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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Birthday to Jamie (it's her 40th)

March 25th of this year marks Jamie's 40th birthday.

She's a pretty super girl

It's certainly a mark all of us are aware of from the time we're kids.  But when Jamie was 17, she was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (or, FSGS, for you amateurs out there).  I won't belabor you with the details, you can read up on it here.  In short, when you get diagnosed with anything at that age, a 40th birthday becomes something to celebrate.

If you can cast your memory back to a simpler time, when Bill Clinton was still in his first term, when Ace of Base ruled the airwaves and you had to be assigned the personality of one of the cast of Friends for some reason (I was the Marcel of our gang) - a much thinner The League was wooing an Aniston-coiffed Jamie.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Signal Watch Watches: A Video About Changing Diapers

Next month the Loyal Legion of Signal Watchers will expand by one.  No, Jamie and I are not expecting a bundle of joy, so don't get all excited for us.

This April, my brother (Steanso) and his wife, the inexplicable AmyD, are expecting their first child.  As events may come to pass in which I will possibly have to participate in ways that do not just include training this kid how to make a decent Manhattan, we viewed a video on baby maintenance.

ah, the ol' Steans Family birthmark

The fact that people I know have had babies and successfully gotten those babies to a point where they are no longer a squawking bundle of fragility is a miracle.  I guess it speaks volumes for our instincts as a species that people I would not loan my car to have successfully gotten their kids beyond the helpless infant phase.

We didn't watch all of the video.  I'm punting "circumcision care" to the parents, and how much I need to know about proper breastfeeding is negligible.  We did watch segments on burping, diapers, bathing and making formula.  And, at my insistence, the segment on the different kinds of baby poops.  There are so many, in so many colors.

Some notes:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

We take on a tough, sensible question from a longtime reader

Horus writes in with a sensible question/ point of order:

Here's what I don't understand about you, League. I completely agree with the basic attitude of the post: any character can be good, just write them well! But then, why stick to Big 2 characters?

As you yourself say:

"And, here's the problem in a shared universe driven by editorial management: is that thing you liked replicable, or does it require the handling of specific creators with a specific vision?"

Why stick with the shared universe, which perhaps necessarily is going to end up being driven by editorial management? Or if you demand shared universe, why not go with something looser and third party (hey, Cerebus and Spawn once had a comic together, you know!).

Just saying, if you want weird, creative characters with great stories and writing, they're out there, just not provided by the folk who view characters entirely in terms of branding and name recognition . . .


Wow. Well, don't pull any punches, man.  Sheesh

But that's fair. If we can't ponder this sort of question, we aren't doing anyone any good.

here's a random picture so we have a picture

There are a lot of factors, and I'd start with the first - that I'm a human who contradicts himself and we get most angry with the faults we see in ourselves.  So, check that off your list.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Blog Stats - Some Stuff of Interest (to me)

Ostensibly, this is a blog that covers pop culture, especially movies, comics and Superman.  But the posts that get the most traffic aren't always on these topics.  Frankly, I never know what's going to suddenly get a spike, especially if I just post on whatever moves me that day.

Here are the top 5 posts, by traffic, from the two blogs I've kept.  And my speculation as to who is still clicking on that link all these years later.


Top 5 Blog Posts (by traffic) of All Time:  Signal Watch (as of 12:30 AM, 1/4/2015)
  1. 8765 - The Giant Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg:  High school kids with a paper to write
  2. 5168 - Today is the 60th Birthday of Christopher Reeve:  People who think they might miss Christopher Reeve's 60th birthday
  3. 4411 - I'm Headed for Waco, also (Some) Lawyers are Pigs:  Baptists with legal problems
  4. 4296 - Nuvigil Radio Ad: Pitching a world in which nobody ever heard of coffee: Insomniacs with radios
  5. 4255 - DC's Take on Supergirl with DCNu/ Relaunch/ New 52:  Nobody at DC

Thursday, January 1, 2015

So, What Have I Been Up To?: Movies in 2013 and 2014

I guess the last time I checked in was just after seeing Man of Steel (2013), and, frankly, if I wasn't already about to bail on blogging for a while prior to seeing the movie, the third reel of Zack Snyder's Super-Opus might have gotten me to throw in the towel.

My movie-going is probably slowed a bit.  That's been partly a monetary decision and a work/life/occasionally-being-home balance issue.  And, I don't feel the need to see everything new that comes to the theater the way I might have once felt.

If you want to get me talking, ask me about this fellow

The curious thing about getting older is the mix of feelings that (1) you aren't really going to miss anything if you miss a movie, even a super popular one, and (2) you've kind of already seen this before in some form or another.  In fact, one of the most baffling things I keep reading is how crazy Guardians of the Galaxy felt, how staggeringly original.  Look, I loved GotG, but "a rag tag group of lovable scoundrels get together and stop a menace/ save the day" hasn't been a fresh idea since before The Magnificent Seven.  And if you need a space version - I point you to a dozen low-budget sci-fi movies from the 80's.  But... I guess they really haven't had one in a while, so it felt new to the current audience.

We'll talk a bit about the changes in audience expectations at some other point, but I saw a newish article today that outright stated that trying something that wasn't a complete cookie cutter picture was "trolling" the audience, that it was the studio's "hubris" to try something that didn't already have widespread pre-awareness, vis-a-vis Guardians of the Galaxy.

Y'all, that's just a @#$%ed up thing to say as a pop culture or movie writer.

As per my movie watching habits: I'm still watching movies off Turner Classic, cable, Alamo Drafthouse screenings of older movies, the Paramount Classic Film Series, BluRay, NetFlix streaming and now Hulu.  The Alamo Drafthouse even hosted Noir City Austin, a multi-day Film Noir Fest with Eddie Mueller.  Lots of channels for taking in movies.  And I've seen some great stuff that way.

And, honestly, I've missed writing about it.  And I miss being able to look at this site and review what I said about a movie I've seen (or even to check if I've already seen something I'm about to watch off cable).

To make the post overly long, I'll go ahead and talk about what new movies I saw in the theater with a sort of quick, judgey statement for each.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Coming Back From Outer Space


Hey, y'all.

Hope everyone is doing as okay as can be.

So, as some of you know, while I ceased formal blogging at this URL, I never really left the internet.  I kind of decamped to tumblr, twitter, facebook and whatnot.  But, I'll be honest with you.  It ain't never really been all that much fun.

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.