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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Join In and Help Max Fight Cancer!



We're about a month out from the drawing for the big raffle Max Romero of Great Caesar's Post is planning over at his blog.  

It's super easy to participate in the raffle, and nothing would please me more than knowing a few of y'all kicked in a donation or two as part of his effort.  Those donations can include either a straight donation to a charity on Max's list, or - if you're the creative type - you can donate an item to Max's raffle for the raffling!

Consider it good karma.  Consider it paying it forward or putting some money in now so you can help develop a cancer treatment for yourself or your loved ones down the road.

At any rate, I hope you'll support Max's efforts and join in with a donation.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Challenger - 30 Years On

(Back, L-R) Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Teacher-in-Space participant Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist Greg Jarvis and mission specialist Judy Resnick. (Front, L-R) Pilot Mike Smith, commander Dick Scobee and mission specialist Ron McNair. (Photo by NASA/Getty Images)

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Challenger Disaster.

You're going to see a lot of stories out there from those of us who were kids when the Challenger exploded.  As much as 9/11, the Challenger Disaster sticks out there for a lot of us privileged suburban kids, not just as our first exposure to real-life horror and an event that dominated the public consciousness for a week, but - I'd argue - possibly the turning point that ended an era of American Enterprise and Exploration that well preceded the space race, but had its roots in Lewis and Clark.

For Gen X'er's who saw space exploration as maybe the only thing the government did that we found of interest (aside from getting the mail), the next decade became a constant argument against accountants and weak-knee'd politicos that NASA was worth it, even as the military budget continued to balloon with stealth fighters, bunker busters and all sorts of innovative ways of killing people.

This mission was as important as any during the shuttle era, a practice that seemed so routine by the time I was 10 (having started just five years before) that, like the Apollo missions, eventually the public wasn't dropping everything to watch a launch.  The idea had become - it was too difficult to become an astronaut, and that meant folks were growing detached.  So, some superhumans got to go - what did that mean for us?

To get us paying attention, NASA recruited a public school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, a citizen with no flight experience, to give a window of the "everyman" into space travel.

Monday, January 25, 2016

X-Files is Back For Some Reason!

Look, I'm not made of stone.  I started tuning into The X-Files in 1993 when it was schedule adjacent to the short lived series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (a show canceled way, way too soon).   And, yeah, I dug that shortish FBI agent and her skeptical ways and off-the-rack pantsuits.

I was also into aliens and real-life UFO conspiracy stuff at the time.  Skeptical, but this was an era before YouTube or 10,000 cable channels - a state of things that meant, eventually, this dude got a platform on the @#$%ing History Channel

:
But, again, in 1993, access to those videos you'd see written about in books and articles were hard to come by, so why not at least entertain the notion?

And, again, Special Agent Dr. Dana Scully in sensible shoes.

In short, The X-Files was the first TV show I ever watched first run in prime time with any dedication, at least as an adult.  Otherwise, I guess you could say I'd had strong feelings about The Dukes of Hazzard when I was 6.

The Nephew

The Nephew has been sick the past week or so, and so I have not been trying to weasel my way into a visit.  He needs his rest no matter how much I'd like to come over and stare at him.

My brother posted these pics, and you're just going to have to suffer through them because I haven't seen the nipper in a while.

Raylan: Explorer of tubes


showing proper concern that this guy is responsible for half his genes

Friday, January 22, 2016

Join Max in Kicking Cancer's Ass

I'm going to share this link with you here and again at the end.



Writer, blogger, reader and Austinite Max Romero is putting together a project I think you'll like.  I know I'm thinking about this pretty hard.  And, I ask you - both of my readers - to think about this as well.

Max is a cancer survivor and he's now about three years out from when he had surgery to remove the tumor.  To celebrate the past three years and pay it forward, Max is going to be collecting items from his readers, friends and family and he'll be raffling them off.  Proceeds, obviously, go to charity.  Quite directly.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Saying Good-Bye to David Bowie - Starman Merges With The Infinite



I was up too late for a Sunday night, still Googling into Monday morning, when Cavendar's facebook prompted with the simple question "David Bowie?"

I don't know why, but I knew it was not a question about the album, and in a Google search I found "David Bowie Death Hoax" and a post from just two days prior.  But then, when I hit the same search again two minutes later, The Hollywood Reporter was in agreement.  Then someone linked to the twitter account of Duncan Jones, Bowie's son, confirming the rumors.  David Bowie was dead.

By now literally millions of people will have said something.  I don't know that there's any more to say, but that's never stopped me before, and I want to say good-bye to one of my favorite humans, someone whose work helped shape the universe not just for me, but for millions or billions.

The Alamo Drafthouse affiliated publication and website Birth.Movies.Death. had a post up this morning, and it's right on.
As with God, everybody’s relationship with Bowie is deeply personal. Everybody’s relationship with Bowie is one-on-one.
Born in '75, my early awareness of Bowie stems from the Mick Jagger "Dancing in the Streets" era, with "Blue Jean" and "China Girl" in tow.  I can't separate the three, all staples of early MTV.  At any rate, I was well aware of the existence if not cultural influence and legacy of Bowie by the time I caught Labyrinth at the Showplace 6.  

But I think the first time I was just stopped short by Bowie wasn't even when he was on screen or playing music. I couldn't tell you how old I was when I saw The Breakfast Club, but of course the movie ended with the lyrics from "Changes", and it was the first time I saw an adult acknowledge that I might have some self-awareness, that I was not a dumb beast in need of constant correction, to have what was patently obvious explained to me.

“... And these children
that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
are immune to your consultations.
They're quite aware
of what they're going through...”

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

All Quiet on the Western Front: What We've Been Up To

Do as Peggy says

If it's been a little quiet around here, I apologize.

Sunday I wrapped a week-and-a-half off from work (sometimes working at a University has its privileges.  They just sent us home on the 22nd and said "don't come back til Monday the 4th"), and between writing those end of the year posts and no longer being under obligation to write about every movie I've watched, I've felt some sense of liberation and I'm enjoying it.

We also haven't watched all that many movies.  I'll still, at minimum, post the poster for whatever movie I just watched, but full write-ups won't come as often this year.  Yes, I probably should have written something about Hateful 8, but... nope.

A long while back I got Jamie the Season 1 Agent Carter BluRay set, but she's held off on watching it until now so we would get a refresher just before Season 2 arrives January 19th.

It's rare I feel so vindicated as I have about my instincts around Haley Atwell's kick-ass love interest for Cap in 2011's Captain America.  I won't lie:  Ms. Atwell is a striking lady, but I couldn't help but feel they'd found a lot of pieces in both script and actress I was interested in seeing expanded.  But the Marvel Cinematic U is pretty firmly planted in the 21st Century, so I didn't expect anything except for a lot of me saying "I wish they would have done more with Agent Carter".

Well, sometimes the universe surprises us, and not only did they make a short-seasoned TV show I thought was better than it was ever going to be, but Jamie - who liked Peggy as well in the Cap movie - was a HUGE fan.  I won major brownie points for getting her the Peggy carter Funko Pop, for example.

Friday, January 1, 2016

JimD Returns to Blogging

I sense something.  A presence I've not felt since...


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a young attorney, fresh from law school, suggested I try my hand at blogging.

I know Jim from our days at the University of Texas when we were both studying Film in the College of Communications.  Jim sat near me in our first screenwriting class, and while I have no recollection of why and how we started chatting, it seems it had something to do with comic books.  But I can't remember how comics came up.

We had an intensive writing class together the next semester, and that's when we started talking a lot, and thanks to email, our chatting continued through the end of the 90's after graduation as Jim continued his education about 90 minutes up I-35 at the famed Baylor Law School.

In 2002 or so, Jim launched a "blog" and suggested I do same.  "I've nothing to say," I protested, but in 2003, I joined Jim in the blogosphere.

Books Read in 2015



Sometime about 10 years ago, I realized I'd only read, like, 2 books all year.  While that's still 200% more books than the average American, and I justified it all by telling myself I'd read a lot of comics (I had.  A LOT of comics.), I felt a bit bad about not reading books without pictures.  So, these days I
strive to read a bit more.

Here's the list of what I read in 2015.  It's only 23 books, but I figure that's about two a month, and that's not awful when you add in the numbers I presented yesterday when it came to movies.  Plus working and whatnot.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - A Year in Movies (Let's Talk Numbers!)



When I came back to the site at the end of 2014, I picked up in 2015 with enough hubris and energy to decide to write about each movie I watched this year.  Unless something weird happens in the next few hours, I am able to accurately state that I posted on every movie I watched which I watched in its entirety in calendar year 2015.

I did not mention every movie I did not watch all the way through, usually because I tuned in for a bit to a movie I'd seen before and wouldn't bother to finish or came in very late.  I also didn't do full write-ups of a few movies, but no one seemed to mind that I had nothing to say about Spies Like Us.

So, in this post - let's talk numbers.  I'll give out awards later.

For the breakdown on a spreadsheet, feel free to click here.  It's also at the bottom of the post, if you hate clicking things.

As of 2:18 PM on December 31, 2015 I watched and said something about 181 movies.  

The last time I kept count was 2012, when I watched just 136 movies.  As I recall, we were watching a lot more TV that year and I was working like crazy.

That said - that's a whole 45 more movies, at about 1.75 hours a piece, that's about 79 more hours of movies - or two working weeks.  Plus, I dunno, maybe 45 minutes per post.  That's about 34 hours of post-time.  So, a total of about 113 hours more than 2012.

(edit:  I actually checked and back in 2012, we were double-posting movies a lot.  It was 136 posts and 147 movies.  Corrected numbers - 34 more movies in 2015, an average of 59.5 hours of movies, 25.5 hours of posts, so - let's call it 85 hours more than 2012).

Yikes.

If we figure 181 movies at 2.5 hours of watching and posting, that's 452.5 hours I've give you people this year, or more than 11 weeks of work.  And it's likely more than that as a lot of the movies were more than 1.75 hours, so let's not think too hard about this before I start really worrying about what I'm doing with my life.

Anyway, here we go...

New Years Watch: Sunset Boulevard (1950)



The movie neither begins nor ends on New Years.  Instead, it's the morbid spectacle of New Years Eve in the Desmond mansion that's the crucial turning point in the movie as screenwriter Joe Gillis decides to stop fighting the pull of Norma Desmond.

With a night out (a rarity of late) ahead of us for New Years, I figured whatever I put in at 9:30 PM on 12/30 would be the last movie I'd watch for the year.  Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a movie I am afraid I came to quite late, and one I wish I'd paid attention to years ago, though I am uncertain that - as a 20-something - if I would have seen it as much more than highly enjoyable melodrama and camp.  Certainly I'd understand it was loaded with enough real star power behind it to lend it an air of legitimacy, but it's in watching the movie as an older viewer that the movie resonates in a way that I'm unsure it would in quite the same way for a younger viewer.

Joe Gillis is a down-on-his-luck screenwriter, a tarnished golden-boy, unable to produce the same kind of work that landed him some big gigs in Hollywood in recent memory.  Now, though, at 30-ish, he's yesterday's news, unable to sell a story, laden with debts at his heels, the finance company ready to take his car.

Avoiding those repo men, he turns into an overgrown driveway on Hollywood's famed Sunset Boulevard, finding himself on the grounds of a decaying mansion, an echo of the glory days of the silent era.  Inside he finds former silent star Norma Desmond, an actress who vanished - as so many did as the industry moved from silent to sound.  She's survived, wealthy enough to keep the world outside at bay, her manservant, Max, helping to protect and shield her from the world which has forgotten her and moved on.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Growing Up With Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (and Beyond)

This is the 3rd and last in a series about being a kid in the 70's and 80's and being a part of the generation that was exposed to Star Wars first hand.  All recollections are subjective and are not intended to represent those of the other billion kids who were also around.  For Part 1 about Star Wars click here, for Part 2 about Empire, click here.



My memories about Return of the Jedi come with a lot of "firsts" attached.

It is the first movie I remember anticipating.  The Empire Strikes Back has ended on a cliffhanger, and so it only made sense that from the second we saw the Skywalkers staring off into space and the credits rolled, I was signed up for the third installment.  As I discussed in talking Empire, we moved into speculation.

What you kids have to remember is (a) there was no internet and (b) the sector of the population that obsessed over what movies were coming and when was much smaller back then.  My first inkling that the movie was actually, like, really, really coming was a slide that appeared before some other movie my mom took us to.  I don't think it said Revenge of the Jedi, I just processed that - yes, we were finally getting a 3rd movie.  But the slide was really bland - just a title and a picture of a greenish planet, if memory serves.

After that, I do believe images began to trickle out in magazines and on television.

It was also the first movie I spoiled for myself.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Growing Up With Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)



At five years old, I'm not sure I really understood the concepts of cliffhangers or ennui, so this was more or less my intro to those ideas.  I've read elsewhere about people my age who freaked out about how bleak they found The Empire Strikes Back (1980), or got wigged out that it didn't have a tight ending where the heroes saved the day.  And while I get that, I wouldn't say that was my take away.

Prior to the screening, I only vaguely recall being aware that there was a new Star Wars movie coming out because my mom ordered a Boba Fett toy through the mail (yeah, we were one of those families).   But one morning The Admiral grabbed my brother and I, tossed us in the car and drove us to a gigantic theater somewhere in Dallas (I've had Dallas-dwellers identify the theater for me a dozen times based on the description, but I can never remember the name), and we watched The Empire Strikes Back with hundreds of other people.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Growing Up with Star Wars - Let's Talk Episode IV (we just called it "Star Wars", dagnabbit!)



I was born in 1975.  In 1977, my folks dumped off my brother and myself for the evening and went with some friends to see Star Wars.  Legend has it that of the four in the party, only my dad liked the movie.  The Admiral apparently totally fan-boyed (he would have been about 31, then, I guess), told everyone they didn't know what they were talking about, and was proven very, very right by money and history.

As for myself, I tell people that the The Admiral took me to see Star Wars in the theater during its initial run and am surprised how often I'm met with looks of suspicion or people trying to correct me.  "You were 2 years old?" they say.  "I don't think so.  You must have seen the 1980 re-release."  Well, thanks to some iffy judgment calls and my dad's desire to see that movie again in an era before home video, I did, in fact, see Star Wars in the theater during that first run.

My primary memory of that Star Wars screening is getting totally wigged out by the Tusken Raiders.  So, anyone who wants to feel vindicated that Star Wars is too much for kids that age, maybe, maybe not.  Because I also remember the feeling of absolute amazement that exploded all over my life from that moment to today, in its own way.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Opera Watch! We take in some culture and see "Tosca" at the Houston Grand Opera

So, it's pretty hard to call me an opera fan.  I mean, the only opera I've seen live in the past 30 years has been Das Rheingold.  For reasons I don't even remember, I had to give up my tickets to see Der Walkurie this year, and if Jamie's enthusiasm to Das Rheingold was any indication, it's not really worth the weekend trip to Houston to go catch parts 3 and 4.



But, you know, I think its not imperative, but a good idea, to try to see famous works for yourself.  That's kind of the stage of life I'm in now I guess.  And among operas, Tosca is more or less a household word.  Fortunately, I'm culturally illiterate, so I wasn't actually sure what the word "Tosca" meant when I plunked my butt in the seat at the Wortham Center to see the Houston Grand Opera Saturday night.

Little background:  a fellow I was pals with in high school is now a, like, serious opera-performer-type-person, Weston Hurt (ask for him by name)!  Weston has performed all over the US and abroad, but he'd never wound up playing Houston Grand Opera until this recent run of Tosca at the HGO.  And while I've watched YouTube clips of him and whatnot, I hadn't seen him sing since high school where he kind of shamed everyone else during a musical revue where he led the chorus in "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from Les Mis and sounded like a grown-up-type singer among a herd of high school squawkers (I was working crew for that show, so I got to hear it over.  And over.  And over.)  He also did a little Country and Western at the talent show, which left me baffled, but the guy has pipes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Inexplicable BudK Catalog

I have no @#$%ing idea

So, this showed up in the mail.  That's right, it's a Christmas Knife!  These people aren't making the same mistake as those heathens at Starbucks!  And, with their product, you could kill a man.

I have no idea who this company is, but they had my name and mailing address.

Oh, yeah.  That's a lousy picture.  Here you go.  From their website:


Pretty exciting!  And something that you will totally not throw in a sock drawer and forget about.  

But, like the page says:  You may also like...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

20 years ago bonus

And here's a pic from what I figure is Spring of 1996 of me and Jamie somewhere in San Antonio.


The dream of the 90's is still alive.

20 Years.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of when Jamie and I started dating.



I have to use the term loosely, because there wasn't all that much dating.  There was no dinner and a movie followed by more dinner and movies, and then the usual progression.  After knowing each other for about two years, we went to one David Bowie concert in a non-romantic context (heck, my brother was along), and a couple of weeks later, we sort of high-fived and were suddenly together, and I guess we decided we liked it that way.

Jamie was college roommates with some lady friends of mine from high school, and they were all at Trinity, a small university in San Antonio, about 90 minutes south of Austin.  I'd met her in October of my freshman year, but we didn't start "dating" until our 3rd year of school.

It basically went like this:




I dunno.  I figure anyone who goes and sees Vampire in Brooklyn with you for what amounts to your first weekend together, complains a minimal amount about your film selection and is willing to see you again...  that's a girl you want to stick with.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Travelogue - Portland, Oregon

So, my apologies for not posting much this week.  I didn't even get to do a Flash re-cap, at least not yet.  Wednesday, I jumped on a plane and flew to Portland, Oregon for work.  I'd never been there, and of the many things I like about my current job, it's that I get sent all over the place on someone else's dime.

this was next door to my hotel


A lot of the time when I travel, I just wind up hitting a hotel, eating in said hotel, going to bed, getting up, working, then leaving.  That happens a lot.  But on other trips, particularly when you're meeting with people from all over, you tend to wrap up work and then at least walk around a bit with those folks and grab dinner out and about.

Now, I was only in Portland from 11:00 Wednesday night until when I flew out at 9:00 on this morning (Saturday), so I can't say much about the town.  I was working all day Thursday and Friday, but we did go out for lunch and dinner.  And, yeah, a few of those meals were kind of over-the-top Portlandia-style and fantastic.  We ate at the food trailer area on 10th street and a sandwich shop called Lardo's (I was very happy with my tuna sandwich).  For dinner, we hit a place out in the 'burbs called Old Salt Marketplace, that was a lot of fun, and they made a good cocktail, terrific ham hocks and broccoli.

I won't pretend that I am a Portland expert.  I was barely there.  But it's a beautiful town and they do a lot of things we could learn from here in Austin.  Like, hey, the drivers don't try to run you over.  And you can walk places.  Or take a train.

I stayed in a very nice hotel called The Heathman, where, just to make me uncomfortable, the doorman was dressed as a Beefeater.  I have no idea why and didn't ask.  Then, one of my colleagues who was also on my floor, pointed out that there was a security detail watching the door of another room.  They were just camped out in an open room, watching the door.  So, of course I asked, and the guy said "the reading light is better here" as he sat in the doorway.

I didn't push it.  Never figured out what was going on.  But I did see a lot of very nice dogs in my hotel.

Anyway, an unexpected highlight was getting an email from an old pal from college who moved up there years ago who saw I was staying right near her place of work.  We met up, grabbed some dinner then went to a bar/ restaurant that - you know, 20 years later, it's funny how people still know "oh, Ryan will love this" - was an elaborately Egyptian themed bar that had seen better days maybe 15-20 years ago, and was dead empty on a Friday night.  It was me, Amy, the owners, and a Stan Getz greatest hits album on the PA, surrounded by Egyptian kitsch.  Not another soul around.

If you were to ask me about my ideal drinking experience - buddy, I just had it.  So, thanks, Amy.