Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Saturday, October 22, 2016

TL;DR: Wonder Woman at 75, at the United Nation and 'Wonder Woman v.2 #170'

Yesterday was, apparently, the official 75th birthday of Wonder Woman.  As part of that event, Wonder Woman was made a Special Ambassador of the United Nations, an icon for new efforts within the UN to speak on behalf of gender equality.

I don't know how much of Wonder Woman's origins most people know, or how hung up they are on some of the more salacious details of creator William Moulton Marston's personal life, or how that played out on the comics page.  But I do know that Marston was sincere in his interest to create a strong female superhero, not just with whom little girls could identify, but for little boys to understand that women could do all the things that men can do.  They can leap into the fray and they stand as equals (although I'd argue Marston may have had a bit more of an ideal of a matriarchy in mind even more than than just an egalitarian ideal).

"Wonder Woman" TV star Lynda Carter was in attendance

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Super Watch: Supergirl Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2

When I started watching Supergirl last season, I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes and letting my disappointment in the formulaic, color-by-numbers approach take me to a dark place.  But then, probably earlier on than I'd admit, the show started doing something different from what I expected.  Rather than setting up petty jealousies between characters, rather than turning Calista Flockhart's Cat Grant character into a caricature, rather than turning Kara into a hapless dope that everyone loves only because that's what the show insists must happen despite the fact the character is an idiot ruining everyone's lives...  someone stepped in and started turning the show into something I quite liked.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Marvel Watch: Luke Cage (Season 1, 2016)

I want to say that I loved Luke Cage.  Because for a full 6 episodes, I was ready to stand up and say "this is the best Marvel TV series to date, even better than Jessica Jones or Season 1 of Agent Carter".  But, man, the back half of this series feels rough.  It's still watchable, but as early as the beginning of the seventh episode, the wheels start coming off, and it's only in fits and spurts that the show reclaims the excellence of those first six episodes, seems to remember its mission statement, and doesn't feel like it's a throwback to 1990's-era superhero movies.  I have a few hypotheses as to what may have occurred, but that doesn't save the overall project anymore than headcannons or fan theories (neither of which this blogger recommends you indulge in).  What matters is what winds up on the screen.

What does retain it's consistency, as surely as the cells in Luke Cage's body bounce back from a bad day, is the strong character put forth in Luke Cage, the grounded, human force of a man trying every day to do right.  In Luke Cage we get that rarest of characters which are slowly climbing their way back from two decades of think-pieces to the contrary, the good guy who doesn't need to be called an anti-hero to work in a modern context.  For Marvel, and maybe for the mass audiences, up to this point we've relied on our sepia-toned notions and the uncomplicated moral battle of the Allied fight against the Axis to gain access to the point of view of our upright hero in Steve Rogers - AKA: Captain America.  But in Luke Cage we get a modern man who has known the compromise all his life and despite what's past, he's moving forward in a world that broils and churns with moral compromise as the "smart" move, the only way to get things done.  And we have a hero who isn't living in a hypothetical world of cops and robbers, but in a world that reflects a lot of our own, with Trayvon Martins and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Star Trek 50th Quick Post

Tiny Spock is judging you

This here above is the culmination of my Star Trek collection.  You'll notice it's a little Gorn-centric.  When Diamond put out all the gear I'd wanted since I was 11, I went ahead and did that.  I've only made room for a model of NCC-1701, but I'd sure like an NCC-1701-A and NCC-1701-D sometime (if I knew where they'd go).

Tonight I celebrated Trek with my brother by getting pizza and enjoying some official Star Trek 50th Anniversary beer.

We watched the original series episodes "Arena" and "The Enterprise Incident".  I hadn't seen "The Enterprise Incident" since I was a kid, and it was really pretty darn good.  Funny what happens when you get your head around, uh, "relations" more than you did at age 13.  That D.C. Fontana is a heck of a writer.

After I got home, Jamie was watching the beginning of Star Trek: Generations but had to go to bed.  So, we've agreed we're going to sprint through the Next Generation films, which I haven't seen in forever.  And, hey, I'm a big fan of those characters.

Now I'm watching "The Naked Time" on BBC America.  Good day, all and all.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

50 Years of Star Trek

Here's to 50 years of Star Trek, in television, movies and beyond.

September 8th, 1966 saw the premier of Star Trek on network television.  The episode was "The Man Trap" (the Salt Monster one).  The show lasted for three seasons and blazed trails before spinning off into weirdly wild success in syndication.  Of course, Star Trek: The Next Generation cut out the middleman and went straight into syndication.

I am not a real Trekker, and I'm okay with that.  I never really watched much Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise.  Not the way I watched original series or Next Generation.  I like all the movies with the original cast for one reason or another, even if I mostly enjoy Star Trek V as camp.  I even liked Star Trek Beyond quite a bit  (Karl Urban was fantastic).

Where Star Wars broke me circa 1999, ending it's drought in 2015 with The Force Awakens, there's always been enough Trek to keep me invested, willing to go to bat and try another movie, TV show, episode, what-have-you.  But I've never felt fan enough to attend a Star Trek convention or the like.  Which is weird.  I guess I've just always been aware that I'm a fan, but I've seen the real fans, if you know what I mean (I do not know a single word of Klingon, for example).

The original show sparked my imagination when I became a regular viewer of episodes at 5:00 PM on the local UHF channel when I was about 10.  The idea of moving through space, of not just constantly fighting some antagonist over and over, but exploring, of discovery - that got my interest.  Also, Lieutenant Uhura.  But flying around in a ship I still haven't gotten over, not necessarily shooting or punching to solve the problem of the week, of trying to find a better tomorrow out on the edge of known space...?  Sign me up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

TL;DR: "Stranger Things", "Suicide Squad" and Storytelling in the 21st Century

I had to have a picture, so... here you go, Barb-Heads

It's funny.  Way, way back when I was a young Signal Watch back in film school, one of my instructors proposed the idea that, in the very near future, story would not matter.  This was, of course, preposterous, but something that has come back to haunt me over and over again in the years that have followed.

It wasn't entirely clear what my instructors meant by "story will not matter", and so it became easy to dismiss, even as people lined up for Michael Bay movies and we were all vaguely aware that one does not show up for, say, a Kung-Fu movie specifically to see how events will unfold so much as to see Jet Li perform aerial stunts and kick people in the sternum for 90 minutes.  The change was blamed a bit on video games which, in the mid-90's, had yet to really evolve much past Doom or side-scrollers.  And, frankly, were thought of quite differently from movies in the zeitgeist - although that quickly changed (I guess) with games like Wing Commander (which I never played but people seemed to love) and certainly with the early 00's-era Grand Theft Auto.

Muddying the waters, "it lacks a story" was often the vague criticism of the tastemakers from the 70's through the 90's.  Nothing took the wind out of your sails quite like watching something you'd enjoyed only to have either a tweedy-type or someone whose opinion you cared about come along and say "well, it didn't have much story now, did it?" and you'd be considering "well, it had characters, a beginning, middle and an end.  There was an arc or two in there."  And, man, "lack of story" was a favorite dig at superhero faire at one point by folks with jobs at newspapers, and that was where I learned to more or less understand.  Because it often meant "it didn't have a story that resonated with me, a person who doesn't think a story about a mad scientist needing to be stopped by the swift right hook of justice is equal to a story about people very politely going through a divorce while wearing tweed coats and having a humiliating and/ or unlikely sexual encounter or two."

And that's okay.  It just means you need to look at "it doesn't have much of a story" as a criticism as sort of a smoke screen unless we're getting specific.

I can name many things which lack story that seem to nonetheless delight people, often earning a rabid, nigh-manic fanbase who is immune to your accusations of lack of story (hello, Dragonball Z fans!).  And there are lots of folks who are really, really into, say, Mario, despite the fact that his storyline is "plumber who does very, very little plumbing".  And that all feels to me a bit like getting really into, say, Tony the Tiger because every commercial has a fifteen second story arc where a kid masters a sport thanks to Tony and sugar.

But I digress.

In a very short window I watched both DC's third entry in their superhero universe, Suicide Squad, and Netflix's summer darling, Stranger Things.  In varying ways, both made me wonder if my instructor back in film school had a point.

Monday, August 22, 2016

More About Bees and the 1970's

So, Nathaniel asked me why I forgot to mention the giant, hallucinatory bees in 1978's The Swarm.   And, he's right to ask, because it's probably the most stunning/ least magical visual special effect in the movie.

What's most interesting is that the bees inject a venom into their victim that make them not just hallucinate, but hallucinate a very large bee.

Now, as a kid I saw an ad for The Swarm on TV as the Late Late Movie on local UHF, and they kept showing the clips of the hallucinations.  Unfortunately, at age 11 or so, I was not qualified to stay up for the midnight to four AM shift, so I missed the broadcast and never saw the movie I assumed was all about giant bees.  At some point when SimonUK suggested we watch this movie, like, two years ago, I eagerly said "you mean the movie about the giant bees?"
"No, the one with Michael Caine."
"Right!  With giant bees!"
"Well... no."

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!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Vertigo Watch: Preacher (TV series, 2016)

At the beginning of the 1990's, I almost bailed on comics.  If you want to know who kept me coming back I can throw a bunch of names at you of authors and artists, but the real force bringing me back to the funny book store was editor Karen Berger, the mastermind behind the 1993 launch of Vertigo comics.

A lot of people say a lot of negative things about the comics industry in the 1990's, and if you consider what was going on in many corners, they're not wrong.  I was avoiding shiny and holographic covers, watched unknown companies try to launch whole universes in one shot and avoided the Scarlet Spider stuff like the plague.  But Berger was the one who saw the potential for what comics could do, saw the potential in then little known writers, was flexible about what could appear in a floppy comic, and she may be the least risk-averse person to ever work at the Big 2.

After successes with Wonder Woman, Legion and other titles, she shepherded several cutting edge titles that eventually set up shop under the Vertigo imprint.  She gave Sandman, Swamp Thing and Hellblazer a home, nurtured and loved both the titles and creators, and resurrected dead IP at DC Comics (Kid Eternity, The Tattooed Man, Shade: The Changing Man) while also letting creators bring their own, fresh ideas to the Vertigo.  In an era embracing what had been counter culture  as we coined such terms as "Alternative Music" and put a groovy coffee shop on every corner, the company that put out Superman was also putting out The Extremist and Transmetropolitan.

Just imagine a young and hungry Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis...  And, of course, Garth Ennis.  In many ways for which she will rarely be given the credit she deserves, Karen Berger gave us Preacher.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Supergirl's cousin is gonna show up on "Supergirl"

I pulled this image from Birth.Movies.Death.

As far as how this could have gone - I can't complain, really.  I have no idea what DC's deal is with the classic costume or how they think continually messing around with elements of the visual iconography of one of their most famous properties is somehow a good idea.  But, no one is asking me.  Red boots and cape.  Yellow in the "S".  No mandarin collar.

Sigh.  Look, I'm a red trunks guy, and the fact that DC can't seem to make the suit work correctly either here or in Man of Steel (piping and stippling is all just a bit much, especially with a useless belly-button belt-buckle) without an awkward red belt-to-nowhere is just maybe a sign we throw in the towel and go back to the red trunks look.

But, man, that dude ALSO looks like Superman, doesn't he?  You'll never hear me complain about Cavill, but so many folks have drawn Superman in so many ways over the years, and between Reeves, Reeve, Alyn, Cain and Cavill...  Well, I don't necessarily have a particular face I identify with Superman.  Just a certain presence, and I think this dude has it, just as Melissa Benoist doesn't look like Silver Age or Bronze Age Kara, but she sure has that same vibe.

I have never seen actor Tyler Hoechlin in anything, but so as long as he doesn't have a voice like Peter Lorre, I want to give him a shot.  So far so good with Supergirl defying expectations and beating the odds for what it seemed they'd do - and the energy the actors have brought to the show.

Look, I planned to hate-watch Supergirl, but I became a fan.  I am always excited to see what they'll try to do next with a character I have a little affection for.  Now we've got Superman, Martian Manhunter and Lynda Carter as POTUS.  I mean, OBVIOUSLY I'll be watching.

And if, you know, they want to one day do a Superman show or TV movie or ten, I won't complain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Faux-80's Watch: Stranger Things (Season 1, 2016)

There's an argument to be made that Stranger Things, 2016 (8 episodes, Season 1 on Netflix) is a rip off and riff on popular and cult media of the 1980's and that we should be suspicious of it's desire to emulate the stylings, feel and sensibilities of the era.  The show trades in nostalgia for Gen-X'ers (and likely Millennials, whom, it seems, grew up on the media of Gen-X), from font type to musical selection to references to kid culture of the time to conspicuously placed posters of influential films of the era.*

That it does these things is unquestionable - this is not convergent evolution.  But with 1983 (the year the story takes place) now 30-odd years in the rear-view mirror, it's also a period piece (I'll just let that sink in, 40-somethings.) just as much as Grease was in the late 70's, or 90% of the output of Martin Scorsese.  That the Duffer Brothers, show runners who wrote and directed a huge portion of the 8 episodes, chose this period to mine is not a huge surprise.  We're still working our way through Star Wars sequels and Ghostbusters relaunches.  We can casually drop an E.T. or Poltergeist reference and expect to be understood.  In perhaps more self-selective circles, we can do same with The Thing or Evil Dead.

Anyway, something happened in the 1980's that was not entirely of the era, but it showed up like an open wound in our media of the era in a way that movies have forgotten how to do.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Noel Neill Merges With The Infinite

In an article appearing on The Superman Homepage a statement by her manager, biographer and friend, Larry Thomas Ward has informed us that, Noel Neill has passed at the age of 95.  The New York Times has also released an obituary.

I never took advantage of the opportunities to meet Noel Neill that were available when she was still doing comic conventions and The Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois.  By the time I made it to Metropolis, she was 94 and no longer attending.

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Lady Dynamite" Season 1 on Netflix

Maria Bamford has been around the comedy scene, stand up and character performing, for some time.   I can remember stand-up clips of a very young Bamford on basic cable in the late 90's, and a general awareness of who she was despite the fact I'm not one of those folks who follows comedy the way some people follow music.  But, she had a unique voice (literally and metaphorically) from the time she came out of the gate.

In 2005 she appeared as part of the documentary, The Comedians of Comedy, which followed comedians Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Zach Galifianakis and Maria Bamford as they toured the country playing, basically, rock clubs.   And I remember watching the film and being deeply concerned for Bamford during the entire movie.  They sort of tried to play it off as "Maria keeps to herself.  Maria's an introvert," but the movie basically gave up on trying to get her to participate, and so she became a kind of non-entity within the film.

In 2012, on the heels of Louis CK figuring out people would pay him directly for content and the rise of Kickstarter, Maria Bamford also had a special "The Special Special Special", which I paid to Ms. Bamford to download.  And if you've never seen The Special Special Special, it's kind of amazing.  She basically does an entirely new set for her parents from inside her living room.   And I guess it was while watching that show, or around that time, that I learned she'd had some sort of mental breakdown.  And, it seemed, doing this special was Phase 1 of her getting her feet back under her, professionally.

She appeared in the Netflix season of Arrested Development (as someone playing Sue Storm in a knock-off Fantastic Four),  and held her own with that cast, which is no mean feat.  And, as she has always done, she's toured relentlessly.  I see she's in Austin for the Moontower Comedy festival every year (going on now.  She was on local drive-time radio just this morning), and I think she's here more than that - but I haven't been to see stand-up since a semi-traumatic family outing when I was in college.*

But from the first few minutes of the first episode of Lady Dynamite (now streaming on Netflix), it feels like someone has finally properly placed the megaphone to Bamford's mouth and given her the proper stage where it's not just her freaking out the squares doing her stand-up or trying to fit into someone else's mold of how entertainment is supposed to work.  The show is Bamford's world, and it's - for once (and people say this a lot, but I think it's a safe bet it's true here) - a unique perspective.

Not many shows out there are a sitcom recounting the protagonist's real-life struggles with mental illness.  And making it understandable, sympathetic, and honest-to-god hilarious.

Friday, May 20, 2016

So, I guess that was "Legends of Tomorrow"

the thing burning in the back is the show's internal logic

As I kind of suspected, DC's Legends of Tomorrow did start to feel less like a plodding mess in the final 3-4 episodes of the show.  They had their beginning and they had their ending, but they didn't have a middle, and that was no good for anybody.

Really, if we're being honest, the show made no sense.  Time travel is a ridiculously complicated contrivance, and once you start making up arbitrary rules for your time travel story - rules clearly there so that the story can occur and not just end because you got in your time machine and flew back to the past and killed Hitler in his bed - you've kind of already lost the game.  Especially when your time-travel device is also a space-faring vehicle.

Since last I posted on the show, I've really been hate-watching it, because - and I am sorry earnest TV watcher who was truly moved by the unfolding story of Rip Hunter and his gang of renegade time-travelers - it got just hysterically bad at some point.

The past five or six episodes, Jamie and I took to both playing the role of "Vandal Savage explains to the characters how they could end this right now" in terrible Danish accents, but it made the show so, so much more watchable

At some point, a few things became obvious to me:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Marvel Watch: Daredevil Season 2

If you think my movie watching has slowed to a trickle, you'd be right.  We're still neck deep in TV and baseball right now.  I haven't even watched my BluRay of The Force Awakens quite yet, but I did lose all of last night watching the disk of bonus material (totally great, btw).

We also blitzed our way through Daredevil Season 2, or as close to a blitz as you're going to get out of us.  We basically finished the series in about 2.5 weeks, which is really fast for us, even for a 13-episode series.

Last night's post should give you an idea of the regard in which I hold the source material of Daredevil comics produced by Frank Miller in the early 1980's.  But, to be truthful, I haven't read them in over a decade.  That's all right.  The show only references them loosely, doing what Marvel has done so well so often over the past decade: keeping the origins largely intact, remembering who the characters are at their core (and not in the squishy "well, which canon?  who are you to say this isn't Superman?" way DC has done), and boiling down stories to work better in the medium in which they're appearing.

Daredevil Season 1 carried the burden of the origin and establishing their corner of New York not just for Daredevil, but - as it turned out - for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.  In all honesty, I thought both Daredevil Season 1 and Jessica Jones Season 1 could have been tighter.  They seemed to be 8 or 9 episode shows spread out over 13, and that meant a lot of filler.

I think those of us who watched Daredevil S2 can agree, if this season had an issue, it wasn't that not that we were hoping it'd pick up the pace a bit.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

That Supergirl/ Flash Meet-Up on CBS's "Supergirl"

Pick a tone, DC Entertainment.

I was never a fan of the "two heroes meet, fight, realize it's all a mistake and then go off to fight a common threat" trope of comics.  So, yes, just seeing the title of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice literally told me everything I didn't need to see in the WB opus (now down over 70% in ticket sales from last weekend).  It literally makes no sense for a person dedicated to improving things for other people to start a conversation by throwing a punch at someone else's head.  Frankly, it always kind of diminishes whatever I'm reading when the writers get lazy and that's the path they follow.

Yeah, even "Superman meets Spider-Man".*

I've been a fan of The CW's The Flash since episode 1, and I continue to enjoy the heck out of that show.  From this DC nerd's perspective, this is how you update a character and make the concept work in another medium with different needs than the comic page or context of National Comics in the Jet Age.  If you're going to change up Barry's origin story a bit, this makes sense, and I like the family with which they're surrounded Barry, both the Wests and his "work family", made up of repurposed C and D listers.

The show is far from relentlessly cheerful - villains are a threat, and we've had two seasons with serious arcs casting a shadow over the events of everything else.   But the core characters don't wallow in self-imposed pity parties and comply with the notion that being a jerk is a prerequisite to intelligence or depth of character (it seems Arrow is continuing to struggle with how to dig themselves out of that hole).  Barry and Co.'s ability to keep on going and improve things for themselves and the world is at the heart of what I like about ongoing superhero comics.

I wrote more than one post regarding the rocky start to CBS's Supergirl, but at some point the show started getting a grip on what it is and could be.  Once it dropped some of the standard soapy TV tropes and got on with the business of superheroing, it's been on a gradual incline of watchability.  They dropped the lame "nice guy" storyline for Win, and, to my great satisfaction, the seemingly one-dimensional character of Cat Grant (played by Calista Flockhart) blossomed immediately into a mentor character for Supergirl and her alter ego.  And, of course, the long game of naming Hank Henshaw as leader of this DEO business pulled a switcheroo and turned out to be a huge highlight of the season as the character turned out not to be the ridiculous Cyborg Superman but Martian Manhunter.**

I never disliked the cast of Supergirl, but CBS applied a lot of old-hat tricks, believing they knew how to make the show work for the broadest audience, but it seemed outdated and a drag on the show's velocity.  And, while I'm not sure we're getting a second season (it hasn't been renewed so far as I know), a second season could get down to brass tacks and be quite fun.  Plus, they've said Lynda Carter could play the President next season, which this site heartily endorses.  It could be a lot of fun.

And there's that word.  Fun.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CBS's "Supergirl" Seems Markedly Better

Against my better instincts, I kept tuning in week after week to CBS's entrance into the superhero game, Supergirl.  In all honesty, I didn't think the show would last, so I figured I could stick with it for a season and call it a day.  The show would demonstrate these bits of promise, and then revert back to the disappointing formula blend it seemed the network wanted to enforce - all of which seemed out of step with what might make the show work.

None of what I think has an impact on ratings, and I don't know how large or small the actual audience is for the program.  I hear things about falling ratings, but then I'm told its been renewed, so someone has faith in it.

I was pretty hard on this show when it started.  If I can give it grief, I can say some positive things as well.  And there's been good on the show in ways I've found pleasantly surprising - especially on network TV.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Marvel Watch: Agent Carter - Season 2

Tuesday evening saw the conclusion of Season 2 of Marvel's Agent Carter, a short-run ABC television program.  ABC is, of course, a Disney company, and Marvel is also owned by Disney.

The show is a spin-off from the Captain America movies and a lodestone pointing to the mid-20th Century origins of the Marvel comic characters and the fictional origins of the doings of the Marvel Universe films.  If you're not keeping up (and both ratings and anecdotal evidence suggests you're not), Agent Carter follows the post-WWII, post-Captain America: The First Avenger doings of Special Agent Peggy Carter of the Strategic Science Reserve - the forebear of SHIELD.

You may remember Peggy as the uniformed sidekick to Tommy Lee Jones as Steve Rogers transformed into Captain America, who stayed on the radio with him as he piloted the Red Skull's plane into the Arctic.  Yes, yes, I was quite smitten with Agent Carter back during the first go-round, and I was a bit disappointed that - as we then jumped to the 21st Century, that was the last we were going to see of Peggy.  The film had written Peggy as pointing a new way forward for female characters in Marvel movies, and, Peggy was based on a character from the comics, who - in turn - reflected the sort of bad-assery women were displaying in all sorts of very, very real covert and resistance-fighting roles during WWII.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Short Stay in Houston: Old Pals, Work Stuff, a GOP Debate

This week I was in Houston for a short conference at which I presented.  A nice, friendly little conference we have once a year with folks that have known each other a while, and where new folks are usually made to feel very welcome.

I was staying at the hotel on campus, a Hilton commissioned by the late, great Conrad Hilton as part of the hotel management school at the University of Houston that bears his name.  During the conference, the candidates for the Republican party were slated to have a debate on the other end of campus, but CNN had set up adjacent to the library.  So, yes, yesterday I saw the back of Anderson Cooper's magnificently silver head.