Showing posts with label pets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pets. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Signal Watch Reads: Rin Tin Tin - The Life and the Legend, Susan Orlean (2011 - audiobook)

I am not entirely certain why I decided to read this book.  I've not read any prior Orlean, and I had literally never seen anything with Rin Tin Tin in it other than a few scant moments of the circa 1990 series, Rin Tin Tin: K9 Cop.  It is true that I like a happy looking dog, and I was marginally aware of a strange history of the pooch.  But after reading the Larry Tye Superman book, a topic I knew entirely too much about to ever wonder where it was going, and partially because, lately,  I've been thinking a lot about the lifespan of a media-driven concept - as the 20th Century and the first media giants fade in the collective memory, Rin Tin Tin seemed to be a good place to pick up that thread again as any.

Certainly I was curious as to what became of the media empire that I knew once existed and, today, there's not a kid out there who knows what the words "Rin Tin Tin" mean.

And, hey, it's about dogs.  I'm a fan.

Susan Orlean is perhaps most famous for the book she wrote, The Orchid Thief, which was turned into a Meryl Streep movie which I confess that I have never seen (Adaptation).  In Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, Orlean traces more than a century of history, from the ramshackle, lonely and unpredictable childhood of Lee Duncan, the man who would find a litter of German Shepard puppies in a kennel within an evacuated German base in WWI France, straight through to the modern era of DVD's and memorabilia collection.  And, of course, the tangled existence of a very real dog who became a screen legend, only to become a fictional character with his passing, and becoming the sort of property that people wind up suing one another over until the value of the property has fallen through the bottom.

Orlean weaves her own story into the book, not one that's particularly remarkable as these things go, but it gives the reader context when it comes to her research, what sparked her interest, how the misty memories of both the dog on the television in the 1950's series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin and her relationship with an knowable grandfather echoed back to her as she tried to bring the past into the present, with things both on the screen and real.  And, it's an honest approach as Orlean necessarily frames her experience hunting down the folks who are still alive from Lee Duncan's family, those associated with the show and a Texas woman who has been breeding heirs of Rin Tin Tin in Texas, and who was smart enough to run out and trademark Rin Tin Tin when Hollywood had not.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Dog Watch: Finding Rin-Tin-Tin (2007)

Because I like watching dogs on TV (ask Jamie), under other circumstances, I might have tuned in to this movie for about five minutes, realized it was terrible and getting worse with each passing moment, and moved on.  But I'm currently reading the Susan Orlean book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend (2011), and so I was curious, I guess.  Rin-Tin-Tin is a character who was already on the shelf by the time I was a kid, with occasional blips of relevance (I remember Rin Tin Tin: K9 Cop on The Family Channel circa 1990 as it ran at the same during the same era as The Family Channel's Zorro reboot, which I did watch), and I plan to talk a whole lot more about Rinty when I discuss the book.

But I'm around 1967 or so in the book, so I have a ways to go before we get to this 2007 movie.  

Let's just say...  there's a point at which when you're trying to get your independent kids' movie made where you've agreed to film it in Bulgaria with a cast of unrecognizable actors on a shoestring budget, that maybe it's time, as a producer, to take a hard look at your film and say "why isn't anyone wanting to put money into this?  Maybe... just maybe...  it's time to take a step back and rethink everything."  That clearly didn't happen here, and while I hate to say it's worse than the Air Buddies franchise - because nothing is worse than the Air Buddies franchise -  at least I understand that those movies are aimed at very young children and are more or less using puppies as digital puppets.  They aren't a weird munging of real history, fake history, the horrors or WWI played down for laughs and fart jokes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Spider-Sam, doing the things a Spider-Sam zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

face down in the Spidey blanket

This is Sam.  He is Jamie's dad's cat, and he's staying with us for a few days.

Sam got a little sleepy today.

And, yes, I sleep under a Spider-Man blanket when it is cold out.

And the Spider-Man song is The Dug's joke, not mine.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Jeff the Cat Merges with The Infinite

If you think he's thinking "I didn't do it", you are right.

Jeffrey George Taylor The Cat, better known as "Jeff the Cat", passed today.

He will not be remembered fondly by many.  He had... personality.  But Jeff was my little buddy, and I am going to miss him very much.

We didn't get along the first few years he lived with us, and I was, frankly, ready to get rid of him at the drop of a hat.  Oddly, during that time, he saved my life.

I had an old oscillating fan, and one day I was working away on my computer in the era before laptops, and Jeff was circling my feet as cats do.  Suddenly, he bolted out of the room, and I thought that was a bit peculiar so I turned around and the fan was a pillar of oscillating flame.   I don't know if I would have died, exactly, but we would have certainly had a lot more property damage and many more problems if Jeff hadn't alerted me to the fire.

Still, we didn't really get along.  But at some point when we lived in Phoenix, Jeff started hanging out with me in the mornings while I was showering and getting ready.  And then started hanging out with me in the evenings after Jamie went to bed.  And soon I had a little yellow shadow wherever I went.

I will never know why he picked me over Jamie.  For years, she was far nicer to that cat than myself.  But for the past decade, he's been my constant sidekick.  And made it really hard to organize comics by walking all over them, chewing on comic bags, knocking over action figures and generally letting me know that if I was sitting on the floor, I was really supposed to be playing with him.

I am not sure I'll know when to wake up without him coming to get me.  Or how I'll know when it's time to go to bed without him giving me a pointed look around midnight each evening.  Or how to read a book or magazine without him rubbing his face against the edges and suggesting "hey, if you want to just stare at something, I'm your huckleberry".  Or how one watches TV or movies without a cat making himself at home on your chest or on your leg.  I assume I might now float away without the extra few pounds of cat to weigh me down.

We were with him when he went, and he went quietly and peacefully.  15 years is a good, long time, and for some time, as he's gotten older, my biggest concern was that he not live poorly if we could help it.  We owed him, and I didn't want for him to have a single bad day.

We'll miss you, little buddy.  You were loved very much.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Some toys from the movie "Man of Steel"

Well, today I found what I guess are the three "Movie Masters" action figures from the film Man of Steel.

Walmart has on this promotion where they released some items early.  They were supposed to arrive on Sunday at Walmarts all across the land, but I visited three Walmarts in my area (all within a short distance of each other, and, I am fairly convinced, connected by a series of subterranean tubes that keep their management from ever having to deal with the surface dwellers) and did not find the displays at any of the three stores.  

I even asked at the Walmart closest to my house and got a pretty snippy response to my query about the toys from the manager, and an eye roll from her pal who informed her - as if I wasn't there - that "that movie isn't even coming out til June, so don't even bother".  I considered letting them know that many popular Superman fan sites had re-published the Walmart press release announcing the promotion, and that I had, indeed, seen photos on facebook of the items at other Walmarts on the extremely well run Man of Steel facebook page.  But then I briefly examined my life and what choices I was making and I left.

Well, I chose to give up.  My OCD did not.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Little Lu

Lucy has her Alamo Bowl pick

Christmas Eve is the birthday of my favorite runt, Lucy the Little Black Lab.

Today Lucy turns 8 years old.  She was born in a backyard in Mesa, Arizona and was adopted/ purchased in February of the 2005.

As my brother says "she's very smart about things that she wants to do", which many people mistake for being a dumb dog.  Nope.  As inbred and tiny as she may be, she's all Lab with all the stubbornness that comes with the breed and all the need for attention that comes with that, too.

Most evenings I spend my time on the sofa with Lucy leaning against my side.  Oh, certainly, she can be a real pain, but in the end I know she wants a few things in the world: walkies, cookies and love.  Most days we can provide two out of three.

Happy Birthday, Little Lu.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cat-22 - Jeff The Cat Goes to the Big House

The players in our story
For 13 years we've shared space with Jeff the Cat, a yellow tabby of terrific intelligence but ornery disposition.

Every once in a while, Jeff decides that there's something very attackable about Jamie beneath the knees.  He's been hunting her shins and feet as long as he's lived with us.  Not all the time, but often enough, and especially when Jamie's asleep and gets the jimmy legs.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Enemy Ace and Why You Don't Take Your Puppy Up into the Killer Skies

I finally got a copy of Star Spangled War Stories #148.  It's a reader copy, not in terrific shape, but I can make a check mark on that particular collection.  And it's not like I don't have a copy of that story in both Showcase Presents and Archives formats.

You guys know I am firmly in corner of Von Hammer, The Enemy Ace. Yes, even as he's shooting down our friends from England and France in plane-to-plane combat, I'm still thrilling to his adventures as he takes his tri-wing Fokker up into The Killer Skies.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It is really nice out today

So its, like, 75 degrees out, sunny and 0% humidity. We were going to try to do the Austin Kite Festival, but, man, the traffic was insane. So, we headed down to the green belt under MoPac.

Jamie hobo's it up under the bridge

me and my pals

Sunday, February 5, 2012

We've had Lucy for a while now

Here's when we brought home Lucy roughly 7 years ago, February of 2005.

Mel, Jamie and Lucy in the backyard in AZ

A pretty good introduction

You pretty much had to told her like this to hold still

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tricks or Treats at League HQ - A Photo Review

This evening was a raging success at League HQ. We had over 100 trick or treaters, handed out tons of candy and comics, and generally had a good time.

Signal Watch Pal, HeatherW joined us.

Our haunted manor
Our merry jack 'o lanterns
In addition to bowls of candy, we offered a selection of comics

The reason the jacket is there is because Nicole wore it for a costume thing on Friday

Superman sez:  The first one's free
We don't like to do Halloween alone.  Here's some of our pals.

Monday, October 24, 2011

So, what is "Melbotis"?

So, it occurred to me - there's a whole audience out there that doesn't know what the story is with "Melbotis", "The League", why is the house called "League HQ"?, etc...

So, here's the story.

In 2000, Jamie and I moved into a house in South Austin just about the time some friends had broken up and were moving to separate coasts.  Whilst together, they'd taken on a Golden Retriever pup they named "Melbotis".  The name came from an inside joke they had about a couple named "Melba" and "Otis".  I didn't know this until well after they'd handed Mel over to us in the summer of 2000.

The pronunciation is, roughly, "Mel-Boh-Duss".

Right after he came onboard, I took Mel to the vet for his routine check-up, but at his original vet.  I believed his name was spelled "Melbodus", and learned that, no...  it was spelled "Melbotis" while looking at his medical records.

Mel was a big boy.  I think he topped off at 112 pounds before he got put on a diet.  Big, and very happy to try to sit in your lap, or at least get as much into your lap as possible.

He was also oddly smart, and we began to realize his vocabulary was fairly extensive.  He loved to swim, run off the leash, hoard toys and tennis balls, shake, play fetch, do a trick or two, and destroy toys.  He could follow directions and hand gestures, and generally liked being involved in whatever scheme you had going on.

I was 25 when we got Mel, and something about a dog that large that seemed to know his own business meant that I was perfectly comfortable treating him more like a roommate than a pet.  Sure, we fed him and took care of him, but he was given a lot of latitude to just sort of come and go from the house to the yard, get in the car if he felt like it, and just generally hang out.

Mel's Halloween costume circa 2002
Jamie had never had a dog, and suddenly she was faced with this thing as large as herself living in the house. I would not characterize the first year as building a deep emotional bond, but then Jamie's job evaporated, and she spent a few months at home looking for jobs.  And during that time, she and Mel became really good buddies.

In 2002, we moved to Arizona.  For a while I'd made jokes around the house about how we were the "League of Melbotis", and so when I launched a blog in 2003 (this was new stuff back then), that was what I named the site.  You can still see League of Melbotis online.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Teh Kittehs will haz their revenge!!! (love this from @daveexmachina)

in response to yesterday's anti-kitty news:

From Dave Lartigue courtesy a retweet by @allisontype

I assume this would be Jeff the Cat approved. He was unavailable for comment.

Fun fact: Jeff the Cat is a big Ostrander Suicide Squad fan, btw.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow Day in Austin (a short photo gallery)

Austin sits in kind of a funny place geographically, geologically and meteorologically.  Not that weird.  I've been to the Bay Area, and you people have different weather by neighborhood.  But the weather here changes fairly drastically during the mid-point of winter.  Last weekend, we were wearing shorts and running around town, then it became very, very cold, dropping into the high 10's, and now its lovely and sunny again and I'm wearing a t-shirt.

My understanding is that we get southerly fronts from the gulf, and we also get northers - the arctic air originating from around Alaska that pummels the western and middle states- coming through, so you kind of need to stay on your toes. So, you just keep your eye on the forecast a lot more in this part of Texas than folks do in, say, Arizona.

So when it does snow, we tend to take lots of pictures.  For Canadians, us getting snow is sort of like if you woke up and your yard was inexplicable covered in cactus that just disappeared after a day or two.  We get ice here, and sometimes snow will fall, but will not accumulate at all.  The ice storms are crazy and mean, and you generally don't want to go out in them.  This time, we actually got both ice and snow, I was told.  which made driving in town really dangerous.

Anyway, I woke Friday to about .9 inches of snowfall (thus losing my place on the office betting board where I'd guessed we'd get 1.0 - 1.5").

Babar the Happy Element found himself under a blanket of snow

League HQ held up well under the winter weather

The dogs were really excited to be out in the snow, so we took a walk

Scout was pleased to be out on patrol.  She must have detected a menace somewhere at the time of this photo.

If you know my street, you know this is not how it usually looks.

and here's one by a random Austin citizen that I saw making the rounds on Facebook.

Along Lady Bird Lake, Austin is lovely on an average day. Here, it looks kind of surreal:

Austin on the rocks

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Super Bored

I've been in a lousy mood for days. Between coming off of vacation, some cognitive dissonance, North Korea acting crazy, the BP oil spill, and my inability to basically have enough hours in a day... I'm a little down, which makes it tough to find FUN things to talk about. And, dammit, I'm here for fun.

So, I apologize if this week has seemed a tad off.

This evening I decide to shake off the blues.

Anyway, I had nothing in particular to write about, so I thought I'd share an evening at home at The Watch Tower.

Ah. An evening to myself in the Justice Lounge. SuperTed and I decide to kick back with some fine reading.

Just settled in, Scout surprised me with a request.

Puppies like comics. These two were intent on having comics read aloud to them while they looked at pictures.

Afterward, they insisted on playing "Legion of Super Pets". Lucy wanted to be "Proty II". Scout wanted to be SuperScout. Jeff the Cat was cast as "Stupid Cat", and was chased.

Ryan S. sez: Comics are good for the physical and mental development of all puppies. Read comics to your puppies every day.