Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today is my 11th Anniversary of being married - eat it Kate and Bill Windsor

11 years ago I squeezed into a rented tux, repeated back some words that were said to me, and was never more sure of a decision as Jamie came down in the aisle.

Some wedding trivia.

-my first words after the ceremony were to quote the Simpsons to Doug: "You see this ring? It means I own her and she's my property!" I'm not sure he got the reference, but he seemed amused
-the grooms' cake was carrot cake. I love carrot cake. I also was running a 100 degree fever the day of cake tasting and just blurted "I don't need to taste anything. Carrot is fine."
-Jamie could not drink at the time due to one medical issue or other, so we had faux champagne. I was tragically sober through the whole affair.
-Jamie may have been wearing slippers through the entire evening. I don't know if she ever had on actual shoes.
-Jason got drunk and chased peacocks about the property while wearing a tux, and nobody thought to record this
-Dug was be-kilted in McBride tartan
-I was a little too excited that I got to hit the dance floor and do "the robot" at my own wedding
-Jamie and I didn't actually see much of each other during the reception. We didn't have a formal sit-down, so we were circulating aside from the cake cutting, first dance, etc...
-I never actually saw the car we rode out in until the pictures as I got soap bubbles in my eye running to the car
-We had a lovely night at the Driskill where we ate dinner in the bathroom so as not to muss the bed
-In the morning, we had no ride home and I was too cheap to spring for a cab, so Dug came and got us
-Our wedding song.

-Jamie had rejected literally a hundred songs before she settled on this one. I had wanted Al Green's "L-O-V-E". It was said the song was perhaps too fast for a first dance.

Happy 11th, Jamie.  Sorry I was in Abilene.  Here's to 111 more years of being married to the swellest of swell dames.

Yes, they printed that short story in which Superman says he's giving up his US citizenship


You can't explain this without giving away the whole thing, so... spoilers ahead.

I was going to cover this in my Part 2 of my Action Comics #900 review, but it seems the media is going coo-coo over this one.

No doubt, DC could have been handled better, but its also the sort of thing that you kind of have to expect will be taken absolutely the wrong way as certain parties re-purpose the one panel for their own means.  And that's too bad.

The upshot is that Superman realizes that he can't actually act on a global scale without being seen as an agent of the US government intruding on foreign soil.  In 2011, with a readership no longer comprised mostly of 13 year-olds with a mystical belief that America = Magic, this move actually makes more sense than Superman just buzzing into any airspace he likes and with no expectation of an international incident bubbling up (by the way, they have played up the "international incident caused by Superman's appearance" angle on numerous occasions).

The story is basically: Superman hears that there are pro-democracy protests going on in Tehran, so he hops over to Iran and stands with the protestors (literally stands and takes no action as any action could go wrong or be taken as the start of hostilities).   For anyone actually reading the paper in our world, unsurprisingly the Iranian government of Superman's world declares Superman's appearance to be undue meddling from the West, and the visit causes an international incident.

With a mix of satisfaction that he did achieve his goal of supporting pro-democracy protesters and concern regarding how his appearance is being used on the international stage, Superman comes to an unhappy decision regarding his stated citizenship.

Mindful of what he thinks he should be doing versus what he thinks will happen if he did this again, he has to tell the US Government "look, you guys are great, but I'm not going to be responsible for starting a war and I need to help people all over this rock you call Earth."  Its not about turning one's back on America, its about a modicum of self-awareness when one is a super-being who sneezes off nuclear weapons.

I've been asked before it bothers me that in Superman Returns the only mention of Truth, Justice and the American Way was shortened to "Truth... Justice... All that stuff".  And I've always said that it doesn't really bother me one way or another.  The entire catchphrase was added during a particularly jingoistic era, and when you consider Superman as a globe-trotting, occasionally space-faring alien for whom borders and local politics are at best an inconvenience, I think it makes sense he likes the American Way, but he can't necessarily be as efficient as possible if he's having to show his Visa every time he crosses a border.

And so this is a bit different from dropping The American Way from the Superman's motto.  While I get what people decide they want to say "The American Way" means (and they aren't necessarily wrong*), that's not what the story is talking about.  Its about whether or not rolling a nuclear missile draped in the Stars and Stripes into Tienanmen Square is or is not going to cause the US some political grief.  Or, in fact, if Superman need really be beholden to the US State Department or any US service.

Mostly, I don't think DC was wrong to define Superman's citizenship, or a lack thereof.  It wasn't a slam on the US or US policy.  By even trying to answer the question, in a lot of ways, the 9 page story was a bit of fan-wank.  These are the sorts of questions that keep comic geeks awake at night.  "If there was a catastrophe in North Korea, would Superman risk war between the US and North Korea to go in and help people?  Should he be beholden to Homeland Security travel warnings?"  That's the question the Superman of the story was addressing.  Frankly, its the sort of anarchic thing Superman might have done in his earliest, most-free-wheeling days when we didn't think of Superman as Dad/ The World's Oldest Boyscout and/ or the writers weren't worried about being called on the mat by Estes Kefauver trying to drum up some political drama.

I am guessing, however, that certain outlets are having kittens today about a couple of panels in a Superman comic.  Which is kind of hilarious.  Their beloved Superhero (whose comic, I assure you, they will not have read) has turned his back on America!

By the way, these sorts of little homily stories show up all the time as filler in issues with extended page counts.  Likely, the story won't get mentioned again anywhere else. And, no, I didn't think that the story was particularly necessary, and if they were going to do it, it could have been handled much, much better.

Funny thing is:  I think if you heard Batman didn't recognize borders in his quest for justice, you'd say "right on, man.  That guy is a BADASS.  Rock'n'roll!"  Little harder to do that with Superman (one of his co-creators, by the way, was Canadian, so chew on that for a while).

*we can discuss whether the US has a divine destiny or is particularly magically blessed some other time

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Action Comics #900 part 1

Wow.  900 issues.

I have a few other anniversary issues of Action Comics.  800, 700, 600, 500 and 400.  300 is actually an amazing comic, but I've only ever read the story in reprints.

Its mostly true that Action has mostly been a monthly comic over the duration of its printing life, but it's not true that Action has run 900 issues over 900 months.  There was a year or two in there where Action Comics was released as a weekly comic with a Superman lead feature and then back-ups featuring Green Lantern and other heroes.  There have been stunts where Action wasn't released for a month or two, which I believe occurred during the Death of Superman event back in the early 1990's, and in the mid-00's, Action went hopelessly off production schedule for a while and just didn't come out for a few months around 2007.

Two Signal Watch Invitations: Green Lantern-a-thon and POTA-thon

Although not a frame of the new Superman movie has been shot, I have already promised myself that prior to the release of the movie, I will host a SUPER-MARATHON.  At this marathon, we will watch the following:

  • The first installment of the Kirk Alyn-starring Superman serial
  • The first episodes of the George Reeves Superman TV show - aka: The Adventures of Superman (also known as Superman and the Mole Men)
  • An episode of the 80's Superman cartoon
  • An episode of Lois and Clark
  • The pilot movie for Superman: The Animated Series
  • Superman: The Movie
  • Superman II
  • Superman III
  • Superman IV (yes.  Superman IV)
  • Superman Returns 
It may shock many that this isn't just a routine day on the DVR at League HQ, but I haven't ever actually done a Superman marathon other than watching 3 or 4 episodes of the animated series right in a row.  Eyeballing it, I figure this is about a full day's worth of The Man of Steel. 

Frankly, and this may surprise some, I own quite a bit of Superman media.  I haven't run the numbers, but I figure if I added up all the cartoons, movies, live TV shows, etc...  I've got on hand, we could go for about a straight month without pausing (not really, but we could last for a few days).  So, you know, I'm trying to be merciful.

Anyway, I plan to watch all the stuff in the list, sleep, and then go see the new Superman.

Its Not Easy Getting Green

But prior to this, we have the Green Lantern movie coming up.  And so I am considering a Green Lantern-mini-marathon
  • the Superman: The Animated Series Green Lantern episode introducing Green Lanterns and Sinestro
  • an episode of Superfriends retelling the Green Lantern origin
  • key Green Lantern-centric episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited
  • Green Lantern:  First Flight from Warner Animation
  • Green Lantern: Emerald Knights from Warner Animation
  • I will also try to secure a copy of the little-seen Justice League live action pilot featuring a dopey Guy Gardner/ Kyle Rayner hybrid
Some readers (Jason) will assume this means I have high hopes for the Green Lantern movie and make sure I know that this movie is not going to be very good.  I do not, in fact, have hopes that this movie will be even an Iron Man 2.   But that opinion doesn't mean I'm not a Green Lantern fan and reader, and that I can't be kind of glad there's a real-live Green Lantern movie coming to theaters, unless, of course, it gets nothing but horrible reviews, in which case, I will be quite sad for DC (and me).

So, coming soon (once I clear this with Jamie), I will put out a schedule and the drill will be that you can come by and join me in the marathon if you're here in town, coming and going as you see fit.


I will also be looking into a possible Ape-a-Thon prior to the release of this year's Planet of the Apes sequel.  I now have 10 hours of Apes movies on Blu-Ray, and its hard to see me NOT watching all of the Apes movies back-to-back in a 10 hour stretch of pure primate-madness.

But I am also considering a 2-part Apes-a-Thon.

Part 1:  All five original Planet of the Apes movies and the cartoon, if I can secure it.

Part 2:  APE FESTAPALOOZA:  an appreciation of primates in movies

This is actually a preliminary list
  • Any Which Way But Loose
  • King Kong (the original and/ or the 1970's version)
  • Might Joe Young
  • Gorillas in the Mist
  • Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan
There are actually a bucket of Gorilla and Ape-themed movies out there, so we'll have to let you know.

If you want to participate in any part of the Marathons, let me know!

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    No Post Tuesday

    Upside for me is that The Dug is here.  Downside is that there's no post tonight.  Tough noogies, kids.

    The man you can blame who has kept me from blogging.
    I dunno.  I feel bad for the lack of content.  Here's Gloria Grahame.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    So, then I watched a bunch of stuff I'd already seen before

    Saturday evening I had the unique and bizarre experience of watching the entirety of Birdemic with Jamie's parents.  We thought they would just want to see the first ten minutes or so in order to understand what we were talking about, and then...  we were watching the end of the movie.  So, if you're keeping score, that's 3 viewings for Jamie and me, 4 for Doug and now one a piece for Jamie's folks. 

    James Nguyen owes us something. 

    We also watched the RiffTrax synched with Return of the Jedi, and given how many times I've seen Jedi, it was nice to see the movie under a bit of a new light. 

    This evening all five of us headed down to the Alamo Ritz to see a screening of the 1983 feature The Dark Crystal.  I assume most of you raised properly on a diet of matinees in the 1980's have seen The Dark Crystal, a Jim Henson feature film that's just an exemplary fantasy flick that may not have even been state-of-the-art in 1983, but is so embedded in classic camera tricks, puppetry, practical effects, etc...  that the film is just mindboggling to watch in this day and age.  In short - what we'd now create in lush digital, generated by somebody sitting on their duff in a chair somewhere in an office park was actually physically created, with bellows or strings or hydraulics in order to make it work.  And when you see that...  well, my eyes can forgive the mistakes and flaws pretty when your eye isn't lying to you about the fact that these things are actually there.

    all of this was made as props and set dressing and muppet
    I won't lie and say things like "Avatar is a sham!  I'm a practical effects purist!"  I'm not.  Avatar is a sham for completely different reasons, but its a neat thrill ride.  I just hate to think of the craftsmanship that's being lost in movie making as the answer is now, invariably, to make sets, non-human characters, etc... out of bits instead of, I guess foam or whatever they used to do for muppets. 

    This scene is just ridiculous
    And you have to also think:  what level of detail are we currently missing as studios go for digital over practical?  I mean - I was looking at the costumes and textures and layering on all these characters, and its hard to believe that anyone would think that was a good idea except for people actually cutting and sewing to make things to scale for a movie like this.

    this just looks like a really awkward family photo
    Anyhow, it was fun.  I should really try to watch something this week I haven't seen before at least twice.

    Horus follows up on the question of "culling" and "surrendering" to the mass of possibilities in media

    Some of you commented about my post the other day discussing strategies for dealing with the sheer volume of material out there, and what it means to be well-read in 2011.  Or if that phrase has meaning anymore.  And...  thanks!  Its an interesting discussion.

    Horus popped up over on his site and carried on the conversation, so I think you should go over there and see what the man has to say. 

    Star Wars Day at Austin Books and Comics

    Today was a pretty cool day at Austin Books and Comics.  Actor Richard LaParmentier was in town and came by Austin Books to do a signing.  If you're wondering who Richard LaParmentier is, let me remind you:

    The fellow on the right, General Motti
    He's the only guy you see in the the original trilogy talk smack to Vader, and, of course, things go poorly for him.

    Once Mr. LaParmentier was on the bill for Saturday, it kind of became a thing, and Austin Books held a very special Star Wars Day!   I couldn't believe the crowds, and I really couldn't believe the numbers of kids.  Man, little boys and girls still really like Star Wars.  And that's pretty cool.

    I'm not the Star Wars fan I was until, well...  Episode I was released.  But I still like a good Storm Trooper, and I'll always have a warm spot in my heart for the original trilogy (and Princess Leia).

    I realize looking at these pictures that I waited too long between haircuts, but this is me getting an autograph from the man himself.  

    I'm not going to scan it, but the picture I had him sign was his profile with the Death Star.  He drew a neat little arrow and wrote "my office", pointing to one of the little blips of light on the Death Star.  Very clever guy.

    He's not looking at the lens in the picture because Jamie and The Doug both lifted cameras at the same time.  So, stereoscopic pics, I guess.

    Speaking of Jamie and Doug, they got to meet one of their favorite stars of the movies.

    Doug and R2 both keep flamethrowers in their torsos
    I ran into ObiWan while he was looking at some prestige art books.  He was kind enough to have his pic taken, but I got to say...  I think I have a foot on the Jedi Master.

    Ben Kenobi was really very cool and I think was having a good time
    What I also learned is that when Vader and the 501st show up, you don't take a page from General Motti's book and confront Vader about his policies and hokey religion.

    right before they led me to the Squad-Speeder for booking

    late edit:  Doug sends along further evidence of Imperial Injustice

    Luckily, Vader did not choke me out.

    Anyway, it was a really fun time!  And it was great to see so many folks out enjoying the nice day and the fun ABC put together.

    I didn't stick around for the signing by the comic writers for the Star Wars comic (not sure when that happened) and I didn't stick around when BioWare came by to recruit for QA personnel.  But I think we had a grand time. Austin Books has been a great shop for years, but now its becoming also a hub of pop culture madness here in town.  And its kind of great.

    And, we wrapped it up this evening with a screening of Return of the Jedi with RiffTrax.

    Happy Easter!