I
We swore we'd be together
Until the day we died
Until the day we died

It's such a sad old feeling
The fields are soft and green
It's memories that I'm stealing
But you're innocent when you dream
When you dream
You're innocent when you dream
When you dream




Monday, April 4, 2016

The Sensational Character Find of 1940



Most people don't know that, prior to selecting Dick Grayson as his sidekick, Batman briefly worked with Jamie.  Until he found out she just sort of uselessly windmills her arms in a fight and that she tires easily.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Before Comics Were Cool - The Gen-X Recollection Project: Ryan (It is I! Your humble blogger!)

Howdy!  And welcome to a not terribly special edition of Before Comics Were Cool - The Gen-X Recollection Project.  Because, it's me.  Writing about me.  And, settle in, kids, because this entry is entirely TL; DR material.

Fair being fair, I thought I'd partake in my own memory-gathering exercise.

The questions I put out there reflect some of what I've pondered of late when it come to how the notion of nerd-dom has changed, and as we watch the world embrace the same culture we reveled in, the same geek-type-stuff that once left us hated and feared by the very world we sought to protect, what it was like in The Before Times.

In putting finger to keyboard, it's a bit hard to think back on the past with genuine honesty.  The period we're talking about - when we got into comics and the fog of raw emotion that dominates your world in middle and high school - is one with which we all grapple.  My primary emotion during those years was "confusion".   Any tertiary emotions stemmed from whether my confusion was increasing or decreasing.

There are folks who read this site who will quibble with my assessment of how things went down, but that's the way of history.  I have tried to adhere to reality, but I know the years have painted over some of the truths, wounds have healed as the memories recede and the decades in between has provided a barricade from the days when everything felt like an open wound.

This may be the longest I've ever worked on a single post in all my years of blogging.  Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, this has also turned out to be one of the longest posts I've ever written.  So, if you're going to read it, go get your coffee now.

And, without further ado...


Howdy, y'all.  It's me.  Your friendly blogger.



Your name: Ryan (yeah.  I'm doing this, too.)
Your current occupation:  I am an Assistant Director at a Digital Library consortium.  My job is essentially "make the things work/ run a team of devs and sys admins/ other duties as assigned"
Your current place of residence: Austin, TX
Your current personal family status: Married, no kids, two dogs, extended family up in my business (everyone lives in town these days)


What was ground zero for you getting into comics/ science-fiction/ fantasy? About what year was that? Do you remember what was going on in your life?


These are the raw materials we were working with

It's probably important to mention, first, that my earliest memories of superherodom are tied to Adam West in Batman, which I reportedly watched in reruns before I could even speak.  As per sci-fi/ fantasy - my parents bought into Star Wars lock, stock and barrel.  My dad took my brother and me to see the first movie during its original theatrical release (take that, parents who aren't sure their two-year-olds can take Uncle Ben's charred skeleton!).  My Mom, who still likes Star Wars, had us in Star Wars wallpaper, figures, bed spreads... all that.  

But, yeah, I suspect I was imprinting on all of that stuff like crazy.

The Admiral took me to see Superman during its initial run (1978), but that took much later.  I vaguely remember watching (and playing) Gatchaman/ G-Force, as well as Super Friends in the late 1970's, and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  We had lots of capes around and a few Batman and Spider-Man toys.

The first actual comic books I read included Woody Woodpecker and Bugs Bunny, maybe circa 1981, and I didn't like them.  It felt like the rushed, cheap work it was.  At some point, I got a Clash of the Titans comic book, and I liked that a lot.  Between the funny pages and that comic, I now knew not all comics were necessarily as hacky as the knock-offs of animation.

But none of this was exactly nerdy.  Just a kid consuming nerd-adjacent juvenile pop culture detritus.  However, that was not to last.